Dan Hedges #80.

{assorted plots

dispersed irregularly across

generalized narrative suspense

lead to uncanny sensations that

humans are a fixed point}

 

Dan Hedges is the editor of  HUMANIMALZ Literary Journal. His writing appears in The Monarch Review, The Apeiron Review, and more than ninety other journals.  He writes out of a small white house in rural Quebec.  He teaches English near Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada.

Untethered Grass

by Jamez Chang

Jackie Stewart relaxed past death
on racing tracks heightened
by speed and violence.
He elevated his senses higher
than the rise of the road,
breaking hard third gear
underneath a viaduct
in Monaco.

across gravel stretch and paddock,
Stewart advanced—past zebra crossing, past short dirt,
along a fast bend in a windrush of earthen electron.
His motorcar spun loud,
hearing nothing.

Front straight faster and spinning through a funnel,
Stewart sloughed off his body’s vehicle
and allowed for this: a blade of grass to enter his world.
As he dripped inside double layers of fire-proof Nomex,
Stewart caught a whiff of freshly-cut grass around the bend,
A leaf aldehyde stain, wet-pulp mist somehow untethered,
loosened from its topsoil.

In accident and in happening,
Stewart mastered his craft at Monaco,
trusting his senses.
Alive and mechanical,
writing the next turn.

On macadam road,
a car had skidded outside a curb and clipped a barrier,
onto grass,
pop
releasing the blade’s germ adrift.
idyllic,
incongruous,
dangerous grass.
Nature’s intrusion
upon oil, steel, and the scatter mass of tire grit.

Stewart pulled back from the swarm.

The maestro touched lightly on his brakes,
and fed them out with a soft whistle.

Never jabbing a foot to answer,
but steering a motorcar docile:
angry insect allowed to fly,
eased into a coverlet of sunken metal and music.
Stewart skittered the right-hander on the edge of adhesion—clean,
past pile of racing cars crashed along steel barriers uprooted.
Raucous debris, too thick for a clogged helmet’s consumption,
but of thin data, the faint smell of mowed lawn at 175 miles per hour was
allowed,
observed,
felt.
And the mind became faster than the car.

On racing tracks heightened
by speed and violence,
Sir Jackie Stewart whistled by in accident,
accelerating out,
shifted pedals on the piano and
glided through chicane and into third, and fourth, and into fifth gear:
road holding,
turning the atom-soaked sun into a mechanical happening.

Jamez Chang is a poet, writer, lawyer, and former hip-hop artist living in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in FRiGG, Prime Number Magazine, Boston Literary Magazine, Subliminal Interiors, and the anthology Yellow Light. After graduating from Bard College, Jamez went on to become one of the first Korean-American to release a hip-hop album, “Z-Bonics” (F.O.B. Productions, 1998), in the United States. Jamez currently works in the video game industry in New York City.

Freshwater

by Nadra Mabrouk

You wanted to use a caterpillar as fish bait.
The soft fuzz of its pinky-long body
squirmed as though in slow motion
and you, not able to cut into its mouth, shivering,
threw it back in the grass.

And I thought we could take this bike anywhere –
Instead, we stop,
lay it on the ground near my chalky ankles.

a half naked woman’s shoulders near us, tanner than us — she is a bear:
waiting for the small gloves of fish
to tug, then grabbing them off the hook with large fingers
and swollen palms
as though her growth depended on them.

And what does our growth depend upon?
Exoskeleton? Thin needles inside fish?
The sturdiness of understanding the variations of the skeletal system?

I turn to prickling hairs on your thin-skinned elbow
and rub my cheek against your ribs.
You place your fingers on the sinking earth of my face
as though tracing hunger on the cheekbone
as the woman limps away.

She leaves with a basket of fresh bodies.
Something to slice open, squeeze lemon on,
cradle in your mouth and feel whole.

In a thought made of silk,
I am cutting softened peaches into puddles of vanilla,
a dessert, after salting the center of a cut salmon:
pink tongues on a refrigerated platter.

After we eat – a marinated silence
and hands, smelling of the river,
something swift to salvage us.

But instead,
You fill your hands with the grainy metal of the handlebars
and walk ahead of me,
footsteps slow and dry in the heat.



Nadra Mabrouk was born in Cairo, Egypt where she spent only five years. She has ripped memories of the country. Her family has since moved from one apartment to the other so she is familiar with different pieces of Miami yet does not know what it is like to mark your height as you grow in an old house to compare to your siblings. She wrote two poems in fifth grade and then picked poetry up again in ninth grade. Since then, she’s known this may the definition of concrete. Sometimes, she will have a swollen eye and takes a cyproheptadine pill to block the allergic reaction. But the side effects are brutal and any loud noise makes her feel as though the insides of her body are vibrating. This is why the world should be quiet and listen to the soft jazz of the air. She is a junior in Florida International University studying English and working with the University newspaper, The Beacon, as a managing editor and reads poetry submissions for Gulf Stream, the University’s literary magazine.

 

Change of Season.

By Owen Piper

It’s times like this,
I think we are changing like the season.

Salt, pepper,
that strange spice you found near 82nd.

What, was, that?

I’m yellowed as paper for the phone.

I think I should call you.

I don’t.

Every few seconds the wind takes hold of my time,
stirs it all clean again.

Owen Piper is an artist and writer currently living in Paris. He works a day job and writes when he is not doing that.

The Graveyard of Forgotten Things.

By Rena Rossner

It’s a minefield of regret
strewn with corpses of thought
a place where time
gathers in the hollows
and tattered curtains hang
in neglected corridors
the leprosy of cracked wallpaper
afflicts the mind

rusted slides
mildewed rollercoasters
dusty schooldesks
a piano with a broken leg
the loneliness of a smashed vanity mirror

it rains in eaves of light
downpours in the stairwells
derelict inner doors to the sanctum
rot unhinged

beauty in decay
a momento mori of matter
I mourn myself

Rena Rossner lives in Jerusalem and studied writing at Johns Hopkins University and McGill University. She is currently a literary and foreign rights agent. Her work deals with the place where Jewish themes meet magical realism, mysticism and sex. You can see more of her work at www.renarossner.com

The Wind that Flattens the Flames.

by Joshua Bocher

“All have one breath”
-Ecclesiastes

“They fade like fall and winter”
-Zhuangzi

I.

Go
To a place
Where the wind
Whirls about and
Returns
Again

I’ll stay behind
Carving and polishing
My words

Say no more
About it

II.

One
Who wants for nothing
Whose life was spent
As a shadow

Doesn’t wish
To hear
The rebukes
Of the wise,
Only the songs
Of fools

III.

The man fell
He tosses and trembles
On the cold ground
As death draws near him

His disposition once fiercer
Than a lion’s,
The crumbled grass
Beneath him
Keeps growing
Still

IV.

After sweet sleep
Roaming
The infinite,

With a start
I will wake,

Feeling great glee
In the return
To plainness

Joshua Bocher is a graduate student at Harvard University, where he researchs Chinese poetry.  Before attending graduate school, he lived in Taiwan for over two and a half years.  His poems and translations have been published or are forthcoming in several journals, including SpinozablueIlluminationsFull of Crow PoetryThe Brown Literary Review, and Issues.

I Keep a List of What I Must.

by Christopher Citro

 

By the bed and last thing at night, first thing

in damp daylight, I consult. On rare occasion

I might add. Making love in the long grass

near the river, a vulture’s shadow crept across

her face while I was in the middle of it,

and I looked away. That went near the top.

Those afternoons with everything crashing

around me, watching through café windows—

when I stepped outside, the smell of wet streets

and dripping trees. I did not inhale enough.

Years later, trying to recall it is like reading

through water. So I’ll have to forgive myself

for that, for letting the domino rally lull me

asleep. I saw a woman on the street yelling

at a man who did not step back. He opened

his arms, I’m a lover not a fighter, and hugged her.

Both drunk as September. Most of October,

me forgiving myself for being surprised.

Christopher Citro’s poetry appears or is forthcoming in Salamander, Cream City Review, Los Angeles Review, Southeast Review, The Minnesota Review, Poetry East, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. He is a past recipient of a Langston Hughes Creative Writing Award for poetry. Recent broadsides of his poetry are available from Architrave Press, Broadsided, and Thrush Press. Christopher is currently completing an MFA in poetry at Indiana University. Find him at christophercitro.com.