“Spittle” by Case Duckworth

My body is attached to your body by a thin spittle of thought.
When you turn away from me, my thought is broken
and forms anew with something else. Ideas are drool.
Beauty has been slobbered over far too long. God
is a tidal wave of bodily fluid. Even the flea has some
vestigial wetness. We live in a world fleshy and dark,
and moist as a nostril. Is conciousness only a watery-eyed
romantic, crying softly into his shirt-sleeve? Is not reason
a square-jawed businessman with a briefcase full of memory?
I want to kiss the world to make it mine. I want to become
a Judas to reality, betray it with the wetness of emotion.
The coin that holds the two sides of experience will become
a mobius strip trailing snail slime to infinity.

“The Addict” by Gavin Cross

There’s a photograph, crumpling
under the glass top on my dresser,
of the snow angels we made
on the frozen lake. It was there
You told me you felt most at home
in the sky. among treetops.
The cool, light sugar of pine.
But no one photographed the day
You took a breath underwater.
The day you decided you needed
The salt in your lungs,
the biting, savory heat, to live.
So you spend your time divided
among the two. Wondering who’s
a fish and who’s a penguin.
I say it’s simple. If you love both
worlds, make your home in the sky.
But how could I know?
This is something you’ve learned.
Psychologists call it a conditioned
response. I call it muddy water.
No ice. I hate winter and so do you.
something we have in common.
Remember the lake is still frozen.
the only warmth the snow angels
holding back the water’s breath.

“Friday” – Megan Denton

Maybe giddy, with the excess of bookshelves,
or firewood, it is possible to unfold forever, forgotten.
But, first, I must adjust my fragile roots: from here,
I can see the cabin, where I would hold out
a fistful of grace for you, father, an opportunity
to test the backbone. I’m bringing you a sun,
with splinters in it, from the center of my
wide-eyed choir, of yellow crayons I’ve kept
for us. I’ve gathered nearly two fists full
of forgiveness, belated; not any comfort will do.
I am bringing you the only beautiful thing
in the yard between my cabin and yours,
and I carry it like a jewel, or my favorite
sea shell, all yours, if you keep me.
And because you’re sick,
because there’s a shadow on your love,
I want to bring you something picked
by my hand, a child’s drawing of the sun.
I would still be winter, had it not been for this.

“State of Confusion” – Monika Groppe

“Where are we going again?” the young boy
asked as his father began pulling out maps
for the family trip. “The grand ole State of
Confusion!” the father replied, flattening
the maps on the table. “I grew up there, in a tiny
brick house on the upper west side of the
state, shimmering Lake of Lost Reflections
in our back yard.  Never was there a dull
moment! People didn’t move like they do
here. as if they are giant chess pieces
moving directly from one square to
another. In the State of Confusion,
everyone holds their breath and swims
toward their destination, letting bubbles
tickle their face as they go. When they tire,
they turn over on their backs and float
until their energy is regained. At times,
you wouldn’t get to where you intended
for the current was strong, as if powered
by Fate.” “But dad, I thought you didn’t know
how to swim!” “I can’t, son. But in The State
of Confusion everybody does things they
don’t know how to do. Babies whale
with a suckling sense of justice, children’s
feet no longer touch the ground
when they reach their parent’s age,
grown up. Adults sit and talk for
hours and hours without doing a single
thing. It’s a miraculous place, really.”
“Why did you leave then, dad?” “Because,
son, I thought I knew better.”

“Bones” – Abigail Fletcher

Crowded tombstones
in the Jewish cemetery
jut out like the crooked teeth
she doesn’t have.

“We have good cheekbones,”
she says, smiling and pressing
the tips of her fingers
into her fleshy face.

Because it’s all about the bones,
isn’t it? I’m big-boned,
not brittle-boned,
no runway modeling or osteoporosis.

I’m marked
by skull and crossbones
like a warning label for my toxicity—
my caustic tone.
It’s a voice she’d never wear.

She is a breezy floral skirt
and open-toed sandals,
and sometimes,
when she smiles,
the skeletons stir below.

“Looking Back” by Martha Hunter

That dead hummingbird on the sidewalk
today taught me nothing. I am back on my
bed, learning nothing new about your body
and thinking about what pants make my legs
look best. The bird’s legs shot straight into
the air, its deadness piercing the coming rain.
It was easier to contemplate my furniture
arrangement. The bed should face away from
my present. I can’t imagine anything more
perfect, knowing when I was born and when
I will die, not much else. It will be in the corner
of a room. No one will notice except a man who
is too polite to interrupt anyone’s conversation
to say something. When they find me, my
bones will be kept in a little box with the rock
that reminds me of Gramps. I don’t want to
be one of those dead people who is “with you”
wherever you go, sitting through those boring
prayer services when I died before I could
believe in anything at all. I don’t think I can
teach you anything, just because my body
doesn’t exist. I am afraid that there will be a
charity in my name, giving money to people
who don’t know anything about looking back.