Happy disconcertingly peculiar Summer from Thirteen Myna Birds!

17.

Everything I Touched Became a Wound

Mania gave me summer in an envelope;
the red light within my bones

glowing. It shaped my bones into its hunting coat
until blue came without warning

& I felt the failing brightness of my skin sink
deeper into darkness. 

(I think some things should be left unsaid.)
Gray is beautiful, cold, the color of deep

regret. I felt wind dawn upon my face
& time hold me by a whisper. 

(Put your hand there; you’ll feel it too.)
Life’s too simple for speech & words no longer come.

Equilibrium came to me quiet as rain
not fallen, afraid of how I might fail myself,

my dress kept open in memory, bearing breast,
sex, smelling worn, of boys, of once long grass, of heart.

It came quiet as bulbs not yet broken out
into sunlight. I tried not to hurt, yet everything

I touched became a wound.

I was afraid that if I found peace,

it would scald my hands.

~Ariana D. Den Bleyker~

*

16.

I’ve Let My Nails Grow, Scars Later Revealing Themselves
  After Bathing as if a Developing Photograph

As always, I want to sidestep the pain
& let it take residence until it rots.

[Maybe the pain outside is easier to handle
because we know how to fix it: 
cold water for burn, ice pack for bruise, 
bandage for cut, cast for broken bone,
kisses for boo-boo—what’s inside a little harder.]

Maybe the blossoming of the new year will change me. 
No one else will ever want to kill me like I do—

in that place where heartbeat lingers:
somewhere between hospital bed sheets

& newfound aching in the chest
where voices talk to fill a silent void.

When the happiness scabs over, who’ll make up
excuses for why I can’t return home?

All I’ve ever known is to be grateful I didn’t die, 
that I’ve lived through my crucible & am now free—

Admittedly, there’s real allure in the way the past doesn’t die.

~Ariana D. Den Bleyker~

*

15.

I Go Crazy in Late October as Depression Cuts
  the Endless Summer Cold

A finger prick beads blood not so red, not so thick
& I’ve felt no pain sitting here dreaming

of blood, knives. Or didn’t. Or haven’t. Or won’t. 
Everything alludes to my mood. This taste, 

for instance, this taste of depression runs blood orange-red 
down the hollow of my throat. Its neck tastes 

of honey, honey easy on the tongue.
I want to eat up the past, smell its raw meat

gleaning against its bones, against its ribcage. Strange cage, 
imprisoning nothing. I’m bones too, lungs with no 

hope to breathe. No more than a moment about 
to expire. I crave dreams of craving something carnal, 

patient beginnings. It comes up to this: I grow new scars, 
watch the clouds douse the sun, the birds who’ll soon 

again sow their winter gliding off against the night, 
against the swollen moon with talons full

& so I open the door to my memory
& toss what is blue into the air, watch part of me fly

away. The movement without movement 
of my body keeps everything moving.

I hate living only because I’ve practiced hating 
myself. I’ve always longed for places I shouldn’t go: 

the cast out blackness of shadow, dark alleys, symbolic death.
I’m not ready to let go. What it means or could mean 

is not yet fixed nor could be. Go on, there’s no room
for sadness now. Soon there will be no resting place.

~Ariana D. Den Bleyker~

*

14.

Bird On Fire

Self-fanning wings       
a species without a
safety protocol

[Drop and roll, drop and roll]

Feathers on fire
there’ll be no morning song 
I can’t get near enough to stop

blue flames burning hot
upon its tiny breast
The monk in the paper

was a self-immolator
but this little Wren
did not select sacrifice

Who in this world
could have sought to harm
a bird before sunrise?

Two laughing boys disappear
into the cemetery and my
rage is a Phoenix

even as I cry for lost sweetness,
beauty burnt to bone, the dying
of a feathered soul


13.

Smoke Signals

Every Wednesday the incinerators
stoke up. Smoke falls to the ground
in the winter wind
curls among the martial lines
of planted evergreens
lining the driveway to the hospital.

Jim says that you can hear
the dogs in the research wing
(their larynxes removed)
huff for their lost pals.

And the one-legged vets’
cigarette contrails
dissipating in the air,

mourn their missing
limbs, now sprinkling down
like snow from the sky.

~Ann Randlette~

*

12.

Room Where a Plant Can’t Breathe

Claustrophobic. No evidence of photo-
synthesis the sunlight blocked through
conversation. Blackout words, the paint

-ings on the wall are meaningless. One,
a landscape of dull pastels. The other a
drooping couple, Dali-esque but less-

refined. A grandfather clock ticks
endless quiet not enough to mask the
silence, which is deafening.


11.

Electrons

It is possible
for electrons like you
and me
to have a long-
lasting interaction
before the transition
to zero.
Start strong,
move fast,
conserve energy
through longer
wavelengths,
whale songs, wet
lips. Hold
until light slips
through the spaces
of our fingers:
phosphorescence.
Glow. We know
probabilities
for starting and ending
are the same. 
After the initial
burst, let’s become
a more stable state
we won’t gradually
weaken.


10.

Love Story

This is where I say boo and you take a bow
on the threshold of martyrdom you thought
I was dying
half rocked the tubes of life inserted
into every slit every hole plugged up emaciated
grey-eyed
head hung like a barbell
deaths door
you – avenger – cuckold
kept vigil over my bleeding womb
chant-chant
me back into eyeballs
back into a clit
single handedly raise me
from the dead
I awake a mute
now what to do with me
un-dead
not her / she / the woman
anymore
scared you didn’t I?
only warriors make a comeback like this
when you swallow mercury and it soaks into every cell
saturates every layer
then oozes through your pores
you become mercury
and you clutch onto me as the room floods
with water
we drift out
I worry you may catch a cold
as I burn full on into the sea

~Donna Dallas~

*

9.

Dimwitted
There’s a death in the air
floating up towards our window
of floor 37
I can smell it from the balcony
all hands on deck for it I salvage a tear
from my purse to show a little compassion
some mercy for fuck sake every death
deserves a word or two
etched onto a gravestone
I sit waiting for it to rise up
as if it will grasp my sour heart
and I may breathe no more
but nothing happens
I exit unscathed the sun is shining
and I close death’s door
your foot catches
we are full on writhing into a relapse
we drift into the same death
we miraculously escaped moments before

~Donna Dallas~

*

8.

Fanatic
I’m preaching your
Bible—yessss God
lives in my book bag.

The A-train possesses me
for forty-five minutes
each morning.
I sit captive
between gargoyles
in skirts and flat sandals.
Demons with menacing eyes
clothed in business suits
try to convert me.
They exhale hot breath
onto my breasts piercing my nipples.
I am eye level with their flies
rising right before my eyes.

I ride the train of Edom.
Any moment one of them
will adjust their penis so it
sits comfortably in Fruit of the
Looms.  I sit wet and sticky
wondering the length and width.
I won’t be tainted.

I retreat into the book bag
to save my soul.
~Donna Dallas~

*

7.
Showcase Showdown
Destination vacation:              Lost in the Woods
World-class poison ivy                                    Five-stars for fear
This package includes                        unregulated wasp nests                      berries that bleed
a hiking trail to a cliff               a striking view             of forgotten bear carcasses
You will enjoy an uneasy feeling        a quickening of rustles
in the ferns to your left                        The cricketing silence             burbling liquid
swamp versus living thing                               quality entertainment              swamp wins
Come relax                 in a well-lighted clearing                      at dusk the howling picks up
And the death rolls of gators   you thought you were too far north    to hear
With bats nightmaring above              your face         the wispy ghosts of mosquitoes
bellies full of ghost blood         floating like omens                  before the premium chainsaw
rental               the house decrepiting between the trees                                jawbone doorknocker
curtains of pelts                       the sudden rev                        of a dying engine
And that cackle alone                           that cobweb of a voice                        that amalgam of snarl and sweat
Truly the experience of a lifetime                               what do you bid?

~Aimee Bounds~

*

6.

Haunt

There are ghosts in this place I will haunt.

Medusa and her snakes live here, too,
as does at least one Sasquatch.
I've seen skeletons with Saran Wrap wrinkled skin
and aliens who need tanks with tubes to breathe.

The wheezing woman with rag doll legs and sparrow's round body,
the mad scientist with eyeglasses stolen from Roy Orbison's grave
and feet swiped from a hippo,
the man who ate the circus fat lady whole,

and a scarecrow shaken off her cross,
they all shamble about these pallid halls.
Zombies kick in their wheelchairs,
banshees keen in their nights.

(It is always night here somewhere:
the darkened room, the lights-out mind.)
Vampires coax 4 a.m. blood they will never taste.
Their mouths filled with ash, their murmuring hearts dusty.

I have walked with shaggy Wendigo – only he knew the scent to follow.
I have sat with withered sirens – only they knew what sailors they sought.
Languages are spoken, though none that I fully own.
What is heard is not as important as what is said here.

Here, this place I now haunt.

~Michael A. Griffith~

*

5.

Another Day

they find me sitting up
in my chair
on the back porch
mid-afternoon
gray sky
no visitors for weeks,
maybe more;
my head back
mouth opened
eyes pecked-out by birds,
"holy shit," a cop says,
I hear him clear as day
I can see him too,
eyes or no eyes,
I am in the sky
above the old ash tree,
seems I can fly,
or something
holds me up,
don't know what,
it is odd
like the sun
setting
in the east
red
like the blanket
the cops
throw over my face.

~Wayne F. Burke~

*

4.

IN KANSAS, SHE SWINGS

open the car door,
tells my father, 
I can’t take this
anymore.  

At home my mother’s
Limoges vase. Lip &
foot trimmed in gold.
A stem held upright    
in its midnight blue
belly. Wild roses.

Her hands grapple
with a rolling pin,
& she rows & rows
& again she rows
her dough out into
an ocean. She dives
into brackish lagoons.
                       
It’s her thyroid,
my father says.
Sometimes,
it’s easier to blame
an internal organ.


3.

FATHER’S ROLODEX

I strum through his constellation
of typewriter-hammered cards.
Note the keys he pressed.
                                                A life of strict accounting.

No time-worn tab for my sister.
He called her his “little queen.”
He loved her best, a truth that runs
                                                through every family’s blood type.

Why does this plastic tray
filled with tiny pieces of paper,                                  
snappable, in and out,                                                
                                                evoke such pain?

Sometimes when I spoke to him
the atmospherics shifted
and he would lean leeward,
                                                glare at me,

as if I were the all-star of uglies –
the star-nosed mole,
a bloody-funnel-fringed nose,
                                                no face.

I would look down at my hands         
as if sitting alone in a hospital                                    
waiting room, anxious                                                
                                                for a tender civility.

What mystified me, my sister 
understood – everyone wants
to think they’re smart, so she told him
                                                everything he wanted to hear,

a truth that sticks in my throat,
floods my lungs, leaves an imprint
pressed deep in my skin. My father
                                                was half of me.

~Jacalyn Shelley~

*

2.

MY GRANDFATHER AT THE HUNTING CLUB 1934

a doe dangled from her hind legs on your right
                                          a buck on your left
                                         shotgun in your hand

                                                          you glared at the photographer
                            as if he’d accused you of something terrible

            there’s guilt enough in everyone’s life to account for a look like that

                   dark suit   tie loosened  your left hand tucked inside
                                                         your pants pocket

                                                   are you thinking  what to reply

                  or  did the camera catch you staring into the future

           
                                                         your body mangled under a motorcycle

                                                         your mother placed this black and white picture
                                                                                    into a thin tin frame

                                                                       
                                                that hung over my father’s desk
                                                       for the rest of his life


                                                                                   now  I stare at
                                                        your face


1.

St Agnes of the Organ

Semesters spent spinning textiles, 
Revolving records.  The methods braced 
Her hips, slip circling, twirling 
A giddy foot, levitating for a while.

Letting the crackles hold her loops,
She pulls out those old recordings, 
At least her formative years 
Are completely catalogued.

She took her Wurlitzer on stage, 
Placed the hurdy-gurdy in semiotics, 
Tried to hammer on drums, 
Knitting all the wild angry algorithms.

A jacquard of tones, 
Transmitting each strand 
Into a corded lace of loops, 
The moog filed mouths of bedlam.