BEN SEANOR

Ben Seanor was raised in Florida. He lives in Texas and works in education. Ben’s poems have appeared in, among other places, The RuptureYes, PoetryColorado Review; and Cimarron Review

Last World

Posed by the sweet
acacia,
you reached up—


flowers,
a rung on the ladder.


A soft snap
from my phone.


Before we could find
ourselves


on this page
of grasses, petals
yellowed out


of the tree,
and in the woods
to the left,


junipers convulsed,
then pollen
golding


everywhere


like news
from this last world.


Walking back
toward the park gate,
you shelter


the phone
to see your photo.


Can the acacia say
anything new
through the drink


of screen light?


I mean our being right
in this field.


The nearnight hanging
its mouth around us. 

Pure Afternoon

I walk to the bank

and cars and road 

work and trees

 

all move

how they need.

 

And also the slight 

migration

 

of electrons.

The wind doing

nothing 

but illustrating

 

pure action in

the afternoon.

 

And other people,

pedestrians, too.

 

Inside the bank

all movement is

diagramed

 

and coded. Here

is one smiling 

 

person by

the door. Here 

is one frowning

 

person checking

my balance.

 

What isn’t pleasantly 

mechanical?

 

What isn’t part

of a competition

in motion?

 

I can move

some funds

from one space

to another like 

 

a sweet puff

of air and never

 

think of how

many lives

this gesture really

requires.

 

I can move back

outside

and watch

the leaves get

 

lazy on

the wet sidewalk

and the man

 

with the stroller 

full of trashthings

hobbles off

into the always

 

receding

distance.

Lateral Thinking with Withered Technology

I want in green light and in gold. 

 

I want to end the auto-play of self-loathing.

 

I want to lie down in the landfill of my returned purchases.

 

I want to take up smoking like I mean it.

 

I want to close my eyes in the bath with the lights off and become a disco ball. 

 

I want the dead to continue to give as we give to them. 

 

I want to know why I wished people told me good luck instead of sorry for your loss when my dad died.

 

I want to find the man who saw Peter Schjeldahl bleeding on gurney, who told him die, babyand kiss him.

 

I want to not ruin your day when I say I want to be dead.  

 

I want to change this poem. Maggie, I hate its direction.

 

I want to direct it to you.  

 

I want beinging. Do you know what I mean?

 

I want to see every moment laid out like the field that it is and stay as long as I can. 

 

I want to press my thumb to something and have it unlock me.

 

I want to keep addressing you, Maggie, in the body of this poem, in the body. 

 

I want to see our faceslaughing, crying, screaming, staring blank at a phone—without seeing the word comorbidity

 

I want us to send each other beautiful photos through elusive air for as long as there is air. 

 

I want the child I hate myself for wanting because there is no future. 

 

I want freedom without wreckage, which you’ve tried to teach me is impossible. 

 

I want you asleep, pressing against me for warmth, pressing my body into the mattress, into time that makes more time. 

    

I want to wake in the night and see some future pink tenderness standing in the doorway and, finally, know. 

SAMIA SALIBA

Samia Saliba (she/her) is an Arab-American writer, artist, and historian. She edited The Rachel Corrie Foundation’s Shuruq 4.5 Writing Showcase for writers of Arab heritage (2020) and was a RAWI Wet Hot Arab-American Summer fellow (2019). Her work has been nominated for Best of the Net and appears in Sycamore Review, Vagabond City Lit, Kissing Dynamite, Mizna, & elsewhere. Find her on twitter @sa_miathrmoplis or in real life petting a cat.

cw: references to gender violence, abuse

twitter DMs from scheherazad - after mohja kahf

#1


hbbt, i used to think our stories
could change men wrap their
violence in rope & let free the loving
parts maybe i still believe idk but
whats the cost? 3 years of life, longer
maybe. save ur stories for ur sisters
better just 2 block him

 

#2


i’ve heard this one before.
he’s the trusted activist. everyone’s comrade.
wrote her a poem. got her published.
edits the magazine, now she can’t get published.
was nice until he wasn’t.
1000 nights of kindness & 1 …

some1 said our men are killers but they are ours
yes,


could be our killers.

 

#3


i told my story @ the open mic,
at the cafe, told it on the anonymous instagram acct.
told it to the elders & the title 9 dept
i told it
because there is & is not
a coward in all of us
killer in all of us
sister in every audience, tell me
hbbt
what story u have for me

ZACH PECKHAM

Zach Peckham is a writer, editor, and educator. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in jubilatTerritoryPoetry Northwest, on the Academy of American Poets website, and elsewhere. He currently teaches at Cleveland State, the Cleveland Institute of Art, and is managing editor at Cleveland Review of Books.

Square With Blood Blooming

After NCIS Episode 415, ‘Friends & Lovers’

Esports

The boys behind me are talking about esports
        and ways to get esports
into all the schools by their calculations we will have esports

        teams in all the schools video game teams
in all the gyms we could ever want
        esports in all the schools

OK they say
        there is a formula for maximum
success.

        Their acronym
goes
        I forget

but basically
        has something to do with
just hanging out

        surrounded
by interesting things.
        That’s cool

I’m interested
        in interesting things
too and just like

        being interesting
you know
        man?

Seriously this
        economy is getting
hard to navigate. It’s like

        a magic carpet
dipped in kerosene.
        We’re all working

on ways of not immolating
        our savings accounts.
This is my standup set.

        Meanwhile silent
-ly a server farm
        under an interstate somewhere is humming

algorithmic expressions of
        value codified
to the tune of what

        seems like a profound secret
depending who your dad was.
        We studied

the wrong things. Looked down at
        hard vocations. Not knowing
the hardness that would be

        ours. Playing a videogame
where you get to be
        a poor person

to forget about
        being a poor person.
This may be

        the point where we exit
the lines. Please remain
        calm.

Can you smell
        what the early spring
breeze coming in off the shore

is cooking
        with a hint of
Four Loko. Camisole

        of oxidized aluminum
Juul pen cream clouds. Heart eyes.
        Blink now. Hard as you can.

Holy
        shit there are
stars in here.         

Desktop Background

obfuscated by screenshots
naturally I am the main character of this world


with lights on all day and drinking out of boredom
mine cgi bin runneth over


cupped in the aftermathy shimmer of hands
tracing altars to the vow show


before you say it clearly let me suggest
green glass


white wine imported
organic grapes

little berry skins glinting
you squint into the camera

embedded in the black edge of the frame
designed in one place

assembled by an other
shipping lanes conspire

to mirror in ways we never
how it all feels like a stunning

possibility to attend
conflagrance of Bartlebys

flat tire for a tyrant
you are reflecting

DALIA BARGHOUTY

Dalia Barghouty was born in the Midwest in 1995 when the commercial internet was also born.  She writes about, theorizes, hates, and loves American Media in Northern California.

google maps

the fox eye of dawn makes its appearance horizontally —  

sheds it’s 

this & that in  

the Sacramento River  

& my camera roll 

[approx. 18 pics]

 

i’ll miss the proceeding moments that are the moments approximate to the moments of a wet kiss before the moments of no kisses 

your eyes an already tired lament at 

the Enterprise rent-a-car 

 

next you’ll drive across valley then desert  

[approx. 12 consecutive hours] 

 

but for now 

if we look closely enough the sky is not great vastness but a 

    Taco Bell 

    Dollar Tree — 

 

is the mountain of now not Tahoe? 

 

no, that’s Tahoe  — 

yeah over there, i think that’s Tahoe  — 

google meet

i face 

  time my mother 

           ask does my grey tooth  

betray beauty’s transience 

“it’s hardly noticeable!” 

yet selfies are a shocking  

disappointment 

 

[one month later i get a root canal & am referred to an endodontist & pay $697 out-of-pocket]

 

but now it’s all 

     granular synthesis — 

lingerie 

 fast fashioned 

under a pin-up 

suit 

 

to be sexy is to be immediate 

& it’s sexy to say yes 

to a google meet 

meeting w/ 

a man w/

a doctorate 

in American Media i am told to want 

 

— gloss 

shines like 

right here 

       & insta-filter foundation — 

                taking a drag —  

vape smoke billows  

    between interfaces god i

 beam immaculate — 

 

i imagine you are staring at my breasts 

as you are staring at my breasts live — 

 

after i’ll touch myself & think of him each night 

under the glow of the moon 

            or pornhub — 

 

this will only end when The Grove burns again 

only this time it keeps blazing

love poem<3<3

feeling some kind of malaise — something about how the attention economy 

co-opted care, that valentine’s day is the 

reification of love something something —  

 

i noticed you were checking out the hot girl running across the path 

but it’s fine i was checking her out too.  

 

anyway i promise i will not google you forever. 

There will be no refined search, 

instead every day 

a sunset a dawn a sunset a dawn —

every day an 

orientation — 

my hands, your back — 

together a how-to 

non-guide 

 

i promise our astrological placements do not convey permanence  

i promise my promises are actually non-promises 

 

& that yes i can give you back scratches 

right now at sunset before dawn during the times when i’m not on my phone before you fall asleep — 

SHIVANI KSHIRSAGAR

Shivani Kshirsagar(she/her) is a queer writer based in Hyderabad, India. Her works have found homes in Horse Egg LiteraryHungry Ghost Project, and in The Alipore Post among others. She can be found on Instagram as girlwiththemane, and on Twitter as nakkorebaba.

Sahadev is typing...

No one is watching. 

So why does it have to be beautiful? 

You, in pain, are no closer to god than 

You, in the drive thru or 

You, checking your email or 

You, holding your own hand. 

regarding the röttgen pietà, elle emerson

Type a message… 

(5 minutes ago) Bhim said: Fuck those Kauravas

(5 minutes ago) Nakul said: +1  

(5 minutes ago) Arjun said: +2 

(5 minutes ago) Yudhishtir said: Cursing isn’t the way. We of all people should know that

Type a message… 

(5 minutes ago) Bhim said: [                 ]

(4 minutes ago) Nakul said: [                 ]
(4 minutes ago) Bhim said: While Sahadev sees everything & still leaves us on seen. 👀
(4 minutes ago) Arjun said: [                                 ]
(3 minutes ago) Yudhishtir said: [     ] anger [         ] is [             ] desire [
] is what happened to our father [     ] [         ] holding one’s tongue.
(3 minutes ago) Nakul said: [                   ] @Sahadev!

You are typing… 

I am tired. So tired. All these words. Birds buzzing in my head. I am silenced. I have to. I must. All of you are beloved. I watched him die. I was there. Not you. Not you. Not you. Not you. Me. I saw him clutch his heart. I heard Mother’s shrieks. I ran but I didn’t. My legs were missing. Where are my feet? I knew I had to move. How does one move? I knew I had to move. I told my feet, move. Come on. You know this. Move… ! I heard Mother wail. She screamed, the Gods are cruel. She screamed, Curse these Gods their curse! She screamed, and I heard her but I didn’t want to listen any longer. Move. I said. Where were you all? Someone help her. She screamed about desire and how it burns. Desire tore a family apart. I heard her. I didn’t want to listen to her. Mother screamed, how is a man supposed to deny himself his desire? How is a man supposed to deny himself his fire? The ascetics said burn your mortality. Become God. But Men are made of fire. Men burn. Move legs. Move. Mother screamed. I heard the splinter of wood, a harsh piercing groan. I saw Mother drag our Father. Limp as a tree. She placed him on more wood and set his burnt form on fire. The flames licked him. Faster and faster and faster. Touched him, felt him. The Gods had cursed him. Lust and you die. Mother leapt into the flames. Love and you die. Move, legs. Now. I heard her. I smelled her. Crackle of flesh. The green of wood. The sap of life. Eroded. Erased. Turned inside out. Fire. Fire. Fire. Freed, I ran. Where were you? Didn’t you see the smoke rise? Or did you mistake it to be a fleshy cloud thick with rain? Ashes fell on me. I was doused. They seeped into my pores, into the thick of my flesh. My skin wept ash. Where were any of you? The wind carried her screams. Her ashes lingered on my tongue. I ran to the smoked wood. Filled my mouth with ash. Dry flakes. Warm. Like her embrace. His hands on my head. Youngest. I shouldn’t be watching them cremated. Where were you? I filled my mouth with their bones. They scraped against my gums. Blood; warm, salted; iron. Swords. My teeth crunched on their skeletal swords. My tongue thick with their black dust. Ashes and bones. Bones and ashes. All that is left of a home. A child shouldn’t see their parents coming undone. A parent shouldn’t undo their sons. Where were you? I ate and ate, the warm giving way to fire. Embers in my throat. Smoke escaped through my pores. I was Fire. I am on Fire. I didn’t burn. Failed to burn. I ate and ate. Ash, bone, ember. Where were you? Memories are ghosts. I am haunted. I ate their death. I am now a ruin. I inhale their air, their ghosts sucked into my lungs. I am a haunting. Her screams… swallowed by the birds. Shall I kill each one to hear her again? I want to hear her again. A scream will do. I am forgetting the scent of her laugh. How did she smile? I want to kill each bird. Shall I? Where were you? Someone stop me. Father was cursed. Mother watched the curse eat him alive. The Gods watched her watching him eaten alive. I watched her eaten alive by watching him eaten alive. The Gods watched me. I am still alive. Fire burns. I am still alive. Where were you? Ashes stuck in my teeth. Fleshy fragments in my nostrils. I can’t breathe. Smoke in my ears. Blackness makes my eyes. I can’t breathe. What is air? I am collapsing into the soft of their death. It’s warm. It’s nice. Memories. Touch. A kiss. Can I love you alive? Savitri bargained. Could I free you from Death’s hands? Where were you? Memories. Father said, eat my remains. There is power in abstinence. Deny the flesh of its wants and needs. Become God. You died a human death. A human’s death. Eat my remains. I heard, let me remain inside of you. Desire, sire. My blood doesn’t carry you. You don’t live in me. I was not born of you. Ashes falling like confetti. I was not born to you. A mother slept with a God. What is a person? Legacy or lineage? Who were you? You have no legacy. I am not your lineage. I am my Mother’s child. Who are your sons? Where are they? I am a God’s son. Where are you? You said, eat my remains. I see a trail of ants carrying a piece of you. I am tired of ash and bones. I pluck it from their needle-like arms. I swallow without letting my tongue know your taste. Eat my remains. Now I am your remains. I remain. I eat your flesh. My body revolts. I fall hard, crushing my skull. I ……………………………………………………. I now know everything that is, was, will. I know the beginning and the end. Eat my remains. There is power in abstinence. I know the history. I know the eventuality. I know the answers. I know all the answers. Eat my remains. Power in abstinence. I know all the answers. Power in abstinence. I KNOW ALL THE ANSWERS….. Shall I kill the birds that know my curse? Power in abstinence. God sits on my parents’ pyre. Looks me in the eye. Says, hold your tongue. Await the right questions. There is power in abstinence. Answer a question with a question. Let the world know their own worth by owning their words…………………………………………………………………………………………. Unstring me from these words! Hold your tongue with both hands if you must… there is power in abstinence… I blink. There are ghosts instead… Eating into my remains. I remain. I wish to come undone… 

… 

… 

… 

(Just now) You said: 🙂

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