Monday, April 27, 2015

a poem by rio cortez

Black Annie Hall

in a black wool hat
& black suspenders
in line to see The Sorrow
& the Pity again

with khaki slacks
& an afternoon free
black Annie has trouble
hailing a cab
after seeing her analyst

on her roof,
black Annie
drinking white wine
after tennis
& dewy

Annie, living alone
calls for help to kill
a black widow spider
in her bathroom

black Annie is bored
so she takes adult courses
& can’t decide
between philosophy
or poetry

lucky today, black Annie
driving 80 on the West
Side Highway with the top
back, hair unmoved

black Annie’s white
boyfriend asks her
not to smoke
that marijuana cigarette
in bed & out-

"Black Annie Hall" first appeared in Prairie Schooner.

Rio Cortez lives in NYC. She is a Pushcart nominee and graduate of the MFA program at NYU. She has received fellowships from Poet's House, Cave Canem and Canto Mundo Foundations. Poems can be found at Prairie Schooner, Sugar House Review, Huizache MagazineChorus: A Mixtape,and elsewhere.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

a poem by robert siek

We Go Seasonal

There’s no Santa Claus and we all die—
and this is eleven. Two candles Twin Towers parallel,
mimicking the number of this age another Christmas,
torches in ice cream cake, a sparking tuning fork,
buried handle-first in ground a touch still frozen.
My nephew’s birthday and he’s a year older.
He reminds me he was born at 5:23. His mother
told him once and it somehow stuck.
I never asked my mom that question or if I did
it’s entirely forgotten, unlike spring weather
every shared birthday cake with my grandmother,
the day before, after, or of Mother’s Day, each candle
a maypole, pagan and danced around, each year
things changing, underarms and voices,
so much to look forward to, life to celebrate,
candles blown out to applause, making a wish,
a cloud of soot exploding from the fireplace,
a chain of flowers left dying in the dirt.

"We Go Seasonal" first appeared in Assaracus.

Robert Siek is the author of the poetry collection Purpose and Devil Piss (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2013) and the chapbook Clubbed Kid (New School University, 2002). His poetry has most recently appeared in The Good Men Project, Painted Bride Quarterly, The Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide, and VACZINE, as well as the anthology Between: New Gay Poetry. He curates the quarterly new queer poets reading series Newfangled at Bureau of General Services—Queer Division and occasionally blogs at

Friday, April 24, 2015

a poem by michael broder

You see, the thing is,

I’ve been in love before,
but never like this,
the way I lie, arm around him,
dark outside, can’t sleep,
thinking of mother in a hospital bed,
lying awake while dawn comes,
yellow, gray, and slightly stale,
the hundred and eighty
degrees I turn, the away I face,
clock I check as he rolls over,
fast asleep, and catches me.

Michael Broder is the author of This Life Now (A Midsummer Night’s Press), a finalist for the 2015 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Assaracus, BLOOM, Columbia Poetry Review, Court Green, and Painted Bride Quarterly, among other journals and anthologies. He lives in Brooklyn with his husband, the poet Jason Schneiderman, and a colony of feral cats.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

a poem by woody loverude

Theory of Churches

Our theory of churches revolves
on the opening & closing of doors.

In childhood, they never locked
& someone was always claiming sanctuary,

a rite not extended to us.  This led
to a confusion of geography, a misunderstanding

of genetics.  There was a narrow refusal
of touch & even when asleep, our blankets

colluded to keep chest from back.  It wasn’t
that we simply wore clothes, but rather

clothes coiled up our thighs, around our biceps.
Outside, the constellations shuffled & the words

of our grandparents turned to pebble in our mouths.
Our family tree inverts every third generation,

when there’s a priest or two, a court case, a handful
of regret tossed to the waves.  The church bells

play pop songs at noon & midnight & make a flash mob
of the townspeople.  The men set aside their lathes,

the women drop their tongues, & even the children
begin to understand the rubble that will come.

Their children’s children will mine the hills
for touchscreens & helium, but find

only half­-filled coffins & books on mythic astronomy.
They will fight, those later years, for dominance & credit,

the right to commune & separate.  To message
ghosts & other kin.  By then, the churches

will have multiplied, the stones growing larger
while congregations sink.  The town lake will ice.

Woody Loverude lives in Brooklyn, and his work can be found in Ninth Letter, Columbia Poetry Review, Mead, Court Green, and elsewhere.  His chapbook, Flood, was published by Shadowbox Press.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

a poem by liz peters

Coral Trees

All of my relationships are sad,
like a whole bunch of petals doing a slow drop off the acacia tree,
the jacaranda’s tree’s light purple petals
falling down through the air.

I heard that in the most ancient of languages,
the present tense is just the past tense
structure plus the future tense structure,
and the two are perfectly overlaid, like two Roscolene
gel sheets layered across the top of some perfect stage light fixture
and so anytime you say anything
about the thing that is happening right now,
or the thing that you want this instant,
what you’re actually speaking of is some sort of
shiny orange and pink circle,
where past and future combine
before it all just fades.

When I was a sixteen year old,
I believed that the only potential forms of death for me
would be explosion or implosion,
and I wished for some kind of spontaneous
combustion each day.

When I think of time, I like to dwell
upon the thick ray of light illuminating a strip of garden near the table
where Avichai and I sit or sat or will sit or are sitting --
the one with flecks of gold dust swirling around within its ocular bounds like several
galaxies near enough to me to touch.

I guess what I’m saying is that you come home in the afternoon,
and I come down on you, and the music is on.
If you know what I mean, it immensifies me.
I wonder about the jacaranda tree and about whether it is still turning the whole
block light purple with its treats in springtime.
We flew a little.

Liz Peters is a poet from California in New York.  She works as the program manager at Bowery Poetry and will be studying literary translation at CUNY Queens starting this fall.  Her work has appeared in No, Dear Magazine, the Koans and Performance Project and on the album Warszawa by the rock band Point Reyes (Cakes and Tapes, 2012).  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

'the triumphant return of madonna—and it’s about time' by justin lockwood

Let me get this out of the way: I realize Rebel Heart came out a while ago; in fact, the first 6 songs were released with pre-orders back in January.  But it takes me several listens to truly assess my feelings about an album.  This was especially true given my high hopes for Rebel Heart: in my opinion, Madonna hasn't had a truly great album since 2005’s Confessions on a Dance Floor.  Those first tracks left me cautiously optimistic: “Living for Love” is a choir-filled, floor stomping stunner, and “Ghosttown” is probably her best ballad this side of “Live to Tell.”  But “Devil May Pray” was pretty filler-y, and “Bitch I’m Madonna,” while fun, is the sort of indulgent cheese MDNA had far too much of.

But now, I’m happy to say, I've learned that Rebel Heart is everything I hoped for.  It’s Madonna’s best in years, and I can’t get enough of it.  Critics have already pointed out that former trendsetter Madonna worked too hard to follow other people’s trends on her last few efforts.  Breaking out of that pattern is a huge part of why Rebel Heart works as well as it does.  She’s confident and even a little experimental, producing dizzying songs like the tribal sounding “Best Night” and the raunchy “Holy Water,” the latter featuring both orgasmic “oh’s” and the types of deliciously sacrilegious references that are Queen M’s stock in trade.  Even the songs I wasn’t initially impressed by have grown on me: “Iconic” is arrogant but earns its swagger with a driving beat, and “Body Shop” manages to make potentially groan inducing innuendos about “headlights” and “curves” playful and sweet.  The large number of tracks—19, not including bonuses on the “Super Deluxe” edition—gives Madonna the opportunity to cover expansive sonic ground.  There’s quiet and contemplative (“Heartbreak City,” “Wash All Over Me,” “Rebel Heart”), brash and in-your-face (“Unapologetic Bitch” is awesome), and blends of both (“Veni Vidi Vici” finds the Material Girl looking back with references to her back catalogue that feel more earned here than they did on the frivolous MDNA, while guest Nas brings in his own life story—and attitude).  Her vocals are strong and show off her range, and the instrumentation harkens back to the grounded electronic backdrop of Ray of Light and Music.

Refreshingly, Rebel Heart really seems like it’s about something.  Beyond the usual suspects like come hither sexuality (does anyone doubt that, even at 56, this woman has a robust sex life?) and broken relationships, Madonna seems to be tackling her feelings about life in general—the one she’s lived, and the one she stills hopes to continue.  Fittingly, the artist who inspired multiple generations of pop is back to making music that doesn't sound like anyone else’s.  It’s thrillingly and enjoyably her own.

a poem by ariel yelen

Sometimes I Am Like the Flower of Farewell

I think you are the goats she says   
and you are you  
and I think you're afraid of anger
rage is what the goats feel as they stampede towards me   
all because I threw a stick   
why did you throw a stick  
well I was in a field and
I wanted to make a loud sound   
the stick broke in  

like the deer 
two halves of its body dragged to the side of the highway   
on the drive to Kerhonkson 
where my friend walks with me through the woods   
and points out the dead leaves   
how it feels to walk amongst them  
they are wet and flat in the dirt   

and I'm just letting them grow as they would  
dark hairs  
dark moods  
I too love those hours of my being   

I too like to watch things ripen

Ariel Yelen's poems have been published in Two Serious Ladies, and the 2014 anthology Shadow of the Geode. She lives in Brooklyn and works as the Community Manager for Bowery Poetry, where she also co-curates the Fantasy Reading Series.