the young brother was like a puppy dog, following his older brother

by Anna Sullivan


an ode to the flesh that curled around his bones and beneath a boat
an ode to the flesh stretched across the pavement like smashed berries

              i swear i never knew what he looked like
              except for a picture in my head
                            in the picture he was gentle
                            and his eyebrow arched with confusion
                            and he never wanted to hurt anybody

i would be lying if i said
i am not inspired and i am not impressed
and i am not curious about the ghost

when it slipped out, was it allowed to go toward a light tunnel or a dark one?
              or did it cling to where the colors were simple?
you know, the steamy clouds above Boston, they turn pink every night come April,
you remember

well i am ten stories high now and i can lick them,
open my windows and prick them, rainclouds, erupting—
              how about my flesh that stretches across one year?
              how about my fear, which i swear is a deep black lake, which i would jump into
if i were noble and brave and pure

              how about the fear he dove into, did he never resurface?
could it rain down? could it cover us as we sleep?
pure warm dark tenderness of nothing, of no pleasure, of no dream—
              that oblivion we cherished, could it wash us?

i’ll tell you one truth:
if you look deeply enough into bright light or darkness
you wont be able to see a thing

an ode to how badly he wanted to escape
an ode to how badly we wanted him to stay

could we be the overturned boat? could we be swimming?
could we have conceived him as a pure black lake?
and no, we never wanted to hurt anybody, did we

it’s spring again
we are twenty years old
and we would be lying if we said we wanted to watch anybody die
and we would be lying if we said we wanted to stay inside our own bodies

Moths

by Ann Douglas


Frost, copper

Window, fence

So much
depends on not knowing.
Like a spell.

Like the tension
between headlong and
ground.
                Dedication
to dedication, a calling

was like that, calling
ahead. You were meant
to feel

the wind’s vigor
on your face.
And to risk—that was the positive,
the currency

that promised
not to cash-in, deflate or go missing.

How to connect
without the valuable
at stake between us?

New Lands, East, West

by Ann Douglas


Face, Spring

That’s why we have rules
my friend, T, explains. Bacteria

moves quicker
                than we can
into the future.

About fires, she says, smoldering grass
makes excellent kindling.

I could have protected them.
I could have assumed an earlier
regret—
                Lightning
from nowhere—could have inspired in me
prayer.

From a swirl
of unstable heat, the fire volleyed downriver
toward us.

How could you
not see this as battle
everywhere in store?
\

is what I imagine she’d say
if she weren’t already so busy—
(an activist even in my head.)

This is a friend who can direct convoys.
She hoists drums and 50# packs,
boards the helicopter.

What a vision
to see one’s house among houses outlined
in cherry

warping the moon as it bores
through twilight to report back,
rock to void.

Such compression on community
like oxygen
spins a centrifugal
model of command
                                across a vacuum
roaring
many-armed, centered
like a tilting pinwheel.

Winding sirens
shriek up Edgecliffe toward the smoking trenches—

I could have danced—
I could have joined our women
bare breasted, ribbons flying
round and round the Maypole
each spring.

Cosmic monoxide and sparks, the fires,
chest against chest,
clack like two bucks locking headgear.
Eventually as God’s ardor
met His match, He is soothed.

Only a witch,
our sister to flame
would distrust prevailing wisdom.

In matters of fire-fighting,
of investment
and protection,

history was taking
itself seriously,
                                whose favored state

keeps us breathing—
                                says so.
You can imagine its importance here. A breath
for seven
                scarves, three
from four, and one, I imagine, the instant

reckoned from a pack,
exits outright

like sparks spit from a whining circular saw
as it cuts through cottonwood.

God manages
though without enough crews.

Afterwards, we sift the creek stones
round as mushrooms large to small

that marked the drives off Jumpers Bluff.
It turns out granite burns.

Then what did history expect for its part
fused to God like a comet’s tail

if not pay?
                It stretched
in one direction,
pared to the Gulf Stream,
                                ready
for that thing like due—
no, no,
witch, like gratitude.

Kestrel Ridge

by Ann Douglas


Skier Matt

Naturally, God is in charge.
Sometimes, however, when gravity
gets out of hand,
by which I mean, possessive
like a map
privileging itself—
doesn’t it seem right
that God should intervene.
Stopping time
gives the earth like a mother
of children, a lift.

When everything loses
on par, and with the warehouse cleared,

there are no contingencies,
no necessary exits.

For awhile we are dead.

Allow me to add, this is His
understanding, not mine,
nor the quails’
from the sound of them.
To plant our faith in the rush—

then have it reversed
against itself
and back to Him—

as from streaking horsetails to heaven

either way—
though we’ve worked this hard—
we still have no traction.

Apple Orchards Hung with Foil Deflectors

by Ann Douglas


Chain, Orchard

The idea formed,
had formed—prefab

that symmetry like law
like balance

would knit us together.

Geese
met Earth’s curve and
bent. Honking
ripped the air, lifted rivers—
rapids and flew them. Truth presided, the one
thriving on contest

within accord.
Loose azures
heavenly enough

to recruit the McCalmon
peak blue, flash blue.

No one was meant
to be by the glare of the seen, un.

Such was not the intention.
God likes

rooms within chambers, forms
within forms, His
form.

But luck

needs no self, no
God’s warty right hand.

Luck just happens
in the old aristocratic sense,

rising carelessly
from some hidden left hand,
presumptive of a perfect southern exposure.

Zealots

by Glenn Buttkus


“It is not God who fucked up, it’s the screamers who say
they believe in him, & who claim to pursue their ends in
his holy name.”–John Irving

God has multiple faces,
every pigment of skin,
speaks all languages,

but it never
has made any sense to
me that as

many choose, or
are chosen to follow a
specific faith, they

immediately fan their own hubris,
plunge into pitfalls of elitism,
condescend to everyone named Morris,
& condemn all the other ‘isms.

The world’s religions break down to
the Big Dog Clubs, the strays, and non-members;
33% of us are Christians,
23% are Muslims, 14% are Hindus,
7% are Buddhists, 2% follow Judaism,
about 10% are considered non-religious,
and everyone else falls through the cracks.

Are we all slaves to our own base nature?
If we belong to or favor a sports team,
a fraternal organization, a city, a state, a country–

this somehow makes us feel superior
to everyone else?
We belong, they don’t, so fuck them?
Citing our unalienable rights to fight
for what we believe in, versus what
they believe in, giving us impetus
to declare war on them.

Our Founding Fathers believed that
we should always keep Church & State
as separate entities, & yet throughout history
more wars have been fought,
more lives have been lost,
more blood has been shed,

over religious conflicts than
any other single factor.

The entire American Military Complex
is in crisis, it seems, facing
a suicide epidemic. Last year more
active duty servicemen & women
committed suicide than died in combat.

Within the US Marine Corps,
in another lame attempt to promote
well-being among troops, they force
those on active duty to fill out
a training document, asking them
to check boxes that pertain to them,

as their commanders hope to prevent
loss of life by monitoring warning signs
like substance abuse, criminal records,
prior suicide attempts, implied sexual orientation,
and the latest is “lack or loss of spiritual faith.”
In the Army they require soldiers to complete
a survey that measures their “spiritual fitness”,
because spiritual people have decreased odds
of attempting suicide, spiritual fitness has a positive

effect on quality of life & mental health,
and no one is ever allowed to put the word
atheist on their dog tags.

Come on, how in hell are we to keep religion
out of the armed forces,
out of politics,
out of our schools,
out of our workplace, &
out of our wars.

Are there truly no atheists in foxholes
during a devastating mortar attack?
Have there been wars in heaven
as the angels did battle wearing
white or black wings?
Is there a war within our own hearts
between greed & compassion?

Rhetorical inquiries I suspect, since
belief in one’s faith often denies logic
and fully embraces conundrum.

Midst the maze, each of us must seek
our own answers, adopt our own conclusions,
and then face the consequences
of those actions–regardless
of what we are told, mandated, preached to about,
dictated, forced, cajoled, or manipulated
by the powers that be.

Zorongo

by Glenn Buttkus


“Then I realized I had been murdered.
They looked for me in cafes, cemeteries
and churches–but they did not find me.
They never found me? No.
They never found me.”
–Federico Garcia Lorca

On my island, faces formed on the warm glass
of the small kitchen window, as sweet steam
from my heirloom Spanish china cup
swirled up from Carmencita black tea,
teasing the hard driving rain into fat droplets
as squads of rain men passed in wet parade
on a dull dun day just like many that Raymond Carver
would have stared into out across the white-capped
Strait of Juan de Fuca, sipping whiskey, smoking
and patiently waiting for his words to stir, releasing
poetics, letting it blossom out of the dampness–

but Carver was not there at my special window,
no, as I sipped hot castanet gulps and listened
to the flamenco falsettas, feeling those strong
classical rhythms burst out bullanguero,
thrusting untouched deep into the downpour,

and my thoughts returned to Spain,
to August 1936 near the great fountain
at Alfacar where a thin smartly attired
Garcia Lorca stood with three other men
being called communist faggots by their
Nationalist firing squad, and I wondered
if Lorca was thinking about his love affair
with Dali, or the burly sculptor Adadren
as the bastardo bullets hit his flesh,

did he boldly meet the brass in a passionate
arranque, or did the indifferent fussilade
just thud dully, like a cruel a golpe,
as the beautiful poet slipped away
from his tormenters;

making me ponder as to where his killers
had actually put his riddled husk, for
it is well known that after the death of Franco,
when they dug up Lorca’s shallow grave,
they could not find any human remains;
God, he had even escaped excavation.
So where was Lorca?

I smiled broadly then, for on that day
Lorca had appeared just for me
as a quicksilver bust in motion,
straight down the heated glass
of my many paned window,
to the fervent sad strains
of a zorongo, a liquid lullaby
in 2/4 time, as his gypsy verses
echoed in the warm corners
of my kitchen, and in the rare
Spanish corridors of my heart.