Lost in Medimurje


By Anatoly Kudryavitsky

(For Dražen Katunarić)

On a day without a number
in the month of listopad
the wind of amnesia sweeps the red roofs,
while an ancient mound crowned with new grass
savours its withered memories.
Autumn hasn’t yet drowned in winter,
and the path to the pastures of the past
is well worth following.
In the candlelit windows
Cinderella dances with a wooden Marie Corelli;
three daughters of success narrate
the story of their porcelain marriage
to Mr. Nutcracker.
The future gets littered
with things from bygone dreams.
“If there is a future”
the field sings its mud song.
The tree growing inside a ruined house
keeps vigil
over the waters of chaos.


Anatoly Kudryavitsky


The Sea (Melanoma in Situ)


By Hadara Bar Nadav

I imagine you watery, full of rust-
red strands, like one of Klimt’s swimming
women with gills for eyes, eyelids
quilted in blush brocades and silks.

There is something fish and flat
about you, your slit eye and the flake
of your skin. There is an eye
about you, where seeing begins

and ends, orbital bone needled
by wiry thread. You sink in emerald
eels of water where shadows
are born, and cannot see. You nod

and wake in your chemical sea.
Mechanical with want, eyeless.

Skeleton Blood Memoir with Bob


By Steven Ostrowski

Port Richmond got too small;
too hindsight-driven, way passed tense.
They converted stop signs into funerals
and juke boxes into arrest warrants.
Dirge clouds gathered all summer
over the girders of the Bayonne Bridge.

And me ancient and seventeen

and him spitting out those daggersongs.


Held-in smoke and dark-eyed friends,
him on the 33 launching lines from Mercury,
preferring the other side of everything.
Mirror ballads, pinstripe blues,
Railroad drunk dog wail songs.
I can still hear that wavy oxygen sound
spilling across the room,
flooding into my broke-open brain.


I smoked the chords, too.


Not one of the girls in that town got him.
“He’s too         .”
They had assets but not the ear
for Shakespeare’s orphan.
If they’d have gotten him, they’d have gotten me
inside out and up the wazoo;
we’d have been kid-faced lovers
infamous on Richmond Avenue
for our iron-singed eyes
and lyric-smeared smiles.


And it doesn’t leave you, ever.
Leaves tracks that harp in your blood.
Leaves you spastic balletic, moonful in your poems,
howl-round in the bedroom, a little lonely in the eye sockets
but approaching mystic. His ghost songs,
even fifty years down the highway,
shiver like the last hotel in the hurricane.


Back then, world said: be this.
I said: fuck you. I had his records in my cells, all
the curves and edges. Sulfur gaze
hard as Duluth.
I said: your song’s used up. I’ve got
a whalebone-inlaid xylophone
and ten words that rhyme with it.


He didn’t teach me everything.
Why would I even want that?


Be true to your pulse,
keep the hammer headed south,
stay amused,
polish your boots,

don’t explain,

and thank you for coming.

Loveless Young Couples


By David Kirby

I see you in restaurants, picking at your food, already
disgusted with each other even though you’re just out
of college or still in. Is that because you’re business majors?
You look like business majors. A Ford Foundation
report calls business the default major, saying too many

students select it as a path to a job, not out of curiosity.
You should be curious, young people. Certainly you should
be curious about each other! Yet look at you, playing with
your food. Tristan and Isolde were curious about each other,
as were Lancelot and Guinevere, Héloçse and Abélard,

Paolo and Francesca . . . the list goes on and on. Sure,
all these stories all end horribly, but why do we still
read and teach them and make movies and operas about them
hundreds of years later? Because they tell us everything
we need to know about love, that’s why. In their book

Academically Adrift, sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa
Roksa report that business majors had the weakest gains
during the first two years of college on a national test
of writing and reasoning skills. You young people
are focusing on the bottom line! Just as you’re going to college

to get a job, so you’re choosing a helpmeet who appears
to be above average genetically and won’t embarrass you
at the corporate awards dinner because he or she seems
to know the difference between an escargot and a booger.
But when you love somebody, you don’t think that way.

When you love somebody, you want to yank up their shirt,
pull down their pants, bury your face in their flesh.
When business students take the GMAT, they score lower
than students in every other major. You think the great lovers
of legend took the GMAT? Hell, no! They were too busy

trying to figure out how to fool the brother/uncle/father/king
who was trying to keep them from meeting
in the garden/alcove/portico/broom closet. Take the Châtelaine
of Vergy, who loves an unnamed knight in the service
of the Duke of Burgundy but insists he keep their love

secret, though when the Duchess of Burgundy makes a play
for the knight and he spurns her, she flies into a rage and tells
the Duke that the knight tried to seduce her, leading the Duke
to accuse the knight of treachery and the knight to say where
his heart truly lies, thus breaking his promise to the Châtelaine,

who dies in despair, and when the knight finds her body,
he kills himself, and when the Duke finds both bodies,
he kills the Duchess and becomes a Knight Templar.
There, another horrible end. But what passion while
it lasts, what kisses, what sighs as the lovers fall asleep

in each other’s arms. If you loveless young couples
spent more time trying to make sense out of stories like this one,
you’d score higher on the GMAT. Take more humanities courses,
business majors. And you businessmen and -women—
unite! Let poets address your gatherings! You worship

Moloch, the god to whom the Canaanites sacrificed
their firstborn and Ginsberg chanted, “Moloch! Moloch!
Robot apartments! invisible suburbs! skeleton treasuries!
blind capitals! demonic industries! spectral nations!
invincible madhouses! granite cocks! monstrous bombs!”

Go on, break your backs lifting Moloch to heaven,
if you must, but let the poets in as well. “Unscrew
the locks from the doors!” said Whitman, and the doors
themselves from the jambs. Industry leaders, I call on you
to promote American business, also monkey business.

Our Sad Little Man


By Robert Nazarene

Just 4 years old he wandered from nightlight
to nightlight to nightlight back & forth &
back & forth & back & forth from his bed-
room to the bathroom to the kitchen for 3
days and nights (and counting) doing exactly
what Mommy told him to do: You just wait
‘til your father gets home!
until she would slip
beneath the waves again into her sadbed
and if a little boy digs his fingernails into
his neck over & over & over until his blood
weeps & falls into that old snot-caked
onesy does it mean he gets to die soon does
it mean Christmas is coming early this year?



By X. J. Kennedy

I meet a Jew, we always hit it off,
Outsiders that we are. We tend to band
Together separately. We understand
Each not belonging to the other’s club,

Excluding me from Talmud, Yom Kippur,
Uncircumcised as I’m, born far from folks
Who struggled in a ghetto. Different strokes,
That’s us. But meat a rabbi’s blade makes pure,

Chopped liver, challah, pickles, macaroons
Nest in my hungry mouth like home sweet home.
I feel a long way now from Peter’s Rome
And somehow nearer to Jerusalem,

To Jewish laughter: when a baby’s bladed,
His first ten per cent cut. “Is that the highest
In the church a boy can go? Just Pope? Not Christ?
So why not? One of our boys made it.”

Surrounded by a neighborhood that pays
Jesus lip-service—maybe it annoys
Them just a bit? They don’t complain. We goys
Infect their children with our special days:

Some Jewish tots believe in Santa Claus
And coax for stockings, gifts on Christmas eve,
With chocolate Easter bunnies stuff their jaws—
Legends that fewer Christians still believe.

And yet the Jews I know don’t seem to mind.
They have one up on me. More centuries past
Remain their heritage. My lucky kind
Haven’t been herded, shipped to death camps, gassed.