Tom C. Hunley

Sonnet I


What did Tom know about the human heart
Thrown out the window of a burning house

He would have said he had a chronic case
As if a person were a body, not
The pages of a bible that flew up
Then blew some minds by landing in a vase

Let’s hope he lives forever as an app,
A thousand thousand candles on his cake

To make Tom feel a soap bubble’s despair
Help him into the buttless gown you’ll find

All of his weary travels tore this life
From him: oh how the years tore out his hair

Now eyes like olives drenched in alcohol
Sting like a sunbeam in a prison cell,


John Calvin Hughes

Bear This Mild Yoke


You couldn’t let the good times roll,
no more than Beethoven could roll over
no more than Jack could hit the road
You couldn’t tie a yellow ribbon
nor ride Sally ride
nor make the world go away
You couldn’t go down to the crossroads
nor fall down on your knees
nor roll with the changes

nor ask:
who are you?
What makes the world go round?
who knows the way to San Jose?
or how many roads must a man,
or who’s tripping down the streets of the city.

Or where the love of God goes when
the wind blows the water white and black.

How far from your shoulders to the ground,
how heavy the cross you will be buried with,
the yoke you’ll be carried out on,
the mild distance there, the preposterous mile?

The water white and black.

Tom Holmes

The First Line of Prayer


The first line, as it is told,
extended from me to you,
from her to him. It zigzagged
and twisted through town.
It touched everyone,
including the ungulates and cows.
It rooted trails and roads to houses.

The line rose slowly and thickened
into a wall. The Great Wall
of China formed this way.
You can still walk atop its road
in two discrete directions.
You can see it from space,
if you’re a god.

And in this way, houses rose
into churches. The loftier
the church, the more prevailing view.
If you sang from here,
the ungulates perked their tails.
With the lower church songs,
the cows laid down on all fours.

If you don’t know today where you are,
you won’t know how to sing
Your god – your mediation
to your place in the world –
is the origin point, if you plot it,
to your yet extended line.
May it stay grounded, tangled, flat.

Ditta Baron Hoeber

Cakes and Emily


Dear Emily, August 6,1995

I made the coconut cake again. This second time was easier.

The recipe:
2 cups sugar 6 eggs
1 cup butter 1 grated coconut
2 cups flour 1 cup coconut milk

Cream the butter and sugar. Gradually add flour, then the beaten egg yolks.
Beat the whites separately and fold them into the batter along with about 3/4
of the grated coconut and all the coconut milk. Fill the cake pans half full and
bake at 350 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes. The remaining coconut is for coating
the cake after glazing it with a simple sugar icing.

I used packaged unsweetened coconut (about 6 ounces for both cake and icing) and milk
for the liquid.

Also I mixed 1/4 of the beaten egg white into the batter first to lighten it. Then I added the
coconut and milk and folded the remaining egg white in at the end. The batter comes
about halfway up each pan if I use two 9” pans.

I made the icing with confectioner’s sugar and milk and some lime juice to cut the
sweetness. I kept it thin so it’s just enough to hold some coconut but you can still see
through it to the color of the cake. I think it’s about the best cake I’ve ever eaten.

I like baking your cakes. I’m reading your poems in the small collections called fascicles in
which you are said to have grouped them. I’ve just begun but already find that the form
enriches the reading for me. The poems resonate off of each other. Read together they
become more complex and dense in meaning and at the same time they seem to me to
become clearer.

August 8,1995

It didn’t taste as good the second time. Why? The texture and so on were fine. I think it
was the icing. I can’t really remember if I used milk or water or both the first time but I
must certainly have used more lime juice. Perhaps it’s important that the cake was not fully
cooled when I iced it this time. Perhaps the lime flavor seeps down into the cake and gets
a bit steamed and faded if the cake isn’t dead cold.

I’ll try again. We’ll see.

If I’m right about the icing it means the wonderfulness of this cake is halfway due to me. Of
course it’s not certain that this is even your own recipe and the icing is only suggested. The
idea for the lime comes from me. On the other hand you were known to have made a
coconut cake and I can’t imagine it had an over-sweet icing. You must have given it your
own redeeming twist. What do you say we divide the credit 1/3 – 2/3. You get the 2/3
being the elder and among the angels.

October 17,1995

Making the cake the third time I was very careful. I measured out the coconut and wrote
the amount down in the recipe book (2 cups coconut: 1 1/2 + for the cake, 1/2 – for the
icing). I made sure each pan had an equal amount of batter. I waited until the cakes were
cold before icing them and I used a lot of lime. Served it the next day. I think that waiting
until the cake had cooled completely was crucial. I won’t forget. It is a very good cake!

I’ve read up to fascicle #23. I had been reading one each day but then my own work took
me over. Now I read when I am sure of enough time. Sometimes I hesitate. I want to be
able to concentrate and sometimes I feel too fragile or too preoccupied to face you.

My favorites so far are numbers 5, 9, and 22. Almost all the fascicles are convincing to me.
The few that I’m unsure of are 2, 4, 7 and 18. I think I’m just not partial to the poems in
these. When your metaphors are mainly floral I drift away.

March 25,1996

About the Federal Cakes. I’ve made them a few times – I make small quantities and mess.
The best is plain, cut in 1 1/2” rounds and sprinkled with demerara sugar before baking.
The heavy grain of the topping sugar is important somehow.

They are familiar to me. Like a cookie my grandmother and then my mother used to

October 30,1996

I made the coconut cake again – this time with fresh coconut. The yield was exactly 1 cup
of milk and the meat gave about 3 cups. I used all the coconut assuming that the increase
in bulk was due to the fact that it was fresh.

My assessment was correct as regards flavor. I cannot see a difference in quality of flavor
between the fresh and the dry coconut. The additional moisture, however, made the
(thoroughly cooked) cake too candy like and pasty for my taste.

Perhaps it would have been better to use only 2 cups of the fresh but I think I will go back
to using the dried coconut. It’s easier for icing.

My method for icing is to combine all the ingredients except the coconut, to ice the cake,
and then throw the coconut at it in handfuls. Using fresh makes this an even more frantic
and comical endeavor than usual. The fresh stuff doesn’t want to let go of my hands!

I’m thinking about the gingerbread for next.

I’ve titled my manuscript: “A Book in Seven Fascicles.” It’s an odd word – fascicle. I wonder
if you yourself ever used it. I don’t like the sound of it much but I like its meaning. Bundles,
bunches. As if the poems were pressed together for warmth.

March 12,2003

It’s been awhile. I baked the gingerbread but I forgot to write.

I baked it in a black pan. It came out cake like and tasted strong and plain. I used real
molasses and freshly grated ginger so it had some bite. But I think it needs a lemon icing. A
mix of lemon juice and confectioner’s sugar would taste tart and bright with the dark
peppery cake.

And I’ve been making Black Cake for years at Christmas. Not every Christmas. Just some.
The recipe that’s called yours is very complete and always comes out right so I guess it isn’t
food for conversation. But you might like to know that when he was small one of my sons
made me a pencil drawing of a slice of your Black Cake. The drawing is delicately made in
different shades of black so you can see the form of the cake. It’s a lovely drawing. I have it
pasted in my book above your recipe.

Did I ever tell you how we met? The interesting thing about how we met is that I don’t
remember it. I only know that years ago when I found myself writing poetry I turned to
you. I have no idea how I knew. The way I imagine it is that you just touched me on the

Bob Hicok

The home


Jimmy not his name would punch you if you tried
to reach around and wash him you had to act out
wiping your ass while he showered to get him
to wipe his own for about fifteen minutes
before he’d mirror your actions and even then
he sort of flicked the washcloth
in the general direction of the catastrophe
most of Jimmy’s not his name life was spent
with an ass full of shit but he smiled
this hacksaw kind of smile that cut through
his stink and hating my life when I did
hate my life like yesterday I wanted out
to be a hawk or the shadow of a hawk
rippling over rippling water in his file
there was just one story it starred a hammer
after three years he let me wash his hair
with strawberry shampoo we both
liked strawberries who doesn’t if you know
someone who doesn’t run away from him
he probably can’t swing an ax
properly or listen to the sky
with both ears I counted six divots
six places where Jimmy not his name
stopped the hammer’s progress and changed
the energy of motion into the energy
of mute I’m going to call it joy
only to confound my gloom to confuse
the collapse of buildings the disappearance
of entire species with a good end
a reason what the hell why not I can pretend
with the second best of them that his smile
was worth its price in brain damage
you couldn’t put it out with a fire truck
even the black eye he gave me my first day
my first time trying to give him a shower
came with this grenade of a grin
this rose this cherry on top

Melanie Henderson

Pistol in the Pulpit


It took me a full 33,
the Jesus year,
to learn I was deadly.


Range 13.
A Mother’s Day gift.
Groupon special.

No love for the weapon,
& a palpable fear of its potential to ruin,
I loaded, cocked, emptied it over and over
until my fear was equal to my confidence;
the paper aggressors would not survive
their bloodless wounds.


Hopeful for warm seasons
filled with buoyant vert trees,
my babies can laugh, collect shade
and blinks of sun— no strangeness,
no unnatural fruit.


I would protect my congregation
of two, if one dared stain my glass windows
with slaughter or plunder.

I’d feel for the weight of metallic fire
as my arm rose, lifted like the glory pitch
of a valiant “Amen!”
smite a loveless intention
to break the sanctity of service,
wholeness in this house.


I know the goodness of people. Still,

some spirits are as smelly as ear folds,
their eyes, vacant with orders they cannot protest,
or filled with nothing good.


Yes, I’d give you pass into this house
for the sake of your soul,
grant you the discomfort
of a pew and blessed song.

There is a pistol in my pulpit,
one hand holding all the love
it can bear,
the other—

holding a cocked vow to preserve it.

Ryan Harper



“Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law”

I. No Golf Carts on Road

laughing all the way (Ha! Ha! Ha!)

Add a nametag and lanyard
to the polo shirt and khakis,
he could drive straight
into the White House.
These are quiet roads,
anyway; what does it matter
if he winds himself
through the courts and cul-de-sacs
innocent, forgiving as a children’s
menu maze—and his children
so enjoy it:
oh what fun it is to dash
your way through settings
laid out specially for you—
to ride between the lines,
in the middle of the road.

II. Tables are for Paying Customers

All the time she is here—
laptop, smartphone, bluetooth,
ornaments of remote investment,

charged and charging,
ranging one table today
(some days it is two),

absorbed, as I must seem,
in some distant call:
the art of looking badass

after the white fashion,
like someone who could sue,
write a devastating online review

I will take my business elsewhere
the great white threat:
to withhold what you never give.

Sudden cadenzas of stock quotes,
ultimatums, equivalences
that sound false this side of things:

tired snarls, no forte to them
but pressed enough for us to note
she will never note us until

Could you watch my things while
(Restroom is for Paying Customers)
all the time she asks, all the time

I am partner to her crime—
so blunt, so easy; her things
yield less interest than she knows.

The barista rolls his eyes toward me,
one of his regular witnesses,
after she asks for another

glass of water (his eyes have this much
justice left). All the time I hear him
ask darker people to leave

who have clearer reasons to stay.
He does not ask her, nor I,
who orders all the time, and who will pay.

III. You Shall Love Your Neighbor As Yourself

where were you when peace broke out

inside a mall luminous
ferreting on frozen coffee
cursive caramel drizzles
easing by slurps into whipped cream

inside a good school
drug safe to calculus
pressed and trimmed
for the AP release
enough credit to turn you
into a sophomore

inside a hood with character
renewal’s blackworked groundtroops
creating perimeters, pouring over
green parties of food tourists,
latest revival babel from the old
storefronts for the best prosciutto
call not unclean what the lord hath made

inside a sanctuary
brohood of the wounded hearts
full moon yawp of old adams
becoming new, delay
pedals wahs too deep for words—
projection, submission, projection—
turned palms’ slight stigma clawing ceiling-
ward toward confession without admission,
reeling toward the exit, across asphalt-
waving august earthlight uneasy
departures of the risen dead

I was there
prophesying peacemaker
in your name

IV. Do Not Feed the Wildlife

Some owed solitude,
some loneliness.
They meet awfully
much for balance:

born on a refuge,
a fire pit,
come so far by faith
or the worn paths,

some bodies begin
to take their best
ideas for solid
ground—to live feed

approach retreat site
surely, as you
would your own. All yours,
the refuge: paw

the hive, capture film
on tips—some come
to believe mortal
things: hands like these

extend charity
always, only.
Then it is finished.
Then some must die.

V. You Shall Love Your Neighbor As Yourself

Terrific stalagmitic drips
rowed sheer before
humming, flickering beams:
now sanctuary scored
open, alarming gallery
of the cased solvents;
now pit—deep densities fuel
the smallness, the awful
smallness of filled space,
jaundiced rings alight,
the gold cell shoots out,
turns inward

o for a total darkness to tame
the eyes’ vast repertoires
of knowing: o for a thousand
tongues of fire to port
the cooling sponge through
the universe’s furnaces,
annulling, in bold light,
if possible, even the elect-
-ricity, beyond hope, radiance

Picture a cave, and
this is a white dwarf:
ghastly, blistering
node of lambent,
bursting skeins, exhausting
ancient vaults of power,
indulgent to its core,
stellar: remnant: dying:

VI. You Shall Not Kill

Austin Harrouff

unless there is no reason;
then it is art for art’s sake:
high drama of high crime:

corpses, canvases, opportunities
for a performance piece.

So dexterous—do you even lift
a pound of flesh
or does it freely dislodge
itself from your media,
ascend to your mouth,
amass in the heroic
diet, as must all lesser flesh?

Take them in: bloody cereal
of faces, on your face,
your blade, shocked
late before your resolve,
lost and open into
the higher opus.

Turn your eye to us,
this mordant moment
in the act,

take us in, your gagging patrons
who will deliver you,
try you after the fact:
the vitreous humor
in your smile reminds us
if you could explain it
you would not have to do it.

Like all of the greats
you hear and defy
the mad accusations
before they arrive,
dare us to detect
artificial substance
in your system
(we cannot)

Groaning, shaking
our heads as we must
before the Masters,
knowing truly
you are an ancient,
of Greek society,
we prepare a place for you—

we, the eyes of Columbos,
squinting, patting
your shoulder
as we take you in
as we must
as credits run

VII. All Dogs Must Be On Leash In Park

eighty-five percent
have not learned their lesson

obeys basic commands

sorry sorry sorry
bells jingling,
sniffs a stranger’s crotch,
tail stiffens, stranger draws in
don’t worry he’s friendly

renders affection

overlights black
solitude that would cut
if we could withstand it
white despair; we are
not withstanding people

does not snap

this is a dog-friendly space
who on earth does not like dogs

takes discipline well

stranger later picked up
matches description
of unfriendly
sniffer of strangers,
bells jingling, locked up

is good with other dogs

eighty-five percent one day
will learn what it means
to hold an empty leash,
saying sorry sorry sorry

VIII. You Shall Love Your Neighbor As Yourself
who would be greatest
works about bodies:

fastens to the far
and closing ones, loops

a bond slack, lets out
and takes in—one sweep

into the next broad
round of alignments

world blue consortiums
wax open, unsure:

constant deposits
of security:

demo: reviso:
losses, yours and ours,

greatest unfolding
unto body whole

tending toward hope,
in hope, with hope.

Is this your homework,
who would be greatest?

IX. You Shall Not Kill

Rudy Eugene

unless there is no reason.
Black is a reason.

X. You Shall Not Kill

unless there is a reason:

The wells drained again
this summer—again
we are standing over holes
in the ground, and I know
that there are angles
hips can turn to make
heads look level
though the entire body
is cocked, the earth given
to slant: that one
an upright animal
given to decline,
one in running is made
suspect, one crawls
aggressively, one hoist
in mad repair, one
just cause he wanted,
one hoarse protest
from the pavement, head
open, slayed: all due force.
The body, a crook
in the neck, stands to reason:
as many can matter
as live—so few live.