• #11Forklift, Ohio: Issue #11
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  • #37Forklift, Ohio: Issue #37


Bob Hicok

To bears, who are kind enough to live in our stories

The boy didn’t have bread-crumbs to drop all the way
into the woods but a compass so he dropped the compass,
his belt, his shoes, dropped the change from his pocket
and ripped out his pockets, cut his pants into strips
of denim, dropped his knife and went naked
into the darkest part of the woods, where it took light
three lifetimes to reach the ground. He kept going
because he wanted to meet the bear he knew
would be sleeping in the woods and there he was, brown
and large as a refrigerator minus the drawing
of a family and a house and a dog held to him by a magnet
shaped like a pineapple. I’m supposed to be a talking bear,
the bear said to the boy, so I will talk,
though I don’t know how. I’m supposed to eat you,
the bear said, though I’ve never eaten a boy
and prefer berries, if you help me pick berries,
I won’t eat you. I’m supposed to give you wisdom
if I don’t eat you, which we’ve established
I’m not going to do if you fulfill your part
of the berry contract, but I know very little:
don’t tell lions what you really think of their jokes;
weariness is a sign you’re on the right track;
it’s said the next king will have picked berries
with a bear as a child. Hearing this, the little boy
asked how a king behaves. The bear shrugged,
though two days later, as they were considering
turning some of the surplus berries into wine, he said,
almost out of nowhere, that he imagines a king,
like most men, often wonders what’s going on
in the next room, though when he gets there,
it’s the next next room he’s curious about,
the one with all the laughing, all the light
sneaking out below the door, though when he gets there,
and it’s quiet, whispers of smoke rising
from snuffed-out candles, he wants to chop
someone’s head off or banish someone or crusade
to bring Christ back to the land of the Infidel,
who the bear has heard eats children and consorts
with jackals and pees blood from his three penises.
Though such stories, the bear says, are as useless
as the story of the boy who walks into the woods
to find a bear, a bear who tells the boy
he will one day be king, a boy who kills the bear
with the one thing he didn’t let go of
on his way into the woods. Now the bear
telling the story of the bear is nervous
and the boy feels for the first time the weight
he has carried, and opens his right hand
to a piece of green thread the bear has been looking for
as long as he can recall. The bear sighs and says,
if we only had a needle. But if we had a needle,
the boy asks, what would we do with such a tiny piece
of thread? The only thing we could do, the bear says: begin.

Todd Colby

Floor Meat

We enjoy watching your program
because it makes us feel free
of our defects. That heavy sighing
you hear when you enter the room
is the ambience we paid a dude
a lot of money to create—it goes
with the furniture—no blood on it!
Look at the stills of you in motion
blown up on the cabin wall
you can see your breath
in the one above the sofa
like a dialogue balloon
with smudged letters. The rug
is nice too, it has patterns
that make us dizzy enough
to forget what a great program
you can’t have upheaval without
profanity so you better have some
coffee before you get down.

Dean Young


Everyone feels they got here from the very far away,
not just the astronauts and divorcées and poets.
Some want to lose the directions how to get back,
for others it’s a long time without cell phone reception.
Nothing here can be drawn with a ruler,
not even rain although even this high up
there are beer trucks. What feels like a hook
pulled from deep inside may be old wisteria vine.
Give it ten years. When twilight comes
from the lake in the lake’s blue mask,
you might think you’ll never have to pretend again,
from now on you’ll know yourself
but that’s only because that self is disappearing.
You’re right, when your mother died,
she did turn into a peregrine. I don’t know how
I can be so cruel to those who love me
or how they can be to me. Sometimes a rock
comes hurtling down the path
but there’s no one above you.

Mary Ruefle

Final Jottings

I will be leaving for Sweden on Saturday morning.
So please take care of the plants.
They will be back on Wednesday.
They said to remind you to call the painter
if it snows. We think that we may sometimes
lose our lives. You will be paid.
See if you can correct some of my mistakes.
They happened very fast.
They did not need any feet.
Remember I can feel the bread
dissolving in your mouth.
I do not need any real business.
When you collect the mail, remember
I am no longer a little fish. I am
a boy, my name is Edward French.
I have a face. They are my feet.
I do not need any real letters.
If I paint, remember to call the snow.
We duck ourselves.
I couldn’t live through winter
in a land of ice and snow.

Samuel Amadon

Peter Gabriel

Whatever starts topaz isn’t going to end badly; he
was often one to speak to himself. They said, for
you, vests. For you, we won’t go under the hard
deck more than seconds. Take the lunch rush not
to let the guilt in. Who’s playing cop? Still tapping
feet tied to radiators in grated basements. Faces
filling up like it’s a barfight. When no one will let
you call anything rooster. Like it was all yours to
begin with starts a descent by meaning shouldn’t
it be yours at the end of it. Christ, there’s more
movement in flowerbeds. Imagine saying this to
roomfuls of men who can’t stay with one coffee
mug for the day. Here is a new favorite coming
up. Stacie in the Georgia office to overnight it.

G.C. Waldrep

The Secret Language of Philately

Beautiful seizure, I’m writing this for you.
Here, sitting inside the astronauts
busy shredding their own balconies, I’m tracing

a forest of invalids
and strangers. I’m distilling
the sleek, unhurried ambergris
of a thousand misdirected packages and letters

with the doubled folds of your vocal cords.
I have mounted my entire collection
of broken wings for the committee’s inspection.
I have gathered the travelogues

and all the hospital testimonials.
Give me your braids, your shoddy Amsterdam,

your bull’s eye cancellation, your
tete-a-tete. We live in a glassine world:

the Blackjacks and the naturals
all emerge from the jungle just long enough

to calculate the alimony we owe.
O amaranth, O phosphor,
the shadows of lost horses move strangely
tonight, beneath this imperforate moon.

A smell of burning starts in the palms
and proceeds towards frames
of waterfalls and presidents.
Skylab: whoops, we meant to do that.

This is what we need: more frightening masks.
A corrected confessional. The sublime.

Sierra Nelson


All down the front
each button burns –
little, round, hard,
lit from the inside –
turned on for fifteen floors
going down.

And at each stop
another button undone –
from the roof of your mouth
to the bottom floor basement –
I’m gonna rattle your cage
and snap your metal rope.

All the petals inside us
free falling up
in invisible wind.

Are you finding it
difficult to stand?
Let me press you
against the wall –

but don’t mistake
that rising feeling –
L is only
for lobby, linoleum, legs
shaking, doors open,
walk across the floor.

Lindsay Bernal

Instead of Watching the Patriots

for the thousandth time, I’m reading Stein under an afghan, the one about hats.
I can’t remember the half-time show or who won, but the last Superbowl party I went to was 2002––
the day after I lost my job and the day after that––Tuesday––I was proposed to outside a shitty little bar
in Sunnyside. A whole hour in sleet with my head exposed, I waited for him to arrive
stoned. The bouncer witnessed it––my shame like a cliché stretched from neck to hairline.
I’d never felt so afraid, afraid of what I could accept, become: inert
and fat in the bare-bulb light of his basement apartment, a part of the couch, a pair of blood-shot eyes unable to read––
or worse, I’d end up like Alice Toklas slicing the meatloaf, filling the absinthe glass, packing and unpacking suitcases.
No way, absolutely not. In truth I hated the new color scheme: bright red kitchen,
bathroom as blue as the sky would never be, the dull liberty bell wallpaper soon to be peeled off
so we could paint the bedroom predictably. After the third vodka, when I told him I felt tender, I meant in the stomach, not in the abstract.

Sally Keith

The Wedding of the Rails

To make the model escape was a kind of moral imperative.
Due to technology one can always go back, re-read the conversation.

I am ambivalent. Ambivalence connotes parallel emotions. Ambi-
as in on both sides, as in ambiciliate or ambidextrous. To be ambivalent is not

the fault of the body but rather a natural condition. But why devise a model
of the self when models don’t move anything. This describes my condition.

Force started the study, not ambivalence which was a kind of result. Force is
that which changes the moment of rest or alters the motion of a body in a line.

A Greek mathematician under the moon scraped the facts from the waves.
In the brief visitor center film “force” moved our nation into modernity.

I seek some force to master time. It was 1869. They found it strange to watch the men
pounding an iron ladder into the ground. The train they honor moves with steam.

The woman I ask for a beer takes my wrist and leads me in
but the store is a wall full of watches and now I have to have one.

She takes them down one at a time stretching the straps around my wrist each time
unable to close them. I only wanted a beer, I say, I only wanted one.

I am ambivalent. Finally dreaming again. The re-enactment of the railroad joining
happens two times each hour all day. Leland Stanford was the Union Pacific tycoon.

Edward Muybridge had been famous for photographing mountains.
Leland Stanford made a bet regarding the legs of a horse when it runs.

That the sentence hold the thinking self intact may require a strong defense. Ignominious
when the other side just quit, my father wrote me yesterday, describing

a case he had been working on. If one sentence can predict a rhyming moment
a countable distance in the future, there is yet another frame. Hawthorn, jetty, railroad,

dome, the pattern of pelicans when three new birds join the migratory train,
old letters, a sack of stone, sound of the answering machine saying no one is home.

Crystal in a staircase shape or crystal on a string, the growth of crystals out
from dislocation fascinated the artist, Robert Smithson. I am ambivalent. Don’t cry.

Because we have kept records of everything you can go back, re-parse
the conversation. The flight of the horse is actually a line. Force is "that X" that…

and so mapping the course of the body along a grid on the wall with the background
brightened by lime on the ground, Muybridge recorded the action for Stanford.

Emotion begins in two neurons like almonds in the brain. To find the force of the gait
labs use force-plates in motion kinetics labs. Don’t worry. Don’t cry.

Force is that X that turns anybody subjected into a thing. You know what they say
about time. The body of a horse shines. The hair of a horse is sharp on the hands.

Employees at the National Park Service command the reenactment wearing uniforms.
If my voice sounds far away, I apologize: cell-phones. For every action there is always

an equal reaction wrote Newton. The final tie pounded in we celebrate it: gold.
I am ambivalent. Snow on the peak outside is white. Snow is the color of the sky.