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Kate Litterer

Stacking Stones

My sister and I murdered a rooster
when we were children. It was on accident.
We found him in our barn. He displayed
himself patiently to our awkward strokes then
started bleeding from his beak slits.
Because my sister and I had never been
so close to a rooster and because we were five
and six, we played doctor. I held his beak
while she placed a stone in his mouth.
We switched hands and I placed another small stone
in his mouth. She was older; I loved her and let her
go first. Eventually, the rooster swallowed
or he choked on the stones.
He couldn't entertain; stroking him felt like
stroking a cheap carnival prize.
How were those stones smaller than bees?
How did our girlish hands learn to
dole them like pills and tell the rooster,
"I know it hurts, I'm sorry" without knowing
what it meant to hurt but knowing to
take turns saying, "it's good for you."



Bob Hicok

Speculative gynecology

I dreamed my son was a peacock:
when he came out a boy, I was disappointed.
I hid this by loving him
as if he had invented the horse
or the numerator. When he was seven
I dressed him as a peacock for Halloween,
he went door-to-door asking for candy
wearing a tail of wide-awake eyes.
Beautiful boy. Just last week
he came home with a woman who was pregnant,
he and I stood on the back porch
while she was inside with his mother,
three generations of women at the table
getting to know each other
by drinking herbal tea, the shy one
through the straw of her mother's blood.
Before I could reveal he'd been a peacock
before he'd been a boy, he told me he dreamed
he was the father of a cheetah.
I didn't have it in me to tell him
that a peacock could not possibly
be the father of a cheetah,
he was too happy, my peacock, to be the father
of such a lovely burst of speed.
And why not, I thought. If stars
can give birth to real estate
and incest and the Theremin,
what right did I have to tell my son's sperm
what kind of zoo it was? None.
I was invited later to put my hands
on the belly where the kitty slept,
it was basketball-round by then
and kicked, it wasn't a cheetah,
it was the next full moon, I told my wife later
while she was sleeping, a smile on her face
like the smile was happy to find itself there
after decades of not being sure where
or even if it belonged.

Holly Amos



Even if there is no reason to mistake my hands for lions I want glorious limbs splayed as maps to something ancient; the petrified rustling. Now the moon means something but not enough. What's been muscled into this burly heart: the thick, broken daylight gone storyless & orange. We're stalking the warmth of porch songs, oh our twisted bodies untwisted. I can smell the salt from here and not one of us knows what's rolling in once the sea gets ahold of this year.



Andrew Grace

The Dead Deer Anthology


It doesn't matter how the deer die: hunter, wolf, enlarged heart, just as long as they are epiphanic and convince me that my soul is frail and indispensible.

In fact, they usually tell me that my soul is actually two swans.

They all take place in Ohio, even if they don't know it.

Sometimes they let me look down a river's throat.

Sometimes they seem embarrassed to be presenting the death of innocents, but, really, it's OK.

It is best if the month is October.

If barbed wire, William Stafford or self-hatred are involved, that is for the best.

Even if the poem is incomprehensible, as long as I am able to mourn a deer I feel like my soul is not the sickly green of cheap gold.

When I see the vast nervousness in the eyes of a living deer I think: that is me.

When they flash across my headlights, the deer's obliviousness to danger makes them seem impossibly young, which allows me to feel better about growing old.

My favorite poems don't mention the stink.

They don't interrogate their dead like a buzzard.

They might scare me, but if they eventually whisper something about the necessity of destruction, then I'll learn something about hard love and forgive them.

Sometimes there is burned ground or children waiting for the bus or a man making poor decisions about his own salvation.

Hair, leaves, trout, etc.

Unflinching poems leave the deer's eyes open.

If there are no dead deer, then sheep will do.

I especially like it if the last two words are "on earth."




Noah Falck

Poem Excluding Corporations


I clean your clock until you are Catholic. I occupy everything behind your eyes or save a seat until you arrive. When I speak, my breath moves like the shadow of a cloud over a field of beardless Amish youth. In the darkness, my yawn aches. I confess the rarest dance moves in total drunkenness.