Dependability

by Erika Rasmussen

 

My father said

you need to be dependable.

 

I said

yeah. 

 

What I meant was,

I’m trying.

I don’t know 

what to do with a brain 

always running 

out of storage. 

The memory on this model

of human is slightly unscrewed,

the warranty expired. 

 

What I meant was

an intergalactic apology to all

who’ve fallen to 

my broken confidence.

 

The laundry always stales

where I promised

it wouldn’t be. 

The keys hang, abandoned,

beckon darkness to our door—

every robber’s dream.

They swing all night, glistening.

Hushed voices in the morning

affirm she’s got to start listening. 

 

Words of dishonor spill, grains from a 

well-intentioned covenant mill.

I wonder if 

every promised prayer I 

didn’t say 

rests as heavily on

their backs as the lump 

that hunches my throat.

 

These lips could stand

to make an oath less each day.

A ghost less with each pledge undismayed. 

 

I wish my middle name 

could be

Dependability,

but I’ll take Grace instead.

Nine times out of ten,

I’ve still some redemption left.

 

This isn’t a game, but I fear

I’m knocking other’s pieces out 

with the clumsy

of my head.

 

Mr. Beringer’s Van

by Sarah Beringer

My dad drives a 1999 VW camper van

He fixes it himself because they don’t make the parts anymore.

He likes to go out driving when my mom gets in one of her moods.

Sometimes he takes me with him.

We’ll drive through town and pull into Vinny’s.

He buys me double-stuffed Oreos so he can eat them

And I have some of his soda.

He only lets me have the first sip

And then he’ll pour in something else.

He also buys a pack of mint gum before we leave

And takes two sticks out,

Giving one to me.

But we save them in our pockets

For when we’re closer to home.

On the way back

We listen to Desperado by The Eagles

And he keeps restarting it

Until we can sing the lyrics all the way through.

He pretends to pass our road when we finally get there

Turning sharply at the last minute

I always sigh in relief because it makes him smile

He does this every time.

I wonder when he’ll just keep driving.

 

recipe

By Jimmy Flynn

 

grab a grimy glass,

and fill it with the rocks

you use

to stone me.

 

now add

one part Maker’s,

one part water,

Kanye’s Celebration,

smoked Spirits,

lip bites,

and a dash of bitters.

 

slice up some limes,

line up some salt,

and let your laugh

escape through your nose.

 

serve on a futon

or a rug—

your choice.

 

now flush the remains

down the drain,

and leave the glass outside to

collect the rain.

 

don’t share this with

anyone.

it’s an old family secret. 

 

leave the white roses be

By Grace Zimmerman

paint the white roses red,

heat the concrete steps with strong thighs,

strip the trees of their bark and look inside

make the boys sit and the girls stand

take the wasted green from the fallen leaves and

spread it evenly on the dead grass

lead the elephant up my toes over my hips to my chest

sit him on the butterflies lifting up and down.

suck my air away.

go.

tell the girl you love you’re gone

leave his softest sweater folded on the lawn,

light the pine scented candles in july

cover the closet with christmas lights to

forget his clothes were ever there.

stop calling him.

cry.

toss the sunflowers rotting in their vase,

wreck the old road trip car

sell the parts to buy a bike

lose the bike to sticky fingers and an old cable lock.

walk to work.

quit.

scream that life has tainted it all and

let the rest spoil out of spite

cover your ears till your brother shuts up shuts up shuts the fuck up,

fight with the mother about fighting for fighting’s sake

scrape the last of your savings together to buy a dog,

give the dog away after a week

buy a fish.

flush.

touch your lips to the bodies of strangers

break every rule your father ever set

dye your hair to match your mother’s potting soil

knock down a wall in your bedroom with fists

get kicked out.

break.

join a gym and take up swimming.

run until 10k feels like a stroll through central park.

move back in with your college roommate

backpack through bali to feel sunshine

buy new clothes for a job you already hate

let your hair fade back to red

meet a nice boy and teach him fear.

 

leave the white roses be.

"The Parton's Poem" by Annabella Lynch

I ask the man behind the bar
With the gun
And the scar

“How does one drink a Molotov cocktail?” 

He scrubs a whiskey glass
“Why do you ask?” 

Because I hear the people in the street
And the thumping of their feet

Because these floorboards creak with rage
Over the graves of boys who died underage

We agree to disagreement

This land’s demolition
Is an ideological collision

But I see their cries to end classism
As a rioter’s fascism

The jukebox plays the national anthem

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"Worth the Wait" by Madeleine Fawcett

         Rain fell lightly and coldly, grazing the top of my head. The sky was grey, the people were greyer, and my feet were aching after a long day of walking around Paris. I was visiting the city for the weekend, staying with some family friends who lived in the 16th arrondissement, a clean, upper-class neighborhood close to the Eiffel Tower, the Seine, and the crème de la crème of Parisian society. For the better part of the last hour, my host Annette and I had been traipsing around the neighborhood in a mysterious and relentless quest. We walked down street after street, each lined with seemingly endless gilded apartment buildings, expensive-looking cafés, and hurried, smoking Parisians. I didn’t know where we were going; Annette had developed a sudden and serious sense of purpose earlier when I pointed to a pastry shop across the street and asked if I could get macaroons there.

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"Bioluminescent Bunnies" by Kamran Muthleb

     For the past few years, the valley I call home has been populated by big, bioluminescent rabbits. Known in scientific circles as Lepus lumanis, the bioluminescent rabbits are the result of genetic modification. It’s like how they made those fluorescent fish with jellyfish DNA, except the rabbits were made from glowworm DNA. Whenever I see those furry lanterns glowing in the distance, I grimace.

     Bioluminescent rabbits don’t live the same way normal rabbits do. Instead of bolting away at the slightest sign of danger, bio rabbits are made to defend themselves. They’re aggressive towards anything with four legs and sharp teeth, and most animals don’t bother them because they don’t expect a rabbit to go on the offensive (I once saw one chasing a coyote out of the park; what a horrendous sight that was). Snakes and hawks will sometimes pick off a little one, but the adults are left alone because they’re so big. I can’t blame them; if I saw a rabbit bigger than my basset hound, I wouldn’t want to mess with it either. They love to dig, too, not because they have to but because it's fun. I caught one digging up my yard once and sprayed it with hose water until it ran off. The next day I tripped over a ditch that was right in front of my door. I don't care what anyone says; the long-eared rat did that on purpose.

     There’s also the fact that they glow, and that’s my least favorite thing about them. Everybody has to close their blinds at night because they fill the valley like moving city lights. It’s obnoxious, and the worst part is that since almost nothing is controlling their numbers, their population is growing. Shooting isn’t allowed around these parts, and the rabbits are shockingly immune to pest poison. The scientists claim that wasn’t planed, but I don’t believe them.

     What really saddens me, though, is that you never see a regular rabbit anymore. After the bio rabbits quote unquote “escaped”, the good old cottontails slowly disappeared. Those damn green puffballs must’ve displaced them. It’s a shame, because the plain bunnies weren’t the ones driving off other animals, blinding everyone with their light and taking over the valley. But now we’re stuck with these frankenbunnies, all because somebody thought it would be a good idea to make a rabbit that a moth would love. Didn’t Jurassic Park teach us that just because we can make something doesn’t mean we should?

     The future is looking awfully bright, but not in a good way.

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"The Tale of the Wrangler" by Kevin Matheny, Jr.

          Ronald Johnson was a very important person. You could tell by the way his office window looked out across the concrete jungle of a parking lot filled with cars, as opposed to the more sightly view of the palm trees that sprung up all over the verdant campus. His office, situated seven doors down from the Athletic Director’s, was always filled with the smell of bound leather and the sound of the words, “I knew you would come around.” It seemed that every day, at least one person was “coming around,” although anyone who ever walked by his office and happened to hear some of the important conversation he was having on the phone never could tell you what it meant. Ronald was in the middle of today’s “coming around” conversation when his secretary, Michelle, walked in. She had on her concerned face, which looked like she either ate questionable hot wings from the sketchy chicken joint just across campus or her dog had just revealed to her his suicidal thoughts via a note spelled out in dog chow. Either way, Ronald was seconds away from delivering his classic line, so he gave her the classic one finger raised gesture, that always meant, “I’m one second from closing the deal.”
 

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"The Things You Hear" by Maeve McGeorge

          I peer over the walls of the wooden cubby and see two pairs of eyelash extensions and two perfectly blown out heads of hair clinging to one another in the crammed space of a single library cubby. One is smacking her gum loudly and the other is standing above her, eagerly awaiting whatever new gossip she just has to hear.

          “Okay. But you can’t tell anyone.”
          “Who else would I tell?”
          “True.”
          “Okay?”
          “I slept with him.”

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"Dear Blue Eyes" by Lee Harrold

Dearest Blue-Eyes,
 
          I don’t know your real name, I don’t know where you’ve come from, but I know I don’t like you. That’s not true; if I didn’t like you I wouldn’t write to you. I hate you, Blue-Eyes. I hate you, and my hatred takes fewer victims than I have fingers, so just you smile, Blue-Eyes, because you are a special guy. I attend Santa Clara University, and at Santa Clara University we value diversity with emphasis on the whole person. I haven’t taken a religion class yet, but I’m pretty sure--spiritually--you’re only part of a person. I hate you for what you’re not; I can’t feel pity, and I won’t empathize with you.
 

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"Turmstrasse (Tower Street)" by Riley McShane

The night was bitter cold
and biting
chain link fence
stood menacing
styrofoam food cartons
stacked tall haphazard
Stoic shapes huddled
twisting ‘round each other
old gripping young
like ropes
holding fast
 
weary white clouds  
rising from the bodies
spilling out into the street
 
I saw it only for a moment
 
daughter stretching
tiny gloved hands
to father from the other side
of the fence
I saw it only for a moment
 
I was walking home
 
I saw knotted hands pawing
at cigarette packs
I saw cots lying
still flat and desperate
In the callous tent flickers
 
I saw father
holding out for daughter
Syria’s children
Berlin going black around us
 
I saw it only for a moment

"Lullabies" by Shelley Valdez

I.          the beginning of our radio silence was like swallowing a shooting star
                      i didn’t know how to digest the sparks.
                 my heart went up in flames.
                      but instead of turning to ash,
                      it burned straight through my chest
                                beating and breathing and bleeding and making a mess
 
     II.         when people ask what you were to me,
                      i never really know what to say
                 (you were poetry) (you were waking) (you were wishbones)
                      (and now)
                           (you are unfinished business)
 
     III.        i’m sorry i was such a shitty dance partner
                 and i’m sorry i never kissed you
                 and i’m sorry that my arms could never
                      be the space to hold your dark
 
     IV.        i still go back to the night of Almost Lovers
                  (you were the only girl in a tuxedo)
                        (you were the belle of every ball)
                  you never believed in fairytales the way i did
                       our spells began at midnight,
                                  and expired at the dawn
                        when you slipped the silver from my shoulders
                        and took the butterflies from my hair
                             i forgot what it was
                                  to have lungs

     V.          i remember Sidonie’s yellow kitchen
                  and vanilla ice cream with honey
                             i remember your soft footsteps
                  and how you couldn’t meet my eyes
                                  i said,       “what are you thinking about?”
                                  you said, “kissing you
                        in the end, all we did was hold each other
                                            but it has always been enough

     VI.         as we slept on the floor  
                        and as you sang me to sleep
                   i thought we’d never see another lonely holiday
                        after greeting Halloween without you,
                        i decided that the      living
                             were much more haunting
                                  than the              dead

     VII.        i learned    the hard way
                   that      hesitation      tastes like      expectation
                   and burns twice as bad
                        i should have known that being   
                        “friends with
                                  sexual tension”          
                                  can only last so long
                    by July, you’d find a home in someone’s shoulder
                                        but it wouldn’t have been       mine
                

     VIII.       the worst is that i can’t hate her(not when she   keepsyou  safe)
                   and what could i have offered, but a blooming,
                   bruising heart      what could i have offered but
                   a sometimes wounded wing
                             you deserve so much more than my
                             whirlwind-shaking-skin       but even then,
                        it is a privilege to be your Almost.
                                  it is a privilege to be your Anything.

     IX.         i started listening to alt-j songs again the other day.
                        for the first time in a long time, hearing them sing
                             “and she needs you
                             this is from matilda
                                  didn’t make me want to cry
                   i know now that the aching
                        isn’t as loud as it was before
                             (it is quiet chaos without you)

     X.          your name is an echo,
                        a meditation,
                        a lullaby.
                        from the back of my throat to the purse of my lips,
                        you are becoming the sound of the cosmos.
                        you are beginning to hold things together
                        in the way that you’ve torn me apart

"Wanders" by Tad Malone

tom, my friend
asked the night
if it felt calmer
without the light
or if it kept
the pavements
wet on purpose.
It said:
blame the lingering
of florescent spots,
projections of a
world thats not,
and left his head
as if his sight
dreamt up the darkness.
Suppose the thing,
that he dread
was the compromise
between two beds
designed for rolling over,
what ghastly butter-
powder spread
to carve his face
a little bolder.
so is the driven bus
that weeps, with great
urgency at tom’s ricochet
like a kingfisher skimming
streets and shoulders
but he was at once
nail-thin and squeezed
not nearly dead
or older; and if
you were near, you
could catch
in glimpses that
staggered speech,
violet lines and the smolder
down his neck, but
not his throat as it
approached his shoulder.
resign to disbelief
and praise and fear--
as Tom, so quickly
knew no heaven here

"Sticky Feet" by Anonymous

          The sticky sweet juice drips down my chin and onto my jersey as I devour the bag of orange slices roughly cut by my dad. It was supposed to be a snack for the team, but no one else loves the fruit as much as me. Or maybe I just don’t give them a chance to. I take a sip of my still frozen water, shaking the bottle a little to break up the ice. My bangs are stuck to my forehead now, no longer falling in front of my eyes as I run. The whistle blows and we’re back in; I pull up my shin guards that have drooped from the first half after I throw the rind behind me.

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"Ghazal" by Forrest Nguyen

Ghazals, you know them; this one ends “otherwise.”
But how to surprise you, except every line were otherwise?
 
rain in june and i'm without an umbrella. 
somewhere someone drier is wishing he were otherwise.
 
school. i do not love it: a talent show for sycophants.
i did the math, i did the reading, but writing i did otherwise.

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"Gut" by Silvia Signore

I’m in the backseat of my mom’s Honda Odyssey and she’s driving me to the airport, my grandpa who is visiting from Italy sprawled across every inch of the passenger seat, sleeping with his head so far back I can see his nose hairs dance with every heavy breath accentuated by his snoring, and in that moment, as I’m inspecting my nonno’s nostrils I have this weird premonition, like something was going to happen to him...

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"Don't Fly" by Kamran Muthleb

A quail sat lazily in a meadow, her legs obscured by her feathery body. She was surrounded by tall grass, and the breeze tickled her crest as the clouds drifted by. She was about to fall asleep when she heard a loud rustle.

"Hello? Is someone there?" the quail asked.

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