{ publications by former contributors }

Rebecca Kokitus, Velvet Offering (APEP Publications):

Velvet Offering

KOKITUS

work at {isacoustic*}:
https://isacoustic.com/2018/07/10/person-rebecca-kokitus-one-poem/

~

Darren C Demaree, Nude Male With Echo (8th House Publishing):
http://www.8thhousepublishing.com/8thHouseStore/poetry/nude-male-with-echo-by-darren-c-demaree.html

DEMAREE

work at {isacoustic*}:
https://isacoustic.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/person-darren-c-demaree-three-poems/

~

David Spicer, Tribe of Two (Seven Circle Press):
https://www.sevencirclepress.com/books

DAVIDSPICER.PNG

work at {isacoustic*}:
https://isacoustic.com/2019/08/15/person-david-spicer-two-poems/

~

Mela Blust, Skeleton Parade (APEP Publications):

Skeleton Parade

MELA BLUST.PNG

work at {isacoustic*}:
https://isacoustic.com/2018/10/11/person-mela-blust-one-poem/

~

George Salis, Sea Above, Sun Below (River Boat Books):
https://store11170962.ecwid.com/Sea-Above-Sun-Below-p156052359

SALIS.PNG

work at {isacoustic*}:
https://isacoustic.com/2019/02/21/person-george-salis-one-poem/

~

person J.I. Kleinberg, five visual poems

Artist, poet, and freelance writer, J.I. Kleinberg is a Best of the Net and Pushcart nominee. Her found poems have appeared in Diagram, Dusie, Entropy, Otoliths, What Rough Beast, The Tishman Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Bellingham, Washington, where she tears up magazines and posts frequently at thepoetrydepartment.wordpress.com.

~

greengrass

green grass

~

changeisstrength

change is strength

~

to get quiet

to get quiet

~

we are the home

we are the home

~

perhaps

perhaps

~~~

These visual poems are from an ongoing series of collages (1900+) built from phrases created unintentionally through the accident of magazine page design. Each contiguous fragment of text (roughly the equivalent of a poetic line) is entirely removed from its original sense and syntax. The text is not altered (except for the occasional deletion of prefixes, suffixes, or punctuation) and includes no attributable phrases. The lines of each collage are, in most cases, sourced from different magazines.

person Adeeba Shahid Talukder, three poems

Adeeba Shahid Talukder is a Pakistani American poet, singer, and translator of Urdu and Persian poetry. She is the author of What Is Not Beautiful (Glass Poetry Press, 2018) and her book Shahr-e-jaanaan: The City of the Beloved, forthcoming through Tupelo Press, is a winner of the Kundiman Poetry Prize. Her poetry has appeared in Poem-A-Day, Gulf Coast, Meridian, The Margins, and elsewhere. A Best of the Net finalist and a Pushcart nominee, Adeeba holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan and is a Poets House 2017 Emerging Poets Fellow.

~~~~~

To Heaven

Wrap a fence around your dream of white.

Walk a cord thin as a hair.

Splinter the sun, wake all its ashes.

~~~~~

Plot

Eighteen yards of bleached white
cloth, stiff with starch.
Cafan, zenana
said the plastic in hurried script.

When anyone spoke to her
that day, her responses were quick,
as though her mind flashed again

and again. I was never this clever,
she said in alarm, something must be
wrong. Take me to the emergency room.
A day ago, a neighborhood boy
had died in his sleep.

That night, she’d woken up
shrieking. They had held her
too hard, pressed
her arms to the bone.

from
Shahr-e-jaanaan: The City of the Beloved

~~~~~

Farhad the Mountain Carver

He swept all magic from her windows, closed the blinds so the crows would not come in. Wove her stories to cloak his hideous face. Gave her roses in the winter, crimson with a nightingale’s blood.

                          The footprints in the lake stretched
                          to the other side, with no hint of water.
                          You reached for my hands,
                          watched my breath stop.

Shireen wore a ring, lived deep in the mountains. Her king was away at war for months. Farhad, he told himself, it is time to carve channels of milk into stone.

                          Tilt your head, you told me.
                          In the darkness I learned: the ice
                          in the grass blades
                          could look like stars.

As evening fell he beat his drum so hard his cheeks flushed. I own you, she told him. He knew. That night he cut a lock of her hair, dyed it purple as she slept.

from
Shahr-e-jaanaan: The City of the Beloved

~~~~~

person Tim Miller, seven poems from School of Night

Tim Miller’s “Mr Cassian” poems are from a larger collection of poetry and fiction called School of Night. He is online at wordandsilence.com.

*

7 poems from School of Night

Mr Cassian Shares the Park with Other Parents

Loneliness is such a sorry disease:
bizarre, badly matched parents at the park
now with their awkward combination here too,
some boy or girl with a room in their house
because neither could stand a studio
alone. Some on-again off-again thing
like me and Mary, not even romance
or the love we imagined as children
but just someone better than more yawning,
some warm breathing presence you’re less tired of
than a house that isn’t even haunted.
All this from some squash-faced guy at the park,
his misshapen wife and their lumpy kid,
and how a certain form of vacuousness
can be let loose like a plague upon the face,
a sort of minimum-expectation terror
now daily being doled out like a bad gift
to some kid who will think that this is life.

~

Mr Cassian’s 156th Dream

Yes I’ve devoured my young, haven’t you?
Yes I’ve held them like two pieces of bread
and filled my hunger with neck and shoulder
and felt my body go mad, haven’t you?
Yes, hair falling out and eyes wide and dead,
my naked body sooty from some night
worse and more inward than darkest sundown;
yes, the feeling that I’m on a blank stage
and that there is no place for me on earth,
not anymore, not any longer,
not after what I’ve finally done,
gone off coloring my chin with his flesh
and my tongue in his blood, to rid myself
of this impossible obligation
and responsibility – haven’t you?

~

Mr Cassian’s Snotty Eyes

Mornings now my eyes are glazed with mucous.
After I’ve scrubbed and scoured them with soap
they’re clean but still red and they’re so swollen
I can hardly close my lids over them,
like bloated fruit shoved in a too-small bag.
I can’t swivel at the waist anymore
without the laugh of some new bullshit pain,
right knee, left shoulder, lower back bullshit.
I’m sure it’s just from inactivity,
all of it, the fatigue and headaches too.
I’m sure it’s all my teenage habits
returned again, revenant: erratic sleep,
fast food, sugar, and seeing how many
days I can go without a bath, without
stepping outside or going past the porch.
I’ll medicate with food but not with pills:
I’ll take the runny nose over induced
drowsiness or constipation, I’ll take
the burning knee, I’ll take two snotty eyes
over a dried out head that can no longer think,
and over whoever tells me exercise
will improve my mood. My mood is words
and I will give the world an occult splendor
fed by a large pizza dropped at the door.

~

Mr Cassian Flees the Scene of an Accident

They probably voted for different people –
both cars were covered in those kind of
bumper stickers that replace identity –
so I thought it best to swerve around them
and get on to the fast food that I craved.
Later I looked online and in the paper
for evidence of some brawl on Mt. Royal:
the two-lane road near the Catholic church
drenched in the blood of a woman whose car
had barely rear-ended another while waiting
for the long light to change from red to green.

As my car crawled past them to get away
and the drivers emerged to exchange their mistrust
I saw the middle-age frump of cat-ladies both,
empty nest and not dressed to leave their cars –
probably aiming for the drive thru like me –
and now stunned in the presence of a stranger
and at having to look at a life not their own
long after such critical faculties have disappeared.

So rather than suppressed violence it was
more likely the terrified drool of the shut-in –
the anxiety of accumulated breaking news,
of soap operas and the gentlest suburban prejudice –
beyond ashamed at this face-off on a busy road,
their only insight the overwhelming pressure
(I feel it too) of life that is a phone,
of life that is infamy and expectation
and the jealous anger from all directions –
and now these things swerving to overcome them,
blasted by high-beams in their shitty sweatpants.

~

Mr Cassian’s 159th Dream

I’m swimming so that I seem to dissolve,
no elbows and no knees, only ripples;
beard like seaweed taking shape around me,
lifted lightly to the water’s surface,
arms flailing but with hands of crustacean,
shadow of limbs erased underwater,
my face now waterlilies and closed eyes,
hardly a wrinkle above the ocean –
my body finally back to origin:
body a flattened elongated leaf
floated here from a continent away,
or some undulating stingray, utterly
ancient, some barely bodied blanket of flesh
gone, returned to the protozoic pool.

~

Mr Cassian’s 105th Dream

What are they doing, dancing on a corpse?
Who is that corpse, who dances this way
and how do you dance upon a body
as if it isn’t putrid, or almost ash,
or closer to earth on a tray of slime,
flesh sliding off to slide back to its green source?
How does life dance with its foot in the neck
of the dead, how does she bear her breasts as if
they won’t one day fall and wrinkle and dry,
and how does he let his member just hang
as if it isn’t pointing down to the slug
it will soon become? How does life persist
like this, so confident, so radiant,
as if life’s undoing weren’t at its feet?

~

Mr Cassian’s Good Friend, the Roman Soldier

I feel closer to some Roman soldier –
only a name from the time of Nero –
than anyone I see out the window.
Pliny the Elder mentions his journey
from Carnuntum in Pannonia north
to the Baltic Sea, and the source of amber.
Since the Stone Age amber had been collected
for adornment and magic, and Ovid
tied amber’s long origins to sisters
mourning their dead brother so thoroughly
they became the trees that wept this strange resin.
I am more at home with this lonely man
who traveled trade routes – river and coastal
and overland – Vltava to Danube
to Baltic Sea and Sudeten mountains
and back down the eastern Alps to Venice.
These names, meaningless to whoever else,
are an exhilarating chant to me.
No doubt I romanticize his labor
by forgetting it was all about merchandise.
Like my meager knowledge of alchemy
or my faddish glimmers of Kabbalah
I’ve made this man into a magician
wandering either unpeopled forests
or giving every barbarian the impression
of an ageless, powerful absorption
seeking only this weird gold, this hard sap,
this pine-smelling weight that warms in the hand.
For my own sake I need to imagine him
this way, out there past commerce and concession,
his body barely a nimbus of odd light,
divested as I wish I could be,
my whole self poured into some secret burden,
lost in an unsought landscape of weeping trees.

*

person Sherre Vernon, two poems

Sherre Vernon is an educator, a poet and a seeker of a mystical grammar. She has written two award-winning chapbooks: Green Ink Wings, her postmodern novella, and The Name is Perilous, a collection of spiritual poetry. Sherre is a 2019 recipient of the Parent-Writer Fellowship to Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing and served as the fiction editor for Fickle Muses during its final season.

/

Abba, Father

1.

some cold place again
and you across the way
we bone-heaved orphans
in a cacophony of scars

search for the pater, as foreign
to our ears as stars. we can
trace out only never,
bodies without children,
for hanging

names, curses, fists, flesh

2.

she is lovely, a constellation.
i spoke for her, from the edges
of my teeth & watched

& you are father,
the good man. always, only,
my poem finds you
in bright hair, all
embrace: us both, saying

3.

your body was not
your soul, was not

us both, borne together

stem in the sewer
grate, a brown
pine body, a flurry
suddenly into the skin

& the train pulsed by

\

The Magician
for Jeannemarie

By the walls of the classroom
she sorts them, says: choose which you are–
O Amoeba, O Nautilus, O Spotted-
and-Crouching Leopard.

She will tell you: you, you think to stand
out, but those spots are meant
for blending; you have yet
no self, absorb everything
you touch; you: a chambered poet.

My young spectators do you feel
the lean stretch of time? She has a bicycle
deck with your name in it. Shuffle,
shuffle. What use is it to palm
your own card, my red Joker,
what rebellion, my wild-hearted Jack?

The room’s in festival, hand sewn with
spice and sinew, with ribbons from
chocolates and perfume from the 99.
She’s a pocket for markers and clips
and dice. Wit in tweed and linen.
It is all a making. All a discernment

and what the voice can do!
With a song of love and light:
some lyrics to pass the day by
a spin of all the years she’s spent
curating the playlist: Taylor Mali, Bene Gesserit,
Penn & Teller. Mostly Teller. Your first

job reference. Your first call
from jail. No money, but better
than the beggar. Have you read
all– Yes, some
twice. When does it end?
Never. Never. Raise
your hands to heaven–

O my Roses and Lilies of the earth,
why do you hold back?

/

 

person Bill Yarrow, one poem

Bill Yarrow‘s latest book is ACCELERANT from Nixes Mate Books.

/ \

SATAN, GARDENER

I left him pinned in a paradise
of pain. I left him in his pain
searching for a sin, the only
plausible way out. I was not there
when they stuck the needle in,
when they tore the tissue out,
when they fed him radium, heroin,
the poisons that would avenge his illness.
I was not there for the spoons, the tubes,
the sharp instruments of improvement.
I did not see what grew in the terrible soil
of his flesh. It was as if Satan had made
a garden of his body below the neck, irrigating
it with the charcoal chocolate fluid in his lungs.

\ /

person Robert Okaji, four poems

Robert Okaji is a displaced Texan seeking work in Indianapolis. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Panoply, Slippery Elm, Indianapolis Review, Vox Populi and elsewhere.

((

Self-Portrait with Nine

Nine rivers, nine mountains, nine skies.
The root of the Egyptian word also shapes sunrise and the new moon.
Of fire, of attainment and totality, of truth.

In my ninth year we moved to the Mojave.
After two hands-breadths, the new.
The nine spheres, beyond which nothing lives.

Consider the negative aspect: pain, sadness, suffering. Distress.
Ku does not symbolize near-perfection in Japan.
Nor do I resemble the triad squared.

In the horoscope, the house of worship, of wisdom and books.
A sign of perfection, a final limit.
A number multiplied by nine produces a figure that totals to nine.

The body’s doorways, the twists of the River Styx.
That which contains no stars.
From the custom of expressing numbers by symbol: cattle.

Nine times six equals 54.
Five plus four equals 9.
I am the sum excarnate.

Astrologers designed Beijing as a center with 8 streets leading to it.
Books no longer consume my days, but numbers do.
In Ancient Egypt, the nine bows represented enemies of the state.

Acknowledging my limits, I reach for the ascending ash-moon.
When the Wednesdays of nine months gather, peace will endure.
The mockingbird’s ninth song veers to the absurd: ringtone.

Center of the eight-petaled lotus.
Hindu temple foundations contain jewels and nine distinct grains.
Beyond Name and Form, the sky’s edge.

))

Self-Portrait as Circle

Ever-bounded, I express myself in
limitation, in one-dimensional
anxiety looped around the blank
self which is not me; unfilled,
or forever open, intuiting the history
of resemblance in tree stumps,
in concentric pond ripples and
entrance wounds at the instant
of penetration. Or, closed, as
barrier to all extending beyond
my linear border, I accept this
trait, knowing that even as I
surround this empty field, the
center is never mine to hold.

((

Palinode (egg, politics, pathology)

Who determines completion if not the morning’s best
layer? The answer is what comes first, not the
question, which replenishes the old deviltry: I am not
whole: I am partial: I am absent: you. Please define
node. Taking exception, rules mediate the norm. Fried,
poached, scrambled, radiated, coddled, baked, raw,
boiled, I serve myself, and in turn am served, when,
truth be told, I’d rather serve you. Twice.

I’d rather serve you twice than be pushed aside, a
thimbleful of nectar fermented and forgotten in
someone’s late pantry. Or worse, cast into the Pacific,
swallowed by a Fukushima-fed tuna, caught and
auctioned to an Alaskan sushi chef and left to molder
at week’s crossing. The point at which a wave has an
amplitude of zero, or a pathological swelling. That one
moment of clarity before night’s fall.

That one moment of clarity before night’s fall at
Juneau’s 716 Calhoun Avenue, which posits the
ability to see beyond sight: the blind hen produces
more, never pausing to consider repercussive issues.
Progeny, pathological swellings, statements of the
incurious. Do we use squirmish? I take, or am given,
offense. Without you, I am the silence preceding the
letter, an untoward growth, the silence remaining.

Without you, I am the silence preceding the letter
terminating at vision’s end: a fence, the Phoenician
form which birthed H, or two posts joined at
midsection and later, abandoned. Breach. Enough.
One’s last egg brought to fruition, a terminus in
thought or language carelessly placed. A bruising
point between vanishing waves or carted through
our long nights. Denial. The pathology revealed.

))

Even As It Gives

      earth. You are turning now. You have always turned.
Even your transience moves me, and as the peak flowering
before dawn’s intrusion burns to its end, I, too, turn,
invisible yet fixed in my path, damp, grateful, complete.
If I removed myself from this equation, would gravity’s
release diminish me? Spreading my arms I inhale,
acknowledging presumption’s limit, savoring attraction,
motion, the improbable.

((