head piece
maia asshaq


from MHPQ1


A head yelled out of a car window at me this morning
4 heads looked past me at this exhibition
A head pretended I wasn’t there at this exhibition
Another head got my friend a beer instead of me at this exhibition
A head yelled out of a car window at me on my walk to this exhibition
Another head bobbed past me on a bike on my walk to this exhibition
Multiple heads asked to buy books from me before I walked to this exhibition
My head got out of some other head’s bed this morning to go to work
My head lay next to that bed-head last night and this morning before I left for work
That head leaned in and kissed my head last night before our two heads laid next to each other
The night before that my head laid next to no one
That day no head bobbed past me
The night before that my head laid next to someone else’s head
That head had been near to my head for a few days before it decided to also lean itself in and kiss my head
That head only brings itself around when it has exhausted other options
That head will most likely never lie next to my head again
Before that, the only head that wanted me was a head I couldn’t lay next to
Before that, the only head that wanted me was a head that I didn’t want back
Before that the only head I’ve lain next to may or may not have lost itself
Before that the only head I’ve laid next to asked if our heads could move “slow”
Before that the only head I knew laid itself in my lap
Before that
Before that the only head I’ve laid next to was a distant head
That head made my head feel disconnected from my body
That head made me feel disconnected from other bodies
That head made me feel my head and body were small and insignificant
That head also made me feel my head and body were too big to deal with
My body never wants my head
My body never wants other heads
My body only wants itself
Only wants other bodies

poem with a chorus by jawbreaker
matt hart


from RADIANT COMPANION

 

—for Sydney Rains

 
The word is pain,
and the world is pain,
but the sun on our skin
is enormous and light.
 
I went out running
this morning, the way
I always do, awkwardly
 
with lightning. And
at some point I thought
about the song
“Chesterfield King”
 
by Jawbreaker, which is
a punk rock conversation
poem in the romantic
 
tradition, if ever one existed
after Coleridge and Wordsworth
made it a thing, then abandoned it.
The chorus goes,
 
“I took my car and drove it
down the hill by your house—
I drove so fast. The wind
 
it couldn’t cool me down,
so I turned it around
and came back up.
You were waiting
 
on your steps, steam
showing off your breath
and water in your eyes.
 
We pulled each other into one,
parkas clinging on the lawn
and kissed right there.”
The stanza breaks are mine.
 
I don’t know why
I thought about that
then, or why I’m thinking
 
about it now, except that
it’s a song you should know
if you don’t already, and it has
a fragility to it, a vulnerability in its lion-
 
flaming, punk rock heart that
reminds me of your poems, and how
longing never leaves us as long as
 
we live, which is lucky,
and even better, I’m suddenly
struck by the image of a rowboat
on the sunset horizon
 
with one lonely figure
rowing into the distance
out to sea, and in this
 
image, which is really
the world, I’d like to call out
to the figure in the boat,
to the him or the her,
 
who is probably you or me or
someone just like us, someone
in need, but they’re too far away
 
to hear me, or I’m too far away
to hear me, and yet,
that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t
scream and scream
 
to try and get their attention,
because attention connects us
and generates possibilities, and
 
possibilities are the stitches
that we use to close
the wounds—the ones
that we inflict, and
 
the ones inflicted on us.
Yeah, the world is pain,
but attention is rich
 
and connection changes
everything when we allow it
to sing us, the sun
going down so light
 
and enormous, the pink
and orange waves,
their marvelous chorus.
 
I took my car and drove it
down the hill by your house—
I drove so fast. You took
your boat and rowed it out
 
both to listen and mend.
I’m standing here hoping
to get your attention.
 
Longing for its own sake
is a letter close to heaven.
Longing and words
continue the world.

Excerpt From Licked Clean
tyler meese


from LICKED CLEAN

 

    The phone rings before I am awake for the day. My boss tells me about some indecent trash found in Mr. Dewitt’s office. There is a rubber snake around my neck that prevents me from breathing enough air. My boss asks, are you still there and I ask, what kind of trash. She explains what I already know. I lie and claim cluelessness. She trusts me, tells me to watch Sandra closely, says, someone with that many tattoos needs extra eyes on them. I say assuring words and hang up, putting the phone back on the wall.
            Before we start in on the first building I climb in Sandra’s truck and sit on the bench seat and talk loudly. I say, cleaning buildings is what I have, cleaning and reptiles, that’s what I am. I live alone and I own lizards and I clean mixed office buildings at night and I am kind-of to okay happy with that routine. You can’t mess that up for me. I can’t lose that for some of whatever this is. Saying stern words is difficult. I rub my long toes against the tough cuticle of my big toes. Stiff sweat slugs.
            Sandra peels strips from a string cheese stick. She points one end at me then her and asks what’s this? What am I? Her voice teeters between strong and total failure. I sleep on a mattress in my brother’s half-ass remodeled garage. This is his truck he lets me borrow. I fucked up a lot and that’s what I have and I look forward to work. I look forward to this so I’m sorry. She gets out of the truck and slams the door. She throws the half-eaten cheese stick at the windshield on her way into the building.
            We clean separate floors and eat lunch in our own vehicles. The second building goes the same.
            When Sandra drives out of the parking lot I follow her and tailgate the beat up truck. I honk and pass her and slow down, clog the lane. I am excited and assertive? With my hand out the window I signal for her to follow me. She parks her truck next to my car, behind my apartment building. I unlock the outside door and lead her up the narrow stairs, down the hallway with too squishy carpet. My feet were sweating because of driving like Lethal Weapon but now sweat because what have I done.

 

i’m sorry you don’t like my bed
alex mussawir


from MHPQ1


While you were sleeping I walked outside in the snow until small pieces of ice formed around my facial hair

I brushed the pieces of ice out with a tiny comb and assembled them into a miniature ice sculpture for you to have

I moved the dead house plant out of my bedroom and watered the still-alive house plant

I set it on my nightstand so you would have something nice to look at when you woke up

I hope you liked it

After you left I gave myself a haircut and accidentally clogged the drain in the bathroom sink a little

I flipped my bed over so you wouldn’t see the holes in my mattress and now there are small pieces of bedding covering the floor

After you left I drank coffee and watched the snow fall from my bedroom window

I was aware that if I sat still for long enough my thoughts and emotions would change and I would no longer miss you

If I sit still for long enough, I thought, and then the thought stopped

 

the old world
kelly schirmann


from MHPQ1
 

There are so many things
I am trying to understand
What kind of light
I want to look at most often

My new thing is unqualified empathy
There are so many rituals
I have to work to not deface

There are so many people
vying for the world’s attention
and I am trying to understand this too

What makes a person
turn away from their own beliefs
& how do we deface that instead?

There is a twisting happening
between the downtown buildings
and the sky that penetrates them
I am lucky to see it
though obviously
it has destroyed my life

Empathy is necessary
if you wish to move beyond
the world we can no longer pretend
we had nothing to do with
A song this sad
shouldn’t let you just
walk right into it and get stuck

Several thoughts happening at once
is no longer considered inefficient
but I am not here to criticize

I am here to remind me
of what walking outside
used to make me feel

Empathy is necessary
but when can we all lay down?
I learn through photographs
about the way our visionaries
have to die

I had a dream last night
that red-haired boys
wearing clean shirts
were beating me with sticks
This is not to say
anything / really
People have worse dreams than that

Empathy is necessary
in the drafting of a new clean cultural myth
In the rough drafts we are lying
but it takes a lot of lies
to move forward

Does that make sense

Care For Others
is what the internet tries
and fails to make me feel

An opinion is just one of itself
It floats on the earth’s big water
It follows its curvature
which is to say
it leaves you where you are
while reminding you
that there is somewhere else

In my dreams
my dreams are fathers
come to shove the learning of me
down my mind

If I am alone
how alone am I
and for how much longer?

I want a new word
to worm itself into my head
& die there

I want a wide field
to cut my path in
on my way through the old world
that never needed me at all

how distant can one dream another?
megan stockton
 

from MHPQ1
 

TUESDAY 8PM

this is a day that hurt the night
energy efficient, together killing
time, superfluous possession
a sudden switch, each in their own chair
except – predictably, one chair too few
and one of the dogs is a bad example for the other

TUESDAY 8PM

in this scene they matched outfits for the evening
each wearing another’s clothing
red velvet, striped shirts, straw hats
a phone will be ringing two doors down

TUESDAY 8PM

in this scene the decades long river decides
who will sit next to who
causing a series of events orchestrated beyond our control
bodies move through space
desire flows mathematically, libidinal eye contact,
the accolades of her neutral look
quiet sequences follow

two of them sit next to each other on the couch
one is smoking, one sways in a rocking chair
that she won’t leave for the entire evening

one gets up from the couch to flip the record as
one comes back from the bathroom
to take her place on the couch,
where a knee touched another’s knee,
until a dog jumped up inserting himself between the two knees

one returned to sit in the wooden chair
one got up to dance to a song another put on
one dog spilled the glass of water
and another grabbed a rag to clean it
bumping into her in the kitchen washing dishes,

of course you don’t have to do that,
come sit, said one to the other
come sit by me, she meant,
but the other sat in the wooden chair

one poured a glass of wine for another
one left her seat to sit by another on the couch
one went out to smoke alone
another followed to check the grill
two of their hands touched when she passed the bottle
the dog makes someone sneeze

one misses another, another who misses them back
one misses no one, but is missed by many
by another in particular
one is afraid that her missing of another has subsided
where could it have gone?
she cannot see what could have taken its place
a place that felt so concrete at one point
could dissolve into all places
into placelessness
a gradual fade

a moth will make a light flicker
a stone will be an envelope for itself
what isn’t
what couldn’t be

TUESDAY 8PM

in this scene one becomes jealous
one feels disconnect, one is cold from the breeze
the mosquitoes bite some more than others
just as the food makes one sick, not the others
one is anxious about the fog – how the sails will fold
how will I exhaust myself how will I know the hues
of day how will I find the water

one has a letter in her purse from another
one dreams of another’s hands
there is
a slow approach
to ask and ask and ask

one brings another a gift—
a small rock, slips it into another’s hand
that puts it in a pocket
she is too tired to say thank you
but she feels grateful, she thinks

one asks in spite
how long is your love letter
can it be shorter
can it birth flowers
can it rain drops as big as how I remember

they make each other up as totality
nothing as total as total darkness
nothing as total as total eclipse
nothing as total as having never arrived

TUESDAY 8PM

in this scene she didn’t want his head on her lap
she did not want to feel maternal
she did not want to feel feminine
she did not want to have a body
she did not want to have a lap for his head to rest on

TUESDAY 8PM

in this scene they all went out to see the eclipse
under the sky they waited
one had spare time, one hadn’t
one wrote the other in her time, sparing none
one made time at work to be spare
to write from the bathroom
a spare worker with no time to spare
never an excess of time on the clock
never an excess of time in love
only an excess of time in falling
in and out, excess of time in waiting
all time spare during an eclipse
there is excess time in having been left
before a leaving was announced

eventually, comes
but it is unclear when eventually has finally arrived
why seek out a darkness one of us wonders
cosmic timed, so rare — the rarity?

one worked at a diner
on sundays when they would run out of lemonade
the customers would say
but now i want it more than before
that’s funny she would say
desire is so basic
basic as can be

she has more questions
what’s a speculative bubble have to do with an eclipse
what is there that will certainly happen
what is there that certainly will not live
up to the worth its given through its lacking

TUESDAY 8PM

there is an
odd pre-eclipse light
they are not sure if they should wake early or stay up
for daybreak
one is wrecked
one is content to gossip, to joke,
one forgot to feed the dogs
and why is that fucking palm always dying, one wonders

one wonders
at what time do you have the most success hunting?
at what time do the plants grow fastest?
at what time did you notice the water began to boil?
what time will she take the time to look this way, take time to
put words in the wrong order, heads on the wrong laps
the wrong heads in the right laps
the right head in the right lap

the eclipse is impressive and then over
imagine that sham, demanding its worth
barking at the wind like a fool
extinct language of
the honeymoon

the orange touch
erin elizabeth wehrenberg


from NOTES ON HEALING AND CLARITY, VOL. II
 

It is absolutely necessary that you learn
how to be by yourself so deeply
that at times it is painful—
but it’s only painful in the beginning.

Once you learn it,
it’s the greatest gift you can teach yourself
and that you can have
and you will cherish it so deeply.

You will be so in tune with yourself.
Your personal power will be through the roof.
You’ll be able to discern and detach more quickly.

And, perhaps most importantly,
you will stop choosing things or people as void fillers
since you know that you only need ones
who ADD to your energy.

And you will know because
you already know what your energy by itself feels like.

Easy/convenient/“because it’s there” energy
will become less meaningful than solitude
because you will know and feel your energy exactly
and realize you actually don’t need to absorb those sticky shapes.

This is the best thing you can ever give yourself:
how to be alone with yourself while feeling full and complete
because this births planets of clarity and wisdom
that will bring you to everything else in your life that you have yet to love.

hawaii poems
mallory whitten


from GOD BOX
 

often when i am approaching my tent i expect to see my reflection the way i do when i walked up to any of the houses i’ve lived at on the door in front of the real door

then i remember i am in the jungle, i live in a tent & i unzip the entrance wondering what a faint reflection of myself would look like at this time

*

my favorite way i have made a friend is once someone i am close with approached me and said “you should talk to so and so, you have the same problems” so when i was walking to my tent i saw so and so and said “hey a mutual friend of ours said we have the same problems, do you want to be friends?” and she said “yes, let’s do something, i am depressed right now though” and i said “ok, well maybe tomorrow?” and she said “yes, but with the rules of depression, like we can totally bail”

*

it is harder to sustain being depressed while living in community because most people around are familiar with your average mood & when they see it slipping they all want to acknowledge that they have noticed & it might be because to them acknowledging that they noticed is their way of saying “i care” but at the same time when a few people say “i saw you at the lanai are you ok” it’s frustrating because you want to justify the face you must have been making & then you think “i live in hawaii i am in fucking paradise what is wrong with me” then you remember its all allowed & the people around you are trying to help in their own way

 

MENSTRUATION
SHARNAYLA


from YAK :: MANIFESTATIONS

FRIENDSHIP
JASON FISKE


from MHPQ1