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Graham Tugwell

June is Corn and Coaldust

JULY July is lost to growing and the counsel of the mother shelves, preparing her, making her ready to produce. And soon she’s big enough: “Don’t ruin those clothes,” says the withered thing that was her mother, “They’ll have to do the next one.” (Men are gathering on the street, waiting for the woman to come, to wheel before her this month’s child. And when there’s no sign of her, furtive and silent looks are exchanged. It’s a birthing month. Nothing new will come for weeks. Silently and furtively, they leave.) And July ends in mint and marigolds. The women watch as it has its first. A beautiful ...

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Graham Tugwell

June is Corn and Coaldust

JUNE And June is corn and coaldust, and the failure from the month before, quartered, rolled in honey. Swollen once more, and a day from birth, she lowers herself in stages, down the steps and through the door, and into the dark of the kitchen. All the things on shelves start screaming: “What have you brought us? What have you brought us?” A plastic bag is a wrinkled sac hanging heavy from a hand. She upturns it on the sideboard, releasing in slithers a hundred sachets of oxtail soup—today the things on the shelves must be fed. She cooks a pot of umber soup ...

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Graham Tugwell

June is Corn and Coaldust

MAY May is glass and garlic oil, eaten in delicate fistfuls, the sharp edges guided between the lips and crunched between her bleeding teeth. Three weeks of that—that pungent sharp— and she feels it growing, the stretch marks fresh striations like livid scald-wounds, a cage across her. It moves inside and aims a listless kick. She sits in the dark and feels it. This is an old house. Thorn bushes swallow windows, arching like backs to block the light. The stone floor is a shallow bowl, sunk lower than the ground so entry is by stepping down, ducking under the lintel. What light there ...

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Dan Corjescu

Partial Conversion of Neanderthal Man

No I’m not going to lie to you girl I converted just a while back I’m a hunk of a monster all bothered and black I stink of the past and try to reach for you sister but I’ve been beaten to blue to see the strong shove of your eyes and I kinda like you you’re tough and swift witted Sister Blue I may be a monster but I still kind a like you You’re different and hip in all the new places I carve out your name on the rock of ages I sweep the floor with my grunting look I’m an ape man with design on your web-weaved mind I’m backward and honest when I say “Your lesbian antics turn me on”I’m lost in high-powered ...

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Dan Corjescu

Haitian Night

My eyes are a serviette for millipedes As my breath metronomes the slow sedimentation of leaves I rush to hit a bus with my body and hear the rejoicing of black drivers under the strong heavy quilt of a Haitian night Continue to “Partial Conversion of Neanderthal Man” ...

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Nate Liederbach

Three Readers

Bon evening, gents, ladies, and willkommen to Benton Center’s Summer Reading Series! Because we’re ecstatic to have you. I’m ecstatic to have you!

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Benjamin Seanor

America

I love America so much I lean down in the dirt to tell her Iʼll start flossing soon, I promise, I donʼt want her to worry, you know? I love America so much my moments of silence sometimes last for hours and I forget to breathe and the wind is spitting at the window. I love America so much I want to bulldoze all her buildings, drop a glass dome over her and love her pristine without touch. I love America so much there are days where for no reason she makes me feel like a sailor on shore leave who canʼt keep from dunking his head in a barrel of ...

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Richard Marx Weinraub

Garnet

Make sacrifices to me I am your fetish. The Bghai tribe of Burma understood my power; they offered me fresh blood so I wouldn’t eat them. I am the color of lips consumed by fever or covered over in wax instilled with pigment — crushed female bodies — kermes or cochineal. Rubescence of swollen tits will satisfy me — the cherub satiated and then the sandman, but soon desire awakens and the jewel beckons. For forty days and nights Noah watched me glisten — the only sun he had was a bloody dragon. Obsessively he gaped as I turned to Allah. Through bullets of Kashmir and the cut carbuncle, I am the wound itself — Jesus on the rood tree in cabochon — the head of the talis man. ...

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Richard Marx Weinraub

Citrine

Gentlemen prefer blonde — Crystals/ Like that bitch in Dynasty/ Fake and cheap, it doesn't matter/ Honey sometimes; lemon always/ I will make you pucker up/ Marvelous upon the finger/ Mansfield

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Heather Hughes

The Brain No More Sacred

Why use this/ fork, why not to revolt, why carefully/ bump noun verb noun sans adjective, why/ wear a red flower, why to stay inside/ unless carrying an umbrella,/ why the sand must be wet.

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