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Symbiosis

Brian Barker

In the GrowPods colonizing outer space, scientists are observing new and exciting forms of symbiosis. In one, the Abyssinian mud elk has exchanged its antlers for the cashew tree, which sprouts directly from the mighty beast’s pate. Flourishing in the oxygen-rich environment, the branches produce nuts as fast as the golden flightless macaws can pluck and crack them. They drop the meat through the canopy to grateful one-armed sloths. These challenged arboreal browsers emerged from the jungles of Guyana at the end of the Million Year War, but no need to feel sorry for them. Our slow, smiling friends also get assistance from the translucent teardrop ant of the Lost Serengeti. This peculiar arthropod lives a solitary life in a small swath of fur just below the sloth’s eye, grooming fleas from our happy amputee with its retractable, needle-like proboscis.

A Literacy

Prageeta Sharma

We might have had a longer life together: a fine, brassy life in the tropics of a specificity, of roaring endearment: in the throes of a lucid compatibility, if I kept up with the compulsory description. And in spite of this, there was a dry ice marriage kept upwards, as it sat in this illusion. It is now extinguished. Yes, death deceives, and, yes, after the deception of one to the other, somebody lives in forwardness, of what that is. If fine lives syncopated into worded truths that bespoke outside of contemptibility you became the darkest figure before me. I intruded on you, I realize, on your badness and your expensive gray lavish blazer (the one I bought you) when it furled into its tuck, and it rode up your back pain and into your condition. I intruded on your addiction when it hurled its site of pain and took to your consciousness (crept in long ago).

A Waterfall Could Never Be Still

Jeremy Michael Clark

Laid out in a stranger’s yard my brother’s
numbed himself again. Headlights pass,
white as pills on a porcelain sink. 

We’re losing light. His forearms prove how dull
a blade can be. Night coils around us
like smoke from a snuffed cigarette. 

Worry wears my mother’s voice.
Each breath of hers is a candle she cups
to keep lit & all her sentences start: I need— 

My brother’s eyes roll back. A screen door slams,
a dog circles its crate, a lamp switches off
in one house then another. 

I wait beside him knowing it’s best
not to count how long it’s been.
It’s not sadness I feel when I hear the wind 

disturb someone’s chimes, the backfire
of an old Ford. Like my brother
I have a history of doing what I want 

from THE THIN WALL

Martha Rhodes

Nothing is the thin wall of glass (as thin as skin)
just over there. I think if I look at that woman’s shoes,
coated in hardened mud—and if I calculate
the weight that this playground supports right now,
all the dirt, dogs, benches, swing sets, and if I count
from memory the freckles on my mothers arms and face—
I might forget about the one who wakes me by screeching
into my brain that Nothing grabs us all, good or bad, boy,
girl popular, un-, you. I also think that my ability
to become misplaced, to take a few steps away and find myself
in someone’s poppy garden, or in the frozen aisle at the market,
or hovering at the ceiling of my sister’s bedroom in Thomaston
looking down at her asleep—lost, upside down, turned-around-unableto-
navigate-lost—so far might have . . . I believe . . . kept me

Common Prayer

Brandon Kreitler
 

And so, shipwrecked—though I hadn’t left the house—I began

to list the things I knew.  There was, for example, the airstrip.

And the oil slick.  The strip mall.  The foundry.  The drain line.  

Also:  The woodpile.  The rusted gate.  The waste river.

And I paused, feeling good about the fullness of my experience,

what I knew of being alive, the comfort of my salvaged chair.

Then the world came flooding back:  Blessed be the waterpark.  

The swap meet.  Its parking lot.  This Kool-Aid pouch.

The faithlessness of men.  The valley, verdant and free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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