A Poem by Ross Robbins

kumquat – the fruit itself

There are, of course, layers upon layers.

There is the fruit itself, the experience

thereof. The two magnify each other

in turn until a bright hot spot begins

to smoke. The anthill is sent into a panic,

a leg flurry. I never ate a kumquat—

cannot say if you peel it or swallow it

whole like a carnival goldfish

slurped on a dare. Later you’d risk

your first kiss by the Zipper.

Just then the fireworks lit up the river.

You looked out there where hairy men

scurried the barge. “Kaboom,” you whispered,

                 imagining Death.

Ross - Cover - FinalRoss Robbins‘ chapbook The Book of Definitions is now available from Atomic Theory Micro Press. Order your limited-edition, hand-sewn copy now!

Ross is a poet and painter based in Portland, Oregon. His previous publications include I Want to Say How I Feel and be Done With It Forever (Bone Tax Press, 2013), All In Black Blood My Love Went Riding (Two

Plum Press, 2014), and in late 2017, Two Plum Press will release The Three E.P.s, a collection comprised of three sections excerpted from three different full-length manuscripts. His poems have appeared in many lovely journals including Assaracus, Hobart, The Nervous Breakdown, The Fanzine, and Forklift, Ohio.

Ross was the founder of Bone Tax Press and the Bone Tax Reading Series. A lifelong devourer of poetry, his influences are obvious and many. If you would like to read more of his work, find him online at rossrobbinspoetry.tumblr.com or inknode.com/RossRobbins.


Two Poems by Jesse Bradley

The Ribcage Answers The Call That’s Coming From Inside The House

You admire the luddism of your latest lover
when his (landline) phone rings. You ignore
the urge to be polite, answer before he can.
Love is a murderer, can’t you see?

Of course, you say. You admit
to how many scenes you’ve fled
once you gag at the taste of him
once his skin sours to your touch,
once his name sounds like gunfire.
The voice on the other end sighs,
then hangs up.

Who was that, your lover asks
and you say: it was our future.

The Ribcage Falls In Love With An Ouroboros For The Wrong Reasons

You admire how it devours, how it vomits
when it can no longer stomach itself.
You’ve done everything you can to kill yourself
but it always flows through you like a sieve.

Why do you do this, you ask the ouroboros
as he slithers through you, his scales
caressing each of your bodies, your neck.
I want to see how far I can go
towards oblivion, the ouroboros says.

You ask: why do you stop?
He says: because I’m afraid.

J. Bradley is the author of The Adventures of Jesus Christ, Boy Detective (Pelekinesis, 2016) and the Yelp review prose poem collection Pick How You Will Revise A Memory (Robocup Press, 2016). He lives at jbradleywrites.com.


Two Poems by Philip F. Clark

Strange and Silent Hands

After the film, “Wings of Desire,” by Wim Wenders

The angel was quiet, unseen, felt; stood
over me as I read my book. The world
was filled with an impatient fluttering.
He said not a thing, but he spoke to me
as I turned pages, rapt in the attention
of his unworldly bright language. The books
watched us, voices from their pages
waiting to be read, ‘Please, me; please, me.’
It was not a mouth I felt, but a breath
and gentle solemnity. He bent to me. I kept
reading and the angel watched. Vigilant, touched
back by me, he my sentry and I his common man.
I shuddered. This is how we are chosen
by strange and silent hands.

The Cooler

We stop laughing when the doctors come in.
Don’t want to scare them.
Benny (car accident, Christmas, gifts all over the road) 
tries to freak them out though. He’ll make a low sound
sometimes. One nurse ran so fast she almost went
out the window. Sheryl her name was.

Me (smiling, at work, just as I finished signing a contract), I like to play
dead. Because that’s what I am right?
Evan (his brother got angry one night, forgot he had a knife in his hand)
doesn’t like the dark. We hear him crying sometimes.
You get used to the sliding in and out; the murmurs.

Biggest fear: we are mis-identified. Happened to Joe (air conditioner from
100 feet up) once. Almost Pottered him,
but his sister came by just in time. No wallet, nothin on him.
She identified a tattoo of a rose on his ass.
They say it’s easier now — ‘at peace’ — and all that shit.

But it’s not. It’s harder. Because we still
see everything going on that we can’t do. We see you
but can’t kiss you; see the kids or the husband,
the boyfriend, but we can’t touch you — I mean,
we do, but you know. They don’t feel anything.
But then, we don’t feel anything too.
I’m waiting; haven’t been here long. A day or two?
Not sure who’ll come. This is called passing time.

At night it’s different. You think it wouldn’t be —
us in these locked boxes. But it is. Because then
we really are quiet. I think a lot: what if I hadn’t gone
to work that day? But I did.
You can smell the stars at night. Yes, the stars.
They smell like something we reach for. Like
something we miss, but forgot to do.

There goes Ben. Well, I’ll miss him. Long road
home for him. He was visiting his former lover
in New Hope. New Hope, how funny is that.

Philip F. Clark is an adjunct lecturer in English at City College, New York, where he received his MFA in Creative Writing in 2016. His poems have been published in Assaracus, Lyrelyre, The Good Men Project, Poetry in Performance, and The HIV Here & Now Project. Most recently his work is included in Transition: Poems in the Aftermath, the new anthology of resistance poetry published by Indolent Press. His poetry reviews and interviews have been published in Lambda Literary Review and The Conversant. His poetry blog is The Poet’s Grin: philipfclark.wordpress.com.