Word Choice features original works of fiction and poetry. Read three poems by Eric Gudas, with art by Summer Wheat, selected by Jozeph Herceg.
End of Summer
across my bicycle’s
long since abandoned by their makers.
Lentils for esoteric
settle in their plastic bags
at the back of the cabinet.
Well-thumbed mystery novels
pile up by the bed,
obscuring Ovid and Rilke.
The ink of ambitious
to-do lists fades
on the page:
and how to sew on a button
Subjects of unfinished sentences
Word Choice features original works of fiction and poetry. Read “Development,” a short story by Matthew Pitt, selected by Fiction Editor Rosie Parker.
Nothing lacked at my family-owned pharmacy—staffed by a solicitous crew who hadn’t asked in years to see picture I.D. proof I am who I say, the place doesn’t bother with circulars: Once they know what you need, they discount it. Their familiarity is palpable. On this Saturday, though, a drifting day I’d made no plans for, and found myself inserting errands in spaces where friends and reflection might go, I transferred my Rx records to a box pharmacy. A franchise found on almost any block—except those in my secluded neighborhood. Getting there meant, for me, a long and awkward drive.
Still, I made the switch.
In the parking lot, an LED message announced that the photo lab developed 35mm film. The per-photo price seemed like a pittance, though I really can’t remember how much it used to cost.
What I did know was I had a film camera stowed in my home, taking up space, black and blocky like a man’s dress shoe. The last camera we bought before the advance of pixels and USB cables. Before digital photography swept over us, converting us into unblinking believers in instant gratification.
Breaking out old photo albums used to be an event: done after drinks, or in the course of airy dinner parties floating past midnight. Studying images on a computer screen? It feels, by comparison, as slight as thumbing flipbooks. Motion is revealed, but not mission. The cheaper it got to reprint what we shot, the less attention I paid to the images I took. The less careful I got weighing gestures, backdrops, types of lighting. Why bother, when I can just store any shot in the limitless attic of a hard drive?
Word Choice features original works of fiction and poetry. Read four poems by Julia Cohen, with art by Geoffrey Todd Smith, selected by Daniel Moysaenko.
The Ache Poem
We think the sea is invulnerable & we are
wrong. I watch water evaporate from
the vase. I watch your face as it turns to water.
Cars are louder than I am. Above the street I am
staring at two green shelves leaning against my wall.
Like a sailor, I whittled my heart into a hook & threw
it in the sea. The sea is a sink, a ceramic duck,
your stack of paper plates saved for picnics.
Our dog whines & I don’t know why. I’ve failed
in someway that has yet to be revealed.
Replace my heart with a lightbulb, a bleacher.
Nothing fits. I replace my heart with your
face. Scallops hold my hand, lead me to
that wet, grey scale. From the raft, I will
the shelves onto the wall. I will your face to
look up at me, from inside my chest.
Have I failed the sea. Refill the vase.
Word Choice features original works of fiction and poetry. This edition, selected by Fiction Editor Rosie Parker, features a story by the Serbian writer Danilo Kiš, translated by John K. Cox and introduced by editor Mirjana Miočinović.
We can date this short piece of prose with relative certainty to 1986, the year that Kiš’s illness was diagnosed; the work has no title and consists of two circled entries labeled “A” and “B,” each of which has a subtitle in English: The magical place and The worst rathole I visited? This text, comprising three typed pages, was found in Kiš’s literary papers already prepared for publication, with the author’s name in the upper left-hand corner of the first page. Aside from the issue of dating the text, we were vexed by the question of why Kiš would suddenly return to themes, places (which are here placed in sharp opposition to each other, as indicated by the titles of the constituent parts: magical place and worst rathole), and images from his “family cycle”; and we were inclined, trusting in the correctness of our intuition, to link this “homesickness” with forebodings of his own imminent end. Today, following closer studies of his literary oeuvre, and an inventory of its topics and motifs, made over nearly an entire decade (from 1978 to 1986), we realize that our assumption was more a matter of the “treacherous influence of biography.”
(Mme Pascal Delpeche recently mentioned to us that this text could be a response to a questionnaire about “most beautiful and ugliest places” received by the author. While this solution would remove all mystification as to Kiš’s motive, it would not alter the significance of the chosen places themselves.)
Word Choice features original works of fiction and poetry. Read three poems by Joshua Marie Wilkinson, with art by Adam Simon, selected by Daniel Moysaenko.
A Song Called Theodicy
after Cyrus Console
Why violence likes to get
nightlong, & break some vessels.
You mean, the long drawn‐out
second take of the tunnel scene?
Or the scene where a child’s
encounter on the film set
gets everybody behind
the camera to crying?
That’s not the wound
we thought long for—
Nor even the one we knew
we might have to defend.
The coils of the springs
of the theodicy of being.
Because evil’s a bad measure
of what’s happened here
& even violence can sound
pretty easy in the right mouth.
Read six exceptional poems by the winner and several finalists of BOMB’s 2012 Poetry Contest.
We are proud to present the poem “Glass Horse,” by Daniel Poppick, the winner of BOMB’s 2012 Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Daniel, who will have additional poetry appearing in BOMB’s Fall Issue 121, and to the runner-up, Diana Hamilton, whose poetry will appear online soon, as well as in the Winter Issue 122.
BOMB’s staff have selected our favorite poems from several other finalists in the contest, published below. Thanks to everyone who participated, especially this year’s judge, Ben Lerner.
by Daniel Poppick
The sea can do things that are almost amusing. And to think
it thinks some spells are conductive, and goes on letting
you believe just what it does. Given the salt it isn’t
unreasonable, if you deem air
malleable, this present air.
Our fathers are laughing, and the waves.
Allow me to dwell on this. The trick I believe is our fathers
already abundantly there for the bending,
abundant as rocks the sea generates.
It is a matter of selecting
from the menu of temperatures your face is
pressed to even as we speak. A meteorologist
rides a horse out of a forest to find us sitting here by the sea.
His robe drenched with paint, perhaps glue.
He is whistling, he hums
and then gulls flying away, the former melody
gulls pinned to the sky. Are you watching him as
We were trying to build serious
grasses, lamping baseball in its fiction.
Before departure darkened those strings
sunset busted from my lip, but now
it’s balding, the field replacing its mouth with graze or the useful
armor blue slips from our house,
from the window, a mammal.
I watched one leave the kitchen and another chase and
the scene immediately misused, a small
motor piece in Technicolor’s
dialect gone rogue, an illustration when we
whole albums to choose from and model ourselves
with and after, because it was night,
and whatever we made was going to have to diamond
both of us until morning. When I watched them pour
across the street it was like
I wrote a story about my father, only
the first sentence was true. No knowing when I finished
and denying beginning both
lungs and bees engineer a peace not peace.
So when I tell you I don’t know anything you can
believe me with skin, as the glitch
language is there to argue with truly
stuns me into something like night. I wrote a story about gulls,
only the word goodbye was true, an army of referees in
two languages, one for winter and the other
for fall. A laughter filled the field designed to break people.
Silence for riding, the door to my bedroom would not
click shut, like silence the sun makes available in trees
and the desk trees are thin parable for.
The sun moved among my calculations
writing a story about a father stitched with bees.
I am standing by the sea, a parking lot for
We had this ashtray
storing sex in a little annex. Without knowing
who had filled it (you and I had not and our fathers
had only just arrived) the guess I hazarded that afternoon
seemed to helium whole neighborhoods
against our chimes.
You suggested we play a game about celebrities.
In one round each person could use a word
and in the next rounds we couldn’t use words.
We pasted cards to our foreheads and when our fathers
leaned in to hear us hazard our guesses
whole instants came to last like cigarettes.
At the breakfast table we averaged two blessings per meal
and conversation often lighted on as many
as six saints, one being baseball, another our house, another
the animal we had forgotten, another photographs,
another gulls eating ash from our hands to
The horse melts to houses where her hooves touched water
so still its houses touch fire.
Air the masterpiece of obstruction, in color and
every night of our lives, an anniversary cleaning its teeth with gulls.
We can agree gulls are as much a government as the changing
of sails, but by what color rope? The horse says governments
speak in color bars while television
only speaks in news.
In my father’s version news is spun from trees’ fingers
as peace stained blue
and you and I need white. The meteorologist perched above the
sea setting off flares incites us to
move, but you select the sounds you bead yourself on.
You’ve fallen asleep in the lighthouse again. I’ll keep
listening for both of us tonight, rattling in the branches
lit red yellow blue
Word Choice features original works of fiction and poetry. Read four poems by Melissa Broder, with art by Paul K. Tunis, selected by Peter Moysaenko. Read an interview with Broder here.
Fantasies of Privacy
Have I ever thought that I am evil and I want too much?
No, I am going to make a man pork chops and the chops will be
a cinema of compassion. Then what of that piggy?
I am writing no promises on any walls, I want to be
beholden to no creature, responsible for no breed, I am
a number and I did not ask to be bred, I never said
dream a little dream of me that was your very own volition.
I do not know the you of whom I speak. But I have an asshole
that must be kept clean and it is enough of a punishment.
Word Choice features original works of fiction and poetry. Through prose and image, Myron Kaufman has crafted an uncanny, unhinged romance between man and horse. The story (and its author) are introduced by Myron’s son, filmmaker and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman.
When I was a little kid, I would watch my father playing with his toast crumbs on the breakfast table. He’d push the crumbs into interesting designs. My father was always artistic. He painted, he made sculptures from found objects, he fingered toast crumbs. I loved watching him do it: focused, creative, driven, even at breakfast.
A few years ago, I mentioned the toast crumb memory to him. I wanted to tell him how much his daily ritual had meant to me. He was quiet for a moment. It didn’t elicit the, “Oh, yeah! I forgot all about that! I used to love doing that!” I had expected. Instead, he finally said something like, “I was probably feeling trapped and trying to distract myself.” I was floored. I hadn’t gotten that at all from watching him. To me it was just another example of the wonderfulness of my dad, the most eccentric and educated father in our blue collar neighborhood, an example of his boundless creativity: toast crumb art. Suddenly it was something else entirely.
I found myself both flattered by his honesty and taken aback by the abandonment of his fatherly protective relationship. It was similar to that day he started referring to my mother as “Helen” and not “Mom.” We are all adults here, it said. She is Helen now.
“Helen and I went to Vermont this weekend.”
“Helen fell and broke her wrist.”
Of course, had he told me as a child that he felt trapped, I would not have understood.
Of course, as an adult, I do. The nature of my relationship with my father has changed. Now here we are, both older, both parents, both still struggling to understand ourselves at this late date. Helen has died. Myron moved to California to be near Charles. His weekend painting became full-time painting. He doesn’t know what he’d do if he didn’t have it, he says.
In the last few years he has painted hundreds of paintings, written several stories, participated in a handful of gallery shows, and had two solo exhibitions.
And I do my own version of toast crumb drawings now. Because I now know the secret of adulthood.
Here’s a story Myron wrote and illustrated.
Word Choice features original works of fiction and poetry. Read four poems by Leigh Stein, selected by Charles Day, BOMB’s Marketing Director.
Is one of the symptoms remembering the ghosts
one has seen? I am not going to sign my name
to this postcard because who knows whose eyes
will see it besides yours and you should know
who is in Mogadishu right now and who is not.
The passwords to my accounts are hidden
somewhere in the following true story.
When I was fourteen, my father promised
me to a man who lived in the forest.
I never went to his cabin; he always came
to mine. When he asked me why I never came
I said I did not know the way and so
he tied a rope to all the trees and asked my father
to see that I followed it. Sometimes we put ourselves
in danger just to live and tell about it.
And sometimes we put ourselves in danger
because our fathers betroth us to murderers.
When I finally found the house no one was home
so I hid and I waited. Blood as red as apples,
apples as red as blood, skin as white as snow,
snow as red as blood: no one has seen what I
have. My betrothed came home with some men
and a girl and I still have her finger to prove it.
(Is one of the symptoms a constant dull ache?
Word Choice features original works of fiction and poetry. Read “Fill This Vast Hole,” a short story by Ryan Call, selected by Fiction Editor Rosie Parker.
Consider the inner sanctum of the modern American bathroom, and you might begin to understand that mine is a holy story, porcelaneous and grouted, a story punctuated by the various toiletries scattered across the tile floor, which my father had earlier angrily swept from the grimy sink.
Imagine now a pale boy, adolescent and unconscious, bleeding from the nose, his parents gently transporting his body into the bathroom, struggling to carry it past the pedestal of the sink, over the cumbersome bowl of the toilet, and then undressing it of robe and towel, before wedging it into the steaming bathtub.
Such was my true punishment: to be trapped among all these plumbing fixtures, my parents ministering to my every spiritual need.
BOMBlog’s Word Choice features original works of poetry, fiction, and art. This edition of Word Choice, selected by Peter Moysaenko, features fiction by Peter Markus and art by Daniel Shea.
Peter Markus knows how to hypnotize. His writing pulses story into myth, makes fiction forge primeval proofs. Here, in this selection from a book-in-progress, the hero strikes out for home.
from In a House in a Woods
When he saw that house, what he said, so that just his own head could hear it, was that this house used to be his.
But this house, it was not his house now.
This house, it was now just a house with a mom and a dad in it.
There were no boys here in this house.
When this boy knocked with his hand on the door to this house, no voice told him to come in.
But in he went to go see what he’d left in this house on that day when he left from this house to go live in the house with the girl in it who did not have a mom or a dad or a dad of her dad to make that house be a home.
In this house where this boy used to live with a mom and a dad of his own, when he walked in through the door, there was a mom who stood by the stove who looked a lot like his mom who liked to stand by the stove where she liked to cook up meat for the dad and her two boys to eat.
There was a dad, too, here in this house, out back in the back yard of this house, who was a man who liked to make things out of wood, and this man looked a lot like his own dad.
Hi, Mom, the boy said to the mom who stood like and cooked like and looked like his own mom.
Hi, Dad, the boy said to the man out back in the back yard of this house who liked to make things made out of wood.
Boy, I am not your mom, was what the mom said who stood like and cooked like and looked too much like this boy’s mom not to be his mom.
Boy, I am not your dad, was what the dad said too.
We don’t know you, both the mom and the dad then said, though they did not say this at the same time.
Who are you?
BOMBlog’s Word Choice features original works of poetry, fiction, and art. This edition of Word Choice, selected by Peter Moysaenko, features poetry by Sam Pink and art by Kurt Strahm.
Selected from a prose poem massive enough to take on the promise of its title, these pieces evince a butchery of the inner-life variety. Consistently underwhelmed yet beatifically weird, Sam Pink’s work points to what most honest work points to—the secret, soft, or otherwise unremarkable brutalities that punctuate a human life.
from The Midwest
Walking to get my paycheck today, I expected a hand was going to come out of the gutter and grab my ankle and then two eyes would appear inside the grate, with a voice saying, “Hey, just kidding, how are you.” Many of my recent thoughts involve someone who lives in a sewer becoming an important part of my life. Many of my recent thoughts involve someone who will never become an important part of my life.
BOMBlog’s Word Choice features original works of poetry, fiction, and art. This edition of Word Choice, selected by Peter Moysaenko, features poetry by Laura Eve Engel and art by Coke O’Neal.
High-spirited though scarcely lighthearted, Laura Eve Engel’s poems are braced by a momentum of vivid conjecture and expanding conundrum—they gaze through themselves, through their maker, and set out for worlds by which the world may be voided or defined.
It feels good to love our country.
We must not say so. I’m divided by a love
of our millions of brilliant inventions
and how I’ll dumbly sniff and rub each one
until I’ve figured out how I can use it for that
other thing. Just like a brilliant inventor I too
have a body so I know everything’s invented
to pleasure a body. I was born to this country
and all of it was entranced by my tiny fingers
and then I learned where I could put them.
Before I was born there was sniffing and rubbing
and it formed a tiny unity. Already it was getting
too big to call by one name. It was becoming
a collection of purposes. Which is like calling the sky
a collection of purposes because stars exist.
This is why I write little notes to myself
reminding myself to take all the notes out
of my pockets before sleep. The notes say look
at the sky and when I remember to do it I feel
very American. I feel American when I want
to be able to rub up against what I’m pretty sure
is that planet. Planets exist. They hold the names
we gave them inside them like a breath. I need
to remember to look up the names of the planets
I’m seeing. I’m fairly certain of what I’m seeing.
It’s too bright to be anything else.
BOMBlog’s Word Choice features original works of poetry, fiction, and art. This edition of Word Choice, selected by Peter Moysaenko, features poetry by Austin LaGrone and art by Jeanne Cassanova.
Roaming down-and-out environs of human striving and error, LaGrone’s verse summons, as if by sheer instinct or grace, a gleaming force through which even the vicious life grows handsome and the potential for rapture will not fail.
It’s another 5th Ave umbrella man
asleep in my car this time, another
shabby raincoat or shipwreck bluing
in the cold-twinkly morning stars.
Some folks enjoy living alone.
Others simply whistle the brisk
carnival through first light or birds.
With me, it’s simple as a toy revolver
trimly gambled or the better cake
of a small jade Buddha. With me,
it’s simple as laughing with the orange-
suited clean-up crews who piss against
the one-way glass. Anyone can scream
a fat train of rubies or shout like the man
selling vegetables. I’m inclined to
cock-a-doodle-do in these situations.
We all sober-up in the lighthouse where
bric-a-brac gathers in the elephant clouds.
BOMBlog’s Word Choice features original works of poetry, fiction, and art. This edition of Word Choice, selected by Peter Moysaenko, features poetry by Joshua Harmon and art by Aaron Gustafson.
Harmon’s plunging, loose-jointed verse assembles here a new-era nature poetry in which the confluence of energies and inscapes powers premonitions of collapse.
from The Soft Path
Brittle maples displaced
field defaced like
the oscillations of the un-
housed self snowroaded,
winterfered with: an
irruption of red
-polls, the resonant peaks
of the Berkshires and band
terms with terrain’s int-
entions, pasture dis-
entitled by imperfectly
grounded wires: and a diesel
engine running a 20%
bio-blend grinds down
-ed trees to chips
BOMBlog’s Word Choice features original works of poetry, fiction, and art. This edition of Word Choice, selected by Peter Moysaenko, features poetry by Jennifer Chapis and art by Stephanie Pierce.
Chapis delivers poems at once so slight and vital they float along on their own melancholy undercurrents, into foregone storms of wind and light, toward the hazard of the instant.
Years, I’ve prayed the love
even I remind me of you.
Whistle isn’t sound
Ages I’ve feared
crooked fishhook you.
BOMBlog’s Word Choice features original works of poetry, fiction, and art. This edition of Word Choice, selected by Peter Moysaenko, features fiction and art by Matt Runkle.
Matt Runkle’s short fictions, though not quite absurdist, tangle chains of causation and breeze through blind doors of perception. Their embellishments limn surreptitious lessons. Their fantasias beget the fantast.
There might have been an invisible sort of drug inside my bag. The hound was trying to chew right through it, but it was hard-shell, and I imagined the drug, heavy-lidded, pulling its head inside like a tortoise.
TSA, whose necks were strong and swanlike, seemed to have some questions for me. L——? they said through bee-stung lips. Are you L——?, which in my mind was French for she. I was quite the globe-trotter then, and the fact that I was using Le Lièvre’s passport had slipped my mind.
BOMBlog’s Word Choice features original works of poetry, fiction, and art. This edition of Word Choice, selected by Peter Moysaenko, features poetry by Claire Donato and art by Carl Ferrero.
Extracted from Donato’s severe cycle of poems penned alongside a series of paintings by Carl Ferrero—both inspired by the work of Stanislaw Lem—these pieces read like carefully compressed bulletins from the shores of a destroyed orbital. Hard and ephemeral, alien and driving inward, they ply the dread of self as other, jockeying a yet unseen debacle, intoning the ineffable.
In the Wake of Freezing You to Death
Last summer was cold.
Worse: It did not stop.
Finally, another thought
Arrives in the shape
Of a thought
That plays out in the head.
She thinks, ‘I am in trouble again.’
Leave but never go.
BOMBlog’s Word Choice features original works of poetry, fiction, and art. This edition of Word Choice, selected by Peter Moysaenko, features fiction by Jesse Ball and art by Sophie Jodoin.
Jesse Ball’s cryptic fictions scramble broken codes. Memory frames memory, a foregone future, the body disassembling without ending.
At the Clinic
We are admitted at once, of course. There is a long line, but we brush right past. We are serious, it seems, more so than others. I wink at you. You laugh. On the walls all the laughs are painted in a baroque fashion, which means as gilt dolphins. You and I despise gilt dolphins, of course. Of course we do. The man who is waiting for us has drawn up the papers. “You are prepared to do this?” “We are,” I say. “Most definitely, we are.” “At least I am,” you say. “I don’t know about this joker.” You laugh; and this time someone rings a bell to answer you. It is just the man laughing. His laugh sounds like a bell that is being rung elsewhere. “If we weren’t ready before we came,” I begin to say, but the man shakes his head sadly. He holds up a sign: NO MORE TALKING. And then it is time.
BOMBlog’s Word Choice features original works of poetry, fiction, and art. This edition of Word Choice, selected by Peter Moysaenko, features poetry by Nick Demske and art by Dan Witz.
Fraught and ferocious, Demske’s verse polemic risks annihilation with élan, breaching that tricky hold of the political poem, setting its satirical sights on the mechanics of war and entertainment, the ongoing orders of violence with which even our moments of quiet are infested. So here’s to breaking such silence. Here’s to undone investment.
“Fire is inspirational.”
After Mims, ODB, Jeff Bezos & Danny Khalastchi
Because I’m on fire. Because I’m a church. Because I’m Richard Pryor. Because I’m Google search.
Because O snap, Branch Davidian Gideon, a real burner, cinder incinerate drunk tank caloric intake shake. And bake. And I helped.
I perpetuated the mythology. I forwarded the message. I researched the glottochronology, desperate for a great grandparent to blame. Awe shit!—I wrote a poem about “picnics” etymology, the practice of picking a nigger for lynching. The practice of coloring cluster munitions the same shade as aerial food drops.
BOMBlog’s Word Choice features original works of poetry, fiction, and art. This edition of Word Choice, selected by Peter Moysaenko, features poetry by Joseph Millar and art by Nader Ebrahimi.
Millar’s muscular poems mount expeditions into the wake of shrinking destinations, ruminant yet not quite mournful, jaded but glinting.
Why don’t you just say one of your prayers,
she sighs on the way to the airport,
passing through the Virginia hills,
something hidden and dazed in her look
like the singer’s corrosive voice
smoldering out of the radio.
When we stop to stretch
in a grove of dark pines
she looks like she’s trying
to remember something
standing beside the fender
and bending the wing-mirror over,
daylight the color of tapwater,
silver-gray like the sky.
I look okay in this type of light, she says
no one can see my crow’s feet.
I can’t decide if she’s flirting with me
or trying to pick a fight.
What if I tell her I’m not afraid
of her midnight rages and vanities?
What if I give her these skinny violets
and say get back in the car?
BOMBlog’s Word Choice features original works of poetry, fiction, and art. This edition of Word Choice, selected by Peter Moysaenko, features poetry by Andrew Zawacki and art by Meghann Riepenhoff.
Spaced-out and deft, Zawacki’s sonnets set trajectories by which form irradiates form and the discrete or familiar gives way to luminous flux.
Ballistic Nylon Sonnet
Squall through the safsaf willow
Is why the tree is
Dodge dark, burn bright the
Anthracite air, arthritic
Branch : sine wave &
I have dreams & you’re
At hyperfocal distance the leaves :
1050 denier double weave
No thing ever in
My arms will ever break
– It’s snowing
– What is it
BOMBlog’s Word Choice features original works of poetry, fiction, and art. This edition of Word Choice, selected by Peter Moysaenko, features poetry by Thomas Devaney and art by Zoe Strauss.
Naming is, if not possession, a performance of memory, a ritual of empathy. Thomas Devaney here enunciates a shared smallness writ large, making place of space and era of time, fleshing out a momentariness in terms to stay our bodies.
The Blue Stoop
Who remembers the blue stoop?
I am laughing at the question—Who?
Everybody. All the names.
Like an early book of the Bible,
it isn’t just names, they go deep
and make three wide steps, three
very wide steps, an everywhere.
There is Franny and Tina.
Amy, Gary, and George. Dawn Ann
and her red-headed brother Bobby.
BA, Matthew, Paula, and Rob.
Tommy Fliss and all the Flisses.
Goddamn Steve Fliss. Steve
Anthony’s mother is leaning out the window.
Does she ever go out? Yes, every day.
She leans out the window all day long.
Anthony’s uncle played the trumpet.
Everybody knows that, but when we say
he played the trumpet
we mean he played with everybody.
Yes, Tony Bennett, but have you ever heard
of Al Martino? Guy Lombardo? People,
big bands—he played with them all,
and in some third-floor heaven he still is.
People say, Once upon a time a call was a dime.
They say more than I can say here.
They say, Don’t forget where you’re from,
but I don’t have to, because I never left.
Recently somebody said the blue stoop looks smaller
than it used to.
I guess they know what they’re talking about,
but don’t tell that to Michael, Michael, and Michael,
and a generation of Roses weaned on a fresh coat
of swimming pool paint every few years.
All the dirty kid faces that will never be clean.
Those are my faces.
BOMBlog’s Word Choice features original works of poetry, fiction, and art. This edition of Word Choice, selected by Peter Moysaenko, features poetry by Emily Kendal Frey and art by Izel Vargas.
Radiant and distant, suffused with a saturnine sense of awe, Kendal Frey’s poems activate subtle gravities in the blink of an eye. We don’t approach—we’re taken.
The Greatest Brightness Acts Near the Greatest Darkness
We can be free
in degrees. The dream,
for example, tries
to do its part:
a stack of cards
from other lovers
and a red shawl.
You don’t belong
to me. Now I’m awake
and things down the street
are loud and mine.
No birds. Trucks.
A dull wind moves us
There is no reason.
There are people praying
so we don’t have to.
BOMBlog’s Word Choice features original works of poetry, fiction, and art. This edition of Word Choice, selected by Peter Moysaenko, features poetry by CAConrad and art by Judith Supine.
Ecstatic and unflagging, CAConrad is a poet of singular verve. His exercise approaches the tenor of mystic rite—no shambling rote, no sir—and the verse it bears forth raises upon loci of torment a worldly oratory to the extraordinary ordinary, to the flawed and failing and dear.
for Erica Kaufman
Wash a penny, rinse it, slip it under your tongue, and walk out the door. Copper is the metal of Aphrodite, never ever forget this, never, don’t forget it, ever. Drink a little orange juice outside and let some of the juice rest in your mouth with the penny. Oranges are the fruit of Aphrodite, and she is the goddess of Love, but not fidelity. Go somewhere, go, get going with your penny and juice. Where do you want to sit? Find it, and sit there.
What is the best Love you’ve ever had in this world? Be quiet while thinking about that Love. If someone comes along and starts talking, quietly shoo them away, you’re busy, you’re a poet with a penny in your mouth, idle chitchat is not your friend. Be quiet so quiet, let the very sounds of that Love be heard in your bones. After a little while take the penny out of your mouth and place it on the top of your head. Balance it there and sit still a little while, for you are now moving your own forces quietly about in your stillness. Now get your pen and paper and write about POVERTY, write line after line about starvation and deprivation from the voice of one who has been Loved in this world.
BOMBlog’s Word Choice features original works of poetry, fiction, and art. This edition of Word Choice, selected by Peter Moysaenko, features poetry by Wanda Phipps and art by Sarah Walker.
These three lithe pieces, from Phipps’s cumulatively cumulative verse series, stage swoony explorations into interwoven systems of impression and expression, expanding access to the writhing forces of desire and its hydra-headed obverse.
from Silent Pictures Recognize the World II
bursting white pot
red pink purple blue
arcs of color
blue green white stones
pebbles circle the bottom
like jelly beans
ready to pop
out of the frame
bursting against red brick
the center a pink opening
stiffens and freezes
her face in a
stuck in a
mask of joy
of a hidden
BOMBlog’s Word Choice features original works of poetry, fiction, and art. This edition of Word Choice, selected by Peter Moysaenko, features fiction—text and read aloud—by Scott McClanahan and art by Steven Brahms.
My grandmother ruined my birthday when she got breast cancer. I was at home that day when the phone rang and it was Ruby on the other line. I picked up the phone and she started shouting, “O lordie.”
Then she started going on about how the doctor at Beckley said she had breast cancer and was going to die if she didn’t have her breast removed.
My dad came home from work that evening, and I told him Grandma had cancer and was dying.
He whispered, “Shit,” beneath his breath and called the doctor up and it turned out she didn’t have breast cancer but a benign growth that could possibly be cancerous.
The doctor said it could be treated with a cream.
She wanted everybody to think she had breast cancer though.
BOMBlog’s Word Choice features original works of poetry, fiction, and art. This edition of Word Choice, selected by Peter Moysaenko, features poetry by Paula Cisewski and art by Michael Marcelle.
If you’re in on the laughter, you know it’s serious. Cisewski’s brisk but personable poems dig into an unconscious lexicon.
The Anvil Chorus
The teen forgets to steer. The car rolls.
The news goes straight to that broken
place where broken things go.
We remain small monuments
to breathing, temporary ones, while
our neighborhood arsonist keeps getting drunk
and torching the same foreclosed home.
The president interrupts Celebrity Apprentice
to announce the Terrorist’s death.
The cartoon coyote walks off the cliff but doesn’t notice,
and so, he keeps going. We shake hands pleasantly, our faces
sedately repeating a reference to the same punch line.
BOMBlog’s Word Choice features original works of poetry, fiction, and art. This edition of Word Choice, selected by Peter Moysaenko, features poetry by Darcie Dennigan and art by Carl Dimitri.
In the midst of revolution, the prospect of an after lies down and dreams. Dennigan’s redacted, shuddering testimonies, in tandem with Dimitri’s sketches, work verse into a precinct where generation unwinds.
Because Nazi venom had seeped into our very thoughts … every true thought was a victory …
Speaking of seepage … Something had gotten into the water … some kind of chemical … poison … or just the sun … just the sun had got in and dried it all to bone … The point was … There was very little water… Thus, not the time … to bring a baby into … it all … but I did … and it was triplets … three new babies … and tribal fights over clean liquid … well, what do I do now … well, I wanted to continue to be optimistic … But was that true optimism … or residue … leftover … from …
BOMBlog’s Word Choice features original works of poetry, fiction, and art. This edition of Word Choice, selected by Peter Moysaenko, features poetry by Dorothea Lasky and art by Adam Grossi.
These poems delve into sinister realms with the tricky whimsy of full-grown fairy tales. Tracing a renegade color theory along lines of lyric agony, Lasky’s verse delights in the juncture between sense and sentiment, what you see and what you get.
The Green Secret
I was five when I learned the green secret
I was five but I was very precocious and I knew the green secret
Which I held to my chest
And went running through the fields in winter
Slightly glowing green snow on my face and brow
And on my horse would pour from the skies the mint ice cream
Which tasted so delicious when I licked his back
I was twenty when I gave away the green secret
To a friend who was not really a friend
But a person who needed to know
And when I whispered the secret
My friend’s eyes rolled back in his head
And when I saw only the whites of his eyes the whole room went green
And my horse who was long dead came to the window and gave me a wink
And instead of real colored eyes anymore
My friend’s eyes became the magic green forever
Two solid buttons of chrysophase eternally positioned
Somewhere in the vast forever between the mouth and the bound