Issue 133 — 

Kenneth Cupp (ArLiJo#133)
Toshiya Kamei (ArLiJo#133)
Gregory Kimbrell (ArLiJo#133)
Sherrel McLafferty (ArLiJo#133)
John Repp (ArLiJo#133)
Stephanie Sabourin (ArLiJo#133)
Elizabeth Spragins Spencer (ArLiJo#133)
Edward M. Supranowicz (ArLiJo#133)
Julie Weiss (ArLiJo#133)
Kenneth Cupp

Featured in ArLiJo Issue No. 133


I Resemble Your Kind

You go to a bar hoping to meet someone to love you.
  Indigo burns on your arm, like a phoenix.
Tequila on the rocks, cigarettes on your breath.
  Uniform, leather, or not dressed.
A creature of the night, deserving love like the rest.
  No one I know resembles your kind.
Underwear, stockings, boots, or bare chest.
  A wild man lurking inside your helix.
Whiskey straight up—and I’m longing for you.

Stockades, cages, and a nice slow grind.
  Solitary helix—and not dressed.
Tequila on the rocks, phoenix on your chest.
  Whips, chains, wheel of death . . .
Tonight you’ll join in on the rest.
  The vapor in the room smells of feast.

I go to a bar to meet someone to love me.
  Indigo burns on my arm like a phoenix.
No one I know resembles my kind.
  I go to a bar hoping to meet your kind.
Another tequila and smoke on my breath.
  A wild man lurking inside my helix.
A creature of the night, deserving love like the rest.
  I go to a bar—hoping to find you.

Uniform, leather, stockings, or not dressed.
  No one I know resembles your kind.
You go to a bar to meet someone to love you.
  Tequila on the rocks, cigarettes on your breath.
A creature of the night, deserving love like the rest.
  Indigo burns on your arm like a phoenix.
Wild man lurking inside of this helix.
  Uniformed, leather, or not dressed.
A creature of the night, deserving love like the rest.

No one you know resembles my kind.
  Whiskey straight up—and you’re longing for me.

Copyright © 2020 by Kenneth Cupp.



About the Author
Kenneth Cupp’s poem I Resemble Your Kind is a sestina depicting the underground leather culture in the second largest gay community in America. He has several short stories and poems at: authorkennethcupp.com. Cupp currently lives in Wilton Manors, Florida.
 

 
Estrella del Valle / translated by Toshiya Kamei

Featured in ArLiJo Issue No. 133



I Don't Need Mating Contracts

I’m in perfect health.
I'm a stud, a good catch.
Everyone wants to hold me in their arms.
I’ve got a tremendous active member.
I’m the board, the CEO, and the block captain.
I’m judge and jury,
I’m your airtime's main investor.
I’m your employer, your leader,
I’m the standard-bearer of social processes.
A bigwig, a hotshot, I’m the boss.
If I’m not alive, I’d say I’m God.
I’m the feudal lord of this region.
I’ve got a tremendous active member.
I manage the space you protect.
In short, everything is mine.
I don’t need mating contracts.


Copyright © 2020 translation by Toshiya Kamei.



No necesito pactos copulares

Estoy perfectamente sano.
Soy un tipazo, un buen partido.
Todos quieren tenerme entre sus brazos.
Tengo un tremendo miembro activo.
Soy la junta, el director, el jefe de manzana.
Soy juez y parte,
soy el principal inversionista de tu tiempo aire.
Soy tu patrón, tu líder,
soy único adalid de los procesos sociales.
Un gerifalte, un señorón, soy un jerarca.
Si no es porque estoy vivo yo diría que soy Dios.
Soy el señor feudal de esta comarca.
Tengo un tremendo miembro activo.
Yo administro el espacio que resguardas.
Para acabar pronto, todo es mío.
No necesito pactos copulares.


Copyright © by Estrella del Valle.



The Family, Private Property, and the State


There’s a special place in hell for harlots who neglect their house,
for those who steal books from the private shelves of ice cream parlors,
there’s a special floor for commies with Swiss bank accounts,
a place where they dance barefoot on burning embers
those who have killed time believing that it would never return.
For the killers of doves of peace,
for those who steal innocence and mix it with black water
for them there is a special place in hell.
And for humans who kidnap hearts, there will always be a place.
Even though you tell me shooting a heart point-blank,
left and right is not a state crime:
killing for fun is classified on my list.


Copyright © 2020 translation by Toshiya Kamei.




La Familia, la Propiedad Privada y el Estado

Hay un lugar en el infierno para las meretrices que descuidan su casa,
para los que se roban los libros de los estantes privados de las heladerías,
hay un piso especial para los comunistas con cuentas bancarias en Europa,
un lugar donde bailan descalzos sobre brasas ardientes
los que han matado el tiempo creyendo que jamás regresaría.
Para los asesinos de palomas de la paz,
para los que roban inocencias y las van a mezclar con aguas negras
para ellos hay un sitio especial en el infierno.
Y para humanos que secuestran corazones, siempre habrá un sitio.
Por qué aunque usted me diga que no es un crimen de estado
tirar a matar a un corazón a quemarropa, a mansalva:
matar por diversión, en mi lista, sí está catalogado.

Copyright © by Estrella del Valle.


About the Authors
A native of Córdoba, Veracruz, Estrella del Valle now lives in El Paso, Texas. Her most recent poetry collection, Calima: CAution LIve aniMAls, was published in 2018. Her poems have recently appeared in Isacoustic, La Canasta, and Rogue Agent, among others.

Toshiya Kamei holds an MFA in Literary Translation from the University of Arkansas. His translations of Latin American literature include My Father Thinks I’m a Fakir by Claudia Apablaza, South Exit by Carlos Bortoni, and Silent Herons by Selfa Chew.
 

 
Gregory Kimbrell

Featured in ArLiJo Issue No. 133


Translation:
Biophoton・Fog



When the yellow poison collects inside
my heart, the cells change into a brittle

surface. Lost in that yellow network of
fever, I’m scared. I’m not chasing after

the shadow of death. But under yellow
light, new, yellow sediment results. It’s

moored in my body, dependent on the
network for assembly. I’ll go to the lab,

enter my pyramid. I won’t be executed.
Light didn’t erode the night. The night

was made of fire. Cell God, dark silver
wheel, I listen to the name in my mind.

What hope could you have for me still?
You overtook my skull, found the way

to lift the spinal armor and capture the
light. You’ll destroy my brain the same

way. You can manipulate death. Under
my flesh’s enthusiasm you are fire, and

the water flows down, like flame, from
heaven to me. We all are opportunities.


Copyright © 2020 by Gregory Kimbrell.
Translation first appeared on May 29, 2019 in Across the Margin.


Insignificance


The eels trail behind them flowing blue tails
that shine purple under the artificial light, as
they swim through the water thickened with
gelatinized cartilage, among the skeletons of
their unidentifiable and intermingled victims.

The human prisoner suspended above them
holds with his good hand one of the bars of
his cage. The puncture wounds on his other
hand will not close, and his blood drips into
the open maws of the beasts that desire him.

He whistles what he prays to be the musical
password to the robot guardian that, despite
its believably human form, does not actually
breathe, but reveals in its glass eyes a flicker
of the spark that animates its ceramic frame.

What passes from his cracked lips, however,
is just a meaningless song. He has forgotten
too much of his dreams, and the empty hulk
stands as still as a jaguar that waits for a bird
to return to its nest and its tender hatchlings.

Now the skin of his injured hand turns clear,
and the network of blue veins conveys what
appears to be smoke up a white bone ladder
and into the lightless recesses of a body that,
for the time being, can still experience terror.


Copyright © 2020 by Gregory Kimbrell.
Insignificance first appeared on Oct. 15, 2019 in Coffin Bell, Vol. 2 No. 4.



About the Author
Gregory Kimbrell describes himself: “I’m a queer, furry writer who uses poetry to explore, and locate his own, sexual and social identity. I see my writing as a subversive act of myth making, of smashing old worlds and building new ones. My current guiding lights are Aase Berg, Anne Carson, Haruki Murakami, and Armand Schwerner. ”
Visit: gregorykimbrell.com
 

 

Sherrel McLafferty

Featured in ArLiJo Issue No. 133


Moving Still
 a poem without time

1.
The sun and earth sit stationary
so, we must make our shadows
move with headlamps and lanterns,
our hands fumbling animals
out of blocked light onto bare walls.
We assemble life from the season
we are stuck in. Ohio gets fall.

The sun is frozen at that acute lens
that all the flowers lean for,
that all the trees grow half their limbs
longer, reaching toward.

2.
You are asleep forever and sometimes
and now. You sloth in blankets
like the birds outside waddle through
the leaves, saying I love half
the apartment, it’s always black

and nest for as long as long is.

You devolve in the dark.
Your arms extend like cranes,
eyes little dilated beads, and lips
part like fat guppies when we kiss,
saying, I’ll never get sunburn again.
Yet, I remember rubbing
aloe on your red cheeks,
peeling back the thin layer of dead
skin to see who you might be after.

3.
The geese never leave the road
holes, the streets have never been
so full of honking necks. We drive
the car on sidewalk to avoid trauma.

What do they eat? and the world resurrects
a fleet of cicadas. Shelled harbingers sing
like sirens while we turn the windshield
wipers into a pair of frantic arms, conducting
their rhythm to the eager staccato of beaks.

4.
We, too, learn to live in angles.
My body reads the frozen sundial
to the end of its arrow, someplace deep
into evergreens and acorned floors,
where bark chips when I scratch my back.

I piss in the river that no longer moves.
I’m wild while the sky is not watching.
I return to you feral, but nails trimmed.


Copyright © 2020 by Sherrel McLafferty.



About the Author
Sherrel McLafferty is an MFA candidate at Bowling Green State University where she helps edit the school journal, Mid-American Review. She also helps edit the Tishman Review.
 

 
John Repp

Featured in ArLiJo Issue No. 133

The Last Time I Went Fishing Was The Last Time We Went Fishing

—for Joe Freeman

I don’t remember us ever fishing. I remember talking
   about fishing & that time I dropped by the house
       & D said (chuckling her Elmer Fudd chuckle)

He’s out the spillway thinking straight, whatever that means
   so I found you & we killed mosquitoes & smoked up,
       the air all marsh-funk, frog-loud, cattails & sawgrass

silhouetted against the horizon, your rod-tip nodding,
   almost no words. My dad’s insurance-payout boat
       with the twin Chrysler 350s? I remember Dave & I

braced at the stern, bouncing bait off the bottom,
   Dad—bald Zorro in a scale-flaked bucket hat—
       cocking an ear, his gorgeous Fenwick a fencing foil

carving Zs in the air, that hairy piston of a right arm
levering each flounder—thick as his spread hand,
broad as a dinner plate—into the cooler to slap

a few times while Dave & I clapped & caught nothing.
   I think Dad did that Errol Flynn thing with the rod
       for our benefit. He could be like that sometimes.

It could have been the other Dave that day, but never
   C.J. or Dan. You & I never fished, but I remember
       the time we didn’t know we’d left the food & water

home till we pitched the tent after dark, so we hiked
   to Chatsworth at dawn, eating snow, you snarling,
       me ranting innocence, the pines thinning at last,

the cold briny & metallic, then the crossroad & Buzby’s,
   the throaty wood stove, the borrowed dime that bought
       J’s voice, she & D pulling up an hour later for smoky,

salty kisses, then the drive home, the feast of bologna
   & snack pies I’d begged for, the story of our doings
       all down 206 to Buena, the big bend right to Wheat,

the naps in our gimcrack homes. No one could forget that.


Copyright © 2020 by John Repp.




Bedbugs


In the days when every story began We drop acid
   on the loading dock then we’re doing sixty in the breakdown lane the tunnel
           spirals like the credits on
The Outer Limits or the insides
     of that cigar tube Judy rolled between her palms
we drop acid
down by the harbor & Shelly puts on Little Feat in somebody’s apartment
         & wow wow wow the congas! & Meg’s boyfriend calls
     saying he’s got the new Alan Price & much dope, so we all somehow
        motor back to the harbor & climb inside Price’s organ way over
the street, right under the gabled roof of the mansion the boyfriend housesits
            but the owners died last year, everything the same except
         they’ re dead, so Check it out! somebody says The beds are still made!
        says the boyfriend, plucking a little white hunk of something
from a nostril as everyone at the party has suavely done from time to time
      & since we check out everything we run across during this trip
          called Life Meg tugs just the two of us through many rooms
        (each tinier than the last) where servants & maybe slaves once lived
but which now shelter the bliss she’s found with the boyfriend
                till an empty black doorway
      appears & she says Have fun! so we step down the steep, lightless stairs
        spiraling a little less void-black but no less cramped & airless
            each step but the last three, which ease us
      through an archway into a softly moonlit hall, the whole mansion ours
        but Doctor-Phibes-spooky & clammy & creaky & a bunch more
            B-movie adjectives we moan from room to room,
screaming tiny, horror-movie-baby screams & oh! the big high beds! so slip in
              & poof! no clothes & one of us bends a little more
          languidly than necessary over the bed to untuck the spread
            & reveal the pillows & peel the sheets & it’s so hot
down here by the harbor the other glides to the window, which someone has painted shut
    & sweat has begun to shine both our delightful bodies & we ponder
        each perception & live inside it & exercise every other power
            the teeny droplet we sucked
from the blotter paper bestows & find ourselves reclining
                where the dead rich people might last have lain,
       a notion that arrives in two minds at once, then the mutual,
          instantaneous laughter, the mutual movements that further
wet our skins & one of us says while shifting an elbow & stretching a leg What’s that?
            & you already know what we concluded the brown dot,
    then the many brown, possibly moving dots, then the undulating sheet,
then the damp stench rising off the mindlessly moving surfaces of the room,
        then the three possibly meaningless bits of something two-thirds the way
    to the foot of the bed signified,
          but we couldn’t swear to it,
                though we inspected the big, high, canopied bed
        to the limits of our powers, sensing everything I’d swear to
                to my dying day.

Copyright © 2020 by John Repp.




The Patricia Poem

...and whose/favorite ghosts will we be someday? Who, who, who? Linda Lee Harper

I propose Patricia,
who called me “Master”

on the flyleaf of the cookbook
on which I still rely to time

the simmering of legumes.
I feel compelled to say

“Master” refers to a degree
I’d earned & humility

requires I say what I’d done
for the degree had earned

me nothing but the knowledge
that I knew a pollen grain’s

mass more than nothing,
just like, come to think of it,

now. I never think of Patricia.
For all I know, she’s a ghost.

Maybe she & Don hoo hoo
their revenant selves through

the cinderblock walls of the bunker
they built north of a place

I won’t name. Maybe that prime
ganja they tended still keeps

the deer & spiders happy.
That summer, Chris & I helped

Patricia toot a pile of prime
cocaine & were “there”

for her as she wept & tittered
over the precocious wisdom

her high-dash;school diary revealed
& sang whispery versions

of Carly Simon songs.
I’ve forgotten what pain

tormented her. This is all
to say Please spare every soul

I’ve loved
. In the permanent
silence, I talk with them

& for now—coffee cooking
in the kitchen, eggs & toast

buttered on my plate—
every word is good.

Copyright © 2020 by John Repp.

About the Author
John Repp, a native of the Pine Barrens region of southern New Jersey, has lived for many years in northwestern Pennsylvania. His latest book is Fat Jersey Blues (University of Akron Press, 2014).
 

 
Staphanie Sabourin

Featured in ArLiJo Issue No. 133

Nanaimo Sunset





Copyright © 2020 by Stephanie Sabourin.




About the Photographer
Stephanie Sabourin is a photographer, teacher, and nature lover. She draws inspiration from the beauty found all around her. As the owner of Stephanie Sabourin Photography, she is frequently found photographing dogs and other animals, along with their people, in natural settings. Stephanie is a member of Professional Photographers of America, and she has been published in Wonderful West Virginia Magazine and on a number of web pages. She lives with her husband and standard poodle in Columbia, Maryland.

 

 


Elizabeth Spragins Spencer

Featured in ArLiJo Issue No. 133


Immortal

cold curtains of fog
veil the face of Denali—
no fear of falling
in dreams my feet are planted
on rungs of stars beyond reach

~Denali National Park, Alaska

Copyright © 2020 by Elizabeth Spragins Spencer.
First published in With No Bridle for the Breeze: Ungrounded Verse, by Elizabeth Spragins Spencer. Brunswick, Maine: Shanti Arts Publishing, 2019. Print


Atardecer

cinders of sapphires
mingle with the desert dust—
night chills bones of chaff
as saguaro sentinels
extend reluctant welcome


~San Luis, Arizona 

Copyright © 2020 by Elizabeth Spragins Spencer.


Refraction

cotton horses browse
beyond the rims of rainbows—
I rein my daydreams
as showers blur the edges
of faded watercolors

~Charlottesville, Virginia


Copyright © 2020 by Elizabeth Spragins Spencer.
First published in With No Bridle for the Breeze: Ungrounded Verse, by Elizabeth Spragins Spencer. Brunswick, Maine: Shanti Arts Publishing, 2019. Print



About the Author
Elizabeth Spragins Spencer is a poet, writer, and editor who taught in North Carolina community colleges for more than a decade before returning to her home state of Virginia. Her tanka and bardic verse in the Celtic style have been published extensively in Europe, Asia, and North America. She is the author of With No Bridle for the Breeze: Ungrounded Verse (Shanti Arts Publishing, 2019) and The Language of Bones: American Journeys Through Bardic Verse (Kelsay Books, 2019). Visit her website: www.authorsden.com/elizabethspragins.

 

 
Edward M. Supranowicz

Featured in ArLiJo Issue No. 133

The Last Crusade





Copyright © 2019 by Edward M. Supranowicz.





About the Author
Edward Michael Supranowicz has a graduate background in painting and printmaking; he is also a published poet. He grew up on a small farm in Appalachia.
 

 
Julie Weiss

Featured in ArLiJo Issue No. 133

Left Behind

If it had all been a bad dream and you had
barreled through the front door, ravenous after
soccer practice, homework sheets spilling

out of your backpack, you wouldn’t have
recognized me: eyes the shade of storm clouds,
a torrent caving my face. I was proof that a man

could grow as thin as the streak that trails
a bird in flight. You would have said, dad,
why haven’t you washed your shirt?


There are ways to eradicate stains but
I wanted to wear your blood so that I might
collapse, intoxicated by your smell, stifle

the image of your body, motionless among the dead.
I fantasized about ghosts, how you’d enliven our walls
with your shadow moves. How you’d raise the hairs

on the back of your mother’s neck, as if pulling
one of your pranks, the kind that always got you
grounded but made us chuckle in private.

During the day, we keep it together. Nights
my mind shudders under the knife-edge of memory.
You step onto the stage of my nightmares

dressed in blood, launch your spirit body into
a leap, my leap, the leap that didn’t carry me far enough
to land in front of the shots. You leap in slow motion

as if mocking my failed attempt at heroics. Reeling,
I roar into the void: I never wanted to be a superhero!
I only wanted to chest the bullets that cheated you

out of life. I came up short, son. For a time, I thought
we’d lost our only child, but that was before
I learned to see you in a gust of wind, tousling my hair.

Before I learned to trace your expressions in swirls
of sunrise. Before I learned to recognize your wave
in the wings of a butterfly, flitting among daisies

outside your bedroom. All those colors gathered
in your arms, I think you might splash them
against the window, startle me out of my stupor.



Copyright © 2020 by Julie Weiss.
Previously published by Trampset, October 22, 2019.

Writer’s Block


I’ve never seen such gloss, such sparkle
arise like a phoenix from the depths
of the bathroom wall tiles.
A white so transparent I can see my own face
wavering back at me as if it were an oasis
or a mirage in the desert of my mind.
Dust is more than just bothersome particles;
once removed from walls and sprinkled on paper
it can symbolize anything I desire.
I could write a poem about death, its cleaver hands,
the way it casts our atoms into the cosmos,
no tearful goodbye, no remorse. No escape.
No good, a voice whispers. And she’s right:
I don’t want to spend all evening coalescing
with spirits, or navigating the slopes
of the afterworld, so I drop to the floor,
disregarding the age and ache in my knees
and scour the grooves with a toothbrush.
I spend an hour coaxing the grime
out of its long-standing comfort zone
as if it were a woman at her first lesbian bar
hiding in the corner, in a tremble of shadows,
hoping to remain imperceptible.
The woman could be a younger me
or the target of the speaker’s unbridled passion.
Ideas multiply, this chore has become a labor
of love. I begin to draft the poem:
two lone women, cocktail glasses clinking,
Tracy Chapman asking in that voice
of forests awash in twilight, or of bonfires:
“Baby, can I hold you tonight?”
No good, a voice whispers. No love, no sex.
And I listen as she lectures me about
succumbing to melodrama and cliché.
In my studio, my computer screen
has faded to black, the cursor has flashed
itself mad, collapsed into an invisible state
of unrest, while I sit on the floor, splayed atop
footprints and lint and other forgotten traces
of our daily lives. I begin to polish the cabinets
to a shine, contemplating the grandeur of trees,
their roots cradling the underbelly of the earth.
No good! she bellows. Nature is mundane. Trees
have been personified by poets for thousands of years.


Copyright © 2020 by Julie Weiss.




About the Author
Julie Weiss received her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from SJSU. She’s an ex-pat from Foster City, California, who moved to Spain in 2001 and never looked back. She works as an English teacher from her home in Guadalajara, Spain, where she lives with her wife, 4-year-old daughter, and 1-year-old son. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Lavender Review, Sinister Wisdom, The American Journal of Poetry, Sky Island Journal, Santa Clara Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry—Poets Resist Series, Random Sample Review, Stonecoast Review, Barren Magazine, peculiar journal, and Poetry Quarterly, among others.