Kelley Irmen, Karen Bingham Pape, Andrew H. Oerke, Taylor Graham

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 Kelley Irmen recently moved to Las Vegas from New York where she graduated with a degree in Classics. 
The Water is Right Outside the Window
Go with him and he will make you forget dying. 
      She woke up in a sweat and could smell that she had not showered in a few days. 
The scent was not quite horrible then, but rather like something sleepy that has been disturbed. This was the end, they were ending, but no one was left in the audience to appreciate it. It all fell short and he probably wanted it that way.
      And people lie when they say words cannot really hurt someone. He killed people in sentences, he wrote them away into haze. Anything that does not leave marks washes down his drain. His drain was so efficient, it sucked down entire cities.
      Her eyes were tired and looked bruised and he demanded for her to tell him why they were discolored. When she said, “It was you, it was all you,” he refused to believe her. 
      His moods were dark, like an old kitchen cabinet that she opened although she was told not to. She was dark like a light switch turning on and off. She was there as a sigh, inaudible and claimed.
      He excused himself to the bathroom for a moment. He placed both hands on the porcelain counter and stared at himself in the mirror. His unblinking image stood there, begging him to cry, daring him to run out and slit his throat on all the unspoken words.
Odin and his Brothers Created the Earth From a Giant’s Corpse
I.  He no longer knows the difference between riot and elation.
    Earlier that morning he dried off without a towel –
    just using an old t-shirt that was crumpled on the floor.
(It’s okay to wake up 10 different times and all for the same reason)
II. Pin-stripes and off-street parking
    Activation codes tucked in a top drawer
    because “keep this somewhere safe” must be taken seriously.
(Who was sitting on the ground – back against the wall?  Could it really have been…?)
III. Afternoon:
            And there was salt around the rim
            And there was a stray eyelash lying defeated on the page of a book.
(The way the waitress wrote her “g’s” was perfect - absolutely flawless)
IV. At the construction site outside his window a worker was blown off of a beam,
                        it was windy and he tried to go across without his safety harness
                        and then a gust came,
                        he seemed a million miles in the air –
                        no one had ever been so high up…
(By now it’s 7 PM.  It must be 7 PM at least!)
V.  Home:
            Here comes the big-boned anchor,
            tall: chest almost concave,
            so tall that she often thought of climbing him
            pushing herself to reach the top;
            stopping halfway to catch her breath.
VI. It Will Start All Over Again Tomorrow:
            He no longer knows the difference between riot and elation
            And these are now the darkest nights –
            sitting in his living room while the sun goes down
            the walls turning orange as the streetlamps fire up outside his window.
            Later on he eats an apple.  The bites resound in his ear
                        -like he is ripping the earth apart-
            juices ooze out of the fruit
                        -like he is demolishing and sucking the world dry-


Karen Bingham Pape teaches and writes fiction and poetry, and her poems have appeared in small press publications in print, including Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, and online in several journals such as Perigee and have been read at conferences such as Southwestern ACA/PCA Pop Culture, CCTE, ASU Annual Writers Conferences in Honor of Elmer Kelton, and Fort Concho Literary Festival.







Awake now: aware that something is lost:

She stares at her own pale reflection;

She is transparent, alone, a ghost


The host of her own resurrection.

When did she become less than herself?

Awake now, aware that something is lost:


She tries to remember the when solace

Became a burden, when love wasn’t.

She is transparent, alone, a ghost.


Once she was a dancer, a lover, a poet.

Once she sang of laughter and of suns.

Awake now:  aware that something is lost


Just out of sight, of taste, of smell, of touch.

She hears a bell distantly ringing.

She is transparent, alone, a ghost.


But she is.  She names herself at last

Her birthday name, Eve, she summons

Awake now, aware that something is lost


But can be regained—the moon beckons

Her back from despair’s dark glass.

Awke now, aware that something is lost,

She is transparent, alone, a ghost


Andrew H. Oerke Poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, Poetry,  and in numerous other magazines.  This winter, two new books of poetry, African Stiltdancer and San Miguel de Allende, were published jointly by Swan Books and the UN Society for Writers and Artists.  They have received the United Nations Literature Award.


on the beach


Beneath the crystal slap

ash of then d waves

our fingertips tap

n shift the shingle

like humping crabs

as they scrabble for pebbles

n miscellaneous shells to remember

or lift home with us

from the shuck of the sun

to a shoebox

holding a scrambled index

to the beaches on which we have heard

the antique drum of the sea

beckoning us

to a reckoning of bones

n skipping stones

that blink over shipwreck n sea-chime

n bubble back to the shores of yore

by the fleshy saltlick of remembered time.



Taylor Graham a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler in the Sierra Nevada, and also helps her husband (a retired wildlife biologist) with his field projects. Her poems have appeared in Free Lunch, The Iowa Review, The New York Quarterly, Poetry International, and elsewhere, and she's included in the anthology, California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present (Santa Clara University, 2004). Her latest book, The Downstairs Dance Floor (Texas Review Press, 2006), is winner of the Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize.

Begin with a question so simple it seems hardly noteworthy –
the day of the week, the color of blue sky. If you catch him
off-guard, ask why Cupid shouldn’t carry an AK-47. Then
ask what serial murderer’s initials he carved into the linden
tree. This brings him within your compass. Now lull him
with poetry “on the banks of this delightful stream” to bear
him a little nearer the brink. Cascades of tumbling water.
Ask him what mayhem is really on his mind.