In the boneyard of isms seamy maggots
infest middens while roaches underrun rubbish,
nibbling yet unnourished.

Brittle because drivel, femurs of theory
jut out from plots like afterthoughts
as the corpses of vacuous concepts
and overwrought pseudo-systems
arrive, splayed on tumbrels, with punctuality.

Weightless, carcasses are tossed unceremoniously
in unmarked mass graves, befitting their inutile nature,
before being overlaid with dirt to stifle the stench
and obscure the rigor mortis contorting flimflam’s limbs.

Remunerated mourners intone monodies
halfheartedly, for they never understood the dead.

Hesitantly encroaching from the outskirts
are the deposed charlatans themselves,
erstwhile purveyors of pearls,
now denizens of oblivion bereft of pretense
for the first time in living memory.

With outstretched fingers they reach across
the railing, grasping at gossamer, damning
the inconstancy of sycophants and ephemeral prestige.

Brandon Marlon is a writer from Ottawa, Canada. He received his B.A. in Drama & English from the University of Toronto and his M.A. in English from the University of Victoria. His poetry was awarded the Harry Hoyt Lacey Prize in Poetry (Fall 2015), and his writing has been published in 200+ publications in 27 countries. www.brandonmarlon.com.

© Brandon Marlon 2018

on a day
nothing like
today

i woke
a metaphor
my entire house
a butterfly exhibit

& i the sap
they sank their
proboscides into

~nourishment for maturation

 

 

there is no poem
in me
‘less you seed it.

~soulmate

_

Hailing from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Taylor Scott is a writer, performance artist, and director. She found a love for performance when she joined the youth spoken word scene in high school through Forward Arts, where she is now a teaching artist. Taylor graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a BA in Communications. She received a full-tuition scholarship from UW’s First Wave program, the only collegiate hip hop and spoken word community of its kind in the country. Currently, Taylor is a second year graduate student in LSU’s English program. At LSU, Taylor has an individualized, interdisciplinary course plan that includes black diasporic literary studies and performance studies.

© Taylor Scott 2018

What can I do if the sky won’t open for me
today, and the tools I counted on
are useless in this cold? My coat of arms
has burnt out in the sun, and suddenly
my jacket doesn’t fit. Has my tailor sold me
out? My mirror spits back an image
I don’t recognize, a smug man with hands
hairy as paws, a shiny bald spot, a red, triangular nose.
My breath fogs the glass, and another door swings shut.

How lovely to hear your footsteps on the stairs
as you descend, another Eurydice
with your flowing hair and your voice
made of rain. The neighbors are digging
in their garden again, even now when frost
stains the early morning grass.
I hear their shovels chafing the cold dirt,
but I stay low and don’t look out
for fear of seeing their excavations at close hand.
You return with a handful of mail
and a faraway look in your lovely brown eyes.
Across the street, the neighbors dig and dig,
as if something were rising and they were preparing the way.

_

Steve Klepetar lives in Saint Cloud, Minnesota, where he taught literature and creative writing at Saint Cloud State University. Klepetar’s work has appeared worldwide, in such journals as Boston Literary Magazine, Deep Water, Expound, The Muse: India, Red River Review, Snakeskin, Voices Israel, Ygdrasil, and many others. Several of his poems have been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize (including four in 2016). He has also done several collaborations with composer Richard Lavenda of Rice University in Houston, including a one-act opera, Barricades, for which he wrote the libretto. Klepetar is the author of eleven poetry collections and chapbooks, the most recent of which include Family Reunion (Big Table), A Landscape in Hell (Flutter Press), and How Fascism Comes to America (Locofo Chaps).

© Steve Klepetar 2018

Early September unfolded and the magnolia that
dragged its resolve through another Canadian season
sported leaves swissed by the sempiternal hunger
of Japanese beetles.

Pay no mind. This life of leaves
dwindle. Instead, move eye to where
leaf joints slim branch, already next year’s
sweet-gasps swell there.

Magnolia shudders, as stars and saucers
of incense—a brilliance I’d been ignorant of
in Brooklyn, but now I knew.
Now I know,

the first cucumber on the vine needs to go
pronto or the vine hesitates to set more fruit.
That first grief wakes the whole heart to its task
sometimes forever.

To coax an apple tree, two years stingy,
back to its business of pome making, take
shovel to root across dripline; threaten
its lazy ass with return to New York.

Oh it will hop to apple-making quick-fast
next year. Even a natural thing can forget
what it’s made to do. Use verse to cleave
feed roots. Make it dissolve the salt of its mortality.

_

stephanie roberts is a poet and interdisciplinary artist. Her work is featured or forthcoming in numerous journals, in North America and Europe, including Arcturus, The Maine Review, The Stockholm Review of Literature, Burning House Press, The Gambler, and Claudius Speaks. She was a finalist in the Anomalous Press Open Reading, the 7th Fortnight Prize of Eyewear Publishing LTD, Medusa’s Laugh Press Nano Text Contest, and the Causeway Lit 2016 Fall Poetry Contest. The self-published author of the poetry collection The Melting Potential of Fire, she counts among her strengths passionate curiosity and good humor. Twitter @ringtales.

© stephanie roberts

Briefly known as Faculty Lit., Before After/Godwink is excited to release its inaugural issue: Issue 0.

Of the nearly two dozen submissions we received—through word of mouth and a Facebook post, mind you—I believe the follow selections representative of the artistic route I’ve envisioned for Before After/Godwink. I am forever grateful for these five poems, the trust of these four poets, for the new birth these poets give each other to produce the first of what is to come.

I have many dreams for this journal–many, many…

This here is my baby, and ours. Together, I believe we can raise BA/G (bag) well. It takes a village. We’re hoping to build a tribe.

Sincerely,
C.L. Cummings