ALL-POETRY 2008

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Marc Pietrzykowski

Matthew Savoca

Brandi Wells




Desire Algebraic
By Marc Pietrzykowski, May 07, 2008

First, an aunt, half-asleep after third shift,
drifted across the median
into a school bus. Witness: the crumpled hood
of the car, the closed casket,
and the consistency of this closing act
with the rest of her days: no one else
was injured. Weeks later, an old man,
her father, farm-raised and all his life
a prodigious spreader of seed, at last
had enough of his body withering, shrinking
in knobs and folds, so he turned into chaff
and blew away.
After the second funeral, the ghost of Pythagoras
whispered through the pews: who,
who will be the third?

Two is divisible, weak and composed
of lonely symmetries, ones forced together
so obviously...but three, the triangular,
lends an extra dimension, one that seems
a source of wisdom, and nothing
adds dimension to a coordinate plane
like death—there must be a third,
we cannot find meaning without
the proper sacrifice.

Of course there were no volunteers; instead,
we all took hysterical care while driving,
walking, noticing gratefully
that the Government Building
had no thirteenth floor. Instead, tonight
we are mathematicians
all, seers waiting for the surge
of wisdom that will come
when the formula is complete,
when three emerges from the collapse of two
and one from naught,
from tziphra, sipos, tsiphron, rota,
circulus, galgal, theca, null, sunya, as-sifr—
from the only number, beneath which
all the others go, the brilliant O, figura nihili.

There’s Never a Line
By Marc Pietrzykowski, May 07, 2008

In a desperate little restaurant
filled with small-town lawyers
and legislators, fat and rosy,
where the table sags and we sag
with it, where the waitress tries
to keep from crying, we
smile and pile our dishes for her,
we brush crumbs from the table
and rub our bellies happily,
but not too happily, though the meal
was made from blood and song.

Eyes and the top of a head appear
in the window of the swinging door,
peep you, and disappear; you tell me
we’re being watched, and I say yes,
I know, we are the guts of a lamb,
the paths of doves flung into the sky,
the cracks splintering an oracle bone.
The eyes, the waitress, the fearful
men in shopworn suits, all are trying
to read us: are they
wealthy investors? Hired killers?
Merely lost? And there is no way
for us to reply: no, we live here now,
we are like you, hidden chef,
bringer of sustenance, small-time
power-monger.

There is no way because
we are not like them yet,
we have too many things to forget,
too many new steps to learn
before we find ourselves
peeking out at the new faces, trying
to draw strength and some future tense
from the curve of an unfamiliar neck,
the set of the shoulders, from the way
they wipe their mouths, then recede
back into the loam of somewhere else.

Marc Pietrzykowski lives in Lockport, NY, and sees no reason to complain about it. He’s published poems and essays recently in Wisconsin Review, Burnside Review, Fine Madness, DIAGRAM, Alaska Quarterly Review, and others. His book of poems ...and the whole time I was quite happy is available via Zeitgeist Press. You can visit Marc at his website.

i will starve myself and live out on the street and only associate with homeless and diseased and beaten people and then when my world has become a complete monstrosity i will feel better and i will get up and i will go home and i will write a novel about it and the novel will be good
By Matthew Savoca, May 15, 2008

look at my poem

look how bored i am

read it

your father came over to our apartment today and while you were in the bathroom he was talking to me and i slapped him in the face

you came out of the bathroom and i slapped you in the face

i went into the bedroom and lied down on the bed

you were talking in the other room

you came in and asked me why i didn’t run away

i said, what for

you said, because you slapped us

i got up and threw the bookshelf over and the bookshelf fell down and the books fell all over the bed

i walked on top of the bookshelf

i jumped out the window

i landed on the balcony below

i lied down pretending i was dead

you looked out the window and saw me

you screamed

you went inside

i got up and walked into an apartment

there were people inside

i said hi and then slapped them all

i walked out the front door

you were standing in the hallway with your dad

he was standing behind you

you asked me if i was okay and then you hugged me

i punched you in the stomach

you bent over and then i punched your father in the face

his glasses fell off

i walked past the two of you and walked down the stairs

the mailman was putting mail in the boxes

he handed me a letter and i used it to cut his ear

i walked past him out the door and i was on the street

i kicked people on the street

i kicked as many people as i could

some people were out of my reach

A Brief History
By Matthew Savoca, May 15, 2008

There’s a highway
There are lights
The road has lines and I see them
There’s lightning but no thunder
There are noises
We’re off the road
We’re in a bay
We’re in the water
We’re beneath the surface
We’re watching

It’s 1953
The north sea floods
2000 people die
Most of them Dutch
We’re washed ashore.
Stalin has a stroke
In an all night diner
Dies a few days later
There’s an earthquake in Turkey
250 dead
A bridge collapses in New Zealand
Train in a river
150 dead
Scientists begin to understand
The double helix structure
Dylan Thomas dies
Eugene O’Neill dies
Hulk Hogan is born
You’re hearing the news
On a color television set
Nobody’s watching
The volume is up

Later I’m in the 9th grade
I’m watching pro wrestling on TV
I ask my father if it’s real
He says it’s scripted
I stop watching pro wrestling
I start playing ice hockey
I go to school for the next 7 years
It’s 1998
There’s a computer in every household
I’m on ours
We’re asking questions to each other
We’re typing them
Do you prefer summer or winter?
What’s your favorite pizza topping?
Do you sleep with one pillow or two?
Do you like to sweat?
Do you have a boyfriend?

Matthew Savoca has serious literature recently or forthcoming in Pequin, Paperwall, Wigleaf, and other places. He is currently working on a collaboration project of poems and illustrations called Tough! You can visit him, plus read lots of other serious literature at his blog.

We have been dating so long I feel like I can tell you anything
By Brandi Wells, May 11, 2008

Sometimes while you are sleeping I think
about hitting you with a meat cleaver.
I wouldn’t chop your arms off. I would just hack at you
in a random fashion.
I think I would be good at rape
if I was a guy. I would keep it interesting.
Cut slits in my victims’ arms and rape those slits. Vaginas and asses have been done to death. I saw
two cats fucking in the parking lot. I ran at them
with a broom and screamed “Sluts.” The animals
I eat for dinner fuck also. The bacon
I am eating was once one pig fucking another pig.
How do mussels and clams fuck? Do they gyrate
their shells against each other?
Are they asexual? I could eat asexual animals.
Before a rabid bear tries to eat me, does he think
about what I’ve been fucking? Does he wonder
if I fucked the skinny white boy who is hiding in the tent?

I hate the way you flinch if I rest
my hand on your leg. I am not trying to hurt your leg.
What would I do to your leg? You don’t flinch
if I grab your cock. After we have sex,
I wipe myself on your sheets. I use the bottom
part, so you won’t notice.
Do you stand at the sink to rinse your dick
or do you use the shower?
I am dating you
until I find someone I am sexually attracted to. I have never wanted anyone. Once, I wanted
to put my fist inside a girl’s mouth,
but it was only so she’d quit talking.

I drink to feel better about how we are
By Brandi Wells, May 11, 2008

I know you like banana bread, but when I make it
you never tell me it is good. You only eat it,
while you are checking your email
and reading xkcd’s latest web comic.

Last Valentine’s Day, I made you chicken and cheese in a wine reduction and you told me it was “okay.”
I put the leftovers in Gladware and threw them away.
I didn’t want to dump the chicken straight
into the trashcan, because then I would smell
cheddar every time I walked by. Cheddar reminds me
that you are very thin. You stand so close to your ex-girlfriend while you are talking about grad schools.
She is going to West Virginia and maybe you will too.
I am not applying there, because I feel unsure
about their financial aid.

There was a whole summer when I bought a bottle of cheap red wine every night, the kind with the koala on front,
and I drank it while I watched
recorded episodes of SpongeBob.
I knew I was starting to slip. Missed work
and quit cleaning up when the cats vomited
on the kitchen floor. But then you started coming home
and we sat together on the couch
and listened to indie rock.
Now it’s summer again and I am sitting at home
drinking a bottle of wine. I do not know
if there are a certain number of wine bottles I need
to drink in order for you to come home. I do not know
if you notice my weight gain
or that I’m not a morning person, like I used to be.
I know you don’t click “play” on Winamp anymore
and we don’t dance to songs by TV on the Radio.
I worry that this summer will be so many bottles of wine.

Brandi Wells is a student at Georgia Southern University, soon to graduate with a BA in Writing and Linguistics and a BA in English. Her work can be found in or is forthcoming in The Saint Ann's Review, Hobart, Monkeybicycle, and Wandering Army.

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