Dry Apricot Ears: Poetry

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The first client this morning brought his female American Eskimo,
ten years old and spayed, wrapped in a blanket, her snout peeking out
as if she could still sniff earth up. But she wouldn’t anymore, having left him some
time in the middle of the night. So I lay out the truths for him: I say, “I am sorry for your loss.
Here is some tissue”; I say, “We will call you in a week to a week and a half when her ashes are
here for you;” And I let him know, “I will stamp her paw in clay and paint it whatever color you like.”

I go home to find my American Eskimo. When she weighed 10 times less
than she does now, she had a girlfriend­­ a purple cow with a pink tennis ball abdomen,
which she would hump like a teenage boy, constantly crossing a finish line. Now,
she is on the couch, a balled blanket scooped underneath her, arthritic white arms holding
together the softness. She loves it slowly and deliberately, as if she could still learn something
she hadn’t in the past nine years of her life. Ears catching on to me watching before her eyes do,

she rolls onto her back as I walk to her.
I press the T of my forehead into her groomed and uttered belly and say a truth: you are still alive.

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Dominique Salas graduated from St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, but is a true desert dweller, born and raised in El Paso, Texas. Currently, she enjoys working in an animal hospital, which serves to billow and deflate her heart daily.

haste creates
small ( cuts) like

gills in your skin,
lines that would convene

extra rays of tissue
on a film.  film.

ponytail on pillars
greet the portrait of

a snarling pop culture.
grin again & again

plastic grin-grimace.

get in line…
prod to be a part

of my labyrinth
while sour pipes & cinnamon

assault the brain.

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Chrissy Wright blogs.

The rain is splashing its change

all over the street. Bill’s Laundromat

breathes the smell of humid

clothes. The Korean market opens

in red neon. In 1979 my eyes

emigrated from the Middle

East via bus. I see the color

of rain in Arabic, but my tongue

loses meaning in translation.

I am a witness being interrogated

by myself and I won’t talk before

my attorney arrives. Trash cans

are shiny, new trees lining our curbs,

they grow every year. A cat was stuck

in one yesterday. My radio is a man

from Atlanta. Its warmth is lonely

and far away. These static people

scratch in and out like channel 8.

They once made me think of suicide

every night. Umbrellas yellow

the sidewalk. Licking the world’s rough

palm, the cat, eats his reflection.

He is in stripes and I am wearing

my going out skin. Tonight, I am more

than an idea.

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Logan Mayfield was the recipient of a third place poetry prize in the 2009 Utah writing contest and his poems are forthcoming in several places. He spends most of his time between Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Portland, and Santa Monica.

Back home, your cool hand pauses on my forehead—
three, four, five, and the verdict: warm.

The cure: breakfast for dinner, you shuffling skillets
on the stove top. Lemon, honey, ginger, and the kettle chirping.
Vanilla egg-y French toast with a dollop of almond butter.
Smoked hash browns served
with my favorite little fork

while I’m faintly existing, spread-eagle’d on the couch.
Without you here, I perch on the corner of some oyster-scented
street, the damp air like a lid. And here is what I carry,
nothing helpful—my purse stuffed

with boxes of Kleenex stolen from the hotel,
itchy hand sanitizer, impersonal antibiotics.
Nothing like you.

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Nancy Lili Gonzalez is a writer from Chicago, but she hasn’t been back to Chicago in almost seven years. The last time she went back was for a five-year-old’s funeral.

Tonight I peed in the church
for the first time. If you pee
in a church and no one’s there,
do you still need to squat? Yes.

I took a cookie, overly spiced
midwesternly, what is this, ginger?
Nutmeg? At least I have a life
in which something to do with gratitude.

White robes are lined up in the hall
looking like angels. I am wearing
a baggy men’s jacket. Jesus Christ,
how the sycamores shudder.

And how I am thirsty. The night
is laden with sycamores, lined up like
angels. Thirsty sycamores.

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Erika Jo Brown is from New York, where she founded the Chinatown reading series Floetry at 169. She is editor of Stretching Panties magazine, an annual print collection of experimental poetry, architecture and drawing and is currently an MFA candidate in Iowa, where she’s working on “Lyrical Load,” a manuscript dealing with the midwest.

I’ll take a cold tray.
A scalpel. A gloved hand.
Split myself open, snip everything
    loose,
then reach in and lift out
my organs:
    liver, kidney, lungs,
my still-beating heart
and place them, slick and heavy, into
a shining new body:
broad shoulders, flat-breasted chest,
muscle visible, bones dense, skin thick.
Then, with an unfamiliar
weight and warmth
    between
my new legs, I’d stand
before you
    and ask:
so this is what it takes?

Originally published by Sorin Oak Review

I watch them draw out the
plastic tubes that
snake around your
threadbare bones,

like a sinking battleship
raising its anchor.

I can’t think of what to say so
I turn up the volume on the
Sunday football game between
God and the Devil

and wait for you to
slip out of your skin into that

black
inky
nowhere.

But you wait until we all have
our back turned
to waft up through the
holes in the Styrofoam ceiling tiles,

blanched sterile by the
fluorescent flickering.

They shuffle us out of the room,
offering lukewarm cups of
instant sympathy

and suddenly I’m six years old again—
standing barefoot in the
cold, wet grass of your garden
on New Year’s Eve,

holding a sparkler,

crying as it fizzles to a
sleeping cinder.

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Cayley Heagerty shares a deep love for bad puns, swearing, and word-smithing. She enjoys parallel structures, referring to herself in the third person, and irony.

Hand-in- calloused-hand, with art history in our eyes.
When I brush the hair from your temples I’m Jackson Pollock, dripping light down around the canvas of
your shoulders.
With each laugh you compose symphonies that will live inside me for
months on end—
the Chopin of your giggle on the subway platform, the Amadeus of your sighs echoing off of back ally
walls.
I’ll hear all of this as I stumble through Cambridge, stepping heavily, firewater on my breath.
Do not offer me water, sweetheart – just light a match – I would have it burn
like Texas sometimes burns.
Let the fumes ignite my bones like old so they spark with each stride.
Watch over me as I kick embers up against cold cobblestones.
One crack between the bricks for every time I make amends.
One scorched brick for each moment I forget to kiss you.

If it’s one drink, it will be two. Wisteria tangling
around your wrists. Here is where you buried your

father. Here is where you buried your brother.
Here is where they will bury you, when the

time comes. No wonder you drink yourself down
toward the earth. Home is where the shovels lie.

Earth and earth and earth. Stones crowd your sleep.
Granite and salt, sand giving birth to

the fortress where even your lovers sigh. Silent
underfoot. You dream yourself toward them.

You are foxfire, you are phosphorescent. Your
mouth like whiskey. Your eyes like whiskey.

You baptize yourself in sorrow, again and again.
You baptize yourself with bourbon and brandy.

You swim downward, fast salmon, heedless, handsome,
death is in you, it has captured your ear. You have your

father’s jaw, your brother’s chin. When you were born
they bathed your small body with their fears.

Each scar they’d earned became manifest on your skin.
Their love aches like a badly set bone. When the river takes

you, it will be no new baptism. Just that same, ancient sacrifice.
Just that rush, that rushing, and then you are gone.

That winter a fever came
and didn’t depart till spring
everything happened through a curtain

the bills the rent the love affairs with men
I couldn’t keep separate in my mind
I’d never liked blonds

but they were so bright they caught my eye
like lucky coins I plucked them up and
there you go next thing you don’t know

one from the other and blame it on the fever but
the sensitive ones will leave your bed and go
out into the cold, hearts bruised, and what can you do

I went back to bed that winter
I ran baths late at night then didn’t undress
sat at the edge of the tub and watched the water

quiver like a fugitive, I don’t remember that I
ever saw my reflection
in the spring the fever left

everything was clear-edged and merciless
and I picked my lovers for their black hair
and their black black eyes

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Jen Silverman is a New York–based poet and playwright who has, so far, mainly received attention for her work in the theater. She has been published by Ploughshares.