Reb Livingston



You scratch the garnets on everything you unclasp

There's a missing set of silverware and freezer full of untouched waffles

God gets close and you depart with only trinkets in the night

You are the hand in the pocket of a ghost with a waning appetite

Tomorrow I'll drop an opal down my camisole and draw a map



Wasn't a leaf
that didn't
smack her face
on the way out
as she sped across
the green humps

There were road signs,
sharp turns, interstates,
omissions and a legacy
of mock repose
All clearly marked
so even girls could understand

This one kept her gaze
on the pretty man's chin, felt
sing-song wisps streaming
through her hair, down her spine,
Bird songs or flashbacks,
is there such a translation?

Do lovers ever love? Of course
not, too obvious better luck next time,
oh wait, there is no next time,
next in line, move along
Oh, don't worry I'm going
Didn't stop

for syrup, wheels spat out
wry pine cones, provocation,
there it was, lay down and be
flattened, thank you, that was nice
Crossing that turf was breech
without epidural
without child after ordeal
New York or Massachusetts,
the only options, she deserved nothing
more; two more locations to pretend,
for just a while, she's not tone deaf
Small thoughts produce tiny tears and hers were
specks and plenty and would not wipe


Mark Rooney
How the Heart Works
51"x41" mixed media on paper
see more work by Mark Rooney


Mangled and Broken-Toed

Mr. No Jangle, never trust an Anglo-Saxon name and now you know and accept that you'll never know—enjoy the immeasurable progress and remember, all holes are shame lairs and climbing in risks never emerging. Another hole: the circumstances leading up to waking wrapped in a drafty four-armed sweater in a champagne bar called THE BUBBLE HUBBLE. A sweater built for two? I'll never care to know. Salvation in obliviousness? Please Jesus. In this city where snowfall is extraordinarily rare, I thought I saw my double, but she looked nothing like me and soon I forgot and then I remembered if faced the other direction eventually there would be a familiar abode that I would always know and so begins the foot voyage. In beautiful pinching stillettos.


Hushed and Flushed

Oh Oklahoma, privy to all, frontier to few, the runestone ruined and still I'm writing you. OK, I'm run through and this bus station is only small talk and woe. This is what I hear: Your slacks are wrecked, your zipper missing teeth and the patches on your knees cover the holes but have no sway. This style challenge among princes indicates you're neither pencil nor thumb, neither then nor now. I know the promised hand's true purpose and lie mute in communion. Hear what I'm saying? Coming your way with a pair of overalls. Keep your pants on until I get there.


Dripping and Chilled

Hamdsome, left my terrible towel in a neighborhood with 40 churches and 40 bars, home to places called STABBY MART and TOOT AND STAB. Places where people go to be stabbed—places that can be named—named as warnings. Some places trick, lure with the delicious, call themselves CANDYLAND or INTERCOURSE, PA. No gem in my core, only awful guts, see I'm real and weep, my secret sugar and stabbing. How can you ask nothing created, nothing destroyed? Nothing tasted and smelled disappears, only sent to the woods for death. Some deaths take forever. Something howled, trick? A howling nothing? Let's not venture into the woods, no comfort, so much hunger. I'm not ready to be cooked, my new conditioner is grapefruit-scented. I'll show you my secret, if you show me yours.

Reb Livingston is the author of Your Ten Favorite Words (Coconut Books, forthcoming), and two chapbooks, Pterodactyls Soar Again (Whole Coconut Chapbook Series, 2006), and Wanton Textiles, a collaboration with Ravi Shankar (No Tell Books, 2006). Her work has recently appeared in Best American Poetry 2006, MiPoesias, Coconut, and The Hat. She is the editor and publisher of No Tell Motel and No Tell Books.


Published in Volume 8, Number 1, Winter 2007.


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