“We Might Have Existed” By Brian Chander Wiora



We Might Have Existed

It’s the future, where America falls
into book after book, each page laced
with a blue truth, like bubbles in an aquarium. 
The seahorses galloping past their hooves. 

When the pilgrims arrived, some had been here
before. From this, a whole country can be discovered. 
You need the sun to have rivers of sunlight. 
You need a river to have Columbus.

In the summer when I turned seventy-five, 
I bought ten thousand shovels, combing ten thousand 
heads of hair, in the parlor with a line out the door. 
Let me say: it was not a museum but a room

with every outfit we wore in that American time. 
How the red dress fell all night. How often 
did I fly to California, just to watch the birds 
eating eggs off my plate, a strange reincarnation. 

Touring the earth’s edge, I notice a nickel 
rolling over the horizon, Jefferson’s face facing 
the mountains in the south. Geography: 
as in the place where toy fish flap plastic fins,

those feral machines. The Americans are watching 
television again. We watch because the television 
is yellow. We watch because we know no 
good songs. The music happens, but not enough

for the noise to become more than an echo, 
the way a shadow falls behind us and is soon forgotten
by everyone but the lightbulbs, just Tesla
between Edison and a fetish for light. 

What happens in the aftermath of roses, America?
You are infamous for your boredom now. Someone there 
is a father, if not fatherhood. Someone else is desperate. 
And I am like the world. I can close my eyes, and spin.


About the Author: Brian Chander Wiora teaches poetry at Columbia University, where he is an MFA candidate. His poems have appeared in RattleGulf Stream MagazineThe New Mexico ReviewAlexandria Quarterly and other places. Besides poetry, he enjoys listening to classic rock music and performing stand up comedy.


More by Brian Chander Wiora:

“The Oysters”


Image Credit: Walker Evans “Highway Corner, Reedsville, West Virginia” (1935) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

Two Poems By Kevin Ridgeway



Fake Dad

i was walking out of a liquor store
and he came right at me
with his grey hair and dyed mustache
i realized it was the ghost
of my incarcerated father,
who I’ve been searching
for all my life.



Midnight Shenanigans

when the rest of the world has let me down,
I amuse myself in the dark with jokes and
invisible girlfriends, waiting for the next best thing 
to happen in my imagination, if not ever in this 
extinguished flame we know as the disappointment 
of reality, a reality we struggle in our words 
to transform the pain into something profound. 



About the Author: Kevin Ridgeway is the author of Too Young to Know (Stubborn Mule Press).  Recent work can be found in Slipstream, Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy, Main Street Rag, The American Journal of Poetry, Big Hammer, Trailer Park Quarterly and So it Goes:  The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library.


More By Kevin Ridgeway:

Sally with the Accent

Five Hundred Channels and Nothing On

My Nephew and I Escape from Prison


Image Credit: Walker Evans “Sidewalk and Shopfront, New Orleans” (1935) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program

“Wages” By Larry Smith



Payday comes in from the cold
and sets a bag down in the hallway.
She finds her place at the table
where we are dressed in our good clothes.
Mom is already drinking wine
and Dad is telling funny work stories.
Payday laughs like coins falling on a metal tray.
We pass her the pork chops
and watch her fork not one but two—
“One for later,” she grins at us.
Like always we pretend to smile.

By the time the sun has set
we’ve said good-bye to our Payday
and a silence fills the room.
When I break a plate, Mom cries,
“Oh shit. Look what you’ve done.”
You can hear the sound of wind.
Then Mom hands Dad a fist full of bills,
and we kids go off to our rooms.
Tomorrow will mean our old clothes again
and the counting of our coins.


About the Author: Larry Smith is a poet, fiction writer, and editor-publisher of Bottom Dog Press in Ohio where they feature a Working Lives and an Appalachian Writing Series. He is also the biographer of Kenneth Patchen and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. He lives in Huron, Ohio, along the shores of Lake Erie.


Image Credit: “Alabama Tenant Farmer Family Singing Hymns” Walker Evans (1936) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.