Holly Painter



It's well known in some circles about the meticulous historian chimps
But, of course, dolphins have an oral history, too,
Rescued through the generations through studied word of mouth
And impromptu retellings at superpod gatherings around the holidays.

We call it echolocation. They call it poetry.

There are a wide range of theories
As to why the dolphins' remains an oral tradition:

Ecologists, wise in the ways of environments,
Argue that our pollution and destruction of dolphin habitats
Have obliterated nearly every marine material
With which dolphins might transcribe their history.

Anthropologists, wise in the ways of civilizations,
Suggest that the migratory lifestyle of dolphins
Makes it highly impractical to keep written records.

Biologists, wise in the ways of bodies,
Maintain that dolphins will be unable to shift to a
Culture of literacy until they develop opposable thumbs.

Or really any kind of thumbs.

Or fingers.

Or just hands, in general.


They're all very clever
Those ecologists, anthropologists, and biologists
But it's the bureaucrats who know the truth:

Humans are the only remaining species on the planet
Whose mating rituals involve so much paperwork.

Naturally, there have been others before us
Whose applications, licenses, permits, registrations, and visas
(Diligently completed in triplicate, filed with the appropriate authorities
And waited on patiently and politely for weeks, then months, then years)
Have led directly to the species' extinction.

Dolphins, rightfully rumored to possess intelligence far exceeding our own,
Know instinctively that nothing threatens their kind more
Than starting down that slippery slope that begins with writing down poetry
And ends with filling out your own death certificate.


The stylish lads upstairs have wooden legs.
And they go stompin' around like my ceiling is the Savoy,
A hot jazz ballroom for squealing trills, clinking wine glasses,
And landing heavy-limbed aerial swing maneuvers until four in the morning.

Monday morning.
Tuesday morning.
Every morning.

Life goes to a party.
And the party doesn't stop

Until the last of the bottles is empty
And the noxious juice pumps through their veins.
Then the boys crumble,
Their great trunks felled
With a savage crash to my aching ceiling.


I watch the wind crash against her mohawk
And I believe my love is a tiny sailboat
She bobs and coasts instead of walks
And I believe my love is a tiny sailboat
With her canvases billowing as she talks
She wears their warmth as an autumn coat
I watch the wind crash against her mohawk
And I believe my love is a tiny sailboat


The plaque over my tossled bed reads:
Here lies a case of "doing remarkably well, all things considered."

My mother must be considered.
Five foot three in heels: a self-contained guilt factory.
Consider her my superego.

Consider also my childhood religion
With all its mourning and its mystical condemnations.
Consider it on a Sunday when you've nothing else to do.

Consider the lilies of the field -

No, better, consider my graying, crippled hometown.
Oh Detroit, what will be your epitaph?
Consider buying an American car next time.

Consider me in silence.

Consider all things before you make your judgment.


Androgynous, I can't decide
What I should think of me
When I'm Sir not Miss
He not she
I guess it's hard to see
'Cause I'm built unsure
Dressed unsure, shorn unsure
Regarded with uncertain eyes
Of folks who aren't too shy
To ask, Girl or boy? Garcon or fille?
Oh right, they do mean me
The girlish boy, boyish girl
But I can't remember for all the world
Which one is really me


Christina M. Rau


Choose the option most unlike you.
You're the main character
So make it interesting.
Remember, keyword: Adventure.
Follow the thread out until one end.
Try not to die too soon,
But still take risks,
Unless you're already the risk-taking type.
Then err on the side of caution
To make your fictional life
Somewhat different from your actual own.

Choose the top option
All the way through.
Then when you die peacefully
Or become a ghost
Or find out you're immortal
Or end with a marriage,
Go back section by section,
Recreating only the last bit
Piece by piece
Until you revert back to the first.
Try not to die.
Try not to get pregnant,
At least not before you get
To be hooked on meth.

Try to die.
Become a kamikaze.
Throw caution to the page:
Sleep with every guy you meet
Whether or not he wants to;
Jump off every cliff and balcony,
Out of every hot air balloon;
Pet the rattler, dance with the bear,
Go down the dark alley alone.
Discover all the ways
You can die
All the paths
That may lead to your demise.

Choose to be poor
To live far
To become a hermit
To never love.

Choose to put down the book
Before you've exhausted
All your endings.


Hemingway wrote in the heart of Key West.
His house hides under palm trees,
Vines, a jungle of prickly green-
Two stories behind mortar and brick.
Cats sneak around the porch slats,
In and along windows and sills.
They all have six toes.

He must have a typewriter somewhere in there.
A ream of white paper
With a spare ribbon on a wooden table.

Perhaps some animal heads and, of course,
Long, black guns mounted on walls
Over brick fireplaces and leather sofas.
Black and white pictures of bulls-
No-sepia pictures of bulls or
A painting of a bull fighter.
And maybe a whip.
Of course, a leather whip!
A room devoted to whipping
And fighting!

White or off-white linens.
Definitely a ceiling fan
That spins slowly,
Even when it's off


Angela Consolo Mankewicz


"This is forever - we are in it now" - A. R. Ammons

What are you looking for, Beloved,
what do you seek?

Why ask me such questions, Beloved?
You are not as meek

and wide-eyed as you pretend to yourself
to be, a Byronic Don Juan,

sultry newborn, happy hostage
to your own innocent charm;

You know as well as I, your make-believe
Venus, that all my tricks

of seduction, my blinding beauty
are out of Kabala books.

And what does Kabala say, Beloved
what do the books say?

That forever is a pretty thought, Beloved
a thought we create

in our own image of unending love
and pleasure for as long

as we want to stay in this place, drawing
each other's breath, as long

as we want to promise, as long as we see
ourselves in each other's eyes,

in each other's sighs;
this is Forever, Beloved, it is now.


The blur of hair across the face of the once beautiful
is a comfort to him, he, who sees the past but not the years,

he, who makes love to her with all the lust he felt
touching her small breasts that first time;

the left one now bearing the indentation of the knife
and indelible inkspots to bullseye darts of radiation.

He pulls her waist into his, the waist once so slim,
now plumped up by his indulgences of special treats,

extra sweets, anything she could swallow during chemo.
There was little else he could do, he thought, to ease

her ordeal. And she so loved sharing morsels of pate,
over-priced brie, and pink gelato with her beloved cats.

I will never be the same, she would say, demoralized
by the mirror's image - unable/unwilling - too resentful/

too angry to change what was in her power to change, such
overwhelming change; you are the same, he would always say,

such a petty change for you, what is it? one dress size?
who cares? She'd smile at his eyes and sink into his passion

but her face darkened without him there, always there, forever
there, to say, always and forever, again and again: You

are beautiful. Stunning. Astounding. You stopped traffic
on Hollywood Blvd. You dazzled a pit boss on the Vegas strip.

It is you, love, who pleads the comfort of the blur; I see you
clearly, bright as a blue-sky day through a looking glass sky.



Holly Painter grew up in the Detroit area and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. She is currently working on her first collection of poetry on themes of gender, sexuality, and the body, as part of her MFA at the University of Canterbury. She hopes to follow this up with a book of poetry about Detroit. Holly lives in New Zealand with her partner.

Christina M. Rau is the founder of Poets In Nassau, a reading circuit on Long Island in New York.
Her works have been published in magazines such as New Graffiti, The Verse Marauder, and
Good Liar. She also teaches English at Nassau Community College, and sometimes

Border photo by Charles Raglund. Salem Nuclear Reactor on Delaware Bay.                                                 

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