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The following works were written as a collaboration between Fish and Shushan. They are selections from an unpublished collection entitled The Chatter of Birds.

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old paint for spring

the girl walks into her backyard
she hasn’t washed her hair
because it smells like pollen and she
is hoping to attract secret bees
to come live in it

bees to dive into brushes filled
with pollen
dust and spices
rum and rusted things

strange bees who love
an old car and washing machines in the back yard
a dresser that is used for potting plants
with paint flecking off
white flecks on green grass
and a bathtub for taking baths under the stars
flaking paint on old wood
unwashed hair
perfect nests for strange bees
stranger than vines
strangers in vines
she has no shame anymore

limestone roads
and tupelo honey

the girl steps onto the road
with white and powdery steps
she carries a bow and arrows
to shoot reasons
she has no use for them anymore
only bees and honey
bears and trees
bees and flowers
the rest are just seeds
saved for spring

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Affettuoso

it is that rare soft belly
who is always falling
white and smooth
through the emptiness
between every electron
through the emptiness
inside every proton
the fullness of every nothing
the emptiness of every something
someone
somewhere
somehow
who knows
that the nervous touching
of soft bellies
is more important
than being fully understood

we understand
how the cold makes things slow
and this eternity cuddles around us
with a heart like bird wings
beating gently on our skin
when touching things
that eyes cannot see
we are smashing atoms
and moving as sunlight moves
into and through the inch
while inside the inch
this light-thing cuddles
the fullness of a soft belly
and kissing you
is dismantling the universe
one slow particle at a time

i will do what ever
o pretty words
with such strange push and pull
we are like two cosmic bodies
negotiating each others gravity

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lions on the beach

darling, there are sand fleas
crawling up my skirt. sharp pricks
like pins in a ladybug.

careful!

they crawl into our open
mouths when we smile
to live in the shadows
where kisses begin.
they eat metaphors
for sheep to count
stars and toes.
and when we kiss
they become lions
who breathe sweet fire
into tongues.

I knew she was a princess
because her mouth tasted
like absinthe and wine.

I knew she was a princess
because her lips became sparklers
falling on white thighs

when I held my breath

And I knew we were alive
when our lips turned black
and stuck together
like licorice whips
in the sun.

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they would crucify us

they would crucify us
alone in the night
when the stars are hidden

ornaments
on evergreens

to bottle our sap
for perfume
to make dinosaurs
with our blood

i screamed
like a lion
into her mouth
where the safe was warm
with hands crabbed into the sand
clutched, touched, and coming
into a castle
out to the sea

we were uncorking the whale
and letting metaphors out

spending our shells wisely
thank goat
we used littlenecks to change
shoals into towers
and beneath we made
ourselves a keep
filled with companies
of lobsters and snails

we’ll send them out as spies
if the need should arise
but now let us eat
kelp spaghetti
simmered in squid ink wine

lie back on that jellyfish
put your feet up
on this sleeping turtle
and rest
everything
is fine.

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Vanessa Kittle (Shushan) is 35. She lives out on Long Island with her evil kitten, Sombrero. A former chef and lawyer, Vanessa is now an English composition professor. She published 2 collections of poetry in 2006: a chapbook called Apart, and a full-length book called Surviving the Days of the Empire, both with The March Street Press. Her work has recently been in The New Renaissance, Nerve Cowboy, Limestone, Ibbetson Street, and A Generation Defining Itself anthology. Vanessa edits Abramelin, the Journal of Poetry and Magick.

Fish and Shushan are an astronaut with a guitar and her ‘I like girls a lot’ music and… a flower growing quietly from the wall. there are also trees and inappropriate thoughts!

Fish is trying to learn the chords for Stockton Gala Days while perfecting the art of charming bees out of their honey.

Shushan buzzes in and out of material space with the electric hum of honeybee wings. She also likes to paint.

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Masthead

Editor, Lisa Zaran

ISSN: 1095-732x

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2007

January - Roger Humes
February - Jimmy Santiago Baca
March - Graham Burchell
April - Ruth Daigon
May - Anne Fraser
June - Corey Mesler
July - Scott Malby
August - James Keane
September - Maurice Oliver
October - Robert Pinsky
November - Louis Daniel Brodsky
December - Bill Duvall

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2008

January - Kelley White
February - L. Ward Abel
March - Maura Stanton
April - Dr. Charles Frederickson
May - Peter Magliocco
June - Penny Harter
July - Gary Beck
August - Jéanpaul Ferro
September - Fish and Shushan
October - Kenneth Gurney
November - John Gallaher
December - Carmen Alexandra

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2009

January - Karen Rigby
February - A.D. Winans
March - Donald Illich
April - Stephen Ferreira
May - Tracee Coleman
June - Ernest Williamson
July - Sally Van Doren
August - Nanette Rayman Rivera
September - Gianina Opris
October - Judson Mitcham
November - Joel Solonche
December - Peycho Kanev

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2010

January - Louis Gallo
February - Buxton Wells
March - Labi Siffre
April - Regina Green
May - Howard Good
June - Carol Lynn Grellas
July - William Doreski
August - Sari Krosinsky
September - Ben Nardolilli
October - James Piatt
November - Robert Lietz
December - John Grey

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2011

January - Robert Philbin
February - iolanda scripca
March - Tad Richards
April - Katie Kopin
May - Jacob Newberry
June - George Moore
July - Rae Spencer
August - Jim Richards
September - Antonia Clark
October - Tannen Dell
November - Christina Matthews
December - Charles Clifford Brooks III

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2012

January - Anniversary Issue
February - Jim Davis
March - Ivy Page
April - Maurice Oliver
May - Lori Desrosiers
June - Ray Sharp
July - Nathan Prince
August - Robert Klein Engler
September - Jenn Monroe
October - John Grey
November - Andrea Potos
December - Christina M. Rau

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2013

January - Maria Luisa Arroyo
February - Journal on haitus

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2014

April - Rebirth
May - Timothy Walsh
June - Brian Fanelli
July - Carol Smallwood
August - Elizabeth P. Glixman
September - Sally Van Doren
October - Sherry O'Keefe
November - Robert McDonald
December - Gerry McFarland

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2015

January - James Keane
February - Liza Hyatt
March - Joseph Reich
April - Charles Thielman
May - Norbert Krapf
June - Lynne Knight
July - Sarah Brown Weitzman
August - Tom Montag
September - Susan Palmer
October - Holly Day
November - A.J. Huffman
December - Tom Pescatore

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2016

January - Richard Perin
February - Linne Ebbrecht
March - Sheri Vandermolen
April - Molly Cappiello
May - Caleb Coy
June - Paul Lubenkov
July - Domenic Scopa
August - Adam Phillips
September - Timothy Gager
October - Bruce Lader
November - Holly Day
December - Al Rocheleau

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2017

January - Robert Lietz
February - Jocelyn Heaney
March - David Brinkman
April - Lana Bella
May - Kaitlyn O'Malley
June - Ruth Kessler
July - Chanel Brenner
August - Darren Demaree
September - George Moore
October - Joshua Medsker
November - Ralph Monday
December - Howie Good

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2018

January – Simon Perchik
February – Julia Travers

Artwork

Image of bird by contemporary artist, Courtney Smith
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