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  Sep 2022 ju
Evan Stephens
I am the Empire in the last of its decline,
That sees the tall, fair-haired Barbarians pass,--the while
Composing indolent acrostics, in a style
Of gold, with languid sunshine dancing in each line.
-Paul Verlaine, "Melancholy"

I am the Empire, in decline.
The elm tree is yellowing;
the rain-arm is broadcasting
from the cloud station.

I am the once-loved voice,
now a tired smear of memory;
the ghost of a market thrill,
a bed of smoke, a red register.

I am the Barbarian, grown fat
after the stuttering blonde pyres
are stilled: finger-flickers of ash.
I am the white noise nocturne

after the rerun is over.
I am the cathode ray,
the scent in the glass.
I am the Empire, in decline.
  Sep 2022 ju
Caroline Shank
Write what I know?  I am pocked with
chunks of broken moments.
Bits fall to the ground, trip me.
The terrain of my youth is a
moonscape.  I know what I know in
the craters of this place.

Born on the darkside and thirsty, I was
cold.  I found the sun later when I
was tumbled out the door of my
Mother’s leaking house.  Her screams
had become tentacles of maniacal
music.  Or do not call it music for
if you heard it you would not dance.

I am old now.  The view from my landing
is filled with sunlight and children,
“There are children in the leaves,
laughing excitedly”.   (Eliot)
I am paused in this imagination on

When she is quiet,
I sweep her under the porch
where she lies drunk and unlaughing.
I do not let her out.  Yet she
steers me.  Her corpse loud
in her ***** nightdress.  

The terrain of my old age is pitted
with the debris of this haunting.  She
unsings me, makes me lie in
craters from which I climb up
daily only to tumble back down,
to have to begin again
from the bottom each new **** day.

But I sing as I crawl. And
she does not like the sound of that

Caroline Shank
  Sep 2022 ju
Evan Stephens
We didn't quite think it through,
did we now?

We just pushed that harrow
even when the fields were underwater.

Now the wires bring us
the yes-no grammar of old love.

Lewd sun, cloud-tumble,
violets dying in the loam:

images lashed to the lens,
the loom, the wine-weave

of the eye... well,
we held on for a while.
ju Sep 2022
I run to you
your rhythm, your beat

for a moment they're mine
and we breathe together,

I run to you
your hunger, your need

for a moment they're mine
and we cleave together,

I run to you
your sweet-wet, your greed

for a moment they're mine
and we feed together,
ju Sep 2022


  Mar 2022 ju
Evan Stephens
Glossy-budded hair,
unnameably Portuguese,
your hand-picked star anise
floats in my pear sangria.

You are of the moment.
You are a smile and a nose ring.
You seem curious about me,
but you can't be.

Thank you for the swift nothings
of little talk that helped me along
on a Friday afternoon.
You couldn't know it,

but such small items
as bar talk have become, for me,
strange freedoms that bubble up
& sometimes displace the sorrow

that encases me perpetually
on these long spring days.
Your stance between the beer taps,
by the good scotch and gin...

it brings a faint gladness
to an ulcerated gray
that sweeps back westward
across the parapets of new night.
  Mar 2022 ju
Evan Stephens
The heart is a grave,
logic is buried there.

City of stones and gamblers,
trees leafed with playing cards,

old men skimming coins
from the fountain floor.

Here in Alphaville,
romance is the gun -

pull the hat down low,
rub your lips with your thumb,

drive in the neon-beaded night
to the swimming pool gallows

where you broadcast a red truth
before the wet knives come flashing.

The heart is a grave,
logic is buried there.
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