A Hundred Years From Now

Mohammad Shafiqul Islam

for Rabindranath Tagore

 

At the dawn of the 21st century

in this era of war and deaths

my soul seeks refuge in poetry

though no one writes like Wordsworth

or Keats because lakes have dried

and daffodils do not bloom to inspire

the poets—the sylvan vase no more

impresses them to find a seam

between truth and beauty

Once the world of innocence

the world Blake portrayed in his poetry

was the world readers would dream

to build—now experience fraught with

greed flares up all over

We have witnessed world wars

and read The Waste Land

still millions have taken the road

Frost declined to pass through

Now we write elegies for Aylan Kurdi

for thousands of other children too

We write poems on mass migration

on Syria, Palestine, Myanmar

on chilling Charlie Hebdo tragedy

and Manhattan massacre

or on Rana Plaza disaster

But what else should I take refuge in

if not poetry, if not the words

written for a world free from war

and violence and blood?

Sitting under a tree without leaves

by the bank of a river without water

near a field without grass

I see a young poet writing a new poem

after 100 years on tree, field, river

and flower in imagination—

imagination indeed creates poetry

From this heated globe

from the world of the dying

with this bleeding heart

I send my love to the young poet

my best wishes for a better world

Many things will be extinct after 100 years

Forms will transform

Even the deathless will be forgotten

but words will continue to live

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I’m the Villain, Ok?

Mary Alexandra Agner

I want to sit in my SUV

combust dead dinosaurs

into aerosols as tangible as need

I want the Monsanto magic

    for my lawn, my Big Boy tomatoes

I want to wait in the drive-through—

    engine roaring, gas escaping,

    invisible music pumping into my box

    sealed and thus safe from the outside—

    for my chicken made of corn

    my shake made of sugar (made of corn)

    my fries fried in corn

What matters is this moment

    the right tempo to tap my fingers to

    phone surfing, wifi filling space

        from here to Saturn as the years drag on

    to know no matter how much I cut

    myself off from touch, taste, smell

    I am not alone

 
 
 

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The Bull Who Bars the Gate to Heaven

Zella Christensen

The bull who bars the gate to heaven

remembers you from an instant

ago, when he stepped onto a New Mexico road

and you failed to hit the brakes.

You’re still adrenaline-charged as you confront

him again: flesh so hard it crumpled

your sedan’s hood, a skull that made

glass snow of your windshield,

and horns that pinned your hand

to the leather seat. Nobody but him

is fit to weigh your heart,

but he only stands at heaven’s gate, still

as he stood on the lonely road,

daring you, now and then, to make a move

and knowing you can’t help but barrel on.

 
 

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Earthspun

Krista Hoeppner Leahy

A curvy-topsy tornado funneled up, not down

uprooting the sky-trees from the cumulus-sea-above

 

dumping them on the ground where they are all

dying from lack of clouds and too much media attention.

 

Greenpeace has converted several transport slings

designed for beached whales but the sky-trees keep

 

falling through the canvas no matter how much

water the volunteers eye-drop onto gravity-bitten bark.

 

Several have melted completely into the ground

leaving behind no trace but an ineffable sense of loss

 

nearby if you’re walking barefoot, with or without an Iphone.

Some, arboreally brave, linger even as they disintegrate—

 

branches split, leaves torn, roots weeping past reflection

puddles that do not splash as more volunteers march toward

 

the storm, unaware of limbs and leaves permanently earthed.

The worms try to help. Sniff a cirrus frond, they urge, lick a bog

 

of too-blue sap, finger cerulean bark. Breathe thru your cloaca.

There is no app to map a sky-fallen forest. Choose: Empty

 

urns into sky-plashets or self-immolate. What? Ashes cry

the worms, water them with ashes so their sap may rise, fly.

 

All of us belong to the sky.

 

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Disintigreetings

Pepe Rojo

 

 

 

I am a writing machine. Scratch that. My memory’s not keeping up with me. Let’s start over. I am a counting machine. I count the days, I count the numbers. I count the money, and I’ve even counted the  years.  You  gain  some  you  lose  some. Dollars, I mean. Money too. Typing counting machine. One, two three, A, b, c. I type what I count. I count what I type. I type on my count. I count on my type. Can you count on yours?  P l e a s e , p l e a s e , p l e a s e   c o u n t   o n   m e . T y p e   a n d   c o u n t   o  n    m  e   .   P  l  e  a  s  e    t  y  p  e    p  l  e  a  s  e    c  o  u  n  t    p  l  e  a  s  e    t  y  p  e    p  l  e  a  s  e      p    l    e    a    s    e      t    y    p    e        p      l      e      a      s      e        p      l      e      a      s      e

 

 

 

weregrettoinformyouwehavegivenuponwalkingasyouknowwehavebeendoingitforquitesometimebutnowwereallydon’tneednorwanttowalkanymorecausewalkingisforbodiesandwehavenowmovedbeyondourselvesbeyondourbodiesandwecancommunicatewiththebirdscommunicatewiththeaircommunicatewiththesunandwecantravelcauseweareleavingourbodiesbehindtothefartheststartothetiniestquarkwearenotthereanymoreyouseewesimplyarenotthereanymorenomorewaitinginlinenomoreliesnowjustaliensintimealiensinmind

 

 

Hello,

Don’t mind if we stare. It’s perfectly understandable. We like to look. Don’t worry. We won’t skin you. We won’t flail you. We know you’re curious. And we like to look. Why don’t you come closer. Maybe you want to touch us. It’s perfectly allright. We love visitors. Come and join us. We’ll take care of you. Just join us. Don’t be shy. That’s it. You know you want to. Come closer. Closer. Even closer. That’s it. You know you like to look, you know you want to feel. Closer. Now. Just touch us. With the tip of your fingers. That’s it. That’s better. Now stay. Here. Stay. Yes. Yes.

 

 

Yes.

 

Hello,

You sick fuck. You fuck sick. Dick my suck. You brick. You pitch. Duck my sick. You suck. You fuck. You frick. You sick suck. Sick sick fuck.

Wait.

am  i  mad?  i  am  mad.  i  am  mad.  i  am  dam.  i  am mad mad am i i am mad am mad am mad am i am a dam am i a mad mad am mad am i mad am i madamadammadam am   i   mad   dam   madam   am   i   mad   mad dammm   damm   damm   damm   damm   damm   damm damm    damm    add    mad    madaddamaddamaddam dam    mad    madmadmadammadmadmadammadam    i

 

 

 

 

 

 

All photos were shot at different so-called visionary environments, usually built over a long period of time by untrained and unschooled artists. Part landscape artists, part architects, they usually decorate and modify their dwelling spaces without a definite plan and scavenge their materials from their surroundings, giving them a second life as part of their architectural inventions. Their work usually involves deeply personal visions and religious-aesthetic experiences, problems with neighbors and near family, and usually ends with their death.

They are unofficial cathedrals of our strange times.

 

Photos 1 and 4 were taken at Howard Finster’s Paradise Gardens, Pennville, Georgia, 2010.

Reverend Howard Finster worked for almost 40 years (1965-2001) in his Paradise Gardens, focusing mainly on religious outreach. His production, besides the Garden, was enormous (more than 10,000 drawings). I visited Paradise Gardens almost a decade after his passing, and as it usually happens with these kind of places, when the artist’s death keeps them from working on the place, his environment was being over-run by (or maybe returned to) Nature.

 

Photo 2 taken at Vince Hanneman ‘s Cathedral of Junk, Austin, Texas, 2012.

Vince Hanneman has been building his cathedral out of 60 tons of junk on his back garden since 1988, mainly because it was fun. He had to tear down his 200-TV pyramid due to building inspectors’ recommendations, but he turned it into a “zen garden of TVs”.

 

Photo 3 taken at Haw Par Villa, Singapore, 2012.

Built in 1937 by the Burma-born Aw brothers, creators of the medical ointment Tiger Balm, Haw Par Villa is a mythological theme park containing more than a thousand sculptures, drawing from both the Buddhist and the Chinese tradition. The main attraction is the gruesome “10 Courts of Hell”. This photo was taken right at the entrance of the ten courts.

 

Photo 5 taken at José Gómez Hernández’s La Casa de los Monos, 2016.

Pepe Gómez spent more than ten years pasting and hanging discarded toys on his house after his wife died, and became a local legend. He even says that some of the toys used to speak and make noises. He left the house in 2012, but the ruins remain. Time and minor fires have made them even more uncanny in sadder ways.

 

 

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Papa Bois and the Boy

Brandon O’Brien

I startled you the first time.

You spilled bougainvilleas deep violet

from your lap, bursting all around

us. The whole forest was staring

 

at me, waiting to see what came next.

You ran before I could finish

calling your name.

I sympathized, you know.

 

The iron devils had already

moved in, their teeth marking your trees,

splitting rocks with their toes

in search of something more golden-black

 

than freshwater clear.

I looked like a devil’s-heart, no?

And how could I see you?

But fear makes special senses,

 

desperation is its own sight.

You never stopped me laying

my head in your heaven— “but

that is what it here for,” you

 

say. “For rest.”

You’re a charming

king of a more dazzling domain.

I’m as afraid of the outside as you;

 

look at us, you a god with horns,

me a man who ran and tore the city’s dress off me.

The mimosa pudica closes her doors

with each tremor of modernity drawing close.

 

You bring mockingbirds to our dinner

tables soon, dare to kiss a boy so

future-scented, tell me I don’t

need to apologize. “The city does

 

forget easy. The woods can’t.”

I want to live as long as you do,

hand over hand, be a pleasant memory,

‘til the city steps on the very last green.

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third world problems

Tai Allen

when rainwater becomes our source of bathing

and the rest fills a gallon of semi-clean plastic

humble roofs turn tin & rust

suddenly the word enough

rhymes with barely

the clothes we will sleep in are also living in the daylight

and the days are then measured in loss and love

humble roofs become tin & rust

we will discuss enough

but only find barely

 

 

 

Read Michael’s interview with Tai about “third world problems”.

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Kill or Be Killed

Aozora Brockman

On hands and knees between two rows of dry

potato plants, I sweated far from the rest.

Otōsan had dug the ground for me with two

great sweeps of the tractor, up and back, so that

the roots of all came loose at once and made

simple the task to fill my red pail heaping.

No rain for weeks made cracks appear that sliced

the soil into great slabs, heavy as rock,

and those I moved—teeth grinding slow to keep

from thinking of the rays of sun that lit my back

ablaze and how my fingertips felt ripped

open each time I dug at the coarse soil,

in search of smoothness. But when I lifted that mound

of earth, I saw a swarm of black and beady ants

who, caught off guard, looked up at light in fear.

Some ants with creamy eggs clenched in their mouths

burrowed back down into the dark for safety,

and still a few brave souls rushed up my arms

to bite: kill or be killed. I could not help but smash

them dead—to stop the pinching pain perhaps,

but more so because my mind forgot to care.

I watched one crumple off my forearm,

and there where it fell, on an overturned clump,

a crusty cocoon shone silver and large—

asleep, curled like the moon. It was as big

as a tomato worm, which is why I thought

Otōsan would want it gone before it could

lay eggs. So taking its body between thumb and

forefinger, I squeezed and saw milky liquid

spurt out. And then I sat, eyes wide and hand drenched

in the sticky white blood, chilled by the hot air.

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Sidelong Catastrophe

Chloe Clark

I’m not sure who the sky is

when it’s not the sky

 

but I think I know this river

was once a beautiful woman

 

viewed from above all bodies

of water look like someone

 

you once loved and the color

of the trees only matters

 

when there are trees at all

and sometimes I imagine

 

that we can solve everything

design cities that fit into

 

the Earth instead of making

the Earth fit into them

 

but mostly we sit at drawing

boards and paint scenes

 

of decay because that is what

we know and sometimes I think

 

I can see the sky but

it might just be a person

 

and I’ll miss the sun most

when the clouds weep the ghosts

 

of rivers for days on end

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from Concrete Jungle

Travis Macdonald

New Jersey

new-jersey

New Hampshire

new-hampshire

Wisconsin

wisconsin

Montana

montana

skull_green_scenebreak

Over the course of a couple of years, I have managed to catalogue the most commonly listed invasive species for all 50 states using the USDA National Agricultural Library as my primary source. The difference in font size is directly dependent on the number of invasive plant species categorized as such by each state agency and, of course, the geographical shape and area of the given territory. The only significant variation in that pattern arises due to the fact that many variant plant species differentiated by their Latinate names in fact share a folk or colloquial name.

Read an Interview with Travis MacDonald about “Concrete Jungle”.

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