Life, Preciously Poured

Kate Benham

You pour a cup of pecans
Like a kid catching raindrops
In a bucket.
Careful not to spill,
Your fingers playing tremolo on a 
Violin-string cup measure.

Your bed-tucked
Mouth, warm, with
Tongue searching the lips
For forgotten first lines of bedtime stories
Like misplaced glasses, resting on your head.
I read to you, now,
In hospital beds.

Forehead wrinkles stacked 
In three creases–
Your crossword face,
Mouth-chewed pencil between your lips,
Scooping for synonyms 
As you now scoop sugar.

Patient tablespoons of vanilla
Heaped with the effort
Of standing up for fifteen minutes

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Stacy Nigliazzo

I see myself, always
through a stark looking glass

the fun house view of my own face 
reflected in the eyes of my patients–

tangled in the bleeding strands
that line the gray sclera of the meth addict

drowning in the pooling ink that splits
the swelling pupil of the hemorrhagic stroke

swimming in the antibiotic slather
that blurs the newborn’s first gaze–

my clouded countenance,
ever present–

slipping even through parched flesh
along the steely glide of the angiocath

glistening in the fluid bag
of intravenous medication

glaring back 
from the sliding metal

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Jocelyn Jiao

the articles went first.
then the pronouns, the verbs,
nouns. they melted away, leaving 
only memories of warmth
cradled by salivary glands.
adjectives flutter behind 
my front teeth, ready for flight.
only adverbs remain,
curled beneath my tongue–
yawning, drowsy:
the softest words of vocabulary.

the lilt of my voice has left too,
soapy Californian vowels
scrubbed clean. 
when i speak to my mother,
she complains of my consonants,
how they have begun 
to iron out cadences, climb 
over inflections, ride 
them into deep sand. she says
only my whisper remains whole.
but not

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Third Party

Mary E. Moore

Tipping forward to escape
the wheelchair’s confines, the ancient one
pleads with her feet, “Go home.”

It’s her companion who volunteers 
the Chief Complaint: “Ever since her stroke,
Mother’s back seems to hurt.

Her doctors say there’s nothing can be done, 
but I thought that perhaps a specialist ….”
She strokes the old woman’s shoulders. 

“Does it hurt here, or there, or if I touch this?” 
My fingers probe among birdish bones.
Ignoring me, the patient whimpers, “Home.”

When the daughter’s eyes register pain, I say,
“I’ll inject this spot near her sacroiliac joint.

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Sleep Hygiene

Daniel Becker

Outline the night and all its objects
in black magic marker.

The world through closed eyes
needs texture 
the way tires need tread, 
brains need wrinkles, and hypnosis
needs the power of suggestion–
traction, surface area, and control
might also apply to a cat
buried alive underneath the sheets; 
if so, don’t forget the one on top.

Stay up for several nights before
the night you plan to sleep.

Oil the ceiling fan.

True or false: the bladder
is on a separate circuit?

Don’t eat in bed, especially chips.

Snoring + sleep apnea +

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Elizabeth Kao

Today, her head is spinning, just like yesterday, 
And the day before that. She is dizzy, experiencing 
pain we can’t know unless our heads have hurt like
she hurts now. All she wants is to lie down, and
when we tell her she just woke up, she says she
can’t sleep, because we don’t understand that
she’s not concerned with the sleeping. She’s the
same with food, telling us everything tastes bad,
merely eating to keep from being hungry.

She felt nothing to be worth doing after the fence fell, 
just another part of

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The Disabled Boat

Steve Gunther-Murphy

Drifting on the sea of disease
in a cardboard boat,

never knowing when the slash
of a spinal eel
will lunge from its coral-bone cave
and cut through
the threads
of a once dancing ankle
or the push of a thigh
singing race or run.

Waiting without wanting–
as the slap of a wave
against the paper-thin stern
then bow
brings on the storm
that pummels every movement
until you slip into a coma of the wind;


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Triptych for John

Yun Lan

Part I: The first time I saw you

I met John 
without introduction.
cold hand.

Part II: Cadaver as Decapod

John was surely a hermit crab, having four small limbs to anchor the body and six long
limbs to advance it. He gathered sea anemones on his back, and weeds in his spiny beard. He bore
stellate scars, the digitated marks of five pointed teeth. There was a constellation of them, surely
from the care of blue spined urchins. The urchins couldn’t make him stay. Did they evict him

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Depression Session

Abby Caplin


The chopped apple of her father’s eye,
She tastes the grapes of her mother’s drunken wrath
The barely visible slivers of silver-tongued almond
Needle her intestines as she savors
The seedless watermelon of fruitless friendships,
And endures the hard rind 
Of a body gone awry, 
To be chewed and chewed until swallowed or
Spat out. A salad of sorts
Surrounded by lemons
Home-grown, organic, bitter
And full of juice. She brings me a tough
Clear plastic bag filled with them
To our session.
“They’re the last of the season,” she tells me.

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