My Boy is a Sandstorm

I. I first saw you on forty-ninth street,

stooping to gather up scraps of scripture

that fell from your mouth when you tried to

wish them away.

You cussed and stuffed them in your pockets,

hiding behind your collar

like an incognito Hebrew prince

when the preacher who haunts fifth and third

tried to make eye contact.

I would have followed you home right then

if the bus stop angel hadn’t told me

to exercise some self-control and bide my time.

Sure enough, two Sundays later you wander

into church with Elijah in your eyes

and Hosea on your lips

and I’m sorry but no one should be allowed

to look that good wearing the stigmata.

II. Mom told me never to date boys in bands

but she was mum on the subject of prophets,

so I paid as much attention to the stardust in your hair

and the tremor of your pretty hands

as I did the message you delivered through tight teeth.

When the congregation demanded your

divinity school degree, your immigration papers,

and church membership,

that little bit of God that lives in my eardrums

started roaring defend, affirm, intercede,

And suddenly I was clutching you,

warding off the dark with my mother’s blood

and the promises of my forefathers

and the damn good Devils advocacy

of a liberal education.

They say I spoke powerful words

not heard since antiquity.

I beg to differ. I only loosed the songbirds Adonai

caged my throat in ages ago, the ones waiting

for the boy with anointing oil in his veins

and light thrumming from his chest.

III. We inhabit the dusky halfway places now,

cultivating the desert of our generation’s soul

like Sarai and Abram did Caanan.

We’ve made our name in enemy-occupied territory

and casting demons out of club kids.

We’ve made a home in the desert, and it suits us here.

You listen to my stories about the boy who would be king,

and I bless you in every tongue I can cobble together.

Words are what I own, what I have to give you,

and they are what protect you when you

stand before the mob.

IV. My boy is a sandstorm and that’s how I like you,

wedged so deep in the nooks and crannies of me

that no scrubbing could rid me of

the bits you leave behind.

They say your girl is a trained falcon,

flying before you to strike down your enemies,

but you and I know better.

Your girl is a mourning dove,

circling and seeking a safe place for us to land,

fetching you olive leaves and other good things

that we can have and build and give to others.

So we will stay in the desert,

drinking deep from the well of each other and

sharing our bed with the visions that come as dreams.

For I was crafted for a creature such as you.

–Sarah Gibson

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Epiphanous Rumination

I wouldn’t blame you if you never

felt this way before.

Sometimes our fingers trace spines

that are not our own,

and we follow them like timelines wondering

“Have our ancestors passed this way?”

Because the human story is a part

of each of us,

and our selfishness is measured in

the thoughts we write down.

But if you’ve never felt this way before,

I don’t blame you.

I tried imagining myself further down the road

looking back on old portraits,

but only found myself, nose against the glass

staring at the sun outside.

So long that it hurts, we stand in pitch black silence:

divided and indivisibly wondering

“Would they be proud of us if they saw us now?”

I can’t say for sure.

They were respected and controlled in their spines

now growing over and under.

Stomachs growing out and filling beds with bodies

and minds full of dreams.

The dreams we have are just as frail and forgetting

as we forget whose feet fell

first on the earth. They were a tall people,

like us when we look in the mirror,

but I won’t blame you if you have never

felt this way before.

–Benjamin Newman

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Backyard Scene

on a sapphire lawn,

a glass vase of mushrooms

stands on its head.

a platter of crème custard naps,

while a bunch of grown

sunflowers tease us with their posture.

the moon is low, drunk, & stretching its borders,

over oval bushes, a little lorax hides behind them.

by the flower patch, a golden mushroom statue

is squinting, the black beam on his head sprouts tall,

arches, then dangles the celestial chandelier.

i am laying on the grass,

under the bubbled & weeping cerulean tree.

come and join me

for a dinner of daises.

–Mel Holmes

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Trashcan Thoughts

– Pt. III

I came to a conclusion this morning. It happened while I

was brushing my teeth with that electric toothbrush – which,

I’ll be honest, I don’t always just use for my smile but good

vibrations make for good teeth which leads to the real thing.

That’s what Seventeen Magazine says at least.

Yeah – spit & rinse – I realized the world’s got it wrong.

Everybody & their Cousin Chuck is chasing greatness

& fame like my old dog used to chase raccoons in our

backyard at night – I named him “Dog” when I was 7-yearsold.

I thought I was being real clever but it was the most

unimaginative shit name possible. Sorry, Dog. I shoulda

done better by you.

I stared into the mirror at my mascara painted eyes & the

raccoon that glared back hissed, “Shiny things, bitch. That’s

what we want.” Foam at the mouth, fangs like a vampire, I

punched the mirror with my right hand & broke it all to shit.

The mirror & my hand. Cracked & shattered. Just the way I

like it.

7 years bad luck & counting & bring it on. The raccoon

crawled back to think its trashcan thoughts in that garbage

can Hell from whence it came. A good old fashioned

exorcism if I do say so myself & I do say so myself. Don’t

let it be said that I lack agency. I’m not some pussy bitch

princess. I’m a damn damsel of destruction.

I wiped the mascara off of my face – that stuff ’s made from

guano. That’s bat shit, dontchaknow, & bats are blind so

there’s no way I’m putting that shit near my eyes anymore.

Then I took out my magic markers & instead of trying

to look like some easy ass Egyptian goddess of the Nile

where everything flows North instead of South – a damn

inconvenience if there ever was one – I drew on my war

paint & howled like the warm-blooded native fighting spirit

I knew I always was.


I slipped on my moccasins, put a feather in my hair, &

decided to fuck greatness & fame –

I just wanna be happy.

So I went to work & handed in my 0 weeks notice:

Dear bossman sir,

            I went through a metamorphosis today. I’m not

saying I’m a damn butterfly or nothin’ but I’m definitely not

a bug. You can’t squish me no more & I’m mostly talking

about your hand on my ass. Keep my last paycheck. I’m not

coming in to collect it because I don’t need no shiny things.

Buy something nice for that girlfriend you always talk about

but no one’s met or that raccoon I saw out back yesterday.

That trashy little shit would love it.

                                I put cyanide in the vinaigrette,

                                      Suzy the Savage Server

–Ted Kendrick

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Trashcan Thoughts

–Pt. II

Today I took a nap & dreamt that I was happy.  When I

awoke, it was 11:11 & they say to make a wish, so I did & I

prayed to all of the pantheons I could think of to make it

come true.

Dear God, I began since I was raised Christian & he always

comes first. The commandments say so. I uttered my

personal prayer of Song of Solomon 4:5 & told him he was

great & good & thanked him for my food.

Then came Buddha who I just pictured in my head (since

he died a long time ago– they keep his bones in jars and

stuff, dontchaknow) & meditated for awhile, thinkin’ about

his big belly & how I wanted to rub it for good luck to make

my wish come true because that’s what you do. The Chinese

take-out place on 25th street says so.

Then I chanted an om for Shiva, did a rain dance for

Manidoog, ate a fly for Anasazi, a human sacrifice for

Quetzalcoatl, burned my enemies for Thor & Valhalla, a

food offering to Zeus, a blood wound for Satan but I don’t

like finger cuts or nothin’ so I just used tomato juice, said

hi to Allah– just stoppin’ by, tickled the noodle of the

Flying Spaghetti Monster, put on my Mickey Mouse ears

for Disney, & even emailed my congressman. If he can’t do

nothin’ for me, what hope do I got?

Dear congressman,

          I heard a joke the other day but it wasn’t funny.

Nothing’s funny no more & I’ve been laughin’ at that. Heh.

I had a dream today that I was happy, you were happy,

Talon Tate the Talented was happy, & it only took 5 dollars.

I can’t afford happiness– not these days. A man’s gotta eat

out now & then & I ain’t talkin’ about food. I ain’t talkin’

about pussy either, pervert. I’s talkin’ about chewing on

some thoughts. Ever think a thought of your own? Takes

a lot of work & I ain’t got the time these days, so I let my

dreams do the thinkin’ & I get a lot done in my sleep now.

Ever snore up a sonnet? Ever sleep up a solution to sanity?

Ever dream a device of destruction that could detain every

delicate detail that your delegates have deducted to date?

Take a hint from me, congressman & go to sleep. Take a

nap. Go buy some sleeping pills or some good old fashioned

peace of mine & while you’re out, pick me up some smokes.

I’m out.

                       Don’t forget to water the hydrogen,

                                 Ol’ Blue the Blacksmith
–Ted Kendrick

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Trashcan Thoughts

–Pt. 1

I got a hotdog for lunch today since I was stuck at the

airport & felt hungry. They say not to ask what hotdog’s are

made of, but I was curious– always have been– so I asked

the hotdog man, “Hey, man. What are in these things?”

& he said, “Don’t ask” so I dropped the subject matter

completely. I was starvin’ anyway. It could have been made

from a horse’s larynx or Cousin Chuck’s small intestine for

all I cared.

Cousin Chuck died in a vehicular accident 3 years ago. His

wheelchair hit an icy spot on a sidewalk downtown, you

know– that street with the hill– & he slid all the way down

the road, through a glass window, & over a shopping mall

railing, falling 3 stories to his impending death. splat. You

don’t walk away from that.

But ya know? People are falling all the time.  Falling in all

kinds of ways too: falling down, falling in traps, falling for

tricks, falling into folly, falling in love, & falling 3 stories

down a shopping mall.

All people. Everywhere. Are falling.

My vexillologist told me that.

She said Really Everyone: People who wear camo to blend

in, people who go to church on Sundays, people who ride

bikes & collect records, people who sleep in on Sundays, people in

business suits, people in swimsuits, people in hats: (baseball

caps, turbans, top haps, bowler hats, patty hats, skullcaps,

berets, fedoras, yarmulkes), old people without hats to cover their bald

heads, people from other countries who don’t speak like we

do, people from your own house who you barely even know,

& really all the people in your world.

However big or small that may be.

Just like the shoes I bought at Shirley’s Shoe Shop last

Saturday, I told her. Red flag. The left shoe was too big while

the right was too small.

I wrote Shirley a letter:

To Shirley, The Manager, or even Jesus Christ,

            Hello sir & fuck you. I bought some shoes at your

store last Saturday & one was six sizes smaller than the

other. unlike my balls or your wife’s tits, my feet are the

same size. what gives? your shoe store sure shakes. go be

an undertaker or something useful. one size fits all. easy as

gravy. six feet deep, man & I ain’t talkin’ about shoes. If you

don’t trade your shoe laces for cold faces, I’ll shoot & shout

my mouth off so that the talk of the town is how you should

get the boot. kickoff’s about to start. got my chips & beer.

say hi to your wife for me.

   Cordially yours when you’re the last warm body on Earth,

                                   Talon Tate the Talented

–Ted Kendrick

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String Theory

Some people say the Universe is held together by strings.

I don’t have a God-complex, but

If I pulled a certain sequence

Of nanoscopic fibers,

Could I manipulate the stars?

I’m just wondering

If I make Andromeda collapse, or

Push Sirius past the event horizon of

The nearest black hole, or

Force the Eagle Nebula

To birth enough stars

To paint your face on the sky,

Or annihilate the world in a barrage of

Fire and space debris,

Would you notice me then?

Because I’m just about out of theories.

–Alexandra Helms

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Don’t Drink the Liquor in Lizard Lick


a funny name—New Bern. Our mayor can trace our history

all the way back to Berne, Swtizerland. Our sister city, you

know. Proudly, we’ll tell you that we used to be the capital

of North Carolina, many moons ago. To New Bernians, the

past is everything.

The future won’t stop haunting me. New car, new

school, new friends. I liked my old ones.

I am lost. My home is an old rusting Mustang, with

memories and victories sewn into the stitching of the leather


The future won’t stop haunting me. Where I’ve been is

no longer who I am. I don’t know what to do about this.

I am lost. I no longer know where my home is.


They say there exists another fearsome little community

in eastern North Carolina that is in love with its history. It is

a place lost in time, where modern technology gives way to

the glory of the past.

The government knows about it, though you may not.

They say cell phone reception is nonexistent, and

people drive Oldsmobiles and station wagons with cherry

wood paneling on the side. They say technology of all kinds

dies a dramatic death when it breathes Lizard Lick air.

Perfectly well-ordered GPSes fall to pieces. Cell phones read

No Signal. Clocks run backwards. They say that time itself

is reversed when you cross the border.

They say that if you get lost anywhere in the continental

U.S.—Frankfort, Carson City, Springfield, Charleston, anywhere

in either of the Dakotas—you just might find yourself

in Lizard Lick, North Carolina.


I am lost. It’s almost nine p.m., and Natasha’s GPS is

all-out malfunctioning, leaving her sputtering and gasping

and recalculating like mad. She’s killing herself trying to

help me, but it is not enough; something is terribly wrong.

Maybe the satellites are down, maybe the magnetic poles

have suddenly switched, or maybe I’ve stumbled into the

world’s shallowest sinkhole, and am now heading straight for

the center of the earth.

Even when going upwards of 50 miles per hour on

some unknown road, Natasha is unnervingly quiet beneath

me. The whole universe is quiet. In the twin blue beams of

the headlights, I can make out the planks of an old-fashioned

wooden fence running alongside the street. In a flash,

I think I see something gleam on the fence, a silvery ripple

of movement. My heartbeat climbs until it overpowers the

blare of the radio. If a world exists beyond the fence, I can’t

see it.

A ridiculous thought spins in my mind: If I still had my

Mustang, this wouldn’t be happening.


Yes, Lizard Lick is famous for its lizards.

They say that the lizards are invincible, but I think even

non-Lizard Lick lizards are in some ways unconquerable.

After all, they can lose huge parts of themselves and still be

able to regrow, stronger and better than before. They say

you can cut off a lizard’s entire tail and it will not bat an eye.

Lizards are special, you see. They have the ability to regenerate

their tails, no matter how many times life—predators,

humans, change—cuts them off.

They say that lizards drop their tails intentionally sometimes,

to distract the predator and lure them away from the

real meal.

Lizards know when it’s time for change……

–Melissa Sibley

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Pessimism and a Milk Jug (An Ode to Allen Ginsberg)

In a supermarket in California

you once asked that blathering old man

while he ate artichokes, and tasted the psychedelics

of hyper reality for the first time:

what America did you have?

which is something I too think about

when I peek around the loafed breads and

potato chips and see a man just barely hanging on

to the handlebar of an empty grocery cart, bending down

down as far as he can and making the perfect right angle

grasping, grasping, grasping for a single fallen apple.

Misanthropy sits Indian style wearing acid wash

jeans and the sweat that only years of having gut and spunk

and a sturdy pick up truck named Phyllis will give.

A neon fixed gear bicycle rides hi-ho silver and looks real good

with those Ray Bans but shouldn’t be peddlin up those slow

sloping hills,

high speed chasing those rusty Toyota husbands or those

missed connection wives

O Pink girl eating banana

O Nice guy who gave me his yerba mate drink

I too walk with a headache self-conscious looking at the moon,

legs leaned sideways against concrete

half slouched under fluorescent lights transfixed

half in pose for a nude against a backdrop

of the new aesthetic

tip-toeing around distillations of liquid air and

what America did you have and

juxtaposed images of brick walls and egos,

pessimism and a milkjug, multivitamins and monogamy,

distinguishing nothing from nothing.

–Lexie Harvey

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Some beautiful artwork from Headwaters 2014, out now!

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