Issue 31: Gary Sloboda

butterfly and toad



it keeps us from the cliff’s edge / the lip of the petal that burns last / on the flower at day’s end / cause of action gone from the air / i feel the age and the analogy / in the ally of ice in the soil / that remains in the sun as the lung / of summer decides again its form / in the bauble of the pond it speaks / in the meantime of its nature / a perfect bubble flying / children chase until its gone.



now the bells and the moon / are riddles over concrete / morning taste of milk / of un-slammed doors bearing light / how is the blessing sent / from such a high wavering angle / received in good faith on the debris / strewn ground on the rigged / lottery of the street / where the non-compensatory occupation / of barely getting by rides / the riverside and the humid trains.  



recombine the ashes / weeds of black-eyed ponds / and the stash of the dingle witch / extinct varietals in the residue of her sieve / last an instant on the tongue / and become the ice / bled dry beneath summer sheets / spider veins of memory / running through blighted fields / of calf and thigh in waves / of headlights through windows / like discarded invitations / coming back to life. 






rift and tide



bookstores and bakeries. night clubs. the cleaners. i thought i could live without my mother. city flower found in crackle of static. where i could bend too in the turn of events. as clouds spill over the caveats and secondhand gifts. and water wakes like a fraying signal. the smell of leaves’ drooping wings. might take as long as i live to exit again. the broken bottle day trails. and enter the frequency of a room’s chatter. like it’s somewhere i have always been.



the constant ablution. conspires with the framework. so says the starlight. as from my hand the sweet grass is eaten by a neighbor’s cat. far from the toll taken, above the restless roots. the windows’ puzzle pieces of sky drift to where the rivers go dry with a shrug. and the balm burns off and flakes away. but i am where i will always be: with my sisters: asterisks doubled on the surface where they dove in: obliged to the waves of survival’s vengeance.






portrait of the storm


postures of clay and half-veiled faces / bearing god’s gifts / the wind grabs us by its whisper / and then its teeth / it’s painful to hear / the recitation of our record / where everything smells like the last days of rain / behind dinged windows / we withdrew our truce / pending morning’s muted orange / which like generosity expired / and gnarly shadows of chewed plywood / stood up against the sky.






gothic flamingo


poisoned by my likeness / i anticipate my shadow kneeling / down at the tree line / knowing how the tide will dissolve this / i held someone in my hands / as in the city buried / in the sand of increments it was / all i was able to do / out of earshot my eyes / being pulled across the sky / as a lifetime of blandishments / beneath it burned.








before sound designs a desperate feeling / before it’s cold again lick / the chapstick from these lips / with an allusive tongue / and stare into the lion’s face / painted on the barricade wall: it / looks out on the crashing of skateboards / and exhausted weeds where families mourn the century / in the salt mist cypress shadows / bowing in unison / before the punishing waves.

Gary Sloboda’s work has appeared in such places as Big Other, Posit, Thrush, Twyckenham Notes and Word For/ Word. He lives in San Francisco.

Copyright © 2023 by Gary Sloboda, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author