654 & 923 by B.C. Edwards

654. To Clean Dark Furs

Of all the animals, chipmunks are the least trustworthy.
Squirrels are the most. You can tell
by the stripes.  Skunks too but skunks
have all their own problems.
Do not burn them. They will not burn well
they will burn like the rest of us. Not well at all.
Cracked lipped and melting overcooked sugar
bubbling like bran added to milk heated over a soft flame
licking the bottom like it’s in love or something.
Like it knows what that is, even. That’s how they burn.
People are the same. Those of us that have ribbons
down our backs are not to be trusted. But you have to
get us naked first to be able to tell. You have to
fuck us to be able to tell you have to
want to fuck us before you can tell
if we’re squirrels or not.
I know,
I know.
No one said it was fair.


923. How to make Hydraulic Cement

Our hands are stiff with paste
tired from kneading and
kneading. Rolling the balls
we have boiled the paste in oil and will
form it into something useful. We say we
will form it into something useful, but
our hands will stick together
if we hold for too long.
Parts of your fingers are wet,
parts have already dried over caked
white and solid like we are building a new skin for your
like if we cover every inch of you
you will be safe. If we coat you in paste and harden it over
nothing will get in.
Even me, I ask.
Even you, you say.


B.C. Edwards lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He is the author of the forthcoming novella ‘knucklebone’ and is the editor of Pax Americana. He received his MFA from The New School. He is a regular contributor to BOMBlog and the Brooklyn Review. His most recent work can be found in Red Line Blues, LyreLyre, The Sink Review, Food-i-corp as well as Hobart which nominated him for a 2011 Pushcart Prize. He is also a Literary Death Match champion and has the medal to prove it.

A poem by Eric Smith

The Vanishing Doomed Boy Trick

Morning begins with a blueprint and I erect

my body’s skyscraper with it: seventeen stories

of glass and steel, my reflection in every window.

Even if the body is its own preparation

for failure, who knew it would be this

catastrophic? Or this fun? The streets are a mess

with the debris of a thousand failed Wednesdays

and my chest is ringing.

   It’s the foreman. Again.

I can see from my perch at the end of this girder

that tests the air with its rust-colored tongue

that the foreman wears a yellow hardhat and favorite

flannel, a cell glued to his ear. He’s such a nice man.

Down on the street, they’re inflating a lung

of bright plastic. That’s probably my secretary

on the curb. A knot of uniforms is trying to herd her

and a number of other people across the street.

The foreman reminds me I doesn’t have to do this.

I shout back, “the temporary respite

that insanity offers is still on the table,

licking itself.”

          And while I scratch myself in places

that are inappropriate, I promise I’m in no danger.

Even if this brain is a malfunctioning bumper car,

and I am a forgotten grammar without cases,

the trees are peeling with an arboreal mange,

and I hold in his hand the dried-out hearts

of every mouse who ever chewed insulation,

I can say I’m fairly comfortable

trusting the lime green paradox of the mojito.

Listen to these electric hymns to mosquitos,

all the symmetries evolution gave up on

when it put us together.

Now watch me disappear.

Eric Smith’s poems appear or are forthcoming in Five Points,
Greensboro Review, Measure, Pleiades, and Smartish Pace. He is an
editor for Cellpoems and teaches at Marshall University.