Back to Issue Thirty-Five

Exceeding Time Zone Limit—$75


I’ve sewn a floor-length gown of all
my unpaid parking tickets. Call me beautiful
transgression. Call me more & more
costly. Call me hyper-seen

swishing down the silver
boulevard, frat boys flinging ugly
giggles, Buds, once a blue balloon
filled with piss, splashing my nude

ankles (I’m the filthiest piggy
you ever did see). Call me soiled & still
sashaying, fingered by limb-cracking
breezes. Call me Jesus, pretty Jesus

robed in sin. Yes I’m guilty, & guilt’s
my goddamn color.



I Wear An Artichoke Heart On My Head


It’s a hat. An edible hat
which takes great care to keep
on my head. I must stay very still
while I’m wearing my heart hat,
or else it will roll right off
and hit the floor. The floor
is a heart hat graveyard—
shriveled bulbs around my feet.
I can’t pick them up.
I don’t have the heart. Just this
hat on my head, a heart hat,
an almost heart.

I can wave, slowly, to my mother
as she waters her cabbages
in the garden, the same garden
where my heart hat was born.
I was born inside my mother,
but she doesn’t wear me
on her head, thank goodness.
I would be a heavy hat,
and she is a tall, tall mother.

Once, I tried wearing
a cabbage but I looked
silly, like I had a head
on my head, or like God
slapped a scoop of pistachio
ice cream on my scalp.
That was a sad thing
to look like. Nobody
has ever licked my cheek,
and nobody wants to.

Sometimes, I imagine I live
in a tall skyscraper, taller
than my mother, and I sit
by the window with my heart hat
on my head, waving at another
skyscraper, where another
person wearing a heart hat
sits and waves at me, the two of us
waving and waving
for hours, days, our hearts
wilting but never,
never falling.



Accidentally Domestic


So many houseplants on his light-soaked kitchen table
we eat our chicken-biscuits (falling

apart in our hands) on the teal couch.

When you leave, he says,
I’ll suck-up your crumbs

& think of you…

I never believed I’d find such strangeness
beyond the walls
of my ingrown mind,

but here he is, Tinder-boy scarfing a greasy biscuit,
telling me how much he loves

the dentist, the scraping-
hook, the cracking plaque-sounds, the slick
sheen at the very end—a pleasure

tweezed from my own ravine of rarely-spoken joys.

It feels good, meeting myself
like this. In him. Through him. Another person

with a possibly masochistic attraction
to Russia (he named his cat Svetlana).
Another person who wants to be buzzed bald

by a grimy stranger in a grungry gay bar
on a Tuesday night. Another person repulsed

by romance, but hopelessly
drawn to it—something

wholesome, shared. All my life

I’ve felt alone,

but here’s Svetlana, climbing inside a ceramic planter
& pissing on the petunias.

Svetlana! he shouts,
but gently, more love than scorn & yes
I nearly tell him I want him

to do just that—to piss on me, his man-sized petunia,

but I don’t. & it’s not fear
keeping me quiet. It’s Martia (his other cat)

coiled peacefully between us
while our crumbs rain down;

& it’s our knees finally touching.


Josh Tvrdy is a writer from Tucson, Arizona. Winner of a 2021 Pushcart Prize, he recently graduated with an MFA in Poetry from North Carolina State University, where he received the 2019 Academy of American Poets Prize. He won Gulf Coast‘s 2018 Prize in Poetry, and his work can be found in Gulf Coast, The Adroit Journal, Quarterly West, Court Green, and elsewhere.

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