—their tongues were ossified, throats sewn


into stone sarcophagi, cemented shut

with recollection’s sour glue.


Untold, how could their story change,

unfold itself from underthings


and bottlenecks. They ran

their faces through the repertoire


of flexes: smile, nod, and squint

against the sudden dark, the unhelpful


haze of streetlights flickering

alive. Before the moon could hit


the antennae-fields and smokestack-groves,

they had run dry of words. Unrolled,


the blackened ends of that night they’d shared

seem dead, or nearly so: ashes fragile


with the lingering smells of August and surrender,

that holiness of unknowing.








An incandescent flash

of powder in the brain-pan:

a single spark, a flick

of switches down the row,


rails shift,

protein gears engage and swivel—

sodium-gates and chlorine-locks

unbar the flood of hungry ions

held without—


(a blossom on the ink-well,

a broken lantern bleeding oil

black and burning on the wave)


—the sudden turn

of the electric tide, a rising

swell of ions twitching,

spiked across the lipid walls

by the pounding surf of voltage:


coil of compression pounded

through a cortical maze, whirling

columns, cream and ivory, pearly

nodes, and the alabaster trench—


(a slather of light, magnetic

summer-drench of spinal sap,

a storm-swell piled high and crackling)


a dendrite tapestry, a cityscape

where towers arch and bend

at the cradling waist, touch filament-tongues

to the algorithm tide bearing in the dead:


cowrie shells, stony

wings and feather-tomes, child-kings

aborted in the millisecond

that lapsed from nerve to trembling pen.




As If I Too



Yet another autumn storm scrambling texts and sending

pigeons tumbling, cooing in the cornices, and shitting out

of fear upon the huddled overcoats and brims. Yet

another caterpillar crawl between the black umbrellas,

muddied soles that squish and mutter through a matted

carpet of debris: soggy papers, neckless bottles, shards



of egg-shell, cardboard signs and cigarette nubs, rags

that may, upon examination, smell of gasoline and weed,

pepper spray and Molotovs. I twitch a hand as if to grab

a sodden mass of cloth, imagine that by sniffing at the after-

math, I too could be there in the thick, the smoke, the ragged

chant and angry cheer, the blood from where batons broke



flesh beneath the sputtering orange lamps and mirrored banks

of windows. Yet another night of wondering, from the safety

of the now, if I could riot like the rest, if I could let the fury rise

above the fear the way I lift my shoe yet one more time to step

across the skew of shattered glass, torn t-shirts turned half

to ash. Yet another night of fingering these fragile bones.



Yosef Rosen is completing his MFA in poetry at Bowling Green State University, & serves as Assistant Poetry Editor for Mid-American Review. His poems are published in Slipstream, The Chariton Review, & Blue Monday Review, & forthcoming in Common Ground Review. He cannot help but giggle at the word “doilies.”



Cover Photo: Ffion Atkinson ( (Altered: cropped and edited vibrance)