4 from Acrostic Aspic by Joe Milazzo by Joe Milazzo

Debralee Scott

At the pinnacle where the ladder springs most narrow or
most yellow, in my lily-bedded attending which
is also my affording, there’s this capital-S
special dumpster. It’s kitted out

with the masonry of mustaches and caged light like malice,
stripes of all those silverskin patches where the pajama
jean’s been treated like a bench ratcheted around kagels. (All personality
is memorized.) “Ovens,” a gentrification of garbage says, and gargles,

and all trending ends up in a pickled vaudeville. What about
degrees of learning? Cataracts? Harumphs? Underneath the pollen and pampered
grass and GMO saguaro this dumpster’s fecal espresso has swallowed, I expect
the fumes of throwaway luxury hide some spire, as peroxide as bare legs

rubbing themselves to a fever underneath the hem
of a premature spring’s cardigan. And at that holy needle’s
tip, a campaign sticker, stuck cattywampus to a backpack
casually deforming its hang before it gets up

the gumption to walk its purse away from the likes of my
membership. (Purging or breaking? More like surfing simulated
with a den’s cushions.) And inside that backpack there’s a bus stop,
crowded with the sun that spots itself on tinted windshields,
the action-deprived film behind which the claw-tooth bucket

of an excavator rides a bicycle frame’s weightlessly inverted
hypotenuses into laneless forests of curbs, aerating shoelaces,
solar granite decomposed in the weak acid of pedal steel and fiddle
solos. Here, in this development, mosquitos are cinderblocks of fire ants, mosquito

hawks in the sowthistle a damp coiffure shaken loose by the passing of an
impatiently executive stranger. In these dim and leafy hallways, reflections
are hazmat-ed in acorns, vested in the burlap that says
“in so many words” in just that exact number of words. Five finger discounts

are out of order inside the crepe myrtle’s drawstring bags. Anthropomorphic plaids
climb the sheathing and slash at the caution tape lensing the dumpster’s
psychosomatic cameras. Every step further into the discarded
depths promises a last step: darting, winking, betwixt.

The columns, each a perfect pull, lie dormant, just like sacredness
chalked within its own loop. Arcing is its own two-way traffic, but
estranged, like an android prodigy, from what aching boundaries it still
bewares. (No simile wants to be inside an ejaculation.) Assuming, that is,

that I begin again as I remember beginning:
outside the dumpster’s big body, high above the conductive and
belly-flopping into permitted phyla, standing (gourmet or
gourmand) at a machine yet to return some article of mine within

the ripped demarcations of a hypothetical kitchen.


Gwen Wells

My mother added a perfectly civil 1:18 pornstache
to the galaxy’s favorite farm-boy’s head.
            Masculinity is an opera anything
but hygienic; in the empyrean, no inappropriate uncles
    dandle backstage wives. However old he is,
    a boy going rebel
    strives to sprout the Chevrons that manly men
come with. No, let’s reserve the beard talk; waggish
swagger is for princesses. The follicular destiny of beards
is scrutiny, not barrettes or cornrows interning
    in tall and bristly abundance. Allow how a beard is hiding
something to hide the fact of its hiding from us.
            Unless, of course, it gets Biblical
            and we see a beard for a beard.

First we tweezed the electric ulna
right out of our milk-rajah's arm. One of five points
of articulation, a shoulder for a soldier harrowing
joysticks. Along that affirmative hail and underneath
    his incipient drone, we uncharneled his man-cave,
the slot where you’d slide salvation’s junk
            into and free from playtime. Just like I remember
it, a wish in reverse, the big
blast of futanari never unsheathes its instant
    forthwith, because length quests after length.
    This was action, a trick of vinyl twisting
    and us neon extras deboned and all spitballing.
As slow as collectormania Christmas, or as dull
            as Kickstarter documentary sunshine, the last
            crank had to make-do
            with a lever and a sequel of tugs.

Every street-sweeper driver
has a potential for melting, and
every crayon, however honor roll or randy,
    is fixed, likewise fixed to a finger’s hold. Unlike
    dolls, which our American sibling everybody
knows you hug. Ew; gross. This one earliest
experience with the unicum doesn’t
apprentice with a synod . Strip a tubular manhood of what it teases
    and all you’re left holding is the gutless cul-de-sac
    of an airdancer’s come-hither career. A domineering
            imagination may have applied the Dirty
            Sanchez but it’s mom who tattooed the deed.

What did we learn
by watching her watch us as we slurped
up engrossment’s puerile and licorice sagas? The relief
    of flocculent gnawing. The pineal eye
is a chainsaw, so long as its force growls downstairs. Now
I remember, and remembering
    settles the rickety Zen of my hired
hands down. I want a plastic nacre; I want
    a merkin to match
    the drapes. And I want, how
            I want,
    for each little flagellation
            of sublimation
to keepsake one more jeweled filament
            in my shag of distraction
    so vast and
as shallow.


Ann Druyan

Emoluments are car batteries and lumberjacks
in time’s pay-per-view event against small towns.
Squatting on wireless, she has to elbow
Google in the throat to tag Yahoo! Answers:

why would anyone care to soap
their windows? Shut-in perfumes sext
her nostalgia with a bouquet of bygone
industries: castile soap and chicory, for instance,
rayon and piccadillies and lamp oil. But
squares queer, brick pavements
stray from the spirit level, birdsong barks
like a Montezuma of dogs.
It’s August.
She can’t remember if she’d left the tape measure
as taut as that, but now the hours chew Beeman's
and maybe it will. Or maybe its graduated
tongue won’t snap back and bridge this money pit.

Dairy Queen breakfast and already the multitools
are in a massive halftime hole. There, —
in the drive-thru under the soft-core stagnation
of catalpa tree beans, three SUVs wait
before she can trade on her novel
nativity for an extra hunk of Texas
toast. One Durango red, one
Escape white, one H2 blue.
Instead of “Have a blessed day,” the busted
Frialator voice on the other end of the box
tells her “We could use your 5s.” Her yuppie
food coupon (yep, while she's at, she’ll be bringing
that back too) is traversed with creases only
an automatic teller wouldn’t
recognize for the crossroads they are.  

In the rumble and across the delinquent
languor that’s running away with her languishing,
she’s knows there’s weight—it’s named
“Here”—that can’t ever be cut. No bloodless
revitalization in coming in through the slide of that ice
cream door.
“Ma’am, here’s your parfait.” Between
track ballast and shiplap, its better to be licked
than lick. Only strangers haggle after
the window weights, and wonder
if sashes are screwed as soon as
you submit to anachronistic handles.


Susan Oliver

I say why not
go down dowsing
for the scent of Mr. Sketch.
Or bars where only
locksmiths can score
VIP access
and the stools run analog,
on square waves.
If punch perms
crowd the negronis
and cut off the floor,
I can always thunder
after shells and coins
long into
the subdivided night.

Because freelancing
at this living is some
tumultuous M.C. Escher
shit. Nineteen-fifty
an hour for light
hexadecimal industry.
Specialization clipped me.
I was once a halftone
butterflied in a newspaper,
sprigs of pigtails sweating
the urge of a reel mower.
My dumb head was some
watermelon of a smile
happy for any rules
in my mom’s one
day at a time game.

I can’t mirror myself
now without waiting,
without buffering, without
A joystick palmful
of athlete’s foot
and the acid that I forget
kills it. The brace
on my wrist is one velcro
ass. Conversion lightning,
since its bottled, shouldn’t
it be recyclable? I even
2-D printed that
blue bin, and it
makes me cry,
like WALL-E.

Boko Haram
or the resurrection
of the streetcar
and earn
the scarlet letter
of my “meh”
hand emoji.
My GIFs loop
for Sour Patch
dweebs, LARPing
pirate hoards and
magnetic lasso tools.
My slimed Ghostbuster
walks right
on peppermint planks
that gush over
licorice traffic.
Is that gratification
an IPA? Thank Friday
its Friday, and I need
my Urkel, but tonight
my tastebuds
are totally burnt.

All week it’s phosphor
blocks and plasma dots:
my kaleidoscope
is the atomic clock
downsizing its gears
in anticipation
of an illicit attention’s
DOA. The requested
file is ready. Used
310 times today, OK;
reposting has no ceiling.
This graphic needs
a video. This Taiwan
needs an error message.
This manga needs
a flipbook and this rollover
needs to work.   

But what say someone
pretends, just for a minute,
that the office everyone
shares isn’t
the everywhere
that’s nowhere
anyone’ll ever be?
I’m going ride pulse
of a different ellipsis and
hit the Staples I hate.
At least they have
end cap displays.

There’s a girl there
deserting her grandmother.
She’s dreaming out loud
in Staples, sing-song
wants and wills
in the dog pound
of Post-It Note selections.
A girl promising herself
her diary and all
the secrets she’ll
keep upside-down
where it locks.

Look at her swish
her cornrows.
around. Look at
the way her tween
belly promotes
her brand
or the hair
budding under
her arm.
Look to be
a sister to her
brash sulk. Look
at her customer
and look how it’s
so random, a song
so much stronger
for being tuneless
and soft. That girl.
She can’t escape
the Hot 100 air
conditioning, or
the persistent link
between her phone
number and her
Staples coupons,
and she doesn’t know it
and I can barely
compute how
or comprehend
why this wreckage
of easy supplies
wrecks me, but
I’m downwind from
her body butter and
I see that girl
surrounded by the
identical bricks
and default tiles
of her fluorescent spirit
and I see that she’s
a Numanoid, too.


ARTIST'S STATEMENT: My concern in these so-called “name poems” (themselves contributing to a longer and still-evolving sequence, tentatively entitled Acrostic Aspic) is with the conditions of celebrity as they are lived by non-celebrities, i.e., “you” and “me.” Or: I suppose these poems are all about minor celebrity, as these titles borrowed from the outer limits of fame suggest. Our subjectivities so often cohere in the back and forth between narratives intensely our own and those widespread narratives with which we cannot help but make contact, or which are in constant contact with us. But the latter narratives are so much more easily represented, not to mention “relatable,” while the former remain largely untranslatable. So this self-exchange can never be equal. Still, people live as they live, and their names mean something to them.

Joe Milazzo is a writer, editor, educator, and designer. He is the author of the novel Crepuscule W/ Nellie and two collections of poetry: The Habiliments and the forthcoming Of All Places In This Place Of All Places. His writings have appeared in Black ClockBlack Warrior ReviewBOMBPrelude, and elsewhere. Joe lives and works in Dallas, TX, but his virtual location is www.joe-milazzo.com.