swink magazine RSS Feed http://www.swinkmag.com/index.php?page=rss A tiny light in the gloaming of literary obscurity. Bricolage by Kristene Brown http://www.swinkmag.com/index.php?page=home&artID=260


Hybridity is so vogue,

From electric cars to



Someone, somewhere

Drives a cocker poodle

To work


A Frankenstein society

Of cyborg Cyclopses

Who line the multi-wood


Grain pews of a Universalist

Church like chicken nuggets

Of a thousand mc-hens


The mainstream forked

Into countless manmade



At night, alone in bed,

I ponder the pure like

Modern day porn




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Two Poems by Jimmie Cumbie http://www.swinkmag.com/index.php?page=home&artID=261



Alien Red Sunday


With his light-up soles blinking over the drab

carpeted steps, hallway oppressive with          the embryo

Sunday dinners          ectopic, fallopian—

I trudge after the boy down three flights          after crash landing

instead of a park, he wants to play          on terra infirma,

on the sidewalk outside my yellow          adjusted

apartment. We nudge a Spider Man          his too long, oblong gloves

ball back and forth on the sidewalk

his careless cuts          over hands not yet hands,

land him in a strip of mud

it’s colder than I thought

he’s not managing my absence, my tendency for          slinging his clot of luggage

rail sliding and cagey swerves

I need          from his smeared craft

a haircut, he needs a thicker jacket, but now

we’re having our raw game, taking

reckless kicks under the stadium          the alien

street lights, hands cupped to his nose          bruised with friendliness

the ball bouncing under a convertible          immune to

dog walkers, errand runners and stony

couples          some sounds

wandering up and down the block

giving us room          space,

I score again and again,          a vacuum,

my laughter tearing into          the glistening ramp

the spikes of the fence          he didn’t survive.

The Master Letters


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swink_261 Two Poems by Mark Liebenow http://www.swinkmag.com/index.php?page=home&artID=262

On the Discernment of Beings

in the Nine Levels of the Bardo


Hey, Chuang Tsu,

where’d you go?


Hey, Chuang Tsu,

where’d you go?


Have you found

your becoming?


Clang.  Clang.  Clang.


Who can figure it out?

Real deep Bardo.


Whack a Mole


There’s no moral

without the other guy.


Drive to the back forty

blackberry patch.


Stuff the source of joy

into your mouth.

Eat your belief

that all berries

are sacred,

all people created

with limits to pain.


Needles slide in

like warm butter.

Pith the purple cloud

behind the eyes,

stir coagulated,

synaptic nerves.


Confess to mother

your sins.

She’s pleased

to whack

the tack further in

to teach a lesson:


life is pain.


That’s all

we hope the other guy





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Miami Birds by Terese Svoboda http://www.swinkmag.com/index.php?page=home&artID=266


I’m not Spanish but they are, the couple giving me the tour. It’s their Miami, bright in the condos and brighter in its slums, with tin roofs that shouldn’t be seen so close to such fancy beaches. Palms don’t grow in the part of town we cruise, or else there’s a lot more care to them than they look. The man who's driving has just turned lawyer from journalist at a tough age vs. a tender one—fifty—so he can advocate for rather than report on what goes on under these palm-free properties. Maybe it’s not his country but it’s his people, he says.

He’s Spanish Spanish.

We slow to watch a kid stop spinning something on a string―a large roach.

They use a special knot so they don’t have to touch them when they’re harnessed, a bug noose, the lawyer says.

How do you know? says his wife. She hasn’t given up being a journalist like he has, she likes argument for its own sake, not the law’s, she married him once for love but she won’t say which time. She’s the Cuban.

I know, he says. Only the biggest species fly.

Outside, the cockroach folds its copper self and drops, and the boy pulps it with his foot.

It’s called the Miami bird, it’s a Cuban species, the lawyer says.

She laughs. Everything’s bigger in Cuba. There’s just more life.

The traffic picks up, we turn and new sun against the windshield forces sunglasses on everyone, even the lawyer, who hates them. A boy in blindingly white athletic shoes and raggy-assed shorts stands on the street corner we have to slow by―such traffic.

He stands like he's hungry, says the lawyer, you can almost see his hunger, he’s after sneaker money, he's in the sneaker war. That’s all they want, he says, warming up. They will do anything, and do, to get them. They act as go-betweens. Under statutory law, they don’t serve as long as adults and adults know that. Crazy Miami.

He drums on the......

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from The Soft Destruction by Michael J. Martin http://www.swinkmag.com/index.php?page=home&artID=263


Nice chick magnet.

Voltaire, the candle

& his deathbed.


Nice deathbed.

Dating your ship’s

A.I. complicates


the cut & run.

Nice try asshole.

& his deathbed


a quantum driven

space biscuit.

SWV on replay.


Nice weak knees

Kahlua drink,

Nice bloodclot.




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Shorthand and Dictation by Drew Pisarra http://www.swinkmag.com/index.php?page=home&artID=264


Let me start by saying “dear”

Or more simply put upward slash,

Then small circle with tick beneath

Then gentle swoop like a tentative smile.

That’s quick.


[Insert name here]


If that sounds complicated

What I have to say is difficult too

Or def k in your vernacular

Because you’ve been so indispensable


Or as you’d put it

Nd space s space p

To both me and the company

a.k.a. kp

the company, that’s right

and I want you to know


Steno’s kind of like texting, isn’t it?
That your work has been appreciated

Scratch that

That your work has been satisfactory

Scribble of twisted wire

But we’re going to have to let you go

So if you’d kindly type up

We’re going to let you go

You go

So if you’d kindly type up this

Short note

Then hand it to yourself

Don’t ask me


That’s just a circle with a crease on top


Signature, etc.
Inverted musical note


We’ll have someone from security
Escort you out the building

Once you’ve gathered your things.




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Two Poems by Jeffrey Bean http://www.swinkmag.com/index.php?page=home&artID=253




On TV a model flashed

her hands out under the lights,

made her body slippery

as a ruby.  What the hell


had I done worth two shits

was what I thought my beer

can would say to me with its

nasally little song if it sang.


Answer: I had watched turkey

buzzards make their arcs

above untold quantities of corn.

My body was an armchair.


My body might roll out toward the banks

of the loud night like a wave, it might

dance like cellophane in traffic, it might flash

green as TV’s against windows.


My beer can closed its eye

and sang upside down a new

TV-name for me, a lovely

sound, out under the lights, far.


What Geraniums Smell Like


Like birds.

Like my brother leaving for the lake.

Like the smudge of fireworks on driveways.

Like breath trapped in a canteen.

Like the word breath.

Like mice.

Like want.

Like a nickel in a fist.

Like my brother leaving for the store.

Like my brother leaving for the war.

Like a handful of washed hair.

Like my mom humming Johnny Cash.

Like a red towel in the wash.

Like a scrape on a thigh.

Like a Service Merchandise.

Like my dad’s violin.

Like a cloth that cleans guns.

Like car leather.

Like a war turned low on a radio.

Like parents getting used to you gone.

Like baby I love you.

Like you are the only one.

Like holes in the knees of jeans.

Like what you weren’t supposed to see.

Like drops of blood on a hardwood floor.

Like my brother leaving for the......

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swink_253 The Piano Tuner's Wife by Becca J.R. Lachman http://www.swinkmag.com/index.php?page=home&artID=254

Stringed instruments proffer

us most.


Muscle must

curve intervals—no gentleness


about it. He needs two solid arms, a dark-

welled ear to judge


frequency in

everything, even my voice


when it registers

in pleasure. His favorite need

and answer: the dissonant


he can’t bend into unison: a train

whistle passing below,      my last

name changed to his.




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Address History by Kelly Magee http://www.swinkmag.com/index.php?page=home&artID=256



The Shannon’s house had a pool surrounded by bottlebrush, red flowers the size and shape of hairbrushes that dropped into the water. Our family was still living in Ohio when our parents made the offer on that house. We were having the tubes taken out of our ears and being tested for allergies, and more than anything we wanted our new house in Florida to have a pool. But the Shannons hadn’t moved out by the time we got down to Orlando for our dad to start his new job, processing high-interest loans for speedboats and sports cars, so we moved into a rental with mirrored blinds. We could stand in the yard and look at our reflections. These noses we weren’t growing into. These white, white legs burning in the sun. We took each other’s pictures in the front yard, and Dad videotaped us inside. Like we were on vacation. We were waiting to unpack until we  could move into the Shannon’s house, but then the deal fell through—it wasn’t worth as much as they’d said.



The Deming house had red carpet. As in “roll out the red carpet.” As in “stop.” Who could relax in a house where wine stains and blood stains meant nothing? It put us on edge, made us too brave. On red carpet, we could say what we meant. How we hated it here, missed our friends back home. Instead of friends, here we had annual passes. Dad lugged a two-part, ten-pound, late-80s video camera around Epcot to record the hydroponic tomatoes, the Eiffel Tower. One by one our Ohio friends drove down, and we gave them flashing-light visors and cupfuls of tokens, took them synthetic ice skating and deep sea fishing, soothed their hangovers and sunburns, and most of them never came back. At home, we played People Mover with a gold-colored easy chair, pushing each other around the red carpet until the wheels came off. Welcome to Deming Drive, we said in our best imitation of an automated voice. Here is our couch. Here is......

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Would You Rather by James Zerndt http://www.swinkmag.com/index.php?page=home&artID=255


Our dad tended to be philosophical when he played ‘Would You Rather?’

Thomas, would you rather be thunder or lightning? Snow or fire? A question mark or a period? Red or yellow?

Mom never played. She even refused to answer easy questions like ‘Would you rather kiss Robert Redford or Steve McQueen?’ She’d shake her head, smile at my dad, but always claim she just liked to listen.

Even though it’s been a year since we’ve seen our parents, I still play my own version.

“Would you rather I kick your ass or you hurry it up?” I say, and Dustin stops to ponder this before he realizes I’m not kidding around.

“Hurry it up?”

“Move,” I say, and he does. He has to. I’m all he has anymore.

It’s seven a.m. and we’ve got four hours of water-patrol ahead of us. While Dustin gets dressed, I toss his used body-wipe in the bin and head outside to wait. He’s stopped asking to take showers. When Dustin comes out of the house his ‘Officer of Sustainability’ jacket is zipped up to his nose. The logo, a big drop of blue water wearing hand-cuffs, covers his entire eight-year-old torso.

“Let’s do this,” he says and struts off ahead of me, ticket-book at the ready.

Six months now and no rain. Last year the average rainfall was a whopping six inches, just enough to keep the hinges of the world oiled. Still, it’s a slow day. We walk without incident for a solid hour before being heckled by a Leftover sitting on a cardboard box, a liter of brown-colored water at his feet.

“Hey, I think I hear somebody watering their lawn! You better go arrest them!”

Dustin has his pen out before the guy even finishes his sentence, but I grab him by the collar before he can cross the street. “Forget it.”

“But that water-bottle—he’s worth at least half a gallon.”

“We’ve got plenty without him, Dustin. This......

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