brianmerrill

July 2012

            Letter From the Editor:
 
Dear Readers,
 
      It’s the first of July, door to the heart of summer — let’s take our selves a little less seriously and observe life like laughter. In this issue I present to you a poet with a knack for bright sincerity. Cynthia Orgel recently completed her senior thesis, a book of poems entitled Lately It’s the Little Things, upon receiving her B.A. in literature and creative writing from the University of California Santa Cruz.

photo by Megan Niggle


      She currently freelances for Good Times— specializing in the contemporary music scene, interviewing bands, writing their histories, and documenting their shows. Cynthia’s poetry is playfully honest and naturally crafty. Her refreshingly terse voice brings relief to the reader like bare feet and armchairs. Her keen anecdotes and clever conversations beckon us to share her window view of a world zoo.
 
      Enjoy reading!
 
Sincerely,
The Poetry Loft
 
 

            Literally
 
The crooked oak in the November nip:
a tree toppling over in the wind.
 
The periwinkle lights outside the pub:
wasteful and disenchanting in the afternoon.
 
The abandoned mugs, teapots, and bundled
   napkins:
a coffee shop that is cluttered, not quaint.
 
The speeding double-decker without
   passengers:
not a metaphor, just a joyride.
 
The English boy who refers to your bangs as
   bangs, not fringe:
his older brother has married an American…
 
No, that’s not foreshadowing that he wants
   to marry you.
 
 

cover art by Audrey Myhanh Bach Nguyen


            Lately It’s the Little Things that
            Break My Heart
 
Cantaloupe ice cream out of season, Lesley Gore out of the closet, the he in her songs not referring to the guys I meet, when diners put out half-and-half and artificial sweeteners, never 2% and sugar cubes, the faulty heater and my ice-cold feet, and that 17-year-old Estonian in the sports bar on New Year’s Day— he waved a white napkin two hot wings into the challenge, those Bhut Jolokia chili peppers getting the best of his boyish bravery, as he swallowed tears and snot while the grown-ups clinked pints and thought, he should have listened.
 
 
            Boats on Fire
 
I shrugged, popped the cookie into my
   mouth
and folded my good fortune in half:
Remember three months from this date!
Your lucky star is shining.

 
“Better mark that on your calendar,”
said the woman sitting to my left: an
   attorney.
She specializes in cruise ship accident cases,
and I didn’t know lawyers could get so
   specific.
“There’s a lot that happens on cruise ships,”
   she says,
balancing a forkful of cashew chicken.
“Like fires.”
 
 
            César Vallejo Would Never
            Have Done This to Me
 
I want to die on the beach
having sex with you,
past midnight,
when there are no kids around, no frisbees.
 
I want to die beneath you,
on a blanket carefully patted down,
surrounded by cigarette butts and seashells.
It will be sandy, because the wind,
like most things, is against me this month.
 
Sex on the beach was our fantasy, and it is
   dead.
I killed it because you killed it,
my first romantic New Year’s Eve,
when you dumped me over the phone.
 
These are the witnesses:
the seashells, and the cigarettes,
the blanket, and the wind,
and December 31.
 
 
            I’m Astairing at You
 
I heard that you are self-conscious of your hands, and I can see it in the way you dance. Those long fingers are often bent in, as if gripping a jumbo-sized soft drink. Ginger Rogers spreads her hands out, doing the classic beauty queen wave alongside her crimped blonde bob, flowing like a sea of popcorn. I want to shout big hands are sexy, Fred, but you can’t hear me, and the audience will certainly shush me. I want to yell I dyed my hair platinum for you, Fred, but you already have a female lead.
 
 
            Santa Cruz
 
I cried for the first time in months over something that wasn’t a someone, when I thought about how I’ll be leaving soon. I know what it feels like to get dumped, and my advice is to write a book and get over it. Or jump at every happy hour invitation sent your way. Or cry — at bars, in class, at the beach, on your mom, at the supermarket, while looking at the moon, on a road trip with your cell phone locked in the trunk so you aren’t tempted to text the one person who doesn’t want to respond. I won’t tell you, “you’re great,” but make you feel like you’re nothing. You’re the best, you’re my home, you’re sex on the first date but also marriage material. Hurry up, I think it’s time you meet my parents.
 
 
Picket
            by Brian Merrill
 
I begin to think
you left me here
to pine alone in your
 
solitude. Then I
envision some infinite
pure picket fence —
 
driving through the
paper suburbs, your
stucco is embossed
 
with love. When I’m
inside the front yard,
you like to
 
walk by invisible
and say hello. You
hold a paintbrush,
 
wave it to the blue
sun. By grace I know
my solitude is your
 
presence. You built this
fence, each of its white
posts grounded as this
 
loneliness,
driven two feet down,
into the green lawn.
 
 

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