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IR ONLINE POETRY: “Re-reading My Journals: A Series of Thoughts” by Shani Berenholz

I.
At the end of the New Years party, after a few drinks,
the boy I went to high school with decided to leave with a joke:
“Hasta la vista, or whatever they say in your country.”
That night I was thinking: were his jokes always that bad?
“It’s possible that white boys use humor to talk about race
and culture,” I wrote in my journal, and also “people will result to humor
when they don’t understand something.” Actually, I meant resort,
people will resort to humor. What can I say, words are hard.
And I frequently make spelling mistakes in my journal,
where I often go back to my old thoughts, like I’m having them all over again.
I heard your memories change over time in your mind
so I like to write them down. To go back to them. re-read them.

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IR ONLINE FICTION: “How to Find an Apartment” by Lizz Birkhoff

First understand that you will not find an apartment. You will live in a cardboard box with your three roommates for a whole year and that will be fine.

Finding an apartment is not about what you want—it is about what the world is willing to give you. Discuss at length what you want and realize it will never happen. “I really want a back porch.” Tell Emily that’s a bit unrealistic, considering we can’t even find a place with a dishwasher. Rewrite your list of demands until you no longer have any sense of what you are looking for. “Did we like the one with the coin laundry?” You don’t remember.

Think about what kind of dog you would like after graduation. A French bulldog, maybe, if you live in the city, would be a good fit. But you probably also want a big dog, so maybe a mastiff. Think about all the shelter dogs in the world and how much they need love. Think about how cute purebreds are. Call it a wash. Consider the merits of living at home until you can find a full time job. Remember that your parents are nice people but they’re super boring and go to bed at ten. Forget completely about finding an apartment.

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IR ONLINE POETRY: “Veiled Interest” by Charlie Bohem

I have
A window that catches good light in the morning and
Streetlight at night
But you can never tell where the moon is through it
I have
A sack of dust that turns everything it touches green
And turns your face dark
But makes your head silver inside and out
I have
A two way mirror for a headboard
For doctors with quiet clipboard hands and
Eyes that go around your head like angry bees on a hot day (memory)
I have
Clean sheets
That stay so cool on your skin you can barely get them warm without someone there beside you
My bed’s always made when I get home
And when you cover up the mirror with a freezing blanket, those windows could open two shining heads on any street that lights.

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IR ONLINE POETRY: “Immunity” by Steven Chung

Two decades, I finally notice
we use curtains not to shut out strangers
but to make them curious. The pool,
rather, is how we hide ourselves
from prying eyes. It’s impolite
to stare at half-naked men and women
pretending to be marine mammals.
I’m not talking about the Dead Sea,
where any person without swimming
lessons can float. Funny how we’re
most buoyant with desolation
just below us. Like the ocean,
I’ve swallowed too many wishes,
words. How I’ve learned that secrets
are boring because no one
shares them, because even a whisper
multiplies to more than one. Funny
how we try to kill all that proliferates,
put chlorine in our spaces. I thought
I was immune to every threat, the thrill
of them, believed that speaking to a higher
power would make me immortal.
That speaking to someone
else would waste my breath and blood.
It’s obvious: we aren’t allowed
to pick our poisons, but our poisons
let us live. What I love: people,
not their faces, but the shadows
they make on covered windows.

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IR ONLINE FICTION: “Names” by Sean Cunnigham

Many of my primary school teachers called me, in verbatim, a wily, crooked starship. I didn’t know what they meant then, nor do I understand now. My parents used to call me a contradictory errand-boy when I was good, but a faux-silver pot of indefinable volume when I was bad. These were sentiments echoed by my grandparents, though they rarely used the second one themselves, they preferred to say that I was crocheted by a Russian wet nurse on a warm Tuesday in April of the year 1821 – of all the things, this was the one that used to get to me.

The night my father died, the day I turned seventeen, he called me irrefutable in all things but the truth and I wasn’t sure which kind of tears to cry, so I didn’t.

I met my wife when I was eighteen, though we didn’t marry, nor did we even date, until many years later. But on the very night we met, she understood me as though we had once been the same person. She called me too unsteady to resemble lightning and she smiled, as did I.

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