March 6-12, 2006: Heather McNaugher and Damien Stednitz

week of March 6-12, 2006

Heather McNaugher and Damien Stednitz

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Heather McNaugher

Bio (auto)

Heather McNaugher teaches English at Chatham College in Pittsburgh, PA Her work has appeared in The Bellevue Literary Review, 12th Street Review, Dirt Rag Magazine, and The Paterson Literary Review She received her Ph.D in English in 2004 from the State University of New York at Binghamton.

The following work is Copyright © 2006, and owned by Heather McNaugher and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.


Your black craft hums
at the edge of white woods
at midnight and a memory
I insist on Swedish radials churn on snow,
gnashing the brink

we breach together – you

in perplexed round headlights
busting trees – blue, bent,
as our fathers
Puberty’s disaster mounds behind you Deep lovely seats cart your heaps
of denial: the stiff and mighty
swim trunks, dusty dime bags
and the drained Big Gulp

of a daughter at the helm
of her family’s last lurch

in Bohemia You hover here, all sweater arms
and a cigarette No music
to spell this dream out
Across the state I am riding around dying I am
a thousand bikes at night
storming the city Hell-bent,

rampant for you darling Careening
your handsome still brow


This Passover, your Hebrew drones and treks its way to me Seder has me seated between by your mother
and high school crush, on either side these mounds
of precedence: your source and sore spots
of a quarter century
Everybody here knows when to chant and tip the cup I follow,
a murmur and a gulp behind; I try
to fill your days better than religion Over sprigs and plagues your Hebrew blurts, gnaws a hole Your eyes kindle backwards across a prayer.

Sunday at the 61-C Café

Following your news we sat and squinted
at passers-by in cars, you coveting
bike racks on Volkswagens
I continued bulldozing granola
into a dumb, subdued mouth to keep
from never eating again
You smoked a cigarette and toyed
with a single cranberry blood-clot
floating in your soy
The sun was helpful, stunting
your gaze at half-mast, suspended
and perfectly avoidable
I thought of the poem I would write
when I got home that night Lines like,
I have no business here, and
I’ll stop watching your throat now I thought of the mistake you were making
and how fetching you are
in inertia
The mix-tape I’d handed you moments before
now lost somewhere
in your blinding biker bag big as you –
a fine tape, cryptically sequenced
and inappropriate as Monday mornings
Later, a walk You said I looked scared and I was Fessing up, my voice caught,
but to cry in front of you would that finally place my face
in the way of your thumbs?

At the bus stop, your knees were everywhere So I chose not
to bite into one until it bled –
chin raised in childlike refusal
of your denim concession
I’ll stop watching your throat now, dear And calling you dear, or counting the countless
and thrumming blonde quills
along your nape, the times you say weird, 
tongue to one fang that’s longer than the other
I’ll stop plotting the first day we kiss, daydreaming
my overcoat into your lanky half-moon, my hair bumming drags
off all of your fingers I won’t align my breath the mole
on your right ear and
I won’t run red lights to and from
anticipation Nor will I hope my hands
onto you hips
I won’t tell you about your eyebrows
No more rambunctious email No more room
for interpretation.

Damien Stednitz

Bio (auto)

Damien is a 29-year old transplant from small town Nebraska now living in Los Angeles, CA His poetry tries to be narrative, personal, and fun His influences include: Dylan Thomas, Charles Bukowski and whatever his Tivo or his Ipod throw his way He haunts any open mic he can find and shamelessly plugs himself and his work.

The following work is Copyright © 2006, and owned by Damien Stednitz and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Attack of the Pod People

The pod people started their take over slowly
They look like us
Sometimes even act like us
But you know them
The glazed look in their eyes
The thorzine like shuffle
The white wires down from the ears
The total indifference to the world around them
They are in their own, self contained world
They are in their pod, sealed tight
They are a collective it is not “I”
But I, Pod

There was a time when you’d get a record
And you’d play it on a high-fi the size of a car
And people would come over
And we’d all listen
And we’d talk to each other
And pass the album around
Discuss the album art
Over drinks and laughter
And every crackle, or pop of the vinyl just added to the charm

Sometimes there’d be a juke box
In a bar
And you’d pick the song that
Made a statement to everyone else there
Of what you were all about
But, when your jukebox is on your hip
Wheb you’re locked in the pod
The bar never hears the song
And the girl across the room never says
I love this song too
And you both never talk about where you were the first time
You heard it
And you don’t exchange numbers and call
And you don’t find out all the albums you have in common
And you don’t go to the violent femmes show together
And you don’t have that first kiss as the house lights come up
Where the crowd is cheering and it’s like their cheering for you

When you’re locked in the pod
You’re silent, randomly shuffling through
A world of your own design that cost you
and a little bit of your soul
Ask Eve this isn’t the first time we found ourselves in trouble
Because of an apple

On the Rise, I Guess

I was coming home from work
on the 134
dazing into the taillights in front of me
an unlikely rain drizzled down
past my windshield
the drops progress down the glass
faster than my own

My tie was off, my phone in the glove box
I decided to stop being important
At least for the slow ride home

I am kind of on the rise, I guess
but still stuck in the rain
looking at a high-rise apartment that was
out of reach
staring at the red lights in front of me

when I saw a flash of red on the roof above me
a cape
a man in a blue suit
through the rain with a red cape
trailing behind

I cracked a small smile as I watched him
run in circles, arms raised
flying through heavens I couldn’t see he was laughing madly
I watched as security dragged him down
They were very important
But still he laughed, arms outstretched

that night I slept like a child
I dreamt of flying