from Backfire

Emily Toder

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The essence of backfire
and the feeling of backfire
are not the same
as its original meaning

I have consulted no reference
work on this I have only consulted
the sad work I’ve done

I speak with authority cause
I never learn
It makes me credible

To be credible one must
find reality viable or recognize it
I have these friends who

sit with me and all our elbows
are together in this moment and I tell them
either You’ve got to not care at all

or care as hard as you can
Our palms clasp at whatever
forgetting what brought us here

which is gone and deep
To turn about before the hearth
I wish was what backfire

really meant
or felt like
or sang

In reality,
when recognized,
it is a long slow tug at the scalp
at the recollection of confidence
at the blue illusion


I communicated because I felt love
I felt love because I communicated

Later there was no love
Then there was no communication

I’m into causal relationships I guess

First there is no something
then there’s no nothing

Nothing has no consequences
Consequences are no nothings

Every thing
leads to some thing—see

it makes perfect sense!
I’m baffled by everything

That happens in life


A creeping cop
watches me
or watches the glass
whose glint blocks me
It’s hard to tell
It’s hard to see
It’s hard to tell if
anyone can see
It’s not good to look
a cop in the eye
if you’re having
an ordinary day
but don’t feel good
and the creeping improves you
if it improves your mood
by making you feel
like a civilian
like a person
a recognition
I don’t take for granted
as I once did
and though I ought
and though everyone ought
I’ve learned not to
I think the cop can see this
in my eyes that’s why
it’s dangerous


The point is my efforts
are great and null

I guess the point of trying
is trying
is fruitless

I guess I am a
normal person

I guess the point is normalcy is hell
I guess the point of Facebook is to show this

and in a way that burns
so as to inspire you

I guess the point of loving
is giving
I mean I know the point
of living is loving

The point is humility
is redeeming

That’s why I say I guess
when really I know

The point is I know


ART: Zachary Tate Porter, Jeannie Vanasco

FICTION: Katya Apekina, John Henry Fleming, Lacy Arnett, Claire Harlan Orsi, Chantel Tattoli

NONFICTION: Emily Carr, Nancy Singleton Hachisu, Johanna Stoberock, Steve Wasserman

POETRY: Janelle Adsit, Ryan Bender-Murphy, Monica Berlin & Beth Marzoni, Dan Chelotti, Lisa Ciccarello, Christopher DeWeese, Elisa Gabbert & Kathleen Rooney, Tyler Gobble, Fanny Howe, Lo Kwa Mei-en, Nick Lantz, Matthew Lippman, Aditi Machado, Alice Miller, Marc Paltrineri, Christopher Rey Pérez, Allan Peterson, Jessica Poli, Lynne Potts, Dan Rosenberg, M. C. Rush, Ed Skoog, Cindy St. John, Russel Swensen, Emily Toder, Laurie Saurborn Young

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