Note from the Editors







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that door

amidst a thousand bellowing options
I sign the contract
today I’ll walk through that door

typically when making such a commitment
I know in advance what sort of setup awaits me

in fact I’ve spent hours in many rooms
accessed through many other doors
negotiating with court jesters
swapping strategies with professional eavesdroppers
three days a week brokering deals
with gatekeepers & midwives of commerce

all to ensure
that what’s behind that door
will be well choreographed
I won’t waste hours lamenting I don’t belong here

but at some point when I open that door
instead of encountering the usual office scene or hotel bar
I find myself at the entrance to a vintage theater
colleagues & acquaintances reclined in tattered chairs
taking in a black & white movie

at first I resist the invitation
accustomed to protocols rote introductions at least
a few jokes deflating the silence

I see the seat with my name on it
not the name by which I used to cast myself in sitcoms
the name I imagine
appearing on embossed stationery & seminal manifestos
but another name
that makes me seem a bit more like a hero

I start watching the film
soundtrack rasping through torn speakers
grainy images jerking across the screen
then I’m laughing at myself
my odd posture & competitive gaze
louder perhaps than I’ve laughed before

I smile at the woman in the seat next to me
her cheekbones familiar though I can’t quite conjure the room
where a certain shudder first occurred so I whisper
just like old times & she winks at me

I rearrange my limbs
the credits begin to unfold
the closing song crooned by a famous daredevil
against the background of an imploding high-rise

I could get used to this
I quip in a voice I’ve never tried
she grabs my forearm & studies my palm
but already the hook is digging into my palate
already I’m reeling myself through another set of doors
into yet another room I’m busy straightening chairs
arranging laptops & patented prototypes
shuffling notes for an afternoon coup

my departure is seamless
her face fading like a logo lost in a corporate merger
it was lifetimes ago I felt the tip of her finger
tracing the heel of my hand
waves of her breath fogging my company wristwatch

I’ve no idea what happened before what’ll happen next
so much collateral sprawled before me
the numbers cowled in black offering their peculiar benediction

I watch my rival for a moment looks like me
cringe as I slip the blade between his ribs
I’m back in love I’ve always been in love
with who I think I am

John Amen is the author of four collections of poetry: Christening the Dancer, More of Me Disappears, At the Threshold of Alchemy, and The New Arcana (co-written with Daniel Y. Harris). His work has appeared in numerous journals nationally and internationally and been translated into Spanish, French, Hungarian, Korean, and Hebrew. He founded and continues to edit The Pedestal Magazine. (

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