The Museum of Future Affairs

To go back is as hard almost

as forward.


We all got a little silence lodged

in our molars some time


in middle school, mostly.

Field trips to the museum of future affairs,


long bus rides, behind the glass

our taxidermied bodies


in frozen poses of parenting,

pharmacy lines, conference rooms.


On the ride back we did not discuss it and also

there was no ride back.


We lived there in the museum, locked in,

setting fires in the courtyard to keep busy.


No one came for us

and we liked it that way.


Wrapped our fists in the curtains,

broke the glass,


hauled out our own effigies.

Only warmed them by the fire.


To go forward is much

harder than backward but also less impossible.


They came for us, pounded on the doors,

begged and begged.


We would not budge. Not locked in

but them locked out.


The smoke they thought

was signal was just s’mores.


In the basement canned food

for any number of eternities.


Draped our arms around

ourselves and sang songs


we didn’t know yet.

The silence dried up,


our teeth gleamed, a new silence

came to cushion us.


It was different, springier,

a shared give in the air.


Oh, sure, there must be lots we’re missing,

but we’d just be missing more


out there. We’ve seen enough.

No season left to tempt us.


Katherine Tunning lives in Boston with her partner and a highly variable number of cats. Some of her recent poetry has appeared in Red Rock Review, Prime Number Magazine, and The Westchester Review. Her work has been nominated for the Sundress Best of the Net anthology and the Pushcart Prize and awarded the 2020 Penn Review Fiction Prize. You can find her online at


Katherine Tunning

A grasshopper in tall grass


The Buddhas

tell us not


to think of

a heaven,

of a hell…


This breath comes.

That breath goes.


Then nothing.



Klara Dan

von Neumann,


drove from home

to the beach—


walked into

the surf and



Woolf wrote:


“Dearest, I

feel certain


I am mad …

again… I


am doing

what seems best…”




sealed off


the kitchen

with towels


to stop gas

from drifting


into where

her children


were sleeping.



Lao Tau says:


“Heaven and

earth are not


humane. They

regard all


as straw dogs.”



The next day

morning came.


nothing at

all changed.


Straw dogs

don’t bark.



William Waters is an associate professor in the Department of English at the University of Houston Downtown. Along with Sonja Foss, he is coauthor of Destination Dissertation: A Traveler’s Guide to a Done Dissertation.


William J Waters

On Reading Auden to the Ghost of a Lost Limerence

In the Peabody Library reading room, a ramshackle longing has liberty to roam,
While the rhetoric of busybodied reality bustles without and within
The center of self-knowing. Beneath the architraves scrolled with Grecian ghosts,
And over the bookcases crimped dense with Virgil’s deeds,
Twenty centuries of ‘I Am’s impartially abided to this place divorced of time.
Beside the domesticity of books, the graduate students sit, talking contentedly
Of matters related to weather, and ‘she loves you not’s’ of restrained importance,
And have exiled vellum-spined Kipling, Coleridge, Cranes’ consciousnesses
From their all-important talk, then to someplace as unreached
Within these twenty centuries and five floors of domesticity,
Below whose atrium the unconsoled words of creation
Retire into their dreadful humanity, read through perhaps and put away –
I search in heed for the truest ‘kings of infinite space.’

Wandering the columns of the Peabody,
Bordering a prodigiously fat shelf set aside for the modernist thing,
Certain truths seem forgivable to readers of certain breeds.
To chance upon a no more commonplace volume of Auden –
I turn to his ‘September 3, 1939’ two days, eighty years after the occasion
And chance upon some lady’s no more commonplace tow-color of hair,
Doubtless, having been collected by some stranger into a blonde plait,
A stranger whose limerence had left it truer bookmarked beside the verse –
‘For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.’


A young poet whose work can be best described as “allowing the glory of the mundane to permeate our understanding.”


Maxwell Tang

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