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Eric Lochridge


In each issue, the editors choose a writer they would like to bring
to the readers' attention.

In this issue, Eric Lochridge is highlighted.

Eric Lochridge's work ranges from poems about earning a living: "Compartmentalized in glass and metal cubes, / they pay and are paid with their own lives" to poems about parenthood: "Watch the logistics of the first bath, / diapers like origami" to poems about a father and son: "What I do know is death was not the end. Living,  / breathing, I take it on myself to write our conclusion // and rewrite our past until then". These poems are wry, smart and imaginative. They are also filled with what might be called the big heart.

Internal Combustion on the Morning Commute

An Xer Sets a Midlife Professional Boundry

The Failed Magician

Office Lunch Rules

What the Pastor Leaves Out When He Talks About Sports

Family Movie

Lamentation for a Dream Come True

The Author of the Story


Traffic Devolution

Internal Combustion on the Morning Commute

In the thin blue aluminum morning,
belted in behind controlled explosions,

fellow travelers idle at intersections,
pressed for the time they intend to trade away today.

Like a ribcage, the engine case contains so much destruction,
but few question whether to move toward the light.

Awaiting the moment red transmogrifies to green,
their knuckles grip the pleather arcs of their destinies.

In pursuit of livelihood, they fan the rocket flames with their toes.
Spark plugs ignite. Pistons lunge.

Inertia rounds through the body, thunders
into the back, lifts the shoulders, emboldens the chin.

The transfiguration hurls them toward
jobs that barely get them home.

Compartmentalized in glass and metal cubes,
they pay and are paid with their own lives.

Only when the last drop of fuel is spent
will their encased hearts begin to cool.

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An Xer Sets a Midlife Professional Boundry

I feel no desire to be taken seriously
in the office environment—not my natural habitat.
Less stomach even for boomer mythologies
like business casual, the power of positive thinking,
& that elusive unicorn profit sharing.

HR notes in my file I’m unkempt, grungy
in cargoes & flannel, sometimes a frayed cardigan,
bedhead spiking like a skater’s after a day in the halfpipe
or a latchkey kid who got himself to school,
mom gone for the day already.

When it comes to constructs like conventional hygiene
I admit I’m a slouch in the fully adjustable rotating mesh
chair that cost more than my first car,
leaned way back as I punch
numbers into Excel cells, tick marks carved up my arm.

The old gray boss can make his rounds.
I wear my serious face for the screeds
on quarterly-this & earnings-on-that
but the moment his rant descends
to turn the chair in his direction,

a fatherly hand that shows up too late,
to force feed me another unreal capitalist hypothesis
about the current business dynamic
& my role in how it came to be
I tune out                                                         so far out

no spreadsheet can track me.

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The Failed Magician

The boss pulls a rabbit out of a hat.

Your bunny is dead,

I say.

He glares at me

for ruining the trick

then play-hops

the floppy carcass

out of the office

by its broken neck.

At home he lays

the cold fur

in the crib next to

his dreaming child.

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Office Lunch Rules

Eat when the boss eats.

Eat at a rate comparable to
that at which the boss eats

so as not to still be chewing
when the boss has finished. 

If the boss is not eating, do not eat.

If the boss sets a cup of peanuts 
in front of you, or carrots, 

do not be tempted—resist. 
Crunching will give the boss cause.

If the boss gives you an apple, 
shine it on your pantleg. 

Admire your flawed reflection 
in its intact skin. Whatever you do, 

do not bite into it. 
Do not eat of it

for you will surely die.

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What the Pastor Leaves Out When He Talks About Sports

The pastor doesn’t
like the Winter Olympics—
so boring, he says. He tweets
this sentiment the day
seventeen kids are shot
dead at their high school.
But I get it—dodgy figure
skating judges, hero stories
that don’t hold together,
and curling.
Every Sunday last fall,
he never failed to pump 
the congregation up for the next
NFL win, prophetic visions
of the up-the-middle rush,
the blitz sack, and the hallowed
hail mary of course. 
Some among us,
hands in the air, 
reflexively exhorted
“Go, Hawks!” “Yes, Lord!”
Some just leaned
into the wide-open
silence, souls he supposed
safe longing to be received
in the gap between
the quadrennial triumph
of the human spirit and its own
violent nature.

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Family Movie

A box of videotapes
distilled down to a thumb drive.
Two decades digitized
beginning with the birth
of their first child, their daughter.
The day they became a family.
Watch the logistics of the first bath,
diapers like origami.
Bedtime fussing under the clown mobile.
Little fists furious that sleep was coming.
See them doting on someone for the first time in their lives,
which she had remade.
On through baby’s first year—
rolling with the kittens on the carpet of the first home.


standing            arms

flailing               those wild

               first steps

A rush of joy swelled her cheeks—a glow that said
she knew she was one of them, finally out of limbo.

Look too at the parents’ faces.
Thin, unburdened, light.
His ebullient sideburns.
Her zeal to mother the right way—to succeed.
No idea what is to come.

What would I tell those people now?
That they were getting it right?
That there is no right way, only accumulated hope?
That twenty years later, their girl would be out
of their arms, out on her own?
Car towed. Car repaired.
And only telling them after the fact?
And in love with a girl from Kansas?

Those wild first steps.

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Lamentation for a Dream Come True

Lockdown brought the dream to life—finally
working from home like I’ve always wanted.
No more endless, tedious office days.
The awkwardness with the boss
now filtered through the glassy veil of Zoom.

The solitude of the house perfect, quiet
but for my son sent back to me from college.
He hums out of his room late morning, healthy,
uninfected, brushing sleep off a shoulder.
Such a gift to have him here safe, isolated with me.

Each evening, my wife comes home from the hospital,
spent from another day dedicated to creating the plan
that saves the most lives.

I don an apron, prep a meal, serve her, serve him.
Kitchen tidied, we huddle around the television,
the world falling behind electric glass.

Storming outside, agitated arms of firs rise
in unison and howl. When the wind lulls,
they collapse as one as well.

I have the simple life I always wanted.
So why does the whole forest sob?

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The Author of the Story

Rare the times my dead father comes into my dreams. 
When he does, we are best friends after many years apart.

Last night, we hugged a backslapping hug.
Overjoyed, I asked, Are you staying a while?

Fade to black.

At seventy-one, what would he be like,
eighteen years gone?

I could have reared another child to adulthood since
he passed—a grandchild he never knew.

Blue eyes, strawberry blond, a blend
of the two he knew only briefly.

Or maybe a child like him—eyes of slate,
jet black hair wilding off his head.

Fierce wanderer. Would I recognize him
today if he showed up on my doorstep?

Or is it me who has changed too much?
Would I be unrecognizable to him?

Someone he does not know?

Skewed story lines when he died,
disparate narratives,

would we have slung back around
as I like to tell it now?

I’ve convinced myself I am stronger from his absence. Maybe
we are better friends because of the turn our story took. 

What I do know is death was not the end. Living, 
breathing, I take it on myself to write our conclusion

and rewrite our past until then.

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When I was a teen I did two stints at Wendy’s.
The place kept going out of business
in the cowtown where I grew up.
Anyway one of the days I remember—
there amidst the steam of the grill,
the hiss of the fryers—is the day
I turned a corner and my feet
went out from under me
because some manager let
the mop schedule slip.

I came down hard, one arm
on the edge of the fryer,
baskets of fries at eye level—
the menacing boil.
Lucky my hand, my
whole forearm didn’t go in.
Else, where would I be today?
With my good arm and my boiled stump?
Like a twisted root that never sprouted.

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Traffic Devolution

eight lanes of interstate
bumper-to-bumper both ways

                        no exit                         no escape

              highway into the Cascades
              necks crane for the peaks                        

                        head collides with head

                        the mountains disapprove

                                    gravel road wends into the woods
                                    parallel ruts opting out

                        last turnaround at the trailhead

                                            footpath canopied

                        old firs                         granite fissures

                                            freshwater trickles out

                        melted glacier pools at my feet

                                            neon fleck of lichen
                                            floats off trail’s edge

                                                             funnel me back

                                                             into the soup

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Eric Lochridge  (he/him) is the author of a forthcoming full-length collection from FutureCycle Press and three poetry chapbooks, most recently Born-Again Death Wish. His poems have appeared in  DIAGRAM, Kissing DynamiteOkay DonkeySlipstream, and many others. He lives in Bellingham, Washington. Find him on Twitter @ericedits and at .

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