Clementine Poetry Journal Editor: G. F. Boyer This volume collects the poems published on the Clementine Poetry Journal website from July 2015 through December 2015. www.clementinepoetryjournal.com Cover photo, “Rapture,” and design by Bruce Fleming Clementine line drawing by Paul Foxton www.learning-to-see.co.uk
© 2015 by G. F. Boyer ISBN: 978-1-329-52532-0 All rights revert to individual authors upon publication. Published by Clementine Press Printed by Lulu.com
Clementine Poetry Journal Volume Two: July - December 2015
Contents Sam Seskin Sandy Coomer Grant Quackenbush Nicholas Finch Thomas Zimmerman Gina Williams Ruth Foley J. Oscar Franzen Janet Buck Richard King Perkins II Stacey Balkun Cherri Randall Wanda Morrow Clevenger Brad Garber Janet Barry Sherri Wright Carol Alexander Helen Mazarakis Sally Toner Darren Morris Lois Marie Harrod Robert S. King David Anthony Sam Linda Wojtowick William Aarnes Rob Cook Jesslyn Watson Tom Holmes Brian Beatty K. B. Ballentine
Three Questions Revival Robertson Academy Rid Re: [Secondhand] Operation Enduring Freedom, Somalia, PFC A. Shaw Splinter Worlds A Word for Your Life Safety Coffin Pre-Med Repulsive Pheasants Under Glass The Wife Thief Mordent Abattoir referrals Ordained Saying Goodbye Because she was not cute What is left If Today Bearing Down Piercing Beauty When Lilacs Last at My Townhouse Bloomâ€™d Speed of Light The Suicideâ€™s Room Private Garden Last Journal Personal Ensign leave Nervous Green Forks and Spoons Germany, 1922 The World from a Genoese Five excerpts from Brazil, Indiana After Midnight
1 2 4 6 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 30 31 32 33 34 36 40 43 44 49
Crystal Lane Swift Ferguson
Drew Pisarra Gwen Hart Jota Boombaba Kari Fisher Kate Schultz Robert Lunday Emma Bolden Lynne Handy Adam King
Jim Daniels Judith Waller Carroll Laura Cherry M. J. Iuppa Chrish Ramdhani Michael Coolen Paul Smith Kim Zach Laura K. McRae Oliver Hutton Suanne Fetherolf Linda Benninghoff Sarah Gajkowski-Hill Sandra Kohler Linda Elkin
How I Auditioned for Motherhood
How to Know You Have Arrived at the San Bernardino Souplantation Liberal Me Gods of the Plague Devotion Hand-Rolled Smokes After Court Object of Art Bus Morphine School Friend Eve in Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights October Night in Phoenix, 1980 His Nightlife Signal The Quarry Horizontal Hold The First Night of My Son’s Rehab Partly Stripped For a Split Second My Divine Companion Five Things I Learned in Africa Boy on a Skateboard A Fine Pair Cauliflower Twilight in New Orleans The Plant Whisperer Afterward Extreme Caving Gulls Love is not the last corridor For Magdalena Fruit Almost Enviable, Her Innocence
51 52 53 54 55 56 57 59 60 61 62 63 64 66 67 68 70 71 72 73 74 76 79 80 81 82 84 85 86 87 88 89 90
Tricia Knoll Gail Langstroth Torre Freeman Seth Jani Michelle Brooks Sarah Rehfeldt Contributor Notes About the Editor
Sinâ€™s Bloom horse hay simple / sencilla paja, caballo After the Firing Squad A Kiss in Winter Technicolor Last Leaves Owl Song
92 93 94 95 96 97 98 100 108
Sam Seskin Three Questions I. We all start somehow. Why not with flight, a hawk’s unrehearsed reaction to intention? From its height it’s best a hawk makes no mistakes. The slightest inflection of a few feathers lets it change course, elevation, direction. All this without thinking. That’s it, without thinking. II. A fly spends inordinate time rubbing its thorax, scrubbing its face. After watching such studious exercise who are we to slap it, if it touches our hands, our food? Our skin will sting, so quick is the engine of its body, so finely, so loudly tuned. You can’t swat a fly. You can’t swat a motorcycle. You don’t even try. III. Under the grey brush of rain a blackbird folds and unfolds wings dreaming about lichen and worms whose whole pink unseeing bodies gleam. Have you ever felt a blackbird’s feather sweep across your palm? Or heard it propel itself away, filling with song its broad surround of silence?
Sandy Coomer Revival You were born sick the preacher says, and I can’t help but notice he doesn’t include himself in the distinction. I assume he was born well, the apple among the snakes. It wouldn’t make me feel better if he said we were all born sick. That sounds rather final and depressing, like there’s little hope of anyone digging out. Maybe that’s how it is. We carry shovels. We’re dressed in lies and illusions, our truest selves shadowed under elephant clouds. And what about those elephants, white or pink or gray, and the ostriches in the same field— wide body, little head, but a neck that could break your arm? Does it matter that entire species are nearly extinct, while snakes multiply like rabbits in the dark and slimy underneath, the green moss spiky as Astroturf? Not that Astroturf is mossy, but it can be slippery when wet, like the preacher’s long neck and dewy face, the sweat rings under his arms, his voice heavy with emotion—sick, born sick, too sick— slapping our faces a final judgment
until we are swollen like the sky. A smothering blue-black spills its guts as the preacherâ€™s Adamâ€™s apple bobs damnation, the words pounding like elephants or ostriches, or just plain rain.
Sandy Coomer Robertson Academy For C. M.
We talked of you on Facebook when someone posted a photo of our 5th grade class and we laughed at seventies clothing and tried to list the names in the three rows between Mrs. Evans and our principle, Mr. Kelton. It was your name that wasn’t forgotten, your broad face that even in a smile seemed distant, troubled—and we imagined at the time, devising some new torment with which to impale us at recess or in the lunch line or in any of those dirty corners bullies knew well and teachers seemed to know to avoid. Someone said you made that year the worst year of their life and whenever they thought of suffering from that point on, it was your face, your name that crept unbidden as the cause. And someone said life changed for the better the moment 5th grade was over and they had a summer without fear of your fists, your words—three whole months before the dread of 6th grade, the anguish of seeing your name again in the class list. Back then it was hard to think of anyone’s pain except our own, to wonder what life was like
for anyone else, when the universal struggle smacked so hard the gut of our existence, and it was hard to forgive even the memory of you making it harder. And then someone said itâ€” what we had forgotten in the midst of our own frailties and misdemeanorsâ€” He must have been very unhappyâ€” and we could only swallow silently behind our computer screens.
Grant Quackenbush Rid You pull over on the side of a road and you look at it: what is it? Or, maybe you should ask what it was before you hit it: nothing ever, by the looks of it. The more you look at it the less sense it starts to make, like a Rorschach test and the lifeless words used to describe it: black, white, flat . . . Leave it alone. It’s done. And by “done” I mean finished before it began. There’s no use in trying to save it, breathe it back into a shape. The most you can do is bless it and move on, tell others a long time ago you thought you saw one, whatever it was or could have been.
Grant Quackenbush Re: [Secondhand] My terminally ill writer friend wrote me in an email, Three weeks of struggle and not a single good poem. I can’t stand this shit. I wrote back he should go out into nature and write about the city, or delve into the city and write about nature—that it always works for me. Find a daisy in a jar on the sill of some old café or bar and write about that. Write about how the flower was gasping for want of air, how Lady Esmeralda would water it each morning with the dew collected from her stained glass ashtray, the mottled soil sickly, soiled. Write about how the flower retreated into itself like an anemone or child, but how one afternoon it seemed to make a comeback, the petals not bright but a sort of off-white, the brown stem stiff as a bamboo toothpick, thick as the half-smoked cigarette beside it. Write about how years later it died, which, in flower time
was about a week later, its bald head leaning toward a brighter day somewhere near the ground, listening for just the right words to say. Write about how a couple of weeks after that, when there was only the soil and the cigarette standing in it, it gave you this poem, it gave you its cancer. Write about that.
Nicholas Finch Operation Enduring Freedom, Somalia, PFC A. Shaw Before the Corps Adam built boats. Deployed— The dick-stick and Ka-Bar become the same, two useless tools for fucking. There’s no war; just hands pierced onto branches, hung like small bloodied, flesh ornaments, for décor. Kids beg, gesturing stubs. Soldiers put small holes in the hulls of boats, slits down the masts. The boats soon sink. Marines then watch until the sails look like white flags, half-mast, at sea. Before the Corps Adam built boats. On leave— He can only take those boats apart.
Thomas Zimmerman Splinter Worlds Though parts of you still fly like water off a shaking dog, we see you clearly in a nimbus of yourself. Were God to cough, let’s say, and splinter worlds like ice in gin so we could keep our buzz. . . . In just that way, we apprehend the Western slant on flux, no river twice, a fractal art with play and wobble, spiked by rays of light redux in darkness, cuts in vision, stretch marks of the infinite, a center somewhere— There— No, there. . . . In just that way, we understand that you are I, and all are we, that love must live like this, on breakers, waves, with care and chaos, shells and beach glass strewn on sand.
Gina Williams A Word for Your Life A spotted fawn leaps across the farm field at dusk. You kill the engine and in this rare moment of pause, August moon rising, the baby stopping to look you in the eye, you realize a word for your life is leaping too, rustling the corn. Squandered. Where did it go? Ears bend in waning light, waiting in vain for an answer. You even heard this once, from your grandmother, toward the end. It goes so fast. The red and russet tapestry of earth billows across the plain like a golden chute, the toil of harvest yet undone. The fawn fades away, a mother callingâ€” sun setting sky on fire, a lost horizon, your sinking flame.
Ruth Foley Safety Coffin Lay me at the bottom of the spring gone stale with August. Weigh my chest with stones. Fill the crevices with soil, snip the cord that runs toward the churchbell. Look, loveâ€” the sky has not broken. Look at the way the anthill builds itself from grains. You can keep your air trumpets and the mesh to save my cooling flesh from insects. Let the flags stay lowered. Let the unloved armies come. I am not afraid of waking breathless. Even the blowflies need a place to land and I will finally warm through to bone.
J. Oscar Franzen Pre-Med You get out of the shower wearing only a towel of steam and say that Iâ€™ve never kissed your left medial malleolus. And so I do now.
Janet Buck Repulsive Pheasants Under Glass Another doctor’s cubicle. It’s cold in here. I’m in a gown, wrapped in a shawl, blankets piled over that, still a pheasant under glass. I’ve been through this six times before. The gangly bird without its wings no restaurant wants, too many missing body parts, no flesh upon what bones are there. Parsley and potatoes piped around my frame won’t make the dish more palpable. He pitches blankets on the floor, removes my cape, lifts my gown and looks inside, prods and pokes a little here, a little there, tries not to wince or make a face. My skin is thin white paper cups, their wrinkled edges made for pills. He knows I hate each one of them, refusing drugs like lima beans and brussels sprouts on some poor toddler’s plastic plate. I love him when he’s listening. Respect can climb the highest hill. He asks me if my pain’s a 4, a 6, or 8. All I say is: “Math and numbers fall behind survival mode. Call it 7, let it rest. We have pipes to tighten up and rearrange; fractures need a caulking gun.” “How you crack each joke like perfect morning eggs is way beyond my feeble brain.”
Heâ€™s willing and heâ€™s talented, so I relax as if his lungs took a single breath for me. I sign the forms to schedule knives, flip a switch to get more light, ask how tall his grandkids are. With eyes that beam with buried pride, he points below his shapely hip; it moves with grace Iâ€™ve never known. I used to draw a wish like that in pages of a coloring book.
Richard King Perkins II The Wife Thief I wake up thinking that it was just a dream— the solitary black and white country in the north fading to color. I watch as you fall into my oversized shirt— still, what do we really know about each other dressed or undressed? I’m busy claiming victory against an enemy that didn’t want to fight who hadn’t even known a war had begun.
Stacey Balkun Mordent At the wedding I played my dress like a virtuoso, spinning into the hush where my father was missing, chords lost as the music sped upâ€”mordent only sounds like it means death but really means to eat the extra slice of almond cake faster, to remove the empty chair, boutonniere, fly past the fatherdaughter dance I danced alone as I mastered the grief, moved from first chair to maestro, conducting it from the first brace to the de capo and through to the end again, a current tensing my body as my arms lifted, my back to the crowd: not a hush but a minor chord, silent as a scalpel or baton that swings upwards and outwards then halves the circle with one swift pull down.
Cherri Randall Abattoir She was two years older than I was. She knew so many things I was still guessing at. She told me she wanted to lose her virginity while a Barry White song was playing as background music. I still remember the way she could lip sync take off that brassiere my dear. The last time she came over she wouldn't play Barbie dolls. She said she was a woman now; she got her first period and I was still a baby. The only thing she would play was models, and I had to pretend we were in Paris and say things like like mahvelous and dahling. I kept giggling, and she got mad and wouldn't play with me at all. I got mad back and said I hoped she never had another period for as long as she lived. Two weeks later I shook the coffee grounds off the local newspaper when it was my turn to take the trash out so I could read the reports for myself. I hid the paper down the back of my jeans and when my mother made me sit down and do homework at the kitchen table I never breathed a word about the eggshells biting into my cheeks. When I got a chance to read the story I found a photograph of her mother's car on the front page, a little four-door Falcon with the doors open. Even though it was black and white and smudged from coffee drippings, I could see the outlines in the upholstery and the spatters on the windshield. She never liked this stepfather, but she never liked any of them. I heard grown-ups whispering about a bloodbath, a slaughterhouse. I believed them. I forgot to play a Barry White song when I lost my virginity. She would have liked that. I got my wish for her to never have another period. She used to say all she really wanted was to be famous, for someone to remember her forever. A n d s o I d o. For Regina 1960-1972 18
Wanda Morrow Clevenger referrals they float in on ether heels one after another crisp white sheets launched from the same Xerox with outstretched hand how are you hellos how wasteful the massed expertise made patient pusher bean counter how am Iâ€” surely they see the paper doll crumpled on their paper sheets
Brad Garber Ordained I am a dude and this is just a thing that is exuded like the grease behind your ears or the smell of excess or the mood of one of those California milk cows with an ocean view and it’s like I grip my shifter with dirty hands and a drink and hunt for bugs along the highway before the sun rises and the remainder of the night wears off and you don’t know fuckin’ shit until this happens but balls are rollin’ down a warped alley no matter the spin just beyond the headlights of her breasts out in the dirt of the cornfield the wind like paper cuts bleedin’ down my chest swallowin’ tooth grit and dried skin pushin’ pain from crotch to throat a diesel engine of sound a screw shank a block of steel a piston of flesh shootin’ through the biscuits and gravy like a weasel in the coop but when I cock the arm it’s business time and bulls stop in their tracks mid-bellow asses shakin’ in the exhaust my boots hangin’ on the bar while I whip the rattler across the room its head between my fingers snappin’ to the beat of leather skin and whiskey chasers draggin’ the pond.
Janet Barry Saying Goodbye Walking the dogâ€”August, above the Blackwater Dam a drought year, water collected in little motionless pools, shelter only to languid fish, twitchy-twig mosquito larva. And the dog, a great Rottie-Shepherd mix I got from the rescue league, panting thirst through locust trill, poison ivy, cinnamon mud turned powder, plunges into the shallow water, splash, splash, tongue lapping, mouth grinning and a drop displaced, airborne over the dam, a placid trajectory, glint of sun spectrum, descent, evaporation. August-claimed by a force greater than gravity. And the dog lopes free, shakes, seeks shade for an afternoon nap. I watch the pool return to its reflective flat. A turtle black-shadow along the bottom. I gaze at the cement where the droplet would have fallen until my eyes burn.
Janet Barry Because she was not cute Pregnant at the cusp of adolescence, she returned to a too-thin lankiness immediately after giving birth, a pacing prowl that shivered down her legs, a jagged twitch to each long movement, and the softness of her breath unable to disguise the yellow hunterâ€™s fire that lurked in her eyes, the unsheathed sharpness that charged about in her rib cage, sending her early and often to the streets. And because she was not cute, she had to die. Although for mercyâ€™s sake, they thought a public program might be the answer, a shelter from her wild short life, a place where others might look and find some beauty in her, turn her soft and sweet after all, although they knew how unlikely such a salvation was, when, as soon as the kittens were weaned, they dropped her off at the animal rescue league. 22
Janet Barry What is left A few remnants of birch bark, pin-scratched with hopeful hieroglyphs. A recipe for the perfect three-layer chocolate cake. A trophy. A steamy love letter. A four-leaf clover forever crushed between the pages of an ancient encyclopedia. That nobody uses anymore. That is dog-eared in the â€˜Aâ€™ section. A for Appaloosa, Aerodrome, Agnus Dei. A for Alpaca. Alula. Amphorae. Ambient. Amethyst. Amber. The color of burnt molasses, seeping and sticky, sweet to the tongues of trapped insects. A broach with a swatch of hair enclosed. A few remnants of cedar shavings, and that balsam-filled pillow I got at the tourist shop on a trip to New Hampshire. Skiing together in the Whites. A bent lift pass, snuggling for warmth with a gold wedding band.
Sherri Wright If Today If today should be my last, I would not regret: sending the blue stone necklace I wanted myself to my daughter, mailing the sentimental poem to my grandson, walking with my husband instead of running, taking time to watch twelve pelicans at the fishing pier eating their last supper.
Carol Alexander Bearing Down If she bears, sheâ€™s crisp rotundity of an unripe pear, a head with coronet of hair clinging to a neck like willow leaves. Else the chopping block, and we count ourselves among the blessed to wriggle out of this alive, to the inchoate cries of the child ignorant of its part in the play. There is no strand of history that doesnâ€™t stink of consanguinity. Whelps lie in the straw of the red barn, prolific leeches swim in the pond. At menarche we circle death, our girdle of fierce pain mysterious as migraine or rheumatics in the rain. The mothers with their ringed hands, the crones with beads of jet and bone spoke birth and death so jealously, I thought the world wept when the gutters overflowed. Swinging my arms one summer day, I gave myself to a yellow-haired boy and waited guiltily for blood, anatomizing nausea in the haze of cigarettes that floated from Memorial Day over the new green of lawns. And dreamed that bearing down was some unwieldy thing portentous as a shriving and wily as the river, that turns and turns about.
Helen Mazarakis Piercing Beauty On the news they showed a stunning image— Hovering in the distance a perfect, luminous rainbow Missing only a pot of gold to be the stuff of fairies. And just left of its midpoint, The perfectly formed funnel of a tornado, Penetrating purples and blues. Such uncommon beauty— Noisy color amidst dark clouds, Clean lines of the horizon Holding up a faultless arc, Brimming with boundless prospects. And the cone, so perfectly formed, Its ridges narrowing to a point— What is its point? It exists only to destroy. And why today—why was this particular moment of beauty Chosen by that funnel, piercing through, Casting no rainbows, leaving no treasure.
Sally Toner When Lilacs Last at My Townhouse Bloom’d When lilacs last at my townhouse bloom’d They’d burst open nightly by my door with a purple smell that made me swoon. Then, in the afternoon, I’d return to see my mother-in-law had taken to them with my cooking shears. Because, in my disaster of a kitchen those were all that she could find. My house is hardly an English garden, which is fine, since she’s French. I’d return to my toddler girl and see the crew cut my mother-in-law had given the bush. The flat top with that smell, that smell just slightly dimmed. On the kitchen table, she’d wrap those lilac locks at their tender, hobbled, amputated roots in wet paper towels and aluminum foil. She’d give my baby a kiss, swing the door open, and leave with the bounty piled in her arms. Every spring for the three years she came the same, and I’d stew because she never even asked. Then we moved, and through the years another lilac bush, it found us. This morning, I am adamant. We will gather some for my mother-in-law. That baby she used to keep grew tall and has started to wave me away with her own tree arms. I stand back, peering through this year’s door to the back of the courtyard, where the lilac waits, saying, “Sister! Grab the cooking shears and take my children to the woman who shouldn’t have to ask.”
Darren Morris Speed of Light I have come to the point where the closer I get to my wife, the less I see of her. Often with our foreheads touching, it is only her eyes. The rest is empty space. Jupiter’s moons walk shadows across its gaseous surface. Galileo saw them and knew from the way the light seemed to bend, it must have been moving. And if moving, must have sped. To prove it, he posted two men with covered lanterns, on opposite mountain peaks. Marriage is a kind of experiment. If you think of light as ultra-present, then you miss what existence means. Newton’s gravitational supremacy made the motion of heavenly bodies predictable. He strung them on a mobile and pushed. But he was mistaken about the nature of light. It wasn’t corpuscular but sent in waves from somewhere into everywhere. And so are we transient through this arrangement, if you will. We do and continue to do. Though we stand in place, we are not the center of this life. One decides finally which flaws are bearable and which are not. Theories are proven and wreck but at least we’re both peering in the same direction. I am going blind, and just last week, for the first time in many months, my wife slipped down the atom crusher of a black spiral and was reborn backward into that inverse universe. When I found her, she did not know me.
The speed of light was finally measured by a maze of mirrors and a beam shot through a sprocketâ€™s rotating teeth. When the reflected source went black Fizeau calculated based on the distance of reflection, rate of sprocket rotation, and the measure between each tooth: c = 3 x 108 m/s. The speed of light in 1849. I slide past the unseen days and into nights that never go truly dark. And still I tremble at the touch and smell of her when we have finished and the hard breathing lifts, part for effort and part from the vacuum of pleasure that rips through the involuntary void. Have you ever made a fire by blowing on a stone? Sometimes the eyes are enough. I do not reach now but to find her reaching. The light pours over us a slow honey of time, wave after wave, six hundred trillion ashore each miraculous second.
Lois Marie Harrod The Suicide’s Room He found what she wanted to be remembered by, the lamps she had made from birdhouses, in lavish blues to match the birds who like happiness did not come, the copper pot that heated her water for tea, the signs, reminders to herself, the first letters lowercase and the rest upper, a sort of reversal, she once told him, to match the tide, the way the sea threw back what had been lost and rejected. I am going, she said, through life as a lowercase letter– it’s my way of giving the homeless a new habitation. He had not replied, but now studied her ciphers, pICK uP yOUR cLOTHES bEFORE yOU fORGET yOUR iTALIAN, yOU aRE Imperfectly bEAUTIFUL, rEAD oVER yOUR hEAD. None of them made any more sense to him than the rattan rug on which she slept or didn’t sleep depending on the rain. He left the window open too the way she imagined it, and let the red sun prophesying bad weather lick the bathroom floor. On the ironing board which she had used as her desk, he found his blue shirt, the one she had taken off before she stopped thinking about what was still there.
Robert S. King Private Garden In my little landscape, a backyard Eden where seasons never change, lilies shine away the shadows, roses retract their claws, and honeysuckle weaves a wall shielding my view beyond. Happiness lives alone. Ferns brush the odors from a rare foreign breeze. Pink petals are the only open ears. A snake of hose spits water, and the ball of fire overhead holds its temper just for me, keeps its compassion warm. Now and then the wind howls briefly and the stems vibrate, lily ears open and only for a moment wither as if darkened by rumors of the real world.
David Anthony Sam Last Journal I hear the rasp of scribbling ink from an emptying pen held between the bones of a hand almost indistinguishable scrawling against the great blackness that tries to obliterate all meaning from this page
Linda Wojtowick Personal Ensign We left Cape Disappointment on a Sunday with a cobbled zeal, smelling that last night’s aspirations from a rocky fire. The jagged shore fell away and the crew began to sing. Their mouths opened and gulls came. Mournful, and unexpected, since they were leaving what was a known cursed place on that day of their Lord. But they are young and stinking and prone to song. No storms now, no rain. My ship had a name once but I’ve forgotten it. Willfully, of course. It was something biblical, a woman with fins. Tonight, though the damp ropes swell and teem, our sails make a decent show, flapping leavened, bone-colored, against curdled stars. I cannot soothe the screaming child-hearts of my men. Big fish rip like tired cloth in their oversized, fatherless hands. I’ve come to hate the sea, its devouring salt. The endless flat horizon of it under the fatty sky. My flag’s crest has leeched out in punishing sun, beaten to a silk by wind. I keep dreaming of the desert, of shifting weals of sand. Of the rock and blessed heat. Out there, just a glimpse of wetness would have value, have possibility. The ring of a dream pond up ahead. Of late I am chiefly concerned with oases, and rumors of oases.
William Aarnes leave No, the wife of the missing man says, she didn’t know he was going to Michigan. He said he had business in Chicago. He said he’d be gone till Wednesday, that he’d call every evening. Yes, she says, he called Monday but not Tuesday. But, she says, sometimes he’s too busy. No, she says, she has no idea why her husband would leave his car running at a trailhead, walk in the half-mile to a clearing, and, except apparently for his shoes and socks, remove all he was wearing. Perhaps, she says, he carried a change of clothes. Yes, she says, he’s as ingenious as they come. No, she says, she doesn’t know what it means that he would leave his wallet and cell in his slacks, that he would leave his MP3 player, left on, attached to his belt. Yes, she says, he’s hooked on Schubert lieder. He likes to sing along, she says, in off-key German. No, she says, she doubts he’s in some fix at work. He likes his job, earns good money. They both make good livings now. Yes, she says, they’d been to Michigan once. Before they married, she says. He was on leave.
No, she says, sheâ€™s not going to answer that. If she were the problem, he would have left it to a lawyer. Yes, she says, please monitor all their accounts. Yes, she says, sheâ€™ll leave her cell and answering machine on.
Rob Cook Nervous-Green Forks and Spoons (after the Newtown, CT, school massacre)
A blood berry, today, on a make believe day, or someplace nearer, does not get listed among the milk trays of cold nap cartons. A teacher sitting on a chair bled dry chaperones the roving recess bell, one blood berry shrieking or fewer, one child or fewer, perhaps gifted, perhaps not, and able to read the book of spotted leaves, (after each leaf has lost its tree). Another fork, another spoon reports whatâ€™s been read inside an oven
where someone forgot the sun that wants to chase every past-tense window and the sun that wants to protect, like a noun or a burn-pregnant parent, what burns. “Try, try, try,” the teacher says, and reveals a story’s path of peppercorns when it leads, like the nurse who cares at morning and the nurse who cares at noon, to the fuselage of a cold lunch’s fork and knife and napkin roll, famished for a cry’s empty cartridge (as some will say a gun when it gets
close enough can cry) and for the blood berries led by the mother of the number used for quiet inside the blood-coated coat room that doesnâ€™t make a sound, 9:34 am within the small bodies of the blood berries, more than one, more than one, quickening and then slowing on their stems. The shaken windows full of naps canâ€™t be searched or wiped away with anonymous prayers that spread
in the time it takes the floor to dry all the way red, one father kicking the casings from here to the fingerpainted music room as it dries and hardens to another inch of a shoelaceâ€™s laughter reaching, in a muted, single-file hallway, all the way back to one blood berry (an Adam also that was a blood berry) splashing at its bad dreams, its bath water, its apple juice when it still obeyed.
Jesslyn Watson Germany, 1922 blue-green lake of the bristle trees knock-kneed, knead the sour flat dough go to the town, the winter dry cotton of the houses, all low-cow slash the fields mild the withering leather-lip winter weather lingering in the light-sawn limbo between house and blue watercolor forest wash there is someone in the house footprints in the snow from the witch woods to the back door, coming but not going low-cow frozen to the salt-lick there is someone in the house footsteps in the airy attic at night the frostbite winter howling in the cracks someone in the attic new newspaper on the table no one bought at the blue outpost store door bolted black against the midnight mauve, the stove amber, the clamber coals surging popping the man of the house half-asleep when the boards creak there is someone in the house
someone come from the deep pine cushion of the fur forest, the howling mauling fall of the nestle-blue needles come my lovely daughter away from the wishbone window and come away to bed bled all through the cracks, the whip whisk winter there is someone in the house, husband someone come away come from the window come to the barn the yarn and yowl of the jackals on the farm the sleepy scream of the cows in crying crime peep through the thick window grime and see a light in the loft the empty rot loft full of softest light go into the night and see please please be the least hungry beast in the burrow winter wood please come and see he goes and never comes back from the leather-lip barking black back to back they go and none come fumbling back the girl is the last to go blubbering to the yawning barn the girl does not come back but lies in the rot straw until dawn stricken, dripping dried blood
from her farm-tool wounds and tearing out dandelion tufts of scarecrow hair there is someone in that house with the baby and the maid made hollow and wan someoneâ€™s rough hand that stoked the amber stove and fed those low-cows corn come Tuesday morn the house is empty bleeding blue-green lake of bristle-tree breeze covered in cunning needles pleading for a kinder beating gone fleeting into the freezing fingernail sickle of the forest linger poor winter spearmint in the lung unsung, those kindling bones the winter winding home Hinterkaifeck, Germany, 1922
Tom Holmes The World from a Genoese In 1457, there is his eyeshaped world, a map, a catalog of beasts and fish. A dragon and cargo ships off coasts. A giraffe in Africa spots them. It sees everything before the mapmaker begins to think to sketch new territories or a slave at center earth like the small hand of a clock at three in the afternoon. In all the world there’s only one sea for commerce. The whole world is the mapmaker’s astigmatism. It’s very dry. If he blinks, we’ll be washed out and Africa will never trade with anyone on earth.
Brian Beatty Five excerpts from Brazil, Indiana Summers, in the eaves of the front porch of the house I grew up calling home, hornets nested. Even after my parents divorced, friendsâ€™ parents kept them a safe distance away. I was what sweeter neighbors called odd. Early every June, ex-Marine Herman from next door would light up the swarms and their new nest with a gallon or two of kerosene, but I still always managed to get stung. I was so fortunate. I never once caught fire.
There were more bars than churches, more churches than cemeteries, more cemeteries than banks, and a farm or two. Coal and limestone built the town. Everyone in their way was a miner. Even the one-armed butcher with his name above the door. He served shaved meat sandwiches by day, sold ground beef to the poor. At night he drank from a bone cup.
A jar of fireflies on a shelf abandoned years ago to dust gives this place a barn washed in the blood a pulsing glow a guy could read by if he was carrying a book. But I brought something else to share out of a different jar. It only tastes like nails going down.
Despite the Classical Revival courthouse along the National Road that ran through the middle of town and the Classic Rock station down in the static at the low end of the FM radio dial Brazil didnâ€™t even show up as a dot on most AAA or free gas station maps of Indiana. Civic leaders blamed our renowned high school mascot, the Devil.
The green brass plaque above the high school gym doors misspelled the name of our townâ€™s 1932 Olympian. So kids always said. The Fuqua family moved away that same summer their record-breaking son Ivan won gold in track and field out there in Los Angeles. As far as anybody knows, heâ€™s still running somewhere.
K. B. Ballentine After Midnight Fog smears the valley, ribbons of cherry blossoms pinking dark woods. Your memory tempts me, lures me into the mist where a grouse cackles, something scampers in shadows. Tiger lilies line the road, lead me in bursts of orange this dull day. Rivaling these mock suns, a robin sings, doesn’t nitpick dawn’s delay— the way ahead unclear.
Crystal Lane Swift Ferguson How I Auditioned for Motherhood 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
Stephanie was dating a much older disher. He had several children. His children had a few different mothers. The mothers each thought they were his wife or girlfriend. The newest baby was two months old. The disher brought the baby with him when he came to pick Stephanie up from the Souplantation parking lot after work one night. 8. I agreed to watch the baby for an hour or two. 9. The baby and I were in my car. 10. He was crying, pulling at my shirt, and suckling at the outside. 11. Even though I clearly had no milk to give, I couldnâ€™t say no.
Crystal Lane Swift Ferguson How to Know You Have Arrived at the San Bernardino Souplantation Stand facing east. There is a seedy dive bar on the corner to your right. Turn 90 degrees to your right. There is a tattoo parlor. Again, turn 90 degrees to your right. There is always a 15-passenger white van with a graphic photograph of an aborted babyâ€™s head in the clasp of a pair of forceps, ever blocking the entrance to the abortion clinic. Again, turn 90 degrees to your right. Youâ€™ll see a line of very large people, ever blocking the entrance to the Souplantation.
Crystal Lane Swift Ferguson Liberal Me During elementary, middle, and high school, I had been called many things: Dog, Slut, Thesaurus, Fascist, Heir Dictator, Too Conservative, and Miss Stick in the Mud. At Cal Baptist University, I was known mainly as a Tree-Hugging Liberal. Because I: Dated men off campus. Lived off campus. And worked off campus at the Souplantation.
Drew Pisarra Gods of the Plague Take 1 I want you to stare into the camera as if you were burning a hole through paper Stand over there by that bare white wall and see if you can make me feel something unexpected and sad
Take 2 I need you to let my assistants unbutton your shirt button by button Stay indifferent as they pull your pants down then lie on the bed as if no one were in it or ever will be or ever was
Gwen Hart Devotion I dug up grubs for the classroom snake, opened the tank, and stuck my hand right in. I didnâ€™t flinch when he said dissection was so fascinating you forgot the frogs were dead. I trapped a butterfly, a dragonfly, a praying mantis, and a walking stick, and stuck them through with pins. I wrote a report on subcutaneous worms, how doctors cut your skin and pull them out by winding them on sticks. Difficult? Yes. Disgusting, cruel, but so much easier than uttering love and following through.
Jota Boombaba Hand-Rolled Smokes â€”for Ez
Not Drum, not other Euro brands I pop the cap of a Black Cat can exercise my old arthritic thumbs Not your standard pack of pre-fab Zigs nothing manufactured overseas I purchase a pack of trimmed tree leaves A local showed me how to twist a leaf keep it rolled without a line of glue keep it loose to let the burning breathe Once between my lips, my two front teeth I lay back and puff the local reed let its incense burn beneath my nose Small warm clouds of me float away as smoke I become the island, come and take a toke
Kari Fisher After Court The greasy divorce judge rules once more in my favor. He follows us: Corrine, Cecil, and others to a Bohemian poets’ lunch. Insists on a plate next to mine. Says, you must have had a difficult time living with someone so nehomethan, so blahseblasque, and I am angry for a moment at the sheer vocabulary which I will have to look up later. I notice the judge’s hair isn’t oily, only gelled, that his tone has some kindness beneath the words’ cut, that maybe in this light there are only twenty, thirty years between us, that in the moon between his thumb and forefinger are prison tats of punctuation signs. In short, there’s attraction.
Kate Schultz Object of Art They are, in a way, unaware of my nakedness, making me forget it too. Unashamed, I am Eve before the fall, in this place actually nothing like Eden, a place where it’s hard work to create beauty— concrete floor spaces converted into classrooms; industrial pipes running the length of the ceiling. What can I look at while they draw me, paint me? Truly, here nothing is beautiful in and of itself—I am just a collection of parts, composition of muscle and bone under skin. Their pencils skim paper; the sides of their fists soften sharp lines. It’s day two of an extended five-class pose and I can’t remember which side my hair was parted on for Tuesday’s session. One of the students sitting in front of her easel wears men’s swimming trunks— turquoise printed with indigo sharks— and black pseudo-combat boots, laces untied. Her hair is shaved into a mohawk; her eyes, winged with black liner. I’m curious to hear the voice that belongs to this girl; I wonder if I can make her face abandon its deliberate lack of expression. Before I walk to the mat and settle into my pose, I ask her about my hair.
She looks at her canvas, then back at me, saying, “I think the other side,” in a voice almost shy, a tone almost sweet, and smiles. I don’t think she knows her mohawk and ill-fitting clothes don’t disguise her round cheeks, almost cherubic—like a baby’s— and flawless light skin. Her eyeliner makes her long lashes stand out even more. I’ve glanced at her many times while she’s worked, intent on representing the truth, even though I heard the professor say once: “There is no truth—art is our own subjective interpretation of reality,” and although his self-consciously post-modern declaration had made me want to roll my eyes, now I see what he meant. I smile back at the girl and adjust my hair with my fingers as I walk to the mat, where I slip off my robe, lie back and fix my gaze on the gray cement ceiling—its cracks like lightning, pocks like stars.
Robert Lunday Bus See the bus go by at night carrying rhomboid planes of light and one stone profile across town. Bus drivers wear their backs as sweaty heaps. Their foreheads bob inside the rearview mirror. I hate to ride the bus. The urge to disembark at every stop threatens to break my heart. I am beside myself tonight in the fingerprint-stained windows to my left and right. The universe is close enough to eat. I have faith the street slides underneath. See how I devolve from passenger to freight, how I go past my stop and turn early into late.
Emma Bolden Morphine All night the jungle scrolled by. Its sheaths of green. Its vine-snaked trees. Its air closed hot and dark, the inside of a mouth. The dream was a mouth. It said I was I and you were a pair of lips slit in speech. Every word a tooth. I saw them, short white arrows. I was telling you something and you were telling me back and between your lips the sound rolled into and over color, magenta, azure, the vile shock of orange. I felt disaster. And when I woke I woke with it, all the black balled inside. My silence and my mouth.
Lynne Handy School Friend She was heroic for tromping on her white dress in Home Ec class because sheâ€™d had to rip out her zipper too many flipping times (didnâ€™t we all want to scream?). And yes, once she peed on the floor when a teacher forbade us to go to the restroom. She had auburn hair, pale skin with chicken pox scars, the lidded eyes of a Spanish saint, and a droll wit. She had secrets, and years afterward, I remembered when her father had looked at me, my skin shrank into my clothes.
Lynne Handy Eve in Bosch’s THE GARDEN OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS A seed flambés and pops into a pod: it is my brain awakening. Four limbs telescope from my trunk, and breeding organs pipe pink above my viscera. Beneath my chin, a dairy bar opens. I burst bent from bone. I am not born, nor am I made of dust. No one breathes the soul of life into my nostrils. I slide out beneath a fetid armpit to lie aground, facing Rock Face, he of the carapaced eye and blacksnake moustache. Upon rising, my eyes fall on a cesspool filled with vermin and birds, some free and good, some encrusted with pearly lies formed from a sand speck that so plagued an oyster, he blew his nacre. I would have run away…but where? A sleeping form bestirs, yawns, sits up, and upon seeing a gash in its side, bleats long and loud. Then from a pink monstrance where the Eucharist is kept steps a godlike figure with butter curls, and robed in robin’s tongue pink. The form’s screams rattle the scalloped hills the arid sky the blue lake and the god wiggles his fingers to heal it. Then the form stretches out in a puppy dog way to graze god’s foot… god grips my wrist and tells the form this, including me, is his dominion. I’m miffed. A murky pool beckons, a way to grow aslant with knowledge already seeded, to be a fish with wings, a bird with three heads, a missile piercing the sky with a beak. I will howl at the moon like a crocoboon.
Adam King October Night in Phoenix, 1980 His motherâ€™s lover Made bonfires in the backyard. One night she broke up An old ladder And tossed it in. Faces of the neighbor children, Reddened with heat And laughter, Held no conclusion, No concern that life could break and burn them. The son saw The deep blue heart Of the fire, under rungs That would never be climbed To reach some tool in the shed For pruning green innocence. Many times he had stolen her atlas And composed scenes in the Sahara, The Gobi, and Madagascar. He could walk there in his mind After the gun was taken And her blood could not be scrubbed From their white bedroom walls.
Adam King His Nightlife for all insomniacs
I find him in the room where he will never sleep. Where the window is swallowed by a watery light. And there is only a clock. There is lint or spiders. There are the shadows of the lint or the spiders’ webs. We sit on high stools at opposite ends of the bed, stools made of longing, of lack. My mattress is stuffed with letters, he says. All night I am restless with reading, reading. My limbs have become lines that need to be written. He says, my eyelids are seals to be licked. I tell him the scenarios of my dreams; he has none: …their hands were fans, articulated, and they couldn’t blow the fires out…storms in their hair, in their heads…etc. My family is unhappy. My unhappiness is my family. Our cat ran away with the moon. And we eat coals. Praying mantises climb near the light bulb to snare moths. They spring like mousetraps. They’re selfish as dogs. And I sleep beneath these sharp movements: advance, grasp, retreat, and devour. Not so unlike us? He cannot find a sock without holes. A stone in my head is heavy as sleep, he says. But it never drops. Can you tell me a story to forget the others? Can you go back farther than the hands, this life with its oversight? What random webs the lint constructs. Keep reading, you are writing your body of fear. You are sending yourself
to someone whoâ€™s been waiting to hear from you through seasons of floods and heavy shame. I swim in the pool of the window, clouds so hot they drip. His stone sinks. The clock stops and its arms tremble, insect-like.
Adam King Signal A furnace at the lowest depth burns every manuscript down to one word. That word cannot be put here. It contains and overthrows any attempt at being charted. There is no thread of a fuse to destroy it. This word resembles nothing heard or spoken. I read a volume: empty, with only smudges of ash. I know that other fingers have turned these pages, like eyes that open and close in the dark. For hours, a dog barks, and I sleep a polite, shallow sleep. Today, the dream that lingers is a tight fistful of nonsense no one could unravel—no one. But the fragment where you, my mother, hold up your shirt to show keloid scars opens the fist in my mind: not empty, for it makes the sign for either “bright” or “wait.”
Adam King The Quarry Abandon the coin-like Moment to turn over. Donâ€™t start with outworn thought. If feeling cannot be struck by lines, Then what? More flattery of natureâ€” For instance, how the trashcan of rainwater Wakes the morning eye further In its alchemy of ice, With carmine and rust-colored leaves Trapped like fish in a windowpane. Afterthoughts can ornament But these are only stones A slave cuts and mortars. Poor unintelligible sermon, What more? That words are also worms, Workers of dirt, of silk. Who loves them hates them. Who dredges them up to die in puddles Or steals their cocoons for this finery. Pay with what happens, Strike feeling without cleverness. Flatter her! She can sing in a trash can. Admit you lifted her gift To feel the burn of ice and see it smash, To free the fish to be leaves.
Jim Daniels Horizontal Hold A mob of drunk college students stole my Support Our Troops/Stop the War sign on a Friday night and marched down the street chanting some slur I could not decipher. I sat curled at the cold window, smoking the glass. A young, coatless girl, long blond hair streaming, stumbled past in tight jeans. In high school, I never thought about Vietnam but would’ve done anything to get inside those jeans—yank up a sign, cuss out some old fart, take a side she took. Early November, and still, one brilliant tree flaming in the park. That Friday night, she was that tree. Saturday morning, I found the torn sign among red beer cups and random trash on the steps of the party house and taped it together, stuck it back in my yard. Democracy sometimes means as much as the word interesting. I haven’t been stoned in a dozen years, but I wanted to get stoned. To be a flaming tree. I rang the bell, pounded on the door, hoping that, hungover, they wouldn’t kick my ass. It’s Mister Old Fogie to you, buster. But no one answered. Young people for war?
Who messed with the on-off switch or the horizontal hold? Those kids too young to know that knob, yet old enough to be Over There. Bring those kids home so they can get drunk and commit small random acts of destruction. Iâ€™d take that, I decided, walking away from the debris, heading to the park to look at that tree one more time before the leaves fell.
Judith Waller Carroll The First Night of My Sonâ€™s Rehab One guilt-drenched dream after another, till finally near dawn, hope in the form of a silver tabby, half-starved and keening, an entreaty so constant and pitiful, what could I do but let him in?
Laura Cherry Partly Stripped Late-spring acacia branch. Thinly threaded screw. Billboard past its prime, strung in shreds. Ant-choked, mower-balded lawn. Party girl on her fourth bad hand and fifth drink. Song heard too many times for too long a sad spell. Wondering as I walk if the remnants read as whole.
M. J. Iuppa For a Split Second When the night’s quiet fits snugly in your ears & air hisses like the recorded gap before music begins, you have an uncanny suspicion that the quickening beat of blood pulsating is a sound you have learned to ignore, like the tick of a clock, or the cat’s purr, or a child dreaming—and for a split second, your ears chime in—each tick, click, um of tongue or breath becomes as fresh as honeysuckle or murmur of bees hidden in blossoms, or flash of goldfish in the pond that has survived another generation, in spite of being taken for granted these many years . . . Only now, you want to talk to your mother about what you’ve learned without her fear of losing something— What was it, exactly? You shake your head, like a sealed jar, to see if your ears are ready to be opened.
Chrish Ramdhani My Divine Companion When I opened my eyes, you sat there smiling but said nothing. I was confused. My gaze shifted and you were gone. Only night remained, her dark-gray presence everywhere. And I inquired: “Where have you gone?” And night answered: “Where you must follow.”
Michael Coolen Five Things I Learned in Africa Your time will come whenever a person complains to me that the dead are better off than he I hasten to remind him that his time will come soon enough Truth truth belongs to everyone it is like a needle on the ground an old man and a child both can pick it up. On scratching one’s ass A man can’t play the drums and scratch his ass at the same time. choose one or the other— and just because someone else has the runs doesn’t mean you have to scratch your ass, so— mind your own business.
A tree is just a tree is just a tree is just a tree may float in the river forever but it will never become a crocodile you may have many degrees and honors and position butâ€” you are still an idiot. Elders got game an old man sitting on a rock sees much farther than a boy in a tree he knows a rock does not have blood no matter how hard you squeeze and that truth is closer than we think.
Michael Coolen Boy on a Skateboard I watched him from the crumbling balcony of my filthy apartment, my toilet and sink so covered with dried shit I needed to use a hammer and screw driver to chip it off. A $400/month shitty apartment I could barely afford in Dakar, Senegal, â€œThe Paris of West Africa.â€? I watched him from a shitty apartment whose tap water was so foul I would boil it for 30 minutes to kill every parasite and bacteria before pouring it into bottles I would store overnight so that two inches of brown sludge could settle to the bottom. I watched him from an apartment that was out of the rain, had a toilet, had running water, had electricity, and, looking out at his world from my balcony every day, a shitty apartment I knew I was very lucky to have found. I watched the boy from that crumbling concrete balcony pushing his noisy skateboard down the sidewalk using fingerless hands wrapped in cloth the color of hopelessness, his jaundiced eyes searching for someone to see him, offer him enough money to buy a piece of bread. A cigarette. His body is so ravaged by polio that his shriveled legs disappear beneath his shirt. He is a torso attached to a skateboard. He looks up at me. He lifts his chin. I see you. I lift my chin. I see you.
I grab a baguette and a handful of cigarettes, walk downstairs, and squat on the sidewalk, waiting for him to work his way to me. “Jama ngam,” he says in Wolof. “Are you at peace?” “Jama rek,” I reply. “Peace only. Are you at peace?” “Jama rek,” he responds. We begin the traditional back-and-forth greetings. “I hope your family has no trouble?” “Is your father at peace? Your mother? All of your family? I hope there is no trouble and that everyone is at peace.” “I am called Hayib,” he says in Wolof. “I am called Michael,” I reply in Wolof. I drop the baguette, cigarettes, and a few coins into a small basket he has attached to the front of his skateboard. I light up two cigarettes. He takes one between his cupped wrists. “Jerejef,” he replies. “Thank you.” We sit quietly amidst the cacophony of a busy street filled with shouting vendors, music blasting from storefronts, and noisy speeding cars and taxis. We watch an ambulance careen down the street 30 minutes too late to be of any help. They are always too late. “They never see me,” he says quietly, in French. “The rich tourists and all the rich people never see me. But they fear me. I can smell their fear, and their contempt.” When we part, I watch him push his skateboard across the street, dodging taxis like some NFL halfback. He scoots over to the old man lying in a gutter, the old man who is always lying in that gutter,
the old man with testicles the size of a basketball, his face always twisted in agony. They greet each other. Together they tear the baguette in half. Hayib gestures to the basket with his chin. The old man takes a few coins and cigarettes. I have strolled amongst the fancy shops and restaurants and looked up at embassies and hotels with bulletproof opaque-glass views of the world beneath them. I have sipped beer in cafĂŠs on the Boulevard de la RĂŠpublique. I have watched the rich and well-dressed and well-spoken and well-thought-of avert their eyes from the omnipresent Hayibs. The old man lights two cigarettes. He and Hayib sit together quietly, smoking, observing their world. Eventually, Hayib pushes off on his daily quest to be seen and not feared. Dakar, Senegal, 1976
Paul Smith A Fine Pair A fine pair of asymptotes Are we Here At the end of our ropes You and your futile hopes Of reaching that y-axis That stretches up up and away Knowing deep down Youâ€™ll only get close And me Stretching my limbs for My more attainable goal A sweet spot just north Of the x-axis A lush meadow Where soft breezes blow And the trigonometry of love Means that Once there Approaching infinity Iâ€™ll never think of you again And just go on and on With what Was meant to be
Kim Zach Cauliflower Cauliflower is nothing but a cabbage with a college education. —Mark Twain
Creamy white beauty, bouquet of florets fit for a bride. A compact head of ivory curd, encircled by a crown of spring green leaves. She is caulis floris, a cabbage flower. Crunchy caper, cruciferous cuisine, wallflower of the vegetable world. Her more colorful cousins—deep purple cabbage, fiery red peppers, orange gold carrots—get all the attention. But your plate’s palette craves a splash of white. A neutral shade, a cool season crop, an esthetically pleasing epicurean experience. Stir-fried, sautéed, steamed— dine on her alabaster loveliness. Subtly sweet and nutty. She’s nubbly and crumbly. Even her names are lovely— White Cloud, Snow Grace, and Candid Charm. Hybrid White and Snowball. Culinarily chic, a crudité extraordinaire. She is brassica oleracea.
Laura K. McRae Twilight in New Orleans Mint-garnished tumblers sweat into our palms, and the quinine prickle of gin and tonic cuts the thick waft of magnolia petals threaded through a copper and steel twilight. Tires slap the road, and the velvet-gravel voice that floods Bourbon Street can’t be Louis Armstrong. Mother said she met him in the ’50s, but then, she said so many things. Smoke bruises my cheek, and I can see the girl’s face in her cigarette’s ember, young and too nonchalant for the night.
Oliver Hutton The Plant Whisperer His was a special gift, known only to he Who watched peers grow and succeed by selfish creed, While he, powerless, was shaded by plant and tree; Those beings that never ask for more than they need, Non-locomotive but thoughtless, mindless, free, Yet gifting oh! to moving virus endless feed! Edifying the way of non-hunting heliotropes And off’ring silent company for ’saken misanthropes. Till one day, to further escape those afraid And full of rhodomontade, serendipity walked him Down an aisle of silk, where bluebells played And snowdrops swayed just among the colour green; A bed which down in their ungrasping love he laid As pollen-scented air drowsed him to wake or dream, And the world of finite games, faked, foed, ill, Fell full from fancy at the voice of a daffodil. “Become one of us,” said anther, petal, sepal or stem: Duchess of the vegetable kingdom was the link To lure him from animal anarchy: “Leave them.” “Why?” he said, tilting his head. “‘Cause we can’t think. But we feel everything: wind, warmth, love, phlegm.” “How do you see?” “We witness,” flower showed with a wink, “From distances non-egocentric, without touting, Without sin, and we see not in out, but out in.” The man hortated had never heard plainer, So simple the shift to a unicorned orchid— Decision made for him, a total no-brainer— Which blossomed omnipotence, sent self into orbit, And bore the fruit of a famed non-feigner . . .
Days later, a girl found the orchid, watered it, Watched it, worshipped it—vigilant guard— But couldn’t remain on the plot seldom starred. A group found it, too, wanting morbid adventure, And quarrelled and argued about what to do: One wanted to take it to a research centre; One wanted selfies with it, for all to view; While another got angry and saw magenta, Crushing the flower beneath his heel—“Adieu!” . . . When the girl returned, she sank to her knees, And wept disconsolate in a forgotten breeze.
Suanne Fetherolf Afterward I watched as all the squiggly lines smoothed out. They wandered the screens like snakes slithering across the desert sand and I remembered the dusty, diamond-etched sidewinder he’d once caught on the end of a stick, lengths of coils thick as my leg rippling as they unfurled. The snaky lines rolled across the screen as if wearing out, the way the sidewinder unwound itself before my father flung it into the gully below— He was a strong man, a man to be obeyed, volcano mostly dormant, prone to sudden eruption— now a mound of hospital sheets, eyes closed, lips parted as if napping—except no breath— though machines went on beeping— the only other noise, a fly stumbling against the window. It had bothered us all afternoon— ill-omened, zipping too quick to kill. Now it noised against the glass in fits, hurled itself against the invisible wall between this world and the green light outside—so beautiful, so full of promise, the wind silently stirring trees, clouds scudding the sky. Lines meandered aimlessly across monitors like old muddy rivers. There was nothing to do but watch.
Suanne Fetherolf Extreme Caving You fold inside out, crawl inside your dark, cool self. In the cave of you, your heart drips, walls smell of wet stone, mold. The wind’s lips are silent. Outside everyone is laughing, holding hands, coupling. Weeks, months, years of rubble seal you in. If you lit a match, what would you see? Eyeless spiders, blanched salamanders, bats wrapped in tattered wings— They sense your presence, your breath, the dark pulp of you— sense your thoughts (everything you ever wanted to forget) unraveling like shadows. You see only the black bulk of your own scarred stone only shattered blood vessels—lightning flickering in your blind sky, scarlet flights of wings at nightfall— Midnight has never been this dark. Even echoes lose their way. Go to sleep— sleep. What else can you do? It’s too bright, too wild outside with stars rivers birds wheels sun trees roads wind—oh the wind!— how it stirs everything with rough invisible fingers.
Linda Benninghoff Gulls The gulls cluster on the seaâ€”carrion, these winter days. It is hard to tell how they differ from vultures, their bells of beaks crying, dark specks of ironcolored ash. I want to know why I donâ€™t see birds as deathmongers, only as angels who sometimes seem human, or why on these gray rainy days the plain sky is like a sty, and the futile land festers from bluefish kill, like my projects that strove heavenward and fell seaward, where fish and hell await, like the gulls: part bird, part not.
Linda Benninghoff Love is not the last corridor after Yehuda Amichai
Inherent in the world there are the slatted Venetian blinds in the shut houses, the corridors that lead into the yard where the throats of birds vibrate passionately. Whether we are worthy or not, love cannot be the last thing we take or lose. The tufted titmouse seems fascinated by sunriseâ€” the paws of the sun creeping over the earth like a young golden lion.
Sarah Gajkowski-Hill For Magdalena confused with creation as I felt our creation kick: nestled, shaded plucked and pink supine and stoic, a tiny tendril of what would become, for us, a sweetly ubiquitous thing. our entire lives, one dappled, sleepy, half-over sunday afternoon.
Sandra Kohler Fruit I wake feeling I need to change my life. How? You know, the walls know, the yellow pages know. They won’t tell. It’s cold it’s dim it’s quiet. The withheld light is grey-white, muted. I want to explore Bach’s music. Why? Because it’s there. Is Bach the Switzerland of music? Vast cold Alpine slopes I find hard to wonder at? I don’t know. Here and now, in the lowlands, life is calling, my dogs, my hounds, my hunt. Tribal. That’s the name I couldn’t remember last night: manufacturer of my favorite black slacks: what came instead was Tropic, Taboo, Safari. No, Tribal. I drink my coffee too quickly and it’s gone. I want to start the day over from last night. The midnight hour, when I drank that extra glass of wine after my friend told me about her mother’s drinking, her pain. Sleeping, I dream a garden where all the flowers have been replaced by thorny, woody bushes bearing berries— raspberry, blackberry, one other kind I don’t know but want to keep my grandchild from eating. Strange fruit. Everything I learn seems a little late. Raising a child, that was always true— a grandchild? When I think of what wisdom I can give her, I shut down, muted. All I can offer is what she’ll ask for, and that may be nothing. The clock striking the hour belonged to my mother-in-law, who gave me much by saying little. It reminds me that I need another cup of coffee, along with a new answer to the oldest question: how to change my life.
Linda Elkin Almost Enviable, Her Innocence folding his shirts, stacking his underwear into a neat pile, matching his clean socks. A luxury, to trust him. What he hid, he hid well, in fear, or the familiar childlike way one guards the secret life. Was this the way adults lie to each other, seamlessly, without desire to extricate themselves, wanting only to be good, to be loved, to be loved without question. Her husbandâ€™s face was a boyâ€™s face when he slept, angelic, and who has ever known what angels think or do? There must have been one thing she never told him, she thinks now,
convicting herself for their ordinary failure. Not now, not here, sheâ€™d say silently when she woke. Or, perhaps, one thing she never told herself. Dreams buzzing in her head like mosquitoes that she pushes away with her hand.
Tricia Knoll Sinâ€™s Bloom after Mary Oliver
A friend said sinâ€™s bloom softens over time. Did she mean decay? Gone-to-seed harvest of shame? The fall-to-earth plea for forgiveness? Maybe a drooping petal of orange. Aging stalks. The hungry bee stealing pollen. The burl mending hurt? I grew up on so many variations of ways to define sin. There is no equal in the plant world. Few blooms are not beautiful, even the corpse flower.
Gail Langstroth horse hay simple / sencilla paja, caballo when you step solo—turfinfinite & you in-body swallow flames that no fire wants— you shed ash that is left emptied— you write light cuando tu andas solo—tierradentro y tragas en tu cuerpo las llamas que ningún fuego quiere— arrojas la ceniza que queda vaciado— escribes luz
Torre Freeman After the Firing Squad It was only after the shots were fired death became him or he became death…it did not matter, for he could see the alluvium his body made against the living he could see that tenderness spread topographically across the landscape, dense in some places, sparse in others Ghosts fly by dead reckoning, finding it difficult to navigate the night, and so it was there, atop the ice, slow to rest as memory became him or he became memory…it did not matter, for he could recall with elephant precision the lifetime-ago trip up north Father talking through that half-moon smile as he discovered the land of ice beneath his boy-sized feet, the place of no tenderness, except for his father—once there—his pitch-black laugh still echoing out across mountains of frozen night
Seth Jani A Kiss in Winter I came to find the snowdrift in your mouth. The drizzling water from the trees Freezes midway as it falls To scatter on the earth. And in the smoldering shade Of the December sky The clouds unleash Great breaths of desolation. In your mouth the ice Has been packed and hardened. And the kiss I sought for days Under solemn wood and hidden sun Has been pushed deep into your throat. I hold a small light to melt the snow. I kiss you, though you are not there.
Michelle Brooks Technicolor You have been at this party for a while. The candles have collapsed on themselves, the napkins ball like fists, and you can no longer pretend you have somewhere else to go. The sequins on your dress that once caught the light have dulled over time. When did your life become sepia? You pretend nothing has faded, that the best is yet to come. After all, youâ€™ve put on your party dress, your game face, your brave face, the one that feels like stone. And you remember when you and everything else sparkled, lit up in wondrous Technicolor.
Sarah Rehfeldt Last Leaves At the quiet edges of the forest, where words keep, wind stirs what is left of gold and light. It is here I begin to listen.
Sarah Rehfeldt Owl Song Low— out from the gray-green backs of trees, spreading out as darkness into hillsides— in silence, the fog— its longing somewhere to be anchored— what has traveled nearly an entire lifetime to reach us.
Contributor Notes William Aarnes has published two collections with Ninety-Six Press: Learning to Dance (1991) and Predicaments (2001). His work has appeared in such magazines as Poetry, The Seneca Review, and Red Savina Review. Recent poems have appeared in Main Street Rag, Shark Reef, and Empty Sink. Carol Alexander’s work has appeared in a variety of anthologies and journals, such as Bluestem, Canary, The Common, Mobius, Poetrybay, and San Pedro River Review. She has published a chapbook, Bridal Veil Falls (Flutter Press, 2013). Stacey Balkun received her MFA from Fresno State and her work has appeared or will appear in Gargoyle, Muzzle, THRUSH, Bodega, and others. She is a contributing writer for The California Journal of Women Writers at http://www.tcjww.org. A 2015 Hambidge Fellow, Stacey served as artist-inresidence at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2013. Her chapbook, Lost City Museum, is forthcoming from ELJ Publications. K. B. Ballentine’s work has appeared in numerous journals and publications, including Alehouse, Tidal Basin Review, and Haight Ashbury Literary Journal. A finalist for the 2014 Ron Rash Poetry Award, she was also a 2006 finalist for the Joy Harjo Poetry Award and was awarded the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize in 2006 and 2007. Fragments of Light (2009) and Gathering Stones (2008) were published by Celtic Cat Publishing. Her third collection, What Comes of Waiting, won the 2013 Blue Light Press Book Award. For more information, please see www.kbballentinecom. Janet Barry is a musician and poet with works published in numerous journals and anthologies, most recently Prairie Wolf Press, Extract(s), and Looseleaf Tea. She serves yearly as a judge for Poetry Out Loud, and has received several Pushcart and Best of the Net nominations, as well as having her poem “Aubade” chosen for inclusion in a forthcoming edition of BiLINE (Best Indie Lit New England). Janet holds degrees in organ performance and poetry. Brian Beatty’s jokes, poems, reviews and short stories have appeared in numerous print and online publications. His writing has also been featured in public art projects and on public radio. A native of Brazil, Indiana, Brian now lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Linda Benninghoff grew up on Long Island and attended Johns Hopkins University where she majored in English. She has recently published poetry in Aleola, Lodestone, and the Wallace Stevens Journal.
Emma Bolden is the author Maleficae, a book-length series of poems about the European witch trials (GenPop Books); medi(t)ations (forthcoming from Noctuary Press); four poetry chapbooks; and one nonfiction chapbook. She was the winner of the 2014 Barthelme Prize for Short Prose from Gulf Coast, the Spoon River Poetry Review’s 2014 Editor’s Prize Contest, and the Press 53/Prime Number Magazine 2014 Award for Flash Nonfiction. Her work was chosen for inclusion in Best Small Fictions 2015 and Best American Poetry 2015. Jota Boombaba, when not on the road, writes poetry in and around San Francisco, where he lives and kicks back with his son. Find him most days at www.jotaboombaba.com. Michelle Brooks has published a collection of poetry, Make Yourself Small, (Backwaters Press), and a novella, Dead Girl, Live Boy (Storylandia Press). A native Texan, she has spent much of her adult life in Detroit, her favorite city. Janet Buck is a seven-time Pushcart Nominee with more than 4,000 poems in print and on the Internet. Recently, her work has appeared in Offcourse, PoetryMagazine.com, and Birmingham Arts Journal. Buck's fourth print collection of poetry, Dirty Laundry, was released by Vine Leaves Press in November of 2015. Ordering information is available at: http://www.janetibuck.com Judith Waller Carroll is the author of Walking in Early September (Finishing Line Press, 2012). Her work appears or is forthcoming in Persimmon Tree, damselfly press, and Heron Tree, among other journals; the anthologies River of Earth and Sky: Poems for the Twenty-first Century (Blue Light Press, 2015), Joys of the Table (Richer Resources Publications, 2015), Music in the Air (Outrider Press, 2013), and The Heart of All That Is: Reflections on Home (Holy Cow! Press, 2013); and has been nominated for Best of the Net. Awards include the 2010 Carducci Poetry Prize from Tallahassee Writers’ Association. Laura Cherry is the author of the chapbook Two White Beds (Minerva Rising), the full-length collection Haunts (Cooper Dillon Books), and the chapbook What We Planted (Providence Athenaeum). She co-edited the anthology Poem, Revised (Marion Street Press). Her work has been published or is forthcoming in journals including Antiphon, LA Review, and Tuesday: An Art Project, as well as a number of anthologies. Wanda Morrow Clevenger lives in Hettick, IL. Over 300 pieces of her work appear in 115 print and electronic publications. Her debut book, This Same Small Town in Each of Us, is available postage-free in the US via email request at: firstname.lastname@example.org. A full-length poetry manuscript is currently stalking unsuspecting press editors.
Rob Cook lives in New York City’s East Village. He is the author of six collections, most recently including Undermining of the Democratic Club (Spuyten Duyvil, 2014) and Empire in the Shade of a Grass Blade (Bitter Oleander Press, 2013). His work has appeared in Fence, Colorado Review, Pleiades, and many other journals. Michael Coolen is a pianist, composer, actor, performance artist, storyteller, and writer living in Corvallis, Oregon. His written works have been published in Ethnomusicology, Western Folklore, Oregon Humanities, and elsewhere. He has also published music for various ensembles, and his compositions have been performed around the world, including at Carnegie Hall, the New England Conservatory of Music, MoMA, and the Christie Gallery in New York. Sandy Coomer is a poet, mixed media artist, and endurance athlete. Her poetry has most recently been published in Apeiron Review, Red River Review, and Pilcrow & Dagger. Her poetry chapbook, Continuum, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2012. Her second collection, The Presence of Absence, won the 2014 Janice Keck Literary Award for Poetry. She lives in Brentwood, TN, where she regularly trains for and races in triathlons. Jim Daniels’s fourteenth book of poems, Birth Marks, was published by BOA Editions in 2013 and was selected as a Michigan Notable Book, was a winner of the Milton Kessler Poetry Book Award, and received the Gold Medal in Poetry in the Independent Publishers’ Book Awards. His fifth book of short fiction, Eight Mile High, was published by Michigan State University Press in 2014. Linda Elkin has an MFA from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers. She taught creative writing workshops for twelve years in San Francisco. Linda’s poems have been published in The Bloomsbury Review, Midwest Quarterly, and Kindled Terraces: American Writers in Greece (Truman State University Press). Crystal Lane Swift “CLS” Ferguson, PhD, speaks, signs, acts, publishes, sings, performs, writes, paints, teaches, and rarely relaxes. She and her husband, Rich Ferguson, are raising their Bernese Mountain Border Collie mutt, Sadie, in Hollywood, CA. http://clsferguson.wix.com/clsferguson Suanne Fetherolf lives in New Jersey where she earned her M.A. at Drew University. She teaches English and creative writing. Her work has appeared in such journals as Spoon River Poetry Review, Gravel Magazine, and Isthmus Literary Review. Nicholas Finch is the assistant editor of Neon literary journal. He was raised in England and South Africa before moving to Florida. His major influences include Ernest Hemingway, Rudy Wilson, and Andy Plattner. Finch has pieces
published or has work forthcoming in Florida Review, Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, and elsewhere. His website is finchandcrown.com. Kari Fisher recently earned an MFA from Rainer Writing Workshop (Pacific Lutheran University) and holds an MA in English from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. She and her three children, two dogs, and one cat live in the Twin Cities. Ruth Foley lives in Massachusetts, where she teaches English for Wheaton College. Her work appears in numerous web and print journals, including Adroit, Sou’wester, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. She is the author of the chapbooks Dear Turquoise and Creature Feature and the full-length collection Dead Man’s Float (forthcoming from ELJ Publications). She serves as managing editor for Cider Press Review. J. Oscar Franzen is a Seattle poet. His work has appeared in Vallum and The Monarch Review. Torre Freeman is going back to school to pursue an MFA in Poetry. This is her first published work. Sarah Gajkowski-Hill works as a writer at the University of Houston. She has had recent poems published in the Josephine Quarterly and Amygdala. She enjoys classic rock and listening to her children play Legend of Zelda theme music on the family’s piano. Brad Garber writes, paints, draws, photographs, and hunts for mushrooms and snakes in the Great Northwest. Since 1991, he has published poetry, essays, and weird stuff in Uphook Press, Barrow Street, and other quality publications. He was a 2013 Pushcart Prize nominee. Lynne Handy is a member of the St. Charles Writers Group, Chicago Writer’s Association, and Kentucky State Poetry Society. Her work has been published in Memoir Journal, Lark’s Fiction Magazine, Pegasus, and elsewhere. Her short story, “Green Lady,” will be included in Familiar Spirits, an anthology of ghost stories. A retired library director, she lives in northern Illinois, enjoys nature, and writes poems and short stories. Lois Marie Harrod’s 13th and 14th poetry collections, Fragments from the Biography of Nemesis (Cherry Grove Press) and the chapbook How Marlene Mae Longs for Truth (Dancing Girl Press) appeared in 2013. The Only Is won the 2012 Tennessee Chapbook Contest (Poems & Plays), and Brief Term, a collection of poems about teachers and teaching, was published by Black Buzzard Press, 2011. Cosmogony won the 2010 Hazel Lipa Chapbook Contest (Iowa State). She is widely published in literary journals and online e-zines
from American Poetry Review to Zone 3. She teaches creative writing at the College of New Jersey. Read her work on www.loismarieharrod.org. Gwen Hart teaches writing at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa. She is the author of the chapbooks Losing Ohio (Finishing Line Press) and Dating the Invisible Man (The Ledge Press), and the full-length collection Lost and Found (David Robert Books). Tom Holmes is the editor of Redactions: Poetry, Poetics, & Prose, and in July 2014, he also co-founded RomComPom: A Journal of Romantic Comedy Poetry. He is the author of seven collections of poetry, including, most recently The Cave, which won The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award for 2013 and was released in October 2014. His writings about wine, as well as his poetry book reviews and poetry, can be found at his blog, The Line Break, at http://thelinebreak.wordpress.com/. Oliver Hutton is a UK-qualified solicitor with over FIVE years’ experience of dry shipping litigation. The battle for his signature was ferociously fought. In the end, it was TCI that beat the thousands of other law firms to it, with colleagues describing it as the happiest day of their lives when “Olly” walked through the door to begin his training contract on Tuesday 20th July, 2010. Olly advises on complicated issues too numerous and highbrow to mention here, but the way he provides transcendental solutions to every conceivable legal and commercial problem was reported in the Legal 500 as “awesome.” M.J. Iuppa lives on Red Rooster Farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. Most recent poems, lyric essays, and fictions have appeared in the following journals: Black Poppy Review, Digging to the Roots, Tar River Poetry, and elsewhere. She is the director of the Visual and Performing Arts Minor Program at St. John Fisher College. You can follow her musings on art, writing, and sustainability on mjiuppa.blogspot.com. Seth Jani currently resides in Seattle, WA, and is the founder of Seven CirclePress (www.sevencirclepress.com). His own work has appeared throughout the small press in such places as The Foundling Review, The Hamilton Stone Review, and Gravel. His most recent collection, Questions from the Interior, can be read online at www.sethjani.com. Adam King resides in Silver City, NM, and is currently finding (or losing) himself in writing fiction and learning the art of fairy tale interpretation. Robert S. King edits Kentucky Review. His poems have appeared in hundreds of magazines, including Chariton Review, Kenyon Review, and Southern Poetry Review. He has published eight poetry collections, most recently Diary of the Last Person on Earth (Sybaritic Press 2014) and Developing a Photograph of God (Glass Lyre Press, 2014). 104
Tricia Knoll is an Oregon poet whose work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. Her chapbook, Urban Wild, is out from Finishing Line Press (2014). Ocean’s Laughter, a collection of poetry about Oregon’s north coast will be out from Aldrich Press in December, 2015. Website: triciaknoll.com Sandra Kohler’s third collection of poems, Improbable Music, appeared in May 2011 from Word Press. Her second collection, The Ceremonies of Longing, winner of the 2002 AWP Award Series in Poetry, was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in November 2003. An earlier volume, The Country of Women, was published in 1995 by Calyx Books. Her poems have appeared over the past thirty-five years in journals including Prairie Schooner, The New Republic, and Beloit Poetry Journal. For forty years, poet and eurythmist Gail Langstroth has collaborated and performed with international artists in North and South America, Japan, Spain, Germany, Russia, and Romania. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Drew University. She is part of Jan Beatty’s Voices in the Attic writing community. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Yemassee, Citron Review, and Rust + Moth. Visit her website at: http://www.wordmoves.com/ Robert Lunday is the author of Mad Flights (Ashland Poetry Press), and has recent poems in Field, Tar River Poetry, and Third Coast. He lives on a small horse farm in central Texas and teaches for Houston Community College. Helen Mazarakis lives in Montclair, New Jersey, and writes poetry and children’s fiction. She spent many years working for non-profits and government on community and economic development. With an empty nest looming on the horizon, Helen hopes to travel with her husband and spend more time with family in Virginia and Greece. Her poetic works-in-progress can be found on her blog at www.helenmazarakis.com. She is currently working on a trilogy for middle-grade readers. Laura K. McRae is a teacher in Toronto, Ontario, where she lives and writes. Her poems have appeared in numerous Canadian and US journals, including The Antigonish Review, Contemporary Verse 2, and Tar River Poetry. Darren Morris is interested in how image and memory work together, especially now that he has been diagnosed with a retinal disease resulting in the progressive loss of his peripheral vision. His poems or short stories have been published in The Missouri Review, New England Review, Blackbird, and many other. Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in longterm care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL, with his wife, Vickie, and his 105
daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart nominee and a Best of the Net nominee whose work has appeared in more than a thousand publications. Aside from an ongoing obsession with R. W. Fassbinder, Drew Pisarra blogs about Korean movies weekly at koreangrindhouse.blogspot.com and has been staging Gertrude Stein plays for nearly twenty years. He is the recipient of grants from the Regional Arts & Culture Council, the Brooklyn Arts Exchange, and the Brooklyn Arts Commission. Grant Quackenbush is from San Diego. His poetry has been published in the San Diego Poetry Annual, Rattle, and is forthcoming in The Eunoia Review. He is a first-year MFA student in poetry at the University of California, Irvine. Chrish Ramdhani is an accountant by profession. Indian and Buddhist philosophies appear frequently in his poems. This is his first published work. Cherri Randall has an MFA in poetry from the University of Arkansas where she also completed a PhD in English literature. She has been published in several literary magazines, including Blue Earth Review, So to Speak, City Lights, and others. Sarah Rehfeldt is a recent Pushcart nominee and the author of Somewhere South of Pegasus, a collection of image poems. She lives with her family in Western Washington where she is also an artist and photographer. Her book can be purchased from her photography web pages at: www.pbase.com/candanceski David Anthony Sam has written poetry for over forty years with two collections, Dark Land, White Light (1974, 2014) and Memories in Clay, Dreams of Wolves (2014). Born in McKeesport, PA, he lives now in Culpeper, VA, with his wife and life partner, Linda, and serves as president of Germanna Community College. Sam was the featured poet in the Winter 2015-16 issue of The Hurricane Review and is a nominee for a Pushcart Prize. Kate E. Schultz earned her MA in English from Ohio University in 2008, where she also served as assistant editor of New Ohio Review. Her work has appeared in Bayou Magazine, Midwestern Gothic, Cottonwood, and others. She is currently an associate editor of Sow’s Ear Poetry Review. Sam Seskin lives in Portland, Oregon. He doesn’t have any tattoos and doesn’t drink coffee. He just rides a bike. Paul Smith writes poetry and fiction. He lives in Skokie, Illinois, with his wife, Flavia. Sometimes he performs poetry at an open mic in Chicago. He believes that brevity is the soul of something he read about once, and whatever that something is or was, it should be cut in half immediately. 106
Sally Toner has been living, teaching high school English, and writing in the Washington DC area for almost twenty years. Her fiction has been published in Gargoyle Magazine and Defying Gravity, a compilation of writing by women in the Washington, DC, area. Jesslyn Watson is a current student at The Ohio State University, pursuing a degree in French and creative writing. Her poetry has also appeared in Collision Literary Magazine. Gina Williams lives and creates in the Pacific Northwest. Her poetry, essays, and visual art have been featured by or are forthcoming most recently in OkeyPanky, Carve, and The Sun, among others. Learn more about her and her work at GinaMarieWilliams.com. Linda Wojtowick grew up in Montana. She now lives and works in Portland, Oregon, where she indulges her cinematic obsessions without restraint. Her poetry has most recently appeared in Off the Coast, The Prompt, and Spoon River Poetry Review. Sherri Wright lives in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, after a career focused on education for at risk youth at the University of Minnesota and the Federal government. It was with the Rehoboth Beach Writer’s Guild that she discovered her love for poetry. Wright runs, practices yoga, works out, and volunteers at a center for homeless—all of which figure into her poems. Her work has been published in The Hill Rag, Letters from Camp Rehoboth, and Inspired by the Poet. Kim Zach is a high school English teacher and a lifelong resident of the Midwest. Her poem “Weeding My Garden” appeared in the spring 2015 issue of U.S. 1 Worksheets and was reprinted in the quarterly review Genesis. Another poem, “When I Consider,” is scheduled for publication in U.S. 1 Worksheets next spring. Thomas Zimmerman teaches English, directs the Writing Center, and edits two literary magazines at Washtenaw Community College, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His chapbook In Stereo: Thirteen Sonnets and Some Fire Music appeared from The Camel Saloon Books on Blog in 2012. Tom’s website: thomaszimmerman.wordpress.com/
About the Editor G. F. Boyer is a freelance editor of both prose and poetry, a creative writing instructor, and the editor of Clementine Poetry Journal and Clementine (Unbound). To work with her on one of your projects, visit www.gfboyer.com. Her poems have appeared in a number of publications, including The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, and RHINO. She holds a vintage MFA from the University of Washington, where she had the pleasure and honor of working with the poet David Wagoner.
To read current or archived poems, or to submit your work, visit: Clementine Poetry Journal www.clementinepoetryjournal.com Clementine (Unbound) https://clementineunbound.wordpress.com/