Clementine Unbound, Volume One

Page 1

Clementine Unbound

Volume One: January – June 2016

Clementine Unbound Editor: G. F. Boyer This volume collects the poems published on the Clementine Unbound website from January 2016 through June 2016. Cover photo, “Kagami Mochi,” by Bruce Fleming Clementine line drawing by Paul Foxton

© 2016 by G. F. Boyer All rights revert to individual authors upon publication. Published by Clementine Press Displayed in printable book form at

Clementine Unbound Volume One: January – June 2016

Clementine Press

Contents Tracy Mishkin Ruth Foley Kelsey Hatch Grant Quackenbush Kim Zach Oliver Hutton Tom Montag Kevin Shyne Steve Klepetar Kasey Elizabeth Johnson Corey Mesler Rebecca Valley Caitlin McCrory Evans Robert Crisp Adam King Sandra Kohler Carol Alexander C. B. Anderson Denise Segal Umans Emmaline Silverman Joanie Mackowski Jennifer Gravley L. Ward Abel Dave Martin Andrea Wyatt

The Thaw Water Strider Self Portrait as Bottle and Snow Globe Sonnet with Desert Dunes Laparus Doris What It Is Rid The Poem Wakes Me, 3:00 a.m. The Bower Re: Spectre If A Birder? No, The Valentine Condominium of the Trees Debridement Suicides We Thought We Needed Silk Scarves Penitence There Was a Man, There Was No Such Man Objects in Mirror On Time Girl Before a Mirror Sic Transit Gloria Mundi My Father’s Path Hoover Road First How to Talk to Your Mother My mother is a spider. Oconee The Deer The Cowlies

1 2 3 4 5 6 8 9 11 12 13 15 16 17 18 20 21 22 23 24 26 27 29 30 31 32 34 35 36 37 38

T. S. Hidalgo Sharon Scholl Linda Benninghoff CLS Ferguson Eliot Wilson Julia C. Alter Jared Carter Pam Burr Smith Lois Marie Harrod Contributor Notes About the Editor

New Year’s Eve Eat Space There 12721 Stone Canyon Road Carrying Suki Nothing Smaller Lath Yellow Goodness

39 41 42 43 44 45 47 48 49 52 58

Tracy Mishkin The Thaw A wren rises, spilling sun from her beak. Nuns are buying asparagus from roadside stands and beginning to dance. Winter hardened us, sidewalks slick and dark, the wind spinning past, late for mayhem. We shrank. Now we grow affable as dandelions, cozy at the center, smiling like children dazzled by sidewalk chalk. We soak in thoughts of summer like lovers in a claw-foot tub scented with clary sage. Our sleep deepens at long last into dreams.


Ruth Foley Water Strider It’s not balance with us, love, so much as care in where we place our feet. If we were capsized you would rise without thought and I could follow. If we could claim to belong below or to each other. If we could skim the world beneath our feet. I have already forsaken ground. You watch the skies. I check for fish, for some ascending destruction. Don’t think, love, just move. If only I could make you test the tension it could —just once—hold us.


Ruth Foley Self Portrait as Bottle and Snow Globe Someone built a boat in me, or outside then unfurled within. Masts and rigging rose, a grate, a background of painted sea. Press your ear to me and hear the roll, the shanty of the woman who paces the shore, knows the sea and what it takes. Meanwhile I look for sails to hoist, a chart, an aperture to use for navigation. I hold the moon low again tonight, unvarying cork on my horizon. He filled me with water and plastic snow, took me and shook. Inside me is a bridge divided from the shores. If it follows from nothing, leads nowhere, at least no one can leap or drown but me. He used to like to set me over, tip me back. Snow swept and raged across my towers and suspensions until he grew bored, denied me even tumult. I occupy myself with gasping. Inside me, every forecast calls for storms.


Kelsey Hatch Sonnet with Desert Dunes At night when his body is folded on the bed, and his back is turned—I’ll start a poem in my head: We stay up. / I watch his back curved / and shoulders arced / like desert dunes— Desert dunes. I walk through it in my head. Into the heat. Hardly shifting / as he breathes. Desert dunes, the dry air blowing ridges in the sand. Grand as the stones moving in its valleys. Desert dunes, a deep beige beneath blue-steel skies. I disappear into it—the dunes, the back, before the words dry up. Desert dunes: Later he lays flat, / sleeping like a body, his body / and I see the freckles now / on the same skin and bones / that stood mountainous. Desert dunes. The words tire and crumple like a jackrabbit in the pocks of dunes—cool and unmoving, its ruffled planes disturbed only by this animal crawling quiet in the dark.


Kelsey Hatch Laparus Doris We saw her in a wooden box as Doris Longwing. No animals were killed to be naturalized, Says the taxidermist, with the exception of a few. Doris—my mother’s mother—who turned into A butterfly: white eyes and saffron streaks, reminding Us that we look nothing like her. Naturalized. No, unnaturalized. We try to memorize her patterns, The natural order we sought to learn before this death: A quaint crucifixion preserved beneath glass.


Grant Quackenbush What It Is Philip Levine (1928 – 2015)

Today, instead of looking for a job, I went back to work on the poem I’ve been working on for a week about working, inspired by Philip Levine’s National Book Award-winning What Work Is in which he reminds his kid self that he doesn’t know a thing about it—work, I mean. An interesting statement considering he reminds him through poems written forty years later about gin and fire and German automobiles which, because a poem is not an automobile or for that matter a post office or the city of Detroit at night, can hardly be considered the earned result of actual, bone-breaking, heart-attack-inducing work. A poem is a poem and you sit on a toilet, or in my case a wooden stool at the public library, to do it. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve worked. I can count at least twenty different jobs off the top of my head I’ve worked. And I’m talking shit jobs, minimum wage jobs—jobs where you need a truck just to even get hired and the job just to maintain the truck, and no, I’m not talking about Pizza Hut. Close, though. I’m talking about jobs that have nothing to do with writing. Jobs that drive a man to drink, fuck, consider taking on more debt just to avoid them temporarily. Jobs you hate so much you can only start writing about them forty years later, at sixty-two, when the possibility


and life-threatening fear of having to return to them when your luck runs out has finally begun to diminish. Look in the mirror: you’re old. You’ve won a National Book Award for poetry for chrissake. Poetry! Can you believe that shit? Still, you did it. For some crazy ass reason not even you could name, you did it. Looking back on it, you can’t help but think that the poems were the result of work after all—of having worked and knowing precisely what it is: something you didn’t want to have to do.


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.


Kim Zach The Poem Wakes Me, 3:00 a.m. nudging me from my dreams, a lover who suddenly wants my attention. Just this afternoon I waited, implored him to show up, but he remained aloof, a big tease. Yet now, in the deep of night, when all things are black and still, he whispers, spins lovely lies, ribbons of language unspooling in my sleep-slogged brain. I reach for him, desperate to remember the rhythm, the lines, the internal rhymes. I switch on the lamp, scribble in my notebook before he slinks away.


Sunrise. Slanting curls and loopy scrawls, the only signs he’d been here, like the gentle indent in a pillow, left by a departed lover.


Oliver Hutton The Bower Three men in different parts of the world. One, in a leafy shelter, kept bending forward at the hip. The second, in a boudoir in a castle, played a violin. The third, in a cottage, held an anchor. None knew each other, but all thought the same: “What on earth are we doing?!�


Oliver Hutton Re: Spectre There’s a ghost in the cloisters, A ghost in the machine, whose worlds are its oysters, a host with a sheen. A host casing a changing shell, a boast wasting a waning spell. Senses of touch, taste, sight and smell, and the oft-ignored ring of a bell. One competes to take control; the other waits for ev’ry random. The former fights to climb the knoll; the latter’s left to work in tandem. Millions, minions, servile souls, wand’ring, wond’ring if the bell tolls—


Oliver Hutton If If I could live the life I always dreamed, How different would it be? If I could change the way things seem, How much more would I be me? If you could roll your desires into one, Piss on them with a water gun, Flush them forever down the loo… What then would you do? If we could live without fear, more truly, Not at arm’s length, shaking hands coolly, Not Eves and Abels or jailers of humans, But kissing! Like Leighs and Gables or Taylors and Newmans. If you could relinquish self and ego, Would you step out of your own way? Or sit at home watching Finding Nemo— (Watch it, actually. It beats the ballet.) If I could avoid this traffic jam, Would you be reading the words here writ? Even Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham Mightn’t exist without the shit.


For I have seen despair, disgrace, Stepped out of the dark, looked Hate in the face; It wasn’t some gross, disfigured elf. Come close, I’ll tell you: it was my self.


Tom Montag A Birder? No, I am not a birder, nor an amateur ornithologist, unless you mean very amateur. A bird watcher? No, a watcher of all that is sweet and fleeting who needs to know the names of things.


Kevin Shyne The Valentine Beside me in a nursing home you unfold a yellow page and read the little poem I wrote for you before old age had robbed us of familiar ground. Let our day be put away, lost, then one day found between the pages of a favorite book, thick and leather-bound. You read each line and wait in hopes that I might recognize this ancient valentine. The nurse stops by. She says it’s late. You see a flicker in my eyes. Could it be a sign that proves at least I’ve heard? It’s as if I said in spoken words as my vital signs were noted, “That’s beautiful, my dear. Who wrote it?”


Steve Klepetar Condominium of the Trees We bought a condominium on Oak Lane on Maple Avenue, on Willow Drive. The elms were all dead, but it might have been Linden Boulevard or Chestnut Hill. Who knows? I have it carved, here, somewhere on my wrist. The blood is almost dry and besides, my eyes are better now, after drops and drugs. We pay the association fee. We drink some wine, wave at faces in the window glass. Some nights we play tennis while neighbors roast a pig or do their origami in the sand. We’re playful, use their middle names. They call us Roosevelt and Jane, but we don’t mind. In summer, we use the pool and water rises above our necks. Sometimes we pick lettuce in the moonlight, or find mushrooms growing by birches tangled on the lawn. We fish in the koi pond, slip between shadows in the road. It’s a good life in the Condominium of the Trees. On a hot day, we saw a squirrel stretched out on the railing of our deck, a rubbery gray shape drained of anxiety. No blood was spilt and we soon returned to our game of Bridge. We won at Scrabble, lost at Trivial Pursuit. We found our sandals beneath a flaming bush. Night came on and we headed home, or were we there already, rubbing our noses in the fragrant grass?


Kasey Elizabeth Johnson Debridement When you cannot put into words the one thing that is happening or has happened, then you find another way to say it: You say, for instance, birds gathering in the morning, junco and starling, the whirring of hummingbirds at the bedroom window, you say cacophony to hold them all together, these discordant, but similar beings. You say midday, the sun overhead surprisingly, and your life still lying in bed, still trying to forget itself and you say, disremember, as the light disappears in gradations and diminishments, until you are lighting candles, as if to ward off evil spirits,


unwelcome guests, as perhaps you are. You say, chaos, or what you know of it: emptied and lost things, boxes, everything loosed and nothing in familiar spaces: no bread box, no bread, no bookshelf, no books, no paintings on the wall but dust everywhere, and falling through the disappearing light—you hate the way it holds and thickens, purposefully unlike the rest of a house come undone, unlike your life, moving about you or lying lifeless, denying itself to itself, forcing you to ask the unanswerable: What belongs, and where, after all?


Corey Mesler Suicides We Thought We Needed Out of the bug-thick darkness, out of our cradle, endlessly endless, out of the rings we draw, the water we rise from, out of the terrible swamps of emotion, out of time, out of the night’s last wail, we move on. We move on and we raise new flags, because we believe, because we believe that danger, ah, is still sexy.


Rebecca Valley Silk Scarves When I call this time you are in the Japan where you are learning businessman as an experiment in getting along. Last month, in the Japan where your mother fed you milk with her thumbs, you reminded me of budding, and delicately cycled clothes. I am uncertain where these roses come from. I watch for animals in the yard because I haven’t been touched. When I say these things to you, you are in the Japan with silk scarves tied to tree limbs, knotting and unknotting in the wind.


Caitlin McCrory Evans Penitence I’ve read accounts of women who walked into the sea after Woolf; pockets weighed down by small gravel and pebbles; as if the water couldn’t swallow their guilt whole. I always asked my students to imagine what their characters carried in their pockets; the untucked linings and days-old lint; empty gum wrappers or unused panty liners; this is what makes them real, I promised. These things will go through cycles on wash and rinse, and, still, none will be wholly clean. I’ve failed to wash any of your jackets in almost two years; I keep the pockets full as you left them, now with faded grocery receipts, lists of wines, and grit that has collected in between the seams.


Robert Crisp There Was a Man, There Was No Such Man There was a man, full of light and fear said she, who loved me, this declared as she danced on the edge of the sea. There was no such man, said he, who loved you thus, this uttered as he wove pain into a mask once, twice, thrice. Far below, beyond oceans and cheap parlor tricks-(who are you now? who do you want




—the smallest piece hope turns over, no longer a helpless bug, but the kind of creature who gets shit done.



Adam King Objects in Mirror My mother lies long in the sun. I am four. I play far away, Near the shore, where seaweed tangles, stranded. If she were awake, I would be tiny in her sight. The white sand, the shells, the waves I listen to. I wonder why she sleeps. She wakes and walks down to me, Sand caked on each sole. Her bikini, darker blue than sky. She loosens the clip from her long, long hair And gives it to me. I dig a hole and place it safely, With a heap on top, to remember. She disappears deep into the rolling water. I imagine sharks Until she emerges slick, glistening. Her tanned thighs throw the ocean to either side. As I look up and she looks down, Cold saltwater drips from her face into mine. I think of ice cream as I watch her wind wet hair Into a white towel. She ties another around my waist Like a skirt. I sink my feet into her prints, Walking back behind her quickly, burning.


She sees my brick-red shoulders And turns the skirt into a shawl. Watch your hands, she says, And the car door slams. My finger underlines the words In the mirror, as if I were reading them. The hair clip the waves will take tonight— Forgotten, silver.


Sandra Kohler On Time i. Where did the morning go? The morning went where it was supposed to, a child obediently lining up in the schoolyard, a car nosing into changed lane patterns, falling water coursing down a hillside, over stone, bony outcroppings, rich soil inscribed by its vein of icy brilliance. ii. Writing to a friend, I tell her I keep circling around and around death, my husband’s, mine, stopping, resting, temporarily landing in different places. Like the leaf I see today in the yard, a single yellow leaf, floating down like a parachute from high in one treetop, a comma of a leaf, a comment. iii. In the three years and three months of my grandchildren’s lives, time has created two consciousnesses, two new worlds. Still, the being each child was a year ago is already lost, vanished. Ruthless and slaying, time destroys these children, recreates them, tender and growing. 26

Carol Alexander Girl before a Mirror Her nose begins to be out of joint. He’s called her beauty, but made a mock of symmetry— the parting of the veil a duple screen like two trains running from the Gare Saint-Lazare both east and west; in the background red patterns of migraine, and the bright moon mask of the saltimbanques. Mouth kisses firm mouth, the painted and the obscure, profile and full face of desire. The canvas sings of the viscera, sacred heifer to his bull. In a jar beside the commode steep tears of brine. Should not think, but be. Light falls away like chaff from wheat. Regret for the crust, 27

the bowl of cabbage soup; he will drink absinthe while her stomach growls. The floor is littered with splotches of pique in the cold light from the lunette. She will pick up the jagged waste of herself, clean the brushes with turpentine and just for a moment, think about death. When he leans from the window commanding his shard of street, girl in the mirror studies with sweet chagrin the purple specter poised to make her blush. What does that lidless eye perceive? She mustn’t look too hard. Mademoiselle won’t find it there and even if she does, it will not be there at dawn. Marie-Thérèse Walter was the French mistress and model of Pablo Picasso from 1927 to about 1935, and the mother of his daughter, Maya Widmaier-Picasso.


C. B. Anderson Sic Transit Gloria Mundi To go for glory is to court the pain, The shame, the never-ending toil and all The years of heartbreak when a modest gain Occasions further disappointment. Lost In the hard-edged struggle is not the call To duty or even faith, but a sense Of fairness and proportion: damn the cost To those who overpaid by half or more Without a nickel’s worth of recompense, And hand it to the lucky few who made The grade with very little effort—sore Losers need not apply. Yet Heaven knows, This glory’s flimsy, prone to sudden fade Like winter sunsets and the desert rose.


Denise Segal Umans My Father’s Path We walk the lengthy beach in Gordon’s Bay dwelling on our reasons to be wandering here, this time of year, in winter’s shawl along the Indian Ocean shore. The mountains loom behind us keeping watch as when my father walked these paths in days long gone. I trace his footsteps on the strand, his carefree bike descending to the vale. We stop to study shells of varied hues, deftly carving patterns as they move in sand that stretches softly, whitely on, their history scrawled in slow, illegible song. I kneel to peer, to unravel the contoured fable of one life, illumined by its whorls. The periwinkle scurries to a hole in weakened, winter sun. Now, as I pass handpicked cowries and cones resting in a basket in the hall, I see my father hiking in the hills, collecting shells left stranded by the spray. I catch a whiff of salty, fishy scent, crisp air— a trace of childhood washed away. 30

Emmaline Silverman Hoover Road Windows down, wild blackberry dusk: we’re driving the twisting narrow roads, approaching the brink of invisibility. Around these parts, everyone’s mama said to honk before those blind curves—nothing rude, don’t smash it like you’re throwing a punch, just a little beep to say you’re there—but no one does. We careen over, dreamlike. We rely on the truck’s tight suspension and our reaction time, our sly affinity for survival, like barn cats, like the houses nestled in the hollows where the satellites go dead, like the ladybugs that invade the farmhouse every fall, nesting in windowsills and burrowing into pillowcases, swarming the pantry so the Wonder Bread tastes like a windshield—and you know you should squish them, like your mama said, but this is their home now and besides, they don’t mean anybody any harm.


Joanie Mackowski First How begin disrubbled fable, how beckon the first. Amid what, all fall down. Amiddling. How begin midshards, imparticulate, grace for the mill. How amid this dross of corporate inchoate to cohere a motion distinct from the general motion to proceed with the order; how interred in medias erases initial condition poof. As sea to shining drowns all gnashtooth outbound wail. And absent sense, which is relative. Absent self, which relative suffers. Absent other, absent vanishing point, absent shadow, tick absent took, all but absent equiliberation: earth, ocean, void, face mingled l-m-n obedient to the herd’s flux


and sway—amid this unbounded mingle culmination, somehow alchemized I, I am, I do, I watch, I zing the plush, I thrill each synaptic chasm with storms of hormones, I intuit astral protoplasm. Yes. At long last first I was I. The singular. The lost consequent. The refractory iteration of you.


Jennifer Gravley How to Talk to Your Mother Ignore her. Say something smart. Shut your mouth. Turn your face to the wall. Be always in a different room when you cry. Ignore her questions. Clip your sentences bare. Allow her a goodbye when you leave. Wave from the car as she stands on the porch and then look ahead into traffic, opening your mouth to mumble-shout lyrics you can’t understand. Call your mother so she knows you’re alive. Call your mother and say uh-huh so she knows you’re there. Lie down on the bed with the phone. Fall asleep. Call your mother. Say uh-huh, uh-huh. Lie down on the bed and cry, a different room after. Ignore the impulse to call your mother. Prepare to talk to your mother. Clip out bits of your life. Call your mother. Uh-huh. Fall asleep and pretend you didn’t. Allow her a hello when you arrive. Tolerate her questions. Say something smart and regret it. Turn your face. Turn on the radio in the car. Wave. Call your mother so she knows you’re alive and in bed. Ignore the words you can’t clip bare. These words turn their faces to the wall. Call. Call your mother when dinner is about ready. Call your mother from work and say, I’m at work. Call your mother from your bed, poised to sleep or to cry. Ignore her as she talks. Ignore the impulse to question your mother. Call her. Waver. Ignore her as long as you can. Uh-huh. Call your mother so you know she’s alive.


Jennifer Gravley My mother is a spider. My mother is a spider, silent and waiting. My mother is a spider inside a coat sleeve in the closet. She crouches in shadow in the toe of my shoe. She lives in the dark without worrying about her eyes. My mother can feel the smallest breeze, find any crack near a ceiling or floorboard. She adores corners. She has never asked anyone to bring her food or water. My mother inhabits the space between a file and the paper in it. She gains entrance to every box I have ever saved to move farther away from her. She mills about stairwells and entrances. My mother is a spider tattooed on the arm of a man who plays drums in his basement. The hair on her legs is his hair. My mother is a spider hanging from a tree. My mother is a spider in my bed. My mother is a spider tucked inside the mouth of a pillowcase. She lives in woodpiles and in outbuildings. All the things my grandmother said are tucked inside her mouth. My mother is a spider with a sac. Her sac contains me. My mother has a particular idea of housekeeping. She appears still, symmetrical. To stand next to her is to show your mathematical work. My mother is a spider inside my mind.


L. Ward Abel Oconee The pine-tree rolling’s a torn brown stocking a rift that hugs the wing curved ten miles all the way out to the zero line. She used to have names like river lightning or was called thunderstream below hearing or sound a water table makes. But now she refuses a name I can give. Somebody sighs. The rainflock sings again.


Dave Martin The Deer Somewhere, my apartment turns into a forest fire. The birds have all left us behind, and I can’t tell if I’m buried or opening a door, or if it’s just not enough water, but inside I’m screaming. I go in the kitchen and get the bread out on the counter. I get out the meat and the mustard. There are still deer outside, melting into pools of charred earth. I get myself out on the patio, away from your singing. I chew up the bread, meat, and mustard, and swallow it all down with beer. A one-hundred-foot smoldering pine folds and drives its head into the roof, and the windows explode. I don’t know where you are, but it sounds like a river is dying.


Andrea Wyatt The Cowlies Never had there been a better season. The cowlies freshened twice and each time twins. The gan grew tall then fell and twist then we gather in the golden strands to go; Stars and planets swirl through mist all day and under we dance with the blue things. we always had to eat the lake pinder in the baskets; orange cheesen from the cowlies and bloonberries in every hillside hatch; We were larky all of us but our mean and aging sagakeep Casburn who never had, he said, seen such a time. Dour and wordless he glowered at the cowlies and the gan. Disregard his plaints and pouts we did and dance in the golden mist; We obey the regulations yes from the follow forever text, they are nor onerous nor cruel. Laugh we did at the silly ones, ponder at the peculiar ones but follow both silly and peculiar; Never had there been a better season. The cowlies freshened twice and each time twins. The gan grew tall then fell and twist then we gather in the golden strands to go.


T. S. Hidalgo New Year’s Eve It’s a ball, summer fish in the boat’s spring. I’m startled to hear someone from my country: he’s reading in the frog’s language, the one of the sad countenance, like Borges did, except this one goes one step further than the never-Nobel-winning Buenos Aires writer and ensures he did the same “months ago” with Amadis de Gaula. He’s on chapter forty-nine, on what happened to Sancho Panza wandering around his island. I try to find someone I know. I look in front of me: Bret Easton Ellis is lying on the couch dressed up as Jesus Christ, the author of American Psycho looks here to be 33, giving away winks pretending to blink behind an enormous white sheet.


They ask him, mic in hand: “Who are your favorite three writers?” and he answers, icy, emphatic, solemn: “Easton Ellis, Easton Ellis, and Easton Ellis.” I need, and order, a gin-tonic “G’Vine, fever, twist of lime and tonka beans” On-the-house tequila shot too. So we carry out the liturgy of the moment: salt on the back of your hand, lick up the salt, tequila in one swig and lemon slice for dessert: totum revolutum, shining in your guts.

* Totum revolutum (latin): a total revolution: an explosion


Sharon Scholl EAT SPACE She shouted over the thump of a grand piano at our tentative pas de chats. TRUST THE AIR she trumpeted as teens peeled off into grand jetés, her arms motioning us upward toward unseen stars. Sometimes the dreaded ELEPHANTS ELEPHANTS, hands upraised in mock horror. Her tinkling chandelier doomed us to a dozen grand pliés without a stabilizing barre. Miss Ruth’s regime, a ballerina boot camp, shaped body, will, aesthetics. Those who survived acquired a certain swaggering mastery. Sixty years later, I look in a full-length mirror and see, through every seam of bone and sinew, what she made of me.


Linda Benninghoff There Be still, here are the railroad tracks stretching, two parallel lines, almost to eternity, rusty and thick with the print of those who threw themselves on them. But beyond this is a field with butterflies, monarch, sapphire, black velvet, and they twist themselves through flowers, and below that the grass is like an expanse of what you see when you see the edge of everything for the first time.


CLS Ferguson 12721 Stone Canyon Road Home in the beginning was Sunshine on grass greener than the other side Mushrooms, apples, nectarine, bamboo, and pine Road too narrow for more than one car at a time Home in the beginning was More a comfort than a palindrome More a home than a war zone More breath than suffocation Home in the beginning was A beacon on a hill reaching toward heaven Overlooking an undeveloped “City in the Country� Poway’s gem, refuge, calm Home in the beginning was Where the animals and children played until twilight Safe, predictable, forever Until Dad decided it was his, remodeled it, and sold it to someone else Home in the beginning was Where I was meant to be Where I was always already leaving Where I never wanted to forever wish to return


Eliot Wilson Carrying Suki She’s missing. I find her curled up like a towel by the dryer in the laundry room and she cannot walk. I have to carry her back and want it winter, the snow canceling everything, but spring it is, and the apple trees where she’d climb and hunt are an appalling green. I hold her up to me with her head pressed to the side of my throat. To comfort her I try to sing. And I am that which does not sing, but then those same gods that bring us to the graves of cherished things take pity on me or seem to take pity and make my throat a low bassoon, a grafting of air and hollowness. To this low humming, all of us move. I run my hands over her, her betraying blood, her little bones. 44

Julia C. Alter Nothing Smaller When your mom has colon cancer, you become a student of anatomy. You stare at a picture of the large intestine until it becomes a sausage, a scarf, of course a serpent, a harp, a heart, a home to hide the shit you can’t digest yet. You try to teach yourself to pray. Palm to palm, you play along. You put your cheek up to every tree you encounter, learning that’s where God is. You forget, and turn on the TV. You turn off the TV, then turn on the TV. You vomit thirty times in twelve hours. You go to the hospital and get hooked up to IV fluids, praying your body becomes nothing more than salt water. Your skin becomes a bag of ocean, and still you do not cry. You feel better in her hospital room than walking a city street because when you’re walking you’re not with her. You become a jittered ghost. You float from seeing a hole in her body to trying to order a coffee. You forget the words. You forget any words that aren’t colostomy, drainage site, complication, and surgery. You turn around and go back to the hospital without a coffee, feeling nothing. You learn it is possible to feel nothing, to be a bowl of eyes scrunched shut. You sleep in room 1302 every night in her white nightgown, which was her mother’s nightgown. One night you watch her belly inflate into a grotesque melon. Five doctors try to understand why it is so distended. You understand pain that even morphine can’t fix, her jaw going slack, big teeth creeping forward, morphing into her mother. An animal,


an angel. You remember that you watched your grandmother die in Austria. You held her hand. You remember you are Austrian. Your ancestors visit you and your sister one night when she’s delirious from pain. Heavy farm women, saggy arms and ragged aprons. Magic only known from deep forests just beyond the barn. Women who have witnessed cows and sheep and horses passing from one world to the next on straw floors under unimaginable stars, never anything like this. For the first time in your bones, you’re not alone. You thought guardian angels came with a shower of light and a subtle field of safety. You learn they come with a growling moan in your pelvis and a sudden craving for spaetzle. She says, We’re eating in a restaurant on top of the world. You wonder if she’ll ever eat again. You lock yourself in the bathroom every hour to scream in utter silence. You eat a whole cake even though you’re gluten free. Everything goes out the window The windows are glued shut. You watch her put on lipstick with a tube coming out of her behind. You close your eyes and the tube is not hard plastic with a sludge of guttural gunk, but a strong, sleek tail that twitches and wags, that tells the world she’s alive and kicking, that shines. You watch her leap out of the window, scrapping and skipping her way across the city, across the sea, through a field of lily-of-the-valley. So alive she becomes the light itself, the sun and nothing smaller.


Jared Carter Lath Revealed, within a back room, or in the attic Of an old house, behind a door forgotten, thick With dust—occasionally you find a place where lath Shows through the plaster. All that time, this hidden path That led nowhere—this vanished grip, no longer veiled, Of careful, evenly wrought strips precisely nailed.


Pam Burr Smith Yellow Later the day the sun liquid gold leaves papery huge falling buttery raindrops The trees at every visible level yellow the color of lilies in Spring. Yellow the carpeted rustling path The birch trees mountains of yellow yellow finally the only thing. Descending the path swallowed by yellow I walked down into the color itself fearless like entering delicious and wanted into a lake.


Lois Marie Harrod Goodness Simple in the end as in the beginning, one enters one, becomes one, the eukaryote mystery. A heart begins to beat, for how can there be good without a heart, and the heart keeps on beating, until it stops, that simple whip– flogging to the end. How my father’s heart thrashed on when he was finished. And evil, such complexity, more branch than drum, uranium, its half-life with a half-life with a half-life, the drummer always closing on never, time and distance dividing into something more treacherous, Zeno’s paradox.


For all his goodness, my father was not a simple man. So body slips into sea according to custom, customarily, and the shark with his great heart is always hungry.



Contributor Notes L. Ward Abel, poet, teacher, retired lawyer, and composer and performer of music, lives in rural Georgia, has been published hundreds of times in print and online, and is the author of Peach Box and Verge (Little Poem Press, 2003), Jonesing for Byzantium (UK Authors Press, 2006), The Heat of Blooming (Pudding House Press, 2008), Torn Sky Bleeding Blue (erbacce-press, 2010), American Bruise (Parallel Press, 2012), Cousins Over Colder Fields (Finishing Line Press, 2013), Roseorange (Flutter Press, 2013), and Little Town Gods (Folded Word Press, 2016). Carol Alexander’s poems have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies. Her most recent work appears in The New Verse News, Split Rock Review, Clementine Poetry Journal, and Caesura. Alexander’s chapbook, Bridal Veil Falls, was published by Flutter Press (2013). Julia C. Alter hails from Philadelphia and has found home in Vermont. She is a writer, birth doula, social worker, and conscious-dance facilitator, among other things. Her poems have been published in Wag’s Revue and Keep This Bag Away from Children. C. B. Anderson was the longtime gardener for the PBS television series, The Victory Garden. Some of his poems have recently appeared, or are forthcoming, in The Galway Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, and Anglican Theological Review. His book of poetry, Mortal Soup and the Blue Yonder, was published in 2013 by White Violet Press. Linda Benninghoff first became interested in poetry in her twenties when she was introduced to contemporary poetry, Galway Kinnell, W. S. Merwin, and so on. She was recently introduced to international contemporary poetry and says poetry has made a big difference in her life. Jared Carter's Darkened Rooms of Summer was the first book selected for the Ted Kooser Contemporary Poetry Series and was published in 2014 by the University of Nebraska Press. Carter lives in Indiana. By day, Robert Crisp teaches writing and literature at Armstrong State University in Savannah, GA. By night (and usually during the day, if he’s honest) he writes poems. He has pieces forthcoming in MockingHeart Review and Sweet Tree Review. 52

Caitlin McCrory Evans is an educator and writer who lives on the remote plains of Colorado. She holds an MFA from Texas State University. Her creative work has appeared in Burnt Bridge and Garden Leaf Press. CLS Ferguson, PhD, speaks, signs, acts, publishes, sings, performs, writes, paints, teaches, and rarely relaxes. Her music video, “Secrets & Lies,” is currently earning accolades on the indiefilm circuit. CLS has published poetry in Shangri-La Shack, Still Points Quarterly, P. Q. Leer, and other places. Her poetry collection, God Bless Paul, is from Rosedog Books. She and her husband, Rich Ferguson, are raising their Bernese Mountain/border collie mutt, Sadie, in Hollywood, CA. More info at 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). She serves as Managing Editor for Cider Press Review. Jennifer Gravley makes her way in Columbia, Missouri. She is a writer of sentences and a watcher of bad television. Her work has recently appeared in Sweet, Rat’s Ass Review, and Bayou Magazine, among others. Lois Marie Harrod is a US author of six poetry books and ten chapbooks. She also writes short stories and teaches at the The College of New Jersey. Her work has appeared in journals and online e-zines from American Poetry Review to Zone 3. Visit for online links. Kelsey Hatch was raised in Massachusetts and graduated with a major in English Literature from St. Lawrence University (Canton, NY). In addition to writing, Hatch enjoys foraging for mushrooms, cooking, and spending time outdoors. She is currently creating art with spore prints made from harvested mushrooms. Her latest work appeared in the May 2015 issue of Alimentum: The Literature of Food. 53

T. S. Hidalgo holds a BBA (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid), an MBA (IE Business School), an MSc in international trade (CESMA Business School), a master’s in SAP, a master’s in creative writing (Hotel Kafka), and a certificate in arts administration (New York University). His works have been published in magazines including Otoliths, By&By, and Poems-For-All, and he has won prizes (in short story and novel) from Criaturas feroces (Editorial Destino), AIDA Books, Pandora Magazine, and at Festival Eñe, where he was a finalist (in novel). He works in finance and the stock market. Oliver Hutton’s previous publications are three poems: "The Plant Whisperer" in Clementine Poetry Journal (October 2015), and "Re: Spectre" (January 2016) and “If” (April 2016) in Clementine Unbound. Kasey Elizabeth Johnson received a BA in English from Reed College and an MA in English Literature from the University of New Mexico. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Bone Bouquet, Prick of the Spindle, The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind, Saranac Review, and others. She lives in Seattle, Washington. Adam King lives in Silver City, NM. He holds an MA in counseling. His poems have been published in Blue Mesa Review, St. Elizabeth Street, Seattle Review, and The Tongue. He is currently working on a screenplay based on the life of H.D. Steve Klepetar’s work has received several nominations for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. His latest collections include My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto (Flutter Press), and Return of the Bride of Frankenstein (Kind of a Hurricane Press). Sandra Kohler’s third collection of poems, Improbable Music, (Word Press) appeared in May 2011. Earlier collections are The Country of Women (Calyx, 1995) and The Ceremonies of Longing (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003). Her poems have appeared recently in Beloit Poetry Journal, Notre Dame Review, Damfino, and Clementine Poetry Journal.


Joanie Mackowski’s books of poems are View from a Temporary Window and The Zoo. Recent work has appeared in Poetry, The Yale Review, and Guernica. She teaches at Cornell University. Dave Martin is an MFA candidate at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI, where he works as assistant director for the Writing Center and serves in various editorial capacities for Comparative Drama, Third Coast, and New issues Press. He lives in Kalamazoo with his son and two cats. His poetry can be found in Hear Here, Two Cities Review, and Fourteen Hills. Corey Mesler has published in numerous anthologies and journals including Poetry, Gargoyle, Five Points, Good Poems American Places, and Esquire/Narrative. He has published eight novels, four short story collections, numerous chapbooks, and five full-length poetry collections. His new novel, Memphis Movie, is forthcoming from Soft Skull Press. He’s been nominated for many Pushcarts, and two of his poems were chosen for Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. With his wife he runs a bookstore in Memphis. He can be found at Tracy Mishkin is a call center veteran with a PhD and an MFA student in Creative Writing at Butler University. Her chapbook, I Almost Didn’t Make It to McDonald’s, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2014. Tom Montag is most recently the author of In This Place: Selected Poems 1982-2013. He is a contributing writer at Verse-Virtual. In 2015, he was the featured poet at Atticus Review (April) and Contemporary American Voices (August), and at year’s end he received Pushcart Prize nominations from Provo Canyon Review and Blue Heron Review. 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.


Sharon Scholl is a professor emerita from Jacksonville University, Florida, where she taught humanities and non-Western studies. Her chapbook, Summer’s Child, is new in 2016 from Finishing Line Press. She has individual poems currently in Adanna, Caesura, and Sin Frontera. A composer, she maintains a website that gives away free music to small choirs. Kevin Shyne is a lifelong writer and sometime poet. He is the author of a children’s book, The Man Who Dropped from the Sky. His poetry has appeared in The Lyric. Emmaline Silverman is a Maryland native who helps build academic databases for a living. In addition to writing, she enjoys origami and her ukulele. Her work has recently appeared in Tower Journal, Gloom Cupboard, Red River Review, and Autumn Sky Poetry Daily. Pam Burr Smith won Honorable Mention in the Maine Poetry Chapbook Competition judged by Mary Oliver in 1993. She has published short stories, essays, articles, and poems in journals and has one poetry book, Heaven Jumping Woman (Moon Pie Press, 2011). Her poetry has been anthologized in Take Heart (DownEast Books, 2013). She is working on her second book of poems. Denise Segal Umans grew up in South Africa and now lives in the Boston area. As a speechlanguage therapist and linguist, she has worked for over 30 years in language and literacy development and as a teacher of English as a second language. She has published and copublished articles in professional journals as well as general-interest magazines. Her poetry has been published in Clementine Poetry Journal, Poetry Quarterly, and The Avocet: a Journal of Nature Poetry. Originally from St. Albans, Vermont, Rebecca Valley currently attends the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, as a student of comparative literature and history. Her poems have appeared recently in Poetry Quarterly, These Fragile Lilacs Poetry Journal, and Through the Gate. In her free time, she enjoys flea markets, podcasts, and baking bread. 56

Eliot Wilson has published two books of poems and won two NEA fellowships, and he has two chickens—Opal and Iris. He lives in Golden, Colorado. Andrea Wyatt’s first two books, Three Rooms and Poems of the Morning, Poems of the Storm, were published in Berkeley by Oyez, a press associated with Black Mountain and California Renaissance poets. Her third book, Jurassic Night, was published by White Dot Press. She coedited Selected Poems by Larry Eigner, Collected Poems by Max Douglas, and The Brooklyn Reader. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Gargoyle, Clackamas, Hanging Loose, and Plum Tree Tavern. Wyatt works for the maintenance division of the National Park Service in Washington, D.C. 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.


About the Editor G. F. Boyer is an editor, poet, and writer who lives in the cornfields of Pennsylvania. Her poems have appeared in a number of publications, including The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, RHINO, and Heron Tree. She holds a vintage MFA from the University of Washington. Through her website, Creative You Editing, she offers comprehensive editing and consulting services for creative writers (fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry). For more information, visit To read current or archived poems, or to submit your work to Clementine Unbound, visit