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Poetry


Publisher │ Dan Cafaro Editor-in-Chief │ Katrina Gray Managing Editor │ Libby O'Neill Fiction Editor │ Jamie Iredell Poetry Editor │ Michael Meyerhofer Mixed Media Editor │ Matt Mullins

Copyright © 2012 Atticus review A Publication of Atticus Books LLC http://atticusreview.org


Poetry 5 To My Wife Exiting The Church And Looking Forward To Our New Lives│Michael Levan 6 A Way Of Happening, A Mouth│Jan Bottiglieri 8 Adolescence│Serena Wilcox 9 Rome, Iowa│Robert Wynne 12 Basho Was A Ninja│Barbara Louise Ungar 14 Ingress & Egress│CJ Sage 16 She Talks To Herself And Nothing│Caitlin Thomson 17 Sunday Afternoon Drunk│Dave Newman 18 Emptiness│George Ovitt 19 The Care And Its Enemies│John Grey 21 Partition│Bridget Gage-Dixon 23 Leaving│Leah Mooney 25 Police Reopen Natalie Wood Case, 11/17/11│Daniel M. Shapiro


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TO MY WIFE EXITING THE CHURCH AND LOOKING FORWARD TO OUR NEW LIFE B y M ic h a e l L e v a n

I try to wash my hands clean of you but the place where ring finger meets palm is still calloused, still rough with memory of rice battering us like cornstalks’ tassels which slapped our bodies the night we ran naked in your grandfather’s fields, you forever the neighbor girl whose laugh was a song I heard everywhere—in birdcalls, in wind wrestling through thistles, in April thunder unsettling my parents’ sleep—and me always seventeen and embarrassed to look too closely at your still barren belly lit by the moon as I dabbed at cuts and took the red away with my undershirt, knowing finally what it must be like to want for nothing but to be locked in a heart I’d never thought I deserved.

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A WAY OF HAPPENING, A MOUTH B y J a n B o ttig lie r i

‘A way of happening, a mouth’ — from W.H. Auden’s “In Memory of W.B. Yeats” I could say my hands are butterflies and you are milkweed but in truth I don’t know what milkweed is, or looks like: only that milkweed is somehow lovelier than gravy stain – though what I know of butterflies, what they are and love, is what I learned once A tti cu s R evi ew : G et L i t, R ou n d 2

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at summer camp: when a Monarch lit upon Annie’s shirt that hour after evening mess. We gathered on the pebbled trail outside the dining tent while Annie stilled her thin body, almost not breathing, any of us, as the copper hinges of its wings flexed and the long black tongue unfurled itself to lick gravy from Annie’s shirt. Nothing moved in that whole Wisconsin dusk except the Monarch’s tongue, curled and coy as an eyelash, flicking on Annie’s shirt, tasting our same brown supper. We hadn’t learned proboscis, we hadn’t learned that gravy stain, despite its assonance, its tonal flow, owned some particular unloveliness. That hour, I flared my hands back, fingers stretched, to balance my leaning-forward toward the Monarch’s tongue, our spiraled center. You, hearing this now, could say I don’t think butterflies have tongues. They don’t, of course, that’s true. Yet what I am trying to say is yes, they do.

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ADOLESCENCE B y S e r e n a W ilc o x

Somnolent winds entered the wound of a dead oak The warm winged followers of Southeastern traditions sung Beneath the cider seams of a herd of clouds My suffering was not nameless She was called m other A cradled cotton napkin held a passing girl Alone in an unkempt room I buried my constitution And slept under the skin of rain A tti cu s R evi ew : G et L i t, R ou n d 2

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ROME, IOWA B y R obe rt W y nne

You drive down Appian Street through a narrow covered bridge to cross the river on the outskirts and immediately notice everything is in ruins. The worn arch-shaped water towers still stand at the corners of town and you remember climbing to the top

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of Constantine’s Arch, spray-painting “Rome is burning!” on the side – a lame joke turned prediction once the aqueducts stopped working. Scorched fields of wheat surround you as you make your way toward the Levi Fountain to toss a coin into the eternally soaked pile of jeans. What do you wish for? You climb the Spanish Step from which you can see everything, a flat expanse of charred stone and broken glass: the Forum theater where you got to first base with Penelope while watching S t. E lm o’s Fir e, the Colosseum High stadium where your best time earned you third place and blistered feet, and the Vacation City travel agency where you planned your eventual escape. But you didn’t come to survey the remains, so you jump down and head home. Under the ashes accumulated in the basement you find the small steel box your father warned you about, the one he said contained things you were never meant to know. You pry it open and A tti cu s R evi ew : G et L i t, R ou n d 2

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just as you expected, it’s empty. CONCRETE 7 by Andrew Topel

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BASHO WAS A NINJA B y B a r b a r a L o u is e U n g a r

for Mioko Watanabe Basho was a ninja, Mioko says. Basho an assassin? Ninja s wer e m or e like spies. They worked for samurai. It would explain his travels: he moved impossibly fast. But he seems so frail— What better mask for a spy?

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Christopher Marlowe was probably a secret double agent, knifed through the eye, at twenty-nine & Basho did say that writing haiku should be like cutting a ripe melon with a sharp sword. Rimbaud became a ninja, & dropped symbolism to run guns in Ethiopia. Dickinson, the k unoichi (or female ninja) of Amherst, snuck behind lines in her father’s house at night, disguised as an old maid— She dealt her pretty words like blades. Moving by stealth, an arcane agency slips through this world, observing hidden things, belonging nowhere, obsessively perfecting cryptic messages for—we know not whom. Their opponent never knows of their existence. Their legendary powers are charms & incantations, magic spells & flight. They can walk on water in their m iz ugum o, or water-spider shoes.

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INGRESS & EGRESS B y CJ S age

Realty school found me the middle of nowhere, an island institute shifted about the tax base. Deduction-happy and audit-free, no wear on watch or budget was too plank-like. Upscale of catch and bail, delegates milled around my tropics, then up scaled a mudskipper from the out-there.

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Now every single creak sends me netting! My turnstile was like a multi-story project, its sidelong creek a development of deer, high-headed and economical. Foreclosure had a tough time here; regulations never on sabbatical, public education a quickiemart for closers bound to buy the farm before they pay, a fire placed beneath their in & out baskets. Do lobster tails switch near a family-sized pot? What caught me was a shark with a pop-up suitcase. Folks, conduct your interviews here. I was self-assured; they staged a downhill war; there was a suit. Case closed and pointless given the barge ride through the settlement of horse sense. The courts were holding strong when I commuted—to settle meant to keep a fishing rod intact. This has been a terrible reconstruction. I might never come back. How I enjoy to tear a bill and send it sailing.

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SHE TALKS TO HERSELF AND NOTHING B y C a itlin T h o m s o n

The island stretched around her without water. She slept in a tent, made fires, found pitted fruits growing everywhere. Tumbleweed was the closest thing to a wild beast, careening unpredictably. She found her daydreams to be more about hammocks than civilization, she had no desire to write home.

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SUNDAY AFTERNOON DRUNK By Dave New man

The sign advertises truck parking, and the place smells like smoke. A woman in a black leather vest is arm-wrestling a shirtless toothpick. The shirtless toothpick is complaining about foul play but after a second defeat he hands over twenty dollars. The bartender says, “Another?� and everyone at the bar nods. A tti cu s R evi ew : G et L i t, R ou n d 2

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EMPTINESS B y G e o r g e O v itt

It appears the mind also Abhors a vacuum— Driving across Kansas For example, mine scouts The landscape and counts Fence posts and sorrows, Noting how the little Birds rise from the dust For just a moment, then At once, settle down again.

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THE CARE AND ITS ENEMIES B y J ohn Grey

I walk softly on the hardwood floors so as not to wake you. My steps away from the bed are as gentle as if I were touching you. Even down the stairs, you’re my first consideration, not the coffee, not the cereal, not the newspaper resting, in blue plastic, on the front door step. Breakfast is just one episode in caring. I hush the kettle as it boils. I gingerly dig spoon in flakes, slide them through my lips, chew with my teeth on constant vigilance, as if one loud chomp would kill all life to come. And I turn the pages of the Journal slowly.

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Inner city crime and drugs have never been so cocooned. But then the trash-man comes, banging, clanging, bashing, thumping, right outside the bedroom window. With all that racket going on, you’re up and about in an instant. Typical trash-man. He knows everything I throw out, nothing of what I keep.

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PARTITION B y B r id g e t G a g e - D ix o n

When Father decided he didn’t love her anymore Mother started drinking. In the low wattage loneliness that spilled from the floor lamp she’d swirl the scotch just to the lip of the glass so that for a moment it seemed it might spill. She took only small sips, Laboring all night at serenity, Her long, stockinged legs stretched across the ottoman, she reclined in his chair reading her way through his library as the room filled with the sturdy drone of our old furnace beating back winter’s insistent infiltration. A tti cu s R evi ew : G et L i t, R ou n d 2

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Already I have said too much the past surges then shrinks when you try to define it. I must learn to forgive my father for leaving those books behind, and my mother for the years she spent snapping their spines.

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LEAVING B y Lea h Mooney

What I wanted was for geese to fly north against ice-wind, rewind the days, Or perhaps, no, I wanted them to hurry south-bound. Let the sky be vacant again Unfilled by this migration.

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While testing the give and sweetness of oranges at the market, a lover once suddenly understood he did not love me thus becoming, simply a man, left holding an empty basket. This was not that kind of leaving. Though, the sky grew dark with winter. The deep V formations of geese had already stretched past the Iowa borders into an ocher beckoning of corn. Nor was it like the bag of oranges my grandmother brought to appease the fever which burned in my limbs with my father’s death. Nor was it like the butterfly which travelled north in the dead of winter emerging wing, then wing from bright fruit, a cure. It was more like morning; the bowl of oatmeal blossomed on the table above a steady cradle of floor. I kissed you in the quiet of your sleep, as the sky blurred, was swept, behind thousands of soft, keening, grey bodies. No matter how still, nothing left behind. A tti cu s R evi ew : G et L i t, R ou n d 2

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POLICE REOPEN NATALIE WOOD CASE, 11/17/11 B y D a n ie l M . S h a p ir o

At school the day after, they had made the joke: What kind of wood doesn’t float? They must’ve known she was my first, the one I’d taken to prom. (Pr om always sounds too short—pr om ena de superior—but pr om ena de makes me think of the Promenade Deck from “Love Boat,” and I never want to think about boats or smiles again.)

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I wouldn’t have asked her to wear what she’d worn in R ebel, but when I picked her up, she had it all: orange-red scarf, green sweater with sleeves rolled up, hair prepared for 1955, those brown eyes prepared to blink at the prospect of a curse. I had pulled open the passenger door for her. She scoffed at the idea of a seat belt, knowing the Chevette wasn’t cliff-bound, knowing my lips provided sufficient protection. When we stepped into the gym, our song came on: As the music dies something in your eyes calls to mind a silver screen and all its sad goodbyes. The anchor didn’t say if she’d been found with eyes open. Who knows if we’ll ever discover the truth, the other men she’d kissed on location while crewmen were striking the set. Even 30 years after I heard the news, I remain a novice. I cringe at others’ accounts of experience, accounts whispered in front of lockers. I still look at the scar between my left middle knuckle and finger where I’d punched the keyhole. Even drunk, I could say the neighbor’s dog Maria had bitten me there. The only clue: Maria. I had figured no one would ever believe. But now, as police look again, as they peel away the rouge, the rainbow kimono of 1981, we use our skeleton keys, technology. Someday we will all gather at that planetarium on the hill to look up at stars, constellations on a curved ceiling, constellations named for us.

Lines 16-17 from “Careless Whisper” by George Michael A tti cu s R evi ew : G et L i t, R ou n d 2

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ABOUT THE POETS Jan Bottiglieri is a freelance writer who lives and works in Schaumburg, Illinois; she holds an MFA in Poetry from Pacific University. Some of Jan's previous publications include poems in Court Green, Margie, Cloudbank, and Bellevue Literary Review, as well as the anthologies Brute Neighbors and Solace in So Many Words. She has led poetry workshops throughout suburban Chicago and is an associate editor with the literary annual RHINO. Bridget Gage-Dixon's work has appeared or is forthcoming in Word Riot, Poet Lore, Inkwell, U.S. 1 Worksheets and Gargoyle as well as several others. She received her MFA from Stonecoast/University of Southern Maine, and she lives and teaches in central New Jersey. John Grey is an Australian born poet and a U.S. resident since the late seventies. He works as a financial systems analyst. His poems recently appeared in Connecticut Review, Georgetown Review and REAL, with work upcoming in Poetry East, Cape Rock and The Pinch. Michael Levan received his MFA in poetry from Western Michigan University and is currently a PhD candidate in English at the University of Tennessee, where he serves as nonfiction editor of Grist: The Journal for Writers. His work can be found in recent or forthcoming issues of CENTER, New South, Harpur Palate, The Pinch, Cimarron Review, CutBank, and Third Coast. He lives in Knoxville with his wife, Molly, and son, Atticus. Leah Mooney writes poems and stories in the gaps which fall between wrangling her family, her day job and what ever else may catch her attention. Her work has most recently appeared in Tilt-a-Whirl, Literary Mama and Spilled Coffee. She can be found online at anvilsandedelweiss.blogspot.com A tti cu s R evi ew : G et L i t, R ou n d 2

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Dave Newman is the author of the novels Raymond Carver Will Not Raise Our Children (Writers Tribe Books) and Please Don't Shoot Anyone Tonight (World Parade Books). He lives in Trafford, Pennsylvania. George Ovitt lives with his wife and daughters in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he teaches high school history, plays blues guitar, and writes poems and stories. He is the author of The Restoration of Perfection (Rutgers Univ. Press). C. J. Sage's poems appear nationally and internationally in publications such as The Antioch Review, Barrow Street, Black Warrior Review, Boston Review, Copper Nickel, Folio, The Journal, The Literary Review, New Orleans Review, North American Review, Orion, Ploughshares, POOL, Shenandoah, and The Threepenny Review. Books are Let's Not Sleep (poems), And We The Creatures (anthology), Field Notes in Contemporary Literature (textbook/anthology), Odyssea, and The San Simeon Zebras (Salmon, 2010). After taking her M. F. A. in Creative Writing/Poetry, she taught poetry, writing, and literature for many years. Sage now resides in Rio Del Mar, California, a coastal town on the Monterey Bay, where she edits The National Poetry Review and The National Poetry Review Press. Daniel M. Shapiro is a schoolteacher who lives in Pittsburgh. He is the author of three chapbooks: The 44th-Worst Album Ever (NAP Books), Trading Fours (Pudding House Press), and Teeth Underneath (FootHills Publishing). He is the co-author of Interruptions (Pecan Grove Press), a collection of collaborations with Jessy Randall. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Chiron Review, Gargoyle, RHINO, Sentence, and Forklift, Ohio. His poetry website is littlemyths-dms.blogspot.com. Caitlin Elizabeth Thomson is a Canadian currently residing in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in many places, including: The Hart House Review, Softblow, A cappella Zoo, The Toronto Quarterly, Welter, The Lineup, and the anthology Killer Verse.

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Andrew Topel is the editor and publisher of Avantacular Press, specializing in books of visual poetry and other-stream writing. Visit the on-line catalog at http://avantacular-press.blogspot.com/ Barbara Louise Ungar's latest book, Charlotte BrontÍ, You Ruined My Life, was a poetry best-seller for Small Press Distribution upon its arrival this spring from The Word Works. Prior books include Thrift and The Origin of the Milky Way, which won the Gival Press Poetry Award, a Silver IPPY, an Eric Hoffer Award, and the Adirondack Center for Writing Poetry Award. She is an English professor at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York. Serena Wilcox is the poetry editor for Leaf Garden Press. She has literary work published in Ann Arbor Review, BlazeVox, Word Riot, Counterexample Poetics, Word for Word, Moon Milk Review, and many other publications. She was recently nominated for Dzanc's Best of the Web. Her book Sacred Parodies is forthcoming Fall 2011 from Ziggurat Books International. Robert Wynne earned his MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University. He is the author ofsix chapbooks, and three full-length books of poetry. His first full-length collection, Remembering How to Sleep, was the recipient of the Poetry Society of Texas’ 2006 Eakin Book Award. His second full-length collection, Museum of Parallel Art, was published in February 2008 by Tebot Bach Press. Tebot Bach published his third collection, Self-Portrait as Odysseus, in 2011. He has won numerous prizes and his poetry has appeared in magazines and anthologies throughout North America. He lives in Burleson, Texas with his wife, daughter and four rambunctious dogs, and his online home is www.rwynne.com.

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P hoto/ A r t S our ce s

To My Wife Exiting The Church And Looking Forward To Our New Life: Photo by J o e L e n c i o n i A Way of Happening, A Mouth: Tim Hamilton Adolescence: R i g h t e o u s M o n s t e r Rome, Iowa: Cees W. Passchier and/or Wilke D. Schram at R o m a n A queducts Basho Was a Ninja: R a y ’ s W e b Ingress & Egress: M o b i l e F o r e c l o s u r e s She Talks to Herself and Nothing: T h e K n i f e a n d M e Sunday Afternoon Drunk: Francis at O d y s s e y b m x . c o m Emptiness: T o m B i k e s A m e r i c a The Care and Its Enemies: T e a C u p L i v i n g Partition: R a b i k n o w s Leaving: T h r i v i n g P e s s i m i s t Police Reopen Natalie Wood Case, 11/17/11: D e s k t o p B e t t y

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Get Lit, Round 2: Poetry