EMERGE LITERARY JOURNAL ISSUE FOUR October 2012
Emerge Literary Journal Issue Four October 2012 Edited by Ariana D. Den Bleyker Collection Copyright 2012 by Emerge Literary Journal All Rights Reserved By Individual Authors ISSN 2166-2266
Cover Art, "Reading" by Melissa Reddish All Other Photography, "Box," "Mason Jar," and "Clocks" by Melissa Reddish; "hyhyh" and "Real Girls Bare Scars" by Eleanor Leonne Bennett; "Blue Sky House" and "Dirt House" by Kate LeDew; "Gnome Home" by Stacy Maddox and "Jucumba" by Jenean McBrearty
Contents Mark Keats Nathaniel Lanman
You'll Remember liberties
Seventy-Two Days Too Many
Underneath my parents' house
L.K. McRae Charles McCrory Matthew Haughton
Evening in Lafayette cereus Notes for Sketching a Rowan County Life Model Montreal
Kevin Mazzola Regina Coll
Where the Moss Grows For a Mother's Sons
Emily Rose Cole Robert Walicki Leigh Ann Hornfeldt Andrew J. Olson Vanessa Gabb Darren Demaree
I Will The Drylands At Pump 7 a Moment of Hesitation Dream, Rabbit, Run Stupid Girl Firework Over the Retention Pond #1 Firework Over the Retention Pond #2 Firework Over the Retention Pond #3
Not to Complain
Beside the Sea
John Davis, Jr.
Samantha Duncan Amy Pollard Lydia Unsworth Katt Evan
manmade bridge Aboard The Brookes, 1789 Alexander Graham Bell is Kissing Mabel The Snake Cancer Haikus
My Dearest Horsemen, Wonder Boy of Stoves
Rusty Kjarvik Rosamond Zimmerman Stella Vinitchi Radulesca David Wheeler
Dying to Overcome Time \ Absentences The Origin of Music Veer
Linda J. Himot
looking through scrapbooks, years afterâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;
Michael Karl Ritchie
Heidi Morrell Lindsey Frantz Rafi Miller Nahum Welang Sean Ward Lori Lamothe
Life in Two Cartons CafĂŠ Because We're Too Fat For Our Aquarium Now Conversations of Love Shower November
Odessa Gheeneil Agbas
Breath of Dawn
Vivian Bird Kenia Cris Shannon Quinn Heather K. Robinson
Ode to a 12-Year-Old Boy Ground Regret Between trees
To Make it Through
Sarah Wynn Jon Wesick
Sequiota Park, Sp;ringfield MO On Opening My Contributor's Copy of the Snarby Corners Review Romance on Jupiter
Colin Dodds Jagannath Adukuri Cynthia Eddy
The Shape of the Inescapable Cost The Marriage The Moon
You’ll Remember Mark Keats You’ll remember how she looks at the party years from now, when you’re alone, outside, raking the leaves or bringing the trashcan back up for your aging, adoptive mother. It’ll strike you out of the blue, as if the memory of that moment was hovering for the last few years, then bursts, forcing the emotion out. You’ll remember how she was uncomfortable wearing that black dress and heels, how she hadn’t worn makeup until graduate school, how she learned to apply it by reading a book. This is what made you smile, made you recall how you had learned to tie a tie from your Boy Scout book because your adoptive father was never around. You’ll remember how she listened, how she reached for your hand, how she said she was sorry life had been so difficult growing up here. You’ll remember how she searched for your birth parents in Korea, how she spent an entire summer there, away, but really close to you despite turning up nothing. You’ll remember when she first told you about kumiho, the nine-tailed fox, when you were sure that if you could memorize, visualize, internalize a Korean fairytale, that you’d somehow become more Korean. You’ll remember when you took those courses at community college, when you realized it was too late to learn a language that other Koreans assumed you knew. You’ll remember how that made you feel when you couldn’t order dinner in that Korean restaurant no matter how many times you rehearsed it with her. You’ll remember giving up when the waitress confirmed the order with her. You’ll remember the Korean words she first taught you, the first time she cooked for you, the first time she took your hand and led you to the bedroom. Then you’ll remember the first time she laughed, cried, and yelled because “you,” she often said, “are crazy.” You’ll remember how those words hurt, how they stung, how you sometimes, even though she said it in a moment of anger or joking, thought they were true. You’ll remember when it got serious, when you talked of marriage, how it might end, how you had told her, “You’ll be the one that breaks my heart.”
Even now you were sure you would never be the one to end it, that she would grow tired, bored, annoyed with your American ways, that she would finally respect her parent’s wishes and find a real Korean boy to marry. Then, finally, you’ll remember how it ended, how one day you woke up tired, defeated, lost. You’ll remember how you broke it to her, how she cried, how she took your hand, how she still sent you a gift on your birthday months later.
liberties Nathaniel Lanman i suppose i can tell them now of how— as the billowing curtains tickled the ceiling, as the window panes thrummed in the hot rainstorm, as my bitter drippings danced through my pores, as her skirt slumped in a cotton puddle over my thighs, as i unwound the temper coils beneath her navel, as the kettle steam whistled with want, as taste and touch mingled gaily in the foreground—i caught the eye of a sparrow in the tulip tree and asked with virgin wonder if my lover was speaking in tongues.
Seventy-Two Days Too Many Julie Minicozzi She leaves Boomer choking on cud at the base of the twisted tree, fur undulating in the breeze. “Tell us why, Barbie,” says the giraffe, shoving a banana in her face. A grunt-rumble emanates from a drove of baboons. The giraffe adjusts his monocle. “Was it inter-species societal pressure? Feeling rushed to create baboo-roos?” She yawns. A hare hops near the back of the pack. She touches the corner of her dry eye, sniffing the air. She thrusts her hind-end upward. The El screams by, trees shimmy. A pigeon picks at a wad of gum on a bench. Apes pluck dirty papers from the walkway with pointy poles, and snicker.
The Muttering Ones Rachel Custer still, there are those spaces between buildings, filled with night the skittering of small things dancing outside the light, the muttering ones with hands that flit like moths my father named the possum on our porch George Jones, said George is more afraid of you than youâ&#x20AC;Ś and I was of him those glowing eyes but mostly because he hissed and never bit still, there were those spaces, large and dark as the distance between a word and what is meant and you began to want to live in alleys and you began to trust the muttering ones
Underneath my parents' house Joshua Grant I coughed up four years worth of dust and ancient egyptian decorations the teach-yourself-to-play-piano books wouldn't be worth anything but between pages forty and forty-one of Hal Leonard Adult Keyboard Method 2 I found an unopened letter the naked bulb cast light on this much, at least on each of the lined sheets she'd sketched a crude pornographic scene in blue pen she had had a bad taste of my doggedness apparently or, at least, believed that I would hack through the third page of sight-reading exercises on to the third chapter at any rate we do not speak much anymore and it is disturbing to receive such advances from the dead
Boy Brenda Sullivan He felt winter in the thin black ice that skimmed over ponds and caught in the rattle of bare trees. It was cold and clean and sharp, and reminded him of the Christmas Eve he hid in the root cellar among the pine boughs and turnips to count snowflakes and dream of the end of the world.
Flawed Amanda Frieze The long scar you got on your hand from trying to build a bench for me is even whiter than your pale skin. It's raised slightly as though to announce its presence. I don't like how you stuff your hand into your pocket when you notice people staring. If the scar could talk, it might say, "I am part of you now. Why do you hide me?" I like to trace along your hand and feel the scar at my fingertips. You don't understand why I want to touch it. "It's ugly," you say, pulling your hand away. "It's real," I say. I feel this way about the daisy you picked for me with a missing petal. "It's damaged," you said, after noticing it was flawed. "It's alive," I said. You observed with a bewildered expression when I pressed it, framed it, and placed it on my neat and dust-free bookshelf containing books arranged alphabetically by author. You don't understand why it's more perfect than the dozens of fully petaled flowers I've received from men with no scars.
Evening in Lafayette L.K. McRae Dusk chisels each leaf, pins it, tangerine and still, in a space redolent of heliotrope, and everything that came before shows sepia, outlived by that peeling flame bone against blood
cereus Charles McCrory the neighbors have felled their pine. I walk in its exhaust: green air on black, spiking my nostrils. our yard sleeps like you are able to sleep. its brain digests trees and stars like thoughts. you have set your eyes in it, these sealed lilies, and even indulged my cereus to spew its whips in my insomniac corner by the fence: no skin off my back; it drags me with its eyes white, lit up like mine at this obscene hour, the friend I tiptoe to avoid waking only to find up, awaiting me.
Notes for Sketching a Rowan County Life Model Matthew Haughton If you sketch the scar tissue on her hip, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re learning to trace the horse that bucked her off the saddle, and left her pinned to an iron-rod fence gate, in some pasture over in Morehead. Her corded dreads are best drawn by thinking of silky webs, left on branches. But if you are trying to contour the shape of her body in an open room, remember the African rug she kept on a hardwood floor. How she spoke so highly of herself for finding it, as she rolled a cigarette, and smoked over itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s intricate pattern.
Montreal Matthew Haughton for Cellist, Patrick Binford I have never been to Montreal, but here a pigeon sleeps on the patio and a mask hangs from a nail in the wall. The light is good, coming in as it does. My friend allows me to sketch him as we talk of music, what it means to be devoted to one instrument. I have never been to Montreal, but Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m told the cello is weaker than a human voice. In a room, you must struggle to hear if no one is listening. My friend is kind to speak of what he recalls, those hours that went unrecorded. Though he doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t say this, heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s decided the fate of our human heart is to hear music and remember, those places we once lived in, or traveled
Where the Moss Grows Kevin Mazzola The world was covered in pale moss, cold and resilient like flesh of leather baked in the desert sun. Its son was cruel gold, bathed in the blood of men, and carved from their hearts to feed their women. Daughters melt into the lakes and oceans, merging with the salt and the sand to come washing up, brazen and scrubbed, only to roll in the mud and call it home. Home is where the moss isâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; it grows to the south of the hearth and north of the cellar. To the west lies mother, dead under the sheets. To the east is father, weeping for his sins. In the middle is the eye, begrudgingly indifferent to the blood games of its little moons.
For a Motherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Sons Regina Coll I sat at the lions feet forgetting how my swollen legs danced at the arrival of the bird-kings. Yes, I swore obscene pledges of love and fealty, to always bear for these two. And as I learn of the world and of the blink and dust my mind manufactures around the human task, around competing hungers celebration decay and kaleidoscopic years the lion yawns his yellow-swam amber-slick August breath stirs the cauldron of my shame. Thus fire will hold my hand love and jail me quite. Little birds, my lips are burned and blistered. But do not judge me only by this succulent declaration, by the things lining the outside of my heart. Instead tear my words off the husk, pick them out of the pimpled bowl holding a semblance of me. This and these are as much my domain.
October Rising Kevin Ridgeway fall foliage drops to the city streets sticking to the pavement as cabs steamroll over it the smoke of nuts roasting at peanut stands disappear above the neon lights of St. Markâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Place Halloween is tomorrow, but in this city nearly everyday is a day of costumes and pageantry, the gourds of drunks in the bowery are lit by long cigarettes and the foggy dreariness of the sky gives way to night, lanterns line the alleyways off each street and the mindâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s imagination is fueled by hard cider and and memories of childhood walks in the dark.
Shark Message Rachel Adams I found a white shell shaped like a shark's tooth, light and porous, on a beach pockmarked by tourists, umbrellas popping form the sand like bright buboes, scattered for miles. 8I'll bury this tooth in the sand, down with the insects and the ancient rubbed-down glass. I'll notice the flat wideness of the water. Through the radios, the reddish round bodies, the grate of voices, I'll notice the gulls that lay on the salt air, the grid of clouds, the triangles of sky.
I Will Emily Rose Cole You are cold steel and black ash, you are cayenne and cinnamon's bite, you are star-fire's molten glory. And you, prince above princes, are charred skin and harsh gasps and keen agony â&#x20AC;&#x201C; you are the taste of too many refiner's fires. Fragile dragon, I will smooth the jaggedest edges of you with spring rain and ice shine and snow-soft moonglow. I will prick my searching fingers on your steel-sharp spines. I will bleed. And I will not care.
The Drylands Robert Walicki When I see my mother now, her raw umber locks cut short, the dry hairs brushed on her forehead like the wild feathers of a bird. She is half reading, almost asleep. Her head, bowing, like the heads of the desert roses blown by the highway wind. And she clutches her book like the memory of him, the pages open on her chest, spread out like wings. And in those quiet moments alone with her eyes closed, she is somewhere in the darkness talking to my father. Standing in the dry lands, its shore of sand, like dark gold skin underneath her, and the water, fast approaching.
At Pump 7 a Moment of Hesitation Leigh Ann Hornfeldt Because this is where the story turns becomes the book I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t put down but fall asleep to in the halo of lamplight never sated wrists bent and aching from weight becomes the pulse in a lightning bugâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s abdomen cold frequency signaling his intent as he crawls along asphalt toward some glory becomes also the glow of her response from the far field becomes the step off the precipice syncope & branches & injury breathy urgent whispers stilled sugar maple in summer becomes the drunk redhead posturing herself on a fire escape long shiny legs swung over the railing sequin of smile catching sunset pansies cowering beneath her dirty soles and I am holding my breath I am mesmerized I am hoping to see her fall
Dream, Rabbit, Run Andrew J. Olson The children lay sprawled, legs and arms akimbo; the girl between the mother and father, the boy with his mother’s arm draped across his shoulder. The duvet sits at the foot of the bed: they dream. Lying on his side, the father dreams of a departmental meeting. The projector flickers to a tiered EBITA report while his young female co-worker, in a skirt, slides over the conference desk, exposing the lace top of her thigh-highs, and the straining garter belt. The boss now watches the father as he stands before her, orchestrating him in his movements: critiquing in monotone. Staticky blonde hair clings to the young girl’s face as she dreams of riding in her car seat. Through the windshield appear colorful fish and clear blue water. Her mother and father, in the front seats, turn back to her and tell her it will be okay and each grip one of her small hands. The windshield dissolves as the car deconstructs and the water surrounds them. Bright orange and white fish stop and speak in babbles; she understands, watching them wide-eyed; she babbles back, bubbles floating upward. The mother walks into her childhood home. It is dark; a light glows to her right. She walks through the kitchen and enters the living room. Her mother is dusting along the ceiling, upside down, defying gravity. She tries to call to her mother. The old woman looks down at her, and turns away again to dust. Reaching for her, the ceiling rises. She attempts to reach her by stacking furniture brought from the kitchen, but the ceiling only rises further, perpetually out of reach. The boy is amongst dinosaurs. Stegosauruses and triceratopses amble by. He is armed with a long wooden spear, but he does not want to hunt them–it is only for protection. He watches them in his tee shirt, tennis shoes, and jeans. They eat lush greenery, their appearances majestic, celestial. On the floor next to the bed is a border collie gruffing in its sleep. In a snow covered field it runs manically. It runs fluidly, cutting left, darting right after a dark-furred rabbit. Smelling its fear, sensing the rabbit’s heightened heartbeat, the dog runs faster in pursuit, just feet from the dodging object it doesn’t want to catch, but only to push it further: to make it run. The dog’s feet now start to paddle, its nails softly scratching at the wood floor of the bedroom, and then a bark breaks through from the dream, echoing through the room.
The boy retreats in horror as a Kryptops emerges from the bush. Its masked face turns to him and begins to give chase. The boy runs; his spear is heavy. The dinosaur nears; the boy cringes, and then a bark. His dog, like a missile, jets out of nowhere; it is black and sleek and fierce. Together, they turn the dinosaur away and reverse the pursuit; the spear now jabbing forward with war cries. The mother hears a yip below her. A malevolent dog snarls with ears pulled back. She totters on the precipitous pile of furniture with the dog lunging at her heels. The old woman looks down at her condescendingly and shakes her head, finally acknowledging the mother. The dog continues to yip and snarl at her heels. The fish swim with deft fin strokes and bubbly language; a bark resounds. Looking up, the girl sees a familiar black and white dog. Its fur is suspended in the air, and it floats towards the fish, awkwardly paddling as it revolves. The fish swirl about the dog; the girl points, nods, and babbles at the fish. They push the dog downward, into her arms. The father nears his female co-worker, struggling with the garter, as his boss looks on over his shoulder. As the father kisses the co-worker, a bark comes from his boss. He gropes her as the barks increase in tempo and volume, until he has to stop, frustrated, and sits back down for the rest of the EBITA report. The boss growls at him when he looks up. The dog continues to dream, of a rabbit, and running.
FIREWORK OVER THE RETENTION POND #1 Darren Demaree Be coming home, the spectacle of it, the moral inaccuracy of the realm of light in the context of couch covers, the great salvation of hiding the depth of our leavings. Crumb of my past, you taste of manic silence & my fatherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s voice washes out of nothing.
FIREWORK OVER THE RETENTION POND #2 Voiceless shells, gone to your undoing, open mouthed when the firework bounces around the sedan, did you dream of a better inner history? Did the energy improve you once the burns subsided? Around your face, your throat was willing to take the county settlement, but that was the super to the nova of your distraction.
FIREWORK OVER THE RETENTION POND #3 It looks like a strawberry every time, the what it does off the first blast over the planted reeds & hidden poison, the goose shit of the water & with such hunger in the night Technicolor, could there be a splash more perfect on such misguided entry, a slight bomb, never fingered, never aimed more than up.
Stupid Girl Vanessa Gabb I learned to read in the back Of a 1988 Toyota Tercel. The doctor said my eyes had gone bad Blind really because of this The darkness in the backseat Well after midnight my parents tipsy Off rum punch and plantains, Soca still in the bones In Placencia, on my fatherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s island, In the spring of the eighth grade I stayed back and watched Everyone dance in the distance I squinted hard to read the pages Of Gone with the Wind As the sun went how I wanted to be In love, there, on the island With someone I knew? Maybe Someone I might meet Unrequited all by myself I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t care about the south And what they did there, Even though I was sitting In a place with similar history. I was stupid. I believed the dangerous things: Speeches about tomorrow, beautiful dresses Promise of sequels.
ROCKAWAY SUMMER Stephen Barry Every Wednesday through the summer the barge would anchor offshore ready for the fireworks display beginning exactly at ten. The neighbors walked to the wall separating street and sand to “ooh” and “ahh” as star shells erupted over the ocean casting flaming waterfalls against the blue-black sky and rose petals of blue and green and red above the surf. Near the gently breaking waves we lay upon a blanket sharing an Italian Ice made gritty by windblown sand. With cherry sweet lips, and fearful, inexperienced tongues we held each other tight, until the last flaming ember fell fading to the sea. The finale coming much too soon.
The Numbness Gary Smothers Tristan stood atop the buckled sidewalk of his childhood home watching as the red and blue strobes raced across the siding like a seizure of light—seeming to quicken everything. At his work, in the dead of night, a phone call from a concerned neighbor of his parents. Insulated in the boxy residence before him waits a fresh calamity of unknown novelty or a tired repeat of calamity’s past. Inside his chest, though, the fear thrums differently somehow. All about him the strobes darted—the house, the fresh lay of snow, the blue spruce which had been planted the day the folks had moved into this ramshackle dwelling… Perhaps the old man had done it this time. And yet Tristan’s feet remained atop an uplift of sidewalk, teetering every few seconds towards the house, touching for a moment the next panel of concrete before rising back up to safety. Yes. The old bastard had done it. Finally and to no real surprise. Beneath Tristan’s shoddy old coat his skin flashes into a sweat. His twice broken jaw aches as it clenches down. A sudden blinding light sets his fists at the ready. “Come inside, young man,” the voice of an unknown at the top of the steps intones gravely. He says something else but the words whip away in a sudden gust of frozen wind. The man, a looming backlit mystery, nods and extends his hand. “Come.” Tristan nods back, allows his fists to relax, and steps towards the bright light, the shadow man, and the steps. The man turns, allowing the painful ascension to proceed in private. Entering the house, the warm air feels oily, dirty and Tristan longs for the stinging cold once again. His numb limbs sting and he spies his mother. Alive. She sat, a fist to her mouth, eyes to the floor, rocking in the old man’s rocker— her lithe frame that of a pre-pubescent boy, that of the beaten. He steps towards her as he once had stepped towards deer in the timber with the old man a very long time ago. The same spot of floor that used to betray his teenage sneaking out to carouse with women cracked causing his mother to look up. “In there,” she mumbled through her knuckles.
So he went there. The old man laid there in bed atop his pillow, a bloodshot eye peering up as if in cute speculation at this change in events. His arm flushed to blue hung down towards the floor, fingers extended and purple. At inkling of glass behind Tristan catches his attention and he turns. A man in an outdated suit stands there setting up a test tube station atop the old dresser. Not removing his eyes from his work, the test tube man says, “I’ll give you a minute.” Still not making eye contact, he leaves the room. Alone in the stillness Tristan wonders what to do with this granted privacy. He should cry, he decides, and so, he tries and fails. He leaves the room, the test tube man promptly slides past him back inside. From the kitchen, the tinny din of turneddown police radios, muted voices and the gray shadows of the men falling like a ghost tribunal against the wall. Tristan stepped towards his mother, popping the weak spot of floor once again. He knelt to her and, placing his hands on her pale knees, “Mother.” “You should cry,” she breathed. “I tried.” Wind buffeted the house. Behind them, the bedroom door shut. “You should cry.” “It would look better if I did,” she whispered.
Not to Complain Carla Schwartz 1. Tea. I grabbed the teabag from the Tazo canister marked, Passion, a favorite, for the tea I made before I left to sing. I it drank it tonight last thing, but didn’t recognize the bergamot, an old friend from long ago. These days I don’t take any caffeine, so now, after the 20 mile bike ride, the choral concert, the salon, and the escape from a rambling drunk, I lie, not sleeping. 2. The Mechanic Is it me I am mad at? When my car returned from the mechanic, the air comfort controller started to flash. Intermittent was the word he used when I called him back. Wiggling as many empty words into my phrasing as possible, I said I thought it had been his fault, as he had been messing around in that area to change a bulb. It’s not like it does work, it just blinks a lot. He said he would call with a quote. It’s been months, now. It's on my list to call once more. Tell him, Hey, it worked fine until you worked in there, this time, with conviction. 3. The Marriage Bed You devise divorce in sleep, and marriage in wake, you, master of the twin beds. You propose the game of musical bedrooms will double our love. I buy in, and lie awake, alone, in the other room, in our king size. I churn your missing warmth into missing you, and wait for the elegant proof.
Beside the Sea Jessica Harkins Because I had to let go of your arms, Because I betrayed your salty, tender lips, I must wait for dawn in the dense acropolis how I abhor these weeping ancient timbers! –Osip Mandelstam Because I had to let go of your arms, Because I betrayed your salty lips, I am made to speak for them, the Achaeans who died beneath our walls. I must come on your beach and ask penance, for penance to be taken from my hands in exchange for the men, really tokens of the gods that they want back, in order to die. Had your calm strength come for me? As a child, I had waited beside the sea for a god who knew its mysteries. –the dark-haired girl of innocence you held– I led her from you, as close as my shadow. You see? I did not come as her, but for her, and brought you closer to the air. You and she were together then, walking arm-in-arm, while I followed a little behind. She, like the face on a ship’s prow, returned longed-for breasts to your face and arms. Because I had to let go of your arms, You raged after the dark-haired child. It is my duty to restore her— to hold her up for your arms. But let me say this:
The gods (who have taken me, again, from everything) leave me only the pink flesh of my palms, and the wind in my clothes.
His Legacy John Davis, Jr. Your struggling farmer-artist father copied Rockwells from Saturday Evening Posts, Rembrandts borrowed from gilt-spined encyclopedias. Bright Americana and Blue Boys, his chugging tractor heart pulsed color through machinery-dinged fingers; rugged strokes, master shadows for your mother. Today in your remote woodshop, you paint miniature houses cut and pasted in familiar, unspoken desire: mountain cabins, grand plantations seen someplace other than here, where imitationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s inspiration remains.
Cooking Brad Garber Virgin olive oil on the skin Of the salted lamb the fat The thin sharp rosemary Sowing the flesh with dreams This was the way he touched her Thick lemon butter cheese Bubbling over the skin The curled snails waiting The upturned lips opening Her body falling into him Flared tails in sensuous Sections brushing through Briny oceans of sense Rolling in the thick folds His fingers wrapped in warmth Simmering heads of must Breaking through the loam On stalks of fecundity now Creamed and softened His kiss a mushroom cap And twining through her Pasta hair sticky clumped Waiting for the instrument The dousing of the sauce His love across her lips
Right Now Carolyn Steinhoff “…the emptiness turns its face to us/ and whispers,/ ‘I am not empty, I am open.’” Tomas Transtromer Between one station and the next time gapes suddenly and in my train car I’m seeing it in its entirety as if from above. It’s some kind of mansion museum church. Rooms open off hallways and other rooms. The alcove that is my life, my body is breaking and from it a new language is flying, a changed time, not crowded with memories of everyone’s and of the dead, draped with sheets of loneliness against the damage English does.
Rinoa Josh Crummer I’m falling for shadows on the cave wall, re-married deep brown eyes in roses and wine. Cute, not beautiful is testimony written across her brow before birth, for cute lingers long after beauty wrinkles to shades. In flower fields eroded into blank space and recycled air I wait. She promises we will meet, a slim figure in blue through which white wind flows into long black hair, her mischief smile, eyes on me. An avatar of computer code shares a name I gave him. I am not he, and he is not me, but our desires equate. Our heartstrings both out of tune, constant strum bass jabs us daily, haunting our sleep all night. If only in dreams, in a vintage console – yours is a world of heroes and swords. No one co splays as their avatar, for they are real. Mine is increasing waistlines, bottom line quotas at minimum wage, ad nauseam as Mobius, its sidewind gradually fading with mine and my neighbors’ minds. I wish to retire with her on shores watching the sun deep-sea dive all night, where idle music trumpets my headphones like a theme song, where if scattered clouds conceal evening sky, I can still see blue and brights and gray stroke across the world. Yes, a fisherman’s horizon as my early grave. I have fallen for the shadows on Plato’s cave wall, flung my body through space so you, I won’t die alone. Oxygen and fuel low, and lower with each second. I will bring her home, scripted as Hollywood until I shut the power down.
manmade bridge Samantha Duncan
homeless pass canned goods to reach your delectable ears greeting card sweet friend of answers a motor turns over over the comfort it never starts disappears
rushed satiation hurts
tree sap words
hear your pulse you osmosis fast standing water an always witness sets downriver tone where age is a number where age is not a number power counts whispering is not whispering not listening a manhole should appear now not just irrelevant pocket holes women patch with their eyes
pass handfuls of lies
to children dirt biking on foot
Aboard The Brookes, 1789 Amy Pollard Tonight she dreams of her village Woven in her thoughts as reeds in a basket Her brown hands clinging to her child Suckling, its black eyes shimmering Its mind transported to a space where grass Grows golden And air Fizzles at the touch of fingertips Grass bends beneath her feet Ravens soar low Seduced by the strings of a kora She wanders to the clearing Where trees hang low in slumber Where time whispers of a wilderness No number branded To that lion Roaring in the hot wind Only, the stench of dead meat She shudders As a young gazelle lays docile, Striped eyes watching vultures Descend At dawn, she saves the bones.
Alexander Graham Bell is Kissing Mabel Lydia Unsworth We are all belly up. Alexander Graham Bell is kissing Mabel. I am criticised regarding my choice of font. If I can avoid making a decision, I will. The pattern in the coral repeats. I hold it in my hand and try my very best to imagine. One hundred watt light bulbs and the resulting strain on our faces. I miss you. It grows dark here with increasing regularity. We are defined by all the things we say we like or do not like to one another. Time moves slowly when you wait for it. Take back everything and keep it safe somewhere. I only want to look at pictures of your eyes: that way it won't feel awkward. The things we are attracted to change to fit our needs. Say something beautiful and spell it like you mean it. The sound of air escaping. This is the oldest I have ever been. Distant conversations offer a sense of belonging. I leave my bedroom door open when I read. Cupping my belly with my hands makes me feel so tiny. So strange how we can touch ourselves. I would like to sleep in a ball with six people closely breathing. The night isn't dark when it is warm and human.
The Snake Katt Evans â&#x20AC;&#x153;Don't maim it,â&#x20AC;? you say. Though it's already been shot Once, in the back of what would be its neck were a snake to have a neck. Instead, you stand and watch it writhe and squirm, the shaking tail sounding like the death rattle of an old man after the plug has been pulled, and use a stick to pin it down when it tries to crawl away. Finally, it dies, allowing you to take it home, stuff and mount it, a shrine to your sadistic form of narcissism.
Cancer Haikus Katt Evans I'm not ready for you to be mortal. To be Separate from the pedestal of maternity I've created for you. I'm not ready for prognoses that I can't pronounce and don't want to understand. To contemplate bone marrow reversing from red to white. I'm not ready to wonder where my brother would end up living or who I would go to for advice. I'm not ready for the only parent I had growing up to not be there anymore, not ready to be done growing up.
Blush Yong Takahashi Hugh looks down at the ground and kicks the curb a few times. He asks me not to leave yet. I start to shake slightly, pulling at my shirt. I know my father will be angry if I keep him waiting any longer but I see that Hugh needs to say something to me. He looks into my eyes through his surfer bangs, grabs my hand and tries to pull me close. His hands are sweaty under the June sun and he loses his grip on me. He becomes bolder and grabs me around the waist, jerks me towards him, smashes his lips against mine and plunges his tongue into my mouth. I taste his saliva infused with a watermelon jolly rancher. The smell of his sweat mixed with cologne mesmerizes me. I stand still with my eyes wide open, unable to move. I am fourteen and this is my first kiss. I don’t know if I should enjoy it or pull away. My face burns and sweat drips down my neck. I know I am turning pink. “Diane!” shouts a voice from behind me. I don’t have to turn around. My father has come to find me. I can tell he is trying to control his temper. He can’t say what he wants now. There are too many witnesses. “I have to go,” I whisper to Hugh. Startled, Hugh takes off quickly on his BMX bike. I trudge to the car as I try to catch my breath. My father has never spoken to me about anything. I only hear him through our thin walls, lecturing my mother about my morality. “You better watch that girl. She’s a slut, just like you.” I suppose he doesn’t want the teenage pregnancy curse to pass to the next generation. The car ride is long and silent. We pull into our driveway and my father can’t look at me. He grips the steering wheel, breathes in deeply, pauses then slaps the dashboard with his hand. I jump out of my skin. “Right there in front of everyone? Girl, you’re starting early. You’re going to get a reputation like your mother.”
I don’t know what to say. I feel cornered, both angry that he has ruined the best day of my life and embarrassed that my father saw my first kiss. My heart pounds into my throat. My stomach churns and the reflux washes away the taste of Hugh’s candy. “Well, do you have anything to say for yourself?” he asks. I hesitate. I know I have to choose my words wisely. “Girl, you better say something,” he says. “I saw you kissing Mrs. Watson this morning – right there in her backyard,” I blurt out as I try to defend myself. I wait for the slap. Although he has only hit the walls and not my mother or me, he always says he wishes we were dead. I know it’s only a matter of time before he goes through with it because can’t hold his rage in any longer. My father’s face turns a bright purple. A bead of sweat runs down his temple and into his right ear. He sits for a moment in deep thought. I close my eyes and wait, bracing myself. The car door opens. My father walks towards Mrs. Watson’s house. He doesn’t look back.
Chelsea Kachman My Dearest of Horsemen, Wonder Boy of Stoves, I thought about birth all night & surfaced hairless but breathing biting at air & nipping your shoulders so we probably shouldn’t lest our merging lives gargle out as nothing but that— But I will try new womanhoods on call you mine of stoves— & I’m sorry if I keep shifting tone pointing new directions home but I just... promise I will I oath it I promise I will get better I will not suck you dry &... well... you know.... & I heard that married people have babies to solve their problems or was it: married people have babies when they no longer have problems----& I heard that married people who cannot have babies? They have dogs... so... let’s get a dog!? Haven’t you always wanted one? You keep on saying no—but what is it you seek that I can give? Mortality is yours to suckle forever & ever until you wish me dry as meatless bones in our garden oaths— I miss you all the time & I want to be your hand-built stove
lit by your sun but time calls me to this land of salted rain & we are always saying good morningâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; I & my many carrots among your horses, C
Dying To Overcome Time Rusty Kjarvik Psychiatrist: What are you struggling with now? Dreamer: I am trying to overcome time. Psychiatrist: Talk about time… Dreamer: Time, the clock, the minutes, the numbers, each revolving number, every moment’s passing, to grasp hold of life is futile with time at hand, ever revolving, the numerical movement seizes me with anxiety, frustration, lost hope, and missed opportunity, for if not to act eternally, what purpose is there to do anything, if everything merely passes with the indifferent, mechanical touch of a revolving number, a cold mathematical constant, a no-matter, inhumane judgment of non-being…I am stricken with the ugly truth of the futility of the conscious mind, which at once becoming aware of the sound physical reality of void, empty, groundless and vacant passing insubstantial pop pop pop cloud dozing visual loud open, how? how? There is not even a now, a noun or…even the mystery of remembered sound, how? how does music continue to find ingenuity in the fake façade lie of our trite passing listening, I’ve said nothing, and now, back to the question, which is not one question but a infinitude of questions, each word a question: What? Are? You? Struggling? With? Now? I have not an answer for a single one to start, never mind their combinatory syntactical infractions on mathematical constancy… Psychiatrist: Talk about constancy… Dreamer: Synchronicity is the key to constancy
Synchronicity is the key to constancy Synchronicity is the key A majestic sweep, an unearthed silence from the deep, unsaid holy floor of highfalutin carpeting, a million miniscule bacterium, sucked clean in the insistent inertial temporality, to speak without listening and curse the tongue’s roiling heat spilling worthless drool on the fly, unnoticed, and to sleep without wherefore or why to the moment of waking cries, in dreams, saving the intuitive highs for a moment out of time Psychiatrist: Time’s up. And did he say why? Why, it didn’t cross his mind, not even for the instantaneous greed to be entertained by the sad mourning fury of the mad dreaming gush lying in silly degradation on the carpet, scraped clean of fungal heat, to wistfully provide an escape for the psychotic mind at ease in the hypnotic office sleep of reason, to ask, for but a moment, when do I die? And receive the next tick of a clock for an answer, repeating, repeating, as it were, endlessly.
\ Absentences Rosamond Zimmerman
itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not as if you have (a) choice to know or not what comes next: or how what comes Next will rewrite what went before you could Fall anywhere unexpectedly, (for, against donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t move,
You could - Love nothing and still lose Time makes absence a position
The Origin of Music Stella Vinitchi Radulescu "Things as they are Are changed upon the blue guitar." â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Wallace Stevens
Light comes from the rear window except Sunday morningâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; too far too cold and the crave to write about things things as they are saliva as a sign an image leaving the body
where are the clouds milk spilled over the page
the baby sucks
o night o music small mounds of earth the nipples suck back no punctuation mammals with wings if you dare
Veer David Wheeler If you don’t know how to touch it The language will not respect you What scrapes along your lungs Will drag against your diaphragm The words are inside you escaping Your pores are their passages And nothing you can say matters You have lost blood in this dream You have weighed salt after sand You wonder what’s driving inside you If you can’t see the road or the wheel No, the vehicles slip through your skin When you’ve been sleeping alone And the words are still sliding down From your tongue and your throat Down your bronchioles and right Back through your capillaries They are getting away They are lost And so you turn back to find them
Comfort Linda J. Himot The beach at Alligator Point – barren save bird print and sneaker tread, where we come each week: the dog to run, chase scents, dig sea shells he carries, briefly held treasures until another takes his fancy; and me to walk in silence of waves and wind. No responsibility – passing time, I scan the sky and sea – the hour late for zeppelin-like brown pelicans that suddenly reverse direction, plummet from the air, dive to scoop small fish beneath the water; early for the dolphin, my sometime companion, tracks our progress, swims in shallow surf, up and back, makes occasional speed sprints towards the shore. I have heard they sometimes ground themselves, glad this one stops short, does not get stuck. Once I saw a giant sea turtle, dead in the sand, its eyes bleeding fluid where gulls had pecked. A week later it was gone, not even the carapace remained. Unused to raw reality we hide behind ceremony: wash and wrap in shroud or clothes – Sunday best, eyes shut, then burn or bury or both, or scatter in a favorite site. I, undecided, keep my family close – cremains in boxes on the linen shelf, an embarrassment when guests arrive, a comfort when I’m alone.
looking through scrapbooks, years after— Sarah Matthews here I am five, and with my father. quite uncommon. he’d take all our photographs leave countless bound leather albums filled with absence. he and I perch on the roof. in Bangalore's stark, cauterizing sun we squint, all smiles. here we are flying kites. for him, tradition counts. pataang bazii, it was known as, kite fighting—boys would coat kite strings in glue and powdered glass, then cut other kites down with their sharp lines. and what he never told me was, some children died while they were playing. strangled, sliced open, fresh mangoes spurting juice. my mind stays still with pastel childeyed visions, vistas of those rooftops peopled, sky a joyous whir of color, falling. here I stand in snow. my roofs are slanted now, the weather tart and crisp like Cortland apples. and I am thin, too thin. in my eyes are blotchy kites that pull hard on frail strings, lost in pale clouds. here I wear white, walk down an aisle alone. the past is no tender faded photo, time no suture, just a rooftop missing tiles— a young girl's gap-toothed smile—a bloodied, tight, fast-roving thread of finely powdered glass.
Hazards Michael Karl Ritchie Without risk, there is No nature. So donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t begrudge Safe harbor for the homeless Or why hang from trees Wooden bird feeders?
Quill Sarah Craig your lashes hover here, feathers wet with oil of sleep I want to lift the weight of your lids, wake you, tell you the blue jay feathers on the windowsill-too crude, you said, to pick up off the ground-are shining in the lamp light. I want this love to be more than some thing to shrink tufts of down into black ink; I want this love to be more than a pen rattle, echoing.
Ride Allen Sweat Sometimes I wish I were off again on vacation with the family atop the island, riding beach cruisers and laughing like a circus band escaped from the big top. I carry the youngest, like a baby koala, locked onto my back in the seat behind me, giggling with every bump and jump. Soul mate and children, I lead them across our very own island protected from the world. On colorful machines, we zig and zag like wheeled centipedes up the spine of the thin, giant fossil, ten thousand years old, the rising sun still ahead of us all. Everything in our presence radiates the Earthâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s life. Endless blue oceans dart past, hidden treasure glistens, falling coconuts spill milk and big, green lizards burp. On the roller coaster we float, up and down the path, the joyous, salty wind against our faces. A simple beauty unfolds before us, effortlessly. This moment supersedes all previous moments of living and loving. Above the crashing surf, children talk of marrying princes and brag of racing cars and jumping houses and slaying one eyed monsters. Neither of us questions them. We remember that place, the perfect world of youth that always lies ahead. We laugh at the gulls above calling the names of our own differences. The pedaling is difficult now against the slope so steep. We stop and scan the distant horizon for signs of last chances, remembering the perfect promises made. We know there are points in life with no turning back, but we are surprised at the fear we hold for the future. The sea breeze picks up and invisible vapors surround us. The gulls are carried out over the sea. Abandoned, we ride on together.
Life In Two Cartons Heidi Morrell Dutifully, the suits and shirts were given away soon thereafter, while still in the throes of shock; as were the CDs and skis. His "to save" basket was emptied of magazines and news articles, impotent now in the wider context of loss. All but one of his hats(a knit cap) were eliminated, the swell gag trinkets from simpler decades appeared silly and cheap now. So were the smooth toys and racy adornments lined up to stymie encroaching middle age. They lost luster and were foisted on a handy, also grieving friend. Then his chinos went a few weeks later. A heaving breath, more swollen eyes and they were gone. Harder still the shoes, chanting his name in each rounded give and stretch of leather. But they too were finally thrown to charity. Except those there... his simple tie oxfords, those go in the special carton, with that favorite berry sweater, along with his best watch, a couple key investment files, the almost shiny baseball glove, his high school yearbook, a strange set of beads, a small redwood box, an address book (to send thank you cards), and a photo album of his pre-married life.
The brass monkey had to stay too of course. How many times had it gazed at her when sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d fought with him? His favorite sun glasses and a glass lion from Italy were saved, plus an electrifying speech recorded during his promotional dinner. Those went in, saved. It all came down to two cartons. Two boxes of intention and passion, childishness and faith, of pursuit, competition, and unmitigated joy. She could visit them whenever she wanted. There was always room enough for that.
CafĂŠ Lindsey Frantz Air filled with spicy-sweet coffee notes clings to clothes and hair and skin. Take it home with you. Wear it to bed. Stain your pillow, your sheets, your husband. Before that, sit and observe the people. Watch as they wander around and handle thingsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; mugs, straws, sleeves, children. Don't get caught staring. Instead, absorb the sounds of people, of grinding beans, of steaming milk, of heels on tile. For a time, soak in the thick air.
Because We’re Too Fat For Our Aquarium Now Rafi Miller It’s the dead of summer but we’ve got goose bumps. Our aquarium’s kept cool by cold shoulders. You used to offer your sweater. In the giant sea glass, worn smooth by waves of vain glances, I spot two beached whales on your couch: Their flippers flop, their stomachs swell. They reek of rotting fish. I try to plug my nose but I find no fingers on my thick hand. The mirror laughs and asks, Don’t you recognize yourself? You took me dancing once, (or did I take you?) The Fishbowl Ball: enough champagne bubbles to get drunk off air. Sharks in the corner, toothy smiles, eyes on golden girls busy flaunting flotation devices. I wore a sequined dress, you a penguin suit. We did the electric slide, baby we knew how to glide, So fast! So lean! Jellyfish on speed My limbs: zimZAM! Lightning. Only you could touch this.
Now we watch everyone else step and swirrrl on TV. Now we swell with Doritos, cinnamon sugar pita chips. Our only company is candy-krill: the snickers snicker, the skittles sigh, You used to taste the rainbow. I ask if we can turn it off. No. Can we at least change the channel? You look at me and fart where you sit. So now we are endangered. The people we once were march outside. They bang the glass, shake their heads, shout to be heard over the crashing waves of tinned TV laughter: SAVE THE WHALES! SAVE THE WHALES! CUT THEM OPEN! SAVE THE WHALES.
Conversations of Love Nahum Welang Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a forlorn desire in the night sky tainted by the circular glow of street lights. I wrap a scarf around my neck like a noose and we dodge honking taxis on les champs elysees. Mon Amour, Mon Coeur, my heart is pitch black and your knee-length coat, cream white. I rub my fingers through your hair like a fine comb and squeeze you into my fortified chest. Everything around us now blurs into a colourful mirage. Where were you? You ask, gazing into the night as if searching for someone. I was held captive by the cowardice of innocence, running laps around my chest of confinement. I wrap an arm around your waist like a belt but you push me away. Your high heels clink on ancient cobblestones like snapping fingers and the wind whistles through the distance between us. Can love last for eternity? Or does it vanish like a flame with no more candle wick to burn. The locomotive, weighed by the pressure of todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work load, smells like burnt rubber. Does it matter? I think so. But we will always have memories. Running through the quietness of dark alleys, the tip of your head still preserves a splinter of the moonlight. Mon Amour, Mon Coeur. You stop, turn and smile. Slow down but never stop running.
Shower Sean Ward "A shower," you said, and so we drove, until, every sliver of the city was abandoned to the road and fences blended into trees along the shoulder and the tree tops were licked with moonlight. There where the whole galaxy spread out above us they rained down in sudden sheets, orange streaks and some with white tails twisting like ribbons at the end of flight; there we were, the two of us surrounded by open night and the wonder of bright lit rain without thunder, fingertips tracing the contours of our own atmospheres, senses imprinted with the final delight, gasps that plummet from graceful dying heights
November Lori Lamothe Wind rakes its nails across morning but the sky’s incandescent, as if the day has been rinsed in the light of El Greco. It’s too cold to be sitting outside but I’m here anyways, drinking coffee and wearing a wool coat over pajamas. If the shadows could stand up they would be taller than the trees. Instead they sleep, branches making dark roads across the lawn. Or maybe I should say it looks like someone’s been painting ideograms on yellowed paper. A tree of images spreads across an unseen sky. Which branch is strong enough to hold someone else’s imagination?
BREATH OF DAWN Odessa Gheeneil Agbas Down the grassy ground, Breeze softly shushing The rustle of leaves underfoot But crickets were long gone asleep. Crimson face on the horizon Rising slowly from the east, Smudge of light flashing down the silhouette, walking on tiptoe. In every watchful step, I had my shadow on a leash, Tied it next to my head. I waited many moons for bravery. Mephitic fumes of cold years Killed the words on our lips. A cut through the tether Promised us a new scent. While you were the pendulum; I, the hands of time, Traveled to widen the distanceâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; Footprints vanishing. I said everything to the sun, And let it be told to you in the morning When sunbeam kissed your eyesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; Blazing violet fire.
Summer Lakes Justin Robinson were quicksand circled by sinking elms our heads branched in shadow floated with the ripples grew like pebble packed suitcases boarding a train to the city where black curls drew themselves in your ashen eyes under the rose framed windowpane painted on peeling wallpaper I traced the lines of your face hinted at the spark of an ending.
Buckeye Joscelyn Willett Years after their divorce he found the picture tucked between pages of a tree identification guide, promptly shut the book, and pretended to find it again for the first time a day later. This time he was prepared, and as he pulled the paperback from its shelf he felt in near total control of his emotions. He remembered the book well and was inclined the day before to pick it up after nearly eight years when, finding himself alone on yet another Friday evening, he’d inadvertently flipped to the Discovery Channel and remained there for five hours. She had given him the book on their wedding night: “In case we find ourselves lost on a mountain with no food.” Over the course of their honeymoon they’d learned together which plants were suitable to eat, how to tell which were toxic, and the differences between native and non-native species. They became so knowledgeable of the wildlife around them their voices echoed for days as they backpacked through the Sierra Nevada, singing out “Dogwood!” “Madrone!” “Thistle sage!” “White fir!” He let the book fall open to her. She looked at him, her face young and hopeful, illuminated by a dusky Yosemite sky. She sat on a rock next to Bridalveil Creek, their first destination on a three week excursion. “We have to go here!” she’d exclaimed over a table of maps on a late night of initial planning just weeks before they exchanged vows. “How perfect is that?” He agreed. It was. Before a backdrop of white water she was smiling, her blue eyes sharp and deep, ablaze with an unforgettable fusion of passion and happy content. He turned the photo over. “You know what that is?” she called out, pointing ahead. Her boots left soft prints in the earth which he buried under his as they made their way off the path and into a sloped thicket of shrubs. She touched the gnarled trunk of a tree that bent upward toward the lone patch of light trickling in from the top of the hill. Large rustcolored pods hung from its branches, some cracked and exposed, others sequestered in their shells. “Buckeye,” she said, and plucked a nut from between a cluster of slender leaves. Then she bent down, cracked it on a rock, and gathered its seeds. “They’re poisonous,” she told him as she pocketed the tiny kernels, handing him the
empty nut. “What are you going to do with those?” he asked. “Slip them in my cocoa?” She was never more beautiful than in that moment, covered in sweat and mud, without a speck of makeup, climbing back down to the creek to wash her hands in the icy water. “Oh, no,” she teased. “I’d never put you down that easy.” Indeed she hadn’t. She had waited four solid years before orchestrating his death. *** “He is nothing to me,” she insisted on that final afternoon, standing in their driveway, grasping for his suitcase. Her voice emerged strained and naked against the heavy veil of his silence. How nothing could end everything he would never understand. He could still see their bodies pressed close, feel his veins bleed out when the stranger leaned into his wife’s kiss. There were times even now when he replayed the moment he’d caught them, and wondered if refusing her subsequent pleas to stay had been the right choice. His fingers stroked the seeds as though in Braille they would speak something to him, give him an answer. They were still perfectly intact, trapped beneath a thin ribbon of Scotch tape, waiting to be freed. He tore the strip from the back of the photograph, collected the tiny nuggets in his palm and left his house. Walking out into the Saturday afternoon sun, he went west, down his street and toward the center of town. A soft wind played around his neck and he lifted his hand to the air, releasing the Buckeye into the breeze.
Ode to a 12-Year-Old Boy Vivian Bird We’d witnessed our first murder together, side by side. One of my first memories, I was four. Vague as it seems now, the sun is still hot on my shoulders. It was your friend that did it. You turned my head and dragged me away towards the house, told me, “We trust our family,” and made me race you to the back door. “Don’t step on the cracks,” in the walkway. I jumped each glittering stone, jump by jump by clumsy jump. “You touched one!” “I did not!” Into the kitchen, out of breath. You boiled hot dogs for dinner, asked me why I’d never tried mustard before, then laughed when it burned my lips.
Ground Kenia Cris I walk when Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d rather float in space, People live like comets and die like stars. Sometimes I feel as old as the universe, The road I have not taken also showing on my footprints.
Regret Shannon Quinn I had a militia of people I broke by accident. You had an army of unfinished business. Under each dayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s shifting skin we flew random flags. I chambered all my vacancies and fired off regrets knowing only now why I kept them hungry, kept them hunting. I am responsible for remembering the parts of our history that hurt.
Between trees Heather K. Robinson We visit the nursery to see trees lined by color, to see sugar trapped in leaves – crimson queens tremble and weep into lace wisps of foliage and bloodgoods bleed purple stars we fold into satin-lined pockets. The only place where autumn is organized by species, height, even texture – Yet we mix the species inside our pockets, in order to guess by touch instead of sight. We visit autumn in remote regions of Texas, either lost woods or the aisle of a tree farm, searching for evergreens within rows of red oaks and sugar maples – mesquite wild along the outer edge of grazing land. She always asks the same question, why some leaves fall later than others? I never know the science to answer – how days become short and nights longer, the earth drained of chlorophyll. So I ask why leaves fall only to bud again; why we are not allowed to move back into the where we had once been the way nature holds onto past things.
another serenade Colin Sturdevant your tongue walks along a tightrope giving birth, pressing out tremorsthe circumvallate, fungiform, filiform each papilae and tonsil twitch, turn, recite. every pink pore serenades saliva out. mineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the same way, you see. wanting the taste of what youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve had that was sweet, bitter. slip against teeth, accidents. each of us nervous. this connection of pores, sweating tissue runs into a French press, slightly cliche.
To Make it Through Bogusia Wardein Imagine humans as little children listening to your story. But don't tell your story - widows and orphans first. Sweeten crumbs with sporadic smiles. Nod. Always stay in line. Picture others as sick youngsters, their hair caught by fire, yourself as mother. Don't turn away when complimented. Show enthusiasm for invites, crackle inwardly. Breathe through your nose. Nod. When awake keep writing; it could become Life in Letters to Nobody. Glance at your wrist, walk fast, stare at brightness.
Sequiota Park, Springfield MO Sarah Wynn The pond is empty because the city has taken it to clean. Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve removed the rocks, the water, the geese, the one mallard that lived here until she dies, the cave drawings from 2007, the fish. We are left with only the residue of algae that lies at the bottom of the crater, blue-green, reflective. They will replace it. The city has said so. But in the meantime: uprooted trees, cracked concrete, our parking pass, the beetles that scurry from to walk the machines that dig sidewalks, the praying mantis colored to blend into the Nissan Sentra, the rock we found on Thursday. Eventually, the city will give us back the water, the trees, the mallards, the new path and new even lines of dirt. They will not return the fish. This is out of budget. This has been spent.
ON OPENING MY CONTRIBUTOR’S COPY OF THE SNARBY CORNERS REVIEW Jon Wesick My poem wants to move to a better neighborhood. It’s fed up with stereos blasting end rhymes at 2:00 AM, gang members shaking it down for grammar advice. Crack vials, clichés oozing from streetwalkers’ lips, the toxic waste dump of bloated prose, and literary agents who never come when you dial 911 The bookstore burned down in the ’06 riots. Now fresh characters and plot are a two-hour bus ride away. The school’s the worst. No images, no metaphors not an original thought in the place
ROMANCE ON JUPITER Jon Wesick On a balmy minus-150-degree night we dance under the light of Ganymede. Much like the volcanoes of Io my intestines expel sulfurous fumes but with your PMS synched to Amalthea’s 7-hour orbit you won’t notice. Here I have 60 moons to inspire me. So if I compare your face to pockmarked Callisto and breasts to miniscule Carpo and Helike, will you let me bathe in the life-giving waters beneath your frosty, Europa-like façade?
The Shape of the Inescapable Cost Colin Dodds The Christmas pine rasps its last in a funeral parlor foyer, draped in plastic pearls and colored lights Again outstepping the nursing home, hospital, hospice, the wars and gladiatorial shadows of the slums, death streaks like a fugitive comet through the holiday Dis-aster, a bad star in every night Again, we can almost make out its shape: As cruel as the deceased was kind, as oppressive as the deceased was wild, as stingy as the deceased was generous Death reinvents its own injustice with each one it claims And there is little counterpoint In our best dark clothes, we speak in hushed tones of babies and weddings Outside, the city raggedly, gracelessly renews itself under a sky of annihilation And there is no catharsis, no closure, just the ancient cost arriving to the stunned diners too soon, always too soon The terrible cost of having known and loved anyone You pay it or they pay it But it’s more of than we can seem to afford Huge chunks of ourselves break off and float into the dark, reaffirming how alone we’ve always been and how we’ve never been alone at all There’s a plank shelf above my bed at whose pale grain and dark knots I stare through sleepless nights, imagining the branches that began to reach out, failed and were swallowed
in the rush of an earlier, unrelenting growth In it, I see the fossil of my own soul
The Marriage Jagannath Adukuri The child is still sleeping in a flood of light. Words, spoken out, poke darkness in its eyes As it grays to birds climbing a reddening sky The voices fizzle down in a vanishing night. A car door is slammed, only to be opened. The lists are still in the making, the silks still In the wearing, their fragrances still sleeping. The steel chairs are dragging on a dusty floor. But the flowers are ready in a fragrant thread. You can smell their fragrance and much later As girl is woman, feel them, a touch for touch A curve, a lowering of eyes, a fragrant dream.
The Moon Cynthia Eddy When he stopped touching her The moon changed its face A new phase began. The light side of the moon hid its face The cold side went completely dark Her breasts shriveled, her mouth went dry The moon giver of cold light Shivered in the blue of night Its bony fingers reached for her skin When the moon gave over its rays to the sun She took no joy from it, no warmth She felt at home with the moonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s dark face.
Contributors Rachel Adams is a resident of Washington, DC; the managing editor of a quarterly academic journal that focuses on post-Soviet states; the editor of Lines + Stars, a literary journal; and a freelance writer. Her poetic work has previously been published in Blueline, Arsenic Lobster, Town Creek Poetry, Four and Twenty, Blue Unicorn, Barrier Islands Review, Fjords, Ophelia Street, The Penwood Review, Grasslimb, Melusine, and The Conium Review, and is upcoming in Memoir. She received her BA in English from the Catholic University of America and her MA in writing from the Johns Hopkins University. Jagannath Adukuri Odessa Gheeneil Agbas started posting poems online in 2008 using "Jadey Oneil” and “Sundae Laurenti” as pseudonyms. It was in 2010 when she decided to change it to her real name, Gheeneil. Two of her works have appeared in Walkingblind Art and Literature Digital Magazine October 2010 issue. Those were (1) Asymmetry; and (2) A Corollary To What’s Evident. Stephen Barry is a lawyer, dad, and fly fisherman living in the lower Hudson Valley of New York. His poetry has been published in The Boston Literary Magazine, Yes,Poetry, The Legendary and a number of other online journals. Eleanor Leonne Bennett is a 16 year old award winning artist. Vivian Bird is drawn to palm trees and Old Hollywood. She chainsmokes when she writes, and her poetry has been featured in Phantom Kangaroo and Canoli Pie Magazine. Emily Rose Cole is a singer-songwriter and M.A. student at SUNY Albany. Six of her poems will be published in the Euonia Review in early December 2012, and her debut album, "I Wanna Know," is available on iTunes. Regina Coll lives in the metro DC area and have been published in Contemporary American Voices, Blood Orange Review, Mountaindale Arts Collective, A Little Poetry, The Cloud Appreciation Society, Lines and Stars, Psychic Meatloaf, and 2River View. Sarah Craig is a writer from Louisiana. She has been published in Indigo Rising Magazine, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Gloom Cupboard, Cargoes, and The Album.
Kenia Cris is a Brazilian poet living in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais. She attempts to include existentialist and surrealist elements in her poems to express the deepest of her feelings and observations of people and the world as a whole. Josh Crummer is a graduate assistant working on his MA in Creative Writing at CMU. His work has appeared in many presses/e-magazines, including Penduline Press, Red Fez Magazine, Temenos, and Emerge Literary Journal. Rachel Custer has previously been published in Up the Staircase, Flutter, and Prick of the Spindle. John Davis Jr. is a Florida poet. His work has recently been published in several literary outlets, including Deep South Magazine, Touch: The Journal of Healing, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, and other fine publications. He also has forthcoming work in The Petrichor Review. Darren Demaree's poems have appeared, or are scheduled to appear in numerous magazines/journals, including the South Carolina Review, Meridian, The Louisville Review, Cottonwood, The Tribeca Poetry Review, and Whiskey Island. Recently, Freshwater Poetry Journal and Blue Stem have each nominated him for a Pushcart Prize. His first full collection of poetry, tentatively entitled As We Refer To Our Bodies is forthcoming from 8th House Publishing House this fall. He currently lives and writes in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and daughter. Colin Dodds grew up in Massachusetts and completed his education at The New School in New York City. Norman Mailer wrote that Dodds’ novel The Last Bad Job showed “something that very few writers have; a species of inner talent that owes very little to other people.” Dodds’ novels What Smiled at Him and Another Broken Wizard have been widely acclaimed by critics and readers alike. His screenplay, Refreshment – A Tragedy, was named a semi-finalist in 2010 American Zoetrope Contest. Two books of Dodds’ poetry—The Last Man on the Moon and The Blue Blueprint—are available from Medium Rare Publishing. Dodds’ writing has also appeared in a number of periodicals, including The Wall Street Journal Online, Folio, Explosion-Proof, Block Magazine, The Architect’s Newspaper, The Main Street Rag, The Reno News & Review and Lungfull! Magazine. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife Samantha. Samantha Duncan is the author of the chapbook Moon Law (Wild Age Press, 2012). Her poetry has appeared in scissors and spackle, THIS Literary Magazine, Thunderclap Magazine, Eunoia Review, Emerge Literary Journal, and Everyday Other Things. She lives in Houston. Cynthia Eddy lives and writes on the eastern shore of Virginia. The quiet village sustains her sense of neighborhood and belonging. She holds a BA in Art History. She
has been published in Third Wednesday, Eunoia Review, Epiphany Magazine, Zombie Poetry, Deep South Magazine, Forge Journal, the Black Lantern Press and in Emerge Literary Journal. Poetry creates a chord between reader and poet. That chord remains long after the reading. Every poem reaches into the reader and brings forth an understanding, a moment of ‘I’ve been there’. Katt Evans is a second year graduate student at the University of Central Oklahoma, working toward a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Studies. My poetry has previously been published in The ScissorTale Review. Lindsey S. Frantz, married last year to a highly talented musician, recently completed her MFA at Eastern Kentucky University. She currently works as a freelance editor. Her work has previous appeared in Aurora Online, Aurora Literary Arts Journal, Paradigm, Main Street Rag's Villain Anthology, Ruminate Magazine, and is forthcoming in Kentucky: Her Story. Lindsey has a two-year-old doberman who thinks she's a lap dog, and she loves to make things from yarn. Amanda Frieze worked as a technical writer and editor in California for eight years until she decided to sell everything and move to London to study for an MA in Creative Writing. She is a contributor to The Commonline Journal and blogs in sudden spurts at thepurplenotebook.com. Vanessa Jimenez Gabb teaches at St. John’s University and is the founder of Five Quarterly. She holds an MFA in Poetry from CUNY Brooklyn College, where she was the recipient of the 2010 Himan Brown Award in Poetry. She has previously been published in the Brooklyn Review; The Light in OrdinaryThings anthology; frequency; Optimus Prime; and Seqoya. Brad Garber has published poetry in Cream City Review, Alchemy, Fireweed, gape seed (an anthology published by Uphook Press), Front Range Review, theNewerYork Press Generations Literary Journal, Ray’s Road Review, Flowers & Vortexes (Promise of Light) and Mercury. Joshua Grant is a recent graduate of Simon Fraser University's English program, an avid poet, and aspiring musician. I have lately been involved in a project with a former instructor examining and categorizing poets' first books published in the 21st century. My work has been included in SFU's Ampersand and, more recently, the online journal Arsenic Lobster. Jessica Harkins' poems, translations and articles have appeared (or are appearing) in journals such as Stand (U.K.), Agenda, Salt Magazine, ARS Interpres, Forum Italicum, The Comstock Review,Redactions, White Whale Review, Drunken Boat, Third Wednesday, and Chaucer Review. Her awards in poetry include second place prizes from the Academy of American Poets and the Walter and Nancy Kidd Prize at the University of Oregon,
judged by Dave Smith. She is a native of rural Oregon, and now live with her husband and two sons in central Minnesota—where she teaches writing and medieval literature at the College of St. Benedict / St. John’s University. Matthew Haughton is the author of the collection, Stand in the Stillness of Woods (forthcoming, WordTech Editions). His chapbook, Bee-coursing Box (Accents Publications) was nominated for The Weatherford Prize for Appalachian Poetry Book of the Year (2011). Twice nominated for Pushcart Prizes, his poems have appeared in many journals including Appalachian Journal, Now & Then, Border Crossing, and The Louisville Review. Haughton lives in Lexington, Kentucky. Linda Himot has been writing poetry for the past six years. She writes mainly narrative, personal poems, frequently wry, like her view on life. Her poems have been or will be published by The MacGuffin, The Highlands Voice, Performance Poetry at CCNY. Leigh Anne Hornfeldt lives in Kentucky with her husband and three young sons. Her poems have appeared in Foundling Review, Literary Mama, Untitled Country Review, The Meadowland Review, and elsewhere. Audio of her work may be found online at Soundzine and Red Lion Sq. She is the recipient of the 2012 Kudzu Prize in Poetry as well as an honorable mention in the Carnegie Center’s Next Great Writers Contest. She recently completed her first collection, East Main Aviary. Chelsea R. G. Kachman lives in Portland, OR, where she is an MFA and MA student at Portland State University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as Welter, Polaris, The Packingtown Review, The Portland Review, Drunken Boat, Diverse Voices Quarterly and others. Previously, she lived in metro-Detroit, where she ran inner-city writing workshops in Detroit Public Schools. Mark L. Keats earned his MFA from the University of Maryland and currently teaches literature at Howard Community College. Rusty Kjarvik is a writer, musician and artist. Poetry publications include Poydras Review (August 2012), Danse Macabre, (July 2012). With short fiction in PressBoardPress (August 2012), and visual art for the cover of Eskimo Pie (July, August, September 2012), Kjarvik also blogs (www.rkjarvik.blogspot.com) and performs world music. Kate LaDew is a graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a BA in Studio Art. Lori Lamothe has published poems in 42opus, jellyfish, Linebreak, Third Coast, Seattle Review and other magazines. I'm a mentor for the Afghan Women's Writing Project and teach part-time at Quinsigamond Community College.
Nathaniel Lanman Stacy Maddox lives, dreams and writes in the fast-paced city of Lawrence, KS. When she is not writing poems, songs and stories or taking photographs, she is tending her garden, cooking and spending time with her family and two children. She loves to soak up the sun by the river and feel the rush of water over her feet. Stacy has been published in Shades Of Expression by Gerl Publishing, The Medulla Project, Daily Love and Mused: The BellaOnline Literary Review. She has been passionate about poetry, photography, music, quotes and stories for over 30 years. Sarah Mathews was born in India, grew up in Oman, and is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she is active in its community of the written word. She served as Editor-in-Chief of Souvenirs, helped launch MODA magazine, and founded the annual Madison Lit Fest, which has featured writers such as Billy Collins, Jeff Zeleny, Benjamin Mee, Sean Bishop, and Jacqueline Jones LaMon. She has been published in Word!, Souvenirs: A Collection Of International Experiences, Illumination, and Interrobang! Magazine. Kevin Mazzola is a 21-year old writer dividing his time between northern New Jersey and Central Pennsylvania. He has been published in Rose and Thorn Journal, Carcinogenic Poetry, Gutter Eloquence, and Poetry Quarterly. Jenean McBrearty is a graduate of San Diego State University and have been an aspiring artist since retiring from teaching Political Science and Sociology. Charles Ramsay McCrory studies English at the University of Mississippi. He is an alumnus of the YoungArts program, in which he won a Silver Award for short fiction. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Brogue; The Cossack Review; Eunoia Review; Marco Polo Arts Mag; and The Adroit Journal, where he works as a fiction reader. L. K. McRae is a teacher in Toronto, Ontario where she lives and writes. She holds a Masterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Degree in Medieval Studies from the University of Toronto. Her work has appeared in The Antigonish Review, PIF Magazine, Northwind Magazine, and Room Magazine. Rafi Miller is a full-time student at the University of Pittsburgh and recently returned from a semester in Nepal. He has several poems in The Legendary and was paid in burritos for my travel essay in Pitt's Road Less Traveled. Julie Minicozzi is a graduate of William Paterson University, with a B.A. in English. Julie has had poetry published in The Zeitgeist, an on-campus literary journal at William Paterson University, and she has had several creative works and critical papers published in campus writing contest journals.
Heidi Morrell Andrew J. Olson is a writer and college educator whose work has appeared in many publications, such as The Monarch Review, The Linnet's Wings, and Leaf Garden Press. His first collective work, Barn Stripping and Other Stories, was released by Knuckledown Press in June 2012. Amy Pollard is an undergraduate student majoring in English. In her spare time, she maintains a book review blog at cafereads.blogspot.com. Her work has appeared in Eunoia Review and The Copperfield Review. Shannon Quinn lives in Toronto, Canada. Her work has appeared in The Literary Review of Canada, Existere, Maisonneuve, Etchings, subTerrain and Scissors and Spackle. Kevin Ridgeway is from Southern California, where he resides in a shady bungalow with his girlfriend and their one-eyed cat. Recent work has appeared in Santa Fe Literary Review, Gutter Eloquence Magazine and Bank-Heavy Press. Michael Karl (Ritchie) is a Professor of English at Arkansas Tech University, where he serves as advisor to the undergraduate literary magazine, Nebo. He has had three small press chapbook publications and work published in various small press magazines, including Gihon River Review, Margie, and The Arkansas Literary Forum. Heather K. Robinson teaches Writing and ESL. Her poetry has appeared in Bare Root Review, Women Writers, Blood Lotus, River Poets Journal, and The Orange Room Review. Justin Robinson lives and studies in Santa Barbara, CA. He has published over two dozen poems in various print and online journals including, Foundling Review, Triggerfish Critical Review, and elimae. Carla Schwartz is a professional writer with a doctoral degree. Her work has appeared in several journals, including Fulcrum, 05401, Wordgathering, Stone Highway Review, Enizagam, and Equinox. Gary M. Smother's previous short story publications include The Illinois Times Vol. 26, The Binnacle, Dogwood, and the Alchemist Review. He was also a featured presenter at the Eleventh Annual Illinois Philological Association for his short story, “Nesting,” which is a chapter from his recently completed novel. He is a prose reader for the literary journal Quiddity and a multiple contest winner for his fiction at the 2011 Missouri Writer’s Guild annual conference. Carolyn Steinhoff has published poems in numerous journals over the years, including most recently Medusa's Kitchen and O Sweet and Flowery Roses.
Colin James Sturdevant is a Senior at the University of Houston studying English with a Concentration in Creative Writing - Fiction, and hopes to bring back the Creative Writing Curriculum to his former high school after he graduates, and maybe some day get an MFA and PhD. His work (fiction and poetry) has appeared or is forthcoming in Harbinger Asylum, Jack of No Trades, Divergent Magazine, twenty20 journal, Decades Review, and Banango Street. Brendan Sullivan has been a lifelong beach bum who has turned from acting to poetry, as he finds it a more remarkable muse. He also enjoys surfing, sailing and diving. His work has been published at Wordsmiths, The Missing Slate, Every Writer's Resource, Gutter Eloquence, A Sharp Piece of Awesome, After Tournier, Bareback Magazine and Bare Hands. Allen Sweat has been writing since he could read. He's taken classes at the Writer's Studio online and UCLA Extension. He lives in West Palm Beach, Florida with his wife and four kids. Yong Takahashi was born in Seoul, South Korea and came to The United States when she was three years old. She learned to speak English at age six. To help her learn to read, her first grade teacher let her have the classroom’s copy of The Wind In The Willows. It was the first time Yong realized people wrote stories to share with others. After being told that writing wasn’t a profession, she earned her accounting degree and started a proper career. After many years of working in accounting and real estate, she has decided to finish the stories that she has been scribbling down in journals. The characters kept appearing in dreams and thoughts and they couldn’t be quieted any longer. She currently lives with her husband in Atlanta, Georgia and is working on a collection of short stories and a novel. Lydia Unsworth blogs at www.gettingoverthemoon.blogspot.com Stella Vinitchi Radulescu, Ph.D. in French Language & Literature, is the author of several collections of poetry published in the United States, Romania and France, including Last Call (2005), Diving With the Whales (2008), Insomnia in Flowers (2008), All Seeds & Blues (2011), I Was Afraid of Vowels (bilingual, Luke Hankins translator, 2011). Robert Walicki, a freelance poet,has lived and written in his native Pittsburgh for many years. His poetry has been published most recently in The Shot Glass Journal. Sean Ward is a writer, photographer, and visual artist living in San Antonio, Texas. His poems have been published in places like The Portable Wall, Cactus Alley, and The Sand River Journal, as well as in a
collection entitled A Man's World. More of his work can be viewed at http://seanward.org/poems/ . Bogusia Wardein was born in Wroclaw, Poland where she studied Cultural Anthropology. Her work has appeared in Revival Literary Journal, Embers of Words - An Irish Anthology of Migrant Poetry, and is forthcoming in THE SHOp Poetry Magazine. She has performed her poetry in Poland and Ireland. Nahum Welang was born and raised in Cameroon. He has taught English as a second language in countries like South Korea and Thailand, and he is currently completing his MFA. His poetry has appeared in Australia's Retort Magazine and he has three poems forthcoming in the 5th issue of A Few Lines Magazine. Jon Wesick is host of San Diegoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Gelato Poetry Series and am an editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual. He's published over two hundred poems in journals such as The New Orphic Review, Pearl, Pudding, and Slipstream. He's also published fifty short stories. He has a Ph.D. in physics and is a longtime student of Buddhism and the martial arts. One of his poems won second place in the 2007 African American Writers and Artists contest. Another had a link on the Car Talk website. David K. Wheeler is the author of Contingency Plans: Poems, named a finalist in the Melville House 2011 Booksellers Choice Awards. He has written for The Morning News, The Gay & Lesbian Review, and Burnside Writers Collective. Joscelyn Willett lives, resides, and dwells in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, four children, and urban hipster chickens. Sarah Wynn is a Ph.D candidate at The University of Southern Mississippi. Her poems have been published in Moon City Review and she has scholarly work in CLASH!: Superheroic Yet Sensible Strategies for Teaching Students the New Literacies Despite the Status Quo. Rosamond Zimmermann is a writer and a visual artist from Lexington, MA. She has published poems in many small experimental poetry magazines and journals, throughout the US and in Britain. Her work is published in magazines such as Echoes, A Literary Quarterly, Ant Farm, The Pacific Coast Journal, Synaesthetic, Curlew Press UK, Black Robert Journal, and in a special poetry edition of Sojourner on Women and Creative Writing, as well as in the 2004 Poetry from Sojourner, A Feminist Anthology.