IHLR 2020 PhotoFinish

Page 1



Leslie Jill Patterson Interim Editor

Katie Cortese Senior Managing Editor

Meghan E. Giles Managing Editors



Jennifer Buentello Jacob Hall Sara Ryan


Copyright © 2020 Iron Horse Literary Review. All rights reserved. Iron Horse Literary Review is a national journal of fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. IHLR publishes three print issues and three electronic issues per year, at Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, through the support of the TTU President’s Office, Provost’s Office, Graduate College, College of Arts & Sciences, and English Department.









Odysseus Arrives from the Land of the Phaeacians / SUSAN CARROLL JEWELL

Seaquestration / MICHELLE LERNER

6 8

Delicate Cycle / KATE STRONG STADT

Boat Go / K. K. FOX



A Long Time Coming / ALICE TURSKI

Sailing to Busying Times / SAM KASPAR


Penelope, Upon Her Husband’s Return / WHITNEY RIO-ROSS




11 13 16 18 20 23 24 26

n 2014, Mignon Fogarty, the creator of Grammar Girl, selected adulting as the word of the year. According to Fogarty, adulting “describes acting like an adult or engaging in activities usually associated with adulthood—often responsible or boring tasks.” While the OED hasn’t caught on yet, most dictionaries—including Merriam-Webster—have acknowledged that this new term is too prevalent to ignore, and what’s more, in a rare instance of general agreement on the Internet, a majority of tweeps and igers and snapchatters seem to concur that, yes, #AdultingIsHard. During the pandemic, adulting and all it requires has only gotten harder. We’re battling exhaustion, tiring of Zoom happy hours, and forgoing travel—a particularly poignant sacrifice now during the holiday season. Yet the tyranny of chores continues. Meals must be cooked. Dishes cleaned. Toilets scrubbed. And laundry washed, dried, and folded. After all, face masks, 2020’s signature accessory, certainly do have a way of piling up. The picture we chose for this PhotoFinish, however, challenged us to look beyond the banality of everyday household tasks. We knew as kids how to turn a paper towel roll into a spyglass, a cardboard box into a racecar, a tree into a castle, and the world around us into anything our imaginations could create. Yet now, in the midst of all of our bill-paying and lawn-mowing and floor-mopping, it’s too easy to forget that, as Yeats said, “The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”




Adulting may never grow easier, but the world can grow stranger, if we let it. It can become more beautiful and complex and surprising and layered. The writers in this issue looked into the image we provided and saw fierce storms and shipwrecks, rotten lychees and the personified moon, Penelope curling her hair, chatting into a headset, stuck with Odysseus’s laundry as he sailed “the cistern of the gods.” Read on to discover, as our writers did, new realms and possibilities, the extraordinary in the ordinary, magic in the mundane—no adulting required. KATIE CORTESE INTERIM EDITOR


Iron Horse Literary Review

iviane thought she’d bought the dress on sale, but didn’t realize until too late that the typo—“on sail,” a scrawled sign on the bargain rack at the Army-Navy Surplus—was not actually a typo. It was a trick. She’d been a fly-by-night impulse shopper since about birth, and of course waited until the morning of her cousin’s booze-cruise wedding to find something suitable.


“Something nautical,” Pam had insisted, to fit her sailor wedding theme. Viviane had plenty of little black dresses, pink slinky numbers, an array of I’m-With-Her-inspired pantsuits, and stores of ancient, unused semiformal dresses tucked in the back of her closet, the byproduct of uninspired dates, which, after a solid decade of dating, convinced her she was better off single. But nothing in her closet conveyed sailor exactly: no cute white caps, no flap collar or neckerchief. Nothing navy. BeERICA PLOUFFE LAZURE cause seriously. Navy? The “on sail” dress featured a classic flap collar over a halterstyle A-line made of thick, off-white duck with blue piping and incongruous slits up either side. It came with an ALL CAPS instruction tag to wash the dress before wearing. But really. Who washes a dress before wearing?

On Sail

Viviane should have ignored the instructions because when the spin cycle stopped, she pulled out not her sailor dress, but rather a small but altogether functional, dress-sized sailboat. Well, if Björk can wear a swan to the Academy Awards, Viviane thought, holding up the dress for inspection, I can wear a sailboat to a wedding. With no other option, and with the wedding an hour away, Viviane slipped on the sailboat, grateful the slits gave her leeward armhole access near the gunwale. With her sailor cap atilt on her coiffed-up hair, she left for the Santa Monica harbor.

Erica Plouffe Lazure


By the time she got to the booze-cruise gangplank, Viviane had mastered her bow-hip-forward sashay to avoid crashing into things, but as she swanned onto the reception deck, the grizzled booze-cruise captain took one look at her and cackled, “Why so stern?” The stern joke launched into an evening of nautical barbs about Viviane and her sailboat. Metaphors about anchors. Requests from men to “float my boat.” Queries if she was “naughty-cal by nature.” Pam’s wedding proceeded, of course, in the usual way, as jokes about prows and bows, ship-shape bodies, pier pressure, sea-men, and mast “heads” percolated. Eventually Viviane escaped the fray to gaze out at the nearly setting sun, and she saw herself on that horizon, sailing solo and alone, far from a decade’s worth of disappointment. The pull of that freedom feeling was immense, and lured by the shimmer, she slipped over the side, plunging into the salt, the wet, buoyed by the craft that was her sailor dress. And as the booze-cruise reception floated away, Viviane’s legs became a hull; her arms, strong masts. Her shoes, the anchor. Her dress, the jib. And as she set west toward the pink waters of the setting sun, she let the winds fill and bloom her sails.


Iron Horse Literary Review

Erica Plouffe Lazure


Odysseus Arrives from the Land of the Phaeacians SUSAN CARROLL JEWELL Faithful Penelope sees him everywhere among her swarming suitors, coming home again and again with stories of monsters, magic, and mistresses—seven years with Calypso but longing for home and his dear wife. Does she believe this clever man, this war hero who finds it difficult to sail in the cistern of the gods? Like happy families, fabulous fictions are all alike, heroics without witnesses. The complex warrior is challenged by complex questions: Who and whence are you, and who gave you those clothes? Odysseus spins a good story, incapable of the simple answer. Penelope suffers her storyteller gladly as she gathers his laundry. With red lips and hand to cheek, she opens the washer hatch and feigns surprise as her husband, again, maneuvers the rinse cycle.

Susan Carroll Jewell


Seaquestration MICHELLE LERNER

There was a globe, and inside the globe were spaces filled with rocks and occasionally a tree. There was a globe, and inside the globe was the blueness of mirrors, the emptiness of the cereal box at midnight and occasionally a break in the clouds. There was a globe, and inside the globe was a boat with the only three people surrounded by trees and mirrors, by breaking and by clouds. Inside the globe, a woodpecker pledged to never leave the nest; a person leaned far over the side, looking down into the mirrors, the rocks climbing the railing like a tree.


Iron Horse Literary Review


Q. Artificially staged, or naturalism? (what matters is what makes your hair curl & your breath steam, & you sigh: oh yes that’s what I’d forgotten because I’m not 19 getting dolled up, forgetting my laundry forgetting my coins for the laundry, sure of the tumbling sea seeping out my seams: that swelling sense of life! like a tide that must go in & never out forever & & & but now, of course, of course, you feel the tide-out: instead of endless ocean & no horizon is a small provincial lake of still placid waters & you plumb the depths or try to, scroll through Twitter or Instagram or Netflix for anything, a trick of the light, some intervention of lens, you collect final frames) A. You’re not what you were; you’ll feel this again, forever.

Kate Strong Stadt



Iron Horse Literary Review

andy passed Mr. Hawthorne’s sailboat at the dock each morning, walking through the gate to spoon soup into Mr. Hawthorne’s mouth. He was a nice enough man, though his frail wife hovered over Sandy, telling her not to drop any tomato soup on the white rug under the table. Sandy thought Mrs. Hawthorne should get a different rug. Or soup. She balanced the red juice in the silver spoon and lifted it to Mr. Hawthorne’s face, pouring it into the cheek untouched by stroke. “The other girl just had to do it her way,” Mrs. Hawthorne complained. “She just insisted he could feed himself. Can you believe that?” She guffawed at this, stricken hysterical by the insolence of someone paid to follow directions. Mr. Hawthorne choked a little then, and Mrs. Hawthorne yelped, running from the K. K. FOX counter she never stopped wiping. She held a rag under his chin and commanded him to stop coughing. “Just a wrong pipe,” Sandy said. “You can’t kill yourself on soup.” “He’s not suicidal,” Mrs. Hawthorne snapped. She wiped at Mr. Hawthorne’s lips. “Better now?” The stroke had robbed Mr. Hawthorne of speech, so he nodded. “Good,” Mrs. Hawthorne said. “I’m going to go take my shower while Sandy helps you finish lunch.” Sandy nodded, too, knowing words could be used against her. Any words in any order. After Mrs. Hawthorne left, Mr. Hawthorne tightened his lips, refusing the next offered sip. Sandy thought, Great. How was she going to explain that he wouldn’t eat anymore? Mr. Hawthorne looked out the window where his clean sailboat rocked in its slip. “Boat,” he said, from deep in his throat. “You can talk?” Sandy asked.


Boat Go

K. K. Fox


“Boat,” he said. “Go.” He was her boss, too, so Sandy kicked the brake off his wheels though she struggled to get this once towering man over the metal threshold. Outside, his wheels easily rolled over the cement walkway that led to the gate. Just beyond that, his dock on the harbor. “Boat.” When he planted a big hand on a wheel to push, Sandy stamped down on the brakes. “You need a lifejacket or something.” “Boat,” he said again, and his face transmuted into as much anger as he was capable of expressing. “What are you doing?” Mrs. Hawthorne’s question pierced the air. Sandy turned to see her tiny frame in a bathrobe, storming toward them. “It was his idea,” Sandy said. “He can’t have ideas!” Mrs. Hawthorne shrieked. Sandy looked back at Mr. Hawthorne, whose face softened into one of pleading, his eyes crying with prayer. Sandy kicked the brake up and rolled him through the gate while Mrs. Hawthorne yelled threats and squawked for help. Sandy kept going, even though she could never lift him from his chair. “Boat,” he said now, as soft as the breeze that blew off the water. “Boat,” she said, as soft as the waves coming from a somewhere else he might imagine he could go.


Iron Horse Literary Review

K. K. Fox


Washing Up JULIA KLATT SINGER The night we were blown out to sea, I sang every song I knew. Loudly. But even you, asleep on the deck, couldn’t hear me, the waves and the wind and rain and the darkness—yes, darkness has a sound when you are in the Atlantic in a small sailboat being blown off course somewhere between Massachusetts and Maine, which is where you were headed until the wind and the sea decided otherwise. “Three Little Birds” became “Blue Moon” became “A Case of You.” Some memories, like some storms, become singular in nature. I must have been wet, cold. I must have been hungry, tired. But all I remember is singing, that I sang for over two hours and never repeated a song twice. Did I think I might kill all of us? Yes. Did I think the boat might crack in half and even the sound of that would be lost to the storm? Did I picture what came after? That in the calm of morning all that would be left of us was shimmering sunlight on blue water, our clothes filled with sand, tumbled to the shore.


Iron Horse Literary Review

Julia Klatt Singer


Epic SARAH-JANE CROWSON You thought lost magic artifacts are trapped; they’re not. They’re live. Unlock the round portal of laundry. Inside, Odysseus takes his new toy for a spin, chats with Penelope through a headset. (She’s moonlighting at a call center for discarded appliances.) You? Queen of the Domestic Universe? No. Just Circe: surprised, peering in.


Iron Horse Literary Review

Sarah-Jane Crowson


A Long Time Coming ALICE TURSKI The lychees that make their way to her after many oceans, many lands, and a cultural revolution are green, and their plains of horns, softer than they should be. She may know just the place to push in, which pressure point will open the door to global rotation, but still she gasps, silly when she sees, starving when she buys for seven dollars a pound, tennish bags. The fruits warped inside. Their vascularity, hard, and the rot that drips from them, a foggy matter. Disintegrations of wood, gone small and dark, lie bitterly within each navel indent. She, a sac of sugar’s destiny. She, stowaway, living in a cul-de-sac for confused


Iron Horse Literary Review

identities and devotees of Confucious who are, themselves, anachronisms. For being born of a lychee tree means not surviving the advent of televised adverts in color, means not affording the entrance fee to the embellished marketplaces enamored with Ancient’s enameled wares. Safety from bruises needing more than righteousness and curiosity (more than an immigrant’s woes), the few in her hand she’s readied for eating are not ready to eat. But before her moonly tears can chance making a run for it, through the waterways, back the way they came, the lychees have their way with her. From her two eyes’ whites, a lily grows. It floats up, rising to the third story where it moves like a ghost: blindfolded, scraping against windowsills and knocking pots of irises over. Behind each glass pane, a street of uneasy sleepers dream confounded expressions closer and closer. Like catfish, they fall for her leftovers. Empty rinds, all the honest, hardworking storms of sawdust.

Alice Turski



Iron Horse Literary Review

Sailing to Busying Times


a int raps cinders work, one sweats necessities from toddlers' theory, learning if lint traps send her irksome wetness, cities front-load the yearning in tow, its wash buckling under wait times, sale a way to earn a drowning in, a climbing out of determined scraping out, watch invest, pocket, whipped out, smart(en)ing on the back end dumbed up, endowed dying, drums the beat to that old damp march a molded arch a dryer drum

Planning for Fall MICHELE PARKER RANDALL The lift of first lie, like a wave caught, comes with the morning. Entranced, we command summer, Slow down. Our vantage point ours alone. How many times can we sail around a world of our own making? Folded paper sails and hull repurposed from cork soles, our windows built for show, but look good from the outside. We spit and polish, take Brasso to the railings until they cry new, new, new. All the while, the moon looks in on us, her hair in rollers, hand to her neck, eyes wider with each revolution. We make our plans, chart our courses, and refuse to believe any lies but our own. We keep the ropes tight under a silver drum sky.


Iron Horse Literary Review

f course he would appear when she wasn’t ready. Ready for fifteen years—fifteen years of checking the mirror, then the window, then the news. Sleep became a memory that revisited when the late-night gossip host recounted the fall of Brangelina for the seventh time in a week. Those were the years of belief.


After that, she imagined the ship’s rope gone slack in a wave’s gulp, his body drifting among the flotsam, a surprise feast for sharks. Or maybe the waves had carried him alive to an island shingled in pearly shells that watched him starve. She went to bed and stacked his side with spare pillows. Those were the years of grief.

Penelope, Upon Her Husband’s Return WHITNEY RIO-ROSS

And just last month, she relearned to curl her hair, draw out her eyes, and reapply lipstick with a hermit’s devotion. And here he is, unexpected and uninvited, as the cruelest loves always are. Should she stand at the window as he docks—faithful partner whose dating profile was never posted? Should she ignore his first two knocks and open the door with the distant confusion of finding the exterminator here for his annual visit? Undecided, she sprints for her new skirt and unpins her curls with a cursing fury. Of course she will cry off the mascara she jabs at her lashes. Of course she will excuse him, forgive him, blame the gods. Hell, she might even forgive them, too.


Iron Horse Literary Review

Whitney Rio-Ross


Contributors SARAH-JANE CROWSON lives in rural Herefordshire in the United Kingdom. Her poetry can be read in various journals and has been shortlisted for the Haiku Foundation’s Touchstone Award and the Canterbury Festival Poet-of-the-Year Competition. Sarah-Jane works as an educator at Hereford College of Arts, which is a small, specialist visual arts college in the UK. She is also a postgraduate researcher at Birmingham City University, investigating ideas of the “critical radical rural.” She writes mainly at night, trying not to spill coffee on the paper. For Crowson, writing her poem, “Epic,” began with finding wonderment in the mundane. She writes, “I loved this surprising image, which took a mundane piece of household furniture and turned it into a portal of wonder. It made me imagine a whole world where our domestic ordinary had the potential to be magical—filled with marvels that we never see unless we catch them unawares. The miniature yacht in the image made me think of curious voyages, and I was inevitably drawn to The Odyssey, which, although as ‘classic’ as it can get, is also full of stories about relationships that are wholly contemporary in their complexity and humanity. I tried to speak to the humor I’d found in the image and reflect this in my poem, re-imagining Penelope working in a call center and imagining the woman staring into the washing machine as Circe, discomfited on finding out that there are hidden surprises in her known universe.” K. K. FOX lives in Nashville, TN. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as NELLE, Joyland, Kenyon Review Online, Tupelo Quarterly, and others. She is a fiction editor for The Los Angeles Review. Fox says that the genesis of her story, “Boat Go,” began with the girl in the photo, her hair in rollers, and wondering what her name might be: “Subconsciously influenced by the sleepover scene in Grease, the name Sandy stuck. I then considered


Iron Horse Literary Review

what kind of job Sandy might have. Since she appeared to be in a laundromat, I imagined she had a service-oriented job. The sailboat in the photo helped determine the setting for that job, and Sandy found herself as hired help in an affluent home. From there, the characters developed until Sandy took matters into her own hands.”

SUSAN CARROLL JEWELL lives and writes in Upstate New York. She used to teach, cook, deliver mail, pick strawberries, edit electronic books, develop online training, and measure the movement of stars. Some of her writing can be found online at Rattle and Poets Reading the News. Susan’s poetry, like any lovingly raised poultry, has won several ribbons at the New York State Fair. In writing her poem, “Odysseus Arrives from the Land of the Phaecians,” Jewell revisited Homer. She says, “I love the Greek origins of ekphrasis and will often turn to ancient storytellers for initial ideas. We tend to lash ourselves to masts in order to hear a good story. Why is that? And why have the classic stories of literature been the tales of men like Ishmael and Odysseus? My poem was at first going to focus on a woman’s odyssey. I went back and re-read Homer, and realized the stories were as phantasmagorical as the ones heard by modern spouses—the answer to ‘What took you so long?’ can be epic. I hadn’t remembered how often Odysseus lost his clothes, so there was the hook to the illustration. I took the title from French painter Claude Lorrain’s 17th-century Odysseus Departs From the Land of the Phaeacians. The poem suggests the odyssey really is Penelope’s.”

SAM KASPAR was born in Canada, is of Lebanese heritage, works in the USA as an orthopedic surgeon, and writes part-time. He’s had more than twenty publications of poetry (Vallum, Tiny Seed, Rigorous, etc.), prose (Burnt Pine Magazine, Snapdragon, etc.), plus scientific publications. While nature and existentialism are his oldest interests, he writes about more diverse topics now. He truly enjoys constructing the sonic elements of a poem, sometimes including wordplay. Particularly in poetry, there is a beauty in a complete work, but a separate beauty in sometimes leaving concepts open for experiential interpretation by the reader



instead of mansplaining it all to death; it’s a fine line. Find him on Facebook, reading poetry and prose: @MightySamster. About his poem, “Sailing to Busying Times,” Kaspar writes, “This picture prompt brought in an Americana housewife vibe, but not from a trapped, older generation; it conveyed happiness but also a bit of longing, maybe a dream of a vacation once the chores were done, maybe a fully realized life of joy and activity, or maybe a fairy tale. It opens up a lot of sociological interpretations, fantasy or not. My favorite part is my progression from smooth meter near the end when I transition to choppier vocals in short syllables that resist plosives, where I tried to invite a discordant, offbeat tempo moreso than iambic flow, which allowed me to unveil the words drum and beat as a satisfying result. I write in a lot of different styles, but that turn of craft brought me joy, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it, too.”

ERICA PLOUFFE LAZURE, winner of this year’s PhotoFinish, is the author of two flash fiction chapbooks, Sugar Mountain (Ad Hoc Press, 2020) and Heard Around Town (Arcadia, 2015). Her short fiction has appeared in McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Carve Magazine, Phoebe, and elsewhere. She lives in Exeter, New Hampshire and can be found online at ericaplouffelazure.com. About writing her story, “On Sail,” Lazure says: “I absolutely love writing to prompts and always endeavor to ‘vex’ the prompt and take it in a completely unanticipated direction. I wasn’t sure how to ‘vex’ this particular prompt at first, but I had just finished writing a story about a woman falling off a boat at a booze cruise, and I felt like her story was a bit under-explored. When I saw the woman and the boat at the laundromat, I recalled the booze cruise woman, but my instincts pushed me in a more surreal direction—that she would somehow come to ‘wear’ the boat, in the way that Björk wore the swan. The other part of this story is driven by all the terrible (and I mean godawful!) nautical puns that usually grace seaside second homes or are etched onto the backs of pleasure boats and would usually never find their way into a literary work. Here I seized upon the opportunity to both piss off all of my pun-snob friends and to use it as a driving force to send Viviane to her mythic ending (or, more appropriately, beginning).”


Iron Horse Literary Review

MICHELLE LERNER received an MFA in poetry from The New School. She’s been a finalist for the Poetry Box Chapbook Prize and Bridge Eight Fiction Prize, a semifinalist for the Pamet River Prize at YesYes Books, and has had individual poems recognized in multiple poetry contests. Her poetry can be found in many journals and other fora, including VQR’s instagram series, Harvard Women’s Law Journal, Paterson Literary Review, Lips, Adanna, and others, as well as several anthologies including The American Voice in Poetry: the Legacy of Whitman, Williams, and Ginsberg and The Poetry of Place: North Jersey In Poetry. She’s a public interest lawyer currently recovering from Lyme disease, living with her family in northwestern New Jersey. To create her poem, “Seaquestration,” Lerner wove together the photo prompt with her experience in isolation during COVID: “The specific topic and title are the result of writing the poem during the fifth month of isolation during the COVID-19 crisis. Because I am immune-compromised from a late-found case of Lyme disease, my family is isolating very strictly. It was hard not to interpret the photo that was provided in that context. In most years, the vision of a surprised woman finding a small ocean and sailboat in her washing machine might initiate flights of fancy or fantasy; in the context in which we are currently living, it generated, for me, a sense of the unique combination of isolation (the lone sailboat and empty ocean), claustrophobia (trapped within the washing machine), and the vastness of the natural world (it is, after all, an ocean, even if located inside a washing machine). So I had the odd experience of looking at this surreal photograph and feeling like it encapsulated my current life, and like my family of three is, indeed, on a little boat in a vast ocean inside a small machine. I’m on the boat, but as a poet I’m also looking at the scene, surprised.”

MICHELE PARKER RANDALL is the author of Museum of Everyday Life (Kelsay Books, 2015) and the forthcoming chapbook A Future Unmappable (Finishing Line Press, 2021). Her work can be found in Nimrod International Journal, Atlanta Review, Tar River Poetry, and elsewhere. She lives and teaches in Central Florida.



While examining the genesis of her poem, “Planning for Fall,” Randall ties the PhotoFinish image to her current situation: “The image made complete sense to me. My first thought was, Yes—that is exactly how I feel planning my classes for fall. All of the pieces of the image felt true to my own situation—the moon unblinking and beautiful, the sea calm and inviting in the moment, and the moon keeps watching as she moves to shut the door, turn on the machine, and go about her day. A month into the semester, now I wonder if she’s just opened the door, surprised we’re still upright.”

WHITNEY RIO-ROSS is the author of the chapbook Birthmarks (Wipf & Stock, 2020). Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in America Magazine, New South, Waccamaw, 3Elements Literary Review, and elsewhere. She teaches English at Trevecca University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she lives with her husband and practically-perfect pup. For Rio-Ross, the creation of her story, “Penelope, Upon Her Husband’s Return,” stems from her obsession with mythology: “I love mythology and am particularly obsessed with The Odyssey and The Aeneid. I can’t see a ship without thinking of those poems because they were so formative for my imagination. I’ve always felt sorry for Penelope—for the painful hope in her grief, plus the fact that her husband wasn’t exactly a saint out at sea. So I’ve previously thought about what internal storm she must have felt when he showed up. The photo offered a playful context to tease out my own heavier musings, which was really fun.”

JULIA KLATT SINGER is Poet in Residence at Grace Nursery School. She is co-author of Twelve Branches: Stories from St. Paul (Coffee House Press, 2003), and author of In the Dreamed of Places (Naissance Press, 2013), A Tangled Path to Heaven, Untranslatable (North Star Press, 2015), and her most recent chapbook, Elemental (Prolific Press, 2018). Audio poems from Elemental are at OpenKIM (https:// openkim.org/), as the element Sp. She’s co-written numerous songs with composers Craig Carnahan, Jocelyn Hagen, and Timothy C. Takach.


Iron Horse Literary Review

For Singer, the creation of her poem “Washing Up,” began with thinking about laundromats, looking in, and remembering sailing trips she took with her husband and his uncles: “Seeing the picture, I first found myself thinking about laundromats—how good they smell, how focused a thing a washing machine is—and I was intrigued by the image of the woman looking in and finding something one doesn’t expect to find. Which got me looking in, and remembering the sailing trips we took with my husband’s uncle from New York to Maine. Uncle Larry had been in the Navy in WWII, and the night we got blown out to sea, all four of us having gotten sick over the side of the boat with land still in sight, May, Larry’s girlfriend, said something like, ‘This is bad—if Larry has gotten sick—he never, ever gets sick—we are in for one.’ Did I have the helm from 2 AM to 4 AM? Yes. Did I hold the course? No. Did the waves breaking over the side of the boat have me seeing visions of people jumping off into the water? Yes, yes they did. Did I sing? Loudly. Everything I knew. Did anyone hear me? I don’t think so. It was that loud a sea. Although, I like to imagine there was some sea creature that heard me and knew why I was singing. Music saves us. And there was something strangely contained about the Atlantic in a storm at night—something that felt a little bit like being inside a washing machine. Come morning when the sun rose and the storm had passed and we had a long way to travel to get back to land, I think we all felt a little bit like clean, wet laundry.”

KATE STRONG STADT is originally from Virginia and has been trying to get back there. Her poems have been published in Dog Horn Publishing and Relief. Otherwise, she enjoys baking, children’s literature, museums, and sandwiches. About the genesis of her poem, “Delicate Cycle,” Stadt tells us, “Instead of inventing a narrative, I was interested in using the photo’s details as markers for plumbing my own personal depths (liberties taken). It’s surprising to realize you have some nostalgia about laundry.”



ALICE TURSKI studied medicine before earning her MFA in poetry at Cornell University. Her poems have appeared or are set to appear in Verse Daily, PRISM, The Greensboro Review, Copper Nickel, and elsewhere. She lives in Ithaca, New York, where she teaches writing at Cornell University. For Turski, her poem “A Long Time Coming,” began with an exploration into lychees: “This poem began as an inspection of all that makes the overpriced lychees I purchase in the summer a bad deal. What I found was that the explanation for my continued, pitiful patronage wanted to move along an inverted thread of the lychee’s travels: the immigrant’s travels that came first. And while this displaces some of the fault of a bad lychee to the displaced lycheecraver, there will still always be a degree of resemblance between the two. This kind of exploration felt very similar to that of looking into the amazing, whirling household machine and seeing a sea being crossed.”


Iron Horse Literary Review

Iron Horse Literary Review would like to thank its supporters, without whose generous help we could not publish Iron Horse successfully. In particular, we would like to thank our benefactors and equestrian donors. If you would like to join our network of friends, please contact us at ihlr.mail@gmail.com for information on the various levels of support. Benefactors ($300) Wendell Aycock Lon and Carol Baugh Beverly and George Cox Sam Dragga Madonne Miner in memory of Charles Patterson Gordon Weaver Equestrian ($3,000 and above) TTU English Department, Chair Brian Still TTU College of Arts & Sciences, Dean Michael San Francisco TTU Graduate School, Dean Mark Sheridan TTU Provost’s Office, Provost Michael Galyean TTU President’s Office, President Lawrence Schovanec

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.