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ouroboros review

Featuring poet and artist Ingrid Steblea Michelle McGrane Collin Kelley Karen Head Louisa Adjoa Parker Ren Powell JM Wahlgren and more......

Issue one December 2008 1

ouroboros review

poetry & art

Contents Issue 1, December 2008

Featuring Poet-artist Ingrid Steblea



Poets Michelle McGrane Louisa Adjoa Parker Nathan Moore Dale Favier Rick Mobbs Dana Guthrie Martin Julie Bloemeke JC Reilly Karen Head Collin Kelley Rethabile Masilo JM Wahlgren Belinda Subraman Jeff Calhoun RL Swihart Scot Young Ken Head Adrian Potter Ren Powell Jay Arr Peter Cline Robert E. Wood Edward Lee

4 6 8 10 13 16 17 17 18 20 22 31 32 32 33 34 34 35 36 38 40 41 42

Rick Mobbs Nathan Moore Janet Snell Justin Evans Janet Snell Michael Doyle Ingrid Steblea RHE Justin Evans Andrew Mercer Edward Lee Artists’ biographies

5, 6, 15 9 16 11 12 19, 21 24-30 31, 36 33 40, 41 42 43

Editors: Jo Hemmant and Christine Swint. Associate editor: Marie Doyle. For further information on how to submit or subscribe, please visit our website at Cover photograph courtesy of Neal Ostrovsky, a musician and the owner of B-Side Audio recording studio in Chicago. He took this photo, the skyline of Chicago reflected in Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate sculpture, at Chicago's Millennium Park.

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From the Editors

"...the cosmic serpent, the dragon, symbolical of the waters of the abyss, which are the divine life creative energy of the demiurge, the world generative aspect of immortal being." Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces Welcome to the very first issue of ouroboros review, a poetry and art journal which has been set up to showcase new, emerging and established poets and artists who are passionate about art and craft. Why ouroboros? We thought long and hard about what to call the journal and finally decided on this because as poets we want a name that communicates something of what can be found in the pages here. The ouroboros is an ancient Greek alchemical symbol of a serpent swallowing its tail, the symbol for infinity. Like the ouroboros, art is infinite and has endless possibilities – both for creation and interpretation. The name also acknowledges that the poet and artist are like the alchemist, striving to transform ideas and words into gold. The pieces we’ve selected represent our eclectic taste in poetry and art. What unites them is that they project fresh, modern points of view. Our contributors come from all over the globe– Africa, Europe, and North America–each a unique voice, yet connected in time, and thanks to the internet, in space. As editors we haven’t met – we’ve communicated only through fiber optic currents transported digitally in sounds and shapes. Likewise, our contributors submitted their work via email. These invisible waves form another circle that flows from artist to journal to reader – where they will hopefully generate more creativity. We hope you’ll enjoy them as much as we have.

Christine Swint

Jo Hemmant

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Michelle McGrane

Incantesimo A clock strikes midnight. Alighting from the gondola, her skirt sweeps the cobbled way. Dark water laps the rotting quay. Across the canal, condemned palazzi sigh in dreams through wrought-iron gates, their worn eyes shuttered. Drawing close the heavy cape, thirteen shimmering scales and blue barnacle shells all that remain of her fish’s tail. Where butterflies go

Amid sinking islands, baroque façades and secret gardens, lagoon mist tenders pallid fingers enticing her from the briny tide.

On the day of your funeral The air hums; Everything is green –

incantesimo: charm, spell, incantation, enchantment

I sprawl on the lawn, in the sun, wearing silence: a thin faded t-shirt: and watch a small white butterfly flutter by through the vault of old oaks; and up over the garden wall

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Michelle McGrane

Bertha Mason speaks Now that you’ve heard her side of the story, what I wish to tell you is this: that I had once hoped idly to be happy, with my cold, dour-faced husband somewhere in the periphery; that, in retrospect, the day he came for me was the day my island spirit deserted me; that the exile from my ramshackle green home caused something within me to twist and tear adrift; that I dreamed of sticky, sweet mango strings caught between my teeth and awoke with a salty mosaic tattooed on my lips; that I basked naked in the arms of a calypso moon with seashells gleaming in my untamed mane; that all of the bonnets and baubles in Christendom could not compare to the sunshine of Spanish Town; that I floated on a celestial conflagration of saffron frangipanis only to plummet, petrified, into a strange voodoo tomb; that within these stone walls time became obsolete: no market days, no festivals, no sultry seasonal ebb and flow; that mocking echoes dogged this stifling boudoir and rattled relentlessly within my bones; that while I stalked the corridors of the haunted mausoleum, cinders and glowing sparks showered their benedictions upon me; that I invoked the shapes of incandescent fevertrees, both eclipsed candle and bright hungry flame; that I sang, blood-red, the island’s setting sun, despite my dislocated tongue.

Bertha Mason Rochester is the first wife of Edward Rochester in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. A West Indian of Creole extraction, she is imprisoned in a windowless room on the third floor of Thornfield Hall due to mental illness. She escapes several times during the novel, eventually setting fire to the ancestral home before jumping off the roof to her death.

Michelle McGrane was born in Zimbabwe and lives in South Africa. She has published two collections of poetry, Fireflies & Blazing Stars (2002) and Hybrid (2003).

The dancer, Rick Mobbs

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Louisa Adjoa Parker

Her Pink Lacy Thong Her salmon-pink, lacy thong flung carelessly like a sweet wrapper on top of her Barbie-pink, bling-encrusted bag shouts I’m staying out, mum. If you carry on like this people will call you a slapper. My voice carries echoes of the past -- me, kohl-eyed, defiant, sixteen, my mother’s voice, saying You look like a fucking whore. This constant nagging of my children tires me, as does them telling me - them telling me! I have issues, I like arguing, I am angry. What I like is my girls doing as they are told, sometimes. What I like is not seeing her make the mistakes I made, magnified, super-sized. I want to take my children back to my past, so they can see what real anger is; how it bounces off walls like a glass, flung hard; how it cuts into your heart and gives you a choice: keep handing it down the generations, like an heirloom, or try, keep trying, to do better.

Juggling act, Rick Mobbs

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Louisa Adjoa Parker

This Is Daddy He leans over the hospital cot, smothers his son with kisses as if daring us to stop him. His eyes flash He is mine all mine. This is the man who hurts my sister. I want to scrawl bright-crayoned words all over the walls to warn the relative we now share. Look Baby, look. This is Mummy. This is Daddy. See how Daddy pins Mummy to the ground like a butterfly. See how he draws her blood. See Mummy cry. No number of bright, scrawled words can change him. He is the cloud that rains on my nephew's birth, He leans over the hospital cot, smothers his son with kisses and rage.

Woman, Stripped Bare For Romie It is late. I watch as my nephew makes a journey inches but hours long. This is animal: it's a she-wolf crouched in her lair, snarling. It's a stripping back of womanhood, layer by layer; a peeling-off of dignity to reveal pink flesh, bright blood and screams. Somewhere, cities are crumbling to make way for him. White cherry blossom trees are bursting into flower. With a new day, new light, there comes new life.

Louisa Adjoa Parker is of mixed heritage with a white British mother and Ghanaian father. Her poetry reflects her early experiences of racism and domestic violence, and later negative relationships with men. She lives in Dorset and has a strong connection with the West-country landscape, which she believes is a relationship often denied to black people. Louisa's first collection Salt-sweat and Tears was published in 2007 by Cinnamon Press, and one of the poems, ‘Rag Doll’, was highly commended by the Forward Prize. Louisa has also written about the history of African and Caribbean people in Dorset, and is the first person known to have done this.

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Nathan Moore

Kingdom Out here they buy small versions of what the city provides: pool, playground, park. Each yard is a lonely private neighborhood. Every day the small towns empty as citizens work to pay for what they seldom use. The breeze lazily Dissection

ripples the silent water. Inflatable toys in carnival colors are piled beside the glassy pit like some ridiculous sculpture. The swings hang in rigid expectation. The greenery flowers for itself.

The examiner slits the sheep’s eye, a jellied globe of smaller circles. The sample’s cornea is lifted as the blade traces its edge. A tiny ledge leads inside.

The few left here think of swimming in the water of the disappeared. Roaming the frowning house, plucking a few cool grapes from the fridge, finding those scarlet boots in the closet, unworn since ’94. We imagine that smell that only other people’s houses have. We wonder about this tribe who, Inca-like, built this rich kingdom then left, dishes on the table, a shirt on the hall floor. All the space, the rooms, the cars and televisions, what was it all for? We guess, make errors, ask more questions. Out here among the abandoned city-states we’re unseen. We spend our days in the hot sun, wisps of chlorine drifting in the quiet haze.

Nathan is a father, poet and painter from Columbus, Ohio, United States. His work has appeared in Saggio Poetry Journal, Asphalt Sky and at his blog Exhaust Fumes and French Fries (

Forty younger hands follow her example. All the scalpels glint like jewels. The tools wait expecting use. Without warning some students shudder in disgust or sink into their chairs. Naive reactions, an instinct for mourning. The probe moves the fatty tissue, exposes the optic nerve. A wide black spot stares into the palm of every hand. Fluid oozes as the sclera’s cut. Every mind is led to understand the thing until just the lens is left. Newspapers line the desks. Beneath trays and instruments stories stare up: who’s slain who, a train wrecked, a town destroyed by storm. Flesh is flayed. A few, bored, look down and notice ink and page. How many took the eye, picked it up and wondered: Did it see the world cut into squares by cage walls? Did it know concrete, dust, grass? Was it cold on the truck? Was there a moment of sun before the stifling shadow of the factory?

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Nathan Moore

Egg, Nathan Moore A watercolor and pen and ink on paper.

Traffic, Nathan Moore Acrylic on canvas.

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Dale Favier

A Short Happy Story I'm kind of hoping one of you might have a short happy story to tell, said Tatz Your bracelets whisper against each other, like knives Being sharpened. Your face a perfect illumination – No shadow, no shading, only immanent light. Your hands burn me, delightfully, like ice. "I make no bargains," you told me flatly, when we met. Walking along the Spokane River, Where the willow leaves dappled the grass. I didn't know you then, as I know you now. God, who comes into a number of stories, Stays out of this one. The tumble of your hair, And the glint of your jewelry, your hands Running with honey and blood -- these are not the stories Of my people, but of another more confident one, Whose gods eat and drink and walk By the streamsides. The God of my people Would never seize me by the wrist -He is a desert God, of awful distances And silences. He speaks through priests, Makes covenants, hard bargains, but Guaranteed. Pay and you get. But you, who have lazily gathered me in And made love to me by innumerable rivers, Bitten me and mocked me, mouthed me and stung me, You make no bargain, keep no promise. I hear your laughter begin in the winter hills And the cold air turns achingly warm. Your tongue Is summer -- You wash me with it Like a cat. And like a cat you vanish, when you're done.

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Dale Favier

You are so Wrong Come away from your lighted houses Come away from your screens and pages Come with me to a small dark space Not later. Now. Share this food with me This wishing-bread. How does it all connect? Well you know The same way it always does, You begin and you end with me. Still no takers? Listen, it is just a moment Of kissing and straining and sweating -- so what? ----I used to keep a diary, mostly to record Meetings with women and my chances with them. Page after page -- as it turns out, Goebbels kept just such a diary, and it sounded Much like mine. I was not pleased to learn it. That was a long time ago Maybe Anyway I wrote at length about any number of women, And then I fell silent, to the frustration of my biographers, When I met her When I met her, and something real happened, I wrote nothing. ----You told me about an empty bed in a motel room, And how well you slept in the bed beside it. ----Now the winter evening rises From the dark ground Cold fingers of air reaching And the autumn starlings gone. You can't make poetry of silence I was told By a very stupid man I couldn't tell him then, but I can tell him now You are so wrong.

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Dale Favier

I Believe He Writes Poems She ran down to where I stood, stopped On the step above me, and hugged me. "Hey, you." I murmured. All night her phantom Nestled into me, like a cat seeking warmth. "Sooner murder an infant in its cradle," said Mr Blake. He's an engraver, and I believe he writes poems. Far up, today, the shriek of a hawk. A mouthful Of sour wine, and a turn of the wind.

Dale Favier has taught poetry, chopped vegetables and written software for a living. Currently he works halftime as a massage therapist and half-time as a database administrator in Portland, Oregon. He has an M.Phil. in English Literature from Yale, but he hadn’t written much poetry until he began blogging a few years ago, at Mole, ( and fell in with bad companions. With them he eventually brought out an anthology, Brilliant Coroners. Look for his first collection of poems, Santiago, to come out this Spring.

Rockheads, Rick Mobbs

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Rick Mobbs

The dancer in my belly

1. You can’t see the dancer in my belly, can you, mister? I didn’t think so. And I don’t have the icon to describe, much less, to explain her. You say, perhaps the moon has brought her? (She’s in the fire, in the trees, in the shadows.) You say she’s not real. I say, no, but she has tiny feet, and hands, and they are sharp and hurt like hell. 2. I move to the edge of the woods, find a house, close a chapter, start another. I live beside a river, outside a small town. All day all night I hear the sounds of the ocean, the squirrels and geese, frogs and cats, chickens, lizards, dogs, hawks, herons, ibises, bats. I have plenty of company. 3. Jill works at the video store. She wears her hair in dreadlocks. Five movies, five days, five dollars, she says. I say I’d like to order something special. Okay, so tell me, says Jill. I say, she should be about so tall, single, available, a little bit homely, a little bit beautiful. Not too young, not too old, talented, creative, strange, brave, and capable. Jill says, strange? How strange? Strange as me? Or is different okay? I say sure, different, that might be okay… just not deeply troubled. She looks at me. Where do you think strange comes from? She tells me: My boyfriend overdosed on heroin and died the night before we were to leave the city. Last year someone killed my sister. Here, in this backwater fucking county and no one is looking for the killer. New York spit me from an empty and I skidded to a stop in a place where every second person is named Varnum, Varnam, Bellamy, or Holden, and all of them think I have bugs in my hair. She hands me my tape. We share the same birthday. We were made for each other. We are still a long way from hurricane season. This year, I want to be prepared. A woman enters the store. ouroboros review 13

Rick Mobbs

She’s beautiful, but hardly strange. Jill unwraps a piece of candy. I’ll see if I can think of someone, she says. 4. You are in the fire again when I get home. Get out of the fire, I say. It’s my fire, and I don’t want you there. You say, leave me alone. I settle in. The cats come home I set up to write; it’s time to make up stories. The moon is a yo-yo rising over the marshes. I don’t have to look, I know it goes up and down, I know it’s played by a left-handed woman who waits. She plays with the river, the tides, the ocean. This close to the ocean, the river has perceptible tides. They go up and down, up and down. 5. What shall I do about you? I ask. (She’s in my fire, she has no manners. When I try to speak to her she vanishes.) I say it to the air, where devils dance. Sometimes I mock them with the damper just to hear them roar. Now she’s dancing closer to the door. You are pathetic, I say. She hears that I’m addressing her and vanishes. 6. Heart is courage, I say to the empty door. Heart is fire. Heart is why we love, heart is why we go to war. I study the empty place where my heart lived. I say, you can leave any time you want. The flame is empty of your image now. My prayers are quieter. We know, by theory and by observation that people are the better off for talking. Here, take this icon. Your silence kills me.

Rick lives in Northern New Mexico and is a painter and a poet. He started writing to save his life and just kept going. To make ends meet he works in the film industry as a scenic artist and illustrator.

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Rick Mobbs

Dancing woman, Rick Mobbs

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Dana Guthrie Martin

Entry — for Theseus Where did you stuff your women? In bags, in lead coffins, in the farthest recesses of your hilly land? What Helen didn’t tell you is that she saw you in a dream where you slid the peplum from her body and it glided like water over her skin. The night sky left only her nipples and pubic hair dark, made the rest of her into a second moon that orbited you until you were dizzy, until you said Yes my love, whatever you want my love. Then she took your sword in her hands and drove it straight up through her, into her body’s bloodless cavities.

On the long narrow stem of life wet sheets. heat stain. stale double bed. clean break. held air. unopened mouths. when every weeping bone slacks, when cruel fevers spangle past. (this is where it starts and where it ends, you are what I plow and what I tend.) head tilt. hard rope. untwined and clean. body. darkness. ease in the barbs. why ruin is the best you’ll ever know, why longing is a moon slung far and low.

Dana Guthrie Martin lives in the Seattle area and writes wherever writing will have her. She shares her home with her husband, her pet hamster and her robot, Feldman. Her work has appeared in numerous journals, including Blood OrangeReview, Blossombones, Boxcar Poetry Review, Failbetter, Fence and Qarrtsiluni. She is co-editor of Postal Poetry and is an active online poet. She thanks The Poetry Collaborative for every piece she writes and for their unwavering support and friendship.

Boxed in, Janet Snell In this painting, the head ended up floating, whereas in the sketch, it was attached to the first slat on the right. The figure is German expressionist, and the space, abstract expressionist.

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Julie Bloemeke

Postpartum Night Out I am alone, dancing, losing my body to bodies, raising myself to gin, tonic to forget my breasts are heavy with milk I will later have to empty down the sink.

JC Reilly

Purple, Llama, Cantaloupe

My jeans are slung low again, the shadow of my belly button a starting point for eyes, my hips, free from child, draw their steady circles.

Three words on my profile drew you to me, you said, when you typed your first message. I thought you noted disgust for “right wing jerkocrats” and lost dreams: “wishing Bush sterile.”

I remember what it is to be seen.

I scoured your profile as well, saw political leanings angled like the Tower of Pisa Julie E. Bloemeke lives in Alpharetta, Georgia. She is a graduate of the M.F.A. program at Bennington College and was a finalist in the 2001 Arts & Letters poetry competition. Her work has appeared in Pebble Lake Review.

and knew we were simpatico— or at least as conforming as any socialist might be. But no, you lol’ed, my politics aside, the three words I chose should all have been adjectives: “sweet, creative, thoughtful” or “clever, hot, mysterious,” words that together are meant to capture the essence of a person, if only three words could. All these months later, you still laugh at my choices, pledge purple llamas and cantaloupes like love’s secret code.

JC Reilly is a poet living in Atlanta, Georgia. She has had work published or forthcoming from Xavier Review, Kalliope: A Journal of Women's Literature and Art, The Reach of Song, and The Arkansas Review.

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Karen Head

Marie-Antoinette Nightshirt (No. 1019) Price: $39 “No lace. No embroidery. No gewgaws. Pure Pima cotton (the best there is). Fresh, white, crisp, innocent. 4-button placket. Band collar. Shirttail hem. Sleep in it, walk along beaches in it, visit a secluded meadow in it.” J. Peterman

The catalogue copy was alluring, the price reasonable enough for a 23 year old with seduction on her mind. Innocent? Maybe. Back then, I wasn’t confident enough to use the simple things in my favor. Instead, I should have splurged, bought a pink lace negligee that would have clung perfectly to the curves of my body. Shirttail hems, I would learn, look better in the morning when, wearing only an oxford-cloth, button-down, I let my lover make breakfast— in a reality where I have traded fairy tale for sang-froid. Seventeen years ago, I was pretending a kind of sensual simplicity. Of course, it failed me, just as Versailles failed Marie, and politics aside, don’t we all wish she’d had more time for the fantasy that might have been her life?

Chanel Le Vernis Noir Ceramic Nail Polish (No. 337) Price $20 Clear night with a hint of starlight— a color you choose when you want a lover to recount, She was for that one night the void into which I plunged. Exactly the shade to balance the scent of verbena, to accent fingertips drawn tenderly from sternum to navel. Just enough darkness to enthrall, enough light to liberate. This color anticipates exclamation. This color is no accident.

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Karen Head

Rara Avis How does it happen? You find yourself in a strange city, the kind of place catalogued by Baedeker, walking along a river, usually, pretending to enjoy your solitude as the afternoon edges into evening, when suddenly, it’s always sudden, you round a corner, where you had not planned a turn, to find yourself just beyond the cathedral, the palace, the museum, duty free, fumbling for your guidebook only to discover something or someone you didn’t know you needed to find.

Karen Head is the author of Sassing (WordTech Press, forthcoming 2009), My Paris Year (All Nations Press, forthcoming October 2008) and Shadow Boxes (All Nations Press, 2003). Her poetry has appeared in a number of journals and anthologies. As a scholar of contemporary American poetry, she has begun to explore the connections between traditional textbased poetry and digitally-enhanced poetry, an exploration that involves her in a number of projects being conducted in the Wesley Center for New Media at Georgia Tech. Her digital poetry was featured at the E-Poetry 2007 festival in Paris.

On the move, Michael Doyle Taken in Nieumarkt, Amsterdam.

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Collin Kelley

Augusta Orchid Club Bus rolls up to busy curb, blocks traffic, shudders and sputters phlegm-like, lowers with a hiss for disembarking. Like arthritic clowns, the tourists slowly tumble from the door, florid sweaters against winter chill, walkers clacking on pavement.

Club Amnesia Two hours after we arrive, exhausted Carolyn's grind jaw ache her new complaint

“The 1 o’clock is here early,” the host shouts to the kitchen, checks his watch, it’s only noon, watches the ant line bob and weave toward restaurant door, until they are wheezing and crowded in the lobby.

x wore off the moment we entered Memphis now we're at a dark nightclub, half empty on a Thursday night, Tina leans against the bar back to us, Carolyn and I, on the dance floor grinding to some 80s beat.

Host boy lightly scolds the group for arriving before its allotted time, and takes delight in the steep stairs the old women will have to climb to the private room for their meal.

We don't know it yet, but Ken is naked in the fountain outside doing his best La Dolce Vita drunk before we arrived

A sigh ripples through the blue hairs, the gray hairs, the snowy whites, an acceptance of infirmity, their bodies creaking more than the stairs, every step a chess move, carefully considered, hands gripping rail. And one woman, her geriatric cane with its rubber talons clawing floor, her botanical garden visitor’s badge hanging limply on heart-drenched sweater, eyes the stairs with grim-resolve, white-knuckles her stick, plants it loudly, firmly on first step, becomes, like the orchids she traveled 100 miles to see, resilient. Not ready, not yet, to return to seed.

drunker now to celebrate the fact and the pool is surrounded by men watching Ken's posing, hands reaching out to touch wet flesh or tug at tightening trousers, until management fishes him out, orders us off premises, and Ken staggers and drips sullen back to the jeep, while we carry his clothes, and he presses his cold skin against me, whispers in my ear they all hate me because they can't have me.

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Collin Kelley

Velocity I'm not driving the freeway, it's driving me, in herky-jerky motions, pushing me down the 405 on a warm January night to read words for strangers. The convergence of cars at the Garden Grove exit may be the closest I ever come to swimming in a school of fish. We're all floating along, some racing ahead, some falling back, red tail lights bobbing in inky darkness. On the flyover, the road flattens out and I could easily be floating in space, silence inside in my head, where just an hour ago my brain was back-talking, telling me to pack up and go home, that I'm too old, too set in my ways for this vagabond life. The jaundiced bathroom light turned me into a corpse, my whole body looked bruised, teeth yellow, the mirror super-sizing me from all directions, revealing hidden flaws. Bad lighting is why people commit suicide in hotels. A sound comes over the fluorescent hum, paper rustling in the next room, my written down life calling me back. As I tramp down the familiar freeway, hands at the three and nine on the rented wheel, I press hard on the gas pedal, the velocity levitating the pages of poetry riding shotgun, into the night we go, shooting stars.

Red house, Michael Doyle Image taken in New York and posterised to create a pop art effect.

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Atlanta native Collin Kelley is an award-winning poet, playwright and journalist. He is the author of After the Poison (2008, Finishing Line Press), Slow To Burn (2006, Metro Mania Press), Better To Travel (2003) and a spoken word album, HalfLife Crisis (2004). He is the recipient of a Georgia Author of the Year Award and was a nominee for the Lambda Literary Award and the Pushcart Prize. Kelley’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Atlanta Review, MiPOesias, LocusPoint, Terminus, In Posse Review, Blue Fifth Review, New Delta Review, Chiron Review, poeticdiversity, The Pedestal, Welter, SubtleTea and the critically acclaimed anthologies, Red Light: Superheroes, Sluts & Saints (Arsenal Pulp Press) and We Don’t Stop Here (The Private Press, UK). He is also co-editor of the award-winning Java Monkey Speaks Anthology series (Poetry Atlanta Press). For more information, visit

Rethabile Masilo

Scarves Nothing but these scarves will cover a shilling’s worth of flesh, the rest being lies packaged in a grief. Nothing satisfies, not the halves of ardour on silver tray, just these scarves hung on necks of girls on violent days. Djellabas on street terraces suck narghiles, dragging sense from the bottom. But nothing will ever prepare you for this. And no one will tell you when your time is up, when pale-pink gods come for the kill, when not even a good scarf will shield you any more.

The road How deep’s deep, how dark’s dark? What depth will keep secrets, and will some shady dimness suffice to turn a secret grim, out in the dark? It is this that I’ve carried like a prayer mat all my life; it enters me from nowhere, as we set off from home for my kids’ school. From where we live to where school is there is a five minute walk that often-times turns to a nightmare. I have concerns that someone’s out to spill blood, drive us out of here. We would arrive late if we changed circuits, and would have given up, which is no good. This is our road.

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Rethabile Masilo

Cessation of our tale Having just seen the world’s worst decades, we’re tortoised in our faith, the world of Hades and the cessation of our tale; after all for light to come on the curtain must fall,

Rethabile is a Lesotho national living in France. He's the father of two and enjoys playing soccer, writing, and cooking. He has previously been published in Orbis, Canopic Jar, Ascent Aspirations, Concelebratory Shoehorn Review, Bolts of Silk and Babel Fruit. He says reading and writing poetry is a big chunk of his day and wishes three more hours could be added to the already existing twenty-four.

it’s a fact, there’s inner peace there. But as I was saying we really should obey the signs. Conceding quietly might just work out for the best. What I know without doubt, what I seen with these eyes lessoned by war, is that it doesn’t matter who you are; what imports in the end is the way the body just knows

The Berlin Wall, Michelle McGrane

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featured poet

Ingrid Steblea

Lines Composed After Googling Old Lovers I didn’t mean to raise them, tapping their names into the search field. I meant for the search to yield nothing, the way the child with her hands on the Ouija’s planchette intends for its stubborn stillness to convince her there are no ghosts. Yet here they are, one after another, each query digging up the dirt. Nothing old can stay buried these days. There are ghosts in these machines. They might not come shambling and lurching down the deserted foggy highway, skin sloughing and moaning for brains—yet the effect is not altogether dissimilar. You were meant to stay gone! You were meant to stay in those netherworld rooms that house old lovers. You know the rooms: outfitted like an old hotel, and there’s room service, because of course you don’t ever get to leave or get old or married or have three children or go bald or own a tire store or worse yet, have a MySpace page bursting with blinking emoticons. Why reject the dignity of my preserved memories of you? M., I remember you as night embodied, bare throat, car leather; the way eighteen might as well be a cliff’s edge at the end of the world, and here you are now, a network administrator? The shame of it! And B., with your sneering blog that aspires to be outré yet isn’t quite? Perhaps it’s merely the fault of pixels and resolution, you looking so irredeemably ordinary on your profile page, exciting as silt, as if we never had that night beneath the railroad bridge, the certain immortality of darkness and damp earth, our pledges of eternal passion until death. Death, we said, not this purgatory of present day, drab facts, the banal now, too real, mere keystrokes and light years away.

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featured poet

Ouroboros talks to Ingrid Steblea, a writer and artist who lives in Western Massachusetts. Ingrid has had work published in many literary journals and competition success: her short story ‘Trepanning’ was a finalist in the 2001 Glimmer Train’s Very Short Fiction Award and the wonderful poem ‘Bess Houdini Contemplates Her Marriage, 1921’ won the 17th Annual Poet’s Seat Poetry Contest in 2008. She has just put together her first manuscript.

\ Ingrid Steblea


ow long have you been writing poetry? more and revised more. Well, you could spend For those of us just getting started, years performing this perfectionistwould you outline your journey to first compulsive dance of delay; at some point you manuscript? simply have to pack the poems off and be done I’ve been writing poetry since I could write at all, with them. I piled them up in a stack, agonized which means I’ve accumulated a breathtaking over sequencing and titles until my ears bled, quantity of evidence against me. I still have in my asked brilliant people I love to tell me what possession a blue spiral-bound notebook filled they thought about the sequencing and titles, with handwritten poems about “silence killing bled more, gritted my teeth, squeezed my eyes everyone” in the “slums of old New London,” and shut, looked the other way, and released it off Charon carrying the dead over the River Cocytus. into the world. Now there's nothing to do but Quoting my eight year-old wait for it to make its way self: “Carrier of the ‘There’s a certain distillation, an back to me, battered and bodiless, row the boat to bruised, rejection slips deliver us: Land of death.” immediacy that a poem demands. pinned to its shattered To sketch the outline of You are dropped into that character’s limbs with carpet tacks. my journey to first world for just a moment, and released In your poem 'Bess manuscript: years of again’ Houdini Contemplates Her reading poems, writing Marriage, 1921', you create poems, revising poems, sorting poems into piles the inner world of Bess's character with of "completed poems," "poems requiring precision and imagination. What was it about extensive revision and rehabilitation before they this character that led you to explore her can be considered complete," and "poems world? What thoughts in general do you have refusing all attempts at rehabilitation and about developing characters in poetry? requiring punishment". Years of whacking I wrote about Bess because the idea of that poems over the head with a shovel; years of marriage fascinates me. The women who burying poems in the backyard beneath the hosta. marry soldiers, policemen, firemen, lion Finally I had enough poems in the "completed" tamers, stuntmen – I don't know how they do pile to constitute a manuscript. I didn't trust it, so it. That's a type of bravery, of heroism, that I I shoveled a lump of them into a closet, another aspire to but do not posses. If I had my lump under the bed, and I read more and wrote druthers and the neighbors wouldn't call the ouroboros review 25

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police, I would insist on wrapping my husband to it. When I was compiling my poetry and son in layers of foam padding every day manuscript, I was surprised at how many before they left the house. The poem is my effort poems I'd written about paintings and artists. to put myself in Bess's shoes, to imagine what Nonetheless, they feel very separate, very love might have felt like for her. Marriage is distinct. For me, visual art is more meditative; challenging enough without the daily fear that it's a way of unwinding and escaping into a the love of your life is going to drown while non-verbal, sensate place after spending all handcuffed and suspended upside down in a day fitting words together in elaborate patterns. I think a great deal about my writing; water tank. I believe character development in poetry is no I obsess, ruminate, calculate, weigh. If I retreat different from character development in any type from life to writing, I retreat from writing to of writing: you try to create someone memorable, art. Art is all play and experimentation for me, someone specific, someone real. The biggest tilting my head this way and that and difference is in the compression of time and murmuring "hmmmm." That's the delightful, space; it's a very different thing to attempt to pure pleasure of art: the sensual buzz of a capture someone within the single page of a particular color combination, the lazy lilt of a poem rather than broadly across three hundred line, the shivery burr of texture. pages in a novel. Poems are much less forgiving Revision is key to writing poetry and practices that way. There's a certain distillation, an vary wildly from poet to poet. How do you immediacy, that a poem demands. You are approach it? I approach revision with the best of dropped into that character’s world for just a intentions and the aforementioned shovel. moment, and released again. You are working concurrently on a manuscript of In a comment at the online poetry community Read Write Poem you poetry and a novel. How mention that you don't easy is it to move between generally discuss poetry the two? with non-poets, It's very difficult. Anytime illustrating your views you sit down to write, you're with a quote from Lintransporting yourself (often Chi: "When you meet a painfully and incompletely) master swordsman, into another world. It's show him your sword. magic trick enough to find When you meet a man your way into that other who is not a poet, do not world in the first place. Try show him your poem". launching yourself into and Would you expand on out of the worlds of a novel, those ideas, and tell us a poem, and the actual where you do find physical world with its creative sustenance and multifarious demands a support? couple of times a day; you’ll I should start with a give yourself a cracking Red tractor through hay bale, a Massachusetts winter clarification: there is a headache. distinction between my In addition to writing feelings about the public and private poetry and fiction, you also work as an discussion of poetry with non-poets. On the illustrator and photographer. Does your visual one hand, I'm fully in favor of nurturing a art intersect with your writing? Does one public discussion of poetry. (Pssst: start with influence the other? There are surely subtle cross-currents. My the schools! Strike from every teacher’s visual art usually has some typographic element vocabulary the phrase, “What is this poem

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trying to say?”) I'd love to see the world transformed into one that has a rampant, insatiable hunger for poetry, for art, for wisdom, for beauty, for peace. Poetry is what I have instead of religion, and who doesn't privately hope that everyone will eventually come around to worshiping her particular god? I get tingly imagining a future utopia in which my country devotes as many hours to poetry as it currently devotes to certain types of television programming in which, I am given to understand, contestants eat live cockroaches for cash. On the other hand – well, on the spectrum of poetic personalities, I am very much an Emily Dickinson. (In his volume of Emily Dickinson’s Selected Letters, Thomas H. Johnson writes, “When he asked her whether, not even seeing visitors, she felt sorry not to have something to do, she answered: ‘I never thought of conceiving that I could ever have the slightest approach to such a want in all future time.' She paused and added: ‘I feel that I have not expressed myself strongly enough.’”) Like Dickinson, I am much happier in the solitude of my study than in the crowded cacophony of the cocktail party, where such conversations could conceivably occur. The poetic personalities that are most useful for the business of talking poetry are the charismatics, the showmen, the Allen Ginsbergs and Dylan Thomases. What you need are poets who love the limelight as much as the desk lamp; unflagging optimists, true believing missionaries, undeterred by the occasional blank stares and vague alarm they might encounter from time to time as they go around door to door, spreading the gospel of poetry to the unconverted. Furthermore, the topic I was responding to was not merely the discussion of poetry in general, but the discussion of my own poetry, specifically, with these eerily nondescript "non-poets." Shudder! However did I find myself in such a distressing situation, out discussing my poetry with non-poets, when I could instead be home,

writing poetry? Who brought up poetry in the first place and why aren't we keeping to more civilized topics, like weather and trepanning? I know lots of non-poets, fascinating and lovely people every one, and we've never so completely exhausted our topics of conversation that we're left with nothing better to talk about than my poetry. Who else is at this wretched party? What if I no sooner extricate myself from the nosy Bloom the soft dying day non-poet than I, a non-gadget degausser, stumble into a gadget degausser anxious to share everything in the world about gadget degaussing with me? As for where I find sustenance and support, I've been blessed with a few wonderful teachers, a few brilliant poet friends. I have stacks and heaps of poetry books that provide me with instantaneous creative sustenance. I've found a marvelous online poetry community and a writing group filled with some of the most delightful writers it's been my privilege to know. I have been especially blessed to share my life with a kindred spirit; my husband is a writer and musician. We get it. We get each other and we believe in the work we're doing in the world, even as society glowers down its nose and implies that we're

Favourite books of poetry: Jack Gilbert, The Great Fires Jane Hirshfield, After Sharon Olds, The Dead and the Living Margaret Gibson, Earth Elegy Billy Collins, Sailing Alone Around the Room

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wasting our time; everyone knows there's a heckuva lot more money in cockroach eating. How has the internet impacted on your writing life? Now, that is a big question. The internet has had a seismic impact, so profound and allencompassing it's hard to quantify. We're still trying to study the effect television has on us and now, a mere generation later, we throw the internet into the mix! These tools are transforming not only what we think, but how we think it. They’re re-shaping the collective unconscious. But to scale back from the big picture a bit: yes, it's had an impact on my writing life. I no longer write in a vacuum; the internet has made it much more feasible for me to find and participate in writing communities. I’m a morning person with a young child and a job; my schedule makes it difficult to be part of a traditional group that gets together, say, every Sunday night. I can check in with my online writing group at four o’clock in the morning without disturbing anyone. Being part of a writing community has been helpful for my writing discipline. That’s perhaps the most concrete impact: I write more, and more regularly, as a result of the internet. It's easier to look things up as well – although with the internet, there's this interesting phenomenon of having access to a virtually infinite amount of information, much of which may be inaccurate. There is truth and there is wikitruth. It changes something about the value of information. Also, almost everyone I know maintains a blog of some sort, sometimes more than one; so much of what happens in the real world gets played out online almost immediately thereafter. Perhaps the internet offers a truer vision of truth, in its way, by freeing us from the boot heel of factual authority. The internet more perfectly mirrors reality, which has no "truth" beyond a collage of infinite singular perceptions, overlapping to some extent, but each markedly different in its flavor and details. It's like a quantum riddle; our world contains within it a world of exponentially larger dimensions than the world it's held in. There are mornings when

opening my web browser feels too much like peering over the rim of the world into the infinite abyss of space. Talk about vertigo. My preoccupation with all this is spooled out in one of the poems you're printing here, "An Ouroboros of Information." I'm also preoccupied with the question of what poets across the ages would have made of the internet. This, of course, is the idea behind a second poem of mine you're printing here, "The Poets Online." One of my private games is to divide history into poets who would be online (posting to poetry blogs, participating in poetry communities and so on), and those who would not. Sexton would be online; Plath would not. Pound would be online; Eliot would not. I make up screen names for them (Anne Sexton would be h3rk1nd), try to decide whether or not they would use certain ubiquitous chat acronyms, and imagine them getting into flame wars. (Picture Rimbaud raising hell in a poetry forum!) I look forward to someday telling my son that I went through all of college without owning a computer, getting online or sending an email (my generation’s version of walking in the snow, uphill both ways, to the one-room schoolhouse). The literary world I grew up with – the era of print journals and bound books – is no longer the literary world. That world is being reinvented; it's evolving minute by minute. It's hard to guess what sort of impact the internet might have on the future of poetry. On sunny days I think the internet might be just what poetry needs. It's always been a challenge to find poetry in the brickand-mortar world: that pathetic little shelf at the back of the bookstore, you know the one, the few Best Of collections from the high school English class hit list squeezed in beside the complete works of Shakespeare. The internet is marvelous for its ability to connect anyone, anywhere, immediately, with living, breathing, vital, timeless poetry. I read new poetry online every day. Imagine, such a world. Imagine, such riches OR

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The Poets Online There’s Byron updating his Facebook profile again — Byron is going out only to get a fresh appetite for being alone; Byron is sure his bones would not rest in an English grave — switching out his profile photo for something more sullen, perfecting his scowl in the webcam. William Carlos Williams Flickrs the red wheelbarrow (caption: “red wheelbarrow with chicken bokeh”). Spends an hour leaving chatty comments beneath Man Ray and Duchamp’s posts (Great DoF — presumes a world taken for granted). Grabs a hasty sandwich and it’s back to Paterson General for the rest of the day. Basho has been Twittering for hours. Having breakfast with morning glories! Just spotted an empty crow’s nest! Pauses to email his disciples about replanting the banana tree; resumes his tweets. Frog leaping into an old pond — sounds like water! e. e. cummings IMs H.D.: ding & dong, i charge LOL into the hair-thin tints, peppering the screen with emoticons grimacing, wide-mouthed, eyes deeper than all roses.


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An Ouroboros of Information The first known collection of collective nouns, The Book of St. Albans, was printed in 1486 using secondhand type. It was so popular its circulation was said to exceed that of all books but the holiest book. You can understand the appeal. Page after page of a poverty of pipers, a giggle of girls, a charm of hummingbirds — well, imagine coming across that in such an age, the Inquisition Age, an age of hunger, torture, burnings at the stake; an age before indoor plumbing. Imagine the effect a mumuration of starlings would have had on an empty stomach, seven hundred years before recorded music. Even this morning it pleases, as you drink coffee and listen to Winterpills on the stereo. After so long, all the good nouns must be spoken for. Bed of oysters, pride of lions — what’s left for a twenty-first century linguaphile to venerate? In the kitchen, you pour milk over an exclamation of Cheerios, eat, rinse the bowl, and stack it in the dishwasher beside the cheval de frise of cutlery. On the TV, the program cuts to an insult of advertisements. A clamoring of email awaits you on the computer, and surely, an impotence of spam. You could respond and delete, or go googling after a squint of questions: where was St. Albans? And who? How many books did William Caxton print? And where and why did the prioress of the nunnery of Sopwell learn to hunt? You can guess the battery of hits, the perpetuity of answers, the raising of yet more questions, inquisitive hydra, hundred-headed. Instead you leave the screen’s hum and flicker and walk out onto the dawn-wet yard, your feet bare and cold. You sit on the stoop and stare out at the single venerable maple tree standing beside the gray fence. You fix your gaze on the dark, pitched roof of the house next door, and the next roof over, just visible beyond that.

Ingrid Steblea lives and writes in western Massachusetts, just down the road from Emily Dickinson's house and Sylvia Plath's dorm room; she hopes there's nothing in the water supply that turns the local poets dotty. She is currently completing a novel, and can be found most nights of the week performing improvisational kitchen-table narratives for an audience of one enthuasistic preschool boy, most of which (by demand) involve the continued adventures of various characters from The Jungle Book. Last week's episode, "Mowgli the Man-Cub Goes On A Hot Date In The Big City," opened to rave reviews. Ingrid produced the artwork accompanying this feature.

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J M Wahlgren

Song, After I'm thinking no, but maybe a flinch in your engine will sail you my way. Word beside word, I spell pricelessness in a dark cove. I'm a drifter amidst fog & mist, a curse, begging to begin the race. Maybe the starboard will divide, into star & board, a two-by-four of love mixed in a glass & sail. Let's prevail & leave us left of right, a compass spinning in circles like a casino's roulette wheel.

Plant in Shadow, RHE Robin uses her camera to help her see beyond the obvious and everyday. By focusing on what isn't seen, she is able to draw out the more compelling image of a plant in shadow.

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J Michael Wahlgren is the author of two chapbooks: Chariots of Flame (2007) & Pre-elixir (2008) both on Maverick Duck Press & the fulllength poetry collection Silent Actor (BeWrite, 2008). He was influenced early on by the fiction of Hermann Hesse. He resides in Boston, MA where he edits Gold Wake Press. J Michael studied philosophy for two years in upstate New York & returned to Boston to pursue other interests. He can be found playing guitar for his gray & white feline or reading an array of modern poetry.

Jeff Calhoun

A vision for Judas on his deathbed Outside your window, the sky burns red, a matador's cape unfurling. I am the bull that is taunted, the one cut-down and it is my blood that reflects in the still air. Look out, see what you purchased for a thousand little moons, a silver well. You have known my scars, numerous as the stars that will soon appear, bearing down on you with hungry light.

Jeff Calhoun’s writing credits include Mannequin Envy, Mimesis, Shakespeare's Monkey Revue, Blood Orange Review, Stirring, and Triplopia. His second digital chapbook (How to Make Yourself a Small Target) was joint-winner of the 2008 Mimesis Chapbook Initiative and will soon be available online.

Belinda Subraman

In Just One Corner of One Room in My Mother's House A clown hangs by the neck above four boxes of Kleenex, a six inch ceramic Santa, metal adjustable skates from the 1950s, a twelve inch Barbie in a hand crocheted dress beside a closet door so full of all that is feared could be lost, it cannot close.

Belinda lives in Ruidoso, New Mexico. Her poetry has appeared in Puerto del Sol, Main Street Rag, Big Bridge, Babel Fruit, mgversion2, Electica and Social Justice to name a few. Since 2005 she has been interviewing poets, musicians and activists on her weekly radio show and podcast called Belinda Subraman Presents / The Gypsy Art Show ( For ten years she was editor and publisher of Gypsy Literary Magazine and Vergin' Press. Her main web site is

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R L Swihart

To the Lighthouse Ribbons tangled in branches, lore of white pine, bark runes, bubbling foam There was a shipwreck in the dunes. This house will be buried in twenty years. In saw grass the buoy of a young girl They emerge with blindfolds and feathered pens. Phrenetic hands. From the pile of scrip a staircase evolves A card laid is a card played. Simon says. And wind deals the cards

39B The new muse is flying a blue kite that’s curatively empty. While she’s tugging on her string we discuss Nabokov’s arrogance and his Blues. The kite rolls and swallows crop circles in tired little squares. Pitches and strings lights along The Strip. In Acmeist outline: A stream of presumptions. Now I’m sinking through clouds, piloting dream

R L Swihart currently lives in Long Beach, CA and teaches mathematics in Los Angeles. Current poetry credits include Blue Fifth Review, Barnwood, and Mimesis.

Purple flower bee, Justin Evans About three years ago Justin returned to photography as a medium. He is intensely interested in seeing the natural world and the practice of macro images. This desire mirrors one of his major points of focus in his writing: seeing the small things in this world. This picture was taken near Sundance Ski resort in Utah while looking for opportunities to take pictures of flowers and insects up close.

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Scot Young

At Bolinas He watched the waves smooth the shore erasing any trace of just minutes before. He stepped over the broken shells on the wet sand, leaving deep prints behind him, and made a long looping cast into the bay still thinking of her. This time something grabbed the line and began running out to sea. It felt like a trout pulling the line tight right before the snap, but he knew it wasn't. He stood slumped-shouldered, reeled in the broken line and looked back toward town. The gun shifted slightly in his jacket as he took a long gulp of whiskey from his worn flask and headed to the house.

Sometimes Scot wonders if the world be a better place if, as one critic predicted in the 70s, everybody had written Brautigans. Scot has been published in print and online. Some recent credits include Chocolate Zomby, Instant Pussy, Side of Grits, Zen Baby and The Dead Mule.

Ken Head

Hard Look You walk past lines of cars parked nose-to-tail on both sides of the street, past newish blocks of low-rise flats and maisonettes, balcony railings painted post-box red, wires from Sky dishes hanging loose down walls stained soapily by bathroom overflows, the path divides: left, to a take-away and the new mosque, straight on to a fenced-in five-a-side pitch. A man starting a kick-about with his son is carefully pushing the ripped-up wings and carcase of a pigeon out through a hole in the wire with his foot. Rats, he explains to the child, It must’ve been killed by rats, some time last night while you were fast asleep. Ken Head is based in Cambridge, England, has been a teacher of philosophy and literature and lived for many years in South-East Asia. His poems appear regularly both online and in print, some of them recently in iota, Thieves’ Jargon, Obsessed With Pipework, Dark Sky, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Static Movement, Purple Patch and Non-Euclidean Café. His poetry blog is at http://, he has a new e-book out at and is forthcoming in audio at

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Adrian Potter

Truth You demand proof of my hoarfrost existence, evidence of the feral part of me that cannot be killed. Take the facts and pull them apart like the sections of a ripened orange. I am the banging screen door during windstorms, the nomadic dust hitchhiking on the bottom of pant cuffs. An ocean of deactivated habits in my rearview, sometimes I'm as worthless as a rust-dulled axe. I remain anvil-tongued when it's time to be vocal. Strong-arm angels and dangle hope above – you sleep on mattresses swollen with regret as I scavenge through cellars, lurk in the back of closets. Braid history in the seam of a frayed collar, or stitch despair in the hem of a tattered dress. Let me be delicately sturdy. Punch my ribs, slap my face, show me the sinister mercy of a steel-toed boot pressed against my throat. But I won't die easy. Scream all the insults that spill out of your mouth like rainwater from a clogged gutter. But I won't disappear. Hide me, and I'll haunt you like shadows in a pawnshop alley. Spit on me, and I'll become your worst fears confirmed. Embrace me, and I'll tell you more than you want to know.

Adrian writes both poetry and short fiction. His fiction chapbook, Survival Notes, is currently available through CervenĂĄ Barva Press. His work has previously appeared in journals such as City Works, Poesia, Cherry Bleeds, and Reed. Additional propaganda can be found at

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Ren Powell

When We Met It was October I remember because that is the month that goes into double digits and the birches start shedding their leaves and the slender prongs of the rake twang like bluegrass music It was Sunday I remember because the wind had been blowing in my ear all morning and the clanging of the bells had scraped the canal raw And the tender afternoon was loud with the deep hum of your words Your story was spices and metals I couldn’t identify Your story wandered like the veins on the back of your hand when you pressed my forearm for emphasis or help. Do you know I hardened to bear it? —recast by the friction ridges of your fingertips whorls that spin ever-outward?

Railroad Tracks, RHE This shot was taken just hours after severe flooding forced the closure of this line in rural New England. Photographs of railroad tracks often speak of promise and possibility, of journeys to be taken. Robin chose to depict the scene in black and white to evoke instead a feeling of disconnect, of the emptiness of tracks leading nowhere.

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Ren Powell

Sunday Afternoon After lunch, Eirik and I Long underwear, scarves—clothes for ski-ing weekends, not for little walks around the lake. We cut through the pasture letting the dog off the leash to play tag for a while. Then downhill, through the trees, slipping on ice-covered crevasses in the stone. Sweating by the time we get to the lake The dog too tired to chase the ducks. Eirik is dropping rocks through the ice— shattering semi-circles skipping ice over ice—like stones spinning echoes: waaoowaaoo, waaoowaaoo cold volcanoes erupt trapped air under the surface circles of white Glass shards bouncing on the timpani drum The frozen lake sings and it’s four in the afternoon. A slipping sun splashes pink on the mountain’s snow.

Ren Powell is the author of two books of poetry (bilingual editions: Fairy Tales and Soil, 1999; mixed states, 2004. Wigestrand Press) and ten books of translations. Her poetry has been translated and published in several languages. Her work has appeared in journals such as International PEN's Magazine, Segue, Beacons, and Ice Flow. She is the founding editor of Babel Fruit: writing under the influence and helped establish The International City of Refuge Network for persecuted writers.

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Jay Arr

Lucy Strachan’s ‘Landscape eclipsed’ at the Rabley Contemporary Drawing Centre, Wiltshire; captured on film by Mark Somerville.

This temporary embarrassment of wonder You’d swear someone has punched a perfect circle out of the world, on a nearby gentle hill this night black nothingness sat silent and still. Albert had said it should be spinning, we thought at first it was singing, hearing the grasshopper’s afternoon come-on serenade, curiosity walked us up the track, wanting to know how it was made, but too busy with starlight ricocheting off some other worlds, the illusion was sleeping. Jo thought the ball was rolled here by a giant’s hand. Then slowly, quietly, the clouds began to perform a perfect backdrop: the land, the woods, the field, the hedgerows, conspiring with English-like indifference to ignore, determined to outstay, this temporary embarrassment of wonder.

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Jay Arr

Suppose your father was a complex number Suppose his body was both real and imaginary; over breakfast, before school, you’d watched his infinite series, numbers passing the sugar and milk, urging you to hurry up, or you’ll miss the bus, those tiny in-fractions - remember you felt his irrationality, didn’t know never knew, his other dimension. Suppose … Oh! you’d tiptoed by, told be quiet during his transcendental meditations but you’d seen his body glowing, emerging from the sea wading through breakers, glimpsed, after showering through the half open bathroom door, the give-aways he’d always been careful to conceal: those double shadows, he tried to stay out of the sun, that extra eye he always carried buried deep in an inside pocket wrapped in blue tissue he’d told you was part of his other part. Suppose, just suppose, before he left to walk out of this world he’d taken your hand and stepped off onto that other plane where nothing is real; could you imagine him being one?

Jay Arr is a Wiltshire poet who has been writing poetry for the past two decades. Jay is a founder member of the Swindon Writer's Cafe and, along with three other local poets, has recently launched the Blue Gate Poets Society. His poetic pre-occupations include love poetry (he's given Valentine Day workshops on the subject) and an interest in using mathematics and scientific themes in his poems. His work has been published in Pulsar, The Bristol Omnibus and Swindon's Festival of Literature annual, CommonHead. Earlier this year Blue Gate Books published his first collection, A Machine for Measuring Blue. Now retired, as well as writing poetry, he designs websites for fellow poets and artists. You can find his website at

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Peter Cline

How the Young Make Love


At 86, in a flowered, frayed yellow housecoat, Miss Rena hates to miss a good party, Although she’s happily retired.

In the circular pool, A dogleg of the creek Where the ferns were like dead men Hung by the neck We stripped to Our palest skin.

So, when it grows noisy next door, Miss Rena turns on all the weakened lights In her weedy garden and peacefully sits As the hapless moths Meet and batter, meet and falter, meet and die In her incandescent flood.

Peter Cline is a native of Atlanta who grew up with red clay and mosquitoes. A relative of the writer Flannery O’Connor, Peter lives in Cincinnati where the architecture is great and the chili not. Peter studied, briefly, under Coleman Barks, and was a member of the Gang of 400 poetry collective in Athens, Georgia in the 70’s.

Only the moon smiled At our sharpened shoulder blades. We were eleven and serious As death With dueling erections; To come was defection. So, we talked of the sun And its death, Warm frogs spawn spooling In the swirls and eddies at our feet.

Metropolis, Andy Mercer Depending on your point of view, the city is humanity’s greatest achievement or worst disaster. The city is our most obvious mark on the planet. Mercer wanted to create an image of the city that was as much about our ideas of the city an as actual representation of a real city.

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R o b e r t E. W o o d



Sinatra sounds best in Italian restaurants, that sullen sorrow softening the air.

To speak to you of love I would have to forget that the heart has been spoken of too often. I would have to remember listening to Mexican songs on the car radio at night,

I look at you across linguini in which no mafioso will fall dead face down this evening.

hearing only mi alma, mi coraz贸n growing faint on a stretch of highway between towns that no longer mattered.

We will move elegantly into the night without even a cardboard box for the unfinished tiramisu.

Robert E. Wood teaches at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. His poetry has appeared recently in flashquake, Poetry Midwest, Quiddity, Quercus Review, HamiltonStone Review, The Sylvan Echo, Motel 58 and Umbrella. Poems are forthcoming in Blue Fifth Review, and War, Literature, and the Arts. Previous poetry publications include Chattahoochee Review, Wind, Southern Humanities Review and South Carolina Review.

Twin Towers, Andy Mercer This one of a series of works based on a pastel drawing of a city sunset. Mercer decided to add a clear blue sky to give some blank contrast to what was then a very busy and detailed image. He had no intention of creating a picture about the Twin Towers but as soon as he added the sky, he knew where the picture was heading. The contrast between clear blue sky and urban skyline immediately evoked that day and the pictures that flashed across the globe like an emotional shockwave.

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Edward Lee

Hand Cream You bought me hand cream because my hands were too dry and you wanted my hands soft, soft upon your skin. And so I used the hand cream you bought me and my hands were soft upon your skin while your lips were hard upon me. Our time together ran out before that small tube of hand cream and it still sits, unused now, upon the dusty glass shelf in my bathroom and every time I see that tube of hand cream I think of you and wonder, wonder, now that you’ve returned to him, are your husband’s hands still indifferent or have they finally softened to you and your so tender skin?

Cross, Edward Lee


Eye, Edward Lee

Edward Lee is from Galway, Ireland and has had poetry, stories and photography published in magazines in Ireland, England, America and Canada, including Smiths Knoll, Labour of Love, The Moon and The Shop. He is currently working on his first novel. He travels almost everywhere with his camera, believing that a photograph, like a poem or a painting, should speak for itself, stand alone. The Cross photograph is part of a series he has been working on for some years now called Lying Down With The Dead and The Eye, closed as it, hides all its secrets from the viewer, making it all the more interesting.

ouroboros review

About the Artists

Michael Doyle is currently an IT consultant but has been an amateur photographer since joining his school’s photography club. His interests are birds and landscapes, urban and rural.

Andrew Mercer is an artist who is interested in modern urban living, its environs, and the influence of the media on society. Read more about him and his art at

RHE was born and raised in New York, and now makes her home in the centre of Israel, where she lives with her husband and two children. She's rarely found without a camera close at hand.

Rick Mobbs lives in Northern New Mexico and is a painter and a poet. He started writing to save his life and just kept going. To make ends meet he works in the film industry as a scenic artist and illustrator.

Justin Evans is a poet and a photographer who currently lives in rural Nevada with his wife and three sons. He teaches history and creative writing at the local high school as well as editing the on-line journal Hobble Creek Review. His poetry and photography is forthcoming in Limpwrist. He has published three chapbooks of poetry, most recently, Working in the Birdhouse (Foothills Publishing, 2008); and a collection of letters written to Karl Rove in late 2004 through early 2005.

Janet Snell is a magna-cum-laude graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art, where she studied painting with the late abstract expressionist, Ed Dugmore. She has shown her work in New York City, Baltimore, Washington, DC, Cleveland, Vancouver, and other cities, and is the author of three books of art with poems: Flytrap (Cleveland State University Press Poetry Center, 1990) Heads (March Street Press, 1998) and Prisoner’s Dilemma, the 2008 winner of Lopside Press Chapbook Competition, co-authored with her sister Cheryl Snell. The sisters blog at



Edward Lee is from Galway, Ireland and has had poetry, stories and photography published in magazines in Ireland, England, America and Canada, including Smiths Knoll, Labour of Love, The Moon and The Shop. He is currently working (fingers crossed, almost finished, he says) on his first novel.

Ingrid Steblea writes about her artwork at

ouroboros review 43

ouroboros review ‘Maybe the starboard will divide, into star & board, a two-by-four of love mixed in a glass & sail. Let's prevail & leave us left of right, a compass spinning in circles like a casino's roulette wheel.’ J M Wahlgren

Michelle McGrane Louisa Adjoa Parker Nathan Moore Dale Favier Rick Mobbs Dana Guthrie Martin Janet Snell Julie Bloemeke JC Reilly Karen Head Michael Doyle Collin Kelley Rethabile Masilo Ingrid Steblea JM Wahlgren Scot Young Ken Head Adrian Potter Ren Powell RHE Jay Arr Peter Cline Andrew Mercer Robert E. Wood

‘that I dreamed of sticky, sweet mango strings caught between my teeth and awoke with a salty mosaic tattooed on my lips’ Michelle McGrane ouroboros review 44


poetry and art journal


poetry and art journal