Category Archives: Poetry

Annie Stenzel

Annie Stenzel’s poems have most recently appeared in the print journals Kestrel, Ambit, Catamaran Literary Reader, and Quiddity, Lunch Ticket, and Unsplendid. Her work has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and once for a Best of the Net. She received a B.A. in English Literature and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, both from Mills College. Stenzel is also a letterpress printer, never happier than when her hands are covered in ink. She pays the bills by working at a mid-sized law firm in San Francisco.

 

Posture [im]Perfect

Bearing in mind the long hall of the tract home
you walked up and down with your sisters while Ma

watched gimlet-eyed and you three held your breaths
and stared raptly before you, heads fixed firmly

beneath whatever book you had chosen to balance—
two things are now sad, or three, on a good day:

what book did you carry? why can you no longer
walk with your head held high? and especially, why,

why did you never forgive your big sister before
her untimely death and actually not quite even then?

Mischelle Anthony

Mischelle Anthony is Associate Professor of English at Wilkes University specializing in poetry and eighteenth-century literature. Her poetry has appeared in Slush Pile, Mudfish, Watershed, and her collection, [Line], is available from Foothills Press.

 

Blackjack

my father wrangling 200 million
in assets and driving
a Cadillac so many decades after
it means something.  Wading
through moneyed clouds,
the 13th green, and Dr. Seuss
trees, the glut of couch pillows,
carpet of such luxury we whisper.
Every Sunday drive, my father,
past sanded-down alfalfa
fields, acres of memory and
church, that squat brick altar
of primary shapes.  Triangle,
square, circle of trays.
The pale wood witness
to your wide-eyed wedding
asks why you return
to this place.

Look, there’s a blackjack
tree gnarling its way
up the sky.  You don’t know
why they call them that.
I do. 

Rachel Bunting

Rachel Bunting lives and writes near the Pine Barrens of South Jersey. Her poems have been included in both Best of the Net (Sundress) and Best of the Web (Dzanc Books) anthologies, and her work can be found in print and online journals including Muzzle Magazine, Tuesday: An Art Journal, PANK, Toad, Linebreak, and Weave Magazine.

 

One Who Is Typically Accompanied by Unease

You are the vibrating air between the alarm
bell’s hammer and body or the gentle rustle

of the split-flaps announcing another departure
too soon. When the sun shines through windows

you are the glass it passes through; the alternating
expansion and contraction that moves a clock’s

brass hands across its face. A constant body thrum,
the tension of metal against metal as a train slows

its approach. You move inward as the earth asserts
its elliptical path through the universe and explain

that infinity is a comfort: there is intention, after all,
to the way your bones come together, but the watchful

eye of the painted sky is not focused entirely on you.

Donna Vorreyer

Donna Vorreyer is the author of Every Love Story is an Apocalypse Story (Sundress Publications, 2016) and A House of Many Windows (Sundress Publications, 2013) as well as seven chapbooks, most recently Encantado, a collaboration with artist Matt Kish from Redbird Chapbooks. She serves as the reviews editor for Stirring: A Literary Collection and teaches middle school in the Chicago suburbs

 

Like Tree Rings, We Count the Years

We hike the forest after fires, trunks
and brush blackened, consider
the cobbled streets we left behind,
their curves cold and confusing.
We embrace instead this chaos, ash
against the rusted undergrowth,
a darkness that coaxes us to wander,
branches hovering close but out
of reach. We swing our arms, unleash
our caged tongues to share a laugh.

I recall the casual courtship of us
clasped ragged, dirty with days
of dust, our hands threaded, a bag
of down to cover us, sweat stiffening
our clothes. Our smooth-skinned
bodies in the morning cold among
the trees. But I cannot conceive
of this cool youth any longer, can
only dream it under these clouds
that threaten but bring no rain.

We stack and restack rocks,
uncover what is hidden from the eye,
barnacled geodes whose insides dazzle
only when the crust is breeched. Words
unsaid simmer beneath fleece, stoke
our private refineries. We make camp
and, in the chill, the tinder catches.
We bank the flame, careful to contain it.
Warming, we peel each other open,
astonished that we still shine.

Ian Randall Wilson

Ian Randall Wilson’s fiction and poetry have appeared in a number of literary journals including the North American Review, The Gettysburg Review and Alaska Quarterly Review. A short story collection, Hunger and Other Stories, was published by Hollyridge Press (2000). He has an MFA in Poetry from Warren Wilson College, and is on the fiction faculty at the UCLA Extension.

 

Anniversary

The hours toss off the words’ imprint
easy as rain.

No boy.
No everything.

All the useful data has been collected.
Now plastic rules the night.

The newest statues in the square
are artificial.

Budget constraints in the new millennium.  We will be
separated and catalogued.  Replaced.

Tomorrow prefaces its arrival with fire.
In the final quarter minute spirit turns weightless.

Out there in the park all the voices have stopped
and the citizens are milling aimlessly.

The blackbirds who nest in the trees
are scolding them.

We have reached
the threshold of repetition.

Words toss off
the rain’s impressions.

Who knows what to do
or when to do it?

Some of us will deliberate.
Some will act

At sea level far too long
a few men look backward toward the heights.

I have opened the drawers
and cannot find what I am looking for.

I have examined the foundations
and they are cracked.

Any man would be a fool
to buy this place.

Any man would be a fool
to stay.

The elevator drops without reservations.
The doors refuse to lock.

The lights providing order
are flashing in distress.

When I was a boy I imagined
buildings of great size.

Seen from the recesses of outer space
they are quite small.

The earth no more than a marble
in a terrifying beautiful spin.

Jessica Cuello

Jessica Cuello is the author of Pricking (Tiger Bark Press, 2016) and Hunt, winner of The 2016 Washington Prize from the Word Works. She was the winner of The 2013 New Letters Poetry Prize, a winner of LUMINA’s poetry contest (selected by Carolyn Forché), the recipient of a 2015 Saltonstall Writing Fellowship and the recipient of the 2014 Decker Award from Hollins University for outstanding teaching.

 

The Whale Looks at Painted Depictions of Herself: Moby Dick Chapter 55

I opened to a page and saw my face
my legs, my backside
My skin was paper, two-dimensional

I recognized the printed torso first,
before my own, which was underwater,
a room unlit, a room I never entered

Mirrors in the sea are iridescent
mirrors in the sea are other creatures
waving back silk arms, beckoning

They have pictures of me,
none of them right
I am the brain with two eyes

I am not a brain to stop burning
It formed inside my mother
and burst out, my cells multiplied

To dive is to capture light, paint me
down there on the ocean floor,
or paint my nursing eyes, retracted

What is a face? My eyes have focal length
They see your trajectory at sea, dotted lines
that crisscross like a lie

I never wore that color or lifted my teeth wide
I never went back and tore that rope
I never swallowed those men

They drew me bursting out of waves,
they watched me from the sidelines
I left my body and entered their eyes

and looked back at my flank
and looked back at the places
where the tools would probe,

the outline, the nipples for feeding,
the endometrium absorbed
I thought it was another just like me

circling in the water
pounding her tail for home
I didn’t burn their papers,

I looked for her, my lost mother
What is reflection?
I cannot live outside of water

Marilyn Kallet

Marilyn Kallet has published 17 books, including The Love That Moves Me, poetry from Black Widow Press. She has translated Paul Eluard’s Last Love Poems, Péret’s The Big Game, and co-edited and co-translated Chantal Bizzini’s Disenchanted City (with J. Bradford Anderson and Darren Jackson.) Dr. Kallet is Nancy Moore Goslee Professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Each spring she leads poetry workshops for VCCA-France in Auvillar. She has performed her poems on campuses and in theaters across the United States as well as in France and Poland, as a guest of the U.S. Embassy’s “America Presents” program; recently she performed with Ivy Writers Paris bilingual poets series, and with Plume at Shakespeare and Company Bookstore in Paris.

 

Paris Elegy

On Rue Bichat
on the shattered street
you want a poem

for Friday.
I have only
words

that hang heavy
in the air
like church bells.

129.
129.
129.

Notre Dame
stays locked
until Thursday.

A precaution,
you understand.
Words?

I have Sunday
blue sky above
the Seine,

police boats
and foot patrols,
grumpy tourists

who “came all this way”
and can’t enter
la Chapelle.

I have one family
at home
in Tennessee,

another here,
in Paris,
smaller now,

reduced to long echoes,
130
low sounds.

 

 

Ode to a Lost Poet

You abandoned me
during the worst violence
Paris has known

since World War II.
You are no
friend,

no human.
True, humans
do this.

And worse.
Worse.
You are no longer

a poet.
Poets must have heart.
True, some

manage words
without love
or courage.

The moment you
were not center
stage, you backed

out.
No word.
I sat alone in

Hotel Quartier Latin
watching the loop
of butchery on TV.

You created
a black hood of
silence for yourself.

“You can read
if you want to,” you emailed, at last.
“But my poetry must wait

for a more tranquil time.”
I was strapped into the plane
at LaGuardia on

9/11, waiting
to take off.
Sorry, the pilot said.

Now I’m here,
in our beloved Paris.
Writers and friends do not wait.

Delaville Café
stays well-lit, open for poetry, camaraderie.
The amps have been plugged in.

The audience wants words: comfort, rage,
anything. Attendre? They attend.
“We need to laugh!” someone says.

Down the road, Place de la République
is packed, despite warnings.
Almost midnight: friends and strangers

raise candles, compose notes.
Wait for peace?
Yours will be long, Madame.

Your poems can
rest, tranquil as dust,
as a drug.

You lost me
in the dark night
of treachery

and self-love.

Nancy Chen Long

nancychenlongNancy Chen Long is the author of Light into Bodies, winner of the 2016 Tampa Review Prize for Poetry (forthcoming, University of Tampa Press, 2017) and the chapbook Clouds as Inkblots for the War Prone (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2013). You’ll find her recent and forthcoming work in Crab Orchard Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Pleiades, Bat City Review, the Anthology of Contemporary Indiana Writers, and elsewhere. Nancy received a BS in Electrical Engineering Technology and an MBA, worked as an electrical engineer, software consultant, and project manager, and more recently earned an MFA. She lives in south-central Indiana and works at Indiana University. www.nancychenlong.com

 

nancy-chen-long-poem

Barbara Sabol

barbara-sabolBarbara Sabol is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Original Ruse (Accents Publishing) and The Distance between Blues (Finishing Line Press). Her work has most recently appeared in The Examined Life, San Pedro River Review, Ekphrasis, Common Ground Review, Pentimento, Chrysanthemum, Modern Haiku, and Pudding Magazine, as well as in a handful of anthologies. Barbara holds an MFA from Spalding University. She won the Jean Irion Prize in poetry in 2014. Barbara reviews poetry books for the blog, Poetry Matters. She is a speech therapist who lives and works in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio with her husband and wonder dogs.

 

Echolocation

Sound prevails under the ice small light in the depths—where
the beluga travels, north to Cook Inlet. Apart from mating, breath
her strongest instinct; Eskimo, spear, an afterthought. The burden of ice
is relieved by the echoes of her twitter-clicks, telling her here is a sliver
of open water, here is your breathing. The ice-bound ocean her intimate
aquaria, the white whale navigates the margins of air and water.

Above the ice the polar bear waits, waits for the streak of white to pass
beneath his paws, for the first pulse of water between the floes. He is learning
to decipher her song, learning exactly where to stop, when to scoop his great
foreleg against her heft. But this one, ah, she has tuned her voice not only
to the air above, but to what it shapes itself around, and with that knowledge
she swims backwards, holding her breath.

Sarah Nix

sarah-nixSarah Nix is a writer and artist living in Cincinnati, Ohio. She received a BFA in 2006 from Herron School of Art and Design. Her poetry has appeared in CALYX Journal, DIALOGIST, Rust + Moth, and Sugared Water. Her blog is sarahonpaper.blogspot.com.

 

 

The Easel

Where paint
dripped
where his brush
missed the canvas
or color
rubbed off the edges
where each
of his pictures
left its mark

 

 

Museum Pieces

Cup, Sasanian Period

When he brought its lip
to his lips, he closed his eyes.

He could not see
thousands would come to look

into the void of its mouth.

 

Egyptian Cuff

For how many years
did it clasp
her wrist like a hand?
Come here.

Don’t leave us with this
emptiness.

 

Dutch Timepiece, 17th Century

pinned open like a specimen.

 

Bowl, Song Dynasty

White pedestal,
glass case.

The way we imagine
it held by hands.

The way
it will never be again.

 

 

Seascape

This is the dark butterfly of the mountain,
its image rippled in the water.

The rocky coastline softened
by fog.

The instance we knew iridescence:
close-up of the beach, fragments of shells.

And this—taken just before
my hat flew into the wind

and was lost to the ocean.
Let it go. Forget

the rust-bitten signs,
tangles of power lines.
How we framed out the crowds,
the traffic and trash, our quarreling.

This is the mountain. Fog.
My dress in full bloom. Our wind-

posed hair. These are clouds,
trees. This is the sea.

Triin Paja

Triin Paja is an Estonian, living in a small village in rural Estonia. Her poetry has appeared in The Moth, BOAAT, Otis Nebula, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Gloom Cupboard, The Missing Slate, and elsewhere.

 

Murmuration

you say its kindness, the way dusk gathers 
its skirt-hems, walks to the wheat field, 
leaves. how a cat leaves an old woman’s lap,
ribbons of light fluttering in the wind.
kindness, you say, as the sun disappears in
your throat, leaving me beneath the grey belly
of the whale-sky. I hear spring shatter its
perfume bottle, the clouds clinging to tin roofs
with soft hands. I have kissed your hands.
when we cannot speak, we press our bare skin
against silence’s bare skin—I want to say
when you die they will not find blood but birds 
in the body. how kindness is always forgiveness,
the thrushes covering us with the insect netting
of their song. how somewhere we pearl into
a bone-white memory, rising, collapsing,
like a lover’s breathing after a vodka-darkened
night, after the ghost of the orgasm leaves us.
how somewhere the stones are writing us,
the dandelions flickering in a kind of light.

 

Thanatos

we hear the conversation between the wind,
the reeds. we hear the church bells where
there is no church. we’ve come here to be
forgotten, here, where the deer touches
the mildewed stones. the linen of fog
dresses the river—the river Lethe
running through our bodies
when we touch. this light of bodies,
flickering, climbing into the night
of another’s limbs, the moss of skin.
you say the world has become Lethe.
you say, and the bird of your voice grows old,
the wings spread slowly. you enter me
as one enters a river, your warmth on my skin
like paint. you say the speed of forgetting is a river,
your wheat-bruised hands in a mustard field of light.
when I touch you in the river, I do not know
if it is you I touch or the water.
are you a river? are you a dream?
your pulse in the river

like a blue stone, like a song.

 

Senescence

the wine begins to glow like a gas lamp inside us
because in this city no one has hands. we saw the boy
with the purple scarf. his silhouette was a monolithic statue. 
the vegetables begin to rot. we forget the nightmares
of the oiled seagulls. how our mothers waited for hours
for the sugar, the flour, beneath the moth-flickering factory light.
there are nights when the lilium becomes the moon.
the hair of the wheat swells in the snow and we become
what the crows didn’t take with them. someone cries
in the tractor shed but here I am washing your back.
I gather up the yarn, the mandarin peels. moon-soaked, desperate,
our memories begin to disappear like elephants from ancient china.
to be this feral with emptiness. to come to you as to a body
tied to an oak tree. the paint of your name peeling from the walls.
the moon clinging to a branch like a luminous owl. the river
where I gave names to your bones. a polaroid of Rome.
a boy, a man. a hand, trembling, and trembling.

Sherry Chandler

Sherry Chandler has published four collections of poetry, most recently The Woodcarver’s Wife. Her work has received three nominations for a Pushcart Prize. Individual poems have been published in the Louisville Review, the Cortland Review, The William and Mary Review, and other periodicals and anthologies. Her website is http://www.sherrychandler.com.

 

 

 

Annie Hinkle

annie-hinkleAnnie Hinkle‘s poetry is published in Ascent, Mid-American Review, Best of Ohio 2014, Express Cincinnati, and Southern Poetry Review. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Miami University and a PhD from University of Kent, Canterbury, England. When she is not writing poetry or fiction, she is teaching high school language arts and directing The Writing Center at Ursuline Academy in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her poetry chapbook, Composition Studies, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.

 

annie-hinkle-poem

Bruce Bond

bruce-bondBruce Bond is the author of sixteen books including, most recently, For the Lost Cathedral (LSU Press, 2015), The Other Sky (Etruscan Press, 2015), Immanent Distance: Poetry and the Metaphysics of the Near at Hand (University of Michigan Press, 2015), Black Anthem (Tampa Review Prize, University of Tampa Press, 2016), and Gold Bee (Crab Orchard Open Competition Award, Southern Illinois University Press, 2016), Three of his books are forthcoming:  Blackout Starlight: New and Selected Poems 1997-2015 (E. Phillabaum Award, LSU Press), Sacrum (Four Way Books), and Dear Reader (Free Verse Editions, Parlor Press).  Presently he is Regents Professor at University of North Texas.

 

New Moon

Then my teacher told me to close my eyes
and observe the observer of the observer

and so on, down the long path of seeing,
the chiaroscuro of thought in the distance

like a field of starlight when the power goes.
See the seer, she said, and as I breathed

in waves against the dark, I saw my teacher.
I saw her porch lit with prayer flags

from Tibet: a light wind in the word flag,
a lighter word in the wind departing.

How it all fit in there, I will never know:
the flags, the words, the black canvas starred

in needles.  And her, or my idea of her,
descending the stairs on her mechanical

chair devised for those who suffer daily
steps and thresholds beyond my understanding.

She told me once, you hear a note a suffering
in the higher resonance of laughter.

I confess.  I do not hear the better half
of what I hear, though I feel the pull there

of missing things, of earth and its burden
beneath the pale lamentation of waves.

She is gone now.  And shows up every time
I see a chair like this.  I hear her curse

her feet of stone, not knowing I am there.
God, she says softly to herself.

They say the new moon can be traced in
the faint deflected sunrays of the planet.

That the sky we see is always bigger
than how we see it.  Stars and mirrors.

Stars and dead stars.  Tell me, teacher
in your field on fire.  What else is there.

Andrea Uptmor

Andrea Uptmor is a writer living in Minneapolis.

 

When K Gets Home

The cat has been dead
for hours, coiled tidily
on the tufted rug
where he spent his slow
and deliberate afternoons.
Oh, dampness. His golden
fur, his pulpy toes.

You wonder: Has K seen?
No. Not yet. She is aflush
with carnal magic, grating
with one toenail an itch
on the meaty center of her calf.
The hallway mirror paints a portrait
of heronesque grace, thick
pleasure: tongue
resting upon its lower
lip like a slug.

How beautiful, she mouths
and rakes, to have
this kind of accidental
pleasure in life.
Such as last summer
when the garden opened
itself to my feet
like the sinking back
of a lover. That reddest tomato.
Wind that smelled of lake. Me
chewing like a child, seeds blessing
my chin in their phlegmy juice.
Eating as if I had not just crashed
the car into the garage. As if
I had not panicked at the sound
of peeling metal, nor
braked mid-scrape, nor held
the seatbelt between my teeth and cried
at the damage of reversing;
the cost of moving forward. Grief
loomed either way, and yet.
That red tomato still awaits, that
spongy earth beneath.

How curious, she
murmurs, the moments
that press upon you
with such urgency
that you wear them
from then on like a cape. May
we all be wrapped
in them forever.

Will Wells

Will Well‘s most recent book of poetry, Unsettled Accounts won the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize and was published by Ohio University/Swallow Press in 2010. He continues to publish widely, often on Jewish themes and was pleased to discover Blue Lyra Review at session of AWP (Association of Writers & Writing Programs). He recently has been a Fellow at Sewanee Writers’ Conference and West Chester Poetry Conference and won a 2016 Individual Artist Excellence award in poetry from the Ohio Arts Council.  

                                   

Beneath the Seal, Ferrara

Plaster tablets in Ferrara’s Jewish
Archive once served as seals for Jewish tombs.
If medical students scavenged for fresh
corpses to dissect, families would assume
no remedy from the Catholic courts,
but could haggle with doctors for the scraps.
A broken seal meant go, collect the parts.
For any absent bits, God must mend the lapse

at the end of days, or so the second seal
implores.  Still missing, unabated grief,
suspended by the haste to strike a deal.
These exchanges compounded as beliefs –
to spurn the lesser offer; to hold fast
to whatever they could; to make things last.

 

 

Under an Amulet, Venice Ghetto

for Dr. Leonard Rothman

The midwife’s assistant stood across the room
and raised a Torah scroll.  It gave devout
focus through labor, a hedge against doom.
The air was suffused with scents of stewed fruit
from the pan beneath the bed, bait set to
distract demon Lilith from causing harm.
Adam’s first wife, she haunted the Ghetto,
seeking vengeance, though subject to the charm,

like her sister, Eve, of forbidden fruit.
On the mounded belly, the midwife placed
a scrap from a worn-out scroll, believing it
would leach good luck into the womb.  She faced
the wall for modesty, but used frank hands
to part the waters to a promised land.

Tim Mayo

Tim Mayo Tim Mayo’s poems and reviews have appeared in Narrative Magazine, Poetry International, Poet Lore, River Styx, Salamander, San Pedro River Review, Tar River Poetry, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Verse Daily, Web Del Sol Review of Books, and The Writer’s Almanac. His first full-length collection, The Kingdom of Possibilities, was published by Mayapple Press in 2009. His second volume of poems, Thesaurus of Separation, is forthcoming from Phoenicia Publishing in July 2016. A five-time Pushcart Prize Nominee, and a top finalist for the Paumanok Award, Mayo lives in Brattleboro, Vermont.

 

The Mussel Pickers

Out of the belch and foam of whales,
the slap and splash of the big fin,
out of the ambergris depths
of the great leviathans, comes the moment
they have waited for.

Out of the pop and dip of harbor seals,
their bobbing heads’ glistening black sheen,
out of the chop and lurch of the big waves,
they see the sea’s slow, slate-colored ebb,
its weakening recession at dusk or dawn,
and the impoverished bounty of brown
appear.

Out of the feather-green of the bayside grasses,
out of the spiked bastions of fir and spruce,
they come descending the granite-gray cliffs
down to the jagged depths of rock and water,
and there . . . amid the foam-lathered and steepled stone,

they cut free the salt-raw tangles of filaments,
their thongy, ragged lengths from the bastioned boulders,
and tugging the barnacled-white and steel-blue shells
by the rough tendrils of their anchors, they raise
the dangling clusters: skyward, blue-ward and to the clouds,
then, from the salt-grit and slick of this unearthing,
they, once again, trumpet and proclaim:

Blessed are the animals of the sea
the fast fin and leap of those that swim,
the slime and squeeze of the slow ones,
and the calcified castles of the immovable.

Blessed are the pluck and harvest,
the brine-becoming-beauty and taste of them.
Blessed, blessed, are we, the mollusk-eaters,
our slurp and drool––even the lip-smackers among us,
for they, too, have touched the beards of mussels.

Lori Desrosiers

Lori Desrosiers’ poetry books are The Philosopher’s Daughter, (Salmon Poetry, 2013), a chapbook, Inner Sky (Glass Lyre Press), and a new full-length book of poems, Sometimes I Hear the Clock Speak (Salmon Poetry, 2016). Her poems have appeared in New Millenium Review, Contemporary American Voices, Best Indie Lit New England, Blue Fifth Review, Pirene’s Fountain, The Mom Egg, The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish-American Poetry and many other journals and anthologies. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She edits Naugatuck River Review, a journal of narrative poetry. She teaches Literature and Composition at Westfield State University and Holyoke Community College, and Poetry in the Interdisciplinary Studies program for the Lesley University MFA graduate program.

 

Salt

Nobody puts their children on a boat unless the water is safer than the land

Warsan Shire

We have forgotten how
our mothers left their fathers’ lands
crossed uneven planking
onto vessels of doubt.

Suffered salt water, heat
and loneliness
in bruised pursuit
of promises

stored like seeds beneath
sore, weathered feet
calloused on that long walk
from shore to shore.

They believed the sea
would heal them
from ravages of war
or deluge of hunger.

We their children
ignore the documents
forged in congresses
argued in assemblies

call new immigrants
criminals and job-stealers
make them flee to other lands
despite their families waiting

like our mothers’ mothers
waited to take their daughters
in their arms
to hold them again.

Instead, children’s bodies
wash up on a Turkish beach
a family rejected
by mounds of Canadian red tape.

Patrick Venturella

(Patrick Venturella needs bio)

The Geologist

watches fog
slide across the lake
phantom tectonic

plates congeal into continents
then dissipate     mountains
thrust skyward then evaporate

a gust of wind
a species of ghost
goes extinct

he feels orogenies     erosions
decay laced November
air lithifies his bones

and time peels
back layers of skin

 

 

The Lake Is Ink

spilled on ice
and Tom tells funny
stories with his hands

the camp fire
throws his shadow
against the limestone

cliff and his silhouette
hunts mammoths
and builds pyramids

his silhouette illuminates
scripture and starts
its own blog

and I’m not sure
if the heat
is coming from the fire

or your body
but our laughter

entwines     moves
through the blackness

Kate Fadick

14045884_10207144681075297_5929168136342785178_nKate Fadick began working seriously as a poet in 2009.  Prior to then, she worked with rural and urban Appalachian communities on issues of environmental and economic justice. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Still: The Journal, Indianola Review, Kudzu, Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel, Wind ’97, Blue Lyra Review and other journals. Slipstream, her first chapbook, was released by Finishing Line Press in March, 2013.  She lives in Cincinnati, OH with her partner of 25 years.

 

When Hildegard cannot sleep

she stays up
all night       hidden in the branches
only she can see

and when
she tires of darkness

color spills from her eyes
into the wind

the sky fills
with blue flame

gentle as breath

her words
once empty shells
begin to sing

and the sweet ache
rises in my throat

 

 

In my dream of Hildegard

we turn to face the worst
our kind can do

our bodies the spinning
death of stars

woven with all that lives

a fragile weft of green
runs dull through her fingers

the yes of her eyes
enough of  a prayer

 

 

When Hildegard drops
a blue sapphire into her wine…

strobes and circles
fill her mind’s eye

she sings her unresolved
modes        breathless

sketches visions on wax
as she sits

on the slash
between either / or

P. V. Beck

p-v-beckP. V. Beck has published poetry, essays, articles, translations, young-adult novel, and works of non-fiction.

 

 

 

In the Deep Midwinter

The earth stalled on the longest night of the year creaking at its old poles,
a ball of ice too tired to roll over.
Deep below zero Fox exhales ice, her fur is thick as snow.
She hears no fibrillating heart beats, no scurls or scurry, only a
silent frozen scape waiting for a pulse of heat.
Bear in their caves, mice in their tunnels. Deep and hushed and ancient the
heart slows to the pace of creation.
Fox pushes through the snow to the emptiness where the pond used to
be—a cat-tailed moonscape, a tangle of elk hairs locked in ice.
Her aching breath and hunger pull at her.
A winter that escapes itself in sleep and then awakens, that’s what we
cherish. That moment something moves in the corner of the eye, a
flurry or flight, the folding over of cusp and quarry
on that longest night.

Lorcán Black

lorcan-blackLorcán Black is a poet from the Republic of Ireland, now living in London. He has previously had poetry published in Harbinger Review (forthcoming), The Chiron Review (forthcoming), The Great British Write-Off Anthology 2015, Eunoia Review, Octavious Magazine, Boyne Berries: Issue 17 & 14, Wordlegs and Eratio among various others. He is Editor in Chief of Anomaly Literary Journal.

 

Fields

Ships resembling coffins float ceremoniously
across the open bowl of the Atlantic-

ignorant of the cargo digesting itself
in the belly of its own vast hunger.

The sea accepts what it is given:
swallowing its gifts of shroud-less dead.

In the homeland,
fields like open wounds peel back
to reveal a nest of bones to the elements.

The bones are nameless.

They are a puzzle,
grotesque in their fragments.

The pieces are nothing unordinary-
merely remnants of various villages:

countless brothers or wives,
a hoard of infant ribcages,
fibulas, finger bones
or a fistful of various teeth
from some tenant farmer’s
four starved daughters.

Survivors laden with rickets
reach new land, wrap their tongues
around foreign sounds.

I imagine them
learning how not to consume
every morsel that passes into their hands,
or to picture the earth in which it grew,

even in the New World, i Meiriceá,
still grasping a hesitancy
deep as roots

as the unthinking eye
strays into the far corners of fields,

and comes the memory of wind
over a cradle of nettles-

the visions of unmarked pits,
the cold menagerie of bones.

 

 

Tapestry

I.

At night I dream of a window
through which there stands a bald tree,
the many aching limbs scratch the sky.

The heavens hear no prayers.
And as I walk, I drag a blackness in my wake.

The night birds know no lullabies.
How the bald head of the moon laughs cruelly at this.

The roads know no secrets or lies.

They know nothing but truths
which unfurl out ahead, great cobbled
tongues

rolling off to a destination
uncertain and unknown,

intimating nothing.

 

II.

From where I am laid down
I have two views:

One is the cold metallic eye of a square mirror,
busying itself with memorising the opposite wall;
and a window, swallowing and releasing a single moth.

The moth is trying to bring the light with it,
crossing and re-crossing
between a light bulb and the window
and soon gives up.

This is how they shall find me, finally:
The blood-jet flooding the hot waters,
having swallowed too many pills for my penances.

All this water cleanses like a mini-Jordan.
Soon I will be whitened and pure as Christ.

 

III.

My ceiling now is white
with one grey smear surrounding
my naked light bulb.

I lie quite still, laid out as if for burial
as if I were King Tut.

Endless streams of gaggling heads
appear in my view with their doctoring squints.

This is a ritual.
Bind together the feathers, gather the blood in a bowl.
Smoke sage over a pyre
and burn the lanterns down low.

Watch how the silence,
like distance, enlarges itself up on me:

a shadow on a wall, relentless.

 

IV.

Outside the moon tears
open like a bright hole in black cloth.

Pale stars wink jealousies at my feet and I walk godly.
The doctors chatter and glitter me with smiles.

Now I lie quite still,
clear and sharp as a pane of glass

while from the window unobtainable
stars glimmer viciously.

 
The statues of saints
I have adorned have all turned black.

The papers are finalised,
by morning the doctors shall set me free.

Starlight runs down my walls with the hours;
the painstaking fall into dawn.

Susanna Lang

Susanna Lang’s newest collection of poems, Tracing the Lines, was published in 2013 by the Brick Road Poetry Press. A two-time Hambidge Fellow and recipient of the Emerging Writer Fellowship from the Bethesda Writer’s Center, she has published original poems and essays, and translations from the French, in such journals as Little Star, New Letters, Prairie Schooner, December, Blue Lyra Review, and Poetry East. Book publications include translations of Words in Stone and The Origin of Language, both by Yves Bonnefoy. She lives with her husband and son in Chicago, where she teaches in the Chicago public schools.

 

Tulips

Look, you said. Look now—
tulips brimming red among the daffodils,

cowslips gathered at the river, under the hawthorns
in their confirmation dresses.

Two little girls in white run to the church.
Their father calls after them but they do not listen.

This is the peak, you said.
Tomorrow it will be gone.

But I also love the moment after, tulips
with their mouths wide open,

petals beginning to curl back,
a little brown at the edges.

 

 

In the Garden

My father-in-law deadheads his roses
early, before sun has dried the lawn.
A black-capped bird waits near him,

knows where the seeds are hidden.
Sometimes it lights on his hand, a reminder:
Do not cut too much.  This is the 97th year

my father-in-law has lived—how many dead roses
has he snipped in his lifetime, making room
for new buds to emerge?  And what has brought

this chickadee into his hands, the brief
touch of its feathers, its change of heart?

Wally Swist

wally-swistWally Swist’s books include Huang Po and the Dimensions of Love (Southern Illinois University Press, 2012); The Daodejing: A New Interpretation, with David Breeden and Steven Schroeder (Lamar University Literary Press, 2015); and Invocation (Lamar University Literary Press, 2015). His poems have appeared in many publications, including Commonweal, North American Review, Rattle, Sunken Garden Poetry, and 1992-2011 (Wesleyan University Press, 2012). Garrison Keillor recently read a poem of Swist’s on the national radio program The Writer’s Almanac.

 

Black Bear

1.

I take the Frost Trail up the mountain,
before coming to
the plank walk through the marsh.

In the grassy clearing, among the stones
of the path, a bear’s black hulk streaks into
the copse to my left—I stop mid-track.

Go back down
the way I came, fear stalking every step?
Or move forward, making

as much noise as possible,
pass its hiding place in
the tangle of pine and bending birches?

So, I whistle—why not?—
and pass the place at the edge of the woods,
it begins to huff, to woof

like nothing I’ve ever heard before.
I put one step in front of the other,
bang the end of my walking stick

over each stone, set the echoes
ringing.  I climb the summit, the fire
in my legs driving me forward.

 

2.

I hear
the screaming even inside the house, bolt
out the front door,

my friend’s shrieks rending the night,
startling the black bear, and me.
It spins around,

sees me, falls, slow motion, backwards—
lands on its bottom—
in an instantaneous reverse of direction,

in athletic brilliance.
He darts on all fours into the spring woods,
the deadfall snapping into distance as far

as we can hear.  At the feeder’s suet—
the fading heat of the bear’s body,
the heavy reek of overwintered fur.

 

3.

Placing my foot beside the dented track,
I look down into it, here
at the bottom of the five hundred foot

vertical rise that twists up Mount Toby’s
north face.  I calculate
its size, its proximity, as I stand

next to where the black bear stood.
Along the trail, the trees
all at once ripple, matching the ripple

that ascends my spine—
the crowns
of trees shiver in the chill autumn wind.

Mary Moore

mary-mooreMary Moore’s new chapbook, Eating the Light, selected by Allison Joseph as the winner of Sable Books 2016 award, was published in August, and she has poems out this year in Birmingham Poetry Review (BPR), One, Cider Press Review, McNeese Review, Canary, Coal Hill Review, and in “Hoppenthaler’s Congeries” (Connotation Press).  Work is forthcoming in Georgia Review, Poem/Memoir/Story, Unsplendid, Still the Journal and In Eyes Watching From the Woods, an anthology from WVU Press. Other recent credits include Terrain (one of three finalists), Nimrod (as contest finalist, and as regular submission), The Moth, Drunken Boat, BPR, Cider Press Review’s Best of Volume 16, Sow’s Ear Review, and others.  Besides earlier poems in Poetry, Field, Prairie Schooner, New Letters, her first full-length poetry collection, The Book of Snow was published by Cleveland State University.

 

Ear To the Sun

Stanford Solar Center Satellite

 

The satellite’s winged tympanum
turns like a sunflower to the sun’s hum,
a long, low chord.  Two hours
it takes to roll from corolla to core
and back again.  You can hear
the sun’s audio:  40 days of hymn
pressed into seconds, a continuum roar,
basso profundo:  Om
it says, in the opera villain’s key.
The sun’s skin oscillates with the tune,
like the ripples we can’t see
in a struck bell’s metal.

Knell of a giant slow bell.

Silence is all in the ear.  Ours
are shaped like bells made of felt,
pink, brown, yellow,
bone hammer, skin drum, resonant
with the million notes of the world.

The first bell was a stone.
The Druids’ in their curious pantheism,
ears to the standing stones,
must have heard the sun’s low thrumming,
like the groans of warning and mourning
we now know the eldest trees
make in drought.  As if atoms
and the spaces inside them can suffer.

There is no silence.  Om is a prayer.

Kathleen Boyle

Kathleen Boyle has recently appeared or is forthcoming in numerous journals and other publications including Zyzzyva, The Seattle Review, and The Atlantic Online. She works as a Public Defender.

 

Fire at the Grand Storehouse of the Tower of London, 1841

You paint my destruction
from beyond the moat
crowds heave as you paint
and go on painting
three days it takes
page after page cadmium quick
your hands as I throw
my insides to the sky
as you are jostled
as I burn and simmer
flare center-red quinacridone
churn wheels of manganese smoke
you are bristle and water
wash after wash
I am a yellow heartbeat
as you curse bitter
they would not let you close
your spilt paints vermillion
yet still you see things rise
to the right are steeples and trees
huge mass burns alizarin to the left
whirlpool cesspool tornados out
shoves in. My tower my
drawbridge gone
your paintbox your paper
your nine sheaths.

 

 

Sierra Valley

Sunstroke, brushstroke: morning source of swallows, their orderless
streaming, of colors, of things that swoop and twirl. I wanted to hold onto
them, frenzied, the way they flew together, in dawn, in dusk, across the
high yellow valley, across dry fields and marshes. I stood there to catch it –
the spinning, the circling that knows to move together. Night comes down
on the bridge where the swallows rest, moonstroke, then barely sunrise
and streaming birds, streaming light. How did we do so much damage?
Again the whole swirls, day’s wheel, now singular, now angular.

Les Kay

Les Kay is the author of Fronts (Sundress Publications, forthcoming 2016), and the chapbooks The Bureau (Sundress Publications, 2015) and Badass (Lucky Bastard Press, 2015), as well as a co-author of Heart Radicals (ELJ Publications, 2016) with Sandra Marchetti, Allie Marini, and Janeen Pergrin Rastall. He holds a PhD with a focus on Creative Writing from the University of Cincinnati and an MFA from the University of Miami, where he was a James Michener Fellow. His poetry has appeared widely in journals such as The Collagist, Redactions, South Dakota Review, Southern Humanities Review, Sugar House Review, Whiskey Island, and The White Review. He is also an Associate Editor for Stirring: A Literary Collection. He currently lives in Cincinnati where he teaches writing and cares for three small dogs. Follow him at: http://www.leskay.com.

 

Reprise, Nachtmusik

 -After Gustav Mahler’s 7th Symphony

 A broken man weeps on the serpentine
shore of the Seine;

Violins in vibrato counterpoint cellos.

he taps out times in search of a signature
to defy everything he’s ever learned.

A piccolo, or is it a rose, jaunts between arpeggios—

The hermetic rhythm of his daughter’s laugh
returns for a moment in slivers of song.

Pizzicato strings slap fingerboards;
a mandolin begins its thistled serenade.

She has been silent now for far too long.

Timbres entwine like crow and cardinal
in the throat of a white-winged mockingbird.

Bursts of cloud.

Key dissolves.

Elisabeth Murawski

Elisabeth Murawski is the author of Zorba’s Daughter, which won the May Swenson Poetry Award, Moon and Mercury, and two chapbooks. She is a Hawthornden Fellow. Publications include The Yale Review, FIELD, The Southern Review, Blue Lyra Review, et al.

 

Never from Here

a yellow moon
naked belly of the night
leans over the child’s bed

Chicago night
fish smells from the river
nothing but dread to eat

thin cotton nightgown
weaving a cocoon
about her shoulders 

as she disappears
breath on a mirror
her habit

of covering her mouth
born here
prematurely tries to fly

Fuji covered with snow
a yellow moon
wrong part of the world

remembering a man
forever witness
in the corner of her eye

plumed hat velvet breeches
musketeer
observing her as event

the story in her hip
locked in
susceptible to touch

as her jumpy
hundred-meter heart
tripped by the starting gun

Rage Hezekiah

Hezekiah Reading Rage Hezekiah is the recent recipient of a MacDowell Fellowship, who earned her MFA degree from Emerson College. Her poems have appeared in Fifth Wednesday, Glassworks, Columbia Poetry Review, and Chicago Quarterly Review, as well as other journals, and are forthcoming in the minnesota review, and Painted Bride Quarterly. Her writing has been anthologized in Other Tongues: Mixed Race Women Speak Out and All We Can Hold, a collection of poems on motherhood.

 

February Cove

We are ten and bundled crown to toe
scaling frozen boulders on the beach,
our parents home and snow day drinking
no longer watching from the window.
I claw wet rocks in your wake, desperate
to keep pace, soak my wool mittens through,
neglecting numb hands. You are a boy
fresh with adventurous, outdoor ideas,
brimming with strange stories. As we climb
you tell of sharp-toothed creatures buried deep
in frozen ocean, point into the distance
where jagged rocks break the placid ice,
a hundred little births along the surface.
With our arms spread wide we run
along the snow-covered sand, almost expecting
to be caught, like how we secretly hope
we’re found during every game of hide and seek.
Bathed in a frantic energy we generate for fun,
both of us panting plumes of warm breath
into air, salted-cold. We embrace the tension
of fear and exhilaration here,
the last great year of our imagination.