Issue No. 2, Autumn 2012

Leda and Helen

Leda tore open her scalp
trying to rid herself of ivory feathers—
when she thought she was free, one
would brush
against her skin—
the weight
on her back, screams
that cut her throat and tongue—

she tried to curl so small
she’d disappear.

*

A swan bowed its head
as Helen stroked ivory feathers.

With a red ribbon from her hair,
she made a leash and led it home.

Her stepfather laughed and said,
The swan now has a swan.

Leda strode up and wrapped
her soft hands around

the swan’s neck—wings beating
against her arms—Helen shrieked,

tearing at her mother’s dress.
The white body fell limp on the stone.

*

The moment seared
—sparks
flew in the air, but Helen didn’t care
what her husband would do,
the city burning.
Crushed
by a thousand eyes, she’d rather the weight
of stones bury her alive.
She wanted a knife
to blind her audience,
to shake off the weight
of history
and no longer bear
the consequences for the gods.

*

If Leda had known
that it was necessary—
the blood mixing with the waves—
for history,
civilization,
even poetry,
it would have changed nothing.

She wasn’t Iphigena,
she’d never stride
to the shore, expose
a white marble neck
for the priest to butcher.

She never thought
the Gods deserved
all those sacrifices.

They already took what they wanted.

* * *

Say Nothing

Weeping Cassandra recounts her visions:
a horse birthing an army,
a house with bleeding walls.

The royal court is annoyed
with her morbid imagination—
her cry for attention.

Her mother leads her from the room
and warns that No one
wants to hear that kind of talk.

~

Silence is taught
mother to daughter.
Fight and flight are not always possible;
you must find cover
where there is none.

Perpetually the warning:
Don’t say that to his face.

Sadness and rage
is swallowed
but never digested.

When a stranger (so helpfully) informs you
You’d be pretty
if you smiled.
Reflex draws back your lips
(you’re always so polite).

Grief is still there—
the friend still murdered,
the city still burnt.

~

At Delphi, the Sybil spoke of plagues,
famine and war; all came to pass.
Eventually
the only question asked was
Don’t you have anything pleasant to say?

~

Cut off the tongue; sew the lips shut;
learn the silent langue;
see the fury
of cross-stitched tiger,
the despair of livid red scars,
the spite of a cracked tea cup.

~

A girl carved words into leaves
for centuries scholars and historians saw
a compost heap.

One day, a poet strolled past,
his muse,
his lover,
the woman who darns his socks, stopped
and read those prophecies.

As she filled her apron with fragments,
her man asked
What are you doing?
She said Nothing and smiled.


Jennifer Lynn Krohn was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she currently lives with her husband. She earned her MFA from the University of New Mexico, and she currently teaches English and CNM. Jennifer has published work in The Saranac Review, Adobe Walls, RED OCHRE LiT, Prick of the Spindle, and In the Garden of the Crow.

Issue No. 2, Autumn 2012

UNSLEEPING BEAUTY

La auror a somba
Lejan y sinestra
(Dawn was breaking
Distant and sinister)
—Antonio Machado, The Gallows

She’s surprised by the length of this night watch:
Seconds drip like water trying to carve
A canyon where her dreams should live. Slight sounds,
Clicks, never used to scare her. Still awake
They’re all she can think. Her digital clock
Won’t stop ticking. Minutes red in the dark—
The numbers are cruel. She wants to drown
In sheets, to sink, but nervous lifelines shake
Her back. The sky grows gray. She’s overmatched—
Not by terror—nothing hides in the dark—
But fear of morning, of moving, surrounds
Her breath. Eyes open, she sighs and she waits.

* * *

GOLDBERG VARIATIONS

Walking down
Those white
And black stairs,
He stops thinking.

Music cages his animal brain
With precise angles
Of an absolute mathematic.

Time is a thing
That bites then
Signs its name.

At that moment
The existence of God
Is not a question
He can frame.


Mark J. Mitchell studied writing at UC Santa Cruz under Raymond Carver, George Hitchcock, and Barbara Hull. His work has appeared in various periodicals over the last thirty-five years, as well as the anthologies Good Poems, American Places, Hunger Enough, and Line Drives. His chapbook, Three Visitors, will be published by Negative Capability Press later this year, and his novels, The Magic War and Knight Prisoner, will be published in the coming months. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the documentarian and filmmaker Joan Juster. Currently he’s seeking gainful employment since poets are born and not paid.

Issue No. 2, Autumn 2012

Baskets
—for Annelies

Not the one carried by little red riding hood
Skipping through woods to grandma’s house
Not the metal one attached to my first bike
Nor the netted one through which I swished
My first free throw: There’s another basket
One we sit in patiently, tomatoes at a corner store
Each awaiting fingers, a squeeze, a test to reject
We are all tomatoes: skinny, fat, juicy red
Embarrassed by our flaws, our absent hot-house taste
My own basket, woven now for fifty years
Not made of straw nor woven strips of wood
At some point, we leave our baskets on the street
Outside some corner store, out in the air
Bare for all to see, to poke and squeeze and test
Look: See that man skipping down the street?
He’s light as a feather, a strip of straw
A girl on her way to grandma’s house

* * *

Café Pongo
—after a Danny Shannon cartoon

Even the horse, passive
a field of spring blades
bugs and bees, a hum

Even the horse, he without hands
a throne for tops in cowboy hats
a pleasing spur of pain

At first, those wind-dried lips
speak songs of one suede glove
one stroking one suede throat

Now those squint-eyed suns
stare off at other salmon clouds
someone else’s Gran Marnier

Even the horse understands
eventually, the lungs must pause
even frothy from a run


Jay Rubin teaches writing at The College of Alameda in the San Francisco Bay Area and publishes Alehouse, an all-poetry literary journal, at alehousepress.com. He holds an MFA in Poetry from New England College and lives in San Francisco with his son and Norwich terrier.

Issue No. 2, Autumn 2012

The Half-Life of Perfection
Jim Murdoch

There’s no such a thing as a perfect world
where the knives are always razor-sharp
and never out of arm’s reach.

Perfection is relative, subjective, fleeting:
a perfect kiss,
a perfect soufflé or
a perfect moment –

the right thing at the right time in the right place.

There are no such things as
a perfect mate,
a perfect life or
a perfect world.

The best you ever could hope for
would be some sugar-coated reality
and too much of that’ll make you sick.


Jim Murdoch is a Scottish writer. His poetry has appeared in small press journals and online since the 1970s. A full collection of his poems entitled This Is Not About What You Think was published in 2010. He is also the author of three novels and is currently working on a collection of short stories which should appear early in 2013. He’s rarely not writing and when not producing fiction is working on articles for his long-running blog The Truth About Lies: jim-murdoch.blogspot.co.uk

Issue No. 2, Autumn 2012

Becoming Peter Pan

“I don’t ever want to be a man,” [Peter] said with passion. “I want always to be a little boy and have fun. So I ran away… and lived a long time among the fairies.”—J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan and Wendy

Truth is, he’d wanted to stay.
He could have withstood
losing the round face,
the fruit-sweet skin of a boy.
He loved London, the men
in the street who came to light
the gas lamps at night,
the bed of phlox and zinnias
she tended, the petals
she touched with her thumbs
the way she thumbed his skin, her pink son.
Truth is, in the land where he had a mother
he’d been alive

but one morning
his mother couldn’t wake him.
And so his body
became a story—
held up by the breath
of the sun’s sweet rim, mothers’ mouths
or a girl’s dream.
Now his jasper shadow calls.
Beneath a sea of fairy bones
it flies
and pretends to keep time,
to keep a child’s small open hands.

* * *

Fairy Tale for a Boy’s Bad Day

Sometimes your story needs ravens.
Sometimes

it needs purpose like a ladder
of black wings. It needs a tower of stone
reaching all the way to the ground,
soil hard and gold
as the wolf’s eyes

when it’s time for you to climb down.

Sometimes you need to agonize,
which means moving
your fingers through ash.
You’ll have to find the wood spoon
you stole from the witch’s table
or the candle you broke with your fist.

The candle was red.
You didn’t forget it.
It burned hot and wrong as wolf’s breath
and it was yours
or it wasn’t. You broke it
and gave yourself to its pieces, black stars,
that raw dark your destruction made.

Your story will know how to fix it.
You need to return the spoon with a note
tied to the raven’s back.
You need your way lit
by a bird you can’t write. Words that rise
from paper: you’ll want your mother’s
arms in the telling, her skin
on yours in the bed
with the heavy book.

Sometimes it’s a promise
that brings you back down to her.
Sometimes it’s a wolf,

nosing cinders near your thumbs, his wet growl
at your neck, his hunger almost your gray throat.


Sally Rosen Kindred’s first full-length poetry book is No Eden (Mayapple Press, 2011). She has received fellowships for poetry writing from the Maryland State Arts Council and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. Her poems have appeared in Quarterly West, The Journal, Strange Horizons, The Moment of Change, and on Verse Daily. For more information, please see sallyrosenkindred.com.

Issue No. 2, Autumn 2012

Star
Rory Fleming

If I could just ignore it
that you don’t even love me
that I don’t even love you

if I could just forget it
the pistons of your legs
grazing the speckles of stars
to bring them down
like sparklers for neighborhood children
they don’t want to see you leave

but your destiny is elsewhere
glittering on the horizon
in the neon of future streets
it’ll be so hard
but not for you
I’ll hold your hand
except I won’t
ten-thousand years in the future
will you remember me
when they plug you into a wall
to be recharged
and you find someone like yourself
who understands what it is like
to be plugged into a wall
to be recharged

it’ll be so hard
not for you
not you


Rory Fleming is a writer of stories and poems, particularly of a magical realist bent. He has work forthcoming or published in The Speculative Edge, Yesteryear Fiction, and Apocrypha and Abstractions, among others.

Issue No. 2, Autumn 2012

Greek Mythology in Portland, Oregon
Nathaniel Hansen

Like Sisyphus condemned
to repetition—though rolling up
and down was not a rock, but
my sedan—I tried to scale
a driveway powder-packed
from an anomalous snow-storm.

Like that fated king, I slipped
the curse from drive to reverse,
let it slide to the base, but then,
because I could, I let it rest—
until compelled to return when
desire might overcome my lot.


Nathaniel Hansen’s poetry and fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Bluestem, Picayune, Bryant Literary Review, Slurve, The Evansville Review, and South Dakota Review, among others. His is also the founder and editor of the online literary quarterly, The Blue Bear Review (bluebearreview.wordpress.com).

Issue No. 2, Autumn 2012

Blue Moon

The blue moon

rose above

 
the lake

and pushed against

 
her desire

the mad excuse

 
of his volition:

dead wood.

* * *

Monotony

Monotony empties

my belief, lifts me
 

to the empty colour

of death.
 

“Thrust forward”

says the devil,
 

and a plane-load of detectives

surges forward.


Michael Warrick currently teaches at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in Suzhou, China. He is from Cornwall in the south-west of England, and studied French literature at the University of Kent at Canterbury, and Translation studies at Surrey University before embarking on an English language teaching career. He has worked mainly in the UK, France, Italy and China.

Issue No. 2, Autumn 2012

Untitled.
Genevieve Salazar

The path tread here is a rough draft, lined
 
 
with light pencil.
 
 
Removed to a distance, it has

the quality of being

so thin that it is heavy, and the blank starkness
 
 
 

of its dismissal
of the integrated
 
 
demands further clarity.
 
 
Mistakes are not immediately visible, but here they are: sketched

in such tender thought that the remnants
 
are likely to blow away.
 
 
 
 
Let us make a mark
 
 
 
and let it be insistent;

the crowd pressed upon a page, a heel
ground into a path.

Everything tentative      will break forth suddenly, bloom
 
 
‘til spring itself has run to seed.


Genevieve Salazar is currently earning her MA in Writing and Publishing at DePaul University and is an (over)zealous reader, writer and lover of anything and everything that moves and breathes magic and words.

Issue No. 2, Autumn 2012

Alternate Version
Phillip A. Ellis

A splash of foam in the dark—
and I am reminded of white swans
whistling like steam in the night;
Zeus is beyond reproach for His sins.

I remember the corridors of night,
hinged upon doors that flap wings
lacquered with stars, and lampooned
by the poetasters of the mind.

And we would run down them all,
into the dizzying gulfs that swallow all
and sundry, like angry whirlpools
that grind up ice with watery teeth.


Phillip A. Ellis is a freelance critic, poet, and scholar. His chapbooks, The Flayed Man and Symptoms Positive and Negative, are available. He is working on a collection for Diminuendo Press. Another has been accepted by Hippocampus Press. He is the editor of Melaleuca.