Issue No. 8, Spring 2014

At Sunrise
Billy T. Antonio

While waiting for the sun to rise
one early morning in August,

I sit where once stood a chapel
and with my shadow behind me

anticipate the sun, though it rained
last night and the night before

I watch, as the sun rises,
the small and lively birds

called “pitpitik” fleeting from
among the bamboos as they fill

with song the calm early morning
like a Chinese screen painting:

light, warm, easy. Basho
might have made a haiku out of it.


Billy T. Antonio lives in the Philippines.

Issue No. 8, Spring 2014

For years I walked with my elephant through the desert. He was very quiet and soft. He listened to everything I said, looking at me with his black button eyes. I tied him with a string and pulled him through endless mountains and valleys. We slept in caves under the sky full of windblown bed sheets.


Claudia Serea is a Romanian-born poet who immigrated to the U.S. in 1995. Her poems and translations have appeared in New Letters, 5 a.m., Meridian, Word Riot, Apple Valley Review, and many others. A four-time Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, she is the author of Angels & Beasts (Phoenicia Publishing, Canada, 2012), The System (Cold Hub Press, New Zealand, 2012), and A Dirt Road Hangs from the Sky (8th House Publishing, Canada, 2013). More at cserea.tumblr.com.

Issue No. 8, Spring 2014

The dark silhouette of a house pops up at the other end of the field.
The more I walk toward it, the more the wheat field grows. Every blade has a hushed voice and a story to tell. They touch my legs as if begging me to listen. They offer me gold and poppies.

The sky is also a rippling wheat field with its own stories and voices. It’s so much noise, how can I make them stop?

Everyone, hush! I tell them. I sit criss-cross applesauce. Behind me, the house is lit and quiet in Grandma’s kingdom.

Now I’m ready, I say. Please speak one at a time.


Claudia Serea is a Romanian-born poet who immigrated to the U.S. in 1995. Her poems and translations have appeared in New Letters, 5 a.m., Meridian, Word Riot, Apple Valley Review, and many others. A four-time Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, she is the author of Angels & Beasts (Phoenicia Publishing, Canada, 2012), The System (Cold Hub Press, New Zealand, 2012), and A Dirt Road Hangs from the Sky (8th House Publishing, Canada, 2013). More at cserea.tumblr.com.

Issue No. 8, Spring 2014

Mirror, Mirror
Katharyn Howd Machan

It’s been ten years:
first call of climbing frogs
heady in warm mist,
tiny prick of rambler roses
tumbling into cracked stone walls,
fat crunch of ripened chestnuts
sweet and sharp on the tongue.
And snow, of course, that breathless
fall of fragile crystal light
making him sigh, reach for my face,
with his beardless slender lips
kiss again my silent mouth
red as a dream apple.

He watched me long before
I ever noticed, his soft fingers
trembling desperate on the glass
that seemed to thicken each new day
my stillness stole all light.
You are the wings of every bird
I’ve felt fly through my sky

he swore in whispered prayer.
You are the room of paradise
where I will make my home.

Even today he looks at me
and seems to weep, as though he can’t
believe his luck: I woke.

And married him, of course.
Gone childhood, gone deadly queen
who hated me as pretty daughter,
gone huntsman and dark woods and hunger
–except in memory. How many times
I’ve built again that cozy house,
the seven chairs and bowls and beds,
deep-chested laughter, burly hands…
the diamonds their touch brought me!
He’ll never know just why I smile:
my name may be cold and pure,
but underneath these tight black curls
I long for little men.


Katharyn Howd Machan, Professor of Writing at Ithaca College, holds degrees from the College of Saint Rose, the University of Iowa, and Northwestern University. Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines (Nimrod, Yankee, The MacGuffin, Snake Nation Review, Hanging Loose, Dogwood, Runes, Slipstream, Beloit Poetry Journal, South Coast Poetry Journal, Hollins Critic, The Salmon, West Branch, Seneca Review, Louisiana Literature, etc.) and anthologies/ textbooks (The Bedford Introduction to Literature, The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2013, Poetry: An Introduction, Early Ripening: American Women’s Poetry Now, Sound and Sense, Writing Poems, Literature: Reading and Writing the Human Experience, etc.), and in 31 collections, most recently H (Gribble Press, 2014), Belly Words: Poems of Dance (Split Oak Press, 2009), When She’s Asked to Think of Colors (Palettes & Quills Press, 2009), and The Professor Poems (The Main Street Rag Publishing Company, 2008). In 2002 she was named the first poet laureate of Tompkins County, New York. Her poem “Tess Clarion: Redwing, 1888” received the Ann Stanford Poetry Prize from the University of Southern California (judge Dana Gioia) and Kent State University awarded her poem “Gingerbread” the Luna Negra Prize. In 2012 she edited Adrienne Rich: A Tribute Anthology for Split Oak Press.

Issue No. 8, Spring 2014

for Jaime Warburton

Three Drops of Blood
Katharyn Howd Machan

My horse, my beautiful
dead horse:
her head hanging white
from a hook on the stable door.
What will she swear
to the echoing moon tonight?

I lie abed, elsewhere,
not alone:
goose feathers torn
from the king of the sacred flock
beneath my head, my hips,
the strange child I have born.

One dark cathedral bell
dares toll:
a story half-begun.
From my dreamless reach for air
what name may I call?
Forgotten: every one.


Katharyn Howd Machan, Professor of Writing at Ithaca College, holds degrees from the College of Saint Rose, the University of Iowa, and Northwestern University. Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines (Nimrod, Yankee, The MacGuffin, Snake Nation Review, Hanging Loose, Dogwood, Runes, Slipstream, Beloit Poetry Journal, South Coast Poetry Journal, Hollins Critic, The Salmon, West Branch, Seneca Review, Louisiana Literature, etc.) and anthologies/ textbooks (The Bedford Introduction to Literature, The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2013, Poetry: An Introduction, Early Ripening: American Women’s Poetry Now, Sound and Sense, Writing Poems, Literature: Reading and Writing the Human Experience, etc.), and in 31 collections, most recently H (Gribble Press, 2014), Belly Words: Poems of Dance (Split Oak Press, 2009), When She’s Asked to Think of Colors (Palettes & Quills Press, 2009), and The Professor Poems (The Main Street Rag Publishing Company, 2008). In 2002 she was named the first poet laureate of Tompkins County, New York. Her poem “Tess Clarion: Redwing, 1888” received the Ann Stanford Poetry Prize from the University of Southern California (judge Dana Gioia) and Kent State University awarded her poem “Gingerbread” the Luna Negra Prize. In 2012 she edited Adrienne Rich: A Tribute Anthology for Split Oak Press.

Issue No. 8, Spring 2014

Befriending Death
Laura Madeline Wiseman

The lady of death says she’ll be my mother. I don’t want a mother in my thirties, in the mountains, in the rooms smelling of sage. My mother is dead, or she’s dying, I say as I walk Birch Street lined by cottonwood trees, golden as fall. The death lady walks beside me. Her hips pop, her expression kept in shadows. She says, I will give you a pee cat with three legs, $53,000, and a man who loves by command if you’ll let me be your mother. The magpies gather in the dead trees. The sweet stink of skunk lifts in the setting sun as I walk around the potholes. I don’t want three-fourths of a cat, money that should be saved, or some man in my bed. I don’t want a mother of death. I had one. Bloated, married to a king, she night walks the river moaning and dragging my dead sisters. I grab the death lady’s cold hand, feeling her bones grind. I say, I don’t want a mother. I want a friend, death’s bright angel, you. 


Laura Madeline Wiseman has a doctorate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she teaches English and creative writing. She is the author of seven collections of poetry, including Sprung (San Francisco Bay Press, 2012) and Unclose the Door (Gold Quoin Press, 2012). She is also the editor of Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013). Her writings have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Margie, Rose Red Review, Arts & Letters, Poet Lore, and Feminist Studies. She has received awards from the Academy of American Poets and Mari Sandoz/Prairie Schooner, and grants from the Center for the Great Plains Studies and the Wurlitzer Foundation. lauramadelinewiseman.com

Issue No. 8, Spring 2014

Household Gods
Laura Madeline Wiseman

This is a lady of death, but maybe also a lady of life. Stone goddess, fertility idol, she squats among the bowls on the mantel of a Spanish chest, circa 1616, black walnut, the prized hardwood even then. Her body is stout, her eyes slits, her elbows offer holes to insert thin stalks of corn, wheat, willow. He says with folded hands, One fellow asked to touch her. They  were trying to get pregnant. I don’t ask to touch her. You don’t ask to touch her. None of us ask, though three of us touch her. We stand at the back of the reading room listening, trying not to touch the wedding drum, the peyote wand, the pueblo pottery in pieces, try not to squash the bright woven rug with the disabled woman and the spirit path of escape. He says, I’ve seen great ghost dogs, heard booming voices here. You are not interested in voices, in ghost dogs, in abductions or cattle mutilation, in giving birth soon, in cupping bowls that make others cry. You want to find the death lady in this house. Every house worships one. In some houses they pray for her to come, in others for her to go.


Laura Madeline Wiseman has a doctorate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she teaches English and creative writing. She is the author of seven collections of poetry, including Sprung (San Francisco Bay Press, 2012) and Unclose the Door (Gold Quoin Press, 2012). She is also the editor of Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013). Her writings have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Margie, Rose Red Review, Arts & Letters, Poet Lore, and Feminist Studies. She has received awards from the Academy of American Poets and Mari Sandoz/Prairie Schooner, and grants from the Center for the Great Plains Studies and the Wurlitzer Foundation. lauramadelinewiseman.com

Issue No. 8, Spring 2014

A Mount Juliet Ghost
Clyde Kessler

An old lady drowned in Nashville.
She was almost ghost of the year, blind.
Somebody heard a twanging in the oaks
and said she’s home by the soul’s voice
dreaming a tree that walks through stars.

None of a moonrise’s gold could fetch
her mind in a séance. A photographer
leased her apartment above a salon,
threw his best camera at a cop car,
it struck and killed a deputy by no luck.

You see vengeance spelled with a flood
is still the soul prying itself from hate.
You can build a new house in Mount Juliet.
You can throw parties that marry you off
imprisoned. The old lady walks you home.


Clyde Kessler has been published in Silver Blade, Now and Then, Clapboard House, Rose Red Review, and Cortland Review. He lives in Radford, VA with his wife Kendall and their son Alan.

Issue No. 8, Spring 2014

Elegy for a Time Freak
Clyde Kessler

I burn sundials on the moon.
Other time freaks are crating the ashes,
naming them all for all their frozen days.

At night, I know my true wish list
is a crater full of rum, a dark
breed of whiskey flowering like stars.

At work, you can trust my lighters
and rolling flints. The noon shadow
on my next bonfire is favoring silver
like a thunder-cloud to brood the Dead Sea.
There are no ratty scrolls here, nor heaven.


Clyde Kessler has been published in Silver Blade, Now and Then, Clapboard House, Rose Red Review, and Cortland Review. He lives in Radford, VA with his wife Kendall and their son Alan.