Issue No. 11, Winter 2014

Heirloom
for my grandmother

It’s time to return to the old country,

Retrieve my offerings from the base of the mountain
where funeral processions wind up and down all day
and women say their prayers
before and after copulation

Then I can wear long skirts again, and drink from rivers,
and love crude men
without a thousand tongues and letters telling me
I deserve better–

We deserve only what we want.

I will grow my hair long, let the dye run clean,
stroll pale and blonde along the docks
I’ll take sailors home to bed, I’ll bathe them in my tub
to bottle up their salt again
I will drink from them when I am lonely

I will grow ripe and give birth to stillborns,
plant a garden of children then
I’ll eat my education

I will erect altars: dozens the colour of pigeon’s blood
and Catholic blue, and yellow like a yolk,
like a sexless newborn’s nursery room

I’ll burn candles down and drink from their glasses,
drink strong whiskey and homemade punches–

Till I’ve driven off the last of my ancestors,
sitting at my door on their haunches
pleading with their eyes
to forgive
to forgive

This is why there’s an ocean between us,
and depths and a voyage and sunken selves.

Over there it’s always dusk, over there the men must
break their women in
like horses
like coaches
like shoes
like anything that propels you forward, moves

Where I come from it’s always the hour of the Witch,
of looking backwards into mirrors to glimpse
the face of your future husband

They never see themselves, those women–
only perfection
only their perfect selves
transformed into another.


Emily Linstrom is a writer, photographer and performer based in NYC. Her work has been recently featured in publications by Three Rooms Press, Rose Red Review, Project Naked and Ulcer Magazine.

Issue No. 11, Winter 2014

Grayscale
C.J. Harrington

Snow-threatened Sunday, the first of advent,
the usual image intrudes in her news feed.
Him. His goblet rimmed in sugar or salt
(impossible to tell in grayscale). A festive
scene so three of cups, but even sideways
his eyes know: she is blindfolded, bound
in a tight semi-circle of swords.

It’s not the end of the world, it’s the north
end of town, this place where she lives amidst
floating aroma of factory apples, feral
kittens (the black one hissed once) whose
parents are tire-smashed corpses she finds
in no-turn-on-red intersections.

The neighbors are inside. Their pool covered,
music dimmed. Now trees shudder free
last leaves. Branches slash gray tangles into
an empty sky. She has nowhere to go. Strikes
a match. Lights her only candle. It has one
repeated word, encircling: love.


C.J. Harrington lives and writes in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Her writing is published or forthcoming in Blast Furnace, Metazen, The Vehicle, Gone Lawn, The Best of Vine Leaves Literary Journal 2014, and other publications.

Issue No. 11, Winter 2014

Bada Shanren
Clyde Kessler

A bell is an echo painted with rust.
It waits in the ground for an emperor,
or a worm, or the one who painted it
green and red, gave it religion. It waits
for the army that hacked its wrought chain
and buried it like heaven, clanking swamps.

Bada Shanren painted birds and dreams.
His ghost curls inside this bell, like a pelt
preserved in arsenic, still singing a magpie,
a young man, or maybe a shrike in a tree.
The shrike has caught the sun, and laughed
at the bell. The sun is caught like a cricket
spiked on a thorn. Today Bada Shanren
wants to clang the bell through his ribs,
force it louder than his heart was in December
with a sleet storm for his eyes and his trees.


Clyde Kessler lives in Radford, VA with his wife Kendall and their son Alan. He’s a founding member of Blue Ridge Discovery Center, an environmental education organization with programs in North Carolina and Virginia.

Issue No. 11, Winter 2014

Cynethryth
Clyde Kessler

The ocean burns an old king.
A cliff, with its crazy, fledging guillemots,
surrounds every drifting boat all winter.
So I have dreamed my exiled Cynethryth.
She is translated like fire against the shore.
I have also dreamed her silence
crowding against the stars like the sun.

An orchard far away is a dancer at sunrise
where the jackdaws emerge from fog,
where bumblebees blather into the flowers,
and mice slip into the root knots and they feed.
Maybe Cynethryth has fetched dried apples
from last year’s harvest: starved things
can nibble through the sails towards England,
or she’s lifted them all from a song that fools
a sailor towards a storm. She dreams, I dream.

The ocean burns, gathers winter.
Dolphins, or mermen, or the skeletons
of Vikings, nothing else, this watery bread
for talking to the lords, stealing a snowflake,
hassling the wine-keep, favoring a knife
for kin folks, the ocean where it slants
the world into the mind: I find Cynethryth.
I find no other dream.


Clyde Kessler lives in Radford, VA with his wife Kendall and their son Alan. He’s a founding member of Blue Ridge Discovery Center, an environmental education organization with programs in North Carolina and Virginia.

Issue No. 11, Winter 2014

Plot
Brian Robert Flynn

I used to be a living room.
Cream carpet, all

leather and mahogany,
cream stretching from

the front door to the kitchen.
The abutting

foyer’s quite easygoing;
always was and

still is, whether or not she’s
an entryway

(yet the threshold role rather
suits her smile).

Again, we’re all of the earth.
The kitchen’s plot

remains scorched, a recycling.
Rain turning to

snow means the workmen might not
show for some time.

The dining room adjacent
has been silent

for weeks. He gets too attached.
Always caught up

in the middle—his luck of
geography,

if not vice-versa’s bad stroke.
We’re all stuck, but

he takes it personally.
I guess living’s

my destiny, plotted so
close to the road.

The road’s a dignified friend,
more outgoing

than the rest, although I think
she’d prefer grass

to her wear. I can’t recall
when the road came

or if she was always there.
Remembering

isn’t easy. It’s the same
formula as

forgetting, though. Prior to
living I was

dining and before dining
an old graveyard,

which I still am. We all are
and a toilet.

Before that I was nothing.


Originally from Denver, Brian Robert Flynn is currently breathing the poetry and fiction of Washington, DC. His work has appeared in Banango Street, Litro Magazine, RiverLit, and theNewerYork.

Issue No. 11, Winter 2014

Mirror Crack’d
Catherine Cimillo Cavallone

And in it
you saw the bone, sinew and gristle of
your beautiless face, burrowed into by the
maggots of envy,
eyes floating obliquely in the skull
burning
into
Snow-
“Schneewittchen”
a lymphoma of song
seeping through the teeth
that chawed with poisoned jaw the
curses and
curses
heard solely now
by a lone dwarf
bearing black rose
to lay upon your
glass coffin.


Catherine Cimillo Cavallone was published in Sensations Magazine and Beyond the Rift: Poets of the Palisades many years ago. Recently, she has been featured in The New Verse News, Turk’s Head Review, Red River Review, Phantom Kangaroo, The Red Wheelbarrow, Z-composition and has work forthcoming in Nerve Lantern. She is also a Pushcart Prize Nominee (The New Verse News).

Issue No. 11, Winter 2014

Winter Walk
GF Boyer

I walk the back road past
the old cemetery hidden among trees.

It helps to see the rain, to hear it
on oak leaves small as hands

with acorns in their palms,
fingers intertwined.

The bleakness lifts a little.
A large stand of bamboo appears—

incongruous in Pennsylvania woods—
like something from a dream.

And behind it, a house. I imagine
the people within: a man, a child, a woman

who looks like me, lying awake at night,
silent in the onrushing darkness.


GF Boyer’s poems have appeared in a number of publications, including The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, RHINO, and upcoming in The Midwest Quarterly. Among other awards, she won an Academy of American Poets Prize and the Theodore Roethke Prize. She has an MFA from the University of Washington, and she works as a freelance poetry editor and creative writing instructor.

Issue No. 11, Winter 2014

Morning Sonnet
GF Boyer

All night she swims underwater, hearing a voice
distorted. Her body an armature, her hands shrinking
in cold skin. She opens her eyes, hears a verse
repeating. She remembers waking, listening
to a song called Willow, thinking of someone’s name
she thought she had forgotten. A neighborhood cat
howls in loneliness or warning. On the wall, the sun
hangs a square of light. On the table, a bowl of fruit,
one placemat—no longer two. The grain of wood
smoothed by many hands over many years. Curdled
milk of morning pours through the windows’ plaid
curtains. They move in the rain-bedraggled
breeze, the air rinsed clean and silent but for dripping
rain, a few bird calls, a woodpecker’s tapping.


GF Boyer’s poems have appeared in a number of publications, including The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, RHINO, and upcoming in The Midwest Quarterly. Among other awards, she won an Academy of American Poets Prize and the Theodore Roethke Prize. She has an MFA from the University of Washington, and she works as a freelance poetry editor and creative writing instructor.

Issue No. 11, Winter 2014

Carrot Soup
Sarah Sadie

This could be the last, best taste of earth
we are allowed, letting go all richer dreams—
filet mignon, chocolate torte—for this

thin but fragrant broth, bright roots pulled
from the ground’s clutch by another’s hand.
This wisdom we eat:

the freeze coming over the fields, they
were scrubbed in a cold shed, all caked soil
rinsed off, then stored for a later, hungry season.

You have to understand it was January with me
for a long time, faced in two directions, frozen
and silent as snow drifted the woods.

Now faith is a paring knife fast in my hand, the low
blue gas flame of the stove. As hungry
oh they must be for what we only can provide,

how can the gods taste a soup like this?
How lonely I was.

Then that, too, became a gift.


Sarah Sadie blogs the intersections of theology and poetry at Sermons from the Mound, on the pagan channel at patheos.com. An editor (www.versewisconsin.org) as well as writer, her poems appear in places such as Midwestern Gothic, Literary Bohemian and Literary Mama, to name a few. Her poetry has received the Wisconsin Fellowship Of Poets’ Chapbook Prize, the Council for Wisconsin Writers’ Lorine Niedecker and Posner Prizes, and a Pushcart Prize. Her first full-length collection, Somewhere Piano, was published in 2012 by Mayapple Press, and she has two chapbooks: Quiver (2009, Red Dragonfly Press) and Given These Magics, (2010, Finishing Line Press). She is currently one of two Poets Laureate (2012-2016) of Madison, where she lives with her husband and two children. Her life consists mostly of kids, gods and poems, not necessarily in that order.

Issue No. 11, Winter 2014

It’s All Insomnia for Epimetheus
Lois Marie Harrod

There’s a word for hindsight,
that fleece so black it can’t be seen

and for the heart too,
that blick in the dark blizzard,

dead space between snowflake
and midnight,

so dim that headlights wobble like matches,
no glint for miles,

and down where you are,
a black rat swirls bottom barrel

like a quasar-pulsing drum,
black sticks on skin,

afterthoughts like sleeting stars.
Bats bolt rack in the rave.


Lois Marie Harrod’s 13th and 14th poetry collections, Fragments from the Biography of Nemesis (Cherry Grove Press) and the chapbook How Marlene Mae Longs for Truth (Dancing Girl Press) appeared in 2013. The Only Is won the 2012 Tennessee Chapbook Contest (Poems & Plays), and Brief Term, a collection of poems about teachers and teaching was published by Black Buzzard Press, 2011. Cosmogony won the 2010 Hazel Lipa Chapbook (Iowa State). She is widely published in literary journals and online e-zines from American Poetry Review to Zone 3. She teaches Creative Writing at The College of New Jersey. Read her work on loismarieharrod.org.