Issue No. 15, Winter 2015

Stranger at the Door
Cordelia Hanemann

My father, now gone, was once
young, amber-eyed and cocky,
with a shock of black hair
schlocked across his forehead;
he loved math and his mother,
grew hot peppers and tomatoes,
stumbled drunkenly over
the doorsill to shout at his wife,
who could out-shout a banshee.

Today he stumbles achingly up
onto the porch of my house, knocks
timidly on my door—he’s lost
his voice, his calculations, his hair,
his way. He knocks, but I am afraid
to let him in. But the rapping
never stops, and I find him in numbers,
hot peppers, and the amber eyes
of my son, who loves his mother,
but not math, who speaks sweetly
to his wife and never, ever
beats his children.

Cordelia Hanemann has published works in several literary and historical journals and anthologies, including Southwest Review, Mainstreet Rag, Déjà vu, and has two chapbooks to her credit: Fevered Longings and Through a Glass Darkly. An watercolorist and writer, she is currently working on a novel about her roots in Cajun Louisiana.

Issue No. 15, Winter 2015

Dah Helmer

I have already changed
as if having been broken

it was time to grow away from the living dead
to flourish to bloom

to change
as if having never been

What is in a cloud
but change

what is in light
but change

what is change
but to lie down to begin from dust

to change
as if having never been

Dah Helmer’s most recent book is The Translator from Transcendent Zero Press. His first three books are from Stillpoint Books. Dah’s poetry has been published by editors from the U.S., the U.K., Ireland, Canada, China, Philippines, and India. His poems recently appeared in Lost Coast Review, Recusant, The Cape Rock, River&South Review, Acumen Journal, Sandy River Review, Stone Voices Magazine, The Linnet’s Wings, and Diverse Voices Quarterly. Dah lives in Berkeley, California, where he is working on the manuscripts for his fifth and sixth books.

Issue No. 15, Winter 2015

Thunder Snow
Kara Valore


it percolates
then swirls
in silent sprinkles

drapes a white curtain
over a city that sleeps


as the child whose mother lit her on fire
as the child whose mother lit her on fire


over a city that sleeps
drapes a white curtain
in silent sprinkles

then swirls
it percolates


Kara Valore is a poet, a part-time adult education instructor and a full-time mother of three. Her poetry has appeared in the Reclaiming Our Voices Anthology 2015, Writer’s Eye Competition 2014, various Pennsylvania Poetry Society Prize Anthologies and her work has been recognized in the YorkFest Literary Competitions in 2015 and 2004.

Issue No. 15, Winter 2015

Nancy Iannucci

The mind is its own place, and in itself, can make heaven of Hell,
and a hell of Heaven. – John Milton

Drifting through Italy’s
cobblestone streets,
he faced Ischia again
in a small, shadowy café.

She coiled his tongue
like ivy slipping
down his throat faster
than he could inhale.
The delicacy of her taste
at a moment of compulsion
debilitated his godliness.
She was volcanic and
made him feel mortal.

The café lights went dim.
“Damn, could it be this long into the night?
Please, just one more,” he begged then promised.
“Just one and I swear I’ll be over you.”
Ischia offered her flavor to his lips
not once, but three times over.
She maddened his mind
over and above the exotic
maenad hangers-on
he tasted in Neapolitan cafés
night after night;
they flocked to him,
more than they pursued Adonis,
even the married ones, but
he failed to notice them.

So they left for the water
and threw their thyrsi into the sea.
Saltwater splashed back onto their soft,
livid lips as they vowed never to speak
to him again; they grew weary of his
cyclical temperament.

Lost under Mount Epomeo’s vineyard slopes,
they rolled under sheets of green-
Ischia fed him her grapes one by one
in the sweltering Mediterranean sun.

His beard grew homeless;
his nails extended like raven’s claws.
He caged Ischia to his chest so tightly
she burst between his covetous grip,
spraying shards of her glass skin through the air
cutting his wrists with deep lacerations.

“What have I done; why
am I bleeding?” He groaned,
as he lay quiescent linked to vines
that dripped life back into his body.

He couldn’t remember.

Merciful maenads returned
to their Bacchus like devoted
disciples; they surrounded his bed
trusting their seductive smiles
and Revlon-blackened eyes
possessed the charm to convert him.

“I am done with her,” he avowed
as he did many times before resting
his hand on his chest as if to pledge
allegiance to his promise this time.

His claws reached above his left nipple
to scratch an itch over an ornately inscribed
tattoo injected ten years ago:
“Clear my head
Stay sober
The soul controller.”
He read these words like Braille
and sighed pensively to the gods,
“Why have I lost the power to control her? I lay buried
like Typhon under her grip.”

Nancy Iannucci is a historian who teaches history and lives poetry in Troy, NY. She has always been entranced by the mysticism of life and the fine line that exists between our world and the mystical. She feels, at times, like she inhabits some place in the middle and expresses herself through writing trying to reconcile her own existence in between these two realms; her work has been published by Performance Poets Association, Three Line Poetry, Red Wolf Journal, Faerie Magazine (FB photography), and she also has work forthcoming in Mirror Dance. She is currently working on her first chapbook. ​

Issue No. 15, Winter 2015

Kharla Brillo

Ours was a terrible song, not like the sound
from a full moon’s mouth, nor a wolf’s howling. Most times
we bruise; an endless set of cavities,
the way apples do, teeth marks pebble digging and deep,
the campfire salt of our soreness: our morning mouths
like a screech.
I love you like a love bite not meant:
not in tune to this neck, the train of bones, this railway spine,
the choir of flesh sunbathing under a hurricane sky.
Maybe, we can teach our tongues to move
as if they are wearing a pair of old shoes, perhaps wearing time.
Not having swollen ballerina feet licking the side street
grasses of your skin, of my skin. Where are we? Are we fire still?
All this clacking, heels against the bedroom
floorboards, like a six year old teething away silver.
Is this how coal hold hands still? All ash after.
I have never wanted you
fading, but I will hold you anyway. And our palms.
Our pair of palms can go somewhere where
all these bones can meet a heart, where all these wolves can sing.

Perhaps in age and at night, Kharla Brillo started writing late, with some of her work being mainly published on her blog, Midnight and Metaphors. Several of her prose and poems also appeared in Persephone’s Daughters Magazine, Philippine Daily Inquirer , and Thought Catalog. At current, she’s pursuing her Master’s in Psychology at the University of the Philippines Diliman. Her first poetry book, Other Than Sadness, is a collection of poems hand selected from the first two years of her writing.

Issue No. 15, Winter 2015

The Neglected
Adeeba Shahid Talukder

We left him filthy and begging.
Sometimes, he prances
through autumn evenings in tight green underwear,
pears and roses falling from his hair.
Sometimes moons, too, glint
softly in his skies.

O children of enlightenment! You are here
to teach me a lesson.
Teach it.

Place some pennies in this bucket
because I am so mad
so well.

They gather far, far away to escape the stench of his love
but glances are stolen, and with them,
the light.

Tell me, do you not see the magic of the universe in my eyes?

Orange and black as the heart of night.

There are too many gods now,
hovering above concrete, too scared to land.

Ladies and gentlemen!
Please don’t be afraid to donate.
I promise you, it won’t hurt your hair.

All breath is cradled and sewn.
Their dark limbs perch upon thrones.

Adeeba Shahid Talukder is a graduate of the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program, where she received her MFA in Creative Writing. She translates Urdu and Persian poetry, and seeks to recreate the Urdu and Persian poetic universe in her own work in English. Her poetry and translations have appeared in Stirring: A Literary Collection, Consequence Magazine, PBS Frontline, and The Huffington Post. Adeeba lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Issue No. 15, Winter 2015

Adeeba Shahid Talukder

She started as a dot. One could know her just by observing the space around her. Except when she had company— then, they couldn’t discern her at all. It was difficult being a dot— she wasn’t so aware of where she began or ended. She couldn’t stand up straighter than herself.

Robert Hayden once wrote a poem about a father whose hands cracked into the splintering cold. She often thought about what it meant for cold to splinter. She shook off all the lies she’d gathered over the years. Combed the rest out of her hair.

All the women sliced their wrists when they saw Yusuf’s handsome face. They’d been holding the knives for apples. They started spitting excuses. We will continue our lives, they resolved. Grandmother sat in chains. The system was tailored to aesthetes. Light upon aluminum. Its glint as far as days.

Most sharp things end with a point. She experienced cravings of nine: nine shoes, nine pens, nine pencil points, nine men who believe it is okay to sit with their feet wide apart.

One night, she performed the dance of the courtesans. They came up and handed her bits of ginger candy, asked her to interpret the tattoos on their arms. She twisted her wrist and span until she did not know who she was.

They did not know how to tear their collars. She left them without a country to weep in.

Adeeba Shahid Talukder is a graduate of the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program, where she received her MFA in Creative Writing. She translates Urdu and Persian poetry, and seeks to recreate the Urdu and Persian poetic universe in her own work in English. Her poetry and translations have appeared in Stirring: A Literary Collection, Consequence Magazine, PBS Frontline, and The Huffington Post. Adeeba lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Issue No. 15, Winter 2015

Love Poem for Northern Lights
Rebekah Rempel

I listen for your ghostly swish, your flow and feather
through the glacial night sky, tapestries of radioactive silk
billowing on solar winds. Living far from the ocean

I have never seen plankton aglow
in dark waters, but you must be the closest thing,
mermaid hair fanned by current. You make me believe

in blessings, divine
breath, and souls caught in limbo,
weeping phosphorescence. According to myth, you move

when I clap—otherly intelligence, alien
taffy stretched across the hemisphere, swallowed by dawn’s
insistent pink throat. Shape-shifter, amoeba,

Aurora Borealis, you surface like a photograph
exposed on the universe, make these long winters
more bearable. Then with a tilt of the earth

you fade. And I wait for your return
as one might for a ship—these hills a darkened harbour,
your green sails rippling.

Rebekah Rempel studied creative writing at the University of Victoria. Her poems have appeared in the anthologies Force Field: 77 Women Poets of British Columbia (Mother Tongue Publishing) and Unfurled: Collected Poetry from Northern BC Women (Caitlin Press), as well as the journals Lake, Room, Cactus Heart Press, and One Throne Magazine. Her poems are also forthcoming in Prairie Fire and Contemporary Verse 2. Additionally, she contributed to the Written in Stone Project that displays poetry in a park in Dawson Creek, BC.

Issue No. 15, Winter 2015

Madonna of Das Kapital
Virginia Konchan

God, I miss the Stone Age, danger:
samurai sword at my lily throat,

dragon breath burning me
down to sackcloth and ash.

Tell me, dandy, did you try
Marx’s Linen Coat on for style?

Ink to Paper; Dairy to Meat;
Virtue to Vice; Petrol to Diesel;

Destiny to Fate; Phallic wand
to Fertility cult; our crop circles

and isosceles triangles
drawn so tenderly.

Poet maudite of the loaves
and fishes, multiplying

as a only a precursor
to genetic biotechnology

can do, meet your paraclete:
the Encyclopedia Brittania,

Fleur-de-Lys at the end
of the signifying train.

Virginia Konchan is the author of Vox Populi (Finishing Line Press) and a short story collection, Anatomical Gift (forthcoming, Noctuary Press). Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Best New Poets, The Believer, The New Republic, and Verse, her criticism in Boston Review, and her fiction in StoryQuarterly, Requited, and Joyland, among other places. Co-founder of Matter, a journal of poetry and political commentary, she lives in Montreal.

Issue No. 15, Winter 2015

Toti O’Brien

Then she went to the window.
House sunk into silence.
No light under the
bedroom door.

All breath swallowed
by velvet dark she
went, tiptoeing

She stared at the
building invisible.
Blisters wounding
the surface.

How she loved those
golden peepholes!
Full of shades
she had no name for.

She saw cutouts
of the inscrutable maze
from her vantage
point. Seeing

was all she wanted.
Dark building pierced
yellow. Games
she couldn’t unscramble.

Toti O’Brien’s work has appeared in Synesthesia, Siren, The Harpoon Review, and Litro NY , among other journals and anthologies.