News Item #26

Dear Writers and Readers,

Spring is in the air, and Rose Red Review is about to celebrate her Sweet Sixteen—her sixteenth issue, that is. My, how time flies!

I present a new tapestry of themes: darkness as sympathetic monster, a flock of birds as ferryman, sea creatures, a crossing over, the last embers of love, self-examination, the end of the world. Think Winter, stepping aside for Spring.

Happy Reading!

Warm Regards,
Larissa Nash

Issue No. 16, Spring 2016

Lover’s Autopsy
Lana Highfill

The ruins of my disassembled heart
hang in my chest like bits of salted meat —
the last of winter’s stores.
If an archaeologist cracks me open
he will find, among other things,
pictures of you all along the walls
of my esophagus — waiting for digestion.
If you are standing next to the archaeologist
you will exclaim: There is no need for this!
with a broad sweeping gesture
knocking over the vase of flowers
set next to my body to mask the formaldehyde smell.
The archaeologist will calmly ask

Did you love her?

Though by then you will have forgotten
and walked away, leaving only your breath
to be stitched back into my lungs.


Lana Highfill is an MFA student at Pacific University in Forest Grove, OR. She writes poetry and short fiction in Southern Indiana, where she is an English professor. Her interests include live music, comic books, and sci-fi. You will often find her at a convention, cosplaying as her favorite character from Doctor Who. She has been published in Nota Bene, Phi Theta Kappa’s honors anthology, and is currently working on her first manuscript.

Issue No. 16, Spring 2016

By Way of Water
Lana Highfill

Driving over bridges
should change us, somehow,
make us travelers, sea-faring
lovers crossing waters and time
with suspension and steel.
But we emerge on other sides
unchanged and unbelieving
that we are birds swooping
beneath the waves to feed,
navigating lives by the direction
of the current, wandering until
we reach the source of the flow.


Lana Highfill is an MFA student at Pacific University in Forest Grove, OR. She writes poetry and short fiction in Southern Indiana, where she is an English professor. Her interests include live music, comic books, and sci-fi. You will often find her at a convention, cosplaying as her favorite character from Doctor Who. She has been published in Nota Bene, Phi Theta Kappa’s honors anthology, and is currently working on her first manuscript.

Issue No. 16, Spring 2016

Mermaid on a Rock
Robin Dawn Hudechek

The mermaid sits on the rock, her hair tangled and
seaweed slick, curling on sunburnt shoulders.
A snap of wind becomes a cross, unfurling above her,
a slash of black on white like the garments
she had seen on men from other ships;
shirts billowing above bloated bodies and unseeing eyes,
the roar of many fires all around her.
But this one is different, she tells herself:

The men will come, eat her shellfish and listen to her songs,
catch her brightness in the glare of their metal helmets
as they shout, teasing her off the rock,
into the thread of the net,
lulling her with sweet breathy voices
that do not throb of coral wreaths
and schools of goldfish streaming upward
in a line that pulses.

This is the only gold she knows, she could tell them,
But they will not hear.
Her lips part, bloodied with the wetness of the sun.
Her arms cross over her breasts, some small part of her
much younger, much shier, seeking shelter from their eyes.

All the while the net nears, clutched in their gnarled hands.
Even from a distance she can see their scars:
a knife wound over one sailor’s eyes,
the clump of another’s hand, missing two fingers.

Look away, she tells herself. Dive back into the water.
Boats like these are a time warp
There are no days, months, years—
only the husks of ships on the ocean floor, arrogance spent.

But she is mesmerized by the flap of the sails, the bawdy music–
boots thumping on hard, salty decks

so unlike her own world, her skin,
bone white against a glimmering tail,
jeweled scales a prism, bending color like water.
Her arm lifts and she sees
the net breaking the sky, rocks and ocean
into tight square pieces,
the net that will press her face and twine into her arms,
hair floating above her, her face inches
from the waves slapping against the barnacled boat.

Her fingers find these last shells
on the underbelly of the ship,
and touch them in benediction, as her body is pulled upward
and water pours from the net back into the sea.


Robin Dawn Hudechek received her MFA in creative writing from UCI. She has two chapbooks: Ghost Walk, The Inevitable Press, 1997, and Ice Angels, published in IDES: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks, Silver Birch Press, October, 2015. Robin lives in Laguna Beach, CA with her husband, Manny and two beautiful cats.

Issue No. 16, Spring 2016

I am Waiting for You, an Ordinary Man
Robin Dawn Hudechek

(For the Lady of the Lake)

I am waiting for an ordinary man
to take my sword from my hands
and lift me from my lake bed
as water channels in folds from my
damask skirts, and the sun
sends its tiny fires bobbing on the water,
flickering around my hair and face.
I want these torches to cool,
to burn out. I never wanted
to be burdened with light
when the water itself is so cold.

I am waiting for an ordinary man,
not a king, no—never a king.
I want a man who
who will not leave me
when I forget to lower my eyes
or when I stand on my own balcony
wearing only a thin robe, legs bare,
bowing to no one.

Kings are too busy.
Kings have no time for garden walks
or laughing at moonlit shadows
or stealing kisses. Kings have courtiers
and horses and endless wars,
and girls—oh so many girls to tie
their favors—bright and filmy scarves
in their lovers’ breast plates.

I am waiting for a day when I can sit
warm under the sun, as the blue
leaves my lips and I can tuck my toes
in shoes free of seaweed
and dainty enough to dance in.
I am waiting for you with your mussed hair
the color of newly-pressed wheat
and your impish smile, wicked enough
to banish the faeries to their groves.
I am waiting for you to take my hand
and lead us into a forest
where trees are high
and shadows are deep
and where our kisses
are exposed to no one
but the moon and ourselves.


Robin Dawn Hudechek received her MFA in creative writing from UCI. She has two chapbooks: Ghost Walk, The Inevitable Press, 1997, and Ice Angels, published in IDES: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks, Silver Birch Press, October, 2015. Robin lives in Laguna Beach, CA with her husband, Manny and two beautiful cats.

Issue No. 16, Spring 2016

Poetry is over
Charlie Baylis

The moon swings over cherry trees
an empty table where a coffee cup
breathes into shelves of memory

if i could be the man i once was
but i am not the man i once was

the coin coloured bottom of my boots, I’ve been cut
from sea script, on shoot with the dreams
hunting the drive for moccasins

if i could be the man i once was
but i am not the man i once was

name the number? name that movement? I’ll tell you nothing
about my failures, poetry is over
my tongue in balsamic vinegar, chrysanthemum
idiom, delirium, a soldier marching to battle
with a white flag in his heart

if i could be the man i once was
but i am not the man i once was


Charlie Baylis lives in Spain. His chapbook Elizabeth can be found on Agave Press. He reviews poetry for Stride. Charlie has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes, the Forward Prize, and for the Queen´s Ferry Press´ Best Small Fictions. He has made the shortlist for the Bridport prize. He was (very briefly) a flash fiction editor for Litro. He spends his spare time completely adrift of reality and tumbles, sporadically, here: theimportanceofbeingaloof.tumblr.com.

Issue No. 16, Spring 2016

Mozart Effect
Virginia Konchan

Like swapping spit
earnestly, in the back
pew of a funeral, I once
regarded the life-instinct
as something wholly innocent,
or at least innocently derived.
Now I know the love object
in the spectacle of procreation
is a stranger, teasing open
the seventh seal of the anthropocene.
Tigers, bears, goldfish, werewolves,
enacting the rite of prey and predator:
feasting, naming, sighing, dying.
The real replaced by supplement;
the moon and sun, with les enfants
terrible
, called up from the astral galaxy
as proximal gods. Dawn at Ceres;
March Equinox—this is the harvest
of sorrow, Amadeus, perogative
of the royal we, I obviated:
Commonwealth’s
rags-to-riches sublime.


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. 16, Spring 2016

Magdalene
Alessandra Bava

(after Georges de La Tour’s four paintings)

Whatever demons were cast out of you,
however sinful you life was,
you sat down in a dark interior and posed.
A model to penance, tears burning

on the rim of your eyelashes,
your bountiful rib cage echoing with sighs,
your luminous fingers holding a skull
with unwonted rage.

The mirror reflects no vanity, just
your loving face smeared with clotted
blood, lips swollen by his torn feet,
the cruel nails of the Golgotha.

A smoking flame shines a dark light
on your pensive chin, on your naked
shoulder and legs, on your creased
scarlet dress, on the heavy tomes,

on your long black hair,
on the neglected pearls
falling to the ground,
ready for the swine.

Ardor stifled. Passion crucified.
Be still, heart! Beat!
Be still! Beat, heart!
Forever.


When she is not translating, Alessandra Bava is writing the biography of a contemporary American poet. Her poems and translations have appeared or are upcoming in journals such as Gargoyle, Plath Profiles, THRUSH, and Waxwing. Two of her chapbooks, They Talk About Death and Diagnosis, have been published in the States.

Issue No. 16, Spring 2016

A goose observes a train at dusk
David S. Briggs

Strange, how they ferry daylight with them,
how they heave those bright metal husks
over the earth—a line of luminous shells.
How greedy they are for the glow.
How completely their snared sunlight
scorches black paths across the land.
How they clutch it in their hovels.

What sickness or fear grips a creature
to make it shun slumber so?
Why do they not turn their necks down
into a downy silence? Why
do they not welcome the darkness
that comes to shelter them from peril?
What are they afraid to hide from?

If I could shine like that
I would lead my flock to freedom
and ignite the clouds with my feathertips.
I would soar the distance
all the way to the cold egg moon
and wander the black lake of night,
bobbing for sunken stars.


David S. Briggs has worked in trade book publishing for more than a decade, and he’s recently published pieces in The Paterson Literary Review and U.S.1 Worksheets, with pieces forthcoming from Bombay Gin and The Apalachee Review.

Issue No. 16, Spring 2016

Double Vision
Anca Vlasopolos

battlefield sun and night
sea grasses countless blades unsheathed
half helmet abandoned
fallen warrior horseshoe crab half-devoured

yet
ever-renewed peace terms
grasses swaying pregnant with light
waves breaking down thrown brick into fine sand

sanderlings small plovers a ballet troupe
rushing toward ocean in waves’ wake
dancing en pointe from crash of waters

each ever-moving element in place


Anca Vlasopolos published the award-winning novel The New Bedford Samurai; the award-winning memoir No Return Address: A Memoir of Displacement; three collections of poems, Cartographies of Scale (and Wing), October 2015; Walking Toward Solstice (2012); and Penguins in a Warming World (2007); three poetry chapbooks, a detective novel, Missing Members, and over two hundred poems and short stories. She was nominated several times for the Pushcart Award in poetry and fiction.