News Item #27

Dear Writers and Readers,

As you read the latest issue, you’ll notice its themes are a bit heavy for summer. I started Rose Red Review, in part, because the world is too much sometimes. Everyday magic encompasses more than fanciful fairy tale retellings. It’s beauty in a brutal world. It’s birdsong. It’s heartache. It’s twinkle lights in a crumbling, dirty train station. It’s maintaining a sense of wonder when the world goes to shit. Claudia Serea’s poem, “Autumn Walk,” conveys this sense of wonder amid chaos. Its message is the main theme for Summer 2016.

I’m heartsick. Rose Red Review isn’t a political publication, but it’s a place for diverse voices: black, white, brown, gay, straight, and of many faiths. You matter. In this climate of fear and uncertainty, you matter, no matter how many people insist you don’t. Keep that in mind as you read the selected stories and poems.

Any time it gets to be too much, look for something beautiful, even if it’s just a discarded piece of pearlescent seashell on a city sidewalk. Magic exists. It’s life and all the little details.

Warm Regards,
Larissa Nash

Feature: Issue No. 17, Summer 2016

Golden Rings

Why do you whirl a lantern
that flashes into my eyes?

Because a hawk flies above my head
and a tower stands behind me.
Why do you sit with one bare foot exposed?

Because yellow flowers surprise my ankles
and a soldier stands there watching.
Why do you dare to climb down the hill?

Because I carry a hammer, a chain,
and the moon is still full in the sky.
Why does your hair fall to your waist?

Because I have dreamed your journey
and the castle door is barred.
Why are you moving quickly now?

Because in my heart grows berried holly
and you are surrounded by oak.


For three and a half decades Katharyn Howd Machan, picking up where Rod Serling left off, has taught creative writing at Ithaca College in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. Her specialty courses, besides in poetry, are Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy, Women and Fairy Tales, and first-year seminars called Fairy Tales: The Hero’s Journey. Her poems have appeared in 32 published collections and many magazines, anthologies, and textbooks.

Feature: Issue No. 17, Summer 2016

The Daughter of Owls
after Neil Gaiman

With my pellet, with my red long hair
never cut all my living years, I travel
day’s end as though it has strong wings,
as though my shift of pure clean white
could give me those wings, too.
Father? Fierce golden black-ringed eyes
searching front and back, his hunger
wide and full and deep with anger,
a wild wind through dark woods.
Mother: fairy? woman? no one
allowed to touch me after birth,
my body a weight in a basket.
Behind tall cross-laden walls I grew
wordless, with no knowledge of sin.
When men came to rape my beauty
I cowered, cried, called loudly out
in the only language feathers give:
shrill hoot, tight scream, raw screech.
My father heard and swooped at them
in moonlight with the darkest others
to claw and rip and swallow skin,
taste terror’s salty crimson flesh,
leave only bits of splintered bone,
bent buckles, hair, a few stained coins.
And now I haunt—half-bird, half-what—
the edge of night that has no name,
stories flying with my story
to ask the world how it could happen
and whom their dreams should blame.


For three and a half decades Katharyn Howd Machan, picking up where Rod Serling left off, has taught creative writing at Ithaca College in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. Her specialty courses, besides in poetry, are Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy, Women and Fairy Tales, and first-year seminars called Fairy Tales: The Hero’s Journey. Her poems have appeared in 32 published collections and many magazines, anthologies, and textbooks.

Issue No. 17, Summer 2016

Black Widow

Old woman
wails on rutted knees
red berries strewn
on the ground, the red
of blood.

At evening
berries drain
in the kitchen sink,
a black scarf tight
around her head.

Through the window
rain-gripped mountains
high above the forest
crowd her.

Was he hurrying to see that other woman?

She feeds wood into the hearth,
fans the fire
but the wood too wet
barely stays alive.

Rain falls hard,
like the night she found him,
crushed metal
against a tree,
his head bent.

Loose twigs
pelt her window,
swift tongues
carried on the wind.
Townsfolk talk.

Spirits roused,
ears too close to mouths,
her thoughts scurry
into corners, shelved
like books
in other times.

A spider scuttles
from a corner,
looks for somewhere else
to live.

Old woman
stuck on the sticky thread
of old tales. Love
in the evening,
rain on the sound
of wind, a doused fire
long dying.


Ion Corcos was born in Sydney, Australia in 1969. He has a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) in Philosophy and European Studies, a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Ecology, and an unfinished degree in Modern Greek Studies. Ion’s main love is poetry. The themes of his work centre on life, nature, spirit, and the world. His poems have appeared in Axolotl, Bitterzoet, Every Writer, Ishaan Literary Review, and other journals. Ion also writes short stories, non-fiction, and short plays. His play, “A Flower”, was short-listed in Short and Sweet (2006).

Issue No. 17, Summer 2016

Autumn Walk

It’s hard to believe
the world is going to hell
in this sweet honey light.

My feet rustle through the leaves.

There’s a sense of closure in the air,
the stillness after catastrophe,

birds still flying,
and a breeze that moves the grass,
oblivious.


Claudia Serea is a Romanian-born poet who immigrated to the U.S. in 1995. Her poems and translations have appeared in Field, New Letters, 5 a.m., Meridian, Word Riot, Apple Valley Review, among others. Serea is the author of Angels & Beasts (Phoenicia Publishing, Canada, 2012), A Dirt Road Hangs From the Sky (8th House Publishing, Canada, 2013), To Part Is to Die a Little (Cervena Barva Press, 2015), and Nothing Important Happened Today (Broadstone Books, 2016). Serea co-hosts The Williams Readings poetry series in Rutherford, NJ. She is a founding editor of National Translation Month. More at cserea.tumblr.com.

Issue No. 17, Summer 2016

Stuff

Entering your room,
my eyes begin to water:
allergy? Epiphany.

Paper scraps, un-discarded cards,
crumples, crumbles, heaps, receipts.
Dead father, gone girlfriend, broken up band.
Ceiling fan cringing under curse
of cobwebs, thirteen empty beer bottles: all your luck,
run out. Every light dust-drowning,
curtains closed forever, so the neighbors can’t see you
dying gently every night in TV light. Filth that fills—
stuff that kills.

Stuff: pushing down, filling up, shoving into
cavity or crevice. Negative space
either way: gray area: the whole of you.

Learning stuff can be a shield, and a mess
no less than armor. How I wear a full face
of caked makeup, how we pierce and paint our skins,
stuff ourselves or binge and purge to bone. Attempting
our own burial. Dying to become invisible
under all the stuff.

Tomb, catacomb. Suffocating under stuff,
doing stuff that doesn’t fit, stuff filling space.
While you’re living in filth I’m painting my face.

Covering the essence of ourselves.
For you it’s dust, for me, powder—
we all have it—
our stuff.


Julia C. Alter hails from Philadelphia and has found home in Vermont. She is a writer, birth doula, social worker, and conscious dance facilitator, among other things. Her poems can be found in Wag’s Revue, Keep This Bag Away from Children, and Clementine (Unbound).

Issue No. 17, Summer 2016

Bone People

We feed tooth and maul,
bang out on ivory keys,
pick cotton bolls
with wishbones and sorry
glances across the work,

sharpen scythe and axe
to cut through flesh and tendon,
green fields, and prairie
chickens and pray with
the rhythm of wet stone-
shhhh shhhh shhhh,

bone people,
savory broth, simmering
herbs, let her bones melt,
heal your broken heart–
thyme and trinity and low, low
heat to cook marrow to gold,

bone people
in the hills, dark alleys
of city noise, a quiet
tree shadowed street, we cook,
we listen, and carry
the knife blade shine,
a glint in our eyes-
shhhh, shhhh, shhhh.


Danelle Lejeune is a wanderer, a beekeeper, a farmer, a mother who gave up on art for nearly twenty years until an alligator in the marshes off the coast of Georgia convinced her to look twice. Since then she has been published in Literary Mama, Red River Review, and Fifth Wednesday Journal. Forthcoming work in Whale Road Review and Red Paint Hill Press. Her photos have appeared in Portland Review and Flyway Journal. She’s been a poet in residence at Vermont Studio Center, attended Charles University in Prague, and is the assistant to the Director at Ossabaw Writer’s Retreat (where the alligator lives….)

Issue No. 17, Summer 2016

Pebble’s Funeral
After “The funeral of the moon” by David Shumate

They were all in attendance. The sun. Wind. A cloud. They came to console mountain who lost his child, pebble. Moon arrived late and met up with the rest in the bar afterward. It was a stellar funeral, said sun. It was a blast, said wind. I cried a downpour, said cloud. How sad that a piece of you is gone forever, mountain. After this announcement, another raindrop welled in cloud’s eye and fell in his beer. What a loss, said moon to mountain. Your lovely daughter had a natural fluorescence I could see from heaven. I’ll miss her, said mountain, She was a rock of strength, I’ll never be the same. So sad, said sun, Did you see me cover my eyes when they lowered pebble into the water? I couldn’t bear to look. Pebble to pebble, sand to sand, moon prayed. Wind added some philosophy, We’ll all be ground down by the sands of time, time is all we’ve got. And mountain rejoined, Yes, soon enough I’ll be with my pebble, grains of sand on the bottom of the sea. And they all gave a collective sigh and sipped more beer.


Ingrid Bruck is a wild flower gardener and nature poet living in rural Amish country in Pennsylvania, a landscape that inhabits her writing. Some of her current work has appeared in Halcyon Days, Three Line Poetry, and Leaves of Ink.

Issue No. 17, Summer 2016

Brunnhilde’s Solo

Uncrushed on the velvet
fainting sofa, I rise in flash

and glint. An evening gowned
for gold lament. I’m a German

opera braided with heavy blonde
plaits and tragi-songs of longing

and parting. But I’m secretly
detached. My performance is

metallic. I’m steadying my head
to ignite the stage. Helmuted

in halo spotlight, whole notes
immolate my golden throat

with verse and flame. Heaven’s
about to blow. And God? He’s dead.


Tammy Robacker won the 2015 Keystone Chapbook Prize for her manuscript, R. Her second poetry book Villain Songs is forthcoming with ELJ Publications in 2016. Tammy published her first collection of poetry, The Vicissitudes, in 2009 (Pearle Publications). Tammy’s poetry has appeared in Menacing Hedge, Chiron Review, VoiceCatcher, Duende, So to Speak, Crab Creek Review, WomenArts, and Up the Staircase Quarterly. Currently enrolled in the Rainier Writing Workshop MFA program in Creative Writing at Pacific Lutheran University, Tammy lives in Oregon. www.tammyrobacker.com

Issue No. 17, Summer 2016

The Palm-Reader
Beth Walker

The setting was informal: a cafe. At the writer’s table, a girl
dominated the conversation. Instead of poetry, she asked for his palm.

A joke, he thought, to let her stroke his leather glove, something
he could write about later. (Meanwhile the sheaf of poems he clutched
fluttered like birds.) He took off his green shades

to see himself in her black heart, onyx ring, but spied
only this screwed-up gypsy kid who fancied wonders in upturned skin.

How she held on when she said, “No future for a man whose words cannot fly.
No applause for a man who nurses a stump for a hand.” He was red-eyed
and lost; this was not what he sought.

Then she said, “Your pain has crystallized like salt—not in your eyes,
but in your hands. Indelible, it is stamped deep into your skin.”

When she let go, he saw scars on her own terrible-ringed hands. Funny,
he had thought she was a fan when she asked for the chair. Like a great man,
he tipped his beret, bought her a drink and let her sit there.


Beth Walker has published poems from her series of fairy tale characters in Yellow Medicine Review and in New Millennium Writings.