Issue No. 18, Autumn 2016

Chasing the Mustang Moon
Sandi Leibowitz

They say she was a hunter
they say she strode the plains
bridle in hand,
eyes ever on the skies

Her quarry often outpaced her
but still
once every month she swung
her lasso of twisted silver light
and found it catch

How she pulled
and was pulled,
boots digging into the earth,
throwing up clods,
scoring canyons

Her whoops drove through chasms,
startled vultures into feather-loosing frenzies,
toppled hoodoos,
vibrated the vacant skulls
of ghost-cows in the sands

At last she cornered that ornery prey,
forced it to submission,
white sides heaving,
hoofs stamping grooves
into the heavens
Up she swung onto its back
and oh, how she rode

plunging through the star-plains,
scattering the silver herds,
mermaid-hair streaming through the void,
while her wild mount bucked
and reared, fierce as ocean,
colliding with comets.

Finally thrown, hurtled down
the black acres of air,
she dusted herself off.
Maybe she drank up a river or two
before her boots wandered her westward.
She lifted her eyes,
spied far off the silver flanks
of that wild dappled stallion

and, lasso twirling,
haloing the sage,
resumed the hunt once more


Sandi Leibowitz is a school librarian, classical singer and writer of speculative poetry and fiction. Her work appears in Mythic Delirium, Mithila Review, Metaphorosis, Through the Gate and other magazines and anthologies. Her poems have been nominated for the Rhysling, Dwarf Star, Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net awards, and appear on editors’ lists of recommended reading. As a child she galloped through the apartment to the William Tell Overture, tossing her mane, but never did manage to lasso the moon. She lives in New York City in a ravens’ wood, next door to bogles.

Issue No. 18, Autumn 2016

The Buffalo Return To Illinois
René Ostberg

The earth keeps score of what it’s been
and who’s its friend.
That field

connected to the crumbled lot
where a shuttered Shell fed the chevys of Chicagoland
getawaying west runawaying north disturbing the dust
longsettled on the Illinois blacksoils deep-soaked with
Sauk blood and pioneer sins and Potawatomi bones

knows it was once prairie

long ago when it was flush
with ferality and friends, a million and many loves
cowbirds bobcats kingsnakes coyotes crickets
a place unmapped
unnamed
unforsaken

and
it loved nothing so deep and doomperfect
as the buffalo.

It remembers the way it liked to lay itself long thick and level
waiting its black-bearded beloveds, and the way it trembled
when a herd approached hooves shuffling wildgooseneck tails
twitching the prairie’s skin itching tickling with the bisons
nibbling and calves gamboling young and ferocious
chasing extinction out of the milkweed out of the tallgrass
away from the purple clover and smoke.

Every night the field calls for its old friends
buffalo lover friend dream lost gone buffalo come back
into the rumbled wake of auto exhaust
putting the rustle of weeds to blame for the racket
should anybody ask, or on the gas attendant ghosts
and unresolved underearth clashes
of white bloodguilt and redsouled resistance.

But weeds or no weeds guilt or no ghosts the field will not speak
of those years when the buffalo were hunted
away
only to tell any other earth corners who’ll listen
that as the hunting turned to slaughter and the prairie
turned to a killing field
it drank the blood of its black beloveds
into itself
like milk and rain and
revenge melting

to raw remembrance.

Tallgrass timberland skinned
penny thin Lincoln slim
plains
scalped
fenced farmed within an inch
of forsaken

a bo-peep place now bare
bisonless

mapped now but missing
its mighty herds
unknown
unloved
ununderstood

unbuffaloed.

All it wants is to tremble once again
under the weight of a thousand black hooves.

It was a recent October morning.
When the field woke to thunder
groans and hooves. Two dozen black tongues licking
the Illinois air. Black snouts glistening soft like
constellations
on a fogged-in flatlands night
black beards bristling
the slickening skin off the gas attendant
ghosts.
The field wept joy in butterflies and coneflowers
welcomed its old friends in rusted
meadow murmurs and the buffalo
lay their glad heavy heads down
to let the old prairie sing a new plainsong
of tallgrasses trembling
and reclamation.


René Ostberg is a native of Chicago. Her writing has been featured at Tiny Donkey, The Masters Review blog, Literary Orphans, Thank You For Swallowing, Drunk Monkeys, Booma: The Bookmapping Project, and other places. She still lives in Illinois, outside Chicago, where she enjoys riding her cherry red bicycle all around town and spending time with her three cats. Her website is reneostberg.wordpress.com.

Issue No. 18, Autumn 2016

Fruitless
Lynn Fanok

A promise of gold grips these fortune hunters:
grown out of control by listening to snake tongues,
they discover a lion’s share of days into nights.

Drop your shifting from the river’s edge
to your token burlap sack of dust.

You’re a locomotive engine hissing in the heat along with
other minor miners—deputies of desperation, clutching empty canteens;
stealing another’s bread and water.

Chuck it in. Call it what it is—a tale of fools, of desperation,
spread around a campfire, caught fire.


Lynn Fanok’s return to graduate school reignited her interest in writing poetry. She has written a collection of poems about her experiences as a survivor’s daughter examining her family, memory, and history. Her poetry has appeared in several online journals. Lynn lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania where she leads a poetry series at a local independent bookstore. You can read more of Lynn’s poetry at lynnfanok.weebly.com.

Issue No. 18, Autumn 2016

Amy Winehouse: Blue-eyed Soul
John Davis

That lion growl up from the forest floor
that bass along the bough of every tree

in every song, a burst of tongue. No excuse of love.
It was love. No leafless tree. It was the tree.

Another note and another, on this side
and the other side of clouds and inside the light

of cold stars. They are gone, those notes
that defined song that burned a hole

in the name of music. Who cares worst-dressed
when her soul rolled through a song, flattened

the dough, punched it, rolled it, kneaded
until it rose, warmed, ready to eat.


John Davis is the author of Gigs and The Reservist. His work appears in The Beloit Poetry Journal, Cream City Review, Cutbank, Georgetown Review, The Laurel Review, The North American Review, Oxford Magazine, Poetry Northwest and Sycamore Review. He teaches writing, performs in rock and roll bands and lives on an island near Seattle.

Issue No. 18, Autumn 2016

Julius Rosenberg Murmurs from the Dead
John Davis

Remember 1945. She didn’t do it.
She birthed our boys. She wanted to sing
on stage. She didn’t do it. She didn’t
type it. And the it. You know the it.
Her sister-in-law did it. But Ethel
didn’t do it. Thought they’d charge her—
force me to finger co-conspirators
which would save her. Yes I was a
communist. Yes I was a spy. I passed along
some inept sketches. At her trial she didn’t cry,
not the weak woman the judge wanted her to be.
You can shake a cloud like a blanket
let the mist spill out. And she didn’t
do it. No raindrops there. She didn’t do it.
It took extra jolts of the electric chair
to kill her. She was that innocent. She didn’t
do it. She birthed our boys. She did that.


John Davis is the author of Gigs and The Reservist. His work appears in The Beloit Poetry Journal, Cream City Review, Cutbank, Georgetown Review, The Laurel Review, The North American Review, Oxford Magazine, Poetry Northwest and Sycamore Review. He teaches writing, performs in rock and roll bands and lives on an island near Seattle.

Issue No. 18, Autumn 2016

Anchors
Seth Jani

Distillate faces,
Going through
The eerie margins
To the place
Of crystalized light,
Of spacious winds
That blow all day
And never stop,
Never fade into
A grove of aspens.
We become ghosts,
Or maybe we become
Solid beings,
Always drifting back
To our lack of substance,
The mirage of colors
We call the soul.
In the port of final anchors
We set down
Our quiet golden weights,
The ones we have been
Building for many lives.
Eventually even the spectral
Captain fades.
We become those darkened stones.


Seth Jani currently resides in Seattle, WA and is the founder of Seven Circle Press (www.sevencirclepress.com). His own work has been published widely in such places as The Chiron Review, The Hamilton Stone Review, Hawai`i Pacific Review, VAYAVYA, Gingerbread House, Gravel and Zetetic: A Record of Unusual Inquiry. More about him and his work can be found at sethjani.com.

Issue No. 18, Autumn 2016

Elegy to Aunt Jo
Barbara Krasner

Charlie’s notice of your burial service caught me
off guard. But I remember that photo he included,
that one of you in a sleeveless brocade dress
in front of the mirror. The double image, perhaps
unintended, reminds me that you—like me—were a twin.

You told me once you could have gone to Brandeis,
but you didn’t want to leave your home in Newark
or your twin. You married my uncle in ’56, I don’t know
what you expected. By then he was part-owner
of a grocery store with his brothers. You began to wear

your hair in a bee-hive, all starched with hairspray
and you told me Grandpa spoke beautiful Jewish
and I never really heard him speak at all. He coughed
phlegm while running around in his union suit. You
had a large white house in Caldwell and a lap dog

you named Shoo-Shoo and you bought me a hamster
I named Valentine and was actually relieved
when my uncle ran over it with his car in the driveway.
You invited me for sleepovers and for trips to the lake
to visit your sister and brother. You were brilliant

and beautiful but listless and showed up at my sister’s
wedding in ’73 in a pink jumpsuit and flirted with the judge.
You moved to California after the divorce and I visited
you in Marina del Rey. We held your Norwegian
granddaughter and posed for photos in the living room
with Amy’s Christmas tree for backdrop. You stayed

in touch with my mother and I think she liked you
despite your craziness. You were interesting at least.


Barbara Krasner holds an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and teaches creative writing in New Jersey. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Michigan Quarterly Review, Nimrod, Paterson Literary Review, Blue Lyra Review, Peregrine, and other journals.

Issue No. 18, Autumn 2016

The Dark has Beauty All Its Own
Kailey Tedesco

Do you remember the exhibit in the
Mutter Museum?

The mummified child whose eye-
lashes remained, her skin grey and supple.

I can understand the look on her face now –
like pretending to be asleep.

My forested body’s own pruned lids
lay similarly porcelain with doll lashes,
un-flickering.

Inside, the stuff of me has scurried
off to play pretend with dried twigs.
Imagine magic wands in my hands ––

The force of moments where
the sprigs can manipulate
the wash of time.


Kailey Tedesco received her MFA from Arcadia University where she now teaches English. She is the co-founding editor-in-chief of Rag Queen Periodical and a member of the NYC Poetry Brothel. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. You can find some of her poetry featured or forthcoming at FLAPPERHOUSE, Menacing Hedge, Quail Bell Magazine, Bellevue Literary Review, Prick of the Spindle, and more. She believes poetry is the closest thing we have to magic. For more, please visit kaileytedesco.com.

Issue No. 18, Autumn 2016

Witness
Sarah Ann Winn

We called it the witch’s nose,
the outcrop of rocks
where an old woman seemed
to peer out from the hill.

Every year the tree line would change
the shape of her babushka
and we’d guess she was having a bad
hair day which went on and on.

Then the machines came
and the lights and someone
cut a road through woods
we swore were haunted

if you would just stand and listen.
They buried the ghost in tree debris,
and made wide road for trucks
to haul load after load

of history away.
Who knows what happened to the cabin
back in the woods
that probably bank robbers used once,

which we’d planned to fix
up and live in once grown.
Where would my garden go now,
where nothing good, nothing wild grows?

Isn’t it enough that you can hear the digging
down the valley, over the sound of the falls?
The land reappears, a prisoner of war, head
shaven, suddenly gaunt. Unrecognizable in profile.


Sarah Ann Winn’s poems, flash fiction and hybrid works have appeared or will appear soon in Calyx, Five Points, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Massachusetts Review, and Passages North, among others. Her chapbooks include Field Guide to Alma Avenue and Frew Drive (Essay Press, 2016), Haunting the Last House on Holland Island (Porkbelly Press, 2016), and Portage (Sundress Publications, 2015). Visit her at bluebirdwords.com or follow her @blueaisling.

Issue No. 18, Autumn 2016

I Leave the Iron Age Entirely to One Side
Annie Stenzel

The Stone Age makes sense.
So little time; so many enemies;
a world of want, if you survive

your infancy. You take a stone,
shape it with another stone, affix it to a
tree limb with supple vine:

here’s a weapon, blunt and brutal.

But the Bronze Age baffles:
your campfire wasn’t nearly hot enough
to smelt the tin by serendipity.

Wide vein of copper in a rock?
A pretty thing, and I can see you
pick it up, transport it home

and talk it over with your people.
But was it happenchance
that chunk of stone landed in the kiln?

Was it when you first saw molten
copper, watched it harden, held its bright
potential in your hands, struck it

with your trusty stone-made hammer,
took in the texture’s change?

Was that when time contracted and you raced
headlong to sword, shield, and spear, arrow
tip, dagger, battle axe—your dazzling armory?


Annie Stenzel’s poems have most recently appeared (or are forthcoming) in the print journals Kestrel, Ambit, and Catamaran Literary Reader, and the online journals Rat’s Ass Review, American Journal of Poetry, and Blue Lyra Review. Her work has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and once for a Best of the Net. She received a B.A. in English Literature and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, both from Mills College. Stenzel is also a letterpress printer, never happier than when her hands are covered in ink. She pays the bills by working at a mid-sized law firm in San Francisco.