Nixes Mate Review

issue 24/25 · summer/fall 2022

Welcome to our new world. As we struggled to come out from under the fog of Covid 19, we decided why not shake it up and come out with print editions of the Review. Below is a tribute to one of our authors, Gene Barry, recently passed, as well as poems from the print edition, and a non-fiction web exclusive. We’re so happy with this print edition that we will continue to publish it biannually. Let’s call them “double” issues. You can purchase individual copies, or SUBSCRIBE annually and receive $5 off. If you’d like to help us publish more great poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, consider becoming a patron. Enjoy!

In Memory of Gene Barry · Anne Elezabeth Pluto

Gene Barry, a legend in the international poetry community, touched the lives of many, many people, myself included. He welcomed me into Blackwater Poetry group on Facebook, and we later became friends. In the pre-COVID world, I had the honour to read with Gene at the Cervena Barva Press Studio in August 2017. And at Nixes Mate Books we were proud to publish his collection Flaking the Rope in 2018 and have Gene return to Boston to host his book launch at the Trident Booksellers Café. ???? Was it there?

Gene was larger than life – a captain of language – a spinner of tales – a healer – a man of enormous talents – a man with a huge heart. He will be missed.

May his memory live forever.

— Anne Elezabeth Pluto, Editor + Director of Nixes Mate

To read more Gene Barry ⤴

Flaking the Rope · Gene Barry

Sunday mornings while Cork’s docks stood still,
four little boys would crane stare.
To the full back seat of our Ford Poplar
my father answered questions through
that haze of preoccupation surrounding him.

Processions of Ford tractors in readymade
sheds always lined the concrete part of the quays
and water would somehow pour out from the
belly button of some of the tied up foreign ships.

When I was older, much older, that same haze
would follow me into classrooms and pubs,
into relationships and thought processes.
Each and every time an anchor would clinch
as my father’s preoccupation flaked the rope.

He knew not what to do with me, with himself,
and my three brothers stood as witnesses.

On the Homestead · Gene Barry
I dream myself into an Irish pallbearer
Sniffing one pink Cypripedium,
Two Heliotropes,
A little bunch of violets.
Engrave before departure.

Out of that peripheral sky
Drifting across her kitchen table,
Mother will waltz with
Clicking needles while father
In his workshop builds concepts.
He will visa-clear her undiscovered continent,
Syntax her morning noon and nights,
Say nice-father sayings,
Perhaps hug and donate.

Mother, she will iron the dyings
Out of Emily’s sheets,
Defuse the Mother Wound,
Horse in a few mechanisms.
Later, she will exorcise hangings shootings stabbings,
A suffocation a crucifixion a drowning.
Steal the earth from premature burials
And blunt-make her guillotine.

So many heart deaths she’s had
And hidden in complex notions,
In outdated prayers and diatribes
And unvaluable family values.
She coughed up volumes of blackness,
Diluted to taste the unsociably awkward
Who lived beyond her home.

How kind of death
To call her back to safety.
To where flies buzz
And kings spoon in sleep.
She would have liked that.
How comforting to know
She died of Bright’s Disease.

Just Because · Gene Barry

He can etch love words, while sleeping,
inside the eye of the smallest needle she has hidden
broadcast them without moving a lip or tongue,
hang them from skies that hover
over languages he does not speak.

He can slip love-inducing arms through time zones,
war zones and unresolved stub zones, swim them
across oceans, through incompatible religions
and wrap them safely around her.

He can weave the safest of safety nets,
without materials, blanket her relationships,
every room she enters, each country visited
and all of the scattered
ambush sites that cruelly await her.

He can lie beside her and remove
unwanted dreams before they land,
absorb the dressed-up torments, the unwanted,
shield her from the smile-filled
fraught-driven philistines,

just because he loves her.

issue 24/25 · Summer/Fall 2022 · page 2

Splashdown · Linda Lamenza
Reentry wreaks havoc on the vestibular system. –, August 2020

As Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley float in the Gulf
and Mission Control entertains phrases like
nominal trunk separation
and nosecone closure,
my sister texts
It ain’t summer til
you have space and hurricanes. 

My brother texts
Just did a quick calculation:
at 17,000 mph if the astronauts
were traveling from Boston
to California, it would take 11 minutes.

Perhaps Bob uttered to Doug,
Did our wives even miss us?
Confided to each other
misgivings about the return to Earth.
Chaos, human hatred,
germs, reality television.
I can’t tear my eyes

Breathing Space · Amy Holman
We turn out over the Atlantic, where one white sail sliver
and one bright skirt of speed give speckle to ultramarine

elsewhere emptied of boats, near 9:00, hanging north
to start the long descent to Boston, widening east

to adjust for the stretched diagonal downward to meet
coordinates of far runway – shifts that feel as if I’m folded

tightly to an origami square balloon, then inflated to each
angle, ear and eye, now falling, floating in place –

when I see the miniature shape of large black whale
inhaling air in JetBlue’s rhyming shadow this August morn

traveling again, likely in a pod diving and rising east
of my spy, but out of sight on our next tilted turn.

my step mother becomes the reincarnation of a cursed mortal · Pacella Chukwuma Eke
some times in march – that’s today –
i stole my way into my neighbor’s house
for wifi; see if it’s possible for one to turn
others into stone
(and some random snake head dominated the screen)
perhaps this one’s her mother
or her mother’s mother
perhaps she still wears the genes
of this so-called Medusa
some times in march – that’s today –
i do not know the difference between
my brother and a beast
because the night he had looked at father’s wife
in that scale of rage she call eyes;
her rod had turned him into a beast-like vessel
nursing a stone for a heart
The Owl · Anne Myles
Boston, Winter 1637-1638

One night in that long winter, all of you banished
but not yet gone, you looked up to the roofline
and saw the snowy owl: impassive white face,
wide eyes almost human. God’s messenger,
you thought – such purity, such fierce intent.
It jolted you from worrying to stillness:
Lo, I am with you always. The last of one life now –
yet after all what did it matter to start over,
when anyone might judge you’d barely started?
Let your new world be new. You shifted your feet,
settled your shoulders, clicked softly in the dark.

But later, in bed, you hear the high screaming,
the deep hooting, the rustle of inexorable wings.
It goes on and on, but you do not wish it over.
You feel your talons, the sharp hook of your beak
darting and ripping. The ones you’ve lived among
who call you full of error. Who scorn the truth.
Let it be you. Let it be God. Let their false faith
lie limp and torn. Let them suffer first. Oh never
will you dare mention it by day – that ravening
to rise on your light bones then rocket down
with flawless sight, swift to their destruction.

On wishing reality was a healer · Abdulrazaq Salihu
Cheers to blue serenity on the night of Qadr,
To the crescent moon like a broken plate,
To Ramadans bloom, dates and its sour age,
Chai and mud, to December’s fair breeze
Breaking through the watered skin, to the old chair,
Brown faded furniture, the sand grains like body,
To purple hibiscus, the folding mountain,
The bloated, the youngest full moon ,
To buried virtues, the forsaken magnolia,
The outcast by the mouth of the shore,
Cheers to these, sorry we believed all would heal,
A big cheer to the new born escaping from
The heavens like honey.

issue 24/25 · Summer/Fall 2022 · page 3

Moving Day · Kayla Randolph
You watch from the window. You wipe your tears with your sleeve, afraid moving to grab a tissue will cause you to miss out on something important. He curses at her. He gets up in her face. He raises his hands. She screams.

“Go ahead! Hit me!”

He does not, but for a moment there you are sure he is going to. He turns around and walks over to the man who does not de- serve your hatred, but you feel it for him nonetheless. They talk. She walks back into the house. Tells you not to watch. Tells you that if he sees you, he’ll expect you to help, that he’ll try to talk to you. You fear these things, but she is your mother. You know you could not truly protect her, but watching from the window, you feel as if you silently have her back. She stands next to you and looks out the window. The two men are whispering and heading toward the side yard. She mutters under her breath.

She heads outside to see. You watch her disappear around the corner, and you run to the backyard. You stand on top of a patio chair on the deck, needing to be tall enough to look over the fence. You see her charging.

“What the fuck is she doing here?”

She heads straight for the car parked on the side of the house. “Get the fuck off! my property! Get the fuck away from here!”

You almost pity the girl, not much older than yourself. Almost.

The man who does not deserve your hatred waves her on, telling her to listen, to drive away. She looks scared. She should be.
Your mother walks back toward the house, calling behind her. “Don’t ever bring her to my fucking house again. I’ll call the fucking cops. Get your shit and get the fuck out of here.”

“Fuck you!” your father calls a er.

The words sound too familiar coming out of his mouth. You do not cry. You feel your face grow very still. You climb down and go back inside. Your brother plays with the dogs, distracting them from the chaos. You should distract him, but you do not. You think he will be fine. At least, you tell yourself you do.

She comes back inside. Apologizes for him, like she has always done. Asks what you want for dinner. Starts making pasta with sauce, like it’s second nature. You sit in the kitchen, watching. You cry. You cry and you cannot stop. She looks at you with pity masked as sympathy. She asks why you are crying. You know he needed to get his stu!, you say. You know he needed to go. Yet, it was still weird to watch him. You say weird but you mean sad. You mean devastating. You mean life-changing. But you feel guilty for missing him. You feel guilty for caring. So you settle for weird.

“I know,” she says.

You imagine she is telling the truth. She is glad that it is over, you believe. She makes the pasta. She grabs a beer. You tell her things will get better now.

But even then, you know you’re lying.

issue 24/25 · Summer/Fall 2022

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Fonts used:
Arvo for text; Merriweather Sans for titles; Montserrat for button and navigation text; Cormorant for issue title.

All works copyrighted by their authors; all rights reserved.

Cover image used with permission.

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