issue 9 · fall 2018
Our 2nd anniversary is surrounded by the spectacle and the noise. We are adrift on fault lines. Our symptoms of distress are almost too much to bear.
And yet …
and yet, poetry becomes the wilderness we desire, the wilderness where we rage. Poetry is the machinery we use to pursue our enemies to a wilderness of dust. Poetry is the gusset on the rusting guardrails of democracy. Poetry is democracy. VOTE!
Table of Contents
Dream in Which the World Revealed Itself to Me · Hannah Larrabee
after "Mad Rush" by Philip Glass
You say you’re gone until I change. Remember, we must tread
lightly in war, hearts and minds at stake.
In a dream, in fields of grass, I stared up atthenightsky.
Mountains were shadows, silhouettes on stage with a waning
The world disappeared. I was expected to do the same.
Then a burst of light like an exploding satellite.
These were planets approaching in their bright-colored jackets,
planets puncturing the black sheet of sky, staggering the nighttime
And it seemed just right for me to admire them without knowing
if they would bring an end to us, or if they brushed by the moon,
or if the moon was rattled by all these replacements.
I thought a minute about worlds so close … all the fish confused
in other seas …
You might want me to change, but I have never belonged here
in such a way as to describe a dream in the manner that would
move you, profoundly, toward loving me.
I suppose to see something for the first time is the purest dimension,
the threads between our fingers snapping into place.
I wish to see you again, you know.
On the Nature of Daylight · Hannah Larrabee
Max Richter, for String Quartet
This is the language of strings, why
must it hurt? A sailor adjusts to woven
seas, but never to the way the stars seem
to touch the dark horizon. The truth is,
we are temporary. This is the language
of strings, how temporary? I love you
in the thread of each touch, the circular
stain of your coffee cup. You take my arm.
I come closer in orbit, a 100-year-comet,
burning burning through the sky. This
is the language of strings, I love you
in the wordless passage, the cellular decay.
This is the language of strings, it moves
through a field of wheat and I touch it all:
the infinite small as your hand inside
Squeezed · Sarah Bigham
me up and spit me
Who hears the music
in the radiators, the air
conditioners, the furnaces,
the darkened TVs?
Produce · Sarah Bigham
became limes. For others, kiwis or
oranges. Over there, the pomegranates
and grapefruit. Always leading, the
first to arrive. No fruit salad is ever
complete without melon. Faint veins
on the rind, palmed like an oatmeal-filled
pastry bag. Hands off. Eyes up. Out.
Near the Carnival · C.C. Russell
Alongside · Lisa Akus
For my daughter Amara and her best friend Kyrah
To school she wears long sleeves
And slips on her knit gloves to avoid
The unwanted feel of paper.
She crawls off her bed
Sleeping by the air vent
Beneath a tent made
Of her comforter, stripped down
Just enough to keep
The feel of a constant
Cool on her exposed skin.
Goes into immediate
Retreat at the mention of a hug,
Climbing her voice
Against the undesired touch.
Stretches her cuffs
Beyond the length of fingertip
To practice formation
With her ice skating partner.
But she has a friend
On a different end
Of a brilliant spectrum,
Equally radiant with
Both smiles and affirmations,
Her own determination.
So today someone stomps
Asserting the hardwood
Echos in my direction.
Still there’s only one name
She has ever
Intentionally recalled. With the way
My memory purposely holds on,
The way with her forgetful
About anything else mind,
She’s held on
Almost 5 years now,
To the only one I’ve ever seen,
With whom she walks alongside,
Nothing getting in between
Them and with what
Their bare hands hold
issue 9 · fall 2018 · page 2
Portrait of a Father · Kyle Laws
by one slipshod stand after another that sold cigarettes.
Father gave me his leather case initialed KRL in gold.
I tapped Salems on the dashboard from the pouch.
The Miami Fountainebleau shone marine blue and green.
Beer glass broken in Cuba still washed up behind the hotel
as Frank Sinatra tunes drifted from the lounge where
we waited, Father with his camera, to catch the famous.
We sunned on the beach with other students on spring
break. I wore a long sleeved shirt to protect my skin.
Father got as dark as he could to look good in pale
sherbet colored suits with patent leather shoes.
Father was a gigolo, most interesting thing about him,
never really found anyone with enough money to keep
him in beer and film, his last woman a bookmaker
for the Philadelphia Mafia, practical, hardworking.
Buried With a Mouth Full of Pearls · Kyle Laws
along the riverfront, a daughter born
in a February of no wind sparked the rush
to the bay in the most bitter winter ever.
I never remember a ring on her hand,\t\t
not wanting to be held to his bellows.
No violet to be ravaged in the salt air,
but amethyst hortensia in thick leaves.
Her mother starched all the clothes
both daughters wore after the second
was delivered in a town with a name
that ended in Court House.
Police started keeping track after
the father vanished and a swing set \t\t\t
appeared in the front yard cemented
into sand blown from the beach. \t\t
Something was buried there besides
fish heads used to catch crabs prized
for their claws in hues of hydrangeas
in the dunes.
Terminal Island · Kevin Ridgeway
the guards pad us down and stamp
our wrists in yellow mustard stink
he's in a wheelchair
never to walk again
he would walk out of those gates
several times and several chances
to get straight
and went on to outlive my mother
doing a life sentence
where it doesn't
smell like tuna guts
but it's silent
like all the answers
he may never hold.
The Heart Rages On · Cat Dixon
Ann Pudeator · Cindy Veach
Hanged, September 22, 1692
Because you asked them to stay mum
none of your five children
came to your defense
even though they knew
you didn’t visit the sick
and kill. What nurse can make
every patient well? They knew the poppets
stuck with thorns were placed
on purpose and all the ointments —
you put them in so many things —
were for concocting twenty kinds
of soap. They would have said
you weren’t the caus of Jon Turners falling
off the cherry tree. You had nothing
to do with the pinching & Bruseing of John Best’s wife
Till her Earms & other parts of her Body Looked Black
and that you would never have forced Sarah
to sett her hand to the book. Samuel Pikworth swore
you passed him as swifte as if a burd flue by
but if you could have bewitched yourself into a bird
you would have. Instead, you stood and stated
what your children knew — the Evidence against you
was altogether false & untrue.
Quotes (in italics) from The Salem Witchcraft Documentary Archive and Transcription Project. http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/home.html
Susannah Martin · Cindy Veach
Hanged, July 19, 1692
Call me troublemaker.
I speak my mind.
I have a temper.
Call me witch: Mary, Abigail, Mercy, Ann.
Bear witness: William, John, Bernard, Thomas,
Reverend Cotton Mather — and I quote:
This woman was one of the most impudent,
scurrilous, wicked creatures of this world.
take me away. Search
with your cold hands
until my flesh seizes up —
in the morning her nipples
were found to be full
as if the milk would come —
fingers fingering, eyes eyeing
for the extra teat
to suckle my imps —
but later in the day
her breasts were slack,
as if milk had already been given
to someone or something —
Go ahead. Search me twice.
Twice, no witch’s teat.
Cart me away.
Pity my poor imps.
Quote (in italics) by Cotton Mather from http://www.legendsofamerica.com/ma-witches-k-n.html. Examiner’s note (in italics) from http://historyofmassachusetts.org/susannah-martin-accused-witch-from-salisbury
Wilmott Redd · Cindy Veach
Hanged, September 22, 1692
Local fisherman knew her as Mammy,
wife of Marblehead County of Essex
fisherman, Samuel Redd. Cranky
and poor she had only rags for dresses.
“Witch,” accused a neighbor after a dispute
over butter. It didn’t help that her
daughter was once married to that brute
George Burroughs who many liked to refer
to as ‘ringleader’ of the witches.
Mary, Mercy, Abigail fell into fits
and Ann swore she brought her the Book. Bitches!
When asked were they Bewitcht? She kept her wits.
All she would say was my opinion
is they are in sad condition.
Quotes (in italics) from Salem Witch Trials, Documentary Archive and Transcription Project (Essex County Archives, Salem – Vol. 2 Page 4) http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/texts/tei/BoySal3R?div_id=n114\
issue 9 · fall 2018 · page 3
Dust Cover · Bill Kemmett
City or the Boston Common,
The Blue Hills of Milton,
Massachusetts. This place though
is the far South, Indian River.
A country of nowhere. And here I am
very old―the youngest man in town.
Anybody can come and dip in.
This morning it’s watching a family
by the river, young enough not to
know this day plain and simple will
be the keeper, one of a handful tossed
into a corner of photos to highlight
something. And never to know I was there too.
Enjoying the one moment
in somebody else’s life. And all
of my history, never even in that
snapshot, aging in the attic, inasmuch
as a mouse long gone chewed the cover
of the box.
Three Fridas · Marc Frazier
Frida Kahlo painting “Las Dos Fridas”, 1939. Photo by Nickolas Muray
Frida, bright red flowers in her hair,
head tilted, off-white earrings dangling
paused to look at Nickolas/
brush and paint-blotched palette held
in her left hand she is two places at once:
caught on film in this snapshot moment
and the next stroke of her brush moving in her mind,
the large canvas of Las Dos Fridas
behind her, two stately-postured versions of herself
holding hands, clouds in a dark blue sky behind/
Nickolas wonders at the three Fridas before him
at the striking woman paused on her stool
the other two of her sitting in front of sky/
it is too much!
these many versions of one/
does holding hands prevent disappearing into clouds?
her painted selves live in her mind freely
till anchored in paint and canvas
Nickolas is confused for a moment
Which Frida is real?
Outlier · Rusty Barnes
asks: is the pain spiky?
I try to tell her
about the heart's ceaseless
the waves of hurt.
The grip and slog of it,
how every moment
feels like a (breath)
and every (breath) a bright
star of (pain).
No, I say.
Checkers · D.S. Maolalai
after you've got used
to each other's bodies,
no longer play against one another
like hockey sticks
chasing the puck.
into a heated swimming pool
or feeling arms reach out
quietly in bed.
such a fine chess-game,
knowing the moves,
the click of pieces,
simple as checkers.
we both play,
where the game is going
and early on,
how it's going to end;
neither of us
coming here to castle;
and do it now.
Exclusive in New York for Bergdorf Goodman · Cammy Thomas
On the front, a mysterious girl sits on an elephant.
She looks large or he small,
his fan-like ear brushing her knee.
Her long hair loosely braided,
she holds an elephant hook before her,
the way pharaohs hold an ankh.
The beast's tusks are curved and short,
its trunk long, open at the end,
twisted back toward her. This elephant
has toes like a cat, and his back knees point
backward, unlike any elephant ever seen.
The girl's feet are bare, her skin pale.
She wears a loose dress whose folds
drape his back, her face partly turned
toward me, her expression calculating.
Around the image, a hexagonal
decorative border, and outside that,
a gold rectangle, faded at the edges.
She’s stared at me for at least fifty years.
My Final Thought of You · William Schulz
the words but not the thing
This week alone the words cilantro,
Curtis Mayfield, actuary seemed
You, too, are there in a slight daydream,
a glimpse of a waning moon
on a sunny day.
A thunderstorm rises from Mount Blue
not 20 miles away. The birds and I
The stream is silent, hopeful. My breathing
slows as I count to measure the first
strike of lightning.