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Monthly Verse

A Sunken Home

into a sunken home made of seaweed and
rotten meat—the place where all the people I’ve been
live. They carry out their

lives swimming to the supermarket,
watching late night television while floating
etc. I am forever reminded of

their many eccentricities—always searching for
pity, for grandiosity, for obsequious love. I am

embarrassed by the pretentious hackneyed things
they say—the drugs they dissolve themselves in.
I look at all of them gathered together,

some dumb as apes, and sigh—cutting plastic fence

 

Tom Prime

Tom Prime lives in London, Ontario. He has been published in Vallum, Carousel, Ditch, and Stuart Ross's new magazine. He has just been accepted at the University of Victoria for his MFA in Creative Writing (Specializing in Poetry). Many of his poems discuss his experiences working in factories. This poem takes place in a plastic fence factory.

 

Hands

She came that way
plastic disfigured

her one leg the vision of a childhood
nightmare

hair the color
of dust motes pirouetting in the sun.

Those cobalt eyes
a slow disapproving midnight

glassy eager to nullify a world.

Plump arms peach-
skinned I turned

I turned them
by a swift crank of her palm.

I loved her as I loved
the girls in pristine stockings.

But I loved her
as though she were the only real thing.

Season of pure skin of bright
sensing as when Nội

gutted a trembling incisor
from my bottom row

threw it coldly over the rooftop...
Flooding pain

metal-red mouth doll
hands someday

your pain
will be useful

that sky
speaking in tongues

 

Alexandrine Vo

Alexandrine Vo was born in Quang Nam Province, Vietnam, and is currently living and working in New York City. A Gates Scholar, she holds an MFA from Boston University, and was a Robert Pinsky Global Fellow and a George Starbuck Fellow there. Her poems have been published in the U.S., England, Ireland, and France, appearing in Salamander, Poetry Ireland Review, Popshot Magazine, CALYX, and Bellevue Literary Review, among others. Her first collection, As Though We Are One, was chosen as Finalist for the Kundiman Poetry Prize 2015, and she is currently working on her second collection, The Gallant South. Find out more at maythefirst.net.

 

The flaw in the pattern

12 thoughts on wilderness, Overland Track, Tasmania – Day 5

  • 1. The deep blue bowl of sky, the microbial cities in the folds of my skin.
  • 2. Web, palimpsest, machine – nothing can capture it. All we can say is what it is not.
  • 3. Warping the laws of physics, time drifts with the continents and distance is measured by each species’ step.
  • 4. It is not untouched by us, yet finds us irrelevant.
  • 5. Here the leech and the midge are equal to the devil and quoll.
  • 6. To avoid sentences tangled with economic value and square acreage, the wild should be defined through non-human eyes, distilling its meaning to one simple word; essential.
  • 7. Stillness and death can be virtues.
  • 8. It keeps telling us the same thing yet never repeats itself.
  • 9. Memories are sketched with shadow, history scratched deep in the mountain’s bones.
  • 10. Solitude is a state of mind. You can never be alone.
  • 11. The only commandment is that all shall be connected.
  • 12. This is the home of a new genus of silence, a place where travel is tectonic grind, weather is never trivial and the present is the flaw in the pattern.

 

Rachel Mead

Rachael Mead is a South Australian poet. She has been published in literary journals in Australia and internationally and is the author of three poetry collections: Sliding Down the Belly of the World (Wakefield Press 2012), The Sixth Creek (Picaro Press 2013) and The Quiet Blue World (Garron Publishing 2015).

 

Simple riches

eating dehydrated food on the Overland Track, Tasmania – Day 4

Some things are so true we struggle to find their words.
Silent and unassuming, they are the meat of proverbs,
the foods we consume unthinking;
the grain in the flesh of the loaf,
the light crouched in each crystal of salt.

We have walked all day carrying only the cargo of the present.
The beauty of this land burns down my house, leaving me standing
with necessity on my back, desire in ashes at my feet,
the past and future just luggage waiting at end of the track.

Tonight, our meal is freeze-dried Nasi Goreng, a laboratory feast,
its ingredients a stir-fry of equations. At home this is unthinkable,
tasting of the chemistry of the kitchen, not the art. But here,
once the water has been poured and the bag is ripe and plump,
my taste buds flower, steam strokes my cheeks with lover’s breath.
We feast until glutted, then, languid in the afterglow, we lick
bowls and spoons slick with the salty aftertaste of satisfaction.

For really, what do we need? The truth is simple as water
and radiant as fire. To understand that sufficiency is wealth,
that all we need is right here and no heavier than we can carry.
And as the night falls like silt, to know that we will be held,
that there will be wind in the trees, there will be stars.

 

Rachel Mead

Rachael Mead is a South Australian poet. She has been published in literary journals in Australia and internationally and is the author of three poetry collections: Sliding Down the Belly of the World (Wakefield Press 2012), The Sixth Creek (Picaro Press 2013) and The Quiet Blue World (Garron Publishing 2015).

 

What happens in the dark

New Pelion campsite, Overland Track, Tasmania - Day 3

The night is a bedlam of black market activity.
Wind takes the trees by the collar and shakes them down for change.
Wombats crunch on button grass like Mafioso on cigar stubs.
Edgy pademelons rip at plants already nibbled back to the shoot.
I zip myself free of bag and tent. No suspects are in evidence
but I feel their presence, the way a poem can state the facts
but is more powerful for playing it close to the chest.
The moon adjusts its spotlight for interrogation.
Constellations gather around the Milky Way,
avoiding each others’ eyes.
They warm themselves by its glow, waiting for the inevitable.
Something always gives.
The wind holds its breath until the snitch cracks -
blazing its tinsel truth across the night.

 

Rachel Mead

Rachael Mead is a South Australian poet. She has been published in literary journals in Australia and internationally and is the author of three poetry collections: Sliding Down the Belly of the World (Wakefield Press 2012), The Sixth Creek (Picaro Press 2013) and The Quiet Blue World (Garron Publishing 2015).

 

Jamaican Honeymoon

Tomorrow your footprints will be raked clean,
today you are floating in the pool
With a frozen Pina Colada.

The pool waiters babble in patwa
While on the balcony a grackle pecks indignantly
At your remaindered breakfast.

Too much bagel, not enough toast.
The bluebird of happiness has darkened considerably,
Prefers champagne to rum, and wants you to know.

Your schedule today is severe:
History in the morning; Nature in the afternoon.
The Tour of Life here runs in reverse.

You will visit the Anglican Church of St. James
(Once the slave’s hospital). And later see the vault
Where the slaves burned Massa’s money —

And the cottonwood tree
Where the slaves were hanged.
No, you will not save the dolphins.

But while snorkeling at a meet and greet,
One frisky bull will hump your leg.
No sea urchins will give you a wedding gift

And the pedicurist knows all the
Ins and outs of pruning Jefe’s feet.
You will survive the couple’s scavenger hunt,

Drain martinis with a plasterer
From New Jersey, and sing one too many
Choruses at the piano bar.

Stumble graciously beneath the upturned palms
And pee merrily under the stars before dawn’s
Curly light greets you with its rosy hammer.

Your hangover will not go out with the tide,
But over dry toast you will follow the wiggling
Backside of a bridesmaid, jogging on the beach,

Powering up for her first Sunrise of the day.
Poolside, the ponytailed nonagenarian
From Cleveland will be attended to

So sweetly by his nursing Rasta queen.
And as Ackee trees bow down to meet you,
Peacocks will strut among the fancy deck chairs.

Such Paradise! A garden where Jah
Lets animals name themselves.
And the Ark never loses sight of land.

This trebled martini of a heaven,
A kingdom peaceable, where The Help
Speak in tongues with words

Which passeth all understanding.
Though what you hear is not for you to say.
It is Almighty Jah

Whispering to his sunburned children.
And the language He is speaking
Is the language of slaves.

 

D.G. Geis

D.G. Geis lives in Houston, Texas. He has an undergraduate degree in English Literature from the University of Houston and a graduate degree in philosophy from California State University. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in 491 Magazine, Lost Coast, Blue Bonnet Review, The Broadkill Review, A Quiet Courage, SoftBlow International Poetry Journal, Blinders, Burningword Literary Journal, Poetry Scotland (Open Mouse), Crosswinds, Scarlet Leaf, Sweet Tree, Atrocity Exhibition, Driftwood Press, Tamsen, Rat's Ass, Bad Acid, Crack the Spine, Collapsar, Grub Street, Slippery Elm, Ricochet, and The Write Place at the Write Time. He will be featured in a forthcoming Tupelo Press chapbook anthologizing 9 New Poets and is winner of Blue Bonnet Review's Fall 2015 Poetry Contest. He is editor-at-large of Tamsen.

 

In the wild

To Lake Windermere, Overland Track, Tasmania – Day 2

The light falls wildly over everything
and I can’t decide if we’re pilgrims or vagrants.
Newly attuned to the tension of my body’s wires,
shy tendons and muscles introduce themselves
and I’m sure I’ve discovered a new species of thirst.

TI walk weighted under a stranger’s BMI,
hips and knees moaning with compression.
So pilgrimage feels right, this desire to kneel,
to buckle under the weight of suburban sin
we’ve lugged with us into the wild.

TBut what is our sacrifice? The further we walk
the beautiful machines of our bodies rub away
their rust and as our feet roll the earth
beneath them, step by step, the load eases
on our minds and the spaces between our bones.

TWe are not asking for redemption. This is no
forty-day plan with a devil and a mountaintop.
This is just pure desire for quiet pieces of the world,
to touch something ancient and leave
only wonder and the barest fingerprint.

TWhat seemed necessary is sloughing away,
like the growth of tree rings in swift reverse. Now,
needing no more than what the curve of our ribs can hold
we make camp, vagrant pilgrims settled in our skins
as the dark falls wildly over everything.

 

Rachael Mead

Rachael Mead is a South Australian poet. She has been published in literary journals in Australia and internationally and is the author of three poetry collections: Sliding Down the Belly of the World (Wakefield Press 2012), The Sixth Creek (Picaro Press 2013) and The Quiet Blue World (Garron Publishing 2015).

 

These clouds that cap the world

Overland Track, Tasmania – Day 1

We set out, climbing towards the tight lid of clouds,
our whole week hanging from our collarbones.
This land casts at our feet its indifference to time,
unfurling like an old carpet, ragged and enormous.
We are superimposed here, stepping into an epic,
trees glowing in wet light, the sky flat as an ironed sheet.
Everything is so magnificent it feels ridiculous, like words
in the mouth of Dorothy Parker. This is beauty beyond
necessity, the way it usually is, but on its own terms,
the golden mean redundant and symmetry just a neat idea.

For seven days we will walk, each carrying our own burden
of what we think we need, our sweat and aching joints.
We tread the silvered vertebrae of the track
one foot after the other, learning the bleakness
of repetition. The sky drops on our heads,
fog enfolding us in silence and cold. Ahead,
I watch my lover’s shape dissolve then reappear
fiercer than ever, like love over time. I draw endurance
from my aquifer and keep on through this weather
that has nowhere better to be, striding among
these clouds that cap the world, my hair netting sky.

 

Rachael Mead

Rachael Mead is a South Australian poet. She has been published in literary journals in Australia and internationally and is the author of three poetry collections: Sliding Down the Belly of the World (Wakefield Press 2012), The Sixth Creek (Picaro Press 2013) and The Quiet Blue World (Garron Publishing 2015).

 

Each Thing That Has Been Taken
(Winchester Mansion: San Jose, California)

The dead do not care if their clothes catch & shred
on the wooden ribs of cypress hedge that guard
the widow’s six-acre mansion. What need is there for cover
when they move, resplendent in their own raw gore,
across the vast scalped lawn in its shroud of rusted starlight?

They stumble or crawl past the Serpent Fountain &
viridian crescent, past the bronze insult of “Chief Little Fawn”
grasping his impotent bow. They reopen their wounds
against the rough skin of painted redwood shingles,
scale four scalloped stories to the roof of this puzzle home &
one after one, claw their way down the soot-black throats
of its seventeen brick chimneys.

The dead are hell-bent on taking back each thing
that has been taken...each missing limb whose absence
echoes in the silver faces of two hundred Victorian mirrors...
each gaping chest that shrieks like a window left cracked
in a prairie storm…each shattered harp of rib & gristled spleen...
each this or that blown off or blown open by a Model 1873.

They have taken a vow to take their time, a blood toast
raised by each in turn to a slow descent into madness
for the one whose fortune was built on swift lever action,
whose days & nights of ceaseless hammer-fall sum up
her childish scheme of confusion or conciliation.

The dead have learned to savor the meanwhile,
to take the measure of incremental decline.
There is time enough to navigate the corridors &
twisted switchbacks, count to thirteen at each spindle &
webbed window, rifle through scrawled séance notes
kept by a wizened hand. Time enough for each to squeeze
the old woman’s sluggish heart as she rocks in her satin bed,
to keep her alive one more night & one more night—
until the last muzzle flash has been swallowed by starless
dark. Until the last cursed bullet has been named.

by Frank Paino

 

[Note: Sarah Winchester, widow & heiress to her husband’s firearms fortune, ordered continuous construction on her mansion in the belief it would either confuse or appease the spirits of all those killed by the Winchester Model 1873 rifle. Construction ceased upon her death, 38 years after the project commenced.]

 

Frank Paino

Frank Paino’s first two volumes of poetry were published by Cleveland State University Press: The Rapture of Matter (1991) and Out of Eden (1997). He’s received a Pushcart Prize and The Cleveland Arts Prize in Literature. He recently completed work on his third manuscript, Swallow.

 

Early Fragment

my leg is touching yours
the small leaves on the trees
                                    are making love.

by Yew San Cheah

Yew San Cheah

Yew San Cheah is a full-time student currently living in Hong Kong. He will soon be attending university in the United States.

 

Anonymous

      Because the sun sits on the horizon
I imagine a piano. I hate myself
      because I never took piano lessons. I
            hate that I
      didn’t just see you
at the Coke machine, or walking through the front yard
I know you played in once upon a time. Once in
      time. Upon the green
            leaves of grass.
      Because the sun hovers like

      a guitar’s note, I believe I can make
something like a symphony because the light, right
      before it leaves the day makes me, for
                  one second,
            able to admit
alcoholics do what we can when we can. And
when we can’t, we hide behind our eyes. People like
      us cast shadows when
            there’s no light.
      I am on the edge of asking you

      if you ever wish you could be the sound
a guitar-string makes the moment the finger leaves.
      I am a man you love to want, love
            to want to
      want, and I’m a man
who wants to say what he wants, a man afraid of wants.
Not for the part about the girl, but for the end.
      There’s always a girl.
            There’s always
      an end. You told me once you’d be

      the sound a doorstopper makes when it’s flicked.
I keep that under my hat. I keep the idea
      of love folded in my wallet, where
            I keep the
      invisible sounds
I’ve accumulated in the last thirty years. You
said, once, I should sit, write out my misguided head.
      I said I can’t fight
            anymore.
I hate it. It takes me out of
      everything. You said, Stop then; that easy.
I know, I said, I know, but I am not an easy man.
      And I hate that about myself. I’m
            forever
      walking a city
in my mind, a cold in the air acting as if
my Members Only jacket’s not leather, and I’m
       never looking up
            because I
      would have to leave my head. I am

      forever walking with the knowledge that
someone somewhere is playing the piano I
      never learned to play. In the moments
            when I can
      get over myself,
I can smile, and when I do I remember once
how I stood in a room lined with strangers and said
      my name, I didn’t know
            whether that
      city in my mind had a road

      leading back home, if I had a home,
and I remember thinking I was less concerned
      with concepts than concretes, remember
            feeling that
      difference in trusting
my thoughts and knowing I can enjoy them without
trusting them. The thoughts living in my heart are the
      least dependable
            thing I have.
      But this city I walk through, this

      cold in my fingers as I reach for my
cigarettes and lighter, these brown shoes beneath me,
they’ll just be fictions if I can’t walk
            in the door,
      take off my jacket,
unwrap my scarf, see home through the heat turned water
on my glasses, which I will drink forever if
      I can keep smiling
            when I can’t
      understand forgiveness’ shape.

by Christian Anton Gerard

Christian Anton Gerard

Christian Anton Gerard’s first book of poems is Wilmot Here, Collect For Stella (WordTech, CW Books, 2014). He’s received Pushcart Prize nominations, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference scholarships, an Academy of American Poets Prize, and the 2013 Iron Horse Literary Review’s Discovered Voices Award. Some of Gerard’s recent poems and essays appear in national and international literary journals such as, storySouth, Post Road, Thrush, Redivider, Orion, Smartish Pace, B-O-D-Y, and The Rumpus among others. He holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Tennessee and lives in Fort Smith, AR, where he’s an Assistant Professor of English, Rhetoric, and Writing at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith. Find Christian on the web at www.christianantongerard.com

 

Each Thing That Has Been Taken
(Winchester Mansion: San Jose, California)

The dead do not care if their clothes catch & shred
on the wooden ribs of cypress hedge that guard
the widow’s six-acre mansion. What need is there for cover
when they move, resplendent in their own raw gore,
across the vast scalped lawn in its shroud of rusted starlight?

They stumble or crawl past the Serpent Fountain &
viridian crescent, past the bronze insult of “Chief Little Fawn”
grasping his impotent bow. They reopen their wounds
against the rough skin of painted redwood shingles,
scale four scalloped stories to the roof of this puzzle home &
one after one, claw their way down the soot-black throats
of its seventeen brick chimneys.

The dead are hell-bent on taking back each thing
that has been taken…each missing limb whose absence
echoes in the silver faces of two hundred Victorian mirrors...
each gaping chest that shrieks like a window left cracked
in a prairie storm…each shattered harp of rib & gristled spleen...
each this or that blown off or blown open by a Model 1873.

They have taken a vow to take their time, a blood toast
raised by each in turn to a slow descent into madness
for the one whose fortune was built on swift lever action,
whose days & nights of ceaseless hammer-fall sum up
her childish scheme of confusion or conciliation.

The dead have learned to savor the meanwhile,
to take the measure of incremental decline.
There is time enough to navigate the corridors &
twisted switchbacks, count to thirteen at each spindle &
webbed window, rifle through scrawled séance notes
kept by a wizened hand. Time enough for each to squeeze
the old woman’s sluggish heart as she rocks in her satin bed,
to keep her alive one more night & one more night—
until the last muzzle flash has been swallowed by starless
dark. Until the last cursed bullet has been named.

[Note: Sarah Winchester, widow & heiress to her husband’s firearms fortune, ordered continuous construction on her mansion in the belief it would either confuse or appease the spirits of all those killed by the Winchester Model 1873 rifle. Construction ceased upon her death, 38 years after the project commenced.]

by Frank Paino

Frank Paino

Frank Paino's poems have appeared in a variety of literary publications, including: Gettysburg Review, North American Review, Crab Orchard Review, The Journal, Iowa Review and over seven anthologies, including, The Face of Poetry (University of California Press, 2006). He has received a number of literary awards, including a Pushcart Prize, the Katherine and Lee Chilcote Foundation Award for Excellence in Poetry and The Cleveland Arts Prize in Literature.

 

For The Years

Springs

Here returns a sky of broken clay pots, clamouring
for my attention amid the memories of snow.
Our prayers for a crack in the clouds above answer
me in realisations: all of these are moving south,
and soon you will see them too. A new bird breaks my sight.

Summers

A pause chased my lip: it seems you
weigh your heat with consequence when
all has bloomed, and starts to dry:
you said something else too: you chose
to remove the sunlight on your tongue, that thing
which formed a family, pulled us close:
still life streams and we become you:
an image, too: there were once days like this –
our mouths moved and music came:

Autumns

these feet, bridging
something gone and something not so -
all roots return. The trees do their trick,
pretending to die.
Days to come, unseen,
we get on our knees and dry and curl
before the mists descend
with all their clatter.

Winters

January slid through her fingers, weeks ago. Soon there was
nothing left of it – they said „it is happen-
-ing to me too” they said „don’t even panic” but
for one; the days are not lengthening, not
springing up sooner. For her; quite
the opposite occurs.

by Benjamin Mitrofan-Norris

Benjamin Mitrofan-Norris

Benjamin Norris is a poet from Bristol, UK, whose work regularly appears in a wide range of literary journals on both sides of the Atlantic. His latest collection – Severn / Sea, a series of symbolist pieces following the course of the great river which separates England from Wales, and the poet’s childhood from his loss of innocence was released in 2014. Until recently, Benjamin was lecturer in Indian Architectural History at the University of Budapest, and now runs and teaches at a small English language school in the west of England.

 

NEWS FROM THE WAR, THE TREES CATCH FIRE

The annual fireworks display’s gone wrong.
Rockets launched in seeming safety from a barge
send red and blue florets and golden pinwheels
into neighbor’s trees, where sparklers fall like hot rain
trimming the elms with gray wreaths and blackened fruit,
the leaves aflame before their funerals come
a few months more. The cinders cartwheel into a field
on the banks of the Rhode, transforming a Maryland river
into the Rhône with patches of red, Dutch green and mauve.

The barrage goes on all night. I can almost touch the colors streaking
the portlights of our boat. We turn off the latest news on the radio
so as not to offend other sailors, while hoping the pasture grass
won’t light from a stray spark or misdirected rocket.
We sit disconnected, so independent in our little boats
we no longer fear the glow, grateful that nothing catches.
When the darkness returns, the noise of laughing voices spoils
across the water, mixes with shouts and horns
blaring at holiday’s end. The Fourth, a close call, then silence.

by Michael Salcman

Michael Salcman

MICHAEL SALCMAN, poet, physician and art historian, was chair of neurosurgery at the University of Maryland. Recent poems appear in Alaska Quarterly Review, Hopkins Review, The Hudson Review, New Letters, Ontario Review, and Rhino. Poetry books include The Clock Made of Confetti, nominated for The Poet's Prize, and The Enemy of Good Is Better (Orchises, 2011); Poetry in Medicine, his anthology of classic and contemporary poems on doctors and diseases has just been published (Persea Books, 2015).

 

After Mike Wallace’s Interview with Salvador Dali, 1958

I.

“At the base of all my thoughts are cauliflowers and rhinoceros horns.”

The logarithmic spiral is a type of perfection as is chastity.
In these modern times symbols are powerful, and I am a genius.
And so I am as sexless, self-similar and ancient as a fern.
I see an inverted abyssal trench in every rhino’s horn.
But I wear my diving helmet and walk on stilts.
See the rhino’s horn comes to a tip so it must be erotic.
And it is made from keratin, which is in my hair and in my nails,
So when I look down at my hands I see the moon’s reflections
And know God is tremendous and I can’t hide and am afraid.

I am afraid of ocean liners and grasshoppers.
I am afraid of ocean liners because they are luxurious and decadent
But do not sink to the bottom of the ocean.
I am afraid of grasshoppers because, although they are marvelous,
They chirp sexually, imperfectly and in dissonant tonalities.

II.

“I adore three things: luxury, old age, and weakness.”

Time is Camembert and angels are the cheese makers.
And because we are still in the atomic age these are anti-matter angels.
Our deaths will be bumpy, grey-skinned and beautiful.
Not erotic, but sublime, with the indulgence of feet swept off the ground.
See life is an ugly, horned striptease of blinding, binding libido.
I covered myself in evil smelling fish paste and glued myself to my lover.

In my adolescence, I kicked a legless beggar and loved the monarchy.
Then I wanted to become the next Napoleon, but I grew up.
Then I wanted to become a woman cooking something freshly caught.
But I discovered I was allergic to all the shellfish in the ocean.

I am still surprised when I order a steak and a lobster
And am not served a cooked, black rotary telephone.

by Austin Sanchez-Moran

Austin Sanchez-Moran

Austin Sanchez-Moran has just completed his MFA with a concentration in poetry at George Mason University. He lives in Washington, D.C. This is his first publication.

 

The End of Science

After the burr of your eye, soft as undergrowth
                                                                        but lit through

with fluorescence; remember
I was descending a long hallway

                                                                        with the tips
of my fingers lightly touching the dim walls;

it was the finished piece with its case broken open
                                                               and its bankruptcy airing

in the cold summer morning winds circling
in large drifts with their reedy vibrations

                                                               through the ruins
of the warehouse; our fraudulent reification, the

improbability of the physical, stringing the keys
                                                               we levered

from the console or ourselves a little thin and bruised,
tangled in long bands of force.

                                                           After the speech
and its adherents; after the glossary; after the know-it-all

and the caliper, the optic formula, the plating, the wave
                                                               as it lived there on paper

and the desk you had fallen through until it was
the middle of the night and I said to myself

                                                               I would go looking.

by Ryo Yamaguchi

Ryo Yamaguchi

Ryo Yamaguchi is the author of The Refusal of Suitors, published by Noemi Press in 2015. His work has appeared in journals such as The Iowa Review, Tin House, American Letters & Commentary, and Barrow Street, among others. He lives in Chicago where he works at the University of Chicago Press. You can visit him at plotsandoaths.com.

 

echo

                aftermath comes to
                light that way.

                before the startling
                                of an overheard

                bubble

 

                or fission-haired
                wildflower

                gives out entirely

you talk in your sleep .          the elevator doesn’t

hold together

 

between who we were there is an

invisible girl.

by Marco Maisto

Marco Maisto

Marco Maisto is author of The Loneliness of the Middle-Distance Transmissions Aggregator, a series of poems that won the 2014 Kay Murphy Prize. He attended the Iowa Writer’s Workshop MFA program in poetry. With Michael Chaney, he recently guest edited a folio of poetry comix/animation for Drunken Boat. Marco’s most recent work has appeared or will appear soon in Spry, Drunken Boat, Rhino (Editor's Prize Finalist), Heavy Feather Review, and Small Po[r]tions. He lives in NYC. Find out more at marcomaisto.com.

 

Iliac Furrow

roethke knew a woman

anagnorisis between lines

penciled by freyja

foreshadowing fascina mines

freckled with pompatus

framed by calvin kleins

I know the woman

because I know her lines

by Robert A. Kaufman

Robert A. Kaufman

Robert A. Kaufman graduated from Brown and served as a Fulbright Scholar in Oslo. FD magazine published his first two poems. Robert is currently a MALS student at Dartmouth studying poetry.

 

On Being Wakened by a Porcupine In Maine

I get lucky, one ride all the way from
Bangor. The truck groans over dried mud
swells, springs bottomed out, tappets
clicking. The woods are so dense I can
feel the air pushing ahead of us in a bow
wave. When asked “Where you heading?”
what can I say? I share a couple of beers
at the fish camp, then I start walking.

It’s good being a little drunk out here,
weaving between the trunks. When I stop
I know that no one has stood here before,
despite the stumps and blue cutting tape.
I throw my voice out ahead, wait for a response—
nothing but night against bark. Through
a gap in the trees the sky proceeds in
a narrow band of stars toward the Atlantic,
threaded along a needle of moonlight.
Under my feet, worlds give on to worlds.

It’s not being alone I’m looking for,
but being content alone. A dog by the fire.

I follow a creek up the side of the first
slope I come to, a mountain sheared
bed-flat at its crest. Fingers of knobbed
branches and ash-dry roots catch at my
cuffs, one step back for each two up.
By the time I reach the top I’m worn out—
but there’s Katahdin, bowing the sky as
he shifts from foot to foot, nothing fixed
but the stubborn pivot of the North Star.

I imagine a line between it and me that
then crosses the little pond to loop around
a stunted pine on the opposite shore. I
swing from it in a wide ellipse, the sky
blurring and streaking, walk its tightrope
above the water stippled with light. No one
is there to see my acrobatics but a porcupine
I don’t notice, head tucked tightly under,
balled into a nest of sticks and wattles.

And Katahdin, shoulders hunched to shield
the day’s first light from the wind.

The cold laps, sifting through the zipper
of my sleeping bag. The buzz has worn off,
all I taste is the can’s metal like a bitten lip.
The stars hover and taunt, but still I will
sleep, as I slept often in those days, at arm’s
length from the rest of the world. And I
will watch, from a vantage somewhere forward
as the porcupine emerges from the brush,
sniffs the air, then follows across the sleeping
continent the warm stream of my breath.

by Jeff Ewing

Jeff Ewing

Jeff Ewing’s poetry has appeared in ZYZZYVA, Chattahoochee Review, Harpur Palate, Barrow Street, Beloit Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. He lives in Sacramento, California with his wife and daughter.

 

Special

The feeling that I’m not special
overtakes me more and more.

In her eighties, a movie star
writes a book called “ME!”
No question, she feels special.
A man I know tells me he’s dumped
his girl-friend of seven years.
“Imagine she wanted ME to marry her,
as if she were something special!”

When I make a date, friends expect me
to travel to a convenient place
for them. I do it once, twice, thrice.
When I balk, they say, “some other time.”
I guess they believe themselves to be special.

I know it’s not always a quid pro quo,
at least not with the same people.
What troubles me is that I am,
personally (or is it in the abstract?),
losing this feeling of feeling special.
Maybe it’s okay, maturity at last, or is it
What’s commonly perceived as getting old?

I arrive at the end of this cerebration,
feeling as if I’m at the bottom of a pit
out of which I must climb. I begin
to think of myself as part of nature,
perhaps recycled like sap traveling
up a giant sequoia, a chloroplast
trapping oxygen from the air.

But here I sit displacing space,
drinking coffee, craving cherries,
an itch at the top of my head.
Must think of ways to feel special,
(not all the time, not a lot).
Get rid of some of this maturity.

by Helen Tzagoloff

Helen Tzagoloff

Helen Tzagoloff poems and short fiction have been published in Barrow Street, Poetry East, Poetry Lore, Blueline, Evansville Review and other journals and anthologies. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and was the winner of the Icarus International Literary Competition in honor of the Wright Brothers.

 

Apocalypse With Victrola

Someday we will both be honest

but for now the Victrola in your cellar

will have to do. We crank the winding

key. You don’t own any records, no 45s,

so the green felt must spin into green

felt. We lift its iron needle arm, judge

its barbaric weight. We say this only

to you, and you listen. In time, all things

must become dull. We drop the needle

to the felt, and static electricity lights

up the cellar for a blue moment. Yes,

every honest thing will dull in time.

by Brian Clifton

Brian Clifton

Brian Clifton lives in Kansas City Missouri. He is the co-editor of Bear Review. His work can be found in The Denver Quarterly, The Pinch, burntdistrict, The Laurel Review, and other magazines.

 

Vasoconstriction

Tighten your beltway. Each notch a sphere without escape–
over a bridge and dropped back into the concentric circles.
If you create enough forward motion to escape the centrifuge,
you can skip all those pink-petaled cherry trees, head straight
for the ocean. If not, you get sucked into yet another white city
where every monument is a memory and a lesson in history;
but it’s all someone else’s, someone’s ghostdreams of empires,
someone’s long-drowned ship. The radials make you think all
roads lead to the center. You forget they stretch out and away.

by Jenny Morse

Jenny Morse

Jenny Morse completed her PhD at the University of Illinois—Chicago and currently teaches at Colorado State University. Her poetry has been published in Notre Dame Review, Wilderness House, Quiddity, Yemassee, and Terrain. Her critical work has appeared in Seismopolite, The Montreal Review, The Ofi Press, and the Journal of Contemporary Thought.

 

Egret

Such an ugly word,
for a delicate bird;
so growling in its evocation
it stirs up the unfamiliar
opposite of winged flight:

that instant sinking
of a bloated belly,
a head ducking out of view
beneath a countertop covered in empties;
a date, settled on, that is arrived at
and remains tepid and hollow
by unplanned events.

We wished for an autumn
that would transpire with grace
to slice across turning
leaves, dry foot paths,
to another year
and an other.

Unconvincingly separate,
we exist in this way
save for confrontation –

the simple mirror of our hands,
of a look, outside
the parameters of weather
is met. And I am billowing
into the next season, emptying gutters
and recycling bins of what’s
carried over from the mornings after.

by Allison LaSorda

Allison LaSorda

Allison LaSorda lives in Parkdale, Toronto. She holds a MA in English and Creative Writing from University of New Brunswick. Her poetry and nonfiction can also be read in Grain, The Rusty Toque, The Fiddlehead, and The Malahat Review.

 

IN SPRING
Translated by Jay Hopler

Quietly, the snow disappears from the dark steps.
In the shadows of trees,
Lovers lift their rosy eyelids.
Always they follow the dark calling of the boatman,
The stars and the night.
And the oars strike the water gently, in time.
Soon, by the ruined wall, violets
Will bloom. The Temple of the Desolate
Turns green so silently.

by George Trakl

 

IM FRÜHLING
Original by George Trakl

Leise sank von dunklen Schritten der Schnee,
Im Schatten des Baums
Heben die rosigen Lider Liebende.
Immer folgt den dunklen Rufen der Schiffer
Stern und Nacht;
Und die Ruder schlagen leise im Takt.
Balde an verfallener Mauer blühen
Die Veilchen,
Ergrünt so stille die Schläfe des Einsamen.

by George Trakl

Georg Trakl

Georg Trakl was born in Salzburg, Austria, in 1887, and seems to have been suicidal almost from the moment of his birth. As a young child, he threw himself in the path of a galloping horse; when that failed, he tried to jump in front of a train. A short time later, he walked into a lake and was rescued only when someone noticed his hat floating away. His adolescence and brief adulthood were marked by bouts of serious mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, a possibly incestuous relationship with his sister, and near-constant personal and professional failure. His first book, Gedichte (Poems), was published in 1913. He died a year later in a psychiatric hospital in Krakow where he was sent for observation after nearly suffering a mental collapse. Whether his death was the result of suicide or was an accidental overdose of cocaine is not known. His second book, Sebastian im Traum (Sebastian in Dream), was published posthumously.

 

Jay Hopler

Jay Hopler’s poetry, essays, and translations have appeared most recently, or are forthcoming, in The Literary Review, The New Republic, and The New Yorker. Green Squall, his first book of poetry, won the 2005 Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. His most recent book is Before the Door of God: An Anthology of Devotional Poetry (edited with Kimberly Johnson, Yale University Press, 2013). The recipient of numerous honors including fellowships and awards from the Great Lakes Colleges Association, the Lannan Foundation, the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation, and the American Academy of Arts & Letters/the American Academy in Rome, he is Associate Professor of English at the University of South Florida.

 

Ode to Mathematics

The integer is a beautiful concept.
After zero’s empty mouth,

1’s declarative stance,
the seduction of 2, the promise

of 3—whole numbers,
the totality of individuals

separated by infinite divisions.
Yet e always strikes a chord with me,

the base of natural logs,
transcendental constant always

approaching infinity, always limited
by its function, as we all are,

less famous than π, but just as irrational.
Each day is a limited sequence

that transcends the algebraic simplicity
of the golden ratio: the spiraled conch shell,

Da Vinci’s De Divina Proportione,
the equation of the human form,

the mathematics of 32 teeth inlaid
in a single mouth whose function

is argument and the assignment
of value to particular domains—

young and old, rich and poor,
simple or complex.

by Jake Young

Fjords Reviews Artists - Jake Young Jake Young

Jake Young lives in Santa Cruz, California, and received his MFA from North Carolina State University. His most recent work appears or is forthcoming in Miramar, PANK, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture, and the 2014 Voices Israel annual poetry anthology. Jake is a Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators, and he writes about food, wine and culture on his blog True Terroir: A Wine Blog. This spring he attended the 2014 Djerassi Resident Artists Program. Jake is also the poetry editor for the Chicago Quarterly Review.

 

Medicine Spitter - Robin Richardson The Balloonist

There was a balloonist from Madison,
Who refused, when we told him to jettison.
He got dówn in his basket, and said, “If you ask it
Again, I will spit up my medicine.”

by Anthony Madrid

AUTHOR'S BIO

Fjords Reviews Artists - Anthony Madrid Anthony Madrid

ANTHONY MADRID lives in Chicago. His poems have appeared in Best American Poetry 2013, B O D Y, Boston Review, Fence, Lana Turner, LIT, and Poetry. His first book is called I AM YOUR SLAVE NOW DO WHAT I SAY (Canarium Books, 2012).

 

ILLUSTRATOR'S BIO

Robin Richardson

Robin Richardson is the author of Knife Throwing Through Self-Hypnosis (ECW Press, 2013) and Grunt of the Minotaur (Insomniac Press, 2011). Her work has been shortlisted for the CBC Poetry Award and has won the John B. Santoianni Award (awarded by The Academy of American Poets) and the Joan t. Baldwin Award. She holds an MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence, and a BA in illustration from OCAD University. She currently divides her time between Toronto and New York.

You Be the Skipper, I’ll Be the Sea

This time of year, Agamemnon’s
tomb is swarming with Beliebers.
If I was your boyfriend, Clytemnestra...
What’s the theme of this one, teacher?

Like gold-leaf masked talismans,
we raised our iPhones in the dark.
Our ringtones were a Greek chorus
calling from the hive to lion guards.

Said: I'm a novel with the pages uncut.
Someone flipped me open and had enough.
Now reading me rips me in two.

What’s a poem for? What’s it to you?

Who said size don’t matter lied.
The shaft of the cistern in the hillside
had me on my hands and knees.
I lapped up clay with my teeth.

We were catamarans in my last fantasy,
moved in this world like a stone over sea.
You stole me away from the treasury.
Freedom, Siri, was a machine.

by Cassidy McFadzean

Fjords Reviews Artists - Cassidy McFadzean Cassidy McFadzean

Cassidy McFadzean’s work has appeared in CV2, Vallum, Carousel, Arc,and The Fiddlehead. In 2013 she was a finalist for the Walrus Poetry Prize and the CBC Poetry Prize. Born in Regina Saskatchewan, Cassidy is currently an MFA candidate at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Pleasure

The children took sloppy spoonfuls of lemon lush
they called lemon slush behind her back.
They shirked the tart dessert, left to play on the back porch,
and shoveled it through lattice skirting.

The grandma snuck a can of Bud into the punch,
clouding the taste with scoops of sherbert.
She watched the kids wobble and get sleepy,
dip grubby fingertips into a dish of stale mints.

The parents brought up the past in predictable slights and smiles,
clucked through teeth and eyes tainted by wine.
They bragged about the children’s bowel habits and birthdays.
They ate the lemon lush without tasting it.

When dinner gave way to dishes
the children wanted to know anew
about the mounted buck, its eight points jutting from the wall.
They waited for the grandma to pantomime plucking out eyeballs,
her inexpert taxidermy, followed by their frightened question:

Can it still see us? And her abiding reply: I don’t know.

By Micaela Mascialino

Fjords Reviews Artists - Micaela Mascialino Micaela Mascialino

Micaela Mascialino holds an MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College and an MS in Narrative Medicine from Columbia University. Her poems have appeared in Barbaric Yawp, The Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine, The Anthology of New England Writers, and Four Way Review.

ITINERARY (NEW COLOSSUS)

One dream I have is the voice of the statue is gunfire.
Mother calls, the landlord calls—the line is silent.
I watch myself decompose in the mirror a minute.
I check for bites. I check nothing’s left of the oats.
I wait for a word to appear in my alphabet soup.
My friends swoop down like owls and fly into the wall.
Tell me what I owe, and screech, and fly into the wall.
I wash myself and think how mother dressed a wound.
I dress myself and think how father cleaned a fish.
Heidegger tells me three dangers threaten thinking:
one I call liberty, one I call oats, one I call what I owe.
Soon the landlord will come and admire my soot.
His heaps, he wonders, which of his heaps will he bless?
His hand inside my hand is like holding a handful
of poppies, or a handkerchief a child dipped in milk.
When I leave I’ll count the women without children.
If I don’t I’ll count their children’s broken guns.
The train to work will stall beneath the river.
I’ll try not to say how close the end of self comes:
like a handful of poppies, or the bowl they rest in,
or the water filling them both—each possesses
nothing the water coming through the window won’t.
Soon I have a dream I take the city down with me.
I strike the name of my company from the building.
A friend writes the word wisteria and disappears.
The elevator falls a story—I use this word god.
A man I’ve met introduces himself and collapses.
Soon the bees forget. Soon the colony collapses.
I tell one of the workers to tell me how she works.
How I work is my business, she says, and collapses.
Home I undress how my father rinses an apple.
I rinse my mouth how my mother undresses a man.
The play I see is the man playing me collapses.
The woman I see is the voice of a gun when it backfires.
One dream I have is you visit me, Emma Lazarus.
One must bless his heaps is all you’ll tell me.
One I call colony, one I call soon, one I call what collapses.

By Danniel Schoonebeek

Fjords Reviews Artists - Danniel Schoonebeek Danniel Schoonebeek

Danniel Schoonebeek’s first book of poems, American Barricade, is out now from YesYes Books. A chapbook, Family Album, is also available from Poor Claudia. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry, Tin House, Boston Review, Fence, BOMB, Indiana Review, Guernica, jubilat, Gulf Coast, Denver Quarterly, and elsewhere. He writes a column on poetry for The American Reader, hosts the Hatchet Job reading series, and edits the PEN Poetry Series.

* This poem originally appeared in Maggy, a Literary Journal

Yarrow

There's the country somewhere outside the car.
The country where the maple fucks the elm
and the elm broods as if auditioning
for a new PBS mini-series.

There's a poetry where trees don't have sex,
when the yarrow observed from a car seat
can stand in, plain image, plain symbol,
and not be you observing me as overweight.

Outside, as the yarrow whips by, are towns
where Canadians happily live their lives,
unperturbed by those who were excluded
from Timmy's Can-Lit Bits Anthology.

Inside, the steady beat of George Strait songs,
coffee with diet hazelnut creamer.
Maybe I shouldn't have said anything
about the maple which gets so leafy.

By David McGimpsey

Fjords Reviews Artists - David McGimpsey David McGimpsey

David McGimpsey lives in Montreal and is the author of several collections of poetry including Li'l Bastard, a nominee for the Governor General's Award for Poetry. He is also the author of the short fiction collection Certifiable and the award-winning critical study Imagining Baseball: America's Pastime and Popular Culture. Named by the CBC as one of the “Top Ten English language poets in Canada”, David's work was also the subject of the book of essays Population Me: Essays on David McGimpsey. A PhD in American Literature, David McGimpsey teaches in the English Department of Concordia University.

My Bonnie

Whereas,   my Bonnie lies over the ocean,   & whereas,
                                       my Bonnie lies over the sea,
  & whereas stated earlier,
my Bonnie lies over the ocean,   it is hereby decreed
                              my Bonnie be brought back to me.
 If she be brought back to me
but express no desire to remain within my approximate vicinity,
  she will be duly released
from any & all previously pledged attachments  to my present & future self,
  though all past memories will be permitted
to continue residing  within the darker recesses of my brain.

Said brain  will be ordered not to languish on the contradictory feelings
                               arising from her abandonment & rejection.
  Likewise,
any residual pining  emanating from my sentimental heart
  will be determined
to be in strict violation of my general welfare  & thus harshly sanctioned.

 If, on the other hand,
Bonnie were to be brought back to me  & in agreement
                                     regarding our shared destiny,
  immediate nuptials will be in order,
though due to our lengthy separation,  supervised visitation
  may be necessary
to prevent  an overabundance of volatile emotions:
  My Bonnie & me
will arrange said schedule  in the matter most convenient to both of us.

If my Bonnie & me  were to engage in any activity  deemed unseemly
                                     of our premarital positions,
  the extended members of our families
will be duly consulted  & elaborate the proper course of action.

Moreover, if my Bonnie & me  were to be separated by an ocean  or sea
                                   or any other  vast body of water,   both of us will be entitled
to bring back the other  or be brought back,  whatever the case may be.

By Jonathan Greenhause

Fjords Reviews Artists - Jonathan Greenhause Jonathan Greenhause

Jonathan Greenhause is a Pushcart Prize nominee, his poetry appearing or scheduled to appear in The Believer, Cream City Review, New Delta Review, The South Carolina Review, and Water-Stone Review, among others. His 1st chapbook, "Sebastian's Relativity", is being released in autumn 2011 through Chicago's Anobium Books.

Belly

Old man's belly,
voluptuous bag,
thou shadest my dong.

lift thee up
to zip and snap,
to aim my whiz.

Cover my lap,
stretch my shirt,
pop buttons off.

On elevators, push.
fill airplane seats,
spread. Take root.

I planted thee,
fed and sheltered thee,
thou child of table-love.

By Orson Scott Card

Frog

Even this wise frog
has probably mistaken
a ditch for a pond.

By Randi Ward

Randi Ward reads "Frog"

Fjords Reviews Artists - Randi Ward Randi Ward

Randi Ward is a writer, translator, lyricist and photographer from West Virginia. She earned her MA in Cultural Studies from the University of the Faroe Islands in 2007. Her work has appeared in The Bitter Oleander, Beloit Poetry Journal, Anthology of Appalachian Writers, Vencil: Anthology of Contemporary Faroese Literature and other publications. For more information, please visit her website: www.randiward.com/about.

First time

A buffet of young flesh,
fresh off of the plane...
The dark room smells of mold
and pesticides, men,
and Lucky Strike clouds.

Her body held against damp sheets,
she can't leave;
The weight of the manacles
pin her down tight.
She was singled out.

Her countenance soft,
she was made to feel special,
and then forcefully tamed.
Insignificant, her fingers
dig deep underground,

as she wishes and dreams
to just be the wasp on the wall.
Her fingers pinched
between the springs,
her hands grip tight.

Later with a bruised cheek
and black eye,
she's the ugly fruit for sale
on the market counter.
Descending into hell, her hair is pulled;

she's forced face down, restrained.
With neither names nor handshakes,
this is just a business exchange.

By Kristina Blaine

Kristina Blaine reads "First time"

Fjords Reviews Artists - Kristina Blaine Kristina Blaine

Kristina Blaine is a 2007 graduate of The Ohio State University. She is currently earning her MFA in poetry at Carlow University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and recently completed a residency at Trinity College in Dublin. In her other life, Kristina is a lead researcher for The Center for Neuropolicy and the Computation and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at Emory University. In addition to her current work in Fjords Review, her poetry may be found in Burningword Quarterly Literary Magazine and forthcoming in The Broken Plate.

A Song of Exile

I

The River Begins as
A thread of water clinging
To sandstones and clay.
It burbles childishly,
Content to reflect
The sides of the gully,
Frolics down the altitude
Of moor into the valley
Water stained the colour
Of old blood, until at last
The trees smear themselves into place.
Snot coloured moss.
The Birch a smudge of chalk.
Javelins of Couch grass.
Over each weir
Its waters nervously simper,
Moving, yet motionless,
Perspex bells,
They chime
Into the waft of lace,
Foam of champagne.
Yet still
The river descends and falls
Towards the estuary,
A song line of DNA.

By Stephen Komarnyckyj

Stephen Komarnyckyj reads "A Song of Exile"

Fjords Reviews Artists - Steven Komarnyckyj Stephen Komarnyckyj

Stephen Komarnyckyj is a British-Ukrainian writer and linguist whose literary translations and poems have appeared in Poetry Salzburg Review, the influential poetry magazine based at the University of Salzburg, Vsesvit Magazine (Ukraine's most influential literary journal), The North, The Echo Room and Modern Poetry in Translation. He has been interviewed on Ukrainian television and by the Den (Day) newspaper, one of Ukraine's most important daily papers based in the capital, Kyiv, and campaigns to raise awareness of the genocide perpetrated by Stalin against the Ukrainian people and to improve the human rights situation in Ukraine. He is currently based in Huddersfield, a town that has been referred to as "the Poetry Capital" of the United Kingdom.

Bone Calligraphy

I am an admirer of bones
elemental, uncomplicated
stalks wrapped in a mortal envelope
that carry the fruit and leaves
of the living spread and bloom.

When I die, I want my bones
to be sanded down to something
fundamental, the color of eggshell
or moon face, crushed to cinder meal
and fed to fish in a mountain lake.

I want my right forearm
to be tossed around at sea
until the gritty waves
carve a fine point on one end
so I can write messages
to you on the grainy floor
from my aquatic grave.

By Donelle Dreese

Donelle Dreese reads "Bone Calligraphy"

Fjords Reviews Artists - Dani DiCenzo Donelle Dreese

Donelle Dreese is the author of two poetry collections: A Wild Turn (Finishing Line Press), and Looking for a Sunday Afternoon (Pudding House Publications). Her poetry and fiction have appeared in publications such as Quiddity International, Hospital Drive, Appalachian Heritage, Runes, Gulf Stream Magazine, Journal of Microliterature, Gadfly Online, and ISLE . She is an Associate Professor of English at Northern Kentucky University.

Lot #274 The Taxidermist's Son Runs, "Ole' Crockett"

He imagines they are more at home in the alley– behind Cavitt's diner–where they hold meetings.
Teddy Layfee, eagle scout, sneaks out fat, cowboy stogies
& they feel older smoking between swigs of Coke-a-Cola.
The Taxidermist's Son keeps the minutes. In a mason jar
crickets and June bugs flicker-muddy color pebbles
behind rough gloss-at his side. He grabs up the jar,
giving it a shake, then looking in. Some are dead,

a risk of catching up tiny lifelings, making them your
pets, a risk the boys more willingly take each day. They stay
out late, run into Danny Boone uprooting coxcombs
from a sidewalk planter. He lost his milk and honey
& swears he'd do anything to get her back, even if
it meant he might die before his time of death.

By Dani DiCenzo

Fjords Reviews Artists - Dani DiCenzo Dani DiCenzo

Dani DiCenzo is currently the Poetry Editor for Lake Effect, Pennsylvania State University's Literary Journal, where she will receive her Undergraduate Degree in Creative Writing for Poetry and Nonfiction in Spring 2013. During her undergraduate studies, Dani was named a 2011 and 2012 Chautauqua Scholar, earning her the opportunity to work with authors Denise Duhamel and Martín Espada, and was chosen as a finalist for the 2012 Erie County Poet Laureate. Fjords Review will be home for Dani's first publication.

For the Ravens

Don't you know I would give anything
to be one of you?

Don't you know
how desperate I am

to fly out of this skin?
I don't belong here,

and if you don't even know
I exist,

I don't belong
anywhere.

Sometimes I perch on my porch railing
and wonder if I wished

hard enough
and jumped,

if feathers would push through my pores,
if my bones would realign,

if I could pump my new-formed wings,
defy gravity, and join you

in your tree. I stalk you
in my free moments,

talk to you in parking lots,
and the whole world thinks I'm mad.

The least you could do,
from time to time,

is look at me.

By Drusilla NicGowan

Drusilla NicGowan reads "For the Ravens"

Fjords Reviews Artists - Jessica Jewell Drusilla NicGowan

Drusilla NicGowan just received her MFA in poetry at North Carolina State University. She has had several poems published recently and won Honorable Mention in NCSU's Academy of American Poets Award. She is now back at her home in Tennessee, reunited with her husband, two cats, and three Great Danes.

Grammar as Glue

First, assemble the Manifest Destiny engine,
Securing it with bolts that allow for expansion
And applying from the bottle that's red, white, and blue
The laissez-faire spirit gum grammar-and-usage glue.

The first person is I, whose object
Is me, and mine is the possessive.

Warning: besides faux prairies and waves of grain,
The Nation-Like-No-Other kit contains
Small parts that may be a choking hazard to children,
Flag pins and various amulets of the chosen.

I possess all that I own becomes
All that I possess is mine.

Fasten the Shining City to the Hill,
Ensuring the nuts are secure. With the Leveraged Capital
Rubberband, stretch an elastic liberty
Until it nearly snaps, from sea to sea.

To intensify the pronoun I
Simply use the reflexive myself:

Remove the armaments from the Mission Parts-tree
Preserving any excess for wires, antennae-
Remember, it's a short step from a hoarder's
Notion box to resplendent new world orders.

I saw myself in the mirror. The first
Person is I, the second you.

After assembly, register your exceptional
Nation with an authority that is supernal.
Mail in the number inscribed on the tin bracket
To the Boss of Providence in the Free Market.

The third and last is he-she-it.

By Phillip Fried

Phillip Fried reads "Grammar as Glue"

ANCIENT HUNGARIAN

I had already been in the air for fourteen hours
the day we met. Fourteen hours and six meals
and three bags of miniature wheat pretzels
that tasted like Pennsylvania Dutch hand-crafted
cardboard and someone's salty fingertips.
Six meals and three bags of pretzels and four
still waters because once I saw a story
about how drinking wine on the plane
can dehydrate you and soda in any form
can make your stomach explode. You brought lilies
with stems longer than your whole upper body
that covered your face and bark-brown eyes.
Through the Danube and into your arms, fourteen
hours from Ohio and the gas station
where I left my sunglasses before buying two packs
of gum so my ears wouldn't explode at 35,000 feet.
You held me and I felt another world in your arms,
coming home again after four generations.
The Roman stonemasons and mad mathematicians,
the Turks and Germans storming the Bastian,
the peasant revolts, the banned playwrights
and revolutionaries, churchgoers and landowners,
the metals miners, student bakers, the women
who hid the vines in the monastic cellars away
from the Russians or the bombs or the taxmen.
You wrapped yourself overmy ancient Hungarian,
modern America skeleton. Fourteen hours
in the air across the ocean and mountains
and there the cool waters of Duna and the bygone.

By Jessica Jewell

Jessica Jewell reads "ANCIENT HUNGARIAN"

Fjords Reviews Artists - Jessica Jewell Jessica Jewell

Jessica Jewell is the program coordinator for the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Nimrod, Cider Press Review, the American Poetry Journal, Harpur Palate, Copper Nickel, Rhino, Barn Owl Review and Poetry Midwest, among others. Her chapbook, Slap Leather, was published by dancing girl press in 2011.

Hard to Fathom

The investigation into my existence,
I heard, was completed recently,
on time yet, hard to fathom,
not that I have seen the results
or know the names of any
of the highly qualified investigators
eminent as they might be.
Nonetheless, this is not a case
of more is less or even less is none.
No, I am not trying to muddle anything
flee in fear of what might be.
I was the one whose existence
was gone over with a fine-tooth comb
not that I have combed my hair lately, just look
disheveled as an art form, undisguised,
that must be noted somewhere.
And no, an emphatic no, you are not my friend,
acquaintance or even a long-lost relative
found hiding in the midst of the investigators.
You are imagined, I acknowledge that,
but the report, all the same, is real as mortality
and I fear my name has been misspelled throughout.

By J. J. Steinfeld

J. J. Steinfeld reads "Hard to Fathom"

Fjords Reviews Artists - J. J. Steinfeld J. J. Steinfeld

Canadian fiction writer, poet, and playwright J. J. Steinfeld lives on Prince Edward Island, where he is patiently waiting for Godot's arrival and a phone call from Kafka. While waiting, he has published two novels, Our Hero in the Cradle of Confederation (Pottersfield Press) and Word Burials (Crossing Chaos Enigmatic Ink), ten short story collections, including three by Gaspereau Press - Should the Word Hell Be Capitalized?, Anton Chekhov Was Never in Charlottetown, and Would You Hide Me? - and the most recent, A Glass Shard and Memory (Recliner Books), along with two poetry collections, An Affection for Precipices (Serengeti Press) and Misshapenness (Ekstasis Editions). His short stories and poems have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies internationally, and over forty of his one-act plays and a handful of full-length plays have been performed in Canada and the United States.

Submission: Guidelines (or, How to submit to :aNalepsis)

:aNalepsis is currently considering unprovoked
publication; submissions will be vicarious only:

We accept simultaneous submissions
as long as they are offered simultaneously
and submission is not exacted.

There are limits; there are lines
that should not be crossed, and others,
letters, for the most part, for which crossing

is the custom. Poems should be delicately
typed, but sparingly, upon the page.
We do not countenance group manuscripts.

Unsolicited criticism is considered
as long as it is considered. Solicitous criticism
is, well, you catch the drift.

We cannot account for
detached manuscripts.
We cannot accommodate the damaged.

We cannot be responsible for delay of the land,
nor delay the damage lost by detachment,
nor anything left unsaid and left

impecuniously
in the left-hand drawer.

By Bruce Robinson

Fjords Reviews Artists - Bruce Robinson Bruce Robinson

He owes the library 60 cents. The library trusts that he's good for it, and he's grateful for that. Recent work has appeared in Prism Review and the Brooklyner, and any day now, Cream City Review.

Stepping Into traffic

eton blue chiffon blurs with hair as headlights
fills in each drape of hijab. the woman who ran
into traffic is now catatonic before the silver sedan
that's refused to execute an unknown.

outside the car, I hold her dirty hands gashed by
uncertain works and feel the terrible tremble rise
from her body and move through the fingers. I
cannot understand her words, but know the
language of human despair.

from the distance the squeal of an ambulance
rings like a bird, and all I can muster in a cold
midnight is to sit with her on the curb, my arms
around her, with our hands locked together.

By Richard Margolis

Fjords Reviews Artists - Richard Margolis Richard Margolis

Richard Margolis is a third year M.F.A poetry student at C.S.U. Fresno. He received his B.A. in Creative Writing & Literature from C.S.U. Long Beach. Margolis has been published both in poetry and creative non-fiction. He is currently working on his first manuscript.

THE TOP NEWS

I peel a tangerine
and stare at a plane overhead.
The sunlight is as golden
as ripe wheat
and the young day is gracious
in its lyrical indestructability.
While it lasts, I tell myself,
while it lasts...

By Tim Suermondt

Fjords Reviews Artists - Tim Suermondt Tim Suermondt

Tim Suermondt is the author of TRYING TO HELP THE ELEPHANT MAN DANCE ( The Backwaters Press, 2007) and JUST BEAUTIFUL from NYQ Books, 2010. He has published work in Poetry, The Georgia Review, Southern Humanities Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Prairie Schooner, Cider Press Review and has poems forthcoming in Tygerburning Literary Journal, The Cossack Review, and Stand Magazine (U.K.) among others. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, the poet Pui Ying Wong.

Standing on the Porch with Charlotte, Watching Her First Storm

I don't know how she'll respond -
the sudden sound of thunder,
the flashes of light -
so I hold her close, prepared
to cup her ears or hurry back inside.

I've seen storms, so instead I look at her,
watch her watching. She doesn't know
what this or anything means.
I kiss her cheek. She grips my finger.
She has no idea what's there in the distance.

By Jeff Tigchelaar

Standing on the Porch with Charlotte, Watching Her First Storm first appeared in Flyway

Fjords Reviews Artists - Justin Runge Jeff Tigchelaar

Jeff Tigchelaar's poems appear or impend in Best New Poets 2011, Court Green, Flyway, Grist, Harpur Palate, Hunger Mountain Online, North American Review, Southeast Review, Tar River Poetry and Versedaily.com.

Independence Day

July spills on the steps like the groceries of a man opening the door, too ambitious.

Fireworks bloom, as if the roofs have ideas. Cigarettes flick into the grass like crickets.

Families flank the block. Sons and daughters juxtapose, some taller, more handsome.

Dark no darker than dusk. In the streets, mothers gather debris before the headlights.

Though the radio signals die, the children continue to harmonize with the dogs.

Through night's opacity, their names diffuse, held out in polyphony, into storm sirens.

The children reveal themselves in the heat, from the bushes and trees, off the shedtops,

their clothes gunpowdered, their burns minor, eyeglasses crushed in a fray. The dogs, lost.

They forget that the neighborhood shadows can be so savage, take what they want to take.

By Justin Runge

Fjords Reviews Artists - Justin Runge Justin Runge

Justin Runge currently lives in Lawrence, Kansas, where he serves as designer of Parcel and editor of Blue Hour Press. Poems of hhis can be found in DIAGRAM, Linebreak, Harpur Palate and elsewhere. I can be found at www.justinrunge.me.

SUMMER

The sunlight
that the tree soaked up
for all those years

the logs give back
in the hearth.
Where we sit through

the long winter months,
a small blazing
patch of summer.

By Frederick Smock

Fjords Reviews Artists - Frederick Smock Frederick Smock

Frederick Smock is Associate Professor of English at Bellarmine University, in Louisville, Kentucky. He has published four collections of poetry with Larkspur Press, with individual poems in The Hudson Review, The Iowa Review, The Southern Review, etc. His other books include Pax Intrantibus: A Meditation on the Poetry of Thomas Merton and Poetry & Compassion: Essays on Art & Craft. These poems are from a manuscript, The Bounteous World.

LOOKING IN THE MIRROR

         Even a fly has a kind
of stature buzzing down the mouth of
              a cannon.

         It's easier to hear
the bones rattle while night bends
              heavy as a lynching tree

         under the weight of our
agreed up lies, some so old
              I'm beginning to believe.

         I'm in this garbage so long
I think of it as property
              and lose all sense of smell.

By Ronald Wardall

Fjords Reviews Artists - Ronald Wardall Ronald Wardall (1937-2006)

Ronald Wardall (1937-2006) lived not only as a poet, he was a farmer, desk clerk, carpenter, bridge builder, salesman, lighting technician, actor, agent for the Army Security Agency, travel agent, publicity agent, educator, fund raiser, administrator, union leader, lobbyist and editor. His publications include Poetry, Field, Swink, Mudfish, and Skidrow Penthouse, among others. His work was included in Random House's POEMS OF NEW YORK. He was the recipient of the Slipstream Prize, the Dana Prize and a New York Foundation of the Arts Fellowship. His EYES OF A VERTICAL CUT was published in 2001 by Slipstream Press. He left behind a library of four thousand books and four poetry collections in manuscript. LIGHTNING'S DANCEFLOOR appeared posthumously from Rain Mountain Press.

No room, no room

I
Ask and he will come
Carve harmonies from your heart,
Tune you.

I asked him to come,
My infant blood to be bloomed with his.
No sundays. No rays. Nothing.

Then I asked paintings.
The brush spoke in scars,
Bore through my left hand.

II
Through 8th steet station
The horn warns it's not stopping
But already I had stepped close

And into the rush.
Steel reflective door after door
Chased out by red lights
And onto more tunneling

Left behind under the fluorescents
Caught in that city amber,
Not the celluloid and cyan desire that just left me.

III
Who gets to step ashore?
The saint and single teared Indian
In the commercial
Had fast food thrown at his feet

Though his skin was eggshell.
And you knew
He had other names for everything.

IV
It was called The Singing Christmas Tree.
At its base, the hosanna procession had stopped and
The soprano on the top tier closed her mouth.
The full sanctuary stared at the plastic baby.
Gloria in excelsis Deo.

By Kamal Ayyildiz

Fjords Reviews Artists - Kamal Ayyildiz Kamal Ayyildiz

Kamal Ayyildiz is a poet and visual artist. He has received fellowships from the VCCA, Edward Albee Foundation and MacDowell Colony. His work has been exhibited and published both in the U.S. and abroad. His book of poetry and photography, The Cistern, was published in 2006 by Citlembik Press. More of his writing and his visual arts work can be found at kamalayyildiz.com.

Tidal

My mouth was open

long enough for my tongue to dry

like a stone at low tide

waiting for you to come back in.

By Tara Lynne Groth

Fjords Reviews Artists - Tara Lynne Groth Tara Lynne Groth

Tara Lynne Groth is a poet and writer from Raleigh, North Carolina. Her work has appeared in numerous magazines and journals. She hosts workshops and is the head of Poetry Spark, Raleigh's Poetry section of the annual SparkCon Festival. http://www.taralynnegroth.com/

Northerly

Tell me the sound of one hand moving
into another, the sound of the long gray Taconic
when we lean our heads against it, in the dim
flashlight evening, amid the worm scent
and the soil–pitch bark. Tell me the sound —
that flicking against the mouse–bones
in the skull — of memory, of folding–out road,
of possibility.

I had a thought for no one's but your ears —
the words that warmed us so
while fog edged in, smoothing the aspen
leaves and the grassy spaces
like the heavy press of a palm.

By Rachel Adams

Fjords Reviews Artists - Rachel Adams Rachel Adams

Rachel Adams is a native of Baltimore, Maryland; a longtime resident of Washington, DC; and the editor of an academic journal centered on post-Soviet democratization and of Lines + Stars, a quarterly literary journal. A graduate of the Catholic University of America and the Johns Hopkins University, her poetry has been published in Blue Unicorn, Ophelia Street, PennUnion Review, Town Creek Poetry, and others.

The Recipe
after Yehuda Amichai

A woman will prepare an ideal man
out of all she desires: the hair
she took from a man who held the door for her
at a deli' the forehead from a bartender
who doesn't have to ask her favorite drink, the hands
from a construction worker who smiles like a child
when every morning she walks by is cake and candles,
the cheeks from an uncle who told her stories as a girl,
the mouth from a man she sees on her train rides home,
the thighs from a track and field star on TV who's won gold medals
for the U.S. and who she's convinced she loves, the sleepy
inviting gaze from this one, the eyes from that one,
the stone-shaped abs from her Tae Kwon Do instructor.
All of this she lays out, as if cooking a lavish feast
of several servings she plans to enjoy
over and over. From all this
she will put together what she loves,
unable to place the missing ingredient
until what's prepared
opens its mouth to speak.

By Alan King

Fjords Reviews Artists - Alan King Alan King

Alan King poems have appeared in Alehouse, Audience, Boxcar Poetry Review, Indiana Review, MiPoesias and RATTLE, among others. A Cave Canem fellow and VONA Alum, he's been nominated for both a Best of the Net selection and Pushcart Prize. His first collection of poems, Drift, will be published in 2012 by Willow Books. When he's not reporting or sending poems to journals, you can find King chasing the muse through Washington, D.C. - people watching with his boys and laughing at the crazy things strangers say to get close to one another.

Plotting Temporality

Remembrance = memory + longing.
The eye's corridor through the skull.
Small changes mean everything.

The elastic starlight, unfixed
and crawling the lattice of the sky
like vines, like the legs of a spider.

Clouds stack like dinner plates.
Heart is to torso as tooth
is to breast. To encourage association,

to discourage association mean everything.
Unfold, refold the letter, follow the curving
ink, a raven in flight, the immeasurable distance

between small explosions in the cup
of the skull, catching in the hips' saucer.
The limbs, now stilts of night.

The art of accumulation means
everything. The ventricles unfold
from the cage of the heart.

It's the obsession you carry
like a coffin, refusing burial
to the dead.

Sign is to signified as _______ is
to nameless things. Pink fish
in their mating, and in their drowning.

To look at a clock and think
of another thing means everything,
means nothing, means you.

By Suzane Roberts

Fjords Reviews Artists - Suzanne Roberts Suzanne Roberts

Suzanne Roberts is the author of three collections of poetry, most recently Three Hours to Burn a Body: Poems on Travel. Her memoir, Almost Somewhere: 28 Days on the John Muir Trail, is forthcoming from the University of Nebraska Press. She was named "The Next Great Travel Writer" by National Geographic's Traveler. She writes and teaches in Lake Tahoe, California. For more information, please visit her website at www.suzanneroberts.org

Work for Monthly Verse is selected through our editorial process. New poems are selected from authors that submitted work for the last issue. Read more authors by subscribing to Fjords.