Tuesday, July 15, 2014

From the Start: Volume 4, Issue 2

Blast Furnace is pleased to bring you Volume 4, Issue 2--our fourteenth since the start of us back in 2010!

Coincidentally (NOT!), V4, I2 boasts original, keenly written verse on the themes of origins & beginnings, as well as fine poems outside of those themes by new and established writers.

We would be remiss if we didn't give a SHOUT OUT and Extra special thanks to our guest reviewer, the gifted multi-genre writer Sarah Hamm, who was an enormous help in the selection process this time around. The number of submissions we receive for each call continues to increase, and hundreds of poems were reviewed for this second quarter 2014 edition.

Happy summer, everybody--and happy reading.

- R. Clever, Editor/Publisher

Blast Furnace Volume 4, Issue 2

Back Yard Summers

Endless days, back when the sun was beneficial,
my twin sister and I lay on our stomachs
reading Agatha Christie mysteries.
We couldn’t imagine being anything but
seventeen and slender, but just in case,
as a hedge against age and thickening,
we drank Tab, ate salads, smoked Marlboro Lights,
smeared Bain de Soleil on each other's backs.
The days were endless.
The days were exactly the same.
We lay in our fenced back yard,
desperate for something violent, interesting.
Neither of us knew yet how sunlight
can disappear, that we might spend years,
decades, trying to find another place
that would hold us, would say, now, you can turn your backs, safely.

Patricia "Trish" Saunders worked as a journalist, technical editor, and caregiver for her parents. She began writing poems to fulfill a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2013.



The Ritual

This is a very old tradition so I try my hardest
to remember, to make true.

I do know this makes me feel very old and
very honest. And I like those two trysts at twenty-eight,

though I am too young to understand
how old truly feels, what it costs,

what it’s worth and how honorable.
As is often the case with traditions,

regardless of our ability to comprehend,
we cannot help ourselves, but

take our place within them. So very carefully
I place a pebble upon my grandparents’ headstone.

I feel my way in, make the ritual my own,
every time mine and more magical.

Each time I survey the yard
along and the house across Harrison Street

for a small part of something older than myself
or the both of them, for something old enough

or something that feels just right—because anything old
or honest and beyond understanding makes for magic.

And in that magic a change then takes place; the brow wrinkles
as the stone is clutched and maybe

there is no pretending when I feel many ages in my heart,
the blood beating a bit more, but the pump slower,

fuller even as my hand empties. I pretend to know,
for reasons of softening and something like make-believe,

but it does happen. So happen somehow, that makes it true.
And then there’s the look around, the view down,

years of repeating, and not knowing.
The finals words of my spell

said aloud, almost believed 
As good a place as any. As good a place as any.

As good a place.

Mark Magoon writes poetry and short stories, and secret songs for his dog. His work can be found or is forthcoming in After Hours, DIALOGIST, Ghost Ocean Magazine, Midwestern Gothic, and The Nervous Breakdown. He lives in Chicago with a wife he says is far too pretty for him.



Poem Ending with a Union Vote

Construction Zone Ahead. The shop foreman
surfs from talk to ballgame to classic rock,
blinker on, stuck in a closing right lane
until Mr. Sunglasses waves him in––

all mirrored shades, gold chains, and half-open
shirt, all smiles until the shop foreman smiles
and waves back in his rearview as red hair
settles on Sunglasses’ lowered shoulder.

The foreman mourns pay and benefit cuts
proposed at a management meeting where
he’d spent the better part of an hour
fretting over what to do with his hands.

Cuts to guys he’d worked with for twenty years,
drank beer, played softball, built kitchens with, cried.
Guys who knew him better than his ex-wife.
He’d shuffled the crisp stack of attachments,

alphabetized them by the first letter
on each unread page. He’d circled and checked.
He’d scribbled marginal notes and made sure
not to doodle. Then he’d moved to adjourn

so he could return to his apartment
and settle between Scotch burn and himself.
He eyes his mirror until the couple
vanishes behind wiper blur, rainbow,

Sunglasses waving in car after car,
a conductor dissolving into myth,
his lover revising herself, tracing
brows, cheekbones, lips, finger-combing her hair––

a special night ahead for them, maybe,
or big day wrapping up, the two of them
in a zone of slow time and long kisses
while the foreman clicks off his radio,

becomes flares, work cones, now and then a honk,
a jackhammer, a brake flash, a craned neck,
pushing his ear into his cold window,
into the idling engine of his day.


Philly Still Life

At two in the morning, when the moon
            has clacked off with the El,

trailing sparks from a dying star
            along the steel horizon,

dome light leaks through tinted windows
            thumping at intersections,

neon blares from the corner bar,
            a TV flickers in a drafty apartment,

where a mother sits like an empty lot
            at a cracked glass table,

twirling the ember of her smoke in ash.


What I Did While Wayne Called the Cops

Because his hands were cuffed
behind his back, because I was 16,
because the tongues of his lace-
less boots were curled and dry,
because he was older than my father
and bug-eyed high, reeking
of piss, crying through snot
that no one would bail him out,
because I’d been raised to fear
black people, because he’d
called me sir, because
he’d stolen only Rite-Aid
batteries, because he weighed
so much he had to spread
his legs to make room
for his belly on that plastic
break room chair, because
he kept saying It’s not fair,
not fair, I couldn’t chase
him when he ran, grunting,
for the door, before the jeans
belted across his thighs
tripped him like our rent-a-cop’s
blackjack, before his open
mouth bounced on the floor.

Daniel Donaghy is the author of Start with the Trouble (University of Arkansas Press, 2009), which won the 2010 Paterson Award for Literary Excellence and was runner-up for the James Laughlin Award and a Finalist for the Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award and the Connecticut Book Award, and Streetfighting (BkMk Press, 2005), which was a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize. His work has appeared in many literary journals, including Antioch Review, Southern Review, Missouri Review, Quarterly West, Prairie Schooner, Sou'wester, Alaska Quarterly Review, Image, Fourteen Hills, and other journals.



An Old Wive's Tale

1.

The storks populate the rooftops near the water, building person-sized nests in the
crooks of chimneys and the peaks of bell towers. They stand like rigid crucifixes
against the sky. They are mute, never squawking like other birds. Every day the
wives watch as the males glide gently back to the nest in the evenings, carrying fish
or insects, back to where the mother storks keep watch. A family, faithful to one
another and the nest. And the wives smile. Their husbands are out drinking; they do
not come home. And the wives’ wombs are sore from births, failed or not. Though
they are old, their bodies are young. Persistent.

2.

They see the storks that coast against the gray sky, unhindered, allowing the cool
sea breeze to carry them, to conserve their energy. When the sky turns as cold as it
looks, the storks fly south. The wives imagine where they fly—to Africa, to Apollo,
to heaven—places that they, who are rooted to the ground, can only imagine. The
sea hardens, scabs, and the grey sky flaps like laundry hung to dry.

3.

Nine months later, the wives see the white wings beating the air—gliding—beating
the air. The storks reclaim their posts on the rooftops. And the wives smile, each one
swollen with child once again. They imagine that the storks bring back with them a
baby, healthy and plump and swaddled in cloth. The wives imagine that the storks
drop the babies gently down the chimneys, where they are found nestled among
the embers, safe. The old wives imagine that their husbands are pleased; they come
home in the evenings with their wages, to keep the child plump.
The old wives imagine the tale of the storks, because they cannot imagine another winter.

Elizabeth Maria Keri lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she edits engineering manuscripts by day, and pens stories and poems by night. Her work has been published in several journals, including the Wittenberg Review and Spectrum, and has won several awards, including the Hatfield-Westheimer Prize for Fiction. During lulls in her writing, she likes to juggle until inspiration strikes.



Red Bandana

The early stuff is hazy, smoke and flood
damaged. Metal putty-colored folding
chair. Standing beside a lake, blanket
beneath, a woman above. Angry
wiry hair, scooped off neck. Red
bandana. Time shifts.
Quickly packing up, shoving
things in basket. My Paddington.
I reach for him, steadying myself on
cold chair. Deluge. Pain, not like loss
of bear, something I cannot
point to. Chair slams shut, finger
pinned at hinge. Woman in red
bandana hits hard. Spoiled, rrrrotten,
burden, R’s rolling, like Mamma’s
Crooked finger presses against
long white lips. Mamma running.
What’s happened? I can only scream,
hold up finger. Small,
not crooked but bent. My first
memory. I have never since
braced myself on metal, forever
feared hinges and crooked fingers,
and I have nearly always failed
to articulate pain until clouds
have wrung themselves dry.

Jacqueline Markowski’s work has appeared in numerous publications, both print and online, including Permafrost Literary Journal, Pyrokinection, The Rainbow Journal and Jellyfish Whispers and is forthcoming in Kentucky Review and Bird’s Thumb. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she won first place at The Sandhills Writer’s Conference.



The valves

of my grandmother’s artificial heart
tick during church, like the faint click

of time, a countdown of our moments
spent in silence. When I lean over

and whisper, I can hear you ticking,
she becomes sheepish, tries to hush

the sound keeping her.

Kelly Scarff works as a graphic designer and an editor. She is a graduate of Chatham University's MFA in Creative Writing program. Her poems have appeared in Apple Valley Review, 5AM, Nerve Cowboy, and elsewhere. Her poetry chapbook, "I Fall in Love with Strangers", is available from Liquid Paper Press.



Flood

In these endless days of rain
can I find a story of excess,
a metaphor of damp? Perhaps
some punishment for our profligate
ways or mold in the corners
of the garage. Each surface
slick with sin, coated
in desire like panko
bread crumbs, so much tilapia
in a pan.
I watch the weatherman,
soothsayer at 11, for signs
of a weakening front, a prevailing
wind to carry off this latest deluge.
Instead I wake, sweaty and sore
on the couch and find
mushrooms sprouting between
my fingers, my ears thick
with stream run off.

Beth Konkoski is a writer and high school English teacher living in Northern Virginia. Her poetry has been in a number of literary journals including The Potomac Review, blueline and Plainsongs. Her chapbook, Noticing the Splash, was published in 2010 by BoneWorld Press.



Archival Photo 1943

Grinding on rails embedded in Belgian block
the white-trimmed, red trolley skims us along

cluttered streets. My mother crushes me
like gold bullion against her dimity frock

as the bell tolls and the troller hums
on overhead copper wire. In its din,
I can almost hear Macushla rippling in my ear.

After losing three, for a nickel she ferried
me from the hospital safely home.

Liz Dolan's second poetry manuscript, A Secret of Long Life, nominated for the Robert McGovern Prize, will be published by Cave Moon Press in 2014. Her first poetry collection, They Abide, was published by March Street Press. A six-time Pushcart Prize nominee, she has also won an established artist fellowship in poetry and two honorable mentions in prose from the Delaware Division of the Arts. Recently, Liz won The Nassau Prize for prose and a poem in Ardor was a finalist in The Best of the Net.



Online Pictures of Homemade Birthday Cakes

Half-way between Paris and New York,
atop his cake the Concorde rests.
Its nose she rolled from white fondant,
tapered its mantis body, attached high-backed
wings piped with black, colored frosting blue,
and dollopped fluff for clouds. Grey ruffles
to one side trounced by lightning
because next to airplanes
he likes destruction best.
Earlier she’d browsed scores
of joyful thumbnails on the Web,
all shoved together cheek-to-bowl:
he did not want superheroes from Belarus,
anime from Abu Dhabi, nor pink roses
for the quinceañeras. He did not wish
for chocolate-lacerated, frosting-entombed,
spun-sugar-Hello-Kitty-statuette-bedecked.
She saw some with cake flour—sifted twice—
and Plugra. Others with crushed Oreos
and Cool Whip. All uploaded whole,
then divided once the breath of life snuffs
the candles. Now, rainbow frosting slurs
the plates. Cake slabs upended,
then abandoned, as if an earthquake
shook those layers down. Sweaty
scent of butter, sugar, lemonade.
Silent thanks for another year.
Outside, guests explode
in whoops and yells.
She wipes the knife. She begins to clear.

Bonnie Auslander is a D.C.-area poet who's had work published in Field, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Gargoyle, Five Fingers Review, and elsewhere. She has held fellowships at Ragdale, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Millay Colony, among other places.



That Old Black Magic

I

The feast of St. Gerard Majella,
Frank Sinatra singing “That Old Black Magic”
on the kitchen radio
Grandma in the garden,
directing the covering of the fig tree.

My father dragged the piece of linoleum
from the shed, the tree’s winter shroud.

We tugged the branches close,
tying them with twine.

Newspaper was stuffed in the empty spaces;
The Sunday Star Ledger, the Newark Evening News,
The Italian Tribune.
Italian and English blended together
for the tree’s survival.

Finally, the winter coat,
The linoleum that once
was the kitchen floor was buttoned,
secure.

II

In the lining of her coat, shoots
from her Cosenza home
stowed beneath her heart.

Anything to declare?
the immigrant inspector asked.
She shook her head no
hoping that she would not
have to give up her roots.

Warming the sprouts,
a burgeoning belly.
From the shoots
and the womb,
fruit.

Lucrezia Pierro began writing poetry at 10 years old. It was something about spring and robins. It made the school newspaper, and so started her love affair with the written word. Lu has been honored to work through the Dodge Foundation for six years, perfecting her craft and meeting like-minded poets. She founded the Other Poets, a group of educators who meet monthly to share their works. Lu's work speaks of her journey through life. It punctuates in a strong woman's voice the joys, the sorrows of the common human experience. She has a way of touching souls as she speaks her truth through poetry.




Ablution (Terre Haute, Indiana)

Midnight avenues staggered
through darkness. Wounded and quiet
when thunderheads hung

above us. You said this city
was broken. It would never be whole.
Landfill of broken mansions,

a jawline of cracked teeth.
Buildings full of shadows and spiders,
pine slabs for windows,

walls gangmarked by graffiti.
You would not stay.
You were even unmoved

when the storm finally opened
for us, for the city,
bathed its concrete bones

the way a widow might wash
her husband’s body,
and lay posies upon his eyes,

and pray for him to rise.


Samuel T. Franklin is currently a resident of Bloomington, Indiana, though he has spent the majority of the last six or so years in Terre Haute.



For the Unseen 


All day you prayed
to St. Anthony
for two breached whales
while the adults
sat above you
drinking beer
and laughed
over the hum
of the ship.
You sat fixed
on an empty point,
your fingers hook-linked
into the rusted wire
of the Privateer,
the hinge in your knee
about to go numb
from the pressure
of dangling, from the pressure
of praying and a toddler’s
urge to pee.
But you refused to
take your eyes from the water
even when you got dizzy
from the sight of
all that water.
Refused to unwind
your hands until you saw
them—
the pectoral fins rising
above the water. A quick
flip of a hello,
so you knew they were
safe and that they did indeed exist,
that God hadn’t taken
them too.

Kat Fagan hails from New England despite the fact that she now calls Southern California home. She lives by the beach with her adorable pup Brewster who often finds his way into her poetry. She is a founding editor of Locked Horn Press and HINGED journal, and is a contributing editor of Poetry International, where some of her work appears online. She also teaches Creative Writing at San Diego State University.



CLIFFS OF MOHER 
We knew the ocean slapped the cliffs below,
but fog denied us any proof. We closed
our eyes, the air a heavy sweater, heard
the water punch against the crags, then pull
away to find its fists again. For hours,
we stood like that, pretending not to need
the regal look of rock, or light adrift
on swarming waves.
                        Without the moon, our room
that night became a cave. Your breath, crashing
against my cheeks, arrived in even thrusts,
your snores the only noise. I couldn’t find
the freckle on your ear, the scar above
your lip that you mythologized for years.
I closed my eyes and listened, felt the sound
erupt in measures on my face, your breath
persistent (backward, forward; in and out).
I wasn’t hard enough to stay unchanged.


Megan Collins graduated in 2008 with an MFA in Creative Writing from Boston University, where she was a teaching fellow. She currently teach creative writing at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts in Hartford, Connecticut, as well as literature at Central Connecticut State University. Her work has appeared in Rattle, Linebreak, and Connecticut Muse.



the baby

you speak up from inside me:
I’m only going to live a very little while
and every time hands slide down your stomach
and every time hands trace the scar
and every time hands hold living things
and every time hands hush a cry
I will speak up from inside you
and that very little while will exist in a flash
that beats out forever behind your eyes, every time

Kate LaDew is a graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art. She resides in Graham, NC with her cat, Charlie Chaplin. Kate is currently working on her first novel.



My Mother Dreams About the Black Crane
“What matters most is how well you walk through the fire.” - Charles Bukowski

My mother dreams of harbingers
and black birds.
The wise are often afflicted
by metaphors in their sleep.
Once, she saw a deep eye
and heard my grandpa whispering in her ear:
eagle eye, eagle eye…
Later that week, she sat in the hospital
watching over my grandma.
Have you ever dreamed about me?
I asked her once. Yes, she said. But nothing more.
She called the other day,
I dreamed you wrote about a black crane.
Over jasmine-scented tea,
I think about the elegance and grace
in the face of extinction
of a mohawked, awkward bird.
One night, I walked through fire
and a Black Crowned Crane
spoke to me in my mother’s voice.

Jessica Drake-Thomas is an MFA in creative writing student at Emerson College in Boston.



The First Street

We gathered on our hands and knees
near the criss-cross wicker crawlspace
underneath the Noyes’s porch
to look at what the older boys had found,
two rats, stiff and side by side,
each with coppery, undamaged fur.

Maybe they’d been trapped
by the boys who carried all of that
in their plum-nippled, shirtless chests,
or maybe Mr. Noyes had poisoned them,
the man who walked down the street
at dusk in a suit the color of ash.

Or maybe they just died.
We knew things did, which is why
we came to see, and afterwards plunged
wildly in the dead-leaved woods.
At day’s end, with an art of ritual
I’ve never been able to repeat in any coterie,

we played hide and seek,
rules reviewed, fists offered
for counting off, one to be it, the rest
to tuck our bodies in tall gardens,
well-mowed yards, oily garages,
until the seeker stopped his count.

He pushed off from the coarse-barked lark
and began to pluck us one by one back out.
The last of us, shaped
too much to some familiar place
we couldn’t see in the coming dark,
made us think of never being found.

Parents, hands on their elbows,
would come to look with us and call his name
so longingly that thirty years later
when my son dies, I recognize
the echo of that pitch, the lit porch
off of which I step into the night.

Elizabeth Crowell has published poetry, fiction, and non-fiction in many publications including The Bellevue Literary Review, Hollis Critic, Louisville Review, and others. For a long time, she taught high school and college English. Elizabeth lives outside Boston with her wife and children.



For Sammie Who Meant to Do Good

Ain’t no one going to tell you this if you ask,
but I was drunk when I slammed my car into the mailbox
on the corner of Old Milton and Main
turnin’ it into a natural disaster.
I meant to hit the mailbox
cause I wanted a pink cast on my arm
bruises on my chest
and a wound across my thigh
bad enough to need stitches and leave a scar
that would be visible when I wore cutoff jeans,
but I didn’t mean to be drunk.
I wanted to hit the mailbox so Berta would love me
and my daddy would stop.
I like to think I did it for Berta
with her thick chocolate skin and dark eyes
so she would leave
and I would know it was possible.

I got drunk in a bar on Commentary Road,
on accident,
cause Southern Comfort was calling to me
and Don Julio burns so good going down
and my daddy hates Mexicans
and I wanted to spite him.
And nobody around here cares
if you’re underage and drinkin’
so the bartender,
who’s always droppin’ off a prescription
at the pharmacy where I work
for cough syrup with Codeine,
kept the shots comin’
until I could barely talk enough to ask
what happened to his persistent cough.

People talk about the accident
cause we ain’t got a new mailbox yet
and the mailman goes around collecting mail
on door steps
but he don’t seem to care
cause people invite him in for sweet tea
and he likes to talk until he looks all bloated
and drowned in the face anyway.
And even though I have a cast on my arm
people feel sorry for me for all the wrong reasons.

Yinka Reed-Nolan's work has recently appeared in Bloom, Foliate Oak, Niche, The Dying Goose, The Hoot and Hare Review and Thethe Poetry.



Buying the Boots

In the dream they are soft
            sheared sheep skin,
                        room to curl my toes
                                    imagining sand.

My father too approves,
            but worries about the price
ninety-four dollars
            his military training holding him back
even from my enjoyment.
Does he consider perhaps
the other daughter?
            The one he left.
Who grew up lonesome,
            knowing his nickname only.
Her birth certificate reads: "Father, Fritzis."
A handy alias used by many,
            a discarded footprint of war.
In the Soviet commune
            she heard of me
the American daughter,
            not knowing that I too was displaced.
In the dream my father says, "No."
She is his untold story.
Those are the boots she desired.
When I try them on they fit.

Skaidrite Stelzer lives in Toledo, Ohio. Growing up as a displaced person, she still considers herself a citizen of the world. Her work has appeared in many literary journals, including The Baltimore Review, Glass, Storm Cellar, and Struggle.



Alaskan Summer

I recall walking around Bethel with you.
The Inuit children following you and me, our dog
Bounding over tundra. Salmonberries.

There’s a softness beneath our desires
That’s hard to get to.

And yet, that’s the essence.
In the bright Alaskan night, you could hear the silence,
An audible void, which was actually the sound of your own soul.
A kind of low static that did not merge well.
I yelled at you once or twice. There were no curtains
So mornings we made love on the floor.

Our feet against the door. Outside, it was always gray.
But it was the gray joy of Alaska. Muddy boots,
And the chained up sled dogs, everywhere, dogs
With iceberg eyes. And the one raven who followed us
Down the road, just another person we met.
The rain was a light mist. The salmon leapt out
To meet my hook, and the Wildman who took us out
Laughed out loud when I couldn’t beat the fish.

There’s a softness beneath desire
That’s hard to get to.

There’s an Alaska in me now.
You did that to me, you held me like I’d hold our daughter
When she was a babe, as she wailed at night.
I wailed in Alaska, I trembled, I picked blueberries.
We cooked salmon in our thermals, the mists gathered,
The sled dogs howled, and the raven perched
Where the raven always perched, waiting for more.

Alejandro Escude received a master’s degree in creative writing from U.C. Davis and teaches high school English in Santa Monica, California. He is also a recent Pushcart Prize nominee and, among other journals, his poems have appeared in California Quarterly, Main Street Rag, Phoebe, Poet Lore, Rattle, as well as in an anthology entitled How to Be This Man, published by Swan Scythe Press. Originally from Argentina, Alejandro lives with his wife and two kids in Los Angeles, California. Find out more about him and his work at www.alejandroescude.com.



Killing

When sensation worms
inside, crush it like the beetle
living behind your toilet.
It hid there because it was
afraid. Do it without looking.
When crushed, bury it
underneath a stone. Outside. The yard.
Further: your neighbor’s lawn.

Go inside. Wash a cup. Spoon. Knife.
Wash your hands. Outside
(the body,
wings crushed, exoskeleton unfolding
like an envelope in the steam of a teakettle
as you soap and soap
and soap)
your kitchen window
it is buried, it is under there,
across the street,  below
the Bonners’ egg-white stone,
the Bonners’ green long lawn.

And if you look outside, which you will,
because you spend half the day looking
at their lilacs, happy dog, his tennis ball, you
washing ceramic mugs, the tenderizer:
the stone is now the beetle, and the grass
around the stone is the beetle too
and the clouds like clotheslines
are the beetle, and clotheslines
like loose hair upon your neck
become the beetle; all things become
the thing you have
tried so hard to kill, change
to dead, make disappeared.

Inside the freezer are frosted glasses
like the soft neon curves of your fluttering
tachometer. See the metallic sheen
of beetleskin? See your damp whorled
fingertips, see the wide bright colors
of soapsuds, see curving steel
sink, round white plates not clean,
and the world transformed, metamorphosed
into the intricate body of the beetle
tough restless and circling

Zana Previti



Ode to Recess

On the playground I am the monkey bar queen
hands callused with gleaming blisters
gripping tightly the metal rods
skipping over middles ones with momentum
solemn slide dwellers
tire swing tyrants
the hopscotch bunch will judge
and Pokémon cards flipped over on the pavement
“Charizard! Bulbasaur!”
the boys will proclaim with peanut butter mouths
I will not be demoted to sticker book girl
or a tom-boy eating my goldfish on the
sidelines with chalky knees
my skort wavers in the wind
passing from bar to bar
as children in mulch marvel below.

Brittany Ackerman is a second year MFA candidate in creative nonfiction at Florida Atlantic University. She just started Crossfit, is really good at power cleans and push jerks, and is currently working on her thruster.



I Keep Cautious Around the Dead

My mother bends over the stove even
if it’s ninety-five Farenheit because the oven
and microwave don’t work
and how’s she gonna eat? She davens the boiling
pot of figs, sugar, and citrus zest and burns
her fingers like a sacrifice.
                                                Everything browns
so easily these days. I don’t want anyone
to show me sweetness. It makes me thirsty.
Stop your drooling. Stop hollering lines from the record machine:

                                                             Girl, you burnin’ in that heat wave!

Don’t call my name, sweet and plain.

                                                             Girl, lovin’ you is tearin’ me apart.
                                               I know.

So Jimmy, crack your corn
’cause I don’t care. And if Babe Ruth swings
anything tonight, I hope he swings my kitchen door
open. I hope he swoons the shoes off my mother’s
feet. She wants to lie down. She doesn’t apply
ice or bacitracin. Her skin flakes
off and joins the dust of this sunburned county.
Listen—I look at the sky, that old cracked cake,
and know I was taught hunger before thirst.

Carly Joy Miller is a Southern California native through and through. She is a co-managing editor for the Los Angeles Review, a contributing editor for Poetry International, and a founding editor of Locked Horn Press. She is also the curator of the reading series, The Brewyard. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Midwestern Gothic, Four Chambers Press, Baseline Magazine, Web del Sol Review of Books, and the Poetry International blog.



Pax History

It’s a kind of melancholy
I’m reading about, in John Keats,
in Hayden Carruth, in Amazonia
where the women have always
been seen as giants.
I realize that all things
can be rooted in perception,
how I touched you those afternoons,
how I perceived I’d love you
for more days than I did.
While Keats is crying,
Carruth takes a drink,
and there are many women
I’d like to take home tonight,

but none as much as you,
so when the music is loud
and the lights are low, I’m watching
the corners for shadows, I’m trying
on a new kind of dress.
It’s possible I’ve put you in
the same category as some cows
I’ve known, their gentle grace
and frightening stances.
I’ve liked your eyes as much as theirs.
I think I’ve always smelled the grass
in you, the small sound of the creek
buried in the way your hair
and mine collected in the bed.
I’m reading about how things get lost
again, the moon appearing above
the tree line like some afterthought.
I think it’s time to be proper,
to be searching for the sand
I must go into.
The only surgery I know
is the one where you take
the splinter out of the skin.
That, and twilight, which was never
our time but someone else’s,
the night beginning its ritual,
cutting into the sun.

Erin Mullikin is the author of two chapbooks: Strategies for the Bromidic (Dancing Girl Press) and After Milk & Song (SC Poetry Initiative). Her poems and book reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in magazines such as Coldfront, BlazeVOX, GlitterPony, Spork, Birdfeast, Beecher's, and inter|rupture. She is the editor-in-chief for Salt Hill Journal and a founding editor for the online poetry journal, NightBlock, and the small literary press, Midnight City Books.



At the Edge of the Drought

A turtle learns silence from the hands that built this city before me,
the ones whose names weren't given to streets.
What comes after this will be gentle, free of churning, free of trolleys.
Word. Does the closing of windows continue in your country too,
the week-long rain? It's easy to ignore the seaside debris when eating fish.
And we cannot shut out the dust moving across our shared vision.
I am writing to you from where there are fossils
in every breath. If you notice constant you tremble inward. Watch out for the leaves.
At the train station, I saw a boy flitting in front of the bookstore's pornography aisle.
He looked at me and I became the wind on the spread-open nude
in his suitcase, the tuft of hair he will never be free from.

Hari Alluri is a poet and co-founder of Locked Horn Press. A VONA and Las Dos Brujas alum, his work appears in several anthologies and in the following journals, among others: Cutthroat, Kartika, Kweli, and Lumina. Hari's first book, Carving Ashes, is published by CiCAC Press (2013).



Palimpsest

The notebook in the market
was much prettier, much cleaner
than last year's, but her mother
said, Lieu com gap mam, we live
within our means.

Before class, a girl erases a year
of school notes, just for the paper—
The pages are thin, and tear in some
places. A year from now, her brother
will use the same paper, tracing
the remains of her letters, as if trying
to predict the future. When held up
to the light, the hint of her name is still
visible in the corners, if you look carefully.

Meg Eden's work has been published in various magazines, including B O D Y, Drunken Boat, Mudfish, and Rock & Sling. Her work received second place in the 2014 Ian MacMillan Fiction contest. Her collections include "Your Son" (The Florence Kahn Memorial Award), “Rotary Phones and Facebook” (Dancing Girl Press) and "The Girl Who Came Back" (Red Bird Chapbooks). She teaches at the University of Maryland, and will be a visiting writer at AACC in 2014. Check out her work at: https://www.facebook.com/megedenwritespoems