Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Odes, Prayers & Meditations: Volume 3, Issue 1

Greetings, loyal readers, followers, fellow writers and poetry lovers.

We are pleased to present Volume 3, Issue 1 of Blast Furnace, featuring odes, prayers and meditations, as well as some poems outside of that theme. For this first issue of 2013, we received an overwhelming response of high quality work to our call for submissions, and must say a special thanks to all of the publications and on-line writing groups that continue to post and publish our calls, as well as to Submission Bombers (founded by Laura E. Davis), which featured a “bomb” for Blast Furnace in early January.
Occasionally, a talented and willing volunteer assists with review of the hundreds of poetry submissions we receive. This time, we were fortunate to have help from the keen eyes and ears of writer Carolyne Whelan.
On another note, we’ve added a new "Search This Journal" feature to the top section of the left panel on our website, which allows seekers to find poets by name, poem title, or a topic on the Blast Furnace site.
We are excited to be entering our third year of publishing, and pleased to have you with us. Your enthusiasm continues to be encouraging, inspiring, and contagious.
Enjoy Volume 3, Issue 1!

- R. Clever, Editor/Publisher

Monday, April 1, 2013

Blast Furnace Volume 3, Issue 1

First Snowfall

Each time as if the first—snowfall’s hush arousing reverences origins.
Its gauzy blur draping modesty over secret grains of salted ugliness.

Leafless trees standing hard against a nonresponding sky now
Yield in softened forest temples. And the grey scrabbled air—like your

Inscrutable heart, resounding in a muffled keep, under a blank sheet
pulled up. But, another chance for a sleep stamped by angel-bodies,

Those signs of love’s habit of leaning into its disguises. And for us
A reprieve; we’re relieved by the world disappearing

Amy Bebergal is a writer living in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her husband and son. Her writing has been included in the Dudley House Review, Killing the Buddha, Rabbit Poetry, Riverlit, The Centrifugal Eye, and is forthcoming in A Narrow Fellow. She earned her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College.

Where My Real Mother Lives

After the shipwreck,
your bottles, our bodies, litter the beach.
(Even though we sang like angels in your ear,
you would not hear
Your driftwood bones, your shark’s teeth, wash to shore—
while my imagination,
a sleepy vapor,
lifts me from blown sand and beach scum
to this heavenly place—where I

Slam the door, press the lock, pace the floor.
Outside—just within reach—
some other kind of mother dares
to set a steaming hot cup of tea, sweet biscuits,
pen, paper and a perfectly ripe banana,
while I fling forbidden words
like dynamite
against paper walls.

Outside—she waits for the moment
the door will blow open
when I will sing like an angel in her ear,
and she will play her harp.

Kelly DuMar is a playwright and fiction writer from the Boston area. Her most recent publications include her short story, "Monarch," in Open Road Review, her prose poem, "Singing Over Your Bones," in Lingerpost, her short play, "Everything Blows Away," by Art Age, her short story, “Bloom,” to be published in Literary Mama, and her short play, "Starling’s Wish," to be published in Foxing Quarterly. Her plays have been produced around the United States and in Canada.

Meditation on Raising Children

I’m bewitched by the nuances
of this soup, how easy an excess
of falling salt or forgotten garlic
will smudge its flavor but not alter
its shape in my clay bowl.

Today I cursed the dull knife,
my imperfect work of cut carrot,
parsnip, celery; then remembered
how bouquet of parsley and dill
will still thrive in the deep broth.

December Sabbath

Do not keep asking for rain to fall
a certain way over the sea or the sea to do more
than it can do for the singing humpback or krill. Love
cannot be made at all hours of the day. Do not request
wind to blow in tune through olive groves,
or side-latticed bridges to always hold their beauty.
Where it is winter, do not demand snow curve

the pine perfectly. Come in at dusk— lean toward the braid
of bread and listen to the almost silent chord of a piece
being torn. Place the soft yellow into an opened mouth
and keep vigil on the windows of eyes, the room’s
chestnut light. Choose one of your breaths for praising
that particular breath, choose another to bring forth a song.
Hum seven tunes of one more sun.

Meditation on Anothers Dream

In your dream of flying, you had become a white heron.
     When you told me,

I closed my eyes
     so I could try out the ride.

I took that slow and precise flight
     and made it mine

to hover untouchable above the top of things
     I’ve known.

I wanted to hear abundance or absence
     of the human cry,

to see contours of loss and love without being
     a compound of that clay.

From the sky that covers continents I flew
     as a singular whistle

subtracted from the unswerving deep-purple hum
     the world makes.

When I opened my eyes, I returned height and distance
     to the bird

but took what you said about soaring
     and made it mine

so I would know what to do when I faltered on possibility
     or during a night on earth.

Marjorie Thomsen is the 2012 winner of the New England Poetry Club's Firman Houghton Award. Her poems have been published in Halfway Down the Stairs, Contemporary Haibun, The Quotable, Riverbabble, and others. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her family.

Ben and Andrew, 1992

We attached a racket of shutters over
every window, expected we would wake
up in the dark. Rain ricocheted
off the roof, roofs ripped from other
kitchens, roared through quadruplicate trees. We
held flashlights under our toes while
the storm wound soupy debris in
symbols of infinity. The fourth tree reared
on its haunches, air crackling in
its wake. We didn’t know what

               time it was and awoke to the outdoors
               stilled, pool peppered with branches and
               the house still dark. Roots caved for us. We
               pretended shelter under umbrella
               leaves shaken free. Grapefruits, juices
               loosened, littered the steaming
               asphalt, rosy flesh shredded. Lizards
               flicked their heads out, then
               returned in droves and rendered
               the screens opaque. And as

                              water popped from the gutter a vessel
                              rippled your brain. You didn’t look
                              out the windows when shutters clattered
                              down and the bedroom made yours
                              was blue and wrinkled and
                              silent as flesh. Emerging sunlight rendered
                              you paler than washed-out sky and you
                              shuffled the cement runway as if
                              your legs were palm trees,
                              pieces cast like lacerated skin along the lawns.

Gemma Cooper-Novack's work has previously appeared in Hanging Loose, Euphony, Aubade, The Saint Ann's Review, and Rufous City Review. Her plays have been produced in New York and Chicago, and her article "Inclusive practices for graduate students with disabilities: a writing coach model," co-written with Eileen Berger, was recently published in the Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice.


When we talked about what I liked with my eggs, mushrooms and cheese,
some onions? John parts the curtains.
His mother’s lace, off white and yellowing.
He talked about the first time Matt’s parents found him in a dress
he couldn’t unzip himself out of.
And so when he limped out of the bathroom into his room,
he fell down the steps in blue taffeta
   broken shoulder,
his family watching.
Even the dog stops licking himself.
John keeps mixing the eggs.
And when the car comes, everyone reaches for their black or blue coats.
Autumn sunlight flashing off the windshield,
which seems to light up the inside of the room for a moment.
And John turns the picture of Matt toward him
so he can see him.

Robert Walicki has been inspired by his inner muse through various forms of writing and poetry over the years. He is an active member of the Pittsburgh Writer’s Studio and the Pittsburgh Poetry Exchange, and his poetry has been published in The Shot Glass Journal, Emerge Literary Journal, The Eunoia Review, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and is forthcoming in others.

East Side Jazz

The visions are backdated depicting a time before the pinnacle of the Empire,
Where scantily clad gentle boys and girls dive willingly into the grey waters of the
     calm East River.
A nickel peanut salesman stands in a storefront as trench-coated men storm by:
     donning top-hats, freshly shined shoes, umbrellas, and the morning paper.
In damp alleys, fresh garbage conceals sweaty shacks of huddled misfits, who
     salvage slices of stale sourdough around a single radio-box.
Rafters of hanging cloth dance above them as they dangle, carefully compiled by a
     smiling Misses, humming a blissful melody to herself.
Along Second Avenue, the periodic rumble is welcomed this late afternoon.
As the sun dances in the sky then hides behind the Woolworth Building—coupled
     with a kind breeze—the evening cooling approaches.
Cat-calls from fire escapes! Ominous rolling jazz rifts! Sizzle Pepsi- cola sips!
Bubbling as this young city bubbles! It bursts with life from all its crevices! With
     promise, it shines bright like Swing Street clubs!
From within, a howling trumpet's note continues to play, escaping east as the El
     vanishes uptown.

Phillipe Chatelain is a poet from the Bronx and editor of In Parentheses. He prides himself on finding a balance between crucial self-reflection and expressions of awe or disgust toward the outward world. His biggest astonishment is the seamless unity of existence connecting all living things. His plight with humanity stems from its role in obstructing this unity.

Tabula Rasa 

If there’s no other way out of bed, to pull on our socks, lock
     the door, pay the tab,
close our eyes—if the human condition is unconditional—
then whatever we do or think we can do is but a hiss through
     the thistle.
Then the stars, despite our wishing, are meaningless, despite ash
and incense, the wind, a lick of tears, the thumping rain—if sunrise after
     sunset won’t redeem us.

Say the oracle spoke only of the past, the sea scrolls
begged riddles, the clouds turned to stone, and the earth
     became a lakefront
                                    mirage. After what storm would doves
                                                                                                   then fly?

If the afterlife has no after, if we can’t escape
or transcend, if even our demons are sick of this world—then nothing
living, save for our angels, will survive
     to forget us.
If death is simply tabula rasa, then life is a kernel that will never guess
     its husk.
If then is if and if is then—then rain dreams up from the soil,
even if this light through the vines belongs
     only here: to this garden,
                                                         rose, this lonesome r

Mark Fitzgerald is the author of By Way of Dust and Rain, which was published by Cinnamon Press in 2010 and was a finalist in the Carnegie Mellon Poetry Award. His poetry has appeared in numerous journals and periodicals, including Squaw Review, Santa Clara Review, Crab Creek Review, Temenos, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Parting Gifts, and Naugatuck River Review. He was awarded a fellowship to pursue his writing at Oxford and graduated with Phi Beta Delta honors from George Mason University, where he earned his MFA in Creative Writing. He currently teaches writing at the University of Maryland and lives in Falls Church, Virginia.

Kools, soft pack
for my grandmother 

In ’72, you took the census, and the world shook.

You checked “Black” and sent honey-dipped daggers through millennia of white men as your life
would later become The Way. It wasn’t an afro or kill-the-white-cable man rhetoric, though
you’ve mastered that language. It was living life, fucking up, succeeding and loving, yet still
being alive to die having lived. Dunbar called it “a crust and a corner,” and few realize that it’s
always been there. You don’t see a different world, you see the world for what is really is, and for
that, you’ve been rewarded as the blackest woman, the womanest black there is. And I am your
student, the profound silence after a death.

Side by side, we rode roller coasters and ate funnel cakes in the empires of steel, our laughter
reverberating off of desolate unknowing so much so that even the Congo danced to our music,
our blood. Though it broke my heart when you said you had lung cancer, I understood as
you taught me. What a world: one minute I’m lost, going ass-backward into the paralytic
simulacrum of fear and the next I’m emerging from yet another womb, Nefertiti of the mountains
and of the sidewalks. As a boy, I showed you my flags of surrender, tokens I had fashioned out of tears, shit, semen, bricks of dust, beads of grease, and the pallid coffee you used to make me for no other reason than that I liked it. You burned those flags and asked about me. I couldn’t say
then, and can’t say now. But I know I am you, riding a bare raft amongst sharks, my own flesh
stinking and the sarx of my kin rehearsing the universe. Having to die, but thankful for the salty
breeze that tingles at least.

A cigarette burns eternally against the first of morning, signaling a million steps to womanhood,
a thousand stopgaps to blackness.

You’ve taken them all.

Christoper Morris is a creative writing student at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. He has previously been published in ReCap and has worked as an editor and a freelance writer.

Monessen Wedding, 1912

An aging groom stares cross-eyed at the camera,
three strands of hair over his bald forehead, fixed
as the watch chain looped across his vest.
His moustache droops, but his thin fingers grip

the corseted wicker arm of the bride’s chair,
as if it were the body of this new young wife.
Fat roses fill her pleated lap; she smiles broad-faced,
contained and satisfied. Her tulle veil floats,

a smoking ghost at her left side. Is it the lost
mother of these children—a wry-mouthed girl,
a pouting beauty with lids puffed from crying,
a plump blond toddler in pantaloons? Or does the boy,

clinging to the rented wing of the groom’s chair,
belong to that brilliantined dandy and the stiff
young matron whose face blurs with emotion?
How patiently the past waits for exposure.

An oilcloth backdrop spools like film—
but this camera was a glass plate. One crack,
running from the edge to slash the bride’s full cheek.
Marking her forever, like a dueling scar.

Outside Kandahar 

His aunt wrote he had made The New York Times.
I clicked the link, and sat there waiting
for the photo of his capped young face to prime
the well of grief, deep losses unabating.
And then—his flag-draped coffin, at an angle,
tipped like luggage from the airplane’s mouth.
Four soldiers settled by the weight they cradled.
A stop-time on his final journey South—
to spangled fields of blue in his hometown,
waved at half-staff in clenched or trembling hands,
to choked cries when his casket went to ground,
to silence after cheers and marching bands.
He lived to serve. And died, believing in a hero’s birth—
a single candle from this riddled, restless earth.

Angele Ellis is the author of Arab on Radar (Six Gallery) and Spared (A Main Street Rag Editors' Choice Chapbook), and the recipient of a fellowship in poetry from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Her poetry and prose recently have appeared in American Book Review, Eunoia Review, Grey Sparrow, Mizna, Right Hand Pointing, Stone Highway, Rufous City, and Lilliput Review, among others. She lives in Pittsburgh.

Buddha Beads 

17 spheres conceived by the flesh of earth and water
to keep myself restrained by good faith

rich cocoa coconut shells, albeit grazes and nicks,
each a whim
weathered and dropping

yet so creamy like euphony from the lips
each a whim or wish
unspoken but powerfully recited

inscribed with mini-mighty Buddhas
each a whimsical wish
to be enshrined and embraced

the stretchy wire coiled through and up into delicate loops
each a dying whimsical wish
heading towards where they're all tied up

the carvings of Asian depictions
each a deflated dying whimsical wish
for luck to somehow hang around my hands

Canadian writer Allen Qing Yuan edits Poetry Pacific in Vancouver. His poetry has appeared in numerous literary publications across 12 countries, including Contemporary American Voices, Cirque, Cordite Poetry Review, Istanbul Literary Review, Literary Review of Canada, Mobius, Paris/Atlantic, Poetry Scotland, Spillway, Taj Mahal Review and Toronto Quarterly.

San Francisco May 10-18, 2008

At Kintetsu Mall, teens gossiped over tiny pastries.
A Harajuku girl cradled a stuffed puffin under one arm. Tucked
in her plastic backpack was a book called The Anxiety of Words.
In Presidio Park, I inhaled eucalyptus until my lungs were full.
Our friend said the government named it invasive, planned to kill it.
The coffee shop boy in the Mission was tall with bony hips
and spoke Spanish to me. Heavy curls fell in his face when he leaned
over to serve my drink. His hair and hands smelled of jasmine, oranges.
The creek through Muir Woods was too dry at the edges. Still the camera
caught shadows of crayfish (tiny and muscular), the afterimage
of fingerling salmon shimmering through clear musical pools.

Lancaster County, PA (Est.’d 1734)

Moth pinned to the board
one broken wing.

The cymbal-clacking monkey
chatters from his automaton
mouth. Sparklers dance above his head.

Four bees in a circle
of spilled lemonade.

Raindrops, pinwheels, bicycle.
All fall down.

Fireflies rise. Brownian motion
over the lake.

The waterwheel turns slowly,
perpetuating itself.

It’s time to wake up.

Every word you say is one fewer
left until you leave.


Twenty Fingers

The well stands abandoned but uncovered,
tucked in a corner of the pasture
where the grass is tall. The girls balance

their torsos on its edge. They feel the inner wall
slippery with moss, the gravity, the danger.
The scent from the well warns: here is a way

back to something primal. They stare
into the thick dark mouth, imagine
a push, a plunge, a falling-

down-and-through like light into a pupil—

but their feet march back into the world,
through the neglected pasture that is someone
else’s problem, the fallen fence, the barn

with its waiting horses, sagging geometries.
The hay falls from the loft with a muffled sshh.
One says those are someone else’s hands that wield

the heavy fork
. Horses hear the clatter of oats
in the bucket and nicker. The girls imagine a push,
a plunge, a sudden wish to live. How

they would dig their nails into the mossy slick.
How if, miracle, someone found them, twenty fingers
would sport a green-black cap, down to the quick.

Jill Khoury earned her MFA from The Ohio State University. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous journals, including Sentence, RHINO, Rufous City Review, and Harpur Palate. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize twice by Breath and Shadow: A Journal of Disability Culture and Literature, and has a chapbook, Borrowed Bodies (Pudding House Press).

Riddle Me This, St. Christopher

I saw a saint Christopher pendant in an old antique shop
and nearly bought it for good luck
because my Catholic blood and my dead grandmother
once told me he is the patron saint of lost things
and you are my lost things
and maybe if I succumb to superstition
I will find you again
I never find you again
So I left St. Christopher in his window case
and got in my car

and I drove

and when I reach the first crest of the first mountain
north of the city
I fill with anxiety
and when I see the stoplights we kissed at
the broken fields we invaded
I pray to St. Christopher

so maybe tonight
after I finish my drink or a couple more
I’ll call you again
and see if my number is still blocked
and my number is always still blocked
(Saint Christopher what are you so busy with?)

and i fantasize about leaving
but i am a kid in the middle of a prayer
and broke
and terrible with maps
i am no vonnegut
no keroac
I am a sad
and broken

and apparently
St. Christopher
you don't listen
very well

AnnaMaria Little's poetry has been anthologized, in addition to being published in Aberration Labrynth. She lives in North Atlanta, Georgia.



Still as a possum beneath a pitbull’s nose
I lie there, sweat gathering around my face.
It’s here again, furry thighs smashing my breast
like a spatula flattens beef to the pan,
blazing blue flame turned high.


                                                                             Picture my esophagus swelling,
                                          walls reaching toward each other like prehistoric foes,
                                                        clubs in hand, except more like asphyxiation,
                                                                            perhaps a heavy quilt in summer                                                                                           too hot and in the way and

Fur matted like a bear’s after some bloody brawl
claws, arched like talons,
hover a hairs twitch from my skin.
It’s palm press, pressing on my throat,
heavy like a boulder sinking in soft soil.

                                                                           my back pressed against the wall

                                                                       gasping, fingers probe smooth paint
                                                                                    for something to grasp onto.
                                                                  The air thins around me, my lungs pull,
                                                                                            pull, and catch nothing.

I can sense its satisfied grin
like Fuseli’s monster liberated from the canvas.
There’s no struggle now, my lungs pull less and less.
Only my heart still races
like high heels, running off the roof top.

                                                                           And what do you think about then,

                                                                   during the attack? the therapist pushes,
                                                                  her voice rising like chimes in the wind.
                                                                       I imagine the demon’s grip, its yawn,
                                                                                     and deep throated breathing.

Brionne Janae Thompson
is a first-year MFA student at Emerson College in Boston, and a recent graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. She is currently working as a first-grade teaching aid, and says she writes because it is one of her purest forms of expression.

Every Angel is awesome.
                                  - Rainer Maria Rilke, First Duino Elegy, trans. William H. Gass

Gass guessed wrong on the Zeitgeist choosing Awesome
for Rilke’s angels, when the original
clearly states schrecklich, Shrek-like, lovable, dumb,
ghostly, ghastly, never forgiven, bronze wings,

and Awesome, dude, is finding a parking place
concrete evidence of a higher power

who would even hear me, screaming in my car
circling the block of self for the nth time—

I’ll tell you what’s Awesome: my granddaughter’s face
at dawn, emerging from dream, opening eyes
into a new day as if for the first time

vulnerable to all the future’s terrors
so clear and true that she could be mistaken
for an angel in the world’s greatest poem.

John Oliver Simon, born in 1942 and published from Abraxas to Zyzzyva, is the 2013 River of Words Teacher of the Year. He is Artistic Director of Poetry Inside Out.

Ode to a Carnie

Oh, to be a carnie at the carnival,
smoking guns, barking at children,

Oh, to be a carnie and drink rum,
sit bowlegged, cousin your way through

the godforsaken earth. Who knows
or has been a carnie, for they must find them

before the gallows, must find their cousins
in carnie cities, with Pinocchio noses,

they who are peerless at the shooting gallery,
they who are shameless at the wheel

of bumper cars. To dream of being a carnie,
oh, how it must be a traveling grin,

with bears and flames, clowns and cotton
candy, oh, you carnie cousin,

let the children ignore you and your shroud,
let parents turn their children

from your robust cigars and derby caps.
Oh, to be carnie and that is your sum.

Vincent Caruso received his MFA from the University of Miami, Florida, where he lives and works.. His chapbook, I, Tribe, was published in Reconstruction. His poems and essays have been published in technoculture, Dark Matter, and Prick of the Spindle.

What Monster

shut the compass—
write it; for me
you will dig flesh,
whittle limbs into silk robes,
wrench teeth from the gum sponge
to fill the gold plate, you will
flay ugly history into glossy ululations
but always, always
something blocks the road;
rowboats bang the geoducks
low tide, high tide, barnacle fallacies,
the insides of too many pinched
Playboy slits; the gorgonized
nipples like blackberries burst
between cherub lips— my father
saying sweet pea, my pumpkin,
my little girl
who might have remembered
everything wrong.

Laura M. Plitkins lives and works in Western Washington. She completed a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing in 2010 at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas. She is currently enrolled in the MFA program at Pacific Lutheran University.

Whether the bird

slammed into the picture window, or
was found in the grass behind the house, or
was killed with a BB gun
or rock, however its warm body cooled,
here it is now,
an object,
each of its wingtips held
between a thumb and forefinger
of this eleven-year-old boy.
The bluejay’s wings stretch upward,
toward the overcast sky,
striated feathers fanned,
its head almost touching
the child’s dry cheek,
its body a pendant.

Faith Paulsen’s poetry and prose has appeared in journals and collections including philly.com, Apiary, Wild River Review, Literary Mama, Musehouse Journal, three “Cup of Comfort” collections, and four “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books. She lives in Norristown, PA.

phenomenology of the knuckleball

first you must forget
how to touch
let the seams rest
on your fingertips
let your palm wilt
around the ball’s
round belly
let your arm forget
hitting the mark
let your wrist forget
controlling spin

if your fingers are empty
of intention
extending with the ease
of windbent stalks
then the ball
that despite the order
of foul lines
innings and strike zones
despite years of
deliberate repetition
this game is really
Bernoulli roulette
the matter at hand
is out of your grasp

the shine
of white leather
the lines
of red stitching
and black ink
in bare sunlight
as each
dancing zig-zag
unveils traces
of air


we made a mic stand from a length of pipe
rammed in the slot of a broken toaster
we found drum sticks left behind at a club
a guitar amp dumped out on a Knoxville street
a bent ride cymbal face down by the curb
scratched Sun 45s buried in yard sales
found three button jackets and Cuban heels
that promised to teach us the Temptation walk
if we dusted them off found the duck tail
the spit curl found sequined jackets to burst
stage light open shave and a haircut
two bits our tribal beat we practiced chants
for three minute spells we opened the vaults
we cooked the elders to feed off their magic

Robert Kendrick teaches at D.W. Daniel High School in Central, South Carolina. He has previously published or has work forthcoming in The Iodine Poetry Journal, Illuminations, and Tipton Poetry Journal.

In Residence
, October

There’s a witch in this wood—
or Circe—
             must be.
How else explain the sorcery?
dark spells thread on sun-spun web
             cloud-cast swelter
             crisp bright chill
the unmeasured hours of enchantment?

From morning’s thin air
she conjures
             hare and heron,
             crayfish and caterpillar
and Monday she placed a dipper
just there
             and made him merrily swim
just so
soon after
I’d open Mary Oliver to
             ‘a dark bird dipping in
             and out.’

From a salty bay
this Circe summons salmon
to soar uphill gulping fresh

and by dawn
through a downpour
she’s enameled the forest—
             emerald green
             and copper—
limbs, chased silver.

             I’m flung skyward,
become a treetop
cyclops, an oculus
to each compass cardinal
             and here
pen finds
false starts
end true.

Of an evening she charms me
with the trochaic cadence
             of the rocking chair
             and the spun tale
of Harper Lee’s Mockingbird
             (Nelle’s name, too, is just upstream,

             her stony ear to the soft duff, heeding)

Who would believe such magic?
              feathered fish
              and gilled bird
spellbound she held us
but now
for another deep creek
some other tall acre
             on storm-borne leaf
             on wood smoke

There was a witch in this wood—

                                                           or Circe

Having made her living in arts administration for many years, Susan G. Duncan is presently a consultant with a performing and visual arts clientele. She served as executive director for San Francisco’s long-running musical comedy phenomenon Beach Blanket Babylon, the al fresco California Shakespeare Theater, and the Grammy-winning, all-male vocal ensemble Chanticleer. Her work has appeared in Atlanta Review, Compass Rose, the G.W. Review, Iodine Poetry Journal, The MacGuffin, OmniArts, Poem, Thema, and The Yalobusha Review.

The Same Procedure as Every Year

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the British short Dinner for One is the most
frequently repeated TV program ever, it has never been aired in the United Kingdom or the
United States, and most of the English-speaking world is ignorant of its existence.

Miss Sophie, unfortunately, has outlived all her friends
who were invited to her birthday party! Fortunately,
Miss Sophie's eyes are 90 years old,
and her butler James is a master of impressions.

Nobody in the United States is amused by sipping from a flower vase.
There is nothing hilarious about mulligatawny soup!
I can't explain why it isn't funny when James trips on the tiger-skin rug the second time,
but it is funny again when it happens the third and fourth times.

James is handsome in his tuxedo. Sophie's ballgown ruffles froth
at her neck, her wrists. They make the cutest couple!
I worried they wouldn't get together by the end of the movie.
When they did (sorry about spoilers),
I had tears in my eyes.

I can't wait until my own 90th birthday!

I printed a shirt with the movie's catchphrase:
"The same procedure as every year"
and traveled to Germany. I assumed I would be popular,
but everyone owned the identical t-shirt.

The audience for my poem is me
and my Obscure Film Club.
This is not the first time I alienated my audience.

I am disappointed
I can only publish a poem about Dinner for One in non-English speaking countries.

I thought German literary magazines would love my poem,
but every major German poet already wrote about the movie.

The rejection:"Thanks for letting us read your poem, but a Dinner for One poem must be well-crafted,
complex, and innovative. That's why the DFO genre is so difficult to write. We apologize, but the
sheer number of poems we receive on the subject makes it impossible to send a personal

Friends make suggestions: Why not change
the poem's subject to an iconic American movie?
Screening the Dinner for One before I read the poem
would be easier.

I am considering re-titling my poem: "Here is the Link to the Video."

Valerie Loveland is the author of Reanimated, Somehow (Scrambler Books, 2009). Her poetry has been featured in Dzanc Book's Best of the Web and the Massachusetts Poetry Festival. She enjoys running, listening to audio poetry, and open courseware. Valerie works as an optician in Action, Massachusetts.

Where A Particular Kind of Man   Finds He Can Be Faithful
Putah Creek, August 2008 

Among the walnut trees. In the dusty mouth
of the dry creek bed. Between the short soft
feathers of the tanager’s bastard wing. Here,
where his first finger rests on the limp neck
of the bird bag. The dog’s damp snout quiet
on his knee. His feet touch the ground. Touch
the old-fingered waterway. Touch the grasses
that grow tall and yellow in the wind. No need
here for gods. For worship. For another body
warming in the summer sun. How he praises
the dark-split shells of the walnuts beneath
his boot. The baked ground that catches them.
The birdsong opening the air. His hands catch
a body in flight, hold fast, light, a kind of prayer.

Rachel Bunting's poems can be found in print and online journals like Weave Magazine, Muzzle, [PANK] and Toad.

The Foreman

He chose Angels Camp last
because he liked the sound
of the name, and because he thought
one morning years back
when he was unloading his truck
to drill under Highway 49
that any air that smelled that way
and felt so much like the touch
of a woman’s fingers
against his face
must be a home to angels.

Tonight he can’t sleep
for the pain in his shoulders.
He sits up in the living room,
lights a Pall Mall,
and all at once he’s holding
the blue light of the arc welder,
and every weld is flowing
like a necklace of molten pearls.
Then the drill rig is running
as smooth and quiet as that new
International six cylinder
he saw at the fair one October
when it was raining too hard to work.
The auger is spinning in a blur,
cutting hard clay to a fine dust that lifts
toward the sky without being shoveled.

This is the longest tunnel he will ever drill,
and it will go on until
he reaches the one distant circle of light
that he was always digging toward
where he’ll be forgiven for everything:
for trading welfare butter for beer,
for coming home on Christmas Eve
with the bonus check gone,
the holiday wrapped fifth of Canadian Club
half empty, for falling asleep on the sofa,
feet tangled in ribbons and paper,
for the bruises on his son’s face and arms,
for buying new soft leather boots
and a $40 western shirt
when the power bill was due.

He feels the hum of the motor,
closes his eyes and watches the white circle spread,
knows the preacher is pushing him one last time
under the current of that Arkansas river
where he first felt the fire
of salvation burning in his lungs.

Over a large span of time (1976 to the present) Mike Cole has published poems in Antioch Review, Laurel Review, Midland Review, Beyond Baroque, In the Grove, San Joaquin Review and other magazines, and in the anthology Highway 99 published by Heyday Press of Berkeley, California.

Third Street Gospel

On a city block,
the sun painted you over the graffiti:
a shadow of a trunk and branches. Reaching
out, a congregation of budding arms and hands
rejoicing, “Hallelujah, I am
a miracle.”

Krista Suprenant is currently working on her MFA in writing at Albertus Magnus College. She has been previously published as a freelance columnist for a local online newspaper and have several poems appearing in the February 2013 issue of the SNReview. Krista works as a language arts teacher in Norwalk CT.

Numbers Ode

Dealing in numbers helps halt the mind’s
stalking more solemn things:

Willie Nelson wrote “Crazy”
in 20 minutes. Figure.

It takes 13 million calories
to raise up a child. Measure twice;

cut once. Triskaideka-
phobia is the word for fear

of the number 13,
whose microbe I carry.

Seventy percent of the world’s
umbrellas are made in China. The average

daily charge for an electric vehicle
is less than one dollar. The mayor

of Whoville
had 96 daughters. Thirty-three thousand

asteroids and 20 new comets are aiming their whims
straight at Earth. Pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism,

much more fun to say
than come down with,

marks my lucky number, 12,
through strict syllable count. Everyone

must be safe
for everyone to be safe
. The One brings the many

out of itself, Goethe was fond
of avouching. But what happens in those heights

a half-hand’s breadth past the universe’s edge? And what,
for all the world, might be the term for dread

over that—what word so lovely and loathsome, so fat-hearted and wholly out of control
it finally brings full opening to the groin?

The Eyck-Berringer Endowed Chair in English at The College of Idaho, Diane Raptosh has been the recipient of three distinguished fellowships in literature from the Idaho Commission on the Arts. The Boise Poet Laureate for 2013, she awaits publication of her fourth book of poems, American Amnesiac, to be published by Etruscan Press in August.

During Lull in Storm

            You know that line of crows like a shuddering nerve
inside a thorn, that all night crowds into cutout thieves of clouds
            behind your shoulders: it traces around your wrist
like an inlet knotting a grove; echoes the sound of an open
            coffin filling with slant rain; burns down
the woodgrains in your head—a head in which wisteria
            is piled in a wheelbarrow, topped with poplar shreds
and left in a clearing.

             You saw a tornado walking
home. Your boots worn from kicking timber, cutting woods
             of ponderosas. You forget you could stall you could miss
the train within a minute like a cardinal’s departure
            through your glasses, between roofs. You look up at the eclipse
of storm and forest: within are battered
             pillars, reversed are the rivers and tilting
are the empty rowboats. Who could fall any higher
             than you? There lies a laurel that looks,
to you, a wineglass. Every night drops the drum’s
             repercussions as one eyelid slackens like the sawing
of a thin vine. First your nose seeks
            the balcony then the bed and a quick bedding
of ferns stretches its neck to the windmill’s turn.

            You wander back to your private square: it is walled
with windows curtained by burning dresses—the night mirrors, the tresses,
            the empty chests all your nesting. But, no—you are not
content to settle on these branches like crows,
            even white crows, crows
with talons of hair. In the painting the girls are running from bayonetting
            beach caves; without meeting a glance you toss a towel
over the book and repeat what you already know:
            the windows are broken on the inside alone.

Give Us This Day

If you need me,
I’m at the other end of the reception hall,
drinking a different river. Giving birth
to myself. Pacing in waiting rooms, bickering
with nuns, jumping into cold water at dawn.
I popped a perfectly good balloon, growing
as paranoid as the last black pawn. No thoughts of suicide
in the past year? You must feel sterile, clean,
untoxicated. In your last dream there were
ponds, magnolias and bridges, but you don’t know what
that means. Be mean for a while, my heart, my heart’s
in the bathroom stall. I am the ward’s most impatient
patient. World, tell me that she’s put on
weight, her smile has lost all taste, to burn the photos
and get out of this place. I can’t disappear as easily
as you’d think. Past 11? Okay
to make a drink. How about on
the balcony? The trees are tired
of the dark only breathing on them.
Holy Father, did you really
expect me to win against skin? Keep the sheath
and give me a sepal. Either the fence
or my vision ends and all the sunflowers
in young men are rattled to nakedness. Wide open,
like the offered handshake of your surgeon,
or the answer you could give to
Where are you from? Plano, you’d say,
my mother died with honey
on her breath and I didn’t eat for three
days until I started sculpting again. Lying
is so hungry. Give us this day
our daily dead. Name another way the rain
might fall. What’s the difference between
a sneer and a snarl, a mumble and a grumble?
No thoughts of suicide in the last night?
Maybe someone opened the door
and yelled something at the dark.
The shutters are still moving. Commence
years of resentment, hating your brother
from Portland. Take a shower, half-read
a half-read novel, what you need
is a clever cover. Somewhere,
I’ll hover. If you need me,
I can’t wait for you.

Derek Graf's poems have appeared in Sphere Literary Magazine, Poydras Review, Thread Literary Inquiry, and are forthcoming in Prompt Literary Magazine.

However Austere

with the occupational caffeine
especially when working nights
yet the pleasure, comfort
ritual of waking
* * *

with better integration and interaction
of the components of my life
rather than carefully juggling each
as time permits, as has been my custom

* * *

with neighbors isolating themselves
and thin
in this apartment complex

* * *

within the waiting morning
come to me, O Holy Muse

Jnana Hodson’s chapbook, Harbor of Grace, was issued in August 2012 by Fowlpox Press. The author of two published novels, he blogs at Jnana’s Red Barn.

Travelers Dream About The Peasants
from Caravan

I wake up, see my wife.
She’s sanding her elbow
at the opposite end of our berth.

Dreamily she announces to nobody in particular,
“I have a carbuncle,”
and sighs like the hydraulic brakes on a semi.

Every day we wake up in a different carriage.
We’re like a blossom on a branch.
we’re like an amber bar of soap.

She crumples the sandpaper oval.
Before she scuffs away
I hear her say “jacquard.”

A zebu mounted on a hill
in the distance, the electric razor
buzzing like an angry insect.

Our compartment spins out,
but the train hasn’t moved.

Mark Parson's poems have been published or are forthcoming in Indiana Review, CrossConnect, Curbside Splendor, Smalldoggies, Poetry Quarterly, MAYDAY, Spittoon, Literary Juice, Heavy Feather Review and elsewhere.


That twisted silver on her wrist
            I recognize,
But not the neck, whose final twist
            closed both her eyes.

What dreams we would betray, what days
            of sacrifice
Perpetuate, until we say
            this will suffice—

This beauty slain—so gods, appeased,
            do us no harm.
And for our sins, this bracelet eased
            upon her arm.


That comes, that goes, that always seems
            to travel in
A crooked line. That stops, that deems
            this bit of thin

And broken beetle surely worth
But nothing there. Continues forth,
            where everything

Distracts it. In no special place,
            seems to be caught
Thinking, about to wash its face.
            But maybe not.

Jared Carter, who lives in Indianapolis, has published five books of poetry. The most recent is A Dance in the Street, from Wind Publications in Kentucky. A sixth—Darkened Rooms of Summer: New and Selected Poems—is forthcoming from the University of Nebraska Press.


His cries quieted eventually
like ants disappearing down an ant-hole,
he'd woken on the underground
from a passion of outstretched on his mother's lap sleeping—
the bottle had already dropped
and she bent so his hand held stretched out
almost touched the floor,
but it missed and she picked the bottle up
where it rattled on the train floor before it stopped,
and he didn't wake only the copper lights
with ornamental shadows made him rise
outstretched, the bone-buttons bowed on his duffel coat
and his lower midriff bared where the tee-shirt rode
up on his mother's tartan pants
and shining patent leather boots: he screamed, he screamed
and she rocked him and comforted,
eventually the ants fled
but Judas came with his rifling hands
and before sleep came again
made sure they got off and proceeded round
the station through a brilliant tunnel
and some stairs rising toward the stars.

Atar Hadari was born in Israel, raised in England, and studied poetry in the US. His Songs from Bialik: Selected Poems of H. N. Bialik (Syracuse University Press) was a finalist for the American Literary Translators’ Association Award, his debut collection, Rembrandt’s Bible, is forthcoming from Indigo Dreams in 2013 and his Lives of the Dead: Poems of Hanoch Levin, is forthcoming from Arc Publications in 2014.

Two Stories of Vanishing


On route to the night market in Nahuizalco, the underbellies of clouds glow lemon-gold. Thin bright day ebbs, as though drawn out of the sky, the cobblestones, the smoke of street food carts. As the taxi takes us onward we feel night begin to saturate the land, first as handfuls of dark sand thrown into the air; soon the grains do not hold their shape, are shown to be alive & liquid & viscous- sleek as muscle & seeping at first, then pouring, until night comes down full & clear & heady. The moon, a day from full, is webbed in silver clouds.

Then night is inside the car, dusting our skin- shining ink spilled & sinking through paper drop by drop, atoms of darkness climbing through the rungs & fibres of muscle, bone, organs & cartilage, until it blossoms through the other side, saturates- our skins hold the green-black of palm tree silhouettes, net of clouds the silver of rabbit fur, the roads I cannot see except for the serpentine lack of trees up the mountainside, the lights of houses & shadow of dry grass waving from the ridgeline.


At the market crowds arrive in brightly-painted buses that once shuttled schoolchildren in our country, unpack bundles of sugared bread, hot yellow corn, jugs of chicha & a sweet white milk that smells of coconut and cinnamon. Stalls serve chicken feet in orange sauce, pig ears fried crispy- we search for garrobo, wanting to taste iguana, but find only shawls of meat, cow and pig, flecked with rich white fat, hanging from iron hooks before dark-eyed women who keep cleavers beneath the flimsy wooden counters- the flesh is red, flickering, lit from behind by candles.

We pay American Dollars for atol—cornstarch custard served hot in plastic bags, sit on a sidewalk curb & bite the corners off, suck out the sweet warmth, like my neighbor’s blind cattle dog sucks eggs when she comes upon them, when the chickens lay them in haystacks or horse stalls. We keep our purses on our laps or clamped between our thighs, use both hands to eat.

On return to Juayua, the same taxi with worn leather seats that smell like smoke, same silent driver. I can see nothing outside the headlight beams except stars & a scraggly mirror of lights from small towns in the bowl of the valley. We slide along the roads like mercury, object without a center, fusing with the darkness outside until we are nothing but strokes of light on the mountainside.

Denver to Chicago

Plains spread in all directions,
a blanket forever unrolling,
gold to violet-blue to black.

The train, long creature
sliding through dark water,
only our many eyes above

the surface to witness
the scattered lights of towns
thrown farther and farther apart,

until the sky and ground lose
their lines into each other,
become a single darkness.

Theodosia Henney is a queer circus enthusiast who enjoys standing in the spaces between raindrops. Her work has appeared in several journals, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and the Micro Award.

Chairs with Views
Thank you God for the beautiful scenery I view from my chair
                                                                                     – Richard’s journal

I too revel in the view,
a bank of multi-paned windows
at a writer's residency:
the wavy glass whelmed
by a Chinese elm,
its trunk split into three branches,
bark deep-furrowed,
leaves like almonds
with serrated edges.
Through the far right pane,
the stump of what must have been
its twin,
growth rings unclad.

As I revise poems about you,
my gaze returns to the elm,
as your eyes must have raised
past our living room window
to the scarred locust
where crows cawed at dusk,
the shagbark hickory
and row of lacy pines,
red needles layered below.
Tree shadows that shifted
across the grass,
doves waddled below a birdfeeder,
while above, yellow finches pecked.
At the suet cage: cardinals, woodpeckers, jays.
Bamboo chimes swung
near a hanging basket of purple petunias,
and a Boston fern twirled one way,
then the other. Your view
from the recliner
the last weeks of your life.


Richard, on the third anniversary of your death, I woke to sun through colored glass
casting faceted swirls of emerald, ruby, sapphire on seafoam carpet. Whoosh of branch
and bamboo chimes proclaimed heady winds, and I knew I wanted to worship under
turning trees.

In Devou Park I claimed a picnic table in a flat field edged with old maples, poplars,
elms. Leaves crunched and swirled at my feet, remnant ones sizzled overhead. Toddlers
rolled on their backs, teens leaned against peeling trunks, and a father hurled his son up
near the vault of oak.

When I walked past Prisoner's Lake, leaves glided with the water like vessels bearing
spices on hallowed trade routes. I wanted to say to you: look at all these blazing trees
ready to fall dormant. How gold leaves glow against gray trunks, and thin limbs point
toward roots rising. The way winged seeds spiral past the lens.

Karen George's chapbook, Into the Heartland, was released by Finishing Line Press in 2011. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Memoir, Louisville Review, Border Crossing, Permafrost, Still, qarrtsiluni, Sugar Mule, and Cortland Review. She has been awarded grants from The Kentucky Foundation for Women and The Kentucky Arts Council. Karen has taught at The University of Cincinnati, and she hold's an MFA in Writing from Spalding University. She reviews poetry at Poetry Matters.


I'm becoming what I've always been,
dust and silence, but also earth
and the sound of shifting soil,
silk splitting ears of corn, stalks snapping and sighing,
breezes, hurricanes, proposals of marriage,
hatchling turtles hissing on beaches, subatomic forces
linking arms in stochastic dances,
deeps calling unto deeps
that may or may not be calling,
busy signals, outgrown terrors,
raindrops stiffening into snow,
the hallelujah of autumn angels
urging grass to grow.


The geese are leaving, so am I, our ragged formations
sink and soar, drawn along magnetic lines.
Life is the iron in our brains, death the wings
that beat to either side.
There are so many points on the compass now.
Every one is mine. 

Joy Ladin is the author of six books of poetry: newly published, The Definition of Joy, Lambda Literary Award finalist Transmigration, Forward Fives award winner Coming to Life, Alternatives to History and The Book of Anna, (all from Sheep Meadow Press), and Psalms (Wipf & Stock). Her memoir, Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders, was published in March. Her work has appeared in many periodicals, including American Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Parnassus: Poetry in Review, Southwest Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and North American Review, and has been recognized with a Fulbright Scholarship that enabled her to serve as Poet-in-Residence at Tel Aviv University. She holds the David and Ruth Gottesman Chair in English at Stern College of Yeshiva University, and has taught in the Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Sarah Lawrence College, Princeton University, Reed College and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

& So On, A Meditation
 for Eve Hanninen

& is old coyote, quick to shapeshift,
tricking itself in &, &, &.
Ampers&s disguise is s& & s&stone.
&,& is a v&’s tool; it w&ders
away from safe places. & can be r&y, hence
fecund, & capricious, especially at lines’ end: &.
yet takes a st& amid a b& of st&ard angels.
& issues its one-word comm&: Keep moving!
Thus, & is a sinuous riverine word me&ering
through the l&s of a thous& l&scapes;
& exp& the Universe. & & is
the gr& word embedded in love:
gr&mother, husb&, my girl-child
Alex&ra, my son Alex&er.

Poets cannot live without our &s at h&.
& is the d&iest. & so on.

A seven-time Pushcart-Prize nominee and National Park Artist-in-Residence, Karla Linn Merrifield has had more than 300 poems appear in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has nine books to her credit, the newest of which are Lithic Scatter and Other Poems (Mercury Heartlink) and The Ice Decides: Poems of Antarctica (Finishing Line Press). Forthcoming from Salmon Poetry is Athabaskan Fractal and Other Poems of the Far North, and from FootHills Publishing, Attaining Canopy: Amazon Poems. Her Godwit: Poems of Canada (FootHills) received the 2009 Eiseman Award for Poetry and she recently received the Dr. Sherwin Howard Award for the best poetry published in Weber - The Contemporary West in 2012. She is assistant editor and poetry book reviewer for The Centrifugal Eye. Visit her blog, Vagabond Poet, at http://karlalinn.blogspot.com.

Three (3) audio poems:
- At Break Point
- The Use of Me
- Counsel of Alders

Gram Davies lives and writes in the west of England. His work is often inspired by the natural world, by science, by madness and compassion. He feels poetry is for sharing and likes to read aloud, participate in workshops and occasionally, through stupendous feats of self-organisation, submit for publication. His work has appeared in Tilt, The Centrifugal Eye, The Adroitly Placed Word , and recordings of a few of his previously published pieces can be heard at his blog site, Poplar Verse.

Three (3) audio poems:
- Little Prince
- Big Sur
- Cathedral

Ruth Kessler grew up in Poland and Israel. Her poetry chapbook, Fire Ashes Wings, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. She has published some sixty poems in journals and anthologies, and one of her poems was made into a limited-edition artist book. Awards include Individual NYSCA grants and Yaddo, MacDowell, VCCA, VSC and Saltonstall fellowships. Most recently, she was a guest poet at the 2012 Women in Music Festival. She lives in Rochester, New York.