Thursday, July 18, 2013

Journeys: Volume 3, Issue 2

It's our honor to present Volume 3, Issue 2 of Blast Furnace, featuring meditations and observations regarding travels: Physical excursions, explorations in foreign territories, journeys of the mind, peculiar lingerings beyond one's comfort zone...and, as always, some additional fine writing outside of the Issue theme. Our volunteer guest reviewer for this edition was the gifted poet-writer Siobhan Casey. We are grateful for her trusted discernment in reviewing many of the pieces sent for consideration.

A reminder that we’ve added a "Search This Journal" feature to the top, left panel of our website, which permits perusal of poets by name, poem title, or a topic featured in Blast Furnace.
Thanks for visiting us, once again, or for the first time!

- R. Clever, Editor/Publisher

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Blast Furnace Volume 3, Issue 2

Book of the Night Sky

Beneath your coarse cheek and curls,
I read the dome ceiling of your car
with my breath.
From the pock-marked parking lot
overlooking Route18,
your stained fingers trace
stars through the windshield
Orion’s belt and bow,
Ursa Major chasing Polaris.

You say
“See the North Star at the edge of
the Big Dipper?  When I was a child
that’s how my Tata taught me to
navigate the woods
at night.”

Your dry hands
offer a constellation guide
that your grandfather
gave you, a love-worn
papered treasure and
sitting in the candle-glow
of autumn sky,
I turn the cracked pages
as though they are made of snow.

Venus and Jupiter

It is March and unseasonably warm
like the moisture exhaled from your
mouth in the seconds after we finish
our convergence.  On top of me,
you gasp unvoiced vowels against
my ear like you once did
when you would whisper the Norse Song of Making
against my back as though I was
your prayer.
We were young then
and had never touched
until that night,
pulsing as stars flicker,
a gravity of two.
I see the sky now as the carte blanche
though this story was written
in latitude lines
long before we knew
how it would end
or how we would orbit so
far from the vespers
of our shared religion.
I have forgotten how you taught
me to read the night sky
as a Christian reads the Psalms,
how you taught me what it was like
to love and loathe and absolve myself.
I have forgotten that I am
only an unnamed planet
waiting for these fleeting moments
mid-March when I can converge
against your brightness
and remember nothing,
so much white.

Hoytdale Cemetery on Easter Day

After brunch, you take
my hand and
we sneak away
to the old churchyard
in the woods behind your
uncle’s house.
You separate from me
in search of gifts
daffodils and crocuses and small

And this is my favorite one
a tiny obelisk rises from the ground
and beside it a small stone slab
remembers the date, 1889,
the first-born daughter
days old and bled of parents’ love
lies beneath the furred grass
tucked in a rusty box
that only the soles of my feet
have seen.

You stand off-center
in the distance and I
call you back.
I will not focus on the stones
intentionally overturned, desecrated.
Instead, the crocuses grow through cracks,
trail the tree line and edge down
toward the Beaver River,
seasoning the hillside purple or gold
on silent gray.

Wordless, we walk.
Linked fingers stretch around
the nameless markers
and close.

Permanently, we are fading;

            whisper here that you love me.

Athena Pangikas-Miller is a Pittsburgh native whose writing is heavily place-based, blending domesticity, industry, and the environment. She earned her MFA. in Creative Writing at Chatham University with a concentration in poetry, and continues to write, publish, and perform at literary events. Currently, she works as an adjunct instructor of literature and writing at Penn State University, the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, and Strayer University. When she's not writing or instructing classes, Athena spends her time as a super hero, fairy princess, scientist, and explorer with her children, Ares and Persephone, and husband, Michael.

< >

The Griefs of Evening
And the stars, the stars 
            - Vincent Van Gogh

Far where twilight’s laid to rest, with the stars
Hung like lanterns from boats over the dark water,
The hills shadowed from purple into gray,
A weight of fire slipping away behind them.
Hung like lanterns from boats over the dark water,
The griefs of evening settled over us,
A weight of fire slipping away behind them.
My breath held in the tulle, blue pools of your heart.

The griefs of evening settled over us,
Always mauve beneath a pink seam of sky.
My breath held in the tulle, blue pools of your heart
Looking up through the haze of quiet at the night.

All was mauve beneath a pink seam of sky.
The hills shadowed from purple into gray,
Looking up through the haze of quiet at the night,
Far where twilight’s laid to rest with the stars. 

S.D. Lishan is an associate professor of English at The Ohio State University. His book of poetry, Body Tapestries (Dream Horse Press), was published in 2006. His poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction have appeared in the Arts & Letters, Pedestal, Kenyon Review, Boulevard, Another Chicago Magazine, the American Poetry Journal, Bellingham Review, XConnect, Barrow Street Creative Nonfiction,, and other literary magazines. He lives in Delaware, Ohio with his wife, Lynda, and their English Setter, Laddie.

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In Lisbon,

the nameless city of Saramago novels I
found women in evening wear lined up
cheek-kissed outside marisquerias’ windows
(full of crabs like sci-fi scorpions) while cabs

rounded corners at high-sport speeds faster
than you said try not to hit any pedestrians
(tall from Senegal crossing crosswalks arms
akimbo or children jumping jacks in the plaza)

where pigeons bickered on a statue of Pessoa
and hustlers sang hashish marijuana to hand-
holding hookers on greenblown avenidas
under a bruise cream rose impressionist sky—

but when I tried to get out of the alleys
at twilight     I misplaced the sound of the sea

Ait-Baaza, Morocco

In the picture     an empty road like
Arizona                       I never bothered to
imagine      red ground                 cactus
hills          disappearing                 foxes

Ben’s dog     with a hoof in its mouth
he says he remembers                 a collision
a car totaled       I thought of the shriveled
parts     disembodied       in museums

disappearing memories: how tanneries
smell like batteries shoulder burn unmarked
alleys couscous served from a wrinkled palm
it’s an honor strange names for stars

Mind’s eye                  moon
blurry black                 white               negative

Kat Stromquist received her MFA from the University of New Orleans' Creative Writing Workshop. Her work has appeared at Gambit Weekly, the literary magazines Crescent City Review, Espresso Ink, Ellipsis, Off Channel, Gambling the Aisle, the websites and, and elsewhere.

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Public-Private Partnership
in the Age of Joan
Today’s monarchs don’t have heads, or faces, either... Their castles have become databases.
                - Philippe Claudel, The Investigation

The new drug: Clonzipedine.
Emo surgery on the chalkboard.
My poem is a public-private partnership.
 “I believe that behind every great look there should be a great shopping experience.”
Color printing for the deaf has been underwritten by. . .
And then they said. . .
She was all the rage.
Turning the crank
            on the microfilm reader
down here in the dimly lit basement.
And then they said Is this the place we were heading?
SF title: The Age of Joan:
A pattern of motion.
Spacemen dressed in medieval armor.
The Viper TA (Time Attack) spec-package designed for extreme performance in a
special road course focused handling package.
The new Swedeheart micro barrier.
She was all the rage until.
She was all the rage until that other one came on the scene.
The war on the human attention span continues.
            No problem is insurmountable to you and your amazing –
            My amazing what?
            Waterproof mutton, porkipedia fries, all the modern convenience foods.
            This segment is brought to you by Trader Joe’s now offering frozen steel pickles.
            Check Out Invisible Stylized Window Treatments said the story in the Modern
Living section of my Sunday paper. Why not, I thought, sounds like just my style.
            New jobs: Legislative rent vector.
            WE’RE FEELING RICH AGAIN proclaims USA Today.
            Expect no help from this side of the river.

Greg Farnum has been a soldier, factory worker, ad executive, editor, and (following one of the many recessions) a pizza delivery person, finding enough time to write to create Doctor's Testament, a collection of poetry; The Event, a novel; The Pizza Diaries, a memoir; and The Celestial Railroad, an experimental narrative. He is currently at work on a new novel, Farther Than I Thought.

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Manuscrypt lost at 40.808287,

1. Scraps

Pay no attention to the ornithologist behind
the curtain

Things and their correspondence to acoustic



Degrees of delusion

Binge to feel full

Then make myself empty

To feel empty

Personality-annihilating ecstasies  

Making sense

Like signification

Requires skill

Spiral off into abstraction instead

The world smells like my upper lip

If I protect the inner machinations of the

How much of the space inside my skull

Is fiction

King Leopold’s

Malfunctioning nigger

‘Till 1955

Mike Tyson has my brother’s eyes

2. 21/3/13 12:15

It’s hard to find an ethnic tongue among
Throaty chorus nations
Earth-orphan borne in the belly of a colonial
may May flower?
Ice whispers, "spring eternal"
Persephone dyes pastel eggs, carefully, with
But watches
The snow melt, outside.

3. Kerouac

Couldn’t afford Manhattan anymore

Call it tuition inflation


Sink your teeth into the tambourine

Forgive the camp

If you could

Promiscuous beings

Take the world by osmosis

Leeching up through the basements of

Justine Hope is a recent graduate of Columbia University, New York. Her poetry has largely to do with her journey from rural Oregon to the bustle and lights of the City as a failed attempt at spiritual homecoming.

 < >


“You grew quiet listening to your god, or to your heart, or to the western sun lighting up the earth—the sun that set and rose, the ceaseless sun that never tired of the job that it was given. You felt its labor on your skin.”
           – Benjamin Alire Saenz

Erosion of this earth is ceaseless
and the discovery of it, just cause and effect
the earth never tires of dissolving these Badlands
carving the Grand Canyon that someone once saw first
what did he think, who did he tell
the labor of this goes on forever
and I think he probably kept it secret
when he walked across the plateau pasture
filled with purple cacti and mule deer
to the rocks at the edge of the earth
and saw the Colorado River below
I went there and came back
and felt the wind tossing me around
and felt the labor of the sun on my skin
it only diminished during golden hour
when the earth lit up the purples and dulled the greens
and the sun rested below the blanketing dark horizon

Stephanie Schultz is a poet and marathon runner. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing at Hamline University in Saint Paul, MN. Her work has appeared in Paddlefish, Diverse Voices Quarterly,,, and the anthology, Lifting the Sky: Southwestern Haiku and Haiga.

 < >


Nothing had worked.

Traveling to forget in France,
we kept thinking of words: I secretly

rubbing your belly saying
vache, cow, and mouton, sheep,

as the train sped past
fields of gold and green

and we dreamed of another life.

Silly word-rituals
of faith running beyond

reality, my hand, your pale flesh,
too many suitcases, stone

houses with shutters turned
against the summer heat.

Journeying is more
than a visitation: charm of sight

and smell beyond language
or cameras framing

for memory and trinkets
jangling as trophies of having been.

Nine months after
we got home, words of wool,
incantations of milk
became flesh:

Hay-fields splayed
in our minds
against the white and blue
of the delivery room

the last crossing
of the impressionist’s oil.

Devils Canyon

If you’re not careful here,
it can kill you.

The days-long sun,
bitter nights,

expanse after


to yourself

like God
before the Creation.

Hardly a soul
to rescue

your fall

or shadow
your tired heat

down to the chasm
with the fierce-rushing
waters that carve

time in rock.

It doesn’t feel
like you belong here

but you are
a body

and the sky
can only say, yes, yes

in cirric wisps.

David Radavich's poetry collections include America Bound: An Epic for Our Time (2007), Canonicals: Love’s Hours (2009), and Middle-East Mezze (2011). His plays have been performed across the U.S., including six Off-Off-Broadway, and in Europe. David has been president of the Thomas Wolfe Society and the Charlotte Writers’ Club. His latest book, The Countries We Live In, will be available this fall.

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By the Sea in Kiparisi

On this gentle shore
the gulls release
their cries
of approaching ecstasy,

           Parakolo*      parakolo      parakolo…

I love too widely
not to know
what the gulls
are crying for,

not to submerge my soul
in this vivid aqua sea.

So if I fail ­­
            if it is in fact a failing ­­
Let it be from living whole
without reserve

Let it be that I laid myself
down upon these stones

that I let myself fall open
to the light

How I drew the warm, sweet sun
Into my flesh
so thoroughly
that all that is left

Are the bright white stones
that clatter together
softly in the tide.

* parakolo (“please,” in Greek)
A.M. Thompson has been writing since she learned the alphabet. Her poetry has been published in the U.S. and England. One of her short stories, published under a pseudonym, was recently selected for inclusion in the Best New Writing of 2014.

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Little thing in the night returning
from your travels. You are looking
for the wisdom that I couldn’t find,
which either the old books or
the full glasses couldn’t give me.
Then why is it so strange that:

a) I’m trying to find your bright light
into the darkness
b) I’m trying to uncover your blackness
into the blinding glow of the candle flame
c) I’m trying to put on the counter scales two
equal pieces of your flesh but I always

manage to get to the sanctity of the morning
with a smile on my face. Is this the secret
I’ve searched for through these words?
Everything leads to that thing in the night.
And here on the wall, I have one blurry picture
in a frame that I sometimes pray to.

Peycho Kanev is the author of four poetry collections and two chapbooks. His collection, Bone Silence, was published by Desperanto, NY and Уиски в тенекиена кутия (Whiskey in a Tin Can), Американски тетрадки (American Notebooks), and Разходка през стените (Walking Through Walls) were published in Bulgaria. Peycho has won several European awards for his poetry, in addition to having been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Translations of his books will soon be published in Italy, Poland and Russia. His poems have also appeared in more than 900 literary magazines, such as: Poetry Quarterly, Evergreen Review, Columbia College Literary Review, Hawaii Review, Cordite Poetry Review, Sheepshead Review, Off the Coast, The Coachella Review, Two Thirds North, Sierra Nevada Review, The Cleveland Review and many others.

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I Dont Have to Fool Anyone

I don’t have to fool anyone
for a kiss anymore. 
It’s no longer the fantasy of faked
drownings & hot lifeguards. 
Another fat girl looks at my ring
& wonders what I got that she don’t. 
I stopped writing you, poems, because
I was on the bad side of the divide 
between because of & in spite of. 
Dear Husband will say I’m wrong.
He loves me because.  And he does. 
There’s still something that causes
me to point out a woman on the street,
Are her arms bigger than mine?
A woman in a picture on Facebook,
Does my belly do that?
I’ll write you now, poem, in spite of
not wanting to admit remaining insecurities.
(I never did before, but once it was real,
the bluster was gone. 
I couldn’t even fool around with the lights on.) 
I’m that girl who did get married. 
I didn’t say yes to dress shopping,
so much as I gave up
on muumuu frocks online.
I didn’t step out of the dressing room because
my back was exposed,
the samples scarcely covering my sides,
white clips under my arms.
Yes, come, poems I’ve feared, come. 
I’ll let you look at me in bright light every day.
Come & tell me to take a deep breath
& dive in.

Jennifer Jackson Berry is the author of the chapbooks When I Was a Girl (Sundress Publications, forthcoming in 2013) and Nothing But Candy (Liquid Paper Press, 2003). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Harpur Palate, Stone Highway Review, 5AM, Main Street Rag, Jet Fuel Review, Amethyst Arsenic, and Mead, among others. 

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Redemption Song

More grist for the mill. The palm trees weep at dawn. The stupidest things trip you up, what's
left of windows backdropped by the moon. In wide open spaces where once you wore hats,
rain compels a blur of overreach, an epidural of accumulated stains with a side of whiskey, the
variables endless. Up through the western sky, high into hills tilting towards stars, a distant mist
lingers, clinging to strange birds.

Scott Stoller's poems have appeared in many online and print journals and anthologies including Weave, Prick of the Spindle, decomP and Take Five: Best Contemporary Tanka. He lives in the west suburbs of Chicago.

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A Market Excursion in West Papua 

Che (who was never here)
looks down from the wall in acrylic red disdain
at the bright electric
blue tarps
of the market women, market men,
market children
wearing dust skins of powdered concrete, turmeric,
dried scales of fish.
There are piles of chillies, waiting
like pockets of juju candies that you mustn’t touch,
mustn’t suck,
ten to a pile,
and there are the tiled tables where
the new fish and bare chickens are
quartered amongst the hot-eyed flies.
Their juices run down the cracks to the dust,
clear like semen, and sticky,
searching for a warm hole
to soak in but finding
(only the grey ditches that run to other ditches and then to nowhere).
And the women, men, children
sort the piles, cut the flesh, and don’t give a damn (but, then again, do)
what Che or I, or you sitting in your chair (reading with your mind open like a dark cave)


My grandmother’s Kenya
is a laced-up Englishwoman,
blushed and tight with the roundness
of memory and forget.
Seas and years away, her and I
stand on the edge of frost-damp New Zealand hills
where builders have cut red-dark clay squares
through the flax.
Here, because the wind finds people in many places,
my grandmother says she can remember things like
baby names, posho the maize porridge,
and samaki— the Swahili fish.
And here, with the view of our Ben Nevis
(head covered in snow and goats),
and the smoke-skinned blue bay
to the left,
sometimes she can make me remember too.
We wonder whether the white clouds
pinned to the stacks of the MDF plant
are smoke or steam and those clouds
become the words
that will tell my own someday children
of a Kenya built in the air.
My grandmother’s words fill me up
until I can believe in that Kenya and in
breathing red dust and the moist black
bodies of flies.
When we pick up stones left by the builders
and rub the dirt under our fingernails to make them ache,
she tells me that when it rains here,
like in Kenya,
it rusts the flax leaves stiff,
stiff like her knees and a young boy’s dick.
And (also)
that women like us mourn everywhere for lost places
and always will.
We stand on the edge of those hills,
(women remembering women)
thinking of steam
which is all that is left of my grandmother’s Kenya—
the land of her lost words and sometimes mine.

Bonnie Etherington is a New Zealander who grew up in West Papua, Indonesia.

< >

mother machine runtime error

the thing about being pregnant with ghosts: you don’t
feel it when they nose their way out of you & nothing
to suggest you’d lost. anything worth the pain of giving
birth cries out, has a name that tastes like something
new, & your abortive newborn halfways have their way
of melting together like ice in reverse. immaculate means
messy, submerged in gore, & jesus christ himself left
a saint-shaped stain on the dirty straw floor, so how
do you figure your baby can save you unless it takes
your insides with on the way out? you’ll know when
it matters, when you have to make good, & the sound
had better be loud enough to thunder through the fog
of mouthless hungry things that weren’t worth a name;
there’s no better midwife for the one that finally matters
than the empty space surrounding it like a family portrait

Ryan Boyd graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor's in Creative Writing. His work has been published in Literary Orphans, Stirring, and The Bacon Review. He lives in Los Angeles and he never sleeps.

< >


As the night fiddles itself away, I weigh the grey,
the middle string.
How can existence, with all its anomalies,
be a sum of averages?

That deep-cloaked man,
stern as if to satire,
wraps those flawless fingers, like chariots,
round my neck.
I am bruised from inside out.
The doubters live from fork to spoon,
awaiting their various and moderate ransoms.

There are now caretakers staffed to the corner of our alleys.
They keep us from ourselves.

A laborious reality for the keepers of tidy rooms,
where not even the air is free
and fiction parades as reality.

A Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native, Jamin Casciato wrote this poem and others while living and traveling throughout North Africa, East Asia, and the Middle East. He recently worked as a teacher in Iraqi Kurdistan and traveled extensively throughout the region.

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Ljubljana, 2009

Even for a mouse, it is small,
the soot on its whiskers
not dislodged by its twitching.
I think of all I’ve put in that trash can—
three or four days of tea bags, tissues,
parings and greasy napkins—the stew
this mouse finds so alluring. Such velvet fur
and tiny busy heart—
I want it out, want it
never to have come in.

Chewing and chewing the rubbery
sea creatures in this risotto, my fierce
appetite curdles. Tentacles and suction cups
surface in the tomatoey sauce.
Shoving the plate away
only moves it closer to the mouse.
We measure each other, calculating—
my nausea, its bright eyes.

Kelly Lenox's translations and prose have been published in Ljubljana Tales, American Journal of Nursing, Raven Chronicles, Third Wednesday, Cave Region Review, Stony Thursday Book (Limerick, Ireland), Dirty Goat 20 & 23, RHINO, Numéro Cinq, Hubbub, The Drunken Boat, Summerset Review, and elsewhere. She is co-translator of Voice in the Body (Ljubljana: Litterae Slovenicae, 2006); Six Slovenian Poets (Lancaster, U.K.: Arc Publications, 2006); and Chasms, a chapbook, by Barbara Korun (PM Books: 2003). Kelly received an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and work for Oxford University Press in North Carolina.

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Caution: Hot

Full of air:
the empty bowl,

the shimmering matters,

both rock and tree
to transgress,
assume a heart of bone.

If they do,
(and they probably won’t)
the sun will rummage

among the clouds
for a moment or two
before settling

its score
with the horizon
where pink and orange dissemble

and joyfully remake
death, life, truth:
all that matters to you and me.


Be kind to the boss in your chest.
When all that matters
is the rush of blood
feeding vital extremities
such as hands or feet,
the pumping heart fulfills
its destiny as chronic overachiever
and CEO of the body.
Buy stock in the company of life,
and you will be rich.
Encourage the boss’s celebrity,
and your existence will be autographed
by a neat and legible hand.

Sonja James' new chapbook, Calling Old Ghosts to Supper, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2013. Her poetry has appeared in FIELD, The Iowa Review, 5 A.M., Beloit Poetry Journal, The South Carolina Review, Verse Daily, and Poet Lore, among others. Among her honors are two Pushcart Prize nominations.

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To Make an Arch Like That
Ray Bradbury Did Not Write Fiction

Louie Crew is an emeritus professor at Rutgers University. Editors have published 2,276 of his manuscripts, including four poetry volumes. Follow his work at See also The University of Michigan collects his papers.

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Antarctic Dream After Watching Chasing Ice

Scott T. Starbuck has other audio-activist poems at OccuPoetry: 1 <, & 2 < >; and Fogged Clarity: 1, & 2 < His environmental/activist poems have appeared in Autumn Sky Poetry, The Kerf, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, Cream City Review, Pemmican, and Work Literary Magazine. His chapbook, The Other History, Unreported and Underreported Issues, Scenes, and Events of the 19th, 20th, and 21st Centuries is forthcoming from FutureCycle Press. His clay-poem, “Napali,” appeared in the May and June 2013 Particles on the Wall Exhibit about the “lasting impacts of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and the nuclear age,” sponsored by the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR). Scott was a 2013 Artsmith Fellow on Orcas Island.