He came upon the precipice & saw
with ice & grief. Dogs, hungry,
in a snarl after Karuka
disappeared, slog through end-
less snow that scumbles field
& firmament. No sky
means no god. What remains
dangles from creaking
branches. One snaps, collapses,
frightening the skittish
team. The sled flips & I
tumble out, a bundle of pelts
trawled across frozen earth
until my numb fingers
let go. Quickly to my feet,
I galumph after, waist
deep in snow, barking
commands that my ancestors,
who spoke with all creatures, taught me,
but long gone, the yipping echoes,
fades into nothingness. I stare
at the blank page, void
of direction, mine
an unwritten, invisible
history. No longer feeling
my legs, arms, anything, I fall.
When Karuka returns, hoary
coat clinging to her ribs, she licks
my face to wake me, I think,
before her fangs break my flesh.
Matt Morris has appeared in various magazines and anthologies, including DMQ, 88, Hunger Mountain, New York Quarterly, Runes, Swink, and others. He is the recipient of five Puschart nominations. His first book, Nearing Narcoma, won the 2003 Main Street Rag Poetry Award (selected by Joy Harjo). Pudding House has published his two chapbooks, Here’s How and Greatest Hits. He currently lives on what remains of a farm in West Virginia.
hills—rolled and folded over, layered like anticlines. The truck bumbles
down Asheville Highway, the only station, 1480 AM is stuck in the ‘50s—Bill
Haley and Hank Williams scatter into white noise on Viking Mountain. Air on
the ridge is cold and dry like unsweet tea. We suck fresh pressed wind—extra
as a white cat with no ears
the hooves of aluminum reindeer
the Blockbuster Video manager,
pull her hoof from the crosswork of a grocery cart and hobble up the exit ramp. It’s not
yet dawn, but I’m thinking
sacrificed to power grids, worshiped at the edge of chemical reservoirs, kept the gentle
hills and short thick forests from invading
the tractor-trailer fire to kiss our foreheads, the shower of burning corn-chip bags to litter
the burm, crackling as the fat and foil disappear
punctuating canyons and rimrock like perpetual courtship, womanhood rising
dangerously to meet our pioneer vision, and I want to prove
Mother Crow glints in her aching veins
of prosperity in the sky above us, a familiar welcome mat
to pitch camp by. We are all about cocooning
in tie-‘em-up-tight sleeping bags at the end
of a pressing day; but before that we need
something filling, something sweet,
so we hit the graham cracker snacks,
cold frank and beanies, then stroll “next door”
and talk a little talk with the one-nighter RV, breathe deep
of simple comforts. There are brothers and sisters
ready to lend a candle, there are security dudes
keeping the rowdies low or out. Mama makes gas money
during the day selling individual spring waters
she buys by the case; me, I’m all about
the hot taps in the bathroom, the way
a splash of warmth cuts the early morning chill
when the restroom doors open. At night
I read my books by cold light arcing in,
settling myself in the passenger bucket seat. Tomorrow
I hope to nab some bargain underwear
with the pennies I’ve found on the parking lot edges,
passing and paying a nodding respect to the kind-sirs
who let us huddle with our fellow long-term travelers
or shoulder up against the sketchballs.
Security trundles by winking at my mom
while quoting Sam Walton, who
magnanimously claims his stores
“are a destination for safe rest and refuge”
while adding that “long-term tenting”
is not an option; still, since we’ve bent-kneed
our obeisance there’s the promise of a
parking spot exactly like this one just the next town over.
Which is good. Maybe. Maybe I’ll be able to lay claim and
squat in my same school at least another month—that would be
a surprise—before heading down the Eastern Seaboard to
Sam’s next overnight campground, a free
fine place to stay when the blacktop of the world
ends in a concrete curb and the only fire-pit you know
smolders and s’mores in your mother’s eyes.
Repeat Offender: [asphyxiation]
I saw her in the yawning alleyway
light with a slack shuffle.
Each dragged foot souring
unborn buds of flowers polluted red-
white, preserved and rusting.
A face in abandoned row houses where friends crawl
across wilting wall-petals, burning
pulp waste onto linoleum floors until
morning brings its cigarette coughs.
I’ll put your butts in a mason jar for you.
Put your trust in my hand reaching
for the slit in your scarecrow mouth.
You found me, bare feet sinking into mud,
dehydrating into a shade ginseng bodybag—
we lose ourselves in these small worlds.
Meet me outside Des Moines, stranger.
There we can leave interstate eighty, via county roads
where pavement flirts with gravel and dust.
We can find fringe fields of cattails, marigolds
beside the rivulet where a muskrat dwells beneath
hatching mosquito larvae, horseflies suspending
into cross-knit stitched corn stalks;
where the breeze is brisk
Paul Osgerby is a nineteen-year-old undergraduate student at the University of Iowa, studying Journalism and Anthropology.
Klimek, Voboril, Piskorski
She tolled their weddings and births, illnesses and deaths,
Kruml, Kapustka, Turek
their foibles, infidelities, kind acts and cruel.
Beran, Kusek, Papiernik
She traced family trees down to cousins far removed
Welniak, Skolil, Benda
and mapped their names by topography.
Cedar Valley Koellings, Lost Creek Nolls,
Box Canyon Florians
My grandmother prayed with Goraks and Sudowskis,
worked altar society with Blahas and Bruhas,
danced the polka beside Miskos and Longs,
prizing each name like a mother her child's,
Wozniak, Zabloudil, Furtak
until age stole her breath's naming grace.
She lies among Radils and Huffs, Cummins,
Carkoskis, Kovariks, Meeses, Krajniks, Petskas—
Such as these walked here to the sound of their names.
Names which must be spoken, time leaving so little else.
My grandmother named my first forty years.
We are never too late to speak them:
Wachtrle. Her name. Wachtrle. My breath.
Dawn Corrigan has published poems and prose in a number of print and online journals. Her debut novel, an environmental thriller called Mitigating Circumstances, was just released from Five Star/Cengage. She lives in Gulf Breeze, Florida.
Entiérrame en un agujero, por favor.
Bury me, please, in a hole.
Soy amante del viento, de las hojas
que bailan delante de la luna
that dance across the moon
en el crepúsculo del otoño
in the autumn twilight
and laugh at the whisper of winter,
del aire caliente antes de la tormenta
Don’t call me a Luddite
became ruled by head wires
a cat's cradle, and
we know if we gut that Gordian knot
eyes will pour out, bloodless, shot
lenses, pictures of shot glasses
and junk statuses dulling our senses
I can see without blinking
lights, can sleep without notification
I can't sleep without turning off lights
and shutting them out.
Uche Ogbuji was born in Calabar, Nigeria. He lived, among other places, in Egypt and England before settling near Boulder, Colorado. A computer engineer and entrepreneur by trade, his collection of poetry, Ndewo, Colorado was published by Aldrich press in 2013. His poems, fusing Igbo culture, European Classicism, U.S. Mountain West setting, and Hip-Hop influences, have appeared worldwide, most recently in String Poet, Featherlit, Qarrtsiluni, Leveler, Atavic, Shot Glass and Stonecoast Review. He is editor at Kin Poetry Journal and The Nervous breakdown, founder and curator at the @ColoradoPoetry Twitter project. He is also a founding member of the Stanza Massive, a small, DIY-minded group promoting members' books of poetry, including through collaborative, multimedia experiments with their texts.