Falling- from Heather Minette’s Half Light


Half Light is available here:

release announcement:

review by George Salis:

review by Sara Moore Wagner:

Kaleidoscope- from Heather Minette’s Half Light


Half Light is available here:

release announcement:

review by George Salis:

review by Sara Moore Wagner:

person Rax King, two poems

Rax King is a dog-loving, hedgehog-mothering, beer-swilling, gay and disabled sumbitch who occasionally writes poetry. She authored the collection The People’s Elbow: Thirty Recitatives on Rape and Wrestling (Ursus Americanus, 2018). Her work can also be found in Yes Poetry, Dream Pop Journal, and Five:2:One.


The Lord will keep you free of every disease

Boys were faith healing
in every furry chest, priestly
              in every dimpled chin—yes,

              I believed! I spoke in tongues
for boys, made hymns
of love songs, believed in the firm

              of knobby fingers tapping my sap,
in tongues plumbing
the sick of my throat. I tithed

everything to boys. But boys
have no place at bedsides
              like gods do, but those arms

              live to pin me down, but those hands
claim they can’t lay on me
full of something so dull as healing.

To be sick is to learn the falseness
of your priests. I left the sickbed
              one day to an emptiness of boys.



My money depends on the body that they want to shackle to the hospital for a week, a month, longer, longer. The money that pays the doctor is distasteful to that doctor.

My doctor tells me to get another job. I tell him there are no other jobs.

There are. I could pull caramel-colored espresso shots for $12 an hour. I could serve lunches to worker bees for $20 of tips an hour, on a busy day. I could type and file for $14 an hour, in an office with, maybe, one of the men who’s felt the dire weight of my ass in his lap like the end of the world.

Sugar, a nurse tries to tell me one day, through the cheery gap in her teeth. You can’t strip forever. I don’t know how to explain that I don’t plan to do anything forever.

I pray, I wheedle, I try to reason with every feckless gurgle in my gut. I hold my pills in front of my gut like if she sees them, she has to obey them. It doesn’t make a difference. I wilt sick and, then, sicker.

Work is going to kill you, my doctor tries to tell me, his white teeth good-boy straight. I don’t know how to explain that there is nothing in the world I wouldn’t let kill me.


person Kerry Trautman, three poems

Ohio born and raised, Kerry Trautman is a founder of ToledoPoet.com and the “Toledo Poetry Museum” page on Facebook. She is a poetry editor for Red Fez, and she participates poetry readings and events such as Artomatic 4-1-9, Back to Jack (Toledo’s annual Jack Kerouac reader’s theater,) and the Columbus Arts Festival. Her work has appeared in various journals, including Midwestern Gothic, Alimentum, The Coe Review, Slippery Elm, and Mock Turtle Zine; as well as in several anthologies such as, Mourning Sickness (Omniarts, 2008), Resurrection of a Sunflower (Pski’s Porch Press, 2017,) and Delirious: A Poetic Celebration of Prince (NightBallet Press, 2016.) Her poetry chapbooks are Things That Come in Boxes (King Craft Press, 2012,) To Have Hoped (Finishing Line Press, 2015,) and Artifacts (NightBallet Press, 2017.)



This junk-drawer carting my delicious
brain around, my heart, my working hands,
other used-to-be-useful bits.
Conveying things I don’t intend.

There is Mulholland Drive on tv, then
there is the tv itself.

One two three four
step two three four
never does my body whirl in
proper dancing rhythm, but it
lumbers this way and that.

It’s some miracle when my abdomen
shudders with weeping, because for once
I and my body unite.

There is Mulholland Drive on tv, then
there is Los Angeles itself.

Fluids and solids pass in and out
sometimes including blood.

There is the eggshell splashed
with chicken shit, then
there is the beautiful goo of
omelets or genoise.

One two three four
turn two three four
never will my muscles push the
rest of me in unison with
someone else I’m watching.

There is Mulholland Drive on tv, then
there is Naomi Watts herself.

There is this sack of slush ambling
between my rooms, then
there is the RAM,
then there is a zodiac,
creases across palms,
something else.


~Body as Bird as Body~

As a wren, she shrunk into shrubbery.
But not as wren—
no brief wings to shudder skyward.

As a starling, she insinuates herself
into murmurations, a lost-ness of black
on blue on black on blue.

As a barn owl, imperceptible
shadows in rafters.
But not as owl—not sparing the meat.

As a heron, twiggy stillness
sculpturing, obvious above
duckweed and cattails.

As a peahen, beige
full of eggs
behind blue fans of eyes.

As a wren, air barely
exerts beneath.
But not as a wren—of soil.

*previously published in Common Threads, OH Poetry Association Press, 2017


~After “When we think to ourselves that we’re alone,” by Athena Kildegaard~

I doubt that I would feel comfort,
company among

the mushrooms of a forest floor,
among those sexy spores

and their particular brand
of tenacity,

of survival, waywardly willing
to cloud themselves and settle

anywhere, by any footfall
carcass or puddle.

I’m not so sure I wouldn’t see death
in them—my death

or more so that impudent
continuance afterward, that constant

re-spore-ing and spread from dark under,
from where I am to where I once was.


What Is Not Beautiful – poems – Adeeba Shahid Talukder

What Is Not Beautiful
poems, Adeeba Shahid Talukder
Glass Poetry Press, 2018


I wish for idols, bits of God
To worship, stare at, to keep. – {from} Disorder

In a recent piece for The Adroit Journal, poet Leila Chatti talks of how one can see and pass over a word thousands of times and then, suddenly, see the word as if it’s been given permission, by shape, to form. In reading Adeeba Shahid Talukder’s What Is Not Beautiful, I was reminded that all art is new. That some clues come from the same mirror. That somewhere between pearl and thorn, the question mark has begun its blank scoring of lost films made to alert creation we exist. Whether versed inside the sleeplessness of identity or outside the numbness to settled beauty, Talukder speaks as if to understand the language of the one written into the story late, who’s yet to become the lone statistic of a truth based on misrepresentation. Such seeing is a distance not long for losing track of its students.


reflection by Barton Smock


book is here:

a review of Heather Minette’s Half Light, by George Salis

How to describe Heather Minette’s Half Light? Half-asleep, “half-awake,” half-empty, “half-asking,” half-full, “half-note,” half-life, “half-moon,” half-dark, “half-light.” Each poem is a sparse vignette (in both meanings of the word), mostly colloquial in tone and expertly half-finished in a way that allows for a cosmos of unremembrances to enclose every stanza, navigated by a vague meditation.

Across these pages, Minette is mourning memory and remembering mourning. For example, in “Christmas ’88,” while the narrator watches a VHS of Christmas past with her brother, noting that the family members in the video are changed or deceased or both, she is struck with a spasm that causes her to knock her brother’s wine glass onto the rug and “I watch the kidney-shaped stain fade from purple to gray/ and I will it to settle,/ so that if I lose him like the others,/ there will be tangible history/ of this night/—a memory recorded.” Mistakes, imperfections, even ugliness itself, can serve as reminders of the past, which is wont to become fonder with the exponential avalanche of hours, days, years, lifetimes. Or, more accurately, the looming of our future return to earth’s soil. Eventually the future becomes the present, then irrevocably the past, a seemingly obvious phenomenon that is all too easily forgotten in the immediate focal point of the quotidian. Yet it can all spiral, crisscross, and tangle.

One of the narrator’s earliest pre-mourning memories, or half-mourning, is realizing in  “Sand Mermaids” (half-human, half-fish) that her artistic mother is not a god, as the vantage of early childhood makes parents seem, but impermanent “like the spring flowers/ that wither in the summer heat,/ the papier-mâché faces that fall from tall bookshelves,/ the glass dishes that break on tile floors,/ and the sand mermaids that wash away/ in the morning tide…” With this, Minette allows us to peer at her peering into the ethereal river of instance and flux, as Marcus Aurelius noted across time, near the beginning of the common era.

As it is with her mother, so it is with her father at an unspecified time probably later in life. At her father’s best friend’s funeral, the narrator of “A Silent Promise” describes how her father transforms grief into humor and “the heavy air unfolds with laughter.” Yet, while walking to the car, she makes a promise to herself regarding her father’s inevitable funeral, or perhaps the world as whole, “When you can’t be there, we’ll still laugh./ I swear to God I’ll make them laugh.” Like sex, humor can ward off death, or at least ameliorate it.

There are recurrences of glass, flowers, rooms and their walls, some wine (half-full, half-empty), some cigarettes (half-ash, half-paper), orchestrated and enwrapped in melancholy, for in these faded word-photographs the reader’s irises catch flashes and exposures of mortality in its varied but unified forms. Sometimes definite, as with the “infant graves/ of Parker Cemetery” in “Small Hand,” sometimes indefinite, as with the woman of  “Portrait of a Gypsy,” in which the narrator explains that the woman’s “left arm cradled her empty stomach.” It’s a simple image that evokes complex insinuations: the famine of the destitute, the hollowness of a dead or aborted or missing child, the pain of some internal illness. It’s the peripheral that can create “an abyss that sings….” Lulling, distracting, communicating in a familiar yet esoteric tongue.

It’s not a mystery as to why the word ‘oblivion,’ which comes from the Latin for ‘forget,’ is associated with both the sleep of consciousness and the sleep of sleep, Hypnos and Thanatos. “If I had the courage/ I’d ask you to remember….” The mere act of remembering, or evoking it in someone else, is an act of courage, for it temporarily defies the Sleep, taunts it even.

And when we cease to remember, we cease in part to exist, neuron by neuron. The narrator’s friend in “Cindy Sue Moved to the Country” “talks with her hands/ like her father,/ the left in a circular motion/ above her head,/ willing into existence/ a forgotten word.” I first read the last word as ‘world,’ only to reread and realize that it was, in fact, ‘word.’ I believe this mental Freudian slip is indicative of a truth that is one and the same: the world exists in words (as well as in ancient images), and vice versa. And Cindy Sue’s forgotten word is ostensibly never remembered by either of them, only remembered, if at all, as a void.

And the void takes varied forms, too. Echoing Nietzsche, Minette describes in “Flo, Texas” “a sky that doesn’t end,/ that exists to gaze back,/ to remind you that you came from somewhere,/ that your history is no one’s/ history but your own.” Our histories coalesce to form History, the former perhaps too small, the latter too large. We must bridge the gap, the void, the abyss, with expression, with art and words, with remembrance both singular and collective.

In “Returning Home from Adam’s Funeral,” the narrator puts away the occasion’s black dress in the back of her closet, where it will remain buried, for even if she washed it and wore it in a foreign country, she still “would wear the sadness.” If this book were clothing, you’d wear it, too. For all the sadness, Half Light is full-hearted.


review by George Salis


George Salis is a Swiss-American writer. He is the recipient of the Sullivan Award for Fiction, the Ann Morris Prize for Fiction, and the Davidson Award for Integrity in Journalism. His fiction is featured in The Dark, Black Dandy, The Missing Slate, CultureCult Magazine, NILVX: A Book of Magic, Quail Bell Magazine, Crab Fat Magazine, and elsewhere. His criticism has appeared in Atticus Review and The Tishman Review, and his science article on the mechanics of natural evil appeared in Skeptic. He is the author of the novel Sea Above, Sun Below. He has taught in Bulgaria, China, and Poland.


Half Light is available here:

person Triin Paja, four poems

Triin Paja is an Estonian, living in rural Estonia. Her poetry has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Portland Review, The Adroit Journal, and Entropy, among others. She also writes and publishes poetry in Estonian, and is the author of a poetry collection in Estonian, “Nõges” (Värske Raamat, 2018).


October Snow

the women stand for hours and do not
complain. it is the sternness
of a plastic rose, of muted wives
and servants once entombed, alive,
beside husbands and masters, laid down
like silk, gold, a weapon, a language.
it is the way lampposts are valued
as winter fruit that does not rot,
a light that blurs enough
to say shadow, memory, girl.
speech moves in them
like a starling murmuration
before filling a river with
the apple petals of their
photographs. it is a rotting
window-frame barely holding.
it is to believe one’s heart, like a hand,
has furrowed. these women stand,
as horses lash their white manes,
and we say snow, we say austere,
but once I saw a woman collapse
beside nylon stockings, sheaves of dill,
and we hurried, as if she spoke,
as if a bird finally slipped from her,
but only a dog lamented the cold,
snow falling into its opened mouth.



        there is a town, a poor room
where my blood turns to dark honey
                      my bones, the long stemmed lilies
                I want to feel hooved words running in my mouth
    but I have yet to build the animal
                            I have yet to leave the river of us
I can cup the apple petals floating there
        feel the koi against my thigh


                          in the morning you brew tea
    from the blossoms of your language
                          we walk the sea marsh the color of faded rope
                the wind-knotted sea
    I kiss the molasses of your mouth
                    the light behind the wing-thickened sky
  wanes to a child’s pale wrist
                                  oh silver willow, oh Caspian tern
                the salt on your wing
                                        we would take everything
    boil down the wing to harvest the salt


      there is a town, a poor room
                      where you lift my nightgown and find
            river-weeds, find emptiness
like sepia photographs
              into which one walks and disappears
    I want to feel words, a bird, language
                to the birds we harvest we say
                            every absence grows into a moon
                    and you loosen the taut braid of my hand
    I taste the salt on your tongue, I taste the grave



as a child, I washed my yellow hair in a yellow bowl
              cotton shirts, grey wool       drying above

thoughts of summer       small moons of dandelion heads
            ready to spit their seeds       cottonwood snow     wilted hay

in the awareness of cow bones in moonlight
                                                            the hay smelled of suffering


you shepherded the animals         when I laid on a shed roof, the cows
                                bloomed in the dew-bright field

your name meant poetry. your parents, deaf, did not speak
              but sang, like cranes:
                                          a river of echoes, a haunted church

your mother’s long hair the color of faded coins
                                                                we were braided into it


the poverty of childhood does not become
                                              the poverty of memory     memory
spreads as a sea, floods all, clouds all

                                        it is not you who speaks, who dreams
          it is the sea     pearl-heavy inside you


now, only if my body becomes a scythe, cutting through the weeds,
                        may I locate the gardens, the fields

                     I want to believe the sky is still offered to you
the cows are other cows         there is no room inside us
                                                to fit the lean limbs we had as children

when you look back
            are the fields burning; have they turned to highways, to husbands?


Though Her Knees Touched The Soil

when you find her crying by a radio
tell her about small yellow plums
plucked from small yellow branches.
take her to sleepy kiosks, seagulls,
loose church tiles. brush your hand
against hers, lightly, on a tram.
the radio is a tree rustling
with the leaves of father’s death.
it means her house is burnt down.
she cannot carry the ash.
she is not young but you have touched
her autumnbrown braid
cut off as a schoolgirl.
tell her about the fruit you’ve shared:
the wrinkled winter apples, the orange peels
blossoming among train tracks.
tell her until they begin to ripen
mantling grief’s bitter fruit—
tell her, for your mother tongue
is a mirror
in an abandoned farmhouse
and she will find her body
alight in your voice
saying nothing.
you will see the earth
through a stained train window
and that, which no one has called
beautiful, will be loved.
she will walk longer than you.
she is humming a name
as quiet as light