person Carla Sarett, two poems

Carla Sarett‘s recent work appears in Third Wednesday, Prole, Halfway Down the Stairs, Defenestration and elsewhere; her essays have been nominated for Best American Essays and the Pushcart Prize. A Closet Feminist, her debut novel, will be published in 2022. Carla lives in San Francisco.

thinking about sad chicken on the bus

the elderly take
their sweet time
climbing up

one hour’s
the same
as two
like those

sad chickens
my mother
never timed

one mysterious
chicken after
another

we used to watch The Searchers

after crazed
old Mose says
no money just

a rockin’ chair
by the fire it’s
all he needs

you’d repeat
his lines with
your terrible

cowboy twang
you could never
do American

could you no
matter how
many times

I give away
others I am
keeping this

person Julie Tonkinson, one poem

Julie Tonkinson resides in Seattle where she was born and raised. She is an artist, graphic designer, and poet. In her spare time she enjoys learning permaculture and growing vegetables.

\/

Dragging anchor

After twenty hours of traveling home,
I was a caught koi, floppy, fleshy,
and unblinking wide eyes.
Still freshly wrung out by a man

whose fingers were unable
to be woven with mine.
When things like this sputter out,
I leave, dragging anchor.

Japan didn’t instruct me in anything
I didn’t already know heavily:

Water gets colder the longer
you don’t move, bobbing around.
This thick skin I should have
is a paltry paper screen,
and holding hands is a shrine.

/\

person Bob Meszaros, two poems

Bob Meszaros taught English at Hamden High School in Hamden, Connecticut, for thirty-two years. He retired from high school teaching in June of 1999. During the 70s and 80s his poems appeared in a number of literary journals, such as En Passant and Voices International. In the year 2000 he began teaching part time at Quinnipiac University, and he once again began to submit his work for publication. His poems have subsequently appeared in The Connecticut Review, Main Street Rag, Red Wheelbarrow, Tar River Poetry, Concho River Review, and other literary journals.

The Pathogens

No bedrock here
just a ridge of dirt and stone
where the glacier stopped
and the ice withdrew
seventeen thousand years ago.

Now, children of the pandemic,
haunted by pictures of the virus–
pictures hung behind updates and warnings
on tv and computer screens–

build cairns on granite boulders–
narrow blunt-topped columns, rising
three or four stones high, turning
boulders into pathogens–

a morning’s work
for frightened children,
a morning’s work they hope the tide
will quickly wash away.

Waiting for the Grandchildren

At the curb, stacked like cordwood,
nine biodegradable brown paper bags
stuffed with last year’s leaves–the leaves
of red oak, beach and maple–now colorless
and brittle, waiting for the backhoe
and the dump truck to arrive.

Behind the wooden deck, hanging
from the crooks of slender wrought iron
poles–poles we shouldered then pitch-forked
hurriedly in place–two yellow tube feeders,
their stainless-steel screen cylinders packed
with black hard-shelled nyjer, the seeds
beloved by finches, redpolls, siskins.

The plastic chairs are on the deck,
set six feet apart. The limestone bird
bath, bowl on base, is balanced, stable,
set in place on grass we pounded
flat with cast iron tampers.

Between the chairs, trays of surgical
face masks, still in their cellophane wrappers,
grace the Quick-Fold patio side-tables, like plates
of store-bought cookies, waiting.

{ Requisite ~ Tanya Holtland }

 

Requisite
Tanya Holtland
Platypus Press, 2020

Does silence ever notice the quiet? Can doom move the past? Are we, by listening, able to pose our ask into a speaking that might enter unheard the conversation so lovingly and urgently remembered in Tanya Holtland’s Requisite? What language, what ghostly origin, what presence. With unassigned awareness, and while swallowing the clinical eye of attention, Holtland knows to talk underwater about distance and to use both our archival futures and communal isolations to render a spiritual economy of verse enough for us to picture multiple ecologies from the vantage point of some same animal with the ability to wonder secretly which four shapes will be on the test. And what of those stills of misplaced exits that were slipped into the water-damaged photo album of an escape artist, and what of our walking, and what of our inaction? Whether one scores the self with the informed angels of chorus or notes loneliness by the marked angel of solo, here, in all its local holiness, is a needed response to being made from the call.

~

reflection by Barton Smock

~

book is here

review by Erik Fuhrer of C.T. Salazar’s ‘Forty Stitches Sewing a Body Against a Ramshackle Night’

C.T. Salazar
Forty Stitches Sewing a Body Against a Ramshackle Night
Animal Heart Press
September 15th, 2020

*

In “Forty Stitches Sewing a Body Against a Ramshackle Night,” C.T. Salazar enmeshes concrete haiku and images sourced from online open access sources with more surreal and strange haiku to blur boundaries within and between concepts such as of embodiment, personal history, and the natural world. The haiku that are the most grounded to physicality and normative ways of seeing provide grounding for more experimental haiku that spring up throughout the poem and muddy the clear delineations provided by the former group of poems. Take for example, the following lines, which include a concrete image that perhaps invokes and reshapes Wallace Stevens’ “13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” pairing down the image of 30 birds to the synechdodal simplicity of 30 beaks, so that a bird’s body becomes its sharpest feature.

thirty birds
is thirty
beaks

The concreteness of the image is replicated in the 30 small bird images flying up from the 3 spare lines, as if to remind that things are as they seem. Yet, this concept is challenged in the more surreal ideas that appear later, such as in the image in which the blurring of boundaries between part and whole in “thirty birds” is echoed and expanded upon in a more surreal confusion between body and its environment:

watched a cardinal
        fly through me—sorry
                  through a window

In this haiku, the body becomes momentarily merged with external space, only separated by it upon reflection. Here the hyphen plays the role of mediator between a realm of slippery physics and a more concrete realm. The tension between the ordinary and the strange in this book is perhaps best encapsulated by the latent transformative energy of the following haiku:

thinking
of cicadas before I
become cicadas

In this image, the human body appears as a body on the verge of becoming other. A concrete visual of a cicada on the page further highlights the nonhuman, thereby emphasizing the inevitable insect transformation of the speaker. Just as the speaker’s future is prophesied to become either, so too are we all shown to have always been other:

most of us
are born with a stranger’s
face

The concept of a fixed identity is continuously challenged in this book, which suggests that the body is constantly in contention with itself and its surroundings. The speaker briefly becomes window, is becoming cicada, was never really itself. The images keep the work in the realm of direct recognition, allowing the haiku to slide into the slippery realm of the strange, where nothing is quite as it seems. Indeed, that is how I experienced Salazar’s book as the whole: a experiment is misrecognition and sleight of hand, with the spare haiku often holding a ton of weight in their tiny stanzas.

*

book info is here

*

Review by Erik Fuhrer, who is the author of 4 books of poetry, including not human enough for the census (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, 2019), and whose 5th book of poetry, in which I take myself hostage, is forthcoming from Spuyten Duyvil Press in 2020. Both of these books include images by his partner, and collaborator, Kimberly Androlowicz. More information on these books and others can be found at http://www.erik-fuhrer.com.

person Kelli Allen, poem

Kelli Allen’s work has appeared in numerous journals/anthologies in the US and internationally. She is currently a visiting professor for Rutgers University/RUNIN, in Changchun, China. Allen’s new collection, Banjo’s Inside Coyote, arrived from C&R Press March, 2019.

/*

Groundhogs at the DMV, testing the curb

We all exhale thick ash when the troll
curled warm in our belly belches lunch,
tucks her knobby arms under her head
and flattens spine-to-spine against space
our mother called that wicked posture.

This bitch we carry, the one whose name
has been Stacey from the beginning, rides
in the passenger seat of every car we hope
will glide over the roads, windowpane-smooth,
connecting bridge with asphalt that turns
gravel to dirt and ends with a week at some lake
bass stocked and mosquito free.

How is it, then, a wrecked dye job atop
squat forehead and chinless profile signals
means to escape when the convertible door
slips shut and Stacey waits, clipboard pressed
to flapjack breasts, for us to put the metal
beneath the pedal and we just halt, stunned

by our eyelashes in the rearview mirror, by
our wet bottom lip fresh licking an agreement,
by years of hesitation now poured concrete
in our sweaty boot and we cannot move—not
forward or back out of a parking space unmarked,
uneven, and in a town we cannot even name?

The truth is, there are differences between
cave and mountain trolls and childhood lessons
only map marriages and simple diagrams for wart
and flat-ass versus orbital rump. The second us
sleeping until its super is a variety the bestiary
hides in the appendix. Every Stacey roaming
the DMV is one newly born, damp from our own
laze, her fingers cradling the brown score sheets
while our hands, used to guarding stomachs, grip
a steering wheel all over again, the test every-
day repeating, hiding what the seatbelt keeps safe.

*/

person Brianna Cunliffe, two poems

Brianna Cunliffe is an environmental justice activist and writer from North Carolina, currently studying at Bowdoin College. They served as the 2019 artist-in-residence at the Kent Island Scientific Station in the Bay of Fundy, and worked there at the intersection of climate research and the poetics of place.

*

barefoot falls

I watch the goosebumps rise, crawl
over her, tidal, sweet
skin giving in to the pouring consequence of spring
with a howl that welds joy to blazing sky,

join her in the tangle of
wildflower foam
running down the mountain
pinned by sun-shafts to the banks
and she slides down, submerges,
this raucous ceremony, baptized together
holy mud and root-prayers scraping raw
and a gasping breath
as the animal of my body
roars under the skin
and every bright cell comes clean

*

in translation

the desert behind my eyes is burning
this verdant hungry green mocks it, but I know
it is calling me to go
to go there. to go without
and use the lack to see the presence.

I sing the ancient line between worship and terror
when we wander, starved, and think we are holy

it is calling me to go there, without,
untongue. snarled there around the barbed wire fence
is a scrap of fabric from the place the pilgrims go
red against the endless sand.

I can only listen, now, but once I could read it
the language in the dry creekbed
once I could speak it
the lines on my father’s hands

the call to prayer sounds
in the streets of the old medina
a fast broken with a last wisp of sunset

once, maybe, I could speak
before I learned it
the language of sun letters, moon
a family of roots, tangled meaning
stubborn as holy as olive trees in the desert
so I kneel and dream of thirst
in the place where the pilgrims go

you cannot learn a language
alone.

*

person Erik Fuhrer, two poems

Erik Fuhrer is the author of 4 books of poetry, including not human enough for the census (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, 2019). His 5th book of poetry, in which I take myself hostage, is forthcoming from Spuyten Duyvil Press in 2020. Both of these books include images by his partner, and collaborator, Kimberly Androlowicz. More information on these books and others can be found at http://www.erik-fuhrer.com.

/

loose death

my mouth is a fist you pull onions from
on easter when my body is
eggflesh loose between the teeth
of a priest who wanders in grassmazes
that spread their dry oceans like meat
across our chicken salad and we
are the inheritors of eye salt and baked meringue pie
during the snow fall in which we shoveled
your body into soft flesh like the oysters
we guzzled down during the last gull season
when we were all full of your quiet death

\

dear sanctuary

feed me slow pearls from used tongues
so my body does not wolf nor sprout
into rejection
that childhood fog
a sampling of my body trying to turn itself into a treehouse

cracked open I bring you my parade of pills
swallow a swarm of wasps
and you tilt me head to drain me

safety is a stone caught in my throat
and your plucked eyes are sanctuary
tufts of buzzing lights above us
swallowing the sea

/

{ Poetry Against All ~ a diary ~ Johannes Göransson }

Poetry Against All
a diary
Johannes Göransson
Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2020

~

I am no expert and have little idea what to say about impossible books. Johannes Göransson’s Poetry Against All is one such book. Is many such books. Little idea does not mean I can be quiet. What is impossible? A safe child. A coroner who disappears to plan simple kidnappings for the elaborately still. I continue. I stop. Göransson keeps this diary alive. Fossil porn. A more exact resurfacing. Some things poke through; holes in movies, a mask thrown from a moving dream, a photograph taken by a hand. I don’t know how this draws, but know I am drawn. But am also, surrounded. Held and carried. I might have it backward. Some prenatal eternity, some austere intercourse, some uprooted sickness ghosted by certain immunities unique to the tourist’s stunt double. I have only recently forgotten how to write. If I am nostalgic, let me be so in the center of this secret as someone specifically somewhere who can’t live on resurrection alone but longs to witness a fire being set on fire.  Gone, then here.

~

reflection by Barton Smock

~

book is here