ISSUE 14 SNEAK PEEK
by Daniel Arias Gomez
You pick up the cookie and crack
it open. You spread the paper with your fingers
and read—Happiness begins
when you face life with a wink and a smile.
You snort and throw it away. And you wish
that just once you’d get a shitty fortune.
You wish the cookie would say that your father
will spend the next ten months in the hospital
with a plastic shunt sticking out of his skull
to drain fluid from his swollen brain
until he finally dies—you wish it’d say
that by the end, your father won’t even recognize
you, that he’ll be rambling about chickens
and horses, believing that he’s still in his ranch
in Mexico, that he’ll say he likes the pozole
when he’s eating a tuna sandwich you bought
for him in the cafeteria—you wish it’d say
that in his last moments of lucidity he will look
you straight in the eye, and he will tell you he’s sorry
for having been such a horrible father,
that you’ll answer that it’s okay, that you forgive
him—you wish the cookie would say
that when your father finally dies, it’ll hurt
more than anything has ever hurt
in your life, but that every year after his
death you’ll buy one of those cloying tres leches
cakes that he loved so much, and as you eat
it next to his ashes you’ll remember his calloused
hands cutting up the beef for the pozole
that he used to cook on Sundays after church,
and you’ll smile.
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by Lindsay Adkins
She is labeling every Last Time,
tucking each one away.
The doctor leaves the room for a
place where he can be of some use
and she wonders about her liver,
what it looks like spotted
or even unspotted—
she’s never seen it before
and now it is killing her.
They know what to do with
the body, but what are the rituals
for a half-eaten jar of peaches
at the back of the fridge? The comb
with her hair still in it? The coat
hanging limp by the side door?
Three weeks ago she ordered
a new green blouse. It’d be at the
house by now.
How simple—to open a box,
know what’s inside.
by Maggie Smith
You know the one about the white panel van,
the one about the dark sedan, the one I told
my daughter this morning,
the one about the man who’s lost and needs
directions, the one about the man who lost
his puppy, the one that goes come here,
I’ll show you a picture of my puppy,
the one that goes he’s so cute, isn’t he,
such a cute little lost puppy.
I told my daughter the one about the not-lost
not-puppy. I redacted the part about what’s lost
being something in the man, something
he thinks a child can help him find, or maybe
he thinks she has it. She doesn’t have it.
I didn’t tell my daughter
the man was once a child. He had a mother
who zipped his tricky winter coat, tamed
his cowlick with her spit-wet thumb,
and how could she have known her son
would search the web for cute puppy
pictures, then roll past a park. This morning
I told my daughter the one about still loving
the world we live in, the world the man
lives in, lost. Yes, the same world.
by John A. Nieves
The music in the car muted the rain
on the road save the wiper blades’
repetitive thuds. No headlights, no
taillights, no deer or traffic signals.
Alone, out here, is part of the landscape.
The wind buffets me across
the asphalt’s long shine. The stereo
swears the world is as soft as lace, but
I don’t love anyone. Outside, the world
the world is as soft as lace. The ghosts
of train tracks clack under my tires. The mile-
markers streak green skyward into night.
by Mag Gabbert
Mother of Pearl.
at the back of the 7-11.
Your spine dissolves
to Pixie Dust.
Your brain bursts
swishing at the base.
You want to drink
from the bowl.
of your skin.
blue of your veins.
of piss-riddled tile.
the layers break
"Do You Regret What You've Done?"
by Ace Boggess
if regret is mourning
if regret is the lie
we tell ourselves when sleep won’t come
if regret takes blurry photographs
in black & white
posts them on Facebook
for many to ignore
if regret sings in the shower
a happy song to hide
the chiming undertones of operatic death
if it scrapes blood off highways &
erases the scar on my thumb
if it rolls the boulder up
if it laughs
at inappropriate moments
in the best of company
if someone says “regret!” &
means it without a definition
if a man dies clinging
to empty absent moments
from his youth
if regret is a pause upon waking
if regret is a pause before rest
if regret is life without mercy
spent daily wearing the lion’s skin
Until Just Seconds Ago, If I Misspoke
by Edward Mayes
Until just seconds ago, if I misspoke
And if I now stand corrected, or
An understanding finally of rain, as
If all the many deaths were the hailstones
That hit the olive trees last June, a histogram
Of death, a moment between stet and
Everyone else in a hurry, someone’s
Clamor trumping someone else’s clamor,
The clumsiness of something as simple
As night fall, into a day not unbroken,
And if it’s a sleep we can’t speak
About, the gnat clouds that try to lose
Their g’s, or to say the t in hatch, or would
That be a blot on one’s escutcheon, a drip
Of fresh red paint on the architrave, what
Warning, what bells rang in the shtetls, and
If we all are a bad batch, proof of the existence
Of bad gods, the kind that glitch, the kind
That botch, and us, apostatic and eldritch,
Seeing more glass through the glass, an armistice
Only for an instant, wet and worried and worn.
Until nearly daybreak night fell; steed, stud, arrest, instant, understand, static, prostitute, insist, ecstasy, system; stage, stance, stanch, stanchion, stanza, stet, circumstance, constant, cost, distant, extant, oust, restharrow; stalag, shtetl, apostasy, switcheroo, bedstead, armistice (arm-stopping), solstice (sun-stopping); epistyle, architrave; steer, stern; apostrophe; Pär Fabian Lagerkvist, Nobel Prize 1951
by Fay Dillof
Either grief has no shape,
sneaks through the cracks
like a poisonous gas
or I was born
forgotten. Nurses fed me milk, scotch-
taped a ribbon to my head.
It probably wasn’t so bad.
Just a little bit
arbitrary. As arbitrary as this
February morning when,
driving home and not wanting
to get there, I passed a Magnolia exploding
so pink, I was brought to my knees
in unrehearsed worship. God,
how it hurt—seeing it; how close
that was to being seen.
Lindsay Adkins’ work has been published with The 2River View, Muddy River Poetry Review, the Aurorean, Glass Mountain, among others. She is also a poetry editor over at Vine Leaves Literary Journal. During the day, she works in NYC at Random House Publishing Group. At night, Lindsay spends most of her time battling her penchant for noodles, and losing.
Philip Belcher is the vice president of programs for The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina in Asheville and the author of a chapbook, The Flies and Their Lovely Names, from Stepping Stones Press. A graduate of Furman University, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and the Duke University School of Law, he also has an MFA in Poetry from Converse College and is the recipient of the Porter Fleming Prize in Poetry. Philip’s poems and prose have appeared in numerous journals, including The Southeast Review, Shenandoah, Southern Humanities Review, Passages North, Fugue, The Southern Quarterly, and Asheville Poetry Review. He is an advisory and contributing editor for Shenandoah.
Ace Boggess is the author of two books of poetry: The Prisoners (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2014) and The Beautiful Girl Whose Wish Was Not Fulfilled (Highwire Press, 2003). His novel, A Song Without a Melody, is forthcoming from Hyperborea Publishing. His writing has appeared in Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, Rattle, River Styx, North Dakota Quarterly, and many other journals. He lives in Charleston, WV.
Rob Carney is the author of four books of poems, most recently 88 Maps (Lost Horse Press 2015; see the review at bit.ly/88maps). He writes a regular feature called “Old Roads, New Stories” for Terrain: A Journal of the Built + Natural Environments (Terrain.org).
Caroline Chavatel is a Baltimore native and received her BA from Salisbury University in creative writing. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in So to Speak, Slipstream, Potomac Review, Crab Creek Review, among others. Her poem, “The Given, These Bodies,” won The Cossack Review’s first annual October Prize for Poetry. She is currently an MFA candidate at New Mexico State University.
Chad M. Christensen is the managing editor of the WSC Press and the co-director of the Plains Writers Series. He teaches writing and publishing at Wayne State College and earned his MFA from the University of Nebraska. He is also the co-founder of Pseudo Poseur Productions, which is a co-op for writers, musicians, and artists in northeast Nebraska. His books of poetry are Ground Bound: a novel in verse and Shoot From the Hip. He also writes a column for the Wayne Stater called “High on the Plains.” He is currently working on his next book of poetry titled No More Passing Notes In Death Class. Find him on FB: Facebook.com/ChadWYKerrr
Brendan Cooney’s work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Guernica, Canary, Isthmus, Salon, and other magazines. At the University of Alabama’s MFA program, he was an editor of Black Warrior Review.
Steven Cramer is the author of five poetry collections, most recently Clangings (Sarabande, 2012). He teaches at Lesley University.
Fred Dale is a senior instructor in the department of English at the University of North Florida. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Dunes Review, Chiron Review, Crack the Spine, Raleigh Review, Stirring, and others. When Fred’s not grading papers, he spends time with his wife and dog.
Nandini Dhar is the author of the chapbook Lullabies Are Barbed Wire Nations (Two of Cups Press, 2014). Her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Potomac Review, PANK, Los Angeles Review, Whiskey Island, Bitter Oleander, Tusculum Review, and elsewhere. She is the co-editor of the journal Elsewhere. Nandini hails from Kolkata, India, and divides her time between her hometown and Miami, FL, where she works as an assistant professor of English at Florida International University.
Fay Dillof has had poems selected for publication in Field, New Ohio Review, Bellevue Literary Review, and Shadowgraph.
Chelsea Dingman is a Canadian citizen who studies poetry and teaches at the University of South Florida in the graduate program. She has poems recently published or forthcoming in Harpur Palate, The Adroit Journal, So to Speak, Quiddity, Grist: The Journal for Writers, The MacGuffin, Raleigh Review, The Fourth River, Bellingham Review, Sou’wester, among others.
Cassie Donish’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Colorado Review; Best New Poets 2015; the Gettysburg Review; Sixth Finch; Quarterly West; Forklift, Ohio; and elsewhere. A managing and poetry editor for The Spectacle, she’s currently an Olin Fellow and MFA candidate at Washington University in St. Louis. Cassie co-edited February, an anthology.
Gary Dop teaches writing at Randolph College on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. His essays have aired on All Things Considered, and his poems have appeared recently in Prairie Schooner, Agni, Rattle, New Letters, among others. His first collection of poems, Father, Child, Water, was published by Red Hen Press in 2015.
Alice O. Duggan loves to grow flowers at home and at her local public library. She loves to read biographies, history, humor, novels and poems, and play with her granddaughter. She is currently writing a collection of poems with nonfiction inclusions, about a dairy farm in the golden age of agriculture.
Hannah Edwards, in her spare time, is a teaching assistant at a local children’s theatre where she demonstrates talents such as standing on “just one finger” or “breathing under water.” Recently, she and her girlfriend used 3D scanning and modeling to construct authentic Greek drama masks for productions of Oedipus and Seven Against Thebes.
John Findura holds an MFA from The New School as well as a degree in psychotherapy. His poetry and criticism appear in numerous journals including Verse; Fourteen Hills; Copper Nickel; Pleiades; Forklift, Ohio; H_NGM_N; Jacket; and Rain Taxi. A guest blogger for The Best American Poetry, he has won and been a finalist for various awards. He lives in Northern New Jersey with his wife and daughters.
Mag Gabbert is currently a PhD student in creative writing at Texas Tech University, and previously received an MFA from The University of California at Riverside. Her essays and poems have been published or are forthcoming in journals including 32 Poems, The Rattling Wall, The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, LIT Magazine, Sonora Review, The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review, among other venues. Mag is also an associate editor for Iron Horse Literary Review.
Joy Gaines-Friedler teaches poetry and memoir for non-profits, including workshops through PCAP (Prison Creative Arts Project). Her poetry has received wide recognition including a Pushcart Prize nomination and can be found in over 50 literary journals and anthologies, including The New York Quarterly, The Paterson Review, Poetry East, and others. Joy is the author of two full-length poetry books, and holds an MFA from Ashland University.
D.G. Geis lives in Houston, TX. He has an undergraduate degree in English Literature from the University of Houston and a graduate degree in philosophy from California State University. Among other things he has taught Hellenistic philosophy and is a former Anglican priest. His poetry has appeared in 491 Magazine, Lost Coast Review, Blue Bonnet Review, The Broadkill Review, A Quiet Courage, SOFTBLOW, Blinders Journal, Burningword Literary Journal, and Crosswinds. He will be featured in a forthcoming Tupelo Press chapbook anthologizing 9 New Poets and is winner of Blue Bonnet Review’s Fall 2015 poetry contest. He is editor-at-large of Tamsen.
Daniel Arias Gomez was born and raised in Guadalajara. He is currently a poetry student in the MFA program at CSU Fresno.
Tyler Kline is the author of the forthcoming chapbook As Men Do Around Knives (ELJ Publications, 2016) and the poet laureate of Bucks County, PA. He began teaching middle-school English this fall. His recent work is forthcoming in Fourteen Hills, the minnesota review, Passages North, Spoon River Poetry Review, Vinyl, and elsewhere. Find him online at TylerKlinePoetry.com.
Brian Laidlaw is a poet-troubadour from Northern California. He has released the poetry collections Amoratorium (Paper Darts Press) and The Stuntman (Milkweed Editions), each of which includes a companion album of original music; another full-length poetry collection called The Mirrormaker is also forthcoming from Milkweed. Brian continues to tour nationally and internationally as a folksinger, and recently joined the creative writing PhD program at the University of Denver.
Michael Lauchlan’s poems have landed in many publications including New England Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, The North American Review, Harpur Palate, and Poetry Ireland. He has been included in anthologies from Wayne State University Press and Oxford University Press. His most recent collection is Trumbull Ave., from WSU Press.
Alex Lemon’s most recent book is The Wish Book. He is the author of Happy: A Memoir (Scribner) and three other poetry collections: Mosquito, Hallelujah Blackout, and Fancy Beasts. An essay collection and a fifth poetry book are forthcoming from Milkweed Editions. His writing has appeared in Esquire, American Poetry Review, The Huffington Post, Ploughshares, Best American Poetry, Tin House, Kenyon Review, AGNI, New England Review, The Southern Review, jubilat, and others. Among his awards are a 2005 Fellowship in Poetry from the NEA and a 2006 Minnesota Arts Board Grant. He is an editor-at-large for Saturnalia Books and the poetry editor of descant. He lives in Ft. Worth, TX, writes book reviews for the Dallas Morning News, and teaches at TCU and the low-residency MFA program at Ashland University.
Sandy Longhorn has been known to obsess over the Chicago Cubs, her LAMY fountain pen, weather patterns in the Mid-South, the original Law & Order series, and how to make the best popcorn. She writes poetry and creates collages in Little Rock, where she might also obsess over her husband and their cats when she has the time.
Maja Lukic’s work has been published or is forthcoming in Vinyl, Prelude, Salamander, The South Carolina Review, Posit, Canary, and other journals. Links to pieces published online are available at MajaLukic.com, and she can be found on Twitter: @majalukic113. Maja lives in New York City.
Lauren Mallett was born in Lancaster, PA. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Tupelo Quarterly and Smartish Pace. She is an MFA student and the assistant director of creative writing at Purdue University.
Michael Mark is a hospice volunteer and long distance walker. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Cimarron Review, Gargoyle Magazine, Paterson Literary Review, Prelude Magazine, Poet Lore, Spillway, Rattle, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Sugar House Review, Tar River Poetry, and other nice places. His poetry has been nominated for three Pushcart Prizes and the 2015 Best of the Net. MichaelJMark.com
Edward Mayes’ poems have appeared or are forthcoming in many journals and magazines, including The Southern Review, The New Yorker, APR, Kenyon Review, Best American Poetry, Agni, Harvard Review, and others. His books of poetry include First Language, Juniper Prize (University of Massachusetts Press) and Works and Days, AWP Prize in Poetry (University of Pittsburgh Press). Edward lives in Hillsborough, NC and Cortona, Italy with his wife, the writer Frances Mayes. Their latest collaboration is The Tuscan Sun Cookbook (Clarkson Potter).
Kathryn Merwin is a native of Washington, DC. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Minnesota Review, Permafrost Magazine, Folio, apt, Notre Dame Review, Jabberwock Review, among others. In 2015, she was awarded the Nancy D. Hargrove Editors’ Prize for Poetry and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She currently serves as co-editor-in-chief of Milk Journal and managing editor of The Scarab.
Christopher Munde’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Beloit Poetry Journal, Blackbird, Massachusetts Review, Third Coast, West Branch Wired, and elsewhere. He completed his MFA at the University of Houston in 2008, and received an Academy of American Poets Prize the same year. Presently, he teaches at Jamestown Community College in western NY.
John A. Nieves has poems forthcoming or recently published in journals such as, Cincinnati Review, Pleiades, Crazyhorse, The Literary Review, Verse Daily, and Passages North. His first book, Curio, won the Elixir Press Annual Poetry Award Judge’s Prize and came out in early 2014. He’s an assistant professor of English at Salisbury University. John received his MA from USF and his PhD from the University of Missouri.
Jennifer Pruiett-Selby, winner of Smartish Pace’s 2015 Beullah Rose Poetry Prize, lives in rural Iowa with her husband, poet Jason Selby, and five children. Her work has found homes with Prairie Schooner, Hobart, Calyx, Crab Creek Review, Lunch Ticket, Rust + Moth, Ember, and Red River Review. Her column, “Awkward in the Midwest,” appears monthly with Easy Street Magazine.
Richard Robbin’s work has appeared recently in Cincinnati Review, Hubbub, and Indiana Review. His fourth and fifth poetry books, Radioactive City and Other Americas, were published recently. He was also recently a fellow at the Hawthornden Castle International Retreat for Writers in Scotland.
Lisa Roullard does not excel at bio writing. As often as possible she walks in the rain.
Evan Scarborough is a young poet who consistently earns B-’s on his creative writing portfolios. One professor, Gary Dop, wrote about his poetry, “the work itself is good, but it was three days late, so I have to take off points.” Evan hasn’t been published, other than one time in kindergarten when he wrote a poem about a frog sitting on a log.
A member of the South Jersey Poets Collective, Jacalyn Shelley teaches an extension literature class affiliated with The Richard Stockton University and hosts the Leap Street Poets workshop. She loves to play tennis with her husband and care for their teenage cockatoo—Boris Dimitry Yellnakoff.
Maggie Smith is the author of Weep Up (Tupelo Press, forthcoming 2018); The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison; and Lamp of the Body. The recipient of fellowships from the NEA, the Ohio Arts Council, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation. Maggie is a freelance writer and editor, and a consulting editor to the Kenyon Review. MaggieSmithPoet.com
stinne storm is a Danish poet and translator who holds three masters degrees—from the University of Utah, Gothenburg University, and the Royal Danish Academy. In 2012, she published her debut poetry collection, mainland. Later the same year, she published the collection edens. Her third book of poetry, jämtska, will be out December 2016. Among her translations are writings of Agnes Martin and letters of Edith Södergran (2017). For more information, visit: stinne-storm.com
Robert Thomas’ most recent book, Bridge, is a sequence of lyrical stories published by BOA Editions and received the 2015 PEN Center USA Literary Award for Fiction. His first book, Door to Door, was selected by Yusef Komunyakaa for the Poets Out Loud Prize and published by Fordham University, and his second collection, Dragging the Lake, was published by Carnegie Mellon. Robert has received a poetry fellowship from the NEA and a Pushcart Prize. His poems have appeared in Gulf Coast, Field, The Iowa Review, New England Review, Poetry, The Southern Review, and many others.
Charles Harper Webb’s latest book, Brain Camp, was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in 2015. A Million MFAs Are Not Enough, a book of essays on contemporary American poetry, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press in 2016. Recipient of grants from the Whiting and Guggenheim foundations, Webb teaches creative writing at California State University, Long Beach.
Sunni Brown Wilkinson’s previous work has been published in Red Rock Review, Rock & Sling, Tar River Poetry, Weber: the Contemporary West, other journals and anthologies, and has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes. She holds an MFA from Eastern Washington University and currently teaches composition and creative writing at Weber State. She lives on the east bench in Ogden with her husband and three young sons.
Carolyn Williams-Noren’s poems have appeared in Salamander, Gigantic Sequins, Sugar House Review, and elsewhere. She’s the author of a chapbook, Small Like a Tooth (dancing girl press, 2015), and the founder and caretaker of a free poetry library in the Minneapolis neighborhood where she lives with her family. Carolyn was selected by Nikky Finney to receive a 2014 McKnight Artist Fellowship.