God

by Dan Murphy

The body
of things we don’t know,
inching along
in the slug darkness
between where you left
your keys and astrophysics.
No fingers to point
to truth or stars
or cream cheese on your cheek.

    •

A word
to salt the driveway with.
Or something to call
the love you once felt, still feel.
Peace and unease living
under the same sunbaked roof.
The dog’s dream kicking you.
Or the snowing static of a knob TV
as it makes an old woman glow.

Fall/Winter 2016

Order your own copy or download an electronic version for just $2 from our Purchase page.

 

Space Struck

by Paige Lewis

Ann Hodges—The first and only confirmed meteorite victim

I remember the doctor lifting my nightgown
to see how high the bruise climbed. He seemed

disappointed, A thinner woman would’ve died. I was
small when I was young. Didn’t take up much space.

In fact, I could fit all of me in a suitcase until I
was sixteen, and maybe I was dreaming of this

when the stone hit and I woke to light streaming
through the ceiling. I thought it was God

since I’d been told it’s painful to bear witness.
At any rate, it was a blessing to my husband,

who pretends the bruise is still there. At night,
he lifts my nightgown and kneads my thigh.

He says, How deep, like he’s reaching into a galaxy.
He says, How full, and looks up to see if I wince.

 

The Orchard on the River

by Claire Oleson

the oats swell
to edibility in the boils
of river water that your mother
promises is clean, so clean you could die
in the cold brushes of silt and they would call it
pretty. we have breakfast like we know how to, swallowing
grains with brown sugar bedded between them blushed
to maple, taken over taste, clasped, slow, warm,
and clouded with puddles of river-coffin.
we fill up with the flame that filled
the oats like luggage, packing up
the rooms of crayfish
to take abroad and spill into a pot.
stomachs descend, full moons, your mother
looks on, saying that it’s light good enough to die by
and we plan to, real slow, real careful, with water rushed
blue-grey against worn stones that scatter across the forest’s
veins like heartbeats. we look on and kiss at the pupil, black wells,
ink wells, these are places to write from as we go on breathing in
and out again, the labors of riverbed sheets tucked tight
with nurse’s corners, into our mouths; tines scrape
the bowl and all its empty. this: the bright
morning, trips across our lips, crossed
with shore-line pink, clay-pink,
the carotin pink of salmon conversing
towards dawn. the oatmeal has grown cold
and tough and long, as afternoons are expected to.
it slips past us, through us, the bubbled calories wrecked
on teeth. we do this three times, morning, mid-day, night,
re-heating the stove with triangle flicks of fire every time our bodies
cry ocean. we salt the still pool, wait for the simmer, pour in
the discs that go round in the hum, and sit while it all
unfolds from the streaming. the planet furls out
from blue-green to a round sugar that should
be bitten into. pretty enough, I agree
with your mother, pretty.

 

Topography of a Bird

by Jennie Malboeuf

The bird begins with a crown
and ends with a start, which really
is his tail. The bird has a whisker,
a shoulder, an ear patch, a neck.
The lore is not a story, but the face
between eye and beak.

                                        Within
the body is almost a mirror image:
left side as right side, spare
lung and lobe. In his throat,
a crop; in the crop, food.
In his throat, a box; in the box,
a song.

 

This is a Good Day to Get Baked

by Todd Robinson

I say to the blue clouds over the grocery store
where I just stocked my trunk with ice cream,

no booze. My sponsor believes in me,
but I have broken so many vows. Yesterday

I ticked past twenty-five months and thought,
you old fool you’ve done it or have you?

Now you push your knee into my back and sleep
just fine but how can I when I’m hanging on

that soft escarpment over piles of empty
notebooks? You’ve got to give me some space,

I say so low only ghosts can hear, and the lace
drapes glow like a veiled saint against the night

with its same old moon and memories, the garden
listing into November. You look so tense, my love,

a furrow of concentration bothering rest though
your little body is warm and kind, susurrating

next to my no-sleep. You once sought God in the hills
of Dominica, danced the merengue at twenty-one

with a skull full of rum and the romance of the young
but that lecherous priest pushed his pelvis into you,

and grief was ground in. I think of this more
than is helpful. My desire is the frozen crater

lake of an asteroid, it threads an invisible line
between galaxies. I watch it from the telescope

you gave me, the expensive one with constellation
finding software I am too hectic to understand.

All I see is the bend of darkness over the house.
We turn in bed like synchronized swimmers,

suspire somewhere in middle age. You will
dream of me, and I will dream of me.

 

In Cinders

by Felicia Zamora

 

& to believe in combustion we must believe in embers; to acknowledge where fire once burned; what smolders, what still lives, although, only a piece of; how you hold her hand; her flesh in wear of the weight; time turns all things vellum; she barely speaks; beyond her eyes, stories roam; what gathers in us, if not spark; how we all begot in someone else’s story; to find our way in; cells of mothers before, before before; the way out finds us; how you don’t remember her teeth; how she smiles with only lips; how she wears pearls with sweat pants; how the stove boils down cabbage into the evening; how unable, she, to hold her head anywhere but to her chest; how the story of you caught in her throat; how she caught in yours; how silent & storied & flame & heap.

 

Secret Written from Inside a Grizzly's Mouth*

by Jeanann Verlee

I adorn myself in wine

            because I am afraid

of me.

    
        The eye of my own tornado:

mouthshot and bucking.

    
        Skin coated in gunpowder

and teeth made of flint.

    
        Every few years I start a bonfire,

incinerate a mattress or a man

    
        or a city, then dust off the rubble

and rebegin from the nothing

    
        I built with my own hands.



_______________________________________


* Originally named by American explorers Lewis and Clark, the Grizzly Bear was formally classified in 1815 by naturalist George Ord as Ursus arctos horribilis (brown bear + horrible), not for its grizzled fur but for its grisly character.

 

Letter to a Neanderthal Named Frank #2

by Allison Tobey

Dear Frank,

My allergist told me he and his wife read Anna Karenina out loud to each other during their honeymoon. That sentence means nothing to you, I know, but I wanted to tell you anyway. They read it on a train crossing Europe, and he claims they alternated every two pages, start to finish. Frank, a lot of people think Anna Karenina is the greatest love story written by a Sapien. But it’s not really a love story, Frank. I’m not sure why Sapiens don’t see that. No one’s in love in that book, even if she does throw herself in front of a train. But Sapiens are sentimental. We have this thing we call a heart. You have one, too. It’s really just a hot mess of valves and tubing. It’s disgusting, but it keeps us alive, so we call it love and when we draw its symbol it looks like a round ass with an extended point at the bottom. We color it red. We like to swear by our hearts, and when we do, we place our right hand over the left side of our chests. This is where the heart lives. But not really, it’s more in the center. You’ll know this if you ever have a heart attack, which is what we call it when a heart stops working. You’ll know this because you’ll feel something grab hold of it and squeeze—right behind your sternum—right in the center. If you’re lucky, whatever it is will let go, and your heart will go on beating, just like it did before.

 

The Streetlamp

by Devin William Daniels

In the days of thrown butter
                                                                           or gallons of milk
(a strange choice of weaponry,
but she never shot to kill, and the dishes were her mother’s)
when mother left for unknown quarters
and father climbed
up and
     down
  the stairs
as if in pursuit
  of a burglar or
     a reason to speak

she left for
the one useless streetlamp on Heritage & Pine
and looked towards the stars.
She’d been told of their size by books
and men in the fronts of rooms,
but, barely visible in the suburban sky,
they seem so small.
             She can
             –    conceal them in the palm of her hand
             –    see them all at once in a grand perspective
             –    map them out on a sheet of paper in a way she can’t
                   map out her own hometown

Back on earth, her focus shifts
to the only streetlamp in the whole development,
where it’s easy to get lost if you forget
the color of your shutters.

She wonders what the point was
    (to provide runaway kids a spot to read Borges
    [or Kafka—some days it was Kafka]
    without wasting precious battery life?),
but she’d never find the right person to ask
in the mass of phone numbers, dial tones, smooth jazz played for those on hold,
other such components,


fitting together like the remains
of a porcelain bowl, milky white shards
spread across the floor, welcoming her back.
Best sweep it all up,
collect the larger pieces,
some large enough to cover half the sky and all its stars—

           they are so impossibly small.

 

Quantum Jump

by Kien Lam

I am false bravado
more than I am whatever
regular bravado is,
whatever creature
could rise from its sleep
each day unchanged
by the Earth’s tilt,
and if I say I’m not
suicidal, then maybe
I am fooling nobody.
There’s something
to be learned from
watching a fly slam
itself into a screencatcher
over and over,
the little grid
a net it just found
itself caught behind,
even if the net’s been there
the whole time.
If there’s a way in
then there must be
a way out, and if
there’s a way to catalog
the small bits of joy
of each day, a little
note here about catching
the fly in a cup
and letting it live
for a while longer, a note
there on how to fold
those moments
into my palms the way
children catch fireflies
and tell the little doubters
in the pews of their bodies
that the bugs will light their nights
forever, this faith, this

understanding that the flickering
tails are so much bigger
than the stars
that come out every night
when you hold them
close to your face, this
perspective a kind of science
children will believe
until they are old
enough to face
the night at their tallest
height, when the distance
separating the foot
and the sky is the smallest
it will ever be. I understand
someone invented the plane.
I understand there are many
ways to leave the ground.
I have jumped. I have hung
from a tree branch.
I have never landed
in the same spot.

CONTRIBUTORS

Jeffrey Alfier’s latest works are Fugue for a Desert Mountain¸ Anthem for Pacific Avenue: California Poems, Bleak Music—a photo and poetry collaboration with Larry D. Thomas, Southbound Express to Bay Head: New Jersey Poems, and The Red Stag at Carrbridge: Scotland Poems. Recent publication credits include Spoon River Poetry Review, Kestrel, Gargoyle, Permafrost, and december magazine. He is founder and co-editor of Blue Horse Press and San Pedro River Review.

William Bonfiglio received a BA from Bucknell University and an MFA from Iowa State University. His has received a Pearl Hogrefe Grant in Creative Writing Recognition Award, the Julia Fonville Smithson Memorial Prize, and has been previously published in Sugar House Review, Blueline, Dunes Review, among others.

Gaylord Brewer is a professor at Middle Tennessee State University, where he founded and for more than 20 years edited the journal Poems & Plays. His most recent book is the cookbook-memoir The Poet’s Guide to Food, Drink, & Desire (Stephen F. Austin, 2015). His tenth collection of poetry, The Feral Condition, will be published by Negative Capability Press in 2017.

Paul V. Carroll’s poems have appeared in or been accepted by a number of journals, including New Ohio Review, The Journal, Green Mountains Review, River Styx, Barrow Street, Ninth Letter, Harvard Review, Cimarron Review, Linebreak, and others. He works as a lawyer bringing environmental actions in northern California on behalf of public interest groups, such as the Sierra Club and Audubon Society. He also handles criminal appeals for the indigent. Before law school, he was a professional ballet dancer.

Maureen Clark teaches writing for the University of Utah, Department of Writing and Rhetoric Studies. She is the former director of the university writing center, a grant writer for the Rocky Mountain Care Foundation and a former president of Writers @ Work. She lives in Bountiful, UT with her husband Jon. Her poems have appeared in Bellingham Review, Colorado Review, Alaska Quarterly, Puerto del Sol, Prairie Schooner, The Southeast Review, Gettysburg Review, among other journals. She has written a poetry collection titled The Fish and the Water Lily, and a memoir titled Falling into Bountiful.

Cassandra Cleghorn is the author of Four Weathercocks (Marick Press, 2016). Most recently a poetry finalist for the Jeffrey E. Smith Editor’s Prize at The Missouri Review, Cleghorn has published in many journals including Paris Review, New Orleans Review, Poetry International, The Common, Narrative, and Tin House. Educated at University of California, Santa Cruz and Yale University, she lives in Vermont, teaches at Williams College, and serves as poetry editor of Tupelo Press.


Dana Curtis’ second full-length collection of poetry, Camera Stellata, was published by CW Books. Her first full-length collection, The Body’s Response to Famine, won the Pavement Saw Press Transcontinental Poetry Prize. She has also published seven chapbooks, including Book of Disease (in the magazine, The Chapbook), Antiviolet (Pudding House Press), and Pyromythology (Finishing Line Press). Her work has appeared in such publications as Quarterly West, Indiana Review, Colorado Review, and Prairie Schooner. She has received grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the McKnight Foundation. She is the editor-in-chief of Elixir Press and lives in Denver, CO.

Devin William Daniels is an aspiring book doctor and pro bono noise purveyor in Philadelphia. He holds degrees in English and philosophy from Penn State University and is working towards a PhD in English at the University of Pennsylvania. When not reading and writing, he plays guitar in the rock trio Post-Korea.

Jaclyn Dwyer’s poems have been published in a number of literary magazines, including Ploughshares, Columbia Poetry Review, The Journal, Rattle, Prairie Schooner, New Ohio Review, and Witness. She’s published essays at Salon, The Baltimore Review, and Brain, Child. Jaclyn received a Special Mention in the 2015 Pushcart Prize anthology and was awarded a Tennessee Williams Scholarship to attend the 2015 Sewanee Writers’ Conference. She earned a PhD in creative writing from Florida State University, where she received a Kingsbury Fellowship.

Jaime Garcia is from Rubidoux, CA. His poetry has appeared in numerous print and online journals including Ruminate, Minetta, and The 3288 Review.

Aaron Gates holds a BA in writing studies from Utah Valley University. He is co-editor-in-chief of peculiar: A Queer Literary Journal, which publishes work by queer authors and artists in Utah. He is currently working on his first chapbook of poetry.

Benjamin Hertwig’s work has recently appeared on NPR, in The New York Times, The Literary Review of Canada, Pleiades, and Prairie Fire. He is a PhD student at the University of British Columbia.

Lisa Higgs’ second chapbook, Unintentional Guide to the Big City, was published by Red Bird Chapbooks (2015). Her poems can be found in numerous literary journals, including Crab Orchard Review, Water~Stone Review, Midwestern Gothic, PMS: poemmemoirstory, and have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards. Currently, Lisa serves as a poetry editor for Quiddity International Literary Journal.

Leonore Hildebrandt is the author of a letterpress chapbook, The Work at Hand, and a full-length collection, The Next Unknown. She has published poems and translations in The Cafe Review, Cimarron Review, Denver Quarterly, Drunken Boat, Harpur Palate, The Fiddlehead, Poetry Daily, Poetry Salzburg Review, among other journals. Winner of the 2013 Gemini Poetry Contest, she received fellowships from the Elizabeth George Foundation, the Maine Community Foundation, and the Maine Arts Commission. A native of Germany, Hildebrandt lives “off the grid” in Harrington, ME. She teaches writing at the University of Maine and serves on the editorial board of the Beloit Poetry Journal.

heather hughes hangs her heart in Boston and Miami. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Bad Penny Review, Cream City Review, Denver Quarterly, Gulf Coast, Jai-Alai Magazine, Vinyl Poetry, and other journals. She MFA-ed at Lesley University and ALM-ed at Harvard University Extension. All her tattoos have wings. Find her online at BirdMaddGirl.com.

Kimberly Johnson is the author of three collections, most recently Uncommon Prayer (Persea Books, 2014), as well as a verse translation of Virgil’s Georgics (Penguin Classics, 2009). She’s received fellowships and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEA, and the Utah Arts Council, and her work has appeared recently in The New Yorker, Slate, Ploughshares, among others.

Kien Lam is a Kundiman fellow who received an MFA from Indiana University. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming from Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, Gulf Coast, and elsewhere. He lives in Los Angeles where he writes about esports.

Paige Lewis
is an assistant poetry editor at Narrative Magazine. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Cincinnati Review, Indiana Review, Ninth Letter, Smartish Pace, and elsewhere.

Angie Macri’s recent work appears in RHINO and Prairie Schooner, and her first collection was awarded the Cowles Poetry Book Prize.

Jennie Malboeuf is a native of Kentucky. Her poems are found in the Virginia Quarterly Review, AGNI, Oxford Poetry (UK), The Hollins Critic, Epoch, New American Writing, Hunger Mountain, New South, Poetry Northwest, and Best New Poets 2016. She lives in North Carolina and teaches writing at Guilford College.

Ashley Mares is the author of Maddening Creatures (Aldrich Press, forthcoming), The Deer Longs for Streams of Water (Flutter Press), and A Dark, Breathing Heart (dancing girl press, forthcoming). Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Stirring, Whiskey Island, Menacing Hedge, Whale Road Review, Prelude, Hermeneutic Chaos, and others. She is currently completing her JD in Monterey, CA, where she lives with her husband. Read more of her poetry at AshleyMaresPoetry.WordPress.com and follow her @ash_mares2.

harps mclean is a professional chef in Tennessee, where he lives with his beautiful multi-species family. He mends fences, cuts his own hair, and has just begun to publish.

Owen McLeod’s poems recently appear or are forthcoming in Ploughshares, New England Review, FIELD, Missouri Review, Yale Review, Massachusetts Review, and other journals. He is a potter, a professor of philosophy at Lafayette College, and he lives in eastern Pennsylvania.

Alicia Mountain is a queer poet and PhD candidate at the University of Denver. Her poems can be found in Guernica, jubilat, Prairie Schooner, Pleiades, Witness, and elsewhere. Alicia’s work was nominated for a 2017 Pushcart Prize. Her unpublished full-length manuscript was a semi-finalist for the St. Lawrence Book Award and a notable manuscript for the BOAAT Book Prize. She received an Academy of American Poets Prize, an Idyllwild Arts Fellowship, and a residency at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. She earned her MFA at the University of Montana in Missoula.

Dan Murphy holds an MFA from Boston University and teaches writing and literature at Suffolk University in Boston. He lives just outside the city with his wife and two daughters and their black lab, Sammy Adams Murphy.

Brianna Noll’s first book, The Price of Scarlet, was the inaugural poetry selection for the University Press of Kentucky’s New Poetry and Prose Series and was published in Spring 2017. She is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Teaching and Mentoring in the Honors College at UIC, and she serves as poetry editor of The Account, which she helped found. Her poems have recently appeared in The Georgia Review, Passages North, Puerto del Sol, Hunger Mountain, and The Kenyon Review Online.

Claire Oleson is a student and writer hailing from Grand Rapids, MI. She’s currently studying English and creative writing at Kenyon College. She’s an avid fan of books, bread, and trying to win the hearts of all felines. Her work has been published by the University of Kentucky’s graduate literary journal Limestone, Siblíní Art and Literature journal, Newfound Journal, NEAT magazine, Bridge Eight Magazine, among others.

Dayna Patterson is managing editor of Bellingham Review, poetry editor for Exponent II Magazine, and founding editor-in-chief of Psaltery & Lyre. Her poetry has appeared in North American Review, The Fourth River, Weave, Literary Mama, and others. Connect with her at PsalteryAndLyre.org

Lynn Pattison’s work has appeared in The Notre Dame Review, RHINO, Atlanta Review, Harpur Palate, Rattle, Smartish Pace, Tinderbox, Slipstream, Poetry East, among others, and has been anthologized in several venues. Nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize, she is the author of three collections: tesla’s daughter (March St. Press); Walking Back the Cat (Bright Hill Press) and Light That Sounds Like Breaking (Mayapple Press). Pattison was awarded an Irving S. Gilmore Emerging Artist Grant through the the Michigan Arts Council, and a writing residency at the Ragdale Foundation in Lake Forest, IL.

Simon Perchik’s poetry has appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, The New Yorker, and elsewhere.

Todd Robinson lives and writes in Omaha, NE. His poems have appeared most recently in Margie, Potomac Review, and Mankato Poetry Review. He teaches at Creighton University and in the Writer’s Workshop at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

F. Daniel Rzicznek is the author of two poetry collections, Divination Machine (Free Verse Editions/Parlor Press, 2009) and Neck of the World (Utah State University Press, 2007), as well as four chapbooks, most recently Live Feeds (Epiphany Editions, 2015). His recent poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Beloit Poetry Journal, Volt, Kenyon Review, Massachusetts Review, Natural Bridge, and elsewhere. Also coeditor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry: Contemporary Poets in Discussion and Practice (Rose Metal Press, 2010), Rzicznek teaches writing at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

Amy Schmitz lives in San Diego, CA. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in San Pedro River Review, The Louisiana Review, Borderlands: Texas Literary Review, Askew, Poetry International, Freshwater, Comstock Review, Bookwoman, Perfume River Poetry Review, The Bellevue Review, Folio, River City, Kiosk, The Baltimore Review, So to Speak, and The Washington Review. She has won awards from Poetry International, the CNY chapter of the National League of American Pen Women, the Women’s National Book Association, Folio and River City. Schmitz holds an MFA from George Mason University.

Terrell Jamal Terry’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Literary Review, Columbia Poetry Review, West Branch, Washington Square, Whiskey Island, The Volta, and elsewhere. His debut collection, Aroma Truce, is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press in 2017.

Allison Tobey grew up in Cleveland, OH, but has lived and worked in Portland, OR for the past decade teaching college writing. She earned her MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles and is the poetry editor for Gertrude Press. Her work has been published in many journals including RHINO, Sugar House Review, Paper Nautilus, and Fourteen Hills. She enjoys dogs, books, and fizz.

Originally from Detroit,
L. Vella now lives and works in a place surrounded by cornfields turned into baseball diamonds. A recent graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, previous poems have appeared in Spork and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet.

Jeanann Verlee is a 2017 NEA Poetry Fellow and the author of Said the Manic to the Muse, award-winning Racing Hummingbirds, and the forthcoming collection, prey. Awarded the Third Coast Poetry Prize and the Sandy Crimmins Prize, her work appears in Adroit, The Journal, Rattle, among others. She collects tattoos and kisses Rottweilers. Find her at JeanannVerlee.com.

Angela Voras-Hills currently lives with her family (husband, son, toddler, and an orange cat) in Madison, WI, where she’s the co-director of a new non-profit literary arts center, Arts + Literature Laboratory. She earned an MFA at UMass-Boston, was awarded grants from The Sustainable Arts Foundation, Key West Literary Seminar, and was a fellow at Writers’ Room of Boston. Her work has appeared in Kenyon Review Online, Memorious, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Best New Poets, among other journals and anthologies.

H.R. Webster holds an MFA from the Helen Zell Writers’ Program. Her work has appeared in Ecotone, Seattle Review, Black Warrior Review, and Hobart.

John Sibley Williams is the editor of two Northwest poetry anthologies and the author of nine collections. A five-time Pushcart nominee and winner of the Philip Booth Award, American Literary Review Poetry Contest, Nancy D. Hargrove Editors’ Prize, and Vallum Award for Poetry, John serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review and works as a literary agent.

Felicia Zamora is the author of the book Of Form & Gather, winner of the 2016 Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize from Letras Latinas and University of Notre Dame Press. She won the 2015 Tomaž Šalamun Prize from Verse, and authored the chapbooks Imbibe {et alia} here (Dancing Girl Press 2016) and Moby-Dick Made Me Do It (2010). Her published works may be found or forthcoming in Columbia Poetry Review, Crazyhorse, Hotel Amerika, Indiana Review, Meridian, North American Review, Phoebe, Pleiades, Poetry Daily, Poetry Northwest, Puerto del Sol, West Branch, and others. She is an associate poetry editor for the Colorado Review and holds an MFA in creative writing from Colorado State University.