I am thrilled to release the first issue of Harbor Review into the world. This issue is dedicated to my daughter, and the magazine takes its name from her. The two share much in common. Most recently, both have been keeping me up at night.
I am often troubled by the concept of beginnings. Beginnings, for the anxious and half-empty glassers of the world, often mean an ending is near. Beginnings can be celebrated and feared, sometimes simultaneously. As Harbor Review begins, I hope to return each issue to this idea. To confront it. I hope to provide a space for new poets and artists to begin and to celebrate with them.
The work in the issue speaks to me about beginnings and endings, beauty and error; it calls out and beckons. I hope the words and images linger inside of you as Greg Stapp writes, “Like reverberations in a hall of sound.” I hope you will return often to see where this beginning takes us.
I am the oracular woman.
Do not call me they.
Do not pretend my breasts embarrass
or my vagina, the ovaries—
I have never seen them!
—break your little heart.
I feel all the parts of my woman body,
now the gut—the raw edge
above pubis—gas shifting through intestine
to bowel. Cold foot curled under knee’s itch.
My partner, now man, husband, sleeps.
He feels the fool for sneezing,
can’t remember dizzy—rarely feels
pain or remembers the ache. I have begun
the long conversation with my gut mast cell bacteria.
Can I call it conversation?
The bacteria want laughter.
They like fart jokes.
I have despised the scatological.
I am the oracular female
American, too late —gasbag.
At thirty, not yet knowing nostalgia death time decade grief.
At forty—with the body always
—and yet . . .
[Now the decade she doesn’t say]
I am the oracular —you have
heard me in Whitman.
You have heard me in Thoreau.
I might call myself Henry or Bill.
You have known me in Pound.
You lose patience. Where
is my forty year canto? Where
is my Latin Greek French?
I am not the first woman —but now
you must listen.
The gut is the philosophy
a little large—a little noisy.
The cold feet falling asleep
against the warm belly
of man or cat.
I declare myself Haslam,
I claim for myself your full attentions.
The Illusionist Replies
Eva, the bus broke down again. This desert wind throws tantrums. I lost a silver stud and a postcard older than you. When I lived in San Francisco, my cat had one green eye, one grey. Last night I heard the cat clawing the door. We seem to drive through miles of water. The windows glow with undersea lights. I've been reading too many novels. I wish you were closer. I love the PJ Harvey songs you sent--the one about the horses and the ocean. I've pulled myself clear.
To Our Bodies
My throat is not a jukebox
but the cells of the jukebox dancing.
We should call this beautiful:
weedy unkempt patches of earth,
and how, when my body lies with yours,
we press our sides in the mud
and cover the impression for a billion years.
My voice is not the music in the box
but the vibrations in the fiber of the wood.
We should call this beautiful:
children at play in the mud, carving
chasms and shaping hills, how, when I lie
with you, we are pressed into shape together
as from clay or clumps of tar or wet sand.
Not the wires of transmission,
the transmission, my timbre a viscous energy.
We should call this beautiful:
the City collects the discarded into a mountain
and it smells of everything that will distill again
down into how, when we lie together, we are one
cast-aside body, the refuse of love, alive.
The unwritten and unsung lyric,
the echo of the forgotten songs of Solomon.
I fall apart on the climb to beautiful:
unturned earth and children and garbage
drawn in the clay as a mold fossil.
And what are we? Two leaves’ shape
and texture in stone, one within the other
like reverberations in a hall of sound.
In Which Lion is Metaphor
for Overproduction of Mucus
The savannah with billowing
yellow grasses and red mud
will stand in for my floral print couch.
Hours of wrist surgery recovery
with arm elevated = tenor;
running barefoot and full bore
in complete freedom while long
insects leap from me, the blue sky
uninterrupted by cloud, my joy
and independence in hot sun,
from their quinine tonics
over the sunshine veranda
would see me downed, face up
as the lion’s teeth tore
into my thigh, blood darking
my skin, blood darking
the dirt, the lion sure, the lion
taking over, hunter, savior,
many errors of human judgment.
Laura Lee Washburn
After She Calls and Says She Wants You Back
You’re slicing up onions, making the whole kitchen cry,
even the cups I just washed, sweating on the drying rack,
no way to escape any mistakes you might make. You’re cooking
for me again, this our fourth or fifth date, but you won’t tell me
what you’re preparing. A cast iron skillet you have owned for much longer
than we have known each other has a belly full of olive oil
rubbed into the places you have touched, saturated with time
and all your efforts. You take a garlic clove and crush it with the flat
of your knife and the heel of your hand: paper wings spread open.
The knife’s wooden handle bears the outline of your grasp. I think about
the things you could take apart with that blade: separate fat from meat,
cut away the peel to reveal the tender and sweet center.
Chicken sizzles and sighs in the skillet, and you leave it so long
the skin burns just a little. Still we will eat it, you and I,
each of us hungry for something we should not have.
Shuly Xóchitl Cawood
Koi fish breaks the surface
of the water with her mouth.
Plucks the petal with her gape—
orange peel, black-spotted rind.
Hunks of fish meat,
watch the whiskers.
Their eyes are poignant
or maybe dead.
Then the young ones,
sun reflects on water,
Petals falling, fins as shawls.
Hard to tell
rocks from turtles
intermingled, then the single,
she wears her house.
Koi fish and her rudder,
she slips her body under
and its ripples
made by mouth.
What Happens After the Press Conference
In memoriam, Jordan Edwards, killed by police
His parents sit still as sleep, lids heavy,
hands folded in their laps. I want
to fold this poem like a tissue,
an origami swan. Poets believe words
are an offering, a gesture like
holding the elevator for his mother,
not speaking while she cries
when the doors press together in prayer.
Melissa Fite Johnson
family tradition of watching the film
Bill Pullman as President when we needed
Bill Pullman as President now we feel danger
turn to Bill Pullman to rally us
our family will not go gentle into
the night of those who hate
marriage for everyone those who hate
they had their say tried to make us
alien when our shields protect
the Constitution of the Mother ship
Dennis Etzel Jr.
robert frost says nothing gold can stay
but robert frost clearly never tried
to clean dog piss out of carpet.
which is to say: dog piss is
forever. it settles in, makes a home
for itself of whatever soft thing it
touches. like an elaborately embroidered
throw pillow. or the backpack i left
last night in the kitchen & found this morning
soaked in the piss of my boyfriend’s
hairless chihuahua, which is to say,
really, my hairless chihuahua, though
even after months of living together
i am anxious about calling certain things
mine. which, i know, is silly: i love him
& walk him & feed him each day
(the chihuahua, that is). nights i sleep
with his hot body tucked against
my side. but even if i worry
about calling him my own, he
has no problem calling me
his, pissing, as he has, on half
my belongings, marking my backpack
& my pillow & my favorite pair of shoes
as his own. which is to say: he
has settled in, made a home for himself
of me & my things. he has called my things
our things, the piss-soaked parts of
a shared life, which is to say he has said
that we belong to each other, that,
somehow, this belonging will last forever.
like the days when I spoke broken spanish
and I looked like a foreigner.
like the times when my skin was dark brown
and my accent carried six generations of regret.
like you loved my mother and her mothers,
even when they birthed mixed children of brown skin and shame.
Love me unconditionally,
like you loved the ones that crossed oceans
to cultivate your soul and bones.
because they have taken everything from us
and we only have each other.
even when we learn a third language
our tongues look for clarity in the darkness of colonialism.
because the clearer my skin gets,
the deeper our souls sink to the hole they dug for “animals” like us.
because you are my mother
and I am your son and we are the product of rape.
when you start to forget that there was a time
when all we had was naked bodies printed with memories of our ancestors.
like you know how to love,
love me because you are my mother and you rule it all.
Marsha Boston is a working artist whose paintings center on the myths and concepts that define our relationship to nature. While researching the widespread application of recombinant DNA technology to our food crops, she discovered her fascination and delight with the subject of botany. Her work evolved out of her concern over the uncertain realities of genetic engineering, the accelerated speed of human dominion over nature, and her reverence for the miraculous design of plants.
The organic forms in her work begin as representational drawings. Then through repetition and kinetic memory the drawings are simplified and combined with open color. For her, the language of the marks and colors parallel the subtler more invisible healing qualities of the plants.
Marsha was born in Santa Monica, California, and has lived in San Diego County since 1974. She graduated Suma Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and received a Regents Fellowship to pursue a Master of Fine Arts at UCSD. She was awarded Ford and Mayer Grants for her graduate work.
For the last two decades, the conflict between our mechanistic worldview and our relationship to nature has been the concern informing her work.
Shevaun Brannigan’s work is forthcoming in AGNI, and has appeared in Best New Poets and Slice. She is a recipient of a Barbara J. Deming Fund grant, and holds an MFA from Bennington College.
Shuly Xóchitl Cawood
Shuly Xóchitl Cawood is the author of the memoir, The Going and Goodbye (Platypus Press, 2017). Her work has been published in Brevity, The Rumpus, december magazine, Cider Press Review, and The Louisville Review, among others. You can read more about her writing at www.shulycawood.com.
l.m. culbertson faegre is a gay cryptic picture-maker from and in the ozark. Current muses include cyborg minds, wild plants, gender freaks, and the decline of western fucking civilization. They wrote this artist's bio listening to d'angels and drinking black chai with a large dog laying on her, which is how she knows she's made it.
A former John and Renee Grisham fellow, Joshua Davis holds an MFA from the University of Mississippi, an MFA from Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine, and an M.A. from Pittsburg State University. Recent poems have appeared in The Poetry Distillery, The Museum of Americana, and The Midwest Quarterly. He is a doctoral candidate in American Literature at Ohio University, and he lives near Tampa.
Dennis Etzel Jr.
Dennis Etzel Jr. lives with Carrie and the boys in Topeka, Kansas where he teaches English at Washburn University. He has an MFA from The University of Kansas, and an MA and Graduate Certificate in Women and Gender Studies from Kansas State University. He has two chapbooks, The Sum of Two Mothers (ELJ Publications 2013) and My Graphic Novel (Kattywompus Press 2015). My Secret Wars of 1984 (BlazeVOX 2015) was selected by The Kansas City Star as a Best Poetry Book of 2015, and its sequel My Grunge of 1991 was recently published (BlazeVOX 2017). Fast-Food Sonnets (Coal City Review Press 2016) is a 2017 Kansas Notables Book selected by the State of Kansas Library. This Removed Utopia (Spartan Press 2017) was published as part of the Kaw Valley Poetry Series. His work has appeared in Denver Quarterly, Indiana Review, BlazeVOX, Fact-Simile, 1913: a journal of poetic forms, 3:AM, Tarpaulin Sky, DIAGRAM, and others. Etzel is the recipient of a 2017 Troy Scroggins Award and the 2017 Topeka ARTSConnect Arty Award in Literary Arts. He is a TALK Scholar for the Kansas Humanities Council and leads poetry workshops in various Kansas spaces.
H.L. Johnson has been writing for enough years to come into her full voice. She is the founder and driving force of a small bi-annual reading series. Her poem “Fore” is the first poem of her manuscript-in-progress The Scurrilous Notebooks. Johnson, a feminist activist, is the behind-the-scenes presence on several public social media pages and is actively involved in raising money for redistribution to women in crisis.
Melissa Fite Johnson
Melissa Fite Johnson’s poems have been published by Broadsided Press, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Rust + Moth, and elsewhere. Her first collection, While the Kettle’s On (Little Balkans Press, 2015), and her second, Ghost Sign (Spartan Press, 2016), which she co-authored, were both named Kansas Notable Books. She is also the author of A Crooked Door Cut into the Sky, winner of the 2017 Vella Chapbook Award (Paper Nautilus Press, 2018). Melissa and her husband live with their dogs in Kansas, where she teaches English.
Patrick Kindig is currently a PhD candidate in Indiana University's Department of English. He is the author of the chapbook all the catholic gods (Seven Kitchens Press, forthcoming) and the micro-chapbook Dry Spell (Porkbelly Press 2016), and his poems have recently appeared in The Journal, Meridian, Third Coast, DIAGRAM, Columbia Poetry Review,and other journals.
Marina Manoukian is an Armenian reader and writer. She primarily writes, but she makes collages to justify all the Netflix she watches. She likes bees and loves honey. Find more of her work at marinamanoukian.com
Jayne Marek has provided color cover art for Silk Road, Bombay Gin, and The Bend and for her two full-length poetry books—In and Out of Rough Water (2017) and The Tree Surgeon Dreams of Bowling (2018). Her poetry and art photos appear in Gulf Stream, Grub Street, The Cortland Review, Camas, The Lake, Stonecoast Review, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Lunch Ticket, Amsterdam Quarterly, About Place Journal, Notre Dame Review, and elsewhere. She has received two Pushcart Prize nominations.
Alex Martínez is a poet living in Kansas City, Missouri. Alex is artist in resident at Charlotte Street Foundation. He published his book Disclosure: Confessions of a Queer in Crisis in April of 2018. Alex is a DACA recipient, employed by the the ACLU of Kansas.
Jonathan K. Rice
Jonathan K. Rice edited Iodine Poetry Journal for seventeen years. He is the author of two full-length poetry collections, Killing Time (2015), Ukulele and Other Poems (2006) and a chapbook, Shooting Pool with a Cellist (2003), all published by Main Street Rag Publishing. He is also a visual artist. His poetry and art have appeared in numerous publications, including Cold Mountain Review, Comstock Review, Diaphanous, Empty Mirror, Gargoyle, Inflectionist Review, Levure Litteraire, The Main Street Rag, Wild Goose Poetry Review and the anthologies, Hand in Hand: Poets Respond to Race and The Southern Poetry Anthology VII: North Carolina.
Gregory Stapp received his BA in Creative Writing from the University of Oklahoma where he worked for the Carl Albert Center Congressional Archives, earned a Puterbaugh Fellowship in World Literature, and won the Tomas Rivera Student Writing prize in Poetry. He received his MFA from Queens University of Charlotte and his poems have appeared or are pending publication in Lime Hawk Journal, The Ekphrastic Review, Forage, The Cortland Review, The Sierra Nevada Review, and The Southern Review, among others.
Laura Lee Washburn
Laura Lee Washburn is a University Professor, the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize). Her poetry has appeared in such journals as Cavalier Literary Couture, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, Red Rock Review, and Valparaiso Review. Born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, she has also lived and worked in Arizona and in Missouri. She is married to the writer Roland Sodowsky and is one of the founders and the Co-President of the Board of SEK Women Helping Women. https://www.facebook.com/sekwhw
Charity-Mika Woodard received her MFA in Painting and Drawing from the New York Academy of Art, and her BFA from Pittsburg State University. Ms. Woodard has had the privilege of working with many artists, including Eric Fischl, Vincent Desiderio, Wade Schuman, Jenny Saville, and Damian Loeb. She has shown in group exhibits in London, New York, and throughout the mid-west. Ms. Woodard is a doctoral candidate researching activist art at George Fox University and teaches future teachers at Pittsburg State University.