This issue, I’ve been thinking about desire. In Lauren Scharhag’s “The Water Station,” she imagines a future where “we will grieve for the condensation.” We will mourn and lament and regret. Here we desire the tangible: water. In Hannah Jeremiah’s “Communication with Skin,” we see only one eye, the figure’s focus is not us, and the mouth gapes as if to speak. The work in this issue yearns, it desires. These artists and poets confront what we are thirsting for: words, water, our mothers, witnesses, the face of a lover. These poets and artists demand, as Amanda Moore demands: “What terrible blossoms will we harvest come spring?”
My mother taught me
to sew my clothes, stitch my hems,
make my own wild life.
Haiku Sonnet for San Francisco Climate
All we talk about
is weather, how the fog horn
And was there enough
rain or snow last winter to
plump the lakes and creeks?
And isn’t it hot
inland, a heat wave across
the nation’s middle.
Now we have a new
season: fire with ashfall
and dark yellow skies.
What terrible blossoms will
we harvest come spring?
The Water Station
Someday, there may come a time
when we find ourselves standing in line
at the ward water resource site. If that day comes,
those of us old enough to remember will mourn
all the glasses of water left undrunk
on restaurant tables, sad wedges of lemon
parked on the rim. We will regret the tumblers
poured at bedtime that went stale overnight—
at best, dumped out into a potted plant
after our alarm went off. We will lament
the plastic bottles left simmering in car cupholders
under the August sun, contents rendered
undrinkable. We will grieve
for the condensation that formed
around the bottoms of refrigerators
when it came time to defrost, the sopping towels,
the gallons lost down sinks. We will
compose dirges to the ice scraped from windshields
on January mornings, for the winter pipes
that let us scoop water directly from the tap,
deliciously cold, and slaked our throats dried
from furnace blasts. We will rend our garments
for those summer days when someone came
with a wrench and turned on the fire hydrant
for neighborhood children to splash in.
We will recollect the hubris of lawns,
of swimming pools, of water parks,
of golf courses, every moment an exercise
in this embarrassment of riches, dishwashers run
decadently empty, the toilets we flushed
just to rid ourselves of tissues
without a second thought, the iris beds,
the green frogs. The act of swallowing spit
will feel like an impossible luxury.
Someday, the clear rain puddles will
stop reflecting blue skies
at our shuffling feet.
On Viewing a Spider Installation
at the crux, the cross, the spider-crotch, thread-legs emerge: leg-
roots set in stone
inside spider’s stone-egg body: life blood/stone blood
we make science in our image, spider says, but art is all
my rootless fear eats my soul like a camera: I turn my back
to the lens
I am body, spider says, I am fear: I fear I can no longer
see your face
we are a freak museum, I say: my spider heart, your twisted threads.
Ancestors are Here
After Natalie J. Graham
I lean sideways in front of the cypress mirror and brush
my hair 100 times as my mother taught me.
Soak this dress with three figs across the bodice
on powder-blue cotton, in the oasis, squeezing water
into my mouth. Beyond my reach, the dress floats
through the layers of stacked beings encased in clouds
while light brown rabbits, sensitive and kind, scamper
like gusty winds in four directions. Heavenly and earthly
realms join. Blue-gray wolf and deer my origin. Date palms
reach, attempting to grab the dress which dodges
like a balloon. I set the brush down, smooth my dress,
and watch rabbits leap in salt grasses. Tell me the truth.
Be my witness.
The dress. The dress. The dress.
in each other’s watery reflections
catch autumn overcast, muted
on the river’s throat.
Told my webbed wrists to be like silver birches
Paper skin I quiver inside, my pale arms
twine in swans’ neck hearts, sway
and sing. The lacing that links them—
wind on my bark, insistent strokes
that unspool in semaphore, in hula,
cat’s cradle played without fingers.
White patch of face in streetlamp light.
Staring at two sticks expecting fire.
Note: This poem contains a quotation from Seamus Heaney’s “The Tollerund Man in Springtime.”
and you say “We don’t use that word anymore.” What, then, have I become here, in this time of any, this long distance marathon of more? A chorus of car wreckage. A dandelion plucked from the garden, seeds scattered and replanted where they will. What I mean is, my broken is always an upfront thing, that I am only as strong as my weakest part. See my flower gut burst open as I fall from his grasp. See my cracked windshield facade grow, fingers grasp and stretch, shatter. I break loud and messy; leave no room for excuses or a second half of the story. What I mean is, I will reappear myself in your yard, bright yellow and heavy with life, with my stems full of new memories ready to kiss your lips year after year. I am a perfect specimen of reinvention, I am the tide that returns to your wanting ear in every seashell. I’ve stopped apologizing for loving this loudly anymore than the dandelion between the cracks in the pavement. My love is unyielding, unapologetic and raw as the trauma I wear like glitter; I break and take everything with me. Loud, shatter and terrifying in its honesty. If we don’t use that word anymore, what are we doing?
Someone Lives Here
The spoons get dirtied
twice before washing.
There’s toothpaste drying
in the sink. Leaves collect
in the window sill. You see,
I don’t mind the smell
of an orange rind shrinking
on the cutting board. The overcoat
thrown across the chair,
a springtime reminder
of a winter’s snow that night
in your kitchen. Looking
at the floor through a wine glass,
wanting it to fall from my hand
and gripping tighter. You see,
someone lives here—
either my breath or the radiator’s
on the window. The spoon still
wet with coffee. The coupons
half cut and the scissors still
in my hand. And smoke from a candle
blackens the bathroom tile behind it—
who knew such small fires left a mark.
Caroline Parkman Barr
Even the air recycled.
Sometimes when I breathe,
and an old friend comes to mind,
I wonder about that.
This is an alien landscape. The familiar
skews left and reminds me of the meaning
for the word sinister. There are still
windows and doors, but if I open one,
where does it go and what air would I breathe?
You call me friend but I have to remember
that men grow up with words less slippery, words
that don’t slide from my hands into the water
and splash my face. I look up through the window
and see a half moon, not the full moon lovers expect,
and I gaze past it to bare trees
and pinpoints of kitchen windows on higher ground,
blocks away where there may be banquets
prepared by refrigerator light or stolen cookies
or stolen kisses on the counter. Those dots of light
join the half moon to make a triangle, three moons
in a now unfamiliar sky, punctuation for the words
that form via text—the edited body, true or not.
Tonight the half moon is all I have, that and stars
winking like someone else’s kitchen when the blinds
go down, erasing the light of things to come.
Suzanne Bailie is an artist, playwright and poet that lives in the Pacific Northwest. Suzanne’s inventive and unique poetry continues to be included in many anthologies and magazines. When she is not writing she loves creating collage art, oil painting and photography.
Frances Boyle’s books are Tower, a novella, and Light-carved Passages (poetry), with new collections forthcoming in 2019 (poetry) and 2020 (short fiction). Her work has appeared in many literary magazines and anthologies, and won local and Canada-wide awards. Frances helps edit Arc Poetry Magazine, and reviews for Canthius. www.francesboyle.com.
Lanette Cadle teaches at Missouri State University in Springfield, one state over from her home state of Kansas. She has previously published poetry in TAB, Star*Line, Stirring, Menacing Hedge, and Flint Hills Review. Her poetry collection The Tethered Ground is forthcoming from Woodley Press Fall 2019.
l.m. culbertson- faegre
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.
Melanie Faith is a poet, professor, and photographer. She wrote a craft book about the flash genre to inspire fellow writers, In a Flash!: Writing & Publishing Dynamic Flash Prose (Vine Leaves Press, April 2018), and her latest book, Poetry Power, was published (Vine Leaves Press) on October 26, 2018. Her photography recently appeared in Fourth & Sycamore. Her short stories are forthcoming from Red
Coyote (fall 2018) and SunLit Fiction (October 2018). Her poetry will appear in Up North Lit (Oct. 2018) and Meniscus. This fall, she is teaching a dream class she created that combines two of her passions, called Photography for Writers. See more of her photography, writing, and projects at: https://www.melaniedfaith.com/blog/.
SaraEve Fermin (she/her) is a performance poet and epilepsy advocate from northeast New Jersey. A 2015 Best of the Net nominee, she has performed for the Epilepsy Foundation of Los Angeles and has published two collections of poetry. Her third, trauma carnival, is due next year. She loves instagram: @SaraEve41.
Michelle Hendrixson-Miller lives in Columbia, TN. She received her MFA from Queens University of Charlotte where she served as poetry editor for the inaugural issue of Qu Literary Magazine. Her poems have recently appeared in Josephine Quarterly, Main Street Rag, Moth, One, Adirondack Review, Still, The Fourth River, and Mudfish.
Jared Ean Jennings
Jared Ean Jennings is an artist from Neosho, Mo. He earned his BFA in Illustration from Pittsburg State University and is currently working towards his MFA in Drawing at Fort Hays State University. The work Jared creates is a reaction to his experiences with schizophrenia as well as a response to the mental illness found in everyday life.
Born in Van Buren, AR and raised in West Hartford, CT, Hannah Jeremiah graduated from The Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in 2016. She has taught art and technology workshops, is a certified yoga instructor, and is currently recording a series of experimental ballads.
Jude Marr teaches, and writes poetry, as protest. They are currently a PhD candidate at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and their chapbook, Breakfast for the Birds (Finishing Line), was published in 2017. Recent credits include Nightjar Review, 8 Poems, and Oxidant Engine. More work at www.judemarr.com. Follow Jude on Twitter @JudeMarr1.
Amanda Moore's poetry has appeared in journals and anthologies including ZZYZVA, Cream City Review, Tahoma Literary Review, Best New Poets, and Mamas and Papas: On the Sublime and Heartbreaking Art of Parenting, and she is the recipient of writing awards from The Writing Salon, Brush Creek Arts Foundation, and The Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts. She received her MFA from Cornell University, where she served as Managing Editor for EPOCH magazine and a lecturer in the John S. Knight Writing Institute. A high school English teacher, Amanda lives by the beach with her husband and daughter in the Outer Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco. More about her work is available at http://amandapmoore.com.
Sarah Jewell Olsen
Sarah was born in Anchorage. She earned her Bachelors in Fine Art in Ceramics from the University of Alaska Anchorage in 2009 and her Masters in Fine Art from West Virginia University in 2014. She is teaching and the Youth Education Coordinator for the Belger Arts Center in Kansas City.
Caroline Parkman Barr
Caroline Parkman Barr is a North Alabama native and a recent graduate of the MFA Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she was Poetry Editor of The Greensboro Review. Her poetry has previously appeared in Sinking City and Two Hawks Quarterly. She currently serves as the Social Media Specialist for Poetry Northwest and lives in Oakland, CA.
Fabrice B. Poussin
Fabrice Poussin teaches French and English at Shorter University. Author of novels and poetry, his work has appeared in Kestrel, Symposium, The Chimes, and dozens of other magazines. His photography has been published in The Front Porch Review, the San Pedro River Review as well as other publications.
Cindy Rinne creates art and writes in San Bernardino, CA. She brings myth to life in contemporary context. Cindy is the author of seven books: Mapless with Nikia Chaney (Cholla Needles Press), Moon of Many Petals (Cholla Needles Press), Listen to the Codex (Yak Press), and others. www.fiberverse.com.
Lauren Scharhag is an award-winning writer of fiction and poetry. Her titles include Under Julia, The Ice Dragon, West Side Girl & Other Poems, and The Order of the Four Sons. She lives on Florida’s Emerald Coast. To learn more about her work, visit: www.laurenscharhag.blogspot.com.
Vivian Wagner lives in New Concord, Ohio, where she's an associate professor of English. She's the author of Fiddle: One Woman, Four Strings, and 8,000 Miles of Music (Citadel-Kensington), The Village (Aldrich Press-Kelsay Books), Making (Origami Poems Project), and Curiosities (Unsolicited Press).
Jim Zola is a poet and photographer living in North Carolina.