We are obsessed with blue: “The Blue Boy,” “Blue Nude,” Bluets, Mamie Smith, Counting Crows, Linda Ronstadt, Madonna. We feel blue out of the blue. Blue demands we see, touch, hear, smell, taste. In this issue, devoted to one of my favorite obsessions, blue is water or fear or death or music. Blue is also black and red and orange. In this issue, blue is a condensation on our skin. As I read Kristin LaFollette’s “Hematology,” I know blue swirls inside like a “harvest of blood.” Blue waits as Theresa Senato Edwards writes, like the “ghost of a white dog.” We taste blue that has been dipped, twisted by Kathleen Gunton. Blue is both concrete and a red light in the distance. I hope this celebration of blue helps us all to see something new.
On her 63rd birthday, Annie Edson Taylor became the first person to survive a barrel ride over Niagara Falls.
from the summit the
water looks more
like a fog
rolling in on itself
ghostly white and
across the gorge
in the treetops, but barely
make a sound
muted as they are by the
what can live
underneath so much turmoil
that cuts deep through
the slow hand of
The Blue Cow
The sky is too big for the blue cow, too noisy
in the land of commerce. She misses her apple tree
and stands with her meadow mates watching a painter
shaded at orchard’s edge. Fishermen take shape
beneath brushes. Boats clog the blue bay. Men squint
at oars, bobbers, sails, cattle. Even cattle have eyes
only for clover, horse flies. Women follow children
singing cloud shapes. On the bluff between small
farms and the future, the blue cow, her face open
as a mother’s arms. She blinks all afternoon, brown
sun, brown moon. The shepherd nudges his herd
home, but the blue cow won’t leave the canvas.
Eremophobia, The Fear of Being Alone
4:00 AM, can’t sleep, the humid air thick
as tree sap, so I go outside to name
the constellations and trace the shapes
of their white neon bones. The stars
don’t know they are part of anything:
they spin and burn, they swallow darkness
for nourishment, they can’t remember
their own luxurious names. Tomorrow
I’ll look at the sky and pretend to marry
that pale blue bride, tomorrow I’ll stand
in my driveway holding a single
black feather I found on the gravel road.
Christopher todd Anderson
Please Don’t Fight
Mark says, "Be good
to your sister. Don't fight.
Please don't fight," on the phone
on our way back from Manhattan.
His wife's left him. He's staying with his brother
in Emporia, the night falling all around us,
and the red lights on the big wind turbines
pop on—like wishes, like eyes, like
the last of what the fire can give.
If I Should Say I Love the Tree
that dropped my dead parents slowly, remains of a morning shower, would you believe they’ve landed back on Earth, their cancer cells dispersed into the ground? Ghost of a white dog tracks their movements. I find wings buried in the tree’s roots, eye the swans that droop upon each other at the edge of the world. A hollow wailing like the inside of the cello I still haven’t learned how to polish or play or store properly. All this tucked densely behind yellow eyes as my parents search for their three daughters, confused by the smell of the tree’s maple plotting their path. I wait for them to return from their spacewalk and realize the skillfulness of rain, a heavy moving drug that conjures the remarkable. And family is the only home for a tree that rains.
Theresa Senato Edwards
*The title of this poem was inspired by Lynn Melnick’s If I Should Say I Have Hope.
Once, there was a garden. He and I
grew tomatoes and green peppers,
a jalapeno or two. We lamented
the rabbits, as you do. But we did not
tend it, and the earth went fallow.
My favorite photograph is of me
and Lila in that garden. Her, a baby,
wedded to my chest in a carrier.
I remember taking her everywhere,
letting her use my body in the
animal way it was meant to be used.
In the mess of children and the mess
of men who wanted something else,
I forgot the message of my body. The way
it can interpret another body.
The way it can write its own
small letters on another. The way
they have been written on you.
Last night, I surrendered. Wrapped
my legs around you. Sent the Morse code
of my cunt, a telegraph
I didn’t think I would send again.
And still, I can look you in the eye
first thing in the morning
and have you say, I’ve made the coffee.
I kept your sweetener in the pantry.
I am sore, and this reminds me of you.
Wherever we are now,
whosoever you may be,
I have come to love
these fathoms, their blackblue
between our teeth—
to keep us here.
Julie Phillips Brown
Breezy Point after the Hurricane
for my mother
We dig matching trenches
with our heels, beach chairs paired
facing the ocean,
watch kids flick footprints
into patterns, admire how skimmers stitch
their slim black beaks so close
to the water’s surface we suspect
You in bright turquoise swimsuit,
gray-blonde hair tucked behind your ears,
stone blue eyes. Seagulls reel on invisible strings.
I open my old lunch box; we pass back and forth
You pack a thermos,
Campbell’s alphabet soup for the beach—
ridiculous, my favorite. You teach me to write
Mom, I hand you my spoon.
I am making space to lose you—
the trench of my heart is big
enough, a deep hurricane unraveled:
Today the sea a neat blue remnant;
the sand feels new.
A plover makes her nest a shallow dish.
In woven beach bags
what we know but can’t quite say—
this great blue hem of sea
this vast seam coming undone.
Jen Ryan Onken
*This poem recently earned the Maine Poet's Society 2019 contest prize for previously unpublished poets.
“She Began Looking at the Sky/Expecting a Large White Angel with a Blue Crotch”
Title taken from “Gods” by Anne Sexton
My legs halve://two yet-to-be //lilac branches,/forced to bloom /in a jelly jar/next to the bed.
I lie in the V/of legs. I rise/for the kiss./To speak/with a tongue/forked is to lie.
(I fear the spliced/wires dangling small clear/light bulbs/across the windows.//I love
the paper mobile/of blue swallows/hung in an undulating V: each tail/a blue folded crotch.)
I have a Venus/totem carved/in blue shale/stretching her blue/almond vagina.
Yeah, yeah/I know the signs:/woad buds in the jar,
milk seeping from/their velvet suede stems/I sliced: sour, dries/up the lips.
When I see my hands, the discrepancy of shape,
the way my skin swells with the weather,
I remember the frosted ground I was formed from—
I’ve seen new
life planted & dug up, a child
born not in the usual way—
There was the summer August heat, thick with water,
but no hot blood, no sweat from skin or the fluid of it
all, or human sounds or the breaking of flesh—
An unearthing of sorts, it was a child pronounced girl
at birth, a girl with a name I felt in my mouth— The girl-child and I share
something, and if it’s heavy breath, I will
give her my best air, will stay in this place
where my labor has been kept. If I exist here, I am most myself in October
when I smell the nutrients that joined me with someone else,
the particles that fill me in the cold.
What I’m talking about here is circulation, the harvest of blood—
If another girl is born, I will be thankful for one more thing to
keep me here—
Christopher Todd Anderson
Christopher Todd Anderson is Associate Professor of English at Pittsburg State University where he teaches courses in American literature, poetry, environmental literature and film, and popular culture. Anderson’s poems have appeared in numerous national literary magazines, including River Styx, Crab Orchard Review, Prairie Schooner, Wisconsin Review, Tar River Poetry, Chicago Quarterly Review, Tipton Poetry Journal, The Main Street Rag, and Greenboro Review, among others. A 2018 Pushcart Prize recipient for poetry, Anderson has also published scholarly articles on images of garbage and waste in American poetry and on the film WALL-E.
Carol Willette Bachofner
Carol Willette Bachofner, MFA Vermont College of Fine Arts 2004, is a poet, blogger, watercolorist, and photographer. She has published eight books of poetry, most recently Test Pattern, a Fantod of Prose and 365, a Year of Writing Adventures. Her poems have appeared in over one hundred journals, anthologies, and publications, including Dawnland Voices, an Anthology of Writings from Indigenous New England (2014). She won the Maine Postmark Contest 2017 for her poem, Passagassawaukeag, which was published in The Maine Review. Her photographs have appeared in Maine Media workshop’s Spirit of Place where she won an Honorable Mention, as well as in The Tishman Review. Carol served as Poet Laureate of Rockland Maine from 2012-2016.
makalani bandele has received fellowships from the Kentucky Arts Council, Cave Canem, Vermont Studio Center, and Millay Colony for the Arts. His work has been published in several anthologies and in many in-print and online literary journals. He is the author of one book of poems, hellfightin’.
Jonathan Brooks' work has been exhibited internationally, featured in movies (Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates and Uncle Drew), the Emmy nominated short film United States Of Art celebrating the 50th anniversary of NEA, and television shows (David Makes Man, Southern Charm, The Vampire Diaries, and Germany’s Only Love Counts).
Julie Phillips Brown
Julie Phillips Brown is a poet, critic, painter, and book artist. Her poems and essays have recently appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Interim, Jacket2, The Oakland Review, Plume, Posit, Tahoma Literary Review, Talisman, and Vinyl. She lives in Lexington, Virginia, where she teaches creative writing, studio art, and American literature.
Robyn Campbell is a Philadelphia-based poet and the editor of Semiperfect Press. Her work has appeared both online and in print, in journals such as Stirring, Voicemail Poems, and Philadelphia Stories. She is a drummer, an avid hiker, and a sentimental Pisces. More of her work can be found at www.robynjcampbell.com.
Alicia Casey holds an MA from Austin Peay State University and an MFA from the University of Mississippi, where she was a John Grisham Fellow. Her poems have previously appeared in journals including Rattle, Zone 3, and Iron Horse Literary Review. She currently lives in Tallahassee, Florida.
Theresa Senato Edwards
Theresa Senato Edwards has published two full-length poetry books, one, with painter Lori Schreiner, which won The Tacenda Literary Award for Best Book, and two chapbooks. Her first chapbook, The Music of Hands, was recently published in a revised second print edition by Seven CirclePress. Poems from her newest manuscript can be found in Stirring, Gargoyle, The Nervous Breakdown, Thrush, Diode, Rogue Agent, Mom Egg Review, Menacing Hedge, Moria, and forthcoming in Matter Press’ Journal of Compressed Creative Arts. Edwards was nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize, received creative writing residencies from Drop Forge & Tool (2015 and 2018) and Craigardan (2019), and is Editor in Chief of The American Poetry Journal (APJ). Her website: https://theresasenatoedwards.wixsite.com/tsenatoedwards.
Photo by Lucia Cherciu.
Audry Elmore is a Multimedia Journalism major at Pittsburg State University. She is currently a sophomore; although, she is experienced in many other mediums, photography speaks to her soul in a different way. Art will always be a religion for her and influence how she perceives the world. Find more information at audryelmore.com.
Kathleen Gunton is a poet/photographer committed to literary journals. Her images have graced the covers of Arts & Letters, Flint Hills Review, Thema, and Studio One—to name a few.
For years floral portraiture was her specialty. Today, an aloe flower dressed in rhythm and blues becomes an abstract devoted to the imagination.
William D. Hicks is not related to the comedian Bill Hicks (though he’s just as funny in his own right). Hicks’ poem “At Christmastime” appears in Ideals Christmas and “Spring” appears in Ideals Easter. His writing/artwork appears in numerous other magazines. He is a major contributor in the anthologies Heavy Petting and AHA!.
Claire received her MFA in creative writing from Florida International University. Her photographs have appeared in numerous journals and magazines, including Topology Magazine, Roadside Fiction, SmokeLong Quarterly, Alimentum~The Literature of Food, and Blue Fifth Review. Claire's photography was recently featured in Pank Magazine's Latinx issue. Claire’s work was included in the “Finding the Light” Exhibition at the PhotoPlace Gallery.
Janina Aza Karpinska
Janina Aza Karpinska is an artist and a poet who lives on the south coast of England. Collage is just one of element of her broad arts practice. She has published work in Warning: May Contain Nuts!, Bath House Journal, 3 Elements Review, The Empty Mirror, Dwell Time, and OBRA/Artifact Magazine, among others, and on the cover of Chichester Magazine.
Elizabeth Kerlikowske's most recent book is an ekphrastic one with painter Mary Hatch titled Art Speaks. She's president of Kalamazoo's Friends of Poetry, a 40+ year old organization dedicated to bringing people and poetry together. She was awarded the Community Medal for the Arts in 2017.
Kristin LaFollette is a writer, artist, and photographer. She is the author of the chapbook Body Parts (GFT Press, 2018) and is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Southern Indiana. You can visit her on Twitter at @k_lafollette03 or on her website at kristinlafollette.com.
Mario Loprete lives in Catanzaro, Italy. He is a graduate of the Accademia of Belle Arti, Catanzaro. He writes, “Painting for me is the first love. An important, pure love. Creating a painting, starting from the spasmodic research of a concept with which I want to send a message to transmit my message, it’s the base of my painting. The sculpture is my lover, my artistic betrayal to the painting. That voluptous and sensual lover that gives me different emotions, that touches prohibited cord.” His next solo exhibitions are from 29 August to 31 October at Manni Art Gallery in Venice, Italy, from 19 November to 31 December at Biblioteeke Hilversum in Hilversum, Netherlands, and from April 2020 to April 2021 at Zylinderhaus Museum in Bernkastel-Kues, Germany.
Jennifer Martelli is the author of My Tarantella, as well as the chapbook, After Bird, which won the Grey Book Press Chapbook Competition. She was the recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant for her poetry and is co-poetry editor of Mom Egg Review.
Michal Mitak Mahgerefteh
Michal (Mitak) Mahgerefteh is an award-winning poet and artist from Virginia. She is author of four poetry collections and managing editor of Mizmor Poetry Anthology. Mitak is a multi media artist, concentrating on recycling paper and painting on digital canvas. www.Mitak-Art.com
Sarah Jewell Olsen
Sarah Jewell Olsen 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 a teacher and the Youth Education Coordinator for the Belger Arts Center in Kansas City.
Jen Ryan Onken
Jen Ryan Onken teaches high school in South Berwick, Maine, and is currently an MFA candidate at Warren Wilson College. Her poems have been featured in Love's Executive Order, the women poets anthology, Lunation, and are forthcoming in Maine Poet Laureate Stuart Kestenbaum's Poems from Here.
Poet Laureate of Kansas (2017-2019) Kevin Rabas teaches at Emporia State University, where he leads the poetry and playwriting tracks. He has ten books, including Lisa’s Flying Electric Piano, a Kansas Notable Book and Nelson Poetry Book Award winner.
Jenn Powers is a writer and visual artist from New England. She is currently working on a literary thriller, and she has work published or forthcoming in The Pinch, Jabberwock Review, Thin Air, Spillway, and Calyx, among others. Her work has been anthologized in Running Wild Press, Kasva Press, and Scribes Valley Publishing. Please visit www.jennpowers.com for more information.