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EMILY AS WE PLANTED THE LILY ABOVE THE VALLEY by Darren C. Demaree

We tend to roll
all the way down
the hills of Ohio

& we have ruined
many landscapes
in Ohio that way.

When we try to grow
anything at all,
we plant the seeds

far from where
our bodies settle.
We are the reason

there are so many
manmade lakes
being filled right now.

 

 

Darren C. Demaree is the author of six poetry collections, most recently “Many Full Hands Applauding Inelegantly” (2016, 8th House Publishing). He is the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology and Ovenbird Poetry. He is currently living in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children. Website: http://www.darrencdemaree.com/ Twitter: @d_c_demaree

Penelope. On the Run by Diana Manole

You edit me out. From your memories. Your wet dreams. Your mail.
The income tax return of a cautiously legal bachelor. The pantry. Cans.
Multivitamins. Business cards of handymen, cleaning ladies, mortgage
brokers. The out-of- date card of your ex-wife. With two last names.

The kitchen area. Where we made love. In passing. Between the stove
and the sink. On our feet. After, you did the dishes. The fridge magnets.
A black Christ. From Sweden. A deer who knew it was his last photograph.
A turtle. Pink with green polka dots. From a tourist shop in Florida.

The unkempt backyard. A raccoon marking his territory. On your deck.
A new pile every night. A leafless elm tree like a high-rise condo. For birds.
A smoker. DuMaurier Distinct Silver. The candle-holder as ashtray. Crazed.
Sin-smelling air comes out from my lungs. You inhale it but fan me away.
“We’re not a couple!”

You move through time as if walking on water. Casually.
I move through time as if through thick layers of cotton. Willfully.
“I love you!” I say. You squint. One more time. Marvelling.

 

 

Diana Manole is a Romanian-Canadian writer, translator, and scholar. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her poetry in English (co-translated with Adam J. Sorkin or written originally therein) has appeared in magazines in the US, the UK, Canada, and South Africa. She is now working on “Hyphens & Periods.” her first collection of poems written in English. You can find her here, here and on Twitter.

that invisible by Colin Webb

Als noch die Stürme tobten,
War ich so elend nicht.

take what’s there, then . . . all that unthinkable peace,
even before Leda’s indifference—
++++++++++++the peregrine devours its prey,
+++++but the nest isn’t its kill

hear what’s here, now . . . all that inexplicable calm,
even during the gazelle’s last chase—
++++++++++++the right hand acts,
+++++but the left hand isn’t neutral

see what’s soon, then again . . . all that extraordinary release,
even after Aunt Adrienne’s terrifying ordeals—
+++++++++++the Hudson’s mouth is surrounded by five boroughs,
+++++but the river heals in ten directions

 

Colin Webb is a native of Baltimore, Maryland, and writes poetry as well as fiction. His novella, Coping with Coincidence, was shortlisted for the 2015 Arch Street Prize.

November by Erin Wilson

I feel the black horse that grazed late October
galloping, galloping out, galvanized
from a splinter off my spinal cord,

hooves tearing divots through the glommy puddles of my heart,
its black rider reckless, thrust forward
through the shutters of my exhalations.

He will ride, and he will ride
near soundlessly, like an idea, or an echo
through each un-day of November,

finally to break the grey veil with a hooved flourish,
pulling back, pulling back on the black reins,
to the spilling out of the white vat of winter.

  

 
 
Erin Wilson’s poems have recently appeared in Watershed Review, Peacock Journal, MockingHeart Review, and Rust + Moth. She lives in a small town in northern Ontario.

Supermoon 2034 by Yoni Hammer-Kossoy

Do you remember last time the moon
was this close? How its pull felt that night
like a forgotten hum, how its light redrew
the sky like a river in flood?
The first rains had come and gone, awakening
tangs of sage and pine, leaving dust
and an easterly wind, chapped hands and an ache
of something over before it began.
The ground was cold; you stood on my feet
and I held you while we gazed up
at ancient seas and highlands once mistaken
for a man, out at future’s dark glimmer,
keenly aware of how easy it is to fall
balanced on the edge of a spinning world.

 

 

Born and raised in the US, Yoni Hammer-Kossoy lives in Israel with his family and when not writing, pays the bills as a software engineer. His poetry has most recently appeared in Picaroon Poetry, Right Hand Pointing, Lunch Ticket, and Cacti Fur. You can also catch up with Yoni on Twitter @whichofawind.

Bloom by James Owens

One day the darkness
loosens its weft,

as if in answer to our wait,
and this is morning,

the improbable lace of new leaves
where snowy light breaks from their edges

and scatters among branches.
This is a world inside us,

but not only inside us.
We are the glint and

glimmer of the clarifying forest,
when the busy, subtle hands of the wind

brighten dogwood blossoms into our breath.

James Owens’s most recent collection of poems is Mortalia (FutureCycle Press, 2015).. His poems, stories, and translations appear widely in literary journals, including publications in The Fourth River, Kestrel, Tule Review, Poetry Ireland Review, and Southword. He earned an MFA at the University of Alabama and lives in Indiana and northern Ontario.

wake by Tara Isabel Zambrano

You are consumed by your television,
each cell a pixel, bright red,
blue or green before it burns,
turns into an annoying dark spot.
You are the main course on the leather
recliner plate with chips and beer
on the side, their crust peeling
your skin, leaving a fragment
of brain for Facebook and Twitter.
You wake up dead – buried under layers
of transplanted liver that speaks
to your cellular past about a new
drug that can burn fat like a nuclear
power plant and you see yourself –
lean and strong holding a baseball
bat, your sneakers a new discovery of
corporate America. You check your phone
while no one comes to collect
your remains. There are no messages
except a reminder to download a new season of Breaking Bad.

 

 

Tara Isabel Zambrano lives in Texas and is an electrical engineer by profession. Her poems have been published in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Moon City Review, The Healing Muse, San Pedro River Review and others. Her blog is https://taraisabelzambrano.wordpress.com/ and you can find her on Twitter @theinnerzone

Review of Scraped Knees by Kristine Brown – Michael Rush

++++It would be easy to label Scraped Knees as a collection on growing up. It would be easy to see its poetry and prose about someone finding their voice, then connect it to your own upbringing and drift back into personal moments of discovering the world. Yet for me Scraped Knees is much more; it is a book of contrasts. A collection of poetry and prose which can speak from the perspective of the young, but do it with a more mature voice. Wonder is mixed with rationality and realism. Expectation mingles with disappointment. We experience some lighter moments, but there is a weight to carry with us both before and after that lightness.

++++Anemic Disappointment would be an example of that weight as the speaker’s uncoordinated efforts are further highlighted by her Mother’s reminder of her own athletic exploits. Yet it’s not the rebukes or even the nature of them which leave their mark on the reader, it’s the speaker’s lack of surprise at being on the sharp end which tells the story within the story.

++++It’d be misleading to say the parental relationship is all-smothering though; The Smart Mouth brought me one of those all-too-rare laugh-out-loud moments I cherish in my reading, when the speaker mis-hears the word ‘prostitute’ and assumes her mother is talking about a lawyer (“No. But I thought you said prosecute! Pros. Uh. CUH-YUTE!”) – some might say our speaker was demonstrating wisdom beyond her tender years!

++++Although that could be written up as innocent misunderstanding, you begin to sense a rebellious voice at work. How Babies are Made gives us the cognitive dissonance of someone forced to ingest mythology and doctrine, then responds with the first real taste of ferocity experienced in the book. There’s no mistaking the passion and certainty of that voice, even when it reappears in different contexts, such as in (To Be Read in Rapid Orbit) – an appropriately instructive title, because if you can’t find your own rapid orbit then it’ll take you there:

“You were my encyclopedia,
the tome on first-time kisses
that could get you great big deals
like movies, and mags, and perfume ads
in which girls wear knee socks
and sweatshirts in the rain.”

++++Appropriately, there is a clear feel of a maturing voice throughout this collection. Even when it seems to be railing against those who would control and contain it, even when there is an identifiable petulance, it is coupled with reason and measure. The raw energy of Lethargy, Abridged mixes emotional response with poetic technique and confidence in a piece which is anything but lethargic.

++++The prose pieces within this collection are not to be underestimated, and while they occasionally serve as a break to the pace of the more energetic poems they still spin phrases which show poetry at their core. Trance contains one of my favourite examples of this; “Your hat is a wooly gray hyperbole”. What is even more distinctive about Trance is how it could be a microcosm of many of the contrasts and features of the collection as a whole. We have a narrator and a subject, to whom the words are addressed, yet we feel included as readers. Perhaps even more included than the narrator herself, who seems to be fighting differences and indifference alone.

++++Buoyed by the growing strength of the speaker’s voice, you might be lulled into the idea that Scraped Knees has evolved into a collection of a poet who accepts life circumstances like a warrior; I Love You, but It’s a Lie, version 289756.0 is the antithesis to that assumption, captured with a raw vulnerability which made me believe that when “the frame is breaking” it isn’t a reference to an inanimate object but a moment of re-evaluation in the greater scheme of life.

++++As we near the end of Scraped Knees the prevailing energy and vulnerability lingers, now mixed with an uncertainty we have yet to experience; no more so than in the questioning and challenging Hippocampal Sighs. It is now that the speaker’s consciousness of the world around her becomes even more explicit. Rusted Assurance demonstrates this in a dialogue-heavy prose piece where the contrasts are distinctive: between narrator and subject, even between the narrator’s cool professionalism and indignant anger.

++++It is perhaps more striking how the view of the world becomes even sharper and more attentive; one which sees the periphery as much as that which is centre-stage. In close succession, June, Advice Left in Cursive and It is All Okay are all testament to that.

++++Although Brown’s pretext to this book includes the disclaimer “Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.” I am sure of two important things: that you will find resemblance to lives you have known, and that you will agree it isn’t really coincidental to have found that resemblance, it is the hallmark of a talented writer who is able to create a collection which makes things you have never experienced seem universal.

++++Kristine Brown’s debut novel Scraped Knees is published by Ugly Sapling and can be purchased from Amazon here. You can read more from her at the Crumpled Paper Cranes blog.

England’s Difficulty is Ireland’s Opportunity* by Nick Conway

“If the British do have a fault, it is their inability to take the Irish or Ireland seriously”
Liam Ryan

Initial gulp and heave of conquest,
the caustic thrust once forced upon
your every enemy,
and every friend.

The Western island is silent now,
the light of knowledge presses down.
Slow awareness that this world
must surely end.

*An Irish nationalist slogan which gained traction at the outset of the First World War in 1914.

 

 

Nick Conway is a historian and writer from Bristol. He is currently a doctoral student at the University of the West of England and lives in Bristol and Bern. You can find him on Twitter @NicholasConway

A day apart by Kristen Gunther

In Fear and Faith – words printed on
the cotton lying light on the silent girl’s thigh
at family breakfast, a sister beside. I
remember what it was like to be her age

on a Sunday, of all days, in public
of all places to be wearing those shorts.

Over coffee and corned beef
I imagine the Salt Lake grid settling
like a net on our shoulders, gathering us in.
Does she ever pretend that she is lost?,
I think – this city is all new to me,
except for the soft-spoke stories
of my mother, who memorized the map
but still didn’t know where she was
going, and hates how I’ve come
into the west. Las Vegas, a waypoint,
was six hours ahead.

*

Everyone was asleep (and trusting me
not to be) while I gunned through
the Mojave. I felt better when
the glow – the obvious, and Enterprise,
Moapa Town, and Mesquite, and
the few miles of Arizona, and St. George,
and Cedar City, and Kanosh, and
Fountain Green, and Spanish Fork –
had sunk far off into whatever mountains
or hills those were in the dark,
and all that was bright was ahead,
the Joshua trees and their tufts
of rough spikes sliding past, ghost-colored
mice skittering across the road.

Though I couldn’t see the desert
when I put my head down, after hours
of all that, below the hunched granite
that reminded me of my second home,

there were still the yip-yowls of coyotes –
the sound rained down like a lullaby –
(surely the girls dreamed hours
before I closed my eyes, hanging
everything on those distant,
doggish howls)

 

 

Kristen Gunther is a doctoral candidate in ecosystem management and ecology at the University of Wyoming, where she also completed an MFA in creative writing. Her work has appeared in West Branch, CutBank, THRUSH, Zone 3, Fourteen Hills, and elsewhere. She can be found on Twitter @kristengunther.