John Allen Taylor

2015, 2016, Poetry

SALUTATION

       for Olivia

Do you still have the jelly jars of river rock
stacked in sun beams on your window sill—
remember the afternoon knee-deep
in the Little Spokane doing sun-salutation,
two mallards afloat on the dark
green river? We stood on the bank.
It’s not that I felt more alive than I do now,
sitting here in Pino’s Pizzeria during Boston’s
cruelest winter. Icicles the width of me.
Snow drifts the height of me.
Wind finishing the blind work of erasure.
It’s only that I felt more capable of it. Sun-salutation.
This is not a winter or a summer poem.
This can’t be a love poem. This is your silhouette,
seven weeks since your last letter,
your aspen laugh your smoke your sweat.
This is our eclipse. I look around
at the other faces moored at Pino’s late
on this February night. It’s comforting
to be among these faces, my strangers,
to be a regular in the worst square in Boston.
I wonder about the man sitting across from me,
whose bed he thinks of when he finds himself
alone, above cold diner coffee. Whose touch
is tobacco and home. Whose laugh his joy?


BURY

               You say you’ll be gentle
because I’ve told you how he touched me, told you
he whispered and shushed me when I was small,
when I believed his everything will be okay.

               I have no use for your careful touch,
your asking permission. Hide me
inanimate between your timid legs.
Darling, bury me pelvis to pelvis deep.

              Let’s call this love. Imagine
this will save me. Your everything will be…
Let’s pretend your wet hand on my temple
will unclench my jaw.


___________________________


John Allen Taylor’s
poems have appeared in Booth, Dialogist, Devil’s Lake, The Cresset, and an anthology of Spokane, WA poets called Railtown Almanac. He currently lives in Boston, MA and serves as Redivider’s poetry editor. He makes strong, bitter kombucha. His website is johnallentaylor.com.

Sharla Yates

2015, 2016, Poetry

Sharla Yates is a poet and writer from the Pacific Northwest, currently living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is working on a short story collection Heavy, while finishing her MFA at Chatham University. Her poetry manuscript “What I Would Say If We Were To Drown Tonight In The Ocean” was a finalist for the 2015 Villa Paper Nautilus contest. She owns no pets, but dreams of birds.

Alexandra van de Kamp

2015, 2016, Poetry

NIGHTGOWN

Each night I sleep wrapped in a gown
of crying stars. Whether they cry
to plea or sing is always difficult
and tenuous to decipher. In my gown
of voices, I pitch and roll as if on a ship
at sea. I dream of sisters and brothers;
I dream of stroking my husband’s penis,
bright and flushed as an orchid, until
we are interrupted by the blond shores
of windows and the plaintive smell of cut hay,
its disheveled sweetness. The world’s a gallery
hung with the obsessive knowledge of light,
light that could be memorizing, as we speak,
one claw foot of the world’s daintiest
bathtub. I don’t ever want to say until again—
it carries too much waiting inside; it is a parade
of soft pelicans procrastinating. In the day,
I pluck music from other poets’ poems,
and it falls like tender, snow-covered
fruit into my hands. There is no greater joy.
I want a nightgown woven from the wings
of hummingbirds. Or do I mean from
the birds of humming wings? Or is my nightgown
just a linguistic invention—a cage of syllables
cascading all about me, a rain of hums
I wrap around me hungrily?

TODAY I AM NOT

a 23-year-old woman
holding a lime-colored,

perspiring cocktail
in a nightclub with black

octagonal mirrors.
I’m not the word asleep

in my husband’s mouth
as a dark bird lifts

packages of bright
wind on its somber,

steadfast back. I’m not
myself at 20—a tilted,

unblinking match
flaring down the black

of a British night,
confident I will spot

the hostel up ahead.
I am not a shoe, a shush

or a shut-up. Meanwhile, the rose
pirouettes and scuttles

on its stem—a pink crab with soft,
flirting claws and vivacious

thoughts. Today, edges scold
and blur, so I lean

into charcoal algorithms
and bleeding clouds. I’m not decisive,

not a precise record-keeper
of animal or plant life. Saxophones

hum and sweat
among the clairvoyant

petunias and lavender
phlox. I am not

a fox—all sleek, nocturnal
journal-keeping and inky

footprints in the purple
grass. What a gas it is

to be an extra in a film—to populate
rainy cities and street corners

with your pale arms and
blurry sins! I am not

my whims, my short-winded
whistle, my steamer trunk

of sequined fears. I am not
an aptly-peeled pear.

_______________________

Alexandra van de Kamp is a native of New York and has recently moved to San Antonio,TX with her husband William Glenn. She taught writing and rhetoric at Stony Brook University for eight years. She is the Creative Writing Classes Program Director for Gemini Ink, a nonprofit literary organization based in San Antonio. She also teaches in The Writing Program at University of Texas at San Antonio. Her poems have been published in numerous journals nationwide, such as: 32Poems, The Cincinnati Review, River Styx, The Denver Quarterly, Sentence, and The Connecticut Review. Her full-length collection of poems, The Park of Upside-Down Chairs, was published by CW Books in 2010, and her chapbook, Dear Jean Seberg (2011), won the Burnside Review Contest, judged by Matthew Dickman. Her new chapbook, A Liquid Bird Inside the Night (2015), has just been published by Red Glass Books—an independent press based in Brooklyn, NY. A second full-length book of poems, Kiss/Hierarchy, is forthcoming from Rain Mountain Press in April 2016.

M. J. Arlett

2015, 2016, Poetry

OCTOBER

You don’t know the names I have been
calling you while you sleep.
Nestled golden curled into yourself –

a fist tensed through the night.

I will keep you here and make you listen
to what the morning sings.

The shudder of a swallow’s call,
throat frosted as the grass.

Creak of the house.

Sunrise, a yawn made of light.


SITTING WITH MY GRANDMOTHER IN KINGSTON, EAST SUSSEX

In the field next door, the lambs are bleating.
The sound carries into the garden
where my grandfather is pruning the hedges
while my uncle steadies the ladder and winces,
watching his father clip away a little too wildly,
branches falling in a flurry
of evergreen snow.
The roses my sister helped plant
are blooming, pink as her cheeks
when she runs towards us screaming
as the men chase her with the shears.
My grandmother’s liver spotted hands
cradle mine under the wooden balcony
while I toy with the rings on her finger.
She asks which I would like to try,
puts the chosen finger in her mouth,
sucks at the skin, and eventually
eases the jewelled band
over the arthritic mounds on her knuckles.
Together we slip the iridescent opals
from her hand onto mine.

____________________

M. J. Arlett is an MFA candidate at Florida International University. She was born in the UK, spent several years in Spain and now lives in Miami. Her work can be found in Portland Review, Gravel, and The Fem.

Laura Creste

2015, 2016, Poetry

EXCERPT FROM THE BODY POEMS, A NOVEL IN VERSE.

(The main character Lila is the middle child, with two sisters, Allison and Nina.)

I’m so afraid of ruining my life without knowing it
Allison says one day on the olive couch, sun-damaged
and damp from bathing suit bottoms.

Then don’t have children, our mother says easily.
She’s not precious about grandchildren.

Her girls are now 21, 24, 26.
If any of us were pregnant
it would be as ludicrous as getting knocked up at sixteen.
My mother filed my FAFSA for graduate school.

Psychologists call this extended adolescence.

*

I dreamed that Allison died.
Then Allison’s dog got rabies.
I was crying and kissing his dream face
unafraid of being bitten and
under this pure rage that my sister was dead.

I woke up drenched.
Night sweats: even wet at the scalp.

Allison was alive in Park Slope
and that dog –
it didn’t even exist yet.

*

Should I consider him dead to me?
I asked. There was a new man wrecking my peace

while we ate pepper steak with too soft rice.

They made a movie about this, the mother said.
It’s called He’s Just Not That Into You.
It’s also called He’s Kind of a Freak.

The second movie doesn’t exist but she was trying to be funny.

Then he contacted me, something stupid
and chatty about the cold weather. It was January.

Now what? I implored them.

Nina said Don’t.

*

I met a psychiatrist who noted
my symptoms and appetites,
prescribed the necessary pills.

She had a dog in her office,
a small curly one, entirely without charm,
and encouraged her patients to hold it
while they shared their feelings.

I said no thank you and
made myself look like a sociopath.
If you don’t like animals
no one will ever trust you.

Have you ever been suicidal?

              No.

Never ever?

              Wrong question.

*

I like to sleep with a knife
in my bedside table, in case of intruders.

Like I could wield it effectively if need be,
though I can’t cut up a raw chicken.

My mother finds the knife and takes it away.

*

In the last years of his life, my grandfather was paranoid.
Maybe too much Prozac, maybe not enough.

He hid the block of knives every night,
afraid of burglars turning his own knives against him.

It’s less crazy than it sounds.
Our grandmother had to search for the bread knife

to cut her Italian bread each morning.

*

If I were going to kill myself I tell my therapist
I wouldn’t floss my teeth every day.

*

I make the outrageous claim that I would have been a doctor
back in the day, meaning before modern medicine.

Because of my willingness to look at anything.
Allison’s boyfriend has a blackened toenail,
loose like a tooth, that I offer to excise.
He pours more rosé and says maybe.

The next day at the beach
the nail is sloughed off in the sand.

Allison comes back from walking the dog
and her boyfriend has his hands shut together.
Al I have something for you.

Is it an engagement ring? She says wryly,
knowing it might be true.

When she sees the inky-violet chip
she thinks it’s a seashell
leans in closer
her face awash in understanding, revulsion.

She can’t handle feet.

*

When running into an ex
it’s always easier to hug, than make the decision not to.

I think of how we’re all on top of a graveyard
in Washington Square Park. 20,000 bodies below
and above that his girlfriend
saying she needs to buy more underwear.
My friend Eddie lowering his shorts to remind me
of his Hans Christian Andersen mermaid tattoo.

I finally hear I don’t want to keep you
as the cruelest way to say goodbye.

*

It’s astonishing that the sun so far away still hurts my eye,
makes the green world turn, makes freckles bloom.

I try to catch it, really see the sun vanish
without looking away.

Spots in my vision from the pinkest glare
and green sea glass glows over the ground.

I knew a man who died of skin cancer.
He had a collection of rocks that looked like potatoes.

He was a poet holding idea and image in his hand.
The joy of saying this is like that.

*

As girls we made full body prints in the outdoor shower.
Wet skin to the wooden slats charted height and size.

It hurt that I was not the thin sister
but there was moss under foot
on the red tile stone, and soap suds
making a moat around the tiger lilies
on the other side of the wall.

There was grit of sand in the soap dish
and above that the blue summer sky
which would not darken for some time.

______________________

Laura Creste is an MFA candidate in poetry at NYU, and a graduate of Bennington College. She works as a co-public relations editor at Washington Square Review, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Phantom, Bodega, plain china, the Silo, and elsewhere. She has also written book reviews for Full Stop and Bustle.

Sean Thomas Dougherty

2015, 2016, Poetry

DAY SHIFTS

We are bored & abandoned at dawn rising with our backs bent, under
     labor our lives stitched more vividly by the wounds in our language,
our own country with highways the jetty we stand on of heavy
     drinking, with machinery rhyming the rain, cursing managers whose
asses we won’t kiss. Go ahead, fire us, we’ll sing another portrait of
     ourselves—barges & truck stops & dead children & spit on your tie.
We’ll piss & burn on your manicured lawns. We’ll suffer all summer
     without air-conditioning. When each breath to breathe becomes
work, we are what we are inside an invisible system—we will
     implode it with a voice, & a guitar. Fuck the dying elms & cut down
the Cherry tree. I slept on a bus station bench, the shouting of small
     children, tied with a string, crossing the street, the simple gift of a
cup of coffee & a cigarette. To cross carrying our own crosses we
     cross carrying Hop-Scotch & Double-Dutch, the old men playing
Dominos & the boys spitting old rhymes like rusty ammo. Who is
     there to understand? The night sirens sing their eulogies & last night
another kid shot down. The blue light of an afterhours joint, no one
     speaks until this old brother turns to me, didn’t you get the
message? A voice like sunlight through a broken factory window.
     The terrible chords of the bar band, that scaffold I climb, hands
bound with coarse cloth, tethered to a scaffold, (Jesus you wrong,
     they knew exactly what they were doing & they did it anyways,
sometimes forgiveness isn’t worth shit. But in the late evening of a
     humid week there is still a chance at redemption. So I will trick them
into believing I quit & disappear into another stupid job in the cold &
     work my hands raw lifting things, & spend the last years of my life
sitting by the shore & drawing in the sand with a stick. My daughter
draws with a stick in the sand, what are you drawing I ask her? The
     sound of God weeping—

_____________________

Sean Thomas Dougherty is the author or editor of 13 books including All You Ask for Is Longing: Poems 1994- 2014 (2014 BOA Editions) and Scything Grace (2013 Etruscan Press). Recent poems in North American Review, and Best American Poetry 2014. He works in a pool hall in Erie, PA.

Kimberly Lambright

2015, 2016, Poetry

IN THE FIELD OF LEMON AFTERGLOW

Your worry canoe slows to anatomy,
a floral lime paper against
the breakfast table. I’m here
to tell you even honor fades
in the outback, the glim-glum, 
and that you will make it. All the myth,
the decoration, the raft of your pearl,
it will bog as you remain
in the heavy sky and the bronze ring.
Your tonality lit with incubation.
I hallucinate your rib-temper, I unfurl
the ark of your blueberry forest fever dream.


I MADE UP MY MIND

In the Alaska aftermath the eyelid mountain
crests, bests

toward the ultra-cabin. I cure
the supermarket and
there is always a girl being injured perfectly,

her eyes are wolf eyes,
they will pin you down,
make you over.

_____________________________

Kimberly Lambright is the author of Ultra-Cabin, forthcoming from 42 Miles Press. Her work appears most recently in Bone Bouquet, Wicked Alice, Columbia Poetry Review, ZYZZYVA, and Sink Review. She lives in Austin, TX.

Pushcart Nominations

2015, Announcements, Blog

We’re happy to announce our nominations for the Pushcart Prize!!

Read our nominees below and cross out fingers with us as we await the results!

POETRY

April Michelle Bratten, “Where We Live” – Fall, issue 17, 2015
Anna B. Sutton, “Friday Mass” – Summer, issue 16, 2015
Caitlin Thomson, “Tithe” – Spring, issue 15, 2015
Claire Wahmanholm, “Sirius” – Summer, issue 16, 2015

FICTION

Monique McIntosh, “Bug” – Fall, issue 17, 2015

NONFICTION

Annalise Mabe, “Space Taker” – Fall, issue 17, 2015

Mila Natasha Mendez

2015, Poetry

IMPROVISATION

The raccoon has been waiting
92 years at his table at the local inn
for his family to join him
for dinner. He has finished
a centerpiece of pine cones.

The centerpiece is actually a pinecone,
92 feet tall, made of pine cones.
He is leasing the center
of the centerpiece of pine cones
to a family of jazz musicians.

The father plays trumpet.
The mother dabbles songs.
The children play
percussion instruments fashioned
from hollow stones.

It’s quite a spectacle.

If you come again next week,
there is a rumor
the musicians will give birth
to a baby girl playing bongos
while crows clap with their tongues
and the air dries
to brittleness.

LITTLE LABOR

I.                 II.

I                  There was nothing else to do
was             except to watch the raccoons
a                  build their mini-malls.
tree             They are always trying something
in                new to get the cubs excited about
the              community. Nothing else has
woods         worked as well as this mini-mall.
once.           The cubs are painting a mural
I                  with their tails and noses. I sing
stood           in tune with their movements,
and              but the sound echoes inside me
stood           where there are no ears to hear it.
and              Once their tails find a rhythm though,
stood.          I hum along and hum and hum and
                                                hum and hum and hum.

MURDER
(click to read)

___________________________

Mila Natasha Mendez is passionate about education and the arts, and this is her first published work. After teaching English literature in Monterrey, NL, Mexico, she has recently moved to Toronto, ON, Canada to study sexuality at York University.

Jessica K Baer

2015, Poetry

KILL/SWITCH

When we were in orbit when we were
accelerating consistency planes under
water chain corral gone thru
the interstitiary of polyps living &
dead the top lights skeleton
sliding back inside
the lobed mouth which
words run out
my hard riding horses their
own is a counterfeit

self / my spaceship mundus
borders at nominal working green
teemed animals, trots beams & trot it
replicated by slants, which we were
entrancing at base
camp of tetraktys, my maternal
mirror referent or the resonant frequency of a
surfaces nonfigurative right
side up thru corpse field
fenceposts a life horse sized
grave a lea – inapperceptable
where I could rest in cognitions
wheels of the contracted
pronouns are you
riveting studs as he / she tear
ducts opening back a garden
that lattices unexitable
& the ponies of
cowboys starve on lucidity
glitter here
figures of a desert
scraping human at the frothed
bit axis mundi, crackles on
the radio receiver
instantaneous recalled to state

that show me horses there
is no red

marker & as singularity skins
knees ducking as the voice
goes in the ground, I do
equivocal w you: terra/aqueous
performs, as we in analog & in
ducts disengaged each
way

“WORKING TITLE” LITTLE NEW JERSEY DESIRING-MACHINES:
AN EXEGETICAL TEXT “WORK HORSE TITLE”

& my mother is still
dead lay them ponies to
rest

apex a self averting
prism

abalone eternal ear
ring collapse super structured
virulently circle godlets

a molluskular architect
wheregenital, orb thresh
holds absence
delirium ideo-motorized
feedback loop: objects in
cessation imago
chrysalid stumbled non-languaged
as hoof re-iterates to nail
a gestural co-ordinative
wet excursus inter
mundia: roan stop
gap, what animal parts,
lopes green, I elopes
green, as-in occults
cargo relays, desperately
non-superimposable
womb w o sides scrapes
at itself, reticent
sites thems the rodeo
breaks – enters in to him
lossless / ore conduit
imperatively over
determined

that factory horse
-shoes wear down
rewiring caracole half
turns alive half in
determinate field death & the
pasture thru
composed chords
no where instance playing
back the king
fisher nests
ripped out the
coralspine reanimated-as
arcs rearrive their
notches were-given behind
of ocean almosttones
re: currency, tide
breaks the alpha
betting horses


___________________________

Jessica K Baer received their BA in Creative Writing from Georgia State University in 2011. They live and do field rechordings in Jersey City. Their work has been featured in Fruita Pulp, Horse Less Review, Deluge Journal, Prelude, and Sugar Mule, and is forthcoming in La Vague. They have a lifetime ban from Whole Foods and love horses.