Categories
2019 Poetry

Jennifer Sperry Steinorth

LINES WRIT ON THE BACKSIDE
OF A DOZER INVOICE

Squirrel crossed the lawn just now
Where old oak used to be
Before our home’s expanding wings
Made wicker ware of tree.

No acorns now
Will fall to fill
The kits curled in his crib
But this…

With a little shredding
Will make nice bedding


Jennifer Sperry Steinorth is a poet, educator interdisciplinary artist, and licensed builder. Her poetry has appeared in Alaska Quarterly, Beloit Poetry Journal, The Colorado Review, The Journal, jubilat, Michigan Quarterly Review, Mid-American Review, Poetry Northwest, Sixth Finch, Quarterly West and elsewhere. She has received grants from the Sewanee Writers Conference, The Vermont Studio Center, and Warren Wilson College whence an MFA in poetry. Her poetry manuscript A Wake with Nine Shades, a finalist for the Hillary Gravendyke prize, Barrow Street Prize and the Press 53 open read is forthcoming from Texas Review Press in autumn of 2019. A hybrid text of visual poetry/erasure is forthcoming from TRP in the fall of 2020.

Categories
2019 Poetry

Kevin West

EVERYTHING YOU’VE BEEN TOLD ABOUT
[BEING A PARTNER] IS A LIE

You’ll only love me when I become a man you accept,
a centerpiece to place on the tablecloth. That ignores feeling
ecstasy when I’m on my knees in a bathroom stall. I’m adept

at changing habits. I can play the good partner—refashion latex
and leather outfits into an apron. I can wash a dish. But my need
for other men is like an irregular heartbeat; a constant defect.

You’ll only love me when I become a man you accept—
a phone without hookup apps, a dick-free home screen.
Who remembers affection buried behind skeletal muscle—

a tumor you pried free. And for this, I’ll let my impulses be corrected,
each silicone toy repurposed—hangers for scarves and keys.
Replace spontaneity with sex where we maintain eye contact.

You’ll only love me when I become a man. You accept
what can be contained—my body in a net of perfect teeth,
button downs, watches, wingtips. But if I give all of myself, I suspect

you’ll only love me. When I become a man you accept,
we will buy a sturdy house on a tree-lined street.
A picket fence whiter than bone. Posts sharp enough to protect
the life you’ve made, on which I’ll lay my neck.


Kevin West is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of North Texas. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Ploughshares, Pleiades, The Journal, Puerto del Sol, The Meadow, and elsewhere.

Categories
2019 Poetry

Bruce Bond

POISON

One toxin turns to another, one apple
to the seeds that bite the earth.

A vague distemper casts its shadow
over last years’ leaves, and I am listening

to a friend. All that anger over this
and that and the lunch we are having,

the smell of beer on him stronger earlier
and often, his voice scarred and ever lower.

Some fires eat their fire and still they burn.
Still the hand feels the suicide capsule

in its wallet, and the death that comes not
by guilt or grief, not even rage. But shame.

It’s what we cannot talk of, my friend and I,
what cannot be absolved. Today, I said,

some CEO received the kind of indictment
that drives a poor man’s limo into a wall.

A place like that has no other side,
no ghost to stumble from the wreck of brick.

No name to take down, child to console.
When a car hits, the body just keeps moving.

And that’s the part that kills, the body moving
beyond whatever last humiliation.

Beyond the rancor and the glass and core
disgrace. The coming stillness of the world.


Bruce Bond is the author of twenty-three books including, most recently, Immanent Distance: Poetry and the Metaphysics of the Near at Hand (U of MI, 2015), Black Anthem (Tampa Review Prize, U of Tampa, 2016), Gold Bee (Helen C. Smith Award, Crab Orchard Award, SIU Press, 2016), Sacrum (Four Way, 2017), Blackout Starlight: New and Selected Poems 1997-2015 (L.E. Phillabaum Award, LSU, 2017), Rise and Fall of the Lesser Sun Gods (Elixir Book Prize, Elixir Press, 2018), Dear Reader (Free Verse Editions, 2018), and Frankenstein’s Children (Lost Horse, 2018). Presently he is a Regents Professor at the University of North Texas.

Categories
2019 Poetry

Elisa Gonzalez

THREE ENCOUNTERS WITH NO ONE

Nicosia, Cyprus

1.

“Your lover is here,” the fortune-teller says.
When I turn—no one.
Who is this I keep meeting?
A question insistent as the street cats
who yowl for scraps and dig in dumpsters.
If, as the government recommends but will fail to do,
all the cats are sterilized, these newborns
will be the last newborns.
The fortune-teller laughs.
It isn’t cruel, it’s the laughter of gods,
which says You don’t get it, I forget you’ll never get it.
Her teeth are toast-brown.
Fifty years of hand-rolled cigarettes.
She offers tobacco. Everyone here is so kind,
they don’t even ask my name.

2.

The children stretch their voices over the wall
between one courtyard and another.
They expect someone to listen,
but the neighbor garden is full of no ones.
How long will their voices shake the jasmine that blooms in the night?
Was it right of me to name a tree “no one”?
Who am I to go around assigning being?
I can’t see in the dark; I have not heard my name called.

3.

My friend, my only friend here
who is not a stranger:
the figurehead who leans
from the prow of the triangle house
at the corner of Ermou and Odysseos.
No, wrong—what is the name of that street? Ektoros?
I have walked there so many times yet as always
I forget what I need when I need it.
Or this is a dream and in a dream
there is no such thing as memory, or names.


Elisa Gonzalez is a queer Puerto Rican writer raised in the Midwest. She has an MFA from New York University. Her writing appears in Barrow Street, Harvard Review, Hyperallergic, Lambda Literary Poetry Spotlight, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, NYU, the Norman Mailer Foundation, the Rolex Foundation, and the U.S. Fulbright program. She lives in New York City.

Categories
2019 Poetry

You Li

BECAUSE OF GHOSTS

The old woman points at me
at my face
looks me in the eyes
it’s dead
In that moment
I believe her

There are ghosts
by the sea where they
appear before children

looking into doorways
without mirrors

deflected by low ceilings
too proud to bend their backs

The old ash tree has turned
saint or ghost
no one knows but

no one lives
within the reach
of its branches’ shadows

They send paupers
and convicts to bury
the fruits of other trees
at its roots

There’s the forty-year-old
the old woman is saying
watching the women in the courtyard
Her husband died of a heart attack
He was forty-two

There’s the fat one
Her husband died mysteriously
He was eighty

There’s the dark-faced one
Her husband died of stomach cancer
probably because of anger
He was eighty

How old are you?

I believe in red
I believe in 6 and 8
I believe in my ancestors
who too might be ghosts

We are dancing
along the edges
of the courtyard
meeting each other
at the corners

The gray light shines up
from the ground


You Li is a law student and poet who was born in Beijing and lives in New York. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Lunch Ticketmojo, Asian American Writers’ Workshop’s The MarginsThe Normal SchoolShenandoah, and elsewhere. She was awarded a scholarship from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.

Categories
2019 Poetry

Janelle Tan

CLACK

at her funeral, i do not cry. i feed myself curry and a stream
of beers. i entertain. i do not feel heaviness, or not knowing

how to go on, or what to do with my hands. i do not feel
as though my chest has been seared. i am very much still whole.

is there a right way to grieve?

a hundred days later, i lie
on the floor of my parents’ house. the long limbs

of the ceiling fan helicopter above me. my mother
shows me pictures of boat quay from her childhood –

bumboats crawling over each other, mouth to tail.
a boat quay i don’t remember, flattened, sparse, vast

wasteland of trash like buoys. no skyline
yet, just river and blank horizon.

this is my grandmother’s one room –
five mattresses swallowing

each other’s tails, married
to the delivery boy.

like most spirits, she comes home
on the seventh day. we lay

out porridge and pork floss by her spot
at the dining table, where she would glare

down at her red snapper, scolding it
while she picked the spindly bones.

right after the body acquired a waxy sheen i slipped
the bangle from her wrist,

the jade still warm and breathing.
wearing the safety amulet of a woman

so thoroughly protected is a prayer
that it never breaks. the jade’s breath

was a wet ring on embalmed skin,
now her watery voice around my wrist.

on the eighth day, morning sun streaks
through the open window. a black winged

insect unlike the others flitting around
our kitchen perches on the edge

of her plate, looks around as if returning.
the ceiling fan languors its spindly limbs, greets

the insect by ruffling its wings. it leaps
onto its porridge. satisfied with its meal,

it flies out of the kitchen to meet its
identical black partner, waiting

with its arms low to receive her. together,
as if holding hands, they fly into the smog.

i think them a reenactment
of the butterfly lovers, but just bugs.

in one dream, my jade bangle
is a green horseshoe

halved and dangling limp
from my wrist.

as the coffin chugs its way
to the incinerator

my mother whispers – go look for father,
he’ll take care of you.

jade bangle was husband
longer than the delivery boy—

it kept her company from her wrist.
i saved that steadfast god and its clacking

against the dinner table
from incineration.


Janelle Tan was born in Singapore and lives in Brooklyn. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Anomaly, Entropy, Up the Staircase Quarterly, The Boiler, Winter Tangerine, and others. She is the recipient of a 2018 Academy of American Poets Prize, and is currently an MFA candidate at New York University. She serves as an Assistant Web Editor for Washington Square Review and reads for Perugia Press. The only heaven she believes in is a basket of soup dumplings.

Categories
2019 Poetry

Karah Kemmerly

once I had a body, but I buried it

tonight I resurrect myself : I have
been reduced to shade : papery :
rustling : a shadow, closemouthed :
but two hands still : reaching : once I
had a body but I let the earth swallow
it : now I cup the space where my
jaw used to be : try to mouth the
word strength : float out into the
garden and start digging : I am
prepared to make a trade : toss
safeguards into the holes I’ve made :
the shed skin from a garter snake :
spotted & translucent like my face :
then cloves : my aim is to remember : I
press an emerald into the dirt : savor
the shape of my name against the
space where my teeth would be :
imagine my voice in a velvet-lined
box : I am hungry : for so long I
have swallowed only breath & tried
to sustain myself : I offer up a
handful of sage : ask for the lining of
my stomach to be red & whole
again : my aim is to gather bones :
two knuckles for my pillowcase & an
ulna for under the stairs : things
formed inside my pastbody to fortify
& cradle a new one : I promise not to
use my bones to conjure something
deadly : tonight I will not cast myself
out


Karah Kemmerly lives in Corvallis, where she recently graduated from Oregon State University with an MFA in poetry. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Spectrum Literary Journal, The Tulane Review, Santa Ana River Review, and the Plath Poetry Project.


Categories
2019 Poetry

Jeremy Radin

A WORD

Say you forgot your name. Say you hung
from the smog. Say your teeth escaped again.
Say you smeared yourself in fat. Say you
broke your jaw on the sun. Say you sang
with the sugar hyenas. Say you were unlaced
by a language. Say you prayed to a shivering
glacier. Say you ate even the grief of the
honey. Say you took the razor moon in your
lung. Say you went rigid inside the night’s
throat. Say you cleaved your breath with a
hammer. Say you rose like a flood in your
drunken heart. Say you remain upside-down
in your mother. Say you you let the lover
stitch you to the storm. Say they lit the pages
of your blood on fire. Say the lover’s name &
say their name. Say the name that you cannot
say. Say you are the image of your bitterness,
& I will be here again my love, waltzing you
through your wreckages, gathering up your
fallen petals, beginning the inevitable work.


Jeremy Radin is a poet, actor, and teacher. His poems have appeared (or are forthcoming) Gulf Coast, The Cortland Review, The Journal, Vinyl, Passages North, Cosmonauts Avenue, and elsewhere. He is the author of two collections of poetry, Slow Dance with Sasquatch (Write Bloody Publishing, 2012) and Dear Sal (not a cult press, 2017). He lives in Los Angeles with his six plants and refrigerator. Follow him @germyradin

Categories
2019

Thirty

Ocotillo | Fouquieria splendens No.1 by Paxton Maroney


ART

The Series “Native” is a progression from the series titled “West of 3:00 AM”. It is a minimalist point of view through the lucid squares in the landscapes of West Texas created in “West of 3:00 AM”. A journey taken into the wilderness… standing directly in front of the lucid structure built into the planes of the landscape… peering through it. A new perspective on still life imagery through the artists eyes.

Paxton Maroney is a Dallas based conceptual artist. Her surreal photography invites the outside world to step inside snapshots of her dreams. For several years, she has woken up from vivid dreams, often in the middle of the night, and drawn the images composed on the backs of her eyelids. At times, she even engages in lucid dreaming throughout the day as she’s “trained her brain” to create new chimera for her portraiture. Then, when she has scouted out the perfect location, she begins painstakingly reconstructing the scenes of her subliminal imagination. Find more of her work here. @paxtonmaroney

Categories
2019 Poetry

Aza Pace

DEFINITION IN THE WOODS

Wanted to linger in the flat winter
alone at the property line,

where barbed wire twists irrelevant
through the pines. Wanted to merge

into the speckled landscape
like the fine lacework of roots

turning by touch through dim earth,
to feel that energy wick up my legs.

Wanted oneness in the nameless sorority
of trees and creeping lichen. Almost—

But then, you break in with your body,
and my body

turns woman again. My skin distinct
from grey bark and rudely aware

of all the secret pink places
you’ve kissed me.

How I hate you for a heartbeat,
before I look up to see your face

stinging sweet with cold
and recognition. Your pupils open wide

to drink in the sight of me,
and here is this other beauty I wanted.


PRAISE TO THE NIGHTJAR

Clean as a bell, its evening note
coaxes us out of our bright kitchen
to the edge of the woods.

We balance on the old crossties
that mark the split between garden
and forest, and tip our chins back,

the better for listening.
We don’t even try to see
the speckled wing of it—

the song might as well issue from the pines—
but the bird is near enough we can tell
it’s not a whippoorwill, but a cousin,

Chuck Will’s Widow.
Praise to anything named for the song it sings.
Praise to the summer dark,

pupils dilating to drink it all in,
my black eyes growing blacker.
This close, the woods remind us

we should be a little scared.
Sundown bristles against the skin.
Still, it’s unclear—should we stay still

and hushed on the rim of it, or dash wildly out
into the forest for the night?
Chuck-will’s-widow.

Praise to the nightjar crying out
Here I am, here I am,
still so hidden in the understory

as to be a voice disembodied,
secret as a pair of women
threading through the trees at night.


Aza Pace’s poems appear or are forthcoming in The Southern Review, Copper Nickel, Mudlark,The Florida Review Online, South Dakota Review, and elsewhere. She is the winner of an Inprint Donald Barthelme Prize in Poetry, and her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best New Poets. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of Houston and is a PhD student in English and Creative Writing at the University of North Texas.