"This is a photo that I painted over. Roberts Western World is a famous
Honky Tonk bar located in downtown Nashville. It is well known among the "insider" crowd of music aficionados for discovering
new talent in the country music field."
~Ed Rode, photographer
Laura Sobbott Ross
Chasing Ghosts in Charleston
cobblestones too notched
guide gives us the reason why
are so many lost souls here.
Tragedy, he says.
forms the word
fever and high water
the spirit, sudden and startled
bones, leaving it to wander
to grief like a stillborn baby,
limpets encrusting ancient seawalls.
is music in the air and the cadence
windows down every storied block.
of glass and silver and footsteps
the dead air from the corners like a chime.
still lose earrings while trekking
the old jail and take pictures in graveyards
hoping for a smudge beyond
lens to manifest into the ghosts
fortunes and consumption,
lost when the mouths of cannons
rimmed in smoke and gunpowder.
a crypt that suffocated a child
from a coma
jostled by earthquakes.
is a bed that was buried whole
woman who died in it.
posts still spire from the grave
no one had wanted to touch
could not define.
soul was left to rise
and remember, and remember,
longing were a state of eternal limbo,
the sway of gray moss in trees.
Smoke and Angels
kept German Shepherds,
for gods and kings
at his side in old photographs.
the residue of tobacco leaf
his fingers stroked their throats
offerings of underbelly.
scent defied wind. Ethereal
it was a cell in every blade of grass,
in a wilderness ancient as blood to which
fierce and nodding dogs would acquiesce.
yellow haired children of the house
between the hierarchy of dog to man,
the sweet burden of early morning walks,
bones nosed beneath banana trees,
the hibiscus with comprehending eyes
mouths and were never scolded for it.
dogs granted us an inroad, were satisfied
bits of barbequed meat tossed their way,
the way my father liked it.
like cloud shadows across the patio,
warm as sunlight on the cushions.
we they when he died?
green place without fences—
out the scent of Bolivar cigars.
Oscar, the Death Cat
Inspired from an article in the New England Journal of Medicine about a cat that seems to be able to predict the death of patients.
had awakened, they might have remembered
of tiny footsteps flowering the hallway
certainty beyond soft music,
lights, aromatherapy, intravenous tubes.
was something poised there, as if to divine
from the room. It was whisker-thin,
kinesthetic— a shaft of light so ticklish
have gleaned a reflex from beneath
blue-white skin. Who knew death wore a bell,
eyes, or an underbelly as creamy as a patch of sun?
was that sound, yes that particular sound,
between fire in a hearth and falling snow—
whirred and nuzzled and lulled like a spell
which they would each fall in due time—
into the murmuring softness
around them like a downy nest,
warmer as they fell deeper—
effacement of darkness,
vast, silken furor of goodbye.
Laura Sobbott Ross is a freelance architectural designer. She was recently
nominated for a 2007 Pushcart Prize, and has poetry published in New Millennium Writings, The Arkansas Review, The White
Pelican Review, Kalliope, The Caribbean Writer, and the Baker's Dozen Literary Review, among others. She has poems forthcoming in The Sow's Ear
Poetry Review, Wild Violet and The
William and Mary Review. She also placed first for poetry in the 2006 Mount
Dora, Florida Literary Festival and the Great Blue Beacon.
13 Ways of Jars
Quart jars lined the shelves
around the kitchen, mouths
open, waiting to be filled.
During the storm the kitchen
became a tempest of jars,
wind pushing everything open,
pulling everything down.
From beneath the table
she watched the floor become
a sheet of shattered glass.
For weeks, touching anything
buried slivers beneath the skin.
You stole pennies from her dark
antique jar, buried them
near the well house, drew maps
to buried treasure, 13 cents
your brothers found and you got switched for.
He rose early to gather grasshoppers
for fishing, felt the velvet cling of insect legs
as he put them in or pulled them out.
She hid here once
where no one else dared
in her father’s hell of jars,
unborn faces of calves
pressed against glass,
tumors, amputated limbs,
gallstones, diseased organs.
They said they never
would have found her
if not for the screaming.
He kept the broken mirror
in a jar in the window,
so much glass reflecting light,
prism and starmaker,
seven years worth of luck,
charm against losing his way.
This one kept her urine
in jars. This one clipped-off
fingernails, every last tooth,
sixty years of haircuts,
shaved skin of callouses
from hands and feet.
Each one his own peculiar collection.
Each one trying to save himself.
He tried saving the earth in jars,
sorted, compacted, stacked
on shelves, ready for consumption.
She gathered glass from the shore,
discovered 9 shades of blue,
10 yellows, 15 greens,
fell in love with the names
of glass: cobalt, cornflower,
citron, amber, aquamarine.
She coated windows, lined walls,
filled jars with shattered remains,
built a world that was always shining.
Loneliness, I have found a home
for you, put you in a jar to stay
safe and pure, untouched
by any blemish of desire.
She saved a jar full of rain
for any dry season she might have,
her own domeworld of wetness.
Who could imagine a jar
full of night -- the sound
of a whippoorwill like
blowing over a mouth of glass.
You know the jar waits
for the end of things,
the dessication of dreams.
A graduate of the UNCG MFA program, Scott Owens is the 2008 Visiting Writer at Catawba
Valley Community College.
His first collection of poetry, The Fractured World, is due out from Main Street Rag in August. He is
also author of three chapbooks The Persistence of Faith (1993) from Sandstone Press, The Moon His Only Companion
(CPR, 1994), and Deceptively Like a Sound (Dead Mule, 2008). Scott Owens’ poems have appeared
in Georgia Review, North American Review, Poetry East, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Cimarron Review, Greensboro
Review, Chattahoochee Review, Cream City Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, and Cottonwood,
among others. Born in Greenwood, SC, he now lives in
Hickory, NC, where he teaches
and coordinates the Poetry Hickory reading series.
About the Type
you hold a serious book
hand when it has a page
back About the Type.
it says, about this book
is a work
of well-crafted art,
down to the serifs on the letters
the sounds that make the words
the author's thoughts to you.
the Type is ninety-two characters
than About the Author
book I am reading,
must be important,
I read how the designer interpreted
her font design has "classical proportions
strong feeling, softened
ignorant: I have never heard of Bodoni.
I did not notice the type,
my untrained eye it looked
than the last ten books I read.
closely at the droplike serifs,
look no more or less droplike
serifs I have slid along
flight for meaning.
If I opened
it side by side with another book,
I would see the difference,
I am wondering
all the things I miss
as I speed
through the day:
that went into the shelf
my books, and the planning
where the stairs would go
thought that went into
that I type this on,
design that makes the daylilies
strong feeling softened
A Dying Poet, Mindful of
His Legacy, to a Visiting Admirer
my last words be—
or blank, iambic or free?
is my muse?
nurse, with all due respect,
her. Yes, you can take
away. I'm done eating.>
better last meal.
said anything worth
yet, have I?
of my thoughts
can think of is the bed pan.
ahead if you must—
and the unjust,
poor all suffer
door, and all that.
is a tired old theme.
A tired old theme.
a good one.
you go, call my muse—
in an anthology.
Ozment teaches English at Winona State University.
His poems have appeared in numerous small-press publications over the past decade. Lately he is smoking CAO Sopranos Boss cigars.
He lives in Minnesota with a wife who does not mind cigar
Jessica Barksdale Inclán
clouds wing the sky, my stomach
a wet drive up the coast
class I didn’t need.
past two months living alone
in a house
my husband wishes I’d never found.
two voices, one called Stay, the other Go.
heavy, angry, strong, weighing in at three hundred pounds.
the one with the wicked migraine. She doesn’t
sleep. She drives clutching the steering wheel as if there’s always a storm.
to be conscious, but Stay often has no
of her, forgetting Go for days at a time.
the class, asked questions, walked without an umbrella.
in the corner, turned from the teacher, stared out the gray window.
to leave early, cried in the bathroom.
her by her scruff, hissed, You’re forty-three.
Leave me alone, Go says every
night to Stay.
You’re ruining my life,
Stay says to Go.
her forehead, moans, asks for help.
her round belly, demands more cake, more ice cream.
throws acorns at the house, the car
up the road. The class is bad. The
candles burn out.
her husband. Go hangs up the phone
Dream of Drowning
Not knowing what to grab, I grabbed a man
and then another, their bodies
turning to handles on a sinking boat.
Under water, the fish swam
by. My hair a drift of brown
in the night sea, the moon
a wavery slash of white on my puckered skin.
Can you imagine how sorry I felt for myself, drowning
by no fault of my own—not my storm, not my journey,
not my idea this salt and water and wind―
clutching the handles, the wet wood pulling me under.
Even the moon faded.
Remember the Indian wives, stars of flame
flickering on their husbands burning bodies,
suttees of failure?
Or what about this? Remember the time when there was no boat,
no water, just you on that shore you cast
Finally, one hand slipped—oh how I missed
the wood against my palm. And no, but no, not the other, and
then it was gone, too.
Did you know a blue whale’s heart is as big
as a Volkswagen?
Did you know that it can submerge for an
hour before needing a breath?
The last of my air bubbles burbled past my eyes.
I hung, wide-eyed, miserable,
so alive even as the bottom feeders
nibbled my shins, even as the whole
of the ocean closed over me, dark and full of stories.
Jessica Barksdale Inclán is the author of nine novels.