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Poetry III

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Photo by Dianne Roberson Hendrix

Amy Newday

 

 

Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings, July 2009

 

They’re stoning a woman on my car radio again,

but this time there’s no hole, no hood, no blossoming

blood and it’s not Somalia and I don’t have

a peanut butter sandwich but still I keep flipping

them off, then turning my radio back on, making myself

listen—listen, last night I woke to the sound of a mouse

falling down my basement stairs, trap clamped

around its still-breathing head, so I know

what blood and hair stuck to the side of a rock look like

in the dark, first wet then flaky, how the blood stains

unless rinsed with cold, a man taught me this, I was 24,

my underwear rusty, there were so many things then

I had no evidence for, but I’d held chickadees

plucked from flight, terrified, chirping, their hearts

ricocheted against the pulse in my thumb, their legs snapped

like straws, I splinted them with toothpicks, their wings

measured, recorded, the ossification of their skulls,

the leg-band clamped, the mortality acceptable, the

red fox leg-trapped, relocated, limping only slightly but oh its

eyes and my boots stapled the swamp and I raped geese

with sticks for science; my hands stenographers,

assassins; I watched the men watch me

hold them, the dead ones, and afterwards I waded

past cattails to the stream I soaked in, I offered

my legs to the leeches, I prayed for absolution,

the birds smelled like my grandmother’s closet,

dusty and sweet. What else should I say about those

nights in the post office, the dark round-faced woman,

her bright shawl and what she had to say to me

or the owls always outside my window, wanting

their dinners? There are places in this world no woman

can walk uncloaked without fear and certain words are still

forbidden. I’ll say this: there’s a gate between my hipbones

that swings in certain weather and once when I was twelve,

looking out my bedroom window at cars passing

on the highway, the loneliness of the world

walked through. My hair went bad and I got lost

that summer camping on South Manitou Island,

down a green trail through an abandoned orchard

hung with hard, tart apples. Malus domestica. I’d studied

taxonomy in Biology that spring and I wanted to learn Latin,

but my father’s pants were missing buttons, so

in the fall I’d take Home Ec., learn to fry cheese

and sew a stuffed baseball which my brother

would set on fire with a floor lamp. Underneath those trees,

I found a chimney, then three coffin-shaped fences,

rusted, gateless. “The key to good science is objectivity,”

Mr. Nelson had said, surveying the back row of girls

holding their noses. My rat, pinned open, had smelled

like a half-cleaned toilet, but there was nothing objective

about those graves, the headstones flat pillows, worn nameless.

 

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Amy Newday wrote her first poem at age seven for her pet Holstein calf, Misty. Currently, she’s pursuing her MFA in poetry at Western Michigan University and teaching in WMU's Freshman Writing program. She lives in Shelbyville, Michigan, with an old dog, a young cat, and far too many mice. When she's not in her office writing, you might find her barefoot in the garden, where she grows monstrously delicious tomatoes and many different varieties of lettuce. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry East, The Mom Egg, Breadcrumb Scabs, and Rhino.

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Stacy Campbell

 

 

A Spectacular Ruin

 

we walked for miles

through rough edged years

wearing flip flops

in the flux of mud

forgetting to hold hands

for balance sake, transfixed

on the past

careless of the future

I know you could hear me

but you talked over me

or bore holes through me

when desperately needed words

could have been a tunicate.

Such a long disaster,

such a lazy kisser

I should have never unpacked.

 

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Stacy Campbell lives in Hurst, Texas. She teaches English to special education students at Martin High School in Arlington, Texas.  In her free time she plays the guitar, writes poetry, short stories, and drinks very cold beer. She is previously published in Writer’s Digest, North Texas Professional Writer’s Anthology, Orange Room Review, and other on-line publications. She was a 2008 Commendation Award Winner from The Society of Southwestern Authors.

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Elizabeth Kate Switaj

 

 

Instructions to a Rapist

 

 break my hands to fit your gloves

 you know the ones

                  you don’t even know

 what they’re made of

 latex  skin  or underwater

 

 where they shrink to strangle pulse

 of blood & light    & breath

 

 those rhythms give you away

 more than fingerprints & DNA

 

 they’re everything you’ve heard

 

                             and if my hand

 has no bones

              it’s yours

 

                        so me tell me what our crime will be

 tell me it isn’t me

 

                     who goes away the victim

                     who can’t forget my hand

 

 or some distant point of light

     can turn an eye

 ‘s mind into

             some other somewhere other

 

             o tell me it’s not true

& I remember

 

 

š

 

Subspecies Variation

 

 

      on the island of lost boys

  this frog has learned to subsist

      on mockery & hogshead flies

as their chaperones allow

 

    on the island of misfit toys

  its legs have turned to wings

  but rarely flies

                 & only w/humility

 

  on the island of lost girls

  this frog has grown fur & puppy eyes

                   to teach girls

  what they should love

                   & feed deep in their breasts

 

but here in this chest

 of rosewood & cedar

I’ve killed the ones who couldn’t leap

  until whole generations could escape

 

 

š

 

 

The Weimar Pizzeria

 

we can have a nice dinner, nice dinner indeed

though the eggs in the breadsticks

 came from chickens who never touched dirt

before they became     healthy strips

               in our salads

      of wilted lettuce, purple cabbage

                              looks just fine

            if we don’t talk

about it

 

we can have a nice dinner, nice dinner indeed

without a hint of abattoir in sausage

on red sauce

             if there’s enough cheese in the way

and we don’t talk

about cows or pigs

and if we did  we would say abattoir

instead of slaughterhouse or ribs

cracked open over concrete like a Francis Bacon painting

 

we can have a nice dinner, nice dinner indeed

with candles in the back

where there are no windows

                            if we don’t talk

  about who must be passing

hungry outside

 

we can have a nice dinner, nice dinner indeed

if we say what makes this country great

                             is everything

that isn’t like another

country

       and send anyone that speaks

that isn’t like another

to the car to wait

 

we can have a nice dinner, nice dinner indeed

and that’s what makes us great

 

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Since receiving her MFA from the now-defunct New College of California Poetics Program in 2004, Elizabeth Kate Switaj has published Magdalene & the Mermaids (Paper Kite Press), Shanghai (Gold Wake Press), and The Broken Sanctuary: Nature Poems (Ypolita Press). She is currently researching James Joyce at Queen’s University Belfast. For more information, visit Elizabeth Kate Switaj.

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Sam Rasnake

 

 

Poem in Two Photographs

 

The egret waits the morning

for a shadow flick just under

the surface (measuring itself

as though the world is what

the eyes see carries in its body

that moment of standing hard

against a red ball of sky that slips,

unnoticed, into dark waters)

triangles one leg up, lets down,

edges closer to a hidden silence,

too determined to be prepared

for the dog’s bark ― someone

must be walking the far end

of the pond ― and so unhinges

its long blades of white over

cedar and open and rooftop,

then down into hushed reeds

in back of the empty house

whose windows swell with bird,

with marsh road, with stories

of cloud that drift to troubled seas.

 

 

š

 

 

A Scribbling on the Walls

 

            after viewing Chris Marker’s La Jetée

 

 

It’s like the dead realizing, finally,

they must be dead too, easing into

their smoothed and whispered oblivion ―

a blot of time, twice-lived, below the ruins.

 

A man obsessed, a woman, an image of a face.

Isn’t that how it always begins?

 

Trust, disappointment, madness –

the scars of more than a lifetime.

 

What is it you look for on this page?

Where is it you wander to? ―

in the voice’s dark timbre

as you breathe the words aloud,

as you speak the fear into place ―

 

This is a real table. A real couch,

glass cabinet, a fire screen

with its painting of pond and heron ―

The bamboo plant and bowl, cups of tea,

the thimble box ― They’re all real.

 

The reckoning of a truth is lonely business.

 

When the body fails, or falls, when the dream

implodes of its own weight, and silence is the story,

the eyes opening is what you will most remember.

 

š

 

 

Morning Psalm

 

for Ralph Coleman, ten years gone

 

A river of cold incidentals,

with its memory of long trout

and rocks, smoothed in story

 

One leaf of mountain laurel

slips away into shadow,

then bend ― then gone

 

The forest wall whispers,

the grey sky whispers,

and your name, as though

it were a bluebird,

lands on a branch

 

 

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Sam Rasnake’s poetry has appeared in MiPOesias, Pebble Lake Review, Literal Latté, Poetry Midwest, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, From East to West, Siren, Ecotone: Reimagining Place, Portland Review, and BOXCAR Poetry Review.  His work has been included in the Best of the Web 2009 anthology (Dzanc Books) and Deep River Apartments (The Private Press).  The author of one chapbook, Religions of the Blood (Pudding House), and one collection, Necessary Motions (Sow’s Ear Press), he edits Blue Fifth Review, an online journal of poetry and art.

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Gareth Storey

 

Hotel Lungs

 

Sometimes the lines

Of other things

Break

 

Do you know that sound?

 

When your heart’s plumbing

One name

Catches

In your throat

 

Tongue tied

You calculate

Old numbers in colours

You can’t see

 

It’s finding yourself

Welcome

On someone’s door

 

Does your camera blur

Without losing focus?

Down stair sets

Each step

Wakes you earlier

Without stopping

 

You check

Cold hotel sheets

Air slows

A wound

Healing

 

 

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Gareth Storey was born in Dublin, Ireland, but now lives in London, England. For what it's worth he has a degree in Creative Writing. When he’s not working as a chef he writes poems and short stories. He was last published in the collection Born in the 1980s, published by Route.

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