Donation

By: Linda Hillringhouse

Featured Art: Undiagnosed by Rachel Ann Hall

I arrive at the moment
when the oncologist tells my brother
that his bones look like Swiss cheese

& that yes this disease will kill him
& my brother shoots up from the table
in a rictus of terror, the undiagnosed Asperger’s
in overdrive, & I jump in & say Of course
the doctor means many years from now


& mercifully the doctor switches scripts
& a year later, after the first transplant fails,
asks if he could test my DNA for a second one

& one day I walk into the hospital
& my sister-in-law, queen of the underworld,
says Great news, you’re a match!
& I want to rip her face off, having just read
about the dangers of donating stem cells

& I pretend to be happy but I’m terrified
& have to tunnel down deep to grab
the cowering little yes by the scruff

but my mother hears about a doctor
who saved her friend’s son who also
had multiple myeloma & the new doctor tells me
a second transplant won’t work
and would be a living hell & I’m relieved

& I have worn this skirt of shame every day
for fifteen years, since I threw
that phony fistful of earth into his grave.


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Intersection

By Linda Hillringhouse

It would’ve taken all the water tanks on all the roofs in New York City
filled with whiskey, all the leaves in Riverside Park telling me how
to proceed every minute of the day. I would’ve needed to punch through
the self-induced coma, a blast so loud it would’ve popped the manhole covers
on Amsterdam Ave. It would’ve taken all the trashcans on all the streets
of the Upper West Side to hold the ashes of all the days I burned.
There were words, turning toward the sun, but I left them at the bodega,
among the plums and oranges, in a booth at Four Brothers, on the bar
of the Gold Rail, where I waitressed and whirled in the coronal flames
of young men’s eyes. I left them on stoops and in doorways, all the way
up Broadway to the little shop on 123rd Street with Maggie and Tina to buy
the Nefertiti necklaces for six bucks. I left words dying on traffic islands
amid the beer bottles and candy wrappers and in the writing class where
I would sit paralyzed, petrified of finding out who I wasn’t. And in the end
I chose safety and had to bend every bone in my body to fit into that tiny chair.


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The Mentor

By Lexi Pandell

Featured Art: When Lunches Synch Up by Mallory Stowe

In a shingled house at the edge of the Berkeley Hills—near campus with its bulletin boards covered in smeary flyers for an upcoming Angela Davis lecture and another of a white woman toting a machine gun, and close enough to the Greek Amphitheater that the roar of a concert reverberated through the thin windows—Jane Gardener sat with six other women at a kitchen table. This was a dinner party. She’d forced herself to go with the intention of socializing. Yet she couldn’t stop thinking about how, though Lori said these dinners were about learning from other women in the restaurant industry, her presence felt like a charity. The stench of feet persisted despite the hand-dipped incense wafting in the corner. How could Lori purport to care about food, yet burn out her nose with cheap nag champa?

All of them were restaurateurs, except for Eartha, the German woman Jane employed as sous-chef at Dîner, whom she had invited to help her survive the affair.

“Isn’t spending time with friends supposed to be enjoyable?” Eartha had asked.
They weren’t her friends, though. Not really. Once, there had been more women in this coterie, some she’d actually liked. But, one by one, they had married and turned their attention to their home lives.

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I’ve Always Wanted to Be Truly Alone

By John Sieracki

Rob won’t stop talking.
There’s a word for that: compensatory. No.
Comp something. Rob would be someone to ask.
But I don’t want to encourage him.
My electric lawnmower, on the other hand,
is pretty quiet when I use it to vacuum
up the little pieces in the fall.
Except I can still hear Rob.

He’s got some kind of big dinner he’s doing,
hundreds of people, money floating around,
speeches about different kinds of humans,
even different species that are called human.
Or were; they’re gone now. And to what extent
they interacted, as in mated, he tells me.

Next topic: he’s going to India next week.
He says, “A couple of Indians I know
complain it’s just too crowded for them.”
“What’s the grass in India like in the fall?” I say.
We’re each trying to make ourselves a vacuum.

At one point Rob says the word “excelsior,”
which is not the first time lately.
“It’s a favorite, meaning upward,” he explains.
“Up is overrated,” I say, although
I tell myself that all kinds of humans
have found up to be better, for practical reasons.
For instance, the Dennis someones.
The Dennisors. No. That’s not them.


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O Youthfulness

By Dean Young

You are without age definitionally
Ergo not confined to a single one.
Not to quickly solving the cube
Or standing in pee-stained underwear
Eating microwave lasagna with a spoon
Or diving from a cliff so swift you can’t tell
Flight from impact
Or feeling the heart leap with such fury
You want to kill yourself but know
Why bother?
Not nailing Act III
Or sweeping the temple steps
Or thinking your shadow is a skein of spiders
Or regrettable sartorial choices
O what was I expecting
Or going a bit bonkers with an aquarium
Or running the anchor leg
Or insulting the therapist
Or crying mommy mommy all the way home
Or not really having a home.
The great path goes under ground
Then emerges at a waterfall.
Tiny fibers connect us all,
Electrical wads nervous as car alarms.
Don’t worry about the cherubim.
Just walk right up to the elephant.
That door marked Exit is also the way in.


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Before Poetry Can Save the Planet, It Needs to Shift Our Souls

By Marcia LeBeau

Featured Art: Regrowth by Grace Worley

Every Tuesday morning, I throw a portable white board and some books into my car and drive up the hill to our local nature reserve. There within the 2,000 acres, I squint through the bare tree branches to spot little dots of pink, green, blue, and yellow jumping and climbing—the kindergarteners. When they see me, they start yelling, “Poetry time!” Most are excited; one makes it a point to tell me that he still hates poetry. He’s my favorite.

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At Home in the Cosmos: On the Poetry of Don Domanski

By Tarn MacArthur

When we talk of “environmental poetry” we are talking of a poetic genre rooted in traditional ideas of nature, a genre which, historically, elevates specific ecologies to invoke the physical and temporal proximity of the living, breathing world. In doing so, environmental poems have tended to prioritize a connection to the local, forging the bonds of intimacy with what can be held in the senses long enough to become reliably known—this forest, those cliffs, that river, these animals—and eventually defining what it means to be considered presently here.

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Indivisible

By Martha Serpas

Featured Art: Rushing Water by Kayla Holdgreve

I used to joke that Simone Weil could write, “It is better to say, ‘I am suffering’ than to say ‘this landscape is ugly,’” because she wasn’t a poet. Poets create images and metaphors that readers can recognize and make meaning from. But Weil means to move us past projection toward greater self-awareness and vulnerability and away from the aesthetic and moral judgments that destroy our world. Rather than become acquainted with our inmost selves, we ascribe our pain to what we believe is other and treat it as expendable.

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How Blank an Eye? Seeing and Overlooking Nature in Coleridge’s “Dejection: An Ode”

By Matthew VanWinkle

While contemplating an Italian sunset in 1822, Byron couldn’t resist getting in a dig at his friend Shelley’s affection for the previous generation’s poetry: “Where is the green your Laker talks such fustian about? . . . Who ever saw a green sky?”1 The Laker in question is Samuel Taylor Coleridge; the meteorological observation drawing Byron’s ire occurs in “Dejection: An Ode” (1817), Coleridge’s anguished exploration of a damaged response to the natural world and the implications of this damage for his poetic vocation. It’s tempting to attribute Byron’s objection to the zest he takes in stirring things up generally, or to his intermittently vehement distaste for the Lake School of Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Southey specifically. Yet Byron’s snarkiness on this point is far from idiosyncratic. Romantic era poetry frequently and famously evokes Nature with a capital N, but these evocations sometimes lead a reader to wonder if the devotion to the big picture comes at the expense of acute observation. More pointedly, the big picture seems less a landscape with a life of its own and more a portrait of the artist’s own ambitions. Nature is unmistakably present, even prominent, in romantic era poems, but what, or who, is it there for?

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Reflections in Lake District Mist

By Alycia Pirmohamed

At an event I once attended titled “Landscape and Literary Culture,” Aimee Nezhukumatathil said something along the lines of, “The trees don’t ask you where you’re from.”

Lately, I’ve been asking myself why I rarely imagine my body, a brown woman’s body, moving through the natural world. It makes me wonder what I have internalized about ecology, about the borders between “natural” and “urban.” About access to green spaces and the bodies that are perceived as belonging within them.

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Poetry at a Lakeside Trailer Park

By Tina Mozelle Braziel

Featured Art: Silk Snapper Wild USA, $14.99/lb by Rachel Ann Hall

1.
Poetry is a trailer park on a lake that isn’t really a lake but a dammed river and not on the main channel but along a slough, a fraying edge of a body of water that draws some of us to buy a double-wide, rent a lot, build a pier, and dock a boat in the marina.

The dam “lets the water out” each winter, a phrase conjuring a bathtub whose pulled plug leaves a dirty trickle down the middle. This is a far cry from the face of the deep where light, sky, land, and creatures were spoken into being, yet even such a slough is mysterious, elemental, germinal.

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To Save a Life

Co-Winner of the Movable / New Ohio Review Writing Contest

by Kari Gunter-Seymour

Featured Art: Aperture, by John Schriner

We did what we could,
hid the bottles, drove what
was left of him deep
into the yawning hollow,
built a campfire, drank water
from a long-handled gourd,
a galvanized bucket.

We set up tents for triage,
counted his breaths, worried
over irregular heartbeats,
sweats, persistent vomiting,
his jacked up adrenal system.

We waited. Listened for a canvas
zipper in the night, each long slow
pull a call to duty, our legs folding
over duct taped camp stools,
tucked tight around the fire,
his gut-punch stories, stenched
in blood and munitions,
overpowering the woodsmoke’s
curling carbons.

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Home Fires

By Anne Kenner

I didn’t want to live on Sonoma Mountain. I was busy in San Francisco, with my job and my children, our friends and activities. Cities had always been my preferred environment; I like the noise and jostling crowds. But Jim needed more room and fewer people, country vistas and wide-open spaces. He wanted privacy and verdure, bike paths and hiking trails. So I agreed to look for them with him, first in Carmel Valley and finally, one afternoon, by myself in Sonoma county.

The real estate agent selected a few houses that fit our careful budget, and pointed to the first on a map, three miles up Sonoma Mountain from the valley floor.

“That one,” I said, “is too remote.”

“Don’t worry,” she assured me, “we won’t stay long.”

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Triage

By Lance Larsen

Featured Art: Fresh Air, by John Schriner

My job is to mow. My job is to coax the prairie
around my  mother-in-law’s house into green
chaos, then decapitate it on Friday till it looks
like carpet. My other job is to say dang
it’s hot and enter the kitchen and sip juice
and nuzzle my beloved at the stove when her
mother’s back is turned—an eighty-seven-year-old
back but still super quick. My beloved
has her own job—open and close the fridge,
push me away, and keep some things
cold like cucumbers and Gouda and yogurt,
and others hot like caramelized onions
and yesterday’s sweet and sour, and pretend
her mother’s Alzheimer’s is a shrine we’ll visit
someday like the Taj Mahal and not daily triage.
I still have other jobs, like having cancer cells
burned from my face at 3:00. Or is it 3:30?
I check my phone. Oh good, 3:30, more time
to decapitate the prairie and sip juice
and maybe swim slippery laps at the rec center.

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Pretends Everything Is Fine

By Beth Andrix Monaghan

Featured Art: Mom, by John Schriner

During my daughter Izzy’s third-birthday party, I was singing “Happy Birthday” when pain clenched my abdomen. At first it felt like a menstrual cramp, but it progressed to constrictions that made me want to lie down on the floor. I forced a smile, reminded myself that I felt close to pretty in my orange-and-white-flowered maternity shirt, and served the cake. Later, at the hospital, they stopped my preterm contractions with an injection and sent me home on bed rest. I was twenty weeks along.

The contractions continued in lesser degrees over the second half of my pregnancy. I spent hours lying on my left side, a position that the nurses on my OB’s triage line said would calm down the cramping. But new problems arose. I kept showing my husband, Patrick, the spot on my right side just below my ribs where I felt like something was ripping inside my stomach. My OB said it was probably just a ligament. 

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Anthropologist of the Apocalypse

By Samantha Krause

Featured Art: Janoski (Deconstructed), by John Schriner

Welcome to the museum of secondhand savings. The journey starts like this: when something is donated to The Thrift Store, the attendants at the store decide whether to sell it there or send it to my department to sell online. In each of the 13 stores in our district, there is a list of items that are always to be sent to us. We get all the jewelry, every musical instrument, any expensive-looking art, all video games, computers, clothes with tags over $75. All brand-name purses, every vinyl record, typewriters from certain years and countries. American Girl Dolls, vintage Barbies, Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! and baseball cards. Stamp collections. Fur coats. LEGOs. Cameras, digital and film. It goes on.

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The Natural World

by Chris Crockett

Featured Art: Cosmic Eye, by John Schriner

The moon rises
to the left of the kitchen sink.

I go outside to check on
the world’s artistry:

Moths and stars;
bats whose blind ping-pings

pinpoint insects,
accurate as an adding machine.

Horses are head down in the soup
of flooded grass fields;

All day long
they solve their hunger.

Everything partners and trades
nutrients. Billions

unseen in the black roots.
Inaudible hum.

My fingers  keep time
to a barely comprehended

background beat.


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Buried Fruit

by Robert Stothart

Featured Art: Generations, by John Schriner

I am re-begot

Of absence, darknesse…

things which are not.

—John Donne

1

Now they’re standin’ in a rusty row all empty

And the L & N don’t stop here anymore.

—Johnny Cash

Winter’s first fuel came cheap, scrap wood, free for the taking, piled along the road next to the sawmill half a mile back toward town from my house. Lying in bed—borrowed mattress on a patched linoleum floor—I listened to wood fires pop and snap taking night chill off my two rooms. Light from the yellow flames pierced through slots in the iron stove’s iron door and danced in reflection across the inside of my front window.  

In September, Mother Annie told me to go get wood at the sawmill. I had no running water, only a well with a handpump and an outhouse at the place I rented. I had electricity and cooked on a hotplate. The potbellied stove stood cold in the center of my front room for two months. 

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Partition

by Carolina Hotchandani

Featured Art: Fissure, by John Schriner


In your version of the story, people butter their fingers 

with notions of God, splitting India into a smaller India, 

a new Pakistan. The way a single roti’s dough 

is pulled apart, the new spheres, rolled in the palms, 

then flattened. The idea of God—the destroyer of human bonds, 

you will say in the diatribe I know well—the reason for new 

borders, new pain to sprout on either side of a dividing line. 

You’ll go on. I’ll picture the edges of your words blurring 

to a hum as I think of how to wrest your rant from you. 

A rolling pin barrels over dough, widens the soft disc, 

makes it fine. You are fragile. Like a story that stretches 

belief. Like a nation. Like a thin disc of dough that sticks 

to a surface, tearing when it’s peeled back. I don’t know 

how to part the story from the person and keep the person.


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Culprit

By Carolina Hotchandani

Featured Art: Hello, Hello, by John Schriner

As you finish your morning cup of tea,
an identity thief rings.

You answer.

Sleep wraps loosely around your mind
like the flannel robe you’re still wearing.

It’s almost noon.

The television is on
but muted.

On the screen, Lieutenant Columbo’s mouth moves
as he pesters his prime suspect.
Soon, he’ll reveal how the murderer
murdered the murdered.

Ahhh, you say to the voice on the phone
that dubs over the episode’s denouement:

Tell me the story behind your name.
So you do.
Can you spell it for me?
So you enunciate:
M as in “money” — A — N as in “Nancy” — O — H . . .
till all the letters of your name go down
into the small holes of the phone.

You were born in India before Partition?
Those were hard times.

When the voice solicits your social security number,
you want to know why,
but the logic you’re offered makes sense:
there’s money to be claimed
by survivors of arduous times.

Columbo lights his cigar.
The murderer’s exposed, and the credits are rolling.

The end is not surprising; we’ve known it from the start.

We won’t learn who trafficked in your memories,
committing this crime.
You aren’t the best witness,
forgetful these days.
But you watch and rewatch your favorite TV sleuth
intuit the culprit, apprehend the truth.


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12th and McGraw

By Hillary Behrman

Featured Art: Epidermis, by John Schriner

I moved fast always hoping to slip into the house and up to my room unnoticed. I made it to the first landing of the wide staircase before I heard the pop pop and grind and looked up. My little brother, Alex, was perched above me, kneeling on the long cushioned window seat. His chicken-wing shoulder blades stuck out on either side of his old fashioned undershirt. The afternoon light, filtered through the two-story stained glass window, hit his pale skin and formed a glowing checkerboard of red, yellow and green patches all across the back of his shorn head and bent neck. He gripped the plastic handle of a large Phillips-head screwdriver with both hands, pumping it like a tiny jackhammer straight out from his concave chest, shattering square after square of swirly rainbow glass. He must have been at it for a while, because by the time I reached him the first three rows of bread-slice sized panes were gone.

My brother was a watchful, wary sort of kid, circumspect in all his actions by the age of six in a way I still can’t manage in my thirties. I gave him a quick once over. I didn’t see any blood, so I left him to it. The snap crackle pop of each new shattered pane followed me up the stairs to the next landing and down the long hallway to my room. I wasn’t an idiot or monster. I was fourteen. I got it, Alex’s desire to expose that house to the elements, chip away at its candy colored Victorian shell.

I kept listening until the sounds of Alex’s demolition project stopped. The silence freaked me out way more than his vandalism. I don’t know why. I should have been thinking about broken glass and the paper-thin flesh on the undersides of his skinny wrists all along. But I wasn’t. He had seemed so preternaturally competent back then. I don’t know why I finally had the sense to sprint back down the hall. Alex was curled up on the window seat, his cheek pressed into bits of colored glass. I don’t know why there wasn’t more blood, why the cuts weren’t deeper. I scooped him up and carried him up the stairs.  He stayed limp and floppy until I reached the third floor, where he wrapped his legs tight around my waist.

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Bumping Around

by Eileen Pettycrew

Featured Art: Vaider, by John Schriner

Then I saw a man sheltering from the rain
inside a concrete circle meant to be
a work of art. I didn’t want to think
he was homeless, just a commuter waiting
for the light rail. Forgive me,
I’ve seen trash spilling from hillsides,
tents popping up like mushrooms in the dark.
Mattresses, ripped tarps, lamps, rugs,
metal and plastic twisted into a pile
reaching the top of a broken-down RV.
Last week I saw a flag flying at half-staff
after another mass shooting,
and underneath the flag, an electronic billboard
that said Walk Away from Joint Pain.
Forgive me for thinking it was a signal
to drag my sorry body up and over the wind,
to rise like vapor, like water cycling
around the earth, sky to land and back again,
one big circle that never ends.
Let me feel a little love for everything.
The steaming pile of wood chips, the barren
stumps, the grove of trees still bearing
open wounds from February’s ice storm.
The days I shivered in a cold house,
bumping around in the dark with a flashlight,
hoping the batteries would last.


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The Year After Jeff

By Andrew Polhamus

February

The evening after Jeff hangs himself my friends and I meet up at Stephen and Danny’s new house. We converge in a neighborhood of brick rowhouses and form a circle of denim in a tired living room. There are six or eight of us, not here to sit vigil, but for lack of better ideas and a nagging feeling that we shouldn’t be alone. We speak in the circular logic of boys, too old to be thinking this way by our mid-twenties, but too inexperienced to handle it any better.

“He could’ve called me,” says Kurt, who is taller and more handsome than the rest of us and was closer to Jeffthan anyone. I’m annoyed with myself for noticing how nicely Kurt’s good looks carry grief, turning him from a jock in a t-shirt emblazoned with the name of a hardcore band into something romantic and world-weary.

“He always used to call me,” Kurt says.

“He didn’t call you because he didn’t want to,” I say. “It wasn’t you.”

“It wasn’t that he didn’t want to,” Michael says. “He just didn’t.”

“We don’t know what he wanted.”

“Well, we know he made up his mind.”

“I think we have bed bugs,” Danny says, his heavy Italian brows furrowing. The conversation drifts to pest control for a while.

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Dear Austin,

By Brian Builta

A year after your death we keep receiving college brochures
telling you how nicely you’d fit at certain institutions, under a
pine I guess, or next to a Doric column. The earth would bear
you up. In youth group one of the leaders reads about Jesus
raising Lazarus from death. Lazarus’ sister says to Jesus, If you
had been here, my brother would not have died. Your sister leans over,
says Same. She may be pissed for some time. Sometimes we
think of you as Judas, hanging there, unused coins scattered at
your feet. For a minute it helped to think that God also lost
His son, but then, you know, the resurrection. I’ve been
assured by Fr. Larry Richards you are not in hell. Something
about full consent of the will. The way you made your grandma
heave, though, I’m not so sure. Still, I said a few hundred
thousand Divine Mercy Chaplets for you, so by now you
should be on some beach in Costa Rica blowing through a
palm toward a new day, rising.


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If

By Marie-Claire Bancquart
Translated from French by Claire Eder and Marie Moulin-Salles

We had a ribbon of words to say
like the machines with their coffers of signs
prêt-à-porter.

We would have finished going over them.

Returned to the first ones
we would pronounce them with our renewed body.

Dead horses climb back up the trails.

Silence.

They would carry us finally toward
            our solemn communion with objects.



Featured Art: Eldridge, by John Schriner

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Evergreen Oak

By Marie-Claire Bancquart
Translated from French by Claire Eder and Marie Moulin-Salles

Standing before these thick trunks that sow our wrinkles
in windbreak

standing before these leaves that persist
in the fuzzy gray-green of a caterpillar
complementary to our bloods

I uprise a contradictory forest

A tree
where the cool flow of water would saturate the sap
with a transience that we would find habitable.

I invent a species:
the short-lived live oak
so pleasing to say, it must exist somewhere.

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Margins

By Marie-Claire Bancquart
Translated from French by Claire Eder and Marie Moulin-Salles

Eating the apple
I eat enigma
and I glimpse us in the mirror the apple and me
inaccurate and profound.

Something trembles inside us with mouths
of saps and metals.

Long trees
go out from us toward the suburbs of the horizon.

Is it us
at the center?

Or the center of the drift?



Featured Art: Reflection, by John Schriner

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Mass

By Jeff Tigchelaar


1. Jana, in for a mammogram 

So they give you these special shirts: 
easy-open fronts. 
Post procedure they herd you 
into this room where others in the same boat 
and shirt
must sit 
and wait. 
I walk in say Oh how embarrassing 
we’re all wearing the same top
to no response. The TV’s tuned 
to daytime talk, nobody watching. I offer 
to change the channel or turn it off. 
No takers. A few seconds later: “Up next! 
How one woman got the news that would 
change her life forever: ‘I found out 
I had breast cancer!’” Then someone 
says Yeah no we’re shutting that off
and gets up and does the deed. 
A minute later this same woman gets 
her results. And they were 
good. Very good. 
They were perfect.
And she jumped, whooped, pumped her fists 
said Praise Sweet Jesus and her boobs 
popped right out of that special shirt 

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When she calls me and confirms it it’s

By Jeff Tigchelaar

not a shock but still
we’d had that three percent
chance that it wasn’t
still I leave work
run home and hug her
before we tell the kids
before we decide to just
get in the minivan
and go see LEGO Batman
in the theater downtown
where we laugh as much as
or more than the kids
one review called it
relentlessly frantically
funny and it is
LEGO Batman’s got a 9-pack of abs
Jana’s got her phone on her lap
when it lights up she sneaks off and takes the call


To the Israeli Soldier—

By Emily Franklin

Featured Art: Sur La Plage, by John Schriner

I believe it’s possible to know someone’s name and have them be a stranger. I know you are Ihran, but in this world of being able to locate anyone (elementary school bully, heartbreaker, former colleague), I cannot find you. There’s the cruelty of having you Un-Googleable and also the relief of you receding in the rearview mirror of my past.

France. Summer, 1988. I’m an American studying in Villefranche-sur-Mer; a teenager unmoored, supposedly learning to be more fluent in French, but really gathering intel—where to buy oversized icy beer down the hill in the dark, a shack where the old French men gather in stained overalls and barely register me—seventeen and desperate to keep from being fully seen. I tuck my face behind a swathe of blonde hair and order beers – ten francs each – for me and the friends I’ve made. Anandi is Canadian-Indian, Caroline is Korean-American, Everly is from the American South with the drawl to prove it.  I’m just blue-eyed and blonde, a master at sourcing beer or soft cheese or finding the hidden beach where we wind up the following day.

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Lonely, Lucky, Brave

By Jillian Jackson

When I hit on the scratch ticket I was at Castle Island with Hannah. We used to go there every Friday. After Hannah finished walking dogs and I finished up my shift at the café, we liked to pack a lunch and watch the planes flying into Logan airport. We always ate turkey sandwiches that I stole from the café and drank wine out of cans. We finished a family-sized bag of salt and vinegar chips.

That afternoon Hannah was wearing my favorite cardigan, a Good Will find, pink and covered in sparkles. She had on pink lipstick that had smudged a little bit on her bottom lip. We were watching the planes, our bare feet in the cold sand. It was April and we were glad we could sit there without our jackets on, even though we were a little cold when the wind picked up.  

“It’s time,” Hannah said. She reached into her bag and dug out the tickets. She dealt them like cards at a poker match, back and forth, one and one. All ten.                     

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Ice Cream

Co-winner of the Movable / New Ohio Review Writing Contest

By Kandi Workman

Featured Art: He’s Got the Works, by John Schriner

“Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer.” – Simone Weil

1
“Drop ’em dead like a dealer.”

“What’s that mean?” I asked.

He turned his slim face away from me, looked toward the muddy Elk River flowing with ease, shifted himself around on the cement ledge, kicking his dangling legs back and forth, bouncing rubber heels off the wall. We’d been sitting there for a while, talking, enjoying the late afternoon in early Spring. In the low light from the sun, the black-lined ice cream cone tattoo on the right side of his face, high on his cheek bone, just under his eye, stood out. I sometimes forget it’s there. 

“Drop ‘em dead. That’s when your sales go up. It’s really fucked up. Addicts find out your shit killed somebody, they want your stuff. That’s just how it works.”

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What We Did at the End of the World

By Sunni Brown Wilkinson

We played charades to words we’d forgotten. We made a fire of them with our hands.
We wrote songs on the piano, gave them names like “Fox and Mouse” and “Lightning Chase.”
We watched our parakeets dance in front of their tiny yellow-framed mirror.
We watched them sleep, three on a perch, with their quick beaks tucked in.
We made bread. The top cracked open and we peeled it back and spread butter on
and ate it. We didn’t wear shoes. We wrapped ourselves in scarves.
We opened birthday cards to listen to the music hiding
behind the plastic button. We opened and closed, opened and closed until the songs grew tinny.
We gathered snail shells from the garden. 47. We saw one naked at the base of the daisies.
We made music with ice and water and glasses. We hummed under the covers at night.
We waved tree branches like arms. We waved at the stars. We waved at our silent neighbors.
We taped song lyrics to doors. We swept the fuzz from the rugs
into piles of gray hair. We lifted them carefully when they huddled together like a nest.
We listened at the door of an uncracked egg.
We watched the quail scurry across the street, that one feather on their heads quivering
in the wind like the feathers of great ladies in the movies we watched at night.
We dreamed of the sea untangling its wide blue braids.
We opened our mouths in the morning and salt leaked out.
We called each other dear and laughed at words like rudbeckia. We planted
rudbeckia. We danced like it. We wore yellow too.
Just before we flew away, we were mirrors. That deep. That true.


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A Mind at Home With Itself

By Marcia LeBeau

My brain is always complaining as it crawls toward
                  El Dorado, eyes upturned waiting for a lightning storm 
to stun it speechless. But the sky never claps

open and there is no silence. Its knees bleeding,
                  mouth running, my brain doesn’t hear the alarm go off
in the morning, forgets to cancel its gym membership

even though it stopped going years ago. I have no choice
                  but to ignore my brain. Walk to the other side
of the street when I see it. Stop answering its whiny

voicemails. I have a vision during a massage of my brain
                  glistening like raw hamburger meat on the pavement
below a flashing motel sign. The meat turns

to blue glitter slime the neighborhood kids
                  sell for fifty cents a bag that smells like cotton candy.
I steal a bag because it’s my brain, after all, and toss it

on the kitchen counter. My brain is petrified I’m going
                  to throw it away and begs for mercy. I pick it up, 
slap it on the table, pound it, then ooze it between

my fingers. It feels smooth and cold and reassuring. I knead it 
                  a little longer before I throw it in the trash. My hands
are stained blue, glitter flecks my clothes, but finally, silence.


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A Covered Dish

By: Katie Condon

Instead of attending
The End of Semester Holiday Potluck,
where Kimberly will hold forth
about the unmatched dexterity
of her cat and Jim will call together
his congregation by the hors d’oeuvres
to virtue signal about virtue signaling,
I will stay at home and bleach my mustache
and drink a dirty gin martini and read
the scene in The Corrections where Chip
throws cocktail parties for the academic elite
and I will laugh at them as Franzen intended
and you will laugh at me for reading Franzen
because no one is supposed to like Franzen
except in secret and to bring up Franzen
in conversation would be social suicide
at The End of Semester Holiday Potluck
where now, I presume, Kevin is misquoting
Nietzsche to talk about his sex life and Camille,
who up until this point has said nothing,
says nothing still, raising an eyebrow
with indecipherable anger because Kevin
is just another self-absorbed academic
who got his degrees thanks to grade inflation
in the early 2000s and has made a career
out of complaints and well-timed jokes,
which is more than I can say for myself
whose career is made merely of words
strung together in a clever order, saying
nothing much other than I am happy
I am not at The End of Semester Holiday Potluck
but that if I were I would find a way
to kidnap the cat, poor thing, quarantined
in the bedroom, forced to listen to the muffled
noise of a whole people who forgot about
the night outside, its utter size.


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Poem in the Romantic Tradition by American Adult

By Katie Condon

Featured Art: Peach Bloom, by Alice Pike Barney

Every morning, I want sex.
Historically, men only give it to me
at night, after we’ve spent the better part

of the evening in the safety of the neon-bruised
dark of an American Sports Bar
that serves eighty kinds of mayonnaise.

In the morning, when I want sex,
I look out at the garden alive despite the frost.
Only gardens have a language

for light that spreads itself across the lawn
like marigolds or molten gold, like footage
of a wildfire with the sound off.

I drive down the highway and am
surrounded by language so American:

Gilded Dildos! Real Gold!
High Fashion Sweatpants Sold Here!

I try to pray, but can’t.
This is my sickness.
I am an American Adult.

Does light have sex
or is light sex?

is something I’d like to learn
while I’m still aboveground.

I hate our American language.
We call our most holy ceremony:
fuck bone nookie cram it in your ass!

Meanwhile, in silence, on fallen logs
the lichen makes ecstatic love to itself,
not to dawn’s wide-eyed dew.

Once upon a time I wanted
to be a viaduct when I grew up
or a lawn, well-kept and wantless.

I know now what Wordsworth couldn’t:

with my mouth on a house-sized
plastic road-side peach I chant,
What I desire this world cannot provide.


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Befuddled

By Kim Farrar

I don’t speak Cantonese
or Mandarin, and she spoke
little English, yet kindly explained each scroll
adorning the stairwell:
This one happiness. This fortune.
This family. Then she paused,
slightly panicked, and rushed
to her register for a stashed index card.
The creases were soft as fur
from many foldings, and printed
there in all-caps was BEFUDDLED.

This one befuddled.
Our heads cocked in doubt.
Did she mean it befuddled her
or the scroll signified befuddlement?
How had that peculiar word
landed here? What seas had it crossed,
what deserts, to be inked on a card
in the palm of her hand
in Flushing, New York?
Perhaps she copied it
from a battered phrase book,
or when she asked a bilingual friend
he said, I’m befuddled,
and she had him spell it out.

The scroll had six prawns—
four paddling in one direction,
with two turning left—

maybe it meant befuddled after all,
but it easily could have been
knowledge or friendship or destiny
as we searched each other’s eyes
for understanding. Then, in the clarity
of our human need, I said: I’ll take it.


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