Difference

By Sara Moore Wagner

Featured Art: Floating Guy, collaboration between Passion Works Studio (Athens, Ohio) and Colores del Alma (Chile)

When I used to read my son the book
where the outcast girl becomes friends
with the alligator, where they dance
in the sewer to the burt-burp of her
tuba, I would imagine he was the gator,
that one day he might find someone
to teach him not to put everything
in his mouth, to go into the water
where he’s meant to return—when
I read my daughter that book, suddenly
I see the girl, tiny soft body in the mouth
of the gator, being pulled down into the
swamp with her tuba blaring. And
the story has always been about this gator,
how he’s not meant to live in regular
society, how neither is the girl so they
find each other and even though he eats
all the local dogs, he leaves her alone
and she saves him. When I am walking
with my daughter downtown, a man
comes up to me and moves his hands
around in my face, gestures at
my daughter until I’m lying
on the sidewalk with my arms around her,
folding her into me like a pair of socks
in a suitcase, like a lolling tongue into
a mouth. And I’m yelling at the construction
workers come help me—and they do,
rushing out in their orange vests. And I think
in that book, these would have been the villains;
in that book, my girl would have risen and danced
for the man who wanted to pull her out of me
like a tooth, would have shown him how to live
in the civilized world, how to cover
his fangs, let them out at night when the slow
lull of the Ohio river takes them so far away
from her home, from her mother that he
thinks about his nature. How even this
little make believe world wasn’t built
for the girl. How even still, it’s my girl’s favorite
book. How even still, I read it.


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Iguana

By Jim Cole

Featured Art: Chameleon by Scott Brooks and Mallory Valentour 

The New Girl’s boss was fired. Then, her boss’s boss was fired.

People said her boss’s boss had, like, this vein of ore trapped deep down in his large body – imbedded, inscrutable. When he said Good morning that wasn’t usually what he meant. When he laughed it was not at what you supposed. Inside, he longed to fire you. 

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Memoir: I Went, Running

By Caroline Manring Featured Art: Bird by Emmett Reese

. . .as if loss were a fire he was purified in again and again, until he wasn’t a ghost anymore.

James Galvin, The Meadow

 

Running is the only thing that made sense to me after miscarrying at fifteen weeks pregnant. I had almost lost my own life as well, and spent three weeks in two different hospitals, linked by a trippy ambulance ride with an EMT who thought I couldn’t hear him singing along to U2. Pretty much everyone thought I was unconscious for much of my hospitalization. I wasn’t, of course, and between waves of Fentanyl I noted or hallucinated many searing moments, which, though warped by fear and pain, were still less bizarre than the daily life I had to get back to, eventually.

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Radiology

By Kim Garcia

Featured Art: Blue Horse by Susan Mays and Nancy Dick

Sitting on the x-ray dolly, gown fastened front to back,
steel girders propping the tracks of the x-ray cam,
resting in half-dark with a lead blanket
size and weight of a doormat over my belly
while the tech disappears behind the wall
and a light flashes blue and white,
then more waiting, every joint in need
of repair.
                   The cam floats over my body.
The tech touches me gently. He’s nearly bald
and pale in his scrubs. I sit up, hearing
a soft popping of cartilage as I swing
my knees over the side.  Knee-capped
by nothing. I am so poorly
designed and executed that one might call
this incarnation accidental, unintended.
And against accident, what can I do but keep
intending?
                    So, bless the half-hearted pinging
of the Philips logo saving the screen.
Bless the lead aprons and blankets,
the plastic stretcher board hung
on hooks on the wall, the stacks
of towels and plastic gloves, the cream
and cocoa checkerboard tiles, the tech
with his soft hands in this cheerful wing
that promises nothing
                    the lame will not walk
                    the deaf will not hear
but more light
to see our suffering by.


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Essay: Olympia Traveller de Luxe

By Robert Long Foreman

The Olympia Traveller de Luxe is not the same thing as the Olympia de Luxe.

They’re similar, sure. They’re both manual typewriters. They look like each other. But if someone said they were the same they’d be lying through their teeth. They’d be capable of anything.

The Olympia Traveller de Luxe does all the things the Olympia de Luxe does, but it’s far more compact. It doesn’t rise high off the table but keeps its head down; it’s three and a quarter inches tall, where the Olympia de Luxe is five and a half.

It can’t have been easy for Olympia’s engineers to take all the functions of the de Luxe and reproduce them in an even smaller model. But they did. And I’ve tried other typewriters of about the same size, like the Smith-Corona Skyriter and the Hermes Rocket. They’re nice, but they’re flawed. The page you’re typing on will slide out of place as you type. The hammers won’t strike hard unless you press hard.

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Sonnet with Hound and Sequins

By Robert Thomas 

Featured Art: Yak by Mary Alice Woods, Jason Licht, and Tibetan Monks Visiting Passion Works Studio

I didn’t lose you to a matador
in flat slippers and a sequined jacket.
I didn’t lose you to a match’s glow
you followed into a hummingbird’s nest.
I didn’t lose you to Bruce or Abby,
though Bruce could bawl blues like a baying hound
and Abby danced like a leaf in a storm.
I didn’t lose you to a silent drum
or a curtain call or a summer sheen.
No, I lost you to incomparable
suave death in tights and tank top, his slick
disco two-step. While he took you for a spin
in his roadster, his red Alfa Spider,
I rode in the rain on his rumble seat.


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Walker County Rites

By Cheyenne Taylor

One average night you catch yourself 
combing summer’s stour through your hair,

cutting the moon like fruit with a pocketknife.
The night undoes the hooks behind her back

for you, white freckles tossed across her skin.
Before the massless hoots of barred owls hail

you back to camp—your wet, unbaptized body
bruised by testing instinct—you’re convinced

that something’s watching. Fatwood fatigues. 
You loom up to the fire, trusting heat. You say

I sort-of think, and I would like to pray,
and marvel at the coal barge hauling

light between banks. When someone thanks
the Lord for camp potatoes, aluminum foil,

rootstalks spread for tortoises, a mammal howls,
and you want all the earthly knowledges.

You steel yourself with whiskey for the river.
You plant yourself ashore and eat the dirt.


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Self-Portrait as Minor Prophet

By Craig Van Rooyen

Not the one who foretells 
our city become a jackals’ haunt 
or our silver turned to dross.

Rather, the one who needs a grocery list
from his wife with the precise level of yogurt fat 
underlined and the aisle number

for the hypo-allergenic soap
so he will not wander, masked, into 
the floral section to be with orchids,

their double stems of moth wings 
looking nothing like fields stripped by foreigners 
or hands hinged in prayer.

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The Universe is Just One of Those Things That Happens from Time to Time

By Jacob Griffin Hall

Featured Art: Stacked Animals by Jonathan Salzman

I deposit my tired universe of bones
beside the farmhouse. Discrete, the butterfly weed
with its leaves tapered to a soft point
leans against the lower stem of a coneflower.
I eat sweet bread and strawberries
and stare into the pocket of oaks dawdling
at the far edge of the field. I draw rings in the clouds
with my outstretched finger, the posture
not unlike accusation, the hair erect at the brush
of a spider against an exposed ankle. The only choice
is how far to carry a burden. I’ve known
the most ordinary people, autumn, untamed piles
of burning leaves. I’ve watched from a safe distance
and disregarded the intensity with which I scratched
my wrist, the skin slick and glinting
beneath a series of similar suns. I’ve negotiated
my right to fathom the bodies of insects.
It’s going well so far. I’ve given up
chocolate bars and late nights and thoughts
of making my life a metaphor. Still the coneflower
is nimble atop its spread of fibrous root.
I wait for the sun to stain the clouds
that shade of rattled yellow that announces evening,
the low light, a thing I know but still need to parse.


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A Pocket Introduction to Our Universe

By Claire Bateman

Featured Image: The Throne of Saturn by Elihu Vedder 1883-1884

What does our universe most like to do?

To contort without any warning into nothing but corners,

an awkward though not unbeautiful configuration.

Of what elements is our universe composed?

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