Claire Frohman

POINTS OF ORIGIN

Nothing
at the beginning but

 earmarked lips moving restless
liminal windows

 sought dusk pulled tight danced circles
and loss

 She suffered momentarily every detail
so small

 washed over by the dark shade
of inevitability

 She the Harbour
parent tree

 drops seeds pushes deep into
the complexity

 We are urgent. Producing simple waves
The hero of his next story

 

Source: Evelyn Juers’ House of Exile: The Lives and Times of Heinrich Mann and Nelly Kroeger-Mann.

 Method & Some interesting Backstory: This book, chosen blithely from a library of thousands, held no apparent significance for me at the time. I was drawn to it, however, and opening to a page at random, I circled words that struck me. Though I began by using the words sequentially as they appeared, my word placement quickly became more deliberate as I followed the poem’s unfolding form. This “unfolding” is one of the things I love most about found poetry; from within the rich environment of a source text, it can feel, at times, as though the poem is finding you.

The mysterious “She,” who almost immediately took form struck a deep chord in me. “Who is this woman?” I wondered.

Years later, sifting through a beautiful old wooden chest of age-weathered letters, photographs, and other family history in my grandmother’s dining room, I came across a thin, wrought-metal icon of the Virgin Mary. I unwrapped it from its shroud of thin tissue paper, and with it, an origin story.

My Grandmother recounted the tale of our ancestor, Albert Hinrichs, who joined Napoleon’s invasion of Russia as a young man in 1812 and miraculously survived that winter’s infamous retreat, arriving home at death’s door with this icon clutched to his breast. Over the course of many months, he was nursed back to health by a young woman with whom he fell in love and soon married. His family, objecting to her lower social status, disapproved and asked him to end it. Forced to choose between love and his Swiss-German home, he chose love, and the young couple set out to build a new life in America. 

I am struck by certain parallels between the stories of Albert Hinrichs and Heinrich Mann. I have since learned that Mann was also from a well-to-do German family and, to their dismay, also married a girl from “the wrong side of the tracks.” Both young couples left Europe for the States, seeking freedom from social or political circumstances. And in both of these stories of young German men, there is a woman. “Who was she?” 

Framed by the male narrative, as our histories so often are, women seem frequently to appear as passive side characters. The enigmatic “She” of this poem serves to shift our collective perspective, perhaps sharing a glimpse of life through her lens, and refocusing on “Woman as Harbour” – the safe haven and source – from which all begins and ends.

Tragically, not long after her arrival in Los Angeles, Nelly Kroeger-Mann committed suicide. And sometime after their arrival in America, Albert and the nurse conceived. The nurse carried a life in her womb, and generations were born. Wave after wave of life and death – and all the simple moments in between – have rippled their way through time to me. 

“Who is she?”

She is me and I am her. My point of origin. 

Claire Frohman is a free spirit, world traveler, and food activist living in Bloomington, IN. She currently helps manage her mother’s catering company and works part-time at an immigration law office. Claire received her undergraduate degree in Sociology and Italian from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY. 

 

Emily McAvan

IS THERE LIFE ON MARS?

 

It’s a stabbing joyful cry,
sixty two rich men
and the Humpty Dumpty bride.

The Communist revolutionary dream,
a curious sobbing sea
to the nuclear Cheshire Cat.

A honey spectral dance
for the golden lover imagining
the rear-view mirror sun,

while the Weimar regime splendor
overwhelms squabbling teachers
and their sullen sleepy confessions.

Soldiers cutting up the border
drawing the salt of the kiss
Oh man,
look at that permanent bliss

Take a look at the
sober mother poison rattle
Batman’s gone missing again
It’s just a life of sin

Is there life on Mars?
Is there life on Mars?

Sources and Method: This poem was inspired by David Bowie’s “Life on Mars,” drawing on its rhythms for the song’s cadence. Lines from the poem were cut up from newspapers including Haaretz and the Guardian and Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

Emily McAvan is a Jewish Australian poet whose work sits at the intersection between sacred and profane.

Rebecca Donovan

PLACEMAKING


See how elastic our stiff prejudices grow when love comes to bend them.
I was the condensed confidential comfortableness of sharing a blanket with an old friend.
With our shaggy jackets drawn about our shoulders, I grew illuminated
by the flame of the new-lit lamp.
I had become more familiar with his broken phraseology.
It is not drawn in any map —
true places never are.

Source : Moby Dick, Herman Melville.

Method: I glean language from existing text, diving into books and pulling from random pages, sifting what I discover find into poems. My tools are a black Sharpie and a X-Acto knife.

Rebecca Donovan is an educator and former non-profit director. She lives in Seattle, Washington with her teen daughter, She writes when she can and takes long walks as often as possible.

Sophie Newman

DOT-MAN VIEWS THE UNIVERSE

He will seem to be hovering motionless in the air.
Where then, is our frame of reference?
Men of science believe in a luminiferous ether.
The ether itself remains motionless as the light
like the wind through a grove of trees.

If there be any relative motion
between the earth and the luminiferous space,
it must be quite small.
Suppose we fasten a balloon by a string.
Suppose the time needed by light to traverse space.
For the speed of light always remains the same.

Interesting things happen to such objects.
The dot-man is taking a walk.
Since he would be familiar only with a two-dimensional world,
the ball would resemble a pancake.
The answer to all three questions is “yes.”

For one thing, the speed of light is the ultimate speed.
Also, we must remember that at speeds approaching that of light, time is
slowed up.
The observer inside the box would discover that he is in a gravitational forecefield
Just what happened to the dot-man,
who had returned to the place from which he started out?

Source: The Book of Popular Science, Volume 4

Method: I am fascinated by old science texts and found this one on the shelves of a friend’s house. I was drawn to the section on the theories of relativity partially because I realized I lacked this foundational scientific knowledge. While reading, I was struck by the weight of some of the language that, while technical, traverses the realms of the mysterious and cosmic. I highlighted phrases I found surprisingly lyrical, then cut, re-ordered, and clarified where necessary.

Sophie Newman is an incoming MFA candidate in creative nonfiction at The Ohio State University. Born in Berkeley and raised on the Central California Coast, she moved to Houston to earn her B.A. in English from Rice University, where she was the recipient of the Inprint Marion Barthelme Prize in Creative Writing.

Benjamin Niespodziany It's a Crime

IT’S A CRIME

 

Source & Method: These were originally lyrics from Roc Marciano’s opening song “It’s a Crime” off of his debut album, 2010’s Marcberg. The lyricism is packed with bravado gangster rap and I’ve attempted to turn it into a magical and surreal circus.

Benjamin Niespodziany is a night librarian at the University of Chicago. He runs the multimedia art blog [neonpajamas] and has had work published in Ghost City Press, Pithead Chapel (forthcoming), formercactus, Occulum, and a small batch of others.

Ariane Lewis

A PASSING TRAIN

Most experiences are
unsayable,
they happen in a space
that no word
has ever entered;

Go into yourself.

in the deepest and most
important matters,
we are unspeakably
alone;

And the point is,
to live everything.
To walk inside yourself
and meet no one
for hours – we must

trust in what is difficult;

Perhaps everything
that frightens us
is something helpless
that wants our love.

life has not forgotten you

let us wait for what wants to come.

Source: Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

Method: Every word was found in Letters to a Young Poet. They remain unchanged and in the same chronological order as they appeared in the letters Rainer Maria Rilke wrote to Franz Xaver Kappus. The lines reached out to me as a comprehensive whole, so I simply allowed Rilke to inspire me in order to put the pieces together.

Ariane Lewis lives in Connecticut where she works as a puzzle editor and technical writer. Her poetry has appeared in both Foothill: a journal of poetry and Rufous Salon Journal.