Jerry Dennis

Issue 20

Eclipse Sonnet

Darkness is really coming on us now.
It is an unhealthy and unnatural
sort of dark. The brilliant light of the South
Seas, the blues and greens of the sun, are now
all as though washed down by dirty color.
Darkness is now really upon us. We
see the diamond ring, that famous circle
around the moon. We see the sun-streamers
breaking through the mountains of the moon. We
see for the first time the magnificence
of the corona extending in great
streamers away. Darkness is on us now.
It is an unnatural sort of light.
Darkness is really coming on us now.


Source & Method

Assembled almost verbatim from the transcript of a CBS radio broadcast by correspondent William Perry on location in Peru during the total solar eclipse of June 8, 1937. Transcript published in Natural History Magazine, July 1991, p. 83.

Jerry Dennis writes nonfiction books for a living (The Living Great Lakes, The Windward Shore, etc.) and enjoys composing brief works that sometimes appear in PANK, Michigan Quarterly Review, Right Hand Pointing, and elsewhere. (www.jerrydennis.net)


Photo by Cherry Laithang

Cindy Bousquet Harris

Issue 20

Hunter’s Moon

You start this poem by the want of it,
from the darkness of its long and stony sleep,
scared of the circles time takes.
You reach for echoes from the mouth;
some repetitions are made to be music.


Source & Method

“Hunter’s Moon” is a cento of lines from poems in The Bombay Review, by Tikuli, Margot Block, John Koshy, Samuel Oluwatobi-Olatunji, Madhura Banerjee, and Vibhuti Gour.

Cindy Bousquet Harris is a poet, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and an editor at Spirit Fire Review. Her poems can be found in Nostos Literary Journal, Pomona Valley Review, Inlandia: A Literary Journey, and several anthologies.


Photo by Lauren McConachie

Cindy Bousquet Harris

Issue 20

questions don’t have to

wild garden,

swing the

long-stemmed
thunder,

light

the
snow

and other summers,

break

what never asks

my
heart

to

come alive.


Source & Method

“questions don’t have to” is an erasure poem from Ben Angel’s interview of poet R.T. Sedgwick, in A Word with You Press.

Cindy Bousquet Harris is a poet, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and an editor at Spirit Fire Review. Her poems can be found in Nostos Literary Journal, Pomona Valley Review, Inlandia: A Literary Journey, and several anthologies.


Photo by Trang Ta

F. J. Bergmann

Issue 20

Remorse

a thing dreamed

quiet, modest

troubling

laments

would spare

only birds

build a wild

little death

everywhere


Source & Method

an erasure of “A Dream of Trees” by Mary Oliver


F.J. Bergmann has never been to Niagara Falls, but is still under the impression that she would enjoy a honeymoon someday, preferably a cruise to an array of exoplanets.


Photo by Cristina Gottardi

Susan Olding

Issue 20

The Reckoning

Booksmart,
that’s me.

Come for the small plates,
Stay for the chatter.

Whereas she—
silk reeling energy—

bites the hand. Would rather
wail than whisper.

Mine now.
Scribe tied. Can’t

escape, can only slam,
clash, ding each other’s

armor. All that warm
poison. Encaustic.

But no, no. I’m never sorry
we adopted.


Source & Method

A cut up from half a dozen newspapers and magazines, including a community paper, movie and restaurant reviews in the Globe and Mail, and back issues of the New Yorker. No new words added.


Susan Olding is the author of Pathologies: A Life in Essays. Her poetry and prose have appeared journals and anthologies including Desperately Seeking Susans and In Fine Form.


Photo by Walter Lee Olivares de la Cruz

Susan Olding

Issue 20

Second Conjugation

The yips of coyotes echo
through the canyons
of our excellent architects.

Rats scrabble in the alleys.
This is not the first time.
It has all already happened.

The old answers will not answer.
Answer? Answer.
Answer!

Boots thud through empty
corridors. Strings
snap, a sharp note scrapes the air.

Elevators dangle
from their severed cables.
The old answers equal terror.

Add terror to terror, twice terror. Multiply
by ten. Subtract six sunny afternoons but don’t
delude yourselves—the next wind

will still stink of kerosene.
Grass catches faster when it’s hot.
A sad sharp note shatters glass.

Broken glass feeds the heat.
Are we afraid of the fire
or of ourselves?

Water is a portable soul.
You can march a boot to water
but you can’t make it

drink deep, deep into her peerless eye.
Those tears don’t signify.
Just a speck of glass from the recent blast.

Happiness is limited
not incorporated. Our excellent architects
have not mastered its plan.


Source & Method

Translitic from exercise 176 in The First Latin Book, William Coe Collar and Moses Grant Daniell. Boston: Ginn & Company, 1897, p. 69.


Susan Olding is the author of Pathologies: A Life in Essays. Her poetry and prose have appeared journals and anthologies including Desperately Seeking Susans and In Fine Form.


Photo by Velizar Ivanov

Cindy Veach

Issue 20

At the Threshold

Salem Witch Trials Tercentenary Memorial

 

Slabs of worn stone, inscribed—

For my life now lies in your hands

Gray slabs that do not touch

On my dying day, I am no witch

Where their words slide under

If I would confess I should save my life

Mid-sentence

I do plead not guilty

Before the mute tombstones

God knows I am innocent

Where the tourists mill

I am wholly innocent of such wickedness

And pose for selfies

Oh Lord help me


Source & Method

Lines in italics are taken from the Salem Witch Trials Tercentenary Memorial, Salem, MA. 

https://historyofmassachusetts.org/salem-witch-trials-memorial/

“The memorial consists of 20 granite benches surrounded by a low stone wall. The stone slabs in the entryway to the memorial are inscribed with the victim’s protests, which were taken directly from the court records. The Salem Witch Trials Tercentenary Memorial attempts to give form to concepts of injustice…The designers approached the idea of injustice through four words: Silence, Deafness, Persecution and Memory. To represent silence, they graded and organized the site to emphasize the surrounding tombstones as mute watchers looking into the memorial. For deafness, they inscribed the historical protests of innocence on the entry threshold and had them slide under the stone wall in mid-sentence. For persecution, they planted black locust trees, from which the accused believed to have been hanged. For memory, they enscribed the names, dates, and manners of death on stone slabs, which were then cantilevered from the stone wall as benches.” 

Kennedy, Alicia and Sheri Olsen, Theresa Morrow. The Best of Cutler Anderson Architects. Rockport, 2008.


Cindy Veach is the author of Gloved Against Blood (CavanKerry Press), named a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize and a ‘Must Read’ by The Massachusetts Center for the Book. Her poems have appeared in the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day, AGNI, Prairie Schooner, Michigan Quarterly Review, Diode and elsewhere.


Photo by Johnny Cohen

Temidayo Jacob

Issue 20

brutal tenderness


Source & Method

An erasure was made out of “River”, a poem by Frank O’Hara.

Temidayo Jacob is a Sociologist who writes from the North Central part of Nigeria. He is passionate about espousing the conflict between the individual and the society, especially through identity, sexuality and conformity. He is the author of Beauty Of Ashes. He is a curator at Artmosterrific. Temidayo’s works have appeared and are forthcoming on Rattle, Outcast Magazine, Lucent Dreaming, Kalahari Review, Peeking Cat Poetry, Sub-Saharan magazine, Page Adventure, and others. Twitter @BoyUntouched.

Sarah Plummer

Issue 20

Craigslist Unwanted Plants

I.

Free, free, free.

I would hate to cut these up, if someone could use these.

If the ad is still up,
they are still here.

One hedge bush,
and the other has yellow flowers in the spring.

II.

Water lilies are taking over our pond.

Help thin them out!

If you respond, please send your number.

I’ll call you.
Free water lilies.

III.

Unknown plant growing from tennis ball left in rain.
Come buy it and keep it growing.

Maybe you’ll have a tree one day,
or a rose,
you never know.


Source & Method

These found texts come from Craigslist (1 and 2) and Facebook marketplace (3) from June 2014 through December 2019. I do not add text to the ads, but I do manipulate the text in terms of punctuation and order.


Sarah Plummer is a doctoral student at Virginia Tech studying circus, politics, and social order. She is an Appalachian who, in a former life, worked as a journalist in southern West Virginia.


Photo by Andisheh A

Lita Kurth

Issue 20

Poem from Creative Writing Students

 

I am relearning this garden of my own making

I vow to be different.

As I move away from waiting rooms and call lights,

I enter a realm of quietness.

The walls are plastered with black trash bags.

I dunno why I’m here, man, I got shit to do.

Let me try this again

I should be worshipped and feared like a god.

Six people are snorting what looks like blow

They are almost like cats in a way

“No! My pie!” Sue cries from the kitchen.

These goddamn antics weary me,

Why do you really need a five-foot kazoo?

Let’s just make a drink with the juice and Malibu

I basically feel like a water balloon.

Tom smells like an apple tree

I have to sit on him (gently)

People jump up and down on their cars

throwing toilet paper

No traditional furniture in sight

The clocks stopped working about five days ago

“So tell me straight, are you sure you’ll be fine in America?”


Source & Method

Poetry, short stories, and creative nonfiction of my writing students at De Anza College, Fall 2019. I wanted to include a line from each student’s work, so I chose ones that fit into a sort of narrative about my own teaching and life in the current moment.


Lita Kurth is a teacher and nominee for several Best of the Net and Pushcart Prizes in multiple genres, Lita Kurth also writes novels. As a current project, she sends lesson plans and feedback to a group of incarcerated poets.


 

Ben Drum

Issue 20

CPR

 

How will I live with the new, glorified body at this distance,
engrossed in the weekly drama of post-traumatic stress and growth still thriving today?

In one episode, the cook freaks out
and begins a scathing critique of the Lazarus phenomenon.
Mouth-to-mouth breathing was heard all around the common room.
The candle hollers, the patient dies,
accused of stealing the rhythm of your chest.

It was a reversal of how the heart came running down the pitch,
a moment at which an individual questions futility.
It was more about status than appetite.

His wife shares her own love story:
a monkey tried to mimic the clinically dead state to its friend,
which had reportedly been electrocuted.
Unfortunately, the procedure was not effective.


Source & Method

I put the title into Google with various search terms including “Britney Spears”, “false”, “fake”, “artificial”, “death”, “cook”, “body”. “PTSD”, “monkey”, “effective”, and “college”. Text was lifted from the first 2 search result pages and rearranged to form the poems.


Ben Drum is a physician-writer in Salt Lake City, UT. He received his BA in Creative Writing as well as his MD at the University of Washington.


Photo by Robina Weermeijer

Jacquelyn Shah

Issue 20

 

Head without Premeditation


Nothing exists until its moment of absence.
Then, from the highest tower of absence
the passion of events––
the rising moon of eyelashes sparkles
and it’s in words the morning comes flowing,
the sun arriving on a head of steam.

Everything opens up, endless petals, the smell of wild medicine,
the tissue that death was binding around you,
molluscs and verses, slugs and a curl,
the plucked angel’s wing,
powerful soulquakes.

Everything was shooting up from
an undulating, twining root
wriggling out of dense red darkness,
struggling with its mute lament.
Waiting buds in suspended animation
come, breathe close with me.

Alone, you listen to the dark dissolving,
heavy with the rain of all eyes.
Light is close sometimes,
besieged by obstacles
in unorganized sentence fragments
until the wind is the only word
hewn from darkness, forged from light.

What boils in me darkly
is heard no more. Now, silence––
the silence is cold enough to split a rock.
That singular voice has stopped. Silence is complete,
I breathe happiness instead of air.



Source & Method

Cento––lines, in order of appearance, from: Luljeta Lleshanaku, Alejandra Pizarnik, Ewa Lipska, Halina Poświatowska, Janina Degutyte, Agnes Nemes Nagy, Anuradha Mahapatra, Sophia de Mello Breyner, Elena Shvarts, Radmila Lazić, Dahlia Ravikovitch, Sylva Fischerova, Claribel Alegria, Chimako Tada, Rachel Korn, Shu Ting, Patrizia Cavalli, Claire Malroux, Ingeborg Bachmann, Lorna Goodison, Veronica Volkow, Flora Imre, Tishani Doshi, Wisława Szymborska, Anna Hajnal, Anna Swir, Vénus Khoury-Ghata, Anna Akhmatova, Anna Swir; Title: Wisława Szymborska


Jacquelyn Shah, M.A., M.F.A., Ph.D.–English literature, creative writing–poetry. Has published full-length poetry book: What to Do with Red (2018). Specializing, at present, in centos.


Photo by Annie Spratt

Lynn Finger

Issue 20

Awkward Goodbyes


Summer had been so hot the things we touched burned our hands.
The sky wasn’t black or blue but the dying green of night.
Stars had closed their eyes or sheathed their knives.

I used to think pain was meaningful. I no longer
think pain is meaningful.

The flawed moon acts on the truth, and makes
an autumn of tentative silences.
Sort of a solution to awkward goodbyes.

I held a penny on my
tongue. The taste shocked me,
its brown-gold sweet. I suppose
there are grips from which
even angels cannot fly.

Did you think I would not change?



Source & Method

Natalie Diaz, “My Brother at 3 am,” Denise Levertov, “Everything that Acts is Actual,” William Hathaway, “Betrayal,” Hera Lindsay Bird, “Pyramid Scheme,” Faith Shearin, “Blue Elvis,” Cathy Linh Che, “I Walked through the Trees, Mourning,” Mary Szybist, “In Tennessee I Found a Firefly.”

Lynn Finger holds a B.A. in Humanities. One of her poems won second place this year in the college publication, Sandscript, and third place in the Regional Division. Lynn is in a group that mentors writers in prison.


Photo by Siora Photography

Suzanne Frischkorn

Issue 20

Rural Community Page


My son saw a medium-sized pig
run across Hill Road—
///////in case anyone is missing one.

There are two pigs that live
on the end of that road.
What was her coloring? Tiffany,
was Arya on the loose?

The Cross Highway goats are standing
on the roof of a car. A goat share ride
on Goats Highway. Pettigoat Junction— a town
///////where nature’s critters roam free.

Hatched cicada chillin’ poolside.
Anyone else have any sightings?

Pug! (looks like)
There is a pug (dark brown,
or black) with collar at field
near Black Rock Turnpike. Will not
come to us—do not want
it to run onto 58!!!! Anyone???

///////Any fresh eggs nearby?

Two dogs running on Seventy Acre, they ran
when I opened the car door.

Racoon? More than likely.
Yes, because of the thumb.
I agree. Looks rather large.
Better lock your windows and doors.

Around 4 PM today a German Shepherd
trotted through our yard.
Anyone missing a dog?

I saw the Monarch caterpillar
but he is gone now. What should
I look for next?

Can anyone tell me if our ducks
are both females? They look
like it to me, but who knows?
There’s been some questionable activity.

Someone is dumping Koi
in Huntington Park. I saw
two giants swimming today
while I was fishing.

Hawks at the community garden.

Anyone know the rules for a cow
on property? Acreage needed?

Spectacular sunset over the barn tonight.

Egg table is out at Old Redding Road!

Missing cat. Answers to Merlin.
All black. Reward for his safe return.

Long Ridge railroad crossing is open—
North and South Redding are reunited!
We should have a parade!



Source & Method

This poem is a collage made of text found in the Redding CT 411 community page on Facebook. I moved to Redding a few years ago and was struck immediately by the difference in tone, and consternations, on the Redding community page from the page of the small industrial city where we had previously lived. I love this small rural community and all of its different voices; I hope that comes through in this collage.


Suzanne Frischkorn is the author of Lit Windowpane (2008), Girl on a Bridge, (2010) and five chapbooks. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including Copper Nickel, Diode, Ecotone, Indiana Review, Puerto del Sol, and Verse Daily.


Photo by Monica Bourgeau

Scott T. Hutchison

Issue 20

American Bittersweet


-United States Department of Agriculture/
Natural Resources Conservation Services

Summer foliage followed by
orange and red fruits, colorful berries
and arils, shrubby vines forming low
thick stands from root suckers,
clambering and climbing onto fences
and trees, broadly twining twisting
of the stem, creeping, fragrant small flowers
greenish-white or greenish-yellow in clusters
growing in rich or swampy woods
appearing weedy in disturbed areas
thickets, roadsides, field edges
can girdle and kill live plants
used for support, grows over
uprooting by force
of its massive weight

all parts are poisonous,
but for songbirds, ruffed grouse
pheasant and fox squirrel
who eat the fruits
used in dry flowers
winter decorations
twisting of the stem
leaves are glabrous
fruits, globose
seeds in bright scarlet
climbing bittersweet
false bittersweet
climbing orange-root
Jacob’s-ladder
fever-twitch
fever-twig


Source & Method

United States Department of Agriculture/Natural Resources Conservation Services. Straightforward information in their plant guide that, to my ear, sounded like music. Picked pieces, rearranged.


Scott T. Hutchison has work in The Georgia Review and The Southern Review. Poems are forthcoming in Appalachian Heritage, Concho River Review, Louisiana Literature, The Naugatuck River Review, Red Dirt Forum, Steam Ticket and Tar River Poetry. A new book of poetry, Moonshine Narratives, is available from Main Street Rag Publishing.


Photo by Matt Hoffman