M

Month: October 2018

Magnetic

by Heather Altfeld

Who returns to the same place
as though the anniversary of its absence
was in need of a reminder of its presence?
Birds and murderers, stricken as they are
by the power of wings and blood.

Heather Altfeld is a poet and essayist. Her first book of poetry, “The Disappearing Theatre” won the Poets at Work Prize, selected by Stephen Dunn. She is the recipient of the 2017 Robert H. Winner Award with the Poetry Society of America and the 2015 Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. Her poems and essays appear in The Georgia Review, Lit Hub, Narrative Magazine, Conjunctions, Pleiades, Poetry Northwest, ZYZZYVA, The Los Angeles Review, and other literary journals.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Magnetic”?

My name is Heather Altfeld, and I have a long-form problem… That is to say, I have very, very few poems that are less than a page long, and I feel somehow that my work is ‘incomplete’ if it is short. I am usually not much of a candidate for the Compressed Arts! But I began a longer poem about the idea of “returning” earlier this summer and decided to see what would happen if I broke the poem into several poems rather than trying to exert my usual stretching force upon it. San Quentin is the imagined setting here, with its strangely gorgeous view of the entire San Francisco Bay, the cacophony of marsh hawks and herons and humans who suffer and caused suffering all present in the same landscape.

To Ye Globular Clusters That Seek To Undo Me

by Dhrithi Arun

Dhrithi.R.Arun is an aspiring 17-year-old journalist from Bangalore, India. She is currently a socio-political writer for Affinity Magazine. Her works have been published in the likes of The Times of India and the Huffington Post. She is an ardent enthusiast for all things literary, dramatic and expressive. Follow her @ArunDhrithi on Twitter.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “To Ye Globular Clusters That Seek To Undo Me”?

When I was a child, I was frequently cautioned against self-afflicting behavior through the use of foreboding tales, woven together to ensure my obedience. “To Ye Globular Clusters That Seek To Undo Me”, was created as a reflection on such experiences. The poem is an attempt to offer an insight into the internal recesses of a young girl’s mind, who is beginning to grow skeptical about the words she is fed. I sought to use the apple seeds as a metaphor for the falsehoods we grow accustomed to, tying into the warning of a mother to her daughter that swallowing apple seeds will lead to apple trees growing within her. It’s a humorous testament to the culture of attempting to shape our children’s character with well-intentioned fibs. I used a concrete poetry style to juxtapose the superficial visual whimsy of childhood yarning against its subtler implications on our ability to digest information with unquestionable trust in the future.

Imprint

by Sarah Swandell
[Editor’s Note: Click on the triptych below to view it at full size.]

Sarah Swandell is a writer, pastor, and songwriter in North Carolina. Her work has appeared in The Christian Century, devo’zine, and Dime Show Review. Find her album at sarahswandell.com.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Imprint”?

  • Many of the facts are from The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead.
  • When Lysol was advertised as a douche, “feminine hygiene” was code for “contraception,” and “germs” = “sperm.”
  • Imprint” is the first fiction I’ve written in two decades. Then again, it has a lot of autobiographical elements — I was just too afraid to tell the truest story.
  • I decided to make “Imprint” dark and weird, because as I read the Journal’s pieces, I thought they were all dark and weird.

Oxeye Daisy Leucanthemum vulgare

by Charles Wyatt

Oh moonpenny, dog daisy
poorland flower, poverty weed
gather your skirts about you
your white ray florets

Let us sing of creeping rhizomes
of ribbed seed
viable in soil for 39 years
dark daisy, death daisy

Light up the earth
hand in hand with moldering
fairies, oh human child
gather with your brethren

On the surface of the earth
make a sea of white so many eyes
unwinking make this as happy
as a poem can ever be

Throw overboard your shallow roots
Hold out your broad arms
and begin to sing
So long your silence

Charles Wyatt is the author of two collections of short fiction, a novella, and two poetry collections. He lives in Nashville, TN where he was principal flutist of the Nashville Symphony for 25 years.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Oxeye Daisy”?

“Oxeye Daisy” comes from a sequence called Weeds. In a New York Times interview, Paul Auster said a book called Weeds of the West was on his nightstand. I found it used and began a short sequence. I wanted the poems themselves to look like weeds. Most of them are skinny. I abandoned the sequence after a short time but a few journals have found them interesting. Maybe I’ll give it another go.

Incidentally, let me recommend a related book: Weeds, In Defense of Nature’s Most Unloved Plants, Richard Mabey. (The book focuses on weeds and their place in the general ecology.)

Kierkegaard

by Cathy Lennon

(more…)

Malahat Highway On Boxing Day

by Jill Talbot

We pass a street with the same name as my mother. We pass signs and car headlights like a pinball machine. I don’t remember the name for home. Everything looks like a toy when you’re on a soma holiday. I know someone named Duncan. Better to share a name with a town than a street, but my mother has both. I guess better yet to have a name of a country. Sweden? Argentina? They don’t make soma like they did in the movies. Every turn makes me nauseous. I think of the dead rat on my porch left to me as a gift from Secret Santa. There were snowflakes taped to the wall of the library with masking tape holding them in place. I thought the point of snowflakes is that they fall. Snow falls in a forest as we fall, not knowing whether or not it’s better to be captured or forgotten. I almost thought the rat was a toy. Its teeth poked out of its mouth like it were clawing out of womb and strangled with its umbilical cord. Once I took an extended holiday and the smell of dead rat got in all of my clothes and everything. We pass a snowman that gives me the finger. I blew a kiss back just to prove I will not be broken. A powerline falls.


Jill M. Talbot’s writing has appeared in Geist, Rattle, subTerrain, PRISM, The Stinging Fly, and others. Jill won the PRISM Grouse Grind Lit Prize. She was shortlisted for the Matrix Lit POP Award and the Malahat Far Horizons Award. Jill lives on Gabriola Island, BC.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “MALAHAT HIGHWAY ON BOXING DAY”?

    I’m not sure what to say about it. I have written quite a bit on the Greyhound trip—from Nanaimo BC to Victoria BC and back. It was Christmas time and I always get a lot of writing around that time because it makes me sad. Otherwise all I really remember is being very close to broken. Perhaps also the tape–I’m not sure why the tape holding up the snowflakes got to me so much but it did. Imagining things like snowmen coming to life is what’s saved me during times like these. I wonder if a Greyhound trip can change one into a different person. Some of my writing feels like it was written by someone else. Like I too am held together by tape.

The Minor Deities

by Marc J. Sheehan

Praise be to the Bodhisattva of Junk Drawers, who refuses Nirvana until the last stray key has been reunited with its lock; until all the unopened locks have remembered the combination to their past lives; until the dead laser pointers are resurrected and the cats who once chased their tracers brought back from the ashes. And ask for wishes, or understanding, from the Djinn of Bottles You’ve Emptied Alone and the Archangel of Crying Over Stupid Movies. Or beseech the Patron Saint of the Obsolete, who once played you the hymns of Patsy Cline – the Goddess of Heartbreak – on your Ford Pinto’s 8-track player. The Major Deities see the wars, but not the soldiers; observe the dance of super-galaxies, but not our footprints on dusty floors; give witness to all yesterdays and tomorrows, but are blind to today. Therefore, entreat the Spirit of Abandoned Coin Collections to fill the most precious circles in your half-full Books of Years. And sing the off-key psalms of the Seraph of Could Have Been Famous. And wipe away the tears that the God of Will It Never Stop Raining spills endlessly. And pray to the Divine Keeper of Warranties to fix you when you break, and forgive you for not sending your card in when you were whole and had the chance.

 

Marc J. Sheehan is the author of three poetry collections, most recently, Limits to the Salutary Effects of Upper-Midwestern Melancholy, from Split Rock Review. His flash fiction has been featured on NPR’s Three-Minute Fiction series, and Selected Shorts. He lives in Grand Haven, Michigan.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “The Minor Deities”?

As I get older I’m increasingly unsure where a piece of writing comes from. Or, at least, I increasingly don’t remember the initial impulse. However, having written many failed poems and stories over the years I have developed a mental junk drawer full of images that still haunt me, having not exorcised them properly the first time around. Here, the images of the coin collection books and the dusty footprints were both in earlier pieces I wrote, which ultimately didn’t come together. Also, I just love Patsy Cline and beater cars, and feel nostalgic about things like 8-track players. I guess this piece is a sort of Cornell box that allowed me to put these disparate images together in what I hope is some kind of harmony.

News

Submissions

Poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction/prose poetry submissions are now open. Check out our new category triptychs! The submission period closes December 15, 2108; submit here.

Upcoming

12/10 • Edwin Litts
12/13 • Rachel Voss
12/17 • Christopher James
12/20 • Sarah Cheshire
12/24 • Bree Pye
12/26 • Marlene Buono
12/31 • Sara Backer
01/07 • Kim Magowan
01/09 • Michael Gerard
01/14 • Justin Herrmann
01/16 • Charles Holdefer
01/21 • Su-Yee Lin
01/23 • Paul-Victor Winters
01/28 • Nathan Long
01/30 • Bailey Cunningham
02/04 • Paul Crenshaw
02/06 • Jennifer Wortman
02/11 • Kevin McLellan
02/13 • Sue Mell
02/18 • Emanuele Pettener
02/20 • Marge Simon
02/25 • Jeff Friedman
02/27 • Heather Bourbeau
03/04 • Dennis Mombauer
03/06 • Robyn Groth
03/11 • Jacqueline Doyle
03/13 • Dawn Vogel
03/18 • Tamara Gane
03/20 • Tiff Holland
03/25 • Sara Crowley
03/27 • Hannah van Didden