Month: October 2018


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.)


by Cathy Lennon


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.



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.


10/15 • Charles Wyatt
10/17 • Sarah Swandell
10/22 • Dhrithi Arun
10/29 • Heather Altfeld
11/05 • Laton Carter
11/12 • Connor McDonald
11/19 • Dan Crawley
11/26 • Bruce Robinson
12/03 • Marina Carreira
12/10 • Edwin Litts
12/17 • Christopher James
12/24 • Bree Pie
12/31 • Sara Backer