by Gail Goepfert


          —The Wounded Table, 1940

Not saints, you and I,
          but may I please,
          please, be seated
          with you at the wounded table.
Let us exact from each other
          all manner of loosening
                    the pull of honeyed tongues,
          the sharp-boned
          cinch of hands—
loss and pain vined
          about our necks.

It is hard to weep
          when living
has made us strong.

You and I, we must warble—
          to redden our stone-
bleached hearts.


Gail Goepfert, an associate editor at RHINO Poetry, is a Midwest poet and photographer. She teaches poetry at National Louis University. She has two published books—A Mind on Pain in 2015 and Tapping Roots 2018. Get Up Said the World will appear in 2020 from Červená Barva Press. Recent publications include Kudzu House, Stone Boat, Postcard Poems and Prose Magazine, Bluestem, Open: Journal of Arts and Letters, SWWIM, and Beloit Poetry Journal. More at gailgoepfert.com.


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

“The Wounded Table” is one of Frida Kahlo’s most haunting image-rich paintings depicting a skeleton, children, a figure wearing overalls typical of Diego Rivera, Frida’s often unfaithful lover/husband, and blood oozing from a human-legged table–all symbolic of the brokenness and desolation she felt during much of her life–a result she attributed to betrayal by people and her own body. The painting represents Kahlo’s harsh reality, but one I felt I understood. I wanted to identify with Frida in this poem, to acknowledge personal imperfections, a clear lack of saintliness, but also to be the advocate, the voice that said: Do not despair. We are strong. Suffering has made us that way.


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Matter Press recently released titles from Meg Boscov, Abby Frucht, Robert McBrearty, Tori Bond, Kathy Fish, and Christopher Allen. Click here.

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Poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction/prose poetry submissions are now open. The reading period for standard submissions closes again June 15, 2023. Submit here.


08/21 • Annie Marhefka
08/28 • Jamey Temple
09/04 • Joanna Acevedo
09/11 • Mykyta Ryzhykh
09/18 • Anna Pembroke
09/25 • Matt Barrett
10/02 • Tommy Dean
10/09 • Deborah Thompson
10/16 • Nicolette Jane