M

Month: April 2020

Fractured Tarot for the Anthropocene (5 of 10)

by Sarah Sousa

 

 

 

Sarah Sousa is the author of the poetry collections See the Wolf, named a 2019 ‘Must Read’ book by the Massachusetts Center for the Book, Split the Crow and Church of Needles, as well as the chapbooks Yell, which won the Summer Tide Pool Prize at C&R Press, and Hex which won the 2019 Cow Creek Chapbook Prize. Her poems have appeared in the Massachusetts Review, North American Review, the Southern Poetry Review, Verse Daily and Tupelo Quarterly, among others. Her honors include a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship and a Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship. She is a member of the board of directors of Perugia Press.

 

See what happens when you click below.

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

Around 13 vintage source texts went into the creation of these tarot cards, as well as original watercolor and gouache art and some ink prints for backgrounds. My favorite source texts are old Boy Scout and Cub Scout manuals from the 40s to 60s. They’re loaded with interesting drawings, illustrations and text. The found poem on the three of swords card: “How well do you know America- how much does it mean to you?” was from a chapter on citizenship in one of these manuals. The guns in that collage are from ads in the backs of the books. I’m also drawn to images in vintage magazines, botanic and wildlife guides.

My Sister Is Writing a Memoir

by JC Reilly

 

and I’m
hardly in it,
except
as that odd
teaspoon
of vanilla
a recipe calls for,
inexplicably,
in a chocolate
cake.

 

JC Reilly’s most recent collection, What Magick May Not Alter, will be out in April from Madville Publishing. She serves as the Managing Editor of the Atlanta Review. When she’s not writing she plays tennis or practices her Italian (badly). Follow her @Aishatonu.

 

See what happens when you click below.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “My Sister Is Writing a Memoir”?

I knew the memoir that my sister was writing was focused on her relationship with her best childhood friend, Lisa. In fact, they were writing the memoir together. But when I read an early draft, it was almost as if she didn’t have a sister at all, and I was completely flummoxed (and maybe a little hurt). So I think I wrote the poem “My Sister Is Writing a Memoir” as a way to write myself back into literary existence–but used the metaphor of vanilla to demonstrate how insignificant I am to her book. (Also, why DO we put a teaspoon of vanilla into chocolate cake batter? That seems bonkers.)

The Hot Air Balloon

by Christopher James

 

When he was a young boy, his family took him to ride a hot air balloon. On the way there, the mother described the view from on high. You can see everything, she said, and the houses are so small they look like lego. But when the balloon was only six feet above the ground, the father stopped it. This is far enough for us, he told his son. He kept them there until the boy was old enough to take his own balloons, but by then, unfortunately, the boy had already forgotten that balloons could reach for the sky.

 

Christopher James lives, works and writes in Jakarta, Indonesia. He has been published online in Booth, SmokeLong, Tin House, and Wigleaf, among others. He is the editor of Jellyfish Review

 

See what happens when you click below.

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

I don’t know if this is fascinating or surprising, but I was reading a lot of Osama Alomar. He’s a wonderful writer who creates these very concise, very beautiful, very thought provoking stories. I wanted to write something in a similar spirit, and had been batting around a hot air balloon idea for a while. When it came, I jumped out of bed at five in the morning and this poured out almost exactly the way it is now. Love it when that happens!

Fractured Tarot for the Anthropocene (4 of 10)

by Sarah Sousa

 

 

 

Sarah Sousa is the author of the poetry collections See the Wolf, named a 2019 ‘Must Read’ book by the Massachusetts Center for the Book, Split the Crow and Church of Needles, as well as the chapbooks Yell, which won the Summer Tide Pool Prize at C&R Press, and Hex which won the 2019 Cow Creek Chapbook Prize. Her poems have appeared in the Massachusetts Review, North American Review, the Southern Poetry Review, Verse Daily and Tupelo Quarterly, among others. Her honors include a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship and a Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship. She is a member of the board of directors of Perugia Press.

 

See what happens when you click below.

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

Around 13 vintage source texts went into the creation of these tarot cards, as well as original watercolor and gouache art and some ink prints for backgrounds. My favorite source texts are old Boy Scout and Cub Scout manuals from the 40s to 60s. They’re loaded with interesting drawings, illustrations and text. The found poem on the three of swords card: “How well do you know America- how much does it mean to you?” was from a chapter on citizenship in one of these manuals. The guns in that collage are from ads in the backs of the books. I’m also drawn to images in vintage magazines, botanic and wildlife guides.

Field Girl

by Sara Backer

 

Field.
Girl.
Barn.
Girl.
Hay.
Sunlight between boards.
Girl.
Where are the kittens?
Girl.
Door.
Man.
Oh, no, not the man.
Run, girl!
But she wants to find the kittens.
His hand.
Her hair.

Suddenly, she is three girls thinking.
Don’t touch my hair!
Why is he touching my hair?
Maybe I’m supposed to let him touch my hair.

It’s just hair.
She says nothing.

But it isn’t nothing
and she will not speak for a long time.

 

Sara Backer’s first book of poetry, Such Luck (Flowstone Press 2019) follows two poetry chapbooks: Scavenger Hunt (dancing girl press) and Bicycle Lotus (Left Fork), which won the Turtle Island Poetry Prize. She holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives in the Merrimack River watershed with white pines, red oaks, and black bears.

 

See what happens when you click below.

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

This poem was drafted in my mind one night at 4:30 AM. I was too stressed to sleep, thinking about fire and virus and politics. I thought about how ye olde childhood trauma primes the brain to accept more trauma, and I thought about nouns. Could I write a poem with nouns? I didn’t want to get out of bed so I memorized lines to remember them and when I finally typed it up, I liked the way repeated words mirrored the way the mind jumps around fitting pieces together. How something small turns into a life-shaping event

CNF: They Pulled a 17 Ft Python Out of Big Cypress National Preserve

by Christen Noel Kauffman

 

Show me the belly of the swamp, how they pull her over crawfish mounds and the neckbone of a deer. Everyone watches her body stretched head to tip – marvels at the length of her spine and the gape of her jaw unhinged. They open her up to see what grows inside, count the seventy-three eggs she carried over mangrove roots, arthritic fingers holding the river in. When they say she’s gone, I imagine her coiled around the body of an egret, a perfect spiral tucked in the shallow stream. I pretend extraction means reborn in an Asian marsh. That her incisions have been pieced back together with a horsetail thread. See how her children have all hatched clean, their bellies filled with bouquets of white down.

 

Christen Noel Kauffman lives in Richmond, Indiana with her husband and two wild daughters. Her work can be found in journals such as Cherry Tree, Booth, Willow Springs, The Cincinnati Review. DIAGRAM, and The Normal School, among others.

 

See what happens when you click below.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “They Pulled a 17 Ft Python Out of Big Cypress National Preserve”?

I wrote this flash nonfiction piece while working on a chapbook manuscript about the difficulties of new motherhood during the first couple of months after having my second daughter. I kept coming back to mothers in nature and climate change and this idea of taking care of children in a world that’s out of our control. I remember reading an article where scientists pulled this enormous snake out of the Florida swamp and the details of inspecting her body and counting her eggs and there was a connection in that. I felt for this snake and her children that would never hatch. This piece emerged as a way for me to imagine a better ending for her, and in many ways hoping for a happy ending for myself after postpartum. Other than a few minor changes, this piece has stayed very close to how I wrote it that first afternoon, holding a baby that wouldn’t sleep consistently until many, many months later.

Fractured Tarot for the Anthropocene (3 of 10)

by Sarah Sousa

 

 

 

Sarah Sousa is the author of the poetry collections See the Wolf, named a 2019 ‘Must Read’ book by the Massachusetts Center for the Book, Split the Crow and Church of Needles, as well as the chapbooks Yell, which won the Summer Tide Pool Prize at C&R Press, and Hex which won the 2019 Cow Creek Chapbook Prize. Her poems have appeared in the Massachusetts Review, North American Review, the Southern Poetry Review, Verse Daily and Tupelo Quarterly, among others. Her honors include a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship and a Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship. She is a member of the board of directors of Perugia Press.

 

See what happens when you click below.

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

Around 13 vintage source texts went into the creation of these tarot cards, as well as original watercolor and gouache art and some ink prints for backgrounds. My favorite source texts are old Boy Scout and Cub Scout manuals from the 40s to 60s. They’re loaded with interesting drawings, illustrations and text. The found poem on the three of swords card: “How well do you know America- how much does it mean to you?” was from a chapter on citizenship in one of these manuals. The guns in that collage are from ads in the backs of the books. I’m also drawn to images in vintage magazines, botanic and wildlife guides.

An Inappropriate Psychic

by Robert Garner McBrearty

 

When I was a young man, I had my palm read by a psychic. She worked out of a café and she had a reputation of being accurate. She was in her early sixties, a little tired looking as if she had made a few too many predictions along the way. She did not go into a trance, but she assumed a quiet, concentrated demeanor as she traced my palm with her finger, frowning, shutting her eyes, speaking slowly and softly.

I had not gone into the session taking it all that seriously, but over the years some of her predictions have come true. She said that I would be married and have two children, one son and one daughter, and that has been the case. She said that I would go into the arts and have some minor success but make little money, and that too has been the case.

Unfortunately, she also predicted the year of my death. At the time, since I was only twenty, my death in late middle age seemed far away. Unfortunately, that year is upon me now and I’ve gotten a little jumpy. Recently, hoping for a second opinion, I consulted another psychic. She was young, a graduate of a school for psychics apparently, and a friend had recommended her. He found here a little assertive, but he trusted her. At her suggestion, he’d even put a little money into the stock market and made a few bucks.

When I told her about the first psychic’s prediction about my death, she exclaimed, “That is highly inappropriate! It’s extremely unethical to tell someone when they’re going to die!” She frowned at my palm, turned it this way and that, traced a line down the middle, paused with a tremble in her finger. “For instance, this interruption in the lifeline here might simply be a nick. Do you wear gloves when you work outdoors?” She sighed deeply. “That break could mean a lot of things. But…Be careful crossing streets. Don’t stay too long in one place. Set an unpredictable pattern. I will try to send you mental warnings.”

She’s been true to her word. I hear her voice now as I stand in a bank line, whispering I’m seeing masked robbers come through the lobby door. You’re the first one they shoot! Get down! Now!

On my belly, the floor smells of ammonia. I stare at the trouser cuffs of the man in line in front of me. With my nose near his legs, his calves shift nervously. He turns and frowns down at me. Really, I’m only on the floor for a moment. Maybe people thought I’d dropped something, or I could be an exercise junkie, working in a quick push-up or two. I bolt out of line and into the parking lot.

I’m a little angry with her. I don’t see any bank robbers coming in, I tell her. I feel like a fool.

Okay, dodged a bullet there, but watch out for a home invasion. Wait, don’t drive! I’m sensing an accident. Walk. No, take a bus. Get an Uber. Have your wife pick you up …Oh my, I’m tapping into a lot of negative energy! I see plagues coming your way, pestilence, war, famine, earthquakes, tornadoes. There are boils covering your body. Get your shingles shot! Watch out for rabies, tetanus. I keep getting these visions of sinkholes. How’s your blood pressure? Relax. Worry can kill you. There’s that sinkhole again. Better come in for another reading. That other psychic was so inappropriate!

 

Robert Garner McBrearty’s most recent book is a collection of stories, WHEN I CAN’T SLEEP, published by Matter Press. He’s the author of four other books of fiction, one which received a Sherwood Anderson Foundation Fiction Award. For many years, his stories have been appearing widely, including in the Pushcart Prize, Missouri Review, New England Review, North American Review, StoryQuarterly, New Flash Fiction Review and Fiction Southeast. His writing awards include a New Mexico State Arts Grant and fellowships to the MacDowell Colony and the Fine Arts Work Center. Currently, he teaches short story writing at Lighthouse Writers Workshop in the Denver area. He’s at work on another collection of stories.

 

See what happens when you click below.

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

I often write about an experience only after many years have passed, and the experience combines with other experiences and imaginings until it takes on the form of a story. In a way, it becomes easier to fictionalize long ago memories as they already are seen through the haze of time, drifting into a dream-like world. As in the story, when I was a young man, I had my fortune told by a psychic. When she told me how old I would be when I died, it seemed not too bad, a long way off, almost reassuring really. Some years later, I met another psychic at a social gathering who was outraged by that earlier prediction. I was intrigued by the notion of a psychic code of ethics. Still, there were more years to go before I put the two psychics together in a story, and there was still some piece missing. I started thinking about how a character might be quite anxious when that year arrived, and that merged with a kind of universal anxiety of the fate that hangs over us all, heightened by the anxiety of the age and yet timeless, biblical in the nature of the warnings the psychic sends.

An image stuck with me: a dark café, the psychic’s concentrated demeanor, her soft voice. I often don’t describe in great detail. I tend to use a more impressionistic touch. But certain images stay in my mind. If an image is held long enough, keeps resurfacing, there’s a story calling. Partly, it’s a matter of finding the way the pieces fit together, and rewriting is often about finding the missing pieces.

Provence

by Agnieszka Filipek

 

remember that summer when
we found an old box with dusty lavender
on the windowsill in that rented
room with a view in Provence
we threw it away
not knowing any better

in the morning as my foot
touched the white floor I saw
scorpions surrounding the bed
my screams must have woken
up the whole street

the housekeeper barged into the room
swept the scorpions off the ground
and threw them out the window
she waved her kitchen cloth at us
shouting something in French
none of us understood

then she pulled a box of lavender
out of the basket bin and put it
back on the windowsill with a smile

 

Agnieszka Filipek lives in Galway, Ireland. She writes in both, her native tongue Polish and in English, and also translates in these languages. Her poems have appeared in over 40 publications internationally, including countries, such as Poland, Ireland, India, Hong Kong, Bangladesh, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Germany, Canada and the United States. Visit www.agnieszkafilipek.com.

 

See what happens when you click below.

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

I was doing some research about scorpions and read that they don’t like lavender. Then I remembered the beautiful lavender fields stretching for miles in Provence. The people there put lavender on windowsills and around the house to keep insects out. I’ve travelled to France many times and wanted to write something about my time there. Thankfully, nothing like this ever happened to me, but as I began writing this poem, I imagined what could have transpired if the lavender wasn’t there.

Fractured Tarot for the Anthropocene (2 of 10)

by Sarah Sousa

 

 

 

Sarah Sousa is the author of the poetry collections See the Wolf, named a 2019 ‘Must Read’ book by the Massachusetts Center for the Book, Split the Crow and Church of Needles, as well as the chapbooks Yell, which won the Summer Tide Pool Prize at C&R Press, and Hex which won the 2019 Cow Creek Chapbook Prize. Her poems have appeared in the Massachusetts Review, North American Review, the Southern Poetry Review, Verse Daily and Tupelo Quarterly, among others. Her honors include a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship and a Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship. She is a member of the board of directors of Perugia Press.

 

See what happens when you click below.

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

Around 13 vintage source texts went into the creation of these tarot cards, as well as original watercolor and gouache art and some ink prints for backgrounds. My favorite source texts are old Boy Scout and Cub Scout manuals from the 40s to 60s. They’re loaded with interesting drawings, illustrations and text. The found poem on the three of swords card: “How well do you know America- how much does it mean to you?” was from a chapter on citizenship in one of these manuals. The guns in that collage are from ads in the backs of the books. I’m also drawn to images in vintage magazines, botanic and wildlife guides.

News

Check out the write-up of the journal in The Writer.

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

Matter Press is now offering private flash fiction workshops and critiques of flash fiction collections here.

Submissions

Poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction/prose poetry submissions are now OPEN. The submission period closes June 15, 2020; submit here.

Upcoming

08/03 • Darlene Scott
08/05 • Jocelyn Ulevicus
08/06 • Amy Bobeda (1 of 6)
08/10 • Cynthia Belmont
08/12 • J. C. Todd
08/13 • Amy Bobeda (2 of 6)
08/17 • Jo Gatford
08/19 • Amanda Vineyardx
08/20 • Amy Bobeda (3 of 6)
08/24 • Eva Jordan
08/26 • Gary Fincke
08/27 • Amy Bobeda (4 of 6)
08/31 • Renee Agatep
09/01 • Başak Yirmibeşoğlu
09/03 • Amy Bobeda (5 of 6)
09/07 • Paige Welsh
09/09 • Avital Gad-Cykman
09/10 • Amy Bobeda (6 of 6)
09/14 • Julianne Di Nenna
09/16 • Joey Kim
09/17 • Erika Kanda
09/21 • Brittany Oppenheimer