Michelle Askin

Bridget Bell

Matthew Browning

Adam Henry Carrière

William Crawford

Rich Ives

Sarah Kay

Michael James Martin

Kaisa Ullsvik Miller

What Was Said to Her/Letter Dated Sept. 1, 1998
By Michelle Askin, Sep 07, 2009

Before the day I turned nineteen. Before breaking each other’s hearts
with the I’m sorry, I don’t think we could ever be more than...
She placed a ring on my finger. And it was a white feather
no one could pluck. The beautiful symphonic score
to this snowy night in Radford, Va when a nun flagged me down
for potatoes, a ride to the grocery mart, to do a good
deed and pick up this Vietnamese woman—the wind
blowing her produce from crates. And when she took us in her home
we were offered an apple as though it were the breast-red cist
from the same thigh her mother beat her with, in that village
where her father was shot by guerrillas. You see he was a soldier.
It happened in his car on the way home for lunch.
Her mother boiling rice...She struck me—found a
sweetie note in my school book. I didn’t even know the boy.

And just hours later, a boy would make love to me for
the first time. I’d take off that ring not sure who
I was betraying, maybe the friend. A swell circling my finger,
I’d wash in the ice rain as he drove off and left me
with the distant early morning gun range practice
and that milk shake diner’s then you’ll see how the magic’s
in the music’s and the music’s in me
. Yes I let winter and God
spit on those hands that gave you away nine months later.
Nine years later you asked who I was, and finally I remember
I was the one in that golden Buddha and rose, mache fan room,
while outside drunk hicks howled from a beat up Winnebago.
The nun saying, it’s rude not to take enough. The Father
would be pleased
—rushing fresh pears and oranges
in that potato sack. She opened the fridge, said, take more.
And we did. The next day I would be nineteen; I knew
my strange love for that girl would not go away so I let him
have me. Let him have that swell above my veins, the palm,
between the fruit seeded stickiness or all I ate.

Michelle Askin’s work has appeared in Oranges & Sardines, The Oyez Review, PANK, 2River View, and elsewhere.


Lady loves to live
By Bridget Bell, Sep 21, 2009

where other people lived, acquires pillowcases
where other faces drooled, slurps broth off thrift store spoons
formerly cradled in the dark caverns of strangers’ mouths.
She wears embroidered dresses with yellowed armpits,
and her repeatedly broken shoe laces are held together by fraying knots.
A line cook she met said I’m going to call you Nomad
when she told him her name was Lady.
It’s fitting. Lady doesn’t have a home.
She roams from city to city, always renting
apartments with eggshell walls, which she paints
yellow rain coat,
ice cube silver, mudslide
Despite what’s written in the lease, she never returns
the walls to their original white.
She imagines new tenants slicing celery, slicing jicama,
or black olives dumped from a tin can
while surrounded by the same colors that surrounded her
when she did her slicing.

Bridget Bell is an Ohio-born writer living in NYC, and she holds her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. Her work has been published in the New Ohio Review, The Chaffey Review, Folio and SUB-LIT, among other publications. She works as a bartender in Manhattan’s financial district, and also as an assistant editor at FourWay Books.


The Size of Psalms in Spring
By Matthew Browning, Sep 27, 2009

In this time one would think
psalms to be small things
carried quickly at night in the teeth
of rodents behind the walls
of your grandfather’s old farm house.
Your grandfather is dead.
Rodents still carry things through
the crawl spaces though—small things
the size of modern psalms.

Under my wife’s fingernail
we all suspect she is hiding a psalm
the one she will recite somewhere special:
her father’s funeral, our divorce settlement,
the time she spends watching the geese fly
south again and again
like she would with her father growing up
when he would pull them down from the sky
with his shotgun and she would chase after
their falling bodies like a retriever,
carrying them back to him like a girl
wearing pink would carry the contents
of a locket.

But come spring,
when the children’s children of the geese
my wife’s father never shot are returning,
psalms are much larger.
Swelling like the river that cuts
the town in two, wrapping it like a wet, green gift.
Swollen from all those voices
in the middle of America whispering:
psalms have grown large again.

Though I am in no place so green this spring
what psalm is left in my chest
from the residue never cleaned out
after clinging to my mother’s womb—
that bit is swelling too.

Matthew Browning’s work has been published in The Pacific Review, Limestone, The Evansville Review, The Offbeat, The New Pantagruel and other journals. He graduated from the University of Iowa with a BA in English and Communications Studies in 2003 and from Western Michigan University with an MFA in Creative Writing in 2008. He currently lives in Wheaton, Illinois.


Code 46
By Adam Henry Carrière, Oct 17, 2009

The old mother pushes her cart
from nook to cranny, yawning
at having two sentences to say
in the lingo of the ghosts
that appoint her rounds.

Aluminum and gasoline sail
in road maps of madness.
Yet, blackbirds loaf in their own shadows,
weighed down by the smog on their wings
and the fortitudes of old age.

The boy outside waits, distant Incans
etched in his face. He wants to lick
the music parked in his care,
but learned from his abandoned father
to man up a long time ago.

The day began in miniature acoustics,
crossing one fleshy jigsaw at a time
‘til an ocean of dented dreams filled the bedrooms.
All the precautions of commerce lay fallow;
the nest, really nothing more than a mask.

Adam Henry Carrière is a poet, teacher, and broadcaster. Recent publications include The Bicycle Review, Counterexample Poetics, The Smoking Book, The Mayo Review, Tonopah Review, Juked (2008 Poetry Prize Finalist), Zygote in My Coffee, Oak Bend Review, Tattoo Highway, and his first chapbook, Zigeunertänze, upcoming from Chippens Press. A second, Sky, is forthcoming from Differentia Press. Born on the South Side of Chicago, Adam now resides in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he has won the 2006 Nevada Arts Council Fellowship in Poetry and publishes Danse Macabre, Nevada’s first online literary magazine. He serves on the Editorial Board of Popular Culture Review. His favorite poets are Hughes, Szymborska, and Mozart. Particularly, he aspires to follow on the imaginative trail blazed by the feuilleton of Joseph Roth.


Hear These Bones Humming
By William Crawford, Oct 04, 2009

the sun cannot cure these proverbs
and forget about the moon
it has been described to death by poets
afraid to look down

the maxims and apothegms of our fathers—
their mothers—have lost their elasticity
festooned with sad stretch marks
snakes to be stuffed back into a can
ribbons for an indian’s gift

loose as odes to an odalisque
cautioned by the cat-o-nine’s tongue

electric seizures and shock treatments
stillborn words swallowed down
deep ruby throats
somehow feathery

written in rubric
the color of an oenophile’s moustache
passed out in a shallow puddle
of his own dissipation—
his own incontinence

rolling blackouts allow these mendacious mendicants
a few stolen moments of guilty mercy

if morning had a hammer...

the light would bend without breaking
find clues in the stains on his glasses
left in the alley
shot through with blood
eyes shifting leftwards like a liar’s
his face only wanted on a flier
posted on a pillar of ash
one of many that line this avenue

they found sugar candy letters from her necklace
scattered down there
letters that once spelled out her name
hearts and stars
other tiny innocent things

they found disarticulated dolls
and the charred bones
of a six-piece phoenix meal

limbs laid out in savage patterns
spinning pinwheels in the wishless wind
suggesting some cruel ceremony

torn flags flapping in the corner
like the whites of some endangered saint’s eyes
these shattered symbols—
the sound they make—
it isn’t thunder
it isn’t the gods and their necessary demons
it’s just one hand clapping
an idiot that fears silence
and all the truths silence reveals

the sun thought twice
about highlighting that scene
despite her tough eyes—both dagger and diamond

eyes that usually refuse to flinch
at close range
under stares pressured by blues
and desperate stars that tremble like cowards
they’d rather fall from grace
than face their short-toothed venerators

only Van Gogh realized their true potential
and we all know how that story ended
forget him for now

remember this gracefully careless Venus
how she stood in the shadow of Vesuvius
and it seemed like a lost paradise

she still toothsome
to Roman sons only the sum of one part
like a mousetrap with its single muscle
aching to move
to snap with finality
like snakes in fire

she waited there for flash erasure
she waited to be cleansed by fire
to be made pure again

the darkness making her opaque
she waited to be brightened
to suddenly come back to life
the way stained glass does
when ignited by the sun

or maybe she simply wanted to find
the soft half-void of sleep
like a new illuminated womb
blooming around her
in wild blue arrangements
in impossible bouquets of aurora borealis
that some divine hand deftly plucked
from the voracious maw of the firmament

I’d like to think
she had an improvised symphony in one pocket
and a few skimming stones in the other

for someone or something
needs to test the river’s skin
cool as a lizard’s
the way it mindlessly flows
never enlisted to an ending

so unlike her pyroclastic blood
wiped from his rightfully severed limb

the way it would rise
and howl inside her eyes
the way their brilliance
darked the sun

while the moon
hanged itself
behind a cascade of clouds
behind a billow of smoke

sprouted descending nerve endings
desperate to feel this too

she promised herself preservation
closed her eyes
and that’s when the miracle ended

the one you waited for like Godot
like Beckett on a Battery Park bench

wishing his cup of pennies
would turn into coffee

wishing the pigeons
could deliver his stories

or that the morning
could feel like a fresh beginning again

there has to be a cure.

William Crawford has been writing creatively for over twenty years; he has been published on odd occasion, most recently in Leaf Garden, Calliope Nerve, and Troubadour 21. He’s been known to read his work live on his more salient nights. He lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and works in the music industry; he is also involved in animal rights. His first full-length collection of poetry, Fire in the Marrow, will be published by NeoPoiesis Press in 2010. He is not the type of person who will only make a brief appearance in his own life story.


First Night
By Rich Ives, Oct 08, 2009

The long night calls to its creatures with a voice darkened by hunger. Under the owl sleeping in the hollow of the tamarack. Next to the broken bones of mice.

She is awake now.

He stands quiet, listening to the water.

You could not have seen through this. You watched yourself become a third person. She told you she still loved you and put her arms around him, the other one you had become.

And so I can’t sleep now because my shadow of a crow is a thief and walks like a clumsy fat man playing hopscotch, head cocked with a child’s quizzical turn, a scolding cry like a ratchet, a few more shadows hanging out, nightfall in pieces.

After all, you didn’t really want this. My friends and I will fight over it in your dream before you sleep.

A man I am is singing. He is crying. He begins a small desire. He purrs. Finally he sleeps. Candles and stones light the path.

The man grows silent. The man grows smarter than we thought. Shouting does not feed the air the man exists in. The man continues to grow. He grows so large we can crawl into the base of his thumb, wander through his body until we come to the porchlight.

“This way,” the man says, but the woman you’ve become bursts into embarrassment and her skin chaffs like sandpaper. “Try this,” he says, but she falls asleep beside herself. So he sings to her and the words fall out of his mouth like wooden teeth and nothing at all grows there.

Still they wait, these two with me still in them, in the white bed that smells of sweat, refusing to float, inviting. She becomes the neighbor with the sad house and the quiet voice, and you come to his house again to find the sweater you knitted your life into when the weather was harsh and the marriage harsher. You don’t know why, but you’re in the cellar and your hands move in and out of the rows of suspicious fruit, aging marital prizes sleeping in dusty Mason jars.

Perhaps now an echo enters the damp room dancing. The walls won’t hold it. Each of its songs opens the outside morning differently. Whose sons are these in the tubers, buried in the potatoes and turnips and arms of blind reaching in the wooden bins, clicking like jackal’s tongues?

Have I been, then, not good for my stumbling down selves, the woman asks, disguised as one more me in my downliest humble-down echo? Yeh, I coulda been married a handful by now, another mom-voice lodged in my mortgaged head. I coulda halved it, teething, and split wide away. “’adn’t ‘e copped me crotch feathers? ’n me stuffin” still unstrutted? Tall tale told not so, and so...

Twelve bullets they found themselves, erupted, returning from his torn chest, closing it, reloading into the unaiming rifles. The soldiers took them back carefully, unshouldering, marched the man feet behind feet into the courtroom, took back his guilt, sent him back into the world to look for his mother and nearly exploding as an afterthought his equally be-gone-from-me father.

Sunset filters through the tortured sky, spreading over the upper lake. Cutthroats rising to the winged blood of evening insects. Across the channel an owl calls, answered by a softer echo. Slowly the colors shift deeper into the darkening. The woman stands quietly on the metaphorical water.

This isn’t happening to just one of me.

A light breeze flutters over the lake. We turn. The woman waits. We don’t know what she’s waiting for. We begin the descent to speech. We begin the rising fall.

Rich Ives has received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission and the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines for his work in poetry, fiction, editing, publishing, translation and photography. His writing has appeared in Verse, North American Review, Massachusetts Review, Northwest Review, Quarterly West, Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, Virginia Quarterly Review and many more. He published a three-volume series of the best of Northwest writing as well as an anthology of contemporary German poetry titled Evidence of Fire. He has published a limited edition collection of his own poetry and translated Yesterday I Was Leaving by Johannes Bobrowski. He is the 2009 winner of the Francis Locke Memorial Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander. His story collection, The Balloon Containing the Water Containing the Narrative Begins Leaking, was one of five finalists for the 2009 Starcherone Innovative Fiction Prize.


By Sarah Kay, Oct 06, 2009

During his marriage to the poet Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes took up an affair with Assia Wevill after she and her husband David visited the couple in 1962. Wevill’s husband, upon finding out about the affair, took a number of sleeping pills and attempted suicide, but survived. After Plath’s suicide in 1963, Wevill moved into Hughes’s house two days after Plath’s death. Of Hughes, Wevill told friends that his lovemaking was so ferocious, “in bed, he smells like a butcher.” She helped raise Plath and Hughes’s children, and one of her own, but Hughes once again left on another affair in 1968. The following year, Wevill committed suicide and the murder of her four-year-old daughter, gassing herself in the same manner that Plath had done. In her diary, Assia Wevill wrote that the ghost of Plath had made her suicidal.

To Assia Wevill.

Were there nights
when you were sure he would grind you down to bone?
That you had not placed nearly enough wax paper on the bed spread,
that you would have to wash the sheets tomorrow?

Did you ever think of David?
His custard eyes
and balloon hands.
Clumsy with words
and careless with love.

Some of us are born chasing disaster.
From the moment we enter this world screaming,
we are looking for lightning,
the raw
of our bodies
always searching for cleaver hands.

You memorized every love poem he wrote for someone else
and slept on a pillow that had held her slumber.

Some of us are born chasing poetry.

When you searched for the words,
was it her voice who spoke them?

Sarah Kay is a NYC-based poet whose work has taken her uptown, downtown, and out of town. Her work is published or forthcoming in Foundling Review and DamselFly Press, among others. Sarah is the Founder and Director of Project V.O.I.C.E., which promotes creative self-expression among high school and college students through writing and Spoken Word workshops. For more information please see


Desi Arnaz
By Michael James Martin, Sep 26, 2009

i knew my father
how i knew Desi Arnaz,
via media
& a touchable static film
which dissipated
and popped into another dimension
once it became aware
of your flesh

Desi Arnaz, Jr.
By Michael James Martin, Sep 26, 2009

i knew Desi Arnaz, Jr
how i know myself: through an almost-there
reflection, because i think
even light tends to tell a lie
or two.
Things are more solid in my head.

Michael James Martin was born in Jackson, MS. Current work in Slush Pile, Gigantic, & ditch. Forthcoming work in The Benefactor Magazine, The New York Quarterly, New CollAge Magazine (& others). His publishing house BrainPaper will publish various poets, artists, & writers beginning Spring 2010. The up & up may be found here.


What I do for a living
By Kaisa Ullsvik Miller, Sep 14, 2009

Years after he left me, I moved out of the red house
that we shared with our children and dog. My house
wasn’t the only one on the block full of broken
bottles and strewn paper and the sound of moaning.
The house next store was full of policemen
and paramedics and the overwhelming weight
of a mother. Then she was more than a mother
wishing her son home, followed by a storm wailing
him away. She was the end and the awareness,
my own inability to let go and the wind. The same
scream in her pain, will not make the I-beam stay.

Kaisa Ullsvik Miller’s work can be found in Ploughshares, Fence, HUNGER, and Bombay Gin. Her debut collection, Unspoiled Air, won the 2008 Motherwell Prize for Poetry from Fence Books. She lives in Madison, WI.