The challenge we gave our participants in this collaborative cultural experiment was to view, or re-view, the idea of a classic — and to re-invent it through some new lens of experience, point of view, or sensibility. We wanted more than persona pieces that fit the standard interpretation of these classics, more than contemporary re-tellings, and much more than simple parody.
What we got was re-visioning of classic forms and fables, familiar but fresh voices both canonical and chronically overlooked, and a flood of beautiful, intricate, funny, smart and fierce language and images raising familiar stories and archetypes in ways we had never considered. What a pleasure to guest edit qarrtsiluni, to have the opportunity to read such wonderful work, and to be able to craft an issue offering such fresh and startling takes on what we thought we knew.
For bios of Ann and Jessamyn, see the Call for Submissions.
On the Folly of Not Being James Bond by Leslie Ann Minot
Frankenstein’s Brother by Marc Hudson
Nude with Rash by Anne-Marie Levine
In Nihilo by Ray Templeton
Twilight by Celia Lisset Alvarez
Molly’s Bloom (in Fade) by Maureen Egan
Mad Hatter’s Tea Party by Tama Hochbaum
Ten Discourses After Jalal al-Din Rumi by Alex Cigale
So soft his neck, so distant from the thought of stone by Jee Leong Koh
Egil’s Lament by Ann Fisher-Wirth
Scrambled Shakespeare by Millie Niss
The Beauty by Neila Mezynski
Ishmael’s Concordance by Scott Wiggerman
Arezzo. Casa Petrarch. by Wendy Vardaman
untitled by Gordon Smith
Little black dress— by Aditi Machado
Bone by Betsy Phillips
His Side by LaToya Jordan
Gladiator (Rome, 2009) by Katherine Durham Oldmixon
There’s That Old Chestnut, Again by Luisa A. Igloria
Batman’s Address, or the Theory of Fort Knox by Christopher Hennessy
Sometimes I Miss the Old Jealous Goddesses by Deb Scott
matisse two by bl pawalek
The Lears at Home by Monica Raymond
Wounded Man at War in the Metro Père-Lachaise by Martha Deed
Pay Asclepius a Cock by Eric Burke
Cadillac Gargoyle by Steve Wing
Dream in Five Acts by Karl Elder
Onion by Marin Willitts Jr.
The Monsters Receive Their Briefing on Millennium Park by Donna Vorreyer
Mictlantecuhtli, 2010 by Joaquin Ramon Herrera
The Railway Children by Samuel Prince
Heart’s Desire by Rosemary Starace
Andy Warhol (The Vancouver Art Gallery, 2004) by Daniela Elza
Eating Godzilla by Jason Crane
Palindrome by Isabelle Carbonell
Hideous Progeny by Leslie Ann Minot
Black Heart Wind by Eric Darton
Apophthegm by Henrietta Cullinan
Oracle by Jessica Otto
Coptic Pizzeria by Dorothee Lang
Caught in the Flood by Tammy Ho Lai-Ming and Reid Mitchell
Shakespeare CIX Translated by Andrea Kneeland
In All Your Blinding Glory by Joaquin Ramon Herrera
piobaireachd by Andrew McCallum
the wyndham sisters by bl pawelek
A Study in Setting by Peg Duthie
Male Nude by Anne-Marie Levine
Marina, La Malinche by Katherine Durham Oldmixon
Postcard by Nancy Gott
The Bitter, True Taste of the Human Heart by Alex Cigale
As I stand here folding by Mara Mills
The Cave of Sleep by Kristin Maffei
Roget’s by Sarah J. Sloat
The Business of Creation by Uma Gowrishankar
Salve, Constantia by Dorothee Lang
24 by Barbara Young
Ariadne sends her friend a ball of twine by Leslie Ann Minot
Female Parent by Jeneva Stone
Twice Burned by Ray Sharp
Narcissus by Stuart Barnes
When asked your place or my place, meaning host or guest, by Jee Leong Koh
Moleskin by Mario Milosevic
The World is a Sound: A New Creation Myth by Robbi Nester
Re-Shake by Millie Niss
Oh Basho by Mary Wehner
The Poetess by Wendy Vardaman
The Adam Rose by Clarissa Jakobsons
La Guadalupe de Juan Diego by Katherine Durham Oldmixon
god is a poet by Daniela Elza
Birth, Labor by Dawn Manning
June Cleaver Considers Divorce, or: Ward, Why is This Ring Slipping Through My Skin? by Jill Crammond Wickham
Zinacantan Woman by Joaquin Ramon Herrera
Dressing, On the Side by Lori A. May
The Constellation of the Water Snake by Maggie Cleveland
The Snake by Martha Deed
Blanche at Rest by Linda Umans
the tunnel by morgan downie
Be Mine by Judith Terzi
by Judith Terzi
O come let all your rabid pleasures prove
On the terrace under eveglom’s span.
I am terra nullius, kaboofa groove
Bust in ne plus ultra retro glam.
I am terra incognita in threads
Of funk. O kiss me, plinth of 2KX.
Let us contemplate the frothy spread
Of sea and see what we can resurrect.
Let your fleshspades guide the quest
Into alcoves and embrasures of the night.
Taste my mantric kisses, those arabesques,
In the clerestories of fading urban light.
Come suspend your hang ups, let us jibe
The architraves of two quotidian lives.
Judith Terzi’s poetry has been widely published in print and on line. A new chapbook, The Road to Oxnard, will appear from Pudding House Press in 2010 as a finalist of note in the 2009 competition. She was a runner-up in the 2009 Alehouse Press Happy Hour Awards. In her other life, she was a high school French teacher and college writing instructor. She lives in Pasadena, California and is terrified of earthquakes.
they say i am the fruit
of un-natural union
they say that i feed
on the blood of virgins
all these things i hear
though they think i do not
in the darkness it is easy
to create monsters
they descend from above
groove steps with their passing
weave the white threads
of their desire around me
until my bound oxhide glows
and their tongues are sated
in my pale light starved meat
laughing they call this pit
until a man comes
holds a torch to my face
and in a voice that sounds
like broken jars
tells me i am no more
monster than he
and guides me out
into the brightness
there a woman waiting
and seeing me shrieks
at the secret unbound
blood falls in skeins
let them sing songs the man says
that no-one shall know us
and leads me away
down to the anonymous sea
by Linda Umans
(After Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams)
I’m partial to shades of cucumber
(lush when the need arises)
and my gentle helper
this boy with the sweet chest
he will live in my cast of memories.
I caught sight of her in the long mirror
as we came through Admissions
all floral and light.
Diaphanous woman, I said to Carly
but Carly said no.
She is a boulder
even if you can see her shoulderblades.
I’ve survived my murder
no family allowed, therefore.
No need to mention names
next-of-kin and paramour not welcome.
(Save us from our sisters.)
rootless now although
no longer homeless.
I feel re-creation here.
Linda Umans enjoyed a long teaching career in the NYC public schools. She is an ardent traveler and a native of Manhattan where she lives, studies, writes. Recent and upcoming publications include poems in Beauty/Truth: Journal of Ekphrastic Poetry, Waterways, Terrain.org, The Broome Street Review and Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood.
by Martha Deed
to me listen to me
I was out
rolling my abs
dodging the bees
and other bitin’ things
when out of the weeds
careless dancing lassies
bore down on me
one stepped on my head
so I bit the kid
for her carelessness
ruinin’ my sleep
for the next
her old man
twangin’ the strings
day and night
and not very well
Martha Deed (website, blog) is a retired psychologist who makes trouble with poetry inspired by crises and other mishaps around her house on the Erie Canal in North Tonawanda, NY. Recent publications include her chapbooks, The Lost Shoe (publisher’s page, video trailer), 65 x 65 and #9, and an e-book, Intersections, a 20-day journey of the unexpected. Recent poetry publications include: Iowa Review on the Web (with Millie Niss), Unlikelystories.org, Poemeleon, New Verse News, Dudley Review, Helix, The Buffalo News and many others.
the evening star.
A double star
triple the size of the sun, it
is the most
beautiful of all stars,
the coruscating eye
in the constellation
of the Water Snake.
The Greeks said Crow
a goblet of wine. Loved,
he brought it to his lips,
but remembered crow was tricky.
Before he poured it
down his gullet, he
glanced at the cup
& saw Hydra the snake—
sharp fangs gleaming
with his venom.
lowered his gaze,
irresistible and bittersweet,
swilled the rest of his wine,
a trembling mound
of muscle, a swirling fury
of limbs. “Love,”
grabbing the snake
by the tail to cast the
a ball into the sky
where it was caught by Alphard,
ensnared in a nebulous web.
planned his getaway quick.
“I’ll fly off before he
strikes me.” Down
the cliff he plunged,
a black blur of feathers.
Apollo’s hands were faster.
Now Crow and Snake
hang side by side in the sky.
Apollo went back to Greece
Note: this reverse erasure poem incorporates 2 of Sappho’s fragments (left-aligned text) from Mary Barnard’s translation.
Maggie Cleveland looks for omens and wears her heartbreak like jewels in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, where she works as a grant writer and lives as a proud mama of two fierce little girls. She is the director of the Whaling City Review LIVE poetry series, and is pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Goddard College. Maggie was recently published in Amerarcana: The Bird & Beckett Review.
by Lori A. May
She is not yet comfortable
Thinks it is something to be forgiven
Like Beta tapes left to dust
Sipping juice from the unpeeled orange
Searching for the daintier flesh
Within the folds of restrained citrus
She drapes shame
Over the weight of her heart
Heavier than her shell
Covering sins and regrets
The roundness of her
Thick rind sheer with exposure
Away from him
She slips into something
Out of sight
Hidden to the side
Lori A. May (website, blog) is a poet, novelist, and freelance writer whose work has appeared in publications such as The Writer, Tipton Poetry Journal, and anthologies such as Van Gogh’s Ear. She is the author of stains: early poems and two novels. May is also Editor-in-Chief of PoetsQuarterly.com and Founding Editor of The Ambassador Poetry Project.
Joaquin Ramon Herrera is a writer, illustrator, director, cinematographer and artist-activist. He blogs at The Unapologetic Mexican and you can read more bio here. Check out Scary: A Book of Horrible Things for Kids on Amazon.
There is no further need for disguise.
Husband, we have been found out,
revealed for frauds,
stripped naked, bones hung out
like a shop-keep’s hopeful shingle.
We are the undead.
When we walk into a room—
nothing. Sinners, cross-
lovers, strangers, stare, pray,
witness the ripple of our beating hearts,
exposed muscles, raw truth:
together we are a dead man
and his mortician.
One breathing, one wax-faced.
No beat. No pulse. No life.
With this truth, freedom.
Free of flesh, bloody muscle,
husband, we may drop pieces
of ourselves where we walk now.
We are free. Let us step
from our graves, trip
the half-light fantastic—first date.
I don’t know whether to run
hand in moldy hand
in front of a car
or send the worms of my lips
down your throat.
When she is not teaching young artists to paint blue horses (ala Franz Marc) Jill Crammond Wickham masquerades as your average poet/artist/mother in Upstate NY, funding her writing habit by running a children’s art studio. Her work has appeared in Crab Creek Review, Naugatuck River Review, Weave, Wicked Alice and others (and sometimes in progress on her blog: jillypoet.wordpress.com). She is an editor for Ouroboros Review and a reviewer for Poets’ Quarterly.