We’re very pleased to announce the publication of the first-place winner of our 2009 poetry chapbook contest, A Walk Through the Memory Palace, by Pamela Johnson Parker, in dual print and electronic versions.
- Order from CreateSpace (more of your support goes to qarrtsiluni)
- Order from Amazon.com
- Visit the online version at MemoryPalaceWalk.com
- Download the podcast (30 minutes, 27 MB)
The print edition, published in collaboration with Phoenicia Publishing in Montreal, is 28 pages long and has a full-color, glossy cover with a black-and-white interior. The list price is $5.95.
The online version features a simple-yet-elegant design with an easy-to-use navigation system, and includes audio files of the author’s reading alongside each poem. It’s Creative Commons-licensed (Attribution-Noncommercial) to encourage the sharing of its content. Let us know if you write a review, translate any of the poems, or make videos of them, for possible inclusion in the news blog associated with the site (as well as in qarrtsiluni’s own news blog).
In case you missed it, we wrote about the chapbook contest selection process in the announcement of the contest results on August 1. If you entered the contest, you’ll be receiving a copy of A Walk Through the Memory Palace in a few weeks (to allow for shipping and handling).
Also today, our print division has a new page (which includes the link to our at-cost CafePress store, since t-shirts, hats and mugs are printed items of a sort). Beth plans to continue designing print editions of recent qarrtsiluni issues, now that her chaotic summer of selling her old house and moving is behind her, but this may depend in part on how well the chapbook does. So read it, buy it, donate it to your local library. Thanks.
—Dave and Beth
In the movie I never made, Philip enters
the art room, his walk a loping dance
and his hands ever churning in his pockets.
Fade in the orchestration,
Renata Scotto singing Un bel di, vedremo
as Philip contemplates the blank sheet,
the brush, the colors. Follow focus his hand
as he lowers bristles into yellow paint,
slowly brushes warm light onto the page.
Close-up on his eyes crossed in rapt
concentration as he repeats the process.
Take after take, each stroke is a wonder:
the way it starts narrow from the tip,
widens with the pressure of the brush,
then exhausts itself, like day giving into twilight.
The soundtrack swells with the soprano’s
picture of the sea within her heart,
its wide horizon, glittering harbor. Zoom in
as Philip applies blue, the lilting marks
lapping green into where the yellow
has not yet dried. He curls his tongue forward
to taste the salt ocean breeze.
Butterfly’s voice climbs with her longing, scales
steep-sloped waves, soars into towering clouds.
And now Philip smiles wide, delighted
over the curl action of his wrist as he swirls
white paint into the scene, filling the sails
of Pinkerton’s ship. It is a vessel made of drawing
paper. It surges through choppy waters,
splashes us with sunlit drops of brine.
This poem previously appeared in the Poetry Society of South Carolina’s 2008 yearbook.
Kit Loney received the Poetry Society of South Carolina’s 2008 Carrie Allen McCray Prize, and 2007 DuBose and Dorothy Heyward Prize. Her work has appeared in the 2007 and 2008 Kakalak Anthology of Carolina Poets. Her day job is teaching middle school art.
We’ve boarded the ship, unruly tourists
in jelly sandals, scrambling to witness first
the humming skyward walls, an ocean
stiffened and held in its own sleek corpse, risen high.
We glide beside this aqua screen, in unthawed dreams
on the lam from our flooded lives; squatters
craving the glacier’s bright cooling raiment
as we press our fevered foreheads to its damp skin.
When did this snowy rush begin
to find a place of infinite containment;
to ground itself in the frantic waters
and anchor to the sea with its monstrous beams?
It does nothing but absorb the sky
and hold its place among motion.
Our hands flutter on cameras; we’re the cursed
who can’t stop churning the placid waters.
Kristen McHenry is a resident of Seattle, Washington and is a poet and freelance writer by night, and health outreach worker by day. Among other publications, her work has been seen in Wanderings, Trellis Magazine, Boston Literary Magazine, Tiferet, Sybil’s Garage, and several anthologies, including Meanderings and Flowers Bloom in the Moonlight. She is currently a finalist in the national competition “Project Verse”. She is the creator and facilitator of the Poet’s Cafe, a weekly poetry workshop for homeless teens at the New Horizons drop-in center in downtown Seattle.
August 2002, Montana
Because it’s like waking from a thousand years of sleep to see that sky now — the first time
I was seventeen and remember the car tracing a line across the state’s broad back, the wind
shearing across the grassland, the mountains always arched in front of us — the sky so deep
but it pressed on me, left me flushed and shaking — and driving, driving endlessly —
my friend, who lives there now, says the grasslands are called West Dakota, the way the earth
lies flat, rolling out toward the Rockies, he says the speed limit used to be just
reasonable and prudent, but they’ve brought it back down to seventy-five —
when we were younger, I liked the way he held my face in his hands when he kissed me.
August 1986, Vermont
I was mute under that sky because coming from the east all I knew were grids
and boundaries, lines and houses locked in patterns, traffic lights at every corner —
one night I straddled my friend’s lap, took his face in my hands and kissed him — not
what he wanted — but he said, stay, and we were so close we were like one pulse —
years pass and I remind him, tell him how it felt — like flooring it through a stop sign, the fear
of impact took my head off, made my hands numb, how I wanted to laugh out loud, and then
all that year or more I couldn’t sleep without struggling, and he says he can’t remember
anything like fear in me, just my scent, my small breasts, and his own drive.
August 1987, West Virginia
Speeding across the New River Gorge Bridge that rolls out a flat half-mile or more,
more than a quarter-mile down, an arched back supporting a steel frame,
the longest single arch bridge in the world, my friend tells me, he likes the flatness
of it under him, the way it lies mostly still, but quivers when the big trucks cross —
What do you want? he finally shouts, pounding the steering wheel with his fist — I don’t
understand this question, the weird, blank, blueness of it suspended all around
the bridge over the tangled crotch of the river — later, I think I know: he is sure
I love him, would be his if only he asked, which he does not do and never will.
December 2002, Maryland
When my toddler daughter cries out in frustration, there are too many rules,
I want to tell her, well then, jump that fence and run —
but I don’t because I remember that in books written for adolescent girls,
heroines in the old west like to ride their horses out fast over the reverberating sod
until their homes slip back under the earth’s slight curve —
holding the rope bridle tight in their hands until their breath comes in short gasps,
until everything they know vanishes into the slit between sky and grass.
Jeneva Stone — poet, blogger, mother, federal employee, practical g/i nurse, interpreter of EOBs, queen of medical necessity letters, keeper of the family exchequer, unlicensed physical therapist, knowledgeable wheelchair mechanic — may also be found at Busily Seeking… Continual Change.
Between stations lies
what I call, faute
de mieux, the real world.
Long jawbones of houses,
each exposed like molars,
upturned and particular.
Here, a garden tricycle,
tilted onto a bony shoulder.
Fallen or pushed? And there,
beanrows and water features,
gouts of flowers like
spilled butter and blood.
And someone sleeping,
pinned to a blanket
like a specimen whilst
a girl in green
at an open window
waves a ‘phone, yelling,
frozen, voiceless, like
a gargoyle. All so clear
then immolated at
a track’s turning. This
is how our lives
walk and talk, coughing
syllables heard by no one,
throwing shapes that
are black against obsidian.
Dick Jones, a musician and recently retired drama teacher, has been writing seriously for the past 20 years. His poems and short stories have been published in a wide range of magazines, both on- and offline.
In the land of opaque pawns, Calamity ruled
as Electric Queen Jane, one-woman neon jubilee
of frank facts and filigree, a traveling smash of action.
The wayward were rewarded and the melancholy
mooned in the country of Jane’s command
with its euphonious thickets of fornicating birds
and its fishy unfathomed ponds, its riotous vespers
and lethargic dawns. No regulations cramped
anyone’s style, which inclined to the ingenuous,
the daft, the indulgent, the bizarre — most took their
shafonfa straight and had no word for par. So physical
and thick-necked her personal manner, so elaborate
and festooned her crown, she appeared acephalous
to the worshipping masses, who knew all about out
but damn little of down, during the forthright, delirious
reign of good Queen Electric Calamity Jane.
Diane Gage tweets 50s-style haiku on Twitter from her 50s-era neighborhood known as Birdland, in San Diego. Her previous poem in Qarrtsiluni was “Fish Face” in the Water issue. Other recent publications include “Ode to Gravity” in Breathe: 101 Contemporary Odes (C&R Press). A much fuller biography is avilable on her webpage.
I can’t stop buying scissors. I walk into Home Depot for geraniums & lilies, leave with gardening shears, green ergonomic handles. Gelson’s for halibut. Shiny poultry shears. At a garage sale I find a pair of hedge clippers. By December paper cutters, pinking shears, hair trimmers — any blades you want are boxed in the kitchen pantry.
Saturday he takes his 14 clubs & disappears. In hot water, I clean scissors. Prop them on the counter before drying with muslin. Each blade I shine with baking soda. In high school I hung with cutters. They used whatever worked — broken glass, coat hangars, paper. Arms tracked with violet scars like stretch marks, hidden under long-sleeve shirts.
Reflections in a Golden Eye: Mrs. Langdon uses garden shears to clip her nipples when she loses her baby. Snip snip — easy as pinching off deadheads. Sunday in January, I hold my left nipple between the blades of barber shears. Warm steel triggers goose bumps. Is a nipple like a finger? Can they sew it back on?
Recurrent dream: blades-down, scissors drop from the ceiling, rattling & hissing. Impale the cherry nightstand, down comforter, my Land’s End bathrobe. I crouch in the tub, rocking to the sound of hail. Open my thigh — blood a rusty penny melting on my tongue.
I get an Alabama divorce. He signs the papers & hauls his Titliest clubs, La-Z-Boy, & mahogany desk back to Illinois. Parting words: The cat stays with you. I keep Moot, the crystal, & the condo. Start selling the scissors on E-Bay, box by box.
With a Ph.D. in British and American Literature and an M.F.A. in Poetry, Chella Courington teaches writing and literature at Santa Barbara City College. Having moved west with a fiction writer and two cats in 2002, she finds that California provides her imaginative space. Her recent poetry appears in Mademoiselle’s Fingertips, Permafrost, wicked alice, Iguana Review, and The New Verse News. Her first chapbook, entitled Southern Girl Gone Wrong, was published in 2004.