Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Perspectives on the Geographical Cure

April 20, 2010 1 comment

by Dan Lear

I stood that morning with my back to the Atlantic
feeling tall. My shoes had been in six oceans.
My shadow etched a line across America.

By West Virginia I was smaller. Above straight
walls of rock the sky was a circle
I held in my arms.

In Kansas I saw the overpass twelve miles
before I reached it. At 80 mph
I stood still and disappeared.

I swelled and burst in the desert of New
Mexico. The dry air
sucked me brittle, a seedhusk losing seed.

By Needles I was too thin to matter
when the car broke down. I walked back to town
afraid no one could see me.

Finally, Monterey and my chest to the Pacific,
expanded like an eclipse.
At noon the sailfish lept into dark.

I was surprised to find you, still in me,
the same size you were when you left.

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Dan Lear writes in St. Louis, or wherever else he happens to be.

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The Swing

April 19, 2010 3 comments

by Richard Jordan

Ramsdell scales the ancient ash behind
the woodshed, takes a swig of Jack then flings
the bottle high. An hour ago he watched
a blood sun rise through cobwebbed panes
by his mother’s childhood bed, his arm gone numb
from supporting her neck all night as she strained to catch
the banter of barn owls and coyotes.

He thought it would be easy, a token visit
to the vacant family farm then back;
but in St. Joseph’s his mother’s eyes had misted

as she told of an August day when she was
almost twelve, of how she pushed her younger
cousin higher and higher on a swing,
and how her cousin stretched small toes to split

a thunderhead. So Ramsdell teeters now,
reaching for a sturdy limb to hold
a rope, a tire, skin and bones,

and a failing woman’s final chance
to harness wind and sweep the earth away.

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Richard Jordan is a PhD mathematician who works as a researcher at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. His poetry has appeared most recently in The Atlanta Review, Tar River Poetry, Redivider, Two Review, and on the Verse Daily website.

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April 16, 2010 1 comment

by Lisken Van Pelt Dus

Forty feet up the ash tree,
branches begin to splay from the trunk

curving off toward light of their own.
One forms an almost perfect arch

and on its crest — an apple,
green and slightly shriveled, but intact.

It’s worthy of Magritte, no apple tree
in sight. We’re lunching on the deck

with my stepson who’s just lost his mother
when we notice it: apple as apparition.

Apple as praise for possibility, apple
as balance in abandonment. It’s Dan

who sees the squirrel retrieve it, later.
The fruit’s as big as the animal’s head,

but he leaps with it across chasms,
without hesitation, as if the air were substance.

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Lisken Van Pelt Dus is a poet, teacher, and martial artist living in western Massachusetts. Her poems can be found in numerous journals, including Conduit, The Comstock Review, and Main Street Rag, and her first poetry collection, Everywhere at Once, was published this year by Pudding House Press.

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Medicine Poem for Holly

April 15, 2010 Comments off

by Alison Townsend

(For Holly Prado Northup)

All day, as the surgeon
opens your back to repair it —
adjusting each vertebra, unbending
the curvature of pain time
has slowly put there —
I keep a vigil on the couch
with the cats, bending
over my students’ essays
the way you bent over my words
twenty years ago or more,
talking about the importance
of the spine that runs through it all.
So that ever since I have sought
that ladder of notched,
articulated bone, threading
the cord of words through holes
that in a deer’s body
are shaped like hearts,
listening under the surface
of each poem for what connects things,
what backbone holds them up,
both our mothers
dead when we were girls,
what we have had to bend and carry
heavy, lonely, strange, though we
bent and carried anyway,
spine the center, spine the axis,
spine a kind of tree in the body,
column of light we call spunk
or moxie or courage, what I invoke
from half a continent away
as you lie there, being cut open
and then stitched together again,
so that you may stand,
straight and tall as any tree
you choose to call your mother.

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Alison Townsend is the author of two books of poetry, Persephone in America and The Blue Dress, and two limited edition chapbooks. Her poetry and creative nonfiction appear widely, in journals such as Margie, Rattle, Arts & Letters, Fourth Genre and The Southern Review. She has won many awards, including a Pushcart Prize, publication in Best American Poetry, literary fellowships from the Wisconsin Arts Board and the Virginia Center for the Arts, the Flume Press Poetry Chapbook Prize and the Crab Orchard/Southern Illinois University Press Open Poetry Competition. She teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and lives with her husband on four acres of prairie and oak savanna in the farm country outside Madison.

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April 14, 2010 1 comment

by Tori Ellison

X-Dress by Tori Ellison
Click image to view a larger version

Acrylic and mixed media on paper
From the print series “The Spaces Between”

Tori Ellison creates paintings, sculpture, prints, installation art, and theater design. A MacDowell Colony, Blue Mountain, Women’s Studio Workshop, and Jentel fellow, she is collected by the City of Seattle and Paul Allen’s Vulcan and has exhibited in 11 states and abroad, including Portland Art Museum, Bellevue Art Museum, Seattle Art Museum Gallery, and New York’s Grey Art Gallery (NYU) and PaineWebber Gallery. She studied at Cranbrook, Reed College, and School of Visual Arts (New York), and has written about art for the Guggenheim, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Seattle Weekly, Seattle Times, Oregonian, and Artweek.

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April 13, 2010 1 comment

by Monica Raymond

You were a fever but I wrung you out.
A fever’s operatic as a boat
rocked on high waves,
a liner, say. Plates slide,
and we catch egg-shaped
goblets in mid-air, and the captain’s daughter
barfs over the side,
but we tough ones ride it out,
even light up with a world-weary

snap, pickle ourselves more deeply
in gin or grain, unchangeable
as barreled herring,
cigar store Indian, those tanned while
still in the skin.
That would be, I suppose, a way of becoming
Though actually I feel more like a husked
a peeled grape, flayed like when
taking sunburn off—

wafer by fried wafer, scurf. Naked, the
air stinging
with the hurt that is health.

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Monica Raymond won the Castillo Prize in political theater for her play The Owl Girl, which is about two families in an unnamed Middle Eastern country who both have keys to the same house. She was a Jerome Fellow for 2008-09 at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis, among many other honors and awards. Her poetry has been published in the Colorado Review, the Iowa Review, and the Village Voice, and her work has been selected for publication by every pair of qarrtsiluni editors for eleven issues in a row now.

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April 12, 2010 1 comment

by Brent Fisk

The voices have not been silenced
in spite of the constant drip. A nurse asks
about the final game, the last desperate
shot disappearing in the air.

I go to the dark closet of my body,
feel the dream fabric hanging above my head
like a tattered suit. The incision
is a crack of light, a line
where the door to my body won’t close.

When they found Mr. Jenkins
dead on his kitchen floor, he sprawled
there empty-eyed, with a broken
glass in his hand and a mouth open to flies.
Two days of incessant screen door banging
before someone stumbled in with a shout.

I think of a stranger’s hands
slipping inside me. How many times
will a doctor make this cut
before he’s used to this sort of parting,
skin and fat and muscle fiber, hand steady
as the flow of blood?

I will wake in a phantom hour,
eyes aflutter, a strong wind beyond
the window glass, a controlled burn
of pain. My parents climb through the wall
of searing heat, everything wavering
through the eroded night except the trickle-whisper
of conversation, the warmth of hands
curious with love.

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Brent Fisk is a writer from Bowling Green, Kentucky. He has work forthcoming in Minnetonka Review and Rattle and recently published in Autumn Sky Poetry (not to mention more than 200 other journals he was too modest to mention in his submitted bio).

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