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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.

Categories: Health Tags:

X-Dress

April 14, 2010 1 comment

by Tori Ellison

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

1997
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.

Categories: Health Tags:

Transport

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
eternal.
Though actually I feel more like a husked
kernel,
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.

Categories: Health Tags:

Recovery

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).

Categories: Health Tags:

Prairie Potholes

April 9, 2010 1 comment

by Sara Parrell

scattered pockets of shallow wetland in the plains of
North America, now threatened by agricultural pollutants
and climate change

Hunters call them sloughs
rife with pintail, muskgrass
& loose-knit duckweed rearranging themselves
with every slosh, those nests & hens
radaring weakness to mink & skunk
nursing hunger in their dens. Some see
the way wet meadows slope less pure
after cattle run & atrazine,
lopsided zeal that kills frog, phalarope—
a dark soot on the face of America.
Some of us slept through, sloth-like,
unaware how much the land can take
before it needs help, loses hope, dries to desert
shot with salt & the godwit’s last solo.
Rise & quench this morning thirst. Dress for
a deep look in shallow ponds.


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Sara Parrell was awarded first prize in the 2008 Poetry Center of Chicago’s Juried Reading; Dancing Girl Press published a chapbook including her winning manuscript for the reading. She also won the Wisconsin People & Ideas magazine’s 2007 poetry contest. Her work has appeared in the Lake Wingra Morning anthology, Nocturne (a collaboration with photographer and musician Thomas Ferrella), the Wisconsin Academy Review and other journals. As a pediatric nurse she has practiced and taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. More recently, she works with children in the public schools. She lives with her husband Grayson Kampschroer in Madison, Wisconsin.

Categories: Health Tags:

Cold Blood

April 8, 2010 Comments off

by Lynnel Jones

Without
Each nine-millimeter flash
its own still shot
played on mind’s blank screen.
Picture a family album
erased mid-air.
Trace tears
dry as rain sucked back
by August lightning heat.
Forget that once I was
a wife, a mother.

Unction
As if I should makeup the tattoo
of inner thigh bruises
patch both eyes
recoil the screen
cast mind immobile,
all flash and no portraits.
As if I could will memory an over-ocean bird
exhausted albatross without rigging
beg snowfall thick and numb
along the windrows.
As if denial would forever fill the space
and emptiness turn haven.

Mad
What’s left
on anger’s table
are my bones
worn thin
as knees in 6x jeans,
thin as tears,
strikes that shape graves’ stones,
skeletons that swell to fill the holes
with shadow shapes.

Survivor Quilt
No forward without refuge
Amish neighbors — beyond time —
scrapple and tomatoes
canned without the taste of tin.

Sometimes the winter women,
neighborly along the quilting frame,
are bees pollening their fuzz
with murmured Dutchy buzz
around long spears of blue delphinium:
“…all shall be well, and all shall be well,
and all manner of things
shall be well.”*

Jacob’s Ladder, Lone Star, Nine Patch,
Saw Tooth, rollered secure.
New scraps, strong threads, small stitches.
Sometimes a hymn slow-sung:
“Upon the rock of Christ I stand.
All other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.”

Bloom
Night times I want the chariot
comin’ for to carry me.
Daylight my feet set firmer
on the sand.
Sometimes I smell the honey in the bee.

*The Inner Castle, Julian of Norwich

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Lynnel Jones’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in such journals as The Lehigh Valley Literary Review, Persimmon Tree, Flutter Poetry Journal, Mad Poets Review and Watershed. Her chapbook, Rocks and Crazy People, was published by FootHills Publishing in 2008. She was Pushcart nominated in 2009.

Categories: Health Tags:

Relics

April 7, 2010 24 comments

by Sherry Chandler

The titanium screw will still be in my jaw
when I am six months under in my box.
The plastic lens will fall to the back of my skull.

When all my flesh is in some maggot’s maw,
my knucklebones lie scattered like thrown jacks,
the titanium screw will still be in my jaw.

No wrinkles to deface my bony brow,
my sweet brown eyes reduced to shadowed sockets,
the plastic lens will fall to the back of my skull,

my vertebrae laid flat, all in a row
from C1 by the numbers down to coccyx,
the titanium screw will still be in my jaw.

Reduced to bones from head to hammertoe,
my turned up nose a sink-hole, no more lips,
the plastic lens will fall to the back of my skull.

When I have no tongue to squall and yowl,
no tears, no laugh, no song but hollow clack,
the titanium screw will still be in my jaw,
the plastic lens will fall to the back of my skull.


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Sherry Chandler is the author of Dance the Black-Eyed Girl (Finishing Line) and My Will and Testament is On the Desk (FootHills Publishing). She has received support from the Kentucky Arts Council and the Kentucky Foundation for Women. Links to her works can be found on her website.

Categories: Health Tags:

Jitters

April 6, 2010 1 comment

by Robin Chapman

I’m up to the minute
in news-flash alarms—
PCBs in the water, mercury in fish,
bird flu pandemic, various gases,
and summer will bring its own bad news
of West Nile virus, chronic wasting disease,
tornadoes—the odds
of surviving life are small,
whatever you do.

And I’ve also read, tucked away
in the Times‘ Circuits section,
that we’ve made giant microwave
E-bombs at high-powered frequencies
that can fry our computers
from miles away and crash
the lifetime’s work
that was our only hope
for immortality.

Let’s conspire
to etch our words, our stories
on stone, hidden in caves,
memorized in the nursery rhymes
recited to children
on the way to sleep,
another piece of human heritage
like love, like hope,
like DNA,
fallible, distributed
in weedy holographic duplicates
so dense they can’t be blown away.


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Robin Chapman (website) won the Cider Press Review Editors’ Award for her newest collection of poems, Abundance.  Her Verse Daily page contains Amazon links to five of her ten poetry collections. Her poems have appeared recently in 5 AM, Poetry East, and Southern Poetry Review and online at Project Gutenberg, Umbrella, and Babel Fruit. She hosts poems on Robin Chapman’s Poetry a Day Blog.

Categories: Health Tags:

Still, Life

April 5, 2010 4 comments

by Catherine Jagoe

the world is warming
the Antarctic ice shelf just lost
a chunk large as Manhattan magnified by seven
if you live in America
my land by emigration

in Britain the land of my birth
that chunk was the Isle of Man

in Spain my land by adoption
it was the province of Burgos

to feel loss we have to make it local
the globe our yard

once as a child I saw a Portuguese man’o’war
mauve caravel in pristine waters
cruise downwind off the Outer Hebrides
but now my humming screen predicts the Gulf
Stream that hugs the British Isles
could stray plunging the kingdom into a new
Ice Age

last year I saw twelve storks trying to nest on one church tower
in old Castile no longer
migrating south to Africa

but winter here on the Great Lakes was so hard the squirrels
gnawed the bark from the small high branches
ice dammed on eaves and melted into ceilings
highways became rutted village lanes
and icicles hazardous to passing humans
mice invaded our basement to steal cat food
which they stored in the oven thereby
setting it on fire

the recently emerged yards
are muddy as flood-grounds
spring has come violent here
this week I saw a home lurch
whole and entire into a brown maelstrom
and break apart roof upside down a foundered ark


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Catherine Jagoe is a poet and translator. Poems from her chapbook Casting Off (Parallel Press, 2007) have been featured on The Writer’s Almanac and Poetry Daily. Her translations include two novels, one from Spain, That Bringas Woman (Everyman, 1996) and one from Argentina, My Name Is Light (Bloomsbury, 2003). She recently finished translating a memoir about the Arctic from Catalan into English.

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Ice Babies II

April 1, 2010 1 comment

by Aine Scannell

Ice Babies II by Aine Scannell
(Click on image to see a larger version.)

Intaglio collagraph and inkjet archival pigment print on circular fibre board (2 cm deep)

Diameter: 33 cm, or about 13 inches

2002

 

Aine Scannell (first name pronounced Oy N yah) is an Irish fine artist printmaker residing in Scotland. Her art work is generally located in the realm of the personal with imagined hybrids and ciphers and incorporating symbolic references. Her work has been widely exhibited in the UK and internationally, and was recently featured in the publication Printmaking at the Edge by Richard Noyce. Visit her website and blog.

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