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Penance

August 24, 2011 Comments off

by Kristen Solecki

Penance by Kristen Solecki
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Kristen Solecki is a freelance artist based in the Philadelphia area. She believes in the beauty and uniqueness of art that is made by hand. For more about her, please visit her website.

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At The Door of No Return

August 23, 2011 Comments off

by Elizabeth Bodien

Elmina Slave Castle, Cape Coast, Ghana

In the white of my skin, I come to your castle,
you who sweltered in the dark of its dungeon,
you who were plucked from sugar cane fields,
sold away from all that is home.

Your castle still stands, white-washed and gleaming,
a dazzle beside the deep, blood-blue sea.
Massive walls, no windows, ghosts stink underneath
paint that hides vomit, excrement, brandings.

Here is the yard you were dragged through for show.
He stood up by the church to pick out his favorites.
You could not see him. You could not look skyward.
You stumbled, blinded, unused to the bright.

In the night, you could feel him close as he crushed you,
the weight of his belly, sea-stench of his beard,
before you were pushed through door-slit to death ship,
chained as chattel for the new world.


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Elizabeth Bodien (website) lives near Hawk Mountain, Pennsylvania. Her poetry appears in The Fourth River, Watershed, The Litchfield Review, Schuylkill Valley Journal, Mad Poets Review, and Cimarron Review, among other publications, and her chapbooks include the award-winning Plumb Lines (Plan B Press 2008), Rough Terrain: Notes of an Undutiful Daughter (FootHills Publishing 2010), and Endpapers (Finishing Line Press 2011).

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A Murder of Crows

August 22, 2011 1 comment

by Emily Severance

Jim feels
feathers sprout
as the Old Crow takes hold.
while others take flight
in buicks and caddies
he’ll fly through
the storm—
super crow

whip up feather winds
smash store windows
caw caws calling up
a screech of party lights:
the whirr whirling
of red, blue and white
America.

wings pinned
in back seat
head high above
N.O. streets.

in central lockup
he still struts his stuff
but as time pecks by
his feathers fall

levees break,
raven black waters rise
sheriff and deputies
flock together and fly

Jim dreams a bobbing
boat in a bourbon bath

tipsy tipsy, top over down
guileless, gill-less,
submersed and drowned.


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Emily Severance teaches elementary special education in New Mexico. She has a BA from The Residential College at The University of Michigan and an MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She wrote this poem after reading the ACLU report on the treatment of prisoners at the Orleans Parish Prison (OPP) during Hurricane Katrina.

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My Father’s Grief

August 19, 2011 4 comments

by Susan Facknitz

He wears it like wires,
chicken wire of the rusted coops
that sit outside the house
in crazed angles of neglect,
rat wire’s tiny squares
all over the empty flight cages
inside the house, trip wires
to the mines he cleared
from the roads of Korea
in the long retreat from Cho San.
They hold him up,
not marionette like,
hands above him
in smooth control. More like
yard signs or whirligigs.
things punched into the ground
that give when the wind whips
too fiercely or the earth softens
with rain. He plunks
his bandy legs across whatever ground
he has to each day forgetting
as he goes, synapses starved
and current gone bad,
he wakes the night away
in cold electric light.


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Susan Facknitz has had poems in Poetry East, Mississippi Review and Southwords (Ireland), in addition to her previous appearance in qarrtsiluni (“Flotsam,” in the Water issue).

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So Like a Cell

August 18, 2011 Comments off

by Susan Weaver

Two figures pass each other: one
in jeans and hooded retreat,
the other hunched against the world,
left hand pocketed, his right
holding a cigarette, lost
in the beat of his Walkman.
Late afternoon shadows
consume the sidewalk, creep up
a windowless brick wall.
This city street, air squeezed out,
admits no sky, no horizon.
So like a cell, it brings to mind

a Kentucky detention center. Spirals
of steel-blue razor wire, the airless
glass vestibule, a heavy door’s
irrevocable click, the guard
prompting us to empty our pockets.
In sky-colored robe my sister’s son
graduates with the highest score,
earning a scholarship to nowhere.
Afterward, raising a clenched fist
to his nose and breathing deeply,
“Whenever I get outside,” he says,
“I grab me a handful of grass.”


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A journalist, poet and arts-educator, Susan Weaver also answered hotline calls and counseled shelter residents part-time for 12 years at an agency for victims of domestic abuse. Nine years ago, her family suffered its own domestic violence. Weaver’s poems drawing on those experiences have appeared in literary journals (Women’s Way, Main Street Rag, and Survivor) and the sociological journal Violence Against Women. She lives in Allentown, Pennsylvania, with her husband Joseph C. Skrapits, a painter and writer.

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A Blizzard for Grandma

August 17, 2011 3 comments

by Lynnel Jones

I watch your snow-white
camouflage, the mechanized rise
and fall of your breath,

a skinny tube up your nose,
another pegged to your middle,
the third draining

a catch of amazing topaz.
I remember you wanting to die
in Pool, in your house,

just yourself and your stuff, intact.
I imagine for you real
snow, a killing

dose, like the one in ’40 —
surprising scores of hunters,
dead quickly

from cold and lack of care.


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Lynnel Jones’s poetry is steeped in the joys and struggles of Minnesota’s immigrant mining community and the lives of the people of rural southern Virginia and Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. A people-watcher since childhood, above all she aspires to write poems accessible to the ordinary folks she writes about — and to do that with sensitivity, originality and gratitude.

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Irises

August 16, 2011 1 comment

by Rose Hunter

Work hard that’s
all I did before, and then all I did
was drink; I’m boring,

in front of the razor wire
the man who says
no one has ever commented
on his eyes — how so?
they are blue and yellow
irises tumbling
a torrential garden
at Saint-Rémy

to prove it, I took his picture
but the eaves turned them black

but no problem, the man
who fixed doors for thirty years:
perhaps you need the Mexican sun
to see them? — steps out, smiling.


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Links to Rose Hunter’s published writing can be found at her website, Whoever Brought Me Here Will Have To Take Me Home. Her book of poetry, to the river, was published by Artistically Declined Press (2010). She edits YB, an online poetry journal, and lives in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

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