Waves grind the shoreline and darken into pools.
Crabs shuffle sideways, lost in the washed-up eelgrass.
Seagulls spit littleneck clams to the rocks
and don’t even eat the shattered bodies.
They fly as high as the clouds and wrap talons
in the wind. But this kind of love isn’t rare.
When I dream about my brother he disappears
if I look. He wears a bird-bone bracelet,
but I only know this by feel. Even his hair
is something I imagine. His nose occurs solely
as contours. I walk down the beach
and throw stones at the oncoming waves.
This is the best we can do. We leak every time
we are opened. Out just beyond the waves,
love says the same of itself. We can only witness
the implication, only feel for the shape.
Love is a pigeon nestled beside a dead pigeon
at night in the wet corner of a warehouse.
Blackness and the texture of feathers.
The thud of a body surrounded by hollow.
Love is a clamshell’s first touch against rock,
whatever tenderness can be found in that contact
before the crack. It’s been years since I was last
out on the water. The night sky tightens
like that familiar mouth. Clouds hide their bulk
on the backsides of islands. Each wave is real
the way his body is real. Made of something
not itself. Something bigger. Call it water.
Call it wind. Call it tendon-flexing of the moon.
Each wave lifts as he lifts, crashes as he crashes.
Love exists in the way seagulls hold still
in the wind. The way crabs carry pieces of clam
through the moonlight and vanish sideways into sand.
Anders Carlson-Wee is a 2015 NEA Fellow and the author of Dynamite, winner of the 2015 Frost Place Chapbook Prize. His work has appeared in Ploughshares, New England Review, AGNI, Poetry Daily, The Iowa Review, The Missouri Review, Best New Poets, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, and Narrative Magazine, which featured him on its “30 Below 30” list of young writers to watch. Winner of Ninth Letter’s Poetry Award, Blue Mesa Review’s Poetry Prize, and New Delta Review’s Editors’ Choice Prize, he was runner-up for the 2016 Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Prize. His work is currently being translated into Chinese. He lives in Minneapolis, where he’s a 2016 McKnight Foundation Creative Writing Fellow.
“Shoalwater” first appeared in The New England Review.
Say something about the blade, the shine under
the opalescent moon.
How when you moved it
like a see-saw back and forth in your fingers
it caught fire, sent a pearl of light to dance
on the ceiling above you.
Say something about how it mesmerized you
for a second
& made you forget
Say something about having a plan.
Say something about how you cried
& felt nothing.
how it stilled in your throat,
how you breathed
like a master yogi—
Say something about irony.
Talk about the razor between your two
still fingers, held like a lover’s
eyelash to blow away for a wish.
Say how you took it at first
& moved it above
your wrist, sawing
the air for practice.
Say how you let it kiss your skin—
how you let it whisper a salted ocean breeze,
how you began the dance of trajectory
though a vein you didn’t know had so much
Tell how you began—
a creator—to birth
the wet, sticky foal
that is your heart.
Terri Muuss is a licensed social worker, writer, actor, director and motivational speaker. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals including Paterson Literary Review, Apercus Quarterly, Atticus Review, Stirring, Long Island Quarterly, and Red River Review, and five anthologies, and she has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes in poetry. She is the author of Over Exposed (JB Stillwater, 2013) and the one-woman show, Anatomy of a Doll. Anatomy of a Doll was named “Best Theatre: Critics’ Pick of the Week” by the New York Daily News and has been performed throughout the US and Canada since 1998. As a licensed social worker, Muuss specializes in the use of the arts as a healing mechanism for trauma survivors She is married to writer Matt Pasca and her two ginger-haired boys, Rainer and Atticus were former Ellen Show “Presidential Experts.” www.terrimuuss.com
Read an interview with Terri here.
On radio breaking news of drowning at Lampedusa
It is not a name I know, but sound bites of Italian coast
Roman mayor, deadly seas, bring to mind so many
other refugee ships … , I’m thinking of Elián
I’m thinking of Cuba, of Ceuta and death by water
or death by desert, which is more inhumane?
Why does this report break my heart today?
Is it the exotic port name? Or the thought of Eritrean
souls downed in the Mediterranean?
I once saw Euro tourists ferried with cars on board
to islands of sumptuous beauty
Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, playgrounds for europeos
now haunted by Yemeya´s children
I am the daughter of a man who at age fourteen
walked the desert for days, sunsick and weakened
He took blows to the head then woke up in jail
to witness the broomstick beating of an elderly man.
When my father died at seventy-seven,
now alone in his own kind of frailty
his house was empty except for a Bible,
a typewriter, and notes of his own crossing at Yuma.
I have strolled on Corsican beaches and know the summer
throngs along the Côte d’Azur, what is that luxury worth?
Will we not see their faces in the waves?
Where does nationality go when the body disappears?
They are fellow citizens of my
paisas in the desert, the unnamed but numbered,
How is it that we house the dead in modern stateside morgues
but we cannot shelter the living, we cannot offer a hand?
When a child suckling her mother’s milk empties
the right breast, does she not move on to the left?
Are we not free to search our Madre Tierra
as free to search and settle, in her fertile curves?
Refugees who’d survived the fire on the waters
did not stay put in their shelters, in spite of
welcome kits of deodorant and toothpaste.
Officials were astounded by those who fled
to run free is to know you’re hunted
but what is worse? Death by drowning on a fiery ship
or death by heat and fortified funneling through
a hell of bracken fields and barren waste that ends in Pima county?
To be alive at Lampedusa, or Ceuta or Arizona
could only hold a lamplight to your heart
You would know the gift of a new day, a drink of water
of refuge from the sun. For those of us settled
may we imagine what we can we give
in this vast land grab that is our lives,
mired in property deeds and purchasing power,
the need to ship your car by ferry on holiday
We will never know the force of hunger or the urge to run
or the absolute gold that is every day of strength and life before you.
Leticia Del Toro has had work appear in Huizache, Mutha Magazine, ZYZZYVA and Palabra magazine among others. Her honors and awards include a Hedgebrook Residency for Women Authoring Change, a fellowship from the New York State Summer Writers Institute, participation in the Voices of Our Nations Arts program, a 2015 finalist for the Maurice Fiction Prize for the collection “Café Colima” and attendance at Bread Loaf 2016 as a Rona Jaffe Scholar in fiction. She is a California teacher, arts activist and mother with roots in Jalisco, Mexico.
We were damaged. We hurt people. We were called selfish so many times we figured what the fuck, and slid the last piece of steak from our grandmother’s plate. We stole pints of rum raisin even though the raisins thawed and spread like sticky insects on our tongues. We took it out on each other, oldest to youngest, until the dog got a bonnet tied so tight his eyes bugged out. We grew up and left that place, refugees—
We acquired husbands, student loans, a penchant for carving letters lightly into our forearms, kittens that kept coming. We left lovers in pick-up trucks to race home and open cans, scratch under wishbone chins. We got therapy. We went for walk after walk after walk in the woods. We filled the sink with hot water and washed dishes every day.
We stacked folding chairs, jiggled our knees when we sat, got sober standing before a chain link fence, pressing our foreheads to the grid. We inked stick figures on our forearms, mouths open, meowing. We were sorry and said so, and after a while our wheels ground to a gravelly stop. We didn’t know any better. And then we did, and bowed our heads.
Erica Sofer Bodwell is a poet who lives in Concord, New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Crab Fat, Minerva Rising, White Stag, APIARY, The Fem, Coal Hill Review, PANK, HeART and other fine journals. Her chapbook, Up Liberty Street, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in February 2017.
Some carry a stiletto in their garter
along with everything else – Stevie Nicks
We put things in our shoes that sometimes
should not be there. Secrets or even feet,
jammed into the toes, our ankles swelling
turning, falling with every song we play out
with our toes. We let the swell rise to
our knees and refuse the pain refuse
the scream because we know
what is most important.
I press the button on the radio and reach
for my thigh where I carry invisible weapons.
I press the button on the radio and reach
for my thigh where the fat was where
I have wasted away, not eating, not eating,
not feeling, waiting for comfort
and I press the button on the radio.
These days the sun shines but my ankles
feel wet like leaves left in the rain
for days and days and I watch
for your birds and see only
chickadees, everywhere, everywhere.
And what does it mean, these tiny,
tiny birds, hopping over cracks
in the sidewalk that I myself
trip through and worry for?
I reach for a weapon, lost to up-all-night
whimsy. I reach for a weapon and turn off
the radio and the light and close the shades
and wait in the dark for a sign.
E. Kristin Anderson is a multi-Pushcart-nominated poet and author who grew up in Westbrook, Maine and is a graduate of Connecticut College. She has a fancy diploma that says “B.A. in Classics,” which makes her sound smart but has not helped her get any jobs in Ancient Rome. Kristin the co-editor of Dear Teen Me, an anthology based on the popular website and her next anthology, Hysteria: Writing the female body, is forthcoming from Sable Books. She is currently curating Come as You Are, an anthology of writing on 90s pop culture for ELJ Publications. Her poetry has been published worldwide in many magazines and anthologies and she is the author of eight chapbooks including A Guide for the Practical Abductee (Red Bird Chapbooks), Pray Pray Pray: Poems I wrote to Prince in the middle of the night (Porkbelly Press), Fire in the Sky (Grey Book Press), She Witnesses (dancing girl press), and We’re Doing Witchcraft (Hermeneutic Chaos Press). Kristin is Special Projects Manager for ELJ and is a poetry editor at Found Poetry Review. Once upon a time she worked at The New Yorker. She now lives in Austin, TX where she works as a freelance editor and is trying to trick someone into publishing her full-length collection of erasure poems based on women’s and teen magazines. She blogs at EKristinAnderson.com and tweets at @ek_anderson.
Aposematism describes a family of adaptations in which a warning signal (e.g. coloration) is associated with unprofitability to predators: poison, venom, etc.
You reverberate barometric tension—
pressure changes, rhythmic humming, sharp breaths and static.
But I know your body, its California kingsnake skin.
And its wild, plate-sized-pupil eyes when you’re caught off guard,
like the immediacy of kicked-up dust—
Don’t think I can’t see the dozens of little mirrors in your eyes,
facing each other, feigning there’s more light in you than there is, but
We are not made for a world this bright, have to squint to see it the right way.
I relate to your shadows—I know that basement smell, too,
and your eyes pried open by shards of mirror. Your eyes, rolled back,
and your grin when you know you’ve done well—
Orbit at my edges, memorize these sharp places, and
when you’ve nearly torn me apart, I’ll push back.
You’ll have to be way up here to stick around. If you climbed up, and I saw
your shaking light in the dark star next to mine, you’d be almost torn, too, so
devastate me. Bring me to tears, and make me hide them.
Hold me down, punch me in the stomach, choke me until I see bright flashes,
glimmers, and I’ll wonder if light is love after all.
Kristen Scarlett is a writer from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Cape Fear Living Magazine, and East End Elements, and she received second place in the SCCC Creative Writing Award for College Writers in 2015. Her hobbies include fancy teas, existential crises, and musing with her cat, King Charles.