“Writing a book is mostly an exercise of spending years at a time in a room by yourself living in an imaginary world.”
The Games People Play
Penny, Elayna, Loulla, Sally—women Lucas juggles to make up for “the dread of humiliation that followed Olivia’s betrayal.” Even after he gets caught, he can always rely on Paris and Delphine, and maybe Debbie too.
The Foxhole in the Front Yard
Gen chased insurgents, rode Humvees across Iraq, peeled walls with the .50 caliber machine gun. Once when he got back home he grabbed his pregnant wife Karen to dig a foxhole in the front yard and she wants mangoes in the morning.
Mark Krainin disappeared ten years ago. Signs went up: Tommy Luna, Dorothy Copewell, Andrea Whitman, Justin Kint, and Edith Maynard. Ash Denton talks to them and everyone thinks he has lost his mind. And then it happens.
My Three Sons
Their mother is proud and calls them her famous sons on television no less. Except: Billy and Danny are videotaped stripping the renovated church, whereas Jacob absconds with the wad of cash leaving his brothers to pay for the crime.
On a blank page a poetic story is told about the woman who finds her light in the moon amid the darkness and solitude; who opens like a flower; who is timeless and makes your heart beat faster. You want to hold her and never let her go. Who is she?
This is a tale about Nora’s mother Julie who has dementia and resides in Butterfly Residence. But it is also about the underside of the small town of Long River—a colony founded by women who had escaped brutal husbands.
Adenocarcinoma lines his lungs; not what Richard wants to hear. He plays the tape of his father on the ledge, in the air, plunging seven floors down. Richard wonders if he himself had “always been falling and only now looked down.”
After her mother’s death, Gretchen gets a call from Miguel inviting her to retrieve her mother’s possessions. When she visits, she notices new wallpaper and a Persian rug. But she sees something else—an unexpected insight into her mother’s next life.
A Tale or Two
Around a tiki bar in Ecuador, visitors from Germany, Canada, Texas, and California recount their travelogues, holding forth for hours on end. And then there is the reticent Scotsman who sees a new tale beginning—in the surf’s retreating tide.
“We Are, We Were”, “Think Tragedy, Feel Comedy” and “Are we equal yet?”
Metaphysics pervades Griffin’s poetry, as the references to Newton, Heraclitus, Isaac, and Spinoza’s famous Deus sive Natura are instructive. Pay attention to the titles: “We Are, We Were,” “Think Tragedy, Feel Comedy,” and “Are We Equal Yet?”
“Vertigo, NC”, “Wisp” and “To my daughter, sleeping in the back seat”
There is a subdued presence in McAllister’s poetry, as if she is whispering in your ear: feel the sensuous in “Vertigo, NC”; see the fox emerge from the trees in “Wisp”; and in “To My Daughter” know “a temple in the mountain.”
“unicorn”, “grass icon” and “Bradbury’s butterflies”
Translated from Russian, Blizniuk’s poetry is imbued with concrete images that place you within their parameters, and yet the abstract moves ever so closely to a Universe of billions where “someone has torn out a wire from the cable of the humanity.”
“Tiger Swallowtail”, “Bulbpulse” and “Flamingo”
Stanton’s poetry pulls beyond the words on the page. Is it a search for the “suchness” of things, the true self, the true reality? The poet refuses to be trapped in his corporeality to divine the “whatness” of self: “Tathāgata will be my next child.”
“There’s Only One Dance”, “Lonely Stars and Stripes” and “Placed on Pegasus!”
There is only the dance of poetic rhyme in O’Brien’s poetry, as embodied in the poem “Pegasus,” a moral tale unencumbered by abstraction or opaque allusions: “Rejoice and kick up/the dust/in your/every advance,” the poet commands.
“The Raven and the Stone”, “Tea for the Taxman” and “Dolphin Song”
To read “thee” and “thou” and “ne’er” and “‘tis” in “The Raven and the Stone” and “Dolphin Song” is like returning to the world of poetry in the 18th century. In Jewett’s hands, this poetic composition is simultaneously playful and dramatic.
“The Millenials”, “he is no surprise” and “a Boxer’s beginning, at the end”
Mindful of the philosophical and spiritual, Keshran gives readers an option: they can read at the surface of his poetry or they can move like “the current of the river” and choose “to seek what lies beyond this earth.” There is magic here.
“The Dedekind Cut”, “Triangles Reconstructed: Dad’s Last Hospitalization, Son Caught In The Middle” and “Laundromat 1, 2, 3…9”
Ever heard of the “Dedekind Cut?” Sarnat explains the second part as the “partitioning of philosophical arguments,” and goes on to reveal an ironic vulnerability in “Triangles Reconstructed: Dad’s Last Hospitalization . . . .”
“The Bats in the Willow”, “Revenant Gloam” and “I Cannot Make Permanent Things”
Bats, the revenant gloam, and impermanence are the subjects of Mulvihill’s poetry here. Yes, their commonality may not be obvious, but Mulviill’s storytelling marks her poetry—personal and unequivocally forthright. Her voice is her truth.
“Shipwreck”, “No Going Back” and “A Book Like Mine”
When a poet uses figurative language like Soule in “Shipwrecked,” you feel the extended metaphor or conceit alive in the paradox that the men on board will perish, “becoming pearls, their skin coral.” Ditto “A Book Like Mine” and quicksand.
“Prairie Summer”, “La Sabranenque” and “Leaves”
This is not easy, this telling a story through images that don’t miss a beat in the poetic line, and to tell it so completely, as L’Heureux “La Sabtranenque” and “Leaves” do through the perspective of “I” and the consistency in voice and mood.
“Like Oleander”, “Navigating Silence” and “Tiresias, the Seer (a poem in 9 Tankas)”
Read Pasagiannis poems quietly, as they offer you an opening to the ethereal and spiritual and mysterious. Each poem breathes its own poetic nuance in form and content, but they gather the difference in “Navigating Silence”: “just listen.”
“Frankenstein, I love you”, “For Shilpa” and “Ash Wednesday”
Reading Zvereva’s poetry is like entering a lush garden of words that find meaning in their juxtaposition, and the senses dominate while reason takes a back seat, if only for a little while. Feeling pulls you toward the understanding and not knowing.
“Drowning”, “Forms” and “Odysseus”
The transient nature of life is nowhere more keenly perceived as in Ryder’s poem “Forms.” The irony is obvious: “When I die the world will stop spinning,” and then this: “I will be a form, a shape, a number, a colour, a sound.” A transitory traveller.
“Dark Sun”, “confessing” and “nag, stone”
An existential fear of unknowing in Heather’s poems is made most explicit in “Dark Sun,” but it is also present in “nag, stone” and “confessing,” irrespective of the irony. Named: “this terror towards time” and “the swirling chaotic mystery of my past.”
To Love the Graveyard
What is there about a graveyard to love? Families who visit? Animals that find shelter? “The silence of a thousand talking graves”? Emily Roberts explores those stories behind the stones.
Robbins didn’t know herself before she was a mother at twenty, but she was determined to know herself as an adult. This is her story about the tension between motherhood and ambition, and how she didn’t allow ambition to lose.
A Creative Interrogation of Ishion Hutchinson’s “Homage: Vallejo”
Follow Makovetsky’s exegesis of Ishion Hutchinson’s poem “Homage: Vallejo” and you are in a world of awareness in which Hutchinson uses Vallejo’s lens to talk about “being born black in a racist America”—one of Makovetsky’s many insights.
On a bright, crisp day in early October, he sped up Archie’s recently paved road and stopped inches from the twin-bay garage. He opened the driver’s door of his 1985 Chevy half-ton and swung his bad leg out first and leaned heavily on his cane. Inside the garage, his brother stood stooped over a V-8 engine. At the sight of Moss, he dropped a piston into a valve cover and wiped his hands on a soiled cloth. “There’s been a fire. Clara’s burned pretty bad,” Moss said, when Archie was close enough he smelled grease and dirty engine oil.