Category Archives: Poetry

January Storm Warning

The waitress with the steam rise
from an ice shift lake voice
takes my empty wine glass without asking:
brings it back full.
No one else in the bar.

The defeated afternoon sky
dense as cellar stored root vegetables
dense as surge debris
sags just a little like the sifting snow
the drift breakers that form in the avenues of trees.

Tonight’s storm, the tv above the gin bottles warns,
promises that brutality of January
that huddle hides people
that wind wipes away texture:
bark, bird tracks, friction, snow ridge roughness
the grain of asphalt turned to quartz.

And in the morning when everything
is the off white of an unlit bulb
I will think white

I will think At what temperature below zero
     does boiling water thrown into the air
     crystallize instantly?
think When I walk outside will I feel naked?
think How many minutes for my skin to freeze?

White.  Every day for two months.  White.

Until the strengthening sun unglues palings.
Until the sun cleanses them.
Until the sun turns them wooden again.


John Walser is an associate professor of English at Marian University-Wisconsin.  He holds a doctorate in English and Creative Writing from UW-Milwaukee. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Spillway, Mantis, the Normal School, The Pinch, december magazine, the Superstition Review, Dressing Room Poetry Journal, Sequestrum and Lumina, as well as in the anthology New Poetry from the Midwest 2017.  A Pushcart nominee and the recipient of the Lorine Niedecker Poetry Award, John is a three-time semifinalist for the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry.

Lot’s Wife

          “Just because you’ve had enough
            doesn’t mean you wanted too much”
                        (Dean Young)

The myth that an owl can turn its head completely around
is, like many others, true; just because you grow up knowing
something doesn’t guarantee one day you’ll turn to find it’s
gone, or worse. There are angels among us. They smell of camphor.
They are good with explosives, and their lips are full enough
for even the smallest uncircumcised cock. The fact that an owl
can look behind it without moving its body grants it access to
information most animals are not allowed. The body is made
of between .15 and .2 percent sodium. Excess salt in the blood
leads to hardening, thickening, sluggishness, stroke. Camphor-
sulfonic acid is used in the form of a salt as a stimulant for
heart failure and shock. When he felt her hand growing hard,
he tightened his grip but did not stop running. When he could
no longer drag her, he let the hand go.

~

When he could no longer drag her, he let the hand go.
Wir haben, wo wir lieben, ja nur dies. The practice of salting
roadways in winter continues to have the unexpected effect
of increased collisions with wildlife drawn to the salt.
Impulse. Instinct. The desire to look. The genitals of fetuses
are, like angels, initially ambiguous: the pushpin stump
of the clitoro-phallus, the just-parted lips of the scroto-labia.
Hyponatremia, the deficiency of sodium in the blood,
can lead in athletes to muscle cramps. He ran and he ran.
Historically, salt licks were used to hunt game: the slaughter
of many for the preservation of few. In fire, the wings
of angels retract. A week later, after the smoke had cleared,
he followed the tracks back through the sand, but when
he finally found her, the features were gone.

~

When he finally found her, the features were gone.
Lacuna. Laconic. In 1960, the residents of northern Japan
consumed 10,300 milligrams of salt per day, whereas
in the Amazon, the Yanomami consumed less than 200.
But this is not a history of salt. The myth says Orpheus
was punished for looking back. The myth says the punishment
was that Eurydice died twice. Leaving town, the angels
shake ash from their feet. The practice of salting flesh
is called curing, but many prefer the flavor of smoke.
A hallucinatory smell of burning has occasionally been known
to presage a stroke. In hindsight, she must have had
a name. In hindsight, the angels looked just like us.
What she knew was privileged. She lay like an owl
with its head twisted completely around.

Kent Leatham’s poems and translations have appeared in dozens of journals, including PloughsharesPrairie SchoonerFenceSoftblowAble Muse, and Poetry Quarterly. He received an MFA from Emerson College and a BA from Pacific Lutheran University, served as an associate poetry editor for Black Lawrence Press, and currently teaches creative writing at California State University Monterey Bay.


Media Updates

The herd of sparrows in the yard bends,
Breaks, then coalesces again, following
And leading, losing and finding each other
To blend and vie, serve and dominate.

I don’t know what their tribe has in place
For sexual misconduct. I don’t know
What stories they tell about longing
For home. I’m not sure they’re good

Analogues. I can see their hunger
And their flight, their vulnerable mastery.
When they scatter at my approach,
I work to decipher their language
Etched in the loose top soil, easily
Meaningless, mysterious, and erased.


Jared Pearce’s poems have appeared or is scheduled to appear in Southword, PIcaroon, Wilderness House, Triggerfish, and THAT.  His debut collection, The Annotated Murder of One, has been released by Aubade Press.

When people ask me where I am from, I say Mansfield, Ohio

but sometimes I forget and say that I’m from Ontario.
Nobody knows where Ontario, Ohio is. “Like Ontario,
Canada,” they ask me. They have hung on my
earlobes the task of informing them, “no, it’s a small
city to the west of Mansfield, you may have seen
ours Meijers while passing through on Route-30.”
After being asked about Canada some two
hundred and fourteen times, I got tired of letting people
down when I made first impressions. I did
them the favor of lying, so that their ears could perk up
at knowing someone exotic. Of course, I needed
facts about my new home. “In Canada, families huddle
around the fireplace with warm mugs of beer,
and getting fitted for your first coonskin cap is a right
of passage before your first day of school.
The basements are considered to be the first floor
and any building taller than ten stories
(or nine stories plus a basement in America) is considered
to be a skyscraper. By middle school, everyone
has lost a younger brother or sister to the blizzard
because their older siblings tied the walking
rope in a hurry. I never made this mistake because
I was almost that little brother. You see how
thin I am? The winds almost carry me away to this day”.
If someone fact checked me, they would
most likely find that I was wrong about life in Ontario,
Canada, but who would want to make a liar
out of the most interesting stranger they’ve met
so far that morning?


Cortelletti is a senior at Malone University in Canton, Ohio majoring in English Education. Next year, he plans to pursue an MFA or to go into the field of teaching. In addition to being a reader and a writer, he is also a competitive long-distance runner. Most recently, his work has appeared in or is forthcoming in Clarion, 30 North and The Tulane Review. 

Self-Portrait with alcohol poisoning and holy water

After Kaveh Akbar

Sometimes I wonder if the room can smell

my thoughts, the stench of wine or whiskey

clings to me like wet clothes or a pet

that loves me, can’t stand not to

be in my presence. I am learning

to wobble again. How one foot

can be placed ever so slightly in front

of the other, halfway in the future

like go this way, don’t sway too far

from side to side, people are looking.

They can see the sin in my eyes. They feed

on my hurt the way clouds consume the sun.

Do you remember me sober? Do you remember

the way my laughter lingered in a room?

By ‘you’ I mean ‘I’.

Do I listen to the way my body settles at night?

Do I remember how it said no more?

How the last drink I took drowned me

like a child at birth, baptized, breathing in

too much water. How his cries fall mute in that ocean.


James O’Bannon was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio and currently resides in Fresno, California. He is a graduate of the Northern Kentucky University creative writing program and a current MFA candidate at Fresno State University. His writing has appeared in Spry Literary Journal and Flies, Cockroaches, and Poets.

Independence Day

My Uncle Saul once gave me a book
          on the signers of the Declaration.
          Like Franklin he had a fatherly look
          though no children,
          a knack for silly jokes,
          and he fancied science,
          taking a whirl at my experiments
          with a junior chemistry set
          he bought to draw me out
          from my innate ambivalence.
My actual father thought
          him more turncoat, Loyalist
          to a 9 to 5 government post,
          ambitionless, wasting hours
          on walks or hunched over a history text
          sipping a Madeira—but a child
          could fly with him, above towers,
          schoolyards, battlefields, enthralled
          by his stories: one about a chase
          through the Vitebsk woods,
          a boy runs from soldiers, hides
          in a gully as boots stomp past…
My filial allegiance embraced him
          and though now (like my true dad)
          I salute flags of success,
          I sense within me his inclination
          to stroll through a park, its new-mown fields,
          to sit by a lamp with an old tome,
          contentments defying excess
          and honored without cannonades—
          military displays leave me cold
          recalling his relief in evading
          that Soviet patrol, his wariness
          of rank and standing—how it frees
          when someone out of step parades
          what we want to believe.

Michael Sandler’s poems have appeared in more than 30 journals, including California Quarterly, Crack the Spine, Valparaiso Poetry Review and Zone 3. For his day job, he works as an arbitrator.

Instructions for Dealing With a Loved One’s Anger

Treat it like a gift from some unique

and distant planet: Never question

how it works, was born or grows.

*

Admire all its strange, magnificent

quick turnings. Like a beast

in its own jungle, it must run.

/

Hail and lightning hurt

only when you fight against them.

Never try to thwart the force they hurl.

#

Say to yourself: I am

a house exposed to a wild fire;

What must I protect and what let go?

..

Sometimes it’s best to think of sandy beaches.

What each grain washed by the tides endures.

And how, when daybreak softens surf

to opaque yellow, broken shells

will glimmer like real jewels.


Robert Joe Stout writes, reads and goes to baseball games in Oaxaca, Mexico and shares sofa and computer space with his Siamese cat. His fiction has appeared in And/Or, Sin Fronteras, Southern Humanities Review and his poetry has received Pushcart Prize nominations. He earned a B.A. in journalism from Mexico City College, has served on human rights delegations and remembers the year he lived in San Francisco. See http://www.robertjoestout.weebly.com.