Vol. 1: Autumn 2007
by David Huddle
A stile is a pair of steps or ladders that is accessible to
pedestrians but generally inaccessible to animals. Stiles
are often found in rural areas or along footpaths and allow
access to a field or other area enclosed by a fence or wall.
Unlike a gate, there is no chance of forgetting to close
Between the house of my mother’s childhood
and the one where my father grew up was
a field about the size of a city
block, a fence on both sides, with a gate through
which he had to pass to enter the field,
then a stile over which he had to pass
to leave the field and arrive in her yard.
My brothers and I were specks of cosmic
dust floating far above the thistles, clover,
alfalfa, and wild strawberries that grew
in that field–no bodies, brains, or spirits,
we nevertheless witnessed a young man’s more
and more frequent trips through the gate, across
the field, and over the stile that summer,
both their mothers watching from bedroom windows
that faced each other across the shimmering
heat of June, July, and August. Desire
is the sky, the grass, the smell of cedar,
specks of light shooting through blackness: it knows
no authority. Our mother was fifteen,
compelling as fire seen for the first time,
strong-willed as a young horse. Their mothers knew
better than to say no. My brothers and I kept
our watch, drifting closer each time my father
approached the stile to find her on the porch,
waiting in the wicker rocker. Her half-closed
eyes saw him flying to her. That’s when they
must have felt us waiting out there in time.
by Timothy Donnelly
Then there’s this: a page
torn from the original
stupor to which the mind
is always driven to
return, drawn by a calling
back to the memory
of what must have been a room
impulsively, caught up
in the fluster of a vast
misunderstanding, or else
a room you never left
without the sense you were leaving
something of value
puzzled in the billows
and even as you turn
to retrieve what’s lost
you know you never
will except in pieces, random
glimpses of a nothing
you want only to possess
again entirely, entirely
without sacrifice, as if
to sift living long enough
among dim lamps
might press into your hands
the sum of all the pages
missing or else leave you
briefly able to compose
an apparatus which might
force the infinite
back into the cabin of your thought now and stop
the animals where they drink
along the perimeter
of the lake beneath your sleep.
by Thomas Lux
Nevermind the exchange of letters,
epithets, the appointing of seconds,
choosing of time and place (Vidalia,
Weehauken, The Oaks…)
the wrangling over the nature
of the insult (“Sir, though you may say you meant Miss Slather
no offense, your left eyebrow
so now I must call you rude, Sir, and a calumniator.”
Instead of that
let us choose a pistol, eschew
rising early and wetting our boots
and pant-cuffs with dew.
Instead, let us meet after brunch
in the undertaker’s parlor,
let us sit knee to knee,
the pistol on a stool beside us.
Then, after saluting each other
and instructing our friends
our honor is ours only, let us,
let us flip a coin
and the winner shall take up the pistol
and shoot the loser
between the eyes or, if it be over an insult (as in
this case) to the fairer sex, let the winner
shoot the loser in the heart. This
is an American duel, how we fight,
how we respond to nose-pulling,
unlike the foppish French
or the English, who wrap their umbrellas
so astonishingly tight.
Thomas Lux’s new book, God Particles, is forthcoming
this spring from Houghton Mifflin.
“The American Duel” © 2007 Thomas Lux
by Jennifer Wallace
The words sink
with their singular velocity.
My friend’s brother is dead.
He drank too much,
let his lungs go.
It was his own fault,
the bitter ones said.
At the end,
he shoved everyone out.
Who can blame him?
His stone heart is a cloud now.
Whose time will come next?
A tiny fracture in a cell.
What are we left with?
The laying out –
a bowl and pitcher.
more mossed and mineraled than before.
My friend said,
He’s on his way now, poor soul.
Head of thunder,
his finger with its nicotined nail.
On his way.
The rarified air.
Everything but his name, on its way.
Jennifer Wallace teaches at the Maryland Institute, College
of Art in Baltimore, MD. She is a poetry editor at The
Cortland Review and one of the founding editors of
Toadlily Press. Her chapbook, Minor Heaven, appears
in the anthology, Desire Path (Toadlily Press,
2005). Her poems and prose have been published in numerous
literary journals and featured on Baltimore Public Radio.
“How To Say It” © 2007 Jennifer Wallace
by Lissa Warren
when I knew.
he left my bed
to tend to
which stunned itself
while we were making
Lissa Warren is Vice President, Senior Director of Publicity
and Acquiring Editor at Da Capo Press, a member of the
Perseus Books Group. She is the author of The Savvy
Author’s Guide to Book Publicity (Carroll & Graf,
2004), and teaches publishing at Emerson College and Boston
University. A poetry editor for the literary magazine
Post Road, she holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing
from Bennington College, and her poetry has appeared in
Quarterly West, Oxford Magazine, Black Warrior
Review, and Verse.
“Passer Domesticus” © 2007 Lissa Warren
Reverend Levi Healy, Missionary to Cambodia, Delivers the Dedication Address for the New, New Baptist Church of Angkor
by Carrie Meadows
We are not pessimists. We believe
in the power of God above all things. Exodus:
I held half a dozen figs in one hand. That was the night
we ran, the night giant roots
stalked the jungle floor like ivory poachers, the night
roots wrapped our walls and nudged
at the foundations—they pierced
the stone weak, caught the pieces
as they fell. Merciful Lord, the pieces did not fall.
Take a moment to locate the exit doors, but do not worry.
We are better now; our pillars no longer carved,
balanced things but roots extending deeply, firmly,
far into the ground. We’ve installed
amplified sound sets, and the figs—
some are as big as my head, require two hands.
This is a celebration. No one fled,
not one of us,
as roots like ungroomed fingers hugged our chests. Genesis:
our ribs were plucked and replaced, bone for cellulose.
We lived, praise God,
to make better preparations. Revelation:
seven plagues will come upon us. Platinum-level donors
will be given flame retardant suits
and capes made of Kevlar,
anodized steel cups for their genitals. Jesus was crucified
but saved himself
that He might sit at the Lord’s right hand,
that we might live
faithfully. Chain restraints will bind
members to their seats
should Satan’s lizards invade the sanctuary. Ceiling jets
will spew insecticide in the event termites
lurk hungry for lignin, our skeletons.
by David Swerdlow
there was a world I couldn’t fix. I stuffed my wet sheets in the chute
most mornings and did anything but drift down to the kitchen, dark on one side
and light on the other, my bowl of cereal waiting for me. Their love
for me was immense, measured, I suppose, by their need
for me to look away from failure. Theirs. Mine. I studied
the wallpaper, the repeating trees of winter drawn with pen and ink.
Bleak and, for this reason, beautiful, to someone whose pain was both
present and postponed, the stripped down trees paralleled my small venture
down the stairs. I look at the scar on my arm from the time I ran
down those stairs and crashed through the glass door. The old seam of skin
widens then fades into the palm’s history of guilt and guilt’s evasion. The cut came
when my arm snapped back through the jagged glass. Now my mother
and father float above me, cloth white bandages covering their flawed eyes.
David Swerdlow is the author of Small Holes in the
Universe (WordTech Editions, 2003). His poems have
appeared in The American Poetry Review, Poetry, West
Branch, and elsewhere. He teaches creative writing
and literature at Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA.
“I was five….” © 2007 David Swerdlow