We’re sitting in the Jimmy Johns
waiting for our foot-longs.
My father’s brand-new cane
a twisted length of black branch
every time he leans too heavy on it.
Outside a crowd gathers
around a Ford Mustang
with a kitten stuck
inside the wheel well, motor still
hot as black sand.
We ordered and paid
twenty minutes ago.
Two of the four teenagers
who run the place
stand outside wearing oven gloves
and one holds a box
to nest the kitten once she’s free.
My father peers
between window signage.
That’s a job for the fire department.
Someone call 911!
This music’s too loud,
Can we go someplace else?
Each time the door opens,
I fingernail pinch
the delicate skin under my arm
—to stave away
the slice of kitten’s
from deep the metal gut.
Katy E. Ellis
Katy E. Ellis grew up under fir trees and high-voltage power lines in Renton, Washington and is the author of three chapbooks: Night Watch—winner of the 2017 Floating Bridge Press chapbook competition—Urban Animal Expeditions and Gravity (a single poem), which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her poetry appears in a number of literary journals including Pithead Chapel, MAYDAY Magazine, Calyx, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, and the Canadian journals PRISM International, Grain and Fiddlehead. Her fiction has appeared in Burnside Review and won Third Place in the Glimmer Train super-short fiction contest. She has been awarded grants from the Elizabeth George Foundation, Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture and Artist Trust/Centrum. Katy co-curates WordsWest Literary series, a monthly literary event in West Seattle.
Each time I meet my grandfather in a dream
he speaks only German—reminds me to speak
only when he’s a ghost. He hums between
the chimes of the Black Forest cuckoo,
takes the pick out of his teeth
when he looks my way:
Kennst du mich nicht? ::
Weißt du nicht wer du bist? ::
I want to bring him back to Chicago, but
we’re lost in fields, midwestern soybeans.
And when he fades I cry out:
Wo bist du? Wo bist du?
When my grandfather dies
his body deepens into the soybeans.
I try to excavate him,
but all that is left of his bones:
empty gin bottles that perfume his tongue,
model train tracks set in a circle.
I look for a way to bear him back—but I find
myself wandering to his old house,
burrowing inside the fireplace,
pulling logs he had chopped around me
like blankets. When his ghost comes to light the fire
—the only way he knows how to heat
the house—I let myself burn with it.
The Embalmer haunts my grandfather back to the South Side of Chicago,
where he beat me for building with my left hand instead of my right.
I extract each cluster of edelweiss, de-construct each petal a tomb.
Clay: quarry and kiln—let it sharpen like an eyetooth.
Brick: measure weight in hand—consider its flight
through the window :: a way out.
Rough-hewn stone: walls built up in Chicago,
then hidden between fields of soybeans.
Nested in each hard, scarred pod is one of his bones.
The Architect shoos the Embalmer away
—lets me sleep—gives me the time to turn back
to stone dust or the silky powder of soot.
Born and raised outside of Rochester, NY, Erin Kae is a proud graduate of SUNY Geneseo. Her poetry has been featured in Vinyl, Sonora Review, Crab Fat Magazine, and Fugue among others. She was recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize by Aster(ix) Journal, and was selected as a finalist for the 2017 Locked Horn Press Publication Prize for their issue Read Water: An Anthology, 2019. Her first poetry chapbook, Grasp This Salt, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in 2019. She currently resides in Somerville, Massachusetts.
Normally, we celebrate the holidays,
exchanging gifts, delighting each other
with the latest gadgets. Normally,
we believe in how life always improves,
gets more convenient, easier to live.
Normally, we don’t’ hunker down.
Normally, we don’t have occasion
to use that phrase—hunker down.
Normally, we replace the windows,
rebuild that demolished interior wall.
Normally, we have work to do, relatives
haven’t vanished, and friends haven’t fled.
Normally, the toilet tank refills.
Normally, we change our clothes.
William Aarnes has published two collections with Ninety-Six PressLearning to Dance (1991) and Predicaments (2001)—and a third collection, Do in Dour, from Aldrich Press (2016). His work has appeared in such magazines as Poetry, FIELD, and Red Savina Review.
The latest research calls it misnaming, says
I likely look
nothing like her. Insists
it has nothing to do with aging, assures me
that the fact that both our names
start with K
is unimportant. In a half-
second, I learned this Scorpio dragon
shares the same semantic network
inside one man’s brain
and something else
located in an organ I won’t try to name
since I might say heart
when I mean penis, both
smoking, catching fire, and I guess
to everyone at some point:
you get excited, you get
confused, cup your hands to drink
from the same big bucket of love.
Kasandra S. Larsen
Kasandra Larsen’s work has appeared in Best New Poets 2012, Burningword Literary Journal, Under a Warm Green Linden and Into the Void, and is upcoming in The Halcyone Magazine’s/Black Mountain Press’ 64 Best Poets of 2018, among others. Her full-length poetry manuscript has been a finalist for the 2016 Four Way Books Intro Prize in Poetry, and a semifinalist for the 2017 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award. Her chapbook STELLAR TELEGRAM won the 2009 Sheltering Pines Press Chapbook Award. She is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and a poetry reader for the journal Bare Fiction (UK).
On a good morning
I am the shaman
on a great morning
I am all thirteen of them
a conclave of fire and feathers
atop the Sayan Mountains.
I practice divinations
while sipping coffee
and braiding my syllabic chants
into crows’ shouts
I call the words gather
they descend the World Tree
I lead ancestral heroes
to the island of my page.
I am a correspondent
fumbling with my camera
to document this Siberian ritual
or worse an ill-fated Yakutian bull
as I surrender to the blade
palpable and mute.
On a good morning
I am both the knife
and the warm bowl of cow’s blood –
on a great morning
I am a poet.
Candice Kelsey’s poems have appeared in such journals as Poet Lore, The Cortland Review, North Dakota Quarterly, and Burningword — recently her nonfiction was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. An educator of 20 years’ standing with her master’s degree in literature from LMU, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and three children.
a plastic water bottle
of an unplanned day-trip
its hollow clunk-clunk-clunk
into the recently emptied
recycling bin echoing through
the shallow chambers
of my heart—blood pulsing
into unwashed fingertips
the cheek-kiss of a too-warm
spring breeze—forewarning of
the oncoming storm
this knowing there is no right here
there can be no rights
out of all these wrong turns
what are we anyway
only ghosts living in
some future past
drifting blindly by
as Earth simmers
Author of ‘where the lost things go’ (Salmon Poetry 2017), Anne Casey has worked for 25+ years as a journalist, magazine editor, media communications director and legal author. Her poetry has won/shortlisted for awards in Ireland, USA, UK, Canada and Australia; she ranks in The Irish Times Most-Read. Anne is Senior Poetry Editor of two literary journals for Swinburne University, Melbourne. Her poems feature in The Irish Times, Entropy, apt, Murmur House, Quiddity, Cordite, The Incubator, Verity La, Plumwood Mountain, The Honest Ulsterman, The Stony Thursday Book, Into The Void, Autonomy anthology and Burning House Press among others. Her second collection is forthcoming in 2019.