Issue Nine, October 2014

Introduction by guest curator Cecilia Llompart

Verse:

Ansley Clark – “Szeged”

Aubrey Ryan – “The Way We Swear It,” “Best American Erotica,” “Lament of the Chinese Paddlefish,” and “Imbolc”

Chesley Weber-Smith – “Coins” and “dead lion”

Greg Solano – “Luna”

Heidi Andrea Restrepo Rhodes – “What She Could Carry”

Jacob Victorine – “Dear Anne” (August 30, September 1, September 3)

29 Feet Per Square Meter

29_feet_per_square_meter_low

39 x 39 inches, twigs, wire, red tape, 2013

14 chickens per square meter inside a ventilated shed is considered free range in Australia. The USDA only requires that the animal has access to the outdoors for an undetermined amount of time each day. That means a coop in America could contain 10 to thousands of chickens inside with a door to the outside the size of a doggy door that is only open for 5 minutes a day with most of the animals unaware the door is even there or open. Free range is not always so free.

You can call the egg company you purchase your animal products from to find out the conditions of the animals. You can get to know a farmer at a farmers market and ask her/him what the conditions are. Maybe even visit the farm.

*

Kim Guare is a fiber artist and environmental activist with a passion to share what she has learned about the unethical way our food is produced today. She graduated from the American Academy of Art in Chicago in 2011 with a BFA in watercolor. She is greatly inspired by the organic produce of the farmers market and her time spent working on organic farms.

Artist Statement:

There is a disconnection from the products we buy to eat and where they come from. My artwork demonstrates my concern with our lack of knowledge for the source of the foods we buy and celebrates the beauty of organic whole foods. The subjects often featured in my work are vegetables, fruits, and farm animals. I take my knowledge of food production, and share my ideas with the viewer so one may enjoy the beauty of our food and be challenged by the way our food is being produced.
I would like my work to trigger a desire in the viewer to be more connected to the origin of our food and the natural world.

Introduction

“We were wanderers from the beginning…” chime the opening lines to Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space. Renowned astronomer Carl Sagan begins his book about exploring the cosmos with a hearkening back to the 99.9% of our time spent on this planet as nomads. It seems we are a species with tremendous potential, and tremendously humble beginnings. With—might I add—cooperative beginnings. A humbling thought.

 

Before our settling down. Before scarcity and squabbling. Before war tore through the very middle of us. Before all the boundaries—real and imagined—were laid out. There was only one thing to do—and that was to keep moving. “The frontier was everywhere. We were bounded only by the earth, and the ocean, and the sky.” The astronomer muses on, in praise of wanderlust, or of that seemingly all too human trait… restlessness.

 

Our longing for bigger and brighter things, he reassures us, is the leftover imprint of when we had to keep moving in order to keep on living. Of when the lame among us, those that fell sick or fell behind, soon perished. Of when we could not make it alone. And it was the restless that led us to new lands, to new abundances. The very survival of our species, the astronomer claims, will always depend on the restless. On longing.

 

But how easy it is to leave the trail-blazing to someone else. To admire activism, when our own basic needs are easily met. To admire adventuring, from a vantage of varied comforts. To say, I am glad that someone is out there—doing that good thing, fighting that good fight—but I am also glad that it is not me. How easy it is to believe that those that pave the way are simply more equipped than us. More adventurous. More resilient.

 

We each juggle our personal allotments of anger, of fear, of grief, of loneliness. And in so juggling, what we might forget is that the trail-blazers among us are often the most weary, the most beaten down. The ones that have already lost the most. They blaze because they must. They press forward, because the way back has been barred for them. They have already lost a family, a language, a country. They may have lost an entire narrative for themselves—and have had no alternative but to construct a new one.

 

For this issue, we called for submissions concerning displacement and displaced peoples, and we defined a displaced person as someone “who has been forced to leave his or her native place.” In the end, what this issue really became is something by trail-blazers, for trail-blazers. And in a time when the headlines may make us feel like we have not come a very long way at all, we must look to those marginalized few—those with foresight.

 

In constructing new narratives for themselves, the writers featured here have constructed new narratives for entire countries, languages, peoples. They have taken what was lost and turned it into what is found. They are restless, yes. They are hungry. They are tired. They do not waver. They have embarked on a journey towards progress, and they will not turn back. Neither will they turn their backs on the difficult realities that progress entails.

 

Their voices have come to us from a long way away, and they have a long way yet to go.

They are those upon whom the very survival of our most human stories depend.

 

–Cecilia Llompart

Szeged

After our parents we were
fffffffffffall mouth****a salt hunger.
Led our animals on ropes
jjjjjjjjjjjjthrough ashy streets
gathering water****I carried
mmmmyou****on my back
the weather****a procession
mmmmof floating burlap.
Piles of linens****unattended
nnnnnnaround the house where
once you entangled
nnnnnnyourself****and panicked
calling to me Help.****Unbearable
nnnnnntiny voice****lump of body
struggling for an opening in
nnnnnntwisted sheets.
I felt a sharp tug—
mmmmthe violent urge
to throw oneself
kkkkkkinto the deepest water.
I raised my foot
iiiiiiiiiiiand stepped on the part
that looked like a face
nnnnnas hard as I could.

*

Ansley Clark is a native of the Pacific Northwest and a traveling hermit-teacher.  She is currently an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Colorado Boulder where she also teaches creative writing.  She has been previously published or has work forthcoming in Smoking Glue Gun, Mead, Denver Quarterly, The Volta, Spork, and The Legendary.

The Way We Swear It

Bodily. By kelp
& wakame. By small,

oily fish. To save
an ocean, we

will leave it.
To save our ground,

we’re planting bluestem,
then burning. Being

woman, I know
to shed, to go

toward new
moon like underground

room. Come out
fetal & drumming.

I swallow herds. I
swallow the sun, & if

a child is female
she carries

all her thousand
eggs inside her

mother & the mother
carries double

all those oaths:
I will be razed

for you & then
you’ll burn me

to ground. You
are the ground &

I’m growing
giant & sunward.

*

Aubrey Ryan’s work has appeared recently or is forthcoming in Ant-, Best New Poets, El Aleph, Phantom Limb, Quarterly West, and elsewhere. Her poems have received awards from The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Consequence Magazine, Booth Journal, and Tupelo Press, and have been nominated for three Pushcart prizes. Aubrey is the Writer in Residence at the Midwest Writing Center in Iowa where she lives with her husband and small son.

Best American Erotica

Talk dirt to me. Tell how bluestem roots

near thirty feet. How echinacea saves the bees.

I ogle dandelions. Have I told you the things

they can do to a body?  Will you truss my

grain mill to my bike? Solar our home & I’ll

be hot to the touch. Just burning up.

Solve the riddle of the polar ice & I’ll spread

like a starfish, though the starfish

are dying in droves. They’re tearing

their arms off. Did you hear? I’ve no mind

for sonnets, no mind for making another

child when even the Mississippi

is gobbling its own plain. I don’t know

what my safe word is. The closest I can get

is native.   Maybe river.   Maybe rain.

*

Aubrey Ryan’s work has appeared recently or is forthcoming in Ant-, Best New Poets, El Aleph, Phantom Limb, Quarterly West, and elsewhere. Her poems have received awards from The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Consequence Magazine, Booth Journal, and Tupelo Press, and have been nominated for three Pushcart prizes. Aubrey is the Writer in Residence at the Midwest Writing Center in Iowa where she lives with her husband and small son.

Lament of the Chinese Paddlefish

One day, there will be no river. The things we think will kill us
don’t—not the red-eyed asteroid, not the red-dust waters, not

the ice age when I froze beneath the mirror of my sky and the slow,
slow silver of my air. There are other homes. Every river meets itself

again: a tongue curling back to lick the spine. There’s no other home:
my stretch; my valley plunge; my swallowed gorge where rock holds

long, low notes and ship is broken back to tree. I fed an emperor;
a bird-boned girl; a man in a haygrass hut. Now their blood runs:

Yangtze, Yangtze, and here is the only place I have to go: this
hundred days to hold the cells of all my thousand sons. Past river,

there is lake. There is a meeting place. I keep some many eons in me.
There is another of me, waiting. We will not find each other.

*

Aubrey Ryan’s work has appeared recently or is forthcoming in Ant-, Best New Poets, El Aleph, Phantom Limb, Quarterly West, and elsewhere. Her poems have received awards from The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Consequence Magazine, Booth Journal, and Tupelo Press, and have been nominated for three Pushcart prizes. Aubrey is the Writer in Residence at the Midwest Writing Center in Iowa where she lives with her husband and small son.