Category: Issue 08

Issue Eight, July 2014


Dan Albergotti –  “Laocoön”

Layla Benitez-James – “Bear With Me,” and “Privilege”

Ian Seed –  “Unnamed”

Hala Alyan – “Winter Altar” and “A Dream in Seville”

Lisa Ampleman – “from Courtly Love (for Courtney Love)”

Michael Eddie Anderson – “Cessation”

Tova Benjamin – “Epilation or Gradual Decline,” and “Parenthetical Killers”

Lauren Camp – “I am Practicing Now,” and “Please Do Not Send Peace, Please Send Peace”

Paula Cisewski – “The First Person”

Matthew Reed Corey – “Biopoiesis: Earth Before Life,” “His is the Encyclopedia Given to You Without a Word,” and “Written in Glass are Four Solutions to the Problem of Nothing.”

Joshua Daniel Edwin – “Book Control”

Josette Akresh-Gonzales – “Retirement”

David Dodd Lee – “Reversal” and “Andy Warhol”

Robert Lietz –  “Stunt Casting”

Joel Preston Smith, “The Redactions (1), (2), (3),” Notes

Alison Reed – “City of Crosses,” “Corvus,” and “Heidegger, 1966”

Mary Austin Speaker – “Necropastoral for the Mississipi River,” “Necropastoral for the Carribbean Ocean,” and‎ “Daughters of the American Revolution”


Visual Art:

Christy Lee Rogers, from OF SMOKE AND GOLD:

Riders of the Dawn

Images of a Villian Hero

The Touch of Your Skin is Broken

Since the Silence

Unknown Soldiers

The Sunshine Walks Beside Her

Fountain of Life

In a Dream I Could Believe



from “In Your Absence” – Danielle Pafunda

“At the Flamboyant” – Russell Bennetts and Rauan Klassnik


The man held his two dead sons in his arms
and looked skyward, not trying to see gods,
but to arch his vision over the edge
of the horizon and find the real ones
to blame. Trying to see Athens or Rome,
Carthage or London. Moscow. Washington.
Who had sent serpents across the ocean?
Who was it this time? And once again, why?
And all he could hear were the rolling waves
lapping at the shore and the sighs of men
over newspapers rustling in a breeze.
And all he could ever see was nothing.
He was so many people, so many
damned people. And his eyes were made of stone.




Dan Albergotti is the author of The Boatloads (BOA Editions, 2008), selected by Edward Hirsch as the winner of the 2007 A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize, and a limited-edition chapbook, The Use of the World (Unicorn Press, 2013). A new full-length collection, Millennial Teeth, was selected by Rodney Jones in the Crab Orchard Series Open Competition in 2013 and will be published by Southern Illinois University Press in September 2014. His poems have appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Five Points, The Southern Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and Pushcart Prize XXXIII, as well as other journals and anthologies. A graduate of the MFA program at UNC Greensboro and former poetry editor of The Greensboro Review, Albergotti is a professor of English at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina.

Bear With Me

I like my coffee black,

like my father

likes his coffee black, black,

like I like my thoughts—coiled,

shine of a coral snake black

and red and yellow, red and black

friend of jack: jack the bear?

Yes, but the king snake fools you. Bear

with me, I know this is a bad joke, but,

sometimes, I am a bad joke.

Red and yellow kills


a fellow like my plagues    black

jjjjjjjjjjjlike my Fridays      black

jjjjjjjjjjjlike my mambas, my little dresses.


Can’t you consider yourself as anything more

than a hot beverage? Against alabaster and marble

and orchids of stone shining quiet as snow—

“Are there many black students at your school?”

Asked an old sandstone woman, and it seemed


I should have known how many. I shrugged. Lighten up.

When the BSU found me that first week of school,

they had a flyer with my name on it and an extra


for my roommate. They said, “you don’t have to be black

to be down,” said, “you don’t have to be black to be

down.” But it helps, I think, it never hurts, I want to say.


Layla Benitez-James’s work can be found at Acentos Review, The San Antonio Express-News, The San Antonio Current and Gulf Coast. She lives in Houston where she recently received her masters in poetry and will be moving to Spain in the fall to finish a translation project.


The princess-colored azalea

blooms don’t care;

they make their branches heavy bright


and rouge the thuggish sidewalk

when they drop.

Buster, I’m the sort who cuts


across the muddy lawn,

ferrying soil

on my Ariat boots.


This is not

a complete


of all transactions.


Oh, the universe is trying;

this morning,

I wished for Prosecco and Eggs


Benedict, but the Empire

would only

serve to me one rich omelette


and a glass of champagne;

it can be hard,

very hard, to live in the world.




Layla Benitez-James’s work can be found at Acentos Review, The San Antonio Express-News, The San Antonio Current and Gulf Coast. She lives in Houston where she recently received her masters in poetry and will be moving to Spain in the fall to finish a translation project.



Its colourless mouth has shaped unseizable words


you in yourself circle where you still my arms to return  ready-made


without boundaries it gives a lake a last clean


takes on shadow substance but the place already and again opening its tender


bearing tears of cold childhood directions all fluid impossible


and night transparent your skeleton clothes has skin arrived


and always another inside you I wanted fluids lips could instrument


the pulse of petals in their suspended unfolding


and vertical again only no longer touching remain open


I and together unfrozen of eyes have wandered near mouths


the hidden it under your door I the answered opening on melt


and fingers gentle the clean cry my small body facedown





Ian Seed is editor of He teaches at the University of Chester (UK). His latest publication is a collection of prose poems, Makers of Empty Dreams (Shearsman, 2014).



Winter Altar

The last Sunday of the month pockets
of roses

appear on the lamppost.

I line windowsills with ash

because I cannot bear the

They torched the library in

and I am proud of the tea I swirled
with milk

the night you left. Soap

soaps a sink of plants flecking
the clay basin and

faltered I script every stalled train
into romance.

I do ballerina stretches.

I twirl
for every smiling man.

They will all die. I know that now.

Hala Alyan is a Palestinian-American poet whose work has appeared in several journals, including Copper Nickel, Third Coast, and The Journal. Her first full-length poetry collection, “Atrium,” was published by Three Rooms Press in New York City, and was recently awarded the 2013 Arab American Book Award in Poetry. She resides in Manhattan.

A Dream In Seville

It was as gilded as fishskin—

us, sea rising in tulip waves.
A minaret cloaked in fog.

Our voices lunar as we cry
each other’s names, rapture

and protest,
our bodies gates in a cave.

I am barefoot amongst poppies.
Each star is a dagger, shards

from an urn broken
by a drunken god.


Hala Alyan is a Palestinian-American poet whose work has appeared in several journals, including Copper Nickel, Third Coast, and The Journal. Her first full-length poetry collection, “Atrium,” was published by Three Rooms Press in New York City, and was recently awarded the 2013 Arab American Book Award in Poetry. She resides in Manhattan.

from Courtly Love (for Courtney Love)


I’m a good lady
I’m a good lay
I sing a good lay
Voi che sapete
che cosa è amor.
Some day
you will ache
like I ache.

Listen to the strum,
to the feedback’s guitar-hum,
and though you call me strumpet,
bitch, bleached-blonde itch-
satisfier, I rise. I climb
the charts like a live wire.


You must have sun-eyes, they said,
and hair to match, a head
full of sunflowers, and a hand-
ful of arrows, self-command,
and voluminous skirts.
You’re allowed to flirt
with one and all, provided
you’re muse to only one, undivided

attention on the page. Love-child,
be anything but wild,
be mysterious and dull, they chided.
Be coy and refuse—both dessert
and advances. Let go of your firebrand
ways, hold onto your maidenhead.


I am my own sun, and peroxide
makes me blond enough, I guess.
Ferocious as Diana, I tried
archery in high school gym class.

I’ve got a closet full of mini-
skirts, and I love to flirt, but I write
my own story: better to be skinny
than fat, better to bite

than be bitten. I’m the honey
in your tea, the smitten girl
with more on her mind than money
(nice pecs), the mother-of-pearl

knife in your ribs. My maidenhead?
How about your restraint instead.


I am like Mary: I hold a Bean
in my arms for pictures. I made her,
mother her, lick her dirty face clean,
wear her in a slingpack. Officer,
you can’t take her. My house is pristine,
heroin use only a rumor,
and everything else best kept between
husband and wife. Oh, inquisitor,
the cameras are fickle: they’ll tail
you home in your brief flurry of fame:
the one who cuffed Courtney. She’s to blame
for endangerment, he’s the all-hailed
cop—until Buttafuoco’s in jail
and they turn away: bloodhounds, new trail.


Lisa Ampleman is the author of Full Cry (NFSPS Press, 2013), winner of the Stevens Manuscript Competition, and I’ve Been Collecting This to Tell You (Kent State University Press, 2012), winner of the Wick chapbook competition. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry, Kenyon Review Online, 32 Poems, Massachusetts Review, New Ohio Review, New South, Poetry Daily and Verse Daily.


In the bride’s garden plot
under the fan-leafed Ginko tree
beneath a ground cover of creeping juniper
and of a dry scattering of raveled leaves—
some sound, a rustling,
sound evidence of a living thing.

It ceases as she makes advance.
It ceases as she stands and waits.
It ceases as with curious hand she lifts a sprig.
And doubtless now though she has gone
but a small distance
still listening from within
the whited wedding tent staked to the lawn
it ceases still.

How good—she says
to no one else around—
how good for just one hour
to cease
to be as this unspotted thing.




Michael Eddie Anderson has been published in Pen Woman, Rhino: the Poetry Journal, and in the Poet and Artist Chapbook of the Northwest Cultural Council. He has worked as an editor at Rhino and now serves on their Advisory Board.  Anderson lives in Evanston, Illinois with his wife Kay.

Epilation or Gradual Decline

Almost any area of the body can be waxed, including but not limited to: the legs, back, abdomen and feet. When she did wax, Mirka preferred strip waxing. The esthetician dunked the flat wooden stick in the hot bowl of wax and twirled it around. Mirka’s eyes followed the glob dangling off the edge of the stick before it fell onto her face, where it was spread thinly under and over her eyebrows. The sticky sheet on her face turned her forehead into a cave that trickled stalactite shaped wax drips onto her eyelids. The esthetician applied a strip of cloth to Mirka’s face and pressed firmly, so that the strip would adhere to the wax which was in turn adhering to the skin. Mirka gripped the chair just before the esthetician quickly ripped the cloth against the direction of Mirka’s hair growth, yanking the stubble from its roots. Almost immediately the fingers were back on her face again, except this time slathered with cold cream that soothed her hairless skin. Mirka liked strip waxing, even though it did not prevent skin lifting, which sometimes happened during a wax treatment. The top layer of the skin tore away as the cloth ripped off the face, or legs, or abdomen, or back.

It’s been over ten years since Mirka has waxed any part of her body. Semi-permanent hair removal practices are of no use to her now that her skin wrinkles without her frowning and her back hurts almost always, unless she is seated still at the table in her basement where she binds books. Mirka began binding books shortly after she stopped waxing and her husband disappeared. The process of physically assembling discarded books from folded, neglected sheets of paper quieted her anxieties and insecurities. When she still waxed her face, Mirka had a number of men she could fold and unfold her way through. She was practiced at folding her lips over her teeth: to tighten her skin for hair removal or to keep from scraping. Tuck lip under teeth and tense, cloth pulls at wax. Tuck lip under teeth and take a breath before plunging. She didn’t expect her hair to stop growing, didn’t anticipate men would make no effort to see her as attractive once it happened. She didn’t know she was disposable until she began spending her nights in the basement, stacking sheets for outdated books, sewing the edges to a thicker sheet with a chain stitch.

The books Mirka binds are made of paper. Before paper was introduced, books were written on vellum. Mirka knew how vellum was made. The Latin word “vitulinum” was slaughtered and chopped until the word “vellum” emerged, smooth and cream colored like the fine-grained skin of its definition. The calfskin was reactive to humidity, so after it was cleaned, bleached, stretched and scraped into parchment, it lay between heavy wood boards. Because paper is less reactive to humidity, heavy boards lost their function. When Mirka thought about the calfskin hugging the herse, waiting for the crescent-shaped knife to clean off any remaining hairs, she was reminded of those afternoons she spent stretched out in the salon chair, skin pulled tight, scraped and bleached smooth and then plucked clean of stray hairs with a shining pair of angled tweezers. As she pulled her fingers over old book covers to wipe them clean of dust, she thought about the bookstore on her corner, advertising its closing sale. Mirka liked to Coptic stich the books together, and while she pushed her way through the pages, she stacked nameless and faceless spines in her mind. She completed the stitch, reassembled the useless book and then placed it on a shelf where she was accumulating a new collection of spines without faces.

After each book she repaired, Mirka held her fingertips to her thinning eyebrows for a moment, and stroked the soft hairs laid slick across the lifted bone. There was a time when books were produced by protruding surfaces slicked with ink. The paper made contact with the ink and was pressed flat by hand, with a double-handle brayer.  “Bray” was the sound a donkey made:  A harsh cry. It was also the word that described crushing, grinding, spreading thin. Mirka made no sound when the hot wax was spread thin across her face. She as silent as the papers pushed down to the ink, filling themselves with words. Mirka removed her fingertips from her eyebrow, crossed her hairless legs and began stacking a new pile of sheets. She reminded herself that she was always alone. She reminded herself that it is always too easy to lose one’s function.


Tova Benjamin is a poet and student located in Chicago, IL. She is the co-founder and director of Napkin Poetry, a bi-monthly open mic and reading series. Her poetry has been featured on WBEZ and has or will be included in Rookie, Poetry Magazine and Puerto del Sol.