Category: Uncategorized

Culpable

Every time I come close to thinking I may be unique
amongst the millions of mourners who are mourning right now
who want to beat

their foreheads against the nearest barrier,
a cloud of locusts starts buzzing around my mind’s volcano,
which erupts in slow-mo, brighter than the marquee lights
illuminating God’s beer fridge.

Why do I think I’m crawling up a mountain 
whenever I’m caught in the act of redemption—
like that moment of sleep paralysis when I can hear
a centipede creeping in the bathroom.

Maybe grief is a collective labour. Maybe I’ve shouted
my name in too many rail yards, chanting This is my kingdom
over and over into my father’s dead ear.

***

Lisa Richter is the author of two books of poetry, Closer to Where We Began (Tightrope Books, 2017) and Nautilus and Bone (Frontenac House, 2020), whose honours include the Canadian Jewish Literary Award for Poetry, the National Jewish Book Award for Poetry (US), and Robert Kroestch Award for Poetry. She lives, writes, and teaches in Toronto.

If You’re Anything Like Me

you’ve taken stab after stab at relishing
larkspur, rhododendron, the way lichen marbles

a bald rockface, or while we’re on the topic of great wonders,
you’ve coveted a Japanese-style corndog

stirred with chopsticks in a deep fryer’s crackling pool,
turned over and over until the golden-brown battered wiener

takes on the appearance of something smooth,
almost to the point of otherworldliness,

despite its humble and earthly origins, and maybe
you’ve done your fair share of entrusting

your choicest truffles to the dubious masterminds
of your cranium’s designation, or you’ve fucked

more than a few lotharios-turned-disc jockeys,
all of whom could easily have been transported into your bed

from an alternate universe in which all dinner parties
are collision courses, and ticket stubs

to destination weddings overpower the humdrum microbes
spawned by phalanxes of traffic cops, but regardless,

you stripped right down to your nervous system
and performed acts deemed illegal in three of the lesser-known

“-stan” republics, like a grapevine
redolent with the effort of its own ripening.

***

Lisa Richter is the author of two books of poetry, Closer to Where We Began (Tightrope Books, 2017) and Nautilus and Bone (Frontenac House, 2020), whose honours include the Canadian Jewish Literary Award for Poetry, the National Jewish Book Award for Poetry (US), and Robert Kroestch Award for Poetry. She lives, writes, and teaches in Toronto.

Artist Statment, Robin Boger

To travel by land is to own your journey.

To fly—all eye—everything between

departure and arrival is fantasy.

When I travel, I look for visual markers of how decisions made over time in dealing with the universal problems of survival have shaped societies. I photograph people in their social environment and use words to express my feelings at the moment I capture the image, inviting the viewer to join me in looking into these images, not just at them. Using words and images, I consider what made those fugitive moments special as I search for the timeless in the temporal.

North Station, Tokyo

***

Behind me, North Station tunnels
pour people from track to street,
flooding the crossing
on the pulse of changing lights
Caught in the crowd
I’m swept further into the night
and gasp at the awful, throbbing clamor of too much.
Overwhelmed by incandescence
and the surge of passing bodies
I seek a sign I can transcend.
Ahead, a man in a fedora
stops to check his phone.
My father wore a fedora-fifty years ago
and half a world away.
It is enough.

***

Robin Boger’s images from Cuba, Africa and Japan have been shown at the Chandler Gallery in Cambridge, MA, the Orton-Davis Gallery in Hudson, NY, the Amanda Smith Gallery in Johnson City, Texas, South X Southeast Photo Gallery in Molena Georgia and the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, MA.  She has also shown work at the Soprafina Gallery in Boston, MA, the Iris B. and Gerald Cantor Gallery at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, and the Boston Public Library.  On-line presentations include:  “The Virtual Curated Shed: Projections from Pandemic in Focus” on the Social Documentary Network;  “Unexpected Cuba” in CubaSeen, Issue 03, Winter, 2020;  “The 2/22/22 Exhibition:  Pairs and Diptychs” on Lenscratch and “Highlights of NEPR” on “What Will You Remember?”

Underpass, Tokyo

***

I do not want to linger here.
The space is dark, cavernous, unwelcoming.
The air chills and cars rumbling above disturb.
Walking quickly, I come upon a wall.
Seized by its color and energy I stop,
held fast by scraps of celebrity long-past.
There, amid the faces that promise excitement
and the foods that promise enjoyment,
a small, black book offered in plastic
—I AM—
promises eternal life.

***

Robin Boger’s images from Cuba, Africa and Japan have been shown at the Chandler Gallery in Cambridge, MA, the Orton-Davis Gallery in Hudson, NY, the Amanda Smith Gallery in Johnson City, Texas, South X Southeast Photo Gallery in Molena Georgia and the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, MA.  She has also shown work at the Soprafina Gallery in Boston, MA, the Iris B. and Gerald Cantor Gallery at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, and the Boston Public Library.  On-line presentations include:  “The Virtual Curated Shed: Projections from Pandemic in Focus” on the Social Documentary Network;  “Unexpected Cuba” in CubaSeen, Issue 03, Winter, 2020;  “The 2/22/22 Exhibition:  Pairs and Diptychs” on Lenscratch and “Highlights of NEPR” on “What Will You Remember?”

Witness, Atlas Mountains

***

She opened her house to us for a price
but that price has not been paid.
From the back of the room we watch, unseen
witness to her anger, hostage to our shame.

***

Robin Boger’s images from Cuba, Africa and Japan have been shown at the Chandler Gallery in Cambridge, MA, the Orton-Davis Gallery in Hudson, NY, the Amanda Smith Gallery in Johnson City, Texas, South X Southeast Photo Gallery in Molena Georgia and the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, MA.  She has also shown work at the Soprafina Gallery in Boston, MA, the Iris B. and Gerald Cantor Gallery at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, and the Boston Public Library.  On-line presentations include:  “The Virtual Curated Shed: Projections from Pandemic in Focus” on the Social Documentary Network;  “Unexpected Cuba” in CubaSeen, Issue 03, Winter, 2020;  “The 2/22/22 Exhibition:  Pairs and Diptychs” on Lenscratch and “Highlights of NEPR” on “What Will You Remember?”

Okavango, Delta

***

Leaving the baobab tree behind,
we glide through the grasses,
shivering the gilded surface of the swamp
as the setting sun pulls the mokoros home.

***

Robin Boger’s images from Cuba, Africa and Japan have been shown at the Chandler Gallery in Cambridge, MA, the Orton-Davis Gallery in Hudson, NY, the Amanda Smith Gallery in Johnson City, Texas, South X Southeast Photo Gallery in Molena Georgia and the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, MA.  She has also shown work at the Soprafina Gallery in Boston, MA, the Iris B. and Gerald Cantor Gallery at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, and the Boston Public Library.  On-line presentations include:  “The Virtual Curated Shed: Projections from Pandemic in Focus” on the Social Documentary Network;  “Unexpected Cuba” in CubaSeen, Issue 03, Winter, 2020;  “The 2/22/22 Exhibition:  Pairs and Diptychs” on Lenscratch and “Highlights of NEPR” on “What Will You Remember?”

Abuela, Vinales

***

You have lived a life of caring,
sowing comfort and cultivating possibilities
as a plough furrows land, preparing it for seed.
There are seasons given for growth,
but no limit on seasons for love.

***

Robin Boger’s images from Cuba, Africa and Japan have been shown at the Chandler Gallery in Cambridge, MA, the Orton-Davis Gallery in Hudson, NY, the Amanda Smith Gallery in Johnson City, Texas, South X Southeast Photo Gallery in Molena Georgia and the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, MA.  She has also shown work at the Soprafina Gallery in Boston, MA, the Iris B. and Gerald Cantor Gallery at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, and the Boston Public Library.  On-line presentations include:  “The Virtual Curated Shed: Projections from Pandemic in Focus” on the Social Documentary Network;  “Unexpected Cuba” in CubaSeen, Issue 03, Winter, 2020;  “The 2/22/22 Exhibition:  Pairs and Diptychs” on Lenscratch and “Highlights of NEPR” on “What Will You Remember?”

The sun has just come up, 34 weeks

so I’m in bed reading a news article
about problems with the supply chain —
why Americans have to suffer
inconvenient waits for gaming
consoles, Cheerios and hot tub parts.
Something about shipping
containers and coronavirus.
No end in sight.
I might deliver this baby in a birthing center.
Not because of supply issues but because hospitals
cost so much: because even though it’s not in the headlines
what’s considered good health insurance still asks
Americans to pay thousands of dollars for the privilege
of having a child under supervision of medical care.
At the birth center, they don’t offer anesthetics.
Very un-American. My mother balks.
This isn’t about being a hero.
I agree, but with anger.
My acupuncturist friend asks if I take
medication for headaches. We’re trying to determine
my tolerance for pain.
I tell her I don’t get headaches but prefer to feel
my period cramps when they’re bad.
The internet says I should plunge my hand
into a bucket of ice water and see how long I can last
without taking it out.
This sounds like a torture
I don’t need to make mine.
In the mail, black bands arrive:
strips of thick fabric with Velcro to support
my belly, ease what the midwife calls round
ligament pain—pressure on my unsettled
pelvic parts. I still can’t give a great
definition of the cervix.
A person who delivers in a birthing center
should probably know more about the cervix.
The belly band doesn’t help.
A friend asks if I’m reading a ton
about childbirth and I tell her not really,
I’m instead trying to finish Jonathan Franzen’s new novel
not because it’s that good and in spite of feeling some shame
around reading the quasi-cancelled guy but because there’s something
comforting in those broken family stories that are far enough
from mine to provide pleasant diversion.
I don’t want an epidural because I want to feel the baby
transition out of me. I want to numb myself
from only certain kinds of boredom and pain.

***

Elizabeth Tannen is a writer, organizer and educator based in Minneapolis. Her poems and essays have appeared in a range of publications including Copper Nickel, Front Porch, PANK, Southern Humanities Review, the Rumpus, Salon and elsewhere. She holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of New Mexico and has been awarded several residencies including from Kimmel Harding Nelson and the Wurlitzer Foundation. Her manuscript, Notes on Distance, was one of five finalists for Milkweed’s Lindquist and Vennum prize in 2018.

Matter’s Edge

For the fish washed up to shore far behind
the trawl lines, scales gone dry & gills stiffened

by coastal winds, not for them rotting but for gulls
arrived too late, shooed away as children

free their piled dreams like sand buckets, this poem
is theirs. Not the maggot hand clinging

behind the skull’s exposed eye socket, or the jelly
displaced by drift into the sun’s aberrant reflection

but to the beach lice the signs once warned of, the swell
that makes the still-intact tail appear to move

breath back to sea, not the crested waves’
break full of discarded shell but its weight,

the time it spends empty, to which I give
this ode. To all that is hollow or hollows fill

arriving the color of tide matching the low cloud
that brims this cavity, empty except where a storm

should be, all the space constituting what worth this is for.

***

A graduate of Colorado State U’s MFA program, Jerrod E. Bohn is the author of three full-length poetry books, Animal Histories (2017), PULP: A Manifesto (2018), and Ventric(L)e (forthcoming 2023) all from Unsolicited Press. His poetry and nonfiction has appeared in numerous literary journals and other publications. Bohn currently lives in Seattle where he is a college professor and part time writer for Bandbox Vinyl Record Club. Additionally, he runs Gravel: A Reading Series at a local brewery and enjoys cooking and being outdoors.