M. Brett Gaffney
Courtney Kenny Porto
Janeen Pergrin Rastall & Courtney Kenny Porto
Ariana Den Bleyker
Ellen McGrath Smith
Miriam Sagan &
David Ishaya Osu
M. Brett Gaffney
TUBERCULOSIS IN NUMBERS
“In the past, we have been unable to get a true picture of the TB situation
in Louisville due to the method of keeping statistics.” – Dr. Oscar O. Miller
Two weeks coughing when the mother’s only son
finds three bloody tissues—thinks of maple leaves.
Ten days at the sanatorium, four ribs taken. One father teaches
his boy how to wait by filling in crossword puzzles—
twelve across, seven letters: to eat or devour.
The boy’s mother dies four months after his thirteenth birthday.
Tuesday morning at nine, it rains. His father smokes one cigarette, two.
Men come and take her body away. Under the sheet, ten toes.
One priest. Four lines of scripture. The boy forgets which ones.
He counts headstones: sixty-three. His father leaves one dozen roses,
eight of which still breathe.
In school he learns math. In college, science.
He owns two bookcases, forty-two medical textbooks, zero answers.
His GPA is 3.8 and he’s been with the same girl for two years.
At night he counts her atoms like stars.
From Albert Rhea's artist statement:
With back pain confronting me each day, I think about what I really get out of different pain killers. One morning while opening a new medication, I noticed the white sterile inside of the box and thought there is definitely no beauty inside. There is no message to see inside a box with warnings plastered all over the outside of the package.
As a macro photographer of flowers and insects, I use the unfolded boxes as a canvas. I have printed a series of delicate flowers, butterflies, and other insects and posted them to the inside of the packaging. Flowers and insects look to the natural world to survive. Many people fear they are faced with the chemically engineered to function. This series of work express what you want verses what you get from pharmaceuticals. Interior verses the exterior. These works question the natural verses synthetic.
The canvas is limited in size and that is the challenge. I replaced the sterile, clean, hard edges of a mass produced object with a nature message. I want to illustrate the beauty and the beast in the unexpected – and ugly – places.
BABY DREAM #33: THE FOUNTAIN
Zoom in slowly from above the city streets.
See the architecture of spires and arches.
Alight on pavement. Peek into windows
of shops and cafés. When you reach
the city’s center, stop and stare. There
is the largest fountain you’ve ever seen.
Water sprays up in two grand arcs
and roars back down in white foam.
Steal closer to spy the hidden statue. Here
is a woman. Recoil when you realize—
a bloody baby writhes on her belly, liquid
gushes from both breasts. Look down
at your own face. Look up through her eyes.
PHOTO OF A WOMAN WITH NIPPLES AND A CIGARETTE
Is she baring or bared?
The flame is a nipple. I shake
when I see it. The nipples wing
the woman into me. They hum
in the kitchen late at night.
I am red wine in the glass.
I am a crumpled napkin
on the table. I am the flame.
I am traveling to the dark lips.
The flame will soon expire. No, it won’t.
From Sally Deskins' artist statement:
These are light-hearted illustrations drawn on my prints that I create using my own breasts. There are many ways to look at these. At the simplest they are attempts to inject twisted fun into the body in art, and the body as an object, and of course, the fact that we’re just silly animals, too. If you wanted to get more deep you might say I'm consciously making environmental or animal-care comments about caring for our environment and livelihoods including women which many times are second, as are animals. Also its just another examination of changing the perspective of the body, specifically women’s breasts, which are subject to much use of course in motherhood, etc., but also subject to age and of course, utter loss, so it can be read darkly or lightly to bring these (my) aging breasts to life. Also they’re just really fun to create.
MY STRANGE BAILE
Under the snow
the only sound
is the drip from
the window’s frailness, beneath
the cool air and grey clouds,
with the one thing that does not
change, my scarf and its fold
around my neck.
I am convinced
that I’ve never understood color
or whiteness or why I thought
of my death the night before
my tenth birthday.
I am a simple little bird
brown and white like a sparrow
common enough that no one
will notice the nails
I’ve stomped into my shoes,
this strange dance of wild hair
molting into feathers and the echo
of wings like ruffled skirts flapping over the river.
Courtney Kenny Porto
SHE WAS A FLOWER
What hatched was swallowed by / first ocean made of robin. / Girl lays the vein-dried egg on a
stump / waits like a dog counting a storm. She has / fit the bathtub overflowing with lover’s hair
into a pill / has folded that pill into a list with milk & bread and stuck it in the egg. / She has
everything she needs and a blue dress. / She mistakes the windfall apple for a bird and eats one. /
She tells herself she is full now. / She tells herself the egg will not grow into a boy because she has
Janeen Pergrin Rastall & Courtney Kenny Porto
(after Courtney Kenny Porto's Mirror)
You press the lipstick, Stoplight Red,
and look not at your lips, your tongue,
not at your forehead’s sheen,
not at your hair, sleep-stirred, all froth and flip.
You catch a glimpse. You lean in, stare
at tiny chalazia beneath your eye: tears you hid—
solidified. If you rub your lid can you wipe away
this last bit of grief, this grit? You count the days
since you left, count lace eyelets in your camisole,
count your lashes, your eyebrow wisps.
Numbers help you forget.
You start again, layer on your workday face.
From Courtney Kenny Porto's artist statement:
"A willingness to be vulnerable, raw, and truly authentic is difficult. We often work hard to hide who we really are and what we are thinking or feeling. For this reason, body language, faces, and eyes fascinate me. Consequently, I draw and paint eyes, faces, and nudes to depict in each subject what is authentic and what is not.
I am drawn to the human form, particularly the female form. The elegance, fluidity, and sincerity in the female figure captivate me. I consider myself to be a feminist and often depict these beliefs in my artwork - sometimes consciously, sometimes not. These pieces illustrate the social pressures, struggles, sexuality and poise of being a woman. They celebrate the unique characteristics and differences that make up the female gender."
Courtney's painting Mirror was featured in TALES, a group art exhibition presented by Les Femmes Folles. The pieces in TALES were in turn inspired by Laura Madeline Wiseman's book The Hunger of the Cheeky Sisters: Ten Tales (LFF Press, 2015). You can read more about TALES and Les Femmes Folles here.
Ariana D. Den Bleyker
SURFACE GIVES BACK TENSION
My body goes dark, argues
its silence in paint, ornaments
its frame with stones & muddy
reeds, takes root in loss, lifts
its head towards heaven.
I thought myself invisible,
found myself arranging things
in a painting whose mood
suggests it’s gone & stays going
on within me. In the play between
creation & destruction, there’s nothing
to keep except chance & the strong
vertical inside that sucks me down
into a scraping. The scraping is a leaving.
The leaving shines. If I tilt my head
sideways the smoothness feels
Ellen McGrath Smith
THE COBRA (BHUJANGASANA)
Miriam Sagan & Isabel Winson-Sagan
From the Sagans' artist statement:
Poet Miriam Sagan and multi-media artist Isabel Winson-Sagan are a mother/daughter artistic collaborative team, working in text and suminagashi (marbled paper). Their long term project is "Maternal Mitochondria" which attempts to map their shared history but different perspectives. The section "What If" was created as a free write in which both women responded to the prompt. The overlap was uncanny, and the text was then broken up, paired, and re-arranged. It was then collaged on marbled paper. The effect is to have two voices echo each other and function as one piece.
David Ishaya Osu
I will not
tell you that i
have once lived
in a chocolate
cake, or bar; yes,
i will only beg
you to love your tongue
whenever you fear
that your tooth
will break or all
the hours you wake up
MORTALITY IN THE MOUTH
Christine Stoddard's artist statement:
sleep, dream, crunch
all the beetles in your bed
all the centipedes in your cereal
we, like spiders and flies, will die
APPROACHING LIMITS AT CAROLINA BEACH
I wanted to look at the steely face of the Atlantic.
The air felt like sand in the sun’s static
light. The wind kept gusting
the hand I use to drive my chair
off to the side
like a kite.
I had to be helped up the ramp, where
pelicans swooped past heads
and landed on whitecap waves with ease.
I could say I was mesmerized.
I could say I was jealous.
The shore seemed to stretch into the future
where the horizon appeared
like a granite countertop, and I thought:
maybe a flat world would be better.
There is security in knowing where the edge of the world waits,
where perched on a rail, a raven sits
slanted, feathers ruffled.
Issue Three Contributors
Jason Bradford is currently working toward an MFA in Poetry at UNCWilmington. Poems have appeared, or are forthcoming in Fruita Pulp, Jellyfish Magazine, Blood Lotus, Four Chambers, and The Laurel Review. The Inhabitants, a chapbook of poems, was published by Final Thursday Press. Occasionally they tweet @JABradfjord.
Sarah Browning is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Split This Rock: Poetry of Provocation & Witness. Author of Whiskey in theGarden of Eden and co-editor of D.C. Poets Against the War, she is an associate fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies and co-host of Sunday Kind of Love at Busboys and Poets in Washington, DC. With Don Share, she edited a special Split This Rock issue of POETRY magazine in March, 2014. Browning has received fellowships from the DC Commission on the Arts and the Creative Communities Initiative and is winner of the People Before Profits Poetry Prize.
Ariana D. Den Bleyker is a Pittsburgh native currently residing in Upstate New York. She is the author of several poetry chapbooks and collections, most recently Wayward Lines (RAWArT Press, 2015) and Strangest Sea (Porkbelly Press, 2015), and the founder and publisher of ELJ Publications, parent press of Emerge Literary Journal, scissors & spackle, Amethyst Arsenic, The J.J. Outré Review and other fine journals.She can be found at www.arianaddenbleyker.com.
Sally Deskins is an artist and writer. Currently a Teaching Assistant in the Art History Graduate Program at West Virginia University, her work explores womanhood and motherhood in her life and others. Her work has been published and exhibited nationally. She illustrated Intimates and Fools (Les Femmes Folles Books, 2014, poetry by Laura Madeline Wiseman) and the forthcoming Leaves of Absence: An Illustrated Guide to Common Garden Affections (Red Dashboard, poetry by Laura Madeline Wiseman, Nov. 2015). She is founding editor and curator of Les Femmes Folles, an organization promoting women in art. Find her at http://sallydeskins.tumblr.com/.
M. Brett Gaffney, born in Houston, Texas, holds an MFA in poetry from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and is an associate editor of Gingerbread House literary magazine. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Stone Highway Review, Slipstream, Wind, Penduline, Cactus Heart, Exit 7, REAL, Still: the Journal, Licking River Review, Permafrost, and Zone 3.
Tyler Kline balances his time between working on an organic vegetable farm and studying English at the University of Delaware. A Pushcart Prize nominee, his work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, Forge Journal, and 491 Magazine.
Katie Manning is the author of three poetry chapbooks, including The Gospel of the Bleeding Woman (Point Loma Press, 2013).She has received The Nassau Review Author Award for Poetry, and her poems have been published in Fairy Tale Review, New Letters, PANK, Poet Lore, So to Speak, and many other journals and anthologies. She lives in San Diego, where she collects books, tea, board games, and sea shells. Find her online at www.katiemanningpoet.com.
David Ishaya Osu (b. 1991) writes from Nigeria. He has had poems featured in literary publications such as: Atlas Poetica: A Journal ofWorld Tanka, Birmingham Arts Journal, Tipton Poetry Journal, Watershed Review, The Missing Slate, and The Kalahari Review, among numerous others. David is a board member of the Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation, and he is currently polishing his debut poetry book. He is obsessed about poems, pictures and plays; and he is in love.
Born and raised in Omaha, NE, Courtney Kenny Porto is widely known for her charcoal drawings and yarn paintings. Porto’s work focuses largely on satire, authenticity, and feminism, three concepts she feels strongly about. Having earned a bachelor’s degree in Studio Art from Bethany College (Lindsborg, KS), she has exhibited work in numerous juried and solo exhibitions throughout the United States and been featured in numerous publications, anthologies, blogs, and television interviews. Most recently, Maxim Feminine Hygiene Products honored her with the title of “Fierce Woman." Find her at Courtneykennyart.com.
Janeen Pergrin Rastall lives in Gordon, MI (population 2). She is the author of the chapbook, In The Yellowed House (dancing girl press, 2014). Her poetry has appearedin several publications including: Border Crossing, Raleigh Review, The Fourth River, Prime NumberMagazine and Heron Tree. She has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes.
Albert Rhea, from Omaha, Nebraska, was born in 1948. Since high school, he has been interested in photography. His father was a wildlife photographer, and Albert still uses some of his dad’s equipment today. Albert is carrying on his father’s interest in wild life photography in the macrophotography realm. To Albert, macrophotography is magical because it takes him into a smaller universe of vibrant colors, exquisite details and extraordinary patterns.
Monica Rico lives in Michigan, where she is a dishwasher and editor. Her newest poem, “Heartbeat and Humidity,” is forthcoming in Sugared Water.
Miriam Sagan is the author of over twenty-five books of poetry, memoir, and fiction. Her recent collection SEVEN PLACES IN AMERICA includes residencies in the Everglades National Park, Petrified Forest National Part, Andrews Experimental Forest, The Land/an art site, and Stone Quarry Art Park. She has also been in residence in a trailer at the edge of a bombing range in Great Basin with Center for Land Use Interpretation. She has received the Santa Fe Mayor’s Award for excellence in the arts and a Poetry Gratitude award from New Mexico Literary Arts. She founded and runs the creative writing program at Santa Fe Community College in New Mexico.
Ellen McGrath Smith teaches at the University of Pittsburgh and in the Carlow University Madwomen in the Attic program. Her writing has appeared in The American Poetry Review, Los Angeles Review, Quiddity, Cimarron, and other journals, and in several anthologies, including Beauty Is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability. Smith has been the recipient of an Orlando Prize, an Academy of American Poets award, a Rainmaker Award from Zone 3 magazine, and a 2007 Individual Artist grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Her second chapbook, Scatter, Feed, was published by Seven Kitchens Press in the fall of 2014, and her book, tentatively titled Nobody's Jackknife, will be published this fall by the West End Press.
Born and raised in Virginia, Christine Stoddard is a Scottish-Salvadorian-American, a Puffin Foundation emerging artist, and the founding editor of Quail Bell Magazine. Her work has appeared in the New York Transit Museum, The Feminist Wire,The Brooklyn Quarterly, and beyond. Learn more at WorldOfChristineStoddard.com.
Isabel Winson-Sagan holds a B.A. in religious studies from the University of New Mexico where she received a magna on her thesis about sacred woodworking, comparing the Shakers and New Mexico’s santero tradition. She is currently an art student at Santa Fe Community College with an emphasis on woodworking, has been in two shows in the campus gallery, and was art editor of the student run SANTA FE LITERARY REVIEW. She is building an official “tiny house” and blogs at http://bababuilders.wix.com/babayagahouse.