ART: Robert R. Thurman
Laura E. Davis
Theresa Senato Edwards
I was born under a fire sign in a Catholic delivery room, my mother knocked out. A doctor tweezed me from between her unconscious legs going blue at the toes with cold, my hot red body bruised from birth. I wear my wound at the right temple. Not a place for worship, but the part of me that covers the temporal lobe – site of sensing and language, the root of amnesia’s loss of time. I devolve. I dissemble. I take myself apart and name the remains. A breath. Someone clamps the mask over nose and mouth, turns up twilight as logs are laid at dusk, as someone bends to kindling with a match.
Startled into life by magenta-dark and blossom-pink dense as a little girl’s dream, Sunday at dusk I lean into a crabapple tree, branch tips holding lush candles up. Like a memory of roses and a bowl of fruit just past ripeness – a sweet but faint scent that means I close my eyes, breathe in, hold. I bend closer just at the tip of olfaction when a pigeon blazes out of the tree and away. Wings spark my ancient brain parts to the birth stirring: a creature inside all that billowy pink, flown into high-pitched scallops of sound.
ALICIA KEYS TEACHES ME HOW TO BE A (SUPER)WOMAN
Do not be gentle with what you want Alicia instructs from the hallways
of my teenage closet. It’s 2009 & I’m on the edge of becoming
another pastel girl—all Hollister, all high school. She flings
scoop sweaters, blouses with thick, zippered tongues across the room.
She is, as she says, assessing the damage. I am still lost
in the hollow, alabaster spaces—dresser drawers, sure,
but mostly my wallpaper skin. Alicia knows how to re-claim.
Her Brooklyn braids twist into a knot, hoop earrings jamming
against her jawline like indestructible, miniature worlds.
The media calls her not feminine enough, too hard, a lesbian.
It will be years before anyone calls me anything,
before that woman will roll down her car window
& scream faggot so fiercely I’ll swear the Pittsburgh street caught fire.
For now, I have Alicia in my bedroom, ripping skirts,
screwing ties from the sleeves of dresses. I cup the strips
of clothing like torn limbs & follow her eyelids.
Without make-up, without costume: tired & perfectly human.
There is a summer I stop sleeping.
Every third day I realize that I’m
dreaming of slowly going insane
and I wake up. I see a man by
my closet it’s a coat it’s a sweatshirt it’s
every spider crawling up the corner
of my bed at 4am. I know it’s 4am
but I’m not sure of when. It’s been
five days since I’ve eaten. Every
fifth day I realize that I’m dying. I wake
up with a handful of Froot Loops. I
check the expiration date. Check
the calendar. It’s sometime in July.
Maybe late. The only days I know
when I am are Mondays. Every Monday
I ride the train 70min walk another 20min
to a shelter filled with women. They write
poetry. I write nothing. I go home and sometimes
I sleep. Sometimes I dream that I dreamed
them. That I woke up when I got home.
No lungs can save me
as I jump from the bridge, break
the surface, which arcs minute razors
in my arms. Spread out
starfish will suffocate.
All cries are non-existent.
It is not suicide
unless someone sees you. No one
ever checks my apartment.
The shore is deserted at five a.m.
They will not be found. I will seek
solitude, sinking among Technicolor swirls, pretending
I rest in a leather body bag—with arms crossed
I am an underwater Dracula.
Eyes bulge, creatures discolor.
A squid shoots its seminal trademark.
I’m dirty. You’re bursting beneath
my ribcage, each atavistic thump
a threat to pull me down farther.
Do sirens’ chests tighten when I drift past,
unconquered? I refuse a token of loneliness
pushed into my palm, this gilded doubloon.
Skeletal hands can’t break my coffin pose.
No charity can defeat me, Only
my deficiencies: loosened nails, livid cheeks,
your de-oxygenated breath. I can’t escape you,
even with toes buried in sunless sand.
SONNET FOR ROAD A
after Bernadette Mayer
In my pot roast dreams I am always with Aquarius
Spent last night asking my best friend to leave
her man The girls next door can’t tell
one dyke from another My desire to leave
Milwaukee said We’re moving slowly
They didn’t see our welcome sign afraid of bees
Today she dug woodchips and left the punk
car Horribly I never knew why it took so long to leave
left fighting honestly I yoked up heavy with
a certain kind of loneliness They’re filming
a movie here I guess we’re acting She said
Take all the books you want and let me leave
When I’m not with you just you your hands your hair
To think on all the timing makes me laugh The same
vast neighbors walk the other street You drove me swift
We south we south we merry
Robert R. Thurman
Most of my paintings deal with pain whether it be emotional, physical, or mental. Inspiration comes from my own experiences and through watching and listening to other people. I try to give that pain a shape and form a visual recognition; to communicate the personal and cultural dynamics which condition how we view ourselves and others as well as how our individual experiences condition such perception.
I name them according to my gods – Winged Rabbit,
Tends Toward Left, Glances, Bumpy Chain.
Floaters on sky, floaters on white paper, floaters
on the pixelated screen of every light surface –
Darting eyes direct the spin – I’ve got something
secret in the world. When skin is broken above my brow,
blood clouds vision. When all my wants suddenly shake, flipping
whites toward doves that fly from cups, cut by swords –
nothing is really taken. There is nothing really given. In my sole
control no one knows about the floaters in the vitreous.
Laura E. Davis
MOTHER / MANIA
Flip the night’s whim,
a maniacal architect.
Mythology of sand
and sea and tides:
Shouting at ocean
corners. Reality is
ion. Reality is
the pelvis. We are
an oblong womb.
Mother mania. Egg
shell fissure, open
yolk sac, Mother
cosmos. Moon scales
warm and fecund.
The mother’s ache
is miles of blood
fruit: world, it breaks
us open & expects
us not to crack.
APOLOGIA TO MY SCAPULA
“We’ll get you through this without surgery,”
the therapist said as he dug his weight
like a shovel into the bent casket
of my arm, burying his fingers high
up in the axilla to force what was
frozen to calve. He unlocked a lymph node,
poisoning more joints with the waste of hope.
But he couldn’t get any muscles to ease.
This rough service I can only defend
because of what you gave to the machines
for the sake of appearances: nothing.
You needed the arthroscope, in the end,
to unknot yourself from these tangled skeins,
defray the cost of what a tearing brings.
A found poem from Emil Kraepelin’s Dementia Praecox and Paraphrenia, 1919
Sensation is profoundly
disappear, to reappear
Satan roars under the bed.
gradually or suddenly
as a tuning-fork.
It appeared to me in spirit,
inner feeling in the soul.
Theresa Senato Edwards
APPLE TREES AT PEACH HILL PARK
We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are. ∞ Anais Nin
It’s said horizontal tree trunks grow
like branches. The only course for them
to follow the ground.
Silent, right-angled roots lodged in
weeds force a crippling—
like heavy arthritic fingers of gods.
My life, too, edges along a splayed landscape.
My sons, standing branches rooted in my
sloping growth and decay. When the fruit ripens,
apples scrape against their own branches, air
tight around them, an aching movement a
tree endures like a worried mother.
There’s difficulty in growing. Still the earth
accepts the seeds no matter the future, the way
a hill tilled for one fruit grows another.
I tell my sons life is adaptation, an angled
trunk near ground, which never falls but feels
the failings. They form their own way.
Issue 38 Contributors
Lori Brack's essays and poems have appeared in journals and anthologies including Rooted: The Best New Arboreal Nonfiction, Another Chicago Magazine, The Fourth River, Superstition Review and its blog, and Mid-American Review. She manages a new project dedicated to the development of artists in Salina, Kansas.
Robert Carr is the author of Amaranth, a chapbook published in 2016 by Indolent Books and a 2017 Pushcart Prize nominated poet. His poetry has appeared in Arts & Understanding Magazine, Bellevue Literary Review, Kettle Blue Review, Radius Literary Magazine, Pretty Owl Poetry and other publications. He lives with his husband Stephen in Malden, Massachusetts, and serves as an associate poetry editor for Indolent Books. He is also currently deputy director for the Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Poetry, book reviews, and upcoming events can be found at robertcarr.org.
Mary Coons is a graduate student at UMass Boston currently completing an MFA in creative writing. Her work has previously appeared in Cartridge Lit, Bad Pony, and The Golden Key.
Laura E. Davis is the author of Braiding the Storm (Finishing Line, 2012). Her poems have appeared in Tinderbox, Pedestal Magazine, Muzzle, and Corium, among others, and anthologized in Bared and The Doll Collection. Laura is a freelance writer in San Francisco, where she lives with her partner and son.
Justin Holliday is an English lecturer and poet. His work has appeared in Occulum, The Airgonaut, (b)OINK, gobbet, Fire Poetry, and elsewhere.
Jen Karetnick is the author of three full-length poetry collections, including The Treasures That Prevail (Whitepoint Press, September 2016), finalist for the 2017 Poetry Society of Virginia Book Prize, as well as four poetry chapbooks. The winner of the 2017 Hart Crane Memorial Poetry Contest, she has had work appear recently in Cutthroat, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Missouri Review, Verse Daily and Waxwing. She is co-editor of SWWIM Every Day. See more atjkaretnick.com.
Freesia McKee is author of the chapbook How Distant the City (Headmistress Press, 2017). Her words have appeared in cream city review, The Feminist Wire, Painted Bride Quarterly, Gertrude, Huffington Post, and Sundress Press’s anthology Political Punch: Contemporary Poems on the Politics of Identity. She has performed poetry in bookstores, prisons, classrooms, summer camps, arts groups, and youth programs. Freesia lives in North Miami.
Jennifer (Eisenhauer) Richardson is an Associate Professor in Arts Administration, Education, and Policy and an affiliated faculty member with the Disability Studies Program at The Ohio State University. Her poetry and prose have appeared in Disability Studies Quarterly, Wordgathering, Breath and Shadow, Connotations Press, and Visual Culture and Gender. Her 2013 essay appearing in South Loop Review was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her academic writing, appearing in multiple journals, focuses on representations of mental disability.
Theresa Senato Edwards has published two full-length poetry books, one, with painter Lori Schreiner, winning The Tacenda Literary Award for Best Book, and two chapbooks. Excerpts from her newest manuscript, Wing Bones, can be found in Stirring, Gargoyle, TheNervous Breakdown, Thrush Poetry Journal, Hermeneutic Chaos Journal, Amethyst Arsenic, Bop Dead City, UCity Review, Rise Up Review, and Diode Poetry Journal. Edwards was nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize, received a creative writing residency from Drop Forge & Tool, and is Editor in Chief of The American Poetry Journal (APJ). Her website: https://tsenatoedwards. wixsite.com/tsenatoedwards.
Alison Taverna received her MFA in poetry & publishing from Chatham University. Her chapbook, What Hollywood Taught Me, won the 2015 Robin Becker Prize from Seven Kitchens Press. She currently is the Assistant Editor at Autumn House Press & the Poetry Instructor at Pittsburgh's Creative & Performing Arts High School.
Robert R. Thurman is an artist, musician and poet. Thurman is the author of SYSTEMS (2015), CONNECTIONS (ZimZalla 2017) and MACHINE LANGUAGE (Spacecraft Press 2018). Robert’s work has appeared in Lana Turner: A Journal of Poetry and Opinion, Coldfront Magazine, 3:AMMagazine, Columbia Journal, Eyedrum Periodically, Vlak 4, Ars Medica: A Journal of Medicine the Arts and Humanities, Rune: The MIT Journal of Arts and Letters, The Monarch Review, Rampike, and Exquisite Corpse. His work has been exhibited in New York City, Los Angeles and London.