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Blue Fifth Reviews – (October 2016 / #8)

Any conscientious critic who has ever had to review a new volume of poetry in a limited space knows that the only fair thing to do would be to give a series of quotations without comment but, if he did so, his editors would complain that he was not earning his money.
               –W. H. Auden, “Reading”

The editors will select collections of poetry, flash, and short fiction to present to our readers. We will be heeding Auden’s advice, listing, without comment, key passages that we consider representative of the featured works. Our hope is that readers will also be moved, and will seek out the books.


October 2016, All Chapbook Edition

Bill Yarrow, ed.

Trace Particles by Allison Joseph
Backbone Press, 2014
11 poems, 23 pagesallison_joseph_headshot_photo_by_-rusty_bailey

1.    Ignore the woman in the sad shapeless dress,
        wispy hair fine as a widow’s last breath,
        skin saddened by unmentionable griefs
        that purse her lips and twist her uterus.

        You don’t have to seek the black marble of
        her toenails, or the words she hides in this
        black hymnal: Matterhorn, blister,

               (from “Hymnal”)

2.    Disney wanted you drawn as a plump little girl full
        of adolescent cuteness, no more than fourteen,
        blanched and innocent as a foundling.

        Thank goodness his animators talked sense to
        him or their first full-length animated feature
        would have been nothing more than an advert

        for pedophilia, that eager Prince swooning for a girl
        half his age.

               (from “Snow White”)

3.    Black-bordered handkerchief to show my grief,
        black squares of white within the darkened edge,
        dark borders growing lighter in relief.

        Full year of mourning—that’s a widow’s pledge,
        the weeping veil to cover up my face.
        My squares of white will keep their darkened edge

               (from “Widow’s Weeds”)


Pleasure Trout by Gloria Mindock
Muddy River Books, 2013
33 poems, 43 pages

1.    Young Jose was a man
        of tedious karma.
        A scholar lost.
        Among corridors, among hills,
        he argued with his father:

              (from “To Be Born Jose”)

2.    I need not untie any secrets
        It is your doing
        Christ, magnetic, Christ,
        busy circling
        I will continue plucking water
        with my hands
        wondering if the starchy nuns
        have any hair

              (from “Aaaaah Life—Brick Me!”)

3.    I’m tired of being demanded.
        Don’t you know every day
        is a speck the size
        of Cleveland.

              (from “Winged”)


The Lunatic Ball by Margo Taft Stever
Kattywompus Press, 2015
21 poems, 26 pagesmargo-taft-stever

1.    Furious dancing gives way to screams;
        five men stare, ghoulish, at the wall.
        This is the lunatic ball.

        The best student Yale had ever seen—
        three months after graduation, typhoid—
        brain swelled inside his skull.

        They dosed out Calomel—five ghosts appeared
        in a mercury dream, headaches unbearable.
        This is the lunatic ball.

              (from “The Lunatic Ball”)

2.    Along the wasted avenue
        of roots, curling vines
        undress in half-dark, unfold
        toward the promise of moonlight.

              (from “Dance of the Jackrabbit”)

3.    For a year he trains in Brazil,
        studies the seven bells of the body,
        how the pockets ring and ring,
        how the pockets sing out
        when he touches them.

              (from “Pickpocket”)


Meat Machine by Susan Swanton
Exact Change Press, 2012
Winner of the 2012 Exact Change Press Chapbook Prize
25 poems, 43 pages

1.    Petroleum used to be sunlight, back when it was
        alive. We were all made of sunlight, but I don’t know about
        now. Now, what does a man know of now? What could 10,000
        tons of pankton know of now?

              (from “Garbage Barge: The Masculinity of Industrialization”)

2.    Butcher’s brain been extraterrestrial for fourteen months. He fits in mittens and formaldehyde all up and back the Hollywood coast. He’s a reindeer baby and he wax papers disease and meat-machinebrain disease and ET disease, and he slips on slick tiles under his blood feet, and he gets his hands dirty, and he farts a little.
    Visits surgeons for his hybrid brain. Told he has outerspace disease. Cure in meteorites and rocketship toilet, refrigerate the internet, been told to chemicalize blood and brain and make it cut make it chemical but he doesn’t have the right blood, he don’t live on the right planet. There’s not enough Hollywood to go around and he just need new meat in his skull, more greys in blood.

              (from “Bloodfoot”)

3.    I know this place, I mutter as I play piano and Curly Howard is my boyfriend. I climbed three ladders and was alone the whole time. When they wake me I’ll scream and scream and roll around on the floor. Everyone here wears the same sweaters. I came back from WWII hopped up on goofballs, barbs, bluebirds, blues, dolls, downers, tooties. I am so elastic. I handle those pills in my elastase, and that’s in my pancreas you know. It’s juice that digests elastin and that’s like elastic. yeah? that’s what I am. My pancreas digests me. I am easily digestible, a collision of limits. In my dream a bee stung me, but in truth no bee stung me.

              (“Bee Stings”)


Stone Bride Madrigals by Nicolette Wong
Corrupt Press, 2013
11 poems, 17 pages

1.    These drapes wrap us like contortions
              a branching white on the wall:
              mass inlets narrowing, fleeting
                                            pentacle hunger

               (from “Sky Well (II)” )

2.    On the sauté border: a bridge,
              cars branded with last night’s lava

              from unfinished permutations. That wants
              to skew my ammunition, center of dome.
              (from “Celebration”)

3.    I have no memory of gold
              carvings for a dance
              but under a corallite dusk

              our poverty
               (I am charade)

              the shredded poise
                             of your voice hardening
                             in a vignette
                             of congruence.

              (from “Stone Bride Madrigals II”)
Comment on Blue Fifth Reviews #8, October 2016.