Artist, Jenny Baker: Jenny Baker studied for a Photography Diploma at Falmouth College of Art and went onto complete a BA Hons in Graphic Design Photography at Plymouth University in England, but now lives in New Zealand. She works primarily in the photographic medium, most frequently in color, preferring film to digital technology. Her photographs mainly depict landscape, architecture, and the natural world, with landscape a first love. Baker has exhibited work in South West England and Northland. Read more about her here.
The Bottom of the Earth
Last night the full moon in perigee
rose, so bright a coin
it could buy any sorrow back.
Geese circled and cried.
I stood at the top of the hill
looking across the valley
at the dark mountain
I will climb again tonight,
that every night I climb.
The geese, calling, take flight.
They can’t call to me. I live at the bottom of the earth
under a mountain’s pressure,
but when I climb out and up
I see everything that glows: comets
and shooting stars, a moon like a lighthouse
illuminating a rocky shore. Underfoot
I feel the sleep of buried gems,
their fire still dark.
I come up to pass the long night, watching
each seed of light split the sky, the passing
sparks that glint eternity.
Rachel Dacus is the author of ANOTHER CIRCLE OF DELIGHT, FEMME AU CHAPEAU, and EARTH LESSONS. She has work in the anthologies RAVISHING DISUNITIES: REAL GHAZALS IN ENGLISH, and LETTERS TO THE WORLD: POEMS FROM THE WOM-PO LISTSERV, as well as magazines such as The Atlanta Review, Cortland Review, and Prairie Schooner. She interviews poets for Fringe Magazine and blogs at Rocket Kids.
The first time I meet him, he asks for a glass of water, but it is my own throat which feels dry and constricted. His face is a moon, white. In a crystal clear voice he asks if I can hear him, says that I shouldn’t ignore him, that he needs water. I walk as fast as I can without looking back. I walk out of the dream, and wake up.
In the second dream, it is his hair which is shocking in its whiteness. The background is green, the colour of rain-washed, clean grass. You didn’t let me grow, he says, and points an accusing finger at me. He then turns round and walks away. My heart pounds with the word Guilt a hundred times in the dark.
The third and last. We are in a room which smells of the pulp of some over-ripened, fallen fruit. This is where I live, he says. Forever. As he approaches me, I can see that he is not my child, but the neighbours’ little boy, the one who limped. Look at me, he cries, and waves a piece of thread in front of his face. You cut me out because I was wrong.
There are times when I search for the end of the thread, all of a sudden cold and empty and shivering inside. I am the mother of the lost boy. I am not a mother. There is no boy. He is lost. He is not a boy. He is Unborn. And all my days go backwards, blending each other into complete whiteness, a blank.
Nora Nadjarian is a poet and short story writer from Cyprus (Europe). She has published three collections of poetry and a book of short stories, LEDRA STREET. Her work was recently included in the anthology BEST EUROPEAN FICTION 2011 (Dalkey Archive Press). A new chapbook of short stories, GIRL, WOLF, BONES was recently published by Folded Word.
After the Reading
The moon a foggy
dime to the south
as the writer skulks in shadow
behind the fist-hungry dive
where the band gathers
leather drums and girls
with boy haircuts and Converse.
The writer’s fist tips over
flask heavy and his bourbon
breath makes the alley gleam.
I can’t trick his eyes into contact,
glowing alien ships darting
past me. My thumbs spin
car keys moments before I
drive into the moon and past
a poet better than myself.
Dave Malone is a poet and playwright who hails from the Ozarks. His interests include Ozark culture, baseball, vegetarian cooking, and Zen. He teaches part-time at Missouri State-West Plains, and his poems have appeared in journals such as decomP, Elder Mountain, Mid River Review, Red Rock Review, San Pedro River Review, Spindrift, and Word Riot.
Three years of invasive surgeries and mega-doses of fertility drugs and the best she could muster was a dark blotch highlighted in silver on the ultrasound screen. “A blighted ovum,” the doctor said. The words sounded like a disease apple trees might endure. She stared up at him in the dim, thrumming room but couldn’t see his eyes.
“What do I do?” she asked.
“Go home,” he said. “And wait.”
After he left, she pulled on her clothes and wondered if she should believe her reproductive endocrinologist, a man young enough to be her son had she been able to produce one.
She filled the trunk of her Corolla with boxes of sanitary napkins bought at Walmart and waited. After two weeks, she allowed herself to fly to meet clients. Just in case, she stuffed her suitcase with extra underwear and pasted emergency numbers on the front of her wallet. Every morning she woke in a different city exhausted from nightmares of dolls bobbing down rivers of blood. Coffee made her nauseous so she nibbled on dry toast and chewed sugared ginger. She left meetings when her stomach gnarled and learned to vomit with discretion in public bathrooms. Other women looked at her knowingly, but she avoided their eyes. At night she lay on her over-feathered hotel bed, afraid she’d bleed out while asleep. She blamed the hormones for her funk. Close to dawn she drifted asleep thinking about pills and knives and warm water.
Thanksgiving approached. Thoughts of cooking turkey and stuffing and apple pies made her queasy. She told her husband she would not make cranberry relish, what with the bumps of berries congealed in crimson jelly. He nodded, understanding. She called the doctor.
“You haven’t miscarried yet?” He sounded surprised. In the background she heard laughter and applause, happy patients and their nurses. “Are you sure?”
She assured him she had not missed the blood or pain that would have accompanied such an event.
“Come in next Friday,” he said. “We’ll do the D and C.”
“But that’s the day after Thanksgiving,” she said. “And I’m sick and tired of screwing up my holidays for damn baby-making stuff.”
He stayed quiet. More laughter, muffled. She was sure he could hear her heart thumping through the phone line.
“We need to schedule before twelve weeks,” he said. “Otherwise, it’s not a legal abortion.”
She layered her hands over the lower part of her stomach. She felt hollowed out, a cored apple. “I want an ultrasound.”
“Not necessary,” he said. “Besides, insurance won’t cover it.”
The turkey thawed in the kitchen sink. Her husband double-bagged the uncooked carcass so the coyotes would not smell the blood and threw it in the garbage can. Upstairs, she sat cross-legged on the spare bedroom floor, the eggshell walls darkening in the fading light. Although not Jewish, she understood the meaning of shiva.
She handed the receptionist the hundred dollar bill. “For the ultrasound,” she said. “Bill me the balance.”
She took a seat in the near-empty room and waited amidst the frayed magazines. The nurse called her name and ushered her into the examination room. She lifted herself onto the table and covered her lower half with the flimsy tissue-paper garment.
“Twelve weeks, huh?” the technician said. She didn’t know. “This might be a little cold.”
The woman slipped the vaginal wand inside her. Pressure filled her abdomen. Eyes scrunched up, she breathed deep and prayed.
“Gorgeous,” the technician said.
She opened her eyes. The screen dazzled the white of life.
Linda Simoni-Wastila lives, loves, and professes in Baltimore. When not writing novels, she pens smaller pieces which reside in print and online venues, including The Sun, Camroc Press Review, Right Hand Pointing, Nanoism, Tattoo Highway, Boston Literary Magazine, BluePrint Review, The Shine Journal, Every Day Poets, and Six Sentences. She blogs at LEFTBRAINWRITE and reads other writers’ stuff at JMWW.
“I am already roasted on one side, if though wouldst have me
well cooked, it is time to turn me on the other.”
-Laurentius A.D. 258
Fall hedges its bets while you yank the hose
free of knots, a green fight on your hands
Sunshine weaves its alluvial light,
your shoulders quilted in warmth
You water what few flowers remain,
their dried-out stems languid on the ground
There’s more on your mind than the task at hand—
leaves float by in their burnished boats,
reminders of friends who have died,
their spirits akin to Perseid showers,
They pass you by on nights so dark, so exceptional
that you feel a shimmer from their quivering souls,
their bright harness of light circling out,
your intemperate looking up