Blue Fifth Reviews – (February 2016 / #6)

Blue Fifth Reviews – (February 2016 / #6)

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.


February 2016

Bill Yarrow, ed.

The Map of What Happened by Susan Elbe
The Backwaters Press, 2013
Winner of the 2012 Backwaters Prize
58 poems, 97 pages
1.    Hard dreams come to me this spring:
        sunflowers bending over me,
        their huge, yellow heads, cougars
        on the loose, a vampire moon,
        the street inside me full of children
        somersaulting underneath
        the Trees of Heaven, their thin arms
        and legs gleaming white

               (from “Things That Look Like Other Things”)
 susan elbe Photo+on+2014-08-29+at+18.04
2.    days unchangeable except when
        weather rolls the waves of switch grass:

        true, I’ll leave you, go back to the city
        but until I do, show me how

        to shoot this tin-can loneliness
        off fence posts, claim this place as mine

              (from “anthropomorphic” from “Five Summer Nights”)
3.    Look, it wasn’t only death that pushed me down,
        scraped my shins, and tore my sleeve.

map of what happened 41+RG8I2OFL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_        It was the bridge from there to here,
        the hum of its metal, how the girl who needed
        to cross couldn’t trust it would hold
        the weight of her grief or her love

              (from “The Map of What Happened”)
4.                    We spent hours on the front stoop,
        waiting for our lives to find us,
        not knowing we would have to steal them too,
        not knowing every life is kidnapped,

                         or at least bartered for

              (from “Stealing Popsicles”)
5.    But now, coming home, I stop in the alley,
                    like a stranger, witnessing

        this silent, ardent work, a loosely threaded
        mend of fireflies, sparkling between

        porch and window, before the sleep that separates us all
                    undoes the fragile stitch again

              ( from “Their Marriage Fifty Years In”)



The Children’s War and Other Poems by Shaindel Beers
Salt Publishing, 2013
57 poems, 67 pages
1.    Tropical storm Debby batters the Southeast,
        and near Boston, Julia is waiting for a kidney. A father
        in Wisconsin on whim pulls out a camera and says,
        Smile! His daughter beams: his son looks sullen,
        and he wonders, a bit forlorn, How did my and my wife’s
        bodies create these two children?

              (from “What Is Lifted”)

2.    This is the heart.
        Little spark. Pulsating star on the screen.
        It is hard to believe someday you will be human.
        Right now, you are a blueberry. A kidney bean.

              (from “The Image Grows: It Moves”)

3.    This is the cradle that held their daughter.
        The stove where the wife baked their bread.
        The mudroom where he pulled off
        his boots every night after milking.
        This is the part where you realize every
        broken window is a piece of you.

              (from “This is the house of yearning—”)
 Shaindel Beers

4.    Who are at once scalpel and salve.
        They have only one spigot for honey or gasoline,
        and you don’t know which you will get until it hits
        your tongue. Sip slowly. Protect the soft palate.

              (from “There Are Men … ”)

5.                                                                                           I mourned
        for the childhood of our marriage. The skinny yelled at girl,
        the beaten little boy we used to be. I thought of my mother
        cowered in corners, my father knocking over furniture,
        your four year-old arms spotted with cigarette burns,
        your hunger locked in rooms, and how we never escape our past.

              (from “A Prayer for Angel Torres”)




The Narrow Circle by Nathan Hoks
Penguin Books, 2013
National Poetry Series Winner, selected by Dean Young
44 poems, 84 pages

1.    Everyone tells me I look like Jim.Nathan Hoks
        Jim, I say, who the hell is Jim? In truth
        I know him, but I’m feeling anxious
        About these accusations.

              (from “Personality Test”)
2.    Three or four

        feelings later the spoon wish turn to rain. A ghost finger taps
        me on the shoulder but I will not disappear with it into the
        oak’s bear-shaped shadow. I have to watch this sparrow bounce
        and eat in the grass.

        The wind pops

        the soap bubble, my face disperses with angels of teeth and
        loam. The snake sheds its skin, the tree of steam leafs its way
        into the sky.

              (from “Spiral of the Interior”)
3.    When my wife comes home from work
         The invisible bird is still hissing near
         Her head. She looks for the mail and wrinkles
         Her nose at a waft of cottage cheese.

              (from “Family of the Interior”)
4.    When I drop the glass in the sink, I want to watch it shatter in the light.

        The tunnel elevator releases the eyes and pinches the light.

        Alone with a tangerine: light in the backseat.

        The smell of tarmac that has sat for hours in the light.

        Is it possible to think darkness without also thinking light?

              (from “Candelabra”)
 The Narrow Circle 51qE3q+n4IL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_
5.    I walk around town looking
        For my god in the windows
        And in the bare branches
        And in the bookstores
        And in the dog shit.
        My god lives on a fire escape.
        My god has no tangible benefits to the soul.
        My god is the word “No” stuck in the mouth.
        My god my god every word is my god.

              (from “God of the Interior”)


About bluefifthreview

Blue Fifth Review, edited by Sam Rasnake, Michelle Elvy, and Bill Yarrow, is an online journal of poetry, flash, and art.
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1 Response to Blue Fifth Reviews – (February 2016 / #6)

  1. Pingback: Archives for 2016 | Blue Fifth Review: Blue Five Notebook Series

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