elsewhere / 7

A Marriage

I inflated in the morning with my husband’s breath. Apparently I was needed because the ambiguous sky was falling. Someone had to obtain custody of all that software for clouds, wind, and constellations. Rain mapped different parts of my body every night.

I agreed with my husband about the immaterial world. How everything was a figure of speech and our money became angry at us over time. But, sitting in a rocking chair on our porch, I disagreed about fulfilling the juice pitcher, mowing the large green lozenge of our lawn, and what to touch, how, when. His hair began growing in weird places, thin ears, knuckles, a bellybutton. My husband’s side effects developed side effects. We emptied the rinds of one another. Even in silence our actions weren’t suspended.

Nearby houses were still speaking to me. Water meandered by. Streak marks were left on our windows. My husband was already in his meteorological suit. The birds cheered up in the preoperative light. I used to be an angry mammal. I used to worry about too many people. It was time to peel myself away from him, skin by skin. Finding each other was random. I fell to the ground on my hands and knees, trying to locate fresh burrows or prowlers waiting for immanent moonlight. My husband knew he could leave me alone. Who could predict anything, including weather? AllI could do was jump into an affectionate boat, follow the river, see where we could land.

Laurie Blauner is the author of seven books of poetry, a novella, and three novels from Black Heron Press. Her most recent book is a poetry book chosen in the first Open Reading Period from What Books Press, called It Looks Worse than I Am. She lives in Seattle, Washington.

Postcard with Wind & Molars

Susie, while gulls & Chinese letters wing & wheel on the updraft, Fukushima swings on the downdraft, & I worry about my pal. There are no tools to stop this. You could try a window screen, & you’d fail—sweeping clumps of hair under the rug. You could try an iron skillet, & that too would fail—your teeth spilling into a little cup that you must now dangle from your neck to catch them, your molars making a sad little ping with each drop. You could try a razor blade, but please don’t try a razor blade, friend. The worst part is, your government is not being straight, how starfish are dissolving on Oregon beaches, how the Hawai’ian archipelago is already glowing, quite gorgeous from space—a psychedelic string of gems ripping across the Pacific, aimed straight at you. I’m at the geometric center of fucking Nowhere—far, far to the East—& still I’m suspicious of this rain, this snow, a wind of my own tearing through this house, a wind that tastes like plutonium & lies, a wind that feels like useless window screens on my skin, that looks like a cartoon ghost. My teeth are falling out, too, but aren’t everybody’s? Look at us all, stumbling around with our sad little cups to catch them. Ping, ping, ping. We must look gorgeous from space—7,000,000,000 glowing dots, in the shape of a mushroom blooming over the planet like a useless umbrella. Hugs, Mikey.

Mike Dockins’ poems have appeared in Crazyhorse, The Gettysburg Review, Quarterly West, Indiana Review, The Best American Poetry 2007, and elsewhere. His critically-acclaimed first book of poems, Slouching in the Path of a Comet (Sage Hill Press, 2007), has moved 850 copies to date. His second collection, Letter to So-and-So from Wherever, won the Maxine Kumin Award in Poetry, and appeared in November 2014 by C&R Press. Mike lives in Decatur GA.

from I'm So Fine: A List of Famous Men and What I Had On

My mom was waiting at the bus stop in 1960 when she saw Chuck Connors ​& he flirted with her did a double take as she waited to ride the Western line down Hollywood Boulevard to her job at Max Factor she was only 21 & still wore crinoline under her dresses & crossed her brown legs at the ankle & to the side he drove by the next day too in a long white Cadillac convertible with cattle horns Texas-ing the hood & his face all blond sideburns & grin she said it was fun watching him try but she didn't give him no play

So maybe she was at least a little starstruck especially in the early Motown Era ​she & her sister Valerie made their way from Inkster to the front row at the 20 Grand in Detroit to see David Ruffin & they made the biggest noise in the place so of course he noticed them he asked their names & sang their names as he took their hands & crooned a tease a bunch of the other women in the audience fell on the floor in a faint my mother thought he was so cool it was 1956 & she had on a gold lamé dress her Aunt Mittie had given her

A few weeks later she saw Harry Belafonte walking down the street ​she & her cousin Flavis Davis & sister Evelyn strolled to a show at the Fisher Theater walking down Woodward all of them wore kitten heels & box hats & white gloves & chiffon & organdy dresses & full makeup they used torn paper bag strips the night before to twist their hair into tight curls they called croconos & Flavis noticed the man ahead of them in an avocado-colored suit jacket & whispered Is that Harry Belafonte so they sped up & got close enough to him that he said hello & smiled before he turned the corner & then they saw Eartha Kitt with a little white dog on a leash she was sprinting across the street to the Fisher wearing a white capelet & my mother said I've got to have one of those for myself the cape not the dog

Khadijah Queen is the author of Conduit (2008) and Black Peculiar (2011), which won the Noemi Press Book Award and was a finalist for the Gatewood Prize at Switchback Books. Fearful Beloved is forthcoming from Argos Books in 2015. Individual poems and prose appear or are forthcoming in jubilat, Aufgabe, Vinyl, Memoir, Fence, The Volta Book of Poets and widely elsewhere. She is the 2014 winner of the Leslie Scalapino award for innovative women performance writers.

The Break

      after Catullus

What! you would have me ruined by some rogue-sent letter? What carnival of gossip could you ever capably stir? Dawn in its trueness has no blush for the impulses you spread as if a virus. The commons are abuzz with your front. No one thinks you’ve been taken advantage of for we all see the advances you’ve set to grab. The land’s not yours to own, you cannot auction the rooster that strays from plot to plot. You cannot paint the cowpie gold. The meadow is not for the one bee but for the hive. So, take back your i’s, and I’ll return o to its sad grace, trade the u’s I never bought in exchange for what why’s none give a whiff to know.

Emily Rosko’s books are Prop Rockery (U Akron P 2012) and Raw Goods Inventory (U Iowa P 2006). Recent poems can be found in New American Writing and Sycamore Review. She teaches at the College of Charleston and is poetry editor for Crazyhorse.

from In the Antarctic Circle

77°8′S 154°0′W

We cut holes in the ice and sip history out of it. Afterward they weigh us. The scale doesn’t register. They tag our ears and send us back.

All the world floats upward, in other words. Squeaks like a helium balloon.

No loss to us. Our steps are lighter underneath the past. The snow gives less, has less to give.

We try not to lift off when we can. At home, the dome cradles us back into our short, ugly memories. The ancient lies rise and gather blackly at the ceiling.

We can’t help but cower. Our fathers are there somewhere, breathing hard.

Their voices are magnets. Our voices are echoes, kindling fame.

72°51′S 91°5′W

Saturday (there are no days) Hank began crying for a photo album. He wanted colors, the ones we began with, mobiles spinning in a vacuum. I did the clown act but it was only what clowns are, a poor excuse for yesterday. You know how frightful it is to get what you want.

Ebb and flow is the rule on a continent like this. Luckily the entire landscape is stone, fears and wants frozen without hope of reanimation. Our harpoons remain pointed at the sky in case somebody or something flies past. Our feet in the snow, footholes kicked, to hold on to the un-let-go-of-able.

After a while, a fishing line climbs up from the ocean, over the edge of the ice, and takes you by the boot. Waits there for you to move, to see if you’re hooked.

Do you feel that?

You’re supposed to be happy now.

69°57′S 38°45′E

Hank is filled to the brim with neutrinos. We touch metal but sugar-snow still pulls earthly on us, reminding us that something else is out there, alive. Walls of sand. Grinning bearded ghosts pacing like Americans. Flagpoles and boots strew the tundra, spit out by the ice. Long live the light.

Long live the darkness, raining flagpoles and boots. Sad long-haired men pace the sky in Swedish, dip below the dunes and seem for a moment dead. Then their crowns return, same as the bitter snow, and turn to bodies. They are magnetic, wooden, pull us toward them and push us away at once. The echoes of stars penetrate nearly to their bones. They stop at our door and knock. The sound of their padded fists is the sound of a glacier refusing to crumble.

64°44′S 62°37′W

Once we rise we rise quickly, as if a massacre is occurring under our feet. The ground fills the window. Touches us from a distance. Becomes clear in its blankness, certain, no longer needing to lie. Our home’s round walls trace the only shadow against the snow.

The long plane rights itself. For the first time in years, we survive.

We dream. We’ve already been saved. The snow outside is our blanket. In other landscapes, howitzers roll across the land and lock in place, preparing to leave huge furrows. The Antarctic Circle heaves and contracts around us. Its touch is bigger than anyone knew. It strides into outer space. Strokes the stars. Calls them by our names.

62°27′S 60°20′W

He holds the walls apart, his head pressing in, my head emptying of matter.

He pulls my shoulders back to where they belong.

He sets a pot on the stove and sits beside me. Holding our hands in our laps, we watch it freeze.

The sky’s green lights are us, on fire.

Small miracles of domesticity lie flat on the unspotted plain.

The end that can be reached is not the true end.

Our home is your margin.

God bless you.

Take this:

The end.

Dennis James Sweeney's other Antarctica poems appear or are forthcoming in Birdfeast, Gargoyle, Juked, and Greying Ghost Press's pamphlet series. He lives in Corvallis, Oregon.


She had red hair that made him want to yell “Fire!” So he did. She said, “Heard that one before.” She had green eyes, so he said, “Pond algae,” but he said it quietly and she laughed. He fell in love and she said it was okay. She told him that sometimes, if she wanted to, she could disappear into paintings. “No Baroque or Rococo,” she said. “I understand,” he said. He kind of did. One day she didn’t show up for coffee at the café. He searched for her in the usual places. He ended at the museum. She was all angles, mostly, so he went to the modern art wing and stared at painting after painting. He wanted to yell “Fire!” but he wasn’t a fool. A museum guard shook his head. The guard looked sad, as if he knew.

Shellie Zacharia is the author of the flash chapbook Not Everything Lovely and Strange is a Dream (Monkey Puzzle Press, 2014). Her stories have appeared in The Pinch, Sou'wester, A cappella Zoo, Saw Palm, Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine.

Journal of a few months Residence in Portugal and Glimpses of the South of Spain

. . . How the cuckoos played at hide-and-seek among the mountains on our ride from Braga!

      'O cuckoo, shall I call thee bird,
      Or but a wandering voice ?'

And how we flushed the red-legged partridges, whir, whir, whir, among the underwood, and even on the dusty, lonesome road-sides ; the hen-bird, followed by her small brood, usually taking the alarm first, while the bold male challenged and scolded us, and almost suffered himself to be rode up to, before he took flight . . .


. . . The little river Homem, a plaything in summer, but in winter a furious torrent, takes its name from the Lamas de Homem, a large swampy plain, full of springs, on the summit of Gerez. Thence, hurrying westward, it every now and then takes a plunge into a gulf, runs along rocky ravines, comes out shining on a greensward, receives many smaller rills from both sides, and, dashing noisily through Portella, turns to the south, where, in a course of less than two miles, it takes in thirteen tributaries, and thus strengthened and deepened, twists merrily on till within a league of Braga, and after a run of about thirty miles from of Braga, and after a run of about thirty miles from its rise, it is lost in the Cavado. It is famed for excellent trout, and the higher you go, and the colder the water, the better, it is said, is the fish . . .


. . . When Count Henry, after his marriage with Theresa, was on his way to this place, and it was first seen from the heights of St. Catherine (so called because that Saint was buried here by angels, after her martyrdom) an Infante of Leon, who accompanied him, exclaimed, 'Quem te deu nao te vio, se te vira ndo te dera'— 'He who gave thee had not seen thee, had he seen thee he would not have given thee' . . .

Dora Wordsworth, daughter of William Wordsworth, may be most well-known for appearing in several of his poems—however, she was a respected writer in her own right. This travel journal, which describes a long trip to Portugal in prose which shifts quickly from vivid natural description and cultural observation to interior monologue, was her only published volume. Sara Coleridge, writing after Dora Wordsworth’s death, claimed that the relationship she shared with her father, though close, nevertheless “frustrated a real talent.”