Poetry: “At the Root” by Suzanne Levine

At the Root

First came the glamorous hennas, irresistible
to my romantic self, with their Moroccan origins
and smoky intrigue. Intoxicated by names like by-

zantium and aubergine, I religiously bent my head
to receive the thick brush strokes of a one-process
and scheduled fixed appointments. Bound now

to the indigo dyes, decades fell away like a quick
trim until I chose to embrace the inevitable gray
crowning at my pate like Juliet’s cap. Still, some

days I imagined an egg being cracked over my head,
calling my bluff with its glacial pace, as the viscous
obliterated an entire spectrum of color from the charts.

Suzanne Levine’s first poetry collection, Haberdasher’s Daughter (Antrim House, 2010), was a finalist for an Eric Hoffer Award. She holds an MFA from Vermont College and teaches the craft of memoir writing. Suzanne has poems in Drunken Boat, New Delta Review, Bellingham Review, Stand Magazine (UK), Permafrost and others. She is co-founder of Praiano Writers, a yearly writers’ conference held on the Amalfi Coast, see praianowriters.com for more information and suzannelevine.net.

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Poetry: “Rivulets” by Joseph Tate

Rivulets

Sitting on the bed’s edge and fumbling
with listless sympathies, I pause
and notice the L-shaped room:
the air ducts hum like wizened birds;

a pollen scent dulled with germicide;
walls a walking-on-eggshells white;
calcite colored, suspended ceiling tiles
pitted and crazed with ash grey lines.

A palm stretched slow across the sheets
abrades the crevasse-blue waterproof mattress;
a sound like tunneling glacial rivulets
that never will shape clasts, carve lakes.

Joseph Tate’s poems have appeared in E·ratio, Yemassee, The Oregonian and other publications. He edited the Music and Art of Radiohead and has published and lectured on Shakespeare and prosody.

Poetry: “A Cautionary Distillation of Unspoken Desires” by Rich Ives

A Cautionary Distillation of Unspoken Desires

The white table is red.
The sun is merely a theory,
but it’s a good one. The moon
crawled beneath the door to
offer a ghostly morning.

My trip through the body
has been longer than expected.
Distance does not think highly of
itself, so it works harder.

A barge loaded with bad ideas drifts
down the wonderful useless river.

The red table is white.
A cube of pride sits on a plate
next to a cube of remorse. A thread of
despair sews the islands together.

The sailor reassembled his ship
inside the vast cave, so that no one
could ever sail it away.

Make your mind like a stone––
hard to enter, impossible to leave,
but slowly separating into parts
that will have lives of their own.

Rich Ives has received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission and the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines for his work in poetry, fiction, editing, publishing, translation and photography. His writing has appeared in Verse, North American Review, Dublin Quarterly, Massachusetts Review, Northwest Review, Quarterly West, Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, Virginia Quarterly Review, Fiction Daily and many more. He is the 2009 winner of the Francis Locke Memorial Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander. In 2011 he received a nomination for The Best of the Web and two nominations for both the Pushcart Prize and The Best of the Net. He is the 2012 winner of the Creative Nonfiction Prize from Thin Air magazine. His book of days, Tunneling to the Moon, is currently being serialized with a work per day appearing for all of 2013 at http://silencedpress.com/.

Poetry: “Litany” by Jessica Pierce

Litany

The bus driver monologues
as we wait for the barge to pass
under the raised bridge, dulled
by low clouds. There’s the late
shift in the summer, vignettes
of stumbling, swearing,
sweating out alcohol.
There’s the 911 calls he’s made
for heart attacks and strokes.
There’s the daily checks
to make sure everyone’s okay
because I’ve seen enough,
hopefully. Hopefully.

The woman in front of me
changes seats to one on the back,
shaking her head as she goes.
The driver continues his recitation
of oddities and sadness.

Two men sitting next to me
take up their own litany
of motorcycles and strange
entanglements, which is how
one of the men describes loving
a woman who isn’t his wife,
and voodoo doughnuts.
I’m a Christian, the strangely
entangled man says, so I stay away
from all things voodoo.
The other man replies, Well,
the maple bar with bacon is worth
dying for. They both go silent,
and I imagine they’re each
contemplating salted sugar,
sweet dough, what’s
worth becoming entangled
over.

Even though it’s January,
unexpectedly warm weather
has sent crocuses into bursts
of bloom, the dirt now petal-
stippled and purpled like
sky filled with the onrush
of dusk. The bridge,
a thick spine along
the overcast sky,
looks like it may
never come down.

Jessica Pierce has worked a a farm hand, file clerk, bicycle mechanic and teaching poet. After taking up space everywhere from the San Joaquin Valley to Arkansas to Boston to Guatemala to India to Oakland, she now lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, a sitar player, and their two year old daughter. As the lead teacher and language arts teacher at an alternative school outside of Portland, she works with high school students at risk of dropping out. Her work has been published in JMWW, Painted Bride Quarterly, the Christian Science Monitor weekly magazine, outwardlink.net, The Times of India (Kolkata), and the Northwest Review, which nominated her for Meridian magazine’s 2007 Best New Poets anthology. She’s had the privilege of studying with Rosanna Warren, Dorianne Laux, Pimone Triplett, Sam Witt and Jorie Graham.