Changeling

By Tori Cárdenas

I don’t put much stock into fairy tales and I sure as hell
know my own mother when I see her.
Or, I thought I did.

When she twists around on me again and again,
rolling crocodilian without sight, without reason,
so unlike her, driving splinters into my arms and back,
filling me with foxglove tea, while I push her closer
to the stove, in hopes the heat will expel that in which
such distrust has flourished, that which has made me fear
for my life like I did as a child.

Food and sleep seem threats.
The knot in my stomach grows with each black hair I add.
Chills, fever, pains—
I feel them, when I am not the one ill.

Captured and replaced by something with no knowledge
of this world or how it works, unaware of its cruelties,
unfamiliar with deceit.

This night past, I crept to her room in the night and her cover
I drew back—
when I unwrapped her, she was but a bundle of sticks.

To drive from her this curse, I must hold her over the fire.

__________________________________________________

Tori Cárdenas was born and raised in Taos, New Mexico. After graduating from the University of New Mexico, her work has been published in Conceptions Southwest, As/Us Journal, the Eunoia Review, and the Taos Journal of International Poetry and Art.

Frontier

By Christine Poreba

My son reaches for the light, wanting
to press the hot metal against his tongue.
I move us over to the shelves, where
he tears books down and tosses them
like wild branches needing to be cleared.

Soon, he clatters on hands and knees,
bellowing go go go, towards the gate
that closes just as he approaches;
then he bends his head and wails.

He’s an explorer with an endless want
and I’m the one who has to say you can’t.

I’m the one who stood helpless
when the neighbor’s dog jumped his fence
under my watch, blazed off until he was lost
and I didn’t know if the ground I covered
was closer or farther away.

It was, I’d read, the two-hundredth birthday
of the man who invented barbed wire—
Glidden parsing up the wild homesteads,
making boxes for the dogs who must have
howled in the new maze.

Now our dog, those dogs’ descendant,
follows balls in his fence, runs from one
corner to the other, like an airplane
on its route across the sky.

My husband, before he flies home tonight
as I fall asleep, types into his phone:
door / closing / now / I / love / you.

The space between the words is
the distance between two points,
where something starts or ends.

After I’ve left my son at school, his teachers
take him to the window to distract him
from my absence by looking at what’s just
beyond, which he doesn’t realize is the same
as where he just was

because where we are is always just beyond
where we were,

because once all of us saw land ahead
and thought only—and without words—go.
_________________________________________
Christine Poreba‘s poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Subtropics, The Southern Review, and The Sun Magazine. Her first book, Rough Knowledge, won the 2014 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry and is now out from Anhinga Press. She lives in Tallahassee, Florida with her husband, John, and their son, Lewis.

Mother / Writer

By Eve Kodiak

Once, there
was a place I could go.
I could walk myself there
in any season, through woods
and high meadows.
At night, by candle flame,
I could spiral in . . .
and when I reached
that place, I was alone.

There, I invited
the guests: the odd
juxtaposition, the off-
rhyme, the disparate ideas
whose hands I joined
in holy matrimony. There
I chose the colors
and changed them, I played
the games and wrote
the rules. I came and went
at will.

Now, I carry
another with me. Child
of my heart, you sleep
with your arm thrown across
your mouth, and I am silenced
by your need. I dance
a physical dance. I sing
an earthen song.
O bright rhymes, flickering
on the waves like the eyelashes
of goddesses! O delicate seafoam
of perception, wait for me!
My breasts drip milk. I
am clay. I cannot
go there.
___________________________
Eve Kodiak (birth name, Deborah Polikoff) grew up to the sound of her mother’s typewriter. Winner of the Radcliffe Poetry Prize, she has published poetry in the Madison Review, Radcliffe Quarterly, Annapurna, Damselfly and been anthologized in Clarify and The Poet’s Guide to New Hampshire. Chosen as a consultant for the A Room of Her Own (AROHO) 2015 women writer’s retreat at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, Eve is currently finishing a book of sonnets, her journal of the year 2015. Mother of a twenty year-old son, she lives in New Hampshire with her husband, dog, cat, and many trees.

The Souls of All the Mothers

By Eve Kodiak
 
The souls of all the mothers
gather at the river, billowing like linen
threaded with light.
The voices of the mothers
are murmuring birds,
are wind, are water washing
over stones.

Mother, you hold up
your hand as if
to say Stop –
while all around you
the hands of all the mothers
are moving in the golden light
that Renoir brushed into the bodies
of his bathers, are moving
with the menopausal
roundness carved into the ivory
of woolly mammoths,
moving across the glaze
of a million Grecian urns; hands
caressing, smoothing, patting,
soothing . . . holding,
in the painting by Mary Cassatt,
the foot of a child
in a wash basin just below
the transparent line
of water –

Mother, I want to bathe
in that river with you,
but I cannot cross
the line. Tell me
that you are all
right. Tell me that I
am all right.
Tell me
that there is nothing
in heaven or earth
but the hands
of all the mothers, washing
washing,
washing the feet of all
of their children, even
mine.

Still Life with Phone Call

By Renée M. Schell

Three time zones away,
my mother watches the dogwood bloom.

What can the blank mind think?

Her words snag on the tangles
from brain to throat. All the way
from Tennessee they hum,
they search, they hesitate,
they tell me invisible stories of braiding my hair,
how there’s no rubber band now,
how the braid has come undone,
how the three sections were lost.

A pause after a pause after a pause is silence.

I tuck her breathing behind my ear,
the phone heavy as scissors.
_______________________________
Renée M. Schell’s chapbook Overtones won Second Place in the 2014 Palettes & Quills Chapbook Contest. Her poem “Accidental Bird-Watcher’ won First Place in the 2015 Los Gatos Poet Laureate Contest. In 2014 her poem “Beyond Vienna” took Third Prize in the 2014 String Poet competition. Renée’s poetry has appeared in the anthologies All We Can Hold and On the Dark Path: An Anthology of Fairy Tale Poetry, as well as in Catamaran Literary Reader, Perfume River Poetry Review, and other journals. Her work appears online at literarymama.com, sharkreef.org, MonkeyBicycle, Mezzo Cammin and Eye to the Telescope. She was a contributing editor to the literary journal Red Wheelbarrow for two years and was lead editor of the anthology (AFTER)life: Poems and Stories of the Dead, published by Purple Passion Press in 2015. She holds a Ph.D. in German Studies from Stanford University and taught German for many years. In her free time she enjoys zumba and classical piano

(In)fertile Ground

By Heather Lobban-Viravong

I bear no fruit.
It is my body’s revenge
I think, for a sin
I cannot name.
 
My body makes no apology
just names its target
and plucks its roots.
Only tumors survive and thrive,
feeding on their own blood supply
‘til I am pregnant with one
and then another, and more.
Fighting like children for room
to burst from my womb,
threatening to explode and claim
their place –
In my psyche, in the sadness
that invades me for now.
______________________________________
Heather Lobban-Viravong is an educator, a college administrator, and a poet.  She has a degree in literature and is a member of the Academy of American Poets.

That which once was

By Andrea Witzke Slot

A rocking foam of memory nods to me
like the goodbye of a thousand waving hands.

Dear child, what unconscious tune
do you hum as you splash, pour, swim away?

Tell me: how is it that you are still this
even when you’ve long left this behind

like the cowry shell forgotten on your windowsill
years after you’ve shaken loose a mother’s need?

So much remains swaddled in our never-mores,
like this one that clings to sky’s evening light,

the slow burn that pulls the departed behind,
like the bright turning of away, ever, beyond.
______________________________

Andrea Witzke Slot is author of the poetry collection To find a new beauty (Gold Wake Press, 2012) and a recently-finished novel manuscript titled The Cartography of Flesh: in the silence of Ella Mendelssohn, both of which reflect her interest in the ways poetry, fiction, and nonfiction cross boundaries. Her work can be found in such places as The American Literary ReviewMeridianSoutheast ReviewBellevue Literary ReviewNimrodMid-American ReviewThe Chronicle of Higher Education, and in academic books published by SUNY Press and Palgrave Macmillan. Winner of Fiction International’s 2015 Short Short Fiction Prize and Able Muse’s 2015 Write Prize in Fiction, and a finalist and/or runner up in many other prizes, Andrea calls both London and Chicago home. Her website is: http://www.andreawitzkeslot.com. “That which once was” also appears in the 2016 fall issue of Pirene’s Fountain.

Who Sleeps in the Wet Spot

By Isla McKetta

My mother never told me          how the dripping rush
Would knot clot my pubic hair,
If I should lie pronely prim          missionary’s wife
Soak a tidy towel before shower sprinting,
Smear smudge myself dry           a teenaged tissue habit,
Or fetally curl right here           knees up          hoarding the treasure.

My mother never told me          someday I’d welcome
The after dollop          half the equation of life
The front line attack
Oozing its retreat          twelve hours post vital battle
And how I’d pray (pray pray) they left a man behind.
_______________________________
Isla McKetta is the author of Polska, 1994 (Éditions Checkpointed), co-author of Clear Out the Static in Your Attic: A Writer’s Guide to Turning Artifacts into Art (Write Bloody Publishing), and is currently working on a collection of poems about pregnancy. She earned an MFA in creative writing from Goddard College in Port Townsend, Washington and makes her home in Seattle with her artist husband, their son, and a dog.

Children

By Marianne K. Hansen
Translated from Danish by Michael Goldman

children hurt
they dig tunnels
under your skin
and undermine
your smooth face
your firm decisions
they wrinkle your tie
interrupt
your discussions
and build secret caves in your
neat house
mess up drawers boxes and cans
rip up floorboards and
they are going
to find it
all of it
that you have hidden from yourself
for so long
they are going to find
the pain
the yearning
and the laughter

By Marianne Koluda Hansen ©1980 “Børn”
______________________________________________
Marianne Koluda Hansen (1951 – 2014), born on the island of Bornholm, lived most of her life in Copenhagen, Denmark, where she wrote four books of poetry and two novels. She received her teaching degree in 1979 and taught English and Danish at a school for adults for 30 years. Also, she was an artist who held several exhibitions.

Michael Goldman is the founder of Hammer and Horn Productions which has produced three audiobooks of Danish poetry in English translation. Over 80 of his translations have appeared in 30 journals including Rattle, The International Poetry Review, and World Literature Today. He lives in Florence, Massachusetts, USA. www.hammerandhorn.net.

How-to

By Karen Harryman

Let the house go dark
except for the light
over the stove
where dinner cools.
Tub-side, sit, read, count tile–
chew the morning’s cold bacon
stiff as a plate and sip
left-over coffee. See, she
wears a hat of bubbles, rolls
like an otter in sluices
of sudsy water. Cinching
her mouth, she bats
wet lashes, pours
cupsful over the side
soaks the mat. She pats
the water beside her
and pats again. Undress,
get in. Give her the shore
of your body, rest your
cheek against her neck.
Forget which of you is mother.
______________________________________
Karen Harryman’s poems are forthcoming in Forklift and have appeared in Alaska Quarterly, Los Angeles Review, Verse Daily, The Cortland Review and The Raleigh Review as well as other print and online journals. Auto Mechanic’s Daughter, her first book of poetry, was selected by Chris Abani for the Black Goat Poetry Series Imprint with Akashic Books, 2007.  Before moving to California she lived and worked in Kentucky for most of her life. She and her husband currently live in Los Angeles with their two young daughters and one old dog.