Editor’s Pick – His Nibs

Finally, my own choice as best of the best is Anosmia by Kitty Coles.

Any Editor (or this one, certainly) that has to read hundreds of submitted poems every month is going to be delighted by work that is slant. Of the five senses this poem could have been written about she chose smell which is far from an obvious choice, and it piques the reader’s interest immediately because of that (the novel Perfume by Patrick Suskind also benefited greatly from the sheer originality of the book’s premise).

There is also great use of language and imagery, but perhaps best of all we are allowed to observe the interplay between husband and wife which comes across as utterly authentic and intimate. And by using that interplay she shows and not tells. Much better than a lazy poem where we are simply instructed by someone writing a poem how it feels to lose your sense of smell – that would bar a reader from participation in the poem relegating them to a passive mode which, usually, would make a poem uninteresting to read.

In short, she nailed it.

 

Anosmia

I ask my husband to describe my new perfume
(because I have no sense of smell)
and he reports it stinks of princesses.
He has told me that earthworms reek raw meat red
and the blossom clustering the prunus
is sweet, scented the way cold petals feel.
Incense is twilight and Christmas stirred together.
The sea’s like white salt tastes but often
mixed with a lugubrious undertow of dirt.
The cat’s like a clean coat, a certain crispness,
and snow’s bouquet is nothing but it makes
a faint increase in every other fragrance.

When I was sickest, he said that my flesh smelt
like tree-roots washed by rain but, nowadays,
it’s pale and yielding like buttercream.

 

 

Kitty’s poems have been widely published. She is one of the two winners of the Indigo Dreams Pamphlet Prize 2016 and the winning pamphlet, Seal Wife, has just been publishedHer website is here.

Editor’s Pick – Nick Allen

My other co-editor has singled out How to be Deposed by Elya Braden. This was a zeitgeist poem, picking up on the #metoo movement in a very inventive way. It was the Editor’s Choice winner picked by Antony Dunn (whose original comments are here).

Topicality is problematic unless you have a pretty quick turnaround with submissions, and usually we find that our normal one-month windows and fast processing allow for the odd one to creep in, with the scope for occasional poems that verge on the political (and I would argue this does).

I would probably not have singled out such a poem as they sometimes have a short shelf life, but Nick did, which does not surprise me in the slightest.

 

How to be Deposed

Apply two coats of waterproof mascara.
Floss until it steadies your hands. Sit down 
while you sheath your winter legs
in ultra-sheer pantyhose, Nude #2. Remember
the time before your ninth deposition, 
teetering in your hallway in a twisted
tree pose, you wrenched your back,
flailing like a netted trout. 
Do not bat your eyelashes at your lover,
I mean, lawyer, until you two are alone
in a taxi fleeing the scene.
Don’t shriek when plaintiff’s counsel
accuses you of sleeping with 
the defendant. Try to forget 
that co-counsel’s son carpools
with your daughter. Count the lines
in the wood grain of the
conference room table. Hum
in your head to the rat-a-tat 
of the stenographer’s flying fingers. 
Breathe. Wait for your lawyer’s objection. 
Later, when he asks: Was it true? 
don’t slap him. Don’t place a straight razor
near your bubble bath. Leave 
your pearl-handled revolver at home, 
tucked under your monogrammed hankies. 
Remember you don’t have a revolver… 
or hankies. Remember all the dimes 
you earned ironing your father’s hankies.
Try to forget his shadow in your doorway.
Try to forget his hand over your mouth.
Try to forget the sticky touch of your brother’s
beanbag chair on your bare thighs, 
your brother’s threat: I’ll tell everyone what you did.
Try to forget his needling question:
Does it feel good when I touch you here?

 

 

 

Elya Braden, a former corporate lawyer and entrepreneur, is now a writer and collage artist living in Los Angeles where she leads workshops for writers. Her work has appeared in Causeway Lit, Forge, Linden Avenue, poemmemoirstory, Serving House Journal, Willow Review and elsewhere. You can find her online at www.elyabraden.com.

Editor’s Pick – Hannah Stone

While the re-launch submissions roll in (which we will be selecting from at the end of June) I asked my two co-editors which of the poems that had picked up either a Readers’ Choice or Editor’s Choice Award in the past were their favourite poems.

I’ll start with Hannah Stone’s choice, which is I Help My Husband Sleep by Karen Greenbaum-Maya. The subject matter is common ground, which makes it that much harder to write it well, especially when you are up against wonderful canonical poems such as those written by Sharon Olds about her father. This one touched all three editors profoundly, and I seem to remember Brett Evans over at Prole really liking this too.

 

I Help My Husband Sleep

Your head rolls onto my shoulder, crushes
my hair so it rasps in my ear.
I smell your silver hair,
Einstein-wild from hospital sweat,
waxy under my hand.
Me almost under you, offering myself
as a better bed, compressing
the single-use egg-crate mattress.
I’m here to let you let down.
Stop fighting your eyelids’ pull.
Burrow your heavy head into my breast.
I’ll hold on while you take up your dreams
like a tired dog who feels the grass
under his paws, twitching in his sleep
at the flicker of abundant rabbits.
I lie braced in the narrow bed
that keeps me from cradling you enough.

 

 

Karen Greenbaum-Maya, retired clinical psychologist, German major, two-time Pushcart nominee and occasional photographer, no longer lives for Art but still thinks about it a lot. Kattywompus Press publishes her two chapbooks, Burrowing Song and Eggs Satori. Kelsay Books publishes her book-length collection, The Book of Knots and their Untying. www.cloudslikemountains.blogspot.com

 

Magazine Re-launch Reminder

A quick note to say our current window for submissions is still open, and will be until 30th June. We expect to get back to people with our decision by around 10th July (yes, we work fast) and be selecting around 20-25 poems to publish in the second part of July and throughout August. Thereafter we will revert to monthly submission windows, publishing 10 – 15 poems each month.

We have already had many lovely emails regarding our return, which is very heartening.

“…your publication was one of the very few around who managed to find space for pieces with a little wry or dark humour in them.”

“…it feels good to be sending you poems for your consideration again.”

“Really happy to see your journal up and running again.”

“I was so pleased to see that you’ve opened up your submissions again as I’ve enjoyed the work you publish and was hoping to have another chance to send you some of my work.”

“It’s so good to have you back.”

Editor’s Choice Poem – Jan/Feb 2018

One bit of unfinished business from before our hiatus is the announcement of the winning Editor’s Choice Poem from January and February this year. This was selected by our guest judge Joan Hunter  Antony Dunn

His winning choice was:

How to be Deposed – by Elya Braden

Antony offered the following comment:

This is a timely and very troubling poem. It achieves a rare balance somewhere between narrative clarity and mystery. It gives us enough to intrigue and compel us, but not so much that it renders itself uninteresting. It’s unusual – which, in itself, is something of a virtue. The calmness of the tone beautifully belies the violence and unpredictability of the proposed events and relationships. Its jumpy, distracted, almost-confused point of view paints a vivid picture of a mind and body in crisis, on the edge of a full-blown incident. Its narrator unable to be sure about facts, her voice conjuring the idea of her reeling around in a witness-box fog. But it’s also an elegant poem, untroubled by cliche, which never trips over its own rhythms. Ultimately, it’s an enormously powerful poem in its vulnerability. It’s very impressive.”

SUBMISSIONS REMINDER

A quick mention that the extended submission window for our re-launch is still open, closing on 30th June. Please keep them coming – we are looking to have a strong re-entry to the poetic atmosphere without a parachute.

Lines Curved and Straight – by Amlanjyoti Goswami

(for Maryam Mirzakhani)

 

The shortest distance between two points
Is a space of un-freedom.
A straight line is not reality. It is boredom made
Mathematic.

Ask any lover what it takes. Ask a free bird if he ever walks straight.
The route is usually jagged, curved, crisscrossing, zig zag,
Drawn in beautiful geodesic parabolas
Lines that (sometimes) meet each other, like people, and then again depart,
Birds or planes, made after birds,
In mid- early or late- flight.

Ask mother how long it takes to reach her son
Living in the next room.
Ask two warring co-workers, next to each other in the cubicle,
What invisible fields of light, heat, current, intersect
Before they look eye to eye.
Ask two politicians, if they ever see their roads meet as a right angle.

Yet, we persist, in fooling ourselves, in maps,
In the troubled spots of the heart, in prayer
And music, as if the best way to get anywhere
Was instant.
It is the spirit of our times.
While patience and wonder come with quest.

But how then, do they (really) curve?
What goes on, before the lines turn straight, or do they?
Why does the solitary morning walker go back and forth, and take strange turns?
If you drew a line of his path, your eye would draw fifteen million circles of the sun
And beyond,
Before you knew how his synapses lapse
And what is truly beautiful –

Picasso’s cubes, the lonely points of Seurat
Or Maryam’s flying doodles.

 

 

 

 

Amlanjyoti Goswami’s poems have appeared in publications in India, Nepal, the UK, Hong Kong, South Africa, Kenya and the USA, including the anthologies Forty under Forty: An Anthology of Post-Globalisation Poetry (Poetrywala, 2016) and A Change of Climate (Manchester Metropolitan University, Environmental Justice Foundation and University of Edinburgh, 2017). He grew up in Guwahati, Assam and lives in Delhi.

I Know the Girls Talk – by Jude Cowan Montague

 

I Know the Girls Talk

but they’ve gone,
like Gloria and Teresa,
and the wild flowers we stuffed in our suitcase.
We went right through the refuge in sandals.

We camped by the Big Bend.
There was dancing across from the graveyard.
Soon there was just me and the little one,
standing in the rain with the long horns.

We can sleep in the car,’ you said.
‘Buy our shoes in a certain month,
grow our hair long.’
I hoped my step-dad would come and find us,
But he stayed back in the mountain.

We had a flat and couldn’t get a tire.
Our bucket banged on the side.
We really looked like Okies.

August and then the last part of October,
it rained all the time.
People can get pretty mean on the road.
I never was so tired of rain in my life.

I set my alarm clock.
When we pass over
the state line you’ll wake me
and stop, and I’m going to get out
and kiss that sign.

 

 

 

Jude Cowan Montague worked for Reuters Television Archive for ten years. Her album ‘The Leidenfrost Effect’ (Folkwit Records 2015) reimagines quirky stories from the Reuters Life! feed. She produces ‘The News Agents’ on Resonance 104.4 FM. Her most recent book is ‘The Originals’ (Hesterglock Press, 2017).