Blog Archives

Issue 4 | Winter 2009

Neighbor Dies of an Overdose, 1997

By | Prose

It lays there, resting against the gray walls of the complex, its feet comfortable on this second floor walkway.  It no longer has a name.  We call it “the body.”  An empty bag of chips, trash, in its lap, the body maybe stealing a few bites, that tiny taste of crunch, before a scream tore through it, left its lips peeled back, an ache shivering through muscle, forcing eyes and teeth to reach out, pull from skin.  A child watches it, leans against her mother’s corduroyed legs, ice cream spilling from the edges of her lips, her fingers, sprinkling over sandaled feet. Something about the sun setting, the haze of red cast over puddles in the parking lot, over heads of all those looking up at the body, its hands almost open, arms wide, as if to take them in, all of them, in.  The mother flicks her cigarette, the haze of it rising, bitter in the air, gray in her mouth. She offers me a blowjob for ten bucks, and I almost say yes.

Issue 4 | Winter 2009

Ode to the Math Compass

By | Prose

North is the downward swing catching wrist, splitting skin, digging itself in between tendons, between muscle, fingers going numb, tingling, and like first love, you keep thinking, “this can’t be happening, this can’t be.” West is the shove against the bathroom sink, porcelain pressing air out of lungs, edges of it against back, against kidneys, the point of the compass coming out of you, sliding, and the point has so little blood, so much shine. East is the release, knee crunching into hollow of his groin, bastard crashing through stall as you push away, chase him through walls of chipped paint and phone numbers for good head, bring that bloodied fist over his neck, his skull, club until face and arm and wall meet, and that tightness of the body lets go, and he falls free, to a floor of piss and pine sol, and there are so many patterns now, blood making maps on tile and clothes. South is the compass in the good hand.  South is bringing the needle of it into his back, South is making him learn to never fuck with you, South is watching him reach for the new hole near his spine. South is the screams, letting you know something good has been found with that compass, something good.

A Commentary

By | John Samuel Tieman, Prose

I teach English at Soldan International Studies High School in St. Louis.   Last Thursday, a student asked one of those questions that are near impossible to answer.   Like, “Would Juliet have lived if Shakespeare had been a woman?”   Or, “Who’s the greatest poet who ever lived?”   Questions like that. Except last Thursday it …

Issue 5 | Summer 2009

Two Poems

By | Prose

Mütter Museum The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, founded in 1787, is the oldest professional medical organization in the country. Walking the stone steps, you trip the way you have in sleep, a jolt that wakes you up. Are these the steps you have been dreaming and falling up all your life? You turn around to look for the car that brought you, your husband’s face warm behind the windshield wipers, but he is gone. You’ve been left at the door. They’re hawking postcards of this inferno or is it heaven’s lobby, selling calendars of eternity, above the dates, full color photos of things behind the doors ahead? It’s a zoo of anomaly, an aquarium that won’t hold anything back. You walk through breath’s tunnel,  looking under the skin, not just of a body but beauty, base and lively, the conditions that twist and scrape what’s human into art. You’ve heard that some are more interested in the process than the finished piece. You’ve seen this when your child draws, when he smears paint over his body like a second skin. And here are smears and lumps of pigment floating in specimen jars, extra ears, piled sores, gangrene, the Siamese twin of birth and wonder. Your breath measures, measures, and you are suddenly aware of it. Aware of yourself standing in this crowd. There are children here. They are laughing. And it is funny, all this variation, all this decrescendo, crash, lift again, the jars glowing from their display cases, not like jewels but the nerve of jewels, the projection and meaning they take on during a funeral. You stand at the grave. There is a flash in your eye, syncope, desire to fall in a fit at the incongruity. One dresses for funerals. But you’re not dressed for this. Your pen won’t write and you keep shaking the ink down toward the tip, as if that would help. But this isn’t anyone’s funeral, this is not grief’s moment but its expansion, when life and death and much laughing roll up into one headless body, roll up into a baby you’ve been staring at like an angel fish in a tank, gilled, an infant without form, just a fetching mass of skin, whorled, with only one perfect foot to edge it from dream. Labyrinthus Auris A Case of Inner Ears The internal ear is the essential part of the organ of hearing, receiving the ultimate distribution of the auditory nerve. It is called the labyrinth, from the complexity of its shape… — Gray’s Anatomy In a glass box, hearing’s pivot and swivel, a case of labyrinths. Row upon row of slight, white depths throb and hum. In the first row : a silver spoon stirring sugar into the ear’s cup, …

How to Build a Poem and the Ars Poetica

By | Poetics, Prose, Susan Kelly-DeWitt

I’ve just been talking on the phone to my good friend Kathleen Lynch about her poem, “How To Build an Owl.” Recently Kathleen told me a great story about how she happened to write this poem, a fascinating tale which I won’t go into here because Kathleen is at this very moment writing a piece …


By | Prose

Once, my husband and his poker buddies teased me by claiming that, earlier that summer, they’d shaved my cat one night while I was out of town. “Sure,” Steve said, going into detail about it — the “here, kitty-kitty,” the cat on his lap, the shaving cream, the towel. I smiled politely; it was cute, …

The Patience of Poems

By | Prose

One of the things I love about poems is their patience.  They lie in wait until they are needed; you never know what line, image, stanza, or whole poems is available until something triggers it.  (Robert Frost said he wanted to lodge a few poems where they’d be hard to get rid of.)  Of course …

The Non-Cooking Chefs’ Daughter Blog

By | Prose

This is the Non-cooking Chefs’ Daughter blog.  You see, both my parents are chefs. They met at Johnson & Wales University, both in the Culinary Arts program, Dad soon to become an Executive Pastry Chef and one of the few Certified Master Bakers in the country and Mom soon to cook food so delicious that it …