Dispatches

Rustic Impression

By SUSAN COMNINOS

chickens

This poem is an ekphrastic response to the above painting, Chickens!, by Marion Clarke.

Near the Mountains of Mourne, County Down, Northern Ireland

***

 

RUSTIC IMPRESSION
of a blind house, a barn, and forked path

At first, the flowers open
to a scene that makes us stay
fixed on its slate roofs, the drop

from their eaves to the two
skewed red doors, one hung
on a bespectacled barn. Its

windows stare right
at a whitened house: the lone
blemish, a blood slab of wood.

No barrow depends on this
trio of hens — or are they
cocks? — strutting, wattles

rouged as poppies
blurred to a haze near
a cadre of rocks. Like

blunt cadets, they point
to a crotch in the yard. It spreads
its branched bones in the dirt

then cracks out a path
between hay and home, table
and trough. Unlovely

letter, it wants us to name
what we are: cad or cluck. At our best
loved, we scratch down

a dirt road to sleep, beasts
bound for their separate
beds. Plucked from paint to be

a bird or a man, we perch on
respective clawed feet: all to march
for one hanged pair of doors.

 

 

Susan Comninos is both an arts & culture journalist and a poet. Her journalism appears in The Atlantic Online, The Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, and Jewish Daily Forward, among others. Her poetry most recently appeared in the Harvard Review Online, Rattle, Subtropics, Southern Humanities Review and The Common. She teaches literary analysis and writing at The University at Albany (SUNY), and is seeking a publisher for her debut poetry manuscript, Out of Nowhere.

 

Painting reproduced courtesy of Marion Clarke.

Debbie WenRustic Impression
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The First Day of Fall

By SHANE CASHMAN

spiderweb

Highland Falls, NY

A black ant walks across the kitchen counter and I try to flick it away. It dodges my finger, but it’s miscalculated how close it is to the edge and falls off the cliff of the counter and into the dog bowl. It struggles to swim. The ant is dying the way I always die in my worst dreams. In nightmares I sink to the bottom of the lake near my childhood home. 

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It Was a Yellow-Billed Cuckoo

By JOANNA BRICHETTO

grass

Couchville Cedar Glade State Natural Area, Davidson County, Tennessee

My mom has moved to a “senior community” a long drive from my house, but a short drive to my favorite cedar glade.  Last night, I slept on the sofa so I could start a hike before dawn. Her new key takes some fiddling, but I sneak outside to meet black sky.

A Dodge pickup tails me hard on new asphalt for new subdivisions (so many) and old pasture (not so many), but when he turns toward the Interstate, I turn away. Pink begins to glow through my open window.

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Hot Potato

By LEATH TONINO 

Colorado Springs, Colorado 

Hackysack

His business card is cut from the corner of an old photo. One side is the chopped image of a carpeted floor, a screen door, a chubby toddler’s left arm and hand. I flip the card over.

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The Little River

By SUSAN HARLAN

the great smoky mountains national park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

 

The Little River isn’t very little or rather
I don’t know what it is little in relationship to.
By the bank the water is smooth as paper
but in the middle my sneakered feet are unsteady
pulled by the current.

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Four Poems from New York City

By SEAN SINGER

New York City, NY

Floating

Today in the taxi I brought the famous jazz drummer’s wife, Elena, all around Harlem doing errands. Cobb is the last surviving member of the band that recorded Kind of Blue. We went to the bank and to the pharmacy. She let loose with some stories. It was as if his music was not alone waking up from its dream.

Whitney BrunoFour Poems from New York City
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The Old Apartment

By ISABEL MEYERS

São Paulo from above.

São Paulo, Brazil

“So he’s just going to let us in without identification? He’s not gonna think we’re trying to break in or something?” I glance at the stern-looking doorman guarding the apartment building.

Rosa, with the confidence I’ve admired since we became friends on the first day of kindergarten, stares at me. “I’ll just tell him I’m Felipe’s daughter.”

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On Zoos

By HANNAH GERSEN

A fenced-in tiger at a zoo in The Bronx.

The Bronx, New York

The tiger was showing off, pacing alongside his swimming pond, looking as if he might jump in at any moment. His long tailed curled inquisitively, like a housecat’s. At least twenty people held up phones to capture the moment on video. My five-year-old son stood by the glass divider, watching, rapt. Several feet away, holding my seven-month-old baby girl, I observed the tiger’s pixelated clones prowling across tiny screens.

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Corregidor Flames

By CLINTON CROCKETT PETERS

Corregidor Island ruins

Corregidor Island, The Philippines

Corregidor Island, off the coast of Manilla in the Philippines, is balmy but windy, a ceiling fan in Florida. I’m hiking limestone bluffs pockmarked with WWII pillboxes, some say live ammo, and blobs of sunset-colored avian called “mango birds” that flutter in and out of sight. Underneath me is a bunker I’m trying to find. It is multiple airports in size, and I gambled I could stumble on it. Lost, I look out from one of the islands many palm-saturated hills and see a statue tumoring from the beach: General George “Doug-out-Dug” MacArthur. Below the bronze feet, are the words, “I shall return.”

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Dream Ladders

By MATTHEW SCHULTZ

Immovable Ladder at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher; Jerusalem

Israel and Palestine

The story of the Immovable Ladder is this: it was left on a balcony of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem by a careless mason in 1750 and has sat there ever since. The six orders of monks, in whose ruthless stewardship the church is kept, have divided the church into blocks of turf, which they guard with fervor, and sometimes with fists.  It’s unclear to which sect the balcony (and by extension, the ladder) belongs. Any attempt to answer that question would be a threat to the delicate status quo that keeps the monkish violence at bay. And so the ladder sits. Undisturbed.

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