October 2023 Poetry Feature


Table of Contents:

  • Oksana Maksymchuk, “Sentences”
  • Joanne Dominique Dwyer, “Prophesies in a Park”
  • Elizabeth Hodges, “Athena”
  • Brad Crenshaw, “Spilling Seed (Second Vision)”


                                     By Oksana Maksymchuk

                                     A ten-year-old, escaped
                                     from a war waged across 
                                     a membranous border

                                     writes a name
                                     on a sheet of paper
                                     draws a line

                                     setting apart 
                                     the narrative sentences from
                                     the interrogative

                                     I am writing now.
                                     I live abroad.
                                     I have two cats.

                                     When can we go home?
                                     Where is my dad?
                                     What are we to do?



Prophesies in a Park

By Joanne Dominique Dwyer

You have disregarded the Living One who is in your presence, and you have spoken of the dead.

Over two April nights, Anselmo and I foraged the park
in the French Quarter, frisking the air           

and the more solid objects of cityscape for Tarot card readers.

                           We could smell the nearness of the sea.

I was in pursuit of /fixated on finding
               the young woman with peroxide-colored hair
wearing a kerchief in the style of a milkmaid.

        The previous evening, I turned down her offer to read my cards.

She frightened me at first sighting;
wore the afflicted look of a high IQ drug addict or a saint-gone-mad.        

That same essence of her drew me back later, obsessing to find her.

             Believing an off-kilter woman
                              would recognize my sickness
             and retrieve small fluorescent creatures, unaccustomed to the light
from my eyeless waters, more than someone levelheaded could.

          Anselmo was haunted by and steeplechasing
                 the darker-skinned Tarot card reader

who read his cards in the same park twenty years ago.
               A diviner who told him either of two women
    would suit him ad eundem: of, or in the same rank or standing.

                     Since Anselmo and I have mostly stayed in the saddle
         without causing the other entry into a hospital –
                                                      psychiatric or otherwise,
                         I assume I’m one of those two women
and don’t sweat it –
                               hardly care there is another woman
out there who could replace me immaculately.

             A plurality of souls leave their bodies daily – the least those of us
still with bodies can do with our time left      is soften our egos.

         Though it’s hard to compete with the dead.

For eternity, the razors and luffas of the dead
                          bivouac on the sides of bathtubs.

         Their power tools are strewn about on lawns.
Their necklaces and bolo ties are draped over doorknobs.
                      Their shoes are lined up in closets –
           like bats roosting in dark calcite caves.

It’s triggering when one’s lover carries their dead beloved’s
                        hair inside their socks.

Like a bird collecting cushioning for its nest;
            strands pilfered from a hairbrush.

The word trigger first appeared in 1621, from the Dutch tricker
                   meaning one that pulls.




By Elizabeth L. Hodges 

The reverie broken by staccato shards,
bursts of fire in the east. Golden spindles
weaving blue and yellow, each weft and warp,
alternating rows, until they dwindle
and silence. The sun continues to rise;
bodies covered with hard frost hiss and steam.
A dog wanders lost—his boy now disguised
as a soldier—and in his look, a dream
of a dog in his master’s arms, such warmth
in plaid wool, dozing, breathing on the farm.



Spilling Seed
 (Second Vision)
By Brad Crenshaw 

I am whatever the opposite of avid
is in these circumstances, above
the Arctic Circle on sabbatical,
another of my journeys, on an island
in the shallow Barents Sea, and bring
down a clamor on me by declining
in my ignorance to carry one
of the bear rifles with me everywhere.
Folks up here are only well-intentioned,
and mean well on their way to work.
Cold men and women dressed in furs
are each bearing big weapons to
protect themselves against marauding white
bears patrolling about, starving insofar
as sea ice and ice shelves are melting,
which leaves them no recourse to food. So
they wander through our area sometimes
to scavenge, and bang around outside the Global
Seed Bank boring underground
into an excavated vein of coal
long since mined out. The irony,
apparently, is lost. Emissaries
world-wide avoid as best they can,
or shoot at, when they can’t, the chance predators
to chase them away lumbering
across the somber landscape, then unmolested
themselves carry on into the grey
massive buried vault, trek down
to the bottom of mountains, the earth has her bars
about them as they reach the place, finally,
to store in sealed bags the chosen seeds
they brought all this way with them,
mainly food crops, but not exclusively.
Presumably they’re safe here, seeds.
On metal racks, and sorted according to origins,
such inventory represents the makings
of a former planet banked against
the apocalypse opening out. Back
below us in the lower latitudes,
basically everywhere arable,
what used to be arable, disaster opens
in the drylands propagating beautifully
in a breath-taking heat. Great
sand-seas shift from the core deserts
to invade the sub-humid steppes,
and threaten everything there with burial
by blowing sand and grit. Estimates
are saying in a century expect
the temperatures even here at this bleak
spot today will rise untenably.
The tundra will improvidently thaw,
and bloom. Floods arise from everlasting
at last, all-encompassing. In time
the vault will breach, its concrete walls
cracked and spalling, its ark of seeds released
on early afternoons and mornings when
the limbs of hazy sun are up continually
around the free horizon. In principle,
the pure creature of vitality
again will stand with her mouth full of food
in an abounding garden. Fig trees
and apple bend down among the many
graces, heavy-laden, with no coiling
snakes curling around their roots.



Brad Crenshaw has authored 5 poetry collections, including My Gargantuan Desire, and Genealogies. His fifth book, Memphis Shoals, was published in 2022. He has published many poems in journals and anthologies, as well as articles in literary criticism and theory, and 3 articles in neuroscience. He can be found at Blue Islands, Blue as Ink.

Joanne Dominique Dwyer’s second collection of poems Rasa was chosen by David Lehman for the Marsh Hawk Prize, published in May, 2022. Her debut Belle Laide is from Sarabande Books, 2013. She has received awards from The Rona Jaffe Foundation, Bread Loaf and The American Poetry Review. Dwyer’s poetry appeared in Best American Poetry 2019, Major Jackson editor. Her poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Common, Copper Nickel, The Kenyon Review, Massachusetts Review, New England Review, New Ohio Review, Notre Dame Review and Poetry. “Prophesies in a Park” is from her manuscript in interlocution with the gnostic mystical Gospel of Thomas. Dwyer lives in Northern New Mexico where she hikes and is also a ceramics artist.

Elizabeth L. Hodges is founding editor of St. Petersburg Review and springhousejournal.com. Her collection of poetry, Witchery, was published in 2016 and her new collection, Blood Sonnets, which includes “Athena,” published here, is forthcoming as a chapbook from Finishing Line Press.

Oksana Maksymchuk is a bilingual Ukrainian-American poet, scholar, and literary translator. Her poetry appeared in AGNI,The Irish TimesThe Paris Review,The Poetry Review, and many other journals. In the Ukrainian, she is the author of poetry collections Xenia and Lovy and a recipient of Bohdan-Ihor Antonych and Smoloskyp prizes, two of Ukraine’s top awards for younger poets. With Max Rosochinsky, she co-edited Words for War: New Poems from Ukraine, an anthology of contemporary poetry, and co-translated poetry collections Apricots of Donbas by Lyuba Yakimchuk and The Voices of Babyn Yar by Marianna Kiyanovska. Oksana holds a PhD in philosophy from Northwestern University and was recently awarded a National Endowments for the Arts Translation Fellowship. She currently resides in Warsaw, Poland.

October 2023 Poetry Feature

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