Sugared Water issue no. 001
56 pages, handbound, limited edition of 240 with hand-pulled covers.
Contents include poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction.
SW001 was released in 2013.
Paul David Adkins, Jessica Bixel, Michael Brookbank, Wendy Creekmore, Rebecca Emanuelsen, Lauren Gordon, Carol Guess, Roxanne Kent-Drury, Vickie Knueven, Kate LaDew, Christen Leppla, Kelly Magee, Jennifer Martelli, Rebecca McLeod, P. Andrew Miller, Victor David Sandiego, Tori Telfer, Rex Anthony Trogdon, Loretta Diane Walker, Sara Walters, Hilda Weaver, & Yim Tan Wong.
I’M AFRAID OF THE WAY YOUR VOICE
CHANGES WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT HIM
the little tremble of warmth and hurt and exhaustion
I never see your eyes, your hands work against them
kneading the lashes as if you could make your face a smooth plane
with nothing to give away what’s inside
I don’t have a brother, no one I love has died yet
and my hands draw reflexively to my throat
wondering how my vocal chords will change
how I will change
what shape my heart will fall into
Kate LaDew is a graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a BA in Studio Art.
WHO SAID ANYTHING ABOUT FLESH?
Place your fibula next
to my clavicle.
Your twenty-four ribs will
become our forty-eight.
Take your ten tiny shovels and—
scrape across my scapula.
From beneath dig—
Mix your bones with mine.
Skeletons can burn.
We can pile into ash.
Feel like we used to
when we were only dust.
Michael Brookbank is a poet who has only been published by Loch Norse Magazine. He currently lives with his dad in Alexandria, KY, where he finds time to read David St. John and his favorite Spider-man comic. Michael hopes to graduate from Northern Kentucky University within the next year.
Translated—the heart of a whale so large I can lay the boy down in any chamber and call it home. Sleep here. Listen to the radio here. Build a window here. On the other side, every pear seed you tossed unknowingly: an orchard growing. Bees pushing their dead
from cluttered hexagons, one blue heron barking, a deer avoiding thorns—animals eloquent just by living. Each time you wake again you wonder why anything survives here and the whale answers hush, you were only a dream. On the radio: another tide breaking.
Jessica Bixel writes and works in Ohio, where chewing gum was invented. Her work has recently found homes with Midway, Red Lightbulbs, and Leveler.
I REMEMBER THE KITCHEN
That one evening when we sat at the table and a golden ant tiptoed around my empty glass you said how beautiful to have so many feet for balance I told you I was thirsty and you said we should be cats and we were cats lapping tequila from the grotto at the feet of the Holy Virgin she saw us sneaking cigarettes at the back of the cemetery lying among the graves we realized everything points toward the sky I wanted to record the moment so I asked you for a pen you smiled and told me I was a flower.
Vickie Knueven is a graduate student pursuing her Masters in English at Northern Kentucky University. She teaches English Composition at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, and lives in a historic home in Moscow, Ohio with her husband, son, and dogs.
Follow the sun like a cat
on hunt for half-moon;
at first light green marble eyes
speak softly to shadows.
Mavens not maids or maidens
chant ancestress songs
and light day-long fires
to call out
all the blues and greens of the oceans.
They recast rectangular
brown paper lampshades
into a circle of light
as mud covered fleshen thighs,
thick bellies become
Winged women ride sundown
We come, we come, we come.
Wendy Creekmore lives just outside Falmouth, Kentucky, where she writes and reads from stacks of books and a load-heavy Kindle app. From her front porch, she loves to listen to sounds only country living can deliver. She is just beginning to submit her poetry. Her work also appears in collaborative chapbooks in these cups and how wild & soft you are.
THE STORM GROWER
Carol Guess & Kelly Magee
The garden is in the backyard. Hurricane, tornado, blizzard. Betty grows them in rows, strung up on the fence with twine. People come to her with their demands, and she gives them shoots and cuttings and bulbs: a hurricane eye in a Styrofoam cup. “Keep it moist,” she tells them, or, “Plenty of light.” They walk from her house carefully, down the front porch steps cradling weather. They use the storms for insurance claims, to get rid of unsightly properties, to deal with termite problems or annoying neighbors. “Watch the size on this one,” she says of a super cell in a glass dome. “Could get out of control.”
They come to her with needs and cash, and she sends them away with solutions.
One day a child rings the bell. He has longish hair, brownish eyes. A ball cap cocked to the side. He shifts from foot to foot and tries to look into her house, calls her Missus, offers to cut the grass. Rusty mower on the sidewalk behind him. He does a terrible job, zigzagging across the yard, leaving unmowed patches sticking up like cowlicks, and she realizes she’s forgotten to ask what he charges. She gets out the checkbook, and he shifts again from foot to foot. “Do you got like a thunderstorm or something?” he says without looking at her.
“And what do you need with a thunderstorm?” Betty waits while he tries not to answer.
“I’m not as huge as some of them,” he says, becoming smaller as he says it. She doesn’t know how old he is supposed to be. She would guess fifth grade, and she remembers that fifth grade is when kids began to grow at different rates, like in July when the monsoons swell and fruit while the cold fronts wilt.
“Maybe something small,” she says and leaves him on the porch. A bit of low pressure, she thinks, enough to cause short but heavy rain on a hot day. Something he can use to impress his friends. She is dividing up a leggy section when she hears the screen door click shut. The clippings fall from her hands. The boy is in the yard, yanking a whole tornado out by the roots. She hears the thick tubers snapping, and the boy falls backwards with the effort, but he is up again before she can get to him—the arthritis in her knees—and running away. “Please, don’t,” she shouts after him. He leaves his mower and the wrecked lawn behind.
The destruction is predictable and immediate. A trailer park wiped out, seven people critically injured, two daring rescues, half a dozen accounts of heroic pets. The information comes to Betty in a myriad of ways. People eye her backyard, purse their lips. Already she’s had the cops called on her twice, but she produces all the necessary permits and they go away. When they come this time, she shrugs. “Not my doing,” she says, and they go away.
That night Betty lays awake listening to radio reports in the dark. She needs better security, she thinks. The next day, she buys floodlights and a guard dog.
The dog barks whenever someone comes near her front porch, so it is strange when she goes to check the mail and there’s another child at her door, this one a girl in a brown dress. “Now what on earth,” Betty says, but the girl is visibly shaking so Betty lets her in, gives her a cup of herbal tea. She waits for the girl to offer her story, which she eventually does, and of course it is heartbreaking. “I just want him to stop,” the girl says, and it’s all she really needs to say, the rest filled in by her downcast eyes, her nervous hands.
“Okay.” Betty holds up a hand. “I can give you something.”
In the garden, the child loses herself for a moment, darting among the rows. The heat waves are in full bloom, straining their wire cages. The droughts need staked. Even the ice storms are beginning to bud, volunteer storms from the ones she’d let go to seed last year.
The girl examines the storms, chooses carefully. Lands on a plot at the back, a shady spot where not much else will grow. “I think this will do,” she says. She points to an earthquake, an exotic. It’s a flamboyant, dangerous choice. Everyone will know where it came from.
“That one’s not ready to be picked,” she says, and the girl gives her a long look. Betty deftly twists off a couple pods of heat lightning, drops them in a rubber bowl. “This should work.”
The girl accepts the offering, polite and grateful. Still, Betty leaves the gate unlocked that night, just in case. She’s not at all surprised to find the earthquake gone by morning.
That day, a whole suburb is leveled. People who never thought to earthquake-proof their homes are crushed by falling bookcases, cabinets, roofs. Tremors are felt in cities across the state.
When the police come to Betty’s door, she speaks to them from behind the screen door, holding the dog by the collar. “I had nothing to do with it,” she says, “and that’s all I’ll say.” From an upstairs window, she watches them circle her house, test the back gate, try to peer over the fence. They leave, but she knows they’ll be back.
Weeks later, Betty wakes to crying: animal-reckless, pitched too high. She expects a coyote pup stuck in the fence or a pregnant rabbit. Instead a plastic laundry basket filled with dirty laundry and a wailing baby.
Pinned to the baby's chest: BAD BABY.
Pinned to the laundry: WASH 'N DRY.
Betty leaves the basket beside a row of flood saplings. Pressed to her chest, the child's crying stops. She thinks of the children she might've chosen, the husband who never came back from the war.
Baby curls its fists, unclenches. The candles on the sill catch fire.
That night she sleeps with her dog at the foot of the bed, baby in a makeshift crib. Dog and baby snore in sync. In the morning she knows she needs to name them. So many storms in her book of designs.
She names her dog Thunder and her baby Lightning, but calls them both Chester. When the police knock a week later, looking for a misplaced baby, a bad baby full of fire and dirty laundry, she has no idea what they're talking about. And this is her nephew, Chester. And Chester's a good baby and a very clean dog.
Chester grows. Chester learns to gesture. Chester barks and Chester sends tiny shoots of lightning from his wrinkled fists.
Betty's busy with storm season, which lasts all year. She struggles to make ends meet. Tries two-for-one hailstorms and discount downpours. Wonders if she should go back to school, try an online program in equine massage.
One morning she's feeding Chester, spooning butternut squash puree into his mouth, when Chester starts barking. A tall man rings the bell. He has close-cropped hair and angry eyes. A ball cap cocked to the side. He shifts from foot to foot and tries to look into her house. Tsunami, she thinks. Flotsam, no jetsam.
"Your kid put a curse on my monster truck."
From inside the house, flickers of light like knots in a storm.
"Nonsense," says Betty, but before she can shut the door, he's barged inside. The angry man stands in the center of Betty's knick-knacks, on her pastel shag carpet, in front of her television, and points at her son.
"That's him. That's the kid who cursed me. Every time I drive by your house, my truck breaks down."
"You watch too much TV."
"That kid's possessed."
"I don't believe in the devil."
"Aren't you the storm grower? Devil's work if there ever was."
Now Chester's howling, the way he howls at sirens, the way a lost child howls for mother. Lightning strikes. The man was right. Post-sizzle, he's embers on her princess plush rug.
In the morning, Betty spreads ash on her garden. Slugs and snails play keep away. This time she remembers to avoid the potatoes. Sprinkles small blizzards with soft gray snow.
Carol Guess is the author of numerous books of poetry and prose, including Tinderbox Lawn and Doll Studies: Forensics. Forthcoming books include How To Feel Confident With Your Special Talents (co-written with Daniela Olszewska) and X Marks The Dress: A Registry (co-written with Kristina Marie Darling). She teaches Creative Writing and Queer Studies at Western Washington University, where she is Professor of English.
Kelly Magee's first collection of stories, Body Language (University of North Texas Press) won the Katherine Ann Porter Prize for Short Fiction. Her writing has appeared in The Kenyon Review, The Tampa Review, Diagram, Ninth Letter, Black Warrior Review, Colorado Review, and others. She is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Western Washington University.
I'M BUILDING A NEW SPINE
out of Himalayan salt;
luminescent pink vertebrae
an unfathomed history.
In this life, I will move with meaning,
move with ferrite light,
I am an Alaskan sky,
a Confirmation dress
then I am flotsam,
ephemeral and porous.
Lauren Gordon holds an MFA in Poetry from New England College with a BA in English from University of Iowa. Her work is forthcoming in TRIVIA and has appeared in Inlandia Institute, Scapegoat Review, Midwest Literary Review, Verse WI, SP Quill and has been anthologized in Knocking at the Door (Birch Bench Press). Her chapbook, Little House, Little Song, was a finalist in Concrete Wolf’s 2012 chapbook contest. A recent interview with Lauren appears in Women’s Quarterly Conversation.
Loretta Diane Walker
A rude sun smears light over the bedroom window.
I wake with Mama singing; I love the morning.
Love. A word tossed around so much
it has dark circles around its eyes.
I love my socks, fingernails, the way ants follow a soul
from Carver Street to French Place.
Love is a little purple gnome
sitting on the dashboard of an old Chevrolet pick-up.
The seasons’ erratic nails scratch years
of flakey rusted dandruff on its hood.
I am fully awake now. I get to change my mind
and this resentment I have towards the sun.
Love is my sister’s arms around mother’s back.
With an ulcer eating her stomach, she says to Mom,
“Put your arms around my neck, Mama. On the count of three.”
One: They rock. Mom scoots forward.
Two: “Stop fighting me Mama. Let go of the rail.”
Mom kicks against fear with the leg that was left
on the surgeon’s table.
Three: They are one, mother-daughter, cheeks connected
like an umbilical cord.
Mom’s butt is lifted; I grab the pad and put it in the transfer
How time transfers things, the opening and closing of doors,
ways of counting—mother to child, child to mother,
pumps to wheels, panties to diapers, pride to pain.
I will give you an orange dress Mama.
It is the only color brave enough to carry your darkness
in its pocket.
It’s dark now and how I wish the two of you were here with me,
flanking my sides as I walk down this gravel road
with a cocky moon climbing over my head.
Loretta Diane Walker is a Pushcart nominee and an award winning poet. She has published two collections of poetry. Her manuscript Word Ghetto won the 2011 Bluelight Press Book Award (1st World Publishing Press, 2011). Walker’s work has appeared in a number of journals and anthologies. She teaches music at Reagan Magnet School in Odessa, Texas. Loretta received a BME from Texas Tech University and earned a MA from The University of Texas of the Permian Basin.
Good ones are ugly: dead-toad green
rough black with bumps.
When they're cheap,
my mother phones to tell me to buy.
I line them on my sill
till ripe. Yesterday,
my daughter loved
a spider scuttling over a dug up
pile of lobelia and mud: I blocked its escape
with my spade and lifted
open-palmed to her a belly
full of poison because in truth
I thought she'd be pleased.
It was black, and shone.
Jennifer Martelli attended Boston University and The Warren Wilson M.F.A. Program for Writers. Her work has appeared most recently or will be appearing in The Bellingham Review, Kindred, The Inflectionist, and Calliope. Her chapbook, Apostrophe, was published in 2010 by BigTable Publishing Co. She is a recipient of the Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant in Poetry, and lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts.
BROKEN SIREN SONG
Someone hand Jake a piece of rope. She'll crack another neck bone, thrashing like that, the fear in her eyes like the foam at the top of a bad wave. We pulled her out of the surf, her body already jerking in that undead puppet way of people who've just wrecked their spine. She looks like any surfer girl, sun in every strand of her hair, her sleek seal-body totally destroyable when the right wave comes along. We opened her mouth and scraped out the sand with our fingers. Her breath is a rattling sound none of us want to hear again. Like there are holes in her lungs. Jake says he used to see her around most mornings, noticed her technique: imperfect in that way of a really intuitive surfer. Jake says he thought he saw her in the little Encinidas theater one night, right up in the front row, watching the waves on-screen, but it's hard to tell the surf girls apart, Jake said, because they all have the same hair, thick with salt.
She's calming down. Her body no longer moves with the thrall of the sea. Think this is it? Think this is over? Get her off the sand, it's too cold, too much like skin. None of us would want to die here, surrounded by strangers, so we'll take her hands in ours until she stops shivering, to learn her name through her palms, to warm her under this gray bowl of a sky, and quick, someone press their lips against her ears, suck out the lure of the screaming ocean.
Tori Telfer makes serious cash waitressing during Blackhawks games and writes social commentary for the modern creeper at toridotgov.com. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Thought Catalog, Rock & Sling, Watershed Review, and em Review.
Yim Tan Wong
Do they believe the world
undulates beyond artificial
vegetation, fins, and algae?
Do they trust bite-sized food
drifts from a Greater Above?
Ahoy from Upper Here,
I say, and tap the glass.
Fogging their view,
I introduce myself, as
God, water, weather.
Then, they surge and heave
their bodies over the wall
to feel my palms ignite their skin,
each scale a small factory
manufacturing mirrors and prayer.
Yim Tan Wong earned an MFA from Hollins University, is a proud Kundiman fellow, and likes sugared water with imported Irish tea. She supports her habits of eating and sleeping by eating and sleeping. Journals where her poems appear include Phoebe, RATTLE, Redactions, Tidal Basin Review, and Crab Orchard Review.
Paul David Adkins, Jessica Bixel, Michael Brookbank, Wendy Creekmore, Rebecca Emanuelsen, Lauren Gordon, Carol Guess, Roxanne Kent-Drury, Vickie Knueven, Kate LaDew, Christen Leppla, Kelly Magee, Jennifer Martelli, Rebecca McLeod, P. Andrew Miller, Caitlin Neely, Victor David Sandiego, Tori Telfer, Rex Anthony Trogdon, Loretta Diane Walker, Sara Walters, Hilda Weaver, & Yim Tan Wong
edition of 240