Sugared Water issue no. 004

70 pages, handbound, limited edition of 100 with hand-pulled covers.
Contents include poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction.
SW004 was released in 2016.

Contributors

Janelle Adsit, E. Kristin Anderson, Abra Bertman, Laurel Cooper, Ruth Z. Deming, Larry Eby, Kristin Fitzsimmons, Douglass Guy, Rachel Neve Midbar, M.J. Iuppa, Kathleen Jones, Jill Khoury, Mercedes Lawry, Hea-Ream Lee, Rebecca Macijeski, Michael Mark, Jude Marr, W.E. Pasquini, Nicole Rollender, Susan Shaw Sailer, Paige Sullivan, Kelly Lynn Thomas, Nicole Tong, Krista Varela, Donna Vorreyer, & Claire Wahmanholm.


 

THEORY OF SURRENDER: GRAVITY WELL

Claire Wahmanholm

Mid-June, mid-nowhere,
the sun mid-somersault,
the weather wool-heavy.
A lung-full of it weighs
like water, a field of it bends
cornstalks toward the center
of the earth.
If person A
enters this field, he will see
the black soil dilate like a pupil
beneath his feet. He will see
root systems draining into it
like light. If he moves now,
it’s already too late. Relief
is a well he met the bottom
of years ago. He turns to wave
at person B,
walking past
the field, who sees what
she always sees, a man
the color of a sunset waving
what looks like a flag.

THEORY OF FLIGHT: CONDOR

Claire Wahmanholm

Everything ends. Those wings in fingers,
this city in a perimeter
of soot. The horizon exhales lung-shaped clouds
that spread like a cough
into the airways. All night, a matte blackness hulks
in a corner of your body,
netted, its eyes covert. They move when you move.
They know each carrion wish,
know that your heart’s furnaces burn dirty.
Every road in this city
is an asphalt feather, heavy and warm
as the freight rail
you press your cheek to night after night.
Behind the shutters
of your eyes, you dream of cliff faces.
Wind on the webbing
of your fingers. The shudder of currents beneath
your weight. Every night
the night pockets your snarl, a knot of black
in a black curtain.
In the morning the darkness reshapes
its likeness inside you.
Its amber eyes. Its folded wings refusing to fly. 

THEORY OF DESIRE: BLUESHIFT

Claire Wahmanholm

Call me Cetus, call
me covetous,
call me a keen
upwell and a sigh
beneath the swell,
call desire by
its derivation—
dē +  sīdus, sīder
like star, like
constellation,
like two galaxies’
eventual collision,
two heavenly bodies
plunging into
the space between them
ever narrowing,
call it a fusion,
a snarl of rising frequencies,
a violet
comprehension.
Call me by my name.
           Call me annihilation.

 

Claire Wahmanholm's poems most recently appear in Best New Poets 2015, BOAAT, Tinderbox, The Journal, and Parcel, and are forthcoming from Winter Tangerine, DIAGRAM, Handsome, The Kenyon Review Online, and Third Coast. Find her online at clairewahmanholm.com.

 

 

ON CERRO LLULLAILLACO, LIGHTNING GIRL

Abra Bertman

She’s got a flat hat and textile tucked
against the cold of the sacred peak.
Drugged with corn and coca
she saw a small sun in a purple sky.
Five centuries, and feathers
pointed to the hauled red earth.
Eyes looked up
half-charred by lightning.

She has an open red face and that same blue—
the blue of the hat—where the white bolt found her
arms still wrapped as if she rocked
thousands of nights, a rod
for mountain darkness.

And here’s a scrap
of honourable weaving. It took months
to make and years to examine,
lab coats and masks white as surgeons’ kit
bending over fibres
classifying elaborate codes.

Who took her
from her mother’s arms and held her
to the sky, still nearly perfect
the way she swayed.

The mountain is a dry cold god.
Men are husks of paper.

 

Abra Bertman is an American poet who lives in Amsterdam. Recent poems have appeared in Paper Nautilus, WomenArts Quarterly Journaland Stone Highway Review. “When the World Comes Home,” product of a long-standing collaboration with jazz pianist Franz von Chossy, appears in the CD of the same name.

 

 

OPPOSITES LESS ATTRACTIVE

Mercedes Lawry

The true and the false. The left and the right.
The ambivalent strutting as if new to town and welcome.
Less and more, both blinking and coy.

Who does the child run to in the evening chill?
Who spouts the ridiculous as bedtime story?

When morning breaks open, a mouth stretched fully wide
in a tunnel of breath.
Dogs howl, crows natter, the hungry click their bones.
Nothing is as dark as want.

 

Mercedes Lawry has published poetry in such journals as Poetry, Nimrod, Prairie Schooner, Poetry East, The Saint Ann’s Review, and others. Nominated for a Pushcart Prize, she’s published two chapbooks, most recently Happy Darkness. She’s also published short fiction, essays and stories and poems for children. She lives in Seattle.

 

 

IN SOME LEGENDS

Jill Khoury

tragedy arrives in a basket. On the head
of a needle. From the South. In mid-spring.
The bandit counts his profits in the shadow of the hero,
who waits to reveal himself.

In the tale that has been written for me,
the mother has roped the girl in barbed wire.
If she struggles, she will cut her own throat.
She chooses to be still.

DROWNING AT CHINCHONA LAKE

Jill Khoury

I clap the water backwards. These weighted bracelets
and anklets make the light recede faster. First,
white into gelid green. Algae-clouded. Then
phosphorescence on cave walls. A voice murmurs
below my pulse. The surface glow softens
into constellations; the black fills up my eyes
and nose. The murmuring voice increases
to a buzz, then dopplers past the side
of my head. It says Detox and treatment.
Insurance accepted. Try a neurostimulator.
Perhaps meditation. I got 30 bucks in my pocket
hang on to two bags for me. See also: placebo.
Straw into gold.

 

Jill Khoury is interested in the intersection of poetry, art, gender, and disability. She edits the journal Rogue Agent and has two chapbooks—Borrowed Bodies (Pudding House, 2009) and Chance Operations (Paper Nautilus, 2016) and a full-length collection, Suites for the Modern Dancer (Sundress Publications, 2016). Find her at jillkhoury.com.

 

 

WHEN KAREN IS WHEELED INTO THE OPERATING ROOM IN PITTSBURGH

Rachel Neve Midbar 

on the other side of the world
I am stretched across the dual-

citizenship of day and darkness,   
walking on stones

worn soft by a thousand laments,
stones etched by a thousand feet,

air full of competing songs,
swirls of girls dancing

in hand embroidered dresses,
and men greeting each other,

As-salamu alaykum and
Wa alaykumu s-salam,

hand touching hand
and a kiss to each cagina thenar space,

pulling me further
to a wall of stones,

3500 hundred years of stones,
each smooth as the skin

that has rested there,
hand next to hand,

polished nails, liver spots, calluses,
prayers in every language

falling at my feet, flying
through the eye that opens

between air and wind,
in what should be hidden

in a navel of memory,
the mother who lives inside you

a second heart, another rib,
a white dove huddled

between stones
raising her black beetle eye,

her beak tweezing                
the bright pebble

from your florid folds,
and swallowing it whole.

 

Rachel Neve Midbar (Heimowitz) is the author of the chapbook, What the Light Reveals (Tebot Bach Press, 2014.) Her work has appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Spillway, Prairie Schooner and Georgia Review. She was recently a finalist for the COR Richard Peterson Prize, winner of the Passenger Prize and she has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize. Rachel is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Southern California.

 

 

BROOD PARASITE

W.E. Pasquini

What child had she expected?  Kinglet
in a calcium crust?  Her wren-brown

body withheld its fat-rich
self once she separated

my egg from her pink folds and fluid
shaft.  My dark

drop through tensile tube, the urgent caul
of her white isthmus, the opulent “o”

as I tumbled into the dead
twig nest.  Did she know

my struggle couldn’t crack
the calcite case?  She must have nudged

me once or twice, inflected
her head to listen, and not recognized

her own egg.  Or, perhaps she thought she heard
something in need of a sharp rap

from her blunted beak, something
in need of destruction.

 

W. E. Pasquini’s poetry has appeared in Cider Press Review, The Meadows, and Fourth River, among others. She received her MFA in creative writing from the University of South Florida, and her passions include Dr. Who, her dog Fred, Italian culture, and trying to brew the perfect cup of coffee.

 

 

THE GOD OF ROUNDABOUTS

Susan Shaw Sailer

When she headed out
folded map in hand  

she appreciated dandelions
in empty corner lots 

their energy rash & rowdy, 
dismissed straight rows 

of marigolds lined up in
her old garden. She gold-

leafed injuries—the father
whose needs devoured

the family, re-plumbed
misspent desire to honor 

who she was, worshipped
the crevices in pine bark,

prayed to the god
of roundabouts.

 

Susan Shaw Sailer completed an MFA in poetry through New England College where several mentors were Judith Vollmer and Anne Marie Macari. Since then she has published a chapbook, Coal,and a book, Ship of Light. Her poems have also appeared in Kestrel, U.S. 1 Worksheets, and Thema.

 

 

THE COLOR OF MOONLIGHT

Michael Mark

On the way into the house
I saw the moonlight
was the yellow of my scarf. 

And in my poem the moonlight is silver.

According to science, the color of moonlight,
particularly when the moon appears
full, is bluish.

This is because of the Purkinje effect.
The light is not actually blue,
and it has no inherent silvery quality.

So my poem is wrong.
And actually so is bluish.

In my daughter's picture, moonlight is
every color in the crayon box.

I tell her it’s remarkable and she waltzes off,
repeating, “Re-mark-able.”

In dreams moonlight is commonly a
white ladder angels climb.

We got home by the grace of the moon’s
brightness tonight, when our car lights failed.

23 heart-choked miles riding along
the path from God’s flashlight.

Moonlight is said to be cold.
I know this is wrong.

Before bed, I read the astronauts didn't think
there was moonlight or if there was, they didn’t notice—

though they did report a cow floating,
a flashlight held steady in her two front hooves.

 

Michael Mark’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Gargoyle Magazine, Paterson Literary Review, Poet Lore, Rattle, Spillway, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Sugar House Review, Tar River Poetry and other nice places. His poetry has been nominated for three Pushcart Prizes and the 2015 Best of the Net. michaeljmark.com

 

 

THINK OF AN EGG

M.J. Iuppa

Dark brown, speckled brown, tawny-rose, seamist blue. Eggs gathered every day from the nesting boxes in our hen house and brought into the kitchen where we sponge bathe them, one-at-a-time, carefully under the gooseneck faucet’s warm rinse; then set them to dry in a towel lined bowl. More daylight, more eggs. By summertime, we have the promise of a farmer’s breakfast every morning.

      Full-bodied Black Orpington and Buff Brahma; sleek Easter Egger and Marins, they don’t cluck, they purr, and are aloof as cats. Maybe it’s because they sneak up on the porch and help themselves to the cats’ dry food. They circle round the dishes, like parishioners at a church picnic; heads tipped in idle conversation, yet their eyes are looking over the dishes carefully, ready to pick their fill, which they do while the cats look away.

       Eggs are much more than the question of what came first. To study an egg’s architecture is to see a world made oval. The dynamic of its shell, both strong and fragile, houses the perfect sun floating in a translucent sea. I think this is why I’m always surprised when I crack open a fresh egg. The yolk’s color is bold and thick and influenced by what a free-ranging hen eats as well as the color of her legs. If pumpkin guts and rind is the farm’s special of the day, then the egg’s yolk will be a deep fiery orange.

      Every year, we plant zucchini. Is eight too many, four enough? We always end up with more than we can handle. Our hens, with their insatiable hunger, have become the solution to our Zukes Alor! When the zucchini grows to baseball bat size overnight, we split them in half and lay them out in the yard. In less than an afternoon, the hens have whittled the halves into canoes. They even test them out, standing in the hulls, with one foot up on the prows until they tip over. It surprises them, this sudden upset; then they poke around a bit. Since they’re unable to flip the canoes back over, they act like it was meant to happen and nonchalantly walk away. 

      My mother made the best lemon meringue pie. The recipe was a secret, her secret. At the dinner table, we would beg her to tell us, and she would whisper: “When I’m about to die, I will open my eyes and say to all of you at my bedside, the secret to the recipe is . . .” and she’d slowly close her eyes.

      “Wait! Mom, what is it?”

      “Too late,” she’d quip, “the secret dies with me.” All of us would laugh because we were all too pie intoxicated to put up a fuss. No doubt, her secret was all in the eggs.

       Before we began raising chickens, we use to enjoy diner breakfasts. Something wonderful about ordering coffee and the 2 eggs, 2 pieces of toast, 2 slices of bacon for two dollars and twenty-two cents.

      “How do you like them?” the waitress would ask with her pad and pen ready.

      “Over-easy,” I’d say, watching to see if she’d write anything down. She never did.

      In two minutes, she’d slide the heavy white plates under our conversation.

      “Anything else?” She’d ask, pouring a bit more coffee.

      We’d stare at our plates, at the watery pale yolks and flat bacon, and slightly buttered brown toast. 

      We could never think of anything else.

      Now, I can’t remember the last time we went out for breakfast. We have an orange mini-skillet with a fried egg handle. It makes one perfect egg any time of day. Why go out, when you can breakfast in. That’s our slogan. But truth be told, we’ve become snobs. Nothing compares to organic eggs.

N-o-t-h-i-n-g.

       Sometimes, while taking my time washing eggs with a soapy sponge, I wonder: what’s the point. My friends, who enjoy convenience, say in their best upbeat tone, “So, you’re really doing it, aren’t you, growing your own food and all?” Surprised by their doubt, I say, “Yes,” and the conversation suddenly stops. Not because they don’t know what else to say, but because it’s hard to understand the commitment.

       When I wash the last egg, I stare at its shell as if I were counting its 17,000 tiny pores; then I pass it under the faucet for a final rinse, knowing there will be more tomorrow.

 

M.J. Iuppa lives on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. She is Director of the Visual and Performing Arts Minor at St. John Fisher College. Her third full length collection, Small Worlds Floating, is forthcoming from Cherry Grove Collections, August, 2016.

 

 

INTERIOR WITH SUDDEN JOY

Nicole Tong

Las Vegas, Nevada

Though we are young and poor,
we’re a far cry from needing to heed 

my father’s cross country moving advice
take my camper and park it at some Walmart

till you get your shit straight. Jésus delivers
our first bed. I peer at the peephole

distorted figure of him. Suppose
happiness waits like a finish line

around every street corner
next to the ubiquitous PRETTY GIRLS

flyers twelve-year-old boys binge on
while waiting for the school bus.

Instead of the heat, we complain
about a lack of sweet tea.

What night takes, morning returns.
We accrue what’s ours one item at a time:

shower curtain, dishwashing liquid,
five dollar poker chip. I ask questions

for the sake of it, gratified each time
someone answers.

 

Nicole Tong is the recipient of a Dorothy Rosenberg Prize in Poetry and fellowships from George Mason University and the Vermont Studio Center. Her writing has published in American Book Review, Cortland Review, Yalobush Review and others. Her chapbook, My Mine, was published in 2015. She teaches college-level English in Northern Virginia.

 

 

BODY POLITIC

Larry Eby

On your skin a graveyard
blooms in ink
the blue-barked oaks are swaying
still in the wind of your body. I walk

among the headstones, around
your shoulder blades to search
for myself. There is a butterfly made of white
ink, scar-like on the back of your neck. When 

I touch it, it flutters down your spine
and vanishes out of my vision.
I’m blind to you.

 

Larry Eby is the author of two books of poetry, Flight of August (Trio House Press), and Machinist in the Snow (ELJ Publications 2015). His work can be found in Forklift, Passages North, Thrush Poetry Journal, and others. He is the editor-in-chief of Orange Monkey Publishing.

 

 

PLAYING CHICKEN

Paige Sullivan

Someone told me I kissed with my whole
body, but I can’t remember his face. 

It’s like this: the one who cares the most
plays the dangerous game of Chicken,

and my favorite ones leap from the train tracks,
their chests filled with thumbprint-bruised pears.

My body is a clutch of roses dried upside down,
crayons slanted sideways from halfway melting.

So often we unfurl from white, warm towels, uncased
and careful, your shoes lined along the baseboard.

You say my whole body fills the doorway
like a lone parenthesis: always open, serious.

Once you hear the train whistle, you list every face
you can remember, each body’s quiet shape.

 

Paige Sullivan is currently an MFA candidate in the creative writing program at Georgia State University, where she also serves as the poetry editor of New South. Her poetry can be found in Terminus, American Literary Review, Mead, and others. Additionally, she is a freelance food and travel writer.

 

 

GIVING MYSELF PERMISSION

E. Kristin Anderson

On a muggy summer day, still holding on

to glittery flaws, I knew my home,

behind me, wanted language. 

I knew pretty—that grown-up dinner,
faux behind her ears.  Mistaken for velvet,
none of it fits.

                           I promise that touch
scoured paradoxes, a young creative
with a bright blue day.

I cleanse fabric that can speak to desire,
those invigorating reasons
buoyant with casual space. 

The future beckoned—
dark colors a little theatrical,
more than sick. 

But I process impulses, that alluring age
almost capable of serious. I imagine
I’ll do it all over.

 

 

This is an erasure poem. Source material: “Goodbye to All That”
by Meghan O’Rourke. Elle, August 2014, pages 72-74.

LEAPS AND LOOKS

E. Kristin Anderson

She is actually cerulean,
unaware that painstaking influences,
quirky and glamorous, can imagine excitement.

A flight is forgotten,
alluring a sense of ideas,
painting lonely energy on the sloping city.

Girls and sequins
fall, sexier.  The destination
is impactful, a lost filter, new meaning.

 

This is an erasure poem. Source material: Source material:
“Far East Enders” by Andrew Bevan. Teen Vogue, September 2014,
pages 93-94.

 

E. Kristin Anderson has published widely in magazines and is author of seven chapbooks, including A Guide for the Practical Abductee, 17 Days, and Pray, Pray, Pray: Poems I wrote to Prince in the middle of the night. She’s on staff at NonBinary Review, Lucky Bastard Press, and Found Poetry Review.

 

 

SONGS AND STREET CORNERS

Krista Varela

He stands on the corner of a busy intersection near my apartment, holding a sign shaped like an arrow that says “Cash for Gold,” pointing to the tiny strip mall where a gold liquidator hides tucked away. Whether it’s in the bitter chill of January or the sweltering sun of July, his uniform is the same: jeans, a faded camouflage hooded sweatshirt pulled over his head, and sunglasses. I wonder if he’s the kind of man who worries about skin cancer.

White ear buds sticking out of his ears, he doesn’t do any fancy tricks with his sign, no special tosses or twirls. Instead, he bops it up and down to the beat of his music while he sings along. Even through his sunglasses and full beard, his brows furrow and forehead wrinkles with what I can only call a passionate appreciation for his music. I try not to stare at him from my comfortable climate-controlled car, as if I’m worried he might catch my eye and have me roll down my window to get the full effect of his performance. I wonder what he’s listening to, maybe some heavy metal or hardcore rap. Maybe he’s just really enthusiastic about his jazz.

The man looks like maybe he could be content being paid minimum wage to stand on that intersection listening to music all day long, as if he couldn’t care less if he actually does persuade you to bring in your gold. But I wonder what he has to listen to when the ear buds come out at the end of the day. Maybe his dog yelps with excitement when he walks in the door. Maybe his wife nags him to do the dishes. Maybe his children call out to him from their bedrooms asking for a lullaby. In my head, this man has a family that he goes home to every night, people who care about him, because I have to think that there’s more to life than songs and street corners.

I find myself thinking about him every time I approach that intersection, anticipating a time when I might be brave enough to actually roll down my window to listen to him sing. Sometimes the man’s face pops into my head when I’m not driving—when I’m slicing tomatoes or brushing my teeth. On my way home one day, I notice he’s gone. I wonder if he’s taking a vacation, to somewhere with artificial light, somewhere he can wear short sleeves and not worry about the sun’s harsh rays. But when the corner stays empty for a few weeks, I wonder if the “Cash for Gold” store is cutting back on costs. I wonder if the man got bored, tired of pressing repeat on his iPod day after day.

Maybe he got a better job. Maybe he does a one-eighty and goes corporate—shaves his beard, and ditches his raggedy sweatshirt for a suit and tie. Maybe he retires his ear buds for a Bluetooth headset, making important calls while he pounds away at a computer keyboard instead of at that “Cash for Gold” sign. I want to think he’s moving up in the world, for his hypothetical children’s sake.

         One afternoon I see somebody new on the corner. From a distance, I can see long blonde hair; it’s a woman. Already my mind begins to form a narrative, wondering what her story is. Maybe the store is going for sex appeal, as if the allure of cash for people’s unwanted rings and necklaces isn’t enough.

         As I approach the red light, I can see that something isn’t quite right. The woman’s bare arms and legs are strangely white, her stance stiff, her mouth frozen into something that’s not quite a smile.

         It is a mannequin.

         The sign in her arms lies perfectly still. 

         A couple months later, the mannequin is gone. She’s been replaced with another living, breathing person. I feel a bit of relief that the “Cash for Gold” store is no longer outsourcing its work to inanimate objects. But there is nothing remarkable about this new man who stands on the corner—I barely notice what he looks like.

         I do notice that he doesn’t wear a hood or ear buds. He wears just a plain T-shirt, and I wonder if he is going to get sunburned. I do notice that he doesn’t bounce his sign up and down to a beat; instead he rocks it back and forth lackadaisically. But he is so forgettable; his face blends into the dozens of others I see every day, the amalgamation of eyebrows, freckles, dimples, and other features only processed on a subconscious level. I want so badly to remember his face, to convince myself that this man is important too and deserves his own story.

         But I don’t.

My own father works in a bar night after night. He cooks tacos, chicken wings and hamburgers with his large, calloused hands. This is his craft; every pinch of salt and dash of pepper is thought out and perfectly executed. The regulars stop him when he brings out their food, shake his hand and ask how his kids are doing. Then he retreats back to his kitchen, his sanctuary, where he can sneak sips of Patrón in between orders.

Do the other customers stop to catch a glimpse of him on their way to the bathroom, or do they pass by without looking in? Do they see his chipped front tooth when he smiles and imagine him at the receiving end of the punch that broke it? Do they see his well-pressed shirt stretched tightly across his belly and imagine him years younger before the tequila began to stain his goatee gray?

Perhaps they think about him as they lie awake in bed at night, while he mops the bar floor, cranking Journey on the jukebox and belting out “Only the Young” to empty bar stools and broken beer bottles. I hope someone is thinking of my father, as he drives home when the sun is starting to peek over the desert mountains, the light just barely cracking through the window as he finally goes to sleep in his studio bedroom, alone.

 

Krista Varela received her MFA from Saint Mary’s College, where she is now a lecturer. When she’s not teaching, writing, or spoiling her dachshund, she is managing editor for The East Bay Review. Her work has appeared in Toasted Cheese, Red Savina Review, and Vagabond City. She is on Twitter: @kdvarela84.

 

 

MY POOR HOSTESS

Kathleen Jones

“The doctor thought it was the fruit of the cashew, since it was the only thing I had eaten that I had never eaten before, and some people are allergic to it. But I only ate two bites of one, two very sour bites. … Yesterday I felt so much better I started to wash my hair and fainted. My poor hostess [Lota] got so alarmed that she started to faint—surely the perfect hostess.”

 

—Elizabeth Bishop to Dr. Anny Baumann, January 8, 1952

Alcobaça [Farm], Petropólis, Brazil

Elizabeth blames or thanks
the fruit of the cashew, an accessory fruit.
Extra-ovarian. But not an accident.
A new country, and with it the gift
of spurious, fortuitous fruit. Who plucked
or purchased, who tempted?
She tried two bites that swelled her skin
until she had to stay in place:
December in Petrópolis, afternoon I imagine.
But don’t assume balmy weather, a hotel,
anonymous travel. The luxury of this vacation
was that it took. Lota built a home,
and for once in her life Elizabeth
did not go anywhere next.

I wish I knew the difference
between discretion (power in choosing,
controlling your own hand,
your own mouth) and shutting yourself up.
Elizabeth wasn’t the one who destroyed
her love letters to Lota; those were burned
or torn by would-be in-laws. I shouldn’t
assume impulse, shouldn’t assume she kept
quiet against her will. I think she did write,
in her way, the explicit story (not vulgar: plainspoken)
of making love in Lota’s ultramodern dreamhouse.
A decade spent translating fascinating illness
into happiness. She left us room to guess.

 

Kathleen Jones is a poet, designer, and technical writer living in Wilmington, NC. She has an MFA from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Her work is forthcoming from BOAAT and has been published in LEVELER, The Boiler, storySouth, and others.

 

 

TURQUOISE NAIL POLISH

Ruth Z. Deming

Blue Horses, Mary Oliver’s
new book boasts
lines like
“wanting to see the most beautiful thing
that has ever been in my house.”
It’s not about owls or gray sparrows
or bluebirds or that large mansized dog
she’s been photographed with
rather, meet Anne Taylor, her new love.

As my breath catches on each line,
she is nearing eighty, and diagnosed
for several years with cancer,
I must confess that I too am
stunned by the most beautiful
thing residing in my house
my turquoise nails, which stop me
every few minutes, like Rita Hayworth
turning men’s heads whether they
like it or not.

Surely in the forests of the Amazon
birds of this color strut before
their would-be mates—
plumage sprouting like crowns
from their quickly turning heads.
And the noises they make!
Listen and you shall hear it
unlike any other—
not Samuel Barber
or Bach or Ethan Iverson—
the voice of the lone
turquoise wonder
hush and hold it
in your hand
and when sorrow
comes, listen
to its song.

 

Ruth Z. Deming has had her poetry published in lit mags including Mad Swirl and Literary Yard. A psychotherapist, she runs New Directions for people with depression, bipolar disorder and their loved ones. She lives in Willow Grove, a suburb of Philadelphia.

 

 

AS THE SOLDIER RELOADS

Jude Marr

winter, bone-cold, creeps
in between
the stitches of my coat

at my throat, a hand—is
this my hand?—barely
a pulse, but blood, stiff
between bitter fingers— 

(I am not
abandoned—only overcast
by branches)

 how I stand I can’t tell— 

snow, my exoskeleton:
flurries spit in my face
I am blinded by snow—

(a star explodes) 

all I know—
a punctured sky
a pit below.

 

Jude Marr is originally from Scotland. She is currently a PhD student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where she also teaches. Her poetry has appeared in r.kv.r.y, The Cortland Review, Black Heart Magazine, and Cherry Tree among others.

 

 

SELF-PORTRAIT AS NATURALIST

Donna Vorreyer

Bright angel of the circling wolves, bless
their tongues, their teeth sharp as harpoons. 

Do not shame them for their hunger, their
zodiac moods, the children they steal to raise,

feral, happy, birth names erased to grunting,
faces stained with blackberries, hands chafed

to blisters, howls turned hymns in their mouths.
Missing daughters with thin wrists run wild

in the thickets, break twigs and branches,
palms in the dirt, the woods heavy with

their sweet breath. Aspen leaves rustle silver
as the sea, fat anthems rising from the shadows.

Bless them all, the oil in their thick coats,
their seasonless fealty, my reasonless fear.

SELF-PORTRAIT AS CONFESSION

Donna Vorreyer

Later in the woods, a knife slips 
into a deer’s hide, its warm 
entrails mimicking spring.  

Now the red tip of a cigarette 
in the stillness. The river spilling 
its banks to imitate tide. My mouth  

slick with spit, deep footprints 
leading out to the ridge. I flinch 
as my vowels swell thick, my hand 

on my hip. All grit and grey and 
no lift, no fishtail braid to finish me
pretty. When I lift the knife, steam 

rises from the blood, my hands 
wet, too much spilled in the telling.

 

Donna Vorreyer is the author of A House of Many Windows (Sundress Publications, 2013) as well as six chapbooks, most recently Encantado, a collaboration with artist Matt Kish from Redbird Chapbooks. Her second collection Every Love Story is an Apocalypse Story was just released by Sundress Publications.

 

 
Sugared Water no. 4
8.00 10.00

Contributors

Janelle Adsit, E. Kristin Anderson, Abra Bertman, Laurel Cooper, Ruth Z. Deming, Larry Eby, Kristin Fitzsimmons, Douglass Guy, Rachel Neve Midbar, M.J. Iuppa, Kathleen Jones, Jill Khoury, Mercedes Lawry, Hea-Ream Lee, Rebecca Macijeski, Michael Mark, Jude Marr, W.E. Pasquini, Nicole Rollender, Susan Shaw Sailer, Paige Sullivan, Kelly Lynn Thomas, Nicole Tong, Krista Varela, Donna Vorreyer, & Claire Wahmanholm

70 pages
handprinted cover
edition of 100

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