Summer 2019

Sarah Alcaide-Escue

Body Memory with Figs, or Loss of Innocence Has Everything to Do with Grief

we bury the trunk of the fig tree in a trench to protect it from the coming
storm       bruised & split       we gather fallen figs in our pockets
each palmed fruit a body
of constellations heavy with wasps         now it’s night        now we sew dead leaves
into our throats       drumming raw hands against the grotto’s walls pink with lack

we unbury ourselves       our darkening
bodies       along the red-seamed shore
as our mothers       we carry the land’s migratory

                                                                       rhythm like wool      carries sweat & sound

                                 from dog-torn branches sap slips as smoke slips from mouth to mouth

                                        this is our story                  we are a curse thrown to the sky

                            born to burn within our own incandescence

                                                     this is the origin of things      the body in reverse

                                                           as in cessation       as in thick-hipped beetles curl their jaws
                                                           into a namelessness      while their mates fight behind a solitary flame

                                                                                                                           their shadows   slips of light
                                                                                                                                          the same shape as your dress


Author’s Statement
This poem, for me, is a kind of excavation, a matrilineal map. It’s a meditation on the body as/through/with language and landscape. It’s a way of healing and (re)membering the past, my past. The body is an archive in that it carries memory and history. I believe we can transfer knowledge intergenerationally, storing patterns and responses for survival. Our bodies hold multiple possibilities, and memory lingers within and around us. 

From the Poetry Editors
Sarah Escue’s lyrical work carries vivid imagery of the speaker as a time capsule.  Her colorful language also accentuates a comparison between the speaker and their lover to the aspects of nature, as beetles near a flame. This poem itself is challenged by its form of ever changing structure:  Margins are pushed beyond their boundaries, lines are staggered, and each stanza contains various spacing.  These characteristics not only convey but emphasize a sense of loss and physical hunger.


Tiffany Thomas

Moonstruck

In Inuit legend, there is a girl who dreams only geese,
but I would rather have the latenight whistles of the loons
The so-rooted loen lame lomr lamenters

Whose high, hiccupping calls sound like questions,
like they are trying to answer their own echoes
or communicate with the wolves

Those bloody-eyed, white-choked lummoxes
who stagger and flinch and fall and still, again,
build their nests on unsteady land only this time a few feet away

                                I have been named by the early watchers not for luminosity but for weakness
                                                   I have found my heart’s egg cracked open and bloody in a rushed bed
                                                                  I too have had to pick up my house and try to outrun the water



Author’s Statement
“Moonstruck” is a reflective descent into the subconscious, inspired in part by the tarot card “The Moon.” It is a process of delving – through language, legend and nature – for the source ofthe initial wound that breeds all others. To be moonstruck is to be part of an archetypal, female identity; it is to be part of an adaptive madness that we recognize first externally and then echoing in our own animal selves.


From the Poetry Editors
Tiffany Thomas’ “Moonstruck” enters a world of self discovery through the moon tarot card. This card can symbolize the relationship between subconscious and the animal instinct. In this poem, Thomas compares humanity to the loon. Her delicious language pinpoints a common error in our society: As humans, we tend to repeat our mistakes and must come to terms with the consequences. The lyrical stanzas also leave us with the idea that we are vulnerable and desire to be repaired, and our resilience drives us to continuously seek out new homes as does the loon.


Grace Clement

American Spirit

Romanticize rot with me, baby—let’s catalyze cancer—
just some pre-dinner poetry, that’s what I call it, keep it classic
like the movies. I say “classic”— you think I mean that hot old
1930s shit, kissin’ in the back in black and white. But baby I mean
lighters – I mean 1956 – red, yellow, black checkers – click-floof and
“got a light” and “can I bum one of those.” I mean we turn it into
perfume, our own special mix: midnight and sex on our breath, sewn
into our sleeves, tucked behind my ear when you laugh, when my arm’s
at your waist. I mean we dress real nice – cocktail party, like we’re rich. You’ll
light up, exhale; they’ll say “ain’t she divine, ain’t she glamor” and I’ll say “yessir,
yes ma’am she is.”

I mean we know how to dance, so we’ll go downtown – get drunk off strangers,
underaged angels. I’ll wear my tie loose like a medal, wear my sunglasses in; you’ll
leave a kiss on my cheek, puckered powder, princess rose. Pinky promise me, baby,
that later my walls’ll turn gray and blurred while we listen to records, fall desperate
in love, touch a future with a flame. Addicted to you, how you look like my heart –
you’re a sight to behold, to be held in my fingers, cradled – not paper, but thin, and
soft, blue eyes bright and veiled. You know I’d take you around, wear a leather jacket
for you, stick a comb in the back of my jeans. I’d be the guy who takes a puff just to
put it out, just to set the scene – just to ask you to want me. Let your mama know,
when I drop you back home – let her know it’s my smoke you’ve been wearing so nice.


Author’s Statement
I wrote this poem after my boyfriend and I realized that, although we have different concepts of the word “classic,” both of our images include smoking. The piece was meant to be an ode to something unworthy of an ode—the speaker is in love with his life, but, more than that, he’s addicted to it; through his love interest and his smoking habit, he watches as this obsession is chaotically perpetuated. 


From the Poetry Editors
Reading “American Spirit” is like listening to pop jazz. The rhythm carries such lyrical phrases throughout the piece that it becomes beat poetry.  Clement’s poem pays homage to the black and white films of the 1950’s in America while pushing the boundaries of time: “I say ‘classic’– you think I mean that hot old 1930s shit, kissin’ in the back in black and white. But baby I mean lighters–I mean 1956–red, yellow, black checkers…”