The Take

The Take: Abbie Kiefer

Ever wonder how journal editors make decisions about work to feature? The Take gives you a glimpse behind the scenes at Mud Season Review. Here, we feature one single poem or flash fiction piece that caught the attention of the editorial team, apart from the signature poetry portfolio or fiction piece in our bi-monthly issues. We hear from the author about the inspiration for his or her work, and we hear from a co-editor about why the poem or flash fiction story stood out.


Abbie Kiefer

International Paper Makes an Announcement

When the air in town
was baggy with sulfur
they’d say, out of habit,
that it smelled like money.
And in the fat years,
with jobs for the asking,
they’d all half-joked
about Mother IP. Well,
it’s a lousy mother
who up and leaves.
In the cafeteria, a man
in a tie explains grants
for retraining.
Says they might enjoy
trucking or being
dental assistants.
Out in the parking lot,
a few of them are smoking,
watching the river run
itself at the dam. The lot
has 412 spaces, news
vans in two of them.
A guy from the pulper
is heading for home,
an old house built
on a hopeful eighth-acre
beneath the smokestack’s
generous plume. Made
with rock and metal
but mostly with wood.
Pine floors, pine siding,
pine lath under plaster
holding it all together.

< From the Author

When I was younger, I ran a weekly newspaper in a paper-mill town. The town’s first mill opened in the 1880s and paper-making had been the dominant industry for decades, so the mills had shaped the town’s identity. People felt a real sense of pride and tradition. As the mills declined, they also experienced a deep sense of loss. It was complicated and compelling and all these years later, I’m still thinking about it.


From the Editors

The form of narrowing focus—from town, company, parking lot, to a single employee—effectively paints the cascading impact of a factory shut-down. Kiefer selects the images the journalists from the “news vans” might themselves have recorded. By the end, a reader waits for an inevitable spark to destroy the “pine floors, pine siding, pine lath” of a once “hopeful” home.

-Malisa Garlieb

By Malisa Garlieb

Malisa Garlieb is poetry editor of Mud Season Review. Often employing myth, art, and nature, she writes personal histories while simultaneously unfolding archetypes. Her poems have appeared in Painted Bride Quarterly, Calyx, Tar River Poetry, RHINO Poetry, Rust + Moth, Blue Unicorn, Fourteen Hills, Sugar House Review, and elsewhere. Handing Out Apples in Eden is her first poetry collection, and there’s a second manuscript in the works. She’s also a mother, energy healer, and artist. Find her at