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.
Dad sneaks me to a flower shop in town.
It’s the first time he’s ever asked for my advice
so I’m nervous, but secretly pleased.
I pick out a bouquet of yellow roses,
because yellow means friendship.
She’d accept this.
No one could turn down a friend.
When he gives them to her,
I hide on the stairs.
Mom’s voice is a small bomb.
I feel it in my stomach,
and am back to my room
just before our front door slams.
Hard enough to shake both stories
in this house.
I suffocate in music.
“This is a rare poem for me, because it’s actually about me. I like to find my truths by writing them in fabricated people, but the day described in this poem has stuck with me for almost twenty years (making the title and the publication time very fitting). Sometimes the best way to get past a painful memory is to recreate it until you’ve given it angles, and reasons, and–most importantly—legs to walk away.
Driven by short declarative sentences, the poem pivots from a tentative hope to the language of violence (“slams,” “shake,” “suffocate”). The mother’s voice as “a small bomb,” the only metaphor employed by Licciardi, lands decisively in the center. A double meaning of “shake both stories” is an accurate measure of the impact and fall-out.