Ursula Grossman’s First Night at Pueblo Springs Nursing Home

by Julien Fish

Sleep slips from these soap-waxed hands as I sweat into the dawn of my last living summer: we sour on smoking patios, pining for fatter days, drawing breath with tar-thick lungs in the volcanic spill of cement. Skin assumes the dust, and in the sun turns gold, rots purple in drooping mood, returning earthward. And everybody’s lonely, everybody’s horny. The mercy of a lover’s shadow is somewhere on the frost-dewed shelf of memory, too high for arthritic reach. Here, on summer eves, when hot and humid indulge their rampant affair, disciples of season resume worship on motorized chairs, studying more sultry gospels in paperback: dog-eared saints with prayers for every shade of solitude. A Chinese man in silk shorts tells me he is addicted to the chocolate pudding. No, I say, no appetite of mine will survive this heat—geriatric footwear marks the end of itching passion. O, sleep! You were once in the gardens, the givenness of the harvest. In the tomatoes, in the thousand-veined tomatoes, the throbbing expanse of the watermelon, the paltry stench of the tomatoes, dying. I call it suburban luck: the twisted comedy that brings you to a place like this, where folks are killed by learning to ask less of life.

 

 

Julien Fish is from an avocado town in southern California. He lives in Idaho with his wife.

They Had Forgotten the Taste of the Moon

by Rachel Bundy

They had forgotten the taste of the moon.
That man on the corner with the midnight bowler hat,
and the lady in cut-off jeans and a faded-blue baseball cap,
and even that hobo that lives under the rotting stairs on Rua Moises.

Of course it’s not like La Tur cheese.
Nor is it a crumbling cloudy scone.
Or honeydew melon
slavering saccharine sap all over the terracotta tiling
for Dalí’s erotic ants to eat.

The Chinese were the ones who brought the oranges
across a sea of biscuit crumbs.
What a novelty they were!

Europeans missed the mark
Saying,
             “Nadie come naranjas bajo la luna llena.

But what lover has not
felt the searing flavor of oranges
on their tongue at night,
the kind that perfumes fingertips
and leaves its cologne after the pith is gone.

Maybe then,
the Chinese were the first to understand the night

and the bittersweet, musky odor of the moon.

 

 

Rachael Bundy was born in Austin, Texas but spent the larger part of her childhood in Illinois. She is the oldest of five children. As a child, she was an avid reader of books. Now, she regularly writes poetry and short stories. Rachael is currently a Spanish undergraduate student at BYU who is also minoring in Portuguese and TESOL. She hopes that as she continues her career she will be able to produce literature not only in English, but also in Portuguese and Spanish.

Ode to a Shoehorn

by D.R. Garner

Hesitant attendee;
sinner’s ferry;
usher who escorts others to their seats
but is never seated for the show;
Olympic diver; claw
which descends in an arcade crane game
and emerges empty eternally;
doorman forced into early retirement;
lapdog; dutiful confessor;
Jacob called-Israel;
you who at the cave’s mouth,
before the eyes of the trail-master,
rappel into the unknown,
and return as a mute,
you who began life as an elephant’s tusk,
you who broke off from the antler of a battling stag;
you who were replaced by plastic or rebuked by impatience,
servant who is unseen except as summoned;
un-breaking barrier—we write you here.

 

 

A Masters of Accounting student at BYU, D.R. Garner writes to escape from the business world and embrace his inner adventurer. He was born and raised in Mesa, Arizona, and served an LDS mission in Milan, Italy, where journal writing and weekly e-mails home sparked in him a love for writing. When he isn’t writing or studying, D.R. can be found watching baseball, singing in his car, or playing games of all sorts with his family and friends.

Peace

by Andrew Tate

Peace is reading Njal’s saga in the rain
and watching a zoomorphic interlace rend
the complex sky

and hearing halberds splitting shields
on the overhang

and watching the soil drink water
like a freshly burnt home.

 

 

A busy computer scientist with the heart of a humanities major, Andrew Tate nurtures his lifelong love affair with poetry as best he can. He grew up laughing hard as his mom read him Shel Silverstein’s poems. Later, the British Romantics caught his wistful attention and he counts his visits to the Lake District among his most hallowed experiences. Poetry is the breath of his soul and—finding himself at the end of an twenty-one year long inhalation—he is just beginning to breath normally, trying his hand at writing as well as enjoying, breathing out as well as in.

Natural Release, Connecticut 1999

Lisa Favicchia

In the quiet of a street shaded by an invasive species, beautiful
except for its slow strangle of trees you once believed
was an embrace, on a day well over 100 degrees, a slow, belly scorch,
just outside of the house you were sure had been abandoned,
reclaimed by nature many years ago except for the guttural sounds
you occasionally heard coming from that direction if you stood
at the very edge of the woods in the far end of your yard, the flash
of yellow T-shirt you sometimes saw and ignored in favor of abandonedness,
the house your parents complained had never been painted correctly, one side
left a peely beige—but it didn’t matter because the dingy, not-quite blue
was unsightly anyways—the house the school bus stopped at
sometimes (you noticed when your parents drove you in the mornings)—
it was outside of that house and on that day that your dad pulled over
suddenly, asking you what was that, but you couldn’t see anything
over the plastic window brim, so you got out, he encouraged you, and there it was;
stomach muscles rippling along the pavement through heat haze,
the five foot boa constrictor, head confused but scales reflecting
the light as they should, a distinct caramel pattern—Sometimes,
even now you still see that ghost boa, your head turned over your shoulder
as you’re pulled back into the car, pushing itself over the scorched curb
eventually disappearing into wild overgrowth as your eyes
are once again eclipsed by the brim of the window.

 

 

Lisa Favicchia is a recent graduate of the MFA program at Bowling Green State University. She is the Managing Editor of The Coil by Alternating Current Press and the former Managing Editor of Mid-American Review. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Midwestern Gothic, Rubbertop ReviewAdelaide Literary MagazineThe Airgonaut, and Vine Leaves Literary Journal.

Reading the Headlines

by Anne Thomas

I thank you, Lord,
                             for the clear, cool curve of the invisible sky
Dissolved in the implausible rust that throbs on the mountainside.

 

For eyes pooling light, for light glazing grass
                                                                          that quivers under fly leg and wind-lick.
I thank you for bones plumb between muscles
                              and veins branching unbroken from finger to lung.
For nerves drinking air and air dusting to night,
                                                                                       for a face open to the moon.

 

Though the next night be seared and shattered,
                                                                                         this one breathes, pond-dark with stars.

 

 

Anne Thomas is currently applying for graduate school in ecology but sometimes she writes poems.

The Son of a Coal Miner Remembers His Childhood

by Tamara Pace Thomson

Sometimes I heard voices in the trees and in the light.

My sisters and I sat obedient on the roof of our car
while Father informed us of his plan:
“I am sorry children. I have to kill your mother.”
Staring at the sun, or at Father’s black gun, I envied eternity.

In groves of aspen I heard voices in the clattering leaves, like light.

Birds broke their necks flying into our windows, they would seizure until still.
I couldn’t believe the minutia of their suffering, the blow and rupture of organs
or splintering of flight’s hollow bones.
A baby bat on the path once trembled in morning sun.

Cottonwoods rushed like river water in evening light.

To stave off rot, Father would immediately
chill slaughtered meat.
Music and muslin triggered memories that might be delusion or dreams.
I dreamed of my mother drowned in a pool.

Creek water wrinkled shadow and radiance—blending locust leaves with liquid light.

If naughty at school, I found a willow switch to carry
home for Father to whip me.
My mother rarely lifted her eyes those contracted afternoons.
I kept my own eyes open wide.

Through the window, summer nights, I heard poplars gorge on moonlight.

From the hood of our car, between my two older sisters, I stared
at Father’s black gun—
we never saw our mother again. She drove north to Oregon that day.
Sometimes I heard voices in the trees and in the light.

 

 

Tamara Pace Thomson is an MFA candidate in fiction.

 

The Garnished Zither

by M. Alexander Turner

translated from Li Shangyin (c. 813–858)

 

The garnished zither unending,
   its fifty strings.
One string for one peg:
   I think of handsome years.

The scholar Chuang lucidly dreamt
   of mystified butterflyhood.
The prestigious lord took his spring heart
   to form a cuckoo.

The deep sea, the moon luminous:
   a pearl with tears.
The indigo field, sun inviting:
   the jade uncurling smoke.

This bliss could wait
   for full recollect.
Still, this while
   has been burned forgotten.

 

 

M. Alexander Turner is a linguistics student at BYU. He likes writing poetry, translating Tang Dynasty verse, and practicing calligraphy.

Buying Flowers for My Wife After a Disagreement

by Kyle Singleton

When I walked into the flower shop on the corner I thought of what my mother once said to me about gifted flowers: “Always trust flowers given on anniversaries. Never trust flowers sent from an unknown admirer. Trust flowers given after the birth of a child, but don’t trust flowers that say, I remember you. You can trust flowers that say, you’re beautiful, and flowers that smell edible, but not flowers that say, I’m sorry.” Then, I wondered what my flowers would say and if they could be trusted, but I looked around the shop anyway. I saw the lilies that stand in elegy, the frangipanis that toast freshly made vows, and the pink peonies that remind graduating daughters they are still young. In the back stood the orchids waiting to pray over the altars of hospital beds, and the carnations that will ask anyone to sleep with them. And right before I left I found a flower that, when you stare into its nectar, breathes a wild world into your lungs. I forgot to buy something on the way out.

Kyle Singleton is a senior at BYU studying English and creative writing. He is originally from Florida.

Mexican Mothers of America

by Mallory Dickson

Let your kids belong!
Get them out of their casas and cuartos

and into a friend’s beat-up Chevy lleno de
music, not bachata but country

guitarras swaying to blonde hombres and chicas.
And when you cook chicken, rice, and beans

and cook them you must, give it to the abuelos.
Slip dollars into brown hands

venturing through the electric arches
of fast food and fake Hispanic buffets.

Let them play football, the American
kind, and leave their soccer balls olvidadas.

Fifteen is no longer the fiesta, Hola is no
longer a serious greeting.

Forget your abrazos and warm latino
soul. Shake hands instead, when

absolutely necessary.
They’ll thank you for the neutral colors,

the white hips and flat r’s.
Soon they will forget the meaning of their names.

-After Frank O’Hara

 

From a young age Mallory Dickson has been fascinated with books and writing, pulling her parent’s library collection off the shelves and flipping through each book one by one as a child. She has worked on a fantasy trilogy for over seven years, dabbles in poetry, and writes creative essays. She is a senior at Brigham Young University, studying English with an editing minor.