Spring 2018, Volume 24

From the Poetry Editor

Spring 2019

At the brink of last summer, after a long stretch of spring’s mad-paced busyness, I hit a long stretch of vacation. Relaxing by the pool one day, I looked at my wife and said, “I feel really human again.” In that moment, I had a heightened sense of how we divide our lives into survive and thrive phases. Sometimes, it’s nothing much that lifts us from the former. Sometimes it’s sudden emptiness of schedule, or a loved one’s sun-comforted face. Too often it’s a reality-bending loss. But in luckier times, it’s a felicitous poem, story, or art work. The poems in this spring issue hit you at just such a brink, and they are often engaged with how to live a better way even as so many tentacles creep in on that possibility. In Anne Babson’s ‘Hot Flash,’ the aging speaker says, “It suddenly becomes too much living (...) Heat from within, bubbling / Out an image of the secret person // That stains the chipping cheerleader surface.” And what is her rescuing reflection? That “I am what I write, not this gristle.” In Lexi Cary’s poem ‘Casa Azul,’ we get a fierce feminine imperative to revise the world: “Coat this broken world with woman / And watch it run wet / And drown itself.” Meanwhile, Bob Elmendorf’s villanelle ‘Luna’ recasts cliched romantic tropes with lines like, “I walked by the sea one moon-night // and caught the moon strapless on the tide / unshored, buoyant in a cold romance.” And in Rich Ives’ ‘No More Apologies to Inanimate Objects,’ the speaker, calling in concert with Babson’s poems, says, “It’s hard to believe so much of yourself has already happened,” but adds, “Even a useless man accomplishes a certain amount of thinking.” In Marcia B. Loughran’s ‘Tap Dance at the Nursing Home’ the question of poetry’s utility in steering life is direct and urgent: “Why poems? You ask. // I say, Forty and infertility.” Heidi Lynn Staples, whose Guess Can Gallop I reviewed many years ago with wonder and gratitude at its ability to expand my sense of poetry, gives us a handful of field-journalesque poems each titled ‘Trail’ with a different date. She employs the abecedarian and reverse abecedarian forms as she stretches syntax and crowns linguistic, as well as literal play with lines like “Our nothing not without / Rewards our what is hourly is / Stars inside” and “Mark this spot with the nothing that is within / You.” The urge toward play becomes a literal set of adventures as the speaker describes “Being aloft in the ravenous / And” and declares, “Whatever the day brings, we will fall / into the places where we love to play.” Michael Meyerhofer’s ‘The Workman’ features a paint crew covering the speaker’s house in plastic sheeting and then the surprise of finding his “own black sedan / wrapped in the same plastic sheeting // like a body off a TV show / or a present they'll open for me.” And Askold Skalsky’s ‘Simultaneity’ reminds us that  “Maybe everything happens at once— (...) That’s what we thirst for.” Each in their own way, these poets and poems are records of those moments of shift from survive to thrive, moments of play as opposed to trudge, revelation as opposed to mechanization. They call on you, dear reader, to lift your eyes from routine, and see the summer ahead.


                                                                                     — Bill Neumire