Fall 2021, Volume 31

From the Poetry Editor

Fall 2021

Welcome to the Fall 2021 issue of Verdad! Putting together this installment, I realized that poets, in their reaching to process experience, act as children act: they use comparison to forge an understanding of novel feelings, events, images. There is, however, always unease involved, an inequality that leaves a dissatisfaction. X is like Y...but no, I haven’t quite gotten there, haven’t quite understood, let alone conveyed that understanding to another.  In this way, Adam Day’s ‘Behind the Scenes’ opens,

Night mountain
snow is unlike him

living inside
his head.

It’s a brief and tensely restrained poem of unlikenesses that moves in unwitting dialogue with the others in this issue, including Joshua Hall’s ‘Expectancy,’ which opens, “You are a delicacy / like and unlike / the chant” and later claims,

Unlike these
or other syllables
You are
the best question so far,
and we are no answer.

Working hard to pin a feeling to “animals in their cages,” Paul Ilechko’s speaker in ‘Blessing’ tell us “their love [is] as deep as a broken century.” Meanwhile, Barry Peters shows us the heartbreakingly casual unwelding of “average couples / uncoupling behind closed blinds”—as they are reaching for fusion, or if that is not achievable, at least the distraction of running “a marathon every day” to “always be high.” Finally, VA Smith, in her earnestly articulated ‘Cutting’ explores unlikenesses in the form of the dissonance between conventional popular images or her speaker’s own dreamed up self-image, and reality—she, in the throes of real motherhood wonders “why babies were drawn / asleep and smiling on pastel mounds of clouds.” At the end, she moves to the difference between herself as tired mother and her fantastical imaginary: “At night, I picture myself / in those black capris and huaraches, / wet red lips open / for the camera.”

For this issue I reviewed Chloe Martinez’s newest poetry collection, Ten Thousand Selves, and she was kind enough to let us run three poems from the book. In ‘Mandala of the Nature Center Sleepover’ the speaker, watching an octopus, tells us,

          the way she moves doesn’t say escape or hunger,

though once we see her false eye-spots glow
       bright blue as if (her label says) under threat,
                but that color fades, and she goes on far beyond easy

explanations: a dance of being alive in a body,
       a dance of the body alive. The octopus is
               unlike us. The octopus is more like us than we

can explain.

And here we are, as readers, as writers, in the space of that tension, trying to bring together selves, experiences, travels, events—and though there’s never a completely effective soldering equation, the knowledge that all likenesses are also unlikenesses is the very subtextual power of language, a power we hope you feel in this issue.

                                                                —Bill Neumire