2016

Staff intern Katelyn Tarasiewicz got a chance to interview poet Patricia Clark this summer, on the occasion of her new chapbook, Wreath for the Red Admiral, published by Spruce Alley Press.

You are a professor. Where do you teach and what is your favorite course to teach?

I
teach at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. We have a Writing
Department separate from the English Department. I teach creative
writing. I love teaching our Poetry Workshop –
we have both an intermediate class and an advanced one. The
intermediate one is an especially good one to teach – students have
been introduced to poetry, but just barely. I get to show them some of
the wonderful contemporary poets writing today & unleash
them to write some poems.

Often I give “prompts” for poems – it is a
little less terrifying to have an assignment rather than just being told
to “Write a poem.” Students can write list poems, do a “found” poem;
they write about a work of art, doing an “ekphrastic”
poem. There are many fun assignments, as well as just trying a poem
“imitating Tony Hoagland, or Mary Oliver.” We do workshops of student
poems, and they are learning a lot about how to read poems carefully and
give comments (constructive ones) to other students.
By the end of the course, students put together a portfolio of their
work. They can make astounding progress in the course, and it is often
thrilling to see their growth as writers.

What
poets have influenced you to become the strong poet you are today,   and are there any specific poets/poems that inspired you to write this
new chapbook?

I
have certainly been influenced by my own teachers – Nelson Bentley,
Richard Hugo, Madeline DeFrees, Stanley Plumly, and Cynthia Macdonald,
as well as
Edward Hirsch. All of these teachers value lyrical poems that have
surprising turns of language and encourage poems that try to plumb
emotional depths. I continue in that tradition, I’d say.

I’m not sure
there are particular models I have in mind for the chapbook
– maybe the work of Jane Hirshfield. She’s a California poet whose
work I greatly admire, and I studied with her, briefly, at a poetry
workshop in Napa Valley.


You
have written other poetry books; what got you started in writing
chapbooks?  And what is different about this chapbook compared to those
you have done in the past?

A
chapbook is a briefer collection of poems – and chapbooks have become
very popular today. I see it as an opportunity to put a small collection
together, combining poems in a different
way from a long, full collection.  The poems in Wreath for the Red
Admiral
have not appeared together before – and I think of a collection
of poems as a kind of narrative, perhaps, with an emotional arc of some
kind. A reader is invited in at the beginning
of the collection, and then introduced to some issues or “problems,” if
you will, and then carried along on a journey of reading poems,
hopefully reaching a kind of resolution at some point, a satisfying
moment, perhaps, of insight or resolution. That’s what
I hope for with this small book.

I’ve
only done one previous chapbook. That was a somewhat different grouping
because the editors specifically wanted Michigan or Midwest poems. I
put them together with that intention, more
than having an emotional arc. 

Your books seem to focus on nature.  Is there a reason for that?

Yes,
there is nature in these poems – and that’s because the imagery of
nature intrigues me, inspires me, causes me to think and mull and muse
about things – and then I hope there are
deeper connections found. So I would resist, for example, someone
saying, “Oh, that’s a poem about bird nests in winter.” Yes, and no. It
does start with images of bird nests but I hope there is reflection,
pondering, and wondering that takes the reader on
a journey to some other realization – a way of seeing something new,
or in a new way.


Wreath for the Red Admiral is available through lulu.com, Amazon, Barnes and  Noble, and can be ordered from fine booksellers everywhere.

Chris Hancock

All mothers dream
Their sons will grow up strong.

All mothers worry
Something will go wrong.

Sons grow up playing war
Coming to dinner with mothers at home.

Sons will go off to far away wars

Leaving mothers to live alone.

Enough mothers lost their sons

In far away battles of retort

For the mothers who lost sons

To get together for support.

The Gold Star Mothers
Sought to ease the pain.
The Gold Star Mothers
Brought grieving mothers back again.

 

Note: “The Gold Star Mothers” is excerpted from Mothers Forever, a book of poetry examining the lives of three characters
beginning in 1887 and ending in 1980. Each character loses a son in either
World War II, the Korean War, or the Vietnam War. To help them cope with
their grief, each joined an organization called the American Gold Star Mothers,
whose purpose is to help mothers manage the pain of losing a child through
military service and to support hospitalized veterans. This poem takes place in
1946 as Martha Jackson is becoming a Gold Star mother after her son was killed
as a soldier serving as part of the Red Ball Express during World War II.


Chris Hancock lives in Kennett Square, PA and teaches Health and
Physical Education. His writing and photography can be seen at
chrishancock789.com.

Kenneth Pobo

It’s hard to
have a heart to heart
with a cow,
explaining that
while cows
are like beautiful
brown ships
sailing through red
dusk, they
can be a nuisance,

yes,
nuisance.  They roam our streets
as they see
fit.  One brilliant cow
unlocked
gates–until
she got shot
and died
in the
Presbyterian Church yard.
Women in
long dresses peeve
when cows
splat on wood sidewalks.

Bovine
gangsters run the town.
We don’t
scare them.  We think
we’re
modern.  After all,
it’s the
late 1800s.  Progress
kisses
merchants’ bald heads.
Loggers make
homes possible

far from
where Lake Superior,
The Great
Unsalted Sea, freezes
so that we
can walk to Madeline Island,
no fear of
sinking.  Spring
brings
cinnamon ferns,
more cows
like gods that stare
through our
open windows.


Kenneth Pobo had three new books in 2015: When The Light Turns Green
(Spruce Alley Press), Bend of Quiet (Blue Light Press), and Booking
Rooms in the Kuiper Belt (Urban Farmhouse Press).  He teaches creative
writing and English at Widener University.  He gardens, is somewhat of
an authority on Tommy James and the Shondells, and read Hardy’s
Return of the Native this June.

In Memoriam Liliosa Hilao

Gonzalinho da Costa

I was the first murder victim under Marcos’ martial law regime.
I will not be the last casualty of political repression.
What was my crime?
I exercised my freedom of speech and expression.
They were guaranteed under our constitution.
I exercised my freedom of the press.
Associate editor of Hasik, our university student publication,
I wrote articles like “The Vietnamization of the Philippines,” “Democracy Is Dead in the Philippines Under Martial Law.”
The year I died I was 23 years old, about to graduate with honors from Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila.
Soldiers forced their way into my home, looking for my brother.
He was a Communist, they claimed.
Not there, they ate our family’s lunch, like wolves, no fairy tale.
Arriving home with my sister, a high school student, I asked for a search warrant.
They slapped me, forced me into a room, attempted gang rape.
They beat my sister, damaging her hearing and eyesight.
Nighttime, they hauled us both off to a military camp.
They pummeled me like a live chicken before it’s stewed.
Bruised all over, I resembled a ripe blackberry bush.
Injected with “truth serum,” I turned into a tender, swollen orange punctured multiple times.
Indentations, gun barrel points, inscribed my flesh like seals of the Antichrist.
Ringed by a bracelet of cigarette burns, my mouth hung open, a door about to shut.
Old hempen bag, I collapsed in the cell I shared with my sister, middle of the night.
Powerless to prevent further abuse, handcuffed by circumstances, my brother-in-law, an army officer, visited me.
They are my last witnesses.
Next day, I was gang-raped in the men’s bathroom.
To destroy my testimony, they poured muriatic acid down my throat
And then alleged I had committed suicide.
Some compassionate man, they said, attempted to save my life by stabbing my throat so that I could breathe.
Hole in my throat says otherwise.
I was butchered like a pig, by pigs.
They excavated my internal organs to destroy any evidence of rape.
They divided my body, top of skull down to pubis, same purpose.
Again, I ask, what was my crime?
I had spoken on behalf of freedom, using my intellectual gifts from God.
My brain was returned to my family in a pail.
I had drawn courage from my heart, my deepest entrails, so to speak.
My entrails were also returned in a pail.
I had opened my mouth in protest.
My tongue was cut in half.
I was the poster girl for the fate of all those who dared to oppose the regime.
I am the first. I will not be the last.
Never forget.
Never again.
Nie vergessen.
Nie wieder.

Author’s note: The poem is about the torture and murder of Liliosa Hilao during the martial law regime of Marcos. Some artistic license has been used to recreate her ordeal. The poem responds to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s expressed intention to bury Marcos at the Cemetery of Heroes (Libingan ng mga Bayani) on September 11, 2016. The poem protests Duterte’s action by inciting remembrance of the heinous crimes committed under Marcos’ command responsibility. Allusion to the Holocaust is intentional. 



Gonzalinho da Costa—a pen name—teaches at the Ateneo Graduate School of Business, Makati City, Philippines. He is a management research and communication consultant. A lover of world literature, he has completed three humanities degrees and writes poetry as a hobby.

Jane Rosenberg LaForge

 

I should have been reading
Nancy Drew or The Bobbsey Twins
but I was all about the salmon
in fifth grade; in the old classroom
made over for the future.
After years of waiting, the city
hired tractors and loaders to hoist
up one of our bungalows,
and swing it over the new foundation
before letting it drop, and just like that,
we had a new campus.
We set to work, the boys in their sports,
the girls in their mysteries,
and I with my fish, valiant,
hustling upstream to perform
solo acts of derring-do.
Much like a monk diving into
a rainbow of saffron and petrol
to make a point about how living
in his country without such miracles
had become untenable.

 


Jane Rosenberg LaForge’s is the author of a new chapbook In Remembrance of the Life, published by Spruce Alley Press.  Her next full-length collection of poems will be Daphne and Her Discontents from Ravenna Press in late 2016 or 2017. She is the author of An Unsuitable Princess: A True Fantasy/A Fantastical Memoir” (Jaded Ibis Press, 2014); and four volumes of poetry. Her 2012 chapbook, The Navigation of Loss, was one of three chapbooks chosen for publication by Red Ochre Lit in its annual contest. 
More information is available at 
jane-rosenberg-laforge.com.

Ace Boggess

                  Dowling Productions, 1953

          

when I saw the title I thought
of the folk singer Donovan
happy hippie chirpy crooning sweet
but that’s not him on the stretcher
not his gray matter growing
pulsing in a scientist’s aquarium
it’s one more scheming money man
with new life & new power
to control others (not that he couldn’t
already) he’s a tax cheat
a conspirator to crimes unspoken of
it might have made a better story
if the brain took over other brains &
their bodies suddenly began to sing
“Hurdy Gurdy Man” or “Mellow Yellow”
that would be like a haunted Volkswagen
filled with the ghosts of clowns
a merry melancholy where
the ectoplasm glitters & scents
of carnations breach the screen
no here’s just another bastard who
wants it all & wants to take it with him
while others want to stop him
but how can they? which I think
was the point of folk songs all along


Ace Boggess is the author of two books of poetry: The Prisoners (Brick
Road Poetry Press, 2014) and The Beautiful Girl Whose Wish Was Not
Fulfilled (Highwire Press, 2003). His novel, A Song Without a Melody, is
forthcoming from Hyperborea Publishing. His writing has appeared in
Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, RATTLE, River Styx, North Dakota
Quarterly and many other journals. He lives in Charleston, West
Virginia.

image

Ace Boggess

palm fronds crackle in the breeze
like kernels of popcorn
percolating coffee
one hundred fingers snapping
to a song that no one hears

full moon blasts the clear sky
like a motorcycle headlight
coming closer
as invisible wheels
assault the open highway

even crickets refrain from song
though there are many
their prayers constant
faithful as those of prisoners
at rest for years on their iron bunks


Ace Boggess is the author of two books of poetry: The Prisoners (Brick
Road Poetry Press, 2014) and The Beautiful Girl Whose Wish Was Not
Fulfilled (Highwire Press, 2003). His novel, A Song Without a Melody, is
forthcoming from Hyperborea Publishing. His writing has appeared in
Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, RATTLE, River Styx, North Dakota
Quarterly and many other journals. He lives in Charleston, West
Virginia.

image

– M. A. Istvan Jr.

1

Dusky nimbi
dampen the glow
of closed blinds.

The cotton sheet
cloaks us from squalls
stirred by fans.

And the tin roof rings.

2

To evade the death conniption
recall that urge to stay in
bed
those dark mornings of storm.

Say it was the urge to
forsake
keeping the jigsaw together
(though that would be a lie).

3

Drawing the drapes
on this pouring slate day
stops shadows from drooling
down the bookcase.

4

Pearl-end stems of liquid
coronets
over impact craters closing.

Limpid domes afloat upon
plashets
behind each pother reposing.

5

Sheets of lashing rains
gust-swept down dead ends
like silky top-sands
over desert dunes.

Each swift white ripple
vanishing into viridity.

6

You feel bad that you must
go to write lines or paint
as opposed to sitting here
meditating on the rain.

But let comfort you this.
Doing so makes you the rain
rather than its devotee.

7

The flood carried away
his mound of grass clippings
building for twenty years
at the edge of the forest.


M. A. ISTVAN JR., still into extreme shoulder pads, spends most of his
time lobbying for the rerelease of BoKu, an adult juice box from the
90s. Visit his page at https://txstate.academia.edu/MichaelIstvanJr.

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Kenneth Pobo

Ever since Adeline was a little girl she wanted to be
rich.  Not rich, really, but rich beyond
compare, the richest woman in the world.
It could happen!  On late night TV
when she was seven she saw Ruth Chatterton starring in The Rich Are Always With Us.  At the end, charming rich Ruth married George
Brent, a sexy novelist—who made money.

For twenty-one years Adeline was married to a
porridge-looking guy, Ernie, who ran a sporting equipment store in the Divine
Gator Mall.  She never set foot in the
store, even when Ernie and his employees celebrated its twentieth year in
business.  That was the beginning of the
end.

“You
missed the balloons, Adeline.  Shit.  Some wife.”

“Everything
pops sooner or later.  Congratulations
anyway.”

Clearly, Ernie would not make her the wealthiest woman who
had ever been born.  It wasn’t Ernie’s
fault, she knew.  A guy who wore old
hushpuppies everyday, he wouldn’t get it.
In “real” life, George Brent and Ruth Chatterton got married.  For two years.  Real life didn’t impress Adeline.  It never had a fur collar.

She routinely entered the lottery but say you won 500
million bucks, you’re still not the richest.
It’s a boost, but you don’t get to be number one.

Adeline was like a mannequin in Ernie’s store, holding a
ball, something she couldn’t throw, an eternal pose.  She died at sixty-eight.  The lights went out, tennis balls huddled in
tubes, and the mall took an enormous pink pill and fell asleep.


Kenneth Pobo had three new books in 2015: When The Light Turns Green
(Spruce Alley Press), Bend of Quiet (Blue Light Press), and Booking
Rooms in the Kuiper Belt (Urban Farmhouse Press).  He teaches creative
writing and English at Widener University.  He gardens, is somewhat of
an authority on Tommy James and the Shondells, and read Hardy’s
Return of the Native this June.