fall 2015

Elena Botts 

i wish you were a small dream this could be happening i wish for many things but you aren’t happening so i have a great day. i have a great day. i have a great day. i wander into the dark and forget your face i draw your face every day and that is how i erase like how you used to stand in front of the mirror and say your own name over and over and then wash your face that’s how you erase
yourself if only you had suspended disbelief enough to make me real enough in your mind get out of my mind and then you might have heard the people talk and seen yourself in the mirror.


Elena Botts grew up in the DC area and currently studies at Bard College Berlin. She’s been published in fifty literary magazines over the past few years. She is the winner of four poetry contests, including Word Works Young Poets’. Her poetry has been exhibited at the Greater Reston Art Center and at Arterie Fine Art Gallery. Check out her poetry books, we’ll beachcomb for their broken bones (Red Ochre Press, 2014), a little luminescence (Allbook-Books, 2011) and the reason for rain (Coffeetown Press, expected publication in fall 2015). Her visual art has won her several awards. Go to o-mourning-dove.tumblr.com to see her latest artwork.

Alia Hussain Vancrown 

*

The decrescendo of insects is gradual, proportional to the lightening of the sky until false dawn wakes the birds and the bats. I wonder at vague concepts – evolution versus design – and decide the brain is an organ of shortcomings. Inward enough to reach the depths of pain; an incapable witness of its own electricity.

*

Wheel and dam. Wheel and dam. Every suffering’s origin is water. The mother whose water breaks. The water that drowns the strongest swimmer. The water I pulled into the sinuses and the lungs by the palm-full. Rationalizing the irrational death – wide-eyed to the scenery of his last moments, assuring and reassuring that after the discomfort came the hushed awe of green.

*

We tell ourselves anything to forcefully align our worldviews with an uncaring world. The poem that makes sense of the spider that spins and re-spins its web nightly until rain floods the home, destroys silken certainties. Patterns organize howling. Why do we have the larynx, the longing? Who builds the canals to listen?

*

Here I am, driven to cover myself immodestly in leaflets. O, poet across space-time, we meet in the garden come to life so deep in the void, few have dived far enough to reach it. Cloaked in galaxies, shedding stars and thorns. The pattern of my being is this: detached, asexual, until I reach you by word and voice. Here I am; can we converge and speak of how sexual it all is? Organs clinging wet – the sheen of the dew on this grass, this rising sunlight that guides bare feet. O, I feel it right

*

here. Wildflowers grow abundantly, perfectly nurtured by nature. The potted plants under my care are drying out and dying. Husks of their former beautiful selves fall down – to love is to shrivel. In balance lies wisdom. Here lies imbalance, born naked, crying, attached umbilical and biblical.

*

And I am so sorry for the molecules that group and re-group wrongfully. So few of us are granted the dignity and closure of last words. It would make sense that what flees from the abandoned conch is the entire sea in an incomprehensible rippling –


Alia Hussain Vancrown is the granddaughter of U.N. diplomat and poet, Saiyed Mazhar Hussain, descendant of poets Azhar Hussain and Athar Hussain, award-winning screenwriter Abrar Alvi, and dramatist Razia Farhat, daughter of Asif and Aisha Hussain. Alia writes with the torch that is her ancestors’ undying legacy. Alia currently resides with fellow poet, M. André Vancrown.

SCATTERED PILGRIMMAGE

Woodrow Hightower

Can I borrow your stilts?
Beauty is still beyond my reach
And the rock in my shoe
Stepping stone of the painful kind
Tendons and cartilage refusing to cooperate
Wish that I could show you where my treasure is
Before exiting
Inevitable stone marker in a dust storm

When the word came down
Proclaiming me just another Billy goat
On frozen pond
It was a magnitude 10
Punch to the solar plexus
I dropped the drumsticks
And Halloween candy
Escaping through the cattails
All those years ago

Time unending  
Is the lie we tell ourselves
And tired of lying
I left home to see crop circles
And gargoyles
Sketch with charcoal
And smell salt air
Bowing before the unaltered
And unadorned
In bandanna and wide-brimmed hat

And somewhere on a dirt road
I forgot remembering where I was going
But by then it didn’t matter
Becoming lost becoming
Fulltime preoccupation
Movement towards unattainable
All that mattered

The world needs marginal
To make respectable look good
And I’ve played my part
Geometric tats on sandpaper skin
Flowering clouds and maniacal magic
Blue flame behind brown eyes
Consumed without being consumed

So in praise of the architect
The secret staircase
The hidden rooms
I’ll walk on because that’s what I do
Drunk and preparing for lift off
Under the influence of infinite color


Woodrow Hightower is a native of West Point, California. He is a poet currently producing a first book of verse to be titled “So Low.” A self-described “word muralist,” his work has recently been accepted by a multitude of print and online literary zines. Hightower resides in Sacramento’s Midtown District with photographer/co-conspirator Twyla Wyoming and their two Tibetan spaniels.