Photo by Jesse Ryan Brown
From the editor’s desk…
After a long week in Mexico, spoiled rotten at an all-inclusive resort on the Mayan Riviera, talking sometimes with others at the swim-up bar in chest-high water who had similarly escaped their lives for a while, no matter how falsely, there still seemed to be an undertow of unhappiness. My 5 o’clock martini was delivered by a short man in a vest and shirtsleeves in the only air conditioned bar perhaps on the whole peninsula. I drank it blowing vapor and watched a worker peel the condensation off the other side of the great glass doors that led to a lobby scented with jungle flowers. It was absurd.
That absurdity rarely diminishes these days, and I admit that perhaps the recognition of the dichotomy or irony was what I could not escape. Once exposed to one’s place within the great logistical-political supply chain of reality, one cannot un-see it and the only thing that helped was to embrace the perspective. It’s not easy to keep the stiff upper lip wryly turned up at the corners.
The human project, I fear, is failing. Racism, misogyny, terrorism, and tyranny seem to have reversed course with the ascension of our current federal administration. The unaccountable stupids are firmly in power. Whatever small but significant gains we made after 911 and the 2008-09 economic collapse (i.e., jobs, housing, finance) have clearly been replaced twofold by meanness, division, and ignorance. Nations seem to be breaking apart and fascism is on the rise everywhere, including here in the U.S.. And let’s not even give a thought to the earth itself, which has entered into its death spiral. Sometimes I find myself not longing for another, simpler time but for the planet killing meteor instead.
What then is the role of poetry amid social and environmental collapse? To save us? Please. I certainly don’t think for a moment that poetry can change anything. But it changes me and this change makes it possible both to understand the odds and continue to bet against them. And we must make fun of it, because the serious business of cynicism makes us emotionally old and tired. For my own part, I think of poetry as a kind of seed vault, a careful curation of the individual’s emotional life in a particular time, which will inform a generation or two ahead (if there happens to be any) of who we were and what was happening to the inner life as the great wheel of time rolled over us.
Poetry and art are honestly my only one-sided love affairs with this life. My only hope to survive this age is to lend some hand to putting ink on a page. I think some poems are inevitable and some even good enough to be remembered. I try each issue to bring you the best that I can find and there is something in each that is worth preserving, even while they cannot preserve us.
The girl / in bed. She wakes, goes into the bathroom. Cut / to the halo of elastic around his ankles as he sleeps / beside the toilet.
Kelly Dolejsi,”The Cartoonist”
Favorite word: I was born into a speech like gauze. I healed / into names, and now you want me to choose a favorite?
Pamela Garvey, “Adam’s Profile”
Although, who wouldn’t rather / repent than sleep in the arms of a fruit tree? You must not / touch me unless you are dripping down a large golden flower.
Caleb Nelson, “Sun Bear”
everything’s an end and a beginning / when the heart has done its brazing / now and forever run freely together / redefining themselves as rain George Perreault “Running in the Rain”
You stop outside The Fernwood, / its dark windows forbidden. / You cup your hands around / your eyes and look inside / at the men sitting in smoke
Barry Peters, “12:10 Mass”
never sorry for our time, / wondering whether we’ll ever return, / if ever, / even as the blown flowers fill and drown
Andrew Vogel, “Intercoastal”