A Gallery of Couches
By Justin Jannise
where every museum was once
an unused factory,
there stands a gallery
of couches, nailed
to the walls
even the docents
complain of an aura
of pain. Upside down
the joints apparently,
or maybe it’s the plaid
and florals clashing.
Whatever the cause,
people arrive intrigued
and depart moaning
it was exactly
as they believed.
By Alex Yuschik
Before we met, you kept finches. Your father
before you also kept finches, before he too was
felled by the thin snap of circuitry your own
deadly brain inherited. After his funeral you
held your favorite finch over a page and
said, look, if you’re going to live forever
you need to learn electrodynamics.
It was like Eurydice trying to sing back Orpheus:
years of dead birds, blue jazz, and bad sonnets.
You hollowed out your bones and you forgot.
You kept no more finches but I’d like to think
some part of you did, hoping maybe this next one
will be the forever finch. Sometimes I wonder
if you see me in my high places, blustering like a wrath
ask if I am not one of your birds resurrected for
another circuit of the globe. Because maybe that’s how
electricity replies I will be with you always when
your child self says their little hearts beat so fast.
By Cathleen Cohen
Mom wants plain turkey on rye, no extras.
In bed, she’s a heap of bones.
Dad’s eyes flicker over pictures of her
youth, all blondness and curves.
In the deli, women poke
babka with black- tipped nails.
Herring gleam behind glass.
Mounds of valencias glow
like pearls. Slitting one
with my thumb, I unwind
its peel, a little strip tease.
She taught us to dance this way
as kids, grinding our toes into
blue shag carpets.
Now she who could magnetize a room
is hooked to oxygen. Stifling.
I loosen my blouse and shift
my hips, a little tribute.
Once she moved like Marilyn.
Neighbors came by for card games and scotch.
Now all I can do now is hum and stretch
so the men notice. One drops his
cellphone, the grocer strokes my palm
when he hands back change.
About the authors:
Justin Jannise studied poetry at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His poems appear in the Yale Review and North American Review. He lives in Houston.
Alex Yuschik is a graduate student in mathematics and a writer. They like small birds and gravity racing, and their work can also be found in burntdistrict, Tellus, and Ilumen Magazine.
Cathleen Cohen is Education Director of ArtWell, (www.theartwell.org), which brings poetry and arts workshops to thousands of children of diverse cultures and faiths in the Philadelphia area and abroad. Cathleen’s poems have appeared in such publications as Apiary, Baltimore Review, East Coast Ink, Ember, The Four Quarters Magazine, Moment, Philadelphia Stories, 6ix, The Breath of Parted Lips, and Bridges: A Jewish Feminist Journal.
Fossil Hunting in Low Light
For this project as a first-time editor, I wanted poems that felt right in their strangeness–something perfectly natural but slightly askew. My favorite thing in art is surprise, but I learned how difficult it is to be surprised when you’re trying to be surprised. It required serious sifting and rereading. Editing, it turns out, is super hard. There were great poems that didn’t do the things I wanted, and poems that seemed to fulfill my wishlist that ultimately didn’t move me.
This collection of poems stands strong and confidently at an uncomfortable angle. They felt warm, which is a hard thing for something unfamiliar to accomplish. In short, I hope these do something appealing for you too.
About the Editor:
Tony Clavelli is a writer and stop-motion animator from Illinois. His fiction can be found in The Awl, Metaphorosis, and Jersey Devil Press.