Sixfold poetry winter 20.., p.1
Sixfold Poetry Winter 2015, p.1Sixfold
Sixfold Poetry Winter 2015
Copyright 2015 Sixfold and The Authors
Sixfold is a completely writer-voted journal. The writers who upload their manuscripts vote to select the prize-winning manuscripts and the short stories and poetry published in each issue. All participating writers’ equally weighted votes act as the editor, instead of the usual editorial decision-making organization of one or a few judges, editors, or select editorial board.
Each issue is free to read online and downloadable as PDF and e-book. Paperback book available at production cost including shipping.
Cover Art by Peter Rawlings. Collage of a man in a chair. 2009.
Paper and glue. 3” x 7” https://peterrawlings.com
Copyright 2015 Sixfold and The Authors. This issue may be reproduced, copied, and distributed for noncommercial purposes, provided both Sixfold and the Author of any excerpt of this issue are acknowledged. Thank you for your support.
Garrett Doherty, Publisher
Sixfold Poetry Winter 2015
J. H Yun | Yesenia & other poems
Colby Hansen | Killing Jar #37 & other poems
Melissa Bond | Freud's Asparagus & other poems
Jane Schulman | When Krupa Played Those Drums & other poems
Susan F. Glassmeyer | First Moon of a Blue Moon Month & other poems
Melissa Tyndall | Haptics & other poems
Micah Chatterton | Medicine & other poems
Emily Graf | Toolbox & other poems
Kate Magill | LV Winter, 2015 & other poems
Michael Fleming | Meeting Mrs. Ping & other poems
Richard Parisio | Brown Creeper & other poems
Jennifer Leigh Stevenson | Circe in Business & other poems
Laurel Eshelman | Tuckpointing & other poems
Barry W. North | Molotov Cocktail of the Deep South & other poems
Charles C. Childers | Privilege & other poems
Ricky Ray | A Way to Work & other poems
Cassandra Sanborn | Revelation & other poems
Linda Sonia Miller | Full Circle & other poems
J. Lee Strickland | Anna's Plague & other poems
Erin Dorso | In the Kitchen & other poems
Holly Lyn Walrath | Behind the Glass & other poems
Jeff Lewis | Charles Ives, A Connecticut Yankee & other poems
Karen Kraco | Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill & other poems
Rafael Miguel Montes | Casket & other poems
Sundays for the Faithful II
They tear into the face of the gape mouthed mackerel,
dislodging the eyes and sharing them, unhinging the jaw so it hangs,
a flap of skin after a potato peeler mishap. I wonder about the assaulting
nature of winter. The way it comes and comes,
and seduction is a violence all its own. Did you drink from the fountain
you weren’t supposed to yet? Even the dumbest of birds are struck
with the same madness that send them all careening south
balding the horizon in winter when the first snow falls
when the bud first bursts or is first burst.
When I was young I couldn’t outrun my lisp or gap toothed whistle.
Outside the sky is curdling over, masking daddy’s view of us,
and the stragglers with their frostbitten wings are thrown down
as if they were born for that. Inside, the boys corral the quiet ones
into the closet, undress them, prick bloodied initials on their flush pink skin.
Tells them hush, Daddy’s too busy spying on the neighbors to hear you anyhow.
Yesenia (Castro Valley’s Jane Doe)
Nine years old, we nose the gully’s edge for flowers
to eat, pant legs rolled to tufts on our bug bitten calves.
Here, we fancy ourselves deer,
and like any good creature of prey, we cringe away from noise,
the mere suggestion of headlights groping the fog
at a distance we can’t quite see over the creek’s open mouth.
We feign fear, but only for fun. For whatever reason,
feeling hunted and liking it. When we come across a vine
of purple flowers, we linger.
Look, honeysuckles, I say, wrong though I don’t know it yet,
and we pull the stems off the violet’s head, lick the nectar
from the apex where the petals gather, suck until we are sated
and leave the gully as humans again. Now forget us.
Here comes the girl with the crown of chestnut hair
followed by a man, but he is not important.
She will lie with the violets for weeks before she’s found,
nestled in a canvas bag like a chrysalis with a throatful of rags,
lovely in the police composite sketch,
she won’t own a name for ten years. But the butterfly clip
in her hair confesses. Clinging to her despite river bed muck,
despite winter, despite cruel hands committing her body to earth,
its sweet, pink adornments insisting She was a child, she was a child,
while the bust made from a study of her bones smiles
soft through the static, right before we change the channel.
I rap on the front screen door
and press my forehead
against the wire mesh to see inside—
smelling Pall Mall smoke
and hearing that dry creak of chains
from the porch swing dangling on the eave.
There, on the seat:
the Echium Daily News,
open to the obituaries
because the lepidopterist always starts her day
by checking to see if she made it through the night.
She had a stroke a few years back,
smoking Pall Mall cigarettes on the front porch—
one moment flicking burning ashes into the grass,
and the next:
pitching over the rail,
some little artery in her brain
erupting like an overfilled water balloon.
Only her left side survived.
Her right has been dead ever since.
The rubber tip of her polished, mahogany cane
meets the linoleum of the kitchen floor.
I listen to her approach:
the thump of her cane;
the drag of her leg;
the rasp of her breath.
Ithonia Brushfoot hobbles toward me
on a path etched into the carpet
like tire ruts on a dirt road.
It is as if the line between Heaven and earth
has been drawn down the middle of her body,
and after all this time
she still doesn’t know which place she would rather be.
Lucky for me,
she cannot seem to leave Echium for good.
you should probably know,
is the closest thing to a real friend I have.
Under Glass, Inside a Frame
She smiles her half-smile
and mumbles something ambiguous—
Hello, or, Let’s go—
while I pause to inspect the clusters of butterflies
lining her living room
They look so alive I am almost surprised
they don’t flutter away when I stir them with my breath;
but these ones are dried and pinned—
because Ithonia Brushfoot seems to like them best
under glass, inside a frame.
You can’t always tell what she is saying,
ever since the stroke
left her tongue lolling inside her lopsided mouth
and pushing out words like marbles
that half the time fall to the floor
and roll away as marbles sometimes do.
when I found an old brass-framed photograph
on a table beside her bed
Is this YOU?
she nodded her head—
a little to the left,
as if she was jostling water from her ear—
and told me,
clear as day,
I wasn’t always like this, dear.
The Killing Jars
Ithonia Brushfoot needs me
for everything that takes two hands to do—
cutting grass and changing pillowcases
or even the simplest things
you never knew
you couldn’t do
with only one hand until you actually tried:
opening envelopes or bottles of aspirin
and twisting the lid off a tube of toothpaste,
a gallon of milk,
or any one of the thirty-six killing jars
the lepidopterist keeps lined up
on a shelf inside her garage.
There’s a sun tea brewer, #9,
which smells of spearmint and chamomile
and is for the swallowtails so massive
you’d think their shadows were cast by birds;
and there’s an apricot baby food jar, #23,
which fits perfectly inside the palm of your hand—
just like the tiny Colorado hairstreak.
Their cyanide-speckled cakes of sawdust and plaster
crumble like old cement at the bottom;
and Ithonia Brushfoot’s wobbly,
old-fashioned handwriting labels each one—
on a single strip of masking tape
that time has curled and yellowed
into some stage of decay.
Thirty-six ways to smother a butterfly dead.
But don’t try to convince her it’s inhumane.
She’ll just glare at you through her one good eye,
muttering something ambiguous like,
And what’s YOUR hobby?
Just try to stop me.
Killing Jar #37
Ithonia Brushfoot’s garage
smells of stale Pall Mall smoke and poison—
and so I hold my breath,
making room on the workbench
littered with the tools of a lepidopterist:
straight pins and scissors;
glass magnifying lenses.
And then there is Killing Jar #37—
a Strong Shoulder Mason
with a wide-open mouth and gritty zinc lid.
Smelling of dill.
Ithonia Brushfoot glares at me
through her one good eye
as I measure out a single serving of crystalline cyanide.
A sharp, bitter smell wafts up around me
when I sprinkle it into the bottom of the jar.
leaning forward on her mahogany cane—
and so I add another pinch.
The truth is
the difference between one spoonful of poison
doesn’t mean a thing to a butterfly.
I’ve already peppered in a layer of sawdust
and a glob of gypsum plaster,
plus a sheet of crumpled tissue paper
to absorb moisture
and give her specimens a soft place to die.
Across the garage,
Ithonia Brushfoot nods—
a little to the left,
and the killing jar is complete.
I still get heartsick,
every time a butterflies dies.
What effect it has on Ithonia Brushfoot
is more of a mystery—
because ever since the stroke
you can only be sure of half
of what you think you see on her face.
her eyes betray her guilt;
but then she ruins it
by mumbling something ambiguous—
Go find me some pins,
Like you’ve never sinned.
I caught her today
with her nose inside the jar—
sniffing deep breaths
of poisonous fumes
and trying her best
not to cringe.
She heard me gasp;
hollered, Don’t sneak like that!
Go get my net!
and lit a cigarette
so she’d have a reason
to ventilate the space
now that she wasn’t alone.
But I saw what I saw.
And so when I let
that terrible jar
slip like a knot
through the crook in my arm
it’s on purpose—
I don’t care
if she knows.
And finally, after months of this new baby, the oxygen tubes catching in the door frames, tripping us up at night, the fear like electricity cracking in our bedroom, finally you confess. We’d done a ritual. Purification. Consumption. Medicine. We vomited for hours in the sourdark. Singing. To hitch a ride on. Singing to pull out your demons. And the dreams came like hyperspace, like some loco driving in our heads. You dreamed crazy. Saw yourself in a crazy house, walking in and out of bodies, losing yourself. Like your mama did and probably her mama before her. A bindweed choking your family history. You had always been afraid of that weed, had always hacked at it with your machete, had spent your life running like a dog. It was later that you told me, after you’d returned, after your eyes lost their ghostliness. When he was born, you said, I was afraid that it was me. I was afraid that you’d know that something was sour in me, the water was bad, that I was the one who shifted our boy’s chromosomes. I was the one who made him slow.
Before making my way into the intubated hush
of the Intensive Care Unit,
I pass a hallway of teenagers,
their spines pressed collectively against white walls, dark eyes
pinned to the long stretch of linoleum on which I’m walking.
The boy with a mass of tangled Afro glances
up as I pass, his eyes naked with the kind of vulnerability
that only comes from the wounded—did I know Her—
the girl with the gunshot wound to the head
who, my doctor friend would later tell me
would end her seventeen years on this earth
with bone fragments sprayed into the soft gel
of her brain, the hand forgetting it’s a hand,
the heartbeat flying the caged coup
of the body.
I’m reminded of the time I watched my four-day-old
son stretched out on a warming slab in a Neonatal
Intensive Care Unit. His tiny hand lay palm up
under the lights, curled and red as a bird claw.
I saw his life counted out in measured beats
and felt each alarm as if it was my own—
my breath shortening with his, my heart slowing
as his dipped and swayed.
I’m amazed at how wounded we are with the sudden awareness
not of our own mortality, but of the ones we love.
Does it hurt?
Yes, it still hurts.
And back then I wanted it to keep hurting
because with each wound I’d feel that he was still alive,
as if I could be his Sisyphus, as if I could hold the suffering
for both of us so he’d take just one more breath,
just one more,
Mint Leaf for David Foster Wallace
Often there are times when I am staring off
into the skim line of horizon, where the soft peach
of sky folds into the earth’s body,
and I find myself comparing my son
to David Foster Wallace.
I remember reading about Mr. Wallace’s suicide,
about his parents knowing that there was something wrong
with their bright boy, about his starry rise
amongst the intellectual literati
and his depression so debilitating that, like Kafka,
the disease that tormented was life itself.
And I couldn’t help feeling sad that in my love
of Wallace’s brilliant articulations,
and my appreciation for his infinite, witty jests
I too had jumped up to clap my soft hands,
and did not see his overwhelming sadness.
And today, as I watch my two year-old son,
diagnosed with Down Syndrome at just five days old,
I can’t help but wonder at the quality of his intelligence
and what he might have passed
on to Mr. Wallace? Because there are days
when I feel a particular loneliness
and I am tempted to recline into the cynic’s
tattered and yellow-stained armchair to cast dispersions at life’s
false pageantry, and to mutter perhaps, a diatribe or two about the state
of the world.
And on these days, I come home to my son,
who greets me just as he does on every other day,
lifting his small arms into the hallelujah air
and clapping fervently, as if I’d scored yet
another touchdown in our touchdown of days.
And when he crawls forward, stopping briefly
to thumb a mint leaf or to laugh himself to tears,
I bend, grateful for his arms around my neck,
Sixfold Poetry Winter 2015 by Sixfold / History & Fiction have rating 2.4 out of 5 / Based on34 votes