Sixfold poetry winter 20.., p.1
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       Sixfold Poetry Winter 2015, p.1

           Sixfold
 
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Sixfold Poetry Winter 2015
Sixfold Poetry Winter 2015

  by Sixfold

  Copyright 2015 Sixfold and The Authors

  www.sixfold.org

  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

  License Notes

  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.

  Sixfold

  Garrett Doherty, Publisher

  [email protected]

  www.sixfold.org

  (203) 491-0242

  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

  Contributor Notes

  J.H Yun

  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.

  Colby Hansen

  The Lepidopterist

  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.

  Thump.

  Drag.

  Rasp.

  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.

  The lepidopterist,

  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
walls.

  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.

  But once,

  when I found an old brass-framed photograph

  on a table beside her bed

  and asked,

  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—

  permanent ink

  on a single strip of masking tape

  that time has curled and yellowed

  into some stage of decay.

  Thirty-six jars.

  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?

  or,

  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,

  like always,

  making room on the workbench

  littered with the tools of a lepidopterist:

  straight pins and scissors;

  tweezers;

  screwdrivers;

  rubber cement;

  glass magnifying lenses.

  And then there is Killing Jar #37—

  a Strong Shoulder Mason

  with a wide-open mouth and gritty zinc lid.

  Quart-sized.

  Smelling of dill.

  Pickles, probably.

  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.

  More,

  she orders,

  leaning forward on her mahogany cane—

  and so I add another pinch.

  The truth is

  the difference between one spoonful of poison

  and two

  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,

  like always—

  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.

  Sometimes,

  her eyes betray her guilt;

  but then she ruins it

  by mumbling something ambiguous—

  something like,

  Go find me some pins,

  or,

  Like you’ve never sinned.

  Slipknot

  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!

  or,

  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.

  Melissa Bond

  Confession

  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.

  Hush

  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.

  Stan
ding there, my breasts sick with milk,

  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,

  just another.

  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,

 
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