Two Poems by Kari Gunter-Seymour

Because Autumn Always Clotheslines Me

Already the sumac—ripened,
rusty red leaves, stark among the greens.
Not yet, I say. I say it every August,
though leafy lime katydids warn me,
chameleoned against the Japanese maples,
suddenly out-singing even the cicadas.
Stink bugs feast in the garden, a melancholy
thistle bends to a rumor of breeze.

*

Power Out on the Mountain

I started out this day elbowing
my grandmother’s forget-me-not
teacup off the counter beside the sink.
Sobbed as I swept a million jagged
memories, scattered across the kitchen floor.

Now my feet up, a glass of sweet tea,
I watch birds at the feeder.
A quarrel of house sparrows peck
at the smalls, gorge themselves on seed,
as if they deserve to.

I once told my grandmother a rich man
hurt me. Her bent head told me
to keep that story to myself.
I revisit what it means to be ruined
over and over in my sleep, imagine ways
to dismember him, as if that might help
glue my own broken pieces back together.

*

Kari Gunter-Seymour’s poetry collections include A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen, winner of the 2020 Ohio Poet of the Year Award and Serving. Her poems appear in numerous journals and publications including Poem-A-Day, Verse Daily, Rattle, World Literature Today, The NY Times, and on her website: www.karigunterseymourpoet.com. A ninth generation Appalachian, she is the founder/executive director of the Women of Appalachia Project (WOAP) and editor of the WOAP anthology series, Women Speak. She is a recipient of a 2021 Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship and Poet Laureate of Ohio.

THE WINDOW SHADE by J.R. Solonche

THE WINDOW SHADE

I had a neighbor once who was a psychologist.
His office was in his house. It faced the road,
so it was easy for his neighbors like me to see
through the window. Whenever he had a new
patient, the very first thing he did was ask if
the patient wanted the shade up or down. He
said this immediately gave him the first glimpse
into the patient’s psyche. If the patient wanted
the shade up, he was probably dealing with an
extrovert, an exhibitionist of some kind. If the
patient wanted the shade down, he knew he had
an introvert, or worse, on his hands. In any case,
a patient with something to hide. I started to tell
him something. That when I walk on the road
at night, all the shades are up. Except the office
shade, which is down. I changed my mind and
didn’t mention it. No need to complicate matters.

*

Professor Emeritus of English at SUNY Orange, J.R. Solonche has published poetry in more than 500 magazines, journals, and anthologies since the early 70s, including The New Criterion, The New York Times, The American Scholar, The Progressive, Poetry Northwest, Salmagundi, The Literary Review, The Sun, The American Journal of Poetry, Poet Lore, Poetry East, The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, The Journal of the American Medical Association, and Free Verse. He is the author of Beautiful Day (Deerbrook Editions), Won’t Be Long (Deerbrook Editions), Heart’s Content (Five Oaks Press), Invisible (nominated for the Pulitzer Prize by Five Oaks Press), The Black Birch (Kelsay Books), I, Emily Dickinson & Other Found Poems (Deerbrook Editions), In Short Order (Kelsay Books), Tomorrow, Today and Yesterday (Deerbrook Editions), True Enough (Dos Madres Press), The Jewish Dancing Master (Ravenna Press), If You Should See Me Walking on the Road (Kelsay Books), In a Public Place (Dos Madres Press), To Say the Least (Dos Madres Press), The Time of Your Life (Adelaide Books), The Porch Poems (Deerbrook Editions , 2020 Shelf Unbound Notable Indie Book), Enjoy Yourself (Serving House Books), Piano Music (nominated for the Pulitzer Prize by Serving House Books), For All I Know (Kelsay Books), A Guide of the Perplexed (Serving House Books), The Moon Is the Capital of the World (WordTech Communications), Years Later (Adelaide Books), The Dust (Dos Madres Press), Selected Poems 2002-2021 (nominated for the National Book Award by Serving House Books), and coauthor with his wife Joan I. Siegel of Peach Girl:Poems for a Chinese Daughter (Grayson Books). He lives in the Hudson Valley.

Chiaroscuro by Nathaniel Gutman

Chiaroscuro

Mother. Weimar-style hat, face veil.
Grandfather, moustache, cigarette, papillon tie.

They pose like silent movie stars,
radiant in noir, golden-age lighting,
sepia portraits on large cotton rag sheets,
frosted silk flaps on top.
Life will never end, right?

Mother derides nostalgia: Want the photos?
Cousin David, the cardiologist, took them.

She digs out a snapshot on smaller, matte paper:
Mother, laughing, in a Tel Aviv café,
white shirt, khakis, sunglasses.
David. On a visit, 1936.

Flat, he complained, no contrast, no chiaroscuro.
Middle Eastern sun. Unforgiving blaze.

She puts them back in the worn leather folder: Here, take them.

Cousin David is gone, she says: Gone back home, to Berlin.

Gone back home, to Berlin, he couldn’t find himself here.
Gone back home, to Berlin, he loved so much.
Gone back home to Berlin and hanged himself.

*

Nathaniel Gutman is a filmmaker who has directed and/or written over 30 theatrical/TV movies and documentaries internationally, including award-winning Children’s Island (BBC, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel), Witness in the Warzone (with Christopher Walken), Linda (from the novella by John D. MacDonald; with Virginia Madsen). His poetry has appeared in The New York Quarterly, Tiferet Journal, Pangyrus, LitMag, Constellations, The American Journal of Poetry.

Restoration by Danielle Lemay

Restoration

Some spouses enjoy the fast break and then
a three-point shot in basketball; mine loves to watch
antique restoration shows. Today, we endure
the disassembling, cleaning, and rebuilding
of a vintage grape press. Skill marries patience
to unscrew each odd piece from the rusted hulk,
soak in chemicals, inspect, then scrape and peel
off specs of rust like culling extra words
or stanzas. Arduous, yet delicate, we whittle,
then build again, grease the pieces, oil the joints,
shine the exposed. We work at what we love
until it feels whole, glistens, and moves anew.

*

Danielle Lemay is a poet and scientist. Her poetry has been nominated for Best of the Net in 2021 and has appeared or is forthcoming in Limp Wrist Magazine, Lavender Review, and elsewhere. She lives in central California with her wife, two children, and six chickens.

Two Poems by Linda Blaskey

Vulpecula: Little Fox Constellation

This morning, a crippled fox, by parasite or car impact,
I don’t know, pulled its hindquarters to the center
of the east pasture.

I herded the dying creature, with my pickup, out of the field
into its natal forest where it curled under a tree.

It staggered and I could have (or should have?) crushed it
with the truck’s tires or beaten it with the flat back of a shovel head,

but elected to leave it to the comfort of familiarity.
I turned the truck and drove away; released
the horses to gallop circles on this ground now changed.

A man I know who farms the next field over, would have cursed
the fox, would have drawn pistol and bullet. But I choose the word
stewardship for what I do. What I have done. (What have I done?)

At the table, the rest of the house sleeping,
I shave off a curl of bitter cheese, eat a cold plum.

Cassiopeia in her chair, doomed for her eternity
to contemplate her mistakes, hovers over the woods.

Deeper still, in space, the small constellation attached
to no myth will pulse briefly tonight with added lumens

though no one will see its effort for over 300 light years
and then only through the mirrored assist of an astronomer’s scope.

*

Killing Horses

We choose words more comfortable.

Euthanize. Put down. Put to sleep.

But kill is the word. Single syllabic. Hard.

A slug of phenobarb plunged into the vein nestled in the jugular’s groove.

Sometimes if they are down when the bolus hits their heart, they stand.

Those magnificent muscles full of memory bring them to their feet.

Then the collapse, the vet saying stand back, stand back.

              Kill: Etymology: Old English cwellan (to murder, execute).

The vet draws up the syringe, says it’s hard to lose the good ones.

I stroke the familiar of his chestnut coat, then walk away.

              Abandon: Etymology: Middle English forleven (to leave behind).

This is too large a death to witness.

*

Linda Blaskey (she/her) is the recipient of two Fellowship Grants in Literature from Delaware Division of the Arts. She is poetry/interview editor emerita for Broadkill Review, is coordinator for the Dogfish Head Poetry Prize, and current editor at Quartet. Her work has been selected for inclusion in Best New Poets, and for the North Carolina Poetry on the Bus project. She is author of the chapbook, Farm, the full-length collection, White Horses, and co-author of Walking the Sunken Boards.

She grew up in Kansas and Arkansas and now lives in Delaware.

Cycles by Carolyn Martin

Cycles

A sunny afternoon with Aimless Love on the patio
and a shepherd pup whining through the backyard fence.
She’s not amused I boarded up the slats she wiggled through
all week. The divots in the lawn, the pawed-through flower beds,
the fur caught on jagged wood annoyed. Anyway, I was about
to say before the dog butted in, it only takes one
Collins poem to set me off. Yesterday, “The Revenant.”
Today, “More Than a Woman” and I’m back to the NJ night
my Polish aunt slapped my twelve-year-old face. A reminder,
she said. Of what? I raged as she grabbed her cigarette and flicked
its growing ash. To be a woman, she inhaled my eyes, means
a life of pain. From across the dining room, Our first-blood ritual:
my mother’s only words as she wiped her hands of violence
I needed rescue from. I slammed my bedroom door and flung
red-spotted underwear across the room. And this was it: the start
of years plowing through closets and drawers, disavowing
dresses/stockings/girdles/make-up/heat-curled hair and facing
off taunting boys who couldn’t beat me on baseball fields;
of decades redefining cycles borne down centuries, composing
I’m more than a woman to me. I snap the book shut
and shout this anthem to the slanting sun.

*

From associate professor of English to management trainer to retiree, Carolyn Martin is a lover of gardening and snorkeling, feral cats and backyard birds, writing and photography. Her poems have appeared in more than 135 journals and anthologies throughout North America, Australia, and the UK. Her fifth collection, The Catalog of Small Contentments, was released in 2021. Currently, she is the poetry editor of Kosmos Quarterly: journal for global transformation. More at www.carolynmartinpoet.com.

Two Poems by Hilary Sideris

Dust

Night comes faster in September
when the bank is on the phone
& I’m explaining again how

my New York Sports Club closed,
how I stopped leaving home, how hard
I tried to end my membership.

By now I’m yelling across the world
at an associate who says I understand,
so sorry to hear, like all HSBC

associates before & after her. In sleep
I grind my teeth to fine powder,
dreaming of bodies in the towers,

pulverized as each floor fell
on the one below. I watch it all
crumble on hold while

my associate contacts Disputes,
the narrow downtown streets,
survivors fleeing like ghosts

through clouds, even the leggy
mannequins in Wall Street
shops hip deep in it.

*

Cuddlebuddy

You tested positive:
we live in separate rooms.

My mother emails shit
about her OurTime date

who wants a cuddlebuddy.
Sprawled on the damp

loveseat with brain fog,
you take calls from Scam

Likely, watch a spotted
ocelot catch river rats, say

It’s unfair, you get the bed,
but you have the remote.

*

Hilary Sideris’s poems have appeared in recent issues of The American Journal of Poetry, Barrow Street, Bellevue Literary Review, Free State Review, Poetry Daily, Rhino, Room, Salamander, and Sixth Finch, among others. She is the author most recently of Un Amore Veloce (Kelsay Books 2019), The Silent B (Dos Madres Press 2019), and Animals in English, poems after Temple Grandin (Dos Madres Press 2020).

ONE ART nominates Kip Knott for Four Quartets Prize!

*

Author’s Statement
by Kip Knott

As a teacher and a part-time art dealer, I am an avid patron of art museums who typically visits museums throughout the Midwest and Appalachia several times a year. Due to the stay-at-home mandates in Ohio during 2020, however, I was limited to either conducting my museum visits virtually or thumbing through my own collection of art books to satisfy my cravings. I found myself returning again and again to The Helga Pictures by Andrew Wyeth. The story of Wyeth’s and Helga Testorf’s self-imposed isolation from the prying eyes of the public for nearly 15 years so that he could produce more than 240 portraits of her really struck a chord with me. The poems that make up the Andrew and Helga sequence were all written during that stay-at-home period and reflect the sense of isolation that many people felt at the height of the pandemic. In a very real sense, these poems could not have been written in the same way under “normal” writing conditions.

When Mark Danowsky accepted the sequence “Andrew and Helga, Lost and Found” for ONE ART, he challenged me to write a series of poems based on the paintings of Jamie Wyeth, Andrew’s son. I accepted the challenge and immediately began an in-depth exploration of Jamie’s paintings. I found myself particularly drawn to his many excellent portraits of people and animals, portraits that did more than merely replicate the appearance of his subjects. Just as his father’s portraits of Helga reveal a startling intimacy between the artist and his subject, Jamie’s portraits convey a similar intimacy that pulls the viewer into the worlds and emotions of his subjects, be they pigs or people. In just two months, I had written three poetry sequences based on eight of Jamie’s paintings. When read together, the poems based on Andrew’s paintings and the poems based on Jamie’s paintings coalesce into conversation between a father and his son about intimacy, love, family, and—above all else—art.

*

Andrew and Helga, Lost and Found

I’m a secretive bastard. I would never let anybody watch me painting. It would be like somebody watching you have sex—painting is that personal to me.

— Andrew Wyeth

I’m supposed to be the mystery woman, something lost and found.

— Helga Testorf

I. Black Velvet, 1972

I have completed God’s work,
creating you as a constellation
with the empty spaces between stars

filled in and fully realized.
I have made you whole yet weightless,
luminous in the perfect darkness

of the universe, God-like
in your own right. Or, more
truthfully, a Goddess reclining

on the backs of prayers that slip
silently from the lips of supplicants.
Every night, believers look up

to you for guidance before being
pulled down into sleep,
the only world where we exist

alone with nothing, or no one, to hold onto.

II. Sheepskin, 1973

There is something you’re not
telling me, something I try to conjure
out of you with a tempera potion

born out of rabbit-skin glue,
distilled water, crushed marble,
honey, egg yolks, and beeswax.

You don’t keep the secret in your eyes,
as a layman would believe.
Nor can it be found like the remnants

of a whispered prayer
in the creases surrounding
your enigmatic mouth.

A mouth that refuses to betray
a smile or a frown. A mouth
that once formed the word yes

when I asked if I could capture
them—and you—in ink and paint.
You keep your secret in your hands,

not as one might protect the delicate
papier-mâché of a robin’s egg
found abandoned beneath a hedgerow,

but as one cups a firefly, its tiny,
otherworldly light just barely
illuminating the narrow gaps

that never fully seal between closed fingers.

III. Easter Sunday, 1975

Runnels of stubborn snow shroud
the muddy ground surrounding you
and, by extension, me.

When I found you four Easters ago,
I knew I had found the hollow place
where the desire that I feared

had died was actually hiding,
very much alive, thrumming like a hive:
the desire to be divorced from all

expectations and preconceptions
of the artist, the father,
and the husband I had to be.

You gave me permission
to paint for myself, to personify
in you every secret I keep,

to finally release my soul from gray
barnboard and brown barley grass
and live in the world again

as flesh, blood, and bone.
Now, on this Easter Sunday,
in an otherwise barren landscape,

you are my one promise of green.

IV. Drawn Shade, 1977

I am a witness to your aging
in a light of my own making,
and I will I carefully catalogue

every new silver strand that appears
like a shiny trinket pilfered
by a magpie and woven into

the tasseled cornsilk of your hair.
Already your downy temples
have begun their transformation.

Soon, your mossy brows will
glint like cattails gone to seed.
Even the gosling fuzz softly covering

your cheeks will pale from amber
to the white of milkweed silk.
And eventually, naturally,

the perfect nest resting
between your thighs will glitter
and shine as if gilded by winter

with jewels of snowflakes and hoarfrost.

V. Braids, 1979

There are moments when
you won’t even tell me
what you see when you look away

as I pull your gaze out of the darkness
surrounding you. I want you
to reveal everything to me

freely so that I may capture
in the contours of your face
the shadows of your thoughts,

the full truth of you.
When you look into the distance,
look for me. Stand behind me

as I paint you. I want you
to see your face as I do,
a wolf moon rising

out of a January wheat field
not yet blanketed by snow,
gradually eclipsed

by the penumbra of your auburn hair.

VI. Night Shadow, 1979

Beneath my hand, you exist
in both darkness and light.
I hover above

you, the form of my shadow
diaphanous and dissipating,
a storm cloud releasing

everything it holds:
water, ice, lightning, thunder.
I rain down upon your body

and baptize you.

VII. In the Doorway, 1981

This is our house, a place for our prying
eyes and ours alone:
yours trying to see in me

the way that I see you;
my own studying every particle
of your being as an astronomer studies

the depths of the universe
hoping to find the beginning
of all creation. You stand naked,

filling the entrance both
with the white light of stars
and the dark matter that fills

the emptiness between them all.
You and the doorway
have become one and the same.

To enter our house means entering you.

VIII. Helga’s Words

quotes by Helga taken from the short documentary
film Helga (Running Stag Productions, 2018)

He said I was his silent sounding board.
He said there must be silence
to realize what is behind the world.

He said I was starved.
He said he gave me what I wanted
and got what he wanted from me.

He said our time together was a dream.
He said he was afraid of the dream
disappearing if we talked about it.

I dreamed that I had fallen in love,
and when I woke, I knelt

at the end of my bed and said,
“Let it be true. Please

let it be true.” But how
do you explain a dream? I knew

he was always painting himself in me.
I knew I was a figment of his imagination.

Like a leaf blowing in the wind,
I was there, but not there.

*

Three Portraits of a Sow

. . . if you get to know pigs, they’re very moody. They’re not sweet little animals at all. That’s what I like about them. They get depressed . . .
— Jamie Wyeth

I. Portrait of Pig, 1970

Her teats dangle,
flaccid and empty.

Her corkscrew tail
has come unwound.

The eye we see remains
screwed shut tight

as bristly fur and hay
needle her skin.

Withered cobs
at her feet bear

no sign of a mother’s
appetite or desire

now that her suckling
litter is off to slaughter.

II. Night Pigs, 1979

The cockerel will wait
until sunrise
to crow its condolences.

There’s nothing more
for the boar to do
tonight but sleep.

They leave the sow
to sit litterless
in golden lamplight

(continued, new stanza)
beneath her own growing
shadow blackening
the wall above them all.

III. Winter Pig, 1975

She knows what can be
found at the heart

of a whiteout because she stares
into one kind of abyss

or another with every sunrise.
She knows the cold, too,

the way its emptiness
stings like frostbite

in the wind that blows
across her empty teats.

And she knows
just four hoof-steps

over the splintered threshold
will deliver her into

a world of her own making
at a time of her own choosing.

*

Surrounded by the Sea

Islands intrigue me. You can see the perimeters of your world.
—Jamie Wyeth

I. Orca, 1990

I have painted your hands
as pointed and sharp

as any harpoon that pierced
a leviathan’s heart.

Now you must choose
for yourself: Ishmael or Ahab?

Will you live to tell your own story?
Or will you doom yourself

to a slow death floating
among the flotsam of a ship

shattered by the mortal sin
some god demands we fight?

There is nothing more I can do.
I have given you all the knives

you need to flay this life to the bone.

II. Screen Door to the Sea, 1994

You clearly want to leave.
The door stands ajar.

What is keeping you
from disappearing into the sea-spray

and salt air? What is keeping you
from slipping out

before the clock strikes twelve?
What is keeping your eyes

locked on mine, your hands fidgeting
like gulls near the surf line?

Why do I make you stay?
What is keeping me

from painting the doorway empty
like an open mouth crying out for you

after you have walked away?

III. Other Voices, 1995

Your fingertips caress
the locked door, feel the pulse

of a muffled conversation
like some version of Braille

you have not learned how to decipher.
The voices on the other side

could be inviting you to enter,
to walk on through without turning back

and lock the door behind you.
Or they could be telling you to stay patient

with the world in which you live,
to just turn around and go back home.

And then again, there might not be
any voices at all; it might just be the sea.

All I know is that there is still time
enough for you to live your life

on this side of the threshold.
Whenever you feel the need to leave,

I swear to you I will paint the key.

*

Every Portrait Is a Self-Portrait

“I’m not just interested in fascinating faces or trees. I want to bore in deeper.”
— Jamie Wyeth

I. Portrait of Andrew Wyeth, 1969

All fathers are oak trees to their sons, massive and domineering,
casting a broad shadow across whatever field they claim.
Though their roots run shallow, they run wide, rippling out and out
from their thick trunk in search of water to feed their leaves
and drink the world dry. It only takes a tiny injury—a broken branch,
a redheaded woodpecker’s jackhammer bill, a passing bear claw
scratch—to seed a burl that will keep expanding until the tree dies.
What wound did you inflict to make the burl of your father’s face grow?

II. Pumpkin Head (Self-Portrait), 1972

Pumpkins grow best atop
the ground rather than below,
unburdened by the weight
of earth and the tangle of roots.
Every autumn we cut them
and gut them and stuff them
with candles until they smile
brightly in spite of their own
defilement. The Jack-O-Lantern
that hides your own face stares
at the world with empty eyes
and a jagged, maniacal smile.
You are the sole sign of life
rising out of this fallow winter
field. Unable to overcome
the cold, your pumpkin head
hangs in a blank canvas sky
like a wan and sallow sun.

*

Kip Knott’s most recent full-length collection of poetry, Clean Coal Burn, is available from Kelsay Books. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Barren, Drunk Monkeys, Harpy Hybrid Review, HAD, La Piccioletta Barca, (mac)ro(mic), and New World Writing. More of his writing may be accessed at kipknott.com.

Two Poems by Peggy Hammond

The permafrost is melting,

houses and roads
collapsing. Siberia
is scribbling notes
to the world,
teaching rising
temperatures.

My aunt once said
she thought I couldn’t
have children. Those years
watching me without issue,
deciding there was
something wrong.

Foreign to her, my choosing
not to place one more
human in the arms of a
world clumsy with people,
heavy with nearly
eight billion bodies.

In Antarctica, warming
seas press kisses on glacial
bellies, old ice releases,
water levels lift. In oceanfront
towns, residents slosh down
rivulet streets, mourn

what was.

*

When Light Became Brushstroke

In Knoxville’s art museum, who can
remember the artist, we lean in

for a closer look, startle when
a guard growls, don’t touch the painting.

Hands resting behind backs, we laugh,
whisper, bet he’s waited forever

to say that. From then on, in hard
or easy moments, we tell each

other, don’t touch the painting,
snicker. When cancer overtakes you, I

become helpless guard pleading for cooperation,
circumstance giving me the side-eye, grinning.

On the last morning, shades of who you were
shimmer and blink, your horizon and sky

dimming, blending into an unending
line I cannot follow. And just before

you leave this life we spun into gold,
I murmur permission, go ahead,

touch the painting.

*

Peggy Hammond’s recent poems appear or are forthcoming in Pangyrus Literary Magazine, The Comstock Review, Crosswinds Poetry Journal, For Women Who Roar, Fragmented Voices, Scissortail Quarterly, The Sandy River Review, Moonstone Arts Center’s anthology Protest 2021, and elsewhere. She is a Best of the Net nominee, and her chapbook The Fifth House Tilts is due out fall 2022 (Kelsay Books).

Blame by Karla Huston

Blame

The only thing I ever stole
was a tube of lipstick from K-Mart.
All my friends were doing it—so
easy, they said. And there it was—
in my pocket, little flame
of a crime, burning next to
the dollar I could’ve used
to pay for it, the money I was
saving to buy the new Beatles 45.
The lipstick grew hot in my pocket.
When I got home and tried it,
the color turned greasy on my lips,
a greenish shade of guilt.
My lips were thick with it.
So I wrapped the tube in tissue
and buried it deep in the trash
my father would soon burn.
Every time I stirred the ash:
little glints of melted
plastic and gold, a color
that never looked good on me.

*

Karla Huston, Wisconsin Poet Laureate (2017-2018) and the author of A Theory of Lipstick (Main Street Rag: 2013) as well as 8 chapbooks of poetry including Grief Bone, (Five-Oaks Press: 2017).