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Other notable work by Amanda Fields, Nancy C. DeJoy and Christopher Hornbacker.
Driving through Deer
I was fourteen
let me drive
he gave me
and I took
a few more
from the cooler
in the passenger
the Illinois night,
into the abysmal
of it all
it was easy
like a physical
of the wrist
it sailed right
into the black
of the abyss
I kept drinking
the empty cans
out the window
took a cigarette
from the pack
a small herd
of deer stood
in the middle
of the road
they all turned
I hit the brights
the car jumped
through the heart
of the night
stirred you want
me to drive
I want to
The Wrath of the Corn King
Half the civilized world believes I’m flying through
clouds alone in a hot air balloon Dad – the astronaut
farmer – built in his barn. Coast Guard helicopters
have been sent to intercept this strange creation, silver
and UFO-like, and save me from certain doom, my eternal
fate. Earlier, Dad was testing the strength of the balloon
under heat. He lit the burners and studied the gauges.
When he went back to his work desk to check a conversion
I unloosened the tethers and slipped into my hiding place.
My shadow passed over his shoulder. He looked up to see
me in the sky, and so Icarus reincarnated took flight.
An extraordinary burst of flameshot lifts me up off
the ground. Some gases are lighter than air, he explained
to me, so now I, too, am lighter than air, sailing up over
homes and buildings, just like my dreams where I soar
over treetops and telephone poles, or leap from rooftop
to rooftop. There are no bounds anymore. I’m floating over
mountains and cornfields, slipping into orbit. My freedom
defies him, the corn king, whose wrath I will incur because
of it, whose appetite grows with every solar cycle like tree
rings. The more he eats, the quicker he dies. The quicker
the death the sooner the resurrection, and so Icarus…
Regardless of him and the cycles I am reborn once again,
yes, my flight the total consummation of every human
imagination. Every dream. If not me then another possessed
by the gift of flight. Destined for wind, rain, cloud, and sun,
the earth is no longer my home, gravity no longer necessary.
Dad is always there at his desk with the calculations. Farmers
go on planting, ships sailing. I’m past the meaninglessness,
zipped past it like a rocket ship, so that you may know
and recognize the tragedy, comprehend the scope of floating
and flying, manhood and irresponsibility, drifting, unbelievable.
If not me then another… simultaneously known unknown.
Hanggliding over Crete
A vivisection of these mountains would bear the remnants
of every major civilization to pass through the Mediterranean.
If you could reach down into the soil you’d find figurines
of women pregnant – the original god – the same prehistoric
relic spread all over Europe and Asia. Egypt is not far south,
could almost smell the sand, but here it is fertility and earth
mixed with sea water. On the bus to Knossos, dilapidated
Venetian windmills stand on crests near waterways. A picture
book in your lap, you can’t stop looking at the one of youths
flipping over bulls like acrobats. A series of cryptograms
line the balustrade. Supposedly the city structure had indoor
plumbing. So here is where they sang of moonphases, star
changes, rebirth, the Minotaur lurking through the labyrinth,
and of the one who flew too far toward it: his eternal splash.
Going back, a hang-glider leaps over the edge toward the valley.
Phaestos Disc in hand, a key-ring souvenir from the market,
don’t know if it’s Linear A or Linear B, if it’s pre-Phoenician
or not. But today it doesn’t matter. Earthquakes, volcanoes,
tidal waves, the mythical Atlantis…. You don’t recall ever
seeing anyone actually hang-glide. How in the hell do they
land with their feet in that position? This man must be some
sort of daredevil. Lord, what a view! What an endeavor!
The second time you surprised me,
leaping up from the horizon, running
full speed across U. S. 41 in the violet
dawn, outrunning sunlight, it would seem,
sublime and super-coordinated, before I
could even concede recognition, disappearing
into a corn field, then became the eventual
fruition of all possible reckonings: a shadow
in the wake of your impossible stealth. The first
time, though, was as if I were expecting you
(again), pastel daybreak, a dirt lane leading
to a boat launch, shadow phantom, crossing
a river path, and still another transposition.
I often wondered if that was the extent of it,
walking, waking oblivion. A cat at the end
of a tip of a bough of ash, it would seem,
a glimpse in Tennessee and a flash in Indiana,
déjà vu, engendering all subsequent and inter-
mingled déjà vu, your faint, distinct presence
permeates the new ground I’m able to turn,
boundaries, all the maps of my imagination.
I’m learning simply to live with the plain
knowledge you exist beyond, just beyond,
that, inexplicably, the wind brings it back.
She smiles acquiescing to it all,
her eyes sharpened by everglade
the pool silver-blue, the mirages
radiating at the horizon, distant
fractured light scattered across
the bottom, polyhedra floating
and silver moving over it,
the waves, she steps onto her
whatever its scientific name,
this one would have been
its home the crystal palaces
of icebergs and ocean
stuff of Arctic legend,
keeper of unintelligible
social, intelligent, communicative,
supersonic, could track man
alike by vibration, speak:
leviathan, black-white beast
of ice and death, yin
and yang, and here she is
in a wetsuit
on a platform with a bucket
of fish and a head full
as they line up and fill
the seats, she scans
thinking their language,
living their thoughts,
through their circles,
they cry out to her familiar –
out with knowledge, dumb
love, out of water
they fly and twirl, back
bursting through air
over her, and then back
into the belly
of the whale, wondering,
‘What did I get myself into
Nathan Prince has studied writing all over Illinois and currently resides near Chicago. Most recently his work has appeared in Burning Word, Subtle Fiction, Permafrost, and Euphony. He enjoys running around.
One Pine Lake
The Iron Range appears untouched but
bristled, once, with human feet.
That first realization –
oak trees in the hills
spawned by whorled fingertips.
We spread open a map of lakes,
curtained origins of names.
In the cabin we pour wine from a blue bottle,
swallow a pressed taste,
digest doilies and wolves and red velvet,
the moon-blue plate of One Pine Lake, and
the paddle slipping, and
how long it would tease on the surface, and
where it would go, and
how far down.
He cups hands behind his ears
closes his eyes
calls for prayer.
It is a new campus
in the desert
where you cannot hear
the echoes of muezzin upon muezzin.
The student newspaper captures him.
He is quoted:
males and females
on this campus
should not interact.
The philosophy course
should not be required.
Black Desert, White Desert,
we pace a bowled arena of flower rocks
our heads bump in the jeep
so much habibi from the radio.
Our drivers fast,
ply us with water in refilled plastic,
their English trickling toward us.
They seem pleased by our efforts toward Arabic.
Makeshift mosque on campus
Someone keeps hanging signs:
Lower your gaze before women!
Why aren’t you veiled?
At the hot spring
an old American in her bikini,
the stench of sulphur
boys requesting allum and filooz
you are free here, you are free
says our guide
a desert patch of Egyptian clover,
tended by a barefoot man while
I piss behind a shed while
we swim in concrete while
we eat baladi and fuul, and
everyone is fasting and
everyone is starving and
the spring runs through the hut
before a palm tree holding bars of soap
for washing feet, and
we are served and served.
I remember that student,
the one who stands in the photograph,
palms cupped behind his ears,
eyes squeezed shut,
calling and calling for prayer.
Each time I returned an essay,
he caught the pages with two fingers
placed as far from my fingers as they could get.
I cannot allow for a softer verb.
We must have a Bedouin meal
under the stars
on a sand dune
You must, says the guide.
The driver overshoots the dune
our faces mashed in seats
we grasp for each other.
The fire is an interpellation
between stars and sand.
Whole chickens roasted,
we are requested to dance,
you must dance,
they insist. Dance.
We lie against the cold slant of the dune.
We do not know what to do with each other.
We do not know how to absorb these stars.
Amanda Fields, a Pushcart nominee received an MFA from the University of Minnesota and an MA in English from Iowa State University, and she is pursuing a PhD in Rhetoric, Composition and the Teaching of English at the University of Arizona, where she is a Crossroads Scholar. She has been published in Indiana Review, Brevity, Cerise Press, and Superstition Review, and her work has been reprinted in The Compact Reader: Short Essays by Method and Theme.
Nancy C. DeJoy-
Being and Not Being
There are spirits among us,
so close they brush up against
our cheeks and hearts,
appear to us as birds, or deer, or flowers.
There are ghosts among us,
so distant that they empty
our souls and mouths,
appear to us as blank spaces, or lost memories, or work undone.
These rhythms of being and not being
merge into clusters of
trillions of cells and series of bone,
appear to us as ourselves and one another.
I have a pair of unworn black
spiked heeled sling backs
sitting on top of their box
on my dresser.
The curved heels and silver ring clasps
make everyday a question
about if the weather has turned yet to spring.
This hope merges with a more general
sense of the inevitability
of sex and spring
inspired by the fact that
a new load of wood arrives tomorrow.
Once it is stacked in rows in the garage
I’ll put those shoes on and do a
to Leona Lewis’ “Bleeding Love”
that even February won’t be able to resist.
Age and Change
There is freedom in age.
Waves of letting go
Grains of life’s texture rearrange
themselves in patterns
outside of the lines
and we are what we will yet become.
Nancy C. DeJoy is a writer and a professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures at Michigan State University. She lives in East Lansing, MI with her cat Lily in a house full of art and music. Nancy is currently learning how to play the drums.
At the Head of the Table
There may be only one room
in this world, furnished
with a table of places
in the bowls that the soup
slips through, chips in the china
cups that cut the lip.
Who has been invited?
The virulent, cultured aunt,
the twice-daily drunken father,
the cousin whose breasts
cause you to perspire.
The list progresses
to family friends and casual acquaintances,
one-night stands, total strangers,
the Pope’s chauffeur–all are there,
supping into the horizon
of your table,
as if demonstrating perspective.
The filter of voices strains
meaning from the air.
No one seems to notice
the ambition of this
meeting of selves.
Can the Senegalese barber
seated down by the stuffing
senses the tension as butter
passes from the hands
of the New Haven minister
and into those of the geneticist
When the imam from Ahvaz
takes his seat beside
the punk-rocker from Beijing,
how many blessings must be said
or unsaid before a single fork is lifted?
Before somewhere, beyond the point
where vision ends,
at the head of the table,
someone fiddles with his napkin,
wonders about the weather
and waits to excuse us,
or to be excused.
This is what happens. A vista
collapses into dimensions ungraphed
by the geometer’s tool—
the soul peeling away
from the finitude of earth
measured in the familiar
into a voice, a pulse, a strangeness
of the body’s fluids,
a forceless resuscitation of dreams
neither fulfilled nor destroyed
but only busied,
donning the guise of things
feared just moments ago
it seems, when I was fifteen—
Berlioz, his witches in the woods only half knew
apple blossoms and the transformation
into mature sex organs,
fruits meant not
just to be tasted, but carried
into a vigorous continuity,
how we see each other—
in terms of sex
everything else is almost,
an adequate accident,
ancillary, like later, my loss
in your hair fawning out as a symphony
of lush darkness, a forest full
with the things forests contain.
They always go before us,
the slanting, stumbling, ambling
remains of living like wounded trains,
tracks that wind like the parts of a clock
until sprung and stopping time,
always easily derailed
by some penny on the tracks,
a wish in a well of green,
its mantle of moss pondered,
the rough cut stones that ring the water
so far below that the sun never reaches,
like the darkest waters of the ocean
where the creatures that can,
make their own light,
like oxidized copper,
some slow bobbing in the depths,
lanterns held out,
lures for the foolish and small
that feel the hunger of never surfacing.
These alders receding against
the mundane beauty of poppies, so alizarin
and obvious in the foreground,
but how color clings to each
ingenious detail, the whorls
perfectly balanced somewhere
between thio violet and dioxazine
purple, stamen reaching toward darkness
of lenticulated bark, an achievement
arranged by the strokes of some brush,
composed for you, you thought—
the way it would feel
if it were your will to touch,
if only you were present
as the alders, the poppies too,
as more than an artist
at his painstaking task
of reproduction; a mystery
when compared to the simplicity
of wind and insects that do their work
effortlessly amidst a day’s
Christopher Hornbacker currently resides in Hattiesburg, Mississippi where he is pursuing a PhD in poetry at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Writers.