My family grew corn in the heartland, but I’ve never seen it quite like this:
Angelic, husk-winged, guarding every shard of bone hidden in the soil.
How is it that I didn’t know I had thousands of angels? They were with me all the time.
I remember going out into the fields with my grandpa, crossing into the humid network, stalks sending out messages to each other across droplets of August air.
I could hear their choir, their low and incandescent hum, the sway of bass clef notes rocking me to sleep in the farmhouse.
Emily Dickenson advised us all to tell the truth slant, and I remember this is what hailstorms taught the fields. The slant truth seemed tragic, in a way, as if nothing stays upright or rooted for long. Not even cornstalks.
Not even families.
Not even farmhouses, burned to the ground long after they’ve become vacant, when the small town fire department needs a fire to practice on.
Something is always missing.
Maybe it’s just a three-hundred-sixty degree view, the ability to see that everything is overflowing,
all the time.
Cortney Collins lives on the Front Range of Colorado with her two beloved feline companions, Pablo (after Neruda) and Lida Rose (after a barbershop quartet song in The Music Man). She is the founder of the pandemic-era virtual poetry open mic, Zoem. Zoem produced an anthology of its poets’ work, Magpies: A Zoem Anthology, of which she is co-editor. Her work has been published by South Broadway Press, 24hr Neon Mag, Amethyst Magazine, Sheila-na-Gig, Back Patio Press, and others. Cortney considers herself a poet secondarily; her first calling is encouraging others’ beautiful words in community.
This poem is from South Broadway Press’ new anthology, Dwell: Poems About Home. Dwell will be available to purchase August 1st, 2022.
We would like to take a minute to apologize to Stina French. At an event that South Broadway Press helps organize and which Sarah hosts, a poet who was performing asked “Stina, why are you not up here?” and Matt Clifford said “because she talks about people” After Stina replied “Toxic masculinity,” to Matt, Sarah referred to the interaction as “poet drama” to the audience and the poet on the microphone.
Unkindness isn’t okay, and it’s especially not okay in a public setting. Stina, you deserve to expect that a community space will be kind, and that any conflict between you and someone else will be handled privately and still kindly. When something unkind happens in a community space, it should be addressed. Sarah apologized to Stina the night of the event and once again would like to apologize for not addressing the conflict then and there.
Brice also apologized to Stina the night of, and would like to apologize now publicly. We also would like to apologize for not being more communicative with Stina and the community at large in the weeks following the conflict. We’ve learned a valuable lesson about keeping communication open and transparent in our community.
We hope that there is a space for reconciliation here. We are open to dialogue, and Sarah also plans to address this incident and share this apology at the next community event.
Yours in Community,
Brice and Sarah, of South Broadway Press
Matt Clifford would like to say this:
I am sorry to talk about people talking about people to other people in front of other people. It was not my space to truth and talking about people to other people like that isn’t cool. Stina, I hope you and everybody could know just how sorry I truly am. I intend for my own health to never speak of or to you again.
This was an individual slip of tongue in the midst of playing I wish didn’t happen. We have had overwhelmingly successful collaborations with around 400 poets, musicians and artists of many mediums, including ~55 last month and dozens more in the upcoming weeks. Our record of diversity is among most any event on the Front Range. If you don’t feel Punketry is a welcoming space, obviously don’t come, but I can promise you it is and we will continue the work to make sure it stays that way.
South Broadway Press is partnering with the Village Institute to raise money for their operations. To do this, we have created an anthology of poetry entitled “Dwell”, which we will be providing copies of to supporters who donate $20 or more.
The Village Institute is a live/learn/work center designed with and for refugee families in Northwest Aurora. As it says on their website, they “help families build wealth, worth, and wellbeing by bringing housing, language learning, job readiness workshops, and mental health services all under one roof.”
“Dwell” is an anthology of poems about our personal and collective identity of home. It is a full-length collection of over 35 poets meditating on themes of love, immigration, grief, homelessness, and impermanence, among other topics. The anthology features the work of such poets as Caleb Ferganchick, Abigail Chabitnoy, Crisosto Apache, Aerik Francis, Wheeler Light, Said Shaye, Liza Sparks, Zack Kopp, Jessica Rigney, and many more.
Thank you to LiveWork Denver, who provided a generous grant to make this anthology a reality. In line with the mission of this book, LiveWork Denver does incredible work to create access to homeownership for folks who may otherwise feel ownership is out of reach, including facilitating opportunities in community housing, co-buying, cooperatives and live/work spaces.
Thank you for your support. All donations and shares are very appreciated!
Terra Iverson is thrilled to be on the South Broadway Press editing team.
Originally a businesswoman, her passion has always been in the written word. Ink is an art form, painting your world in the minds of others. The meaning of a word, the structure of a stanza, the moment when you forget who you are because it is all so powerful. Terra loves those moments. She’s often found reading nearly everywhere she goes, even while walking, which she doesn’t recommend.
She has experience as an editor in publications such as Obscura. Terra has had her poetry and play scripts published in Project Yes and Obscura. Terra is also currently working towards publishing her collection of short stories, artwork, and poems. A Colorado native, she resides in a small mountain town with her husband and their two sons.
It’s so much easier to see the world in black and white. Gray? I don’t know what to do with gray.
Garrus Vakarian, Mass Effect 2
What does this quote mean to you?
The human mind tries so hard to fit everything into a category; to choose a side. Is this black, is it white? Does this fit into this box or that? It’s hard to do, but I want to see the gray, the opaque place where most of us truly dance. It’s difficult to walk through, even harder to write about, but when I hear or read something and it burrows its way into my soul, I want to honor it. Even if I don’t know what to do with it, even if it’s “gray”, I still want its company.
What books have made an important impact on you and why?
I’m not sure how I could possibly sum all the stories I’ve consumed into a simple list. I love adventure, I love conflict, romance, places, and characters. I feel like at the end of a good book I’ve made actual friends. I nearly weep when I’m finished, saying goodbye. I spent so much time with these stories, they influenced me, help build who I am. As a very young child, I slept every night with a book called Baby Dear. Where other children may have had a stuffed bear, I cuddled a book for comfort. Today, I read books to my children about dragons, wizards, dinosaurs, and blueberries. So perhaps these are the books that impact me the most, the ones that start myself and others down the path of discovering the worlds hidden between the pages.
What is the value of writing and art in the current state of the world?
Art is culture. Without it, society has no soul. Without art, would we truly be living? When humanity was stuck inside, faced with unsurmountable darkness, we turned to art. We turned to paint, to photos, to music, and to words. We latched onto our soul and held on for dear life.
How have writing and art helped to form the person you are today?
My art and writing gift me a way to share myself with others.
As a child, I was consumed by other peoples’ worlds. I lived in those worlds so I could walk through a broken home and many difficult and defining moments. I escaped into the imagination of others. It let me pause, breathe, and be someone else, if only for a moment.
As I grew, I started creating my own worlds, places where my mind could wander. Places where my feelings and my soul could be safe. I learned that through paint, photos, and writing I could explore that inner world and also share it with others. It’s so fascinating, so vulnerable, so beautiful, and so freeing.
What is something that matters to you?
Connections matter to me, the threads of emotion that bind people together as well as the commonality and differences we all share. There are so many people, places, and principles in this universe that have had a hand in shaping me into the person I am. My family, my husband, my kids, and my friends have all helped me to walk through this world with kindness, determination, love, joy, hope, and peace. I also value art, community, health, an adventurous spirit, and freedom.
Erin told me her face was falling. We sat on a motel bed in downtown Anaheim, each of us with stones inside our bodies where organs used to be. Hand to her face she placed her fingers at her jaw and said, it’s sagging. Like a landslide.
Our foundations were made from the gulfs created in the void of saltwater and sun; we were grown from the melting glaciers. Skeletons shaped from every piece of rock we had once picked up from the tongue of the shore because we thought it was pretty, replacing the bone until we were both ambling monuments.
In the motel in downtown Anaheim, we cracked geodes against one another with enough force to break them open to see if our guts were quartz. The same sort of rock scientists on playgrounds smashing stones to see if there were hidden crystals, only we were older, and our shared insides didn’t carry crystals…as we found out. Sharp fragments splintered and dented the cold bedcovers, rock people applying pressure as a kind of embrace.
And her face was falling like how Venice is sinking, and the world is impermanent, so we split our skin open to find anything secreted from the soft outsides. The shells of our exteriors thawed like those candles whose wax peels away to reveal tiny gems, but really, it’s just a trinket more like trash than treasure.
Structures like bones crease into putty like how memorials fall and become their own grave markers, and on a floral smoke-smelling comforter in a strip mall in Anaheim, I ease into the rock rain of my own face and the spring that found itself seeping out of the remains of my body. Our mingled landslide faces and surfaces liquified with only the memory of boulder bodies and gritted organs left in our wake.
Tomorrow we’d go back to carrying our stones.
Jane-Rebecca Cannarella (she/her) is a writer and editor living in Philadelphia. She is the editor of HOOT Review and Meow Meow Pow Pow Lit, and a former genre editor at Lunch Ticket. She’s the author of Better Bones and Marrow, both published by Thirty West Publishing House, The Guessing Game published by BA Press, and Thirst and Frost forthcoming from Vegetarian Alcoholic Press.
His name was Pietro Ludivicci, and he was in love with symmetry.
Those statues of his were carved with a delicate accuracy, angels and saints poised to bless or condemn, their pale faces set in expressions of aloof piety. That marble virgin of his was housed inside the chapel, the object of awe among the townspeople. For the sculptor had rendered the stone folds of her clothing as soft-looking as fabric.
The flawless beauty of Ludivicci’s creations was rivaled only by the appearance of the sculptor himself. With his tight curls, regal nose, cherubic lips, and mahogany eyes, it was as if he were the personification of the suppleness of youth. How lovely, this Pietro!
Of course, the young women of the town were hopelessly taken with him. Why, even the mayor’s wife fondly referred to him as her first love! A cacophony of tokens, flowers, letters, and gifts took up permanent residence outside his door. In the marketplace, women would tarry and stare, and those bold enough to proposition him always received the same answer: a curl of the lip, and a flat “I’d rather not”. You see, Ludivicci was a paramour of human beauty- and perfection his muse. How could he settle for anything else in a lover?
These harsh rejections were hard on the ladies of the town. Many would weep, and some would pull at their hair. Young Viola, who cleaned the sculptor’s apartment, witnessed countless of these spurnings. In the smoky bars, her father, the innkeeper, and the older townsmen would snidely remark that Ludivicci may as well wed one of his statues.
There came a day, as the harvest-season came round, that the sculptor unexpectedly stopped accepting commissions. For seventeen days on end, he vanished from the eyes of the community. Circulating whispers suggested illness, or even his death. Viola of course knew that the artist was not dead at all. He had thrown himself into his newest project.
Ludivicci the recluse remained shut up in his apartment, his door opening only to receive the bread and wine he paid Viola to purchase for him. During these visits, the girl caught glimpses of a form standing in the center of his room- a new statue, perhaps? Alas, she could never get a good enough look, as the sculptor would pay her what was owed and then slam the door with a force that made the frame creak.
The longer Pietro Ludivicci was in isolation, the more fanciful the rumors about him became. He had certainly lost his sanity, most agreed. Signora Columbo swore she had spotted him at the temple, worshipping the pagan gods! How could he have fallen so far? Poor Pietro! A red-cheeked and mortified Viola confessed to her sister as they lay in bed one night that she had caught the sculptor cradling what seemed to be the face of his passion project and kissing its lips!
Months passed before Ludivicci was spotted in public again. He looked certainly worse for wear, with dark shadows underneath his eyes, an unkempt beard, and his shoulder-length hair hanging in an unruly tangle.
His sculpting seemed to be abandoned as a thing of the past, as he had emerged from his isolation with nothing to show for it. If one would catch him walking about in town or marketplace and inquire about his work, he would stare back with haunted, glassy eyes and mutter something about having more important matters to pursue.
No one quite knew where the woman had come from. The way the innkeeper told it, she had knocked upon the inn’s door late one night (the night before Ludivicci returned to society) and requested residence. Said her name was Giana Aldi. She had paid him handsomely for room and board from a fine leather coin purse that hung from her waist. She was a painter, this woman, who wished to work undisturbed within the rooms. Why is it that this town is the place of so many fussy artists? The innkeeper bemoaned to his wife and daughters as they, dazed and recently roused from sleep, stumbled to prepare a room.
Soon enough, the town forgot their fascination with Ludivicci in favor of the mysterious Giana Aldi. It was if she had been carved from marble, as such flawlessness seemed unnatural. Smooth dark locks flowed down her back to her waist, and large black eyes were framed by heavy lashes. They seemed to see into one’s heart, and one couldn’t help but feel naked and exposed under her gaze.
She was stern and dedicated to her art with a borderline religious fervour. Her neighbors took notice, with news of her traveling within hours. Who was she? Perhaps she and Ludivicci would be the perfect match for one another. Two kindred spirits, parallel in looks and practice.
Evidently, Ludivicci was enthralled by her as well. Every evening, he would stand at her balcony, wildly waving bouquets of flowers, imploring her to come down and speak to him. No one ever saw Giana Aldi do so much as open her window. Late into the night, the sculptor would cry, shout, and even sing love poetry! Poor Ludivicci was in such a state of ruin by the seventh night, yet he persisted. Having enough of this, the innkeeper accosted him on the street, ordering him to give it up at once! Ludivicci, likely emboldened by the wine running through his body, declared that he would never stop his pursuit until he heard word from the lady herself.
It is said, and there have been several witnesses to this, that Giana Aldi appeared on the balcony then. Leaning over its edge, raven hair spilling over her shoulders, her disdainful shout could be heard by all:
“I’d rather not!”
Gracie Nordgren is a Creative Writing student at the University of Colorado Boulder. She enjoys daydreaming and pomegranates, and would very much like to travel to Venus. Her work has appeared in Kalopsia Literary Journal, The University of Colorado Boulder Honors Journal, and Cathartic Youth Literary Magazine, among others.
Oh poets and their peonies! “As big as human heads” Jane Kenyon exalts, her pen heavy with extravagant language, enormous metaphors as big as life.
The perfume of such heady description smothers me, face-first in the reproduction of perfumed pistol and stamen. Yet it keeps the real makings of this craft at a distance.
Amongst poets, there’s a secret censorship of creation surrounding their beloved peonies— afraid too close they’ll catch the inner workings of such art.
Aware they’ll see, let’s be honest, the ants. Mary Oliver admits they exist. That something dark and alien spiders across this beauty.
She knows that a necessity for budding is this cutting, this eating. Knows that the cataract of leaves covering the bud must feed the hungry just enough. Must just hold back the swarm to unlock the flower’s form.
These thousand tiny bites release a poem as well. The flowering depends on it yet can also kill. So we unleash the ants but prevent such furtive legs from going too far within. Allow the justice of devouring so that the exquisite sweetness opens.
Inside any creation is a little taste of destruction. To pretend otherwise would be outrageous.
Amy Wray Irish (she/her/hers) grew up near Chicago, received her MFA from the University of Notre Dame, then fled the Midwest for Colorado sunshine. She has been published in Spit Poet Zine and Thought for Food; she has work upcoming in Progenitor and Chiaroscuro. Her third chapbook, Breathing Fire, won the 2020 Fledge Competition and is now available from MiddleCreek Publishing. For more information go to amywrayirish.com.
Along the cliffs of Ceann Sibéal herds of sheep graze, weighed down by crimped fleece.
Rough-hewn Celtic crosses, slathered in dust and moss, peek out from brittle underbrush.
A boat slices through still bay waters, inboard motor stirring up foam as the throttle is revved.
A gray dorsal fin approaches the vessel. With a barrel roll and flick of his flukes, Fungie the bottlenose dolphin launches
into the air, slips back under the surface, and reemerges to nuzzle starboard and port sides with his rostrum.
The Ring of Kerry is bathed in gold as Dingle’s red and white lighthouse guides Fungie back to the bosom of the Atlantic Ocean.
Sean Woodard (he/him) is a doctoral student at the University of Texas at Arlington. He also serves as the film editor for Drunk Monkeys. His creative works has appeared in NonBinary Review, The Cost of Paper Vol. 4, and Found Polaroids, among other publications. You may follow him at http://seanwoodard.com, Twitter @seanwoodard7326 and Instagram @swoodard7326.
Yellow suits April, with her tiny porcelain doll face, wispy blonde hair, and raspy voice. She looks so pretty in yellow. It’s a warm late summer afternoon. April’s yellow sundress flutters as we walk along the stone path through her mother’s vegetable garden. She’s wearing red plastic sandals that slap the path stones. Muscular tomato vines grow along the weathered privacy fence, with cracking red fists of tomatoes. Big zucchinis hang from a bamboo pergola like the legs of green giants. Things fly about, small dark birds and glinting insects; big blue flies knock into us; everything smells of tomato stalks and rotting tomatoes and snails.
Come, April says. Come with me. At the end of the path stands the peeling white garage with the broken door and its red roof softening like crayon in the sun. It’s cool in there, April says and takes my hand in her hand, waxy and warm. It is cool in the garage, but not that cool. It smells of gasoline and mown lawn. But there is no car. She shows me a red iron pump her father uses to pump air into the tires of his red bicycle. He rides the bicycle to his job at the steel mill about a mile down the road. My father used to work there. He worked there before the fire. We lived in a different house before the fire. I only remember it a bit, in little bits.
April and I play checkers. She beats me. She says that she never beats her daddy. I don’t say anything, but I think her father must be mean not to let her beat him now and then. What about your daddy? she asks. He died, I say, in a fire. That’s sad, she says.
She unfastens her right sandal, removes it from her foot, and shakes out a stone. Her foot is small and white and delicate. Her baby toe has no toenail. I smile at her. She puts her sandal back on, tightens the strap. We play checkers again. She beats me again. I don’t like losing, but I don’t mind losing to her. Winning makes her so happy. Do you miss your daddy? she asks. I tell her I don’t remember much of him; I was small when he died. I hope my daddy never dies, she says. We play checkers again. This time I win.
Her mother brings us lemonade. Her mother all bright and wearing white with red polka dots, red lipstick, white sandals, and toenails painted red. How you kids doing? she brightly asks. We’re fine, April says. That’s terrif, says her mom. That’s just dandy.
Mommy, April says, you know what I want? I want daddy to live forever. Aw, her mother says, that’s so sweet. I’ll tell daddy what you said, hon. Okay, now, you kids be good. I’ll bring snacks in a bit. Does your friend like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Do you like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, little man? she asks me. I nod. I like them. I’m not hungry, but I like them.
Later, I tell April that her daddy will die one day. She stares at me with her small blue doll eyes; they look like little marbles. After a long moment she asks, Why would you say that? Well, everybody’s going to die one day, I say — but now I know I’ve made a mistake. The vibration between us has changed. I should not have said that about her father dying, no matter how true. I try to apologize, but she lowers her head and curls a hand to her mouth. Big tears drop from her eyes.
April, I say softly, I’m really sorry I said that about your father. But my words only make her cry harder. I’m afraid that if her mother comes out she will think I hit her daughter or hurt her somehow. I’m so sorry, I say again, but April makes a sound in her chest and points to the garage door. Out, she says. I want you out. Without another word I leave.
A week goes by and I don’t see April. I don’t try to call 0n her. I feel bad for what I said. I feel like a bad kid. I am a bad kid. I try hard to be good, but I am bad. My grandmother used to say I was born that way. She died. Now she says nothing. Then Mr. Ward next door tells me a dump truck hit April’s father while he rode his bicycle to work. He died immediately, Mr. Ward says. Poor bugger.
My mother goes to the funeral, but I don’t. She tells me it was very sad, almost as sad as my father’s funeral. Poor bugger.
I don’t see April for the rest of the year. Every day I think about her. I miss her. I miss her little face, her button nose, her small white feet, her blue doll eyes. I hear she’s gone to stay at her grandmother’s place for now because her mother is having problems. When I see her mother standing on her front porch she looks sad, so sad. Her eyes are dark; she’s lost a lot of weight. She doesn’t say hello to me. She doesn’t even see me. April must have told her what I said in the garage. Maybe she blames me for her husband’s death. I should have never said anything.
Angry with me once for talking back to her, my mother told me that I had started the fire that caused my father’s death. She said that I’d been playing with matches in the basement — after she had told me more than once to never do this — near a can of kerosene, and set everything on fire. Later she said it wasn’t true. But I believed her the first time.
Sal Difalco is a Sicilian-Canadian satirist and writer currently living in Toronto.