The House We Build Together | Christopher Clauss

Image: Katherine Cavanaugh

Christopher Clauss

I do not ask her
if she believes
that the fairies will really come,
that they might be searching for a tiny backyard house
in which to dwell.
Even if they were,
no magical creature would choose
to live in this tangle of sticks
over which we have fussed
for far too long.
It doesn’t matter
that the bed of moss
will go un-slept in.
I will not worry myself
with exactness or proportions
of bark chair to mushroom table.
The fairies will never complain
about such things.
We busy ourselves
with flower petal carpets
and arranging decorations
of shiny quartz pebble just so.
The final product
is never quite what she envisioned.
The furnishings are rustic
and the roof keeps falling in
each time it is adjusted
by little fingers with the best of intentions.
She will remember
building everything herself.
When it is gone,
when the rain
and breeze
and rot have scattered the remnants
she will remember it
as a jeweled palace,
a luxurious home.
She will sleep comfortably
in her own bed
knowing the fairies
are well cared for,
imagining she had tucked them in herself,
kissed them gently on the forehead
the way Daddy does
before he whispers
good night.

Christopher Clauss (he/him) is an introvert, Ravenclaw, father, poet, photographer, and middle school science teacher in rural New Hampshire.  His mother believes his poetry is “just wonderful.” Both of his daughters declare that he is the “best daddy they have,” and his pre-teen science students rave that he is “Fine, I guess.  Whatever.”

This poem is from South Broadway Press’ new anthology, 
Dwell: Poems About Home. Purchase here.

The Stars | Zack Kopp

Image: Zoltan Tasi

The Stars

The cold stars clicking their claws together like crabs in a tank. History changes and runs off the page like butter. The world has been dragged through me, and I’ve been dragged through the world. We’re even. Stars twirl over stinking trenches, beginning a subtle magnetic resurrection that will take all time and never end. The mind is a machine to move matter. The scenes are super modern. The earth has us, and we multiply. Founded in an impulse of wild lonely need, not serious planning. The stars dissolve in my mouth not my hand. Let this life not be a torment. Let the stars stop shaking. Please, God. I will turn my greatest tricks for you.

Zack Kopp is a freelance writer, editor, photographer, graphic artist, and literary agent currently living in Denver, Colorado. His informal history of the Beat Generation’s connections with Denver was published by The History Press in 2015. Kopp’s books are available at Amazon, and you can find his blog at the website for his indie hybrid press at www.campelasticity.com featuring interviews and articles and links to other websites. His improvised novel, Public Hair, was described by one critic as “simultaneously the best and worst book ever.” The latest chapter of Kopp’s “fantastic biography” (Cf. Billy Childish), Henry Crank’s History of Wonders is expected in 2022.

And if / Şi dacă | Mihai Eminescu

Image: Birmingham Museums Trust

And if

And if the branches touch the window
And the poplar trees quake
That is how you are on my mind
And I slowly get closer to you

And if the stars touch the lake
Lighting it up, deeply
That is how I make peace with my pain
Illuminating the thought

And if the clouds though leave
They exit towards the glistening moon
That is how my memories return to me
Of you forever

Şi dacă

Şi dacă ramuri bat în geam
Şi se cutremur plopii,
E ca în minte să te am
Şi-ncet să te apropii.

Şi dacă stele bat în lac
Adâncu-i luminându-l,
E ca durerea mea s-o-mpac
Înseninându-mi gândul.

Şi dacă norii deşi se duc
De iese-n luciu luna,
E ca aminte să-mi aduc
De tine-ntotdeauna.

About the Poet

Mihai Eminescu (born Mihail Eminovici; 15 January 1850 – 15 June 1889) was a Romanian Romantic poet from Moldavia, novelist, and journalist, generally regarded as the most famous and influential Romanian poet.

About the Translator

Cristina A. Bejan is an award-winning Romanian-American historian, theatre artist, and poet. A Rhodes and Fulbright scholar, she is a professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Bejan received her DPhil (PhD) in Modern History from the University of Oxford. A playwright and spoken word poet (her stage name is Lady Godiva), her creative work has appeared in the US, UK, Romania, and Vanuatu. In addition to many scholarly articles, she has published a poetry book (Green Horses on the Walls), history book (Intellectuals and Fascism in Interwar Romania), and a play in Voices on the Move (eds. Radulescu and Cazan).

Lover’s Kaddish | David Estringel

Image: Noah Silliman

Lover’s Kaddish

Come,
again,
and walk beside me
down the verdant path,
‘cross this deathly sprawl,
reading poetry from tombstones
and the yellowed pages
of your tattered Lorca.
How sweet the ballads
and laments on the breeze
that sift through soft yews—
just yonder—
that shake
like fists
at wrought-iron gates—
at Heaven—
clutching their red burdens (in clusters)
like beating hearts
to breasts of evergreen.
Dance with me
to the whispers of cypress trees—
so tall
they cut the sky,
bloodying
what God painted blue,
and the laughter of boys and girls,
as they duck and dart
from behind the pale bounty
of this garden of stone,
reveling
in perpetual games
of tag and Hide & Seek.
Will you find me
at dewy dawn
amongst sprays of grocery store bouquets
in cellophane wrappings
that cry silent tears?
Or in the cold of a moonrise,
contemplating our stars
and the gossip of earthworms?
When…o when,
will I see you, again?
Will memory outlast the letters
of my name?
Loneliness the promise?
There is no end
(so it seems)
to this longing, our endless game
(Who hides?
Who seeks?),

just a stone on my pillow
and the endless promise
of evergreen.

David Estringel is a Xicanx writer/poet with works published in literary publications, such as The Opiate, Azahares, Cephalorpress, Lahar, Poetry Ni, DREICH, Somos En Escrito, Ethel, The Milk House, Beir Bua Journal, and The Blue Nib. His first collection of poetry and short fiction Indelible Fingerprints was published April 2019, followed Blood Honey and Cold Comfort House in 2022. David has written five poetry chapbooks, Punctures, PeripherieS, Eating Pears on the Rooftop, as well as Golden Calves and Blue (coming 2023). His new book of micro poetry little punctures will be released in December 2022. Connect with David on Twitter @The_Booky_Man and his website www.davidaestringel.com

Delayed Homecoming | Jayati Das

Image: Philip Myrtorp

Delayed Homecoming

For Tina and Ra

There are quite a few miles that crevice you from home,

Like the zip of your suitcase that flies between hope and not-hope.

I can only imagine how the fridge door must be slamming, unlike the one back here—

Extended supplies shunting faster than Turner’s baby,

The one that cries but never comes.

Do you wake each day to a finite line

And trace back the rhino’s trail 

You had smiled about the other day?

Does Bishop speak clearer now

And blur your vocabulary?

I am afraid I will forget your smiling hair

And the exact shade of your red lipstick

(The traces are already starting to drift).

Lie to me when I ask about happiness

Or perhaps halt the track of my question

(‘Are you home yet?’)

With a whistle or a red flag,

For then I can at least begin to unmemorise

Your face greeting me in some departure lounge.

Jayati Das is a research scholar from Tezpur University, India, and holds a Master’s degrees in English Literature frotm the University of Delhi. Her areas of research include representations of the Vietnam War, masculinity studies, and queer cinema. She has won over a dozen prizes in creative writing at the college and university levels. Several of her poems and stories have been published in The Assam Tribune, The Sentinel, and e-magazines like The Golden Line, including a story in an anthology titled DU Love. Her published research includes essays on the Mizo poet, Mona Zote, race in Othello, and on Pedro Almodóvar’s cinema.

This poem is from South Broadway Press’ new anthology, 
Dwell: Poems About Home. Purchase here.

The Idukki Dam | Anu Lal

Image: Tobias Keller

The Idukki Dam

The British built it, upon our home,
In Idukki, amidst the feral mountains Of Western Ghats*,
This structure—a leviathan of construction,
Which they said was
The symbol of modernity,
An accomplishment of human effort,
This sterile, dark, tearing off the heart,
Of the Western Ghats,
The dam with which they also ruled,
Nature with alacrity.
For two hundred years, the empire governed
Our desires and hopes, destinies and dreams.
Our home enchained,
Under the hoof of the emperor’s horse,
Dying, rising, dying again, rising again,
Like an old creature heaving for its last breath.
But the old and spent
Doesn’t impress the empire,
And it left this land, its nature,
And the people, with a tale
Of condescending kindness,
Letting the “young” nation self-govern,
With warnings of possible schisms.
But with general consolations
At the possible victories gained:
Like the railways, the dams, the roads,
And the democratic spirit.
The siren of the train is bearable,
And so is the sluggishness
Of the democratic system,
And bureaucracy, but the dam—
A silent monstrosity of Idukki,
Governing the Ghats with its grey bosom,
Serving mostly electric power-supplies.
It’s old, with dark lines of age growing
On the ramparts of the reservoirs,
Mossy, slippery wall, waiting—
For its final fall, every Monsoon,
Drowning our dwelling places
Underneath the dammed up spirit
Of the wild and tortured river,
Surpassing human alacrity.
So when the rains ravage,
We hear the echoes, of death—
Riding the horse of the old emperor,
Upon the ramparts of the old walls,
With the fear of death,
Still governing us.

[1] Idukki is one of the southern restrictions in Kerala state,
India, which is situated in the Western Ghats.

[2] Western Ghats is a chain of mountains bordering
Kerala’s western side, which is known as ecologically fragile.

Anu Lal is a writer from India. He has written extensively about his homeland, the South Indian State named Kerala. His works include poetry, short stories, novella, novel, and nonfiction. His major works include: The Notions of Living, The Notions of Healing (anthologies), Stories We Live, Thalassery Biryani (Short story collections) and Life After the Floods (nonfiction). Instagram: @authorlal

This poem is from South Broadway Press’ new anthology, 
Dwell: Poems About Home. Purchase here.

Portrait of a Bedroom Wall | Andrew Walker

Image: Zoltan Kovacs

Portrait of a Bedroom Wall

We do not push the walls out
but instead pull the room in, drink
our already small space. My clothes,
washed and bagged, are still too big
for this disappearing body—it’s like
a magic trick: blink and you’ll miss
me. I’m not tangible anymore, these
bed bugs eating away more than just
our bedspread. Touch this translucent skin
and maybe you’ll find something
stronger than the body I see before me
in tinted windows, in tagged pictures.
I think about House of Leaves, the home
that did not know what size it was,
about the men who found themselves
less than they thought they knew, the codes
hidden, dark filled with whatever meaning
the reader can pour from themselves

            I mistakenly called this place a home
            I walled myself in
            there are no doors here
            this is not an entrance. 

Andrew Walker is a writer living and working in Denver, Colorado. His work has appeared in HAD, Crack the Spine, Eckleburg, paperplates, Apricity Press and elsewhere. You can find him on Twitter @druwalker94 or on his website at druwalker.com.

This poem is from South Broadway Press’ new anthology, 
Dwell: Poems About Home. Purchase here.

I Am Trying to Remember If I Married For Love | Kimberly Ann Priest

Image: Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

I Am Trying to Remember If I Married For Love

Long beams are carried in on strong arms,
belts fitted with tools and the Oklahoma sun
warming the backs of the heads of workers
remodeling the house across the street
though it’s colder than usual for these parts
in February—even a dusting of snow. The grass
crunches beneath their boots, dry, and blonde
like a young woman’s hair, as I watch them
unload their truck, turning toward one another
now and then to chat or chuckle or pat a back
before lifting another board. The windows
of this home must be original, the same panes
of glass it was born with and I wonder
if they will be replaced, if the paper that surely
continues to adorn the walls, peeling,
will be stripped, its bones re-fleshed in fresher
hues, if the organs that pump life into toilets,
showers, and sinks, into outlets, lights,
hairdryers, and phones will undergo surgery.
How long until the porch is secure
and the roof healed of all its leaking? A few
bi-fold doors lean against the home’s old siding—
closets, it seems, have been opened and rendered
doorless as heaps of a former life are gathered
in piles of trash that exit the home in large bags.
Down the street at the halfway house,
men smoking cigarettes also observe
this pageantry with me and I wonder if they
are thinking what I am thinking—that someone
bought that house with all its imperfections,
after an assessment, not knowing exactly
how the whole thing will turn out. The sky
grows overcast and snow begins to fall again
so the men at the halfway house drop embers
unto the sidewalk to go indoors
as the workers hood their heads and continue
working. I pull my blanket tighter over
my shoulders letting the cool flakes fall against
my face and litter the doorstep around me.
I can’t leave now no matter what happens—
this is the part of the story I still like.

Kimberly Ann Priest is the author of Slaughter the One Bird (Sundress Publications 2021) as well as chapbooks The Optimist Shelters in Place (Harbor Editions 2022), Parrot Flower (Glass 2021), Still Life (PANK 2020), and White Goat Black Sheep (FLP 2018). Winner of the 2019 Heartland Poetry Prize in the New Poetry from the Midwest anthology by New American Press, she is currently an Assistant Professor of First-Year Writing at Michigan State University, an associate editor for the Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry and the James Tolan Writer in Residence at Writer’s House PGH. Find more of her work at kimberlyannpriest.com

This poem is from South Broadway Press’ new anthology, 
Dwell: Poems About Home. Purchase here.

Progress, Mexico | Dustin King

Image: Josh Withers

Progress, Mexico

1.

The stray dogs bite. There’s glass in the sand,
too worn to cut a toe. A toddler giggles
running from her family toward the
waves. They urge her back. On the beach
road, I can’t tell if the sound of a car
approaching from behind is the surf until
headlights flash. The gate of the abandoned
school for “incapacitados” is chained shut,
has been for months, sargassum and plastic
washing under. Classroom walls of cracked
concrete. Graffiti on graffiti. A phantom yell
of gringo! Spitting rain. It will pour any minute.
Then it doesn’t. The yacht club sells pizzas
to expats but no one is hungry tonight. Wind
scatters plastic chairs around tables as if
customers were full and anxious to get
home, then as if the patio were raided by
stray dogs. Each palm tree has a personal
hair dryer. The expats, like stray dogs,
growl at newcomers, bark at each other
into the night. The expats feed the stray dogs.
Cheapest alarm system I ever had, says
one to another. A pack gathers in front of
his second home like hyenas, vicious, grinning.
Testicles, teats, purpled, withered fruit clinging
to the vine. They shit where they want. A passerby
steps in it, curses. A passerby kicks out but
we see who is really afraid. A passing car
accelerates, achieves revenge. The corpse
of a stray dog in a ditch stinking until
it won’t anymore. Expats think the pandemic
a hoax or conspiracy initiated by Jews.
The expats are assholes, says an expat, but
they are old. They die quick. One, on his
moto, was run over by a microbus last week.
He exploded like a McDonalds ketchup package.

2.

I speak to a loved one on the phone. She
insists, there is something you’re not telling me.
Twists and flecks of iridium, extraterrestrial
metal, shocked quartz and glass beads discovered
in the rock core. Water-winged children hurling
themselves into cenotes, earth’s empty eye sockets,
prehispanic graveyards, skeletons fished
out from 100 meters deep, bats zig-zagging
over water underground. I’m alone in the
port city of Progreso. Chicxclub, site of
climate disruption, mass extinction, ancient
rerouting of life. A meteor with the power of
1,000 atomic bombs. We won’t give the
universe time for another go. A seagull missing
a foot lands near my dinner, gingerly using the
stump for balance, swaying more than usual in
the breeze. A flamingo limping across a salty lake.
A stray dog hopping. An ex-pat in a wheelchair.
Landmine in Afghanistan. Crowded hovels
with no running water inland. Abandoned
mansions on the coast. Mold, erosion,
dilapidation. A hurricane isn’t at fault.
The money ran out or virus. Crackling bass
and reggaetón and shouts from inside one
shell of a building that isn’t theirs, the
windows boarded up and papered over.
From the terrace three floors up a young
Mexican points to the liter of beer in his hand
and yells, ¡Súbate, Güero! I pass through a door
with a busted lock.

3.
A group of 20-somethings chugging beer
around an empty pool. Racing to
inebriation. Pulling ahead in the race to
elude annihilation. Assembled from various
regions of Mexico, here to construct a suburbia
of sorts outside the port city, an international
village. They pass me a joint, I bum them
English cigarettes too expensive for Mexico.
They push a phone with a PowerPoint
presentation in front of me. Condos with
rooftop gardens, windmills, and solar panels
resembling Mayan pyramids constructed over
the ruins of Mayan pyramids long ago
chewed, swallowed, and still being digested by
jungle. Graphene super metal and recycled
plastics. Bubble tech and defoaming. Optimum
insulation and acoustics, less CO2 release. Jargon,
gospel, babble of sustainability. New lingo for
the industry, the lexicon, the public imagination.
Off the grid. Supposedly free from the control
and corruption of government, of cartels. I say it
sounds like a cult and an interior designer giggles
wiggling her pointer finger up and down, says
sí, sí, como Charley Manson. Voice automated
everything—your entertainment, your coffee
pot, your bidet. All-inclusive. More amenities
promised than a liberal arts college. A Burger
King. Probably a mini-Target. The promise
of consumerism preserved amid the crash
of exterior markets. Top priority: Security.
AK-47s, M-16s, Uzis. Bulletproof vests and
jackets that look like you’re going to church
or brunch. Fences with barbed wire as tall
as border walls. Here in the shell of an ex-expat’s
vacation home the other American dream of
the gated community lifted, romanticized,
enhanced. Ultra-militarized. Elon Musk might
support the project,
claims an energy specialist.
Living there will be like working for Google,
boasts the jungle rave DJ. There is opportunity
in crisis,
they add. They have acquired the land.
Started construction. Convinced expats to invest,
possibly retire there. I jokingly ask the CEO, Who
will be eaten first when the apocalypse comes?

He nods toward a stray dog eying us from below
and as serious as climate change says,
could be any of us.

Dustin King teaches Spanish and runs a small organization that provides aide to undocumented community in Richmond, Va. His poems appear in Blood and Bourbon, Ligeia, Tilted House, Drunk Monkey and other magazines. He most recently made the longlist in the 2021 UK national poetry competition.

This poem is from South Broadway Press’ new anthology, 
Dwell: Poems About Home. Purchase here.

Floor Bare | Jessica Rigney

Image: Tim Huefner

Floor Bare

And here you are standing
two feet bare on the floor of
your kitchen turning back
to the wall behind as though
he were standing bare-footed there
with you again as he did
those years prior. Before
the days dissolved into the rising
of time immemorial and you
who had just kept your head
above water now live
in the after so far below you have
come to know the nocturnal
creatures who in quiet habits roam
from shore to shore only under
all the weight of dark stars.
What can you do but let
flow through your fingers—the now
and him too though he was yours
for a time and gave you
such happiness.
The distances between
keep widening and soon it will be
that you cannot recall his eyes
or the scent amongst his thick curls.
Turns out you knew—had known
all along this was coming. It was why
you held him close for so long
why you saved him in dreams
so many times you lost count. It was
the one sure thing you held
in your heart and though you knew
it to be true you gave him
everything even so—even though
you knew in the coming years
he would be gone from you.
And here you are standing
two feet bare on the floor of
your kitchen turning back
to the wall behind you as though
he were standing bare-footed there.

Jessica Rigney is a poet, artist, and filmmaker. She is the author of Follow a Field: a Photographic & Poetic Essay (2016), Entre Nous (2017), Careful Packages (2019), and Something Whole (2021). Her work was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2022. She lives and wanders in Colorado and northern New Mexico, where she films and collects feathers and stones. www.jessicarigney.com

This poem is from South Broadway Press’ new anthology, 
Dwell: Poems About Home. Purchase here.