Archive for July, 2010

It’s my first lesson of the morning, but I’m already in a rough mood. Teaching seven or eight lessons day after day is like driving to Seattle and back on a daily basis. Given my random crop of students, it’s like spending each day with a series of cabbies whose skills you don’t quite trust. And most of the cars we use lack air-conditioning, so the summer sun that beats through the windshield melts the long pants I’m required to wear into my legs. When I get undressed after work, I feel like a snake that’s molting. (more…)

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Poetry #123

Poetry #123 brings you the voices of established and emerging writers. Ananya S. Guha, Alicia Hoffman, Michael Mc Aloran, April-May March, Laura Whelton, David McLean, Judith Fanny Rose, Sami Schalk and Mark Vogel have all made this great issue possible. I hope you all enjoy my first issue as Poetry Editor for Gloom Cupboard.

for Larkin
by David McLean

churches can still have the highest windows
ever, they can still slant explosions
towards heaven, or at least light retreating
towards transfinity

and this is ridiculous to me as it was to you
because intelligence has always been cold
and we are cum in god’s whorish painted
face. here is one testicle, two testicles;

they are both together better than heaven
when we temporarily empty them.
but the windows of a church can still seem
impossibly high, full of gods and time,

full of endless lies. (i revisit your poem
to steal what is mine.)

the devil
by David McLean

the devil might be an old lady
in an apartment, with a cruel
and unusual cat, trapped,

a telephone of antiquated
design for plotting charity
and crime,

because a sandwich is dead animals,
a snack, a distorted pause
between pregnancy

and death. insanitary towels
and a meaty metaphorical
apostrophe, worms

and orgasms being
the better part of me.
an old lady might be evil

if any body can be

Bio: David McLean is Welsh but has lived in Sweden since 1987. He lives there on an island in a large lake called Mälaren, very near to Stockholm, with woman, cats, kittens, and a couple of dogs. He has a BA in History from Balliol, Oxford, and an MA in philosophy, taken much later and much more seriously studied for, from Stockholm. This is just one of the things that makes him so boring. Up to date details of many zine publications and several available books and chapbooks, including three print full lengths, a few print chapbooks, and a free electronic chapbook, are at his blog at http://mourningabortion.blogspot.com

by Ananya S. Guha

It was a day of awful
black crows, nestling
by the side, cawing.
They hovered in a frenzy,
went out to the rains
to have a bath.
Sloshed, drenched
they came back
with their antics.
they stand on an edge
of a precipice; taking
you with their gauche,
black-coloured bodies.
You are afloat watching them.
They are mirrors, in which
we are cadavers.

by Alicia Hoffman

The word wallows
on the tongue
like the leaves
of the weeping
one that once
reigned tall
in the yard
of a house
I grew in.
The tree was
bad memory
for grandfather,
wasted on bitter
divorce, drinking
disorder and
cans of Ensure,
and for my mother,
who swung from
its boughs as a girl
in hand-sewn skirts,
sitting cross-legged
on a board of etched pine
hung on knotted rope
from the branches.
Now, the trunk gone
to rot, the leaves brown
even in the green of
Pennsylvania Spring
I, too, need to glide
in twilight air and
release the things
beginning to break me.

Bio: A graduate of the Creative Writing program at SUNY Brockport, Alicia
Hoffman lives, writes, and teaches in Rochester, New York. Her poetry
has appeared in Redactions: Poetry and Poetics, Red Wheelbarrow,
elimae, Poetry MidWest, Umbrella, The Centrifugal Eye, Boston Literary
and elsewhere.

by Michael Mc Aloran

The pared sun

I am the laughter of the gallows

The joy of kicking up frozen winter leaves

This flesh thrown listless to the wolves

Dense with nothingness

The Eyes are Alive
by April-May March

The emerald green bed covers were stained in hospital smells.
Outside the small corner window
the sun was sterile.
Rays of heaven sent optimism
seeped through.
He reached out a tired hand,
his lips dry with a flaked glue white lining
they pursed together in an oval of woe.

Wisdom waited with the words that never arrived.

It’s almost here
by Laura Whelton

Its almost here
Another trial of revolt
Hopeless drunken men
Hold me down one after the other
What’s the point in another day

Will the long and arduous despair
Be substituted

Standing in a shop
Long and limpid days, together apart
What’s the difference

Poems written, Sanskrit
Metaphors for life
The tangible feelings laying
Like dust in the air

He arrived home angry
He came back mad
I sat and waited for eternity for things to be ‘normal’
But end up bleeding on a strangers’ couch

Who keeps this
Who remembers the past
With honest eyes

Who writes and feels and keeps
All these desperate days to themselves
Held like dolls in their arms

I ran and ran
But never got past Go.

Mother’s Day on the Savanna

(For the mothers of Ethiopia and Somalia)
by Judith Fanny Rose

The caravan of love moves on
even after hope is gone the women of Somalia
walk the cracked savanna
The earth splits zig-zag
under dusty leather feet
Spider children dangle
from rusty iron backs
Arachnid shadow marionettes
their bent twig limbs on stings of pain
dance down the setting sun.

A gaunt geometry of shoulder
juts from folded batik burnt umber
gold yellow, paint beauty form an obscene palette
Van Gogh’s Sunflowers parted reveals
Picasso’s Guernica beneath
She has no more woman curves
only an acute triangle of bone
too close to skin for comfort
The same bone once separated laughing babes
astraddle each of her wide hips
Now, bone of mother grinds against bone of daughter
hunger honed, misery the whetstone
There is no Eucharist
No Holy Water
The only Lamb her own

The babe cries soundless shapes
her mummy lips stretched thin as borrowed time
black hole saucer eyes to dry to make her tears
She can no longer lift her head
to see the one she loves
Her mother’s eyes betray no pain to the six more
that call her mama
She does not touch this daughter now
but leaves her to the boy’s frail grace of arms
and hoists another to her back
She will not waste the one cup of porridge
on her dying babe or feed the one
she fed just yesterday
She marks the days upon them
wiser than King Solomon
she knows which to feed tomorrow

At night she dreams of her husband
He calls to her from the banks of the Jubba
knee deep in water
fists aflutter with opal-scaled sunfish
She almost smiles in the sanctuary of sleep
before she wakes to count the children
Falling like grains of sand
through Famine’s hourglass

Bio: “Prends l’eloquence et tords-lui son cou!” ~ Paul Verlaine. Translation: Take eloquence and wring it’s neck!

(Love Your Body Day 2009)

by Sami Schalk

This is my body.
A big black woman’s body
that likes sex and skirts,
green tea and pepper jack cheese.
This is my body
with lines that dance across
my stomach, hips and thighs,
my flesh a water bed of
skin, blood, fat and nerves.

This is my body.
Not a runway body
or a porn body, my breasts
don’t perk and point
my curves aren’t controlled
by corset tops or Lycra bottoms.
No tightness or tuckedness
or medical adjustments.

This is my body.
There is hair here, heft here
and it is clear I spend less time
waxing and shaving than I do
making food that soothes my soul
because this is my body.
And if I am allowed to choose
lipo or Depo, Maybelline or saline
then I can also decide my size
is fine, pick thick and stick
to improving my mind instead of
punishing my body for looking like
my mother’s instead of a Maxim cover.
This is my body.
This is my body.
This is my body.

Bio: Sami Schalk is a feminist poet from Southgate, Kentucky. She received her Bachelor degrees in Creative Writing and Women’s Studies at Miami University of Ohio and her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Notre Dame. Sami is a Cave Canem fellow and member of Women Writing for (a) Change. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in CC&D, Diverse Voices Quarterly, The Battered Suitcase and elsewhere. Currently, she is a doctoral student at Indiana University in Gender Studies.

Mrs. Cow
by Mark Vogel

In Normandy sun this European black and white
and brown cow communicates with swishing tail,
coming close to our pretty books and youth,
our giggles and whispers.  Her eyes take in
our performance, our sated repose—
she welcomes us as conquering explorers.

She nudges one step forward, then another,
though she is always ready to back and run.
Her head arches so slow in pushy curiosity and her tongue
gradually extends a mile to taste.  We can’t help but
smile, for no one here fears her shit stained hide,
her clod footed big boned pushiness, her huge bovine eyes.

We have learned this morning she has no desire
to eat us, or bully us with force, that once again
a warm summer sun and big eyed innocence
can conquer fear.  Beneath an ill-fitting skin
she comes closer—transcending, without trying,
labels suggesting she is only cow.

Bio: Mark Vogel has published short stories in Cities and Roads, Knight Literary Journal, Whimperbang, SN Review, and Our Stories.  Poetry has appeared in Poetry Midwest, English Journal, Cape Rock, Dark Sky, Cold Mountain Review, Broken Bridge Review and other journals. He is currently Professor of English at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina.

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My mother eloquently captured the incongruous nature of her marriage to my father with a powerfully mundane anecdote: her own mother, dirt-poor Irish immigrant though she was, offered her every penny of her paltry life savings to not marry my dad. For my maternal grandmother, an ever-suffering Catholic from the land of perpetual potato blight and British oppression, it was unthinkable that her only daughter — shy, studious, virginal, and still living at home at the age of thirty — would choose to let herself be physically and spiritually defiled by a man who could most politely be described as White Trash. (more…)

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a terrible decision has been made, the outline of discovery made, intricacies, delaying the downfall, dream state and reality merging into one, dreams of murder by strangling, a view of violence and guilt, but still, a delay in proceedings causing anxiety in long distance trawler fishermen, although they certainly will deny this.a terrible decision has been  made by some imaginary presidential candidate. (more…)

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Greetings all. My name is Joseph M. Gant. In addition to being Gloom Cupboard’s new poetry editor, I have been, and still am, Poet in Residence and Poetry Editor for Sex and Murder Magazine as well as a contributor for Outsider Writers Collective.

In the coming weeks, I will be going through a large number of submissions, both fresh and remaining from Dorla’s time as editor. I wanted to use this interim to introduce myself and to discuss some points of publication of poems. Likewise I would like to thank here both Lena and Dorla for helping to make this transition possible. They are great editors, and I am honored that Lena selected me to fill Dorla’s shoes.

Acceptance or rejection (I hate that term) of a poem for publication is One-Hundred-Percent subjective. It is not my intention to radically change the nature of Gloom Cupboard. I have contributed writing here and have been reading as well for some time. While my taste may differ from Dorla’s, I was chosen for this position because I do know what Gloom Cupboard means in the greater scope.

However, tastes do vary between editors, and again, the process is entirely subjective. Many of you reading this have been regular contributors to Gloom Cupboard, and those long standing relationships will be respected. However, I know from experience that writers can feel a carte-blanch license to publish their work in places they’ve been before. Likewise, many newcomers feel they must “break-in” somehow to an established market. That always changes with a changing of the guard.

The coming weeks may be a bit jumbled while we make this transition. I ask that you be patient with me in my initial picks for publication. I have a reputation for being discerning to a fault. I consider it a strength, and a strength I am bringing to this marvelous publication.

Because of the sheer volume of submissions, old and new, that I have to field, I will be making my initial selections from new and standing contributors blindly based on merit without much regard to prior relationships with Gloom Cupboard. As I settle into my new position, I will become better equipped to account for everyone’s prior standing with Gloom Cupboard.

But, again, this is all subjective. If I may make two requests of contributors. First, please hold further submissions until the next poetry issue goes live; I have a lot of material. Second, contact me if I have overlooked, lost, or rejected (hate that term) a submission. I am sometimes slow to respond, but invite correspondence from contributors. I look forward to building a good working relationship with poets new and established. I do not believe in “form rejections” but I apologize that for this initial round I may be sending my replies as such. Thank you all for taking the time to read this.

Write to live, live to write.

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Poetry #122

Dorla’s note: I have been poetry editor at Gloom Cupboard for a little over a year. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some wonderful co-editors and read some fantastic poetry, as well as learn a few things about being an editor. But even good things come to an end. I am no longer able to give Gloom Cupboard the attention it deserves. So Poetry #122 is my last issue. The wonderful and talented Joseph M. Gant is taking over, and I look forward to the poetry he curates in future issues.

(P.S. – If you sent me a submission within the last month and have not heard back yet, your submission is still up for consideration; I have forwarded it on to Joseph.)

New poetry by Ashley Bovan, Alan Catlin, Richard Cronshey, Rachel Kalyna, Cindy Kelly, John Kuligowski, Lyn Lifshin, Michael N. Thompson, Liz Wells, and Lisa Zaran.


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Prose #120

Issue 120 of fabulous fiction brings you head trips.  Are you really who you think you are?  Kick back and let the words of Blake Cooper, Susan Tepper, Michael Solender and Erik Smetana insert rainbows and reverie into your brain.  Double back for another dose of daydreams with this issues Editor’s Pick for Must Read Twice by Blake Cooper.


The Lonely One

Blake N. Cooper

Kids ask me all the time what it’s like living in this “holy wow” spot, under these “are you serious?” conditions. It isn’t really a secret and I’d appreciate it if you asked your children to stop looking at me with wide-eyed surprise every time they see me. I live alone and, yes, it gets lonely; I steal my food, late at night, from sealed bags you toss in the local alleys or bins you leave on your sidewalks (let it be known: I only steal from families with kids or businesses that specialize in caring for kids).


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