Sunday, October 20, 2013

Bone Needles

by Paul Tristram

Deep within the thirteenth cave
of the snow crested Brecon Beacons
mountain range of Southern Wales.
She sits just well behind the shadows
of the massive main fire
sewing the last few stitches of a badger pelt
into the dome-shaped collection of furs
she has at her dirty, naked feet.
It has taken her 21 sunlight’s of hunting
to gather up enough material for her task.
It is comprised-besides the badger- of
a single fox, rabbit, hare, roe deer, otter,
polecat, beaver, stoat, red squirrel and weasel.
She had started bleeding from between the legs
at the waxing of the last full moon.
The Clans Leader had then pulled her out
from the circle of elder women and children
and placed her at the main fire
with the Warriors and adult women.
Where she was inspected for ripeness
with sniffs and nudges.
She had rubbed wolf shit into her hair and skin
each dawn since
and it had almost completely worked, so far.
She stretched quietly now that the last pelt was in place
and pulled the entire fur dome over herself.
As she crouched secretly in the shadows
blind in the darkness of herself made tomb
her ‘This’ hand clenched together the opening flaps of fur
beneath her arse and feet
as her ‘That’ hand worked away with bone needles
sewing the entrance finally closed.
When this task was completed
she sat waiting
she knew that when she was discovered
the whole Clan would circle
the strange new dome.
And just like when her sisters baby
had tried to come out feet instead of head first
their joint solution to the confusing problem
would be to smash down their clubs in disgust.
So anticipating this she had kept
the head of the fox pelt directly at the top of the dome
right above her own head
knowing full well that it would become the focus,
their target and the fastest entrance to death.

Charon's Obal

by Jeremy Marks

The beds are white
with falling snow

and very still in their
ankling salt pools

a mariner, his ship comes
into the cove

and the ripples grow
over a silent gathering

of hungry fish. They are
plucked and netted

speared and baited
like a bear in dark chambers.

Many beds white with
light and linen

crisp and wintry
and hidden

from the wind, there is
no longer rain

and still no fruit when the
Moon shines full through

the glass. The nurse draws
the curtains back and a

doctor enters:
what have we here

jotting, reading
lie back, shimmy for me

there, that is better.

The next day the water
is still and I surprise you

with pearls.

Charon’s obal, you say-


by Michael H. Brownstein

Pandora of Nubia, near the ivory trade route,
took possession of a grand ebony chest,
watched it with the eyes of a cheetah.

Somewhere within its thick walls
a secret stayed itself, and she could hear it,
now and then bumping into things.

She ignored it at first, or tried,
made promises to herself she knew she couldn't keep,
touched the wood with her palm,

played with the flimsy lock of grass and twig,
found herself admiring the grain with her fingertips.
Too much cat, the Shaman knew this to be true,

and bided her time from her grass covered home
overlooking the village near the great river.
There was something in the chest too great for her,

but not too great for Pandora with braided dark hair,
full lips and perfect skin—almost ebony black.
She was right, of course. Pandora was curious,

and it was curiosity that made her play with the lock,
break it open with an ah ha and a smile.
She opened the chest later that day,

let escape the demons the Shaman knew were inside,
thick fogs of madness and bitterness,
jealousy and selfishness, greed and contempt.

Pandora allowed them to sting her.
their noise intolerant and vulgar,
and then she peered into the shadow of the chest,

saw a round object corked and scented,
and pulled out a painted gourd
a vessel full of rich golden water,

a liquid with a smell she could not remember.
She drank from it.
It made her happy.

The painful stings left her skin,
she felt whole,
calm, able to see into her dreams.

Hope did not come with a fairy.
Hope came with Pandora’s gourd of beer—
a magic beer too easy to replicate.

The shaman went on to greatness,
made the best varieties,
and the people lined up to drink it.

Pandora kept the gourd in her home,
shared its contents with everyone,
especially those who wanted her to tell her story.

And then the Greeks came.


by Olivia Chapman

I catch myself in the mirror
Awkward, shy, unlike the age I
Was. Writing
Fog hearts for
No one.
I try saying
Hi to the lady in the bath.
She loves her oils and scented things.
The grip of Eucalyptus.
Cloves, favored by the gent
At the Laundromat who hides
Beneath his clothes.
Strangely comforting
That he also found a mirror
To paint his
Fog hearts on.

Such a chore
To heave up and out.
That thirteen stone was
There all along, drumming
Its fingers.

The lady of the bath isn’t friendly.
So unlike the sixteen-year old age
I was when bathrooms weren’t
Watching from the beach. You
Jumped in dirty, sweatshirt
Belted, breathing salt
And bleach.

Here woz
I when I dyed my lashes
When I swiped on dupe Chanel knowing
Full well its power to cleave in two
The hearts entwined in red, two names- I forget his.

There’s a new fog every day
I wipe the age
I was away
Though the mirror
Draws me closer
Back towards the ghosts I
Breathed life into.

Without me they suffer
But linger on
Like cigarette smoke
At the bus-stop.