By: Lillian Wood
Where I’m from, campfires warm more than blankets and outside is a place of refuge from a
heart that can never make up its mind. Where I’m from, the cool water of the river is a baptism from Mother Earth herself. I’m from Hyside and dry bags that never really stay dry until dad teaches you how to properly pack them. I’m from Westwater and Ruby Horsethief and a cracked tailbone from cliff‐diving at Black Rocks.
Where I’m from, motherly love is as warm as the sleeping bag that you pack in the trunk for another trip to an oceanless beach. I’m from fatherly love that only the howl of a coyote can awaken. I’m from torn apart and put back together with electrical tape. I’m from candy cigarettes and “don’t tell your mom that I gave you these”. Where I’m from, pain builds character. I’m from “put the galotchi on it” and “buck up”.
I’m from one family as close as the scales on a lizard and another as distant as desert borders.
Lillian Wood is from Salida, Colorado and won Pearl in ZO’s 2016 Teen Media “Get Away” Expo. “I’ve loved writing since I was a little kid. I also grew up spending a lot of time camping and rafting in the deserts of the western United States, and it’s given me a lot of inspiration for my writing. For me, the desert has always felt like a home away from home, but, more than anything, a getaway from my own reality. I’ve always found a sense of calm in the vast, dry landscape of the desert. It may be far away from civilization, but there’s nowhere where I feel closer to Mother Earth. I wrote this poem based on that love for the desert.” — Lillian
By Lenore Weiss
I text him
caring, intelligent, sexy, etc.
and he says wow
that’s just what he’s looking for
and do I think
he fits that description?
I text him
………………………….how the fuck should I know
(I didn’t actually say fuck,
one of my rules,
never to curse on a first date,
which this clearly isn’t)
I don’t even know who you are, I text him.
The contractor says………….ask away
what do I need to know—
………….Maybe what your eyes look like, hear your laugh, what it
………….feels like to hold your hand
and he disappears.
unlike the gold and diamond salesman
who sends me affirmations
from the back of Dixie Cups about
keeping my sunny side………….sunny side up
doesn’t want to actually see me
he just wants to know what I’m doing.
Should’ve texted him
………………messaging you is such a freaking turn-on
or the guy in camouflage who’s thirty years younger than me
who says he likes older women and I say,
………………doesn’t work for me,
and he says, never mind, I’m too fat for him anyway.
Really, on what planet have these men registered their profiles?
Like the man who wanted to show his dying mother
my picture when we hadn’t even met.
Isn’t that called a fraud?
Lenore Weiss completed a Masters Degree in Creative Writing at San Francisco State University. Her work has been published in many journals including San Francisco Peace and Hope, Cactus Heart, Ghost Town, Poetica, Carbon Culture, BlinkInk, The Portland Review, La Más Tequila Review, Digital Americana, The Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Nimrod International Journal, Copper Nickel, and Bridges: A Jewish Feminist Journal. She serves as the copy editor for The Blue Lyra Review. Books include: Cutting Down the Last Tree on Easter Island (West End Press, 2012) and Two Places (Kelsay Books, 2014). You can find more of her work at www.lenoreweiss.com.
The Truth of the Elephant
Blind men surround an elephant, all ahold of a different part of its body—trunk, leg, ear—each claiming what they feel is correct. Trunk is a thin rope, leg a pillar, ear a fan. Each truthful to what they feel, yet none able to know the whole; it is an elephant, not rope, pillar, fan. They do not see, so stay firm to what only they know. So proves no one path is correct for all, yet no one way is comprehensive. Thus the philosophy teacher explains a metaphor for Buddhism, beliefs in general, he muses. Everyone has a different path.
An unassuming young boy in the middle of the classroom sits hunched, eyes down, breath ceased. Never has he doubted his religion. These lectures, global perspective credits, required classes, “are not meant to make you question or change your beliefs, but to learn about and understand different beliefs.” But yet?
Devoted believers and atheists converge, come together in class to pull apart, quarrel—“debate”
they insist—but who are they fooling when their lips turn to needles listening to obviously absurd arguments in opposition, when they can be heard across and down the hall forcing their ideals into classmate’s gullets for them to chew like cud, when their eyes glaze with offense?
The boy stays silent, hearing but not listening. His eyes are focused on the cracked, embodied tile two feet in front of him. How could he have thought there was only one truth? Blindly following with enlightenment and opportunities for exploration slapping his cheeks raw daily. As ignorant as thinking his thoughts original (actually banal, egocentric). And now what? Can’t
share doubts, “The devil,” they say, “will tempt you.” Definite way to be disowned. But yet?
He stays mute, and doubts his constructed world in solitude.
Emily Johnson is a first year creative nonfiction writing MFA student at Minnesota State University, Mankato. She originates from a small Wisconsin town, Amery, and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in 2015, where she worked as an editor on the University literary magazine. She enjoys yoga, reading Bill Bryson, and playing fetch with her cat (who doesn’t always remember the point of the game).
Magnificently drawn, with God’s pencil.
I think she was trying to tell me something . . .
but as a guy, I couldn’t read the blood in the pan.
I was abrupt when I left . . .
not a second to think!
And her breath remained on the screen, leaving behind . . .
Steven Lee studied Creative Writing at SUNY Geneseo from 1996-2000. Since then, he has written poetry and short fiction as an undisplayed art form.
Convergence of The Heart
Convergence of the heart.
An ever evolving emotion.
At the bottom of my core.
Creating full circles.
With incandescence . . .
Surrounding my soul.
Encompassing every part of me.
A shape beyond measure.
Instinctively knowing its path.
Never swaying off course.
Remaining in constant bloom.
A burning spiral of sorts.
Three hundred and sixty degrees.
On a journey to home.
Love comes full circle.
Yolanda Lewis began her journey as a poet in 2007 and has been an avid daily writer ever since. “It started as a means to purge my thoughts and sort out deep emotions felt within. Writing for me has evolved into an addiction seeking clarity from a third persons perspective. A passion I hold dearly.” — Yolanda
Things I’ll Never Say
Thoughts erode my skin,
stolen moments haunting my soul
and distorted images of passion sickening my sanity.
There were places we would go at midnight
there were secrets that nobody else would know.
You are the breathless,
involuntary language of a woman I loved,
the broken letters of rushed speech
when hearts cannot contain
their unyielding passion,
when they eagerly hope
for romantic reciprocation.
Expensive words to fill the air
that resonate in the lofty reaches
of your highest love.
Uneven specks of light, fall gently on the lids,
illuminating the sky ‐ I somehow dare to dream,
when the sun eventually rises, erasing every shadow from
the abandoned labyrinth of my aching mind
“I speak of love through heartbreak, I speak of it with honor and elegance. I can see how this can get confusing for others and I don’t expect everyone to come to an understanding as to why I embrace it, romanticize it, and exalt it through all my means of art and social media. My reasoning, understood or not, is because I see the divine purpose beneath the fault, the wound, the weakness. I see the smiling face beneath the mask. I believe in its goodness and I appreciate its challenge. I have come to a place in life now where I realize challenge is sometimes much more brutal than expected – but my master is a cruel one and my God’s crown casts the darkest shadow. The blackest and darkest Self is often the hardest to face, to look into its eye, that deep void, and speak back to it with courage – there is the challenge. Going into the darkness and embracing it is not about allowing oneself to sulk or experience further trauma – but about devoting time to ones spiritual growth and self discovery. Going inward, weapons down, logic put to rest, ready for the embrace. Everyday I am learning to be with my life, feeling the nothingness, until the doorway to greater understanding opens and welcomes me. I am calling it forth to gather the wisdom necessary to produce my unique piece in this world.” — Athens Ramseyer on Instagram: @athensramseyer
These African skies all end black and cool
wet with honeysuckle cologne
and starved breath
until the fires start.
In the end it will all burn.
It will all drown.
It will find love
The looters announce themselves
with customized mufflers
capturing a boom and reverberation
like a sonic embassy.
They blast Van Halen,
and dine under flood lights.
This convergence of crime,
when the jackal looks up
from the shredded throat of an old leopard
to catch the one-eyed vulture wink,
is all that is left.
The sound of soup cans clanging into a truck bed
adds hurried syncopation to the jungle soundtrack.
The hunter stops in the bush.
He rests his dumb ass on the lions head,
ties his shoes,
and watches as his campsite burns.
Maxwell MacDonald grew up on the coast of Maine . . . “went west like we all have to do, and continue to pick the bones clean . . . “
ZO has started the tradition with our poetry expo — to use a particular piece of art as a muse and then to pair the featured poems we choose with new art. As we searched for an appropriate piece for Maxwell’s poem we couldn’t help but envision the many hunts that we’ve seen in the news of late where beautiful endangered animals are killed as trophies. It is our hope that awareness increases and that blindness ceases in regard to this. We also thought it was kind of serendipitous that we chose the work of a photographer who goes by the moniker “Fate atc (amenable to change)” . . .
by Natalie Worrell
praise stings my ears like a gymnasium full of applause
I don’t deserve.
When I picture you, you’re swimming through my dreamy sky, not drowning in a toilet.
When I dream of you, I’m inhaling your sweetness and patting your diapered bottom.
I am a tangle of weeds: sharp thorns overtake the void.
I’m chained to my decision, a million kinks swelling
around the burden,
wringing up what never should have been.
The façade laughs at jokes nods to neighbors
makes coffee at work
toasts victories with friends.
But leaks spring, breaching the concrete smile, bulging
my makeshift dam.
don’t ask me how we can love the things we never had.
don’t ask me why I cry tears
I don’t deserve.
has it come together for you yet?
love is a blanket on a sweltering day,
I want to rip it apart and tear the clothes from my body.
Natalie Worrell is a single mother of two kids and also a corporate warrior princess. She supports a Department of Defense contract for the Government . . . “so I don’t get to be creative as often as I’d like.”
Her background includes a degree in Communications, a Master’s in Project Management, and a Master’s in Writing. She’s been published all over the place, but that was years ago . . . — “since I’m now stuck in a technical realm. Hope you enjoy my poem, sometimes I am surprised at the thoughts that come out of my head.”
Yes — we very much enjoyed it Natalie and a lot of us, “get it!” — ZO
Just In Case
By Georgios Ampatzidis
Art by: David Caspar
I followed the blood I had let bleed
And I ended up on the beach we used to like
Which was now quite empty
And there was a book on a huge rock
I noticed it was open on page eight
Which felt strange
Cause a previous time I had found a book by the sea
It was also open on page eight
So I started reading it
Not really paying attention
(If you ask me now, I can’t even remember the title)
Until a seagull stood next to me
And it stared as if it wanted something from me
But what could I offer to a creature with wings
That could fly?
I grabbed a fuchsia gerbera from my pocket
(I always have one with me, just in case)
And I left it next to the bird
I spilled some of my wine in the sea
I took my pen
And I started writing a letter to you
On the last page of that book
(In case you find it somewhere
My letter is on page one hundred twenty eight)
But this time my letter had no title.
Georgios Ampatzidis lives in Greece and writes poetry and short prose in Greek and English. He has studied Biology and is currently a PhD student in Educational Sciences.
George now teaches at the School of Pedagogical and Technological Education in Patra and also works in a library.
By Douglas Thorne
You step back, yet I move in.
You say, “I’ll be right back, I have to make a phone call.”
You walk away. I crumble.
The bartender watches. He sympathizes.
I don’t need his sympathy, I am a rock.
I sit at the bar. It’s sticky, and you
have not returned. I tip my glass
and nod my head. Another whiskey comes my way…
I see you through the window.
Why are you outside? Are you leaving?
I see the phone light up your face
leaving you glowing, haloed.
I hang my head; embarrassed.
I feel the eyes of the bar upon me.
“Why did she leave him,” they ask each other.
I do not know. I don’t know you.
Yet you return.
“Sorry,” you say. “Work call.”
I don’t believe you. 8:30 on a Tuesday night?
Still, you returned. I order you a drink.
Vodka Cranberry. Our eyes meet, and our feet touch
under the bar. Maybe it was a work call.
I don’t know. I hardly know you.
You lean in and kiss me.
Douglas Thorne is a writer from Indianapolis, Indiana and graduate of Purdue University with a degree in English. “I’ve been writing as long as I can remember, and I feel I get better with each poem. I also write songs and perform on a regular basis.” — Douglas
Convergence of Liberty and Chains
By Krystal Brown
Art by: Ariana Harley
We have more people in jail
than anywhere else
in the world.
Upon release your world
Your opportunities shriveled
like a limb with polio.
No one wants to hire you.
No one wants to rent to you.
No country wants to allow you passage.
You are just getting what you deserve
Because farting sacks of flesh
say something is wrong-
does that make it wrong?
It was illegal for the colonists
to defy the British.
But they did it.
It was illegal for blacks and whites
to join in marriage.
But people now celebrate it.
Cigarettes are legal
Marijuana is illegal.
Gun-holding by the convicted reformed
I don’t see that in the Constitution.
I think that’s illegal.
Who is to say what is right and what is wrong?
Descendants of defyers
Dare to call someone a criminal?
Krystal Brown now lives in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. This is the short cover letter that came with her poem. “I became inspired to write it after hearing one of the many tales of the failed war on drugs. The U.S. has one of the highest incarceration rates in the developed world. Something is amiss. Your publication is unique and special. I would not have dared to submit this anywhere else. Thank you for your time.”
All of you who read our publication know that this is not journalism as usual. Creating a sense of artistic “safety” is one our primary goals. We found Krystal’s letter encouraging; as we believe that the world will only truly change by allowing people to civilly, honestly and courteously “be themselves.”
The Bone Daughter
I do not want all of these extra spaces
carved inside me, and outside, too
I do not want the blood
or the family tree with rotten leaves twisted ‘round the branches.
My grandmother loved music. She went to a very good school for it,
half a century ago.
During her eulogy, this part of her was grounded down, like warm bones
fresh out of the crematorium (fire is not enough to splinter them).
Music was eclipsed by the man who was not a good man
and she will be buried beside him, her decay joining his
as the blood mixes with water when it falls out of us
even if we never want what it brings
and sometimes, even when we do (the body is not always enough to build).
My family is a family of daughters who were
Born inside out
(with a cleft lip)
My family is a family where
Daughters are dragged underground.
It only takes one person on the tree.
Their roots will extend too far out.
I want to go to the resting places of my grandfathers
and write “rapist” on one headstone and “breaker of bones” on the other
In many ways, I feel like the first daughter who was dragged under,
the one who is responsible for the changing of the seasons.
Though in my story, she is willingly
emptying her insides and outsides,
ridding herself of unwanted space.
In the morning, her eyes receded into her skull
In the afternoon her skin peeled away and
In the evening the rest of her—her heart and her kidneys and her lungs—
tumbled out and she left them where they fell,
a daughter made only of her sturdiest remains—
Queen of the damned,
who jangles when she walks through the streets and the hillsides,
not for jewels placed at her wrists or the flimsy dip of her throat,
but for the absence of meat to swallow the sound between her bones.
Faith Cotter is a writer and medical editor who lives in Pittsburgh, PA. You can learn more about her and her work at www.faithcotter.wordpress.com
By Brenda Romo
A single point
That’s all we were looking for
It didn’t matter whether or not we came from different corners
Of the same canvas all that mattered
Is that there was a single, golden point we had to reach
No one asked any questions
There wasn’t any time as we all scrambled
To get to that point that single point
It was like melting together with a lover
Lines no longer existed and our insides were no longer
Being kept in one solid body, no
We merged within one another
It was bigger, brighter than any constellation
The stars were jealous because as close as they tried to get with one another
They couldn’t begin to accomplish what we had
A single point where we met as one and suddenly
Our surroundings were nothing but lines and patterns
Together we formed something greater, something that
To any other eyes had no shape, no boundary, no rhyme or reason
But to us it was art
And suddenly all that work that was done to get to that single point
It was all worth it
Convergence, at its most beautiful
That’s all we ever asked for
Brenda Romo is eighteen years old, from Denver, Colorado and currently a Freshman at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. She is planning a double major in English and Art in hopes of becoming a writer someday.
by Meg Eden
Six days before the massive magnitude-9 earthquake that triggered the devastating March 11, 2011 tsunami in northeastern Japan, 50 melon-headed whales beached themselves in the area. This week, over 150 melon-headed whales beached themselves on two beaches in the same vicinity.
— Paul Seaburn, April 14th 2015
A day like today is grey because
the beach is covered with dolphins!
Sand has become water and the water
has become an uninhabitable place.
People continue to surf but how do you ignore
the fifty bodies, like tea leaves
at the bottom of a scryer’s glass,
heavy and loud in their memorial?
The coast guards carry water
and pour it over the bodies.
What do they expect? That the dolphins
will flip up and walk themselves back to the ocean?
So many have to be put down. So many
are already dead. One by one,
they are scooped up in a bulldozer
and returned to the ocean.
Can any of us know what will happen
six days from now? Let alone six hours?
On the shore, one body flails against
the others, craving the water, knowing
that strange pull of how it both kills
and sustains simultaneously.
Meg Eden’s work has been published in various magazines, including Rattle, Drunken Boat, Eleven Eleven, and Gargoyle. Her poem “Rumiko” won the 2015 Ian MacMillan award for poetry, and she has four poetry chapbooks in print. She teaches at the University of Maryland.
……………….~ Shikha Malaviya
(After Brynn Salto’s ‘Like Any Good American’)
I give my phone unwanted attention
scanning numbers…..friends who don’t matter
I count down the traffic light…..59-58-57 seconds…..then feign sleep
knuckles rap against tinted glass…..sometimes they call out
mother, sometimes sister…..hair matted, mussed up on purpose
at intersections if I should look…..they’ll pull out my corneas with a grimace
push their scent on my tinted car window
make me clutch my purse tighter
half opened palm…..the size of my heart…..beating like a silver coin
that I won’t give…..because it spoils them
Shikha Malaviya — judge in ZO’s 2015 Poetry & Art Expo, is a poet, writer, teacher and founder of The (Great) Indian Poetry Project, an online archive of Modern Indian Poetry, as well as The Great Indian Poetry Collective, a specialized literary press. Her work has been featured in Sugar Mule, Prairie Schooner, Drunken Boat, Water~stone Review, and other fine journals/anthologies. She also founded Monsoon Magazine, one of the first South Asian literary magazines on the web, is the author of ‘Geography of Tongues’ launched in December 2013 and can be heard on Ted Talks at “Poetry of Life.”
By KATCH CAMPBELL
Gregory Orr in his essay “Four Temperaments and the Forms of Poetry” describes a poet’s innate temperament(s) as being story, structure, music, and imagination. Ellen Bryant Voigt’s poetry suggests a possession of equal gifting within these four classifications. Her recent publication in 2013, “Headwaters”, is a showcase for her mastery of syntactical manipulation. The entire book is without punctuation though each poem has its own rhythm and musicality. The following paragraphs discuss how one stanza of GROUNDHOG within “Headwaters” uses a variety of poetic tools to create a unique cadence and, more specifically, the use of alliteration in this way.
Alliteration, a phonic echoing device, is the repeated use of an initial consonant sound or consonant cluster in the stressed syllables of words close enough to each other to affect the reader’s hearing. Alliteration has the ability to create cadence, to act as a pseudo structure for meter, as to make the line move in a musical fashion.
The final stanza of GROUNDHOG:
in Vermont natives scornful of greyhounds from the city
self-appoint themselves woodchucks unkempt hairy macho
who would shoot on sight an actual fatso shy mild marmot radiant
as the hog-nosed skunk in the squirrel trap both cleaner than sheep
what we’re called words shape the thought don’t say
rodent and ruin everything
Before beginning to explore Voigt’s use of alliteration and its effect on cadence, it is important to note that this poem is done in syllabic verse that also effects cadence. In fact, Voigt uses a multitude of poetic devices to effect rhythm. All but the last two lines of this stanza are between 13 and 15 syllabic beats. The final two lines are 9 and 7 syllabic beats, respectively.
The first two lines of this stanza do not employ alliteration but do offer some rhythmic effect in the rhyme of ‘natives’ and ‘greyhound’. Throughout the stanza Voigt uses dissonant lineation or enjambment to effect cadence. In the first line the final word “city” creates a slowing with the ‘s’ and then ‘ty’ sounds, as it is similar to the word stop, and offers an additional sonic break beyond the line itself. The second line uses repetition with the words “self-appoint themselves”, sliding the cadence into the clunky sound of “woodchucks”. This compound word and its harsh ‘ch’ and ‘ck’ create a medial caesura within the line before going on to “unkempt hairy macho”. The next five lines are where alliteration and its effect on cadence are most prominent. In line three, Voigt expertly uses what could be considered a tongue-tie (possibly slowing the cadence) in such an exacting fashion that the words zip along increasing the cadence. The ‘w’s of “who would”, the ‘s’ sounds of “shoot on sight” and “actual fatso shy”, and finally the ‘m’s of “mild marmot” move the reading quickly in a rising tempo. The phrases “who would shoot” and “an actual fatso”, both in triple meter, are connected by the short dimeter phrase of “on sight”. Voigt ends this line with the “mild marmot”: a triad of ‘m’s to rush toward the lines final word, “radiant”, where the ‘t’ of ‘radiant’ creates its own sonic stop. The fourth line uses alliteration with “skunk” and “squirrel” and finally “sheep” (the sh being an off-alliteration). The triple meter of “hog-nosed skunk” skips along into these easy ‘s’ sounds, offering a natural cadence and leads into the fifth line where the ‘f’ sounds of “fur fluffy” are not as simple, therefore slowing the cadence. Voigt again uses caesura after “maybe he is a she/ it”. This play on pronouns, their rhyme scheme, and their subsequent brain teasing effect creates a stop at “it” and allows the cadence to slow for Voigt’s final conceit. This ‘it pause’ allows the reader to break the final two lines into syntactical chunks.
As mentioned above, the last two lines of this stanza (and the poem) are syllabically shorter. These shorter lines along with the alliteration of “what we’re called words” slows the cadence and allow the reader to digest the conceit. I would argue that the ‘ought’ sound of “thought” at the end of the sixth line can be tied sonically into this ‘w pattern’ as the reader’s mouth moves similarly (and so their brain feels) the continuation of the alliteration pattern. The reader moves smoothly into the final line from the use of “say”. The alliterative uses of ‘r’ in “rodent and ruin” are a playful end to a sobering conceit.
Ellen Bryant Voigt renders magic with a musical baton in “Headwaters”. Her mastery of poetic devices offers each poem an individual melody and, when presented together, a cohesive score that is the entire work of “Headwaters”. If one stanza of one poem offers such lessons, one should consider a reading of the whole work.
Orr, Gregory, Ed., Voigt,Ellen Bryant, Ed.,. Poets Teaching Poets: Self and the World. University of Michigan Press, P.O. Box 1104, Ann Arbor, MI 48106; (paperback: ISBN-0-472-06621-8, $17.95; hardcover: ISBN-0-472-09621-4)., 1996. Print.
Preminger, Alex., Brogan,T.V.F.,. The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1993. Print.
Voigt,Ellen Bryant,,. The Art of Syntax : Rhythm of Thought, Rhythm of Song. Saint Paul, MN: Graywolf Press, 2009. Print.
—. Headwaters : Poems., 2013. Print.
Please connect with Katch Campbell on Twitter.