22 March 2006

Featured Poet: Garin Cycholl

Garin Cycholl teaches writing and literature at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he also works as co-editor of Near South, a journal of experimental poetry, fiction, and drama. His recent work will appear this spring with Admit2 and Keep Going. He is author of Nightbirds (moria books 2006), and Blue Mound to 161, a book-length poem on geological and historical displacements in Southern Illinois (Pavement Saw Press 2005).


nostalgia is his-
t’ry eating itself—
contortions for
the camera’s ear,
the boys down
the hall singing,

America’s a
dead horse an
abandoned drive-
in an auto parts
store with dusty
inventory a hot
dog stand with
a silent partner

he worries—
he thinks, I’m
a fat man in a
tight suit he
says into his
lapel, “another
five years of
fucking plan”

a direct line, but
one that winds
through place

they said that series was fixed

“and if they hadn’t
known his head be-
fore, they certainly
did when it rolled
out of the piƱata”

Three poems for Rita Figueroa

“two by knockout”

your hands are two bags
of Quikrete, loose
money and clenched
rags sing
it! we
live in a
slow time, you
said ring the
bell and

toe to toes curled
and cinched against
knuckle negative
Aphrodite three
steps down a
rope “oh, to
be with my baby
down in Nelson
Algren’s fuck
shack,” you
sang bones
in the corner

a loose jaw gathers
no what? five
bucks against
that I
would like to
be called Caesar,
get off the bus
at Western light
my pipe with
bills watch
Grant’s head
explode in
blue flame

Song for Meriwether Lewis

dead by his own hand (probably)

Farewell, old knife, now that you’ve come home! I’ve stabbed plenty. Farewell my Boise, my Tennessee. My mashed potatoes. Where’s that old dog? Crime does not simply happen. Like a triangle, crime must have three sides or elements to be complete. Ability, desire, and opportunity. Farewell, my fingers, frozen to my belt and axe. The horses I’ve eaten. Farewell to the samples collected along rivers, in emptied streambeds. Farewell, serious lieutenants, dead in the snow. You can say you found me dead on this picnic table, jaw full of bison. Bulbs plucked and eaten raw. Call security immediately. A man gave me some good advice once. He said, “Take the camera out of your ass, son. We’ve got to snap some pictures of these cliffs.” But now it’s farewell. Farewell, my Mobridge, my Platte. Indian girl pulling her hair loose in rough strands. Where’s that old dog? Ability, desire, opportunity. Remove any one of these elements and the triangle can't be formed and the crime will not occur. The boys already upriver, wondering how many more steps that horse’ll take. Clark and I left to dreams of eating chicken from a cardboard tub by the interstate. Farewell, to you, too, f-stop, silver baths, and things that go “click.” The gray waters of Astoria piled against the sky. Where’s that old dog? Call security immediately. Campfires and whiskey rebellions. Pocket pistols and Improvised Philadelphia. Farewell, opportunity. Farewell, desire. Farewell, ability. Farewell, old knife, stuck firmly in my back!

08 March 2006

Featured Poet: Kristy Bowen

Kristy Bowen’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Diagram, Milk Magazine, Swink, Rhino, and Another Chicago Magazine. She is the author of a number of handmade chapbooks, which are available at her website, as well as a full length book, the fever almanac, due out from Ghost Road Press this fall. She edits the electronic zine, wicked alice and runs dancing girl press, which publishes work by women poets. Be sure to check out her blog, too.

Editor's Note: Kristy Bowen and fellow Seven Corners alum Kristy Odelius will be reading at Myopic Books book on Sunday, March 19. Don't miss it.


Sometimes, it was all red. The dash light, my dress, the fire alarm of my mouth. Even my hair makes a sound like that now. Before you know it, I’m the patron saint of disaster. Of car crashes and open hydrants. The vowels gone round and sloppy in my mouth as candy. For luck, I carry three tiny vermillion birds in the bottom of my purse. A cross in the crux of my crimson bra. In the furnace of my lungs, sometimes there’s a hissing, a swirl, like a sink emptying. I am careful not to riot.

girls against boys

When she makes an o of her mouth,
the forsythia behind her head bursts into flame.
Singes clotheslines full of blue gingham
pinafores and yellow flowered sheets.
When she bends at the waist, she can make an o
of her body. A birdcall. A tiny pink sequin.
Can make up names for the baby teeth
beneath her dresser. Lydia. Amelia.
Their tiny lion tin. Can define the pinwheel
of her arms falling through dark.

The trellis by the steps slicks in the rain
and all night he calls for his extra rib,
his good heart’s hinge. Sad, sad.
No one can sleep with it. The world
is all checked cotton and charm bracelets now.
I can move my mouth in a whisper.
Could give you the instructions,
if we found the proper word.

from the hysteria notebooks: a gothic
I. Catherine, for a moment, was motionless with horror.

Our story indicates the parlor door
remain closed, the lace at her wrist
worn, and slightly rent. Granted,
there are bones in the body science

hasn’t even discovered yet: this,
the one at her throat that tightens
when the white dress takes flight
from the window, or the slivers
in the ear discerning motion.

A woman in the corner is counting spools
of thread while a man in a black coat watches.

The light falls to ruin.

He had then proceeded to throw suspicion upon the girl, saying that he had heard from Frau K. that she took no interest in any other thing but sexual matters, and that she used to read Mantegazza’s Physiology of Love and books of that sort in their house on the lake. It was most likely, he had added, that she had been over excited by such reading and had merely “fancied” the whole scene she had described.

I. Attitudes Passionelles

When he touched her, violets on her tongue,
and afterward, in the folds of her bed linen.

Landscape plays a greater role than one would think.

The dark moors, the moon. How can we but forgive this girl,
dear reader; her dresses unravel us. Or him, his penchant
for the distraught. Now, we are moving

through dark rooms, the rustle of skirts, held breath.
Something must have been here in the moments before,
the thread that, alas, saves us dissappearing round the corner.

II. Rest Cure

Hippocrates first proposed that hysteria was caused by a wandering uterus. He believed that the uterus could dislodge itself in the body and wander around the female body attaching itself to other organs. He explained that the various symptoms of hysteria, such as nervousness, depression, and hysterical fits were caused by the uterus’s interactions with the other organs in the body.

You see, the woman in the attic is nothing

more than the axis on which our heroine turns—

countryside, silver locket, cover of snow.

A bread knife has more to do with it than how

many saints she could name in one breath.

Here, an illustration.

Take away the books. The sharpened point
of a compass, its circle widening. We are apt
to fear the body, the sentences scrawled beneath
the teacup’s pale lip. Each tendon a wire,
jumping at the proximity of silks.

The villain is you father. The villain is your doctor..
The villian is your mother, ten years gone
and wearing white. Once they’ve taken
away the paintbox, you can stop pretending.

Those darling, fragile reds.

Poet's note: “from the hysteria notebooks: a gothic” is from the errata series, my chapbook of Victorian genre-bending pieces.

02 March 2006

Featured Poet: Michael O'Leary

Michael O'Leary is the founding editor of LVNG magazine and the co-director of Flood Editions. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in fracture mechanics at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

for Stephanie Tipton

In the morning of the last day
of summer when the air is sharp
with coolish winds from Canada
and swallows dip along the hedge
at sinusoidal intervals
abandoning the last pliant tips
of little bluestem for the pale
vectors of nowhere, you know
it is not the laminar flow
of their vanishing nor their smooth
bellies that makes them beautiful.
Noon is now and the afternoon
a temptation, an afterthought
of pure abstraction, albeit
Jesuitic. But evening comes
like a stately lawn where a great
silver ball gently rolls to a stop.
In time the hollyhocks grow long,
in time the sunflower is beaten
down by the heat of its own
colossus and the last blossom
of the day is all but subsumed
by the supple granulation
of a very ancient wound.


The street quite still.
Down the long corridor

a light, several doors
and a single pine.

Conversations on
the wires are quiet,

sequestered from here
to there, ear to ear.

The most intimate
jokes get lost sometimes,

even simple questions
go unanswered.

Quiet's like that.
Magnificent crystals

of ice spider
across the creaking panes.


It was calm like bedtime
with water falling off the dam
in tiny castellations.

Flakes of limestone lay about
the base of massive piers raising
the truss above the river.

Water thunders from the turbine.
Two trash pickers sift through driftwood
for a lucky find.

And high above the sluice
a sparrow swoops down to catch
a fleck of dirty water

before resuming his little song
among the stalks of marshgrass dried
and split like last year's palms.

Copyright © 2006 Michael O'Leary