Sunday, April 29, 2007

Flash Fiction: Lorena Smith


The first time I thought about rebellion was in a Sunday School Class. The teacher was telling us about John the Baptist and immediately my 8 year old imagination was captured by this figure. In my minds eye he was dressed in black leather, eating locusts (which I thought was a kind of bread), camping out in the desert and telling people to shape up or feel the wrath of God. He was a cooooool dude. Later after I heard that locusts were like grasshoppers and he was really wearing camel skin (furry and smelly) my interest waned a little bit. But my fascination with rebels continued. I was always drawn to them, in books and in cinema. I rejected James Dean (too wishy-washy - he didn’t even have a cause!), fell in love with all the boys of the Outsiders and longed for the day when I too could get a tattoo and piercing to prove my rebellion

High school of course was like the hot bed of rebellion. Everyone was rebelling. Piercing practically dripped from every lip, eyebrow and tongue. Tattoos flowered like a poppy field in bloom. The uniformity of our rebellion resulted in conformity like never before. I found myself annoyed and disgusted by this whole-hearted show of fitting in while trying to stick out. Where had all the rebels gone?

And then I met Maria. I literally bumped into her on a flight of stairs. I was running down them, she was walking slowly up them with a cane and a bag of groceries precariously balanced. I rounded a corner and my black leather jacket flew open and swept the bag of groceries straight out of her arms and onto the floor. I opened my eyes wide in horror and looked up at the kindly eyes looking back at me. Even with my not so imposing height at 5’2” she was much shorter than me and had to peer up. Her back was bent with osteoporosis and she wore very sensible shoes. Not my picture of a rebel at all. More a picture of my grandma. But those eyes. Full of sparkle and humor.

I helped her pick up her groceries and carry them to her apartment. When I got in there I saw row upon row of African keepsakes. Tall, carved statues in ebony of tall men and women with babies on their backs or with spears in their hands. Paintings of Lions, Elephants and Wildebeests. A huge leopard skin stretched on the wall. My mouth literally fell open. Her apartment smelt like spices and warm milk. There was a jungle of plants in her tiny living room. Crocuses and Hibiscus and Fikus plants.

She told me she’d spent most of her life in Tanzania working as a nurse in a remote jungle hospital. She said how her parents hadn’t wanted her to go, but the pull had been too strong. She had left. She had photos of the babies she’d delivered, of the people she’d helped. And all long before the time of international phone calls and e-mails. The fact that a tiny woman would venture out to this country where she had never been to serve people she had never known boggled the mind." But we were foolish you know” she smiled, “rebellious, wanting to live, to learn, to do something different.”

She poured me another cup of tea and I felt my tongue piercing clang ineffectively against the rim of the cup.

~ Lorena Smith appears in Elegant Thorn Review for the first time.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Poems: Kit Kennedy


I watch the sunflower grows menacing

Sunset frames plum blossoms

Storm tonight litter of petals

Walked through the other side of rain no fish caught

Just like a riddle bowl of lemons & a carafe

Stares down winter spring stares back in her glass

Smelled the fecund in a potted chive told me she loved me

* * * * *


you would still be
Before you were
in the womb
of ancestors
to danger.

the body
& holy
what it can

~ Kit Kennedy’s work appears in Animus, Bayou, Bombay Gin, Cezanne’s Carrot, The Comstock Review, Karamu, Mannequin Envy, Pearl, Poetry Super Highway, Runes, Saranac Review, Van Gogh’s Ear, and The Wild Goose Poetry Review. She hosts the monthly All Poets Welcome Reading Series in San Francisco and is a columnist (Conversations with...) for Betty’s List (

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Two Poems: Greg Braquet


Is it a defect in the eye,
or a misfired synapse in soul?

Darkness and dawn appear
as synonym ,
the sun and moon are identical twins,
black or blue sky, blend as one bruise.

Wind blown rain = squalling dust=
swirling snow = a makes
no difference sum.

My blood has coagulated as sand,
but feels the same as when it had
long, liquid legs.

I can now turn myself over and
over to measure time,
ridiculous and awkward
as oO, Oo , oO , Oo
     Oo   oO   Oo   oO

I speak silently to myself as
a mark against the void, but
the echo fades like dripping
spit from an observation desk.
Does it ever reach the bottom
as I have?

A sweet butterfly lands on my
tongue, its feet soured in a lemon tree;
I taste only the talc of web and again,
the blurring of differentials leads to a
threshold without form. Is this oblivion?

Then, a letter comes explaining
all the particulars of your exit,
the precise definitions of
of how love is lost, and how,
theoretically, gains can come
from such loss.

And now I start to remember;
the sun is the hot, shiny one.

* * * * *

And Thy Has Brought Me

My catacomb in progress flares,
again my quivering hand to scratch
the chronic scab, bone driven.

Layer after morbid layer
picked away, my neck to rubber
watching how the dead flesh flakes,

shedding by habit,
unveiling a raw ghost
not ready for life.

One day that salivating,
shroud black maw will
invert and swallow whole.

Till then, the ash between my
joints beckons other ash
and the dust on my tongue

thickens, becomes
more palatable.
An immediate presence

falls from my eyes,
always farther in the
direction of the night.

Out there in the unforeseeable
void, a nomenclature is forming
using all of my being for its

voice, and even with so
much of myself committed, I can
not bare to mouth the words.

~ Greg Braquet exists in New Orleans, but like most poets lives in a world of his own schmoosing. His poetry has appeared in such publications as The New Laurel Review, THEMA, Poems Niederngasse, The 2006 Rhysling Anthology, Red River Review, The Pedestal Magazine, Pierian Springs, Tryst, Side Reality, The Adagio Verse Quarterly, The Little Green Tricycle, The Junket, L'Intrigue, Branches Quarterly, Stylus Poetry Journal, Subtle Tea, The Exquisite Corpse, Slow Trains, Mannequin Envy, Zygote In My Coffee and The Melic Review.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Two Poems: Pete Lee

And Nothing

And nothing is straight or flat,
and nothing is in rows,
and the creek is babbling,
and everything is decaying
and shooting up green from itself,
and nothing has perfect corners,
and everything's lying askew
as I am lying on this rock,
and the creek is lying
about everything,
babbling on and on,
and nothing about this creek
is on the level...
and nothing is
wasted: nothing is clean.

* * * * *

What Follows

After the brief,
intense storm,

the snow melts
as the sky clears,

revealing sun,
horizon, and

the path you
have been on

all along,
after all.

~ Pete Lee lives with his wife in Ridgecrest, California, a small town in the Mojave Desert midway between Mount Whitney and Death Valley. His poetry has recently appeared online at Right Hand Pointing, Unfettered Verse, The Orange Room Review, ken*again, and Antithesis Common.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

National Poetry Map

The Academy of American Poets offers a great resource for poets and lovers of poetry -- the National Poetry Map.

Simply choose your state to find local poets, poems, events, literary journals, writing programs, poetry organizations, and more.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Three Photos: Orkun



Green Bed

~ Orkun lives in Turkey. This is his first appearance in Elegant Thorn Review. You can see more of his photography at his DeviantArt page.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Two Poems: David Thornbrugh

Ditch Algae

Ditch water between road
and winter-fallow fields
flows over brown scum
like a old man’s toothless gums,
frayed fabric flailing crystal
depths that seem subterranean,
peristaltic, sewage sludged.

We are drawn in like Elizabethan audiences
staring at ourselves onstage,
appalled at the resemblance
of a murderer to a saint,
how elaborately worked lace
resembles knife holes bloody from within,

water flowing along digestive tracts
filtered by gills growing scant inches
under the thin skin we rub together
in ecstasies of angel exaltation,
stain glass glow to our rosy meekness
straining to escape from winter-fallow fields,

bodies bounded by corn rows
cut to stubble browsed by sheep.
Winter water drained off sheep shit fields
flows weed-choked ditch through
fists of algae, single-celled as saints
praying for deliverance from the body,
for a way out of the ditch.

* * * * *

The Art Critic

TV announcer says
The Scream has been found
flashes picture of Edvard Munch’s
balloon man squeezing his cheeks
on that far northern bridge
stolen with emaciated Madonna
two years back and now returned

in his recliner my father stirs
like an elephant seal scenting an intruder
says “what’s the point of that”
of a painting so famous
it’s a plastic punch-me doll
sold in drug stores all over America

his idea of art doesn’t get much past
Spitfires and ME-109s mixing it up
over London the angst in his hand
clicks one channel after another
past the Mona Lisa and mastodons
scrawled on cave walls
abstraction not what his generation fought for

bare-breasted women painted on
bomber fuselages his way
of living with the terror of existence
he couldn’t hear the Scream
or see the Madonna’s fever
from 25,000 feet over Dresden
or Tokyo

~ "David Thornbrugh currently writes from South Korea, where he teaches English in a National University. He writes to push back the darkness a little bit at a time, in the same flighty manner as lightning bugs. He has been published in numerous small press journals, and once wrote the questions for a geography textbook. He prefers multiple choice questions to True/False."

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Two Poems: Ace Boggess

"What Is It That Divides Us?"

[question from]

I hear silence when you speak.
I promise "nice things," &
you think I said "night sings,"
ask me what it means . . .
to which I mumble
about beautiful moments
that sound ugly in translation.
It is as though no English term
exists to say "I welcome
the rage that makes you smile," or
"I am like you in my originality."
We are torn apart by love
we express in spiteful logic
of ears that have their own agenda
like politicians who give
the people what they want, &
give them nothing.

* * * * *

"How Would You Like Your Death?"

[question from Mahmoud Darwish's poem, "They Would Love To See Me Dead"]

Served with mystery: glance
at constellations unrecorded, unfamiliar sun.
None of the certainties
answermen promise kneeling
by a cancer patient's bed,
squeezing his hand to impose a prayer.
Spontaneity mixed with spectacle:
head in a lion's mouth,
car leaping fat ravine,
politics awakening culture
as the Tiananmen student
standing ground before a tank,
steel belts agrumble
with his possible death, &
for me, then, no sanctuary
in a camera's lens.

~ Ace Boggess is the author of two novels DISPLACED HOURS and BEAUTIFUL AMBIVALENCE, both available from Gatto Publishing; and two books of poetry, THE BEAUTIFUL GIRL WHOSE WISH WAS NOT FULFILLED (Highwire Press ( and, as editor, WILD SWEET NOTES II: MORE GREAT POETRY FROM WEST VIRGINIA (Publishers Place). His writing has appeared in HARVARD REVIEW, NOTRE DAME REVIEW, ATLANTA REVIEW, FLORIDA REVIEW, RATTLE, and many similar journals.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Three Poems: David Luntz

Odysseus at Sea

There have been no birds for days.

Only still gray sea and the weariness of silence.
Sometimes, if he closes his eyes, he can
swear he hears time’s dull metronome.

But he’s not sure.

Enraged, he bellows into the void:
Aeolos, give me some fucking wind.
But who’s he kidding?

It’s the nature of the gods to ignore you when you need them most.

With nothing else to do, he recalls the art Circe taught him.
What are they?, he asked, pointing to the symbols that burned like
phosphorus across her chest.

Signs by whose combination you can write words, she said.

Would their knowledge give him the power of prophecy?
No, she replied.
Would they let him see the thoughts of other men?

She shakes her head.
Then what use is it?, he said pouting.
You won’t know until you master it, she cooed.

Which he now does with much difficulty,
(like a butterfly struggling against a chrysalis)
until he grasps it in all its radiance, beauty and transience.

But he’s been tricked.

This art cannot be conveniently forgotten or ignored.
Like the tissues that spool a cocoon it has enveloped him.
For days he watches thousands of butterflies threading the air.

Then the wind came.

* * * * *

The Achaean Returns

He makes his home now by the shore.
He senses he will leave soon, but he’s not sure to where.

Shells cluster over him in pink constellations.
Fishnets, as the villagers call them, braid his eyes.

The canker of memory still smarts, but he’s gotten used to it.
Blindness has illuminated him.

Still, he will concede, he often regrets the day he learned to read,
Circe smiling and the sky swollen with butterflies…

While he gorged on all the different words,
rolled them across his tongue,
gargled syllables in his throat,
bit down on the consonants,
released vowels into light and clouds.

Then, as though he had left off dreaming,
he hears her voice call to him from across
the sea…

Blown from a conch of seven chambers
and supple camber, his mother’s voice,
like a forgotten scent, singes the raw nerves
of memory…

And he wonders, not without resentment,
why it took her so long to find him.

At last, blind, alone and dying, he knows now
where to go…

He will slip away unnoticed on the tide,
unwind the stifling skein of words and thought,

desire and memory, sail to her directly without
stars or lodestone, and sleep again in her arms.

* * * * *

Starry Night

We are by the sea at night, not dreaming,
just sleepwalking through time’s dark
asylum, spellbound in solitude, wondering
whether fashioning a man from dust is more
perverse than creating an endless universe.

The stars drift across the face of the ancient
seabed. They seem to cry out,
There are no mirrors here, only windows.
Beyond, in the woods, moonlight
soaks through the lachrymose dew, sullen pools
reflecting birches and oaks in amber hues.

Birches and oaks tense in the breeze.
Shadows shiver on the dews’ taut skin.
These tender the illusion that the gods
have not abandoned us, while the single
path through the woods winds gently
to the end of memory and anticipation.

~ David Luntz started writing in 2005 and has appeared in various online journals. He has been nominated (2006) for a Pushcart Prize.

[CREDITS: Starry Night appeared in Mastodon Dentist November 2006. The Achaean Returns appeared in The Centrifugal Eye August 2006. Odysseus at Sea appeared in Facets June 2006.]

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Two Poems: Rachel Diem

Gabriel crosses a border

Everything happens at once, so he has to arrive; someone shoves him out the door of a passing car. This happens: a somersaulting hard-scraping skid on the pavement, torn clothes, grit stinging, raw skin. Events occur in space, it has to happen somewhere: some road running north from the old military highway along the border, near Progreso, near Relámpago, maybe. And she has to be there too, shivering in the March wind, waiting for a ride, for the schoolbus, with a group of girlfriends. They call out warnings and taunts as she goes to him. His jeans were pressed, once; his shirt had been clean. The wind has been knocked right out of him. She kneels over him; he rises to his knees beside her; she lifts her hand to brush the dirt off his cheek. He sees sunflowers arching behind her. When he stumbles to his feet he's taller than she is, and skinny, and he laughs, even though he hurts. We don't know what she sees. Somebody new to this side of the border, somebody with tears in his eyes, somebody with wings. We don't know what time and space are, or how they work. He has forgotten air, and breath. He doesn't seem to be used to gravity. Sunlight breaks through the clouds, and for a moment even you can see their halos.

* * * * *


I walk the path back to the cabin
and hear movement in the weedy brush.
I see a badger. He looks at me.
Nothing but yarrow and Queen-Anne's-lace
between us. I move away, afraid,
not wanting to cause fear.
Inside, the clock says it's nine but it’s afternoon;
the clock lives its own time, or none.
The hands move, but maybe it's only
to cover its face.

Empty and blank as a movie screen
in a closed theater, I think
of the badger's appraising stare.
I don't know what the badger sees,
what you see, what anyone sees.
Run away now –
behind the screen are the real stories,
true ones, ones I haven't told you,
not wanting to cause fear.

When I was twelve I walked up wide stairs,
stood facing Picasso's Guernica.
The century turned inside out
and the inside was gray
although I knew it was burning.
We flew from Germany with bombs.
I couldn't hear the horse’s screams, or hers,
or my own, over the thrum of the plane.

I know the badger sees me
as I turn away. Clock, cover your face.
I use dirty words, and the dirt
comes from the ditch where we tossed the bodies.
The badger sees that too. Queen-Anne’s-lace
and yarrow grow up out of the ditch
and I keep climbing the stairs
in the museum of the 20th century,
trying to remember what happens
when the movie ends.

~ Rachel Diem lives in Saline, Michigan. This is her first appearance in the Elegant Thorn Review.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month.

As part of National Poetry Month, the Academy of American Poets is offering a poem a day delivered to your mailbox.
After 20,000 readers signed up in 2006, the Academy will again offer a daily dose of new poetry each day this April. The poems represent some of the best work being published in 2007, and include new poems by authors such as Eavan Boland, Henri Cole, Kevin Young, and Carl Dennis.
The poem for April 1 is from Noah Eli Gordon:

An exact comprehension of the composer’s intent

Cloudless sky, a tendril root, a chord begun
as unfolding duration & one’s lost words,
a red lexicon, an empty definition

gathering its discourse—the flow from content
to perception: language is a translation of grace.
Say the body, say the heart, a composition in blue,

the passing energy, cell, motion, inevitability;
an impact until meaning wears through
the mind’s opulence, its spindle—a white thread.

Tethered to conviction, one says moon, one, emotion
—the recurrence of night: a door will open,
shifting from anonymity to intellection—a translation

of sight with speech, awoken not by voice
but what precedes it: the worldliness, wordless;
a measure of sound or movement to song.