ISSUE ONE: Trams Yell Yes! | next poem →


Rose Swartz


On a charred mountain range, my body replaces several layers

of tree rings. I cannot help but view myself from far away. Centuries, miles: an

Odalisque as he'd called me. I'd always thought that meant something religious, untainted,

overwrought with purity. Was I composed as those cloudy-eyed women who hang

on chapel ceilings, as we stood whiskey-stoned and nerve-shining?

Over the washed-out bridge we watched the Superstitions. We shared

one sweater all spring. Its fiber loose as the inside of a milkweed pod unfurling.

Oblong in the empty creek, the moon was a science project

our sentences could never finish. There were far too many stars to name, an

omnipresence in the oh-so-quiet, that forest carved out by lightning. We spoke more

often to the landscape than one another. Carbon carriers, concubines

of whatever land we'd landed on. Cosmic or microcosm: who were we really,

our hair the same color as parched leaves, fingers tobacco yellow. In the center

of an ash tree we stopped for a great long scattered sometime. The dirt turned

opaline as the sky, doused the cacti and brambles in shadow. In the

ochre evening, a corpse of months floated down Fish Creek. When

one headlight crested the hill, I leapt away—spooked to the edge that

only went down and down. He caught me or he didn't. We pretended

only then that nothing had happened. And then nothing happened over and

over again. During one of the nothings, I left our sweater on the path. No

one noticed or spoke. We lit a cigarette. A dog barked. The air, a fuse.

Out over the valley we saw the city licking up the

open land. When I ask what blooms in the fireweed he said an

odalisque. I thought of a necklace with a pendant of a virgin; a figure

osseous in rags. I thought of her trembling with the unsaying of things; a man scrambling

over peaks and valleys, counting abacus beads, rosaries. We never talked

of questions that had answers, but if he would have asked me then about the fireweed

or anything really, it would have been his chin and I would have said dusk.

Rose Swartz currently lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan and teaches Composition and Literature at Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, Michigan. Rose earned an MFA in poetry from Arizona State University in 2010, and also has a BA in English and a BFA in visual art from Western Michigan University. She's currently working on a photo-essay and creative nonfiction collection about travelling in Asia and working in Beijing, China. Her poetry has been published in Devil's Lake, The Golden Key, Front Porch, The Kenyon Review Online, Sin Fronteras, Asylum Lake, and Carrier Pigeon.

ISSUE ONE: Trams Yell Yes! | next poem →

ISSUE ONE: Trams Yell Yes!

Craig Kurtz
    Index Denied
    Reinvestment Order

Erin Dorney
    This Is Not A Poem About
       Fast Food


Rose Swartz

Tim Kahl
    Plasma Globe

Alison McCabe
    I Watch Myself Loop

Dan Boehl
   excerpts from whatever
       from @emoemoji

Vanessa Couto Johnson

Valentina Cano
    Planned Remodeling

Ryan Napier
    Seasonal Affective Disorder

Terry Wolverton
    Sizzle and Chew

Gregory Crosby
    Satan's Skull Glows White Hot

Lea Galanter
    When Lost in the Woods

Jake Sheff
    Stasis in Ragtime

Angelica Poversky

Mercedes Lawry
    In Late November, There Are
       Days of False Clemency