August, 2016

What the Gun Eats #18 by Darren Demaree

We put the seeds
in the ground
because the seeds

were quivering.
They knew about
the world

as they came
from crop, but they
didn’t know

that the hands
that could envelope
the world,

could add flames
to the sky, could
shred the field

with lines
to hang death
across the season.


Darren Demaree’s poems have appeared, or are scheduled to appear in numerous magazines/journals, including theSouth Dakota Review, Meridian, New Letters, Diagram, and the Colorado Review. He is the author of five poetry collections, most recently “The Nineteen Steps Between Us” (2016, After the Pause). I am the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology and Ovenbird Poetry. He currently lives and writes in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children.

He believes poetry matters because “it’s the only art form that forces your mind, heart, and soul to exist in an ecstatic state all at the same time.”


The Beating Heart of the Wristwatch by Martín Espada

My father worked as a mechanic in the Air Force,
the engines of the planes howling in his ears all day.
One morning the wristwatch his father gave him was gone.
The next day, he saw another soldier wearing the watch.
There was nothing he could say: no one would believe
the greaser airplane mechanic at the Air Force base
in San Antonio. Instead, one howling night he got drunk
and tore up the planks of an empty barracks for firewood.
There was no way for him to tell time locked in the brig.

When he died, I stole my father’s wristwatch.
I listened to the beating heart of the watch.
The heart of the watch kept beating long after
my father’s heart stopped beating. Somewhere,
the son of the man who stole my father’s wristwatch
in the Air Force holds the watch to his ear and listens
to the heart of the watch beating. He keeps the watch
in a sacred place where no one else will hear it.
So the son tries to resurrect the father. The Bible
tells the story wrong. We try to resurrect the father.
We listen for the heartbeat and hear the howling.


First published in Vivas to Those Who Have Failed (Norton, 2016)

Martín Espada has been called by Sandra Cisneros “the Pablo Neruda of North American poets, “ Martín Espada was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1957. He has published almost twenty books as a poet, editor, essayist and translator. His new collection of poems from Norton is called Vivas to Those Who Have Failed (2016). Other books of poems include The Trouble Ball (2011), The Republic of Poetry (2006), Alabanza(2003), A Mayan Astronomer in Hell’s Kitchen(2000), Imagine the Angels of Bread(1996), City of Coughing and Dead Radiators (1993) and Rebellion is the Circle of a Lover’s Hands (1990).

His many honors include the Shelley Memorial Award, the Robert Creeley Award, the National Hispanic Cultural Center Literary Award, an American Book Award, the PEN/Revson Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship. The Republic of Poetry was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. The title poem of his collection Alabanza, about 9/11, has been widely anthologized and performed. His book of essays, Zapata’s Disciple (1998), was banned in Tucson as part of the Mexican-American Studies Program outlawed by the state of Arizona, and will be reissued in a new edition this fall. A former tenant lawyer in Greater Boston’s Latino community, Espada is a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.


Key Change by Robbie Gamble

 There is a moment,
just the first beat, actually,
of Mozart’s 40th Symphony,
where the first violins appear
to start off earnestly
in B-flat Major, and then
the orchestra swells in
to stifle them in G minor
with a sad, well-known theme,
and the first time I heard it
if I’d really been listening
it would have been
an astonishing shift
but now it feels like
when we open our mouths
and I know, after a moment,
where this fight is going to go.

Robbie Gamble is diving into an MFA in poetry at Lesley University. He has had poems appear in Ibbetson St. Press, The Christian Science Monitor, Main Street Rag and Modern Haiku. He works as a nurse practitioner, caring for homeless families and individuals in the greater Boston area.

 He says, “Poetry matters to me as a reader and a writer, because it creates a space for those vital conversations that take place in the strange and difficult-to-access contours of our psyches.”

Sadhu by Jen Karetnick

 If you make yourself
a ghost with the snow
melt from mountains,
the ash of brief,
ascetic fires, you were.
You are. You will be
in a hut in a village,
a temple in the city.
In the cave of perpetual
pilgrimage, it matters only that
rebirth is a truth
everyone else has missed.

Previously published in The Boiler Journal and American Sentencing (Winter Goose Publishing, May 2016).

Jen Karetnick is the author of three full-length books of poetry, including the forthcoming books American Sentencing (Winter Goose Publishing, May 2016) and The Treasures That Prevail (Whitepoint Press, September 2016), as well as four poetry chapbooks. She is the winner of the 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Prize for Poetry and runner-up for the 2015 Atlantis Prize and 2016 Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Prize. Her work has been published widely in journals including Barrow Street, Cimarron Review, december, North American Review, Poet’s Market 2013, Seneca Review, SLAB, Spillway, Spoon River Poetry Review and Valparaiso Poetry Review. She works as the Creative Writing Director for Miami Arts Charter School and as an award-winning freelance dining critic, lifestyle journalist and cookbook author.

“Poetry matters because sometimes, it’s the only way for those who have been silenced, in whatever manner — by self, state or circumstance — to speak. And to be heard.”


Attempt #2 to Spot the Monster by Natalie Young

Scuba gear in the bed of the truck. The same kind
her father used to scoop out tropical fish for their tank,

from a different body of water, before sunset colors
defined air quality and foreign threats.

This dive is not for swimming rainbows,
this is to prove a creature neither man nor fish,

lives in the Great Salt Lake. And the creature is happy
to be ignored, happy to have us worry

about energy and fires, about roasting hot dogs.
The marshmallow smoke a signal to the universe.

The edges are bubbling and she’s watching, eyeing
each one for reflection. A pupil. His coat. A claw.


Natalie Young is a founding editor of the independent poetry magazine Sugar House Review. By day, she works as an art director for an ad agency based out of Salt Lake City. Recent and forthcoming publications include Los Angeles Review, South Dakota Review, Tampa Review, Drunken Boat, Green Mountains Review, and others. Natalie is left-handed, half Puerto Rican, and a fan of Dolly Parton and apple fritters.
Poetry matters because it has the ability to engage the entire body—intellectually, emotionally, and physically—which makes it very intimate. And I think we could all use that.