"I'd forgotten what the undersides of leaves look like..."

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Bob Sward's Writer's Friendship Series

Book Reviews

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Issue 11: The Necessary Eye

Issue 10: Out on a Limb

Issue 9: The Missing Body

Issue 8: The Lily

Issue 7: Passages

Issue 6: No More Tears

A quick list to poets featured in this issue:

Melissa Ahart

Sommer Browning

Sarah Busse

devin wayne davis

Karen D'Amato

Yaakov Fichman

Donna Johnson

Vera Kroms

Li Bo

Li Qingzhao

Ander Monson

Christopher Mulrooney


Todd Samuelson

Maria Terrone

Mihai Ursachi

Sophie Wadsworth

G.C. Waldrep

Martha Zweig

Melissa Ahart

Match Girl

What if
         instead of striking each alone
         to sputter
         into the unquenchable night,

you had
         bound them all up,
         frail sulphurous sticks,
         struck them all at a blow
         on the brick and hurled
         that fiery brand through
         the frosted plate glass?

burned up
         the lace tablecloths,
         the balustrades, the roast goose!
         Melted the brass stove
         and the seven-armed candlesticks!
         Let the flames careen into the sky—
         consume the stars themselves
         and scorch God's whiskers!
         That conflagration of wealth could surely
         have warmed your hands then, match-girl,
         miniature handmaiden of rage.

         wanted you frozen black,
         cold testament to passersby
         of heavenly reward.
         I prefer you
         dancing on the ashes,
         sooty cheeks ruddy underneath
         with heat, skirt kilted up
         about your knees, and eyes ablaze.


Virginia Reel

In the gloaming I fell for a girl fiddler. For her alone I wanted
to cheer out of need, not the begrudging obligation of the crowd,
a reminder that old songs are hungry gods that demand tribute.

I'd forgotten what the undersides of leaves look like, the intricacy
of each veiny path blooming exponentially outward like raggle-taggle gypsies,
like torn stained letters, like desperate men with a price on their heads.

Somewhere a man oils Spanish leather boots with care and places them
beneath an empty bed. Somewhere the root of a briar splits
damp pine to wrap its first tendrils around a woman's skeleton.

The fiddle creaks and keens as a well-rosined bow draws dust close
around my girl, my lass in blue. I clap my hands until they sting, then cup
them softly together as if something dear was trapped between them.