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THE SNOW QUEEN
by Lynne Rees

Tough women always get bad press.
Cold. Bossy. Bitch. They said
I took him from the arms of his family
when he tagged along after me.

Ill-matched from the start
but I couldn’t resist those young hands
on my skin. And though I’ve always been one for the cold,
a bracing walk, a bitter wind to blow a mood away,
I changed, spent days and nights sweating with him.

The week I went back to work,
I’d come home to find him buried under blankets,
the heating full on, his face as red as chestnuts,
not a scrap of housework done. Windows steamed
from his heat, his breath, his feet.
I slept in my own spare room

when I couldn’t stand his body’s furnace another night
while he spread hot and moist across my cool, white sheets.
The stench in the morning made me gag,
throw the windows open to his moans,
the condensation, the flowering of mould.
So don’t tell me the old seduce the young.
He took me all the way.

The day I found him gone, I wept for joy,
for the cool setting on the shower,
the welcoming cold of the lavatory seat,
and then for fear of being alone. The bleak
expanse of mattress when I woke, a silence
that could decorate the walls.

It’s months and I still miss the things
I grew to hate. Warm hands around my face.
At night, his heat rising against my spine.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The re-visioning of myth is something I began to explore while studying for my Master’s degree in the late 1990s. Giving voice to the women in these ancient stories seemed to help me find my own emerging voice as an apprentice writer and also discover a certain amount of self-belief as a woman.

IMAGE: “The Snow Queen” by Edmund Dulac (1911).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lynne Rees was born and grew up in South Wales, UK. Novelist, poet, life writer, editor, and psycho-geographer, her most recent book is Real Port Talbot (Seren 2013), an upbeat and offbeat historical and journalistic exploration of her hometown. She is joint editor of the long-running journal, contemporary haibun online and blogs weekly on life, food, and writing as “the hungry writer” at www.lynnerees.com.

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BEAR
by Gail Griffin

Too hot, too cold, just right.
Golden hair, golden mean.
Simple as porridge.

Too hard, too soft, just right:
a mattress-testing primer.
Always the neat trinities,

even the bears.
Middle way, perfect fit,
the eternal just right.

Listen to me: I am a girl
who sought bears. A yellow-
haired girl who wanted bear

in her life. Wanted bear life:
deep greasy grain of it,
sharp brown smell.

Bear snout and snuffle,
lumber and huff, moony
arc of claw and tooth.

I stalked those rooms
that reeked of them. Sniffed
and licked, marked the place.

Then I slipped myself like a fish
into that great mouth, closed
my girl-blue eyes, and waited.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  Something always bugged me about the Goldilocks story: first, the girl’s audaciousness, and second, the tiresome emphasis in our culture on avoiding what are defined as “extremes.” Those two seemed to be at odds with each other: Goldie is not exactly doing what is “just right.” I wanted her to speak in a way that would unearth the wild thing in the little blonde girl.

IMAGE: “White Bear” by Theodor Severin Kittelsen (1912).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gail Griffin is a poet and nonfiction writer living in southwestern Michigan. Her last book of nonfiction was a study of a student murder-suicide on the campus of Kalamazoo College, where she taught for 35 years. Her poetry, essays, and flash nonfiction have appeared widely in journals and anthologies. She is retired now, working on a memoir of widowhood and survival.

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Dreaming the Shadow-Self
by Paula J. Lambert

When I dream the shadow-self
I wake with a whisper: Remember.
Houses, stairwells, basements and
sub-basements, labyrinths all divine.
Attics bright with light that isn’t there.
Neighborhoods familiar and unfamiliar.
Darkness. Doorways. Once, a lake:
I stood on the shore with a wolf,
watched a woman, lovely, nude, silver
as moonlight, walk into the water,
stopping so far away she should have
drowned. I saw the back of her head,
her hair, the full white moon. She was
the water, the moon. I am the woman,
the wolf, that silver light. I wake
with a word wrapped round my neck
like a scarf, like a whisper: remember.

IMAGE: “Woman with a Crescent Moon” by Paul Albert Besnard (1849-1934).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paula J. Lambert is the author of The Sudden Seduction of Gravity (Full/Crescent Press, 2012) and The Guilt That Gathers (Pudding House, 2009). A residency artist for the Ohio Arts Council Arts Learning Program, she has published her work in numerous journals and anthologies. She is a past recipient of an OAC Individual Artist Fellowship and was a resident fellow at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. Her MFA is from Bowling Green State University. Lambert currently resides in Dublin, Ohio, with her husband Michael Perkins, with whom she operates Full/Crescent Press, a small but growing independent publisher of poetry books and broadsides.

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HERO
by Karen Massey

Bard on a quest,
Quaint uncouth dreamer,
Vices and strange fists
Of beauty and grief;
Sweet, everlasting glad
Ward of the earth,
Searching

SOURCE: “The Frogs” by Archibald Lampman,1887.

SOURCE BOOK: Lampman’s Sonnets 1884-1899 (Borealis Press, 1976), page 21.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Karen Massey lives in Ottawa, Canada. Her work has been published online and in journals and anthologies in Canada and the US including Decalogue: Ten Ottawa Poets (Chaudiere Books) and Bukowski Erasure Poetry Anthology and May Poetry Anthology (both from Silver Birch Press). Her second chapbook, Strange Fits of Beauty & Light (above/ground press) launches in December.

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I’ll Be Ares, You Be Aphrodite (III)
by Katie Aliferis

We are but two stars
Two orbs of heat and fire
Like drawn to like, drawing
Ourselves much too quickly to supernova

In our wake we will leave
Nothing but smoldering ash—
Particles of ourselves—that will settle
On the wind and in the lungs of all who follow

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is inspired by the Greek god Ares, who is known as the god of war, violence, and bloodshed. I have written this tribute to reflect on a softer (and completely unknown) side of his persona.

IMAGE: “Field of Mars” by Marc Chagall (1955).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Katie Aliferis is a Greek-American poet and writer from San Francisco, California. Her poetry has been featured in Visual Verse, Voices, Velvet Revolution Reading Series, and other literary journals and websites. Her favorite poems are Jane Hirshfield’s “The Lost Love Poems of Sappho” and C.P. Cavafy’s “Όταν Διεγείρονται” (“When They Come Alive”). When not writing, Katie can be found reading, traveling, sipping mint tea, and enjoying time with friends and family. Find Katie online via Twitter (@KatieA_SF) and at KatieAliferis.com.

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SEMELE
by Ruth Foley

I swallowed my own heart for you;
there was no trickery, no pregnant
pauses while I drank. I’d say I knew
what I was getting into, but I can’t—
though if I repeat it, perhaps I’ll make
it true. Call it a choice, as much as
anyone can choose, or name it fate,
a lie, a decision cut in half.

I drank. My blood pooled gleaming in
the cup. I grew anemic, lost the will
to pulse or beat. I want to singe and cure
this current in my fingers. Lightning
won’t release desire, so spark until
I catch. When I look at you, I burn.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Semele wants to look on Zeus—of course there’s trickery involved, with jealous wives and such—but even in his most minimal form, he is too much for human eyes to bear. Some versions of the myth say that Zeus cut up the heart of Dionysus and fed it to Semele in a drink, after which Zeus gave birth to Dionysus (that’s right—he was born twice) through a hole in his thigh. Another version has Zeus swallowing the heart. I certainly know the feeling of swallowing my heart for a man, and the belief that I am up to whatever challenge he may offer. Zeus gave in to Semele’s wish, but upon looking at him she burst into flame and died. I’m pretty sure I know that feeling, too.

IMAGE: “Jupiter and Semele” (detail) by Gustave Moreau (1895).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ruth Foley lives in Massachusetts, where she teaches English for Wheaton College. Her work appears in numerous web an print journals, including Antiphon, The Bellingham Review, The Louisville Review, and Nonbinary Review. Her chapbook Dear Turquoise is available from Dancing Girl Press. She serves as Managing Editor for Cider Press Review.

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On November 7, 2014, Silver Birch Press issued a call for submissions for poems in our I Am Waiting Poetry Series. See original post here.

We’ve already received some amazing poems from poets who really got what we were going for — but more than a few from people who didn’t seem to catch the theme. So we will clarify: The poem has to be about you (the author) and what you are waiting for. I’m not looking for how winter waits for spring, or how elephants wait for the rain to stop. I want to know what you are waiting for. I thought it was clear in the original prompt (see below), but I guess not. I hate to sent out rejections — so I’m hoping all the remaining submissions will follow the theme. Also, please don’t title your poem “I Am Waiting” — if you insist on this title, give it a different spin (Waiting I Am, I’m Also Waiting, Larry & Me Are Waiting, etc.). The word “waiting” should appear somewhere in the poem or title. Whew!

Prompt: The trigger for poems in this series is “waiting.” What are you waiting for? Christmas? A new job? New home? New baby? Happiness? A trip? Godot? Whatever you’re waiting for, memorialize it in your “I Am Waiting” poem.

For details on how to submit, see this link.

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CROWN
by Sonja Johanson

Sif, how I howled
when the gold was gone.
The thing I loved you for,
the thing I held you back by –
how could you let him in?
That icy devil in my home,
red sneak-thief in my very bed.
Sif, how you shame me now,
bald and unafraid before them
all, more a goddess than a wife.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Goddesses held only minor roles in Norse mythology, and I could never understand how Thor was the one Loki had to make amends to. Maybe Sif knew exactly what she was doing – maybe she didn’t want to be her husband’s decoration, or be weighed down by all that long hair anymore.

IMAGE: “Loki Prepares to Cut Sif’s Hair” by John Charles Dollman (1909).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sonja Johanson attended College of the Atlantic, in Bar Harbor, Maine. She has recent work appearing in The Albatross, Off the Coast, and Out of Sequence: The Sonnets Remixed, and was a participating writer in Found Poetry Review‘s 2014 Oulipost Project. Sonja divides her time between work in Massachusetts and her home in the mountains of western Maine.

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CLIO’S DINNER PARTY
by Joan Colby

Snails, oysters sinuous as mucus
To prepare the palate for the roughage
Of peasant speech, red capped radish,
Arugula glottal with desire for the
Extraordinary, iceberg lettuce patient
As a nun telling her beads.
The lascivious tomato, sliced or cherry
As entry-level fireworks. Soothed
With oils, steeped in vinegar.

Wipe your lips. Ah Clio in chef’s hat
And a smeared apron, now you emerge
With your iron pots smoking,
Your braziers, your spits,
The carving knives, the tongs,
The great spoon of submission.

Deliver us. Bless us. We say the grace
You demand. Salivate as you spread
The white cloth with raw meat,
With blood. With the pale porcine lard,
The rubicund goat’s head. The worst and the best
Of our hungers. You know
What we want and you serve us.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I began writing Clio poems about 30 years ago, starting with one titled “Ah Clio – Muse of History.” A number of the early Clio poems appeared in my first book Blue Woman Dancing in the Nerve from Alembic Press. Over time, I added more Clios as they came to me, and recently I’ve written quite a number, of which “Clio’s Dinner Party” is one. Kattywompus Press will bring out a chapbook of the Clio poems next year. The notion of Clio as the Muse of History appealed to me as we are all “victims” of history, one could say.

IMAGE: “Clio” by Charles Meynier (1798).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Colby has published widely in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, South Dakota Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, New York Quarterly, the new renaissance, Grand Street, Epoch, and Prairie Schooner. Awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards, Rhino Poetry Award, the new renaissance Award for Poetry, and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. She was a finalist in the GSU Poetry Contest (2007), Nimrod International Pablo Neruda Prize (2009, 2012), and received honorable mentions in the North American Review’s James Hearst Poetry Contest (2008, 2010).One of her poems is a winner of the 2014 Atlanta Review International Poetry Contest. She is the editor of Illinois Racing News,and lives on a small horse farm in Northern Illinois. She has published 14 books, including Selected Poems (FutureCycle Press), which received the 2013 FutureCycle Prize,  Properties of Matter (Aldrich Press, Kelsay Books), Bittersweet (Main Street Rag Press), and The Wingback Chair (FutureCycle Press). Colby is also an associate editor of Kentucky Review and FutureCycle Press. Visit her at joancolby.com.

The Fallen Caryatid Carrying her Stone circa 1880-1, cast 1950 by Auguste Rodin 1840-1917
Fallen Caryatid Carrying Her Stone
by Shari Zollinger

They think I simply bear the weight of courtyard
talk like any good girl would, with silence.
They think I don’t see them catch my
burnished body in its soft contortion
only to claim it a pose of pity.
A girl taken down by a block of stone.
I do not open my eyes. I alone
know the reason for infinite sitting.

What happens when you listen to a stone
for a bronze age? You finally make out
its language. Each weighty measure and tone
so paradoxically soft—what’s not known
is that I am poised to stand and shout
that I have found my name. That I am home.

IMAGE: “Fallen Caryatid Carrying Her Stone,” sculpture by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917).

EDITOR’S NOTE: A caryatid is a sculpted female figure serving as an architectural support, taking the place of a column or a pillar.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Native of Utah, Shari Zollinger has a BS in History from Utah State University. She spent six years living in Taiwan, part of that time spent attending the Stanford Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies in Taipei. Her love of language has directly inspired her work as a poet. Her poems have appeared in the Sugar House Review, Redactions: Poetry and Poetics, and The Desert Voice. She is currently working on a manuscript inspired by the works of Auguste Rodin. This poem  comes from this work.

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