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by Mary Buchinger

                    :: a cement-block house down a grassy lane in the campo,
a shy woman, Rosa, who’ll hand-scrub and iron our underwear,
her fierce child, the youngest, naked, except for a torn t-shirt
slung caveman-style across one thin shoulder, but mostly this bed
—our bed—in the middle of their main room, humming
beneath a canopy of flies—the only language we all can follow
—and these next few months in this, our second year of marriage.

Children appear from nowhere, crowd around us, eagerly await
the unclicking of the suitcases. We say hola, one of a dozen words
we know in Spanish, and our audience titters. The bed is smaller
than the scored dining table it has replaced, narrower than
the two of us side by side. We’ll spoon in desperation, our feet
sticking out the end like Li’l Abner’s, but in three dimensions,
tangled flesh on a bony bed, corporal fight over real estate.

Kids, cats, pigs, wander in, dogs chase across our shared pillow.
Somehow, this isn’t foreign. No, we are. We become someone else
as we take turns changing clothes beneath the sheets, sheets stained
with fleabite blood, our eyes vigilant watching doorless doorways.
We must say something, I plead, as if we had the words, if not a door,
at least a curtain, it must be in the dictionary. Sleep’s private kingdom!
Ya mismo, Soon, is what we are learning in this country of Mañana—

Tomorrow—a sky of promise where everything may change. Mañana
splashes freely, laps up the warped legs of our little bed, threatens the    fleas
drunk on my blood, pledges a clean blanket, a room with walls, maybe    even
a bed that fits us. Sick of mañana, I turn on you, oh husband, you foreign    sore.
I knock on your heart, suspecting fleas, a font of fleas, whose bite I    attract,
bites that inflame. I dream in a language neither of us understands of a    marriage
turned spider—menacing, strange—legs so fragile, frantic with webs.

SOURCE: “Foreign” first appeared in Homesickness and Exile Anthology (Eds. R. Piercey and E. Wright).

PHOTO: The author washing clothes at Sra. Rosa’s house, Ecuador, 1986. (Photo by Stephen Bodwell)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem, “Foreign,” published in Homesickness and Exile Anthology, (Eds. R. Piercey and E. Wright), is about my time as a Peace Corps volunteer and moving into the home of a family in Ecuador for three months during our training. My husband and I didn’t speak any Spanish yet, and for our first week a small bed was set up for us in the dining room that doubled as a saloon. Anyone or anything — kids, pigs, goats, dogs, etc., entering the house had to go through our room, which had no door inside and no curtains; my husband and I were in our second year of marriage.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Buchinger is the author of two books of poetry, Aerialist (Gold Wake, 2015) and Roomful of Sparrows (Finishing Line, 2008).  Her work has appeared in AGNI, Cortland Review, DIAGRAM, Gargoyle, Nimrod International, PANK, Salamander, Slice Magazine, Massachusetts Review and elsewhere. Visit her at

Hair Cutting
A (Mostly Unspoken) Conversation at a Salon on Newbury Street
by Mary Buchinger

Voice I

Sonje, the Albanian stylist, picks through my hair, deep in thought.
I tell her what I’ve heard all my life about my hair: fine, but lots of it.
She looks straight at me in the mirror, her face severe, No. Your hair
is coarse and wiry, almost all grey now, but, okay, you have a lot of it.
I never argue with a hair stylist. Handing her my Groupon
I say I need a cut that requires no work from me, just wash and go.
She says, No. Every woman must do more.
Snapping her fingers, Christina! Shampoo.

Dripping, I sip salon cappuccino as Sonje suggests lengths.
I say I’ve been told, I can’t do bangs. She replies, You can do anything.
I ask how old she was when she came from Albania. She stops cutting.
It was seven years ago, I wasn’t old, I wasn’t young. Hair can be trained.      You pull it,
she grabs a sheaf of my hair, makes a ponytail, it grows in the direction      you pull.
Every surface in this salon gleams black. On the other side, party      laughter
rings out, the kind of extravagant chatter that makes me feel so out of      place.
I tell Sonje my husband once had checked out every Boston library book
on Albania; so you know something about it, she says.

Your hair, she holds my eyes steady in the mirror, your hair will do      anything you want.
You have easy hair. I say, it must have been difficult to leave, there must      not be many
Albanians here. She says, Too many. Too, too many Albanians in Boston. I      want to tell her
about this novel I’d read, Enver Hoxha, the cruel dictator, conscripts a      dentist
who looks like him to act as his double; when the regime falls, the dentist      tries
to destroy his own face. I want to tell her I don’t have the will to train my      hair.
But she reaches for her brushes, switches on her blow dryer and      demonstrates,
shows off, even, the utter easiness of hair.

Voice II

                    She swoops in, frantic as a barn swallow
looking for a place to perch, rafters she can hide between,
these glossy walls confuse her, poor thing. She’s no regular,
a coupon client. I settle her with a cape and despair
over the nest of her hair.
                    She says, I’ve been told my hair is fine.
This? This wiry, coarse, grey mat! And then, she says,
I want a cut that requires nothing of me, looking at me as if
I can work miracles. Christina, I call out, a shampoo,
extra conditioner.

                    Back in the chair, she’s more concerned
about the cappuccino she was handed than what length
to cut her hair. She says, I’ve been told no bangs, I can’t do bangs.
Who told this sorry bird that story, she’s the type who collects
a nugget from one stylist, parrots it back to the next.
                                                            Now she asks me
where I’m from. I speak English with no accent and yet, she asks.
Okay, I’ll tell her the truth, no one knows anything anyway
about my country. But no, she picks at my Albania like it’s a fat,
juicy worm, cocks her pigeon head and asks how old I was,
as if this is something we should discuss. She presumes,
presumes so much.
                                        I show her hair is what you make it. Hair
is what you do. You are your hair. Her husband had an interest,
poor man, every book on Albania in Boston–probably a half-dozen
at most. The Burma of Europe, my forsaken country cut off,
swept away like hair.
                                                    Enough of her chirping. I will show her
what can be done. She wants easy, nothing is easier than hair. I tell her
one morning of attention can last days. She blinks her little sparrow eyes,
nods like a wren on a wire. I twirl her hair with my hollow brush,
lighten her matted wings.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Until I went to college, my mother cut my hair so I’ve always felt a bit uncomfortable in salons. This poem came out of my feelings of discomfort in a fancy salon that I had a Groupon for and my interest in the stylist’s Albanian heritage.

Buchinger braid

Mary Buchinger
is the author of Aerialist (Gold Wake Press, 2015) and Roomful of Sparrows (Finishing Line Press, 2008). Her poems have appeared in AGNI, The Cortland Review, DIAGRAM, Nimrod International, PANK, Salamander, Slice Magazine, Massachusetts Review and elsewhere. She was a featured reader at the Library of Congress and received New England Poetry Club’s Varoujan and Houghton Awards. She is Associate Professor of English and Communication Studies at MCPHS University, Boston, Massachusetts.

PHOTO: Walk/Ride Day Celebration at Magazine Beach Park, Cambridge, Massachusetts (July 2015). Photo Credit: Nathan Brescia


Thank you to the 151 writers — from 33 states and 17 countries — who participated in our WHEN I MOVED Poetry & Prose Series, which ran from August 9 – September 27, 2016. Many thanks to the following authors for their moving work!

Reina Adriano (Philippines)
Janet Banks (Massachusetts)
Cynthia Anderson (California)
Prerna Bakshi (China)
Shreerupa Basu Das (England)
Ruth Bavetta (California)
Gary Beck (New York)
Alice Venessa Bever (Wyoming)
RIck Blum (Massachusetts)
Katley Demetria Brown (Massachusetts)
Mary Buchinger (Massachusetts)
Larry Burns (California)
Alex Carr-Malcolm (England)
Susana H. Case (New York)
Abby Chew (California)
Jackie Chou (California)
Tricia Marcella Cimera (Illinois)
Sara Clancy (Arizona)
Marion Clarke (Northern Ireland)
Joan Colby (Illinois)
Clive Collins (Japan)
Chloe Cotter (Canada)
Neil Creighton (Australia)
Barbara Crooker (Pennsylvania)
Gareth Culshaw (Wales)
Howard Richard Debs (Florida)
Carolyn Divish (Indiana)
Evel Masten Economakis (Greece)
Barbara Eknoian (California)
Kristina England (Massachusetts)
Ruth Evans (Massachusetts)
Peter Faziani (Pennsylvania)
Jennifer Finstrom (Illinois)
Jane Frank (Australia)
Martina R. Gallegos (California)
Gail Gerwin (New Jersey)
Siwsan Gimprich (New Jersey)
Susan W. Goldstein (Florida)
Vijaya Gowrisankar (India)
Elizabeth Greene (Canada)
John Guzlowski (Virginia)
Tina Hacker (Kansas)
Brenda Davis Harsham (Massachusetts)
Penny Harter (New Jersey)
Ken Hartke (New Mexico)
G. Louis Heath (Iowa)
Mark Andrew Heathcote (England)
Heidi Hermanson (Nebraska)
Jennifer Hernandez (Minnesota)
Kevin M. Holgate (Canada)
Karen Paul Holmes (Georgia)
Trish Hopkinson (Utah)
Veronica Hosking (Arizona)
Yi-Wen Huang (New Mexico)
Kyle Hunter (Indiana)
Amanda Janik (California)
Jorge Jefferds (Pennsylvania)
Carol H. Jewell (New York)
Sonja Johanson (Maine)
Joseph Johnston (Michigan)
Derek Kannemeyer (Virginia)
Rose Kelland (England)
James Ross Kelly (California)
Sofia Kioroglou (Greece)
Steve Klepetar (Minnesota)
Tricia Knoll (Oregon)
Jennifer Lagier (California)
Emma Lee (England)
Joan Leotta (North Carolina)
Richard Levesque (Indiana)
Cheryl Levine (Massachusetts)
Joan Leotta (North Carolina)
j.lewis (California)
Laurinda Lind (New York)
Virginia Lowe (Australia)
Rick Lupert (California)
Christopher Madden (Connecticut)
Marjorie Maddox (Pennsylvania)
Janet Malotky (Minnesota)
Melisa Malvin-Middleton (California)
Betsy Mars (California)
Patrick Lee Marshall (Texas)
Carolyn Martin (Oregon)
Mary McCarthy (Pennsylvania)
Patricia McGoldrick (Canada)
Teresa Marita McGuire (Mississippi)
Linda McKenney (New York)
Joan McNerney (New York)
Michael Minassian (Texas)
Helen L. Moore (Scotland)
Alice Morris (Delaware)
Eileen Murphy (Florida)
Robbi Nester (California)
Cristina M.R. Norcross (Wisconsin)
Thomas O’Connell (New York)
Mags O’Connor (Ireland)
Robert Okaji (Texas)
Thomas Park (Missouri)
Lee Parpart (Canada)
James Penha (Indonesia)
Tim Philippart (Michigan)
Rosalind Place (Canada)
Frank Pool (Texas)
D.A. Pratt (Canada)
Sarah Pritchard (England)
Edie Ravenelle (Massachusetts)
Patrick T. Reardon (Illinois)
Kevin Risner (Ohio)
Lisa Rizzo (California)
Jeannie E. Roberts (Wisconsin)
Esther Rohm (Ohio)
Kerfe Roig (New York)
Dave Roskos (New Jersey)
Christina Rothenbeck (Louisiana)
Sarah Russell (Pennsylvania)
Barbara Ruth (California)
Bruce Sager (Maryland)
Jeff Santosuosso (Florida)
Penelope Scamby Schott (Oregon)
Rhonda Schmidt (Texas)
Iris N. Schwartz (New York)
Sheila Scobba Banning (California)
Sunil Sharma (India)
Sheikha A. (Pakistan)
Ginny Short (California)
Lois Paige Simenson (Alaska)
Leslie Sittner (New York
R. H. Slansky (California)
J.L. Smith (Alaska)
Melissa Snider (Wyoming)
Carol A. Stephen (Canada)
Amanda Tanner (Michigan)
Jonathan Taylor (England)
Alarie Tennille (Missouri)
Marilyn Terhune-Young (California)
Larry D. Thacker (Tennessee)
G. Murray Thomas (California)
Jasmine Tritten (New Mexico)
Vincent Van Ross (India)
Alan Walowitz (New York)
Hannah Ward (Pennsylvania)
Mercedes Webb-Pullman (New Zealand)
A. Garnett Weiss (Canada)
Sheila Wellehan (Maine)
Kelley White (New Hampshire)
Lynn White (Wales)
Wendy Wuchnick-Gibbs (Texas)
Kim Whysall-Hammond (England)
Jonathan Yungkans (California)
Marilyn Zelke-Windau (Wisconsin)
Joanie HF Zosike (New York)


the faith tones

We extend our gratitude to the 80 writers who participated in our MY MANE MEMORIES Poetry & Prose Series, which ran from Feb. 14-March 24, 2016. Many thanks to the following authors for an amazing series!

Elizabeth Alford (California)
Sandra Anfang (California)
Shawn Aveningo (Oregon)
Daisy Bala (Wisconsin)
Chloe Balcolm (England)
Rose Mary Boehm (Peru)
Nancy Brewka-Clark (Massachusetts)
Shonda Buchanan (Virginia)
Mary Buchinger (Massachusetts)
Susan Budig (Minnesota)
Susana H. Case (New York)
Tricia Marcella Cimera (Illinois)
Sara Clancy (Arizona)
Marion Clarke (Northern Ireland)
Joan Colby (Illinois)
Joanne Corey (New York)
Erika Dreifus (New York)
Kristina England (Massachusetts)
Jennifer Finstrom (Illinois)
Gail Fishman Gerwin (New Jersey)
Susan W. Goldstein (Florida)
Vijaya Gowrisankar (India)
Geosi Gyasi (Ghana)
Tina Hacker (Kansas)
Stephanie Han (Hawaii)
Jennifer Hernandez (Minnesota)
Veronica Hosking (Arizona)
Robin Dawn Hudechek (California)
Mark Hudson (Illinois)
A.J. Huffman (Florida)
Trish Lindsey Jaggers (Kentucky)
Penn Kemp (Canada)
Phyllis Klein (California)
Steve Klepetar (Minnesota)
Tricia Knoll (Oregon)
Laurie Kolp (Texas)
Judy Kronenfeld (California)
Jennifer Lagier (California)
Mary Leonard (New York)
Joan Leotta (North Carolina)
Rick Lupert (California)
Betsy Mars (California)
Patrick Lee Marshall (Texas)
Mary McCarthy (Pennsylvania)
Catfish McDaris (Wisconsin)
Linda McKenney (New York)
Katie Darby Mullins (Indiana)
Robbi Nester (California)
Anthony Oropeza (California)
Jimmy Pappas (New Hampshire)
Lee Parpart (Canada)
Rashmi Patel (Australia)
James Penha (Indonesia)
Kenneth Pobo (Pennsylvania)
Anita Pulier (New York)
Shirani Rajapakse (Sri Lanka)
Patrick T. Reardon (Illinois)
Jeannie E. Roberts (Wisconsin)
Kristin Roedell (Washington)
Kerfe Roig (New York)
April Salzano (Pennsylvania)
Finola Scott (Scotland)
Seni Seneviratne (England)
Leslie Sittner (New York)
Billie Holladay Skelley (Missouri)
R.H. Slansky (California)
Joan Jobe Smith (California)
Bekah Steimel (Missouri)
Carol A. Stephen (Canada)
Maureen Sudlow (New Zealand)
Thomas R. Thomas (California)
Jeri Thompson (California)
Bunkong Tuon (New York)
Shaun Turner (West Virginia)
Alan Walowitz (New York)
Kelley White (New Hampshire)
Lynn White (Wales)
Annette Wong (California)
Mantz Yorke (England)
Amanda Young (Pennsylvania)
Joanie HF Zosike (New York)




Gerald Locklin, author of the Silver Birch Press release Gerald Locklin: New and Selected Poems (1967-2007), is featured in Ekphrastia Gone Wild: Poems Inspired by Art a new collection from Ain’t Got No Press edited by Rick Lupert. 

Ekphrastia Gone Wild, an anthology of ekphrastic poetry — poetry inspired by other works of art (painting, film, literature, photography, and more) — includes work by Nobel Prize winning poet Wislawa Szymborska along with 87 poets from around the world.

Ekphrastia Gone Wild contributors include: A.J. Huffman, Ackroyd Jackson, Adam Kress, Alan Britt, Alan Price, Alan Wickes, Ann Drysdale, April Salzano, Benjamin Taylor Lally, Brendan Constantine, Brooke Dorn, Bruce Taylor, Carolyn A. Martin, Catherine Graham, Consuelo Marshall, Cynthia Gallaher, Dan Fitzgerald, Daniel Y. Harris, David Chorlton, Deborah P. Kolodji, Desmond Kon, Donald Mulcahy, Doris Lueth Stengel, Douglas Richardson, Dusan Colovic, Elizabeth Iannaci, Ellaraine Lockie, Eric Evans, Eric Lawson, Eric Tuazon, F.J. Bergmann, Farida Samerkhanova, Fern G. Z. Carr, Fiona Curran, Florence Weinberger, Gabrielle Mittelbach, Gene Grabiner, Gerald Locklin, Graham Fulton, Helen Bar-Lev, Iris Dan, James Bell, Jan Chronister, Jerry Quickley, Jim Bennett, John Stewart Huffstot, Johnmichael Simon, Kath Abela Wilson, Kathleen M. Krueger, Kenneth Pobo, Kevin Cornwall, Laurel Ann Bogen, Leland James, Letitia Minnick, M.A. Griffiths, M.J. Iuppa, Maggie Westland, Mantz Yorke, Marie Lecrivain, Martin W. Bennett, Mary Buchinger, Mary Harwell Sayler, Maryann Corbett, Michael Virga, Mick Moss, Mira Martin-Parker, Neal Whitman, Noel Sloboda, Paula McKay, Peggy Dobreer, Peggy Trojan, Perie Longo, Peter Branson, Phil Howard, Robert Wynne, Ron. Lavalette, Rosalee Thompson, Salvatore Difalco, Simon Jackson, Simon Peter Eggertsen, Sonja Smolec, Stanley H. Barkan, Steve Ely, Suzanne Lummis, Timothy Charles Anderson, Tracy Davidson and Wislawa Szymborska.

ABOUT THE EDITOR: Rick Lupert is the author of numerous collections of poetry and founder of Ain’t Got No Press. He also edited the Ain’t Got No Press titles A Poet’s Haggadah: Passover Through the Eyes of Poets and The Night Goes on All Night: Noir Inspired Poetry. He created and maintains The Poetry Super Highway, an online publication and resource for poets and writers, and since 1994 has hosted the weekly Cobalt Cafe reading series in Southern California. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, son, three cats, and a frog and works as a Jewish Music teacher for local synagogues and as a freelance graphic designer for print and web for anyone who would like to help pay his mortgage. Contact him at

Ekphrastia Gone Wild: Poems Inspired by Art is available at

Tune in to the Ekphrastia Gone Wild Virtual Publication Party, Sunday, September 15th at 2:00 p.m. (PDT) to hear poets featured in the book read their work on a special Poetry Super Highway Live broadcast right here.