Kristian Odberg CC
MUD AND SUN
Sudden sunlight hits the road
as you drive past what you've known –
seen in the rear-view – then gone.
We understand these don't last
but what matters isn't this.
Winds open the fields to trees.
Long hills crest the horizon.
Somehow a child sees a horse
carved into chalk, then riding,
riding out over estates,
long days, paths of joy, new towns
where forgotten rivers flow
over boots, the children's toes
washed in purest mud which cleans
everything – leaving me this.
PAUL SUTTON: Born in London, 1964. Six collections - most recent from UK publisher Knives, Forks and Spoons Press: "The Diversification of Dave Turnip", March 2017. "Falling Off" (KFS, January 2015) was Poetry Book Society Recommended Autumn Reading, 2015. US Collections: "Parables for the Pouring Rain (2019) and "Brains Scream at Night" (2010), from NY publisher BlazeVox.
Eugene Zagidullin CC
When I try to make sense of my family, where and what I come from, it can feel like trying to find water up on the moon. There is a kind of perpetual emergency that runs through my bloodline. Someone is always on some kind of ledge, and about to fall. Once, I really thought I could save them all. I almost couldn’t save myself. When the plane is going down, they tell you that you’ve got to put your own oxygen mask on before you can go around and help other people put on theirs. But what about your brother? Your blood? When the people we love are destroying themselves and the plane going down are our others, who among us does not somehow want to do the impossible? Here’s where it hurts, brace yourself; it can’t be done.
For the past two years my youngest brother has been in the throes of active addiction, psychotic breakdown, homelessness and danger. The last conversation I had with him he tells me the Government is after him and that people are trying to have him killed. How can I simply tell him to go to an N.A. meeting when I can’t even succeed at convincing him that no one is plotting to kill him? It feels too huge a thing to speak into. It’s what I say anyway, how all of this might feel a whole lot different if he can just get himself into those goddamn rooms. I know. I’ve been where he is now. A pain so great all you want to do is cash out early.
I found out the day before Thanksgiving that he had thrown himself in front of a bus. Thankfully, he survived. That’s what I mean about water on the moon. Most Thanksgivings, hell, most days, I find myself just being thankful that the people I love haven't succeeded in destroying themselves, or each other. Thankful, given where I come from, that I have learned how to stop destroying myself.
Each day and night spent waiting for that phone call tugs my heart a little deeper down into my body. Is it possible to dislocate our own organs, for things to travel downward in us? Maybe not, but it feels that way sometimes. Like nothing is where it should be. I’m dislocated into a kind of expectant grief that hovers over everything, and a wild impossible hope that something out there is working its light towards the things I cannot possibly put right.
And so when I tell you that the contributors in this issue kept me from going insane, I mean it. Not just in the work gathered here, which is a testament to how we make something beautiful and life-giving with all of that inexplicable moon-water running through us and ours, but in some of the vulnerable and heartbreaking private correspondences I received with these submissions as well that helped me to feel less alone in my own private Idaho of grief.
To know one is not all alone in something is how I think of community. It cuts both ways. The space, people tell me, has given that kind of knowing to them, and they to me. Some have shared with me deeply personal, heartbreaking stories, of the loved one’s they have lost or are in fear of soon losing. Without betraying their confidence what I will say is that they have helped me to feel less alone in it. Pain shared, pain lessened. I am very grateful for their vulnerability, their trust, their kindness and their courage.
The water between us is bridged by what we share. As one contributor put it; “the space here feels like a poetic support group.” Never has an issue felt more like such a fellowship meeting to me. A circle of care and genuine concern. Of healing, and yes, of howling. When a coyote yips, he is trying to locate himself, to find home. Where do we belong? Do we, anywhere? Yes. I believe so. Here, for now, in a place where pain finds pain, and then something more.
I don’t know how to end this, but these words by Gretel Ehrlich feel right; “Give room. Do not get discouraged. Help me reach the place. Hurrah.”
Here is the room. Be not discouraged. We can and must help each other reach the place. There may even be joy at the end of it. Hurrah.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.