does Persephone take Cerberus for walks
does a three-headed dog take triple the pisses imagine
how many pooper scoopers the Queen of the Underworld brings with her
or does she kick his shit surreptitious as a spirit
into the River Styx
or does she take Cerberus to Elysium
does she ride him across the fields do they leap
over Achilles’ head does she spit
on his war-crowned head when they do it do they run
away Persephone laughing
is Tartarus too dim or are there pale lamp posts
did she install them because that is where Cerberus most loves to sniff to upturn stones
does she laugh at him does Sisyphus dare
raise his fist
or is it all a trap
can an immortal dog make the Underworld feel like home
does he lay by the fire as she guzzles
pomegranate martinis and spirits does he drench
the rug with drool
does he bring her slippers Hades’ latest welcome gift
does she hand him Hector’s bones
what else does she have down there did she bring
a long-beaked octopus
a silver and ruby-studded parrot perched
on a silver trellis with citrine ivy glinting
is there a nine-tailed cat
does it curl up with her on the sofa when she and Hades fight do the tails
tickle her nose
does it swat at Cerberus
does it knock garnet arils
off the counter and sneer
does she love it anyway or maybe even more its
how many moods does it have
how many lives
how much fur
Rachael Daum is the Communication and Awards Manager for the American Literary Translators Association. She received her BA in Creative Writing from the University of Rochester and MA in Slavic Studies from Indiana University. Her original work and translations have appeared in Two Lines, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, TRANSverse, and elsewhere. Rachael lives and works in Belgrade, Serbia. Find her on Twitter at @rclouisedaum.
Translated from the Spanish by Ximena Gómez and George Franklin
If you hadn’t died, I’d be going to see you
In that room with blue walls,
Window screens, and the Louis XV bed.
You’d be sitting in a rocking chair,
Yellow afternoon light on your face,
Your eyes, obscured by cataracts,
Almost blind, staring out at nothing,
Your smile, apathetic, an exhausted gesture.
You’d be so small, hunched over in your chair,
Your skin scaly with keratosis, spots,
The neckline of your dress littered with
White dust from hair that used to be dark.
I’d place a pair of anthuriums on your skirt,
And you’d become a doll in that rocking chair,
With two red anthuriums in your lap—
Your hands so white—
A photo in an album.
Ximena Gómez is the author of Habitación con Moscas, published by Torremozas in Madrid (2016). She was born in Bogotá, Colombia, attended Universidad del Valle, and worked as a psychologist before seeking political asylum in the United States in 2000. She now lives in Miami, Florida, where she works as a translator for other refugees seeking asylum. Her poetry and fiction have been published in Raiz Invertida, Revista Nagari, Revista Conexos, Lord Byron Ediciones, and Círculo de Poesía, and her translations of English poetry into Spanish have appeared in Raiz Invertida, Revista Nagari and Revista Alastor.
Her co-translator, George Franklin, practices law in Miami and teaches poetry workshops in Florida state prisons. His book, Traveling for No Good Reason, is the winner of the 2018 Sheila-Na-Gig full-length manuscript contest and will be published at the end of the year. A bilingual edition of his poems, Among the Ruins, is also forthcoming at Katakana Editores.
Tell Me Where
you keep the master plan
for what you engineer
of your carmine and bittersweet
dance my hands against
the hard of your work—
service that avoids
where whisper bruises.
sunset is late
to traverse blind
the melancholy contour
of your topography.
here the key of me lands
as the unfolding of a thousand petals
opposed to your impenetrable
cipher for flight.
Twenty-Four Hours in the Life of a Frog
first, a leopard frog triangles stillness whispering,
take ease, to the woman clearing her pool.
thirty minute spiral—brown algae vacuumed from perimeter
to drain in slow concentric ritual that churns mind not muck.
overhead, into every breeze, an army of lindens sneeze
pea-sized seed; she gathers—discards their myriad hope.
hose gone—the leopard frog hunts, oblivious to
the excited calypso vibrating from Dominican neighbours,
or circling helicopter (a mystery in this small town),
or the nth lawn mower’s roar heightened there, there, and there.
a tiny fist of sun twitches at its feeder—a goldfinch
pitched loop-de-loop into blue fir stands. she counts:
breakfast and work, a letter to her sister, dishes,
and work. a few chapters of Al-Khalili made her think
of the false planetary model of electrons and what other
gross simplicity obscured the wake of true hours. frog, copter, fist.
like a wave, she shimmers in and out of existence.
a grief of impermanence feeds longing for an anchoring gaze.
how does one become solid beyond any observation
every hour she flows faster away from herself.
at this exact moment, unknown to her, someone she loved dies.
already the sun was sleepy-eyed, the illusion of time—laughter
adding another wrinkle, while the frog seems glued
in its faux cement planter under blue bells and thirsting
where it will be tomorrow when she, with hose and espresso,
carries a watermark gouging the groove of her tongue.
stephanie roberts has had work featured in Atlanta Review, FLAPPERHOUSE, L’Éphémère Review, Occulum, The Slag Review, and elsewhere. A 2018 Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, she was born in Central America, grew up in Brooklyn, NY, and now abides in a wee town just outside of Montréal. Twitter/Instagram shenanigans @ringtales
General Science II
Timothy, you were a lab in the lemon
to sugar ratio that would make a summer
last longer than the flavor of gum. If my index finger
confused every hair
on your arm it was because
the parrots in a rainforest
software simulation better knew
The hatchery sign burned
to zero: no neon eggs, no
cracking shell, no flashing
baby chick finale. I stopped
the backs of the dials burned
flakes into my skin. Your arm
no matter how I touched it
was a study in how to spot
the green sky of hailstorms.
A change in lesson: the truth
came down to Saturn, its moons
and life under ice. The spaces
between my fingers grew tired
of tinsel, formica, your underdressed
sighs. Timothy, the boredom laced
everything from the oil wells to the insides
of your wrists and I counted
Saturn’s rings in a smudged textbook
and waited for class to end. The tornado
evaporated the hatchery after you left
to walk the length
of a sunflower field and develop
a theory of Earth: a second secret
moon that drives you to peel
the numbers off every house
you inhabit and forget
the sum total like a test answer or a sunrise.
Timothy fought the summer
for my lilac-print dress like streetlights
at dawn, like bags of ice
in a record high. The river earned
its own museum as Timothy turned
the slam of an RV door into a study
on sweat and mismatched
outer space bed sheets.
The blurry telescope nudged us to a Sunday
of basement mannequins and phone books
read over fast-food drive-thru frequencies
that unearthed our shared love for trails
of ice on necks. The thousand-drawn line
of the Etch-A-Sketch, the one time
the cherries sprouted purple and sour.
Timothy needed a planet
of shadows and lilacs–his lips held
whole school buses in check.
My nylons would have a hole before June
but Timothy borrowed them anyway
as I for extra cash scattered
ads for furniture along a road
named for seven senators. Somebody’s mother
would get involved. I would learn
to balance barn stars with dried twig displays
so the thought of thawing cherries
in a kitchen sink needed no reason,
silence white like an incinerated moon.
A Growing History of Boys
I learned to hold my tongue
against boys who smelled
like where they worked–
roast beef, copy shop ink, the imported
ghost of packing tape, my dreams
of missing feet unspoken. A broken
deodorant stick confettied
across a bedroom floor–my teeth
loud and gauzy, more like traffic cones
than moons. I buried bean bag chairs
still warm with experiments in cherry blossom
body spray, buzzing like a shop class
doorbell half-stripped of its copper wire,
its passing grade. The emptied pool,
the only hole in the earth for miles,
retained its chlorine hum, the newly built
tinker toy maybe, a growing history of boys,
the one summer they all smelled
like sunscreen and the space between
diving board and deep end held space
Katie Berger holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Alabama and currently works in public relations. Her second chapbook, Swans, was released by Dancing Girl Press in 2016. Other works have appeared in Cherry Tree, Sugared Water, foothill, and others.
I noticed a tall woman standing athwart the car doors as we approached Union Square. She held her coat in one arm and seemed to inform the car. But that is (I am) already too petulant. She did not inform the car. Each corner of the car made it seem an informing. Even then I understood that. Perhaps it is fair to say we all understood that. For a moment I imagined the woman standing on a table in a classroom in her underwear still holding her coat, the rest of us seated around her looking up. Did I lean slightly into the crowd as the doors opened? Indeed, I applied a light forward pressure that gradually seemed not to belong to me.
The Sea Robin
I watched a man land a sea robin
on the Coney Island pier the other day.
He had no idea what it was.
I knew sea robins to be bottom dwellers–
fanlike pectoral fins, spines on their dorsa.
They mill around the seafloor
scooping up whatever they find
and putting it in bags to take home.
They seem to think everything precious.
At the end of the day they swim toward
the darkest part of the bottom
where it feels like fall again.
The light from the house is the only thing on for miles
and a door opens.
They go in, greet the attendant
who unloads the goods.
They move to the kitchen and
are preoccupied for a while with
making bad measurements.
Later in the evening
—to entertain guests—
sea robins will scull around and tell jokes
or recall a favorite childhood memory.
One recalls an industrious farmhouse
preserved as a museum with sheep
and a mill and farmhands
carding the wool.
Noel Capozzalo is a poet and reader pursuing his doctorate in 17th-century English literature at the CUNY Graduate Center. He teaches literature and composition at Medgar Evers College (CUNY).