Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Sound of Sugar....Teri Youmans Grimm

My Mother Tells Me I Was Conceived In Fire Before I Was Condemned By It

I was admiring the trimmings in O.L. Keenes,
the lace, the ostrich feathers in pale colors. Was it
the steam whistle I noticed first, grey clouds
rolling up from the ground? I don’t remember.
The city was imperiled. From the doorway, I saw
flames in the northwest moving at a gallop.
It was terrifying. Bay Street filled with people
heading east, I joined them, passing families laden
with mirrors, dishes, children leading dogs on strings,
carrying bird cages, so many horses and drays loaded
down with trunks, me holding only a pale pink feather,
worrying how I’d pay for it now.

At Monroe Street,
unable to help myself, I turned around to face the blazing
pursuer. Angels of oblivion pummeled toward me
on billowing,black smoke, like an engraving by Dore’—
this nightmare rendered so precisely.
Isn’t it magnificent? I said to a man nearby. His eyes
considered me. They were oddly green, like verdigris
and heavy-lidded.

Sparks landed like confetti, but long I was willing
to stay there and watch this parade of danger so close
he brushed it from my hair and I brushed it from his sleeve,
before he clutched my hand, pulled me with the others
past Hemming Plaza, into the Windsor Hotel crowded
with the displaced, belongings stacked everywhere,
then down a corridor into a room.
Even when the door clicked shut, I thought of him
as protector while wondering who would save me now.

Ostrich feather gripped in my hand, I did all he told me to do.
Why I never let it go. Why I never fought at all, but laid there
long after he left until smoke filled the room clearing my head
and I fled with hundreds of other bodies, empty-handed
out of that hotel, each of us racing in the direction that felt right.

Toward the river I ran. Across it was this house, untouched
and I wondered if William was imagining me dead.
At the dock I turned around one last time,
and this is what I know of Hell:

The Windsor had become a furnace, radiating heat far and wide,
the flame of its burning ascending towards Heaven, groaning
with a thunderous voice in its agony. The steamer pulled
away and a dead moccasin floated by. Another then another
and another and another. What to make of it, I didn’t know.
As though it was a sign that evil had been vanquished.
But it hadn’t been. It burned inside and half the sky was on fire
and what trees remained in the distance looked like skeletons
and everyone on the boat was cast in the strangest yellow light,
like none I’d ever seen, altering features until any one
of the passengers could have been him.

Still riding the billows of smoke like clouds,
the angel of oblivion appeared to me and in my own bed
that night. Awake or dreaming, it was a true vision all the same.
I was with child and this one would live. She smirked at me
and the clock read 11:00 exactly and your father’s face
(your father’s face?) was bathed in that same yellow glow
and it was more than I could bear. I turned from him
and pressed my hand to where it hurt and was horrified grateful.
Looking at you now, I’m horrified grateful.

At church, in a park, on the trolley,
when I see men that resemble my memory of him—
a grey serge suit, drowsy-lidded eyes, a cleft chin,
to this day I want to ask: Were you that stranger?
Were you that stranger? Please, tell me your name.

About the Poet:

Teri Youmans Grimm lives in Jacksonville, FL with her husband and two children. Her first collection, Dirt Eaters, was chosen for the University of Central Florida’s poetry series and was published by the University Press of Florida. Her work has appeared in the Connecticut Review, Indiana Review, Prairie Schooner, South Dakota Review, and Homegrown in Florida: An Anthology of Florida Childhoods, among other publications. She teaches in the University of Nebraska’s low-residency MFA program.

About the Sound of Sugar:

We’ve loved reading the work that we’ve published (clearly), so now we want an opportunity to better hear our contributors. We will feature an audio recording of a poem from one of our seven issues, read by the poet and updated every couple of weeks. This an open invitation to all contributors from any of our issues, we were delighted to print your work, now we’re eager to hear it. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Sound of Sugar....Ryan J Browne

Theory of Spall

Ft. Carson, Colorado


It’s your job now. Creep
beneath them with a gun.
Blunt the dumb and serrate

work of time and sand.
Douse those Hummers
parked in rows

like ornamental gourds
set out to dry, spray them down
with the pink Product.

There’s vats of the stuff
in the white truck, and it sloshes
like a filling piggy

bank when tanks cross you up
and you have to unkink
the hose to your air gun.

You get Product in your mouth—
and taste gristle—because
you’ve removed the mask

you’re supposed to wear.
A song kept getting caught
in it and steaming up the goggles

you’re supposed to wear
but have also taken off.
You get Product in your eyes.

It biodegrades. You’re safe.
You’re on a military base
where the sun bleaches and dyes

you when you’re up top
blasting each line
of rivets, every hinge,

swinging grille, seam
or possible seam, bolt, nut,
washer, mirror joint, antenna.

Underneath, another anatomy.
Spine, scapulae, ribs, hips, coccyx,
hunks of grease and mud, a whole steel ruck

you let your air gun joyride across.
Shoot from the hip.
And those holes punched through into the cab

you first thought were from bullets or shrapnel,
dreaming up and immediately dismissing the carnage
boxed in above you, they blow like a jug

keeping irregular time
for the hissing refrain of pressurized air.
You’re thorough enough.

But if you miss one bolt on one Hummer
you miss it on them all.
But that one bolt, well, it may not matter.


This morning you sweat booze,
and the whole damn thing seems worse.
Your skull is a soft warhead

you wish to squash
against a tank’s armor,
but the tanks are off-limits.

Though their cannons are named
do not speak their names
above a whisper.


They’ve been tearing through
the prairie like flat havoc
riding heaves of friction,

their treads looping infinity,
their engines jet,
their camo cryptic,

you lose them
in a dust cloud,
their camo dazzling,

some still forest
green, brown, mustard,
and they scramble

what sobriety pools
in the shade of other ordnance
you break beside.

One is in for repair, the turbine
hauled out by another Abrams
that’s equipped like a Hercules

beetle. The process is laborious
and loud. You press a stiff finger
into that plush where your neck

meets your head and hear
the insane hum of planets
and feel as though you have

a way to position your body
so that it may hurt
appropriately, like when a leg

injury forces your arms
into right angles
and your back to a stretcher.

Each bite of the warm
cold cut sandwich drops into your gutless
stomach like a bolide.

The engine’s returned and smears
sound and air behind, almost blows
the decal off the side of the Product truck.

Jesus, this Cyclops has another eye!
And when both open
throttle the world dilates.

About the Poet:

Ryan J. Browne runs Poetry & Pints in Madison, Wisconsin, a reading series that pairs writers and his homebrewed beer. He holds an MFA from The University of Alabama. His first collection is Outside Come In, and poems from that collection and his second manuscript can be found in Cimarron Review, The Cincinnati Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and The Journal. His favorite bittering hop is Magnum.

About the Sound of Sugar:

We’ve loved reading the work that we’ve published (clearly), so now we want an opportunity to better hear our contributors. We will feature an audio recording of a poem from one of our seven issues, read by the poet and updated every couple of weeks. This an open invitation to all contributors from any of our issues, we were delighted to print your work, now we’re eager to hear it.