Thursday, October 15, 2020

SHELBY HANDLER—"BUY THE KNIVES" (Issue 20)

BUY THE KNIVES

All the girls at recess are a gaggle
of little mothers. They’re being horrible
to each other. Imagine them as parents,

punishing their adorable future horribles.
This whole set-up is a set-up: being born
to folks who must betray us to keep us

alive. We end up first-in-line to shovel
soil over their breathless bodies. It’s like,
I DIDN’T ASK TO BE BORN!

is valid critique. Think about it: what’s not
coercion? Yesterday, I resented the sunset
in my eyes and squinted. Today, I ate splinters

of cold butter and sunflower sprouts on toast. Still
dark outside: this is breakfast in winter.
This is the life I was amputated

into. My mom sighs, Don’t have children. I can’t
love anyone else.
Love is an exhausting business
model. A pyramid scheme. We get so far in,

instinct forces us to buy the knives, find stuff
to mince. As a kid, I learned, distraught,
my death will happen on a normal day.

It’s not fair. Life is so full of shit
we love, any blade is too dull to carve us
cleanly out of it. This is the thing

I can’t remember: what my mother said
when I couldn’t stop crying about dying.
Whatever it was— her hands held my face.

She followed it with a question, You wanna go
take your bath?
I didn’t have a choice. I nodded.
Yes, I felt myself choose it. I stayed in the tub

until my tiny hands puckered, suddenly ancient. 


ABOUT THE POET 

Shelby Handler is a writer, organizer, and educator living on Duwamish territory/Seattle. A 2019 Richard Hugo House fellow, their recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Gigantic Sequins, Pacifica Literary Review, Homology Lit, 3Elements Review, and the Write Bloody anthology We Will Be Shelter: Poems for Survival. Follow them: @shelbeleh

ABOUT SUGAR HOUSE REVIEW 

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.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

CHELSEA DINGMAN—"WHILE MY BROTHER SPENDS YEARS DRINKING HIMSELF TO DEATH" (Issue 20)


WHILE MY BROTHER SPENDS YEARS DRINKING HIMSELF TO DEATH

The future splits
into atoms in a nuclear facility

we don’t mention
anymore. The hares arrive

in winter as windows.
They come, but they don’t

leave, becoming
landscape as we

sleep. What truth is worth
bearing? People appear as angels

in the distance of the mind.
Perhaps, in the dark,

we leave ourselves in order
to begin. What dark

do we need in order to continue?
The roof shakes

with any weather.
The dead pretend to stay

dead. A body wrests the dark
from the bottom of a lake

so the cold need not be
alone, or unwanted.

 

 

ABOUT THE POET 

Chelsea Dingman’s first book, Thaw, was chosen by Allison Joseph to win the National Poetry Series (University of Georgia Press, 2017). Her second book, Through a Small Ghost, won the Georgia Poetry Prize and was published in February 2020. Her recent work can be found in The Southern Review, The
New England Review,
and The Kenyon Review, among others.

ABOUT SUGAR HOUSE REVIEW 

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.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

M.A. SCOTT—"[ANXIETY, LITTLE SISTER]" (Issue 20)

[ANXIETY, LITTLE SISTER]

Anxiety, little sister, look at us, our grips unsteady on the child-proof lids meant to keep us from what we need. We stand still & race at the same time, like there’s a rabbit on the chest thumping lucky feet against the clover of our clavicles. How can we comfort each other over the distance? We tried to save daylight for another time & it left us in the dark, waiting for sleep to come. I lie awake waiting for rest as the ceiling erupts, thighs clenched against the cotton night. Look at us, all grown up & nothing to spend it on. It was easy, once, to sand our edges, watching the football hit Marcia Brady in the nose over & over & over again. Little sister, if anxiety were to leave us, where would that leave us? Sometimes I wish I could just relax & learn to love corn mazes. Soon the crickets will die for the season & I’ll be left counting my breaths, or the tiny white pills that glare at me like lice. No going back to a home we don’t remember losing.



ABOUT THE POET 

M.A. Scott’s poetry has recently appeared in or is forthcoming in The Mid-American Review, Pretty Owl Poetry, The Adirondack Review, Heron Tree, and Unlost. She grew up in Rhode Island and currently lives in New York’s Hudson Valley, where she likes to spend time with trees.

ABOUT SUGAR HOUSE REVIEW 

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.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

JOEL LONG—"PRESERVATION" (Issue 20)

PRESERVATION 

After they buried the man, the villagers returned
for the crocodiles. They did not care which one
killed the man. Some were longer than the dead man;

some were small as children. They were housed in cement boxes,
slick green, squared water beneath, not mangrove swamps
or deltas, estuaries or river mouths. The villagers did not

care they were safe for now, did not care it was only one.
They brought ropes and tied serrated snouts of crocodiles
that, with a leap, could catch, swallow whole bats, leaping fish,

birds out of air. They dragged 300 bewildered beasts
from ponds into the open where the villagers wailed
the death of one of their own, lifted knives for every animal,

hammers, clubs, beat down the long heads, inscrutable eyes
hooded by scales that not one villager could see far enough
inside to make him hold back once since all knew the spark

they needed extinguished inside the heart of the one animal
before them, inside that brain that they intended to crush
until there was nothing more worth crushing, some groan

we cannot translate seeping from the roped mouths. The man,
they say, was picking grass when the crocodile attacked. Now hundreds
of crocodiles, each perfect in its skeleton, in the way the stomach

worked and tongue, that heart stilled in artisan chambers whose
electric pulse sent blood from nostril to tail, each animal its own
size, colored like agates and jade, every scale a worry stone, round,

one for every hand, now hundreds of crocodiles are dead, and we cannot
make one of them, make even one come back, a pile of limp weeds
shaped like crocodiles swimming in crocodiles stilled: one dead man

cannot say a thing about what he thinks about the body
and what was undone and the darkness he left behind, smoke,
rising from perfect bodies of crocodiles into the flame of sky.



ABOUT THE POET 

Joel Long’s book Winged Insects won the White Pine Press Poetry Prize. Lessons in Disappearance (2012) and Knowing Time by Light (2010) were published by Blaine Creek Press. His chapbooks, Chopin’s Preludes and Saffron Beneath Every Frost were published by Elik Press. His poems and essays have appeared in Gettysburg Review, Sports Literate, Prairie Schooner, Bellingham Review, Rhino, Bitter Oleander, Massachusetts Review, Terrain.org, and Water-Stone Review, among others. He lives in Salt Lake City.

ABOUT SUGAR HOUSE REVIEW 

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.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

ROBERT LYNN—"I WANTED TO BE A NEW YORK LOVE POEM" (Issue 20)

I WANTED TO BE A NEW YORK LOVE POEM

To the woman getting off the train who offered to throw
away my browning banana peel. To these men posing

for photos with their cat on the beach. To Nancy screaming
at Coney’s seagulls: Today I am twenty-four and you don’t care.

To the seagulls who don’t care staring religious into January
winds. To the strangers and strangers and strangers still

catching Jillian as she passes out on the 77th Street station stairs.
Or again on the Brooklyn Bridge. Again in that forever hallway

connecting the 7 to the G in Queens. To the woman having trouble
modulating her voice on the Staten Island Ferry when she sees

the backlit statue: This is my America, Randall. I’m not going
back to Atlanta.
Even to the person whispering I’m sorry

I’m sorry I’m sorry so softly to the rest of us as he jerks himself
off in the corner of this subway car. To the grace of his embarrassed

turning away. To everyone. I wanted to be a love poem to everyone
but I couldn’t. There was all this hardness. There were cops breaking

broomsticks in Abner Louima. They wanted us to forget. Hoped
we’d move away. Forget if Eric Garner sold loose cigarettes

or played center for the Nets. I spent the morning visiting a friend
in Rikers Island. Visited mostly its indifferent way of turning a day

into early evening with nothing to show for it but the waiting.
They broke his leg before they put him here. They already forgot.

They thought we’d be happy being love poems. We still might be
if we hold space for the way this love sharpens like a bottle

in a bar fight. I hold it firmly but gently like a cat on a beach.
The way you would a stranger falling back into you on the stairs.

None of us are going back, Randall. You hear me. None of us.

 

ABOUT THE POET 

Robert Lynn is writer and attorney from Fauquier County, VA. He is currently an MFA student in poetry at New York University. His poems have been featured or are forthcoming in American Literary Review, Antioch Review, Blackbird, New Ohio Review, and other publications. He lives in Brooklyn.

ABOUT SUGAR HOUSE REVIEW 

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.