Sunday, February 11, 2024

MIRANDE BISSELL—"AIR POEM " (Issue 27)

AIR POEM

Loft Mountain after a day of midges 
and sweat. I sleep long enough to start over. 
Night wind lifts the tent’s fabric like a tongue 
plays on a tongue, has waited for us 
to want something more than rest. 

The air has the calcium sweetness 
of well-water. It’s bone-building air. 

I have a collarbone to cool, blushed-apple 
shoulders to round. All these years, we 
should have comforted each other. 



ABOUT THE POET 

Mirande Bissell is a teacher in Baltimore, MD. Her first book of poems 
Stalin at the Opera was selected by Diane Seuss as the winner of the 2020 
Ghost Peach Press prize.



ABOUT SUGAR HOUSE REVIEW 


We loved reading the work that we’ve published (clearly), and we want an 
opportunity to better hear our contributors. We're featuring audio recordings of 
poems from our pages, read by the poet. 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.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

JOHN GALLAHER—"THE IDEA OF COMMUNITY " (Issue 27)

THE IDEA OF COMMUNITY 

In the cartoon version, the protagonist is left in charge of a baby 
who is in some fashion courting disaster. It’s accident prone. It’s a maniac. 
And the little creature’s delivered, last second, back safe 
like nothing’s happened. Perhaps the protagonist, by this time, 
is heavily bandaged or smoldering, Tom & Jerry version, Daffy Duck 
version. In the Chick Avenue version, 
I put the dogs out to run, and hear a parent bird going crazy 
before I see what’s going on. A little bird, not yet able to fly, 
is in Daisy’s mouth. I do the “make angry face 
and shout DROP IT” routine, and Daisy drops it, flopping 
and spinning in the grass. I shoo the dogs into the house, 
and go to see to the bird. I hate days like this. 

I’m trying to be positive about life cycles. My father’s in his 90s, 
declining. It’s God’s machinery, but what exactly 
am I supposed to do with some flopping, mostly dead thing? 
It turns out though, that the bird isn’t dead. A bit of a limp, but otherwise, 
looking steady-ish. Except it can’t stay in the yard. This 
is the dog yard. The parent bird is still going nuts above us. 
It’s a standoff. And I’m not convinced that evolution has done a good job 
with birds. My father called the other night. Actually, I called him, 
but halfway through the conversation, he said 
                                                                        the reason he called me 
was to find out how things are going, and I didn’t correct him. 
That’s how things are going. The nest is twenty feet up. That’s also 
how things are going. So the best I can do is usher the bird 
to the other side of our fence. I’m helping things along. Here you go, 
little bird, on your way. And the thing about cartoons 
is that even in cartoons 
                                    death intrudes, with bigger and bigger fish, 
in sequence, emergent phenomena swallowing each other. 
Baby birds don’t know these things. Parent birds aren’t equipped, so 
before I’m even into the house, the little bird is into the road. 
Busy road. And then it’s a car, just like that. 35mph. And 
the parent bird is no longer carrying on and the day grows quiet.



ABOUT THE POET 

John Gallaher's forthcoming collection is My Life in Brutalist Architecture 
(Four Way Books 2024). He lives in northwest Missouri and co-edits Laurel 
Review.



ABOUT SUGAR HOUSE REVIEW 


We loved reading the work that we’ve published (clearly), and we want an 
opportunity to better hear our contributors. We're featuring audio recordings of 
poems from our pages, read by the poet. 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.

Sunday, January 14, 2024

TODD ROBINSON—"10PM, AND SHE SAYS THE MOON IS BEAUTIFUL" (Issue 27)

10PM, AND SHE SAYS THE MOON IS BEAUTIFUL

And it is, though skylight glass blurs the ball rolling in its practiced groove 
and she hasn’t left the house in a month, vomits mercury-poisoned fish, 
sleeps alone in the lumpy king bed you shared. You have learned so much 
about neurology, psychology, immune response, but still manage to pretend 
you live with a healthy person instead of a silhouette. Who’s Frankenstein 
and who’s the monster, your analyst asked in a flourish of rhetoric. Hours ago 
you ate a loaf of bread the size of a faun like that actor ate an entire pie 
in A Ghost Story and later you might dance to Joy Division, thinking of Ian 
swaying from his rope, but the 12-step friend said you are thriving in spite of 
tinnitus yowling in your ruined ears and twenty drugs she takes to function 
and the ghetto bird just now flaying Spring’s first night and even the hyper 
acute imagery on the new smart TV is just more dukkha. Better slur the 
serenity prayer, 
get grateful for yellow 
grass and cracked birdbath.



ABOUT THE POET 

Todd Robinson’s work has lately appeared (or soon will appear) in Notre Dame 
Review, The Pinch, North American Review, and South Dakota Review. He is an 
assistant professor in the Writer's Workshop at the University of Nebraska-Omaha 
and caregiver to his partner, a disabled physician.



ABOUT SUGAR HOUSE REVIEW 


We loved reading the work that we’ve published (clearly), and we want an 
opportunity to better hear our contributors. We're featuring audio recordings of 
poems from our pages, read by the poet. 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.

Monday, January 1, 2024

DOMINIQUE AHKONG—"GHAZAL FOR FAMILIAR WOMEN" (Issue 27)

GHAZAL FOR FAMILIAR WOMEN

In the way we can spot kinfolk from the back 
by their gait, these women unknown to me, backs 

facing me, feel related. More than the long sleeves 
and bucket hats, it’s the eroded downstroke of their backs 

that’s vernacular, it’s what they do not do, even while 
their eyes are watching God disrobe and back 

away. They hold out their veins, unblinking, while black 
bags are hung from their necks like ropes. Back-

aches persist but do not fracture their language in this way. 
Comfort is a drained infusion pump, three days a foe. Back 

at home, as night falls, a husband holds his wife’s hand. 
His daughters will rub their mother’s unrobed back 

and cover it after her body’s churning. Her 
requested balm: atonal invocations back to back. 

Will you embody your name, Dominique? See your mother 
plunge into the cold ocean, then turn to float on her back.



ABOUT THE POET 

Dominique Ahkong is an Arizona-based writer of Chinese-Mauritian descent. 
Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming from RHINOFugueThe Ocean 
State Review, and The Southern Review. She co-edits the newly-revived Shō 
Poetry Journal. More: dominiqueahkong.com



ABOUT SUGAR HOUSE REVIEW 


We loved reading the work that we’ve published (clearly), and we want an 
opportunity to better hear our contributors. We're featuring audio recordings of 
poems from our pages, read by the poet. 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.

Sunday, December 10, 2023

SEAN HILL—"POSTCARD FROM COMPASS ROSE" (Issue 26)

POSTCARD FROM COMPASS ROSE 

I’ve been traveling lately 
without you. Remember that 
time you said I was the flower 
drawn in the corners of maps 
by careful cartographers to give 
you guidance? A lodestar leading 
you so you may not be alone— 
may find your way back home. 
I got word you miss me, but it 
doesn’t show in your ways. Now 
you leave home with just your 
smartphone and trust in GPS— 
a guiding hand, a trying-to-be-
charming voice—and you’re made 
to feel comfortably lost never 
knowing where you are except 
on the way, as far as I can tell. 
Is that like falling in love? You 
know, my face was first traced 
by the winds I kissed the mouths 
of, as have many men—explorers 
and those who came after— 
looking to see the world. Best 
of luck along your way 
to where you want to be.



ABOUT THE POET 

Sean Hill is the author of two poetry collections, Dangerous Goods (Milkweed 
Editions, 2014), awarded the Minnesota Book Award in Poetry, and Blood Ties & 
Brown Liquor (UGA Press, 2008), named one of the Ten Books All Georgians 
Should Read in 2015 by the Georgia Center for the Book. Hill has received 
numerous awards, including fellowships from the Cave Canem Foundation, the 
Bush Foundation, Stanford University, and the National Endowment for the Arts. 
Hill’s poems and essays have appeared in Callaloo, Harvard Review, New England 
Review, Orion, Oxford American, Poetry, Tin House, and numerous other journals, 
and in over two dozen anthologies including Black Nature, Villanelles, and Cascadia 
Field Guide. A volume of poems selected from Blood Ties & Brown Liquor and 
Dangerous Goods has been translated and published in Korean. Hill lives in 
southwestern Montana with his family and is a professor of creative writing at the 
University of Montana. 



ABOUT SUGAR HOUSE REVIEW 


We loved reading the work that we’ve published (clearly), and we want an 
opportunity to better hear our contributors. We're featuring audio recordings of 
poems from our pages, read by the poet. 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.