Screen Reading

Mini reviews of current issues of online literary magazines

Reviews by Kirsten McIlvenna


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ARDOR Literary Magazine :: Imitation Fruit :: Literary Juice :: Miracle Monocle :: Ontologica ::  Redheaded Stepchild :: Rufous City Review :: Scapegoat Review :: The Sim Review :: storySouth :: Thrush :: Valparaiso Fiction Review


Posted January 28, 2013

The Sim Review CoverThe Sim Review

Issue 16

January 2013


On the first day of each month, The Sim Review releases an issue that features one poem and one story. While it certainly does not entertain a lot of reading, it does provide the reader with a way to learn about new writers, and it shines down a spotlight on the writers, putting their voices and names forward.

In January, the poet featured is Valentina Cano, “a student of classical singing.” She has a number of published pieces as well as a blog that she regularly updates. Her poem, “A Taste of You,” is a clouded toast. The glass is “full of dusty shadows,” and corners the narrator’s senses “with a net of lies / that [she] can’t pick apart”:

Every word you’ve said
is strung around me
like the gaudiest of colored lights
and this swallow,
this liquid scurrying down my throat
is just a ripple of ugly laughter.

Daniel Davis, nonfiction editor for The Prompt Literary Magazine, contributes a story about the difference between what’s an honest living and what’s legal, or perhaps it’s about restraint and freedom, or about responsibility, or better yet, it’s about all of these things. In “That Being That,” Duane is in the back of a Packard in handcuffs for illegally making and selling whiskey. Rowley, a confident and perhaps cocky agent, rides shotgun as a nervous young man drives. Duane is desperate to be free:

He felt the urge to stick his hand out the window, like his boys sometimes did, let it ride on the wind, up and down. They weren’t going very fast, but he still wanted the breeze between his fingers. The physical sensation of freedom. He lifted his wrists and pulled them as far apart as the cuffs would allow. Not far enough. His hands dropped back to his lap, and he sighed.

He doesn’t believe that what he is arrested for is wrong. He says his career is honest, just not legal. But Rowley disagrees, saying, “That’s all the difference in the world to me.” But as their conversation ends, they encounter another car on the road that contains someone threatening from Rowley’s past.

Offering a small sampling, The Sim Review is able to feature two quality submissions and give the writers the attention they deserve.

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storySouth CoverstorySouth

Issue 34 1/2

Winter 2013


storySouth is not about a flashy design or a new digital look. With a clean and readable format, readers can focus on the writing. As the editors say, “Online fads can’t help but fade away; great writing endures. storySouth is all about the writing.”

Michael Parker’s fiction piece “Display” is about a boy who works in a pharmacy and is discontent with the staleness and stasis of the shop. He is a boy that likes change, who often rearranges his room “so that he could walk into the room and feel like he’d never been in it before, or that it belonged to someone else, someone with vision and options.” Once he even removed his closet doors and slid his bed inside:

. . . he did not even mind when he woke in the night to a nightmare of jungle and vine, only to realize he was being grazed by the cuffs of his Sunday trousers. Lying in bed among belts and neckties hanging from coat hangers made him feel he was living in a city, in an apartment so small he had no choice but to put his bed in a closet, far from his parents and the pharmacist.

Lee Zacharias contributes a fiction piece from Across the Great Lake. About a little girl who loses her mother and must board the “boat” (a bit of an understatement) with her father, the Captain, this small selection certainly intrigued me to read more.

Mark Smith-Soto’s poem speaks of “Otherness.” While I initially thought it’d be about secluding people that are different from you, it is instead about how we share things with other people:

Other people’s dogs, other people’s babies,
other people’s farts!— how heavily otherness
can weigh on you, what a bore it is and hard
to bear in elevators, airplanes, or now over a beer
to have to listen to another of his amazing dreams

But even though it’s not your dream, and you’d like to yawn, “Wow, you say, wow, wow.”

This issue also contains excellent poems by Rebecca Black and David Roderick as well as a review of Amanda Auchter’s The Wishing Tomb. As a bonus, you can listen to each poem and fiction piece as read by the corresponding author.

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Thrush CoverThrush

January 2013


Showcasing fourteen poets, Thrush emphasizes melody found in poetry. The magazine takes its name from the thrush, a species of bird whose songs are, regarded by some, the most beautiful in the world. “We love that and that is how we feel about poems,” say the editors. “We hope to provide you with the best poetry available to us.”

Reading Hélène Cardona’s poetry feels like walking outside through a misty night, lightly treading as if you were hardly walking at all. “Night Messenger” is about a dream where the narrator encounters a penguin, drifting down the river on a leaf. “. . . this stream is your life,” he says, “instead of watching from the meadow, / flow within its rhythm.” And the narrator does, lying on a leaf in the river, entering a different world.

And the melody in Meg Cowen’s poetry is in the word choice and pairing. In “The Woodsman and I Fight on a Train to Ohio” is great to listen to just for its sounds:

You’re hunting with pointed fingers, pushing
my weight to the upper bunk where I cannot be
your quick-fingered gatherer, collecting truffles
that bloom on the path of your spine. Pockets
of snow are ghosting between penitent trees.
You say you wish you could thaw just about anything.

Caleb Curtiss ignores the poetic description of place in “Cup & Saucer,” because in this poem, it’s not the important part:

The bay was a bay, the ocean an ocean:
I could tell you more about them,
but they don’t matter as much as the kind of knowing
that overcame me upon seeing him there,
looking down as the tide sucked at the rocks,
the barnacles, a full story beneath his toes:
the serenity that comes in knowing how the world
could change suddenly, irrevocably:
the serenity in knowing how the friction
that keeps us here
won’t hold forever.

Danez Smith finds music in the home, in the everyday, in his poem “solitude”:

footsteps of the ghost you know must be here
her laugh    her nails on the door     her eyes blinking
your breath”

The other featured poets include Heather Fowler, Jackson Holbert, Chloe Honum, David McAleavey, Kylan Rice, Sundin Richards, Beate Sigriddaughter, Sarah Sweeney, Jeanann Verlee, and Jeff Whitney.

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Posted January 21, 2013

Valparaiso Fiction Review CoverValparaiso Fiction Review

Volume 2 Issue 1

Winter 2012


Valparaiso Fiction Review, a sister publication of the Valparaiso Poetry Review, is from the Department of English at Valparaiso University in Indiana. What first struck me about the magazine was the format. Each piece of the issue appears in a separate PDF that needs to be downloaded to read. This seemed odd and discouraging, but I’m glad I took the time to work with the format. These longer pieces of fiction found within the issue were well worth it.

In “Selections” by Bryan Shawn Wang, Maia decides to get a special gift for her son for his birthday: a frog experiment kit. But as she takes over the science experiment and begins to raise two abnormal frogs (that grow past the expected size and adapt to protect themselves), she loses interest in raising her son. In the rising climax, her love for her son and her love for McClintock, the frog, are tested.

Joel Hans’s “Panthera” starts out with Myla’s memory of her mother, teaching her to shoot a gun:

Now, hold the gun out in front of you, like this, with your finger along the side of the trigger, not up against it. That’s called discipline. Forget your discipline, and you’ll kill your sister. Spray her brains out all over the place. Now, you reach out with your thumb. That’s the safety. You only turn that down when you’re ready to fire your weapon, and you’re only ready to fire your weapon when you’re sure you want to kill.

Myla and her twin Ambyr were raised with their mother and their stepfather, who collected zoo animals and kept them in the backyard. Years later, the twins remember the tragic event that occurred when their stepfather got drunk and released all of the animals. The story is original, and the humanness of the characters is real. Sewn together by blood, love, and shared experiences, the twins understand each other, and help each other, in a way that others can’t understand.

In Nathan Gower’s “Love, Unmistakably,” the two main characters don’t seem to have that connection, or at least at first. Henry and Karen, in their early 50s, decide to move to a new house after their daughter goes off to college. The thing is, the new house is just down the street, and from the bonus room window, Henry can spy on everything the new owners of his old house are doing. In the meantime, Karen tries to unpack and organize all of the belongings they have accumulated over the years, making an artistic pile of all of Henry’s stuff: “This art, this pile, she thought, must live on. Its beauty was a complex phenomenon, not at all aesthetically pleasing, but real, raw life. And wasn’t that the essence of art?” And amongst these questions of art, comes the question of love, or rather of figuring out love. “Does anyone ever really learn?” Their daughter’s visit throws about these questions as she brings home a new boyfriend, one whom she is in love with and who asks Henry if he can marry her. Karen questions the love she has with Henry, how it is now not young and fresh, but ultimately decides that it is different, but “unmistakably” love.

Also in this issue are stories from Jessica Roeder (“My Wife Alone”), Alan McMonagle (“Walking Among Ruins in Babylon”), and Tony Van Witsen (“The Camera Has Its Reasons”).

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Miracle Monocle CoverMiracle Monocle

Issue 6

Winter 2012


After clicking on the man’s face and having him wink at me to enter the site, I knew Miracle Monocle had to be entertaining. I scrolled down and first read “The Importance of Not Losing One’s Head” by Adam Krause and instantly knew I had to review this magazine, even if it was just to mention this one microfiction piece. Short, it invokes a sort of black comedy as the character quite literally loses his head. But no worries, he pantomimes in the street as he looks for it. This doesn’t earn him his head, but he does receive a quarter. That’s all I’ll say; just go read it.

And much to my pleasure, there was certainly more within the issue worth reviewing. Amira Pierce’s “The Model” is the sole longer fiction piece. It’s hard to tell quite what the story is about since it is hard to tell who the story is about. Written in third-person, the focus changes from Jacky, a nude model for art students, to her boyfriend Paul who is keeping a secret from Jacky about a girl he slept with while their relationship took a break, to Mustafa, an artist whose work is of a “decidedly erotic nature” and who has requested Jacky to be his newest model. In a mish-mash of views, the conflicts and worries collide into something that can only finally be called art.

Angie Mazakis’s poem “A Day at the Office,” chronicles the mundane of working at the office, moving boxes, sending emails, receiving faxes. But buried among these tasks is a fear of things in life that can hurt:

I spend a lot of the day rearranging
sharp objects so they’re not pointing
at me or someone else. Incidentally, one
other person at the office also has this phobia.

And the narrator even has a hard time looking at pictures of knives online at Williams Sonoma, because, after all, the knives are still pointing at someone across the office. The poem ends:

I add “Faxed something” to The Overarching
Timeline of My Life,
which comes after that moment I could finally
put the Chuck E. Cheese head on without gagging;
after slicing a thumbnail while cutting
bread for a carryout order and never finding it;
after watching the shoplifters pour DVDs into a shopping
bag shelf by shelf and run out the door;
after not getting to the windshields on the conveyer belt in time
and just watching each one crash and crash in waves
of glass on the ground, the sharp ends pointing
in the direction of all of us.

Holly Day’s “Comfort Food” isn’t the type of food at first you might imagine (for me: mashed potatoes, mac ‘n’ cheese, and a large bowl of mint-chocolate-chip ice cream). She talks about the comforts people find in the apocalypse, in God, in Heaven to “show an end to credit card debt, to war, / the confusion with our day-to-day ordinary lives / too wearily responsible to suicide.”

Also in this issue are poems by Mark DeCarteret, Keith Montesano, and Trent Nutting and a microfiction piece by Henry Walters. And, of course, art by the young, award-winning photographer Eleanor Leonne Bennett.

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Rufous City Review CoverRufous City Review

Issue 9



I can’t do much of a better introduction to this issue than Editor Jessica Bixel’s intro, so I’ll let her words speak as she invites you into the issue like she’s inviting you into a haunted mansion: “all manner of death and destruction, breakups and breakdowns, hook of rock and hank of hair. The orchards are swelling, the wolves are watching, and the city is haunted—everyone is waiting for you. Enjoy your stay.”

And you’re easily invited into the atmosphere with Renee Emerson’s poetry. “Lucky” starts the issue with, “A hank of hair caught in the high weeds by the river. / A premonition, tangle in the burrs and thistles, / on the first day of a new year.” And “Stories” ends, “All of our stories are ghost stories. / Your shadow a gray visage, surfacing.”

Joseph Goosey’s poem starts off like a joke: “A baby doll and a life expectancy / barge into a bathroom stall.” And Colin Dodds’s “The Great Alchemist” contains a few lines you just have to laugh at: “he felt a disappointment // like when the dinosaurs went to buy pants / and learned that the stores / no longer carried their size.”

Carol Guess’s and Kristina Marie Darling’s “Health Insurance” is an entertaining commentary on, well, health insurance. After the narrator gets health insurance and reaps all the possible benefits, she admits “I received a letter explaining my deductible. My deductible was one million dollars.” The phone call to the insurance company that followed results in hypnosis: “When I emerged from what felt like a refreshing catnap, it was winter and the yard was covered in snow. I had lost my job and with it, my health insurance. My prize was a penny in a Cracker Jack box.”

Daniel M. Shapiro contributes a piece called “Archibald Discovers Air” in which Archibald gets a balloon at a birthday party he takes his niece to. The balloon was blown up by none other than John Wayne. Although the children aren’t impressed, Archibald is. He saves it for as long as he can: “He contemplates showering with the balloon but worries hot water might spoil it. He places it on the kitchen table and eats his fruit salad next to it.” And as John Wayne dies, Archibald is convinced he has the celebrity’s only remaining breath.

Meg Johnson’s poem portrays a woman who doesn’t know what she is looking for, perhaps what she is looking for in a man:

Let me tell you what Reduce,
Reuse, Recycle means. It means
running out of boyfriends.
Dating four guys named Chris.
I called the last one Joe.

Here there is plenty of poetry to invite you in for a stay. Step through it slowly and carefully, breathe it in deeply, and try not to disturb who’s watching you.

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Posted January 14, 2013

Redheaded Stephchild cover photoRedheaded Stepchild

Fall 2012


Redheaded Stepchild, an exclusively poetry magazine, likes to play with the other magazine’s unused toys. “We know that a lot of kickass poetry gets rejected,” say the editors, “and we thought it would be fun to publish only previously rejected poems. We like rejects.” But that being said, poems aren’t necessarily rejected because of quality but rather because of fit for the particular magazine. Looking through the bios of this issue, it’s obvious that these writers are not lacking in publications.

Glenn Cassidy’s “In Men We Trust” starts with a quote from John Adams: “A government of laws and not of men.” Throughout the poem, he brings up parts of everyday life that he trusts, parts of life that most of the time we don’t think to distrust:

I trust that strangers approaching
on the sidewalk will walk past and not attack,
trust that drivers will stop at the red light
as I pass through on green.
I trust that the waitress has not spit on my pizza,
that the bridge’s steel girders aren’t rusted
and flaking away like dandruff.

But as the poem comes to a close, it is a clear that the poem is actually more about trusting the government and the men in charge: “but to trust the human flaws of senators, governors, / and presidents that they lie within tolerance of gaps in the law.”

In a night during hurricane Irene, after too much rum and too much bad news (a friend’s newborn baby is struggling to survive at a birth weight of three pounds), “You want your father who is not here.” Jeanann Verlee’s poem “Home,” leaves you aching. Written in second person, you feel drawn to the main character, feels what she feels, as

. . . You want your dead heart to be a hummingbird.
Or jet fuel. You want a roadmap. You want your father. You want
to kiss the lips of a bridge. You want saltines smeared with mustard,
like mama used to pack in your Muppets lunchbox . . .

In, “Eliza Without the Witch,” Erin Lyndal Martin uses repetition of words such as “wind,” “whiskey,” “hag,” “roadmap,” and “gingerbread” throughout the lines to build her poem. With each repetition, she attempts to use the word in a new and surprising way. The best constructed images come from her use with the word “bones”: “. . . Bones don’t wrinkle / underwater, they break but wetter than before” and

Eliza magics me into given rain. We’ve found
bones in one another. The church disappears
into the roadmap. Trees wrinkle the horizon,
the windshield appears when it reveals haggard limbs.
Bones don’t twinkle, they merely rattle within hags
like teeth inside a jar. . . .

While I’ll admit I didn’t enjoy every poem in this issue, I’d say the majority of them are worth the read.

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Ontologica CoverOntologica

Volume 4 Number 2

Winter 2012


My first impression of Ontologica was that it published a lot of non-literary nonfiction, essays that take a strong bias or are very persuasive. And while I still have that impression, I now realize that it is part of their aesthetic. “Our journal is dedicated primarily to essays of philosophical work,” say the editors. In fact, two of their goals are “to publish provocative contemporary work” and “to challenge the status quo.” In this, they succeed (see Edward Lyngar’s “A Tale of Two Penises” which discusses why male babies should not be circumcised and Edward A. Dougherty’s “Lessons on Totalitarianism”). But for the purposes of this review, I will focus on the fiction.

But first, I’m going to break that rule. Because although Marina Petrova’s “The Pharmacy” is listed as nonfiction, it has the more literary feel to it. Written in the second person, it chronicles how your life, “all stages of it, tragedies and triumphs, could fit into a couple of pharmacy aisles.” Petrova takes us through the aisles, with a somewhat dark humor:

What’s in the aisle between condoms and beer? Pregnancy tests. Tons of boxes neatly stacked on the self all promising an early response, assuming you want to know. Do you want to know? There are only two possible answers on this text. Regardless of the one you get there is a 50% chance you will feel that you have failed.
If the test is negative, breathe out and run. Or go back to the beer aisle. If it’s positive, in a few months you will be right back where you started—in the diaper aisle.

The main character in James Pouilliard’s fiction piece “I Had a Ball!” is a character you’d find on the cover of Weekly World News next to bat boy. Having read the headline “Boy, 10, Gives Birth to Monster!” as a child, the main character asks his parents if boys can give birth. Years later, he proves his parents’ answer to be wrong. Out of one of his testicles, he births his twin brother, who then ages at a rapid speed, both losing all baby teeth and growing an entire set of adult teeth within 24 hours. All I have to say is that although the story is outrageous, the style it is written in (and the numerous puns and jokes about balls) will have you laughing for sure.

And lastly, in Michael Sukach’s “Boxing Anderson,” the narrator is able to step into the shoes of Anderson—a professor who forces his students to buy his published work to study in class and whose shadow the narrator will “soon be boxing.” In the piece, he takes over one of Anderson’s classes and later introduces a piece of Anderson’s work at a literary event. The narrator ends with claiming that had it not been a literary event, “there would have been a bell, we would have emerged from opposing corners, circled in toward the center of the ring, and started throwing punches.”

I enjoyed reading the fiction in the way that it does, in fact, attempt to challenge the status quo, both in terms of style and content.

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Imitation Fruit CoverImitation Fruit

Issue 11

November 2012


Imitation Fruit welcomes you to the site with a number of googley-eyed fruit. Without a real aesthetic declared, it is hard to tell what the magazine is looking for without doing some reading first. And what I found is that it appears to be more about story, more about the message, than the style or bravado of the writing.

In Louis Reyna’s “A Trip to the Grocery Store,” Manny is embarrassed when the girl he has a crush on is going to see him pay for groceries with food stamps. So what does he do? Bails, of course. He leaves all the groceries on the counter and runs out and down the street to the more expensive grocery store (which he later learns is a big mistake).

Nancy Chen Long’s “Jump with Joy” is a poem that uses a pogo-stick as a metaphor for “a certain kind of joy”:

the kind we expect to get
from pogo-sticks and other things:
A few brief surges into the air,
yet we don’t go anywhere. Our bodies,
hopeful, soar straight up
only to return so very close
to the exact same spot where we started.

In Kelly Winters’s poem “Tuxedo” (accompanied with Diana Blackwell’s artwork “Cat in the Window”) a cat prowls the streets, “the golden / glitter of his gaze are pierced, slow bleeding / black into the night.” But,

By dawn, he’s crept beneath the portico
to brush dust from his sleek tuxedo
tail, and dirt from his fine face in time
to slip inside the door and purr a denial
that he was out all night.

This issue also includes fiction by Stanley E. Ely, Susan Lynn Solomon, Dick Reynolds, Ania Payne, Hollis Whitlock, and Jenny Tressler and poetry by John McKernan and Bruce McRae.

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Posted January 7, 2013

Literary Juice CoverLiterary Juice

December 2012/January 2013



Literary Juice publishes literature in small sips. There are short stories, flash fiction, pulp fiction, and poetry.

Lynn L. Sloan’s “Shoes” is a social commentary within a short story about an older woman who cannot seem to get assistance from any of the clerks at the shoe store—they all bypass her for the young woman with “wavy blonde hair just like the weather girl on Channel 7 and the kind of tan that came in a bottle.” Frustrated by the lack of service, she takes matters into her own hands.

In Rob Williams’s flash piece “Lost in the Forest with Nothing to Say,” he sets the mood for his piece through different elements of nature: the robin, “flighty but graceful, always on the verge of singing”; a “cavernous deserted avenue”; and of course the forest, where the narrator says that “surrounded by so many trees, it’s impossible to achieve real solitude.”

If you are looking for a poem that will make you think, read Bryan Merck’s “Technique of Ecstasy.” The poem alternates stanzas with narration first about Otzi, the “5,000 year old ice man, found in a glacier / in the Alps” and Wanda, a twenty-eight-year-old who has never thought about death or ever attended a funeral. The poem is set up to starkly contrast the two characters, but with each description up and down, it is hard to tell who is better off. Toward the end, the two characters are instead compared:

In each of their days, Wanda and Otzi have instinctual methods for mood regulation.
They both stay in the positive range of feelings most of the time.
This is effortless for them. As is their vibrant affect.
There is an innate technique of ecstasy for the day by day.
Most people have an inborn tendency for happiness.
They see evidence of a benevolent Creator everywhere.
They feel connected and settled in God.
Their subconscious minds are rooted in God.
Otzi could have articulated this nascent blessedness.
It is deeper in Wanda. It is just a feeling.

The pulp fiction section (25 words long, no more, no less) certainly perked my interest. It’s a powerful thing when you can get an emotional reaction from a reader in such a minute space. Instead of trying to quote some of it here, I’ll let you enjoy them yourselves—Maria Bonsanti’s “Leverage,” Philicia Montgomery’s “Embrace,” and Seema Misra’s “Firecrackers.” I even started going through the archives. Be sure to read the October/November 2012 pulp fictions, particularly “Sorry” by Eva Langston (talk about an emotional pull!).

The rest of the writing in this issue includes poems from Chad Nellis Sinclair, April Chye, Bob Meszaros, Smita Sriwastav, Neal Allen, Scott M. Bade, Dennis Weiser, and Simon Perchik as well as a fiction piece by Mark Jacobs. Literary Juice comes across as playful, entertaining, and admirable, but underneath is writing that is well crafted and thought out—it’s, well, literary.

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ARDOR coverARDOR Literary Magazine

Issue 1

January 2013


ARDOR steps into the literary world with its first issue featuring fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and artwork along with two interviews—one with a featured poet and one with a featured prose writer.

The featured prose piece, “Mesa” by Andrew Dutton, is the story of the inevitable demise of a relationship between two young lovers on a road trip to Arizona where they plan to start a new life together. The story felt real and authentic, as if the main character were writing a piece of creative nonfiction. While the story was fictional, Dutton reveals in a following interview that he had taken a similar trip a few years before writing this story in which he felt lost. “In writing ‘Mesa,’ it was emotionally taxing to return to the world of a man at the end of his rope,” he says, “but I felt that effort was essential to understanding the narrator—this poor, vulnerable guy who didn’t have much to begin with and who then loses everything because of a senseless act of violence—and maybe central to understanding myself too.”

If you’re looking for a real-life bear story, read “The Way the Light Works,” a piece of nonfiction by Anastasia Selby. But really, it’s not about a bear—it’s about Selby, nine weeks after her mother commits suicide, coping and trying to move forward. “I shook my head and wiped my tears away,” she writes. “I knew how to pull everything back in, I’d done it before, I’d spent my entire life doing it.” And although the situation is something one is not expected to ever fully recover from, the essay ends with a little bit of hope, birds chattering and singing.

“What You Recall When You’re Diagnosed with COPD” (a lung disease) is, according to John S. Blake in his poem, playing chess with your mother:

The pawn shakes between her fingers.
Bishops forget their designated colors.
Her cigarette ashes over the Queen.
She loses repeatedly in under ten moves,
but she never stops entertaining me,
resets the board with quivering hands
as I wheeze and rock, wheeze and rock,
my face blue-ing.

The issue also contains a fiction piece by Meagan Cass about a failing marriage and a hot tub; Sean Finucane Toner’s experience with a Literary Death Match; poetry by Peter McNamara, Nancy Dobson, and David Zaza; and more. The magazine looks very professional, and I daresay ARDOR is not taking baby steps here but rather a full stride into the lit-mag world.

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Scapegoat Review CoverScapegoat Review

Winter 2012


Scapegoat Review claims to “gather pieces that actively engage with the audience— they may be challenging, surreal, or even absurd, but they always express an interest in communication. Rather than work that is dry or academic, we seek writing that resonates with sincere, if ironically observed, emotion.” While this is a similar goal of many magazines I come across, I found their aim to be reached. Each and every poem here was engaging, not “dry or academic” (not that academic can’t be engaging too . . .).

Nin Andrews contributes four prose poems in which she personifies the orgasm. In “If Orgasms Were Poodles,” she claims that “we could keep them on leashes or dress them up like the dogs one purchases at Pet World.” Playfully, she interjects, “One would have to take good care of them of course—perhaps line their cages with soft bedding, and bathe them regularly.  (No one appreciates those unhygienic orgasms who carry diseases and the scent of low tide.)”

In James Fowler’s “Late Night Death,” he is haunted by the image of a doe he accidentally hit by his car. “The cop came, put his gun to her ear. / “Do you want the meat. It’s yours.” / No! No thank you, no. I think not.

Lyn Lifshin’s poetry transported me—at least for a brief moment—out of my fur blanket and freezing house into the middle of a hot and sweaty summer, with ice clinking in wet glasses (instead of frosting over my windshield).

       A silver apple moon. Bored
and still sweaty, my sister and I
wanted to sleep out on the lawn
and dragged out our uncle’s army
blankets and chairs for a tent. We
wanted the stars on our skin, the
small green apples to hang over
the blanket to protect us from bats.

Sean Edgely writes from his experiences working abroad in Asia and Europe, claiming that they inform his worldview. One of his contributing poems, “Hungarian Girls are Pretty,” he is supposed to be helping Fanni with her math at detention, but as he says, “Fanni and I / never liked math.” My favorite stanza reads:

When we talk,
every time she chooses
the wrong preposition
it hangs me
like a lovely dress
on a broken hanger.

Also featured in this issue are poets Coriel O’Shea Gaffney, Melanie Whithaus, and Kiely Sweatt.

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