from the 2011
Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Competition
Armstrong from Burn Pit
we burn the sediment: a crust of oil
that lines the pit behind the
Smoke sends the stench of sulfur through
clouds windows of the Hoffmans' house,
and drops a mist of ash into the
of a wooden cow, staked in front yard grass.
Hoffman watches from her porch,
one hand across her mouth, the other
at her heart. We keep our distance
from the flame, let it have its way
with what has hardened in the pit.
In the swift exchange from heat to blaze,
a burning harvest mouse runs circles in
wild grass until it is more fire
When it falls into the last glow of its flame,
us stamps what is left into the dirt.
rise like sparks from yellow grass.
The Hoffmans' dog pulls at his chain.
Old dog, there's nothing you can do,
but stand the smoke and wait, as we
incidental now to what we've set, waiting
for the end of fire.
Armstrong is a native of Los Angeles, where she serves as financial officer of
the Los Angeles Poetry Festival. She previously served as co-director of the Valley
Contemporary Poets Series. Her poems have appeared in more than fifty literary
journals, including The Missouri Review, Nimrod, The Burnside Review, The
Potomac Review, and the anthologies Grand Passion: The Poets of
Los Angeles and Beyond, and Open Windows. She has been a finalist
in numerous poetry contests, including the Strokestown (Ireland) International
Award. She is president of an independent oil and gas production company and lives
in West Hills, California with her husband.
Spinning a Prayer Wheel
Lisa Bellamy from the manuscript Nectar
staggered out of the theater after watching Waiting for Godot.
Jeez, I griped
to Peter, That's it? We're all just wind and gristle?
said after a minute, and I knew he was trying to remember
whether he'd stuck
the parking ticket in his wallet or pocket.
He rather gallantly takes the
notion of a meaningless universe in stride,
while I feel like a bewildered
monkey spinning a prayer wheel
when I attempt to contemplate the so-called
At the Tibetan Buddhist center downtown, we recite the
Perceiving that personality is inherently empty saves beings
as monks, red cheeks puffed out like 20 Dizzy Gillespies,
blowing long horns, strident heralds announcing ego's apocalypse,
and I'm thinking, what? What are we talking about here?
I recite daily
my version of Marvin Gaye's mantra as fast as I can:
What's going on, what's
going on, what's really going on?
Oh God, send me someone wise and shimmering,
send me the archangel who carries the sword that cuts through confusion
or, if there's no archangel handy, send me a soothing, jazzy brunch voice
and an arm pulling me onto the raft as I thrash in the river of dukkha,
in my memory of chipping my tooth on the granite rock in our backyard,
me wailing as my mother ran from her chaise lounge
where she'd been sunbathing
and reading Leon Uris; her freckled arms
and the smell of her suntan oil-where
is she? Where is she?
published in The Massachusetts Review, Autumn, 2010
Bellamy teaches at The Writers Studio. Her poems and prose have appeared in Triquarterly,
The Sun, Massachusetts Review, New Ohio Review, Cimarron Review, and Tiferet,
among other publications. She won the 2008 Fugue Poetry Prize. She graduated from
Princeton and lives in Brooklyn, NY with her family.
Brian Patrick Heston from the manuscript Barking
at the Storm
when your fist connects to that sweet
spot between the jaw and neck. One
as easily as any other, and if you listen, you can
it. But it's not how they say, that your mind
goes blank and all you see
is black. Everything
gets bright, so I could see weeds being born
from the sidewalk beneath his head. They asked,
"Was it planned?" It wasn't
and it was. Dude
probably thought we'd kick him a while then let him
jet. That's what we thought, too. We cornered
him in the lot behind Newt's
Playground; we were
far from any window or door. Doug was the first
to use the bat. We took turns after that. No one
punked out. We were long
gone before the first siren.
No one even said "cops." What really stopped
was boredom. After a while, it didn't mean anything,
a dead cat. I'll tell you, it does stay
with you, attaches itself to some
you never knew. They say you're hollow after.
not true, either. Dr. Lester says I need to take
so he gives me an exercise
where I have to write a letter of apology. Sends
off by myself with a paper and pen. All I've
managed to write so
far is: least you weren't there
for most of it. Next time you know not to
That's when I remember there isn't any such thing
next time. So I grab another sheet and try
to figure out how to fill all
this empty space.
Patrick Heston grew up in Philadelphia. He holds an MFA in fiction from George
Mason University and an MFA in poetry from Rutgers University. He has won a Dorothy
Sargent Rosenberg Prize and been a finalist in the River Styx International Poetry
Competition, the Sow's Ear Chapbook Contest, and the Seven Kitchens Press Chapbook
Contest. His poetry and fiction have appeared in such publications as West
Branch, Many Mountains Moving, Painted Bride Quarterly, The Spoon River Poetry
Review, and Poet Lore. Presently he teaches writing at Rowan University
and Delaware Valley College and is an associate editor with Many Mountains Moving
Cindy Hunter Morgan from the manuscript The
Sultan, the Skater, the Bicycle Maker
is summertime and the cows
are grazing in mountain pastures,
all day by women in white
aprons who sing wordless songs,
the cows, calling each other,
calling forest trolls hiding
mushroom caps and
last autumn's leaves.
The music is clear and pure
and travels easily through woods
and over hillsides, a high arc of sound
so beautiful that men three kilometers away
pause, lean on the handles of
too charmed to work.
It is hard to find time to churn
knit stockings, make cheese.
The days are so long,
nights short and light,
all the women seem to do
is herd cattle.
The cows will follow their music
anywhere, and the women
in love with it too,
so easily does it pour from their mouths,
they are scarcely aware of producing,
a sound that is never low enough,
never far enough back in the throat
to swallow, to claim.
It is no
wonder they are thirsty,
dipping ladle after ladle into their milk pails,
desperate for some trace of their art -
a taste of something they have sung,
music they ache to posess.
published in Frostwriting (www.frostwriting.com),
titled as "Sweden, 1847."
Hunter Morgan's work has appeared in West Branch, Tar River Poetry, Bateau,
Sugar House Review, Weave, The Christian Science Monitor, The Michigan Poet,
and elsewhere. For ten years, she worked in the orchestra field, directing publicity
for the Grand Rapids Symphony and, later, the Lansing Symphony Orchestra.
Michael Schmeltzer from the manuscript Elegy/Elk
I know things. For instance,
I talk to certain men
about how a hummingbird's tongue
up nectar, their eyes
donut-glaze, and they bore a hole
through to the core
of me, right where I hide
secret-self like a pit
of a cherry. I'm not psychic,
know what they're thinking.
I also know the exoskeleton
is cousin to the jaw harp,
but one plays music for
the other for the sun.
I listened to one chirp,
caught between the screen
and bedroom window.
days I listened, feeling awful
for my curiosity, needing to know
happens when we're trapped.
Some nights I hear hissing
my mother's stove.
Her homemade nectar boils over
the hot coils, bright red snakes
laying eggs of steam. I know heat;
know how to hatch anything.
published in Gulf Stream Magazine
Schmeltzer earned an MFA from the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran
University. He is a poetry co-editor for A River & Sound Review and
is a three-time nominee of the Pushcart Prize.
and About with SHP Authors
Lemmon with Kentaro Fujioka at his exhibition at The Nippon Club in front of the
art (paper with acrylic) used for the chapbook cover of Enjoy Hot or Iced:
Poems in Conversation and a Conversation
Ahl, former Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Competition winner, at Frost Place where
she was invited to read Frost's poem "Acquainted With the Night" this past summer.
from the Art Colony by
Suzanne Cleary Consider
this: that anything can become a poem
if arranged into lines, anything,
as there is, behind the lines, a confidence, a willingness
to reconsider. People who work at Yaddo, I mean who live in town,
dawn drive up the long hill. They walk through the mansion
of bedsheets. A young woman sits cross-legged
at the top of the grand staircase,
polishing each spindle
with a spray-bottle of bright blue fluid, a small
This morning, outside my study window, a project:
pine needs pruning. When I go to my desk,
I discover a ladder propped against
but no one in sight, as if this is all that is necessary:
choosing the tree, and the ladder,
and leaning them against each other.
SHP Chapbook Review by Suzanne Cleary:
Hot or Iced Poems in Conversation and a Conversation
by Denise Duhamel
and Amy Lemmon
Hot or Iced: Poems in Conversation and a Conversation, invites the reader
to spend quality time with two of contemporary poetry's liveliest voices. Denise
Duhamel and Amy Lemmon are long-time friends who clearly relish the opportunity
to participate in SHP's new collaborative chapbook series.
poem, written by Lemmon, begins, "You've brewed this stuff, now drink it--/these
dreggy-dregs, this filter-silt,/the tiny bits that cling to tongue." Ostensibly
spoken to an estranged lover, the "you" of this poem wants also to read as "I,"
the poem's speaker thus addressing herself as well as the lover. A smart and insightful
poet, Lemmon welcomes such complexity into her poems. She writes, "You think you're
kind, you think/you're sensible, you think you're something/I can't quite imagine.
What of the Monet's/lily-pads of mold on Earl Grey cooling in the jar?/The brown
scrub-nulling scum that clings/to the worn Picasso mug?"
language is delicious. One wants to roll these words around on the tongue before
swallowing the bitter and hilarious sense of them.
with poems of failed relationship, as in "Instead," which opens, "I want to be
31 again, the night before our wedding/when my mother said, "You know you don't
have to/do this, honey." Fans and critics have noted the emotional directness
of Duhamel's poems, but the craft of her lines bears close attention. Notice these
line-breaks, which deliver each moment for maximum impact; notice the missing
comma at the end of the first line, which produces in the reader the anxiety felt
by the speaker of the poem as she pushed herself into marriage.
Enjoy Hot or Iced is chock full of vivid images of contemporary
life. In addition to Lemmon's art museum mugs, one finds bubble-wrap, croutons,
the LEAVE SAMPLES ON THE COUNTER sign hung in the medical office bathroom.
One finds lifeguards, Albuterol asthma inhalers, Madonna and Guy Ritchie, and
a glitter-encrusted tee shirt with a heart in the middle of the chest.
In addition to good eyes, Duhamel and Lemmon share a passion for form. Lemmon
contributes the sonnet "Asymptotic," and "Audacious: An Acrostic," its lines built
upon the phrase "hoping for change." Duhamel's "Boxed Set Sestina" is a wild and
pointed exploration of the word box that manages to include caroboxyl, but I won't
say how. You will want to see for yourself.
Enjoy Hot or Iced
: Poems in Conversation and a Conversation is like one of those bottomless
cups of coffee, which refills as long as you desire. Poets and students
of poetry will want to revisit this chapbook, and have their own animated conversations
Hol Press congratulates Suzanne Cleary for winning this year's (2nd Place) Nimrod
International Journal's Pablo Neruda Award. Her poetry books are Keeping Time
and Trick Pear, both published by Carnegie Mellon. Her poems have been
published in Atlantic Monthly and Poetry London, and anthologies
including Best American Poetry. New poems will soon appear in New
Millennium Writings, Connecticut Review, and Poetry International.
Tasmanian Wolf, and You by
Lynn McGee Suspended
mid-stride in a Plexiglas box
compact as a kennel,
the world's last
lithe as a coyote,
pale as surrender,
into a stairwell of the American Museum
of Natural History,
stood, useless mourner,
before its reconstructed presence,
by patrons rushing to more spectacular
displays-blue whale hovering improbable
as a dirigible,
dioramas' pastel deserts rivaling
any Hollywood set,
the Museum repeating its busy life,
Wolf enduring just beyond
those sloping marble steps-
till one afternoon
the Plexiglas box was gone,
and no information clerk,
guard could direct me
to its new station,
one beige-uniformed man
with somber authority, Oh yeah, that thing.
We had to put it in storage-
not the final
and only this remaining-
that the Tasmanian Wolf,
fanning down its sides,
jaws springing 120 degrees wide
on the furtive heat of chickens;
the Tasmanian Wolf,
pouch padding its belly,
able to rise up on hind legs
like an Egyptian
god-head of a dog,
body of a man-and scan
the horizon; the Tasmanian
is absent from its eucalyptus-tangled island,
from the concrete
and stairwells of museums,
absent from the atmosphere
and oxygen where it swirled into shape
over millions of years;
even, from memory,
though I can see those glass eyes gleaming
dark of a storage closet,
and the frosty walls of that Plexiglas box
holding everything that's forever lost,
no magic able to undo that silence,
animate that synthetic gaze,
and no harm in mourning the irretrievable-
love discarded, kindness withheld,
talent let slip unnoticed as a scarf
on the icy sidewalk. Measure the immeasurable
damage your life's amassed,
but leave your loss in dark storage,
and find something worth saving.
Lynn McGee's review of Katie Phillips' chapbook, Driving Montana, Alone,
in Big City Lit. Lynn
McGee's poems are forthcoming in The American Poetry Review, Tilt-a-Whirl
and Bluestem. Others just appeared in Big City Lit and The
New Guard, one a finalist and one a semi-finalist in that magazine's contest
judged by Donald Hall. Her work can also be found in past issues of The Ontario
Review and many other journals. Lynn's chapbook, Bonanza, won the
Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Competition. She received a MacDowell fellowship,
won the Judith's Room Emerging Writers contest, and earned an MFA at Columbia
Hudson Valley Writers' Center staff is:
Juliano - Executive Director
J. Conatti - Slapering Hol Press Managing Editor/Assistant to the Director/Office
Testa - Administrator
us know what you think! Feel free to contact us with any comments, questions, or
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