Bramble: Summer 2018 will be available soon!

Greetings from the Editor

I’m sure you’ve experienced the unknown of getting from here to there, first draft to final poem, a pile of random words to a line that shocks you. But another element of magic and mystery is the collaboration process, how two (or more) people create a single work while still coming from their own unique vantage point. As in a relationship, a “third” enters that is more than the two that began. Art-inspired, music-inspired, the words of another-inspired, collaboration takes many forms. After reading Wendy Chen’s poem in Rattle, I began to think about translation as collaboration, and in her case, collaboration with a poet of the 12th century. I was thrilled to be able to invite her to submit her poems to Bramble. I hope you enjoy this issue from Jeffrey Johannes’s fabulous cover to Chen’s lovely translations to David Graham’s thoughtful essay and collaborative poems with his friend and Poetry Month co-conspirator Brent Goodman, as well as everything in between. 
Happy Poetry Month! Try a joint venture with a friend and see what happens!

David Southward
Guest Editor


Cover Art.JPG

Cover art is “The Swing" by Scott Allen. Allen is originally from Michigan where he attended Central Michigan University as an Art Major, later he spent a couple years in Georgia at the Savannah College of Art and Design. He currently works as a freelance graphic designer in Milwaukee, where he also paints and designs marching band programs.

Allen paints in the Cubist style emphasizing the flat, two-dimensional surface of the picture plane. He presents a different reality in painting where the subject matter is portrayed by geometric, fragmented shapes and forms whose several sides and positions can be seen simultaneously.

See the evolution of "The Swing" from initial inspiration to final painting:


As in a Dream

Translated by Wendy Chen

Remember that day
spent on the stream,
watching the sunset glaze
the pavilion.

So drunk, we could not find
our way back.

It was late
when we turned the boat around

and caught, accidentally, in the deep
tangle of lotus roots.

Rowing through,
rowing through—

startling, from the banks,

First published in The McNeese Review


Butterflies Long for Flowers

Translated by Wendy Chen

Gathering of kin on Shangsi Day

In the endless night,
in an empty dream, I dreamt

of Chang’an
and returning by the old road.

It blazed again with colors,
announcing the spring.

The light of the flowers.
The image of the moon.
Each shone on the other. 

The cup, the plate,
though carelessly filled,
were satisfying.

The wine, the sour plums
fulfilled me.

Drunk again,
arranging the flowers— 

But do not laugh.
Man, like Spring, grows old.

First published in The McNeese Review


Wendy Chen on the process of translation:

The process of translation for me is a process of communication, collaboration, and reinvention. In translating Li Qingzhao’s poems, written almost a thousand years ago, I wanted to remain true first to not only the meaning of her words, but also the spirit. As many of her poems are written in the highly regulated ci form, which contain certain elements with no English equivalent, I chose to be more flexible with form in my English translations to best highlight her vibrant and evocative imagery. Although translations are compromises and interpretations rather than perfect equivalents, I hope my work captures the striking inventiveness and freshness of her language that has sustained itself through generations.

 Wendy Chen   Photo Credit: Wenrui Chen

Wendy Chen

Photo Credit: Wenrui Chen

Wendy Chen is the author of Unearthings (Tavern Books, 2018). Her work has appeared in Crazyhorse, Rattle, A Public Space, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of the Academy of American Poets Most Promising Young Poet Prize, and fellowships from the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center and the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund. She earned her MFA in poetry from Syracuse University. Currently, she is co-founder and editor of Figure 1. For more, visit


Giverny Tango

Chris Daleiden

After Claude Monet’s "Landscape at Giverny"

How the autumn wind
bends copper foothills,
tugs at the round barn,
rides the pewter ridge

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Hymn to Morning

Rochelle Arellano

The first bird spoke
and broke open dawn's
bright shell. It inquired of the day

Read More

Linked Poems

"Porte des Morts" by Sharon Auberle & Ralph Murre
"Invasive, They Call Them" by Sharon Auberle & Ralph Murre

Read More

On Completing The Jack Pine

Mary Wehner

There’s a solid truth to this place. I can smell it. I can feel it on my hands, and yet
my eye tricks me. On my left, the shadows seem sharper than I remember, and the sky
is now plum with a wild wind to the north. The way I saw it, it was drenched in blue, 

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Over the Tree & Across the Water

Mary Wehner

She is just nine and wide-eyed
big plastic glasses outlining
the blue, blue eyes that dart

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Ring of Truth

Georgia Ressmeyer & Sylvia Cavanaugh

A ring of truth may wed you to a lie
Manipulation can feel, and reel, like love
The peel of bells. You’re netted, banded, tracked
So special, at first, to capture that attention

Read More

Disappearing Woman

Cathryn Cofell & Sylvia Cavanaugh

In one week I lost three things: makeup brush, spirit stone, jump drive.
Some would say who cares about a brush or a rock,
but the failed stars have coalesced

Read More

Angry Flesh Cento

Cathryn Cofell

In 1911, women jumped from the Angry Shirtwaist Factory. 
Today, she falls angry a lot, 
she's done angry to that ankle at least five times,

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Elegy for All Those Thousands of Souls Who Wrote Poems that No One  Will Read but Who Loved Poetry Just as Much as Randall Jarrell or Marianne Moore or Your English Professor in College Ever Did

Tom Erickson

Just know
death is nothing
more than another knot

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Haibun for this Floating, Fleeting Life

Sandra Lindow

From Utamaro’s series on Fashionable Children *ca. 1795

Japanese printmakers called it ukiyo-e,
the floating, fleeting life, a meticulous
process of carved wood, paper and layered

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Sonata for the Moon on the 120th Anniversary of Georgia O'Keeffe's Birthday

Sandra Lindow

“Since I cannot sing, I paint.”  Georgia O’Keeffe, 1922
Andante. Beyond the comforting
bulk of the house, November sky
shades from azure blue to piano black. 

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Spring Fever

Jan Chronister

The heat is doing crazy things
                      to her head.
Children’s faces grow in flowers.

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Portrait of Ernest Hemingway

Jan Chronister

Raise a stein
swing gin
singe a way east.

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Poem on the Subway

Marilyn Zelke Windau

Charles Simic was riding the R train.
His poem displayed there told me to look down at shoes.
Mine were wet from wintry mix in Brooklyn.

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The Jilting of Lady Jane

Liz Rhodebeck

What say ye rogue, that left me so,
with tear-stained face and dying rose
that once bloomed flush upon my cheek
but now like ice my visage’s froze.

Read More

Ready to Jump

Charles Trimberger

Crowded into the ribs
of their flying ship, backbones
invisible, paratroopers align, hooked

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So Simple

Jan Hasselman Bosman

At the four-way stop,
we take turns.

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Linked Poems

"Ushers of Light, A Meditation" by Jeannie E. Roberts
"Seeing Beyond Our Feet" by Cristina M.R. Norcross

Read More

Grasses Bow

Jo Balistreri & Ferris Gilli

A Rengay

 at the open door
of the cafe
spring meets just-baked scones

Read More


Extras_300 dpi.jpg

Love Letter to Milwaukee:
A Conversation with Kavon Cortez Jones

By David Southward



The Subversive Power of the Line Break

By Marilyn L. Taylor


Managing Editor: C. Kubasta
Layout/Design: Tori Grant Welhouse
Bramble Logo: Bobbie Lovell