Bramble Summer 2018 now available.
Greetings from the Editor
Editing Bramble has been a humbling, gratifying task. There were so many wonderful submissions that I agonized over what to include. But I came away with a renewed appreciation for the talent and diversity of our Fellowship. I hope that you feel the same—whether or not your work appears here—and that you’ll continue to torment future editors with your riches.
In the call for submissions, I asked for poems that demonstrated technique. The essays in this issue explore poetic technique from multiple angles. My interview with spoken-word savant Kavon Cortez Jones looks at the creative process of a rising young flâneur, while seasoned formalist Marilyn Taylor probes one of the mysteries of our craft—the line break—with that wit and sensitivity her readers have come to love.
And speaking of multiple angles: I am thrilled to feature Scott Allen’s Cubist painting “The Swing” on this issue’s cover! The image’s electric palette hooked me instantly. When I realized it depicted a baseball batter in motion, I desperately wanted it for Bramble’s summer release. I’m so grateful to Scott for his generous lending of the image.
I’m also indebted to Christina Kubasta for her tireless managing of submissions, and to Tori Grant Wellhouse for her layout and design. Theirs are entirely labors of love, so please be sure to thank them when you see them!
Finally, a caution. There are dark matters in the poems you’re about to read. They reflect the dire times we live in, as well as grievances which transcend time. I have done my best to arrange them in a way that answers our need for hope—without smothering their howl.
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:
Annette Langlois Grunseth
Growing up in the shadow of WWII my brother
grabs a pear from the Green Stamp fruit bowl,
pulls the stem out with his teeth, pretends to throw it,
The Poet's Walk
We kissed his forehead, yellow, cold, inert,
sobbed stunned goodbyes and left his body, drove
to Poet’s Walk above the Hudson* hurt
It was three below zero when she returned from the funeral
to a Fed-Ex bouquet box left on the deck.
What is a Scar
but a reminder
of things past.
Let’s be still, scream if it helps, join the rain
pounding these streets. It’s all wrong:
we can’t sleep, can’t wake, making
love is a seizure and the sheets bind us.
Just left of the midline in the epigastric region, the nurse sees a
pulsation about 3 cm wide. What is it? (Select one.)
When X = Invisible
About a Body
[I cannot say
what it is about,
this disappearing act,
Saturday Pancakes & Hash at Perkins
I’m trying to think of something to say:
clear and defined but hard to build
like medial triceps.
What has grown --
what has fallen --
I am running on sturdy legs, real within a
pink sweater. I am all the things you
Deep in a secret place
is a part of me
not many know.
Dragonflies & Chocolate
Watching the hard feeding dragonflies
litter the air
as I burn deer ticks
picked off my tickly skin.
And They Called Him Cain
Let’s not sour our hearts
At this child,
Rebirth of the Silver Water Pitcher
With the help of a yardstick,
I slide mysteries out of our corner cupboard
discovering vases, candlesticks, plastic bowls,
salt and pepper shakers lost to the ages.
Grandmother Rubicon Teaches
Madeline to Make Crepes
Never use an electric blender, Madeline. It is gauche,
despite what Julia Child says. I met her once.
The Mechanics of Time-Space as Experienced in a Rear View Mirror
We pull up to the curb
a block from the middle school.
Modern Family Diaspora
Tonya McKenna Trabant
Like having way too many beautiful fish to fillet
each time knowing the knife
is at the right angle
to avoid bones and save flesh
There is no god if I do not open the window. On the ninth floor of
North Scott—residence hall—my room is impenetrable. I was
raised a Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod Lutheran: my skin
is impenetrable. It only yields to pretty older people with soft-
looking hair. They have to like poetry. They have to be aromantic.
Four students sit, sprawl, lie propped on elbows
on the landing of a high school stairwell.
Dressed in jeans, hoodies, and flip flops
Come with me,
down to where the trees are,
for there is a line of sky
Moon, old streetwalker,
alone as usual,
hanging out in the sky mall
Venus, the official website:
Models, slimmed by
straight long hair and
legs squeezed into each other,