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31 March 2016

Until the Frost Hit


indian medicines were made
from roots and herbs
which the creeks called angelica
was used for a purgative
and likewise button snakeroot
used for the same purpose
dogwood root and butterfly root
including goldenrod were used
as you would use quinine to break a
frost root
and a root they called doctor
dick root was used as a medicine

in eighteen eighty one
there was a smallpox epidemic
at okmulgee indian territory
and it came near wiping out the
entire population of this village


i have seen grass so tall here
that you could ride through it
on a horse and it would be
over your head in places
when they made hay on some farms
they would cut until the frost hit
this was certainly fine land
for cattle ranches

we raised a little corn and cotton
we had horses that
did not know what corn was
in fact they would not eat it
we pastured some cattle
for years and at one time my husband
helped handle seven thousand head
for mister brown

in nineteen o seven
oil was discovered near morris
the first well was drilled
north of here

Drawn from interviews with Muscogee (Creek) Indians conducted in 1937-38 and archived in the Indian-Pioneer Papers, Western History Collections, University of Oklahoma: I. Jake Simmons, born 1865; II. Leona Moore, born 1885. Submitted by James Treat.

28 March 2016

each one of us is in a different place

I keep thinking about what
 is happening to us
are we going to die
God forbid

are we going to arrive
if we arrive what will happen
this is what we are worried about

we were always afraid
there was always war
where we lived

and once three shells fell
on our neighbourhood
but luckily nothing happened

we didn't know about these things
now that it's happened
we know 
what war is now we know

men were taken 

against their will
they would have made my brothers 

go with them by force
who would work
if my brothers had to go with them

we would be left 

without money
or anything

we were living well with each other
but now it's all destroyed
each one of us is in a different place

in the boat they told us
you have to throw away your bags
you cannot take anything

I wasn't seeing anything
I was sitting in the middle
the guys would say

a wave is coming

From a Unicef Video on Facebook of 13-year-old Mustapha arriving in Lesbos, Greece, as a refugee from Syria, 5 November 2015. Submitted by Laura McKee.

24 March 2016


I am nothing. You are right.
I’m like someone who’s been thrown
into the ocean at night.

Floating all alone, I reach out,
but no one's there. I have
no connection to anything.

The closest thing
I have to a family is you, but you
hold on to the secret.

Meanwhile, your memory
deteriorates day by day.
Along with your memory,

the truth about me is lost.
Without the aid of truth I'm nothing,
and I can never be anything.

You're right about that, too.

Taken from Town of Cats by Haruki Murakami, translated by Jay Rubin. The New Yorker, September 5, 2011 issue. Speech attributions removed. Submitted by Dawn Corrigan.

21 March 2016


in the
real sense
of the word,
pro that
fun, and
deliciously creative
force that
bathes the body
in delight and pleasure,

and what you are actually against is porn sex?

a kind of sex that is debased dehumanized formulaic and generic a kind of sex based not on individual fantasy play or imagination but one that is the result of an industrial product created by those who get excited not by bodily contact but by market penetration and –


From 'Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality' by Gail Dines, (Boston: Beacon Press, 2010), Preface, page x. Submitted by Rosa Walling-Wefelmeyer.

17 March 2016

Some Sort of Shining

I can still see the bright-crimson glow.
This wasn’t any ordinary fire,
It was some sort of shining.
I’d never seen anything like it in the movies.
That evening everyone spilled out
onto their balconies
and those who didn’t have them
went to friends’ houses.
We were on the ninth floor,
we had a great view.
People brought their kids out,
picked them up, said, “Look! Remember!”
They stood in the black dust,
talking, breathing, wondering at it.
People came from all around in their cars
and their bikes to have a look.
We didn’t know that death could be so beautiful.

From Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich, translated by Keith Gess (Dalkey Archive Press, 2005), p. 155. Submitted by Howie Good.

14 March 2016

Man overboard

I find myself, in my plush seat,
going farther and farther away,
sort of creatively visualizing

an epiphanic Frank Conroy-type moment
of my own, trying to see the hypnotist
and subjects and audience and ship

itself with the eyes of someone
not aboard, imagining the m. v. Nadir
right at this moment, all lit up

and steaming north, in the dark,
at night, with a strong west wind
pulling the moon backward through

a skein of clouds—the Nadir
a constellation, complexly aglow,
angelically white, festive, imperial.

Yes, this: it would look like
a floating palace to any poor soul
out here on the ocean at night, alone

in a dinghy, or not even in a dinghy
but simply and terribly floating,
treading water, out of sight of land.

From the final paragraph of David Foster Wallace's essay Shipping Out: On the (nearly lethal) comforts of a luxury cruise, Harper's Magazine, January 1996. Submitted by Dawn Corrigan.

12 March 2016

Hell is a State of Mind

I am a man at home folding my wife’s delicates.
Outside, there’s a ruckus, as usual.

It begins with the flies. Noisy, black flies.
I do not know exactly when…

Most certainly stop in and say I heard this story
about a city of red fire growing from your head,

hooligans dressed in red and white everywhere,
a kingdom of messengers with no king.

Descriptions from the writing page of Submishmash, accessed 29 October 2015. Submitted by Howie Good.

10 March 2016

Shell Filling

It went up one day. Gunpowder, TNT,
a shoe-lace, a ring, a spark.
Condemned the cornfields round about,
still bringing bodies out after a fortnight.
You don’t mind when you’re young -
you sing away as if nothing had happened.

From the oral history interview Audio Memories of a WW1 Munitions Factory Explosion, The Breckland View. Submitted by H L Foster.