Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Sound of Sugar...Jen Lambert


This country has no lamps for its alleys,
but I know the streets like the body
of a whore, those wounded stones, valleys
of dark water. There is sorrow
in wet nights, and the yields will not give.
I don’t know what is worse, to burn or to drown,
but either way there is famine. The dog will howl
in the limping city, the wasp will burrow
deep in the unforgiving plum, and tonight,
I will learn the bend of a girl, the give
and take, the way to turn her hard dirt
so I won’t starve on my own instinct,
so I won’t bite through my own foul tongue.
That flesh is ripe. It will bleed and run.

That flesh is ripe. It will bleed and run
if I’m not careful, but I am a patient man,
and your body is a map I can read
with my hands. Be a compass, a candle.
I am desperate for a course, and your body
is the way back. I miss a woman in my bed,
but I am too old for rules, for routes.
You, though, you can be my true North,
be a heave of iron, the sad, round
spinning Earth, and I will be the glass face,
the grid, the bearings. A man doesn’t need
directions, his heart is a magnet, it pulls,
his hands steady the steep pitch and roll.

My hands steady your steep pitch and roll,
but these hills are on fire and I
haven’t seen the sky in years. Direction?
I am your geography. I am your
book of maps. I am your sun. And you,
tiny planet, you insignificant
collection of stars, will spin and spin
until you burst into flame. Your black lakes
will boil, your fields sear, your safe little houses
of mothers will blaze, and I will rattle
your paper walls, my hot mouth at the door.
I will break the bones of this town. I will
burn down every tree, scald every girl I touch.
And you? You will blister. You will scorch.

You will blister, you will scorch, you
will burn you wicked little crow.
This is how it happens. This is how you die.
Don’t believe any of this. My hands are liars.
The way they touch you, the way
they fall on your body like moonlight, like rain.
Maybe it’s like this: maybe you drown.
Let’s say there is a black lake. Let’s say
there are hands, many hands, hands in your hair,
hands in your mouth, hands covering your mouth,
holding your mouth underwater. No, let’s say
the hands are stars, falling in the water
like hot stones. Open your mouth. Catch one.
This will keep you from drowning. This will save us both.

I tried to save you, to keep you from drowning.
How was I to know you were made of glass?
This whole city is a boneyard of broken girls,
slight wrists and stony kneecaps like landmines
under the sand. There is nothing left of you,
just threads of hair on a pillow, a damp dress,
be careful where you walk, girl. Every night
a new burning, every night I melt you down.
Tinder bound and boxed, you will love me.
My body can be the house you hide in,
and I will say, this is how you love,
and I will say, this is how you pray.
You were built for my kneeling, your mouth,
my own collection of trembling boughs.

Jen Lambert is a founding editor of Spark Wheel Press and burntdistrict magazine. She received an MFA from the University of Nebraska, and her work has appeared in journals such as Pank, The Los Angeles Review, Sugar House Review, and Redactions, among others. This recording is five sonnets from a longer series, Visitations.

We’ve loved reading the work that we’ve published (clearly), so now we want an opportunity to better hear our contributors. We will feature an audio recording of a poem from one of our seven issues, read by the poet and updated every couple of weeks. This an open invitation to all contributors from any of our issues, we were delighted to print your work, now we’re eager to hear it. 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Sound of Sugar...Liz Kay

Sunday Evening   

The twins were found dead Sunday night
            in their father’s home after police got a call
            around 8pm requesting they check on them.

We found him lying
on the bed—
not asleep, but neither
quite awake—his eyes fixed
on the wall behind us,
and below him, tucked
beneath the bed
were the two small
bodies, bundled together
in a large towel and placed
face down.
How long had they lain
there? And him
above them, covering
them with his body,
the way a man might
throw himself on a grenade
and wait
in that long still moment
for the world to erupt.

About the Poet:
Liz's poems have appeared in such journals as Willow SpringsBeloit Poetry JournalNimrodRHINO, and Sugar House Review. Alongside co-editor, Jen Lambert, Liz is a founding editor of Spark Wheel Press and the journal burntdistrict. 

Liz's debut novel, Monsters: A Love Story, is forthcoming from G. P. Putnam's Sons in 2016.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Sound of Sugar....Laura Stott


At the edge of a boat dock
the blue nudes look far down a ladder—

to where it hits surface glass.
They can see rungs barely

waver as their blue heads peer
over. Their own eyes

and the stars reflect in dark tide.
It seems they will be climbing

down into sky, one
blue nude after another.

It couldn’t feel anymore night.
Seals swim in their black

milky way. Sky ripples
with the color glaciers create.

One moon bathed, barnacled
rung at a time, the blue nudes

disappear, past mussels
in their blue shells,

kelp tangled in mid-air.
One nude stops at the rim

before arranging herself
over the side—torso twists,

as hands cling. She looks back.
It is this leaving that’s beginning.

Her hair blows in the wind.

About the Poet: Laura Stott received her MFA from Eastern Washington University and she teaches writing at Weber State University. Her poems have appeared in various publications including Hayden’s Ferry Review, Bellingham Review, Sugar House Review, and are forthcoming in Crate.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Sound of Sugar...Matthew Landrum

Sarah’s hair freezes in the winter wind as we walk down
the hill to the corner store forgetting blue strictures

that say you can’t buy alcohol on Sundays
before noon. See—

sometimes it’s not conscience that keeps us
from falling. Forgetfulness

and luck too have a share
in our salvation. This morning leaves us

high and dry. We kill half an hour, observe the icicles
hanging from the spire of St. Mary’s,

wander the neighborhood, past the alleyway
where, years ago, I knelt and prayed for God

to end me. My vomit wouldn’t freeze,
even though it was ten below. And I walked out

leaving that afterbirth of a new life
steaming on the pavement and thought I was finished

with all that forever. But we live on
the edge of a precipice, always one step away

from ourselves. Sarah’s pixie hair freezes
in December, still wet with showering. And when we return

home and sit with six packs by the fire,
it will steam.

About the Poet:
Matthew Landrum teaches Latin and literature in Ann Arbor. His poems have recently appeared in The Emerson Review and Cold Mountain Review.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Sound of Sugar....Kristen Clanton


The peacock devours his plume absently
as the mermaid falters posture among sinking swells—

black lines that separate air from cloud from bird,
tree from leaf from root, tiny pictures painted black.
Hung in strict rows for me to chart your path,
I follow you foolishly to the sea.

Closer, I can feel the gloom’s yawning breath.
Closer and the dawn’s golden nod escapes the wire.

Compass misplaced and panic where sleep should be.

About the Poet:
Kristen Clanton is an adventurer, defenseless only to gravity and the subconscious. She graduated from the University of Nebraska, earning an MFA in poetry. Her poetry and short fiction have been published by Bicycle Review, The Birds We Piled Loosely, Burlesque Press, MadHat Drive-By Book Reviews, MadHat Lit, Midnight Circus, The Outrider Review, Ragazine, Quilt, and Sugar House Review. She has work forthcoming in The Mangrove Review and Otto Magazine. You can see to all that here: and contact her here: