Peter Desy, Jeremy Lespi, Susanna Lang, John Medeiros, Thomas D. Reynolds

Home | The Last Issue | Submissions | Achieve: 2004-2009 | Essays



A materialist wanted to put his entire self under an electron microscope so he could
“encompass’ his being. He wanted to marvel at the dividing and blossoming of
his cells, observe his antibodies rush to the site of a wound; wanted to peer into the workings of his atoms, of his particles, of the skittering monads blinking in and out of existence.

However, the unacknowledged engine of his desire was to find his soul, whole and entire in every part of his body, beneath the veil of matter, on the very threshold of spirit, at the junction of essence and existence.

As he was wondering how to launch the marvelous enterprise, he felt a chilly wind
across his face, like a deft brush-stroke.  

Jeremy Lespi graduated from the Center for Writers at the Univ. of Southern Mississippi in May of 2004.  For the past year he has been teaching poetry writing and English/French poetry in Pontlevoy, France at a historic abbey. His poems have been published in Opium Magazine, Dicey Brown, Phantasmagoria, Product, Freshwater, and Into the Teeth of the Wind. His chapbook: The Last Day of Pompeii, published by Dicey Books. 

Noel is despised.  Others with recently combed hair refuse to step into the wine-puddle of his life.  Noel does nothing to improve relations but sticks out his tongue, sanguine.  This is how he discovers his disease.  He tells no one and walks on air.  He dreams of fingers like burning twigs.  He thinks of Medea, who is in his arms.  “I’ll drop you now.  You’re twenty-three and tired.”  He lets her go, which implies she should fall and die.  Her last is a look of malevolent purity, as if her pupils had scorched themselves.  In the south, Medea brushes her extensive hair in the window, amazed by the town’s solemnity.  The hot rash of her beauty goes unnoticed. 


A chair materializes at Noel’s final bedside, and Medea.  Medea’s eyes turn from blue to green.  “I’m going to brush your hair,” she says.  “Stick out your tongue for me?”  He replies, “I know this is a test.  I will not be your invalid.”  “Of course you want to fall apart…”


Medea lies on his bed, thinks, “How dare he talk like that.  Yet, he had no choice.  10,000 children will be exposed.  Plagues come and go.  Patriarchs rise and fall.  Love defeats us.”  Lord Noel walks gingerly across the floor, as a bird would walk the length of a woman’s bare spine.   

Susanna Lang has published original poems and essays,
and translations from the French, in such journals as Kalliope, Southern Poetry Review, World Literature Today, Chicago Review, New Directions, Green Mountains Review, Rhino and Baltimore Review.  Book publications include translations of Words in Stone and The Origin of Language, both by Yves Bonnefoy.  She won a 1999 Illinois Arts Council award for a poem published in The Spoon River Poetry Review.  She lives with her husband and young son in Chicago, where she teaches at one of the Chicago Public Schools.


We called it by its number.  Not a name, or your
grandfather’s house.  He grew miniature roses in the
back.   Each morning I picked the rose that fit in the
buttonhole of his lapel.  My grandmother had
snapdragons that I snapped, and more roses.  In the
center of a pool, the stone figure of a squirrel.  The
squirrels pillaged the birdfeeder, and my grandfather
aimed a rifle through the bathroom window.  I sat at
the edge of the tub in the morning while my
grandmother took her bath, and then on her bed while
she chose a necklace, bracelet, earrings.  All her
desks and dressers had secret drawers.  I don’t
remember that my grandfather ever hit a squirrel.  We
walked the dog when he came home from work, the petals
of his rose curled back and turning brown.  The
children ran out of the houses and climbed on their
bikes, dogs at their heels, my grandfather’s pockets
filled with bones and hard candy.

John Medeiros poetry has appeared in Gents, Badboys and Barbarians, The Evergreen Chronicles, Chiron Review, and Wellspring. He was recently awarded the 2005 Blacklock Nature Sanctuary Fellowship for Emerging Artists. John is also completing a Master of Fine Arts degree in Writing from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota. 


Perhaps after all is said and done it won’t happen like that at all, and
instead my body will be an ocean, and all my parts, including my liver, my
kidney and heart, will drown among the flotsam and jetsam. Perhaps on the
bus I take to work some warm dry morning I’ll start to leak from my pores.
Turn blue.  And breathe three times before my descent.  Who knows, perhaps
then I will taste bile and think it to be seaweed, and my intestines will
split and scatter the morsels of me on the ocean floor to be eaten by
whatever lurks there.  Perhaps my hair will all fall out and I’ll roam the
world like a chemo patient, shriveled up enough to play the part while my
body, ocean still, emits its spume and waits for the next visitor.

Perhaps there will be no next visitor. Perhaps it won’t happen like that at
all, and instead entire gospel choirs will line my bedroom wall, and
servants will feed me only seedless grapes, since seeds are what caused
this in the first place.  And perhaps my arms will reach wide enough to
embrace the choir in my room, wide enough to embrace entire solar systems.
Wide enough.  Perhaps my legs will grow even longer, and my feet will turn
to stone and I will be firmly rooted like a crag somewhere between Portugal
and Scotland.  Perhaps my hands will fall silent, as if wading through
water, or waiting to be read, and the half-moons in my fingernails will
instead disappear and not remind me of the time I have left.

Thomas D. Reynolds teaches at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, and has published poems in various print and online journals, including New Delta Review, Alabama Literary Review, Flint Hills Review, Ariga, American Western Magazine, and Prairie Poetry.

Perhaps a late invitation left
little time to prepare,
a whisper through burnt grass,
"A party is to begin
five minutes from now
beside the well pump,"
and thus the conflicting evidence
of care and neglect.
An ill-fitting gingham dress,
bunched at the shoulders;
heavy wool socks, thick as boots,
over swollen ankles;
a lop-sided crotchet bonnet
and a spackling of rouge--
lost formalities recalled
from a store window back east.
Yet accessories can't mask
scars from this new life:
glazed eyes, one fixed
upon the ground, one at the sky;
singed hair from being held
too close to a hot stove;
a chipped face, tendered
by a nervous desparing hand.
No other guest arrives
to sample her poor table,
to nibble at crover sandwiches
or sip dirt-flavored tea.
Only a grasshopper appears,
the most uninvited sort,
clinging to a dried stem
monopolozing all conversation.
Her poor faithful Polly
leans against a stone pile,
holding her stick arms
stiffly from her corn cob body,
smiling her simple smile,
drawn with a charcoal piece,
trying to provide solace
despite her perpetual dullness.
In the distant flatness stands
the miniature house
constructed of a few bleached boards
and various blocks of sod
dug from hard-packed ground
with a bent fork or spoon.
In the single window
an old rag waves "hello."
From each side of the door,
two dried twigs soar from the dirt
to provide comfort, shade,
and a perch for migrating flies.
In the clipped still grass
waits a long box-like carriage
harnessed to a scrawny horse
awkwardly carved from soap.
Circling in the white sky,
a solitary velvet crow
traveling the long passage
to cornfields up north
detects a swatch of red gingham
and the scent of corn
and alights on the pump handle
starved for food and company.
Leering coarsely at poor Polly,
squalling his obscene demands,
he digs his claws at the metal
and pecks at a crawling bug.
Who would hear them out here,
alone on this desolate plain,
two specks in the grass,
even if they could scream?