On “Ahnentafel” by Michael Derrick Hudson from issue 298.2


This cousin of mine (twice removed) paid genealogists
to find us an archduke or a horse thief

with a handsome beard standing blurry but defiant

at the scaffold.  She yearned for the carte de visite
of a Confederate cavalry major stiff

in his butternut coat and braids heroically
obliterated at Chancellorsville.  Or a Choctaw Princess

in silvery white buckskins with a forever broken heart,
a pack of timber wolves instead of dogs,

and a Lover’s Leap named after her someplace
down in Pulaski County.  But they found only peddlers

and Ohio dirt farmers, delinquent tax notices, three-line

obituaries and unreadable tombstones.  Somewhere back
in the coal mining parts of Pennsylvania

a Klinkenberg married a Jones.  Wilson divorced Wilson.

Ahnentafel von Herzog Ludwig (1568-1593)

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Geography at the End of the World by John Smolens from issue 298.1

ImageAt St. Paul’s Parochial School we were taught by the Sisters of Charity of Halifax, causing some of us to question (if not lament) why the nuns would descend upon the Boston Diocese from a city way up in Nova Scotia. Wedged between daily religious instruction, which required the recitation of memorized Catechism questions, exercises in the Palmer Penmanship Method, and harrowingly competitive spelling bees, the sisters provided us with an introduction to literature. We learned about rhyme and meter in poetry (“Under the spreading chestnut tree / The village smithy stands”), and regarding fiction, we were informed that the three primary elements of a story are character, plot, and setting. It seemed a serviceable if rather axiomatic definition, and it wasn’t until college that I began to have suspicions while reading James Joyce.

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About “Having Been Outside the Body” by Sandy Longhorn from issue 297.2

After admiring and envying for years those poets capable of writing a “project” book, I was stunned in the fall of 2011 by the arrival of a character I call the sickly speaker, a woman bearing no resemblance to myself but with a story that took an entire manuscript worth of poems to tell. The sickly speaker suffers from fevers of unknown origin; her story pulls together inspirations from Emily Dickinson’s “Master Letters” and Lucie Brock-Broido’s book of the same name, along with hints of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper.”

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