The air here, writes Roy Bentley in “A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” it’s like breathing loss or defeat, and almost every poem in our Spring Issue offers us those fumes.
They ask us to witness violations and humiliations, the kind of panic that spills like moths, as Luther Hughes writes in “offering” and the desperate longing to be where Monistat grows/ on trees, as Sylvia Bowersox writes in “Personal Jihad.”
But, as Patrick Donnelly and Stephen Miller remind us in their translation of Priest Jakuren’s poem, in the sea/of suffering we sometimes find the heart drawn in/to deep harbor. And these poems remind us of the need, as Denise Bergman writes, to state/ I’m here.
Deep harbor comes in many forms – we see it in the hard-earned Blessings in the final line of Leonard Kress’ sestina and in the way that Willy Paloma’s poem meditates on a beating but ends on the word prayer.
We see it in the remarkable empathy – more necessary now than ever – that guides all of Fred Marchant’s poetry. And how grateful we are for the small moment of refuge that he offers us at the end of “The Migrants”: There would be at least this much tonight, twigs for a fire, perhaps water for tea, some warmth in the morning.
January O’Neil, Dzvinia Orlowsky and Ben Berman