When people have children, and the children grow up and start doing impressive things, the parents swell with pride. The parents hang certificates and drawings up on their fridge, and gloat to aunts, uncles, neighbors and friends about their children’s various accomplishments and talents. People gather round to coo and clap. I have never had a child. I have, however, helped to edit the poetry in issue #45 of Hayden’s Ferry Review. I’m sure that this was not nearly as painful as childbirth (it was actually quite pleasurable). But I still feel entitled to some gloating and prideful chatter. So here goes: just look at her wide little eyes! What I mean to say: look at those sharp, stark, startling words.
The issue starts out with two poems by Joseph Mains. They are mysterious and fragmented, but sharp and chilling at the same time. These poems are a little like absinthe. I offer one of my favorite lines as a teaser: 'The sky is teflon and the stars slide from it.' The poems then travel from Mains’ semi-haunted interior landscape: “Your skin all wet & lace/ We either grow from each other/ or from ourselves we grow into one” to Korea, to Wal-Mart, to Karina Borowicz’s Moscow, to Sean Patrick Hill’s “Shotpouch Road” where he states “All I know is, everything here is a form of rain. Yellow arum, rain. Rotten hog fuel, rain…” Perhaps this is getting too serious, too rainy for you? I suggest turning to Mary Ruefle’s “Donkey On” for a bit of quizzical wisdom. Or take a look at Miles Fuller’s “Listening to the Night Club Gossip.”
The poems in this issue vary in location, substance, and demeanor. John W. Evans offers a heartbreaking and solid series of ghazals. The excerpt from Samuel Forsythe’s “Fugue State” is a litany of things to forget but contains many images which are unforgettable: “forget ages breathing/ stillness into whistles/ till they stop/ till lips stiffen/ and only listless/ hissing escapes.”
There are so many things I’m excited about in this issue. This blog post should not have taken me as long to write as it did, but every time I flipped through the pages the issue would start wriggling and show me something it could do that I’d never seen it do before. What can I say? I’m a proud parent, enthralled.