Tag Archives: #Poetry

Our Lady Reaper

by Brit Graham

Fall 2016

Why is death
rarely a woman?

Eyes rend and tear.
Mouths gape, jaws have forgotten
their function. Idolized
is she, amongst the strobing lights
and fluorescent bulbs.

But, we’re rarely pretty when
stripped of our hearts, when
the camera shifts below
our hips, when flesh and jaw
dangle, longingly attached
to their former structure.

She’s shucking her glossed
leather gloves, flicking light
from shadow. She’s tugging
each gloved finger, peeling back
it’s black casing, a second
skin. Her sash blinds
in the stuttering lights, freed
from its bindings. Her hips
dip and roll in their easy crash
and saunter of angst-laced bass.
The precise pitch a perfect fever
to settle deep in the bones.

Glacial heels slam and crack
against the stage, her glove
drifts to the floor.

Why is death never a woman?

Why is she only aching
when she creates a life
for you? This body half loved
by you, this body spinning
a new life for you and
loving it more because that
budding body is half of you
too. Why is does she ache while
she’s creates a body
to sustain you?

Her robe parts, a scar
cleaves her soft belly
in two. The hood
of her robe, peaked over
her brow sheathes
pitted sockets and mangled
maw. Scuffed heels pierce
the sleek pedestal in which
she was raised. Her ease
fractures with rigor
mortis, her gentle serial
suicides laid as stepping
stones for the ferrying.

Her hood falls, long locks
moth eaten, much like
the webs she’s weaved.
The lies piled upon curled
silk, spun from ashes
and grief.

Why is she
not our harbinger
of death? The androgynous
shape the same
as any cut
from the stripped
fineries of living.

Photo of poet Brit GrahamFor now Brit Graham traverses the tundra that is South Dakota, while tripping over things while stargazing in the all too brief summer months. She is the crux of an ongoing love affair between the Pacific and Atlantic. She managed to pry an MFA in Poetry from the grasp of Converse College. You can read her poetry things in publications like Devilfish Review, The Night Owl, RealSouth Magazine, and The OWL.

Sistah Connection

MéShelle Fae

Spring/Summer 2018

strangers lined in rows
sundresses on layaway
where’d you buy dem shoes?

Photo of poet and writer MéShelle Fae

MéShelle Fae has a passion for teaching and developing others, which led to the creation of meshellefae.com, her online blog for writers who want to hone their craft or learn how to tell their stories on a digital platform. She’s an avid reader of anything she finds interesting and thinks of herself as “the ultimate geeky, weird nerd-girl.” She’s a resident of Charleston, SC, where she operates The Writers’ Block, a literacy and mentorship program.

Twenty-Four Hours in Vladivostok

by Michelle Matthees

Fall 2013

It is tempting not to speak.
Rather, to breathe in cold catacombs
with eyes wide open.
I think I understand the way you hope.
In your mind, above, crisped spring:
white plum blossoms
icing up saplings. Belief is like this, getting
carried away by progress.
I cannot believe in history.
Still, the fisted buds flare
into wicks burning atop stone-
cold facades tipping deeper into silence.

Michelle Matthees lives and writes in Duluth, Minnesota. She is a graduate of the University of Minnesota’s MFA program in Creative Writing. Recent work of Michelle’s can be found in PANKThe Prose Poem ProjectCider Press Review22 MagazineProofMemoriousAnderboDefenestrationism5 QuarterlyHumber PieSpecsThird WednesdayParadise ReviewThe Mom EggSou’westerThrice Fiction, and elsewhere.

After Burial

by George Such

Fall/Winter 2017

Remembering the sound
of my father’s axe
as it split wood,
the pile of kindling
on the ground,
how my fingers
would test the edge
of the blade for sharpness
and the day it left us
when we ice-fished
on Banks Lake,
Mark chopping a hole
through the thick ice,
the axe slipping
from his grasp as it broke through
the opening
and fell to the lake’s floor
where it still lies—
Have you felt
the surprise
when you swing
at something
expecting to feel
but hit emptiness?

George Such

This December, George Such will graduate from University of Louisiana Lafayette with a Ph.D. in English, a significant change from his previous incarnation as a chiropractor for twenty-seven years in Washington State. His creative writing has appeared in Arroyo Literary Review, Barely South Review, The Cape Rock, Dislocate, The Evansville Review, and many other literary journals.

Be Careful What You Wish For

Ann Herlong-Bodman

Fall/Winter 2014

Let’s pretend the room is dark.
You on your blue bedspread daydreaming when your
daddy comes swaggering down the hall bringing presents.
Hmm, not here since Christmas, but he’s come to lead
the singing on Easter, make your church thunder
with hallelujahs, rock with hosannas;

let’s pretend he promises
to watch you in the senior play, and you slip out front
to take a peek, but he’s not there. Not that you expect
a miracle, but let’s say he appears in the second act:
your dead-beat father, ashen in the stage lights,
new Afro, his deep brown face reminding you so much
of yourself, you forget your lines, forget how lonely you always are.

Then, one day
peeling peaches for a cobbler—crumbling sugar, flour,
and more sugar in a bowl and smearing sweet salted butter over
everything, taking your time when a door slams, and there he is,
smelling like Wild Turkey and Old Spice, you blinking
at white sharkskin and gold incisors, the loss of all the

years, when the knife leaves your hand,
clatters to the floor, and Gran appears, lifts the hem of her apron,
fans her face, speaks slow like she’s from
high class Southern soil: Every girl need a daddy, but this girl
walking in the light. We don’t need no trouble,

and your daddy steps back,
catches himself before he falls clear through
the screen door and slips away, you leaning against the table,
thinking this is just pretend, but there’s a knife on the floor,
your gran reaching for the Bible, shaking and praying,
peach juice running down your wrist.

Ann Herlong Bodman

Ann Herlong-Bodman’s work has appeared in numerous print and online journals, including The Courtland Review, Atlanta Review, South Carolina Review, Cold Mountain Review, Main Street Rag and KaKaLak, anthology of Carolina poetry. She is a former journalist, travel writer, and college teacher whose full-length poetry manuscript was named runner-up in the 2010 SC Poetry Initiative competition. A featured reader at the Piccolo Spoleto Sundown Poetry Series in Charleston, SC, she lives along the Carolina coast.

Vic Damone by Suzanne Cleary

Vic Damone – IMDb

Spring 2012

I said Vic Damone. He was a singer, like Mike Douglas
or Jerry Vale or Steve Lawrence, narrow tie
and pastel shirt, a pleasant enough face, pleasant enough voice

singing the standards, the love songs of his parents’ courtship.
Think singing new songs so that they sound old, wrong,
nothing to fall in love by, but Vic Damone a star

in my family’s firmament, because of the famous elevator ride.
At the Jersey shore for our summer vacation,
in a hotel with an outdoor pool, it was the afternoon

my sister and I were allowed to sunbathe by ourselves
as we waited for my mother to come down,
as my father took a nap in the room.

Could it have been that my mother and father
both took a nap, together? This question did not occur to us.
Anyway, we dangled our feet in the water, made sloppy,

slappy footprints to the plastic lawn chairs, and we waited.
When my mother stepped into the elevator, there he was,
Vic Damone, like any man wearing a polo shirt and plaid shorts.

My mother, bright white towels
pressed to her pink seersucker bathing suit with boy-cut legs,
my mother smelled of suntail oil, and did not speak a word

to Vic Damone, did not even look at him, although
she could not help but see his reflection
in the elevator’s steel doors, until the doors slid open onto sunlight.

She walked over to us and sat, began combing my sister’s hair
into a pony tail, while Vic Damone paused beside the elevator.
He put on his sunglasses, lit a cigarette,

maybe preparing to meet his agent or sign a contract,
to be driven to rehearsal for a show. Then he turned,
headed into the lobby, and my mother, still combing, whispered, 

That’s Vic Damone, as if she spoke not a man’s name, but,
rather, a verb or noun, and she was enriching our vocabulary,
vicdamone meaning “to prepare for departure” or “to pause,

to reconsider,” vicdamone meaning “privacy in a public space,”
vicdamone the discretion that keeps strangers from saying
what could divert them from other, more important, things.

Suzanne Cleary‘s poetry books are Keeping Time and Trick Pear, both published by Carnegie Mellon. Her honors include a Pushcart Prize and inclusion in several anthologies, including Poetry 180 and Best American Poetry.

Curlie Blue

by Valerie Smith

Summer 2017

The Blues down south would cut you
like a paper mill and let your rotten stink
blow all the way north on a hot summer breeze.
That’s how she left, you know.

She was the second oldest of thirteen,
stocky as a sawed-off shotgun, red hair,
freckles and plump green eyes that traced
an un-retraceable line.

When I met her, she was Sunday dressed
in a full-length cashmere coat and matching
camel-colored hat. The wide brim tilted over
her right eye leaned into each heavy stride.

Legend has it, she snatched a black snake
out an oak tree in mid conversation and
ripped his head off in the street. She gripped
my hand and pulled a knife one night –

we stayed too late at Menlo Park Mall
and had to walk out the service exit.
I was just tall enough to see the blade
flash in the corner of my eye.

Her anointed hands could rub a rash clean
and make me believe the Blues
were always one bitter snuff can away
from spittin’ out the truth.

Valerie Smith

Valerie Smith delights in writing poetry and creative nonfiction. She is currently studying Creative Writing in the Master of Arts in Professional Writing program at Kennesaw State University where she is also a Graduate Teaching Assistant of first-year composition. Most recently, she presented her poems at the 2016 Decatur Book Festival. Her poetry has also appeared in Exit 271: Your Georgia Writers Resource and BlazeVOX15.

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Have you always wanted to work closely with published authors and mentors?

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Students and alums of the Converse MFA program have access to publishing opportunities through the Clemson-Converse Literature Series and can submit their manuscripts to the  Converse MFA series for the biennial award. 

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What you need to apply:
Application Deadline: February 15, 2022 for Summer Residency (June 2-11, 2022).

In addition to meeting the minimum requirements set by the Converse University Graduate School, the MFA applicant must receive approval for degree program status from the MFA program faculty and director.

1. Manuscript, according to genre directions (see link).

2. MFA manuscript cover sheet attached to each copy of portfolio.

3. Two (2) letters of academic and/or professional references .

4. Official transcripts from the accredited college or university from which applicant’s highest degree was awarded. A minimum GPA of 2.75 on a 4.0 scale is required for full admission.

5. A brief personal statement .

6. Online application with the $40 application fee.