Wiseblood Books

Book Review: Reflections

Jonathan Potter

Reflections
Poems by Ruth Asch, with art work by James Tyldesley
Saint Austin Press, 2009
136 pp.; $10.00
ISBN: 978-1901157468

When I first opened Reflections, Ruth Asch’s extraordinary first collection of poetry, I did that bad thing readers are not supposed to do: I turned to the last page. The little poem, poised there on page 129, stared me in the eye, smiled, and then kicked me in my reviewer’s shin just hard enough to smart a little and make me grin at the task ahead of me. [Read more...]

The Red Door Society

Clay Reherman

To many, the phrase “hard times in America” brings to mind stark images of the 1930s: Ecological and economic disaster, powerful storms following close upon one another, high crime, starvation, despair, societal depression in every imaginable degree and mode. We may thank Mr. Steinbeck for this mental association: His painting of the “dust bowl days” in The Grapes of Wrath has imbued three generations with a notion of what it’s like when a nation is visited by the Angel of Death.

1934

Most Americans in those days had an idea that a sentence of doom could be carried out from above, below, or somewhere. While the 1920s had been exceedingly prosperous and “liberating” to most classes of people, there was still an honest fear of God left in this country: Like a thief in the night, the Angel of Death snuck up on folks, and even a proud craftsman like Garv Atwood could be left holding the bag.
[Read more...]

King Saul

Michael Doyle

“Twenty minutes, Saul. You promised,” she says from the other room. A weak cry follows and then her weary voice again, “Hush now, hush… Daddy’s going any minute. Belly’ll be all swollen soon, then sleep, sleep.”

Eighty push-ups. Not too bad. Saul rises to his feet and faces the mirror. Only the table lamp is on because he looks more chiseled that way, his skin smooth again. He brings his wiry arms in toward his bare chest, admiring the oily sheen that clings to his body. He bites his lip, clenches his fists, then holds his hands loose by his side. Try to be loose tonight. Jaw loose, fingers trembling. [Read more...]

Villian, elle?

Daniel Gibbons

I am a burning book, a book of flame:
pale letters glow on skin-thin ash
an instant as your hand crumbles cinders, same.

If a book burns in the forest, without reader or name,
Is it no book, a glob of marks?—In its pages stashed:
“I am a burning book, a book of flame!” [Read more...]

Refiner’s Fire

Shannon Berry

After

In the Old Testament, fire was a purifying element. The sacrifices were burnt because the Jews believed that their sins were transferred to the animal on the altar, and the burning devoured these sins and sent the aroma of repentance to the God above. In his letter to the Romans, St. Paul takes this idea a step further, adapts it to fit Christianity and says that we should offer our bodies as living sacrifices, making our very lives offerings to God, making our lives blazing, constant, purifying fires. Fires that burn, spark, and glow. Fires within. This same fire urged Teresa of Avila to reform her religious order, which had fallen into laziness and wealth. It drove her to sit for hours praying whether she felt anything or not. It’s a fire that isn’t extinguished unless we kill it, heaping buckets of lukewarm water on the blaze. [Read more...]

The Edifice

As soon as you enter, nothing is the same—
 A fact, perhaps, you knew before you came
 Inside. The shape alone, from down the street,
 Signals some fundamental and complete
 Transformation from what has come before,
 In motion by the time you touch the door.
The door—here, too, something seems amiss
 If known conventions be applied to this.
 Unlike the tidy portals near and next,
 Of chrome and glass, exquisitely Windexed,
 The knotted oak leaves outside witness blind,
 But those who enter know what they will find.

[Read more...]

Good Friday

Cristina A. Montes

The hottest time of year
is silent
save for chant
and chirping birds. [Read more...]

Carla

Arthur Powers

SELECTED BY KATY CARL, EDITOR IN CHIEF

(Rio de Janeiro — 1968 / Paris — 1973)

1.

Carla Alves was twenty-three when she came from Rio de Janeiro to Paris: a woman of medium height, with dark blonde hair, a fresh white complexion, and thoughtful hazel eyes. At twenty-three she was an optimist by nature, raised in a home filled with love, and—despite all that had happened—tending deep inside to hope for the best, to trust people. But she was wary.

[Read more...]

Ascending

Christopher Paolelli 

He cowered on the ruined balcony. Shriveled into a crouch, he screamed wordlessly at the inferno that was devouring the known world.

Sal called encouragement to him, but he wouldn’t listen or couldn’t hear. So Sal started toward him, cautiously, one shaky step at a time. Then something went wrong. Terribly, terribly wrong. In a moment the balcony was gone. And so was the boy. [Read more...]

Why Can’t He Be You?

Eve Tushnet 

“Oh, Nina, you haven’t signed up yet—can you take one of the,” and Dorrie was turning the clipboard toward me with her usual unhappy smile, “morning slots?”

“Sure. Where is this place?” Cigarette. Cigarette. Cigarette!

“It’s a Planned Parenthood on 17th Street. There’ll be a carpool if you want.” Cigarette, dammit! I signed up for 10 A.M. and headed outside as fast as I could. Open pack, fish out lovely lovely cigarette, between the lips and hunt for the lighter and suck and oh, thank God!

Smoky dark gray chemical taste. Already the stress of the morning was falling back into the past. Oh, brilliant, beautiful. Oh frabjous day.

Then, of course, I realized that I’d really signed up for ten in the morning on a Saturday. [Read more...]

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