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  Susan Deer Cloud is a mixed-lineage mountain Indian from the Catskill Mountains. An alumna of Binghamton University (B.A. & M.A.) and Goddard College (MFA), she is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, two New York State Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellowships, an Elizabeth George Foundation Grant and a Chenango County Council for the Arts Individual Artist Grant. Published in numerous literary journals and anthologies, her most recent books are Hunger Moon, Fox Mountain, Braiding Starlight, Car Stealer and The Last Ceremony. Deer Cloud is the editor of ongoing Native anthology I Was Indian (Before Being Indian Was Cool) and the Re-Matriation Chapbook Series of Indigenous Poetry (FootHills Publishing).

Just in time for November’s end, this week’s feature offers a heady mix of augury and inspiration. Here’s the stunning title poem from Kirun Kapur’s new book, a powerful first first collection that charts indelible histories.   Visiting Indira Gandhi’s Palmist I don’t know when I realized he had one eye that watched me, alive, the other free to read the heavens. Could he see I grew where others couldn’t? Could he read my face, in its lines all their faces—my aunt’s that morning, in the mirror beside mine, hissed, don’t stare, don’t forget details, it’s your honor to look for all of us. Did he see I hated his eye, sometimes, hated my honor: the hand always above me. Which eye reads that hand? Which eye can judge its [...]

When I first read Bishop as a young poet, I was dazzled by her perfect syntax and rhythmic modulation, the nearly flawless detail of images. Rereading her as, I would like to think, a mature poet, I am struck by the power of her social conscience. Pity is the underlying feeling she conveys, compassion and a deep feeling for the injustice of privilege. Few of her poems overtly express outrage, but it is very much at the surface with a poem like Pink Dog. It is so clearly about how society at large treats its poor and homeless, wanting them to just dress up and play a part so we don’t have to feel uncomfortable by their presence. But in light of it, I reflected on other, earlier, Bishop poems [...]

I’m not afraid of the blood that will pour from his shattered head; I’m not plagued by warmth or nostalgia. He deserves a brutal death. But there is the lingering question over the signs that led me here: I cannot unknow what I read in my cards. Every good teller knows that when you read your own fortune, you fall prey to your own fears and desires—like shadow and light, they throw your vision, flirt with your heart, and spatter the wall with the darker dregs of your mind.

Her pearl handgun that we had to hide, her dead father’s collection of child porn, my baby teeth she tried to throw away. She likes the gargoyle’s bulldog face pressing into her palm. She likes when I tell her how gargoyles scare demons away, even though she knows it many times over. She’s had two exorcisms now, but we don’t like to talk about that. She talks to spirits, but I don’t argue because they say nice things.

Reeves often deploys dislocation as a means toward location, as though the only way to see a broken world is through vision fractured by the brutalities of history and mended, momentarily, by lyric clarity. [. . .] The poem itself, then, becomes the only living body through which we can access a reality so grotesque and inescapably true.


We are interested in subtle ways to defy comfortable expectations. Our subject matter is also liminal, often featuring characters of uncertain biological identity (blurring the lines between genders and between humans, animals, and machines), or objects caught between two states of being. We create work that is simultaneously repulsive and beautiful, and I use this uncomfortable dichotomy to pull my audience in to the polyphonic narratives embedded in my work.


For many years, I dreamed mostly in words. Sentences would fall on me like thin sheets of cotton bunting (the dreams had a texture, if not an image). Last night, I was chasing around a name in my dream; I kept trying to solve it like a puzzle.


From the recently published collection, Trickster (University of Iowa Press), Randall Potts offers some uncanny arithmetic. Math I put 0 and 0 together And arrived at nothing. Nothing was accomplished. I had done it perfectly. I made 0 disappear into 0. I made sure nothing was left. There was no doubt of it.Next, I made 2 into two. It was easy: numbers are words. I made sure nothing was left. I made sure nothing was said. I made sure nothing was written It was getting complicated.My thumb was black with ink. So, everything I touched became itself plus me. Every addition complicated it. Every mark was a number. Every number mocked. I settled on the number one. I refused all manner of addition. I was careful to touch nothing. That’s [...]

 Photo credit: Cedric Terrell   Casualty Notification             The Only News I know / Is Bulletins all Day / From Immortality.             – Emily Dickinson   Switch channels, stop the breaking news, press mute to hush the anchorman’s reviews of war, his litany of each device and bomb gone off today. Silence the price of bread or medicare or gasoline. Make the black pinpoint on the TV screen. Unplug the blackbox from the mouth of the wall. Uncradle the phone so nobody can call. Let the venetian blinds blind everyone to what’s outside—the dead, indifferent sun, the car pulled up along the curb, the vexed men in uniforms looking for next of kin. They bring a check to pay the cost of grieving. Their dark sedan puffs out exhaust. And [...]

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Writing poetry as the spiritual process it’s always been for me.


I'm interested in relationships that are haunted ... astral bodies that are forever orbiting one another, and forever distant from one another. Their union is haunted by a sky filled with debris and dead stars, the remnants of what once was a burst of light.

I gave in
to the filling

up, the fallen under,
the spiked craving.

The half-tender,
perfect: if.


I think the other thing is that I want to live a life that feels fully lived; I’ve always believed that the best way to spend our short time on earth as humans is to engage in life as a radical experiment. To do that, you have to be somewhat bold. You have to go toward difficulty and be willing to shift paradigms. You have to be able to come up with creative alternatives to the default choices we’re all primed to make. You have to swim upstream.

The artist suffers to create art. The woman suffers in a world that hates women. The woman artist, then, if she wants to create, suffers a unique violence: a brutalization of the female form that renders the “feminine” the result of sustained violence both figurative and literal. So we see blood-streaked clouds and arteries spewing flour—we find the speaker with scars in her throat from blowing divine light.

Photo credit: Cade Leebron As autumn deepens, poet and essayist Kathryn Rhett meditates on the magnetic forces of inner weather. In Bed I can’t stop talking about the weather. You say not to, and I can’t stop. Did they say it would rain? The white light pours down—I don’t think it will rain, but did they say? I don’t know. It’s eight o’clock in the morning— one child has a fever and another is in a play about death and nobody’s slept. He’s performing all the parts about death, death itself and the one who doesn’t want to die. The rain and the one who waits for what they say— they didn’t call for snow sometimes they’re wrong it’s no wonder with all this change in weather he has a [...]