All posts by Bluestem Assistant

October 2016 Online Issue

As a toddler I was fascinated by potpourri. I’m not quite sure what had me sprinting toward such geriatric interests, but I do remember stealing handfuls of the pungent dried flora from a vase on my grandmother’s coffee table.  Every time I was brought along for a visit, you would find me stuffing the pockets of my jeans with the mixture that snapped and crunched in my small-fingered grip. Now that I’m older, I find use of the term “potpourri” to be a rather lame signifier of variety, though I can think of no better way to describe our October Issue than as an intoxicating blend of petal and spice and herb… 

…and donuts.

From snakeskin and oatmeal bowls to tattoos and airplane windows, this issue reaches wide and tugs in armloads. Maria Terrone considers a simultaneous permanence and transience in the short story “Greta, Morphed,” as she reimagines Kafka for a digital age: “One day Greta Samson awoke to discover that every text message she had ever sent was tattooed over her entire body, from her brow to the web of her fingers to the soles of her feet.” Bryan Harvey grapples current events in police brutality and racial profiling in “Cowbells in Bear Country”: “They look through us like phantasms from some other era and don’t know what to do. They still think we’re a bunch of Tom Robinsons.”  Other powerful fiction in this issue comes from Betty Moffett and Adam “Bucho” Rodenberger.

Essayist Eileen Cunniffe writes of a fake news release and The Mary Tyler Moore Show in “Everything I Need to Know I Am Still Learning from Mary Richards,” and Michael Levan forms an essay in prose poems wrestling an anxious uncertainty. He writes: “The man hates to think / so frequently in lists […] / He was caught / in this obsession, but, oh, how it gave him / order when nothing could be set right enough.”

Poet Daryl Sznyter opens with the charmingly off-beat: “Marie Laveau has nothing on me./ I make art with strands/ of our hair on shower walls,” while Darren C. Demaree contemplates joy in “Donut Friday,” writing: “The blood in us is bouncing/ around in celebration/ of the sugar in our choices.” Other poets in this issue include Grant Clauser, Antonia Lewandowski, Jennifer MacBain-Stephens, Ellen Stone, Steve Wilson, and Stephen Eric Berry, working in collaboration with artist John Elkerr.

This issue, we also feature artist Felicia Cannon with pieces that ponder “ a simultaneous transition through a mental and physical space.”

No matter the genre, we hope this issue offers plenty to crunch in your fingers and bulge in your pockets for later.

John Brown
Assistant Poetry Editor

Under the Covers: A Summary of our September Online Issue

In the September online issue of Bluestem, Damyanti Biswas’s “Bear With Me”, is a haunting, provocative tale about a woman’s struggle with her past miscarriage.  It’s a modern day Yellow Wallpaper, where we see the main character left alone with her thoughts and her television set. But she is not always alone.  Occasionally she is visited by a large, friendly bear. And sometimes, they cuddle.  Biswas writes, “I wake up again, and this time, the bear cuddles me, the fur soft against my skin, paws toasty like heat pack on my tummy”.  Read it for yourself in our September 2015 online issue along with work by Debra Brenegan, Absolom J. Hagg, and creative nonfiction by
K. L. Cook, 
Elisabeth Hanscombe, and 
Umeeta Sadarangani.

Poet John A. Nieves offers a new perspective on nature and fate in “Irregular Cells”:
“I believe that the veins / in leaves know the future, / that they always point / to arrivals and departures.” While Katharyn Howd Machan writes, “Music had begun to slide away / from pulse and fingers, hands on keys / a helpless shake and slip and skip / as his hair grayed within the mirror / only his wife kept clean.” Read the poems along with others by Katharyn Howd Machan, Robert Miltner, John A. Nieves, Jessica Purdy, Kristina Pfleegor, and Jordan Zandi—who has two poems from his forthcoming collection that you don’t want to miss.

Plus, enjoy the visual creations by Brian Edmonds.