Issue 4.1: Beth Bilderback

Issue No 4.1

Tidal Volume by Carla Kirchner
“The man in the bed, the bloated body that used to be your husband, is now a whale…”

The Fledgling by Susan Pagani
“A child had died in the neighborhood. A four-year-old girl called Molly. The day it happened, there had been snow…”

Adephagia by Beth Sherman
“Did she get to eat all the sacrifices or were there limits? Yes to pigeon dressed with cucumbers and olives, no to hindquarters of roasted lamb…”

The Blue Cup by Beth Sherman
“She lay on the table and looked up. There was a naked light bulb directly overhead and it was bright so she shut her eyes again…”

Blackbird by Beth Bilderback
“I sang it when he was brand new and still completely stunned to find himself on earth. I sang it while holding his foot through the slats of the crib, a flashlight in my other hand creating planets of light on the ceiling…”

The Leo Burke Finish by Michael Chin
“I was a quiet child. I have theories. Theories about my father’s scolding leaving little room for me to speak…”

Black Market Fish by Jonathan Harper
“We are floating towards the top of the world…”

Trail Magic by JoDean Nicolette
“I met her feet first, just north of the Great Smoky Mountains. I was sitting on a spruce log next to the trail, scowling down at my filthy socks when her boots slid into my field of vision…”

Kiss by Patricia Budd
“Father asked the Navy
for a loan, a dead horse,
to buy the coffin
Grandma favored
for her youngest….”

Dream Man #5 by Krista Cox
“He does not ask you to perch on a curb
outside an abandoned gas station while he accepts…”

Onset of my Quonset by Susan Grimm
“I always think of the grassy beach
hat one of my aunts wore. Conical not pointy. Maybe…”

Or Else by Susan Grimm
“Something elegant. Sometimes eliminated in the automatons
of other centuries. The stocky robots, stiff-armed…”

Elegy for Bob Kaufman by Ashton Kamburoff
“The difference between pleasant
and peasant is a quick ride
on the L. Bone blue window
of the soul, we know that song…”

Eurydice suite by Robert Miltner
“summer morning slow time the quiet of pillowed beds under canopy & branch languid touch & solace…”

Seamus Heaney in Community College Summer School by Adam Tavel
“We drowse in the purgatorial
classroom, blinds cranked closed
while YouTube bogs, stuttering
through The Troubles, the Celtic…”

Beth Bilderback



I sang it when he was brand new and still completely stunned to find himself on earth. I sang it while holding his foot through the slats of the crib, a flashlight in my other hand creating planets of light on the ceiling. I sang it stretched out next to him once he’d grown large enough for a bed, as softly and monotonously as I’d read his favorite bedtime book, over and over until his breathing changed. Blackbird fly, each night my voice the only sound punctuating the dark. Time slowed almost to a stop for those moments when I couldn’t leap up and go do something, and my mind would wander, mostly straight down into a pit of worry but sometimes out into space, diverted up into the sky, drifted toward winter trees without leaves, sharp against the setting sun, into the light of the dark black night.

Eli grew up to be afraid of birds, take these sunken eyes, largely thanks to Grandpa Hal showing him the Hitchcock movie one afternoon when he was eight and had no control of the remote.

Eli was almost nine before he heard the Paul McCartney version of Blackbird on the radio, which caused him to look concerned and ask me why that guy was singing my song. Paul taps his foot rhythmically, birds whistling around him, crooning quietly as if he had all the time in the world.

These days, time races by in a blur and Eli stays up long after I’ve gone to bed, into the dead of night, and both day and night he feels as if he’ll never take flight, his shoes too heavy, his aura too black, feels like he’ll never manage to connect, this old soul in a sixteen year old body already impatient with the world’s absurdities, he is only waiting, as I was only waiting for him to arrive in my lonely life, crows on the backyard gate, a glossy feather landing in a dead field, winter sun glinting off the power lines, Poe’s silhouetted beaks, into the light of the dark black night.

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