Author Archives: sundresspublications

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: How to Prove a Theory by Nicole Tong



NO THEORY

I.
My mother packs two suitcases
On my behalf straps me
Into the front seat
As if I were a child
Two hours into the trip home
My hand reaches for the radio dial
Tries to build a haven of noise
In college a girl learns conviction
Learns to call her peers women
In stark contrast
To the way I see myself
Age seven
Still in the mirror
Of the kerosene heater
Blue nightgown with a gentle pattern
Of flowers my small frame
Leading up to neck
It was the middle of the night
The machine’s heat pushed
Against me
Certainly my body
Was the calm
That made requests quietly
So as not to cause alarm

II.
My first kiss was from a girl
With curly hair
Can’t remember
Her name I remember
Getting ready for a dance recital
From the communal bathroom
Of the shelter for women and children
The sheen of tights against the back
Of my thighs
Believing that
Kiss aged me
It’s spring again
The collegiate mind hinges
On facts
Though my jaw would not
Unlock itself no
Surely made its way out
Of my mouth not once
But twice
This is not the way
I replay it happening
This is the way
That word lives
Daily I choose
To practice it
Or to leave it behind


This selection comes from the collection How to Prove a Theory, available from Washington Writers’ Publishing House. Order your copy here or here. Our curator for December is Krista Cox.

Nicole Tong is the recipient of fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Sundress Academy at Firefly Farms, and George Mason University where she received her MFA. In 2016, she served as an inaugural Writer-in-Residence at Pope-Leighey House, a Frank Lloyd Wright property in Alexandria, Virginia. She is a recipient of the President’s Sabbatical from Northern Virginia Community College where she is a Professor of English. Her writing has appeared in CALYX, Cortland Review, Yalobusha Review, and Still: the Journal among others. Tong received a Dorothy Rosenberg Award has been nominated for a Pushcart prize.

Krista Cox is a paralegal and poet living in northern Indiana. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pittsburgh Poetry Review, The Indianola Review, Whale Road Review, and Pirene’s Fountain, among other places in print and online. She twice received the Lester M. Wolfson Student Award in Poetry, and has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. In her abundant spare time, Krista parents, paints, and plans community events as the Program Director of Lit Literary Collective. Learn more than you ever wanted to know about her at kristacox.me.

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: How to Prove a Theory by Nicole Tong



SISTER
Forget about smoking weed
with soccer players in the woods
near the Methodist church
while I said Hail Marys
and kept watch. Shifted my weight from hip
to hip as if to ask, Is this attractive?
Waited for feedback
from the shadows. Forget Mom and Dad,
you’d say. They’re some kind of crazy.
We repacked bags with the seasons.
Buried them in the backs of our closets.
Clothing and essentials in case.
Thought one morning I’d find you
long gone since
ours was a house of exits.
But when, in my sixteenth year, you watched
my slight frame get smaller
as the car pulled away
from the boarding school parking lot,
I knew what you knew: the difference
between not speaking and letting something go
unspoken. Between what actually happened
and the mythologies we tell our husbands decades
later. We say, Mom wigged out. We don’t say
the institution’s name. We can’t say,
That was the year we saw Dad pull the trigger.
I said, You’re such a bitch
when I meant Remember.
You were there.
You walked beside me each day.


This selection comes from the collection How to Prove a Theory, available from Washington Writers’ Publishing House. Order your copy here or here. Our curator for December is Krista Cox.

Nicole Tong is the recipient of fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Sundress Academy at Firefly Farms, and George Mason University where she received her MFA. In 2016, she served as an inaugural Writer-in-Residence at Pope-Leighey House, a Frank Lloyd Wright property in Alexandria, Virginia. She is a recipient of the President’s Sabbatical from Northern Virginia Community College where she is a Professor of English. Her writing has appeared in CALYX, Cortland Review, Yalobusha Review, and Still: the Journal among others. Tong received a Dorothy Rosenberg Award has been nominated for a Pushcart prize.

Krista Cox is a paralegal and poet living in northern Indiana. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pittsburgh Poetry Review, The Indianola Review, Whale Road Review, and Pirene’s Fountain, among other places in print and online. She twice received the Lester M. Wolfson Student Award in Poetry, and has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. In her abundant spare time, Krista parents, paints, and plans community events as the Program Director of Lit Literary Collective. Learn more than you ever wanted to know about her at kristacox.me.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Speak, My Tongue by Carrie Meadows


AFTER THE FUNERAL
for Gale

Mamma walks the hall, tinfoil in her mouth.
O don’t I know the taste of Papa-deadand-
gone. I fix what others break, I push
parts back in place. But this—
Now I know why
the pecan stays buckled in its coat, why
one in twenty turns black as rot. Mercy’s
roasting, and Mamma’s kicking the oven
to 400 degrees saying, Wait and see
what becomes of this egg, this sugar.
This loss—
Mamma’s pumpkin pie, a thumbprint
through its center. I fix what others break,
but Mamma’s pretending she can’t hear a thing
though her fork scrapes her plate. The sound is pain,
a kettle whistling its last breath of steam.


This selection comes from the collection Speak, My Tongue, available from Calypso Editions. Order your copy here. Our curator for December is Krista Cox.

Carrie Meadows grew up around leather workers, doll makers, quilters, and tall-tale tellers who taught her the importance of straight stitches and good stories. She teaches creative and professional writing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Krista Cox is a paralegal and poet living in northern Indiana. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pittsburgh Poetry Review, The Indianola Review, Whale Road Review, and Pirene’s Fountain, among other places in print and online. She twice received the Lester M. Wolfson Student Award in Poetry, and has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. In her abundant spare time, Krista parents, paints, and plans community events as the Program Director of Lit Literary Collective. Learn more than you ever wanted to know about her at kristacox.me.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Speak, My Tongue by Carrie Meadows



UNSTITCH ME
my grandmother at Peerless Woolen Mills

Machines line up like posts dug three-feet deep
for a fence to remind us of our place
sewing bobby socks twelve hours a day.

The woman beside me hums I Saw the Light,
and I don’t know how she thumps out the beat
with her left foot while keeping steady

on the pedal with her right. The bobbins
whir, spools tick on their rods, and the whole room
becomes the inside of a marching band drum—

every dropped pin, every sigh shudders its side.
A woman nicks her finger, and she lifts
her hand to her mouth. When the foreman

stands over her, our needles dive faster
between their feet. We train our eyes and thoughts
on straight lines, no gathers. Our rhythm bleeds

to fear as white as the thread dust coating
these walls like icing on a wedding cake
for every girl in this room who mistakes

the click of a man’s tongue for her own song.


This selection comes from the collection Speak, My Tongue, available from Calypso Editions. Order your copy here. Our curator for December is Krista Cox.

Carrie Meadows grew up around leather workers, doll makers, quilters, and tall-tale tellers who taught her the importance of straight stitches and good stories. She teaches creative and professional writing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Krista Cox is a paralegal and poet living in northern Indiana. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pittsburgh Poetry Review, The Indianola Review, Whale Road Review, and Pirene’s Fountain, among other places in print and online. She twice received the Lester M. Wolfson Student Award in Poetry, and has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. In her abundant spare time, Krista parents, paints, and plans community events as the Program Director of Lit Literary Collective. Learn more than you ever wanted to know about her at kristacox.me.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Speak, My Tongue by Carrie Meadows



WHY I GO TO CHURCH
my grandmother

Mary whispered just one thing to Martha:
Did I wash the wrong man’s feet? But she meant,
How are we to know which man will feed us
and which will swing for our teeth? My savior
speaks in tongues, fists and wide open palms
to the face. Only one thing is needed,
and I am one low hum in a makeshift choir,
one bubble in a pot of stone soup,
one guitar tuned for one melody, one
drip, one deep breath in the baptismal tub,
one violet drinking water only
once a week, one ear open to the rain,
one hand raised to say, Yes Father, I am
one woman hungry for the one good man.


This selection comes from the collection Speak, My Tongue, available from Calypso Editions. Order your copy here. Our curator for December is Krista Cox.

Carrie Meadows grew up around leather workers, doll makers, quilters, and tall-tale tellers who taught her the importance of straight stitches and good stories. She teaches creative and professional writing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Krista Cox is a paralegal and poet living in northern Indiana. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pittsburgh Poetry Review, The Indianola Review, Whale Road Review, and Pirene’s Fountain, among other places in print and online. She twice received the Lester M. Wolfson Student Award in Poetry, and has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. In her abundant spare time, Krista parents, paints, and plans community events as the Program Director of Lit Literary Collective. Learn more than you ever wanted to know about her at kristacox.me.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Speak, My Tongue by Carrie Meadows



GOD SENT THE GUN
my grandfather explains

The gun says, You don’t have to take that, you
earned the money in your pocket losing
half a finger like your daddy’s left leg
to the cutter. The gun says, Your daddy
thumped his love hard into your head—what more
do your boys need than to feel their scalps sting?
Your girl will fare fine. She has her mamma’s eyes.
The gun says, Turn your check to booze though
you want cheekbones high and blushed, your wife’s
before she held your babies and not you
through the night. The gun says, Four Roses
will do until you come home and she turns
your pockets inside out but won’t look at you.
I never knew my fists could become bombs.

I never knew my fists could become bombs
busting plaster and flesh. The gun whispers,
Keep me in the dresser for nights your knees
lock and, hammer cocked, you start to believe
in the end of punch cards, in the cheekbones
you’d want to kiss if only you could find
your way back to that whippoorwill night
she held your chin and fed you pecan pie.
The gun says, The bar is open for you.
Go to the back room where you can fade
into the silver ball skating its maze
of red, blue and yellow lights shouting bell
and storm as you slip quietly between
the flippers like rain dodging wiper blades.


This selection comes from the collection Speak, My Tongue, available from Calypso Editions. Order your copy here. Our curator for December is Krista Cox.

Carrie Meadows grew up around leather workers, doll makers, quilters, and tall-tale tellers who taught her the importance of straight stitches and good stories. She teaches creative and professional writing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Krista Cox is a paralegal and poet living in northern Indiana. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pittsburgh Poetry Review, The Indianola Review, Whale Road Review, and Pirene’s Fountain, among other places in print and online. She twice received the Lester M. Wolfson Student Award in Poetry, and has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. In her abundant spare time, Krista parents, paints, and plans community events as the Program Director of Lit Literary Collective. Learn more than you ever wanted to know about her at kristacox.me.

Meet Our New Editorial Intern, Samantha Isler

sam-w-maitaiI was born in 1992, exactly twenty years after Bewitched aired its final season. Coincidence? Yes. But my parents named me after Samantha Stephens, the nose-twitching witch at the center of the show, so it is a weird coincidence. I cannot wiggle my nose, which is probably the one thing holding me back from my magical destiny.

I once saw a ghost in my undergraduate college’s theater. He followed me for a month and would appear directly in my line of vision, not at all like the stories of shadow men in the corner of your eye. A year later, visiting alumni were discussing their own sightings. One woman described exactly who I had seen. “That’s Harvey,” she said. He had been appearing for at least thirty years.

I started college as a biology major before switching to English/Theater. I’m now a second-year graduate student in Emerson College’s Writing, Literature, and Publishing program, but I still love science. My best friend mapped the genome of a species of lactating beetle. Did you know some beetles lactate? You do now.

A well-made video game can be one of the best storytelling tools in the modern world. However, I am an absolutely dreadful gamer. Years of practice have done nothing. I have owned every generation of Playstation and still forget where the buttons are. If you ever see me on Destiny, run away. It’s for your own good.

__

Samantha Isler loves thunderstorms, campfires, and most cheeses. She lives for science fiction, horror, and fantasy in any medium, including comics and theater. Sam is a student in the Writing, Literature, and Publishing graduate program at Emerson College.  Before coming to Emerson, she worked in a bookstore for four years. Her bookshelves have not recovered since.

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Speak, My Tongue by Carrie Meadows




IN THE HEAD

The Book of Revelation predicted what our human
minds as a whole could do, as far as creating our
own destruction.
–Lonnie Holley

My grandfather shot himself.
The worst part came in the months before: he’d announce
I’ll do it today, then lock
the bedroom door. My grandmother
rested her back to the frame and listened for the clicks
of an empty chamber. I don’t know
the kind of gun he used. It must’ve been
a pearl-handled pistol
like the toy he gave me in a plastic holster.

I’m not afraid of death
so much as I’m afraid of his blood
in mine. He tooled leather, he made
saddles. He cracked walnuts
two or three at a time in one fist
while I sat in his lap. While my grandmother
watched his fist. Always his fist.

His eyes: one wandering, one stuck
like its socket had been stuffed with tinfoil. His teeth:
pebbles smoothed by water and cracked
open with a hammer. I won’t be buried near him
though my grandmother
rests forgiving as ever next to the box
holding what’s left of him. I won’t be buried.
His gravestone is a clock made of the stamps
he used like extensions of his heavy hands
to mark leather. His gravestone is a hubcap
striking a curb, a helmet crushed
under steel, a cane propped against a crib’s rail.

Looking Over the Edge, I see only
a handmade saddle with tarnished silver
riding its rim. I won’t be buried near him. I won’t
be buried. I want to see mountaintops
as something other than planks to walk. What,
tell me, is below and
what comes between the jump and impact?

Here in my South angels and devils
wear the same color white. Jesus Christ
is a curse and a prayer. Blood gives
and stunts life.

His gravestone is a clock’s hand
pointing to me. He never saw a baby born. He never
saw my grandmother’s body rearranged like a car
on cinder blocks. The only way to go
is inside myself, to open the rusty hinges
and let the darks of my eyes illuminate
all that they contact: the sun, checkerboard tile,
an angry fist jerking for the last time.


This selection comes from the collection Speak, My Tongue, available from Calypso Editions. Order your copy here. Our curator for December is Krista Cox.

Carrie Meadows grew up around leather workers, doll makers, quilters, and tall-tale tellers who taught her the importance of straight stitches and good stories. She teaches creative and professional writing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Krista Cox is a paralegal and poet living in northern Indiana. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pittsburgh Poetry Review, The Indianola Review, Whale Road Review, and Pirene’s Fountain, among other places in print and online. She twice received the Lester M. Wolfson Student Award in Poetry, and has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. In her abundant spare time, Krista parents, paints, and plans community events as the Program Director of Lit Literary Collective. Learn more than you ever wanted to know about her at kristacox.me.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: BLACK GENEALOGY by Kiki Petrosino

8.
Flushed with notions of freedom
you follow the old wood road to its end.
B’s acreage opens up behind fence posts
a spill of storybook umber. Even the light
between birches feels thicker now
flushed with notions of freedom.
For a moment, you wonder if the land
will dissolve before you can rush forward.
Then you’re over the fence, on B’s acreage
where deer blinds hang like aerial masks.
You gather your private handful of acorns,
flushed with emotion. Freedom is old here
despite the long aisles of trail cameras
looking down from their greying trunks.
What can harm you on B’s acreage? Open
your stride to cover more ground. Any
descendant may access a grave, says the law
you printed before climbing the fence.
You’re free, for now. Enjoy the rush.


 
This selection comes from the collection Black Genealogy, available from Brain Mill Press. Order your copy here. Our curator for December is Krista Cox.

Kiki Petrosino is the author of three collections with Sarabande Books: Fort Red Border (2009), Hymn for the Black Terrific (2013), and Witch Wife (forthcoming, Dec. 2017). Witch Wife has received positive advance industry press, including a starred review from Publishers Weekly and inclusion on The Millions’s list of must-read poetry for December. Petrosino holds degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Her poems have appeared in the New York Times, Best American Poetry, Poetry magazine, and elsewhere.

Krista Cox is a paralegal and poet living in northern Indiana. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pittsburgh Poetry Review, The Indianola Review, Whale Road Review, and Pirene’s Fountain, among other places in print and online. She twice received the Lester M. Wolfson Student Award in Poetry, and has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. In her abundant spare time, Krista parents, paints, and plans community events as the Program Director of Lit Literary Collective. Learn more than you ever wanted to know about her at kristacox.me.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: BLACK GENEALOGY by Kiki Petrosino

6.
Great storms shook Old Master’s house
several times in a week. The land shone, then
incessant, bright & awful—we thought
the spirits of our dead mothers had finally
crossed the sea. Old Master’s babies died
as great storms shook his house. Dishes
broke. Drawers opened. We watched
our dead mothers pull out baby clothes—
incessant, bright & awful, we thought
as they shredded with their wet hands
the lace bibs Old Master’s wife had stitched
while great storms shook the house.
Then Old Master’s wife ordered us
to rip the stays from her gowns. She walked
incessant, bright & awful. We thought
she’d walk into the earth. We had to feed
her babies with our milk before they died
incessant, bright & awful. The land shone
on the great house. Our dead swarmed.


 
This selection comes from the collection Black Genealogy, available from Brain Mill Press. Order your copy here. Our curator for December is Krista Cox.

Kiki Petrosino is the author of three collections with Sarabande Books: Fort Red Border (2009), Hymn for the Black Terrific (2013), and Witch Wife (forthcoming, Dec. 2017). Witch Wife has received positive advance industry press, including a starred review from Publishers Weekly and inclusion on The Millions’s list of must-read poetry for December. Petrosino holds degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Her poems have appeared in the New York Times, Best American Poetry, Poetry magazine, and elsewhere.

Krista Cox is a paralegal and poet living in northern Indiana. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pittsburgh Poetry Review, The Indianola Review, Whale Road Review, and Pirene’s Fountain, among other places in print and online. She twice received the Lester M. Wolfson Student Award in Poetry, and has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. In her abundant spare time, Krista parents, paints, and plans community events as the Program Director of Lit Literary Collective. Learn more than you ever wanted to know about her at kristacox.me.

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