We are just a few weeks away from launching Issue 14 of our online journal, and with that in mind I think it is essential to look back on former content that has helped shape Eleven Eleven. Revisiting past issues made me feel as If I were on a treasure hunt, uncovering hidden gems in an online cavern. I enjoyed discovering writers I had never heard of in both fiction and poetry. I love all forms of literature, but poetry always wins my heart. I have collected poems from each issue that I feel are transgressive and touch on a subject that we all share in common, our mortality.
In Issue 6 we have Barry Dempster’s poem “Oozing “ that depicts a scene of a loved one sick in bed. Dempster heightens the gruesome aspects of an illness, yet he somehow manages to weave in a dreamy romance to it. His use of language is ethereal, and when read out loud is quite pleasing to the ear. The images are vivid, raw and delightful. My favorite lines that depict this are:
you’re oozing right before my eyes.
The cat on my lap sweet and fuzzy,
rippling with bacteria
as surely as the damp patches
down my basement walls, the yeasts
in my slippers, the microbes
on my fresh filet of sole.”
Everything in this poem becomes alive, but also capable of infecting. Dempster will infect your mind and you will be left begging for more.
For Issue 8 I selected “Dawn” by Tim Seibles. Seibles addresses the fact that we are all going to die, but we don’t know how or when. If someone ponders this constantly than they tend to go a bit mad, poking and prodding at the unknown. There is some defeat that takes places:
“Or the giving up on everything,
the world a banquet of good reasons
for clocking out and chomping the black
Perhaps Seibles was talking about suicide, taking the matter into our own hands so that we are not plagued by the weights of the world, and control when we will be tossed out of it.
Moving along from the previous poem I feel it is appropriate to follow with Sue Thomas’ “The Suicide’s Daughter” from Issue 10. The poem is brief, but delivers a punch to your heart in very few lines. The simplicity works lovely here, and there is so much that is unsaid you can feel the loneliness that is rippling from the words. I believe Thomas captures this emptiness from the beginning:
“It is almost Easter.
It is morning
and I have midterms I will never take,
papers due that will not be written.”
What comes to follow is horrendous, and crafted beautifully by Thomas. I will leave this for you to discover on your own.
For my final pick I have chosen Julie Bruck’s “Monkey Ranch”. I found this poem to be a bit disturbing, but I loved the story that it was telling due to the fact that it was so honest. The poem talks of a monkey ranch, and the speaker seems to be recalling to a time when they were a child. Bruck clearly paints pictures into my mind as I read:
“Father tired of monkey
farming, took a job in town.
We starved our monkeys.
Day by day, they slowed,
and when I picture them now,
or dream of how it was,
they stagger in the black
and white of old newsreels.”
The poem is certainly about death, but also offers a view into memory. We all construct our memories to tell stories of tragedy, easing the pain by having the control of retelling.
I hope you enjoyed discovering these poems with me, and I encourage you to go on your own hunt through our archives. Happy hunting!
Alicia Franco, Publisher Liaison Issue 14