This day, when eggs can stand and balance on their own requires the courage to reconcile contradictions:
dim mornings as the sun shifts south pulling warblers in its path, brown weasels’ thick fur
growing white, green squash gone gold, new corn shucked from a withered stalk.
The silver iris re-blooms, its June fragrance a living ghost.
The nun slips off her convent shoes and wades the brook. Cold water shocks her feet.
A brown mallard dabbles for weeds. Brood grown and gone, she shakes off
obligation, unwittingly flinging drops of water on the nun
who watches the duck flap-flap up—up! and feels her own large creaky wings unfold.
— Sara Backer
Sara Backer has a new book of poetry, Such Luck (Flowstone Press), and two poetry chapbooks: Scavenger Hunt (dancing girl press) and Bicycle Lotus (Left Fork). Recent and forthcoming poem publications include Bamboo Ridge, Crannóg, Qu, Nonbinary Review, The Pedestal, Moria, Noble/ Gas Qrtly, Tar River Review and Gargoyle. Web: sarabacker.com.
Editor’s Notes: The “Nun by Lily Pond” photo was commissioned by a Mrs Walsh of Catherine Street, Waterford, October6, 1926 and a female American Black Duck in flight (photograph by the U.S.F.W.S.) are both re-colorized and enhanced with contrast and transparency effects.
I remember the silence of the sky
when people looked up at the buzz
of a low-flying four-seater airplane.
Everyone lived in four dimensions,
drove four wheels,
had four faces.
My job-face was an ox.
I plowed through the day, curbing
my urge to run to the lake.
My love-face was a lion,
loyal and fierce, hard hunger
swelling below my ribs.
My self-face was only part human.
Sometimes I was a humble witch,
sometimes a black-winged angel.
My spirit-face confronted me beak-first
with a brown-eyed, dirt-feathered eagle.
I still dream in bird’s-eye view.
As the sky grew louder, our faces faded.
We became one-faced and two-mouthed,
filling the air with fumes and chatter.
I remember the sky, almost
quiet enough to hear clouds breathe,
shattered by church bells.
— Sara Backer
Sara Backer is the author of two poetry chapbooks: Bicycle Lotus, which won the 2015 Turtle Island Poetry Award, and Scavenger Hunt forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press. Her poems have appeared in Abyss & Apex, Asimov’s, Eye to the Telescope, Illumens, Into the Void, The Pedestal, Shooter, and Strange Horizons, with new ones forthcoming in Star*Line. www.sarabacker.com
Editor’s Notes: The Denderah Stone depicted here is discussed in Wikipedia and other places. The poem also makes a clear reference to the (zodiac) wheel within a wheel in Ezekiel 1. Some people think this is a reference to UFOs, but I like the astronomical interpretation, as well as a linguistic approach, which alludes to cycles of life (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdWBApimiRA_)
Again, the glass cage is vacant. Only the elderly
recall it was once a shoe store displaying Hush Puppies.
In the recession, Snow Whites took shifts in a coffin,
each inserting a bite of fresh apple between her lips.
When Superman tried to freeze himself,
the weight of the water cracked the window.
The fund-raising tap dancer sprained his knee.
The starving girl was forcibly removed, driven
to the hospital. The magician’s tip hat was stolen.
Now, when potential tenants view the venue,
they smell the history of failed performances
and ask the agent to show them park benches.
The agent enthuses about You Tube opportunity
and how glass is due for a comeback,
but the artists decline, distressed by ghost fingers
tapping their shoulders, chilly whispers in their ears
pleading see me, see me, see me. . .
— Sara Backer
Sara Backer has speculative poetry published in Silver Blade, Bracken, Crannóg (Ireland), Into the Void (Ireland), Shooter (UK), Modern Poetry Quarterly Review, Mithila Review, Illumen, Eye to the Telescope, Abyss & Apex, and forthcoming in Gargoyle. Her chapbook, Bicycle Lotus, won the 2015 Turtle Island Poetry Award. A second chapbook, Scavenger Hunt, is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press in November 2017. Follow her work on Twitter @BackerSara or sarabacker.com/publications.
Editor’s Notes: SUPERMAN MANNEQUIN: Taken at Darling Harbour Imax Theatre by Steven Cateris (Flickr files, CC BY-SA 2.0) overlaid on cracked ice.
A scarecrow jumps down from his pole
to gather, in his clumsy straw-filled sleeves,
the litter—ticket stubs, cigarette butts, sequins,
paper cotton candy cones, flex straws, coins,
ripped mustard packets, tiny plastic shards—
cleaning his field.
A clown’s discarded red ball nose—
his prize find—he puts on his burlap face
and walks with a bit of samba in his step
back to his post, where he gazes skyward
and pretends to juggle
three circling crows.
— Sara Backer
Sara Backer has published speculative poems (or has them forthcoming) in Asimov’s, A cappella Zoo, Crannóg (Ireland), Dreams & Nightmares, Gargoyle, Hermes (UK), Illumen, New Welsh Reader (UK), Shooter Literary Magazine (UK), and Strange Horizons. She won the 2015 Turtle Island Poetry Prize for her chapbook, Bicycle Lotus, and currently is seeking a publisher for her full-length collection of surreal poetry. She lives in the woodpecker-filled woods of New Hampshire and is an adjunct writing teacher at UMass Lowell.