Poetry – Issue 3.2

A Hyacinth Macaw

by Eileen Malone

The pet shop
hung with giant black iron coops
holds exotic birds

a hyacinth macaw, newly captured
the only one to survive the smuggling
of ten others in a rubber truck tire
hot dirty air, no water

hangs dazed, upside-down
from a bamboo perch

eyes black and dead
close and open blankly

I bend to pick up a feather
that floatfalls its escape

a bit of wing
that once cut through dark mists
of rain forest canopies
like a deep cobalt knife

soon they will come to trim his claws
file his beak, hang a price.


by Gretchen Primack

Maybe someday you will trick
for me.
Maybe I will find value in you
on one foot.

I will take you from family,
so I can watch you

Will you bore me? I bore myself
now, reduced
to your conditions, cut off
from my life

and language. None of me
is left; still
you found something
to waste.


by Gretchen Primack

You are owned, and you are chained.
The chain stretches from a spike in the
yard to your neck. The yard stretches from
a bare spot behind the house to a barren spot
behind the house. The chain wraps itself
around a paw, deft around an ear, a tail.
Two toes, a leg. The chain spins your body
into a cocoon that spins into a ball, monstrous
metal yarn long enough to knit the earth
a cold straitjacket. In the heart of the ball is you.

The above Gretchen Primack poems are part of Kind, a collection that explores the dynamics between humans and (other) animals in our time. Kind was published in 2013 by Post-Traumatic Press.

Invasive Species

by Jen Karetnick

Found in a shed, curled and content,
the mini-van-length reticulated python
did not have a microchip, the news reported.

But he did have several household pets
in his digestive track, perhaps the cause
of his docile drowse. Like most constrictors

headed for the Everglades, he likely had been
released by an owner. The authorities intend
to use him now to train the men who hunt

that which does not belong, or implant in him
transmitters and release him to engage
a broody female. Serial impregnator, unwitting

traitor, this is where he will just follow
his instincts. He doesn’t mean to trap her. Oh,
how familiar all this sounds.

The Maned Owl

by Jeredith Merrin

(Jubula lettii: classified [2013] as “Data Deficient”
by the International Union for Conservation of Nature)

About the maned owl
there is little to tell
because little is known.
It gets its leonine name
from bushy, face-framing
ear tufts. It lives
in Gambon, Cameroon,
Liberia, the Congo
(in what numbers we don’t know),
in closed-canopy rainforest.
Its habits are secretive
and nocturnal. Presumably,
given heavy lumbering,
its survival’s at risk.
About reproduction and diet,
information is scant.
Its call may be
(we’re not sure)
a low, dove-like coo.
As is the case with
the wide coral reefs,
or with each creature’s
closed-canopy mind,
or with almost anyone’s
mother or father,
too little is known about them.
And then they’re gone.


by John Willson

The door of the van slides open to musk.
Steel mesh in a diamond pattern
screens a spotted form that paces in straw,
cheetah in a Thriftway parking lot, a stop
on the way to a middle school presentation.
She rubs her cheek against the cage, streaks

of black from eyes to mouth.
She purrs, a rattling from a subterranean drum.
Touching her neck, my fingertip vibrates
from the first purring I’ve heard since purring

died in a small white room last month, our cat
on my shoulder, her neck pressed against my ear,
the vet cooing Nice kitty as he injected
barbiturates. The cheetah, born

C-section in a wild animal park, Looks first
at people on crutches
, her handler says.
The one whose tongue brushes my finger twice
and the tabby buried under mint in our kitchen garden
fuse in the whiteness of noon as the van
door slides shut and locks.

Poet Biographies:

Eileen Malone’s poetry has appeared in over 500 literary journals and anthologies, a significant amount of which have earned citations and prizes, i.e., three were Pushcart nominees. Her award winning collection Letters with Taloned Claws was published by Poets Corner Press (Sacramento) and her book I Should Have Given Them Water0was published by Ragged Sky Press (Princeton). She lives in the coastal fog at the edge of the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, three rescued dogs, two rescued parakeets, and one rescued cat,  where she founded and directs the Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition, (is a voting member of the Northern California Book Reviewers Awards, and a local mental health supporter and activist. www.eileenmalone.us

Gretchen Primack is the author of two poetry collections, Kind (Post-Traumatic Press 2013) and Doris’ Red Spaces (Mayapple Press 2014). Her poems are in The Paris Review, Prairie Schooner, Poet Lore, The Massachusetts Review, FIELD, Antioch Review, Ploughshares, Best New Poets, and other journals. She coordinates Ulster Literacy Association’s jail program. Also an advocate for non-human animals, she co-wrote The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight for Farm Animals (Penguin Avery 2012) with Jenny Brown.

Jen Karetnick is a Miami-based poet and writer with three full-length books of poetry, two forthcoming in 2015-16, and four chapbooks of poetry. Her work has been published widely in journals including Barrow Street, Cimarron Review, december, North American Review, River Styx and Valparaiso Poetry Review. She works as the Creative Writing Director for Miami Arts Charter School and as a freelance food-travel writer and critic.

Jeredith Merrin: Jeredith Merrin–CUP, a special honoree in the Able Muse Press poetry competition, is Merrin’s new poetry collection; her previous books, Shift and Bat Ode, appeared in the University of Chicago Press Phoenix Poets series. She’s authored an influential book of criticism on Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, and her reviews and essays (on Moore, Bishop, Clare, Mew, Amichai, and others) have appeared in The Southern Review and elsewhere. Her poems may be found in Ploughshares, The Southern Poetry Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Yale Review. A retired Professor of English (The Ohio State University), she lives in Chandler, Arizona, teaches the occasional class for the A.S.U. Piper Center, and is currently completing a chapbook having to do with owls.  See: www.amazon.com/Jeredith-Merrin

John Willson is a recipient of the Pushcart Prize and awards from the Academy of American Poets and the Artist Trust of Washington. A two-time finalist in the National Poetry Series, John lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington, where he has been designated an Island Treasure.