Camasin Middour / Poems on the Double

"I have seen the new dances— / a jangle of parts / voluminous as the South / sliding about the room"

Robert Parham / Desperation of Dangerous Men

"But now I’m sounding like those philosophers . . .I am therefore I am. I ain’t therefore I ain’t. Either you is or you ain’t."

Darren Demaree / Two Poems

"Every surface / sleeps with the images / & notes of simple beauty"

Robert McKean / Rags

"Somewhere, practically on every page, you could put your finger on a Queen Elizabeth. "



Hard to believe it’s April.

Certainly there has not much evidence of its arrival here in Colorado yet, as winter still has her wispy touch on our landscapes and rituals: yesterday the sun shoveled our driveways of a good inch and a half of snow.

The songbirds and winged creatures—other than the occasionally bold Chickadee and Nuthatch—are not out and about, but in the weeks ahead we can expect to see/hear familiar faces/calls: the Rock Wren’s cry in the morning sun. A streak of blue and black that marks the dashing colors of a Stellar’s Jay, its horrid squawk annoucning Spring's rise...

Thanks for being here with us.

Dos poetas y dos scribblers of fiction for your palate this month.

First on the docket is Middour, Camasin. Like the fresh call of our songbirds, here we have a call for a ‘new language,’ one sans the 'jangle'; the gaud and goop; and while she's passing this rumor along—that it may be in the making—we're under the impression that CM is adding her whisper to the new language, and isn't simply a bystander.

Note the points here on depth, on substance. When Middour writes “something more / than a tight blouse / gliding down the avenue” she demands of the language something more than a transient sexiness, beyond the existence as latest in a line of fashions. Something eternal and attached.

Is there a new poetic language in the works? Or is there a language simplicitor that’s being cooked up, something that transcends even poetry? Not simply human to human but human to earth, human to gods (with a gesture towards the ceiling and then towards our throat)?

And how strange that line! To be explored: "I’m remembering / how each thing has a love / of being near the others, / even a god (who has hated enough) / until his voice is in my throat."

Return to the birds with Darren Demaree. ‘All The Birds are Leaving #74 and #75’ ask us, like Middour’s work, to think differently about our relationship with and engagement to Nature. Is it possible to pay attention to nature without wanting to be a part of it? Are we always natural and should we be?

Demaree exploits the ambiguity of language to hint and and suggest a possible wedge between different senses of nature and our moral/political obligations to it.

We find a dim blackness beneath his on-one-hand-this, on-another-this's—that the serenade can be imagined both gift and panic, that there's some veneer that 'this singer' will not be able to use to cover the 'damning'—#74 is a study of the swamp beneath the birds. It leans on the crossroads sign, makes heady use of the indecisive fifty percent, suggesting a mind in uneasy cogitation.

It carries through #75, too. This 'absurd faith'. Take the Leap, bird-watchers. Resounding final lines there.

Then south-bound tracks, hop in the back-seat with Rags, his strawberry spilt-shake and oddly-shaped face.

The older brother of two, christian name 'Michael', real name 'Rags'. A fifty-something child who's been fussing a bit too much at his daycare center. We knew in .. eight pages? that we'd be accepting this piece. It's so polished, scene-to-scene. Very much America, even without the Whopper and the Jell-o.

Herein's a story of a man seeing a warped double—the younger brother, our driver, who bounces all of his own insecurities and inbred troubles against the Rags-man, who, with his periodic moments of face-washing, 'You bet's, and 'Not so sure about that's, becomes a wall of honesty who makes, without much movement, a bit of a fool of both reader and brother. Smackings of grease and gobbling. Enjoy the first of two Roberts, Monsieur McKean's strong craft and character.

Then, the nebulous, the so-southern work of Robert '2' Parham. Just retired no less! (See biography).

If for structure alone this is a doozy. Release a sense of time and relish in the heat, temporarily, in that baseball to the groin, in the odd ways of parents, of family, of preachers and wives. You've got a cast, yes, but more crucially, you've got a place here.

Clarksburg, "where a crossroads let you turn west to Damascus or north to Frederick or south to Rockville or double back toward Boyds, if you were stupid enough to want to go back."

We're keen on them demi-titles and the way that, patch all the scraps together, this forms into a layered, real understanding of a lifestyle not embedded in a single person, though Bobby Lee Blakely makes mean narration of it, but drifting through the pages, unsettled but sure.

A refill of coffee cups for the editors. Too many banana peels about the place. Time to call April and his horse-like hounds.

Good luck with the bursting buds. May the greens of all kinds find lip and eye alike.

Jason John Barry & Eric Jon Westerlind


Darren C. Demaree is living in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children. He is the author of As We Refer to Our Bodies and Not For Art Nor Prayer(2014), both from 8th House Publishing. He is the recipient of three Pushcart Prize nominations and a Best of the Net nomination.

Robert McKean, recipient of a Massachusetts Arts Council grant, lives in Newton, Mass., with his wife and Cosmo the Cat. McKean’s work has appeared in The Kenyon Review, The Chicago Review, the Dublin Quarterly, The MacGuffin, Ruminate, and elsewhere. The setting for his fiction is in and around Ganaego, Pennsylvania, a steel-mill company town in Western Pennsylvania. Over the decades that his fiction spans, the characters, who appear and reappear from story to story, form a diverse ethnic, racial, and generational stew of lives and passions. McKean’s collection of short stories was Finalist in the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, a Finalist for the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction, and a Finalist in the Sewanee Writers’ Series. A novel he is working on, Shutdown, which focuses on the cataclysmic 1980s Mid-West Rust-Belt Depression, was a Finalist in the Heekin Group Foundation James Fellowship for the Novel in Progress and a Semi-Finalist in the Peter Taylor Prize for the Novel.

Camasin Middour is a doctoral student at Binghamton University, and a writing teacher at Syracuse University. She holds an MFA in poetry from Columbia University, as well as a BA from Sarah Lawrence. Her work has appeared in FIELD, New England Review, PANK, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. She is a frequent contributor of critique to SHARKPACK Poetry Review, and in the past has been associate poetry editor at Narrative Magazine, as well as a graduate intern at The New Yorker and the Poetry Society of America.

Robert Parham’s work has appeared in the Georgia Review, Oxford American, Shenandoah, Rolling Stone, America, Barrow Street, South Carolina Review, Northwest Review, and many other publications. He recently retired as Dean of Arts and Sciences at Augusta State University.