Unfortunately due to the founder’s medical set back, we will be closed until further notice. Doctor’s say she will be in full swing in the next two months so that is our perspective return date, with many changes!
The Psychopath Test
by Sonja Johanson
you need better questions. Not –
“Would you take things from other
people, if you could get away with it?”
Instead, you should ask “In 4th grade,
did you break Scotty Bilodeau’s
giant eraser?” – yes
“Did Scotty cry?” – he did
“Did you feel guilt or remorse?” I felt
surprised – it was just an eraser.
Don’t ask “Are you often motivated by
the desire to seek revenge?” Ask
“Did it make you angry that your preschool
teacher asked a rhetorical question?” – yes
“Did you go upstairs and draw on
the wallpaper?” – in yellow permanent marker
“Was that because she asked you to say
the Pledge of Allegiance? – I have always
And it isn’t “Do you feel sad when
people die?” It’s “Has there ever been
anyone you are close to?” – yes
“Has that person died?” – not yet
“How do you feel when you think
about that person dying?”
I am so angry at you.
Sonja Johanson has recent work appearing in the Best American Poetry blog, BOAAT, Epiphany, and The Writer’s Almanac. She is a contributing editor at the Found Poetry Review, and the author of Impossible Dovetail (IDES, Silver Birch Press), all those ragged scars (Choose the Sword Press), and Trees in Our Dooryards (Redbird Chapbooks). Sonja divides her time between work in Massachusetts and her home in the mountains of western Maine. You can follow her work at www.sonjajohanson.net
By Lisha Ruan
what the mist hides
a crowned child drinks up
the purple in the sunset
the grain the chest
as it is becoming too late
I counsel you not to
sell your silver spoons or your
old naive promises
a corkscrew turning
a bird looks east and closes
its greasy psalms
the window the liaisons
those who lie to help
someone who could tell you
a god’s liver — those who
cut it up like their own
Lisha Ruan is a Computer Science major and writer at Princeton University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Nottingham Review, By&By Poetry, Jersey Devil Press, and other journals. In her free time, she enjoys learning languages, reading philosophy, and playing Avalon.
Hedyloidea (My Father’s Soul)
By Deborah Wong
I was forewarn by Old People, that
my father’s soul’s will transform
into a flying moth
or a monarch butterfly;
He is to have flourescent pigments,
I can only watch where it’s travelling
and I have to leave without a feisty trail
before he can catch me.
I go out and tell I’ve seen
a glowing tangerine, so vibrant;
that I’m blinded even I’m protected
by the raven crayons,
Afraid to be taken away, please be patient
it’s not the time to join you, yet.
I hang a dreamcatcher by the windowsill,
White bed sheets shifting ambience,
of decaying truth before the dawn.
As I’m waiting for my father’s soul to visit,
My forehead is the playground
for the monarch butterfly; those kisses
dictating, bitterness, and sweet
in between nostrils,
Stay if you love this place, or wandering‘til your time expires.
Deborah Wong’s poems and short stories have appeared in ditch, Poetry Quarterly, Inwood Indiana Press, Anak Sastra, Red Fez, Mad Swirl, Banana Writers, Vox Poetica, Eastlit, The Tower Journal, Crack The Spine, Streetcake Magazine, The Stray Branch, East Jasmine Review, Eksentrika and elsewhere. I review poetry submissions for Eastlit and the founder/editor-in-chief of ZiggyZag Arms Poetry Journal.
Ghost Town, Mother Lode
By Robert Stout
A dog skids to its haunches
twists its head
a dead fir
lies like a broken-toothed comb
beside the road
the gas station’s closed
winks through the pine tops
LI UOR! BE R!
Robert Joe Stout is a freelance journalist, novelist and poet. He lives in Oaxaca, Mexico with his cat, neighborhood dogs and a tree full of sparrows. His poetry has appeared in The Tishman Review, Third Wednesday, Liquid Imagination and many other magazines and journals.
By Woody Woodger
Can I tell you a dirty secret
about men? Our hearts and lungs
were all forged in the same kiln
run by some angel in a hairnet.
God gets a basket of us every hour
filled to the brim. It’s always a tight
fit—a hose splits in winter—our plastic
carcasses strewn across his work
bench. And once we’re sown up, living,
walking around, our Corelle organs
slowly crunch away into shards.
They first collect, around our feet,
soon piling up to our ribs. Can you see it?
We’re trash bags full of glass, if you like.
We’re a spilt river, sharp
in the current. And I think I found
the first trouble with God. Just today
in fact, he leaned back in his swivel chair,
wove his fingers behind his bald-spot
and told the secretary I should have only
made the things that scuttle. Those gravel-
hatched creatures, all jaws and motherless.
Once all my viscera has shattered away,
is my fleshy skin-bag
more useful as a flag, or a pool-cover?
Woody Woodger is a New England poet who is forthcoming in Barely South, (b)OINK, Darkhouse Books, and Postcard Poems and Prose. He has also received publications in Soundings East, Golden Walkman Magazine, and the blog Dear Hope. He was also a finalist in the 2016 Paper Nautilus Debut Chapbook Contest.
We lived for the cold
stream, waded in clear water
mosquito arms bramble-nourished,
red and swollen
like the nicks that would come
when we learned
to shave. We scratched slowly,
looked up when cars began to slow
past us, newly aware
of our chests poked against
our tee shirts. Everything itched:
sunburn, poison ivy and when
we walked too far to the public pool,
chlorine burned our eyes, stung
hidden skin, scars pink as apples
on our thighs. We crossed our arms
over cramping bellies, afraid
the men could smell our blood
or see the bulge of tampons
awkward in our pockets. We itched,
we always itched, two girls
sweet as fruit—
we never thought to bite back.
Stacey Balkun is the author of Jackalope-Girl Learns to Speak (dancing girl 2016) & Lost City Museum (ELJ 2016). A Finalist for the 2016 Event Horizon Science Poetry Competition as well as the Center for Women Writer’s 2016 Rita Dove Award, her work has appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Gargoyle, Muzzle, Bayou, and others. A 2015 Hambidge Fellow, Stacey served as Artist-in-Residence at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2013. She holds an MFA from Fresno State and teaches poetry online at The Poetry Barn.
By Emma Bolden
Believe me when I tell you: I walked
to the barn voluntarily. Let no one say
I was led. Nor was I asked to remove
my shoes, place them sole-down
in the order they kept on my feet. No
one said stand & I stood on the stool,
above me the chain looped & loped
down & I saw it as beautiful. & it was
beautiful. I saw it & then I saw it
in my right hand. I did not hesitate.
It fit my neck & was perfect. It was
as if I had always been waiting.
Beside me hung my brother the sheep.
He was quiet. Flies sequined the hollow
half-bell of his body. They needed what
they needed & took what they took. His eyes
were the facts, open zeroes of surprise
or delight. I didn’t kick the stool away.
I wanted to know the butcher. I wanted
to know his hook. It startled & my throat
felt white, felt electric, felt neither heat
nor cold. I became busy with the facts
of being & becoming not & I at very last felt
real. There was no stomach speaking hunger.
No lungs or womb to say fill. & had I a throat
& a mouth, & had I still owned a tongue, I
would have thanked the hook for giving
me such forgiving, for making I not eye.
Emma Bolden is the author of two full-length collections of poetry — medi(t)ations (Noctuary Press, 2016) and Maleficae (GenPop Books, 2013) – and four chapbooks. A Barthelme Prize and Spoon River Poetry Review Editor’s Prize winner, her work has appeared in The Best American Poetry, The Best Small Fictions, and Poetry Daily. She received a 2017 Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and currently serves as a Senior Reviews Editor for Tupelo Quarterly.
What are you waiting for? Send us your poetry now. Our new editor is waiting to get to work reading your fabulous poems.
WHEREWITHAL is honored to announce that Meg Eden has accepted our offer to be the Editor of our poetry magazine. We could not be happier and know she will lead us to even brighter and better places, as we announce more changes later this week.
Welcome her and get ready to submit lots of amazing poems to keep her and our wonderful reader, Sarah Ghoshal.
Meg Eden’s work has been published in various magazines, including Rattle, Drunken Boat, Poet Lore, and Gargoyle. She teaches at the University of Maryland. She has four poetry chapbooks, and her novel Post-High School Reality Quest is forthcoming from California Coldblood, an imprint of Rare Bird Lit. Check out her work at: www.megedenbooks.com