Gris-Gris, an online journal of literature, culture & the arts

Author Archives: sbanville

The Frogs

by Judith Skillman Allegro corresponds to dusk, trumpets of yellow skunk cabbage unfurled, the swamp behind a life lived more than halfway through. Children seen to, grow up. Fruition—its goitered neck. Largo threatens nostalgia despite chirrup—cheer up—talk sung in bits by birds whose young fend when they learn to fly. Andante walks, blues deepen, the […]

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She Pivots Away

by Charles Thielman   She sees vaccines and illusions riding downtown curbs, city night balanced   along the edge of a duotone slant, moon pulling shadows across current, spotlights revolving below a dome   capped with silvered contrails. Loss tattooed on the wing of a dream let to fly. She walks beside a river wall […]

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Moon of the Long Night

by Matthew Woodman   dearest beloved it has come to our attention that   because we must   the vow   the gravity of the situation requires   the bind   be quartered in the scorched chest of the safe-house   it has not been easy for us   we do not deny we do […]

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Novembers

by Judith Skillman I remember being shorter than, not measuring up to, hearing wind rush through empty tops of trees. This coming upon, these pines. To list a little in early evening darkness. I recall my father’s apologies, the sponge cake, the Bundt pan with its wide middle. Aprons and prints helter skelter, lids askew. […]

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Kafka’s Cauliflower

by Judith Skillman He’d tried before, gutting the thick stem from the white meat with his mother’s butcher knife, carving away at leaves the same color as the moon that shone when he walked alone at night, up those avenues mapped with her, his beloved, the one with whom he’d spend his life. Children? They […]

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The Ghosts Of The Living

by Bruce McRae Among the refined essences. Among the hours, the talcum and what is physical. Rising with the thermals and driven by will, lifted up, carried like a lapdog or a child, bathed in humours, basking in time’s indifference. Lying next to the oryx and cerval cat. Under the thumb of the sun and […]

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Remember

by Ana Silva Remember when you wanted to be A real gangsta with a couple of Gs Long socks up to your knees Tattoos from your head to your feet Creased up- keeping it clean Rolling around with a couple of fiends Music and drugs is what you bring Committing crimes is how you think […]

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Incarcerated is Where I Need to Be

by Ana Silva I never meant to fall on my knees Pray to someone I cannot see Incarcerated is Where I Need to Be I use drugs and stay on the street Rather be caged than OD Incarcerated is Where I Need to Be Feeling like a fiend who can’t stay clean Becoming a slave […]

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no hard feelings

by Kerry O’Keefe keep drinking    it is possible there is a wild wind out here you don’t have a name for. which means you can’t pull it apart turn the sun and the moon into the spinning hands of a clock gone wild I remember you saying you didn’t like to walk    so just lay there see […]

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When I Had Heart

by Kerry O’Keefe Like the walls bending. Like the leaves splaying themselves into mint. All fragment and juice, my dust was altogether dense. I was flinging then. Fully sound as the sun set on a tricycle – a three lane highway going up.  The world rattled lavender and cream. Front hall melting hidden candy. Bandana on […]

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Sale Day

by Kerry O’Keefe In memory of a marriage In the end there was thin tea. A few leaves doing battle at the bottom of the cup. We braided ourselves into a little oak tree doomed to shellac. Love, as in Wal-Mart mantelpiece, dammit, up there next to the Valentine clock. You, singing a song in […]

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if I were to meet up with myself in middle age

by Kerry O’Keefe in a train station    say    at noon I would greet myself    kindly    the affection resonant but strained    I would try to think of what to say    knowing I had forgiven myself everything    but needing to mention    details of what I hoped    never    to happen again it had been fine    we were young    we didn’t know there was fire    and exuberance    a lot of running around everyone […]

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Eucalyptus

by Judith Skillman In the grove the groaning, by which she feels herself kin to these trees that lean and shift, their silver skin naked, bark peeling dark and light into shelves of curls. The scent, from scribbly gums, winds her deeper in. How does age turn a person soft when—white, green, cream, gray, or […]

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Hermano

by Ana Silva My brother who went away Full of love with much to say Writing me not to go his way Hoping I’ll see him one day Thinking how it will be When he gets to be free Fools corrupting his mind All he should worry is his time Waiting on his sister to […]

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DAD

by Ana Silva My Dad is an alcoholic And I’m a drug addict We’re both addicted to something And don’t care about nothing When we started losing hope He started abusing And I started using So much that I OD-ed He thought it was from weed He didn’t know I was heavy With all these […]

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Newborn

by Ana Silva Life is like a newborn Barely rising to the world Like a baby Taking time to grow Baby’s first step Is the hardest Trying to get up Like trying to quit drugs Before we mess up We can’t see the good things in life A newborn baby is blind Having a comedown […]

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When Brown Eyes Close

by Ron Wallace (For Larisa) Summer should sing like a thunderstorm out behind the stadium with you, my brown-eyed girl, my sweet brown-eyed girl, and darkness hide far away from the long light of July. This is not right not right not right, my smiling girl. When soft brown eyes close beneath blue skies, the […]

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Channeling Nina Simone

by Dante di Stefano Because America is all about the backlash and I am comping toward the future, I don’t expect you to commiserate with me worth a Mississippi goddam. I carry on contralto and deny the depthless vertigo of gratitude. I wish I knew how it feels to be free, but the king of […]

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Lion’s Den

by Jose Angel Araguz That’s what we call it: the space where we try to keep our dignity while being stared at and corrected, where coffee rushing into paper cups more and more sounds like a whip, where our skin turns the temperature of what steams, roils, rises glimmering with faces, where the groan of […]

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Superhero

by Jose Angel Araguz In the end, the villain doesn’t matter, nor the city, both will destroy themselves eventually, with or without me. My identity: the glasses I slip off, the family I never speak of, the lovers I put in danger. All I am are eyes searching the horizon for trouble. All I do […]

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Manners

by Steve Lapinsky If my memory serves me, I was the last person to ask my cousin about the girl he was going to marry. There had been worries about her family. They were eccentric and rude. I suppose you can’t pick who intoxicates you or fills your eyes with diplopic hope. I recall a […]

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Dylan Again

by Dr. William Miller He played for dollar bills, coins, against a red, stucco wall in the French Quarter. He sang “With God on Our Side,” a song I loved long before he was born. And I was surprised by how many tourists stopped to listen, ask “Who wrote that?” He didn’t answer, just played […]

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Mall Walkers

by Dr. William Miller They meet at the south end by the dry fountain, dry for an hour. Some use walkers, others canes; a few are shaky but upright. They move slowly, in a careful line, talk about bone doctors, Medicare, the price of a decent funeral: “Throw my ashes to the wind; I always […]

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Turn Her Mic Down, Video

Donney Rose performing “Turn Her Mic Down,” at Slam Charlotte in 2013.    

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House Fire, Video

Donney Rose performing “House Fire” at the 2013 Texas Grand Slam Poetry Festival.  

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Photography

by Shannon Atkinson– “the streets are where I feel most at home with a camera in my hands.” 12►

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Art by R.R. Vagnini

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Dennis Sipiorski Paintings

[flagallery gid=1 name=Gallery]

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Union Square

by Danny Goodman Elizabeth watched the old man in Union Square. He was tall, she could tell, although he sat on a makeshift stool only a foot or so off the ground. His silver hair, connected to a beard, rounded the circumference of his mostly bald head and reminded Elizabeth of Jean-Luc Picard. So did […]

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Chicken Yard

by Jan Lamberg   It’s August in the Garden State, steamy South Jersey where new in May, my shoes rub at the toe. Farm clod-hoppers thwart ring-worm, rusty nails– for these feet, nightfall’s pond, crickets, can’t sing soon enough. Compost bowl pail clanging, I reach the chicken yard; Every step a dong– their signal-alarm, Indian-file […]

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The Burning

by N. Scott Momaday   In the numb, numberless days There were disasters in the distance, Strange upheavals. No one understood them. At night the sky was scored with light, For the far planes of the planet buckled and burned. In the dawns were intervals of darkness On the scorched sky, clusters of clouds and […]

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American Ballad

by N. Scott Momaday   Where do you come from, And where do you go? Where do you come from, My cotton-eye Joe?   Well, I come from the darkness, And I come in despair, I come from the darkness And again will go there.   Black smoke’s arisin’, Yonder comes a train. Winter’s comin’ […]

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The Passage Between

by N. Scott Momaday   Because it’s there. —G.H.L. Mallory —a passage outside the range of imagination, but within the range of experience. —Isak Dinesen   The sheer face lay opposite, Both over and under him. His lungs burned in the ascent. His eyes congealed in the cold, And at last he could not see. […]

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The Snow Mare

by N. Scott Momaday   In my dream, a blue mare loping, Pewter on a porcelain field, away. There are bursts of soft commotion Where her hooves drive in the drifts, And as dusk ebbs on the plane of night, She shears the web of winter, And on the far, blind side She is no […]

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The Middle Distance

by N. Scott Momaday   Imagine the space between here and there. Vision holds upon an aura of the earth, And on that nebulous band a bird appears.   It takes shape in the vagaries of light, Becoming wholly its own definition. It hangs inherently there, opposite the air.   Less the image, more the […]

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The Lemon Juice Alphabet

by Julie Kane   Every time it was the same: the moment she realized she was holding and reading the page she’d been trying to bring back all her life, it would suddenly catch fire like the secret messages she and her best friend had penned to each other in fifth grade with a watercolor […]

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Dollhouse

by Julie Kane   She was no longer a child when they gave her the dollhouse she had always coveted in childhood: three stories high, with the front wall shorn off so that she could see into every room at once.  Right away she began furnishing it with tiny books of fairy tales and nursery […]

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Burgers Fried in Salt

by Julie Kane   Once upon a time there was a wicked Queen who fried hamburger patties in salt: a giant patty for the King; a medium patty for herself; and three eeny-weeny patties for the three princesses. The burgers came out of the pan as black and as hard as lava rocks, because the […]

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The Voice

by Julie Kane   Walking by the Polish church in Vilnius one Sunday morning, she is arrested by the sound of a male voice, singing over the choir. So deep, so resonant, so mournful: surely it must belong to an opera star. She stands transfixed outside the buttercream stucco façade, then pushes a heavy wooden […]

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Bone

by Anne Marie Macari     I know what it’s like to dig but not find the bone you are looking for. Buried   deep and tight as a knuckle beneath the garbage and rubble. If the tongue   had a bone, or if breasts had artifacts buried inside, beyond the milk   and ducts. […]

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Headlamp

by Anne Marie Macari   Carrying little, wearing a weak headlamp, a mile in, stumbling and wet, the cave walls like my own insides and I an animal painted there. Darkness filling in my cartoon lines, my blank self.   Dear Friend, I am inside a hole in the earth, with pots of ochre and […]

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The Other Side of the Tracks

by Karen Head   What if I chucked it all, began calling myself Candi, (with a heart over the “i”) stopped in at Wal-Mart to buy a jean-skirt, a tank top, and a can of Aqua Net, hitchhiked to a small town just outside Birmingham, AL taking on a part-time waitress gig, mornings at the […]

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Proximity

by Karen Head   The young possum foraging outside my office window seems unconcerned by my presence— after all, I am the one who’s trapped. I snack on almonds, watch it nibble whatever it finds, and though I am inclined to share, I know that opening the window will change the world.

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Mid-Autumn’s Eve

by Howie Faerstein   It happens in the dark, reeling under the rotted eaves, staring into blankness. It happens carrying coffee grounds to the compost. What an odd hour to be pressed by love.   It happens when the wind picks up and unseen trees rustle as contradiction takes the place of stars in an […]

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The Difference Between Two Readings

by Howie Faerstein   Between the time I first climbed the Parabolic Dunes and the next the world shifted but because blue-white Vega remains constant I can make my way home. Because of the gap between who I think I am and who I very well may be, the difference between two readings may resemble […]

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The Song He Left Behind

by Darrell Bourque   I can’t recall just when the song began to take its shape inside my head. I found myself some nights all alone with nothing but this sound from who knows where, a cape making a place for itself inside a bay. Some little thing I’d done   or heard come back […]

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Beausoleil Leaves Saint-Domingue

by Darrell Bourque   There was nothing he saw here that he did not love, the way the sea was always near, how in the higher elevations the air thinned and clarified itself, how blooms and fruits of blooms grew everywhere and touched everything, how the ear was filled with a hundred tongues he understood, […]

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Evangeline Speaks

by Darrell Bourque   That girl you think you see beneath the oak beside the Teche, she is other than the girl I was. I was surely with all those other women forced to leave a life they had grown into, but I was never what they were, never a mother, never even married. When […]

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How We Became New World People

by Darrell Bourque   Before the world we’d always known became a place we hardly knew at all, we lived at ease with whatever came our way. What had been ours then was ours no more & ships carried us away into a world so new we could not have dreamed it: this land the […]

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Megan’s Guitar

by Darrell Bourque   for Megan Barra after her textiles Woman with Guitar, I & Woman with Guitar, II  I You’ve curled nearly every line in this piece you made. You live inside a curved world. Within the frame you’ve silked a guitar & its bifurcation holds us to your intent: one half of the […]

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Turtle Dreams

by Darrell Bourque   I am trying to understand turtles and how they work their way into my dreams. On some nights I am a hermit in a play. A tortoise standing for slowness in an equation about relativity and time has a bigger part than I do. One night I am hand-fishing for turtles […]

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Standing Water in the Yard on the Feast Day of Saint Medard

by Darrell Bourque   We feared the rain would never come and then it came without relief. The clouds thickened and knitted themselves over windows and doors. It was as if they wanted to come in, to be with us.   We pulled books off the shelves we thought we might never read. We spent […]

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The Wash House

by Darrell Bourque   Time collapsed in my grandmother’s wash house. In another time there would have been rooms and  even separate houses to bank those things she banked in here. From the rafters hung grasses, dried, and green and purple basil dropping seeds, on the floor, garlic braids hanging next to harnesses. Boxes of […]

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A Conversation with Darrell Bourque

Jay Udall: The poems of yours we’re featuring in this issue are all drawn from your new book, Megan’s Guitar and Other Poems from Acadie, which will be published by University of Louisiana Press, Lafayette, early next year. What’s the focus of this book, and how did it come to you?   Darrell Bourque: I […]

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The True Sorrows of Calamity Jane

by Joseph Boyden   The night Bill Hickock was shot in the back of the head at a Black Hills poker table by the coward Jack McCall, my mother indeed grabbed a meat cleaver to take her revenge on that fuck.  She ran barefoot through the streets, a buckskin jacket slung over her nightgown, the […]

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Cultivation

by Forrest Anderson Little Brother hides the carboys, airlocks, and racks inside the crumbling brick foundation of his tenant house where he makes Pink Panther 1, Pink Panther 2, and Wild Night in Rocky Mount. It’s cool all year round. He keeps it sweet by adding granulated sugar and juice from dandelion petals, scuppernongs, or […]

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The Sisters of Dudda

by Jessica Pitchford You can’t help it. The town is called Dudda, and as you walk through it—somewhat gingerly, for the slow ache that’s already started creeping up your body—you can’t resist thinking, I bet my money on a bob-tailed nag. Somebody bet on the gray. You’ve spent the day on a bike tour of […]

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Piggybacking

by Reggie J. Poché Ronnie entered Star Grocery, the town of Remyton’s only such store, and as had always been the case his wide reflection was cut in half, slenderized by the sliding glass door. He had to pass Flick, who solicited just outside, pacing under the door’s electronic sensor as if he were teasing […]

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