Arsenic Lobster poetry journal Issue Twenty-eight
Spring 2012
Issue Twenty-eight,  Spring 2012

“The trick is to use all of you,” he repeated.

Next he nurtured our sense of touch. I went from feeling my every pore and peach fuzz to identifying fabrics while blindfolded. I balked, though, when he wanted us to tap into our gut instincts, to feel-feel.

He lost patience with me. “What is it you’re so afraid of?”

On and on he badgered me, until, through snot and tears, I told him I was afraid of everything.

His expression softened. “Not everything,” he said. “Something. There’s one thing that feeds all the rest.”

He drilled me. “What is it? Say it. Say it!”

I whirled around…

~From the book Hard to Say by Ethel Rohan

Every Poem In Arsenic Lobster Has Something Hard To Say

I had no idea how important that was—how every poem held so much meaning for every reader until I took Arsenic Lobster to AWP for the first time. I’m thankful to have met so many contributors and readers at the 2012 convention. Thanks to you all for your amazing writing and support. You make Arsenic Lobster say something and mean something in every issue we publish.

Gut Instincts

No one says the hard things in such accord with the duende and as smoothly as Courtney Elizabeth Hitson does within the first lines of her poem, “Collecting Mothers”:

I collect mothers like paperdolls. Prop them
in fields of time—long-haired scarecrows pointing
to past and future.

Or as raw as Paul Schwarzkopf’s poem “Draft Horses” boldly confesses: his tumor, the size / of a skull, collects the anger, / absorbs its cancer / and becomes his child.

None are so without fear as Rob Cook’s “Elegy for Robert Adams Cap” humbly states: the next night you became a street shrine only to defiantly question; Did the candles burning under your picture / help you find a way through the dirt?

Or so undauntable as Dawn Pendergast in “The Birds,” you have to look them up after all, beat them. Be driven thru on ramshackle horsepower. A waul of wind throws the trees backward.

What Is It You’re So Afraid Of?

Rebecca Schumejda writes: I want you to know that I cannot carry her stiff body past / her two kittens and my daughter into the backyard / where we plan to bury her, so she is lying in her kitty litter.

Peter Schwartz explains: there are just two possible beliefs in the world: confetti or deadlines. / People adapt to losses I can’t even pronounce every day. / I imagine them in limbo, strong and diseased.

Jerry Johnston admits: the rabbit is young and smooth as a new belt, and me I’m obvious and bad with secrets.

Kathleen Kirk precisely states: all the beauties she’ll not see / when the blood comes pouring down / over her open eyes.

A Boy and His Lobster by Heather Gorham
A Boy and His Lobster by Heather Gorham
About the Artist

The Trick Is To Use All Of You

Tom Novak explores the ways the dead dance in Mr. Fruit:

Every woman in Pleasantview is missing.

Doors open and close on their own, the garbage can falls
and stands itself up again.

Donna Vorreyer stole ash from the fireplace only to exhale a brand-new sun.

Or as Sara Lier writes, the tattooed girl / will get gills inked on her throat./Better that than / drowning and is ready to admit, we are ripe for the plunge.

I Whirled Around…

still clinging to the deadly lobster and without answers but with poems. All these poems, together, we’ll never forget.

This is where logic and taste fall completely off the map ~ Joshua Grant

Let’s assume you can understand anything—not ideas, not concepts. What you understand are desires. ~ Carlos Matos

I had assumed the stripe of fire was sunset underneath the stretched arms ~ Janet Baker

His Expression Softened
Drink up my readers! The arsenic is in our arms, throats, veins, hearts and in our toasts. We’ll not let go so easily.
Susan Yount
Editor & Publisher, Arsenic Lobster Poetry Journal

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Other perspectives from Susan Yount can be found here: