Arsenic Lobster poetry journal
Issue Twenty-one
Winter 2009
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Issue Twenty-one,  Winter 2009
Lobster on Ice

She races across the ice oval in a crimson ice-skating skirt, long tapered legs the color of grade school chapstick. Ice-skate boots, tapered, almost nonexistent: she seems not to have feet at all, only two white foot points.
           ~From Paper Dolls: Skating Skirt by Catherine Bowman

Another round of congratulations to our Pushcart nominees: Kristine Ong Muslim, Michael Homolka, Brenda Hammack, Joshua Diamond & Talia Reed. You can find their poems at the "2009 Pushcart Nominees" page.

A special toast too to two-time, ArsenLob Pushcart Nominee, Brenda Hammack for writing this winter’s introduction.
Many cheers,
Susan Yount
Editor & Publisher, Arsenic Lobster Poetry Journal

Prolegomenon to Arsenic Lobster

Snow-gazing is decidedly more extroverted than navel-gazing, thought the poet, only just now contemplating what should be her prolegomenon, or high-sounding opening remarks, for the winter issue of Arsenic Lobster. Snow can splinter the gaze, or so she learned from Hans Christian Andersen when the little boy Kay squinted through a distorting glint and found all the world transformed and not for the better.

So, too, can poetry catch in the eye, but never so monochromatically as this unfettered kaleidoscope that drifts through sky.

What an involute world, the poet believes as she glissades through the work of contributors like Bill Yarrow. Sara Tracey: Really, the world is like a twirling of marbles in a glass ashtray. And Chris Ridenour: I can’t be reconciled to this gift unwrapping itself, this jasmine echopale against your sleeping eye.

Snow is so much like dreams. Can one build up a tolerance as Austrian arsenic-eaters do with their toxin of choice? Should one wish to do so? The poet wonders as she reads Matt Gillespie’s “Gary, Indiana”:
Don’t you remember
when the snow fell outside me,
caked thick over streetlamps,
and made them stars
set warm and blue
against the purple February sky?
She almost misses the summer crickets, their need for themselves…What fits together doesn’t quite, as Melissa Koosmann reminds in “From: The Toyota Gets It.” The poet glimpses through the window her own enchanted car, Merlin, petrified, by this spell of too-much white.

Snow-dazzled, the poet returns to her prolegomenon, recalling white bees in Andersen’s fairy story. No matter how it flutters, snow remains culpable and capable of stings. Just so, the boy Kay is cursed to flee the one who truly loves him—and she, faithful Gerda, chases over snowscape past drifts that might be dolmens to sleep a rigid knife in the bed of gypsies. You can read about such plight in Jacob Rakovan’s contribution to Arsenic Lobster.

Meanwhile, back in Anderson’s “Snow Queen,” Gerda takes the northernmost trail—rockridden and deep red, and marked by blue paint-blazes on the trees.

Of course, you’ll find these lines in Rachel Adams instead of in Andersen, but you’ll understand what the poet means when she says one may lose oneself in Shenandoah

as readily as in Lapland.

One can think oneself frigid as John Olson suggests in his contribution. If the poet has learned nothing else—from this realm of enchantment that is issue # 21 of Arsenic Lobster— it is that some ideas are too nebulous to be considered thought. They drift among the woodwinds…Still, she winds up taut with perpendicularity.

Lobster on Ice by Mark Adams
Lobster on Ice by Mark Adams
About the Artist
Besides, she always suspected that poets linger on the edge of fairy tale, whether they are way the hell / Out in the woods, like Renee Beauregard, or chillin’ in Amerikaz Nightmare with Kenyatta Rogers.

Some poets know
a single sound, an exhale, would be enough to change
a boy gone cold at all the unloveliness of the world.

You don’t need a tabloid or a fairy tale compendium to read about such secrets. Only study R. Jennings’ poetry.

Or if you’d rather, read about sex in the work of Erik D. Steel: It’s tactile and I wish you wouldn’t / know how perfectly unmade I become.

And isn’t that what poetry and fairy tales is really all about? Tears. Redemptive devotion. And once again the true bride transforms the beastly boy.

Of course, some readers (and poets) prefer to remain frost-furred. Some would like to be polar bears hibernating.

No worries. Even in sub-zero temperatures, you can travel without abdicating comfy chair. Let John Thomas guide you to verge where sagebrush transitions to shade. Let Tanya Collings wrest you to Portland.

Or take yourself to Lapland where you’ll write to those left behind:
Tonight I sleep
in the center of a dreamcatcher
Such snow really is comfortable. And deep.

Brenda Hammack
Guest Editor, Arsenic Lobster Poetry Journal

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