April 12, 2017

Queen of Cups Issue Forty-Eight (Sarah Nichols and The Star) *Last Issue Date Announced*

Wet Plate Collodion Image, 2012 by Indra Moonen 

Welcome to Queen of Cups Issue Forty-Eight featuring Sarah Nichols and The Star. This week's poems are a series of centos using James Ellroy's The Black Dahlia as a source text. I was so pleased to pull The Star as it's such a life-affirming card to offset this dark and sad piece of history.
I've communicated with some of you over the past couple weeks about Queen of Cups eventual end, but would like to officially announce that today so no one is in the dark. I decided during the last open submissions period that the May 17th issue, QOC's one year mark, would be the last. After this week, that leaves five more issues. Creating and editing Queen of Cups has been a fulfilling experience. I've enjoyed every aspect, especially connecting with readers around the tarot and the discovery of new (or 'new-to-you') writers. A community of conscious, caring and intelligent writers, artists and readers has formed around QOC and I'm so grateful for that. You've all been so supportive and generous in your appreciation of this little weekly, which has kept me going during the pretty constant work it requires. I also can't believe nearly a year has passed! This week's issue goes out to over 500 subscribers. When all is said and done, QOC will have featured 53 writers, 53 writing prompts, and almost the entire deck of tarot cards. Which brings me to the most labor-intensive part of putting QOC out every week. The idea to include a weekly tarot card reading in this mini lit mag seemed simple and straightforward, QOC wouldn't be the same without it, but producing a detailed weekly reading has been pretty intense. And, though I believe producing QOC gave me a reason to take a break from poetry and still work with words, I'm ready to get back to my poetry and perhaps move on to other, occasional, publishing projects. Also, my third collection is due out in spring 2018 with CavanKerry Press and, believe it or not, pre-publication is already ramping up. CavanKerry has a kind of poetry public service requirement for all authors, so I'll be out sharing poetry with communities that aren't usually stops on the reading tour.  I'll send out an email on this template with any news about future projects. For updates on my own events and doings you can check out my website. I plan to keep all QOC back issues in place for as long as that's possible. If you'd like to view past issues on TinyLetter, go to the subscription form and click 'view letter archive' (in red). That will bring you to a list of all the issues, newest to oldest. Finally, thank you, thank you for your encouragement, stories, and kind words! You've all made Queen of Cups a success and a positive first publishing venture for me.

Tarot Card of the Week: The Star 

The Star, In General and For Writers and Artists:  A card of serenity and inspiration. The Star indicates that you are on the right track, entering a phase of renewed hope and calm energy. Appearing after The Tower, which brings upheaval and hardship, The Star is a balm. You have endured difficult times, walked in the shadows and struggled with your own demons and those of others. The Star signals the end of that phase and heralds a time of personal transformation. The image on the card contains several positive motifs. The fact that the subject has one foot in the pool and the other firmly planted on land indicates that she has both practical common sense and a highly attuned intuition. She listens and responds to her inner voice. She is vulnerable (unclothed) and simultaneously generous in her actions. And the subject isn't only replenishing the pool and watering the dry ground with her vessels, she's illustrating the abundance of water. In the tarot, water is a feminine element representing intuition, emotions, healing and cleansing. Water is also linked to receptivity and creativity. Thus, this is a fertile and abundant emotional, intuitive, creative and spiritual time. For writers and artists, this would precede the generative phase: inward, self-nurturing, receptive. For some, this energy may arrive after a period of creative difficulty, or false starts; there was labor without much to show, or an outright spinning of wheels. It's likely you were creatively frustrated or suffering. The image on the card can symbolize abundance, inspiration and creative fecundity. It heralds the effortlessness of inspiration. The stars are said to represent the eight chakras, in this case cleansed and healthy chakras. The bird in the background is an Ibis, symbol of beliefs and spirituality. Appearing on the card in this way, the Ibis is a totem, reminding us that The Star oversees calm energy, allowing us to look into the placid pool of intuition. All of this symbolism adds up to a personal spiritual journey. You are asked to listen to your inner voice, your best judgement. In the search for deeper meaning and purpose in your life, you may choose to make significant changes and may experience epiphanies about who you are and who you want to become. The Star isn't a card of action but the realization that leads to action, the necessary staging ground before an active phase. Think of this card as a pause. Life has presented numerous challenges, perhaps even traumatic and personally disastrous events (The Tower). Before you move into the subconscious depths of The Moon and the bright consciousness of The Sun, the next two cards in the major arcana, you must replenish yourself beneath the gentle light of the stars. This is an apt metaphor for the creative process, moving from the initial intuitive/receptive phase (The Star), into the depths of the subconscious (The Moon), finally bringing what was found into the light of consciousness (The Sun). First, you must fully embody the serenity of The Star phase. Imagine you were transported to the landscape on the card, given sole access to this green and shady retreat beside a vernal pool, a view of mountains in the distance. On a clear, warm night, you go for a dip under the stars. You're alone to decompress, think your thoughts, be yourself without concern for others and reconnect with the creative impulse. This is a powerful time of reunion with self. It's not likely that many of us will get the chance to run off this week to the card's location for our own spiritual retreats. If you find peace in meditation, you could turn the image on the card, and my above description, into a meditation, imagining a place where you feel safe, serene and completely free to be yourself. Or, you could seek out mini-escapes to mountains, streams, bodies of water, that afford you an abbreviated retreat. When I'm in the right frame of mind, I try to do this during the course of the day. It's an exercise in presence and heightened consciousness. When I'm driving the winding road from my house out to the rest of civilization, I pay attention to the river running alongside, wet, mossy boulders, the sun blinking through the tree canopy, in summer, the mineral smell of river water; the sweet baking smell of soil and pine needles, the way the air changes when transitioning from open sunny fields to shady areas. A lot of movement can happen in one's relationship with herself in these interludes. Who knows? Maybe the woman on The Star card isn't taking a solitary spiritual retreat at all. Maybe she has a partner and three kids fast asleep in the house and decided on a whim to shuck off her PJs and go gather some starlight water in the pond out back. The point is, when transformation comes knocking, if need be, it will slip through the cracks. 

Introducing Sarah Nichols!

Dark Inside
I don’t remember the
color of my hair.
Brass, maybe. Blonde
picks up
silver on film.
Photographs tell me
I traded black ribbons
for bones.
White flowers for a
lipstick smile.

Do You Know Her?
The people who say that
dying is easy
are lying
to you.
How could they know
the theories that
never give me a
tomorrow ? Or the
star fuckers, hanging on,
telling each other how
they know
my last days
my last moments, the
pinpoint when death
rolled up and said
my name.

The Woman Herself
I skim my press:
I’m bits and pieces
to them,
hardly real.
Dead girls sell.
it’s all the
I’m a story
this city writes
over and over.
Underneath the flicker,
into the ground.

The Negative
In these days of
smoke and blood and light,
I wait for the movie
called Los Angeles
to end.
No one thinks
they’ll die here.
I get tired, trying
to tell the audience
that one day
the negative will
be lost. It will

Her Lost Days
Where I am, the
calendar doesn’t
matter anymore.
Call it heaven,
if that makes it
easier for you.
Dying is not
the end.
It is crowded
with the voices
of days, all of
Source Text: Ellroy, James. The Black Dahlia. New York: Mysterious Press, 1987. Print.

Sarah Nichols lives and writes in Connecticut. She is the author of three chapbooks, most recently She May Be a Saint  (Hermeneutic Chaos Press, 2016). Her chapbook Dreamland for Keeps is forthcoming in 2018 from Porkbelly Press. She is a co-editor at Thank You for Swallowing, an online journal of feminist protest poetry. Her work has also appeared in Ekphrastic Review, The RS 500, and Rogue Agent.

Weekly Writing Prompt: Write a one to two page memoir. For poets, your memoir may be a prose poem, but try to stick to prose as opposed to verse. Your 'memoir' need not be written from the first-person point of view. Especially with this exercise, writing about yourself in the third-person, as though you're a character, can give you some perspective. And if you can pull off a second-person memoir more power to you! The site The Electric Typewriter has compiled 50 great short memoir essays from various sources like The New Yorker that's worth checking out. The poem 'A Story About the Body' is a particularly memoir-ish prose piece from the collection Human Wishes by Robert Hass.


Next Week: Dennis Maloney