May 18, 2016

Queen of Cups Issue One (Kimberly Burwick)

Welcome to Queen of Cups Issue One featuring poet Kimberly Burwick

First, I want to thank you all for subscribing, submitting, responding to my solicitations of your work, and generally taking a chance on my cockamamie idea. Today marks one week from the day I announced Queen of Cups. There are currently 279 subscribers and the publication schedule is booked through August! We have new work from veteran writers and familiar names lined up, as well as from some exciting 'new talent'. As we progress, I'll learn to navigate the TinyLetter platform and figure out what it's capable of, hopefully resulting in a weekly lit mag issue that truly earns the term. I believe back issues can be accessed by subscribers somewhere on TinyLetter or within your weekly issue. I'll test out this theory and report back.
In keeping with our theme, I've decided to pull, and feature, a card from the Rider-Waite-Smith deck each week.

Our tarot card for the week is Nine of Cups. 
The cups suit is of the water element and operates on the emotional and intuitive level, where one might make decisions based on her 'gut feeling' or be said to 'follow her heart'.
Some terms associated with the Nine of Cups:
Sense of well being
Enjoying abundance on the personal, spiritual, psychic level
Delight in the senses, in all things sensual
Joy in solitude
Seeking out and enjoying pleasure, especially pleasures found in nature
Finally, the Nine of Cups has been associated with wish fulfillment or the impending fulfillment of a wish.

In relation to writers and artists, something in the Nine of Cups image seems to speak to the completion of a creative project, not only a feeling of satisfaction with ones' work, but a confidence in its importance and existence in the world. It is a feeling of knowing ones' measure, not a conflated, but a balanced, realistic confidence. There's also a sense that the connection to ones' depths through engaging in the creative process is the place where great fulfillment, even protection, is found. This is the lesson that Nine of Cups brings.

For a unique take on the Nine of Cups, check out this essay by Jessa Crispin. She also offers tarot readings on Etsy. It's pretty cool.

Now for this week's feature: two prose poetry/micro non fiction pieces by Kimberly Burwick. Burwick's fourth collection Custody of the Eyes is forthcoming from Carnegie Mellon University Press in 2017.

                                                                            The Ashy
Here’s a list of all my rain: frontal rain and relief rain. Northern Thailand rain and gut-soaking rain. I-want-to-leave-you-rain and dry cereal rain. Orographic rain and zookeeper rain. Can’t-find-the-keys-to-my-apartment-rain. C-section, broken neck, and pulmonary rain. Insured and uninsured rain. Thrift-store and hundred-dollar rain. Monkshood, loosestrife and moraine rain. Green tea rain. Blood test rain. Scent-of-dirt-on-the-coffin-rain. Jean skirt rain. I-do-rain. Dragonfly rain. Ropes of it. Brick rain. Contingencies. Living-will rain.
But the ashy sun. The stomach of it. The way it nearly walks into a barn, breathing. Giving shadows. It could carve a whole endangered alphabet onto the right land.
                                                            If Neruda Had Been an Herbalist
                                                                   an herbalist’s decision:
                                                      whether to honor the rose for its strength,
                                                                  or the wound of its odor
In a vanished place, the sun does not belong to us. Chapel, cumulous and canto are not undone by poppies, tumbleweed. Nothing trembles as it must. What should we want of Neruda’s dove in the snow… the egg rolling out of the sky?
I wish I were an herbalist. Black cohosh for arthritis. Calendula for throat and rash. I’d plant and dig the fabric of fenugreek. And what if I had to condition myself to un-begin. To not bulb the Darwin tulips, to unknot the fine language called humming. And what if place is just the tether of an interruption. Something briefer than lost. Loveage in winter. Pennyroyal written into the Ides of March. The numbers, the numbers. Why offer up such sundering?
I believed it was an accident. But it makes sense that my oldest brother was trying to slice me in half. I wanted to fly and he wanted to pilot my ribcage, red and young. By the ankles he voiced Newton’s First Law of Motion. My skull against his wood-sweating bed. Let us bleed through the Popeye pillow. Clot the head with chewed yarrow. From the breach to the iron explosion, from the break in the stone to the highway.  Such was the turbulent genesis.
If Neruda had been an herbalist what would have become of his sitting down with flowering clove? Would he have cared that milkweek is cardioactive and star anise can make any man seizure? I think I want the big hands of place to barrel across our field, that is not really our field, and move us toward clay. Here, wheat is just a face and the sun makes us breathe harder for night. It catches us unprepared. The younger brother with his swept away eyes. The eldest with fat fingers, nose and his dead-wasp scent. Us three waiting for some god to sugar the air.
The parents are gone and will stay gone.
Headless, we can talk with the wind.
I mean to say we go forth with our smells. They become the long syllables of lime flower, feverfew, blessed thistle.
I’ll write this to you: there is a wasteland. If you put three children out to hawks, someone is going to speak a blacker vowel. At the hospital, when they shaved my head, the night thrust yellow cells upon E.R. doors. It smelled of jewelweed in wind. I believed the vandalized shadow of brother might bloom the flower of blood.
The route we take to water is water.
The route we take to Thunder God Vine is not spoken but planted.
Home – all over it: the lowercase letters of dust. The children are alone and turning. The children are trying to breathe the dead moon.
Kimberly Burwick was born and raised in Massachusetts. Burwick earned her BA in literature from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and her MFA in poetry from Antioch University Los Angeles. She is the author of four collections of poetry: Has No Kinsmen (Red Hen Press, 2006), Horses in the Cathedral, winner of the Robert Dana Prize (Anhinga Press, 2011), Good Night Brother, winner of the Burnside Review Prize, (Burnside Review Press, 2014) and Custody of the Eyes (forthcoming from Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2017).  She is currently Clinical Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Washington State University. 

This week's writing prompt is inspired by Burwick's The Ashy. Choose a weather event that you've experienced or haven't experienced but would like to imagine yourself into: snow storm, earthquake, flood, drought, volcanic eruption, monsoon, etc. write a poem/essay/story in the form of a letter (it may or may not be addressed to anyone). Your piece may end up being only tangentially related to the weather, you and the weather may morph into one, the weather may be your adversary, the beloved, a metaphor... you get what I'm saying. The possibilities are endless. Let the writing lead you.

Next week's feature: poet Jeannine Hall Gailey