Pretty Owl Poetry is a brand new online quarterly that publishes poetry and, in opposition to the title of the journal, flash fiction. The poetry is very accessible, not overly complicated or using fancy language.
Take, for example, Clare Welsh’s “Almost Exorcism,” a poem broken into three pieces about children’s reaction to a lump “on the ribs of a dog.” The first part have the children imagining it as a second heart:
When one heart fails,
the other will push
air from wet
a howl from a husk,
when the dog cries
it is because he is
twice as heart broken.
And in Ziggy Edwards’s “The Nurse,” the patient says strange things the nurse doesn’t understand, and, “’I can’t tell,’ he says, / ‘if they humor me because I’m crazy, / or do what I say because I’m rich.’”
Margaret Bashaar says much while saying little in her first line, “After the earthquake there was only after the earthquake.” An event so powerful, that once it’s over, everything is put in comparison to or in response to. There’s no more going back.
After the earthquake we dreamt about the earthquake,
woke mornings curled into one another.
After the earthquake land split but it was not just land that split—
bodies split. We all suspected ones whose skin cracked were those
who’d been penetrated before, but no one was left to study such things.
As for the flash fiction, it’s equally engaging. In Sherrie Flick’s “I Had This System for Getting Exactly What I Wanted Out of People,” the narrator’s tactic was to have a lavish dinner: “something dark and sweet, a beef roast, some beets . . . red wine.” But it seems as if her guests have finally had enough, “Why do we even try with you?” asks Jacob. She responds “Because you love me . . . Because you enjoy helping. You do. All of you. Because I make you amazing food and house-sit your pets and remember your children’s names.” But this only gets her so much.
I’m entertained with Jeff (of Ben Arzate’s flash fiction) who always wears a deep sea diving suit: “There have been very few occasions where he got past the interview stage. Most HR people are put off when a guy walks in wearing a diving suit.”
The pieces work well together in this issue, and Pretty Owl Poetry seems very far ahead of their game with this being only their second issue, accomplishing a style and quality that many magazines still don’t have after a couple of years.