Cave Wall is a modest literary magazine that succeeds in its simplicity. It is a thin volume and consists exclusively of poetry, though it doesn’t leave you wanting anything more. The quality of the selections is consistent throughout. In the Editor’s Note, Rhett Iseman Trull sets the tone and the context for the issue saying “we cannot remain in one place. The circle of life keeps turning. In memory and in our art, however, we can revisit a moment, letting it touch and change us anew.” Organized by author, each address this theme in their poetry; it is interesting to see each approach as a powerful examination of this very important human issue.
There is art by Deborah Mersky on the cover and sprinkled throughout the publication. Her work exemplifies the simple, almost elemental, nature of the magazine and does wonders to unify the presentation. All of the works are ink prints of nature and animals. The contrast of the ink and the page creates a silhouette effect, almost like a cave drawing. The Contributors’ Notes says her work “combines the tension and sadness of our current environmental state with imagined imagery.” Her pieces compliment the imagery of the poetry.
A good deal of the poetry in this issue is grounded in vivid natural details that paint sharp and powerful images for the reader to contemplate. One of the featured poets, Karsten Piper, has a knack for striking visual descriptions. In his poem, “The Jaw Harp,” he describes a man on the street playing a harp:
He plucked a shining harp
like nails and teeth untying knots.
His ancient throat-stone bobbed
beneath his collar, and ductile notes
spilled out among his fingers,
each chasing the one before,
before it echoed over the cliffs, away.
This type of language is so physical and real, and is a recurring quality throughout this issue from authors Jonathan Barrett, Michael McFee, and Anemone Beaulier to name a few.
This wonderfully simple collection of quality poetry can be taken anywhere and shared with anyone; even those with the most basic interest in poetry will be 'touched and changed anew.'