Eclipse is an annual of poetry and fiction published by Glendale Community College in California. I did not find many names with which I was familiar in the TOC (the exceptions being Richard Robbins and Lyn Lifshin), but the writers featured here have solid and even impressive credentials nonetheless (Poetry East, Mid-American Poetry Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Bitter Oleander, Hunger Mountain, Atlanta Review, Ploughshares, Field, Boston Review, The Antioch Review, Kalliope, Black Warrior Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Glimmer Train, Sixteen Rivers Press, White Pine Press). And what’s more important, I appreciated most of the work, and I liked a lot of it (which are, and happily so, not the same thing).
The work is solid, original, pleasing, and sometimes surprising. Poetry and fiction are equally strong, and the editorial vision is generous, but not without cohesion. There is sweetness without saccharine tendencies from Doug Cox (“Lullaby as a Second Language”):
Foreign, our motherless tongues.
It’s the falling we need, sweet dreams,
& the rest. Plus, the songs just before.
There is philosophical musing in wholly real and original terms from Austin Tremblay (“The Town I Happened to Be in Was home”):
That’s what I have to think,
walking over the uneven stones
of downtown, just bigger stones, stationary
It’s the reason I leave
porches, praise stray dogs, drink
in the wrong bars until I can’t relearn
my way around. I don’t know
to be here on purpose.
There is grief and longing shaped into language that can make me grieve and long, too, from Kathleen McGookey (“Grief’s Pretty Prize”):
What is the difference between lament and complaint?
Today I am all mouth, unsatisfied…
…Someday I will tell you my story:
imagine me in the hospital’s hallways, lit by green exit signs,
pushing the baby’s stroller longer than you’d think I could,
in that clean bright light, away from someone I love.
There is poetry showing us the art of seeing from Jeffrey Talmadge (“Other Life”):
We were that house
you could see from the highway,
far enough away
you couldn’t tell who we were.
There is the delight of traditional images flipped over to brown on the other side from Donna Pucciani (“Mary McGuire”):
Plump and fresh as a scone warm from the oven,
Mary absorbs the identity of short pastry
through the palm of her hands…
Four and twenty blackbirds flap overhead.
Woman becomes biscuit.
There are stories with intriguing first lines that grab hold and keep you hanging on, as in Rolf Yngve’s “Billy”: “The way it is with Caroline, someone gets the blame.” And stories with narrators I want to know right away, as in James Pate’s “Parrot”:
She didn’t make it a mystery, why she left me. I was thin and barely ever ate, I had colds for half the year. I bought expensive imported beer I couldn’t afford. I did have a job, but it wasn’t a good one. And when it came to food, I liked watching cooking shows on Cable. . .
And stories that are deceptively casual and then build to lyrical conclusions, as in Aaron Hellem’s “San Raphel”: “It was all the faith and comfort we had left, the useless idols painted on our skin.” And there is the classical, remade in a poem about, well, making and remaking (“Daedaulus” from Helen Wickes): “I go on and what else is a maker to do. I mourn. I go on […] For everything I make, something’s unmade.”
I, for one, am glad that in Glendale, California, they make Eclipse.