This particular issue of Meat for Tea carries a theme of “Bone.” Visual artists and wordsmiths took every possible definition of that single word, and the editors did a good job weaving together a cohesive, enjoyable 91 total pages of work. A sprinkling of images kept the words from running together, sort of like commercials that I was excited to encounter.
David P. Miller’s “Tan Pond Wolf Pit” is a sestina that takes readers on a journey through varied scenic territories and different generations in the poem. It gave me the feeling of entering a different world, one that is both serene and treacherous, with lines like, “from its source in a cemetery spring-fed pool, surfaced only / as off-limits backyard boundaries, its past” and “. . . flows northwest toward farmland. Taken away / from ravine traps, wolf heads, ears cut off, brought a purse.” The multilayered 39-line poem finishes with an envoi I found made me want to pay more attention to my surroundings during any given moment.
Susie Potter wrote a bit of prose (nonfiction or fiction, the editors do not differentiate throughout the magazine) that affected me more than any single piece of writing contained in this issue’s pages. I almost cried while reading Potter’s “Home Movies,” the story of Hannah visiting her mom in some sort of adult care facility. Mother does not recognize daughter, or seemingly anyone on the tape she asks her to play. As the two women sit through the viewing, readers are guided by Hannah’s narration. Good and bad family history is explored, and I felt like I was an eavesdropper in a private conversation. The tape being viewed sets what should be an innocent backdrop of Hannah’s fifth birthday, but the narrator continues to unveil layers of more terrifying subtexts that are found too often in reality. Mortality, extramarital affairs, and molestation are all large themes tackled in this bit of writing that I will be thinking about for quite some time.
Jessica Thelen’s “Hair Loss” is not for the faint of heart, but it ends with a set jaw attitude that exudes optimism. Here is a selection from the middle of the poem:
I lift my hand again, only to touch
dandruff-laden scalp. I rake
my fingers through, gather
blades and flecks of skin,
Poet Jeffrey Alfier takes a vastly different direction in dealing with the theme. He takes readers into the world of hourly hotels in “What Passes for Lodging on the Pacific Coast Highway.” There are sexual references to be found in a couple of the stanzas, but the line I find most telling of the skeletal structures that are famished lodging is, “the rooms vacated early by transients.” Places being left behind by transients need more love.
Jeremy Edwards also takes a more sexual approach in his short prose piece titled “The Three Ohs of Judy Lipton,” which contains a powerful punch of eroticism without going into graphic detail. As a reader, it left me feeling refreshed and hungry for more!
I would especially like to comment on the wonderful visual art and photographs contained in this issue. Meg Brown and Laura Marjorie Miller did a great job capturing animal skeletons in black and white, the thrust of the theme as I would have interpreted it. Simona Candini blew me away with each of her many candy skull styled figures. My guess is that they were hand-drawn and each of them contained a lusty, youthful appearance combined with the morbidity that is a dead character. I especially liked “Kiss Me” on and “Stay With Me.”
Hours more of material that I was not able to cover here are in this issue, and I hope that you choose to find a copy and enjoy it the way I did.