The cover image for this issue of Menacing Hedge—“A Tree” by Alexander Jansson—is a perfect intro to what you’ll find inside. The image features a tree house I’d definitely like to climb up in, with a collection of empty picture frames, lanterns, and odds and ends hanging from the branches of the trees. It’s odd, it’s magical, it’s unique: truly representative of the work inside.
To give you a sense of this odd world, take a look at Kathy Burkett’s “Einstein’s Brains”:
Thomas Harvey placed the bloody
disembodied brain of Albert Einstein
into his lunch box—strange food
for strange thought.
And still the great and mind-bending lines continue: “He sliced it like deli meat, hoping / to discover the secrets of genius.”
In another of her poems, “Some Kind of Secret,” Burkett humorously describes deodorant—without directly telling us what it is: “It’s a see-through shield of pale distraction / caked on sweaty underarms, a sickly sweet / fragrance that hides a wild animal scent.”
Russ Woods prose poem “Flies” will have you squirming and clawing at your eyelids: “The little flies began to coat every imaginable surface. They got in Sara’s nose and in her mouth. She could feel them coating the insides of her. Sara couldn’t move in her apartment without feeling fly bodies pressing on her from all sides.”
In Michael Fontana’s fiction piece “White Wine,” a man cheats on his wife, multiple times, and he can’t seem to stop even though he knows it is wrong. So, within the first paragraph, we discover that he has decided to kill himself. During his contemplation, he drinks a glass of white wine: “Much as I had chilled white wine to seduce my lovers, so too did I chill to seduce the ultimate lover: death.” The piece is wonderfully written, even if the wife, if you ask me, is a bit too gracious.
Shannon Hozinec’s prose poem “The Axe-Eaters” has to be my favorite. In it, she uses a metaphor to compare her mouth to the soft belly of a mollusk, its “ability to envelop its only defense against predators, against forks and knives.” The last line ties it back together: “Picture me and the rest of our brothers and sisters, crouched low in the dark, waiting for our teeth to harden.”
The best part is that even after mentioning all of those pieces, there is still lots more to enjoy. And a lot of the pieces include a sound clip of the author reading the work—so you can sit back, close your eyes, and listen. If you’re looking for a truly unique magazine, I’d definitely recommend reading Menacing Hedge.