Ghost Ocean Magazine publishes some of the best poetry and short prose; as far as long prose goes, they say, “Just don’t waste our time.” Published on their website in an easy to navigate and read format, the writing feels cohesive, like it really does belong together under one roof.
I don’t often fancy a pantoum, but Susan Yont’s “Old Photograph” is one of my favorites that I’ve read of the form. And the beauty of it is that it is aware that it is one, and aware that it is breaking from the traditional form: “and I am a beautiful, pantoum ruin.” The brokenness of the pantoum, and of the speaker, and of the love, is what makes this poem whole:
I hope you can forget
my secrets, the minor fall, the major lift. “Hallelujah”
reminds me of you.
I was wrong—
I am ruin, a drunken pantoum. You can never forget
my secrets, my suffering, the major fall, the minor lift—Hallelujah.
It was 1991 when we were in love.
Pedro Ponce’s “Confession” is about questioning a “subject,” later revealed to be God:
Under questioning, the subject predicted outcomes for several nationally televised athletic championships.
Under questioning, the subject recalled the omniscience of birds.
Under questioning, the subject recalled creating birds, the canons of nesting, the air fledging feathers.
Under questioning, the subject rested on the seventh day.
Sky Joiner’s “Put on a Suit When the Ship Sinks” is about looking your best, even when you’re about to go under:
For after one arranges the cuff links on the table,
seeing them tumble off one by one
when the ship tilts; puts on a hat (always a hat);
slides each arm into the sleeves of a jacket—
then one must step outside
amongst the panickers, the mouths
stuck on one obnoxious note as they dodge
the sliding furniture of the deck.
I loved Bryce Emley’s prose piece, “Watercolor.” Some of the lines are so great that I absolutely must share: “They asked her where they went wrong, asked each other where they went wrong, asked her how she could do it to herself, but she knew they were too far away to hear her say that not all pain is wasted, not all death means dying.” And: “She felt his syllables fall like hot rain on her skin when he said This too shall pass.” You should definitely go read the whole piece.
There wasn’t a single piece in this collection that I didn’t enjoy. This issue of Ghost Ocean Magazine completely captured my attention for the short time it took to read it; all other distractions at the coffee shop were silenced.