While Bone Bouquet is subtitled “a journal of poetry by women,” the poems in this issue go beyond the idea of women writers only writing about women’s issues. Instead, it holds a wide spectrum of styles and subjects with only the commonality of being written by women.
Two poems by Leigh Stein give an intimate look into the life of the speaker. “Autobiography” portrays the journey of adolescence toward adulthood in a perfect mixture of humor and seriousness, from asking her parents if she was adopted, to wholly immersing herself in religion. Continuing with the more serious tone, “The Haunted Corn Maze” is a glimpse into the speaker’s waning relationship and gives off the feeling of being familiar with disappointment: “For her birthday, he asks her to drive him / to Walgreens, and she knows that this // means that he has no gift for her.”
Arielle Greenberg, in her prose poem “Coal,” relates the story of losing a child: “I’d rather my baby not live than be thus marked, I said to no one. Because that is what had happened.” The speaker goes on, comparing her negative thoughts and words to coal.
Kate Dorris’s poem “Uncle B’s Drive-in, Granbury TX” visits Uncle B’s Beer Barn. She captures the details and exhibits Uncle B’s wares: “We sell excess. Ice, coke, tequilas / domestics, popsicles, lighters, uppers-downers / burritos, morning-afters / & Uncle B’s tank tops,” successfully bringing to life the late night pit-stop.
I’s not to say that women’s issues are avoided completely throughout the journal. Emily Skillings, in her poem “Tract, Tract,” writes about “the problem” and the exploration is handled humorously. “What is the problem— /and why am I attracted to it? / Is Kate Gosselin the problem? I love Kate Gosselin / (but Kate Gosselin is possibly / the problem).”
Adding to the variety found inside this issue are other poems such as “Swallow” by Dawn Pendergast, a piece I wished I could hear her read aloud, and “Mined Muzzle Velocity” by Jennifer H. Fortin presents a piece written in a form or letter format.
The issue closes with two poems by Dana Teen Lomax, both entitled “Lullaby.” The first gives a look into one night between the speaker and the panicked “you” she addresses. Her second “Lullaby” ends the issue lightheartedly. Uncomplicated, the simplicity of a whispered nine-line mantra sticks with the reader: “You want your ears pierced.”