For those still Stone Age enough to think of Texas poetry as an oxymoron, welcome to Austin. Alex Grant’s “Vespers” offers home and peace and space and the beautiful old word quieten. Kelle Groom’s poems find the soul of things and help us hear the faint but heartfelt dialogue between the living and the dead: “I wonder / If they are always talking behind the glass, / Full of joy for us, if they are in the trees, swinging, / Smiling, saying live, live, live, & on this side / We hear birds, / Songs from far away.” Brenda Ladd’s photo series gives us lost-(or perhaps found) in-performance soul glimpses of the likes of B.B. King, Abbey Lincoln, and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. (A white light shot of a joyful Ray Charles graces the issue’s cover.) Weston Cutter’s wondrous strange, down on all fours and calling “Same Animal” reminds us that evolution of the human kind can be a tricky proposition. To delight you even as it makes you weep that we’ve all but lost to computers the handwritten record of our writers’ painstaking choices is the manuscript page of Walt Whitman’s lovely “unpublished, undated, and perhaps unfinished fragment” “In Western Texas”:
In Western Texas
& prickly pear
and the far-stretching spread of the
land carpeted with
Makes you want to head out for the Borderlands, the unique territory where poet meets up with that odd, armored creature herself and Texas rendezvous with elsewhere under stars you’d swear you could touch.