May 16-22, 2016: Poetry from Nicole Rollender and J. H. Johns

​Nicole Rollender and ⁣J. H. Johns

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​Nicole Rollender

Bio (auto)

Nicole Rollender’s work has appeared in The Adroit Journal, Alaska Quarterly Review, Best New Poets, Memorious, Muzzle Magazine, The Journal, THRUSH Poetry Journal, West Branch, Word Riot and others. Louder Than Everything You Love (ELJ Editions, 2015) is her first full-length poetry collection. She’s the author of the poetry chapbooks Arrangement of Desire (Pudding House Publications, 2007), Absence of Stars (dancing girl press & studio, 2015), Bone of My Bone, a winner in Blood Pudding Press’s 2015 Chapbook Contest, and Ghost Tongue (Porkbelly Press, 2016). Rollender, who’s based in Williamstown, NJ, has received poetry prizes from CALYX Journal, Ruminate Magazine and Princemere Journal. Visit her online at

The following work is Copyright © 2016, and owned by ​Nicole Rollender and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Even the Living Can Haunt

Through the window glass, the light cast its own kind
of shadow, blanching the rug, saying, remember me: when

I first realized I wouldn’t always see my grandmother slicing
cabbage, her sloped back slowly moving under her checkered

dress. Among the trees inching back to brown, then dropping
leaves, I was my grandmother’s shadow, watching her start to die.

Later, holding her as a spirit, so quiet that for a moment I thought
I trapped her between my fingers, until she rose like steam fast

and bright, a candle burst, and then all night, nothing. And for
all the days since, when I open the windows, no winged thing flies

in or out. Yet, in my latest poem a girl shakes her crinolines outside,
and the townspeople ignore a dog bloodying its neck to escape

the chain. That’s why I write this lightning-struck tree as beautiful,
as when I read a medieval calligrapher’s illuminated fire—watching

the saints’ beloved city rained upon with flames, God’s name shut
up in their bones. Those blackened branches holding light, scattering

ashes across the page. And my own ghost singing in my throat,
turning its hourglass of snow.


⁣J. H. Johns

Bio (auto)

J. H. Johns “grew up and came of age” while living in East Tennessee and Middle Georgia. Specifically, the two places “responsible” for the writer that he has become are Knoxville, Tennessee and Milledgeville, Georgia. Since then, he has moved on to Chicago- for a brief stint- and New York City- for a significantly longer stay. Currently, he is “holed up” in a small town where when he is not writing, he tends to his “nature preserve” and his “back forty.” His goal is to surround his house with all sorts of vegetation so as to obscure it from the gaze of the “locals.” He is assisted in this task by his coonhound buddy and companion, Roma.

The following work is Copyright © 2016, and owned by ⁣J. H. Johns and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

There Was a Time

There was a time
when attraction was attraction,
and “pair-up”
wasn’t the same
as “cash in,”
“cash in”
wasn’t behind-
I love you.

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