Watercolor by Kathryn Spratt
March 2017

Guitar Man 2, watercolor by Kathryn Spratt

—from a series of Monthly Notes that explores music, curated by Jared Pearce

Janine Lehane
February 2017

As Rachmaninov's second piano
concerto flows from the blue radio,
I try to resist its depth, momentum,
force myself to listen to the end, recall
your prodigious offence. How could you play
so small? For years, I have haunted the show
hall. When love's season comes around, I want
to grace the venue, to strew roses for me
on the lighted stage. Though you do not see
the need for compassion, I will scale
the heights of sympathy and forgive you.

—from a series of Monthly Notes that explores music, curated by Jared Pearce

Photograph by Kyle Hemmings
January 2017

Guitar Man 2, photograph by Kyle Hemmings

—from a series of Monthly Notes that explores music, curated by Jared Pearce

Spirituals

Smuggled over the border
in the throat of slaves
hummed loose in the fields
as soft as cotton balls.

Stuffed into saxophones
and blown out
time and again
on fountains of air.

Captured and hung on lines
like laundry
dripping with black notes.

Brought into concert halls
dressed up in tuxedos
bouncing off the walls
drowned in a red curtain call.

The Organist

In the cockpit surrounded by a thousand blinking lights
he revs up the engine until music shoots out from pipes
like exhaust fumes that fill the stained-glass hangar
crowded with souls, raptured
as the nimble pilot abandons his dotted map
and improvises us into virgin territory.

—from a series of Monthly Notes that explores music, curated by Jared Pearce

Jared Pearce
October 2016

Those seeds who need
That freeze unfurl
Finally when the snow
Sinks in, a shallow

Soak to let them know
The world’s become
A different place,
Has a different face:

Stark, repentant
The oiling soil
Loosens, and she begins
To rinse her limbs,

Take on the sun
And glowing peat,
The heat tugs on
Her head and feet,

She pulls my way—
A tendril apricity,
Her heart hammering
Its frozen clay.

Joseph Reich
July 2016

Who the hell was Nanook of the North? My landlord from Brooklyn who I used to really like a lot used to always call me Nanook of the North, but who was he to talk? An out of control alcoholic who every Saturday night like clockwork a whole squad of squad cars would just show up to their brownstone because of some brand new drama, which of course he denied because used to always black-out and then the next day you’d see the whole holy family parade over for confession, like some procession of demented Norman Rockwell paintings; his son eternally out of work working the system for quote on quote disability and every evening literally hearing him throwing his wife and kid around sounding like the sound of half-crazed Eskimo madmen in an igloo of linoleum as all you’d hear is the trail of back and forth insane echoes; his daughter whose husband got whacked by La Cosa-Nostra and every time I showed up to pay the rent was conveniently wrapped in her towel just coming out of the shower, asking if I wanted to come in which I really wanted but didn’t want to become the next victim, although in the past had sincerely gone out with my fair share of Mafia Princesses mostly from Hell’s Kitchen and always touch and go situations; grandson, a dope addict doing inside jobs stealing shit right and left to support his habit, and myself literally having to drag this old timer out by his ankles into the hall after he had passed-out from the heat fixing a leaky faucet in my apartment ranting and referring to everyone as a hippie and had hair far shorter than his, but irrelevant as in his reality was convinced, and honestly found there to be something quite charming even lovable about him always appearing to slur his words whether drunk or sober, and just seemed to add character to the neighborhood, referring to me as that cat Nanook of the North which I took for something of a compliment.

Pen, ink, and graphite on bristol by Aimee Bungard
May 2016

Spring Cleaning; pen, ink, and graphite on bristol by Aimee Bungard

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois
April 2016

1.

Grandpa had been hopeful when he boarded the freighter, but by the end of the journey he had decided that no matter how terrible things had been in Rumania, they were going to get worse. All the positive things about America he’d been told had been lies.

All he had was some salted meat, a change of clothes and his childhood menorah, crusted over with old candle wax, looking evil. The young woman who would become my grandmother cleaned it, spit on it and polished it up. My grandfather’s hope was rekindled. He broke down and cried.

2.

After Hurricane Isaac tore my house from its pilings and washed it away, I went down to the beach to ponder my future. There I found twenty-thousand nutria, their fat rat bodies drowned, dead, and stinking.

In that manner, God showed me the way.

I had a sudden craving for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I resolved to walk and keep walking until I found one. There I would stop and build my church.

Marguerite S. Miller
March 2016

1.

I want this to be a story of lemons,
me hitchhiking to see boy
lemons in the back
of this pickup truck wincing
like vixen-babies

my mother doesn’t know the thick
yellow bounce of lemon bodies
when the raven-nailed man
tongues       a pothole

the lemons’ flaxen tips
leaping like breasts
above the steel waves
of this truck     this danger—

his hand almost        in my lap

2.

I want to know about dying

the tart pulp of the sky
clots over me,
his chewing tobacco,
red man silver
in the walls of my gums
as if our mouths had met

I want to sleep like a bear
or the golden-slow of sun raging down,
to be invisible in the nap of the woods

he sees me
tells me a name
that his papa was a prophet,

that I’m pretty

“Ars Poetica” is a poem in six parts. To read the complete poem, click here.

April Schmidt
February 2016

I stand on your back porch smoking watching
your laundry hang from the line. White dress shirt,
shoulders pinched by clothespins like a cat
carries a kitten. It is so much bigger than you are
now, buffed up by breezes slapping innards
and fucking with my cigarette smoke.
An arm whips around in what I thought
looked like a wave but now two sleeves
billowing an X. Your new straight jacket.
A ghost caught between two winds
not haunting anything, anyone
would think it a nice piece of clothing.

Photograph by Nancy Fewkes
January 2016

from 'Notes Along a Shallow Margin', photograph by Nancy Fewkes

Acrylic/collage on canvas, 48" x 36"
Josh Talbott
November 2015

The Eternal, acrylic/collage by Josh Talbott

Erica Elan Ciganek and Ryan Ciganek
October 2015

A time-lapse video showing the process of Erica Elan Ciganek painting “Miriam: Through the Parting” (oil on MDF, 49" x 36", 2015). The song, “Draw Up the Sun”, is by Ryan Ciganek and features the band Sombra (Adam Nelson, Maggie Hubbard, Erica, Ryan).

Meisaan Chan
September 2015

I step down from my throne
and take off my crown
remove all my clothes
and give you my kingdom:
for this is how you see me, Lord
this is who I am

Morning throttles Jax’s motor,
lowers her frost skirt for him,
if someone else’s bride. Let Lambs
work their way up class ladders
with Starter hats and Nikes, he
thinks when Colleen clicks past
ignoring catcalls, heels snapping concrete,
a jar of maraschino cherries jiggling, ready
to be tossed into her Alka-Seltzer
before she drops wasp-waisted onto the
stage apron, owing nothing to no man
and off all day tomorrow.

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