Crossroads of America

In our green Plymouth station wagon, we crisscrossed the map. My mother let me choose our destinations. “Any state but Georgia” was Eve’s rule, though I still memorized the Georgia motto: Wisdom, Justice, Moderation. 

Her other rule: we couldn’t stay …

Dana Fitz Gale won the Brighthorse Prize in Short Fiction for her debut story collection, Spells for Victory and Courage (Brighthorse Books, 2016), which was also a finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Award and the Ohio State Book Prize. She has received numerous other awards for her fiction, which has recently appeared in the Hudson Review, Crazyhorse, Prairie Schooner, Indiana Review, and elsewhere. 

This Is a Creation Story

This fall, multidisciplinary artist Merritt Johnson joined thousands of Indigenous people and their non-Indigenous allies at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota to peacefully resist the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The proposed pipeline—which through the …

Merritt Johnson’s work is in numerous private collections in addition to the permanent collections at the Museum of Contemporary Native Art and the Birmingham Museum of Art, and has been published in Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture, and Salish Seas: An Anthology of Text + Image (Aboriginal Writers Collective West Coast, 2011). Johnson was born in West Baltimore and spent her childhood navigating between trees, tarps, and concrete. She earned her BFA from Carnegie Mellon University and her MFA from the Massachusetts College of Art.

So you will never find me


So you will never find me—

In this life—with a sharp and invisible

Fence, I encircle myself


With honeysuckle, bind myself,

With hoarfrost, cover myself.


So you will never hear me

At night—with a crone’s subtlety:


Marina Tsvetaeva (1892–1941) was born in Moscow. Widely considered one of the most renowned poets of twentieth-century Russia, she also wrote verse plays and prose pieces. Tsvetaeva lived through and wrote about the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Moscow famine that followed. In an attempt to save her younger daughter Irina from starvation, she placed her in a state orphanage in 1919, but the plan failed and Irina died of hunger. Tsvetaeva left Russia in 1922 and lived with her family, in increasing poverty, in Paris, Berlin, and Prague before returning to Moscow in 1939. After her husband Sergei Efron and her older daughter Ariadna were arrested on espionage charges in 1941, Sergei was executed and Ariadna was sent to a work camp. Later that year, Tsvetaeva took her own life.

After Chemo

Cleopatra Mathis, author of seven books of poems, has seen her work appear widely in anthologies, magazines, and journals, including the New Yorker, Poetry, Best American Poetry, TriQuarterly, The Made Thing: An Anthology of Contemporary Southern Poetry, and The Extraordinary Tide: Poetry by American Women. She has been the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts grants, the Jane Kenyon Award, the Peter I. B. Lavan Younger Poets Award, two Pushcart Prizes, and the Robert Frost Award.

The Mole

Jim Peterson is the author of five poetry collections, three chapbooks, and a novel; his newest collection, Original Face, was released by Gunpowder Press in October 2015. Peterson’s poems have appeared widely in such journals as Poetry, Shenandoah, Poetry Northwest, Prairie Schooner, South Dakota Review, and Cave Wall. He lives with his charismatic corgi, Mama Kilya, in Lynchburg, Virginia.



We do not recognize the body

Of Emmett Till. We do not know

The boy’s name nor the sound

Of his mother wailing. We have

Never heard a mother wailing. 

We do not know the history

Of ourselves in

Jericho Brown is the recipient of a Whiting Writers Award and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and the National Endowment for the Arts. His poems have appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, and Best American Poetry, among others. His first book, Please (New Issues, 2008), won the American Book Award, and his second, The New Testament (Copper Canyon Press, 2014), won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and the Thom Gunn Award, and was named one of the best books of the year by Library Journal, Coldfront, and the Academy of American Poets. He is an associate professor in English and creative writing at Emory University in Atlanta.

Let’s Say

Stephen Dunn is the author of numerous books of poetry and prose. His Degrees of Fidelity: Essays on Poetry and the Latitudes of the Personal,  is due out from Tiger Bark Press in October 2018, and a new collection of poems, Pagan Virtues, is scheduled to be published by W. W. Norton in 2019. He has been the recipient of many awards, including the 2001 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for Different Hours, and he has had fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations. Dunn lives in Frostburg, Maryland, with his wife, the writer Barbara Hurd.

Valley of Knowledge


Enter the Valley of Knowledge,

with its boundless myriad roads

unfurling in every direction.


Here, no path resembles the next.

Here, the traveler of the body is different

from the traveler of the soul.

Here, both body and

Attar (CE 1145–1221) was born in Nishapur, a city in the northeast region of Iran. Considered by Rumi to be “the master” of Sufi mystic poetry, Attar is best known for his epic poem The Conference of the Birds, an allegorical tale about the soul’s search for meaning. “Valley of Knowledge”—translated in this issue by Sholeh Wolpé—is one of the seven valleys the birds must pass in order to reach the court of their king, Simurgh. Wolpé’s full translation of The Conference of the Birds is forthcoming from W. W. Norton & Co in March 2017. 

Portrait of Poet in Stroller and Awe; From the Book of Accounts; & High Country, First Night

Alice Friman’s seventh collection of poetry is Blood Weather, forthcoming from Louisiana State University Press in 2019. She’s the winner of a Pushcart Prize and is included in Best American Poetry. New work is forthcoming in PloughsharesPlume, Shenandoah, Western Humanities Review, and others. She lives in Milledgeville, Georgia, where she was poet-in-residence at Georgia College and State University.