Stacie Leatherman

An Interview

Your first two poetry collections, Stranger Air and Storm Crop, were published within weeks of each other earlier this year. What were some of the personal and professional challenges you faced due to this coincidence, and have any hidden blessings resulted from their simultaneous release?

Luckily, there weren’t any challenges. The fact that they were published so close together was purely coincidental. I had written the first manuscript as my creative thesis at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and as soon as I finished it, I began the second book. Storm Crop, my second book, came together relatively quickly. I knew the formal structure that I wanted, the abecedarium, and everything I was beginning to articulate in my first manuscript was carried out more fully, but in a very different way, in the second. It simply took a bit longer to find a publisher for the first manuscript, and its publication date was pushed back a little. So the second book followed closely on its heels because of that circumstance. The blessings aren’t so hidden: I had two books published, so I can hardly complain about that. I guess the only other thing I could mention was my paranoia that my readers would get the publication order confused. I was very set on my books being viewed as a progression of thought, idea, and form. Continue reading

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From The Issue: On Leave

by Brian Mihok

General Osgood waded into the water. The beach was crowded. Parents chased after their shouting children. The General went out beyond the floating men and risk-taking adolescents. She had bought a house less than ten minutes away for just this privilege.

The General had no children. Her family tree grew through the limbs of her sister’s choices. Vera had three boys with a man named Anthony. They lived in Connecticut. It was one of the boys’ birthdays soon but the General couldn’t remember which one.

The water was cold and she felt long stringy seaweed under her feet.

The General had been overseeing training exercises in the South Pacific. There were more islands in the Pacific than on any other map, and the military had free use of most of them. The exercises made for long days, long weeks, during which intricate strategic and logistical planning wore everyone down. The General’s organizational and preparational schema were to become standard across all military branches. Her plans emphasized the response to invasion.

Warmongers advised preemptive strikes and the General had little patience for them. She had better arguments and even agreed that invasion was likely, but her advice was to prepare. She won the President’s confidence. He had even given the General a direct order to take three days of leave to mentally and physically refresh herself for her task ahead.

The Pacific water was cold even though the air was hot. Men on shore were eating barbecued chicken and laughing and throwing a spongy ball at each other. The difference between them and soldiers, the General thought, is training. She looked at the children running. They would grow up to attend college or learn a trade or enlist. All three if she were lucky. A girl was flying a kite. Her little brother watched her. Their parents looked to be arguing behind them. The General floated onto her back.

The sky was cloudless. The General let her eyes defocus. Even without clouds there were shapes in the sky. Whispered masses. They looked like nothing, but she was somehow reminded of a coordinate map in a sector of the North Pacific. She tried to think about her nephews but they passed from her mind quickly. She thought of Vera. When they were young Vera was like the little boy watching his sister. It wasn’t until she was in college that she stopped staring at the General as she flew her kite.

They grew up on the upper peninsula of Michigan. Their mother had died when they were young. Their father had a nervous breakdown but somehow they all carried on. She and Vera used to play a game in which they would hide a number of each other’s things around the house. Vera always chose her stuffed animals to be hidden. The General chose the objects she couldn’t live without: her protractor, the fountain pen her mother had given her, a set of antique coins. They realized the game was better if they chose to hide each other’s prized possessions. That way they played until everything was found.

The General always won the game. Sometimes Vera would get frustrated and ask why she always lost. Because I never stop searching, the General told her. You take breaks. You find Daddy instead of your things.

There was water in her ears but still the General heard it. The distant hum of a thousand engines, air being pushed away by long metal blades spinning faster than the speed of sound. The General picked her head up out of the water and looked to the horizon. There was a wide black line that when she squinted split into a row of fast-approaching vehicles.

Brian Mihok‘s work has appeared in Hobart, Wigleaf, kill author, Bartleby Snopes and elsewhere. He edits matchbook, a journal of indeterminate prose.


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Available Now: Emprise 21


A Million Pieces
Amye Archer

Jon Morgan Davies

The Americanization of Sammy Tsai
Marko Fong

Real Talk: A Ghost Story
Steven R. Gowin

A Late Winter’s Conversation
Joe Kapitan

Chicken and Rice
Todd McKie

On Leave
Brian Mihok

We Knew What It Was By Then
Garrett Socol

Kiss Off
Richard Thomas

Begging Letter
Angela Woodward


an introduction from Tracy Youngblom

Marit Ericson

That Morning As We Slept In Our First House Together
Justin Hamm

When I’m Gone
Naomi Ruth Lowinsky

All Those Lovely Rugs
Ann Minoff


Bryce Emley

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Book Trailer: 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

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Featured Poet: Christopher Dungey

New Ramps

The new ramps appear
on country roads you haven’t driven
lately. They aren’t just ones you missed
before—the pine framing, plywood walk
and rails still a raw white
or pressure-treated olive. You’d see
hammer prints if you stopped
to admire the work.


Or, to visit but that’s the awkward
part. You don’t know whose tragedy
this was; whose diabetes
numbed then killed their feet;
whose car skidded across glare ice,
right into an intersection.
This might even mean someone
has grown elderly. Someone you knew
but you weren’t paying attention.

I have to say that I don’t read too much poetry. I read poets who are accessible and who make me want to write: Bukowski, Gary Snyder, Richard Hugo, Richard Jones, Jim Harrison, and Bob Hicok are favorites. They don’t make me think too hard, yet they manage to move me. I write poetry because we all want to produce something that others will enjoy and perhaps thank us for; then later, perhaps, hold us in esteem. Sometimes I am able to produce a short vignette that gives a lasting moment of recognition (even to me). These may be warm, touching, thought provoking, or poignant for reasons only the reader can identify.

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