The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Through a Red Place by Rebecca Pelky


This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Solstice Black, is from Through a Red Place by Rebecca Pelky, released by Perugia Press in 2021. 

On a Wire

The trees bend backwards, break
themselves bearing a foot of snow,
power lines sagging in their wake.

Northern trees muscle up or give up
through each weighted winter,
hunker down under blizzards.

It’s the same for me. I thought
I bore each downfall with grace,
but nobody gave up their body like me.

A joy’s worth of crows on a wire choruses,
Nobody, nobody, nobody. And I am left
echoing in their outro.

But then the moon, swinging easily
in the staff of skewed electric lines,
sings to me in C-major, and I dance

a different kind of giving up, her voice
descending into notes for which we
have no names—this one, the color

of a crow just at dusk on the last day
of the year, that one, my body, after
it’s given in for the last time.

Rebecca Pelky is a member of the Brothertown Indian Nation of Wisconsin and a native of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Her first poetry collection was Horizon of the Dog Woman (Saint Julian Press, 2020). Her second collection, Through a Red Place (Perugia Press, 2021), won the Perugia Press Prize. Pelky’s co-authored hiking guide to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was published by FalconGuides in 2021. She holds a PhD from the University of Missouri, an MFA from Northern Michigan University, and is an Assistant Professor of Film Studies at Clarkson University in Upstate NY.

Solstice Black (she/they) is a queer poet and novelist living in the Pacific Northwest. They are currently undertaking a bachelor’s degree in creative writing. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in ChautauquaThe Fantastic Other, and A Forest of Words, among others. They hope to pursue an MFA in creative writing and a BFA in visual art in the next few years. Her cat is both her greatest joy and torment.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Through a Red Place by Rebecca Pelky


This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Solstice Black, is from Through a Red Place by Rebecca Pelky, released by Perugia Press in 2021. 

The Whites of New York

	~A Last of the Mohicans found poem

		What have you left to us of land, what have you left of game,
		What have you brought but evil, and curses since you came?
		How have you paid us for our game? how paid us for our land?
		By a book, to save our souls from the sins you brought in your 
		     other hand. ~E. Pauline Johnson (Mohawk)


The white men are coming!
The white men are coming!
A white man leads the way.
A good deal sullied, the white man, armed
(the gift of the white man lies in his arms).
The white man, judging.
Whites, the most dangerous of all.
The white man loosened his knife.

The white man, observing the Indian:
I am genuine white, a white man
who has no taint, who has the full blood
of the whites. My judgment is greater.
I am a man of white blood, and being a white-
skin, I will not deny my nature.

But you are just a man.

The white man, shaking his head.
What to do with these dumb creatures,
muttered the white man (it is rare
for a white voice to pitch itself properly).
Go, said the white man.
The white man prevailed. White blood,
blood of the whites. It is not to be denied
that evil has been mainly done
by men with white skins.



White fathers. 
				             White usurpers. 

						                     White flag.

								                       Christian whites. 
		         White veins. 
				                White eyes. 

								                        White hunter.
White uniforms.

			                   White warrior.

				                       White quarrel. 

									                              White cunning. 

				                       White experience.

The notions of white men. 

			              Fabrication of the whites.

								                     Execution, the white men.

Rebecca Pelky is a member of the Brothertown Indian Nation of Wisconsin and a native of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Her first poetry collection was Horizon of the Dog Woman (Saint Julian Press, 2020). Her second collection, Through a Red Place (Perugia Press, 2021), won the Perugia Press Prize. Pelky’s co-authored hiking guide to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was published by FalconGuides in 2021. She holds a PhD from the University of Missouri, an MFA from Northern Michigan University, and is an Assistant Professor of Film Studies at Clarkson University in Upstate NY.

Solstice Black (she/they) is a queer poet and novelist living in the Pacific Northwest. They are currently undertaking a bachelor’s degree in creative writing. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in ChautauquaThe Fantastic Other, and A Forest of Words, among others. They hope to pursue an MFA in creative writing and a BFA in visual art in the next few years. Her cat is both her greatest joy and torment.

2022 Prose Open Reading Period Selections Announced

Sundress Publications is thrilled to announce the results of the 2022 Prose Open Reading Period. The winning selection is José Angel Araguz’s Ruin and Want. The book is scheduled for release in 2023.

José Angel Araguz, Ph.D. is the author most recently of Rotura (Black Lawrence Press, 2022). His poetry and prose have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Poetry International, The Acentos Review, and Oxidant | Engine among other places. He is an Assistant Professor at Suffolk University, where he serves as Editor-in-Chief of Salamander and is also a faculty member of the Solstice Low-Residency MFA Program. He blogs and reviews books at The Friday Influence.

The Editorial Board of Sundress assigns Honorable Mentions to:

Mi Gente/My People, Amelia Díaz Ettinger
The Fallen Ones, Michalle Gould

Finalists

Pro Infirmus, Sarah Giragosian
Undocumented Desert Rose, féi hernandez
Water Study, Freesia McKee
Different Kinds of Death, Dorothy Neagle
Scruffy City, Arabella Sarver
Between Worlds, Deepak Singh

Semi-Finalists

Small Cruelties, Joanna Acevedo
Recto/Verso, Liz Asch
Bitten by the Lantern Fly, Frances Cannon
A Handful of Earth, Jesse Curran
Forecast 2031, Marlena Chertock
Naked Phoenix Child, Brooke Gitzel
Intrusive Thoughts, Phoebe Rusch
Moon Scribbles, Kimberly Ann Priest
Reliance, Julia Tagliere
Boy in the House of Art, Gregg Williard

Sundress Academy for the Arts Presents “Writing Animals”

The Sundress Academy for the Arts is excited to present “Writing Animals,” a workshop led by Juliana Roth on August 10, 2022, from 6:00-7:30 PM. This event will be held over Zoom. Participants can access the event at tiny.utk.edu/sundress (password: safta).

From Eileen Myles and Paul Lisicky to Ross Gay and Gary Snyder, we will explore writers documenting animals with nuance, reverence, and respect.  Using these examples, we’ll turn our attention to the animals in our own lives through guided prompts and a short meditation that asks you to inhabit the body of a nonhuman animal. 

You will craft poems, stories, or essays on your chosen animal subject after these exercises, whether that be your pets or that cute frog you saw that one time on a park bench. Perhaps your relationships with animals are conflicted: you actually don’t like them, maybe even fear them or contend with cultural complexities over domination and control of animal bodies. Every shade of awe, alarm, and shadow projection on what we see as nonhuman—or animal—is welcome. During our time, we come closer to understanding the mythology of the animals in our lives.

While there is no fee to participate in this workshop, those who are able and appreciative may make donations directly to Juliana Roth via Venmo at @juliana-roth, via PayPal at https://paypal.me/julianaroth, or through Anchor at https://anchor.fm/drawinganimals/support

Juliana Roth is a writer, filmmaker, educator, and performer. She’s worked for the World Animal Awareness Society, the Factory Farming Awareness Coalition, Vegan Outreach, and the Ecology Center and formerly lived as a volunteer on an organic farm in Maine and out of a backpack in the wilderness of Utah’s La Sal Mountains. She now teaches writing at NYU. You can receive her weekly essay, podcast, and doodle inspired by our interconnection with animal lives, Drawing Animals, by subscribing here.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Through a Red Place by Rebecca Pelky


This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Solstice Black, is from Through a Red Place by Rebecca Pelky, released by Perugia Press in 2021. 

Offering

I could bury my head
here, in the sand, salt it,
jar it, spend days drowning

and breathing. I could pluck
each finger and let it flutter
to the tide. I love me. I love me
not. I could build a fortress,

moat the bounding main,
replace my eyes with sea glass
and tint my life vermillion.

I could trade my tongue
for leaves of leathered kelp
and learn to speak
in seaweed and brine.

Rebecca Pelky is a member of the Brothertown Indian Nation of Wisconsin and a native of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Her first poetry collection was Horizon of the Dog Woman (Saint Julian Press, 2020). Her second collection, Through a Red Place (Perugia Press, 2021), won the Perugia Press Prize. Pelky’s co-authored hiking guide to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was published by FalconGuides in 2021. She holds a PhD from the University of Missouri, an MFA from Northern Michigan University, and is an Assistant Professor of Film Studies at Clarkson University in Upstate NY.

Solstice Black (she/they) is a queer poet and novelist living in the Pacific Northwest. They are currently undertaking a bachelor’s degree in creative writing. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in ChautauquaThe Fantastic Other, and A Forest of Words, among others. They hope to pursue an MFA in creative writing and a BFA in visual art in the next few years. Her cat is both her greatest joy and torment.

Project Bookshelf: Eden Stiger

I’ve had a few boyfriends in the past, but my mother’s bookshelf was my first love.

A picture of the middle layer of a bookshelf with multicolored books of red, orange, and green titles.

Mom’s bookshelf of 300+ books seemed to tower over me, but I was never intimidated. In fact, I remember sitting on the floor, pulling each book off the shelves, and selecting the ones with the best covers (those that were drool-worthy, of course). I was mesmerized by authors like Catherine Feehan, Catherine Coulter, Judith McNaught, Julia Quinn, Amanda Ashley, Lisa Klepas, and Johanna Lindsey. They introduced me to passion, pain, sex, and life outside of our small trailer.

When I was old enough for my first job, I would stop in at Books A Million every chance I was off and purchase more books for the bookshelf. One particular series I remember adding in was Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy novels. The story follows St. Vladimir Academy student Rose, a half-human-half-vampire teen who’s in charge of guarding her best friend, Princess Lissa, from evil vampires. I haven’t read any VA novels in over ten years, but I can say this was my first taste of the vampire craze I soon developed—yes, I love Twilight, and I’m not ashamed.

Hmm, I don’t know. That’s a hard one. Lemme give you my top five instead.

A picture of a hardback book of Jude Deveraux's called Remembrance. The cover is blue with a blue ribbon and vintage handheld mirror.

Most have a difficult time picking their favorite book. Not me. Mine is Jude Deveraux’s Remembrance. It’s a time-traveling, reincarnation romance all rolled into one. The extraordinary love between the MCs takes my breath away and I could read it again and again forever.

The rest of the women in the room were bustling about, trying to look busy so no one else noticed the faint whispers of a dying girl.

“My child shall be your child; Your child shall be mine. They will be one spirit in two bodies. They will live together; they will die together.”

Remembrance, Jude Deveraux

Up until the last couple years, my bookshelf has been solely dominated by YA and romance. I hate to admit it, but I was never interested in anything else for a long time. Literature made my head hurt, picture books robbed me of my own interpretations, and anything that wasn’t fantasy was boring. But oh, how I’ve woken up and smelled the pages. Now, you’ll find that fic, nonfic, Brit Lit, and mystery have started their takeover on my shelves. Some of my favorite works include Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, Shakespeare’s King Lear, and Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote. I’ve recently started reading mangaWotakoi: Love Is Hard For Otaku—being my first, and I plan to read Spy x Family, Jujutsu Kaisen, Fruits Basket, and whatever else I can get my hands on. If you’re interested in more that I’ve read or plan to read, you can check out my Goodreads!

“You do not yield.” –Kingdom of Ash, S.J. Maas

One series I hold near and dear to my heart and that will always maintain a special place on my bookshelf is Sarah J Maas’ Throne of Glass. I discovered this collection when book four had just released in 2015. If you’re into that rogue-meets-royalty vibe, you may fall in love with it. I say may as Maas catches a lot of flack for her debut series (she started ToG at age 16!), but I was enthralled from the first chapter. With each book, you watch as this young, haughty assassin battles with death, rage, betrayal, and loss time and time again and yet still manages to keep that inner light aglow. These are the stories I cherish, that I turn to and hold onto when the color fades from my pictures. It’s stories like Celaena Sardothien’s that encourages me to keep going, to keep fighting, and to keep reaching for the rainbow.

A picture of a lower layer shelf on the same bookshelf with blue, purple, and black book covers.

_________

Eden Stiger is a Kentucky-bred, Ohio-living college undergraduate who recently received her Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Writing from the University of Findlay. She is the current poetry editor and layout editor for the literary magazine Slippery Elm.

Sundress Reads: Review of City of Skypapers

City of Skypapers by Marcela Sulak

The title of Marcela Sulak’s collection, City of Skypapers, encompasses the fact that the work was written each day for three years as Sulak lived in the city of Tel Aviv, and is also a perfect fit for how she blends urbanity, government and war eloquently with earth, sky, art and the human mind. 

In the first section, Sulak begins each of her poems except the last with the words “To get here today…” and proceeds to describe vivid scenes of things she’s witnessed and done before the present. Sulak uses a matter-of-fact voice to discuss topics like daily bomb sirens and friends in dangerous places, which strengthens the reader’s grasp on the  implications of being a civilian caught up in the crossfire of a war-stricken land and the resilience one must harbor. Sulak mentions the bombings and sirens more than once, as well as “the place the soldiers get off” between memories of doing normal things with her daughter, like riding a bike to school or washing with soap in the bathroom. She has wonderfully mastered the use of contrasting tragedy with simple, everyday things, lacing the two in, out, and around each other and making the latter seem all the more lovely, important and innocent. 

The first time this technique struck me was in the very first piece, titled “To Get Here Today (A Piano).” Sulak begins recalling her own childhood in Texas, cutting fruit and putting frog eggs in the tub with other children. Whether friends or siblings the reader doesn’t need to know- only that after the eggs were submerged, they would “caress them saying caviar, / by which we meant luck and money, the stars.’”  Then she shifts to the present day and the place where soldiers arrive and depart and, although unwritten, often don’t return. As she observes this place, which is a spot in her everyday adult routine, she notices a fence that someone has painted like a piano. The unspoken hope and innocence of a musical instrument perhaps allows her to remember wishing for good fortune during her youth in the face of grown-up weariness. 

From the beginning of the collection, Sulak uses incredible imagery. Certain things come up throughout the book: friend’s names, bomb sirens, kingfishers, bicycle seats, her own legs. The uncensored observations of a woman with a poetic mind show that certain things circle back into focus when perceived against the chaotic world. I love her description in “Surface Tension,” when she writes “our taxi’s the needle through the white / and pink lace of almond blossoms / along the ‘Settler Road’ to Jerusalem”. She recounts embarking on trips and adventures to holy places, always noticing the flora and fauna of her surroundings in stark, descriptive detail. The perfect and effortless existence of nature brings peace where it grows in her work.

Sulak is a modern woman who feels the depth of Judaism and the history of the city she lives in, knowing it’s all important, while simultaneously wanting to break free and write a new narrative. We feel her respect for Jewish tradition as she forms her work around certain religious holidays and Yiddish words. She italicizes these phrases and explains them in depth at the end of the book. We also feel her desire to make sense of things in her own way when she notes that her friend named his daughter after his ancestral city, whereas she named her own daughter after a woman. 

In the poem “Genesis,” pertaining to the seventh day after God created the world, Sulak explores the idea of her and God both resting. She studies her own thighs while God watches a kingfisher. She admits that God created her legs, but she sculpted them with her many feats: running, giving birth, climbing ruins in high heels, growing and carrying a monstrous yam. God has created the nature that she observes so closely, and she sculpts it, writing with metaphor and grace. She puts God in a familiar role, as a friend or colleague when she writes “it’s just the sort of thing God would say”. 

You can tell that Sulak is a successful translator by her careful choice of words and her complex vocabulary. In “Purim,” she writes “to get here I had to / understand that so many compound / words in my life do not employ the use / of the hyphen to hold them. They’re bound / by habit, I guess: ice cream truck, inner tube,/ love letter, makeup, love life, ice tray, nightstand,/ steel jaw trap, and hitchhiking priest”. She takes the understanding of language and her skilled translations to a new level of human activity, peculiarity and familiarity. She uses words like “audacious” and “schadenfreude” and gives personification to plants that acted drunk, bouncing around in a basket on a bike ride home. 

Not only does Marcela Sulak vividly pull her reader into the life of a nation plagued by war, the mystery behind it, and the world of an intelligent single mother, she attempts to bring attention to societal and government issues as well. In “Correspondence,” she writes about comparing a country’s missile accuracy with a friend, about the sound a bomb makes, and about the evil of politics. She breaks apart the word conversation and notices how the beginning is “con.” She acknowledges the consequences of living closely in masses, letting leaders deal with business, and how society has advanced to be able to reach anyone at any time without being charged for it. Sulak includes her personal experiences with photographers and how they try to capture photos of other people’s lives for the media and make up their own story about it to get attention and evoke false emotion.

There is an underlying tone of detachment when Sulak speaks of war and loss throughout her days in Tel Aviv, which may come from the desensitization that humans experience in the face of adapting to something that is always around us. In her piece “Siren: Silenc,” she speaks about a siren going off during bath time and how a child’s silly comment made the two of them laugh in the face of terror. She notes a bus exploding near a hospital, but adds that things are worse in Gaza and Syria. This attitude of troubled acceptance appears again in her piece about the Waste Department in Tel Aviv. The poem is about the incessant consuming of humans and the discarding that follows. She imagines a mountain of garbage, painting the trash collectors as otherworldly to not be burdened by the weight of it. They grab bags with “hands gloved in winter,” predicting the cold and harsh environmental outcome we are in the process of creating. 

All of these things: religion, government, education- are distractions from what? Perhaps war and the banality of evil. One line that gave me chills was in “Sudoku,” where Sulak wrote “For the radio waves rest as lightly on our heads as air stirred by a hand moving from a blessing.” Before that observation and after are others of more tangible circumstance. The whole poem speaks to me about the subconscious knowing of things larger, more sinister, and more spiritual than what modern times want us to acknowledge. This truth inside pulls us toward things of simple, soft measure. Like flowers, birds, the bond between mother and daughter and the one between friends. Although City of Skypapers takes on the exploration of multiple topics, it appears overwhelmingly about observation and the human spirit and mind. Perhaps Sulak notices the beauty in small things so often because she wants to balance the darkness of mankind’s past, present, and future. She exhibits strength and toughness from the things she has endured through her honest telling of them, without asking for anything more than awakening and listening. In her words, Sulak invites readers to look more closely at the world, to practice self-reflection, and that there may be redemption somewhere, for those who look hard enough.

City of Skypapers is available at Black Lawrence Press.


Emily DeYoung (she/her/hers) is a student of the world from Michigan, who travels as often as possible. She has been to over 25 countries since graduating high school, and uses the people, places, and small moments she experiences for inspiration when writing. Emily has one published poetry collection, How the Wind Calls the Restless, which won first place in the Writer’s Digest 30th Annual Self-Published Book Awards Contest last year (2021). She loves reading memoir, camping, large dogs who think they are lap-sized, and listening to classic and punk rock.

Meet Our New Intern: Kaylee Young-Eun Jeong

Growing up Korean in suburban Oregon, I often felt misunderstood, excluded from the majority white communities surrounding me. And while I loved reading and writing, finding them both outlets for my loneliness, I soon came to realize that an overwhelming number of the YA novels I read centered entirely around white main characters, and even the characters in my own rudimentary stories had blond hair or green eyes and called their parents Mom and Dad, not Umma and Appa.

This realization, which occurred around the time I began high school, marked a sudden swerve in my literary trajectory. From that point on, I began actively seeking out literature by authors who weren’t white, particularly authors with similar experiences as queer, first-generation children of immigrants. Chen Chen’s When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities immediately comes to mind, or Alexander Chee’s How to Write an Autobiographical Novel. Discovering these texts, I felt inspired to write my own experiences for the first time.

My first forays into personal experiences of race and sexuality were simplistic, hesitant to raise any red flags with readers by entering the full complexity of my experience. These sorts of works being reductive and easy to swallow, they were palatable to the predominantly white audiences that received them, and were often rewarded with praise. However, as my writing evolved and I grew bolder, I noticed a striking change in the way peers, teachers, and literary magazines reacted to my work.

As I allowed myself to be frustrated and demanding in my work, or write stories that didn’t explicitly unpack my Koreanness and queerness, I was turned away. “Not Korean enough” was a comment I never explicitly heard but was the obvious implication when readers asked me why my stories didn’t mention slanted eyes, or the smell of kimchi. And of course, when I criticized the overt racism of (well-intentioned though oblivious) teachers at my high school, those stories never went over well with the administration. People wanted to hear feel-good stories about how I hated my Koreanness then grew to embrace it, or stories featuring comforting classic Asian stereotypes like being forced to play piano as a child (which I admittedly was, but I’ve never cared to write about it). I despaired, wondering if this was my only way to succeed in the literary world: by creating a caricature of myself and of queer Koreanness I didn’t believe in whatsoever.

But since then, I’ve gained hope. I declared an English major in college and eagerly took every course I could in literature written by historically marginalized voices, trying to surround myself with the comforting presence of people who dared to challenge, to subvert, to be radically, fiercely honest. I think especially fondly of required reading such as Percival Everett’s Erasure, which reminded me (with many good laughs along the way) of the need to actively resist harmful stereotypes in literature. I saw that instead of trying to force myself into the problematic prescriptions of the existing literary world, I could work to create a better, more inclusive one.

I’m thrilled to be working with Sundress, then, following their mission of uplifting traditionally underrepresented voices. With them, I hope to create a place for every story, like and unlike my own.


Kaylee Young-Eun Jeong is a Korean American writer, currently studying English at Columbia University. She edits for Quarto, Columbia’s official undergraduate literary magazine, and serves as a poetry reader for the Columbia Journal’s Incarcerated Writers Initiative. A 2019 Sundress Best of the Net finalist in poetry, her work has been featured in diode, BOAAT, and Hyphen, among others.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Through a Red Place by Rebecca Pelky


This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Solstice Black, is from Through a Red Place by Rebecca Pelky, released by Perugia Press in 2021. 
A red handpring in the center of the page; on the left, a poem titled "Mucáq" in Mohegan, on the right, the same poem, titled "Gone," in English.
(click image to enlarge)

Mucáq

Mic musqáyuw áyakunuk mutonuk,
pitkôsonsh musqáyuw mômôci wutunuk
aqi wahakayash wuci wiwáhcumunsh,

aqi wahakayash wuci piyámáqak sawáyush,
aqi nákatuk kisi
mô mohwáwak sqák.

Ôkutak awán kámotuk piyô yotay.
Ôkutak awán kámotuk piyô yotay.
Ôkutak awán kámotuk piyô yotay.

Cahsuwak sqák mus kumotuwak?
Cahsuwak wuci nutônihsunônak
mus “náyuwáyuwak?”

Yotay wuyam másqák kumuskam.

Gone

A red hand painted on a mouth,
red dresses stir in the wind, empty
like corn husks,

like fish scales are empty,
like what’s left after
the women were consumed.

Here comes another thief.
Here comes another thief.
Here comes another thief.

How many women will they take?
How many of our daughters
will “wander off?”

You’ll find the red paint here.

Rebecca Pelky is a member of the Brothertown Indian Nation of Wisconsin and a native of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Her first poetry collection was Horizon of the Dog Woman (Saint Julian Press, 2020). Her second collection, Through a Red Place (Perugia Press, 2021), won the Perugia Press Prize. Pelky’s co-authored hiking guide to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was published by FalconGuides in 2021. She holds a PhD from the University of Missouri, an MFA from Northern Michigan University, and is an Assistant Professor of Film Studies at Clarkson University in Upstate NY.

Solstice Black (she/they) is a queer poet and novelist living in the Pacific Northwest. They are currently undertaking a bachelor’s degree in creative writing. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in ChautauquaThe Fantastic Other, and A Forest of Words, among others. They hope to pursue an MFA in creative writing and a BFA in visual art in the next few years. Her cat is both her greatest joy and torment.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Through a Red Place by Rebecca Pelky


This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Solstice Black, is from Through a Red Place by Rebecca Pelky, released by Perugia Press in 2021. 
A pedigree chart tracing the lineage of Lucy Cesar Cochegan back 6 generations, with the poem titled "Pedigree" superimposed over the second page, which is mostly blank.
(click image to enlarge)

Pedigree

There’s something skeletal about it. 
Though we call them trees, they seem 
unfleshed, like they’ll never be more 
than dug-up bones laid out and labeled 
on bleached tables. 

	Pedigree: 

		It needs thicker sinew, the raw 
		red meat of stories to flesh 
		the bony processes of names and 
		dates. It needs the scarred skin 
		of history, even if just to peel it away. 

			Pedigree, 

				as if bred, like it all comes down 
				to me, and now I’m at some show, 
				balancing on bones stacked end 
				to end, like I’m here to score my color 
				and form, strip back my imperfect 
				skin to read what’s written in my blood.

Rebecca Pelky is a member of the Brothertown Indian Nation of Wisconsin and a native of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Her first poetry collection was Horizon of the Dog Woman (Saint Julian Press, 2020). Her second collection, Through a Red Place (Perugia Press, 2021), won the Perugia Press Prize. Pelky’s co-authored hiking guide to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was published by FalconGuides in 2021. She holds a PhD from the University of Missouri, an MFA from Northern Michigan University, and is an Assistant Professor of Film Studies at Clarkson University in Upstate NY.

Solstice Black (she/they) is a queer poet and novelist living in the Pacific Northwest. They are currently undertaking a bachelor’s degree in creative writing. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in ChautauquaThe Fantastic Other, and A Forest of Words, among others. They hope to pursue an MFA in creative writing and a BFA in visual art in the next few years. Her cat is both her greatest joy and torment.