The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Jeanetta Calhoun Mish’s “What I Learned At The War”



Twice a year until I turned ten, the tinker
came round to my grandparents’ farm
and all sharp things would arise like souls
from their sepulchers to await their reckonings
at the stone wheel. Scissors, shears, and snips:
sewing, pinking, tin, and more. Knives of all kinds:
carving, paring, fishing. Butcher, cleaver, pocket, pen.
I crouch beside them, mesmerized by wheel’s
whirl, by somersaulting sparks. Covering my ears
against the great screeching whine, imagining that,
by his magic, the tinker transmitted to steel his manic
concentration, the wheel’s violent devotion. Knives
transmuted into talismans, scissors charmed, dark
fairytales spun under the black oak in the side yard.

This selection comes from Jeanetta Calhoun Mish’s collection What I Learned At The War, available now from West End Press. Purchase your copy here!

Jeanetta Calhoun Mish is a scholar, poet, and prose writer; Her most recent books are Oklahomeland: Essays (Lamar University Press, 2015) and a poetry collection,What I Learned at the War (West End Press, March 2016). Mish’s 2009 poetry collection, Work Is Love Made Visible won the Western Heritage Award, the WILLA Award from Women Writing the West, and the Oklahoma Book Award. Mish’s chapbook, Tongue Tied Woman (2002), won the national Edda Poetry Chapbook for Women contest sponsored by Soulspeak Press. Her writings have been recently published or are upcoming in The Fiddleback, About Place Naugatuck River Review, Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Halvard-Johnson’s Truck, Concho River Review, Yellow Medicine Review, and Mojave River Review. Jeanetta is editor of award-winning Mongrel Empire Press, and contributing editor for the literary journal Sugar Mule ( and for Oklahoma Today. She is director of and a faculty mentor for the Red Earth Creative Writing MFA Program at Oklahoma City University.

Noh Anothai was a researcher with the Thailand-United States Education Foundation (Fulbright Thailand) between 2011-12, during which he hosted cultural events for Thailand’s Ministry of Culture and College of Dramatic Arts. Winner of Lunch Ticket‘s inaugural Gabo Prize for Translation and Multilingual Texts (2014) and OUTspoken’s poetry prize in 2015, Anothai’s original poems and translations of Thai poetry have appeared both online and in-print, most recently in Ecotone and The Berkeley Poetry Review. A reader for River Styx’s annual poetry contest, Anothai teaches for the online MFA program at Lindenwood University.



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