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.

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.

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.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Damage Done by Susana H. Case


This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Solstice Black, is from The Damage Done by Susana H. Case, released by Broadstone Books in 2022. 

Ears Everywhere

Someone else’s nightmare
is a stray dog that wanders in
and becomes your nightmare—
the number of bugging
devices in the house, the office,

the bar, everywhere.
Bugs at Panther headquarters
pick up a woman in a sports car,
Hey, I love you, pick up
me too, as she drives away.

Illegal surveillance tapes go missing,
the way sins are washed
off in the river, or inconvenient
facts. On a hunch, the detective finds
a transmitter in his own kitchen phone,

the wall phone with a long cord
that could stretch into the dining alcove,
another in the phone on the bedroom
nightstand. When were the Feds
in the house? Two bugs laid out

on the coffee table, the detective staring.
He decides to put them back, knows
they’re there, which evens the score.
What this is, he tells his wife, stroking
her hair for once, is a lot of trouble.

Susana H. Case has authored eight books of poetry, most recently The Damage Done, Broadstone Books, 2022, which won her a third Pinnacle Book Achievement Award. Her books have previously also won an IPPY, a NYC Big Book Award Distinguished Favorite award, and she was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award and the International Book Awards. The first of her five chapbooks, The Scottish Café, Slapering Hol Press, was re-released in a dual-language English-Polish version, Kawiarnia Szkocka by Opole University Press. She co-edited, with Margo Taft Stever, the anthology I Wanna Be Loved by You: Poems on Marilyn Monroe, Milk and Cake Press, 2022. Case worked several decades as a university professor and program coordinator in New York City and currently is a co-editor of Slapering Hol Press and a co-host of the literary series W-E: Poets of the Pandemic and Beyond.

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: The Damage Done by Susana H. Case


This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Solstice Black, is from The Damage Done by Susana H. Case, released by Broadstone Books in 2022. 

Old Stories

The detective has had a Gillette coated
stainless steel razor for years.
He, too, is becoming an old story.

The slight blue tinge in the white tile
of the bathroom makes him look ill,
a reddish-yellow cast in the whites

of his eyes. Age encircles the periphery
like a feral dog, or a federal cop,
looking for weak spots.

He has awakened to a horror movie,
like watching the march of the undead.
Lately, he awakens this way every day

he’s on the job. Today, it’s some
revolutionary task force sprinkling the city
with bombs that plays with his head.

He barely has time to think
about the little electronic tracker—it meets
government standard—

discovered under Janey’s Karmann Ghia.
He has suspicions, but—
there are no fingerprints.

Susana H. Case has authored eight books of poetry, most recently The Damage Done, Broadstone Books, 2022, which won her a third Pinnacle Book Achievement Award. Her books have previously also won an IPPY, a NYC Big Book Award Distinguished Favorite award, and she was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award and the International Book Awards. The first of her five chapbooks, The Scottish Café, Slapering Hol Press, was re-released in a dual-language English-Polish version, Kawiarnia Szkocka by Opole University Press. She co-edited, with Margo Taft Stever, the anthology I Wanna Be Loved by You: Poems on Marilyn Monroe, Milk and Cake Press, 2022. Case worked several decades as a university professor and program coordinator in New York City and currently is a co-editor of Slapering Hol Press and a co-host of the literary series W-E: Poets of the Pandemic and Beyond.

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: The Damage Done by Susana H. Case


This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Solstice Black, is from The Damage Done by Susana H. Case, released by Broadstone Books in 2022. 

Woman Identified

A Tootsie Roll with arms,
the detective calls Janey
now that they’ve ID’d her.
She’s skinny with a single name,
like Twiggy; a Vogue spread

and being dead warrant
consideration by the tabloids,
a close-up of her face that’s not
a death mask, a point of view
that tsk tsks, Here’s a sorry chick

who couldn’t hack the good life.
She’s pretty, angles like knife blades,
torso straight, like a boy’s. In the largest
image, Janey looks untroubled
and is running in a bold-patterned

dress past a bridge, debris in soft
focus piled off by the side.
The detective laughs about it later
with his buddies, a strange photo
to sell clothes you can’t even

clearly see. Surrounded by rubble.
Painted-on eyelashes—as if
she’s a child’s doll—
she looks as if she could blow
away. Part of her did.

Susana H. Case has authored eight books of poetry, most recently The Damage Done, Broadstone Books, 2022, which won her a third Pinnacle Book Achievement Award. Her books have previously also won an IPPY, a NYC Big Book Award Distinguished Favorite award, and she was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award and the International Book Awards. The first of her five chapbooks, The Scottish Café, Slapering Hol Press, was re-released in a dual-language English-Polish version, Kawiarnia Szkocka by Opole University Press. She co-edited, with Margo Taft Stever, the anthology I Wanna Be Loved by You: Poems on Marilyn Monroe, Milk and Cake Press, 2022. Case worked several decades as a university professor and program coordinator in New York City and currently is a co-editor of Slapering Hol Press and a co-host of the literary series W-E: Poets of the Pandemic and Beyond.

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: The Damage Done by Susana H. Case


This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Solstice Black, is from The Damage Done by Susana H. Case, released by Broadstone Books in 2022. 

Content warning for gun violence

Flashback: Cross Hairs on the Back of Your Neck

A postcard drawing of the cross hairs
of a rifle, Traitors Beware
sits in your mailbox. The old man

at the newspaper kiosk on the corner
has a pistol with silencer under
his woolen coat. The fountain pen

in the pocket protector of the life insurance
salesman who tries to talk you into a policy
is a cyanide gas gun. Your whitecoated

pharmacist is working slow but sure
behind that counter, punching powder
to pack arsenic into pill capsules.

He owns a target rifle that can blast
a sparrow mid-song at two hundred yards.
Your mechanic stays up late

to study booby traps, the metal piled
on his table. Minutemen know more
about you, Janey, than your husband does.

Susana H. Case has authored eight books of poetry, most recently The Damage Done, Broadstone Books, 2022, which won her a third Pinnacle Book Achievement Award. Her books have previously also won an IPPY, a NYC Big Book Award Distinguished Favorite award, and she was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award and the International Book Awards. The first of her five chapbooks, The Scottish Café, Slapering Hol Press, was re-released in a dual-language English-Polish version, Kawiarnia Szkocka by Opole University Press. She co-edited, with Margo Taft Stever, the anthology I Wanna Be Loved by You: Poems on Marilyn Monroe, Milk and Cake Press, 2022. Case worked several decades as a university professor and program coordinator in New York City and currently is a co-editor of Slapering Hol Press and a co-host of the literary series W-E: Poets of the Pandemic and Beyond.

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: The Damage Done by Susana H. Case


This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Solstice Black, is from The Damage Done by Susana H. Case, released by Broadstone Books in 2022. 

Content warning for domestic violence/abuse and disordered eating

Flashback: Bedroom

Blame the walls and doors—they entice
the husband to punch them—
five stitches on his right wrist

just last summer. Inanimate objects
only—he says he is a man of peace.
His familiar rage—it doesn’t cease

with three days in a row of humid heat,
ninety degrees, and how come Janey
wasn’t in her room in Taos after the shoot?

Like an asymptote, she’s gotten so close
to perfection, can taste how close,
like she tastes the black coffee, water,

sugarless gum, all she’s had for days,
so tired of being shown off
like an expensive watch.

Her precision surgery on her food—
he critiques her microscopic cutting.
And how did her ass blow up overnight?

The mirror is relentless,
the water—she drinks too much of it,
needs to do more calisthenics, the weight

on the scale’s unchanging. The food
she pretends to eat—sometimes she has
to put a small bit in her mouth, exercise

the gain away, or purge, but anything
is better than throwing up again.
The rules for when he can look at her—only

when dressed or when the lights
are out—darkness and cover. Her ribs—
where downy, pale white fur has begun

to grow, though she is freezing all the time.
The room of ecru walls—the color
picked from over thirty variations of beige—

for weeks, samples were shuffled and placed
on their bed while she tried to decide.
His only comment: that nothing

was getting laid on their bed lately except
the paint swatches. Blame the husband—
he likes them thin and young.

Susana H. Case has authored eight books of poetry, most recently The Damage Done, Broadstone Books, 2022, which won her a third Pinnacle Book Achievement Award. Her books have previously also won an IPPY, a NYC Big Book Award Distinguished Favorite award, and she was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award and the International Book Awards. The first of her five chapbooks, The Scottish Café, Slapering Hol Press, was re-released in a dual-language English-Polish version, Kawiarnia Szkocka by Opole University Press. She co-edited, with Margo Taft Stever, the anthology I Wanna Be Loved by You: Poems on Marilyn Monroe, Milk and Cake Press, 2022. Case worked several decades as a university professor and program coordinator in New York City and currently is a co-editor of Slapering Hol Press and a co-host of the literary series W-E: Poets of the Pandemic and Beyond.

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.