The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: A Brief History of Fruit by Kimberly Quiogue Andrews


In honor of Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month, this selection comes from the book, A Brief History of Fruit, available from University of Akron Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Sarah Clark.

Kimberly Quiogue Andrews is a poet and literary critic. A Brief History of Fruit was the winner of the Akron Prize for Poetry from the University of Akron Press. She is also the author of BETWEEN, winner of the New Women’s Voices Chapbook Prize from Finishing Line Press. She lives in Maryland and teaches at Washington College, and you can find her on Twitter at @kqandrews.

Sarah Clark is Editor-in-Chief and Poetry Editor at Anomaly, Co-Editor of The Queer Movement Anthology (Seagull Books, 2021), a reader at The Atlas Review and Doubleback Books, and an Editorial Board member at Sundress Press. She’s edited folios for publications, including Anomaly‘s GLITTERBRAIN folio and a folio on Indigenous & Decolonial Futures & Futurisms, Drunken Boat’s folios on Sound Art, “Desire & Interaction,” and a collection of global indigenous art and literature, First Peoples, Plural. Sarah freelances, and has worked with a number of literary and arts publications and organizations.

 

Sundress Reads: Review of Savage Pageant

How do you trace the genealogy—let alone the geography—of a place that no longer exists? In Jessica Q. Stark’s sharp and subversive new collection Savage Pageant (Birds LLC, 2020), her poems, accounts, and sketches simultaneously collapse and expand what we mean when we speak about the archive—of living things, places, and collective and private histories, as well as the traces and ghosts that haunt the spaces we move through. Here, narratives fold onto themselves, histories repeat, and points-of-view shift dizzily around us, affecting how we remember the past and move into unstable futures. The success of this collection hinges on its refusal of categorization: part-archive, part-history, part-memoir, Stark paints a startling portrait of American spectacle, celebrity culture, collective pain, and unwritten narratives. It’s unlike any collection you will ever come across, which makes it all the better. Through her strange yet oddly comforting poems, Stark speaks to the unspoken spaces between us, of “the body on display: / a public domain of choices made,” while guiding us through the unwritten, unheard, and unremembered parts of our histories. The traces of this book will stay with you long after you close its pages. In her hands, we arrive transformed.

Savage Pageant recounts the strange history of the defunct Jungleland, a private zoo in Thousand Oaks, California that housed Hollywood’s show animals and marketed itself as “a kind of Disneyland with Live Animals.” Bankruptcy, runaway animals, and tragedy followed the zoo from its beginnings as a family home in the mid-1800s to its financial collapse in 1969, where more than 1,800 of its animals sold at auction. Rather than walk us through a straightforward retelling of Jungleland’s rise and fall, Starks slips across its historical lines, adding her unwavering voice to the anonymous mass that has built a collective archive to its memory, leaking with communal sentimentality. 

In “Trace Leakage: Jungleland,” anonymous commentators across time and place congregate, sharing personal memories of this bizarre monument to America’s reverie for exotic animals and spectacle. It is fitting, then, that these archival traces are archived themselves, each misspelling and retraction and “wait, does anyone else remember this?” serving as an alternative form of history-making, of history-making as history-remembering, looped within a network of knowledge that relies on everything that came before and after it. “The imagination is ceaselessly imagining and enriching itself with new images” so, eventually, we will begin where we once ended. Stark’s assured words moves through histories, speaking to the cycles we find ourselves in. Each Act in Savage Pageant begins with an epigraph from Society of the Spectacle (La société du spectacle) by Guy Debord, framing our incoming knowledge within the spectacle of spectacle-making. Afterwards, a sketch of Jungleland’s history—Leo the MGM Lion roaring for the cameras, a lion trainer, a woman riding an elephant, American flag in hand—before we come across aerial maps of where Jungleland once stood; clues to where its specters still roam.

Then, a series of genealogies: “Jungleland: A Genealogy, 1803-1915,” “Jungleland: A Genealogy: 1956-1969.” Here, Stark cuts into the archives, makes space “to remember what was never written.” Louis Goebel’s drive to make sure Hollywood productions use his exotic animals transforms him into “the spiraled being, who, from outside, appears to be a well-invested center, will never reach his center.” Zoltan Hargitay, Jayne Mansfield’s son who was mauled by a lion becomes a game of telephone, blame bouncing off of him, his mother, the lion, its cage, its lack of care, celebrity worship, Jungleland, Jungleland’s ability to exist only in America, only in this moment of history. “At times when we believe we are studying something, we are only being receptive to a kind of day-dreaming,” a collective unconsciousness, “of constructing the house, in the very pains we take to keep it alive, to give it all its essential clarity” even if we do not yet know how to construct it or remember its history the right way—written out, slotted in place, tucked away.

“Call it mania for a collective / breakdown a stress response against a line of history / that speeds fast like red metal towards dense fog,” Stark writes on the phenomenon of conversion disorders, mass psychogenic illness, the dumping of nuclear waste in the Burn Pits, psychological conflict taking its pains out on the body. She dedicates “Mass Psychogenic Illness” “for the archive,” for where else could you place the laughter of dozens of schoolgirls during the 1962 Tanganyika laughing epidemic except shut away in the annals? “…but here is the affliction / from stories better left unsaid: / the spectacle in the archive of harm” or, as Debord puts it in the epigraph that precedes Act I, “the spectacle’s essential character reveals it to be a visible negation of life—a negation that has taken on a visible form.” What Stark has achieved with Savage Pageant is an astute reimagining of the archive and the spectacle folded around it; if history is the practice of looking, then Stark has turned our eyes elsewhere, towards new possibilities and ways of knowing, where “now we are carving mythology out of unremembered time.”

Savage Pageant is available through Birds, LLC.


Kanika Lawton holds a BA in Psychology with a Minor in Film Studies from the University of British Columbia and an MA from the University of Toronto’s Cinema Studies Institute. She is the Editor-In-Chief of L’Éphémère Review, a 2018 Pink Door Fellow, and a 2020 BOAAT Writer’s Retreat Poetry Fellow. Her work has appeared in Ricepaper Magazine, Vagabond City Literary Journal, Glass Poetry, and Cosmonauts Avenue, among others.

Interview with Amy Watkins

Sundress editorial intern Sabrina Sarro asked, Amy Watkins, author of Wolf Daughter to participate in an interview about her collection of poems—each spanning the maelstrom of feelings and bodily/emotional experiences that take place during the complicated and heavy time of adolescence. This work pierces like a staple in the tongue and begs its reader to contemplate the relationship between the hunter and the hunted, and whether or not is it wiser to act as a hunter when your default in society is the endangered.

Sabrina Saro: How does this collection inform how women coded or girl coded people and youth are treated globally?

Amy Watkins: A wolf is both dangerous and endangered. Young women and girls are often treated like they are dangerous (seductive, volatile, untrustworthy) and endangered (fragile, precious, in need of rescue), and both those perceptions put girls in real danger. Women and girls are more likely than men and boys to face domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment, and gender discrimination. And yet girls are powerful and resilient. They love themselves. They love their friends. They stand up to bullies and sail around the world and fight for clean water and start online movements and solve unsolvable problems. Their experiences are worth writing about.

SS: Why the choice of animal and forest metaphor?

AW: In the first poem, when my daughter says, “I don’t remember how not to be a wolf,” that’s a direct quote. She was playing a video game, and her character had transformed into a wolf, and she didn’t know which buttons to press to change back. It struck me as an almost too perfect metaphor for being a teenager, especially a girl: physically, emotionally, and intellectually changing, uncertain moment to moment if those changes are empowering, embarrassing, exhilarating or grotesque. I wrote the first poem then thought, “I can keep going.” 

SS: What motif was the hardest to write for you?

AW: The ones that took the most revising were #6, about active shooter drills, and #15, about visiting the Borghese Gallery in Rome. I wrote most of the poems/motifs/segments pretty quickly and didn’t revise them too much. The hardest part was figuring out how much wolf imagery was needed, and then just letting the poems be simple, direct, fairly literal snapshots of life.

SS: How did you get the idea to write each poem in its exact order?

AW: After I wrote the first one, I set a goal to write 20 wolf poems in two months. I figured if I wrote 20, I would end up with 10 or 15 that would work for a chapbook. I didn’t revise any of them until I had handwritten drafts of all of them. By then I was certain it was all one thing, and I knew what I wanted the overall feel to be. Of course, I didn’t write the individual pieces in this order. When it came to arranging them, I knew I wanted whatever came last to be joyful. I knew one of the segments about reading bedtime stories belonged near the beginning and one near the end. The rest was just a matter of sensing which pieces belonged next to each other.  

SS: You explore this notion of if it is better to be the hunter or be the endangered. How does this underbelly inform your message?

AW: I’ve had this conversation with a lot of women: When you’re walking alone and pass a strange man, do you look him in the eye or avoid eye contact? Does one feel safer to you than the other? Why? I think most women have answers to those questions. I’m not sure that most men do. When I wrote that poem, I was thinking about all the ways we teach girls to protect themselves—don’t go to the bathroom alone, always have your keys out when walking to your car, don’t give him the wrong idea, always (or never) look a strange man in the eyes—how early and frequently we hear this advice and how ingrained it becomes. 

SS: This collection often explores growing up, and the body changing. Why did you include that?

AW: I can’t imagine writing about adolescence and not writing about the body. Although the wolf metaphor takes on different meanings in different poems, that’s the most obvious analogy to transforming into a different creature. All that change can be exciting, but it can also be awkward or frightening. 

SS: How does the collection position itself racially?

AW: In my mind, this question connects to the idea of being or being perceived to be dangerous/endangered. I think of the way black teenagers are treated like dangerous adults—and, therefore, put in danger—in situations in which white teenagers are likely to be treated like children—and, therefore, protected. Wolf Daughter isn’t about that (it’s about my and my daughter’s experiences, and we are both white), but it is partly about the ugly human tendency to treat people as “other” for all kinds of reasons. The girl in the poem keeps being reminded that she doesn’t quite fit in, and she keeps pushing back, being herself—loving herself—anyway.   

SS:  How does this collection challenge or speak to femininity?

AW: I grew up in a pretty repressive religious tradition. I wasn’t allowed to wear jewelry or “unnatural” makeup. Even when the rules loosened up and those things were no longer forbidden, they were not the kind of thing a serious person cared about. It’s taken me a long time to feel that it’s OK for me to admit that I like feminine things. My daughter doesn’t have those hang-ups. In the poems, she rejects some traditional expectations of femininity (and takes some shit for it) and embraces others. She says without self-consciousness, “I might be the cutest person alive.” She and her friends seem freer than I was at their age to express/challenge/celebrate/reject femininity on their own terms, and I find that inspiring.

SS: Why the title?

AW: Originally, I was going to call it “Teen Wolf,” but my friend Jae Newman is smarter than me and suggested that “Wolf Daughter” might be just a little more evocative.

Download your copy for free here!


Amy Watkins is the author of three poetry chapbooks (Milk & WaterLucky, and Wolf Daughter), a graduate of the Spalding University MFA in Writing, and a parent of a human girl. Find her online at RedLionSq.com or @amykwatkins on Twitter. She lives in Orlando, Florida.

Sabrina Sarro is a current social worker in the state of NY. They hold an LMSW from Columbia University and are currently pursuing an MFA from the City College of New York-CUNY. They are an alumnus of the LAMBDA Literary Emerging Voices for LGBTQIA* Writers Retreat, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Yale Writers’ Workshop, and others.

Project Bookshelf: Sabrina Sarro

The above image speaks to only a fraction of the books I own—many, sadly, are tucked away in storage. If I didn’t have to share an apartment, I would gladly fill up the entire space with bookshelves. I have two desks in my primary room, and the one shown above mostly houses the books I am currently reading. I tend to rotate this section of my working desk every few months or so, just to have my eyes exposed to new covers, names, and titles.

Books are sacred to me. Whether they are on my working desk or shelved in any other area of the apartment, I look to them with great tenderness. As an adolescent, books were often platforms through which I found myself truly cultivating my inner intimacy, as well as my identity as an intimate participant in life. I would be on the subway reading Alice Walker. I would be in a library reading Richard Wright. I would be on a plane reading Kiese Laymon. Even to this very day, I seldom go anywhere without carrying a book in my bag. A silent companion. A friend that might be invisible to most, but one I can pull out when needed.

When shopping for books or literary pieces of any kind, I tend to lean into realistic fiction and nonfiction the most. As a personal essayist, I am extremely passionate about centering voice and exfoliating its power and potential. I am interested in speaking about voice as power, voice as radical tenderness, and voice as urgent social change. Whenever I pick something new to read, I focus on the voice that is being employed—what about the delivery of the story is resonating with me and how can that be connected back to voice?

I look for pieces written by folkx of color. Written by immigrants, by queer people, by single-parents, by folkx who are or have been incarcerated. I tend toward the voices of those erased, who are deemed unworthy of possessing or using a voice, who are negated and treated as invisible. Most of the books I own dissect and analyze sex, sexual identity, sexual orientation, gender, gender expression, gender identity, and race.

As I continue along in my book collecting career, I hope to continue to find pieces and people whose identities are out of the binary. I want to honor them and have their lived experiences and realities on my shelves. I also hope to continue writing and supporting the very difficult and heavy work of exploring and speaking about radical tenderness, hurt, forgiveness, and empathy.



Sabrina Sarro is a current social worker in the state of NY. They hold an LMSW from Columbia University and are currently pursuing an MFA from the City College of New York—CUNY. As a queer non-binary writer of color, they are most interested in investigating the intersectionalities of life and engaging in self-reflection and introspection. They are an alumnus of the LAMBDA Literary Emerging Voices for LGBTQIA* Writers Retreat, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Yale Writers’ Workshop, and many others. They have received scholarships from The Martha’s Vineyard Institute for Creative Writing and the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley.

Meet our New Intern: Nicole Drake

Lonely kids make the best creatives, I hear.  We play with dolls and direct the drama of their complex inner lives; we talk to ourselves; we read and read and read and read.

I grew up, homeschooled, in a tiny town in Illinois, current population 1,977.  My whole world could have fit inside a thimble. By the time I turned 15, I had read 362 books.  I jotted notes for stories down in the margins, half-cast scenes in the spaces between chapters.

I was lucky: my world didn’t stay small forever. A few years and a move to Florida later, I was applying to colleges, an impending major in writing or linguistics ahead of me, and found out I was accepted to a program that would have me move to Europe for a year. Specifically, Italy. My grandma called my mom four times in the span of two days to tell her that “She does know that they speak a different language there, doesn’t she?” and “How is she going to get there, is she going to fly by herself?”

I, despite my grandmothers expectations, made it there alive and continue to be alive to this day.

What living in another culture taught me is how expansive the world is. Writing, for me, has always been about expression. We write and read in the languages we have grown up in, that wrap cozily around us like blankets. But expression changes when it’s filtered through other mediums, through the half-garbled words of a language you’ve only just started piecing together, or through the stories of someone who has lived a life totally opposite to your own. We take for granted our perspective, our insular reality. But there’s a whole world out there.

I moved back to the states for the last three years of my degree at Florida State University. I took as many unique literature classes and writing workshops as I could cram in my schedule. I developed a passion for Post-Colonial literature and other genres that tell the stories of historically underrepresented groups. I was diagnosed with the type of illness I would never recover from. Despite that, I kept living. I graduated with a degree in creative writing, triumphant and exhausted.

In the year since, I have had so much opportunity to grow. I pursued my passion for books and publishing by serving as the Fiction Intern for the Southeast Review, which allowed me to channel the hard-won literary skills I gained in school into something tangible. I taught Argentine Tango for a scientific study focussing on tango’s effects on patients with Parkinson’s disease, and got to see the continual progress of each patient who, the day before, had said that they could never do that impossible thing. I’ve worked as a Social Media Manager for a tattoo shop, and trained others on my team in new skills that even a few months ago, I thought were impossible.

All of that has, gloriously, lead me here. It has been a year of never-ending expansion, and I am so grateful that I will have the ability to bring that growth as well as my passion for words to Sundress Publications.


Nicole Drake is a graduate of Florida State University with a BA in Creative Writing. She has served as a reader for the Southeast Review and the Seven Hills Review, and currently works as the Social Media Manager for Capital City Tattoo’z. She teaches dance and works her way through her endless “To Read” list in her spare time.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: A Brief History of Fruit by Kimberly Quiogue Andrews


In honor of Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month, this selection comes from the book, A Brief History of Fruit, available from University of Akron Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Sarah Clark.

Kimberly Quiogue Andrews is a poet and literary critic. A Brief History of Fruit was the winner of the Akron Prize for Poetry from the University of Akron Press. She is also the author of BETWEEN, winner of the New Women’s Voices Chapbook Prize from Finishing Line Press. She lives in Maryland and teaches at Washington College, and you can find her on Twitter at @kqandrews.

Sarah Clark is Editor-in-Chief and Poetry Editor at Anomaly, Co-Editor of The Queer Movement Anthology (Seagull Books, 2021), a reader at The Atlas Review and Doubleback Books, and an Editorial Board member at Sundress Press. She’s edited folios for publications, including Anomaly‘s GLITTERBRAIN folio and a folio on Indigenous & Decolonial Futures & Futurisms, Drunken Boat’s folios on Sound Art, “Desire & Interaction,” and a collection of global indigenous art and literature, First Peoples, Plural. Sarah freelances, and has worked with a number of literary and arts publications and organizations.

 

Sundress Reads: Review of The Gutter Spread Guide to Prayer

Eric Tran’s debut full-length collection, The Gutter Spread Guide to Prayer (Autumn House Press, 2020) is at once heart-wrenching and heart-warming, an emotional experience that makes you feel both seen and able to see more clearly. This collection of poems is a wonderful and welcome introduction to a poet whose work is fluent in the emotions of anguish, joy, and everything in between.

It would be reductive, though, to say that The Gutter Spread Guide to Prayer is a book about nerd culture or a book about queer love, though it is certainly about both. In some ways, it’s difficult to pin this collection of poems down to a single topic, not because it lacks focus but because there is a versatility to Tran’s poetic focus. He writes about comic books, queerness, mental illness, grief, and so much more—often in ways that intersect and complicate each other. Gutter Spread feels alive, vibrant, and complex as Tran offers a guided tour through the world he’s created.

This collection seeks respite in the shelves of the local comic store and drag shows and in stolen glances of the lookalikes of lost lovers. It looks for forgiveness as regret manifests like suspects in the board game Clue. It yearns for adventure and escape in the wake of the 2016 election and is pulled into the fantasy world of Dungeons & Dragons—a world where anything is possible. These poems find joy in food and positive media representations in the pages of comic books. Tran’s speaker filters his experiences through Stranger Things, X-Men, and more.

Tran pens an ekphrastic poem based on Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s 1991 art fixture, Untitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A.), in which the floor of the museum is filled with “Candies individually wrapped in multicolor cellophane, endless supply. / Dimensions vary with installation; ideal weight 175 lbs.” The artwork was created after the artist’s partner died of AIDS. I’ve seen a version of the fixture in person at Crystal Bridges in Bentonville, Arkansas and the grief and love are as palpable and limitless as the candies scattered on the floor. Tran’s poem transported me not only back into that moment in the museum, staring at the manifestation of sweetness turned bitter, but filled me with that same sense of grief, of love, of longing for what has been lost. Tran breaks his poem and scatters it across the white space of the page, evocative of the literal piece of art he’s imitating and the complicated emotions he’s exploring.

It’s through carefully crafted and powerful writing like this that Tran is able to create an intense emotional and visual landscape throughout this collection. Further, by filtering his poems through pop culture references and artistic allusions, Tran creates a world that is our own—not just the world we live in, but our own interior world as well. Tran takes us not only to new experiences in art museums and at D&D sessions, but brings us back to our own experiences as well. Tran offers not just relatability, but the reminder that we are not alone, and the ability to cope together as we play a game. These poems invite you to play D&D with them, to crack open a comic book and read it through new eyes. Tran offers a unique world to us, but he also offers us encouragement to find a way through ours, to cope with the pain and discover the joys there are around us.

In a particularly powerful section of the poem “Recommendation,” The speaker projects his desires — “Give me kapow! Give me shazam! Give / a one shot with perfect speech bubbles / where people know exactly what they want / to say.” Just like the colorful comic book worlds that this collection loves and admires, the world of Gutter Spread is a world of fantasy, where anything can happen and people live without want or worry, but it’s also a world much like our own, where we must seek escape within the pages of those fantasies.

The Gutter Spread Guide to Prayer isn’t a quiet collection of poems. It screams its way into a room and announces itself proudly and in defiance. It announces, too, a promising career to come for Eric Tran—one I’m excited to follow.


Quinn Carver Johnson was born and raised on the Kansas-Oklahoma border, but now attends Hendrix College and is pursuing degrees in Creative Writing and Performances studies. Johnson’s poetry and other writings have been published in various magazines and journals, both in-print and online, including SLANT, Nebo, Right Hand Pointing, Flint Hills Review, and Route7 Review.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Wishbone Dress by Cassandra J. Bruner

PRAYER: SYRINX

I’ve had enough of gods of dipping lips
to pondwater & receiving soundless ripples
in response Let this psalm call to my body
instead How she stiffened in his arms
Became phloem then marrow then phloem
again A field salting itself before being
plucked fallow How pinned beneath
him she witnessed the hoopoe stalk
a pair of nightingales The hawk lance
voles on its talons The thrush shake
seeds from its feathers
My body my
thorned membrane is there a story where
he not us tapers & snaps into a new
shape Where we leave him an uprooted
reed to shrivel on the sun-parched bank


This selection comes from the book, The Wishbone Dress, available from Bull City Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Sarah Clark.

Cassandra J. Bruner‘s The Wishbone Dress was the 2019 winner of the Frost Place Chapbook Competition.  She earned her MFA in poetry from Eastern Washington University where she served as Managing Editor of Willow Springs Books. Finalist for Black Warrior Review‘s 2018 Nonfiction Contest, their poems and essays have appeared, or are upcoming in The Adroit JournalBlack Warrior ReviewCrazyhorseMuzzleNew England ReviewNinth Letter, and Pleiades among others.

Sarah Clark is Editor-in-Chief and Poetry Editor at Anomaly, Co-Editor of The Queer Movement Anthology (Seagull Books, 2021), a reader at The Atlas Review and Doubleback Books, and an Editorial Board member at Sundress Press. She’s edited folios for publications, including Anomaly‘s GLITTERBRAIN folio and a folio on Indigenous & Decolonial Futures & Futurisms, Drunken Boat’s folios on Sound Art, “Desire & Interaction,” and a collection of global indigenous art and literature, First Peoples, Plural. Sarah freelances, and has worked with a number of literary and arts publications and organizations.

 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Wishbone Dress by Cassandra J. Bruner

WHEN I DEFEND MY NAME IN COURT

I arrive smeared with filth
& crushed
asters Palm pressed
to a leather bible I say
my goddess is a nest of grime my worship
a cheap strap-on pursed under the tongue

The jury of gleaming women staple my birth
certificate to my forehead reciting
the deadname while by hand or
by vise witnesses
fail to pry my hips wider Without
verdict the judge recounts
stories of women hexed
by the sun’s spit of women never
believed Locked out
on the courthouse steps my love
watches transfixed as a shrike
pins robin hearts to her left index For want
of relief for want of a branch


This selection comes from the book, The Wishbone Dress, available from Bull City Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Sarah Clark.

Cassandra J. Bruner‘s The Wishbone Dress was the 2019 winner of the Frost Place Chapbook Competition.  She earned her MFA in poetry from Eastern Washington University where she served as Managing Editor of Willow Springs Books. Finalist for Black Warrior Review‘s 2018 Nonfiction Contest, their poems and essays have appeared, or are upcoming in The Adroit JournalBlack Warrior ReviewCrazyhorseMuzzleNew England ReviewNinth Letter, and Pleiades among others.

Sarah Clark is Editor-in-Chief and Poetry Editor at Anomaly, Co-Editor of The Queer Movement Anthology (Seagull Books, 2021), a reader at The Atlas Review and Doubleback Books, and an Editorial Board member at Sundress Press. She’s edited folios for publications, including Anomaly‘s GLITTERBRAIN folio and a folio on Indigenous & Decolonial Futures & Futurisms, Drunken Boat’s folios on Sound Art, “Desire & Interaction,” and a collection of global indigenous art and literature, First Peoples, Plural. Sarah freelances, and has worked with a number of literary and arts publications and organizations.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Wishbone Dress by Cassandra J. Bruner

THE ANTLERED DOE

A man doused in roebuck piss says
I saw it as I skinned its thighs
& laughs.

Your death always a joke, the shock
of womb, a punchline.
Darting through

underbrush, your hooves
resounded like cackling children.
This velvet crown, not always a betrayal—

In rutting season, the tongues
of stags & doe alike climbed
your hind leg, crying
I opened for my beloved but she was gone.

Now is the hour of moths
& the body remade as
a sack of buckshot.

A child bundles you in sweat-stale
flannel, lifting you onto the truck bed
like a distant sister. Nestled

against your snout, he mouths
a wish for recognition, for his budding breasts
to hide themselves away like fawns.


This selection comes from the book, The Wishbone Dres, available from Bull City Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Sarah Clark.

Cassandra J. Bruner‘s The Wishbone Dress was the 2019 winner of the Frost Place Chapbook Competition.  She earned her MFA in poetry from Eastern Washington University where she served as Managing Editor of Willow Springs Books. Finalist for Black Warrior Review‘s 2018 Nonfiction Contest, their poems and essays have appeared, or are upcoming in The Adroit JournalBlack Warrior ReviewCrazyhorseMuzzleNew England ReviewNinth Letter, and Pleiades among others.

Sarah Clark is Editor-in-Chief and Poetry Editor at Anomaly, Co-Editor of The Queer Movement Anthology (Seagull Books, 2021), a reader at The Atlas Review and Doubleback Books, and an Editorial Board member at Sundress Press. She’s edited folios for publications, including Anomaly‘s GLITTERBRAIN folio and a folio on Indigenous & Decolonial Futures & Futurisms, Drunken Boat’s folios on Sound Art, “Desire & Interaction,” and a collection of global indigenous art and literature, First Peoples, Plural. Sarah freelances, and has worked with a number of literary and arts publications and organizations.