Article Thumbnail

Online Feature: “In a Time of War” by Hannah Gamble


That was the period when our daughter
would come crying into our bedroom
whenever the grackles began mating on the roof.
It isn’t hurting them, my wife would say,

birds have tiny penises. Then two cats would
find their way into our bushes and start howling
like their skin was being peeled off. Oh, our daughter
with the endless tears. I brought my wife wine

every night for a week, hoping I’d arrange for us a son.
The cats aren’t killing each other, sweetness,
said my wife’s purple lips, it’s just that all male cats,
not just the wild ones, have barbs on their penises.

What what what, sobbed my daughter, is a penis?
A son, a son, a son, I thought, as I held my wife
at the hips, both of us on the floor to avoid hitting
the wall with our bed; our daughter had cried herself

into unconsciousness, and maybe I was sure
she wouldn’t hear when I yelled my way farther
into my wife, my mouth still in a “son” shape.
Our daughter woke herself up with a howl

she didn’t know the reason for, and my wife
turned back at me with several reasons to scowl
texturing her red face. We were covered
when our daughter came in, tears and snot

curling her hair against her cheeks. It’s ok, lovely,
my wife said I was just on the floor looking
for something and I was caught by a tiny barb.
I took it out, and now I’m going to go to sleep.

This poem appeared in Indiana Review 32.1, Summer 2010.


Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 7.33.30 PMHannah Gamble is the author of Your Invitation to a Modest Breakfast (Fence Books, 2012), selected by Bernadette Mayer for the 2011 National Poetry Series. She has performed her work at the Pitchfork music festival, the Chicago Art Institute, The Chicago MCA, and as part of the Clark Street Bridge arts series in association with FCB Global.

Gamble’s poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, POETRY, The Believer, jubilat, and Pleiades, and she has written for the Poetry Foundation, the Poetry Society of America, and the culture magazine Fanzine. In 2014, Gamble was awarded a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry fellowship from the Poetry Foundation.

She lives in Chicago.


Article Thumbnail

Microreview: Rickey Laurentiis’s Boy With Thorn

Boy with Thorn by Rickey Laurentiis (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015)
Review by Yael Massen

Rickey Laurentiis’ debut poetry collection, Boy with Thorn, arrives at a crucial time in American literary discourse, engaging the oppressive and harmful legacies of our nation with clarity and intelligent critique. Laurentiis’ collection as a whole is honest in recognition of a life lived through violence. The reader must praise the landscapes in this collection, in the midst of its terror and destruction, for also producing Laurentiis’ lyric beauty and wisdom. His relentless recognition of personal truths and reclamation of narratives formerly silenced is an example of poetry at its highest form.

Introduced by Terrance Hayes, who selected the collection for the prestigious 2014 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, Boy with Thorn deliberately engages with crises and politics few contemporary poets discuss with self-reflection. In “I Saw I Dreamt Two Men,” the speaker addresses Anti-Homosexuality bills proposed in Nigeria and Uganda with the support of conservative American Christian organizations, as well as recognition of his own inaction: “I stayed with southern silence.”

The silence of the American South is the landscape that haunts this collection. A Louisiana native, Laurentiis returns to the environmental destruction and social dispossession in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in “No Ararat”: “I didn’t dream this. There was a storm. Then there wasn’t. The day after came like a hammer through glass. The sky shook off his clothes and it was brilliant. I tell you it was necessary: Violence had to preface such beauty.” Religion, like the south, is embedded into the geography of the collection. Laurentiis’ speaker is in constant conversation with an ideology that brought him to live “the way a problem lives, openly, so much / earth wanted [him] closed” (“Epitaph on a Stone”).

I was most moved by Laurentiis’ poems that directly engage rape culture, particularly “Black Iris,” a poem that transforms Georgia O’Keeffe’s eponymous painting. Here, Laurentiis crafts narratives and representations of sexuality complicated by violence and trauma formerly silenced and denied by the “Old Masters” (to quote “Vanitas with Negro Boy”) of art and white supremacy.

and when the iris shakes in it,
the lips of the flower shaping
to the thing that invades it, that will be
me, there, shaking, my voice shaking.
like the legs of the calf, who—out of fear?
out of duty? —is sitting by his dead
mother because what else will he do, what else has he?
Because a voice outside him makes him.

The title poem of the collection, “Boy with Thorn,” exemplifies Laurentiis’ technical mastery, social consciousness, fearsome imagination, and self-awareness. The ekphrastic poem transforms a first century B.C.E. bronze sculpture into a meditation on violence and a reclamation of the self in the aftermath of trauma:

              I keep thinking of the thorn as
a marker, scrawler, what shapes the places both excused
              and forbidden
in his body’s swamp.

          Violence thou shalt want. Violence thou shalt steal
and store inside.

The poem concludes on the speaker’s negotiation of these internalized, external voices.

          This was his body, his body
finally his.

          He shut the thorn up in his foot, and told his foot

Laurentiis’ speaker pronounces a final resolve to inhabit his body as is, with an understanding of the pain that must be managed as a part of its existence.

Article Thumbnail

IR Online Table of Contents

Indiana Review Online: An Undergraduate Project

To read the introduction to the issue and view the issue masthead, click here.

Amzie Augusta Dunekacke . . . . . . . . . . . Mikey’s Flag Shirts
Ellen Goff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Little Chicken
Katie Harrs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .The Good Ones Grow With You
Robert Julius . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Artist

Tiwaladeoluwa Adekunle . . . . . . . . . . . . even if my spine
W. S. Brewbaker . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Garden
John M. Brown . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Liquid Killer Queen
Isabella Escalante . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .The Talking Chalk
Kacey Fang . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . After Saying I Love You
Shyanne Marquette . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . To Heidi
Carly Jo Olszewski . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Y
Meritt Rey Salathe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mary Kay
Sage Yockelson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Explanation For Why We Have Fingerprints


Article Thumbnail

IR Online Poetry: “even if my spine” by Tiwaladeoluwa Adekunle

“even if my spine”

by Tiwaladeoluwa Adekunle

never recovers,
and my body only learns new ways to recoil
from me,

even if the gaps never inch closed,
and only widen with each passing

there will still, at least be a bird
smaller than my fist, but sailing,
soaring on the belly of life

there will still be winter pristine, summer
soft, golden leaves of autumn floating down, and
dancing at arm’s reach

there will still be the sun singing with
quiet brilliance, the wind brushing skin, stars
studding the night’s sleeve

there will still be God
(there has always been God)
everywhere, even here,
in my body, the frailest
of temples


Tiwaladeoluwa Adekunle is double majoring in International studies and English at University of Kentucky. She is most distracted and most inspired by homesickness, her heartbeat and the ticking of the clock. She was born in southwest Nigeria.


Article Thumbnail

IR Online Poetry: “After Saying I Love You” by Kacey Fang

“After Saying I Love You”

by Kacey Fang

A magician perches
on a corner. His hands

weave doves, vanishing
and reappearing faster

than raindrops. Black sleeves
swirl above his head, blotting

streetlights with each swipe. —Each blooming
knuckled fingers, another dove.

Watch his hands.
I bet it’s the coat.

What’s the trick?
(and for once

I don’t want to know
the answer.)


Kacey Fang is a freshman at Yale University.