Reliquaries of the Lesser Saints Cold June Lizard cover A Man Worthy of Your Attention cover Shotgun Style Casualties Collateral Damage

Ropewalk Press

Excerpts of Our Chapbooks

SomaSoma Mei Sheng Frazier

Collateral Damage

perfect bound
art: Cassia Beck

OrderNowCollateral Damage: A Triptych

My daughter tells me to go away. Mama, leave, she says, and my chest constricts. I turn my face into a monkey’s: puff up the cheeks and pull the ears forward. It’s tough to keep my cheeks rounded as I grunt, but with effort I do. Releasing my earlobes I beat my chest, where my breasts once were, and hop from foot to foot. She smiles. Then, looking at her father, she points at the door. Mama, go away. At two years old, she doesn’t yet know how words like these work; how they’ll follow me out the door and into my car, down the driveway, through our small town, across the threshold of my mother’s front door, into the living room, up the stairs and under the sheets to sit on my sternum, crushing.

"I’m fucked up again," Jason warned me when I arrived after work, "and not just in the general sense."

Jason is an alcoholic; but it’s not the drinking that’s the problem. It’s the problem that’s the problem, and drinking is what he does to avoid thinking about it. The problem is that he went to war and made a mistake there. The problem is that our government trained him, and neglected to untrain him. I’m not saying that he’s still killing people – but he doesn’t remember how to be a civilian anymore, so the smallest things remind him of his mistake and set him off on me. Last week, for instance, I was making a cheesecake.

Kirsten ClodfelterKirsten Clodfelter


perfect bound
art: Aaron Paul Rogers


My own mother is miles and miles away. Sometimes 3,000 and sometimes 5,000 and sometimes who could even say? She checks in once a month, in-between extravagant vacations to Europe with her new Turkish boyfriend. When I ask her a question about the baby, she says, “Oh, you’ll figure out all this stuff eventually,” and I can hear Tahir in the background, shouting and laughing to her, never concerned about the phone. I think she has it backward—that we don’t ever figure it out, and at some point we simply have to learn to accept it. But before I can ask her how, she’s moved on to tell me about floating with Tahir in the Dead Sea. She explains it the way someone might recount seeing a magic trick. “I slipped into that water, and I swear it was like I could feel myself starting to disappear.” Back on land, she admitted, her body was surprisingly heavy. “Suddenly there was so much more to carry than I was used to.” She laughs as if maybe this is the secret I’ve been after.

When I’ve said enough about the baby, Joan hurries to ask about Daniel. She wants to know every detail: When did we last talk, how did he sound, am I sending letters and pictures, keeping up morale. It’s my duty, she scolds, to remind him what he’s fighting for, to give him something that will bring him back here. I don’t have to ask what the implied meaning is: that if something happens—God forbid—it will have been my fault, that I somehow didn’t make him want it enough—his own survival. I wonder if anyone is thinking to ask him those questions. All night long the baby cries. This is also a type of warfare.

NolanDelaney Nolan

Shotgun Style

45 pages
perfect bound
art by author

OrderNowShotgun Style

My man carves belt buckles out of good tin. Folds it over flat and then gouges out the patterns. Says he chalks them designs out on his cell floor all day and lays awake all night thinking of me with his hot hands. I believe it.

Last April he sold eight at the rodeo. Eight buckles sold, eighty dollars for the fund. Says he did out the math and he can have more than two grand when he gets out. I like to think of this and sometimes I don't. I like to think of: my man's work done by his rough hands, hanging over some hood boy's pants, the buckle shining down Elysian Fields on a stolen bike, flying free that way, dirty with oyster grit from the Market that way. I don't like it when I think of: some brat wearing it on St Charles, catching a streetcar, all glowing in the Louisiana night, buckle polished clean. Makes me crazy. I keep an eye out for them buckles that's his but people think I'm looking dirty at them and they cover their crotches, turn away. I would too.

Image by Lorissa Longfellow Janet Freeman

Dana Ellyn

lizard man

42 pages
fully color-illustrated
perfect bound
art: Dana Ellyn

OrderNowA Man Worthy of Your Attention



PoissantDavid James Poissant

lizard man

22 pages
perfect bound
perfect bound
art: Emily Reiter

OrderNowLizard Man

Ahead, a child stands beside the road. Cam slows the truck to a halt and rolls down the window. The girl steps forward. She looks over her shoulder, then back at us. She is barefoot and her face is smeared with dirt. She wears a brown dress and a green bow in her hair. A string is looped around her wrist and from the end of the string floats a blue balloon.

"Hi there," Cam says. He leans out the window, his hand extended, but the child does not take it. Instead, she stares at his arms, the coiled dragons. She takes a step back.

"You're scaring her," I say.

Cam glares at me, but he returns his head to the cab and his hand to the wheel and gives the girl his warmest smile. "Do you know where we could find Cherry Road?" he says.

"Sure," the girl says. She pumps her arm and the balloon bobs in response. "It's that way," she says, pointing in the direction from which we've come.

"About how far?" Cam asks.
"Not the next road but the next. But it's a dead end. There's only one house." She flails her wrist and the balloon thunks against her fist.

Cam glances at the cereal box. "That's the one," he says.

"Oh," the girl says, and for a moment she is silent. "You're going to visit the Lizard Man. I seen him. I seen him once."

Cam looks at me. I shrug. We look at the girl.
"Well, thank you," Cam says. The girl gives the balloon a good shake. Cam turns the truck around and the girl waves goodbye.

"Cute kid," I say. We turn onto Cherry.
"Creepy little fucker," Cam says.

Amy Fleury

34 pages
perfect bound

OrderNowReliquaries of the Lesser Saints: “Specimens”

Museé de Zoologie, Lausanne, Switzerland

Past the dusty dioramas of otters and sloths,
of roe bucks tangled in endless antler clash,
past the cases of the pinned iridescence
of Nabokov’s lepidopterae, the jarred hearts
and flensed abdomens of typical human
specimens, beyond taxonomy and belief
are the glass cabinets which contain
the reliquaries of the lesser saints—
some poor mother’s water-headed baby,
and one with a parasitic twin, a limbless
lifeless fetus, and a double-faced kitten,
a six-legged lamb and a cycloptic piglet—
suspended in their dreamy brine
after gathering a few breaths or none,
each having too much or not enough
of some essential thing, which is,
in the end, the source of all suffering.

Joshua Vinzant

28 pages
perfect bound

OrderNowMax: “Prologue”

Some characters come back in
from the Green Night like the low brown
of the slow gray trains & sunken
salvage yards of Omaha.

Corn, caskets & Max.
A few things go horribly wrong. The beginning
becomes the ending &, dear reader,
there is no ending. The people come and go

and then not appear. Most are seen
from far away. Grain bins lean in to listen.
Max stumbles home with a penis
inked onto his forehead.

Ominous belly-growls from deep
forest. A cold wind off many brown rivers.

I am writing this last.

Candace Black

28 pages

OrderNowCasa Marina: “Conch”

I failed in so many ways.

I wasn’t native, and was too young
to adopt the mongrel

brio of polyglot crackers, refugees,
runaways. I didn’t like fritters or chowder,
or any attempt to render the stubborn

elastic gastropod palatable. My embouchure
never developed. Others held the spiral—
sawed off and sanded smooth—to their lips

to signal meals, a change of wind.
I merely spluttered.

But I loved its tender pinks,

the colors of secret human tissue
I had yet to witness, the colors of dawn

and sunset. I wanted to unroll
its brittle circles, to go back to the first
moment its cells knew their purpose: Milk

or Rooster, Hawk-wing or Queen.
I wanted to understand accretion, how long
it took to build a place of refuge.

I wanted to understand why
such beauty spent its life

underwater, gorgeous for no reason.

Melanie Jordan

Sold Out
26 pages

SoldOutGhost Season “Charlie Brown in the Dead of Night”

This howling makes me shiver, but it ought to be beautiful.
I wish he would stop it. And you’re out there, too,
little girl, smiling over sticker albums and apple slices.
Who is it takes care of us? Who mends trees
when their limbs crack, who thinks of a question like that?
I know worry is a way of filing, but the folders are too long
or too narrow and none of my frets ever fit. The space
around my head at night is easier to work with,
blankets piled on top of me so I can barely see the rise
of my chest. They don’t mend them, that’s who.
I don’t know which is worse, the barking or the silence.
Tomorrow, maybe, I can win your eye
with animal crackers or a pencil with sparkling foil clefs.
And what good is that, the blessing eye that might not see
me surrounded by autumn’s energy and nearly bursting
with rhapsodic blood? It’s a lot to look for. 
There’s a lot to see in people, the way they hover
at the edge of  knowing and oblivion, the way they keep on
clipping hair and making appointments, clocks with hearts.
It’s definitely a tick when I see you, your dress smoothed
over invisible knees, tick the way I feel you know me.
I’ve danced with girls before, swaying lightly back
and forth, just on the edge of what it means
to fill my body, of being poured in like wet cement.
Then worry filled up my shoes, but it was almost pretty,
a haze like sundown or chiffon before I had to sit down.
If life is a series of escapes to the punchbowl, I want to ask
out loud, is this it? But what kind of question is that?
I’ll be fixed tomorrow when the day is mine, opened up
like the white cream of a cookie. Keep trading
lunches and mittens with me—what is love but one
big cloakroom—because mine is the longing
of a Hercules let loose, mine is the fear of a burst
oil candle, bright with flame and dim with the rupture.
He’ll keep it up. Until I’m out there barefoot
with flashlight and dogdish, or until sunlight sticks up
unruly, ready as a willing head waiting to be combed.

Jeffrey Thomson 

24 pages

OrderNowCelestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge “fabulous ones”

This poem is brought to you by the letter C.

Cattle egret, Big Bird says, cetacean,
the word squeaking like wet whale skin.

Big Bird keeps it real—his thug-life strut.

Do you like giants?
Only the small ones, the boy says.

Chinese catfish, cassava, cassowary.

He’s an intellectual, spends his days off
in coffeehouses, crossing and uncrossing
the long orange tubes of his legs, discussing

Chomsky, conditional freedom, and Cervantes

with anyone who will listen. He marches
against the war, a thousand people
at his back, chanting

Catastrophe, cruise missile, children.

Big Bird refuses to fly south for the winter,
puts on his scarf and heads out the door.

You can’t fool me, the boy says.
I know Big Bird’s not real.
It’s just a suit with a little bird inside.

Matthew Guenette

24 pages

OrderNowA Hush of Something Endless:

One of those parties where I was the stranger.
The sightseers had faces from dreams.
Burt Reynolds mixed dirty martinis.
Elvis stuck his chubby fingers in the fondue.
A barefoot Madonna danced beneath
crimson lights, her breasts and hips red shivers
with every turn. I watched the city unfold
like a palm full of glitter, my thoughts glued
in the vagueness of unmaking. But the stoned-rhine
Dolly Parton kept bringing more and more
bottles of wine. Pretty soon
I was terrifically drunk, tripping from room to room
like one of Faulkner's minor fools.
I told ridiculous lies to anyone who would listen.
I'm an ex-con, I said to a lawyer who fanned
his starched collars and loosened his tie.
I hot-wired cars in the Pittsburgh of my youth.
A woman with a bedroom in her voice whispered
her demands in my ear. I'm an orphan, I said.
I was stolen by gypsies from my native Ukraine.
I spoke without regret. I was stuck in the sap
of twenty-something and alone. It was my first night
in the new city minus friends and a sensible shirt.
When the hostess got fed-up with my shit,
she showed me the door. Sleep it off on the lawn,
she said. It was a good idea, yet as I stretched
myself out in the cool, my mind sliding
down that blue rail of otherness that makes you
a stranger even to yourself, a cigarette flared
in the dark. The hush of a woman's voice.
Hey, like a bored guest on late-night TV.
Tell me all about you.
I pressed my hands to the grass. I was trying to keep from
spinning away. My name's Vincent, I said,
where should I begin?