Alchemist Review 2018! Click the Link to Read Online!


Short Stories By: Vika Mujumdar, Diana Vazquez, Maura Freeman, Brittany Wiser, Kayla Thomas, and Zoey Pritchett!

Poetry By: Glenn Cassidy, Stanley Sharkey, Thomas Brooks, Maura Freeman, Kaya Schreiber, Drew Kodrich, Cheyenne Gain, Daymon Kilman, Allen J. Dixon, Kayla Thomas, and James Kanter!

Artwork By: Abbi McKinnie, Drew Van Weelden, and Cheyenne Gain!

Doriane Laux’s “Second Hand Coat”

Poem: Second Hand Coat
Poet: Doriane Laux
Magazine: Blip
Blogger: D. Glazebrook

I was first drawn to this poem because of the title.  I expected it to be about a coat that was found at a thrift store.  I was completely wrong but I liked the poem because of how strange it is.

It’s about a woman who meets a man at the beach, goes home with him hours later, then sleeps with him.  She finds out that his wife committed suicide in the bed that they’re laying in and it doesn’t seem to phase her.  The man gives the woman’s mother a plant from his house and gives the woman a coat that belonged to his wife.  The man seems pretty wealthy since the coat he gave away was described as having a cashmere lining and when the woman got pizza sauce on the sheets he said he would just “use it for packing”.  The relationship between the man and woman is pretty much all based around sex.  At the end of the poem, the lady moves on and meets a guy named Sam and does the same thing all over again with him.

It seems like both the man and woman are both “lost” souls.  The woman seems insecure and just needs guys around to show her attention; “giving my body away like bread”.  It’s obviously not a big deal for her to sleep around and insinuated that she does this often.  The man seems like he may be depressed after losing his wife because he just keeps giving away all of her stuff and took down all photos of her.  The man and woman would just eat in bed and smoke cigarettes.  This sounds like something someone with lack of hygiene and/or drive would do.  The man also kept giving away all of his and his wives belongings; didn’t care to keep anything.

Images that stuck out to me was when the man told the woman that his wife committed suicide in that bed and that “he’d woken soaked in her blood”, just before that, the woman said “I didn’t look at him or touch his hand”.  At the end of the poem, when referring to her “new fling” who is a garbage man, she said “and he’d say, dead pan, nothing at all in his voice at all, Yeah, yeah darlin’, it’s me”.  She has no emotional connection with these men what so ever.  It shows that this woman probably has serious insecurities and is just hanging out with men who show her any sort of attention.  When the man had a party, his friends turned down the music while the woman had an orgasm. Then the poem also said he flirted with the woman’s mother.  The poem kind of describes him as a womanizer, like he has women over all the time doing this.

With this being a block poem, the author’s voice kind of drags and rambles on which makes me feel even more detached from the men she speaks of.

Keith Montesano’s The Author as Man Who Stares Out His Window with the Others…”

Poem:The Author as Man Who Stares Out His Window with the Others as John Rooney and His Men are Gunned Down in the Street in Road to Perdition
Poet: Keith Montesano
Magazine: The Collagist
Blogger: R. Romero

This poem is interesting to me because the poem is spoken through a narrator and the narrator describes what they see, which is based off a movie. The title of this poem tells you exactly what was going to happen and be said. I found the usage of the scene from a movie to be an interesting subject matter that the narrator focuses on to get to the point that everything people see, they might not always understand. The subject of curiosity or not understanding something shows the deeper meaning that Keith Montesano was trying to portray.

The narrator describes a scene where men are being shot in an alley that is between two buildings. In these two buildings families look out their windows to witness this shooting and no one does anything other than watch. I found this interesting that no one freaked out, called police, or anything. There was no sign of panic. The way the poem is written by using commas, makes this poem fast pace and gives the reader as sense that everything happened to quickly to understand. This ties to the end where the narrator says how everyone understood little of what they saw. Linking the style, grammar and scene of how the narrator speaks gives the sense of everything happening to fast and that people do not always comprehend the things that happen in front of them.

This poem begins by saying how “we” can get what we want if we wait, but waiting only turns into getting what we do not deserve. I think this message in the first two lines is meant to set up the movie that is going to be used. John Rooney in the Road to Perdition is mob enforcer who seeks for revenge on the person who killed his family. This makes more sense once I looked it up because the scene in the alley is meant to be John Rooney who is seeking revenge. I believe the movie is supposed to be an example that follows the deeper meaning that is presented in the first two sentences and tied up in the end with not understanding what you see.

Nancy Reddy’s “The Case of the Double Jinx”

Poem: The Case of the Double Jinx
Poet: Nancy Reddy
Magazine: Anti-
Blogger: L. Dunbar

The title of the poem once again intrigued me to read it.  I am realizing just how important titles can be.  I love the word Jinx, how it looks, how it sounds, and what it means:

jinx |jiNGks|
a person or thing that brings bad luck.
verb [ with obj. ] (usu. be jinxed)
bring bad luck to; cast an evil spell on: the play is jinxed.

I also believe that you can jinx yourself, so I decided to check out this poem.
The first stanza of the poem starts off with a reference to Nancy Drew- who I LOVE.  The images Reddy creates in this poem really come to life in my head, because I can relate to many of them.  I like how she creates the image by using “you’re” and “you” because you can really put yourself in those shoes.  The first stanza makes the “you” seem confident, smart, and pretty much perfect, but that changes as the poem goes on. The consistent use of alliteration helps the poem flow, and I love how it sounds out loud, for instance “wasp-waisted, daredevil dectetive, eagle-eyed, the smugglers are setting sail.”

The image of “He’s a wishbone saved beside the kitchen sink.” Really sticks out to me because my grandparents ALWAYS have a wishbone sitting above the sink.  This poem is almost personal to me because of how I can relate to the images she creates, but is not quite personal because I have never been in that situation.

I don’t quite understand the Jinx that the poet refers to, but in my opinion, the poet believes that “you” jinx yourself when “you” obsess over things you cant control.  “You” try not to jinx yourself by thinking or speaking of the man, but in the end “You” do.  Later in the poem she writes, “She’s a foxtrot.  She’s a jinx and you can’t speak.” I believe this means that the situation “you’re” in cannot be controlled, and you can try to not think about something, but your obsessions can easily take over your mind and your life.

Peter Berghoef’s “Blessings”

Poem: “Blessings”
Poet: Peter Berghoef
Magazine: Hobart
Blogger: M. Adeolu

I was instantly attracted to this poem because of the title itself. “Blessings”, being a Christian myself, I am very fond of them. I love everything about them, and how you can share them with others and they will be eager to receive them their selves, so they find a relationship with God .I am usually the one who will be caught saying such things as “team blessed” or “too blessed to be stressed.” People see blessings are in a variety of ways. When reading this poem I illustrated each sentence as several images individually. For example “eating oysters in a velvet room” the reader would envision this as having a meal in a luxurious room. It is a fantasy we all hope for. My personal Opinion of this piece is that the actual blessing the author is trying to perceive is the ability to fantasize, regardless if he or she even has these goods.  It is being able to dream or wishful think.

The last sentence “You must be waiting for a bus.” struck my attention. What I think this means is being able to have time on your hands. Allowing one’s self to daydream, which summarizes the entire poem itself tying back to wishful thinking.

The poem begins off with the phrase “You must be in bed or buried.” I believe Peter Berghoef began the poem like this because he wanted the reader to decide what to them is a blessing, to be dreaming or in heaven. I came up with that conclusion because “ bed”; that being the place where we all dream, where we are at peace. The only place we can travel the impossible in our dreams.  And when we are “dead” most people think of the place we would be it being Heaven. Where life is bliss filled with blessings.

We can learn from craft because we view blessings differently. Through the structure and dialogue it begins with just an idea and shows us how we should take time to have patience and enjoy those things. As well as have time to daydream.

Stacia M. Fleegal’s “Post-Apocalyptic”

Poem: “Post-Apocalyptic”
Poet: Stacia M. Fleegal
Magazine: deComp
Blogger: R. Murphy

Stacia M. Fleegal’s “Post-Apocalyptic” is a short poem, but it provides more than enough story to keep the reader wondering. From the first line, it provides a sense of secrecy and urgency. It doesn’t explain what kind of apocalypse happened or how long it has been like this. The beginning line and a half thrusts the reader into the situation, just as the narrator and the rest of “us” were most likely forced to adjust after the apocalypse.

The way that the lines break in the poem also convey the sense of urgency. It gets across the idea that the narrator is continuing to talk, and that they aren’t pausing for anything. There isn’t a single line that ends with a period, and so there is no real pause for a specific image except for the fifth line and at the end. The fifth line has a pause to highlight the bleak sentiment “or wait to die”, reminding the narrator and the reader that they might not survive this apocalypse, and that they could die at any time. The phrase redefines the verb live, showing that the narrator isn’t necessarily happy that “we” still survive, that their death is inevitable and only slowed by their effort.

Even though the “we” and “they” are never clearly identified, there is still a sense of caution and wariness conveyed, with very divisive language. The sentence “They are hunting us” tells the audience that the “they” are smart enough to hunt, but possibly carnal enough to be brutal about it.

The lack of context also makes me think of the 1954 novel I Am Legend, in that we immediately side with the narrator because we are given no other point of view. As with the novel, perhaps we and the narrator have judged wrongly, and that perhaps “they” have a good reason for it, as the vampiric creatures did in I Am Legend.

Another word choice of interest was the fact that Fleegal only uses plural pronouns, “we” and “us”, and that there is no “I” or “my”. In these post-apocalyptic times, there must be unity, no matter the relationships of the people involved. The priority is on the survival and unity of the community, not the feelings and status of the individual.

The language used throughout is vivid, hard, and at times overwhelming. The building has its back against the woods, as a person might have their back to a wall for protection, as at least you can’t be ambushed from behind– except in this case, depending on “them”, it could be worse that the building’s back is to the woods. The hard language comes in line seven, with “candy bars, or paper scraps, or vodka” with hard consonants being repeated over and over, with the k sound in candy, scraps, and vodka a harsh sound for a harsh reality. The explanation of the things to remember almost give it an overwhelming feeling, because if you avoid one, you could forget another and be snagged or shot.

The piece was very effective in bringing its reader in, and with each passing sentence I felt as if I were drawn further and further into this world that Fleegal created. I could see the building falling apart next to the water, and I could see the almost hopeless maze of traps to keep “them” out that unintentionally hindered “us”. It created a wide, bleak world in a matter of sentences that left me wondering on the future, for both “us” and “them”.

Sarah Wetzel’s “The Key”

Poem: The Key
Poet: Sarah Wetzel
Magazine: Stirring: A Literary Collection (Volume 14, Edition 9 : September 2012)
Blogger: A. Gould

I enjoyed reading “The Key” by Sarah Wetzel. The title of the poem is what made me read it; I wanted to find if there was a story behind this one key or what the key went to. The writer describes the key by telling the by going in to tell different stories of the past, such as who invented the first lock and key, and how they got out of the tied rope. There was no rhyming in the poem; I think that rhyming would have distracted the reader from the actual story of the keys. The author may have named the poem “The Key” to kind of unlock the untold past of the house. Wetzel ends the poem with a question of why the past owners leave the keys and why did she decides to keep the keys. I think that her ending the poem that way was sufficient because it’s like leaving place for the author to write another poem about the keys, another story of the keys, or possibly what the keys went to. The poem inspires me to find one small object or idea that people may push to the back of a closet or drawer and make it something important. In the poem there are very few periods, there are many commas. Wetzel’s decision to have more commas than periods made everything flow together. It was as if when she decided to tell the story of how the first lock and key was made in that house or on the land of that house. I also thought of it as with each comma there was another key because in the beginning of the poem Wetzel says there are 153 keys. I hope that there will be a continuation of this poem to tell what the keys went to so that it could possibly lead to another mystery about the house.

Kelly Creissio-Moeller’s “Panels From a Blue Summer”

Poem: “Panels From a Blue Summer”
Poet:  Kelly Creissio-Moeller
Magazine: Box Car Poetry Review
Blogger: L. Dunbar

The title of this poem intrigued me to read further.  As I read the poem out loud, I loved the flow of it.  The poet uses alliteration and assonance throughout the entire poem.  The very first stanza reads “I lack the luster that my lilacs can/ muster at any time of year.”  This starts the poem off with both alliteration and assonance, and made me want to read more.  In the second stanza, alliteration is used again; “white waves of woolgathering.” Here the alliteration helps paint a picture of what the poet wants us to see.  Again in the fifth stanza, assonance is used; “Too many shoes from overstayed/welcomes left by the door.” In this poem, alliteration and assonance are used to slow down the flow of the poem, and to really show the image the author has in mind.

The form of the poem is really interesting to me.  I like the diamond separators in-between the stanzas, and I am curios as to why there are a different number of them in-between certain stanzas.  I also like how the poem is centered.  The indentation of the stanzas is very appealing to me because I like everything aligned together.  I am also interested as to why the last line in each stanza does not align on the right side.

The imagery in this poem is very strong.  I like the line “ Outside my window, knots in the/ fence stare drunk as bull’s eyes.”  Another catchy line is “Peacocks ring the rotund rotunda,” The repetition and assonance there definitely slows down the reading, and is also fun to say out loud.  Throughout the poem, the poet occasionally rhymes.  My favorite rhyme in the poem is in stanza six, “To be the leaver or the left, the/ cleaver of the cleft – his language a/ glacier calving, nouns vanish under/ ice- the bereaver, the bereft.”  The quality I like best about this poem is how it sounds when read out loud.

Shayok Chowhury’s “Creation Myth: My Childbride Great-Grandmother and a Hilsa Fish

Poem: “Creation Myth: My Childbride Great-Grandmother and a Hilsa Fish”
Poet: Shayok Chowhury
Magazine: Lantern Review
Blogger: A. Schafer

Shayok Chowdhury’s poem, “Creation Myth: My Chilbride Great-Grandmother and a Hilsa Fish” weaves a compelling story that experiments with line breaks, yielding interesting results. The poem’s structure is built around a regular framework of seventeen stanzas each two lines long. Despite its apparent rigidity of form the poem moves with exceptional fluidity, and I found myself reading the poem in a way that reminded me of a shallow river cascading through its bed, sometimes with a faster pace, sometimes with a much slower pace.

Chowdhury’s utilization of line breaks expresses a remarkable amount of creativity. In the fourth stanza, which reads, “the cold packed dirt that holds her/ captive in this new murder, shh-she” the author wiggles in a little rhyme shared between the phrase “hold her” and “murder.” The line break strategically remodels the rhythm of the stanza, with the first line wrapping up in seven syllables, and the second line culminating in its seventh syllable just at the end of “murder,” emphasizing the rhyme in a way typically observed in an end rhyme scheme, except with a subtlety that pervades the rest of the piece.

Soft “s” sounds add a quiet tone to the poem that blends nicely with the subtleness of the poem’s rhythm. The assonance in stanza ten and stanza eleven creates an effective transition from the focus on the girl’s actions and the fish. Stanza ten, which reads, “swimming with sweatstung tears/ and the sting of skin” breaks almost unnoticeably into stanza eleven, “ stripped from flesh/ divided into iron pans: here.”

Chowdhury’s innovative approach to structure controls the pace of the poem, and each line often prompts revisiting. Repetitive sounds in the opening stanzas slow the poem’s pace. Chowdhury ends the second stanza and begins the third stanza with the same phrase, “with ease.” The third stanza repeats “shh-she” in the first and second line, and the sound of “ease” and “breathes” produces another interior rhyme that shapes the pace and tone of the stanza with subtlety. Chowdhury’s couplet structure is incorporated fantastically into the shaping of the poem’s narrative and allows precise control of the poem’s tone and pace. This poem is innovative and fresh, and its mechanics speak as loudly as each word.

Mary Kovaleski Byrnes’ “Maybe This Happens to Everyone”

Poem: Maybe This Happens to Everyone
Poet: Mary Kovaleski Byrnes
Magazine: inter|rupture (Best of the Net Winner)
Blogger: D. Glazebrook

The poem starts out with a woman laying in bed with a man.  The woman speaking in this poem is describing how beautiful Paris is, but is really describing the summer romance she is having while being in the city.  The two visit different sites in the city but the woman can’t focus on them because she’s so focused on this guy.  She’s making it seem that life has no worries and that her and the man she is with are just two young people in love.  They don’t care about what other people think about their public display of affection.  She described people looking at the two of them by saying “their faces like mirrors”.  I think this means that anyone who looked at them saw the joy they were feeling and it made them happy to see this, or made them want to be in the same position (happy and in love).

The woman is describing this feeling as a “flame” or “fire”; “at night the flames were in my hair, the flames were in his mouth, and each street unrolled like a tongue that gave us what we couldn’t understand”.  This imagery makes me just picture how much fun they’re having, running up and down the streets, probably a little buzzed, not having a care in the world.  She later says, “maybe this happens to everyone, in every city, even in small towns, where corn fields catch fire at the end of summer and teenagers tear off their clothes and run naked through them”.  She talks about how the flame will get so close to these teenagers but won’t even singe them.  This sounds like the kids are “playing with fire”.  It’s a young summer love and they know that it’s probably all just for fun and could get hurt in the end, but at the time, they’re just having fun and don’t care about what could happen later.

The poem ends with trains coming and going and the couple stays behind (skipping their train).  It sounds like they’re trying to live in this love forever but it won’t last, no matter how hard they try; “it won’t brand them, won’t even singe, no matter how hard they run”.  It won’t be something that “brands” them and lasts forever, like a scar.  It is temporary and they need to live in the moment.

I really liked this poem because it perfectly describes a “summer love”; something that a lot of people want to experience at least once in their life.  What better city to describe this in than Paris?