The Country Dog Review

Spring 2010

Julia Alter

Kindred Swimmer
                       for Ambrosia

If I could sleep in the slipskin of moon tonight I would.
You are written across my life, a language I don’t yet speak,
the silver cursive of you swimming through my bones.

How did you get here, by rowboat
                                              by wing
                                              by copper thread?

This vellum womb you push through, this chrysalis of the body.
You are my lost season, a tangle of new leaves and grapeskin.
My suckleberry, my kindred swimmer.

Already you pull your tiny boat to the shore,
                                          already lulling and tiding,
                                          already ebbing, my tiny moon.

The gods of gold carp and chardonnay have made a romance
of my body and I welcome you to this shore, new love.
I welcome you to the dream of my hands.

Let me kiss your wet feet.


Portrait of a New Mother

Morning shrieks out yellow to be held. I am the day’s mother,
so I reach out and take the hours in my arms. Fog fusses
through the trees. I give spring equinox a kiss, tell winter
she will be okay, everything will be okay. The roses stretch
their necks a higher hue of chartreuse as I tiptoe by, say Look
at you. I’m so proud of you. You are so big.
And rose turns ballerina.

The wind resists her nap, wakes the leaves who slumber
under the umbrella table. The squirrels reject their pajamas.
The doves must be teething again, all those low moans
constant as dusk lands peach and gray. I turn myself
into a sycamore to hold the doves who each coo
for their own branch. I grow seven more arms.

Dinner sobs crimson on the stove, the broccoli drooling,
tomato sauce sputtering, the water boils mercurial.
My husband’s silhouette asks Sweets, how was your day? I move
to hug him but the moon clings to my arms, legs, my neck,
refuses to go to bed again, her own light too distracting,
kept awake by her own rambunctious shine.

Julia Alter grew up mostly in Santa Cruz, California. She has published poems in The Cortland Review, Porter Gulch Review, Calyx and Red Wheelbarrow among others and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is the author of Walking the Hot Coal of the Heart (Hummingbird Press, 2004). Julia lives with her husband, daughter and son in Venice, where she is shining up her second collection.


Jenn Blair


Summer. Late light. Clover.
Clouds pouring high over the fields.
Stone wall. Fern. Luminous Birch.
Loose brick holding back door.
Upturned pail, mouth full of dirt
and dandelion seed. Broken dish.
Tender instep of rotted leather sole.
Abdomen swelled spider toiling
between fence post and barbed wire.
Water bidden from the pump.
Darkened nail. Wandering Jew.
Queen Anne’s lace. Beggar weed.

Jenn Blair is a Park Hall Fellow at the University of Georgia. She has published in MELUS, Copper Nickel, The Tusculum Review, and SNR Review among others. Her chapbook All Things are Ordered is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.


Elijah Burrell


This cornfield is dried coral, yielding only
tiny cuts as I pass among its rows.
The wind is barn yards, dusting tussock sedge,
which bends like seaweed in slow, billowing waves.
I should’ve been born on the sand, my subjects sculpting
castles in celebration of my arrival.
A babe swaddled in kelp and pearls.
Instead I creak in an old inapt rocker
by an open window. The rusty smell
of a screen. The sky releases like a pregnant
grain silo. There’s salty rain in my veins.

Elijah Burrell was born and raised in Mid-Missouri.  His poems have appeared most recently in Under One Sun, and he will soon begin working towards an MFA in writing at Bennington College.  He currently lives in Jefferson City, Missouri.


Kara Candito

Logan Airport Two Days After Christmas

Now I pass through the sterile checkpoint,
barefoot, boarding pass between my teeth,
and let the wands run down my arms,

knowing that this is the waiting, as in
childhood; the autistic dark of stairwells,
question marks clicking open at each landing.

It’s almost time. Window or aisle?
Vacant or occupied? The light begins
when I lock the bathroom door.

I am not a pilgrim, sweaty and penitent,
I am not a prayer. All week I picked
platters of deli meat clean at family parties

while ginkgo trees grew ominously
lovely in demilitarized zones
with names like Old Testament cities.

Now the captain grunts out a song
about headwinds and expedience. He means
that God has been with us all along,

like a distant aunt or an air marshal
fastening her safety belt, asking very quietly,
Can this plane land on water?

Kara Candito is the author of Taste of Cherry (University of Nebraska Press), winner of the 2008 Prairie Schooner Book Prize. Her poems and reviews have appeared or will appear in such journals as Blackbird, AGNI, Prairie Schooner, The Kenyon Review, Gulf Coast, Sycamore Review, The Rumpus, and Best New Poets 2007. She has received awards for her poetry, including an Academy of American Poets Prize and scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.


Carol Frith

Urban Alley with No Horseman

The door draws down to the back porch steps.
It is almost dusk or almost morning,
moon or sunlight having spilled itself
somewhere just outside the frame.

Inside the house, a lamp sheds a heartbeat
of yellow incandescence. A stray moon
is going to set (or rise) out of balance.
The sun has already gone down on its old sad wings.

These back porch steps are not on any
waterfront; no sea and no lax tide push
against inky rocks. You and I have lived
in this dream: low alders or bushes in the alley.
No stately plane trees and not a single linden.

In this narrow alley there is no horseman.

Tonight, you tell me that you see looping
eucalyptus and a solitary moon, some kind
of path, or maybe none, an enchanted forest
that has nothing to do with dawn or dusk
falling or rising in this alley which is nowhere
near the sea, no horseman whatsoever waiting
moon-drunk and solitary on a weed-
green paving stone to celebrate the kind
of light that’s isn’t even here
behind this sad brick house.

Carol Frith, co-editor of Ekphrasis, has chapbooks from Bacchae Press, Palanquin Press, Finishing Line, Rattlesnake and Medicinal Purposes. A full-length collection was just released from David Robert Books. Her work has appeared in such journals as Seattle Review, POEM, Rattle, Rhino, Atlanta Review, Measure, Poetry Kanto (Japan) and others.


Kimberly Groninga

Right Before the Flood

In the photo, you cannot decipher
where the signpost enters the water
and its reflection begins.

You cannot see the current
doubling back in whorls, looping
around the diamond yellow sign.
How it dips and pockets
like gathering commotion.
The photo does not show the suspicion
that, underneath, something has organized—
it suctions and pops and tosses the surface
of a river screaming hungry, gone mad.

In person, we wonder
if the thousands of yellow bags lining its bank
are teeth. If the whole city-sized thing is mouth.
It thunders past our shoulders—
licking bridges, swallowing trains.

Kimberly Groninga is the nonfiction editor of the North American Review and is a lecturer in English at the University of Northern Iowa. Her poetry and nonfiction have appeared in Briar Cliff Review, Mid American Poetry Review, Stone's Throw Magazine and elsewhere. Her first collection, Other Things that Grow, was released in January by Final Thursday Press. Visit her website at


Ryan Holden

Lightning Portrait of Henry Wells

                   Pickens County Courthouse
                   Rt. 86 and Rt. 17
                   Carrollton, AL

the terror of a man cast in glass a crashing

reminder through soap
& gasoline—immortality
the surviving pane with an arrow

guiding attention to sky & a peal
of thunder simple hailstones

scatter the frost
slinking over his face

to capture light-scars
in slow undulation—
the rhythm of mobs

etched mirrors of rope
& fire hide guilt or face
all that remains

Ryan Holden is a graduate student in Creative Writing at Arizona State University. He has been published most recently in The Blue Guitar and received an Honorable Mention for The Katharine C. Turner Prize of The Academy of American Poets in 2009.


Kip Knott

Rust Belt Night


In the countryside of Ohio,
in a house surrounded
by a forest where night throws
the moon's bright coins
beneath dying elms, I lie in bed,
alone with my wife. We glide
over sheets like two water striders
straddling air on pin points
before sinking into sleep.


In sleep I am a miner gouging
the sour belly of the world.
My hands ache from the kick
of a jackhammer, my back
and legs buckle from the weight
overhead. My wife sleeps
with a river at her back;
its current polishes her
skin until she glitters
like the beginnings of fire.


We wake and shower,
water needling us to consciousness.
Last night's dreams swirl
down the drain like a slow cyclone.
The road to work takes us
over the offices of the dead.

Kip Knott is the author of three books of poetry, most recently Everyday Elegies (Pudding House, 2007).  His writing has appeared in numerous journals, including Beloit Fiction Journal, Gettysburg Review, Poet Lore, and The Sun.  His second book of poetry, Whisper Gallery, can be accessed online at Mudlark (  Currently, Kip lives in Delaware, Ohio, and teaches English at Columbus State Community College.


Christian Nagle


As the beach warps away from her,
blurred by Mediterranean heat—
driftwood branch, a martyred gull,
the only flaws in a vista slick
with consonance; as she drizzles
sand from a loose fist, certain
even a trick of weather—typhoon
clouds boiling suddenly across
the vacant afternoon—would fail
to move her (just as you, briefcase
open under umbrella, seem
not to have moved in twenty years);
as the boys swim farther out,
she smells a fire, spots ash
snowing the sky, and wonders who
could possibly be in need of more
heat on such a day, who felt
the sun wasn’t enough to endure?

Christian Nagle holds a PhD with honors in literature and creative writing from the University of Houston. He has published poetry, essays, translations, interviews and prose fiction in The Paris Review, Esquire Japan, Southwest Review, Partisan Review, New England Review, Antioch Review, Subtropics, Connecticut Review, Measure, Kyoto Journal, Quick Fiction, Cimarron Review, and many other magazines. His first collection of poems, Flightbook, is scheduled for publication by Salmon Poetry (Ireland). He lives in Tokyo, where he is translating the collected works of the early modernist, Chuya Nakahara.


Rachel Marie Patterson

On the Nod

Like dogs, way back behind the lot, we slip
in and out of sun, we keep the belt
clenched in our jaws, we wait. There’s trouble here,
there’s trouble in the bricks, the backseat, slouching
in the bathroom sink. But we’re on the nod, we’re in
the sweating jungle of a dream: The tangled
human knot that held us back is gone.
The truth’s behind us like our thinning shirts
and hair, the drop of blood that siphons up
black tar: What you can’t face, we tuck into
our veins, forget. So call us dregs, say what
will let you sleep at night: Swallow our names
like we are no one’s sons or daughters, cold
as the night we melted through the door like ghosts.

Rachel Marie Patterson's poems appear in the Superstition Review,

Scapegoat, Red River Review, and Clementine Magazine.


Jessica Piazza

               Love of snow

Past lengthening days I loathed the draining, dazing winter
light; the whitening waking me each blazing winter.

The ashes of our strange, mislaid chronology remained,
but each insistent day came anyway, not phasing winter.

Our boot-prints decked the snowy po