Harp & Altar

Andrea Baker was the recipient of the 2004 Slope Editions Book Prize for her first book, like wind loves a window. She is also the author of the chapbooks gilda (Poetry Society of America, 2004) and gather (Moneyshot Editions, 2006). Raised in Florida, she now resides in Brooklyn, NY, where her apartment is small and entropy upsets her.  She maintains a Lyricism Blog at andreabaker.blogspot.com.


Jessica Baran has a BA in visual art from Columbia University and an MFA in poetry writing from Washington University in St. Louis, where she currently resides.


James Gallagher’s collaged images have been shown in galleries across the world and have been spotted in Arkitip, in J&L Books and Die Gestallen publications, and on fancy linen tea towels. He was born and raised in the Midwest, but has now lived most of his life in New York. His work can be seen at www.gallagherstudio.net.


Elise Harris has written for the New York Times Book Review and the Nation.


Stefania Heim is co-founder and co-editor of Circumference: Poetry in Translation. Her poems have appeared in various publications, including The Paris Review, The Literary Review, and La Petite Zine. Her review of Elizabeth Willis’s Meteoric Flowers was published recently in Boston Review.


Raised in Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Kane is an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Pittsburgh. His work is forthcoming in McSweeney's, and his translations of Tomaž Šalamun’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Harvard Review, Chicago Review, Crazyhorse, and Denver Quarterly.


Eugene Lim lives in Brooklyn and works as a librarian in a high school. “Product Placement” is an excerpt from a novel in progress called Loop. His writing has appeared in The Brooklyn Rail, Boog City, sonaweb, and elimae.  He  became fiction editor of Harp & Altar after the publication of the first issue.


Jill Magi is a 2006–07 writer-in-residence with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Program. She is the author of Threads, a hybrid work of prose, poetry, and collage forthcoming in fall 2006 from Futurepoem Books, and Cadastral Map, a chapbook published in 2005 by Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs. Prose, poetry, and visual works have appeared in HOW2, The Brooklyn Rail, Jacket, CutBank Poetry, The New Review of Literature, Aufgabe, Chain, and Pierogi Press, and are forthcoming in The Tiny and Second Avenue Poetry. She runs Sona Books and teaches literature and writing at The City College and The Eugene Lang College of the New School.


Michael Newton is currently at the Cranbrook Academy in Michigan, pursuing a master’s degree in visual art. He likes art a lot.


Cameron Paterson lives in rural North Carolina.  He is currently a graduate student in classical philology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.


Lily Saint is a lapsed poet. While she awaits the return of her muse, she is working toward a dissertation at the CUNY Graduate Center.


Tomaž Šalamun lives in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and is the author of more than thirty collections of poetry. The most recent English translation of his work is Blackboards (Saturnalia Books, 2004).


Joanna Sondheim’s work has appeared in canwehaveourballback, sonaweb, LitVert, Boog City, Bird Dog, and Fishdrum, among others. Her chapbook, The Fit, was published by Sona Books in 2004.


Paul Winner has entered his final year of divinity school in New York.


Michael Zeiss lives in Woodside, Queens. This is his first published story.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Jessica Baran


Once upon a time, a peaceable kingdom

saw old No Name’s ultimate good luck:

a miraculous draft of fishes splitting

from the backyard shit piñata. 


He said: “The rectum is a grave,

what we do is secret.”


Said Angel: “I'll say, trouble every day

in my mind. When the lone sheep defends itself,

there goes the whole venerable tradition

of failure and then some.”


Down Lackadaisical Route, the rivers are streets,

not a picnic is cancelled, only left to float. Tipping

ten gallon hats, they toast: “To that goat-legend leading

where you'll never put your fingers when I'm gone.”


Angel did it: wrestled the barrel, the sun-rot fish

put away. Tumbleweed tumbling, alike along drifting.

In this paradise ark, the one with no name plays strong. 




“For the last time: I'm not asking your name, only

to clear this dead treasure quick, like

your match-lighter shooting

of doves.”


And whitely, down

one went. “Harmonica, you've got a way with graves.”


Gloving the rocks, not a surprise. Another Sunday burning

bright with hill sage, the high noon sun rolling wide

where they stood, six feet deep. 


“Harmonica, you're just pure service. No

lockbox, all intimacy. Whadaya say after today

we etch this robbed grotto onto our hearts,

x-mark a clear structure, for the new generation?”


Sweat-wiping, scowling,

Harmonica barely descanting: “Yeah, all them young birds

with revolution on their minds. Just reckless gravity

everyone knows.”




In America, several times, we saw it on the news:

a tussle at the convenience store, one

nameless, another tuneless, and the other

without mouth or wings. Can't tell you why, but


they all became somewhat as follows:

bad then ugly then good. And then ugly made better

for the worse. What sense, proved slippery—


“I'll take it,” he said

to the security camera. We supposed it referred

to his own face on the simulcast screen. 


“I'll take the well hidden, prying eyes, and all that

no one will ever see behind them.” Blinking.


Grinning.  Road smutting. Hand made

free for cuffing. What a magic hour

for waking. To songs too blue to cry.