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.

At Least Part of the Reason
Cameron Paterson

Look, now, this is not my old trick again.

We keep sleeping in our chains.  We can’t mute

our charred appetites.  We ignore the worst.

I’ve thought about what cannot be undone:

a young, three legged cow, shunted, shut

in a pen.  (The only job I ever lost.)

Her mooing was injuring me.  I made time

pass by billowing back to her.  I cut

her ear tags, catheter, whatever wasn’t

flesh.  To touch your legs is to feel her shame.

                Deep feast.


Something more than shame: she was a beacon.

If only I could entirely forget—

for years the only voice was, Where’s your thirst?

Swallow.  Forgive yourself.  The flames are broken.

But this light was like nails that split the feet.

Now I live in this light, which is the stillest

in bed.  Already a worm sweeps our home.

In the rooms it eats the shadows and sets

its cold lips on my arms.  It has mostly

black scales that splinter like shingles on a tomb.

                Come home.


I want to find a tomb to dig in: what can

hold out, what seeds shoot through a skull, what sweet

water cannot break.  I just want to trust

the body, trust that it never shuts out sun.

I mean to be whole.  I am not quiet.

How do I know if you’re sleeping?  I outlast

rejections.  How old are we?  Your hands are warm:

give me them.  It isn’t easy to want.  To get

somewhere, I take everything off, spiders.

Once you said, “I’m not giving up.”  To dream

                a house.


I move above you and then the dream: carnations,

the forks shining on the table, velvet—

it all comes true, the black cord, the taste

of tears in my mouth, the hard cessation.

What you would have given up didn’t amount

to much: pictures of a drowned dog, red glass.

But I wanted to show you how a stream

slips down, bursts the minerals of granite

in blood, turns veins slowly into caves, mist

and dead bats.  That is, I would have become



I see how much like me you have become:

a woman who makes a speechless market

out of half-lit hanging blue locusts.

You wait for me to step up and buy them

and not discuss prices, as if I coveted

burned wings about to open.  Who would contest,

you think, that you sell sweet and precious forms?

We have a deep thirst to bargain, and yet

I do it at my expense: it is lust

that I barter for, my head full of flotsam,

                red gauze.


In sex it’s true there is mostly exhaustion.

My body’s right side hotter than the left,

guilt, double vision.  A travel plan is best:

simple, no clouds of annunciation,

you desolate, me as I am, a wet

lace sheet, old lamp, nothing to fight against.

But I can’t understand anything, our home,

this persisting hollowness, a white slate,

why you are a little cold and so fast

as if you wanted to find rest, be

                left alone.