Harp & Altar
Jason Michael Bacasa is a writer and musician currently living in New York. His screenplay Paperback was recently shortlisted for the Sundance Labs and selected as part of IFP’s Emerging Narrative. He performs music under the moniker Tan or Boil. His debut release is slated to appear later this year on Australia's Preservation Records.


Lynn Crawford is a fiction writer whose books include Simply Separate People (Black Square Editions, 2002) and Fortification Resort (Black Square Editions, 2005). She edits the cultural arts journal DETROIT:, published by the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.


David B. Goldstein is the author of the chapbook Been Raw Diction (Dusie, 2006), and his poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous journals and anthologies, including The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel—Second Floor, Jubilat, Typo, Pinstripe Fedora, Epoch, Alice Blue Review, and The Paris Review.  He teaches creative writing, Renaissance literature, and food studies at York University in Toronto.


Elise Harris is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn. Her writing has appeared in previous issues of Harp & Altar.


Jennifer Kronovet’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Brooklyn Rail, The Colorado Review, Crowd, Pleiades, Ploughshares, and other journals. She is the co-founder and co-editor of Circumference, a journal of poetry in translation, and works at the Academy of American Poets as the editor of the magazine American Poet.

Miranda Lichtenstein’s work has appeared in solo exhibitions at galleries in New York, Los Angeles, and Tokyo, and has also been included in group shows at museums and galleries around the world.


A recipient of the Aga Kahn Prize from The Paris Review, Norman Lock is the author of Trio (Triple Press, 2007), The Long Rowing Unto Morning (Ravenna Press, 2007), Two Plays for Radio (Triple Press, 2006), Land of the Snow Men (writing as George Belden, Calamari Press, 2005), A History of the Imagination (FC2, 2004), Notes to the Book of Supplemental Diagrams for Marco Knauff's Universe (Ravenna Press, 2003), and The House of Correction (Broadway Play Publishing, 1988), among other works.


Eugene Marten’s novel In the Blind came out in 2003 from Turtle Point Press. He lives in Harlem.


Miranda Mellis is the author of The Revisionist (Calamari Press, 2007) and an editor at The Encyclopedia Project (www.encyclopediaproject.org). Her writing has recently appeared in The Believer, Post Road, Fence, Denver Quarterly, and Harper's. She teaches at California College of the Arts.


Ryan Murphy is the author of Down With the Ship from Otis Books/Seismicity Editions. He has received awards from Chelsea magazine and the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, as well as a grant from the Fund for Poetry. He lives in New York.


Michael Newton is a current MFA candidate at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. His gallery reviews have appeared in previous issues of Harp & Altar.


Jason Stumpf teaches literature and creative writing at Providence College in Rhode Island. His translation of Mexican poet Pura López-Colomé’s Aurora was published this year by Shearsman Books. His work has recently appeared in Action Yes, LIT, The Modern Review, and elsewhere.


Mathias Svalina is the author of the chapbooks Why I Am White (Kitchen Press, 2007), Creation Myths (New Michigan Press, 2007), and When We Broke the Microscope, a collaboration with Julia Cohen forthcoming from Small Fires Press. He lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he is co-editor of Octopus Magazine and Octopus Books.


Bronwen Tate is the author of the chapbook Souvenirs, published as part of the Dusie Chapbook Kollektiv. Her poems have recently appeared in The Cultural Society and The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel—Second Floor. This year she began a PhD in comparative literature at Stanford University, where she also edits Mantis: A Journal of Poetry, Criticism and Translation, and gets teased for knitting in class. Visit her online at breadnjamforfrances.blogspot.com.


Jared White’s poems have appeared in Barrow Street, Meridian, The Modern Review, Sawbuck, and Verse, and are forthcoming with Another Chicago Magazine, Cannibal, Fugue, Fulcrum, and LVNG, among other publications. His MFA poetry studies were at Columbia University, where he received a prize from the Academy of American Poets in 2005. He lives in Brooklyn and can be found online at jaredswhite.blogspot.com.


Michael Zeiss spent five years at the American Red Cross working with people affected by the attacks of September 11. His writing has appeared in previous issues of Harp & Altar.
Miranda Mellis

This work-in-progress synthesizes language derived from two disparate American archives: the case files of Dr. E. M. Libby, a rural doctor of north Michigan miners and loggers circa 1900–1934, and life as a child in a Marxist-Leninist collective circa 1970s–1980s. This archive is flagrantly subjective. Other intertexts are derived from authors William Cronon and Lewis C. Reimann (see endnote). Each case is volumetric (sound and dimension) imbricating the bruised shine of fateful accidents, heists gone awry, smoke-soaked discourse, auto-cry-tique, and “enormous changes at the last minute” characteristic of bodily and earthly life’s world-historical trauma. (All trauma is world-historical.) The “cases” register regimes of treatment—medical, industrial and ideological. If there is any recuperation in this operation, it is of the bald noise of expression.




No. 1998


Working in the shaft at Rogers Mine, patient fell thirty feet and landed on a timber placed across shaft.


Brought to surface acre, a monument bodily. Dissuade him. Do not ring. Fearing mental hills, mineral fires, ground waters for the entirety of called life. To incur before she died mother did lament “they are burning.” The cradle is burning of civilization. This . . . memoir, enemy pleasure. They demand that you read Marx “correctly.” Why don’t you? You small thin tongue civility, the doctor where needed used a chisel. Oh comrade you know how to use the hammer. Of fascia sometimes upon the flesh and bone of a miner or a logger. Oh comrade why isn’t it all as written? Oh redemptive mark-maker Marx. Why hast thou insufficiently. End it doctor will operate constantly. The insane philosopher will diagnose. Crest of the people who are getting hurt oh mother. Pelvis oh patient, there is nothing to worry about don’t touch me there. Pain, it is sad. You are depressed but don’t turn it into suffering comrade you are you and words are only. Don’t suffer me so your goodness, so like malice. Your authority, so.




No. 1710


“Drifts” are tunnels drilled and dug out from the shaft to the main body of ore. At the end of these drifts were great rooms from which the ore had been blasted and hauled to the “skip,” or elevator cage, and hoisted to the surface.


Working in drift in Osana Mine, he was caught between sidewall of drift and passing tramcar.


Tried to get there in time too late disaster. How to get. Outer aspect of hips and thighs shoot spun yourself shit. Of ilia to whomever, this home even, neutral push push. Patient complains of pain and lies down. Severe pain: much has been said about subject and object and region, locale, local anesthetic, locale anamorphosis, local aesthetic. Morphine I will not add, but make removals. Small, cigarette drain in low angle, its wound-made revenge pattern home spun. xo, comrade.




No. 1952


Commodities were produced by human beings facing each other in the tumultuous relationship whose name was market: farmers and grain traders, cowboys and cattle barons, lumberjacks and lumbermen, miners and managers all struggling over who would control the product of their collective work.


Shoveling ore in stope at Chicagoan Mine, a large mass of ore fell striking patient and knocking him down.


Who would control their collective? Misreadings, posters of death, ideology, coinage. Shame produced by human beings misrecognizing each other in the tumult whose name. Don’t drive through blame town without visiting authority. Necrotic tissue of doubtful vitality. The children laugh they screwed, drilled and screw. Cast with windows to permit inspection no one is watching. Will return to work as a miner. Will return to anger.




No. 1830


They fastened lighted candles or carbide lamps to their waterproof miner’s hats.


Working in shaft of Osana Mine, a piece of rock, falling down shaft, struck patient on head.


“I have no pictures from that time; my life was erased.” Angles of laceration. Force of semi-conscious iterations, repetitions. Elevate, insinuate, make a gesture ascetic mistaken under the edge of a fragment the fragment raised, seized with forceps pain vs. concept. Who is under the bed? Dura lacerated. Closed with fine catgut. Bone fragment trimmed to firm seating replaced in bony defect of skull. Silkworm gut. Dressings retained by firmly applied cap. Convulsions resume hard labor. Return to iron for visit, procure money to see the doctor, strikes would not be allowed to stop production, diseases are a kind of strike, too. The mother laborer, whose, patient abed, whose body refuses to work, to work properly on behalf of the collective. Who will not, will not stop for that? Nor would the mines stop, stop for that. Stutter, strike, scatter, stutter. How can you hold a limit responsible: a limit cannot go beyond.




No. 1633


Hand drilling was the method used for boring holes into the ore or the rock overlaying the ore. One held the steel drill while the other struck the drill with a sledgehammer, the drill being turned after each blow. At the end of the day miners placed sticks of dynamite into the holes with fuse and dynamite caps attached. When all the holes were “charged” word was shouted to all men in the mine to clear out. At a set time all the fuses were lighted and the miners ran out to the shaft. Each man carefully checked to see that his partner was with him and in a safe position. Great explosions sounded throughout the mine, echoed and reverberated and rumbled to the surface until they could be heard for a mile or more around. Many were maimed or killed each year. Mining laws to protect the men were few and seldom enforced. “Get out the ore, damn you. Never mind the risks.”


Believing it to be a missed shot, patient picked up stick of dynamite that had been fused and lit, which exploded in his hand at Dober Mine.


Severe shattering. Loss of distal, loss of entire. Numerous small pieces. “The alterity of the detail, in the excess of the part retained as a part,” and embedded or remaining fingers, data marked with asterisks, report made to Oliver Iron Mining Company.



The italicized sections that appear below the case numbers are drawn directly from—or paraphrase—one of two source texts: Chapter 3, “The Iron,” from Between the Iron and the Pine (Ann Arbor, Michigan: Edwards Brothers, 1951), a biographical account of pioneer life in the mining and timber town of Iron River, Michigan, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, by Lewis C. Reimann; and Chapter 4, “The Wealth of Nature: Lumber,” from Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West (New York: Norton, 1991), by William Cronon. The case studies prefaced by lines from Reimann are No. 1710 and No. 1830; the remaining italicized passages are drawn from Cronon.