Harp & Altar
POETRY
Amaranth Borsuk is the author, with programmer Brad Bouse, of Between Page and Screen (Siglio Press, 2012), an augmented reality book of poems, and Handiwork (Slope Editions, 2012), winner of the 2012 Slope Book Prize. Abra, a book of conjoined poems written with Kate Durbin, is forthcoming from ZG Press. Her poems have recently appeared in Gulf Coast, CutBank, Colorado Review, SPECS, and The Destroyer. She has a Ph.D. in literature and creative writing from USC and is currently a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities at MIT, where she works and teaches at the intersection of print and digital media.  

Tina Brown Celona is completing a Ph.D. in poetry at the University of Denver. She is the author of The Real Moon of Poetry and Other Poems (Fence Books, 2002) and Snip Snip! (Fence Books, 2006). Her poems have recently appeared in Action, Yes, Octopus and Colorado Review, and in the anthology Gurlesque: The New Grrly, Grotesque, Burlesque Poetics (Saturnalia, 2010).
 

Oisín Curran grew up in Maine and now lives in Montréal with his wife and son. His novel Mopus was published by Counterpath Press in 2008.
 

Kate Dougherty lives in Chicago, where she received an MFA from Columbia College and is currently studying library and information science at Dominican University. Recent poems appear in Fourteen Hills, Word For/Word, Handsome, and Bone Bouquet.
 

Farrah Field is the author of Rising (Four Way Books, 2009) and the chapbook Parents (Immaculate Disciples Press, 2011). Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Sink Review, Sixth Finch, and Fou, and two of her poems were included in The Best American Poetry 2011. She lives in Brooklyn, where she co-hosts the event series Yardmeter Editions and is co-owner of Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Shop. Her second book of poetry is forthcoming from Four Way in 2012.  

Kevin Holden is the author of two chapbooks, Alpine (White Queen) and Identity (Cannibal Books). His work has been published in many magazines and journals, and is forthcoming in the anthology The Arcadia Project from Ahsahta Press. He also translates poetry from Russian and French.  

Gregory Howard has published work in Birkensnake, Tarpaulin Sky, elimae, and Hotel St. George, among others. He is an assistant professor of English and creative writing at the University of Maine.  

Paul Killebrew was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. He is the author of Flowers (Canarium 2010), and he currently resides in Louisiana, where he is a staff attorney at Innocence Project New Orleans.  

Noelle Kocot is the author of five collections of poetry, including Poem for the End of Time and Other Poems (Wave, 2006), Sunny Wednesday (Wave, 2009) and The Bigger World (Wave, 2011); the discography Damon’s Room (Wave, 2010); and a book of translations, Poet by Defaut (Wave, 2011), of the French poet Tristan Corbière. She has received awards from numerous organizations, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fund for Poetry, the American Poetry Review, and the Academy of American Poets. Born and raised in Brooklyn, she now lives in New Jersey and teaches writing in New York.
 

Dan Magers’s first book of poems, Partyknife, will be published in 2012 by Birds, LLC. He is co-founder and co-editor of Sink Review, an online poetry journal, as well as founder and editor of Immaculate Disciples Press, a handmade chapbook press focused on poetry and visual arts collaborations. He lives in Brooklyn.  

Aubrie Marrin’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Pequod, Western Humanities Review, Guernica, and Colorado Review. She is a graduate of New York University, where she received the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Poetry Prize, and earned her MFA in poetry from Columbia University in 2005. She was a finalist for the 2012 Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize. Born and raised in upstate New York, she currently lives and works in Brooklyn.
 

Patrick Morrissey is the author of Transparency (Cannibal, 2009). He lives in Chicago.
 

Michael Newton’s gallery reviews appear regularly in Harp & Altar. He also conducts tours of New York’s contemporary art galleries; find him online at www.loculis.com.  

Jenny Nichols
lives in Providence, RI, where she is currently trying to figure out a couple of Kris Kristofferson songs on a church organ.
 

Sampson Starkweather is a founding editor of Birds, LLC, an independent poetry press. He is the author of Self Help Poems, The Heart is Green From So Much Waiting, City of Moths, and The Photograph. He works at the Center for the Humanities at the CUNY Graduate Center, where he helps organize the Annual Chapbook Festival and Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative.
 

Mamie Tinkler’s recent group exhibitions include “Day of the Locust” at White Flag Projects in St. Louis and “Drawings, Drawings, Photographs” at Rachel Uffner Gallery and “Painted Pictures” at Blackston Gallery, both in New York. Born in Tennessee, she received her BA from Columbia University and her MFA from Hunter College, and now lives and works in Queens.  

Jared White lives in Brooklyn, where he co-curates Yardmeter Editions and has recently founded a bookstore, Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Shop. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Esque, Coconut, We Are So Happy to Know Something, Action,Yes, and elsewhere. His chapbook Yellowcake appeared in Narwhal from Cannibal Books in 2009. He blogs sometimes at jaredswhite.blogspot.com.  
Everything I Know About Psychiatrists
Jenny Nichols

I have been to see a psychiatrist twice in my life. The first time was at my own request when I was twelve and the appointment was made, by my mother, one week after my father killed my brother. She was against me going. “You’re just tired,” she said from her pile of embroidered pillows, “why don’t you go lie down. Even if you can’t sleep you can still rest your eyes.” When I arrived in his office, the psychiatrist, who was well known for his success with difficult children, gestured me towards the wooden chair in front of his desk and asked me in quick succession, “Have you ever been raped? Have you ever witnessed your parents engaged in the primal act? Would you say that you were tall, short, or of average height in comparison to the other girls in your class? Would you say that your breasts were large, small, or of average size in comparison to the other girls in your class?”

When I got home that night my father was hiding out in the top bunk of my bed, convincingly disguised as a pile of blankets and sleeping bags. I told him that I thought the psychiatrist was a pervert and an idiot. He waited until I had brushed my teeth and gotten into bed beside him to answer. The walls of our apartment were thin and he didn’t trust our neighbors not to turn him in. “Maybe he’s just gotten old,” he said quietly near my ear, “he was wonderful with your brother. I don’t know if I ever told you this but when your brother was little there was a time when he started hitting himself. It was very scary, in the head and everything, and a friend gave me Dr. Cahill’s number. I called and left a message with his service, I think it was a weekend and he called back that evening from his house and told me not to worry. He said that it was perfectly normal and he talked to me for quite a while and calmed me down, and I remember while we were talking he said, hold on, I just need to take off my jacket, I’ve just come in and I’m dripping on the carpet. He had called before he even took his wet jacket off. I’ll always be grateful to him for that.” In his sleep, my father reached out in a dream and tightened his hand around my throat but he released it without a struggle as soon as I pressed my thumbnail into his wrist.

The next day Dr. Cahill’s office called to schedule my second appointment. I told my mother that I didn’t want any more appointments but she said it would be extremely rude not to continue and that it would embarrass her especially as she knew Dr. Cahill’s wife slightly. The appointment was made and my mother was billed for it as she was for an appointment a week for the next two years until my father killed her, but I never showed up for one again.

The next time I went to see a psychiatrist I was fifteen. It was at the insistence of the guidance councilor at the private school I was attending who thought I was performing well beneath my ability. As soon as I arrived at my appointment I noticed that I was clutching in my left hand a twelve pack of Duracell AA batteries and pinching between the thumb and forefinger of my right hand the tail of an origami peacock, which, as far as I knew, I had never before seen in my life. It was difficult to follow what the psychiatrist was saying from her couch across the coffee table because I was increasingly distracted and upset by the degree of tautness to which the leather chair I was sitting on had been stuffed and there was a shiny, rotating object which, for the life of me, I could not identify nor deduce a use for, taking up the entirety of her extremely large desk. Just when I thought I could ignore the things in her office long enough to ascertain whether she was making a statement or asking a question that required an answer, I became entangled in a closed loop of revelation and despair which consisted of a slowly building feeling of incompleteness and loneliness that grew into a diamond sharp desire to hold in my left hand a twelve pack of Duracell AA batteries and pinch between the thumb and forefinger of my right hand the tail of an origami peacock. These two objects, held in these two ways, seemed to me, to lie at the outermost points of the spectrum, along which all things possible and impossible existed, at which moment I realized, once more, that I already held precisely these objects in precisely this way and I became transported by the perfection of the placement and movement of every atom in the universe and by the absolute and intricate illustration of that perfection apparent in every event. My newfound understanding of the essential way of things lead me fresh into the situation in which I found myself, ready to find in it, as in all things, an instance of the infinite pattern, only to become aware that the psychiatrist was saying something about coming to terms with my anger and I would slowly begin to suspect that both the chair which, by now, seemed to me to be obscenely overstuffed and what I can only refer to as the rotating object, were in fact, a kind of test and what’s more, a test that I could only fail no matter how I reacted. All of which bespoke, not unity but the inherent distrust and conniving at the heart of all human affairs. My growing despair would then settle into a sense of loneliness and incompleteness, all the more distressing in its familiarity, building to a diamond sharp desire to hold, in my left hand, a twelve pack of Duracell AA batteries and, pinched between thumb and forefinger, the tail of an origami peacock, in my right.

That night, at my legal guardian’s house, my father came in through my bedroom window, off the fire escape, and we closed ourselves into the hall closet with the coats to catch up. He asked me what I had thought of the psychiatrist and whether I thought seeing her would help me. I told him that I didn’t trust her and he said to me, “When you were small, your mother and I had a friend that was really smart and charming and everyone liked her and liked having her around, except you. You weren’t ever rude, you were always perfectly sweet to her but I could tell you didn’t like her and I asked you why and you said, ‘she’s only nice to people she can get things out of,’ and you were exactly right. You were five at the time,” and as he was speaking he slid a hunting knife out of a sheath attached to his belt but he let me take it away from him without a fight and wrap the blade in a pair of mittens so it wouldn’t cut anyone by accident.