Category Archives: CPR Volume 21, Issue 1

CPR Volume 21, Issue 1, April, 2019

Landscape with Mud and Prints
by Jennifer Bullis

The trails slick and soggy after three months’ snow
and rain. Water fills the woods, floors all the low places
with slow-flowing brown and gray.
Sometimes, the water silvers, and branches above,
as always, green.

Among still-bare canes of wild rose and salmonberry,
a new path tramped by dogs off-leash
leads to a puddle, now pond. I follow the paw prints
to see. At the squelchy water-edge, two big,
oblong prints, made by—knees?

Narcissus, you were supposed to have faded
back into nature: set your roots into the soil
and affixed your eyes to the mirroring murk.
Instead you arose and took power.
You arose in rage, took weapons

into your hands, began to take and take.
Walking these woods, I look around as though
saying goodbye. That’s what women do, right?
A process of subtraction. Now I’m waiting for it all
to be taken from me.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 21, Issue 1.

Jennifer BullisJennifer Bullis grew up in Reno, earned a Ph.D. in English at UC Davis, and taught college writing and literature in Bellingham, Washington, for fourteen years. Her first collection of poems, Impossible Lessons, was published by MoonPath Press in 2013.

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In Fretta
by .chisaraokwu.

once the last air raid ended
we gathered ourselves, looked left
then entered the main road —
the sun splicing heat into our skin.
an old bus, like a rusty metal lunchbox,
appeared, puttering at the speed of anguish.

no passengers.

from a distance, our march could have been
mistaken for a bloated centipede — sluggish,
out of place. we barreled along outwitting bombs
ordained for stationary targets.                  Move.
Any- some- where. jump on, stagger off.
the sun will still chase us into our graves.

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 21, Issue 1.

chisaraokwu.chisaraokwu. is a Nigerian American poet, performance artist & healthcare futurist. Her creative works have appeared or are forthcoming in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Obsidian, Page & Spine, the Urban Cusp and other literary and academic journals. She is passionate about addressing religious-based & gender-based trauma through the arts and loves musical theater. Conversant in three languages, she splits her time between southern Italy and southern California.

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by Clara McLean

In my father’s final weeks he would collapse
into a chair to catch
his breath each time he crossed
his kitchen. What work the lungs
had left to do, a tumor pressed
against the heart’s soft artery.
Afterward, in Cabo Pulmo,
where divers held their breath
for centuries, grappling for mother
of pearl, I heard the hiss
of gills, that movement outward
and inward, gasps
of microbes and stars.
I remembered the staccato
of his last breaths, the way
his body kept on trying
to do what it knew.
There were long, long pauses,
and then his ribs would rise again,
his lungs the last believers
in the life that was.
In a barren landscape of agave,
dust, and thatch, a life
can be remote from us.
I felt the ebb
and lift, air’s rhythmic fist.
I stared for hours into
the sky, but found him only
in a sore spot on
my ribcage, like a bruise.
I read of free divers who can hold
their breath for 20 minutes.
The current record holder
is a German: 22:22. They compete
side by side, suspended vertically
in tanks. Their chests grow
more capacious over time,
air displacing bone. Lung:
the light organ–
to lunge, lungen, leger–
that thing that weighs so little.

In the desert, I picture him
in the distance, as a boy,
blowing diligently on his clarinet.
All this a parachute–
expansion and
contraction. Even the Bang
one big exhale.
All this impossible.
1,500 miles of airway in
each body. At night the atmosphere
drops in oxygen, and plants
respire in complement
to us, sipping in what we call waste,
breathing oxygen out.
In the weeks before he died, one
of us would enter his apartment for the breakfast
shift, before he woke, hearing aids
out and his back
to the door. At times I would approach,
afraid, checking for that gentle rise,
the way he told us he did
with his first born, in the anxiety
of new parenthood.
I’ve marveled at the small
incision on a friend’s chest
where one cancerous lung
was zipped out. The other one
has slowly poured
toward its missing
sister, ballooning
beyond itself in buoyancy
and mourning. What am I without
you then. A guide takes me snorkeling
off shore. I doubt when I’m about
to jump–what if the mouthpiece
doesn’t work, what if
I drown out here.
I am submerged
for a moment. Then intake,
and the self exceeds
its trap, cells plumping, all molecules like tiny
lights, remembering inspiration.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 21, Issue 1.

Clara McLeanClara McLean lives and teaches in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Earlier poems have appeared in, FoglifterBy & By, Bird’s Thumb, and Berkeley Poetry Review, among others.

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