“Pathetic” by Suzanne Zeitman

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Suzanne Zeitman


How long have I been sitting on the couch, in a nightgown with a worn-out cardigan on top? Across from me hang seven pictures: two of my dead parents, five more of my daughter (also dead). All I have to do is look at any one of them to shrink inside with feeling there is much I should have done but didn’t. I hear a child outside yell what sounds like I don’t want to be lonely. If this were a poem, I think, now would be the time for some tiny joy of nature to appear and mitigate the speaker’s pain. Perhaps a crimson cardinal on the window sill. But if the cardinal won’t show up, what then? Or if it does, but keeps colliding with the window while attacking its reflection in the glass? What if nothing, surely no deluded cardinal, soothes you, and it’s you who wants to scream because you’re lonely, and there is no cheery cardinal, child or grandchild to sustain you? Maybe your life really is random and meaningless and thus irredeemable, and you can’t turn it or the poem around—but the poem, at least, doesn’t have to go on like this.

from Rattle #49, Fall 2015
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Suzanne Zeitman: “Although I usually avoid attempts to relate mathematics and poetry, this particular poem exhibits a kind of self-reference, something that occurs in mathematics, especially in mathematical logic. I have spent more of my life on mathematics than on writing or other literary pursuits, although I have always been drawn slightly more to the literary. I have a master’s degree in mathematics, a PhD in computer science, and an MFA in writing from Vermont College. I recently retired after working twenty years as an editor of Mathematical Reviews, a review journal for research in mathematics.”

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“There Have Come Soft Rains” by John Philip Johnson and Julian Peters

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A Graphic Poem


Soft Rains #1


Soft Rains #2


Soft Rains #3


Soft Rains #4

[download in full resolution: 1, 2, 3, 4]


poem from Rattle #45, Fall 2014

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John Philip Johnson’sThere Have Come Soft Rains” originally appeared in our 2014 Poets of Faith issue. John has been working with a group of talented illustrators, including Marvel Comics legend Bob Hall, and Julian Peters, whose work appears above, to create a book of graphic poetry, which is available at his website. We published the title poem from that book, “Stairs Appear in a Whole Outside of Town,” in comic form in 2014.

Julian Peters is currently working on a 24-page comic adaption of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” which can be previewed at his website, where you’ll also find full comic versions of many great poems, including Rimbaud’s “The Drunken Boat,” Seamus Heaney’s “The Given Note,” and more.

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“Five Types of Confidence” by Arthur J. Stewart

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Arthur J. Stewart



Accidentally I attended an off-
the-wall flash mob event in the
lobby of the mall last week and at pre-
cisely the appointed time a loud bang

happened and

everyone in on it turned and froze

in place staring east, com-
pletely cap-
tivating the persons attending and I

took a quick glance west.



I turn and re-
turn to the slip of water
along the submersed hull, the soft
near-silent thud of the great

engine reverberating, almost
feeling it. With the command up periscope, it
slides up. In the con-
trol room, eyes scan

green numbers and orange bars on electronic charts.
A muted discussion and from that
a decision is made: turn starboard,
twenty degrees.



We think
we know, we take a
good hard guess—such is
the power of logic.

In some other dimension the wise
Greek philosopher frowns and
shakes his shaggy head.



Our confidence
is a function of spatial scale. A massive
thing, when on the move,
will move

according to a pre-
cisely calculated plan; a sub-
atomic particle




I am confident
in love and I so love
her and her curves and
the delicate ways she thinks.

from Rattle #49, Fall 2015
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Arthur J. Stewart: “I am an aquatic ecologist: It’s what I was trained to do, at Michigan State University’s Kellogg Biological Station, and it’s what I love. From my science perch first at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and more recently at Oak Ridge Associated Universities, I’ve been able to write poetry, in addition to writing technical papers. I devise poems to convey the beauty of science to the public, and to remind scientists, again and again, that there is more than science as a valid way to think.” (website)

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“Dog Sitting in Snow” by Matthew J. Spireng

Matthew J. Spireng


A black Lab, or, from a moving car at a distance, a mutt
that looks like a black Lab, is sitting in the last remnants
of snow in a field near a country house facing away
from the house. It could be a statue in a field except

its head moves a little as I drive past. It appears to be
looking off into the distance, surveying the far reaches
of neighboring fields for anything that might be there
that would interest it, though it does not have the look

of a dog that will run off and chase what it sees.
It is as if it is waiting for whatever might approach,
perhaps guarding, prepared to bark or growl or
wag its tail depending on what, or who, comes near.

It also might be just enjoying the last of the snow
left from winter, a dog, like my dog, that likes
snow, eats it as a human eats a refreshing Italian ice,
and that is now pondering the change of seasons.

Likely, after I have gone, a human will call
from the door of the house and the dog will reluctantly
rise from its musings and return to the house
where it will find food and companionship,

but none of the smells that come with the end of winter
and beginning of spring, and, though its ties to the house
are strong, it may, if dogs are as smart as they
sometimes seem, consider what might have been.

from Rattle #49, Fall 2015
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Matthew J. Spireng: “Back when I started out as a mathematics major at Clarkson College of Technology (now Clarkson University) before graduating with a BS in mathematics in 1969, I wasn’t thinking at all about writing poetry. But then, in the summer of 1968, life changed for me as I learned for the first time at age 21 that I was adopted, and, shocked into using the other half of my brain, I began to write poetry. My mathematical bent affects my poetry, though. My work is often structured and almost always follows a logical progression.”

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“You Might Think This Is What Happens” by Amy Schrader

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Amy Schrader


—Schrödinger’s cat walks into a bar.
And doesn’t.

You’re talking probabilities & how
the act of observation changes
us. As we argue, the cat meows
to be let out. It’s like a message

from the ether: he loves me, he loves me
not. Rather: I love you means I hate you
but at the very least we can agree
it’s both at the same time. A pas de deux

particular to coexistence. Wave
hello. I mean goodbye. We roll the dice
each time we see each other. Let’s behave
in stranger ways. Pick your poison, break the ice

with jokes we think are pertinent.
A marriage? Indeterminate.

from Rattle #49, Fall 2015
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Amy Schrader: “I graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1992 with a degree in molecular and cell biology (emphasis in biochemistry). While my career path went one way (barista, accountant) and my vocational path went another (MA in English literature, MFA in poetry), I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the laboratory, the periodic chart of elements, chemical reactions, and other scientific tropes that can serve as astonishing metaphors. One area of scientific inquiry in particular has a powerful and mysterious hold on my imagination: quantum mechanics. More specifically, I am obsessed with the paradoxical thought experiment devised by Erwin Schrödinger about a cat locked in a box with a photon and a gun. The thought experiment illustrates how reality is created solely through the act of observation, which to me sounds very much like poetry.”

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