Sober Mardi Gras, a Toast

Tricky, tricky

jug full of city

spilt. I’ve abandoned

your brand

of patience, haven’t a care

what’s mirage

or what’s oasis.

I bloat with hydration,

sober for the season,

for the march song repeated

till the horns

distort to moans.

Trodden bead asterisms

breed brief romance

till they go verdigris

with the street grease

at a finite hour,

like the gown back to rags.

What deal was made

and with what fairy godmother,

her billows dragging

trails of golden ants?

I raise an empty glass

to isolation, to feeling

better-than, to the war

of waste underwritten

by the sympathy

of the bourgeoisie,

to the maternal care

the drunk girl

gives to the drunker

who’s not dressed

for the weather,

who falters

in the fiberglass mist,

to the caviling rain that spares

my skin and hair,

to Lent’s plum shadow,

to money made, to the costumed

clown pastry with its Christ-child


Shrill cries fester skywards.

Remember to thank

the moon,

who receives them naturally

as wolf bays, naked and cool,

as if after a bath.

Howl until you’re hollow.

I’ll whisper in the medicine,

take you to mass tomorrow,

where, since it’s Carnival,

all gluttony is forgiven,

and you can teach your body

to sleep again.


Caroline Rowe

Caroline Rowe (née Zimmer) is a Pushcart Prize nominated poet whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications including The Raw Art Review, Harbinger Asylum, Cathexis Northwest, and The Jabberwock Review, where she was nominated for the Nancy D. Hargrove Editor’s Prize. She has also been anthologized in The Maple Leaf Rag (Portals Press). Her debut chapbook, God’s Favorite Redhead, is forthcoming from Lucky Bean Press. She is a lifelong resident of the French Quarter in New Orleans.

Brigitte Stepanov

Cracks Fissures and Even Breaks

Cracks Fissures and Even Breaks



Brigitte Stepanov

Brigitte Stepanov is a writer, translator, and photographer. Broadly, her photos fall into two categories: the environment and the representation of public mourning. Both facets of her work are preoccupied with memory, minute documentation, and the building of a fastidious archive – be it to collect reminders of the smallest of mosses or the finest of brickwork in a commemorative monument. Among other venues, her work has been exhibited at the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts and the Houston Center for Photography. Her upcoming photography exhibit, “Why I’ll Always Dream of Poland,” attempts to bridge the gap between private experiences and public sites of inhuman violence. Brigitte’s upbringing took place in a few different places and she moved to the US to pursue her graduate studies. She holds a PhD from Brown University and is currently a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Grinnell College. She is in the midst of writing a book about contemporary textual and visual representations of war in Algeria, Rwanda, and France.

Last Chance

Last chance to save the Norwalk whales I learn via email—subject line only—then delete from the passenger seat while the toddler stands and drives far too fast for someone who can’t see past the dash. We’re both bored of the living room, of his abandoned baby toys, maybe, too, of each other, but the outside air smells of our futures, incinerating, and the parks are all slung with caution tape, their swings swung round the cross bars out of reach. Instead, I hold the keys in-hand while we drive nowhere into the empty expanse of late morning.


We are out of time / we have all the time.


Panda sock-toes curled to the edge of the captain’s seat, he leans and veers and vroooms while I wonder at the ash of ancient redwood bark, invisible until it settles, offset by the dark hood, the windshield, the tinpot roof overhead. Something you don’t see until it’s there. Neighbors walk by, laugh at my chauffeur who waves merrily. A mayor on small-town parade. He’s forgotten about the horn from last time, blessed be, but not the four-ways—never. Knows a good red triangle to see one. They blink throughout our entire drive, battery leeching its last begotten energy:


emer gency / emer gency / emer gency.



Geoff Martin

Geoff Martin is a CNF contributing editor at Barren Magazine. His place-based and environmental essays have appeared most recently in Boulevard, The Common, Slag Glass City, and Creative Nonfiction and have been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes. Originally from southwestern Ontario, Geoff now lives in San Francisco. He can be found online on Twitter @gmartin9 or at

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