Episode 39: Punched in the Face, in the Best Way

Present at the Editorial Table:

Kathleen Volk Miller

Tim Fitts

Marion Wrenn

Sharee DeVose

Jason Schneiderman


Engineering Producer:

Amber Ferreira


This week from the slush pile, we review two poems by Alana Folsom: “Anatomy of a Dream” and “Mirroring” and one poem by Sarah Stickney: “Guest.”

Alana Folsom

Alana Folsom would genuinely like to thank The OC for giving her pre-teen self her first taste of poetry a la Death Cab for Cutie (which she will insist is poetry with anyone who wants to argue). If it wasn’t for Seth Cohen, she might be trying to hack it as an accountant. She is currently living in either Boston or rural Oregon, depending on when this podcast is published, and plans to name her next cat “Birthday.”

We start off this this week’s episode with reviewing Alana Folsom’s poem, “Anatomy of a Dream,” leading into a discussion of very uncommon imagery coupled with a dream-like structure and surreal ideas. To simply sum it up in Tim’s words: “There’s a lot of nipples in this poem!” But that’s partly what causes it to be unexpected and super fun to read.

Folsom’s “Mirroring” follows with a lovely premise of ancestry embodied, as it follows the sexual exploration of a girl while treasuring the connection she has to her father. Also really fun for us to discuss, this poem is both brilliant and truly organic. Many thanks to Issa Rae, creator and co-star of Insecure, for giving us the tools we needed to discuss this poem!

Sarah Stickney

Next up is Sarah Stickney, who describes herself as a snail; she does everything you do slower than you. She grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and spends a lot of time thinking about what the sky looks like. She likes fire, foreign languages, and food-shopping, but she agrees with Pindar that water is best.

We move on to review “Guest” by Sarah Stickney, yet another brilliant poem that makes us think (some of us affectionately, others not too much) about the sentimentality of friendship. While channeling the very human experience of love and passion between friends, “Guest” gorgeously gives us much to feel, leaving us to reflect on our own experiences with love so strong that it might even be embarrassing to feel.

What do you think about this episode? Share your thoughts on nipples, romance, and insecurity with us on Facebook and Twitter using #smashing!

Happy reading!



Alana Folsom

Anatomy of a Dream

After I send you the picture of my naked body

I dream my nipples are bird beaks

             They remain shut     small pointed things

then they grow       like lying noses

              grow like hardening dicks                              In flight

hummingbirds look like matches

                             at the base of their long bill            a throaty blaze

In flight         hummingbirds sound like matches perpetually lighting

              Perhaps my nipples are matches

Pink & flaming & waiting to spark

                perhaps my nipples are hungry                 winging matches


Alana Folsom


I study myself and find him in the ridge of my nose

in the rungs of my ribcage. Boys who will never meet him

cup and bless my body tug my damp underwear

past the knots

of my knees; they don’t see

him, they don’t see anything else besides me.

And I am sorry for all this sex

so close to my father.

But he is within me

even as he withers away.

Same flat feet, same bone shapes.

As any good daughter would,

I hug my father

goodbye at his red front door, try to mean I love you and not

Don’t die before I learn what love is for.


Sarah Stickney


Staying with friends I felt embarrassed by my love

for them, as if it were a wound that might bleed

onto their pale, hand-knotted carpets. Back home

I filled my kitchen with the first daffodils

that had been lured by the sky’s fetish-blue

into blooming, then nearly ruined by the late snow

that pressed into the windows as if asking

to be let inside. I need the sound of fire

as much as I need its warmth. I know

the loneliness of being among others, a scent

like a waltz at low volume. I suspect

only egomaniacs like this much solitude,

but like me fire never says enough.

Fire my good dog, my work-shirt. Everything living

holds heat, even the long, cool leaves of plants,

their gestures as subtle as hungry guests moving

tentatively in a kitchen. Wind blew in a poem,

and then outside all day as if it were starving flame.

Who knows how the wind feels about its job

of touching everything, how it lives

this omnivorous love and whether it speaks

a word to everything it touches.

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