Ghost In near perfect darkness, she pads through the woods, trying to be dainty, cursed by the snapping of twigs. Reaching the border, holding back the ferns, she stares at the houses, fails to observe the rain. They'll all be inside, laughing and joking. None will remember the freckled child at the inn. She notes the obstructions, calculates the angles, nods in agreement, turns and rejoins the night. Ghost was first published in Dreich 4 Season 2, March 2021. Magpies Don't shine too bright, my errant child, for that's the way the magpies come to latch upon the gleams and glows of overprecious little ones. I used to flirt with books and dolls, I used to have your scabby knees - well, look beneath my locks of hair and witness what they did to me, then run and join the other girls who gather at the matchworks line. Make wood the only thing that burns, be sensible and anodyne. Magpies was first published in Pink Plastic House (in The Haunted Dollhouse), December 2020. Smokey I remember you cowering under Matt's t-shirt two weeks after your rescue - finally out from under the bed. What sights those unblinking eyes had seen we didn't like to guess. I remember you making yourself small when Oscar, in all his jealousy, launched himself from the kitchen side, but I remember you best in the garden, unaware of my gaze, carefully extending a velvet paw to the butterflies as though somewhere in your DNA, a voice said 'Kill' and another behind those unblinking eyes said 'No'. Smokey first appeared in Dreich’s Fire and Water chapbook, July 2021. Picture on the Packet Aware I had no leeway for a tree, I stood up on a jealous afternoon to soften up the earth and press my seed. The ending of the poem follows soon. My sapling stretched its stem towards the sun and strew confetti blossom all around with roots that grew prodigiously and clung, constricting like a snake what life they found. My home began to quiver, then to crack, delivered up a message on the wind. 'These walls would not contain or hold you back. What is it you can never find within?' Don't ask me to explain, I understand. The picture on the packet looked so grand. Pretty Dream We wrestle with foundations reckless fate has foisted on our sacred temple sites. Surveyors show reluctance to proceed. We pay no heed, obliterate the nights with paint and canvas, microphone and tape, with pen and paper, clapperboard and screen, lay 'would have loved' and 'never did' for bricks, mix 'still to be' for mortar in between and if our walls should crumble to the ground, we shan't forget we shared a pretty dream. Pretty Dream first appeared in The Madrigal volume ii: roots, May 2021.
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Rachael: I was really young when I started writing. I made up stories all the time as a little kid, and I remember my first “book” was a mess of pictures and random sentences. I’m sure at some point I wrote a My Girl inspired story, and I know I wrote a lot of Charmed fanfiction in third grade (I always wrote myself as Paige). Also that year, I discovered how much I loved playing the piano (poorly—I was convinced I could learn how to play My Heart Will Go On all by ear, and of course I couldn’t), so I wrote a lot of lyrics. I distinctly remember a language arts class where we were asked to write imagery about different landscapes, and I really liked doing that. I feel like I still write about landscapes, even now.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Rachael: I read a lot of contemporary poetry. I don’t think I have a true favorite or a go-to writer, but any time I read prose I feel more inspired to write poetry than when I read poetry. I recently read The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi, In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado, and Sarahland by Sam Cohen. I love all three books for so many different reasons, and all three have strong queer themes in them. Other than that, I’m always inspired by my friends: Isaura Ren, Shyla Jones, and Pascale Potvin.
Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away from home influence your work?
Rachael: I grew up in the suburbs outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Rain and driving as been an on-and-off recurring theme in my poetry. However, I lived in Manhattan and Brooklyn for two years, and my family would often vacation to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. So, living in the city has influenced my writing as of late, and beach/summer imagery has always pervaded. I tend to derive a lot of inspiration from landscape and weather patterns, examining how it makes me feel physically and tying it to some sort of memory or emotional connection.
Q4: What do you consider the most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far?
Rachael: Of the things I’ve had published, I’ll split this answer into two: body of work and an individual piece. For the body of work, I’d say that’s MIXTAPES—a poetry chapbook that was published by ELJ Editions, Ltd. in April 2021—because it was the first time I was really honest with myself, my writing, and my grief. The chapbook is in the style of a tete beche—its two sides are surrealist and realist. I really dived deep in the grief I felt for those I’ve lost: friends, family, and my younger self. I pushed boundaries for what I’d allow myself to write and the forms I’d write them in as well, which the former took a bit of a toll on my mental health. Fun fact: I wrote the entirety of the first side in two months. As for side two, I wrote that over the course of a few years. Anyway, for an individual piece that’s been published—I’d say that’s a tie between “SHE TOLD ME SHE DIDN’T WANT ME”, which was published by warning lines magazine in June 2021, and “Playing with Polly Pockets or Poltergeists”, which was published by Pink Plastic House in June 2021. The first poem, CW for relationship abuse, is in the form of a ‘reductive triptych’, which is a form I designed. It’s a triptych (specifically, a poem in three columns) that sheds the second column for the next set until the poem reaches its desired reduction, peeling back layers to bring out the core of it all. The second poem, CW for sexual abuse and emotional abuse, was so heartbreaking to write and still hurts to read/look at, to be honest. So, both of these poems mean a lot to me for different reasons.
Q5: Any pivotal moments when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Rachael: In high school, I took a creative writing class that I loved so much, I took it three times even though two of those times wouldn’t count for credit. The teacher was really encouraging and saw something in me I really didn’t have, but it’s where I realized how much I love the sound of words as well as the images they can produce. That class convinced me to become an English major in undergrad, and I have my Bachelor’s in English Literature now.
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Rachael: Well, I do love to read! I find myself reading a lot of poetry, comics, magical realism, essays, horror/thriller, and queer prose. Other than reading, I love to play GURPS with a group of friends—including my fiancé. GURPS stands for Generic Universe RolePlaying System, which is “a tabletop role-playing game system designed to allow for play in any game setting” (Wikipedia/SJGames.com). We’re currently running through a Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time campaign, and we each play original characters instead of Link. For something even more relaxed, I love to watch TV shows (my all-time favorites are Buffy: the Vampire Slayer, The Sopranos, Westworld, She-Ra and The Princesses of Power, Avatar: the Last Airbender, BoJack Horseman, Mr. Robot, Lucifer, The Haunting series on Netflix, and Ash vs. The Evil Dead), horror movies, and TikToks.
Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
Rachael: I’ll piggyback off of my answer in #4—MIXTAPES, “SHE TOLD ME SHE DIDN’T WANT ME”, “Playing with Polly Pockets or Poltergeists,” “What Kind of Vampire Are You?”, and “Fun House or Your First Day on VampireFreaks”.
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?
Rachael: The closing in “Fun House or Your First Day on VampireFreaks” was really fun to write and still sticks with me, which is: “let yourself become glass that can’t reflect anything in the night”.
If I’m choosing from someone else…please don’t make me chose. There’s so many I love. A poem that’s been swirling around in my head for weeks now is “Little Beast” by Richard Siken. Every line is perfect and powerful and I can’t just pick one.
Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?
Rachael: This really depends on specific points in my life. In high school, my creative writing teacher helped the most. In college, my poetry and creative non-fiction professors helped me the most. Post-college (including graduate school), some of my friends helped me the most. Above all, my fiancé and my cats remain my biggest supporters. Special shoutout to Cuties/Mimi, Skitty, Cosmo, and Peanut for being the best cats anyone could ask for.
Enter the ocean in only a crown -fronds over freckles, forgetting round. Cast yourself in as its slickness, salt surrounds, seeps deep in your skin - soul exalting as submergence sets in. What drowns upon sand will in seawater rise. Wet Eucharist you swallow, surprised, resurrection and vivisection of brain. The loneliest body, amputated its pain, descends past depths humans explain, in children's stories of sunken ships, mermaids, women seal-skinned. To mundanity, born; in mystery, end. Wet lips find gilled girls, some with a tail; you have to go deep in your fairytale. Sonnet notes from Kristin: I just wrote this final Girlarium sonnet in which my main character the Gilda, the gilled girl, makes her way from the oppressive male characters who have defined her to the ocean. She feared the ocean too because it represented the unknown which is often scarier than what we do know. But now that the patriarchy has pushed her so far she knows the safest place for her is to be free. She's always had a mermaid inferiority-complex - there is a sonnet about that I published earlier and felt like she is like them but doesn't have a tale and the fairytale romantic hype. It's only when she gets into the ocean though and eventually finds gilled girls and even mermaids and finally be romantic in the way she desires that she realizes fairytales are real. For her to find this one, she had to go deep. Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Rhysling nominated sonneteer and a Best of the Net 2020 finalist. Her sonnets have stalked journals like Glass, Yes, Five:2:One, Luna Luna and more. She is the author of a short story collection You Don’t Want This ( Pink Plastic Press) and The Stakes (Really Serious Literature) and many more. She is the founder of Pink Plastic House a tiny journal and co-founder of Performance Anxiety. [Follow her on Twitter: (@lolaandjolie) and her website http://kristingarth.com] Sonnet Poetry: The Blade by Kristin Garth A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Kristin Garth Treealabra by Kristin Garth in Fevers of the Mind Issue 1 (2019)