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2019 Frost Place Chapbook Fellow R. Cassandra Bruner

Meet R. Cassandra Bruner

R. Cassandra Bruner earned her MFA in poetry from Eastern Washington University where she served as Managing Editor of Willow Springs Books. Finalist for Black Warrior Review’s 2018 Nonfiction Contest, their poems and essays have appeared, or are upcoming in, The Adroit Journal, Black Warrior Review, Crazyhorse, Muzzle, New England Review, Ninth Letter, and Pleiades among others. Winner of the 2019 Frost Place chapbook competition, her first chapbook, The Wishbone Dress, is forthcoming from Bull City Press.

2019 Judge Eduardo Corral’s Praise for The Wishbone Dress

“To wish with a wishbone means to break the wishbone. The poems in this chapbook enact another kind of breaking—the speaker veers from binary thinking and living. ‘Every girl must know her annunciation,’ writes the poet. In this instance, the annunciation unfolds over years as the speaker transitions. The slow work of bringing forth what has always been there complicates her bonds with family and lovers. (Not everyone can veer from binary thinking and living.) It complicates, too, her own sense of self. The imagery—dazzling, uncanny—brings us close to the emotional and intellectual turmoil orbiting transition. ‘I paint a mirror / white, a frost no bulb could sprout from’ and ‘a wish for recognition, for his budding breasts / to hide themselves like fawns.’ The poems not only record the struggle to become, but also make visible the chaotic wonder of living. The language itself is never chaotic—it’s always wondrous. The metaphors are mind-blowing, the use of mythic and Biblical motifs deft, the lines are tight but elastic, the diction music-rich. The craft choices are exact and exacting. Language, in this poet’s hands, never breaks; it remembers, it yearns.”

— Eduardo C. Corral

 

“The Antlered Doe” from The Wishbone Dress

The Antlered Doe
By R. Cassandra Bruner

A man doused in roebuck piss says
I saw it as I skinned its thighs
& laughs.

Your death always a joke, the shock
of womb, a punchline.

Darting through the underbrush,
even your hooves resounded like cackling children.
This velvet crown was not always a betrayal—

In rutting season, the tongues
of stags & doe alike climbed
your hind leg, crying
I opened for my beloved but she was gone.

But now is the hour of moths.
Now the body remade as
a sack of buckshot.

A child wraps you in a bundle of sweat-stale
flannel, lifts you onto the truckbed
like a distant sister.

Nestled against your snout, he mouths
a wish for recognition, for his budding breasts
to hide themselves away like fawns.

 

(First Published in Hunger Mountain Issue 2)

 


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