Issue 2 Foreword

Danielle Ofri

One of the most elegant aspects of hematology is the intricate balance maintained between bleeding and clotting.  When there is a rent in a vessel, the blood cells must coagulate strongly enough to prevent bleeding, but not so zealously as to yield clots that impede normal blood flow. A parallel balance of creating wounds and healing wounds exists in the human spirit.  There is a constant flow of emotion as wounds are alternately gouged deeper, then soothed. The interface of these processes is where the most incisive literature can often be found.

In Sleeping on the Perimeter, Gaynell Gavin probes the jagged, enduring fissures left by the Vietnam War, both in the soldiers who fought, and in those who love the soldiers. What is anger, Gavin asks, but alchemy: grief encoded and loss transformed? Susan Bavaria explores the war within the child, and the fall-out on the parents. In Snow Upon My Heart, she takes us into the seething cauldron of adolescence, and bears witness to the potent mixture of hormones and childhood pathology.

This issue of the Bellevue Literary Review examines the creating and healing of wounds at all points in the human life cycle. In Night Nurse, Barbara Kantrowitz recreates the surreal environment of the neonatal ICU and the haunting balance of personal and professional emotions. In Waking the Garden, Linda Woolford brings us into the rarely examined world of the adult care facility, reminding us that while bones may become brittle with age, obsessions and desires do not. Walter Cummins presses all the generations together; in The End of the Circle we see three generations colliding and intertwining while traveling in the cities and countryside of Norway.

The yearning for healing comes from many perspectives and assumes varied forms. In Ray Gonzalez’ pair of stories, these yearnings take on magical qualities as we travel to the Mexican-American community in Texas. In Philip Levine’s lyrical poem, Above the Angels, we discern the layers of spirituality that hover over an auto factory on a bitter November day. Kent Maynard’s poems offer us the perspective of the lepers and epileptics of Cameroon. In Lyn Halper’s delicate essay, The Koto Player, the intersection of Japanese and suburban American cultures provides a nexus for healing, but in unexpected ways.

The beauty of poetry is its ability to provide snapshots of the human condition, slices of passion teased out and laid bare on the plate. Celia Gilbert’s poems home in on the twin losses of cognitive and bodily independence, as the effects of stroke penetrate deeper.  Jack Coulehan observes through the eyes of Albert Schweitzer, Gerald Weissman through the lens of a microscope – both arrest a moment in time in which life is captured. Eamon Grennan’s exquisitely crafted poems explore the enduring and generative connection between humanity and nature. 

The struggle between emotional chaos and order is a theme that runs through many of the works in this issue. In The Roof is Askew, The Sky Falls In by Renee Ashley and What Remains by Toby Leah Bochan, we are taken into the heart of that harrowing vortex.  We witness also the human response to such upheaval. In the story Fitness, Jessica Treadway’s protagonist debates the relative merits of seeing a therapist versus joining a gym. Nikki Moustaki offers the wry, but poignant, side effects of another treatment in Writing Poems on Antidepressants, side effects that are unlikely to be listed in the Physician’s Desk Reference. In Scott Temple’s Remembering Appleman, a respected psychiatrist has abruptly and mysteriously retired, leaving in his wake a younger colleague plagued by memories and questions.

We are delighted to be able to present two unpublished poems by the late Charles Bukowski. The powerful sense of immediacy and impeccable sense of rhythm that are his trademarks are readily appreciated, but in transit and a tree, a road, a toad reveal a wistful side that may surprise even veteran  Bukowski readers.

Like the cells circulating in our blood, the poetry and prose of a literary journal must maintain a delicate equilibrium. We hope you find some writings in the Bellevue Literary Review that pull you fluidly along, and others that arrest you in your tracks.  And while the blood that runs herein is strictly metaphorical, a daily dose of literature may prove equally vital to your well-being.