A review – Inside Bone There’s Always MARROW by Rachel Mallino

Posted in Poetry, Thoughts and Reflections at 11:50 am by admin


For me, a successful poem must tell a story so convincingly that I am transported to within its borders to feel, taste, and experience the events portrayed, as much as I must come to know the characters through the skill of the poet’s pen. Such were my travels into the world of four generations of a matriarchal bloodline created by Rachel Mallino.

The stories reflected in the 27 poems of Inside Bone There’s Always MARROW from Maverick Duck Press, May 2009, could have devolved into a journey of self pity on a road to hell and remained there in lesser hands, but this poet explores a reality of a tormented mother who creates a life of neglect and abuse for her child with absolute clarity as much as she reveals a child who possesses an inner strength of character that states, simply, “I choose to live.” As the child moves through adolescence into adulthood, ultimately to become a mother herself, her journey is filled with tumultuous encounters as she attempts to protect her progeny and her life by encasing her own past in self analysis and restraint.

Mallino explores each moment with a keen eye and brutal honesty, yet she treats each topic and subject with respect while she directly explores the issues that traverse her poetry. She takes us to where it all began: “my body: cell, blood, bone / all fortified in my mother’s / brackish womb” (1-3), and to an ultimate understanding: “when a mother isn’t a mother / at all, but a small vessel unfit to carry / even her own posture” (12-14) in the poem that titles her collection.

In “An Explanation of the Tales We Tell,” she reflects on a child’s attempt to protect her grandmother: “O, to make it all bearable: / the wild pack of dogs that chewed / my grandmother’s face to bits; / the icy stare I learned at seven / for anyone who disclaimed / the animal attack / and called it cancer instead” (1-7), the child’s attempt to comprehend: “… the sound / of the blender grinding like / teeth against bone: teeth / once rooted inside her gums” (20-23), and the child’s fantasies and dreams of a visit from the tooth fairy.

Mallino pulls no punches in “An Open Poem To god,” as she reveals the loss of childhood innocence: “Dear god, there has always been this / marrow inside of bone. Those retarded / cells that drive nonage to adultery …” (1-3), “It all boils down to sex: mother’s / bony knees beneath / motel sheets as I stared off / into the bends / of brush strokes …” (10-14), “The anonymity / of those painters, like my mother’s lovers, / became famous to me.” (15-17). Nor can one mistake the demotion of the deity.

A shift in vision occurs as the narrator reflects on motherhood and her own child at book center: “These are the shapes of her world” (1), “Everything now is either straight or round. / Even her heart, its triangle base and the top / round like buttocks” (4-6), “her legs – the shape of a wishbone” (12), in “How My Daughter Draws.”

In her closing poem, “Here’s How It Must Have Been,” dedicated to Anne Sexton, Mallino weaves a skilled tapestry of all the works that precede it, tying together images that parallel the lives of both poets: ” … I imagine, at birth, Anne wailed / to be still-born, maddened by the length / of her mother’s umbilical cord – the possibilities” (3-5), “… No wonder / she kept going back, back to the institution where / dinner bells rang at the nurses hand …” (9-11), “back to distant conversations beneath / the long silence of lithium, back to the steel headboard – / her mother’s hipbone” (14-16).

Mallino’s poetry is a literary dissection into the frailty of humanity as it cuts to the marrow of human relationships with raw revelations, and lays our skeletal core exposed for all to see as we struggle for Grace. No poetry could be as antithetic to the work I publish and try to write myself, yet I find myself drawn to it with a sense of compassion, and a sense of respect and admiration for the strength of its author.  I am left completely drained and in awe of how, in the hands of a master, poetry can be the window into one’s soul.

O.P.W. Fredericks, Editor
Touch: The Journal of Healing
The Lives You Touch Publications


How to photograph the heart by Christine Klocek-Lim

Posted in Poetry, The Lives You Touch Publications at 8:00 pm by admin

In September, I announced the launch of our print publication business,
The Lives You Touch Publications.

Today I’m pleased to announce our first poetry chapbook
How to photograph the heart penned by Christine Klocek-Lim.


When we discover a poet who touches us, we learn to appreciate the skill with which their poetry is crafted, and we marvel at their ability to transport us into the worlds they create.

Appreciation comes both in our comprehension and in our perception of the world around us. We process words cognitively and are also affected by them aesthetically. When I read poetry, it is the aesthetic hemisphere of my brain that takes the lead. It recognizes the beauty of a poem long before the cognitive comprehends why. This is the case whenever I read the poetry of Christine Klocek-Lim. Over the course of the past few years, I have come to appreciate not only her skill as a poet, but also the care with which she treats the subjects of her poetry. She often writes of personal and sensitive issues, of moments filled with struggle and heartache, and of loss; yet in each instance, regardless of the weight, each subject is treated with respect and reverence, and the strength of each encounter is revealed.

Christine Klocek-Lim was born in the coal-mining region of northeastern Pennsylvania. She now resides in southeastern Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons. She has worked as an editor, online poetry forum administrator, technical writer, copy editor, proofreader, and documentation specialist.

Christine Klocek-Lim received the 2009 Ellen La Forge Memorial Prize in poetry and was a finalist in Nimrod’s 2006 Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. Her chapbook, The book of small treasures, will be published in December 2009 by Seven Kitchens Press. Her poems have appeared in Nimrod, OCHO, The Pedestal Magazine, Terrain.org, the anthology Riffing on Strings: Creative Writing Inspired by String Theory and elsewhere. She is editor of Autumn Sky Poetry, serves on the Board of Directors for The Externalist—A Journal of Perspectives, and her website is November Sky Poetry.

The chapbook is now available for pre-publication ordering on our website chapbook page.