Rachel Custer


After an altar call, the children run
as if pursued, their little bellies

full of god. Hellfire in their throats
of wine. Something is growing

behind the church: lenten roses
in the snow, bruise-purple

but convincing themselves
they’re black. I’ve come back

to the place I was planted.
Indiana, Indiana, if I ever wanted

you, it was stretched before me
like this: rowdy in your holiness,

poisonous in your beauty, like
a sleeping cottonmouth. Yawning awake.


About the writer:
Rachel Custer is the Poetry Editor and a reviewer and editorialist at O:JA&L. Her first full-length poetry collection, The Temple She Became, is available from Five Oaks Press. Other work has previously been published or is forthcoming in Rattle, OSU: The Journal, The American Journal of Poetry, B O D Y, [PANK], and The Antigonish Review. On February 13, 2019, Rachel Custer became a recipient of a 2019 Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Rachel Custer is the poetry editor at O:JA&L.

Image: Spring #1 by Alejandro Rosemberg. Oil on canvas. 23.6 x 43.3 inches. 2015. By permission.

About the artist:
Alejandro Rosemberg is an Argentine fine artist trained by Claudio Bogino in the classical style of the Italian Great Masters. He studied color under Graydon Parrish at the Grand Central Academy of New York. His works are presently being exhibited in the United States and Canada, respectively represented by Principle Gallery in Virginia and White Rock Gallery in Vancouver. Passionate about teaching the techniques he uses, he invests much time and dedication to his drawing and painting classes and workshops held in Brazil, the USA, and Argentina. Rosemberg is the O:JA&L Featured Artist for February 2019.