Chain – by CJ Giroux


Water winds from south to north. Seeking sun, stillness, cormorants appear as a trinity of crosses on a berm of broken branches. Dried grapevine, weeds ensnare this makeshift island like tea leaves climbing porcelain walls. At asphalt’s edge, arms link, ankles touch. Moving as one at whistle screech, some in waders, some jeans, volunteers shuffle into mud, murk, poisoned waters. This corps of tin soldiers edges midstream. On the eastern bank, a ponytailed mother prays, no breath between our, evil, hail, death—amen becoming prefix, suffix, hyphen.

A lifelong resident of Michigan, CJ Giroux is on the faculty at Saginaw Valley State University, where he also serves as co-director of the Center for Community Writing. He is one of the founding editors of the community arts journal Still Life. He has most recently been published in The Swamp Literary Magazine, Caesura, Dash, and Cumberland River Review.

Statement by Featured Artist, Shelley Thomas: I imagine a search party. Arms linked, a human chain moving through mud, bramble, and dirty water. I imagine a slate sky, prayer unable to penetrate. A tangle of thorns. An empty nest hangs like an open wound, a gaping hole. It makes a scream with no sound.
Art: “Relic,” 2017 (Lake Ontario, Canada)