Trio House Press
publishing distinct voices in poetry
since 2012

Cleave by Pamela Johnson Parker

Pamela Johnson Parker is the author of two chapbooks, Other Four-Letter Words (Finishing Line Press, 2009) and A Walk through the Memory Palace (Phoenicia Press, 2009), which won the inaugural Qaartsiluni Chapbook Prize. Her poetry, flash fiction, and lyric essays have appeared in journals such as Iron Horse Literary Review, New Madrid, American Poetry Journal, diode, Anti-, Blue Five Notebook, Poets and Artists, Gamut, Soundzine, Spaces, and Muscadine Lines: A Journal of the South. Parker’s work has also been featured in the anthologies Language Lessons: Volume 1, Poets on Painting, The Rivers Anthology, and Best New Poets 2011, judged by D.A. Powell. Broadsides of her poems have appeared in Blue Fifth Review and Broadsided, where her work won the Switcheroo! contest. Parker was also a 2011 Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, where she studied with Claudia Emerson and Charles Martin. 

Parker works in the Department of Art & Design at Murray State University and as a freelance medical editor. She received her MFA from Murray State University, where she has also taught humanities, creative writing, contemporary poetry, and forms of fiction for the past decade. She serves as the prose editor of the literary magazine, Alligator Juniper. 

First Anniversary:

Reading Russian Literature



No money, so we sip f rom glass cups niched In silver holders; I show you how my Grandmother kept cubes of sugar between Her teeth, to make life sweeter; I’m reading


Some dead poet (not Zhivago), tracing Words—samovar, nyet, and the quicksilver Cyrillic letters twining round the rust- Dappled canister:  Russian Caravan.


How our skin’s slicked with sweat—too hot to

Sleep (or even stand); how all we can

Afford is this:  back porch, spiked tea, spotting

These slugs. Each pair’s a heat-slick valentine,


Drooping below the bleeding hearts you snitched From a neighbor’s garden—swollen pouts that Blossom in shadow—and, like slugs, salt will

Melt them both. Sugar cube, teacup, mottled


Little leopards, milk-blue tin, pearls of heat,

Fringed branches, slow-swaying swing. You wish, like

A child at Christmas, for snow; I loved you

Hopelessly is all I remember of Pushkin.