From the SLANT Archives

All That’s Old Comes New Again

Poems by many of America’s leading poets have appeared on the pages of Slant over the years. This month, we revisit the Summer of 1997 issue, which marked the debut appearances in Slant of two poets who have since become regular contributors to our journal.

Linda Casebeer

Linda Casebeer’s first appearance in Slant coincided roughly with a move from her native Midwest to the Deep South, where has found resonant new landscapes for her poems. She now lives in Birmingham, Alabama. While a doctoral candidate in the instructional systems technology program at Indiana University, she spent a year in MFA workshops with Maura Stanton. Her work, which has been described as “Powerful, well-wrought poems that consider mystery with discipline and nuance,” has appeared in various other journals. And she has published two collections of poetry, The Last Eclipsed Moon from Cherry Grove Collections, and Charm and Strange from Adelaide Books. In addition to the poem “Fancy Fruit” below, you can read her most recent contribution to Slant at Slant Fall 2022.


Fancy Fruit


In Aunt Martha’s series of hot iron

transfers, each design is good

for several stampings. Our lives

repeat the way Aunt Martha’s lavender

repeat across unbleached muslin:

the crosses are light shadows;

and the heat of the iron,

the sun of long ago summers.

For lazy heat and boredom,

someone has always suggested

embroidery. A twelve-paned window

frames this summer ritual:

a young girl awkwardly pulls apart

strands of bright crimson and green

embroidery floss that straggle

limply across her palm. Soon

they will cover lavender shadows,

kitchen towels for relatives.

Lisa imagines the pleasure

she will find in the giving

as she moistens the ends

of the bright thread with her lips

then bites them before pushing

them through a large gold eye.


Jim Ray Daniels

When Jim Ray Daniels’ poem “Aunt Margaret Called” appeared in the Summer of 1997, he was a member of the creative writing faculty at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he was the Thomas Stockham Baker University Professor of English. He still lives in Pittsburgh with his wife, the writer Kristin Kovacic, but now teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Alma College. Jim is among the most prolific writers to appear in Slant. He has published over 30 collections of poetry, seven short story collections, and four screenplays. The most recent of those publications are The Human Engine at Dawn (Wolfson Press, 2022) and The Luck of the Fall (Michigan State University Press, 2023). Most recently, Jim Ray was represented in the Spring 2023 issue by his poem “Living Without a Horse,” which you can read at Slant Spring 2023.


Aunt Margaret Called


To say Aunt Rose

fell on the floor and could we please


stop by and pick her up. Is she

comfortable? My father asked.


We finished dinner, so I guess

the answer was yes.


It’s Ray and his son Jim,

Margaret kept shouting to her.


Rose nodded, a snail curved

into her faded pink housedress.


We gently lifted her into her chair.

Ninety-four years old, Margaret said


And shook her head. We shook our heads.

What?  Rose asked. I said you’re


  1. 94. Rose smiled like it was her birthday.

We’d skipped dessert. Margaret herself was 80.


The house stunk sour with their old dog Gus.

I held the loose flesh beneath her elbow.


Someone named her Rose. What did I know?

Every Christmas she gave a knitted scarf


to whoever walked in the door.

We had a drawer full of them at home.


My father stood inches from her face.

Are you okay now? He shouted.


Oh Ray, Rose said, as if waking

from a dream where the floor is comfortable.


She touched his hand and held on.

Walking back to the car, my father said


She ain’t gonna see another Christmas.

He made the sign of the cross


And lit up a cigarette. Gus’d been dead

Six months. Guess who had to bury


that fat stinking dog, my father said.

He tossed his yellow scarf in the back seat.


I fingered mine, a light blue one. Nowhere

I’d wear it, I knew. It stunk a little too.


Margaret had held open the door. She winced

as I took a deep breath.


The smell’s a comfort, she said.