We’re excited to launch Issue No. 2 of Cleaver with a mix of 41 writers and artists contributing a summer’s worth of treasure to ponder and enjoy. Among the visual offerings, Barcelona-based artist Rithika Merchant‘s astonishing works-on-paper series “Comparative Mythologies” is a deeply touching, personal response by the artist to Joseph Campbell’s theory of the Hero/Monomyth.

The Magic Flight by Rithika Merchant

Twelve poets offer a range of summer-inflected works, from Prairie Markussen‘s proud Palomino–

She is a palomino in the Nordic countries,
her hair scorched to a glow. She is the Northern
ice floe, the delicate drip, the dusted broccoli top
that slips downward into the sensual sliver.
She is the slick of that sliver.

— to Luke Stromberg’s somber “Memorial Day“–

.Did your temples throb
In its dry desert heat? A roadside bomb,
Assembled there—in that ancient, wasted place—
Scheduled you and others for oblivion,
Claimed you, even at home in Conshohocken.

In short and short-short fiction, an even broader range, yet with spiraling echos of anxiety and obsession… and, did we mention, chickens?

Well, not chickens, precisely but a red-footed rooster in Mark Lyon’s charming retelling of the famed 18th century artist Hokusai‘s market day encounter with a rooster.

Lyon’s whimsical story balances perfectly with Jennifer Pullen’s haunting retelling of the Medusa myth in “Of Snakes and Stones“.

Another piece that draws on a rich history of art– Philadelphia’s art– is Nathaniel Popkin’s short story “The Dig”, excerpted from his soon-to-be released novel about the Peale dynasty, Lion and Leopard (The Head and the Hand Press, October 2013).

Perhaps one of my favorites– if it is possible to have favorites among one’s children– is Rachel B. Glaser’s wickedly imaginative short story “Turid“, about a flower who comes to life and the terrible little girl who discovers it.

As part of our commitment to presenting a mix of established and emerging artists, we offer the works of several very young and promising contributors, including fiction writer Caleb True, poet Anna Strong, artist Leah Koontz, and flash fiction writer Carly Greenberg.

Too many wonderful pieces to highlight in one sitting– please take your time to read and enjoy! In the meantime, we will continue to post reviews of new poetry, literary prose works, and graphic novels, plus occasional blogs from our growing team of editors.

This Issue owes special thanks to Issue No. 1 contributor Kathryn Kulpa, editor of the Newport Review, whose fine eye for detail supported every writer in this issue.