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Poetry Summer 2015    fiction    all issues


Cover Hannah Lansburgh

Jennifer Leigh Stevenson
For Your Own Good
& other poems

Marianne S. Johnson
& other poems

Kate Magill
Nest Study #1
& other poems

Karen Kraco
& other poems

Matt Daly
Beneath Your Bark
& other poems

Paulette Guerin
& other poems

Hank Hudepohl
Crossed Words
& other poems

Alma Eppchez
At the Back of the Road Atlas
& other poems

Jim Burrows
At the Megachurch
& other poems

Rachel Stolzman Gullo
& other poems

Yana Lyandres
New York Transplant
& other poems

Heather Katzoff
& other poems

Tom Yori
& other poems

Barth Landor
What Is Left
& other poems

Abigail F. Taylor
Never So Still
& other poems

George Longenecker
Polar Bears Drowning
& other poems

Ben Cromwell
Sometimes a Flock of Birds
& other poems

Robert Mammano
the way the ground shakes
& other poems

Janet Smith
Rocket Ship
& other poems

Gina Loring
& other poems

J. Lee Strickland
Minoan Elegy
& other poems

Toni Hanner
Catching the Baby
& other poems

Writer's Site

Paulette Guerin


The summer our parents split, we spent our days

at St. Mary’s. June’s heat had drawn the water

from the ground. As the sun incubated the air,

cicadas crawled from their burrows and screeched

into being. Males called out with ribbed bellies;

the females rubbed their wings in answer,

flitting on stone statues of saints, squirming

in the crevices of robes or folded hands.

The windows vibrated with mating calls,

sparse rugs hardly absorbing the sound.

Icons looked down from plaster walls,

their eyes distant like someone lost or in love.

Emily Dickinson Floats
the Buffalo River

She regrets wearing white,

                        the edge of her dress muddied.

            Down she drifts—

catching a whiff of charred food

                        and a faint Skynyrd riff,

past purple flowers she deems gentians.

                        The canoe paddle

            stirs the tawny fish. She calls them cod,

the water clear

                        down to the riverbed’s

            algaed stones.

Just beyond the shadow of a cliff,

                        the rapids come.

            She cannot stop

thinking of the river’s nonchalance—

                        its only thought, resistance;

            its only love,

change. Evening light

                                    shifts the tableau—

            viridian and burnt ocher

blend to muted indigo.

                        Just when she seems at home,

Dickinson pens a postcard—

                        “How can I stand

            this tighter Breathing,

                                         this Zero

                        at the bone?”

First Communion

The night before, Grandma made my pallet

on the couch with faded blue flowers.

Across the room, the iron-barrel stove loomed.

We learned not to touch it.

At midnight I woke. I’d never heard rain on a tin roof

and was sure what Revelation promised was true—

dark horses had come. In church we’d learned

about the wise and foolish virgins with their oil.

I had not confessed my sins. Everyone else slept—

or were they gone? Then the rain let up.

The dark turned dim. I chipped the polish

from my nails, ashamed they were not bare.


The women slipped her head

between the fork of a tree.

I braced a board against the bark,

a makeshift stock. Mrs. Henry kept the rope

taut around the legs while Grandma

milked the bleating nanny.

The swollen bag shrank.

The runty kid approached slowly,

still afraid of hooves.

Smoothing out her wrinkled dress,

Mrs. Henry said her grandbaby

would be visiting soon.

Then softly, “But she’s got

no fingers on one hand.

Umbilical cord, you know.”

Grandma frowned, then said, “Still, you’re lucky,”

placing her hand above her heart

just below the neck.

Morrilton, Arkansas

Train cars jump in and out

of old storefront windows.

A boy in Levi’s crosses the tracks

toward the monument company’s headstones.

A few already have a chiseled name.

I wait for him behind a heap of brick

and corrugated tin. On windy days,

the paper-mill stink drifts into town.

He claims the money beats baling hay,

then closes his mouth over mine.

Paulette Guerin is a recent graduate of the MFA program at the University of Florida. She lives in Arkansas and works as a freelance writer and editor. She is currently building a tiny house on seven acres and blogging about the experience at Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Subtropics, Cellpoems, SLANT, and Euphony (online). She also has a chapbook, Polishing Silver.

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