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Poetry Summer 2020    fiction    all issues

Poetry Summer 2020 cover


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Rodrigo Dela Peña
If a Wound is an Entrance for Light
& other poems

Shellie Harwood
Early Evening, Late September
& other poems

William A. Greenfield
The Deacon’s Lament
& other poems

J. H. Hall
& other poems

Kimberly Sailor
Two Aphids
& other poems

Sugar le Fae
& other poems

Lauren Sartor
Shopping Cart Woman
& other poems

Nathaniel Cairney
Mushroom Hunting, Jackson County, Kansas
& other poems

Elisa Carlsen
& other poems

Daniel Gorman
The Boy Achilles
& other poems

Samara Hill
I Look for Her Mostly Everywhere
& other poems

Nicole Justine Reid
Returning to Sensual
& other poems

David Ginsberg
Butterfly Wings
& other poems

Katherine B. Arthaud
Café Sant Ambroeus
& other poems

George R. Kramer
Young Odysseus
& other poems

Amy Swain
In Praise of Trees
& other poems

Frederick Shiels
Bad October: 2016
& other poems

Matthew A. Hamilton
Summer of '89
& other poems

Chris Kleinfelter
Getting from There to Here
& other poems

Martin Conte
Ghazal for the Shipwrecked
& other poems

Natalie LaFrance-Slack
I Do Not Owe You My Beauty
& other poems

Susan Marie Powers
Dark Water
& other poems

Martin Conte

The following poems are part of a series about Achaemenides, who according to Virgil was left behind on the island of the Cyclops as Odysseus and the rest of his crew escaped.

If Quiet

Achaemenides turned one ear

into the silence. In it,

he beheld many things:

two figures, pausing near

the horse’s trough; the toes

of a young boy gnitzing

grass from the ground; the gulping

tears of the young man at the concert,

but not the sound

which drew them out; the sexual loon,

calling for mates.

He heard the closing of screen doors,

the slinking of chains

over human forms, heard the shout

and toom of Eurylochus beating for

the row, heard the splash of guts

dropping out of a hen, the round

boom of the movie in the theater

next door. Achaemenides, listen,

tell us what you heard:

the sound of two watching the sunrise,

the sound of the clothespin closing,

the unabashed shouting of Polyphemus,

still throwing rocks and reworking the shore,

the sound of the shore fading into water.

Listen, because we can’t, have it all at once,

do what your ears only can do:

the sim the storm the moan the lick

the click the tick tock rot and rock

of a tipping chair but not the fall.

Listen to it all, Achaemenides, and of it,

make a prayer or a list or just listen, and

keep your secrets for yourself.

Intertidal Zone

The rock absorbs

this utter light,

and gives it back

as warmth.

Our feet are


The seaweed stretches

to meet

the sleeved boundary

where tide begins.

We descend beyond,

into silent din

of waterbrown

stain. It is


to stand

where no man owns,

the ocean’s land.

Here, Achaemenides,

we can stop


of death. Here,

there is no need

for breath or

beat. Here, we

are rocks so sculpted

with reverence by salt

and undone to our

second skin, which

can withstand this

water’s one question.

What else need

there be?

The Sacrifice

After H.D’s Trilogy

Again and again Achaemenides

dies. I cannot help

it. Help myself.

H.D wanders an empty city.

She beckons me

to follow, but asks,

demands, loss to see

what she has found.

Who have I to give?

He is willing, he hasn’t

discovered his freedom

to choose. Into the waves

he wades, carrying

a cement block.

On his shoulders he pours

flames, scorched flesh

rising as sacrifice. H.D

shakes, her head

lilting to side. In the light,

she looks, too, like Helen.

She chants, an echo

in Achaemenides’ temple.

He is willing.

On her page walls fall,

and Achaemenides dashes

beneath to be crushed.

I hold out both hands,

all fingers, show his blood,

crusted under my nails.

He has been so willing.

She turns them over, she points

to the wicker thatch of lines

traversing the backs.

This many, I ask?

But she is in another

city, she is searching for

the echoing bleat

of the sacrificed lamb.

Achaemenides has heard

that Odysseus is among

the dead. He is so

willing. He binds his body

to the tree, lets his breath

waste to nothing. But each time

he is turned away by the

ferrier of the river.

H.D draws near. She tells me

she cannot bear to see

such letting of blood, such

false smear. I look through tears

and see her bare, clean hands,

her white smock. I tell

Achaemenides to stop. He was

so willing, not because he

didn’t know

his own freedom. He looked

to my poor, shriveled hands,.

No, not for not knowing.

Ghazal for the Shipwrecked

Picture it: the bayberries sprawl like pubic hair

toward water, the rock returns like bone.

Picture it: I leave sweetness out

for butterflies. They come with their many eyes.

Picture it: I am Ozymandias, King of Kings,

I write in the sand.

Picture it: sometimes, a boy comes, a refugee

from his father. We listen together but don’t speak.

Picture it: the cyclops din on the other mountain

often sets up great waves. I ride them on my chest.

Picture it: seven crows, seven archers, seven

questions for the veil, seven shadows moving across.

Picture it: the poet asks me lots of questions,

but doesn’t linger for answers.

Defense of His Borders

Eventually, rescuers arrived.

They wore round masks,

oxygen tanks, frightening.

“Come! Come

with us. We will bring you

to the food, doctor, shelter.”

He wondered who they

spoke to. Though he sat

there on a rock, waiting

to be taken, they passed him by.

One, with a bright

fire of beard below his mask,

paused to ask “Do you

know the marooned man?

We’re here to rescue him.”

Achaemenides paused, and a bright

toll of a bell crimped up

from their boats.

“No, I don’t know him.”

The man moved on.

Martin Conte grew up on the coast of Maine, in a community known for its high concentration of writers, fiber artists, steelband musicians, and homesteaders. His fiction and poetry have appeared in Sixfold, The Aurorean, and Glitterwolf, among others. He cofounded the independent literary journal Thieves & Liars with Victoria Hood. He continues to live and create on Maine’s coast, working as an educator, a gardener, and a private research assistant.

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