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Poetry Summer 2020    fiction    all issues

Poetry Summer 2020 cover


Cover Vecteezy

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

Daniel Gorman

A Poem About Mothers

Tina writes a post

because this time

this time they’ve gone too far

“have you heard? they’re outlawing plastic bags! this is so stupid!”

it used to be we fished for compliments

but now we bait our hooks with outrage and grievances

casting from a ship called


hoping to catch loves and likes

and Tina is trolling in familiar seas

where whole schools of friends and family

churn the waters

waiting to feed and give back,

feed and give back


and give back

until only the bones of their discontent remain

sinking to the bottom


my fingers hover over the keys

fingertips at battlestations

I’ve got torpedo tubes full of truth

because I am an educator

I whistle past graveyards but not

teachable moments

Tina’s lulled to sleep on the deck of her ship

I want to wake her up

set an alarm clock

with the sounds

of a sperm whale

beached on an Italian shore

mourning the dead calf she still carries


because her stomach is packed with fifty pounds of plastic bags

packed so tightly the scientists that open her up when she dies say it was as hard as

a baseball

fifty pounds of plastic

she starved to death because she was always full

I want to ask Tina if she’s ever used her teeth

to rip open a string cheese

or a freeze pop

for her daughter

if she ever accidentally swallowed that thin strip of plastic

if she could feel empathy

for a mother who tried to nourish her child

on the detritus of human convenience


I stand down

click “unfriend”

because I’d rather swallow an ocean’s worth of shopping bags

than waste one more moment

teachable or otherwise

trying to convince a mother

that her convenience isn’t worth the price

of dying whales mourning dead calves on the beaches of Italy.

The Boy Achilles

Greg was the most dangerous kid in the world

I grew up next door to a boy made of skinned knees and curse words

daredevil bruises and dirt

who never heard a double-dare

that scared him

because the truth was

books bored him

and if he ever cracked a dictionary

he never got far enough to learn the definition of “fear”

I worshipped him

to me he was everything I wanted to be

to me he was everything I was afraid to be

the summer we were ten Greg never stopped wearing camouflage

every day—army boots, camo pants, camo jacket, camo hat

he was a boy painted with Rambo’s pallette

drew inspiration from sketches of Arnold

hunting predators in alien jungles

because that summer—he was at war

this was not our usual game

where we donned grease paint

and ran through the woods firing toy guns—

our enemies were not the soldiers of our imaginations

nor the teachers that vexed him even during summer vacation

vexed him so much he drew their mugshots

just to shoot with bb guns

our enemy

was the humble honey bee

you see

Greg’s mom got some intel that spring

handed him some new marching orders

handed me an epipen

told him he couldn’t go outside without covering up

turned his camouflage into a suit of armor

turned my hero into a mortal

and suddenly

I understood what Patroclus probably felt

when folks would cough

and mumble that maybe Achilles shouldn’t take his boots off

Greg didn’t take his newfound mortality lightly

he hated his mother for revealing this weakness

hated me for knowing it

hated the bees for owning it

for no creature had ever had power over him

and despite his mother’s demands

he planned

plotted and schemed

he built Trojan horses from the skeletons of old tree forts

tore them down again because

subterfuge was beneath him

he wanted the bees to know his naked aggression

so he ripped the sleeves from his jacket

bared his freckled arms and

dared them

made a torch from a broom and some tool shed gasoline

tried to sack a buzzing Troy and was grounded until he was seventeen

he was the bravest person I have ever known

today, I understand that Greg was not a boy at all

he was boyhood

an avatar

the living embodiment of what it meant

to be the boy sketching with unsteady hands

the blueprint of the man

the architect of my adolescence

he was the rights and the wrongs

the stolen beer and filthy songs

the eggs thrown at cars on halloween

the lies you told your mom so she wouldn’t ground you

the lies you told your mom so she wouldn’t lose faith in you

the bravery that etches itself into your skin

telling the epic poem of your childhood

so that when the time comes

when the demands of manhood call on you to be more than you are

you can look down at those scars

find inspiration in old heroism

when you ran through the Elysian fields of your childhood

chasing the slings and arrows on the backs of bees

with a sleeveless boy Achilles.

Sleeping Sickness

Sometimes, when we sleep together

I wake up in the middle of the night

and stare at where you lie

your soft form cloaked

in twisted sheets and shadow




suddenly my love for you manifests itself

in worst-case scenarios

I invent aneurysms and blood clots

murderous robots sent back in time to

break my heart

maybe it was an undiagnosed heart defect or

asphyxiation—did you go out like Hendrix?

or maybe Rumplestiltskin came to collect on an old debt

Was it vampires, assassins, a ghost child crawling on the ceiling?

my love is the fear I’ll lose you

my fear is that you have succumbed to every horror of my imagination

and I slept through it


my eyes adjust

and I see the gentle rise and fall of your chest

only then

when I know you’ve survived the worst of my nightmares

can I fall back to sleep.

Summer School

In summer school

I teach barbarians

I wave novels like white flags

at 8th grade berzerkers

who come to class with their own tales

boasting of broken noses in backyard brawls

fist fights during bathroom breaks

gang-style beatdowns

on empty playgrounds

they hype win-loss records like

they are prize fighters

and not middle school boys

failing English

my syllabus says English

but I practice anthropology

studying this warrior culture in our midst

where how many hits you’ve got on your fight video

is far more important than whether


on that island

was a Christ-figure

all they say is

“he’s a pussy for not fighting back”

so I try a different tack

appeal to their violent natures

I offer up slam poetry

toss it into the fighting pits

maybe I can trick them

with something that sounds violent

but the lesson is mine to learn

words are for those without the courage

to come down from the stands

these boys are gladiators

content to let the weak write stories about them

Daniel Gorman is a teacher living in Albany, NY who hopes to one day quit his day job and become a full-time writer. He has participated in the NYS Writer’s Institute workshops for fiction and poetry, and frequently enters writing contests to stay sharp. His fiancee suggested he include in his bio that he loves dogs and is a big nerd. This is his first time being published.

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