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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

William A. Greenfield

Billy Baxter’s Wooden Car

Walking down Station Road, I heard an engine rev,

the sound naked and raw; Billy’s voice muted by

the shriek of loose belts and a cold start.

The small house was blackened by exhaust;

old clapboards coated in mud churned up

from treads worn thin over time.

I built plastic models; at fifteen Billy built the real thing,

harvested organs, an engine, axles and wheels cradled

in a chassis made of two-by-fours.

He drove us in circles, past the front porch, across

the rough-cut driveway, around the mound of tires and back

to square one, his Chrysler Slant-6 screaming like a banshee.

Tapping the steering wheel, Billy shouted “Got this from a ’57 De-Soto”

I had this thought that he had been dipped in Valvoline, forever to

be coated in grease and grime, but I didn’t care.

Endlessly bouncing from here to there all summer, watching

the mud fly, watching the ruts get deeper, seeing the pride in

Billy’s smile as the days grew shorter.

When school started I looked for him in the halls, in the lunch room,

ambling across the long shadows on Station Road. One flat tire

and a bent axle, his car in the tall weeds, canting into the loam.

On a Sunday morning I was Billy, sliding on and taking the wheel.

A woman walked onto the porch. The missing teeth and sunken

face betrayed any youth she once had.

“Billy don’t live here no more” she said; “went to some special

school upstate; teachers said he couldn’t learn nothin, could barely

spell his name.”

All he ever talked about was pistons and drive shafts, never about his life

beyond that circle. She kept talking but all I heard was Billy’s engine

pulling us through the mud one summer on Station Road.

Back Talk

I am you and I’ve come back to visit you. I’m like that

distant star you see in the winter sky, so infinitely far away,

like I was to you when people were of two kinds, children

and grown-ups with a boundless vortex in between.

When you looked at your father, smelled his dirty clothes,

you didn’t know that some of those distant stars no

longer exist. It’s been said that, if you travel to infinity,

you’ll end up staring at the back of your head. Well,

mom and dad have died but I won’t tell you when

because you’ll just use it as an excuse to stop taking

your medication. You remember the leak in the ceiling

and the broken windows? You just expected everything

to be as it always was no matter how distant that star was.

You just came out of a mold and were already labeled.

Well, you were right you little shit. I still live in that

rusty old tin can and the ceiling still leaks when it rains.

I have nothing, no money, no dignity, no hope.

Why couldn’t you muster up just a shred of audacity

to think that you could become a mechanic or a plumber.

Thank the lord that you broke the mold and I have

no children to feed, no children to smell my clothing,

my fetid breath. If you knew that you would be the end

of the line, would you have let me become just another

black hole in the night sky?

Please Brush the Snow
from My Shoulder

When the wind was captured inside

the soft blanket of white and the sound

of machines was dampened to a whisper,

I tried to catch the snowflakes on my tongue.

They did not rage from the sky. The

percussion against the window pane

was not from shrieking banshees darting

sideways in the howling wind.

When my mittens were caked in white

and my cheeks rosy, Mama met me at

the back door. She warmed my hands

and brushed the snow from my shoulder.

Mama died in the spring, many years

after the cold wind escaped, moaning

and howling relentlessly and turning

my fingers a ghostly white.

If you were still here, Mama, you could

wait for me while I fill the gas generator

as the Gulf Stream meets the descending

arctic freeze in a counter-clockwise air mass.

When the chains are taut you could clean

the blood from my knuckles. I cannot do

this much longer, Mama. I am tired and my

arms can no longer reach places they once did.

So meet me at the threshold and stand on

your tiptoes to give me the illusion of being

taller; capture the wind for me and

please brush the snow from my shoulder.

The Boy with the Crystal Trinket

It lay under your mother’s empty bed. Reach for it child

through the layers of dust and take it in your hand; hold it

gently like it was your mother’s fragile heart.

Do not leave it with your father. He has anger issues.

Hide it from your uncle. He is a corrections officer. Do not

give it to your grandmother. She will soon be with your mother.

Put it in a small box beside the two animal books and find someone

to cling to, someone at the hospital or the lady with the soft voice who

comes to visit on Mondays and Thursdays.

Do not bring it to school. Children steal things. Let it absorb

the light of day and shimmer in your tears at night. Take it to

the park where she carried you inside and out.

I was assigned to help build your skills. You showed me today that

you can tie your shoes but the bow was too small and your laces dragged.

I can help you with that but I don’t know what else to do.

The Deacon’s Lament

Five years after Uncle Kenneth came home from

The Big One two things happened;

I was born and Kenneth began to paint.

His sky was an empty home void of children,

each stone in the stream a cobblestone from

Church Lane just outside Manchester.

She is looking down into the water.

He will only allow himself a subtle profile, a reflection

in the stream sluicing around her perfect toes.

The Instructions for Servicemen in Britain said not

to show off and never to criticize the king or queen.

There were no rules about falling in love.

He left her in a village outside of Essex after Operation

Overlord. He left her there like a half glass of Guinness

left at the pub because there was a plane to catch.

He flew home to Mama and joined The Dutch Reformed Church.

When the calling came, he became the Deacon.

He polished pews, painted Bingo signs and painted a memory.

We learn of the broken hearts of fathers and

uncles only when we ourselves have grown old,

when wars are history and wounds have scarred over.

I sat on his knee while he read the Sunday comics to me.

She was on the wall in a golden scalloped frame.

The cigarette in her slender fingers was very natural.

If I knew that she was more than a piece of his imagination.

If I knew that each brushstroke of her golden hair was a heartache,

I would have said I was sorry.

William A. Greenfield’s poems have appeared in numerous journals, including The Westchester Review, Carve Magazine, The American Journal of Poetry and others. His chapbook, Momma’s Boy Gone Bad, was published in 2016 by Finishing Line Press. His chapbook, I Should have Asked the Blind Girl to Dance, was published in 2019 by Flutter Press. His full length collection, The Circadian Fallacy, was published this month by Kelsay Books. He lives in Liberty, New York, with his wife, son, and a dog, always a dog.

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