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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

Frederick Shiels

Toussaint Louverture,
Breda Plantation, 1791

Your Ayiti, Toussaint, your Haiti, blazes now

from the northern Cap to Tiburon, the fires of

sugar cane and fragrant white plantation bodies

blaze now in Jeremie, Jacmel, and Port-au-Prince

blood dries on the black backs of four hundred

thousand slaves now—your Legionnaires who

carry torches in the black nights. Slaves refusing

to be slaves brandish torches down sandy paths

to verandas and smoke-houses of the Blancs—

Mulattoes, too. Slaves who light, Identify, and

burn, light and burn.

The French rise too in Paris, Orleans, Marseilles and all

the paysage, Normandie to Pyrenee Departement, and

young Napoleon grows restless with his fellow troops

aching for order and for breath, Toussaint, he reads of you,

Toussaint, in his barracks, but does not sweat your sweat,


Did You Ever

see the black cherry tree

guarding an ancient family

graveyard beside the road to

Watkins Glen from Ithaca along

Route 79? And touch the once

electric barbed wire fence rigged up years

ago to protect the tombstones marker from

lives lived in the Finger Lakes in the time

of the early Republic, Monroe, Jackson

those aching decades of working the rocky


Who were they—Henry Sayre, Hannah Sayre,

young Daisy? what are they doing now in those

white oak and knotty pine coffins with the orange sugar

maples burning above them in October and the green

flames of hell burning below? I like to picture Hannah in

her blue calico dress arms folded at her boney chest,

skeletal fingers still holding a lock of her aughter’s hair

Daisy, 1819-1823, lying under the rocky loam Three feet

away, smaller stone.

Bad October: 2016

When I tell you this October

alone has seen Syrian sisters and

their brothers die cyanic blue

under chunks of concrete ripped

from the very walls round them

by their very own State-

sponsored bombs and sure

plenty of Russian rockets too

well you tell me life’s not fair.

These thugs look to us in

America so they say

inspired by how easy it was

for us to crush young

bones not on purpose but

as a distasteful side-effect,

a ‘collateral’ of

The Mission—say Vietnam 1968

and 1972—October was

especially bad those years. There.

Oh, and this October, 2016,

six hundred children—give or

take—Haiti saw erased:

choked battered by boards

from their own treasonous

houses tree and waterrocked:

Hurricane Matthew dumb,

relentless—mothers wail and

dead is dead. Whom do we

put on trial for all this

autumnal not- fairness?.

The Rebel

Saturdays when afternoons were

too steamy or too cold for outdoor play

our refuge and our culture too

were penny-wise enriched

by the none-too-proud Rebel Theater

on old Pine Street where

matinee double headers drew in

boisterous kids by the station-wagon-load.

Parents dropped (dumped) their offspring there—

(It was not a safe/sane place for them).

We the loved the faintly rancid the popcorn the pickle-for-a-nickel

the Junior Mints and Milk Duds that

though pricey in boxes obscenely large went quickly

Heck the tickets were only a quarter so a dollar

bought an afternoon. A better deal for Moms and Dads

is hard to imagine.

It was at the Rebel that I first stepped into Ancient Rome.

Charlton Heston’s chariot race deliverance from his galley oars or

not as high up on the cinematic ladder, the “Three Stooges Go Around the World in

a Daze”—the laughter began before the action with opening credits lifted by peppy

strains of “Three Blind Mice,” like lightening seen

before the thunder sound for Larry Curley Moe an

epic no less than Ben-Hur itself.

The Rebel, distinctly inferior to Hattiesburg’s other

downtown movie house the Saenger

gold ornamented, turquoise curtained

more adult more favoring

Romantic Evening Entertainment. I saw “The King and I” there

with my mother after dinner out. Dressed up—yes, pearls.

she would not have been caught dead

at the Rebel.

Red: High End of the Spectrum

Today in the bright Light of day a red deer

vaulted over my car on a curve and

dodged—I think—a line of cars in the

opposite lane to safety. My sedan,

oblivious to this drama, moved me on

down the road—shone midway between

Chinese and fire engine red; it was a red


Nothing in Latvia will cause me to beg my friend to pull her

Volkswagon to the side of the road by a green sea of

rapsis/flax, like the splash between flax-stems—of

poppies—Magonites. They grow together. I always want to

cut some of these carmine stars to put in water, knowing

sadly that they will not last a day—out of soil.

Our eye chases red or red chases our eye to the

delicate feet of the mourning dove on snow, to

red’s tiny splash in a Vermeer—a girl’s hat, the

pearl ear-ringed girl’s lips.

What stop-light is ever Blue?

What stop sign?

Nor the eyes in your most perfect photo, no, there is no

‘Blue-eye’ setting on your Nikon.

You pomegranates

You oozing childcorpses You

cardinals lighting on bare-beeches or

in the Vatican, You sea-snapperfish on

my plate

You tell-tale hearts under the floorboards.

Do gently cut your boy’s-arm

just a bit and me mine, and we

touch, become brothers.

The 13.8 billion light—year farthest, farthest out

galaxy, colorized, perhaps

but what do you suppose that color is? And

when I die what red remaining within me

will be motionless

Frederick Shiels is a poet and Prof. Emeritus of Politics and History at Mercy College. He has published in Avocet, Deep South Review, The Hudson River Anthology, The New Verse News, Sulphur and Honey (Bosch: Garden of Earthly Delights), Sixfold (2013), and his most recent book is Preventable Disasters. He has been a Fulbright senior scholar in both Japan (1985-1986) and Latvia (2006).

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