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Poetry Summer 2021    fiction    all issues

Cover of Poetry Summer 2021


Diana Akhmetianova

Monique Jonath
& other poems

Alix Christofides Lowenthal
Before and After
& other poems

Rebbekah Vega-Romero
La Persona Que Quiero Ser
& other poems

Oak Morse
Incandescent Light That Peeks Through Secrets
& other poems

George Kramer
The Last Aspen Stand
& other poems

Elizabeth Sutterlin
Meditations on Mars
& other poems

Holly Marie Roland
& other poems

Devon Bohm
A Bouquet of Cherry Blossoms
& other poems

Ana Reisens
In praise of an everyday object
& other poems

Maxi Wardcantori
The Understory
& other poems

William A. Greenfield
& other poems

Karen L Kilcup
The Sky Is Just About to Fall
& other poems

Pamela Wax
He dreams of birds
& other poems

Mary Jane Panke
& other poems

a mykl herdklotz
Mouettes et Mastodontes
& other poems

Claudia Maurino
Good Pilgrim
& other poems

Mary Pacifico Curtis
One Mystical Day
& other poems

Tess Cooper
Airport Poem
& other poems

Peter Kent
Congress of Ravens
& other poems

Kimberly Sailor
White Women Running
& other poems

Bill Cushing
Creating a Corpse
& other poems

Everett Roberts
& other poems

Susan Marie Powers
Canada Geese
& other poems

Writer's Site

Elizabeth Sutterlin


It might be getting bad again.

I find myself preoccupied with corn:

Spending hours paring kernels from the core

over the kitchen table.

They look like tiny golden eggs, like honeycomb,

each yellow chamber straining, full of fluid,

shelter for the seed of life within.

How many kernels on the ear

how many ears on the stalk

how many acres of American soil

look just like this,

rolling fields of nothing but

the plant that I pick apart

with eyes, with teeth, with kitchen poetry?

How often do unruly seeds challenge the neat rows of the ear

how often do unruly birds challenge the neat rows of the tractor?

surely American ingenuity has answered their call

has engineered the birds, the roots, the kernels

to lay neatly ordered: every hill and plain

must be structured squarely, Manhattan blocks.

Under the kitchen lamp, I stand with knife and cob

like a whittler, as if the blade

could shape it into something new,

could pry out the secrets of what lies

beneath the sweetness of the seed,

as if I could make sense of the porous center

and its unyielding white flesh.

I think about Marilyn Monroe

begging the reservation women for naloxone

in her darkest hour—

I, too, am the daughter of murderers and thieves

unable to make sense of a world

made and unmade for me.

Somewhere the last crow

still pecking golden kernels from Monsanto’s ears

laughs at this great joke

before he goes squawking to the gallows.

Parting Words

“When the assault on a maternity clinic in Kabul on Tuesday was over, 18 newborn babies were left behind, many covered in blood, and most now motherless. The youngest, whose mother survived, was delivered in a safe room after the attack had begun.”

—The New York Times, May 14, 2020.

Baby, this world is an onion:

layers of carnage partitioned only

by a few thin, purple walls.

My eyes itched when doctors

cut into the woman beside me

to haul out twins.

My eyes watered when men

cut into the roof

to bring it down around us.

Baby, I felt the world shake within me

as you moved, your head against

the door to the world

like a battering ram

until I opened and gave way.

I felt the world shake around me

as men moved against the doors,

forcing the clinic to give way.

Baby, I watched someone

birth a tiny mewling son

moments before the shelling.

A freshly cleaned child, blood-spattered once more.

A new mother dead before the sweat cooled her brow.

Baby, was there time

for me to deliver the placenta

that slippery lunch box,

your sidecar?

I did not have much to send with you.

But I wish there had been time to give

what I had:

a name,

a kiss,

a few months’ milk.


I think the type of man I like

is the man I’d like to be.

when my shoulders grow broad,

I try a swagger in the silver of my mirror

to impress my reflection;

(s)he is not convinced, but still

the strangest desire stirs

not to touch as much as to become.

couched somewhere deep within my mind

is a baby boy who neither lived nor died,

only lay down for a warm afternoon nap once

in his favorite grass-stained overalls.

I chop off my hair. I spit in the street.

I plead with my jawbone. I refuse to shave.

someone faked his death,

printed an obituary in the local paper’s runny ink:

(he was curious, he loved trains, he wanted to be like his father)

and pulled whatever it is that I am

from his empty coffin

perhaps the men I take to bed are recompense

for the life that sleeping child was denied.

when I seek out unyielding lovers

in the places where I bend,

is it for them at all? maybe I am merely

searching for the body of the boy I never was.



There is a loneliness—there is an emptiness there.

No, don’t feel it. Don’t linger.

Trust me, you don’t want to feel it.

Here, a drink will help you drown it out.

Here, I have just the thing.

If you micro-dose this slow-acting poison

you won’t feel it anymore.

If you pump yourself full with plastic glitter

you won’t feel it anymore.

Take in the halogen light, the radio static,

the endless buzzing of electric wasps.

You cannot feel emptiness if you are full of sound and fury.

I have just the 8-bit garbage for your ears,

just the flashing pictures for your eyes,

just the sickening sugars for your lips.

Feel arteries clog, neurons fizzle out,

eardrums rupture, eyes go blind.

It makes you feel like a person, no?

People do these things.

People experience these sensations.

People gorge themselves on glitter and neon and booze,

people are eternally chasing the next high,

the next three-minute sequence of static,

because it must mean something, right?


We prayed for answers and the gods on high told us to consume,

that taking in creation would save us.

We have made ourselves arks for more than two of every kind.

Walk to the grocery store while having a breakdown.

It’s nothing but wall to wall

color slogan purchase consume this will feed you this will fill you this will save you.

Dinner so easy you will have more time.

Time for nothing. Time for what?

Please avoid the wet floor sign; it doesn’t mean anything.

Don’t look at the slick sheen of water on the floors; it is a mirror.

Don’t look at yourself in the mirror.

In the mirror are your eyes and in your eyes is your soul

and if you look you will remember that there is an emptiness—

that you are a beast alone in this world

that these sugars and statics and lights are not saving you they are rotting you in an ill-fated effort to save your soul, and what soul? What could there be left to save? You let yourself be dazzled by the lights and colors and glitter and static and act like it means something, like you are less alone—

you are alone, dreaming

your own static to produce.

What would you do but give more garbage

for more to consume? Nails on chalkboards, bouquets of carrion flowers,

strangled sea turtles beached by thousands,

anything to avoid the fact that

you will always feel alone—


Oh, I told you not to feel it. Here, take my hand, please, it’s okay,

we don’t have to answer these big questions now,

look, I’ve got just the thing:

it won’t ask you what you want to become,

but it will sit with you for a little while.

We’re mopping up the spill on aisle seven.

Please, take a swig,

turn on the TV,

put on some music

until you fall asleep again.

Meditations on Mars

Mars, red planet, drove men mad.

stare at red dirt long enough

your eyes go blind.

travel far enough from home

your heart forgets the way.

Mars, scarlet lining of a matador’s

coat made men like bulls,

and women like bears emerging from

dens like women emerging from spacecraft.

they strung themselves out to find water on Mars.

in their eyes, dry hills ran bloody.

they were looking for the path

of the liquid in the dust

for proof the vision had been real

proof they were more than mad scientists.

they last saw Sally in the airlock,

scrubbing at her skin

until her flesh matched the beaten landscape

obsessed with her fingertips, her

palms out, damned spot, out I say.

Mars made man beast

not moon-bayers, made anew:

red dust red dirt red desert

there must be water (always after the water)

somewhere, somehow, there must have been water

returners thirst for splashdown sensation

blessed water blue planet blue sea

under the red light of a lifeless planet calling them.

they last saw Yuri stepping out with water rations

desperate to wet the soil,

a diplomatic gesture from the red representative.

pouring amniotic on a dead planet,

waiting for life to spring forth, he said:

no God up here, so space

for man to reign creation.

if there are impressions in the dust, then necessarily

there must have been water.

Mars made man made bot made beast:

our inorganic child sent to locate life

in the dust bowl, mass grave of human hope

to feel less alone in the universe.

blue home world Houston beamed up human lullabies;

in return the Rover beamed back a likeness of ourselves.

we last saw Rover singing its funeral dirge

dust-choked in red storms

as if to say, death is not decay of flesh;

death as offline status, death as proof-of-concept.

if the Rover died on Mars, then necessarily

there must have been life.

we were searching for others on Mars

we were searching for ourselves on Mars

we were searching for ourselves in others

we were searching for ourselves in our creation.

dry-mouthed engineers watch Yuri crash,

watch Sally cover herself in the sea.

they take off their headsets when Rover stops singing.

they rise all at once,

staring at palms caked in red

each of them desperate

for a glass of water.

Elizabeth Sutterlin is a poet from New York’s Hudson Valley. Her poetry won a national silver medal from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards in 2014. Elizabeth holds a B.A. in international relations from William & Mary and works at a nonprofit in Washington D.C.

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