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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

Maxi Wardcantori

That Summer, My Neighbor

slipped and fell in the bathtub,

was taken away in a gurney

while I watched with a bruised blue thumb,

and the sight poked holes in me.

I learned kickflips in his driveway

that was somehow blacker than my own,

and children chalked the sidewalk with

scraped knees and knuckles,

asphalt-dimpled soles

and a gashed palm pressed skyward that said look,

dripped a blood that mesmerized,

some strange secret pulled from within

that caught the sun, jeweled the skin,

the sky, the eyes of all who watched—

let’s call it witnessing.

Let’s call it mid-July,

and the wet coats us in its blanket,

licks the face of a small child

who does not know herself

to be verging on something.

Splashing in circles at night,

she watches the way her father leans a beer bottle

against the wall of his rubber float,

lets the cool glass kiss the water.

She pockets the gesture unknowingly.

In the years between then and now,

she finds herself accidentally recalling

all that she had forgotten to remember.

She takes inventory like a child

looking to spot the new:

a chess set cut from frosted glass,

a pale-yellow paperback.

Phantom objects visit at random

to remind her what she’d first learned of dying.


I began to bleed and I could not stop,

trapped by the perimeter of time

and resigned, unfairly, to forgetting.

In the windowless room, all us girls stripped

from scratchy kilts and stood in stained underwear,

bodies bowing inward

like our predecessors: whipped women

showing bloodspots through hand-sewn liveries.

How even the strongest, shorn and strapped, would bleed,

and how that thing pulsing within her seeped

through tattered bindings

to bring about a disconcerting tenderness,

seedlike matter retched up from bile

and swallowed again with the contempt

of a half-digested pill.

My blood affronts me in bandages,

tissues and toilet paper, plumes of red

softening into near invisibility.

We dissipate together,

trace the perimeter of long-forgotten lives,

take nothing, break nothing,

and time is only some holy decoupage

but I’m wearing it every way I know how—

smeared on my face, stitched into the shape of valor.


From the far side of the hill she speaks

down to you from above.

You’ll always ramble when you tell this story—

how she borrows the moon’s voice to share her thoughts

and all her peace enters you.

You are new now.

You think of her in midsummer,

and when you need the courage to behave badly,

out of your own body, being bold and magnetic.

It makes you get your work done, too,

and it always makes you want

the mouth that is open.

You’ll forever feel the sour stomach of apology,

but you do not let it plague you anymore.

You are new,

and all that remained unsaid

is coming up fresh. You grow obsessed with

what you need to know and then,

teach yourself to ask.

You will know.

Joni is on your voicemail. She visits you in hallucinogenic

stages, sits beside you like you sat with her. Joni is

a protective eidolon, maternal gossip sentient in

flickering candles. Joni crawled under your skin

while you were not looking.

The Understory

Lately, I’ve grown obsessed

with all the ways a heart can be heard beating,

through water or glass, amplified by suffocating,

suffering quiet, or the insulative skin of a lover.

It’s a sin to throw out old to-do lists,

so I pray to them instead, my divine,

that today I might plant a fern

pulled up from the understory, frail roots

still humming with just-barely-alive.

That today I might capture on film

the light of an old house, coax a bee

somehow into my palm.

I am always gathering objects for one thing

or another, stringing words into a half-

remembered path to follow home

to all the beds I’ve shared,

and the littles ones burrowed

into blankets screech their love

and protest—won’t go to sleep

and wake to another one.

This Year

I never lost anything.

I shed my clothes now when the heat’s too high / my

hair bigger than before / I move

in vertical loops / through to the ceiling / I speak

through the veil / speak through the red

flushing my cheeks / I laugh with a full face / I forgot

I was a daughter / of the North Star / it cuts

through the tar-black river / I can play the drums

if I say I can / the same song a dozen times

hits sharp / and my head is a pendulum

to bring me home / when I forget

I walked through so many doors

as a child / an attempt to contend

with the bitter air / I stung my tongue

with cold / breathed myself into a delusion

that looked like clarity / a clarity

mimicking the delusion that I now know

sitting on the bathroom counter slick

with condensation / discarded shirts and underpants

on the tile / that I’ll be stepping over for days.

I run the shower early

to watch time move without me

and I’m shrouded in it.

Maxi Wardcantori is a writer and multimedia artist from Baltimore. She is currently pursuing an MFA in poetry at Rutgers University, where she teaches creative writing. She holds a B.A. in English from UMBC, where she received the Malcolm C. Braly creative writing award for her poem “Treasure.” Maxi’s current project, Sound Catalogue (, is an interactive virtual installation that documents and interprets the sounds of daily life. Her written work has appeared in Bartleby.

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