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Poetry Summer 2023    fiction    all issues


Joel Filipe

Kristina Cecka
& other poems

Gillian Freebody
The Uncivil War of Love
& other poems

LuAnn Keener-Mikenas
Skunks at Twilight
& other poems

Alyssa Sego
& other poems

Anne Marie Wells
Forest of One
& other poems

Brent M. Foster
Ode to Darwin
& other poems

Jack Giaour
trans man is feeling blue
& other poems

Alan Gann
how strange
& other poems

Richard Baldo
The Privilege
& other poems

Michael Fleming
& other poems

Holly York
As it turned out, there was no bomb on board
& other poems

Celeste Briefs
Late Poppies
& other poems

Kayla E.L. Ybarra
Goose Song
& other poems

S.E. Ingraham
Leaving to Arrive
& other poems

Rachel Robb
Molting Scarlet Tanager
& other poems

Bruce Marsland
Sauna by a Finnish lake at Midsummer
& other poems

Ellen Romano
Seven Sisters
& other poems

Greg Hart
False Coordinates
& other poems

Greg Tuleja
& other poems

Corinne Walsh
Southern Charm
& other poems

Celeste Briefs

Ars Primavera

The sky belched out a wet snow today,


white flakes,

not enough to disguise early spring

as old winter.

Enough to know

that it’s spring in Colorado.

Thousands, millions of snowflakes

will spit-shine the pavement

before I leave

the house.

I’d like to dream the future

under all this

soft drizzle,

dazzle the trees with the gift of

their children

before a distant car horn

calls me back up

to remember departure, remember



I didn’t expect to dress my hard skin

in golden compost, but

I suppose if I am becoming

the cultivated earth

then I had better look

the part.

I haven’t smelled like myself since

the tilling.

What comes of grieving former youth

instead of growing into new—

what comes of carpet bags filled with brass

knobs and cold, dim rooms

where people used to dance:

forgetting to bleed like autumn and cauterize like summer.

People have been throwing pennies down my throat

for as long as I can remember, saying

cut down the stem of the brain and build a raft,

drag its pitiful roots right out of the spine.

Put your lips together and blow a song

through the empty reeds,

sing something that can rebuild a house,

wield brick and mortar.


about the snow


the trees

and their new


But I cannot sing another’s song,

tap roots that aren’t mine, or

build something out of what I do not have.

I like when it stays cold enough to

snow in spring,

so that is the wish I will grant,

the raft I will sail.

I’ll put

my hand to

the back

of my neck

and know

when it is

warm again.


I was sixteen the first time

someone called me a dyke

& I liked the way it felt,

sharp & curved

like a hammer’s claw

a scythe reaping dead things from under

my skin, tearing

them out by their bony


detoxifying soil

that had yet to be


It snapped against my tongue like sour

candy, ringing against my

teeth, razing the pink

puckered flesh until the air tasted

like fire. I was sixteen & I knew

an unwhet bowie knife had sheathed

itself between my breasts.

The blood-chested bullfinch

perched on a rib

calling out with its one-noted voice

for something that might answer

in a familiar tongue.

I was sixteen & it cut

like a blue bite to the neck, sucked dry

of all my innocence in that moment,

unable to mimic the alien syllable. So

I sing it out into the world

with smoke in my throat,

blood welling up like groundwater

where the blade has culled

its fill,

& hope

that somewhere an echo

will return to fill my aching troughs.

medusa with the head of perseus

I see a girl-beast staring out at me through

stone eyes that look on the verge of tears,

rain-slicked serpent tendrils dangling down

her left shoulder,

fluted ribs arched gothic towards cascading

river canyon sternum.

I see a woman standing still, hips

canting to one side, her curves carved raw

from the heft of her grief. Hips

cradling something too black to be seen by the

naked eye. Pallas Athena knew what she was doing

when she granted her the gift of breathless beauty.

A stoned woman whose flesh is unmarked,

whose flesh is not choked with demons but who is

the demon. From the Greek daimōn, meaning deity,

guardian, genius. Unexorcisable.

Her abdomen is an urn full of ashes,

telling a story of how she was cursed and hunted

down like an animal, like an abomination.

She could never have unwritten those scars without

something alive and pure as fire inside. I see

her wrath, a clean blade cutting through silence.

To feel conquered by her, I walk around

until I am standing directly behind her.

It’s worth it to see her back muscles straining

from the weight of scimitar and severed head.

Late Poppies

for Sylvia Plath

Your daddy points out the car window. You don’t

Have to look, you smell them blooming

Bright red and early, or late, depending on how you view time.

You’ve been here before. This place needs

No open-eyed gaze from you

To be real. It sits between sunrise and sunset, wavering

Like a mirage, or a metronome. A memory

Burning like the sweet blood of blackberries on your


There’s a hole in your head. Steam shrills out of it like a

Boiling kettle, singing

Louder than an ocean, louder than your memories.

You think to stick a needle in your daddy’s eye

To see if it would burst open the way his heart used to do.

But the poppies have made your hands heavy. They sink into your chest

As you sink into the passenger seat. You never used to believe in heaven;

You’ve confessed this many times, in as many ways as it’s

Passed you by. This might be it: your daddy says, so it must be true.

The car has stopped, pulled up to the edge

Of the orange-faced cliffs. The ineffable smiths haven’t

Broken for sleep; their hammering wakes you.

Too early; the morning hasn’t yet seized

The earth with its molten fist. Breaking dawn scrambles

To catch its own falling pieces.

The sun spreads over glowing green fields

Like a lion’s mane, yellow and

insane. Sylvia.

You’ve made your body an immortal work of art,

Captive in stone, sung down like a legend,

Upended and stolen by a silent angel whose face is

The rounded smoothness of an egg. When they try

To pry your fingers apart,

You can be certain that they will break.

We shall never get you put back together entirely,

Pieces shuffled, recombined, shattered again into atoms.

Girl that was the shape of a blue, unbroken egg,

Girl that could not be told

When to stay and when to go

And when to leave out food and milk for her babies

For when they wake to find mommy

Has gone on a long, strange trip with her daddy.



Don’t you know it’s not a dream

This time?

Celeste Briefs is a Colorado native and emerging poet whose work has been previously published by Applause Journal. Much of her work revolves around nature and the imagination, grounded by her experiences as a member of the LGBTQIA+/neurodivergent community and her passion for the timeless magic of the mundane. She graduated from Arapahoe Community College in 2020 and received her B.A. in English, Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Colorado, Denver.

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