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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

S.E. Ingraham

I Get Ready To Sell the Family Home

I find barnacles on the bottom of our old sailboat

upturned tortoise-style in the backyard.

They are brittle as a gang of great-grandmothers,

and scrape off with my bare hands.

I fire them like I used to throw snowballs over the peak

of our bungalow roof, now burnished copper,

drenched by sunlight soon departing the day.

The yard becomes a blur once the sun deserts the sky.

Until my eyes adjust to dusk’s bathing every blessed thing,

I see my mother crumpled beneath the old elm, her skin

the ashen color it had become when they cut her down.

Even blinking rapidly will not dispel that flinty image.

And tears long thought dried sit bitter on my tongue.

It’s hard not to visualize the men swaddling her

like a mummy. No, no—more like something

cocooned—before finally taking her away.

your leaving scars me still

(after rob mclennan’s the girl from abbotsford)

two years one month four days

i waken, my hand on your pillow

still lonely for your warmth.

your cat curls at my feet

but is still not my cat does not

purr—ever—awaits your return.

i continue to lose weight.

food does not interest me

nothing does really—

i am holding your taste

like a verb on my tongue

afraid to swallow your tense.

i wonder how long it takes

for wounds to fully heal

and if scars ever fade.

perhaps they are all

that keep me here, remind

me of you, that i was loved.

These Are Your Hands

Here, where the babe lay, stillness

now. These are your hands holding

my hands, both so empty even as

we try to catch at life,

our lives, whatever we imagine is left.

There on the steps is our dog, uneasy

in his stance as if suspecting the sea

change in us. He sleeps with one ear cocked,

one eye slitted open to our strained

tension-filled space.

Our television, like some artifact, remains

silent. Closed off, as are we, gathering

dust in a living room that mocks us

almost as much as the nursery and the

family room are wont to do.

The names of objects have never meant

much until now when cruel irony seems

to rebuke at every turn. You are careful

not to cradle my womb, as am I, that

empty vessel where Ely last lay.

Lay in a perfect breathless slumber

that will remain forever flawless,

however tragic. Determined, we strive

to be stoic. Don’t you think our Calvinist

parents will be so proud?

On the Cusp of Recall

“The half-life of love is forever.”

—Junot Diaz, This Is How You Lose Her

The night you put me on notice was a hot

August one, the day before your eldest son’s

5th birthday—do you remember this as

clearly, as do I?

Whenever August nights are hot and sticky

as scones with butter and jam, and the skies

grow so black they have glimmers of seaweed—

green running through them—the colour that

threatens storms that can portend tornadoes—

I remember that night and can hear you screaming.

Odd that, as all your threats and final words

were in writing—you never spoke, never shouted,

nor screamed—all of that is me imagining your voice

from other times, times I had forgotten entirely

until now.

It wasn’t as if your sister, you, and I didn’t have

some crazy fights—especially when you two were

growing up—and they got wicked loud—

But we always made up and came together—especially

you and your sister, and you and your Dad.

It was you who couldn’t stand for anyone to be mad.

And you, who would be the first to apologize and make up.

That’s why this prolonged silence, especially without

any explanation, and no hope of reconciliation (your words)

is so bewildering and hurtful.

Another Christmas looms, and of course,

I find myself thinking of you, my love, and your boys

—our grandsons.

I can’t help wondering, as I often do, what you told

them about our abrupt absence from their lives?

We, who love them fiercely and saw them often

were suddenly just not there—heartbreaking for us,

confusing for them.

I was stopped at a green light the other day, waiting

for a funeral procession to pass

And found myself thinking that I was glad we still observe

this courtesy.

The police tasked with blocking the intersections so

the cortege could stay together, stood outside their cars,

and removed their hats in a sign of respect.

It occurred to me that perhaps you’ve told your boys

we’re dead, so that’s why they don’t see us anymore.

Or maybe they were content with hearing we’ve moved away?

We haven’t, but it would likely do as an excuse.

I thought after enough time passed, I might not still feel a

physical pain when I think about this estrangement.

I was wrong.

When you first kicked us out of your lives—I remember

it felt like half my family was ripped away as surely as if

they’d been in a car accident.

I didn’t ever express this feeling because it seemed outrageous.

—I knew you and your kids (and your husband, who I’ve grown to

distrust, as I believe he’s a large part of this) still breathed.

Treating my loss as if you were dead seemed over the top.

As time wears on and nothing changes—in fact, any

overtures I make to try and reach you are so firmly rebutted,

(including legally, as it turns out), I begin to feel ill—both

physically and emotionally—my mental health starts to

deteriorate also, as my anger grows.

You know, one of the things that triggers my depressions

is a fear of abandonment (long stories, but you do know them)

I wonder if whatever it is you think we have done warrants our

being cut out of your life forever.

Does it ever occur to you that excising us from your lives

might also send me spiralling into a deep depression?

It’s not like you weren’t aware of this possibility—it happened

more than once when you were growing up.

Five years on, and still no word from you. Half a decade.

It hits me, if we bump into the boys somewhere,

we won’t know them nor they us.

I worry all the time about how they are, how you are.

Should I send the police to do a wellness check on you?

Or am I just fooling myself? Trying to believe that you must be ill

or surely you would have been in touch by now—

your father and I are getting old. Do you realize that?

We’ll be dead, and there will be no resolving this.

Is that going to be okay with you? I don’t believe it. I don’t.

The wind has picked up, and there’s a blizzard

blowing outside the window.

Visibility is nil which suits me as I write

about our situation—as always,

I can’t see clearly about any of it—

still, I wish only the best for you. Truly.

Leaving to Arrive

She gasses the old mauve Buick at the last self-serve

on the way out of town, smacks at droning but harmless

bugs landing on the stalk of her smooth white neck

and keeps shifting; stands with one dirty barefoot

covering the other, then switches.

She watches the numbers flip over on the gas pump,

notes the ping announcing every gallon added, and

jerks the nozzle out before it’s finished.

A faint dribble of fuel scents the air as the excess

runs down the side of the car.

Bill paid, she sashays back to the car, refreshes,

Sweetheart Pink lips in her rearview,

puts it in first and peels into the night,

the dust chasing her out to the two-lane

the only evidence she was ever there.

S.E.Ingraham lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where she writes and reads in equal measure. She has been published with Poets for Change, Sixfold, ARTA, Shot Glass, Red Fez, winningwriters, and Freefall, among others. One of her greatest joys is volunteering as a CTA for ModPo, a MOOC at the University of Pennsylvania, each September, where she learns as much or more than she gives back.

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