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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

Writer's Site

LuAnn Keener-Mikenas


In my hand it changes

from dull slate to living thing.

Sap of some ancestral conifer

wrote this turpentine gold

some mammal’s uterine steel this blue.

The dark seam in the middle

reminds me of a picture my son drew

a squirrel he saw the neighbor kill.

It was crossing a border from rain

into sunlight. How smoothly that making

healed him, icon on our coffee table turned

altar, stuffed animals and Ninjas attendant

a cross of lashed popsicle sticks. Flawlessly present

he flowed on into play. For days

I was spellbound.

Yet I couldn’t stay, ten years later

in my father’s hospital room. Storm of stillness

his knurled breathing. I sat turning pages

of Tatwas—ancient Hindu symbols, feeding them

through my hand on his arm. Twice slowly

through the book, then I placed it

on the floor beneath his heart.

When I left the room was filled

with shapes of penciled light.

The nurse called just after four a.m.

I retrieved the book she had sealed in a ziplock

and the labored script of the heart monitor tape.

Now I fidget with the lights in this stone.

That tiny orange shape

                                                    a campfire

                                        there, the ice-green angles

of a glacier. The rest

submerged lucent blues

                         miners in the cave

                         forging, foraging along the vein.

Caverna Sagrada

Everything she knows tells her

she has to let it go, the hollow place

where the baby lived, where the

maturing boy struggles, miles away

with words like liar and other thorns.

This boy made out of light

how did it happen?

who chose to stay with the dark raveling

of his father’s pain—father

who recognized in him the gold

thread in a nightmare. While she

had been an unbearable glare

that showed too clearly the whole loom

Looming. Life looms

like a wave in slow motion

getting bigger and bigger and you know

what it is going to do to you

without love.

                                        So the boy

knew himself to be the flecks of sun

that rode that wall of water, the only light

his father could see. How could she turn

her back on that?

In the cave of sorrows she sits

with the emptiness, rocking it

like a cradle. Rocking the poem

trying to get her back adjusted

in the lap of the arm chair. Looking

at a photograph: the baby

glistening in his bath. She had framed it

with a special mat that hid his father

who held him in the tub: Even

in the rage of divorce, she would not

cut them apart.

Now, she goes to bed curled with an ache

lacuna in the midst

of a blessed life. Lets herself sag

into it like limp cloth. When she wakes

the thread is taut. She can stitch the poem

over the absence. She thinks of women

in the old world whose sons went to war

at twelve, daughters married into another

province, disappeared

in a wilderness of that takes by force

one way or another. Spinning

in the wee hours, there is never enough thread

to tell these stories, no satisfying way to end

such a poem. You can drown

forever. That poem just stops.

But there is a boy

made out of passion and June sun, given

the gift of choice, not required to make

any trades.

                     An excellent swimmer, his features

a perfect blend of both parents

he is not afraid of the dark.

Green Damselfly

Breaking loose from her mating flight

She settled to the naked log in the fugue

of Rocky Run, where I lay crucifixed

hands and feet in the eddies.

She faced me, perfectly still

but for the occasional curtsy of wings.

I moved slowly with my camera.

Sun played on the log bright as a dance floor.

It is I who should bow, I told her. She ducked,

clasped harder as the breeze shook her. Yes

it’s just like that for me too, I said. Long



she fluttered, settled

nearer, walked

toward me

                                      black eyes distinct

in her emerald head, all of her body, even

the edges of the black velvet wings a radiant

emerald: You cannot

die, no matter what

pierces you.


she let the air lift her. I don’t know how long

there were two

in their lilting turns

then the sound-filled absence.

Oak Chair

The birds this morning, as if they could sing

about anything. So we unloaded

your mom’s oak china cabinet, carried

from three states away, as she is

finished with it. It was heavy, and I was heavy

but I wiped it perfectly clean, anointed it

with orange oil and bees’ wax. And the wood sang.

This I thought is eternal life. It made me turn

to her older sister’s single dining chair

I had asked for, orphan long dispersed

from its fellows. Thin and tall, flowing

like a dancer, its shapely contoured seat made

of a burl—that knot where the wood

has had to struggle, grain all spun

like a storm, fans of blonde curled

among black strands. When I finished

it simply shone. This it said

is what you are trying to do.

And yes, it is worth it.

Skunks at Twilight

One night when you were a baby,

the four-room house on the sheep farm

a whole family of skunks

crossed at the bottom of the yard.

I watched from up on the porch

white stripes undulating a soundless tide,

mother and five half-grown kits

flowing through the early dark.

I called to your father, you were asleep.

This was thirty years ago, we didn’t know

it wouldn’t last. Everything

stark with suffering, you a tiny geyser

our bolt of enlightenment. And this

exotic little family stealing along

like the sweetest secret.

I still can’t read the sign.

Kundalini, strong attraction

and repulsion, self-respect

says the medicine book. I can say this:

They knew where they were going.

Their flawless rhythm rolls in my mind. It’s out there

even when we don’t see it, moving like a wave,

arriving. We are born

to this bold errand, sorting out the darkness

weaving in the light while others sleep

amid the breathless watchers

LuAnn Keener-Mikenas has two collections of poems. Homeland won the 2013 Library of Virginia Award; Color Documentary (Calyx Books 1994) won a 1990 Virginia Prize. Poems have been anthologized in A Fierce Brightness: Twenty-five Years of Women’s Poetry and Worlds in Our Words: Contemporary American Women Writers, among others. She has been a fellow at MacDowell and Virginia Center for Creative Arts. A therapist in private practice, she lives with her husband in Virginia.

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