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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

Bruce Marsland

Sauna by a Finnish lake at Midsummer

In the heart of the forest, we cut young birch twigs

to bundle into switches for our sauna.

You called them vihta, the plosive bouncing

off your tongue like a pebble skimming water

as we undressed for the heat. Enveloped

by silence and steam off wetted hot stones,

which you said was löyly, the frontal vowels

coiling your lips into a pouting tantalus,

we swatted our skin, tentatively at first,

then more bravely in redolent leafy swirls,

until we paused to let the sweat drip

off our backs and off our noses

before giving our bodies to the outdoor air,

scampering to the water’s edge, to dip and emerge

and wonder at the strangeness of clothes

and towels, and gaze at each other lingering

au naturel, reluctant to peel on

the layers and trappings of social fabric.

How do you measure joy

or contentedness or peace?

What is the scale for beauty

or attraction or satiety?

None of that matters.

In the morning, we swept the birch leaves

from the sauna bench, filled our bucket from the lake,

and gathered firewood and twigs to burn

for a luxuriously melancholy second sitting.

Bivalent dreamscape

Stumbling on Caribbean cobblestones

after tourist piña coladas,

dreaming of escape to here,

I lock glances with a local,

mirroring my opposite,

dreaming of escape from here.

Momentum shoves me downhill,

but in that split-second, our eyes ask,

was a day enough to watch big blue sky

turn grey and weep hibiscus

over eroding columns by the waves;

was a year enough to snag carnival bouquets

before youth departed,

evicted by biology, responsibility, and law.

In that split-second, our eyes dream,

bomba ‘til sunrise,

a lioness of steel

twirling in pink rose-petal shoes;

feast on periwinkles,

a salt-sweet buffet

laid and beloved by mermaids;

raise butterflies

and train them

so they susurrate our names.

I re-join the crowds,

but above the souvenir-stall hustle,

two hummingbirds are whispering

escape! escape!

Not saving the world at the last minuet

Gravel and dust flew in the air

as I steered my bicycle off the road

to claim a sightseeing spot.

The pedals, chain, and stand clanked briefly

before my sea legs stumbled forward

and I leaned too heavily on the wooden fence.

Breathing for a moment, like me,

the conifers turned away

and gazed into the sky.

Clouds nestled over mountain tops.

“That one looks like an airplane,” I said.

That’s the wardrobe door to Narnia, said she,

imploring me to be original.

I stared and tried a little longer,

until the sun had nearly finished its descent.

Tree needles rippled in a breeze,

and I noticed that just for a moment

no vehicles were passing,

no swoosh of rubber on tarmacadam.

Tree branches started rising.

Dancing, waving, undulating.

Cloud faces appeared and shifted,

dissipating like tropospheric aerosol,

pirouetting, minueting, do-si-do-ing

so much, so close, so hard,

I could smell the clouds perspire.

“What in heaven is that?” I asked.

Woodland nymphs, said she.

Then a teardrop brushed my ear

and she was gone,

just as a truck stormed past in its stench

of diesel, leaving the trees shaking.

Some difficulty with ants

The executioner leaves

soon-to-be victims

scurrying unaware,

sniffing at bait

behind a light-switch.

Ants, dear ants,

what have I done?

Like troops in mustard gas,

small corpses stagger,

piling up by skirting boards,

brothers, uncles, second cousins

now removed,

until one final dizzy worker,

blindly following his own trail

in ever slowing circles,


two toaster lengths

from home.

Obeying orders,

pest control,


has performed my genocide.

But now,

as tiny bodies multiply,

I doubt my solution,

wondering why

I have entrenched myself

as the Pol Pot

or Radovan Karadžić

of shattered



My forearms itch

as I put out the trash.

Remembering a reading at the literature club

I lean against the blackboard

with a love poem in my mouth.

Murmurs asphyxiate my words

as a swat dispatches a daddy longlegs

against the wall at the back of class,

where girls with sensible names,

Sarah with an haitch

and Sally with a why,

gossip, chew gum,

and aspirate at their boy crush.

But the teacher assigned me love

and gave the boy crush football.

So fouled desire

staggers goalless from my lips,

mugged by adolescents

who adamantly choose studs over hearts

and grass stains over eternity.

Bruce Marsland was born and raised in the United Kingdom and has also worked in Finland and Bulgaria. He currently lives in San Diego, California, doing business as an editor and writer. He has been a winner of the Sentinel Literary Quarterly poetry competition, a runner-up in the Prole Laureate poetry competition, and shortlisted for the Hammond House international literary prize. He has self-published four poetry chapbooks. See more at

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