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Poetry Winter 2013    fiction    all issues


Alysse Kathleen McCanna
& other poems

Peter Nash
Shooting Star
& other poems

Katherine Smith
House of Cards
& other poems

David Sloan
On the Rocks
& other poems

Alexandra Smyth
Exoskeleton Blues
& other poems

John Glowney
The Bus Stop Outside Ajax Bail Bonds
& other poems

Andrea Jurjević O’Rourke
It Was a Large Wardrobe...
& other poems

Lisa DeSiro
Babel Tree
& other poems

Michael Fleming
& other poems

Michael Berkowitz
As regards the tattoo on your wrist
& other poems

Michael Brokos
Landscape without Rest
& other poems

Michael H. Lythgoe
Orpheus In Asheville
& other poems

John Wentworth
morning people
& other poems

Christopher Jelley
Double Exposure
& other poems

Catherine Dierker
dinner party
& other poems

William Doreski
Hate the Sinner, Not the Sin
& other poems

Robert Barasch
& other poems

Rande Mack
& other poems

Susan Marie Powers
Red Bird
& other poems

Anne Graue
& other poems

Mariah Blankenship
Tub Restoration
& other poems

Paul R. Davis
& other poems

Philip Jackey
Garage drinking after 1989
& other poems

Karen Hoy
A Naturalist in New York
& other poems

Gary Sokolow
Underworld Goddess
& other poems

Michal Mechlovitz
The Early
& other poems

Henry Graziano
Last Apple
& other poems

Stephanie L. Harper
& other poems

Roger Desy
& other poems

R. G. Evans
& other poems

Frederick L. Shiels
Driving Past the Oliver House
& other poems

Richard Sime
Berry Eater
& other poems

Jennifer Popoli
Generations in a wine dark sea
& other poems

Writer's Site

David Sloan

On the Rocks

It is a rare snapshot. For one thing

We are together; I am so small,

No more than four or five,

Perched on the ledge of a rock face

Below you, and I would be afraid

If it weren’t for the single loop

Of rope you secured around my waist,

If it weren’t for you, standing

A few feet diagonally above me,

Holding the rope that wraps

Around your back and spools

Out into your ready hands.

Even though you aren’t looking

At me, even though your gaze

Stretches into the distance,

Like a man haunted by vistas

That would lure you away for half

A lifetime, even though I cannot foresee

The years ahead when I would still climb,

Roped up and hoping you would return

To hold the other end flapping

Free somewhere above me,

Even though standing there dwarfed

By the cliff face and by you,

I could not know that finally

The son would find a way

To reach the end of the abandoned

Rope and dangle it gingerly down

To the father who had fallen

So far away, and hoist him up,

At this particular moment,

Four or five and high up

On the sunlit rocks, linked

To no one else but you,

I know that I feel safer

Than I have ever felt since.


The accident itself was almost a relief,

the tumor that blooms benignly,

a blighted elm that finally falls beside—

not through—the roof. No gasoline-fed flames,

no glass-imbedded bodies stuffed head-down

into a crumpled car, no blood pooling on pavement.

One son escaped with a twisted back,

one with a lacerated cheek and a few days

of jittery dreams. My brother hobbled away

on an ankle that swelled like a snakebite

when he slammed down the imaginary brake

on the passenger side right before impact.

Just after midnight the call came that every parent

dreads and half expects. I outwardly grieved

for the car and the boys’ shaking voices,

but privately, knowing we had once again cheated

the bringer of plagues and curses, I exulted

with the gratitude of the undeserving—uneasily—

as one who dreams himself awake lying

on a dark road, squealing tires an overture.

Blanket Indictment

My parents gave me Indian names—Thumb-in-mouth

and Blue-blanket-boy, but I couldn’t stop, dragged it

everywhere, nuzzled silky edges against my cheek

so I could breathe in trapped scents

of my six-year-old world: Rocky’s

wet fur, apple cake and cocoa,

eucalyptus, lavender.

My blanket got soggy

when I draped it over baby’s face in the tub.

He turned a shade of blue and churned

water everywhere. It hid with me

under the bed when I heard

high heels clicking down

the hall for a spanking

I always deserved.

They would try to yank it away for the wash,

but I would wail and fist it as if it were

my own skin. They marveled

at my banshee strength,

bought another I left

untouched. At night

I swaddled myself to prevent sneak attacks.

Sometimes in the layered dark it would

shield me from graveyard sounds

of scraping shovels. I thought

they had given up.

I never heard the nightly shear of scissors,

one shred at a time, never suspected,

as it dwindled, first to the size

of a hand towel,

then a dollar, that early on I

would learn how,


everything is snipped away,

down to the nothing

I still clutch.

What Matters

Does it matter that I never intended to stay,

never wanted to enter, touch, upset her?

But there’s no rest from the doling out of pain.

The necklace she wore when we first met that day

invited a twisting. Her throat was a delicate bird.

No matter, because I never intended to stay.

My hands itched to hold her, not to betray

the whiteness, only to feel the flutter, the purr.

Can nothing arrest the doling out of pain?

She praised my hands, believed that I could play

the cello, read Rilke, caressed the words.

I mattered, and she intended for me to stay.

I patted her soft-sweatered back, tried to pray,

heard myself say not too hard, too hard—

but nothing could arrest the doling out of pain

For a moment under bruise-colored skies we lay

serenely. It passed—Oh, the voices I heard.

She’s just matter now. I never intended to stay.

No arrest will ever end this doling out of pain.

Fathers’ Hands

Carving a bow for my son, who wants

a weapon to terrorize squirrels

and deliver the world, I snag the blade,

fumble the whittle stroke and slice my finger.

The cut oozes. My hand is sturdy,

scarred, nothing like my father’s—

unmarked, maple-colored.

His hands stitched gashes without a flinch.

They mortared rock walls to hold a hillside up.

On the violin, his fingers flew like wingtips.

Once as a child I saw sparks spray

from that smoking bow. He tried to teach

my hands how to drive a nail straight,

which spans would bear a load

and which would snap, how to follow

the grain of things, how to hear notes first,

then pluck them as if out of a peach tree.

A single feather in his hair, my son stalks

the squirrel, holds the bow steady,

draws back the shaft, aims, lets fly.

Target and archer are unruffled by the miss.

He bounds over to the arrow, takes it

in his nimble fingers, so like his father’s

father’s, and nocks the end,

eager to aim, miss and aim again.

A graduate of the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA Poetry Program, David Sloan teaches in Maine’s only Waldorf high school. He is the author of two books on teaching. His debut poetry collection, The Irresistible In-Between, was published by Deerbrook Editions in 2013. His poetry has appeared in The Broome Review, The Café Review, Innisfree, The Naugatuck River Review, Poetry Quarterly and Passager, among others. He received the 2012 Betsy Sholl and Maine Literary awards, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

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