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Poetry Winter 2017    fiction    all issues

Cover of Poetry Winter 2017 issue


Cover Thought-Forms

Laura Apol
On My Fiftieth Birthday I Return
& other poems

Jihyun Yun
& other poems

Jamie Ross
Red Jetta
& other poems

Sarah Blanchard
Carolina Clay
& other poems

lauren a. boisvert
Save a Seat for Me in the Void
& other poems

Faith Shearin
A Pirate at Midlife
& other poems

Helen Yeoman-Shaw
Calling Long Distance
& other poems

Sarah B. Sullivan
& other poems

Timothy Walsh
Metro Messenger
& other poems

Gabriel Spera
& other poems

Zoë Harrison
Pattee Creek
& other poems

AJ Powell
& other poems

Alexa Poteet
The Man Who Got off the Train Between Madrid and Valencia
& other poems

Marcie McGuire
Still Birth
& other poems

Kim Drew Wright
Elephants Standing
& other poems

Michael Jenkins
The Garden Next Door
& other poems

Nicky Nicholson-Klingerman
& other poems

Doni Faber
Man Moth
& other poems

M. Underwood
In Other Words
& other poems

Carson Pynes
Diet Coke
& other poems

Bucky Ignatius
Something Old, . . .
& other poems

Violet Mitchell
Deleting Emails the Week After Kevin Died
& other poems

Sam Collier
Nocturne in an Empty Sea
& other poems

Meryl Natchez
Equivocal Activist
& other poems

William Godbey
A Corn Field in Los Angeles
& other poems

Don Hogle
Austin Wallson Confesses
& other poems

Winner of $1000 for 1st-place-voted Poems

Laura Apol

Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello

The young mother peels

potatoes in the playroom, surrounded

by her four boys. Their stories

compete as she fingers

the kennebecs in the bowl. She takes in

all their voices at once, yet listens to each—

postpones silence until there is silence

to be found. Her own thoughts surface then,

and she’ll know what she knows

about love—to keep a part for herself:

a few fumbling notes

on the cello she is just beginning to learn,

a lesson she embraces one hour

each week. She does not choose scales

nor the rasp of simple tunes, selects instead

Bach’s solo suites, their ravenous

scope and sweep. She guides the bow

with fierce attention, crosses strings

with singular care. Just one note,

then another—

the press of each measure ongoing,


On my Fiftieth Birthday, I Return

The street, the market,

the church on the corner—how can I turn back

the trees? There would have been

leaves, this yellow, and light, and the same

October air. A woman rose that day, felt

the stretch of her skin and a baby’s kick,

breasts tender, back swayed. These motes in the air:

is this all that remains? The body that held me

is gone; brick-solid, the garage apartment

where she slept and woke. These sills

hold that morning: her breath at the window,

her bent-double prayers. The stoop

where she stood, the stained concrete steps—

how can I turn back the sky?


You phoned Sunday

to say your younger brother had died.

I tried to read your voice the way I read the river,

heard underneath

a story you’d told me last summer

—how, as a child you studied the roads

when your family went for a drive, learning

the landmarks

so that if your parents left you,

you could find the way back.

You were the firstborn.

It would be up to you to lead the others home.

Today your family will gather once more—

dark suits, white roses. For me, you have laid out

the family tree: great uncles, second cousins,

a tangle of generations.

But I see only that backseat boy

who watched out the Buick’s side window,

thinking about routes,

knelt for first communion at the rail at St. Bart’s

wearing the welt of the razor strop,

who in a few hours will cross himself, kneel again

before something he no longer believes, lay to rest

a hope he can no longer carry

—a boy who never will make his way home.

Seven Years On

The mole the calico brought home

seeps blood, a heart-shaped

stain on the step. I search

the grass for the finch

that hit the bedroom

glass. Such a fascination

with endings: the way the dog

rushes each morning to learn

whether what has died in the woods

is still dead. The way in France,

a whole town gathered around

a piece of star

that fell to a field. And how,

with coffee, we look across the rising

Grand—trees, white apparitions

against autumn grey. We wonder

if there’s something wrong,

what is able to survive.

How much, really, do we wish:

bleached skeletons

without bark, limbs empty

and inviting—

place, now,

for the river hawk to roost.

Light, Water, Bones

On the far bank, a willow weeps,

while in the river, its mirror

ripples with light. The cloud-blemished sky

meets a perfect dappling beneath.

Here are Plato’s images in reverse,

the ideal in the darkening current:

a leaf, a branch, an evening bat.

Even the heron steps gently,

afraid to startle the flawless

heron at its feet.

Along the lane, the deer carcass

does not teach me about life or death,

but about the curve of ribs

whitening under the moon.

The lessons I learn

are soundless: the light, the water,

the delicate bleach of bones.

After years of listening,

perhaps in my next life

I will not need to learn to trust—

will come back faithful

to my own sense of smell,

wander like the possum, solitary

through the night brush and broken limbs,

burrow fearless as the sleek black mole,

far from this world’s polished

surface, intimate with the wet

roots of things.

Laura Apol teaches creative writing and literature at Michigan State University. Her poetry has appeared in a number of literary journals and anthologies, and she is the author of several award-winning collections of her own poems: Falling into Grace; Crossing the Ladder of Sun; Requiem, Rwanda; Celestial Bodies; With a Gift for Burning (forthcoming); and Nothing but the Blood (forthcoming).

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