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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

Sarah Blanchard

Carolina Clay

All I wanted was to sink a new fencepost,

to replant what the chestnut filly took down last evening

when she bolted at the crack of lightning.

But this red soil bakes hard and dry in the kiln of a southern summer.

My shovel stubs the terracotta earth and bounces off.

My father the farmer would say, So. Use the right tools.

I fetch his hand auger, the brace and bit he used a hundred years ago

to tap the sugar maples in a softer Connecticut climate.

And his 24-pound crowbar, shaped from the front axle

of an ancient Massey Harris tractor.

Before he died, my father showed me how to use a foot-powered grindstone

to sharpen the crowbar’s tapered end.

But I was only thirteen, and alone.

So the steel still bears the marks from the last time he sharpened it for me.

First, the auger.

Sliding my fingers onto the oak spindle and leaning into the earth,

I drill five neat holes into redbrick clay.

Next, the crowbar.

Wrapping my hands over his palmprints and hefting its good balance,

I let the weight drop straight into each hole.

The clay chips and curls away in red-earth flakes.

When the hole is six inches down, I pour in water and let it seep.

A red-shouldered hawk glides above the pines, riding an unseen thermal.

I watch the hawk until the clay softens and melts, terracotta turning to potter’s slip.

I scoop it by handfuls into a sloppy mound.

I wear the clay: my hands and arms are slick.

Ochre presses into pores, smears into sweat.

As they dry, flakes of clay peel off like flayed skin.

My brother the potter would say, The clay lives! You can create beautiful things.

Before he died my brother showed me how to work clay on his wheel,

to turn and shape common earth into elegant vessels.

But I was clumsy and impatient. My pots cracked in the kiln, so I threw them away.

If I can remember what I am made from,

perhaps I can rebuild the broken bits from this red Carolina clay.

Perhaps I can fire this earth into hard red bricks,

trowel my tears into ashes,

and make the mortar to point up what has crumbled.

Sarah Blanchard has recently returned to writing poetry and short fiction after spending several decades as a business teacher, corporate marketer, non-fiction writer, and facility manager for an astronomical observatory in Hawai’i. Several of her early poems were published in Calyx, Welter, Conscience, The Planetary Report, and The Red Fox Review. She currently works as a real estate agent and lives in Raleigh, NC, with her husband, three horses, three dogs and several chickens.

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