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Poetry Winter 2020    fiction    all issues

Cover of Poetry Winter 20


French silk sample book

Paula Reed Nancarrow
Morning Coffee
& other poems

Jill Burkey
& other poems

Oak Morse
Boys Born out of Blues
& other poems

Beatrix Bondor
Engine Ode
& other poems

Monique Jonath
a mi sheberach
& other poems

Lisa Rachel Apple
& other poems

Gillian Freebody
The Human Condition
& other poems

Kirsten Hippe-Rychlik
and we are echoes
& other poems

Devon Bohm
& other poems

Jeddie Sophronius
I Rest My Mother Tongue
& other poems

John Delaney
Poem as Map
& other poems

Elizabeth Bayou-Grace
Fire in Paradise
& other poems

In Utero
& other poems

Michelle Lerner
Ode to Exhaustion
& other poems

William French
I Have Never Been
& other poems

Josiah Patterson Wheatley
Coeur de Fleurs
& other poems

Karo Ska
womb song
& other poems

Robyn Joy
& other poems

Han Raschka
Love Language
& other poems

Rebbekah Vega-Romero
The Memory in My Pinky
& other poems

Gilaine Fiezmont
Europe, too, Came from Somewhere Else
& other poems

Scott Ruescher
At the Childhood Home of Ozzy Osbourne
& other poems

Emily R. Daniel
Visitation Dreams
& other poems

Lindsay Gioffre
Toxicodendron Radicans [Sonnet 1]
& other poems

Writer's Site

Paula Reed Nancarrow

Morning Coffee

In that bungalow where your dad and I slept

on the ground floor, I would rise with care

so the old farm bedstead did not creak.

Take my coffee on the back porch,

relish the few quiet moments

I’d have to myself that day

before I had to put on All My Roles

the way Heidi must climb the mountain

in dress over dress over dress.

I might sit ten minutes before

a thud on the ceiling above me

signaled you sensed awake energy,

and knew you could beat your sister

to it. Then I would swallow my solitude

with the scalding caffeine.

Hearing your feet on the stairs,

rushing boy-forward into the open day:

I’d sigh, and put my book away.

And there you were. Blond

as my own childhood

hazel eyes singing like wrens,

wearing that blue reunion T-shirt

that came almost down to your knees

with your cartoon Pop-Pop on it.

You’d climb into my lap, lay your head in

the curve beneath my shoulder

and we would be quiet together.

Once I looked down on those small legs

dangling on either side of mine while

the coffee cooled. Remember this always,

I thought. So far so good. Though now you

are tall, and your hair dark, and your legs

are hairy like Esau’s. Now I lean my head

against your shoulder. All My Roles

lay folded between tissue in the dresser.

Now no one I love sleeps upstairs

Or ever interrupts my coffee.


My father’s middle finger

pokes me just below the clavicle:

You hain’t going.

His face is scrunched; there’s spittle

in the corner of his mouth.

I am sixteen. I have opinions.

I am becoming uncontrollable.

All too soon men will find with their thumbs

the knot between my shoulder blades

where all my worries gather.

All too soon

there will be new ways of influencing me:

Less ugly, but perhaps more dangerous.

My father’s middle finger says hain’t.

After Turtle Lake

for Cathie

Who can say why these things happen?

My 2000 Toyota hit 100,000 miles on the way

to Turtle Lake for your funeral. Zeros lined up

like pineapples on your behalf

but you weren’t there

to watch the coins spill into my hands.

“Life is short!” you told me. “Buy a horse!”

I grip the sheepskin wheel cover

think of your saddle pad.

What was so important

that we did not keep

our coffee date last winter?

Farm equipment slow moving

to the point of tedium.

Double yellow lines.

Where on that two lane trunk highway

between Stillwater and Forest

did I start reading the mile markers?

When did I begin to keep score?

Birthdays in one column,

funerals in the other—

the rituals of death overtaking

the rituals of life three to one,

just as I was told to expect.

Why did the flowers smell like

the opposite of garden?

We sing “Morning is Broken.”

We sing “Happy Trails.”

The stories are all we take home.

The stories, they stick to our bones.

Mackerel Sky

A mackerel sky can be used to forecast weather, but it is at the more challenging end of the weather lore spectrum. The simple bit is this: a mackerel sky of any kind means change is likely.—Tristan Gooley, The Natural Navigator.

Birds open the day for business:

the sky is not intended for fish. Morning clouds

in long lines move across downtown

toward St. Anthony Falls. Scaled gray

underbellies illuminated by the rising sun

skim office towers and high rises

avoid the light display on the Target building

where the puffer fish in the faint aquarium

keeps blowing itself up. The clouds head off

to be fog on the Mississippi. Condense into what

will soon be steamy air. For now it’s cool.

Birdsong sweeps the sidewalks. A rabbit

scuttles under the iron fence to loot

my neighbor’s lettuce. No sirens. On my balcony

I watch fish swim in the sky as if

they owned it. Treetops wave like jazz hands.

A man at the bus stop lifts a mask from

his fast food uniform, clouding his singular face.

Paula Reed Nancarrow is a poet and storyteller living in Minneapolis. She has performed at the Minnesota Fringe Festival, the Moth Grand Slam at St. Paul’s Fitzgerald Theater, and other venues. Her poetry is published or forthcoming in bluepepper, Neologism, and Tiny Seed.

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