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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

Han Raschka

root system

I have not been in my grandfather’s home

For at least five years now

I remember the crooked weeping willow that grows in his backyard

Long, mournful branches that brushed across my face

Easter egg hunts with colorful plastic eggs tucked in its notches

My grandfather no longer speaks my name

In fact he has never spoken the name I chose for myself

I saw him last year, at my uncle’s 50th birthday

And not a single word slipped past his lips

He refused to go to my high school graduation

He told my mother it would be too hot, that his shattered knees

Which carry his spiteful, god-fearing body would be sore from sitting too long

Weeks later, he made the two hour trek there and back

To watch my cousin graduate from kindergarten

My grandfather accepts ignorance as his God

Swallows nothing but stale communion bread and the bitter blood of Christ

Never apologizes, only offers handpicked scripture

That weaves the narrative of my damnation

I am his hellbound granddaughter, his forgotten sorrow

I fought furiously to make myself known to him

When I stopped craving his love

When I stopped claiming space in his life

When I stopped hunting for pride in his hollow smiles

I found my own wilting weeping willow to plant myself beneath.


The fruit in my kitchen is overripe

It bulges with decay

And a sweetness so vile

That a light breeze is enough to blow the scent my way

I am standing in front of the utensil drawers

With a steak knife pressed against my abdomen

Silently wishing someone would wake up

To get rid of the repugnant fruit that wafts rot into my nose

I wonder if anyone can smell me wasting

My organs putrid and rancid

Stomach acid overflowing and devouring my bones

I dig the knife a smidgen deeper into my stomach

My brain screaming at me, telling me to carve out the parts of my rind

That have decomposed beyond repair

I finally thrust down, splitting the fleshy orange in front of me in two

The smell is horrifying

I barely make it to the sink before I vomit

I don’t know what makes me sicker

Rotting fruit

Or that I am watching myself wither away.

lost garden

Sometimes I hammer nails into my Achilles

To hang pictures off my ankles

I wonder if those who came before me

With silver coated minds like mine

Bled as much as I do when the hammer strikes down

When we speak, acrimonious wisps

Of what was meant but not said leak out

There are shards of lightning stuck in my eyes

From when cruel, callous men

Stole pious innocence from a seventeen year old

Who barely knew who they were

Let alone what they wanted

The sour taste left in my mouth

From teeth grinding themselves into dust

Carries echoes of his voice

I am bound with duty

To carry this memory from home to home

And give it space to grow

I tend to all my plants with love and care

Even the ones

I will lose.

prisoner of war

I bear a curse

One that stretches an eternity behind me and in front of me

There never was a me without it

And I will carry it on my back

With the knowledge that existential wrath and fury

Is what motivates it to stay

I am a deadly sin

Condemnation to this hellish forever was always deserved

Dante himself sneers in my general direction

For having the audacity

To exist as a flawed, dismantled skeleton that aches and roars

Scratching nails down the wall until my mark is made

The voice in my head speaks venom into my veins

A constant barrage of what I am supposed to be

But am not

My faithlessness shakes in time

To the board striking across my skull

I bleed red

Dark, deep hemoglobin rich red

Leaking out across the floor in pentacles that hex me

Eternal doom in my blood

The ones that came before me

Were sealed away for far longer than a lifetime

Until their bones, fragile as flowers

Made the decision to become dust

Brokenness is feared.

love language

Transferable memories like contact paper on tshirts

I write a grocery list that never forgets you

I wonder if you know what it means when I say I love you

When I look into your eyes, and murmur lovely little fractured phrases of adoration

Gentle mirrored hand movements

I may remember little these days

But I remember that you and I fit together

Like the carved out shoreline of the beach

I wonder if you know what it means when I say I love you

Hours spent each night committing the radical act of missing you

Of thinking of how what I write and say

Means nothing until you are there to translate

I burn down the neighborhoods in my mind that have resided there for eons

In order to let you plant gardens where the blight once stood

I wonder if you know what it means when I say I love you

We are the sand-filled shoes of quiet suffering

Of wanting to scream but only whispering

However, I’d take all the suffering you feel

And make it my own in an instant

No hesitation, only the knowledge

That you no longer have to carry a cross you never deserved

I wonder if you know what it means when I say I love you

I am full of perpetual apologies for never loving enough

When you deserve love that possesses the gravitational pull of our big blue marble

When you deserve love that starts and ends your day like the sun

And yet, I wonder if you know what it means when I say I love you.

Han Raschka is an up and coming writer from Wisconsin, but don’t tell them that. When not wrangling their three dogs or drinking far too expensive coffee, they can be found taking workshops through the San Francisco Creative Writing Institute to hone their abilities. Han is currently preparing to send their recently completed chapbook, tentatively titled Sometimes God Foreshadows, to various presses. They have work forthcoming in Sapphic Writers Collective.

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