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Poetry Winter 2022    fiction    all issues


Li Zhang

Ana Reisens
Pam asked about Europe
& other poems

Krystle May Statler
To the Slow Burn
& other poems

Kristina Cecka
On Remodeling
& other poems

Belinda Roddie
Bless The Bones Of California
& other poems

Summer Rand
Alexander tells me how he'd like to be buried
& other poems

Alexander Perez
Toward the Rainbow
& other poems

Karo Ska
self-portrait of compassion…
& other poems

David Southward
The Pelican
& other poems

George Longenecker
Stamp Collection
& other poems

Mary Keating
& other poems

Talya Jankovits
Imagine A World Without Raging Hormones
& other poems

Laurie Holding
Sonnet to Mr. Frost
& other poems

David Ruekberg
A Short Essay on Love
& other poems

Elaine Greenwood
There’s a thick, quiet Angel
& other poems

Richard Baldo
Carry On Caretaker
& other poems

Jefferson Singer
Dave Righetti’s No-Hitter…
& other poems

Diane Ayer
A Fan
& other poems

Kaecey McCormick
Meditation Before Desert Monsoon
& other poems

Meg Whelan
& other poems

Katherine B. Arthaud
& other poems

Aaron Glover
On Transformation
& other poems

Anne Marie Wells
[I'm crying in a sandwich shop reading Diane Seuss' sonnets]
& other poems

Holly Cian
& other poems

Kimberly Russo
Selective Memories are the Only Gift of Dementia
& other poems

Steven Monte
& other poems

Mervyn Seivwright
Fear Mountain
& other poems

Writer's Site

Anne Marie Wells

[I’m crying in a sandwich shop reading Diane Seuss’ sonnets]


I’m crying in a sandwich shop reading Diane Seuss’ sonnets. Intimacy unhinged,

unpaddocked me… she wrote in one… so this is why people want other people

to put their arms around them, she wrote in another, bludgeoning open my tucked

away sorrows. Out spills the latest man who sees me as just for fun. And I am.

In the beginning when I drown out the oceanic hush of sand pouring into my hollow

womb. I am fun before I want more than Neruda read to me on Sunday mornings

in the original Spanish, before I want the fullness of love instead of the emptiness

of its Irish twin. But I’m only half-crying over this lovely man not loving me.

I wouldn’t have known his name, I wouldn’t be eating alone, not eating, I wouldn’t

be loveless and childless if I hadn’t lost the big love, or the illusion of it, on the first

day of spring last year. And even if this other love was capable of forgiving, even if

we were capable of starting again, I would only receive the outsides of the man I cry

over. His face, his muscles, his bones. Or even less. His exuvia. Like the molted skin

of a cicada that cannot fill my ears with its sound from the treetops, cannot make me feel.


Dumbo broke my heart as a child, and still I cannot watch, cannot even think

about that movie. My ribs disintegrate on themselves, my mother’s name appears

in their dust each time Mrs. Jumbo reaches her trunk through the jail car bars to rock

her wing-eared baby while all the other babies sleep spooned in their cages. Five,

seven, fourteen, thirty-six. I never grew out of it. The violins introduce “Baby Mine”

before the choir joins in, Mrs. Jumbo’s trunk strokes her baby’s face in recognition.

Tears form in Dumbo’s eyes, then my own. I’d break through my mother’s door,

words no longer words. Spit and sound. Ululations. A cicada’s percussion across

her lap, pleading for her to soothe my rattles, lull me back from the cruel-hearted

circus, make me forget the cartoon calf walking away, waving goodbye to his mother

with his trunk. Dumbo again? You know you can’t handle that movie, she’d groan.

Don’t watch it anymore. Her arms wouldn’t always be there to swaddle my spiracles.

She tried to teach me, but I’m still learning: With all the suffering in this world,

all the agony I would endure in this life, why cause myself more? And on purpose?


My tymbals vibrate on my drive home from Creekside Deli with a crescendo of,

I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. An avocado and swiss sits in a box in the empty seat

untouched. I don’t know what I hate, but I think it’s loss. Both certain and probable.

Or are they different? I think about calling my mother, but can already hear her ask,

Have you taken your SAM-e? And, no I haven’t, but these tears are for Diane Seuss’ sonnets.

They’re for a Spanish teacher who made me feel loved when he did not love me. For

a fictitious man whose absence my fingers still reach for on hungover mornings. For Dumbo

and his mother. For myself and my mother because someday my mother will rot in a box

like the sandwich left on my front seat, and it will be the worst day of my life. And maybe

there will be no one to wrap their arms around my screams. Maybe I’ll never recover from these

sonnets. Maybe I’ll let them wrench me apart for decades, let them wriggle free my anguish

like baby teeth, making room for the new. Maybe I’ll visit my mother’s buried ashes one day,

collapse across her stone. Maybe I will hear her cicadan hiss chastising me from the other side.

Diane Seuss again? You know you can’t handle those sonnets. Don’t read them anymore.

Mother: verb

No handprints on mirrors.     No play-doh

crusted into the carpet.    No penciled scribbles on

the door frame marking each year of  growth.    I sleep

through the night, only waking to use the bathroom. No tiny

voice cries for me    to save      them from a nightmare. I peek

through the door to the other room;        it’s empty      except for

boxes of     winter      clothes and photo albums.       My lipsticks

and eyeshadow       rest strewn around the        vanity  where I left

them.    No tiny toothbrush leans against mine.    No  plastic ducks

or boats line    the bathtub edge. No shampoo for    sensitive    eyes.

No towels with superheroes or mermaids         in a heap on the floor.

No carseat in the        back of my Forester.   No stroller in the    trunk.

No karate lessons, violin, soccer.                I have no dioramas to glue

cotton balls and bird seed to.     No homecoming game.   No bandages

on scraped elbows. My lips have never touched a bruise. I eat popcorn

for dinner in front of the TV.       The table in my kitchen has only one

chair. No reminders to chew with mouth closed       or the importance

of vegetables.   I already know how the broccoli         I never cooked

will boost      my immune system. I could fly to Portugal next week

if the urge moved me. Dance to Fado, shop for ceramic whatever

or cork such-and-such.       No one needs me to pack a peanut

butter jelly and juice box before school,                to read

a bedtime story.         No one weeps in my absence.

I go by no other name.    I worry over no one.

No one worries over me.

Long Distance Romance

The stew steams from the stovetop, simmers

above inchoate flames, waits as I wait. Basil,

sage, rosemary, oregano work their magic, tango

their scents out the kitchen door, through the living

room, and up the stairs. Spoon’s ready.

Mouth’s ready. All there’s left to do is eat.


I didn’t know she still lived

here, the Azure, but there she goes,

as if the sky peeled away a piece of itself

just to know what it felt like to flit among the dog

-woods, to gorge on ripe blueberries, to remember the taste

of youth, the days when she had kaleidoscope eyes, played piano

in staccato. Her wings sing a melody, a morning song; no longer

a mourning song. She floats on the wind of her own sound,

planting the tune in unsuspecting ears. There she is

again, perched between my ribs, forming a tornado

in Virginia from a sigh she heard echoing

through the Teton Mountains.

Anne Marie Wells (She | They) is an award-winning queer poet, playwright, memoirist, and storyteller navigating the world with a chronic illness. Her full-length collection of poetry, Survived By: A Memoir in Verse + Other Poems, debuted with Curious Corvid Publishing. She won the inaugural Wanderlust Travel Book award through Wild Dog Press for her memoir, Happy Iceland. She is a faculty member for the Community Literature Initiative and Strategic Partnership Fellow for The Poetry Lab.

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