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Poetry Summer 2013    fiction    all issues


Sharron Singleton
Five Poems

Sarah Giragosian
Five Poems

Jenna Kilic
Five Poems

Kristina McDonald
Five Poems

Toni Hanner
Five Poems

Annie Mascorro
Five Poems

Brittney Corrigan
Three Poems

S. E. Hudgens
Four Poems

Ali Doerscher
Four Poems

David Sloan
Three Poems

Olivia Cole
Five Poems

Lucy M. Logsdon
Four Poems

Marc Pietrzykowski
Four Poems

Donna Levine Gershon
Five Poems

Eva Heisler
The Olden Days

Stephanie Rose Adams
Five Poems

Jill Kelly
Five Encounters

Ben Bever
Five Poems

Michael Hugh Lythgoe
Five Poems

Arlene Zide
Three Poems

Harry Bauld
Five Poems

Lisa Zerkle
Four Poems

Peter Mishler
Five Poems

Tim Hawkins
Five Poems

Marqus Bobesich
Four Poems

Abigail Templeton-Greene
Five Poems

Eric Duenez
Five Poems

Anne Graue
Five Poems

Susan Laughter Meyers
Five Poems

Peter Kahn
Two Poems

D. Ellis Phelps
Five Poems

Linda Sonia Miller
The Kingdom

Nicklaus Wenzel
Skagit River

Holly Cian
Five Poems

Susan Morse
Five Poems

Daniel Lassell
Five Poems

Svetlana Lavochkina
Temperate Zones

Daniel Sinderson
Three Poems

Catherine Garland
Five Poems

Michael Fleming
Five Poems

Susan Morse

Alice, Returning

Why did you return to our valley of illusions?

This the one thing about you I never understood,

or maybe that I denied.

Did you miss those skies darkened by black peat?

Or miss the ceaseless whine of water being

pumped—whoosh—to satisfy salt-leached fields?

Did you miss the glass coffin of summer heat

and the family trip that never was? Or did you lose

your way among rows of dust-cloaked vineyards and

paths that led to stucco houses with identical doors?

I railed against my tether, bawling, loud and belligerent

like a surprised heifer under the ax,

and bled out the lure of hookah springs

that quickly succumbed to the smell of decay.

I felt the glare of sun, heard the whirring swamp coolers,

and dreamed of other fantasy worlds.

The silent press of summer idled beneath high tension wires.

Those iron ladies-in-waiting pointed to escape,

a lunatic army bent on freedom.

So I left, feeling sure then that I could abandon you

and my childhood memories: Dead Dog Corner,

our father smiling into his last beer,

the silence of years between.

But you, Alice, how do you live now,

with your looking glass of tears

and your white rabbits just so?

The Laws of Motion on Acacia Street

Outside the ER doors at Dameron Hospital

a young woman is dancing

or mourning.

There is a whisper of fog in the air

after last night’s rain.

She moves in slow contortions,

perhaps laden with the damping chill

of oncoming winter.

Her arms struggle with some emotion,

wave in response like seaweed about her head.

No sound comes from her lips

but we onlookers may not hear it,

our windows rolled up tight.

The circle of traffic is noisy,

spinning through the roundabout,

she in the middle of the morning commute.

A few cars do slow to stare. Others,

blind to anything but the daily trajectory,

speed up, racing toward their own destinies.

Two lanes over

in the city park

are five shining black crows.

One keeps the focus intense,

poised to dip his beak

as night crawlers rise up

from the wet ground.

The Gift

I gift to you four white beech leaves

that ride upon last year’s embrace

within a solitary limb of my heart.

They flicker like a ship

without keel,

unable to sail.

The coldness of winter burns

them into single flames,

sears clean their juices

drop by drop.

When every bit has madly scattered

to the roaring winds,

I will make an empty bag of that heart,

small, yellowed, leathery,

which I will deliver to your doorstep

one afternoon.

In your newly begotten winter,

the first snow, even my coming and going

will be silent, hidden,

my footsteps drifted inward.

And you will never know when this inheritance

of emptiness arrived, except by the bitter strangeness

of those leaves as you suck ice crystals from their surface,

your tongue wrapping itself around a new coldness,

one which you did not recognize

before the damage was done.

Just a Little Death

for Maria

She stares up at me in her scarf.

She’s far away (Romania, she says)

though that’s something only the foreign postmark can verify.

She writes that she helped cut off a chicken’s head

and ate the soup.

She held its head when the ax fell.

The chicken soup, she says, was made only to entertain her;

she’s a guest. She asks if sometimes a little soup is indeed

good comfort. She asks would I have had the strength

to wield that ax, or to hold that head?

She also writes that she is tired of reading

Emily Dickinson’s nature poems, with all those dashes,

and asks me which Harvard genius

decided her poetry was amazing


These are all questions I cannot answer.

I only envision my mother

perhaps her cotton wool head on a block.

I think what if sometimes a little death

is better than incoherence

or soundproofed green walls?

I hear the fall of the ax, see

how it swoops down through the cold air

out there somewhere in Romania.

I see the pinwheels of red

that must have arched upwards

toward a thin December sun

like the beginning of a rainbow.

In the Hush of Late Afternoon

I sit on our sagging deck,

hands clasped behind my head,

contemplating the meaning of “now,”

and how to attain the complaisance

(or is it the reticence?)

of our cat.

Pretending to be unmindful of my middle-aged paunch,

I want to loll like him on the deck

and bask in the heat with his easy ennui.

Only mine would be determined


Not the same thing at all.

Instead, like him, I listen to the birds.

We both watch a swallow beat, then rest,

beat, then rest its wings against the paleness of sky.

And I think that is how to do it,

that is how to climb

a long tunnel of hollow air.

Tonight you and I will walk to the neighborhood bar,

telling ourselves we are mindful of the exercise,

but I think it is also because the phone rarely rings.

We will each drink one beer

to tide us over for the quiet walk home.

We are just occasional visitors there, unknown.

Later we will climb into bed,

draw the cover up to our chins.

The night air has become chillier.

Each of us will roll into our separate sighs,

give the other a reassuring pat,

glance for the third time at the round face of the clock.

And for a long time after your snoring has begun,

I gaze through the dormer window

at stars too far away to be touched,

knowing that somewhere in a field,

a field which has a certain false luminescence,

the green that plays tricks on you when you remember

once you were young and in the moonlight,

in that field a cow chews its cud,

indifferent to the consuming interests of the dead.

Susan Morse was raised in California, but has lived in Maine for the past twenty-five years. She writes poems that seek to capture the essence of place, as well as poems that explore relationships that are changed by time and distance. She really enjoyed the Sixfold voting process and receiving the very worthwhile commentary from fellow writers. Her poems have appeared in The Mom Egg, Cream City Review, Literary Mama, and The Barefoot Review.

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