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Poetry Summer 2014    fiction    all issues


Anne Rankin-Kotchek
Letter to the World
from a Dying Woman
& other poems

Sara Graybeal
Ghetto City
& other poems

Tee Iseminger
& other poems

Lisa Beth Fulgham
After They Sold the Cows...
& other poems

Mary Mills
The Practical Knowledge
of Women
& other poems

Monika Cassel
Waldschatten, Muttersprache
& other poems

Michael Fleming
To a Fighter
& other poems

Daniel Stewart
& other poems

John Glowney
& other poems

Hannah Callahan
The Ptarmigan Suite
& other poems

Lee Kisling
How the Music Came
to My Father
& other poems

Jose A. Alcantara
Finding the God Particle
& other poems

David A. Bart
Veteran’s Park
& other poems

Greg Grummer
War Reportage
& other poems

Rande Mack
& other poems

J. K. Kitchen
Anger Kills Himself
& other poems

Jim Pascual Agustin
The Man Who Wished
He Was Lego
& other poems

Jessica M. Lockhart
Scylla of the Alabama
& other poems

James P. Leveque
Three Films of Jean Painlevé
& other poems

Kelsey Charles
& other poems

Therese L. Broderick
& other poems

Lane Falcon
& other poems

Ricky Ray
The Bird
& other poems

Phoebe Reeves
Every Petal
& other poems

David Livingstone Fore
Eternity is a very long time...
& other poems

Tim Hawkins
Northern Idyll
& other poems

Abigail F. Taylor
On the Pillow Where You Lie
& other poems

Joey DeSantis
Baby Names
& other poems

Cameron Price
Every Morning
& other poems

David Walker
Sestina for Housesitting
& other poems

Helen R. Peterson
& other poems

Winner of $200 for 2nd-place-voted Poems

Sara Graybeal

Ghetto City

My students have created a board game

Out of cardboard, tape, and staples.

Ghetto City, they call it.

A numbered path leads to a 3D hut

With a restless stick figure in the window.

The goal: reach jail and bail your brother out

Before getting shot.

We play the day John’s brother gets booked

And the day Kareem’s uncle comes home.

We play the day of the middle school shooting,

Two kids with guns, none of my students,

Nobody hurt. We play as if these things

Make the game all right, safe still,


When funders visit, we hide Ghetto City

Under a red sheet in the back of the class.

My students cross their arms, discuss the impact

Of arts enrichment on their lives.

When we play, I am usually the first to get shot.

My students love the way that this makes sense,

And all the ways it doesn’t. When I suggest

A new game, they are disappointed in me.

It doesn’t work that way, they say.

General Store Café

All day, jazz. At a blue table, Masquerade dancer painted on top

One hand cradling a jug of wine & a white clown face

Glittery scarf, arched eyebrows, dotted eyes

On the walls stained glass, green & gold

Bounce light every which way, winding

Wind chimes, shelves painted lilac, housing

Cloth dolls, home-made post cards, wreaths

Disheveled over rims of chairs, a bookcase of local books

That we don’t want to read

But will pretend to

             When forced

To, when there is no one else to share our table

So much jazz: oil paintings of farm animals

Pig snouts blowing kisses

Herons psychedelic lime green & pink

A sack labeled Product of Colombia, 70 Kilos—

             To which twenty-first century soul

             Did this old thing appear artistic?

Rabbit wind vanes, painted wood critters

A forest goddess cloaked in hand-stamped robes

Carly’s Grab ‘Em By the Cowtail mocha

A plaque stating Love me, love my dog

& butterflies swinging from the ceiling.

A woman walks in, eyes wide, lost stare

Her sweatshirt spelling United We Stand

Can I get a coffee, she says, trips

Over the frayed rug, bumps

Into the boom box, plastered with

Bumper stickers & rainbow flags

             The radio stutters, shifts from jazz

             To Christmas tunes

Jingle bells jingle bells, faces fall flat around the café

             What is this CVS music? This gas station music?

What is this music that turns my mocha bitter?

That spins the butterflies idly, that nauseates

The herons in pink-green waves, that reminds me

I am spending twelve dollars & eighty-six cents

On my organic fair trade in-season spinach quesadilla

Music that sounds like my grandmother’s house where she

Stuffed my stocking, read from the Bible

I do not visit Grandma now

She cringes at my unshaved legs

This music, these fucking lullabies

That make me want to snap shut my laptop

Step outside, reach my fingers to the sky &

             Hold the world close; no

Not the café—

Hold the world close; recall that

These are two different things

I am a citizen of both &

             One is begging

Eat your spinach quesadilla for the right reasons &

Switch the station now & then, if only for a second because

             Just jazz can get to be too much.

Did You Hear That, Just Now?

Zimmerman not guilty.

Trayvon Martin dead.

In South Philadelphia,

Silent streets: a sleepy fig tree,

Bony cats stalking their prey.

Is rising up too much to ask

On a July night like this one,

Wearing rage on our bodies

As we do on our Facebook pages?

Are we all so weary, so unsurprised

That a march is unattainable,

That the fury of our solitary brains,

Our fingers whipping across the keys

Are the most we can offer up

In the name of solidarity?

If it were the sixties, millions would have marched.

If it were the nineties, streets would have burned.

But it is 2013. The numbers ring apocalyptic.

Sidewalks are bare. Windows so dark

It seems all souls have departed.

I am Trayvon Martin

We are Trayvon Martin

The cries, once smothered by sirens,

Forced entries and the clink of handcuffs

Around the smooth wrists of brothers and sons

Stand no chance against this silence.

Boarded windows splinter open.

Potholes yawn. They will swallow

These cries by morning.

These homes, vacated of hope,

Will soon be yoga studios and

Montessori schools. And finally,

The fight—the few voices still

Murmuring over candlelight

In buildings slated for demolition

By winter—will drift to places still

Worth fighting for. I cannot tell

Whether or not they will be missed.

Raised on a vegetable and cattle farm in North Carolina,
Sara Graybeal is a writer, spoken word performer and teaching artist living in Philadelphia. She is a founding member of the Poeticians, a spoken-word collective based in South Philly, and a member of the Backyard Writers’ Fiction Workshop of West Philadelphia. Her work is published or forthcoming in Tempered Magazine, Apiary Magazine, the Head & the Hand Press, and Floating Bridge Review.

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