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Poetry Summer 2015    fiction    all issues


Cover Hannah Lansburgh

Jennifer Leigh Stevenson
For Your Own Good
& other poems

Marianne S. Johnson
& other poems

Kate Magill
Nest Study #1
& other poems

Karen Kraco
& other poems

Matt Daly
Beneath Your Bark
& other poems

Paulette Guerin
& other poems

Hank Hudepohl
Crossed Words
& other poems

Alma Eppchez
At the Back of the Road Atlas
& other poems

Jim Burrows
At the Megachurch
& other poems

Rachel Stolzman Gullo
& other poems

Yana Lyandres
New York Transplant
& other poems

Heather Katzoff
& other poems

Tom Yori
& other poems

Barth Landor
What Is Left
& other poems

Abigail F. Taylor
Never So Still
& other poems

George Longenecker
Polar Bears Drowning
& other poems

Ben Cromwell
Sometimes a Flock of Birds
& other poems

Robert Mammano
the way the ground shakes
& other poems

Janet Smith
Rocket Ship
& other poems

Gina Loring
& other poems

J. Lee Strickland
Minoan Elegy
& other poems

Toni Hanner
Catching the Baby
& other poems

Ben Cromwell

Sometimes a Flock of Birds

for Gwendolyn 3/11/14

I don’t believe in God

because if he exists,

he’s an asshole

for giving me cancer

among other things.

But I love you more

than one animal should

be able to love another.

Sometimes a cloud passes

revealing the mountains

minted in new snow,

and the sun shines down

on us for the first time

lighting your sleeping face.

Sometimes a flock of birds

breaks from the treetops

and flies pellmell into

the blue distance.

My arms are indelibly marked

with your weight,

your shape.

Whatever is in me,

whatever I am at root,

whatever I hope

might one day be revealed;

You are.

Assisted Living

I don’t want this to be too sentimental,

so fuck you, Grandma.

I’ve been thinking about the dead,

those near to death like to a lover.

I am walking the wood paneled halls

of your small and immaculately kept home.

I am rearranging the furniture.

I am unstraightening pictures.

Especially the one of you on your wedding day,

The one where you look so beautiful,

The windblown curls of yellow hair,

Your bright blue eyes,

a smile like abandon,

Like luck.

I know you’ve moved to a center,

somewhere they can take care of you.

I know the walls must be bare, the cupboards empty,

the beds in storage.

Tell me, what have the days been like?

Do they let you wake early to walk the beach?

Does the pale blue light that tips in

through the bedroom window remind you of me?

Do they let you sleep

with the window propped?

Does the coolness of the morning air almost

stop your heart?

In my mind, I take down your picture, press fingers

sticky with Jiff to the glass over your lips.

I hold it against me,

hold onto you.

You’ll have to wipe the smudges from the glass over the photograph.

You’ll have to rehang it on this imaginary wall.

Once you were a tern or a loon,

Perhaps a frigate bird.

Something that returns to the water.

I rode on your back, all motion and wind,

and the sea was in us.

Salt water was in our veins.

You are not coming back

to tell me

we are kindred.

I’ve seen the gray mist of your eyes,

the curve of your body, like bent feathers,

like a drowned gull washed up on the beach.

This is why I never come.

I can’t bear to watch

the stillness overtake you.

Fox holes

Are there no atheists in fox holes? Perhaps you don’t get into a fox hole unless you have something to believe in, but in my experience, most of the people in fox holes are in the process of giving up their gods.

The world will continue without me, will continue to turn without us, my love, though the thought makes me feel a little sick to my stomach.

I would like to believe that only you and I exist. I have believed such a thing. I believe both at once . . . in the world, and also in nothing beyond what I can taste.

I am the juice that runs down your fingers, I am the sweat that pours from you, the extravagant feeling of fingers parting your hair, an extra set of hands to let the world slide through.

Let us rejoice in each other, let us give thanks. Let us suffer in each other. Let us be tortured and meaningless and pass out of the world having mattered to no one, having no immortality beyond our mingled dirt.

Ben Cromwell lives in Salt Lake City with his wife, Raven, and two children. He is a program director for Playworks and the author of Touch: Making Contact with Climate Change. His work has appeared in Flyway, High Desert Journal, and Sugarhouse Review.

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