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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

Writer's Site

Matt Daly

Elk Hunting, 12 Below

What isn’t like this? We make our daily

enterprises more difficult than we must

for the sake of giving memory fresh

meat for its freezer, or to have something

to chew when the morning is colder than

today. We add so much complexity

to what comes easily barreling down

the smooth shoulder of the black butte, darker

than the star-salted sky, in a fluid school

of hooves. Animal stench dodges between

dome lights illuminating the hunters

at ease in warm trucks pulled just off the road.

It is not only the coldest mornings

when we work our way deep down Long Hollow

that we nevertheless hear every shot

in the fusillade and know what is most

difficult is escaping the thoughts we

make, the cold projectiles we lob at what

wild life still courses through what we have left

of the vast wilderness inside each of us.

Beneath Your Bark

Would I could be a pine beetle

             tracing my underneath cursive

                          on the inside of your fascia

not that slick blue bugger

             who girdled your phloem

             who separated your roots

                          from your reaching

but this one who goes nowhere

             save wiggling through your liquid thump

                          in cul-de-sacs and curlicues

I wish I could get under

             your skin again begin again

                          in my black sheen

a radiant radical pellet

             pinballing beneath your flakes

                          your scales around your heart wall

not a wall at all permeable

             a tub for sap to be sludge swam

                          slithered in under there

inside the soft side of your skin

outside the wooden stem

             of your still ringing heart

Wolf Hunter1

We strike up conversation

across the concrete island

between us. Sleet pelts

our faces as we refuel.

I am comfortable talking

in flurries to a man

in camouflage, but worry

about fumes roiling

out of our gas tanks.

I keep thinking about

warnings, pump stickers,

about the mass of fumes

collecting around us,

his idling engine,

my cell phone,

static electricity.

He tells me he shot a male

wolf earlier in the day.

He is specific about

the weight: one hundred

seventy pounds.2

I listen in October sleet,

have a most common thought:

the world is a strange place

for all of us to go on living

together, full of contradictions:

wolf pups wag tails when

packmates return from tearing

elk calves to pieces, people

advocate replacing lead

bullets with copper to reduce

unintended mortalities.3

I want to ask the hunter:

his reason for shooting the wolf,

the kind of bullet he used,

his justification for the claim

his wolf is almost as large

as any wolf ever killed

by any North America man.4

I want to understand:

his method for establishing

heft of a carcass, why he keeps

the bed of his truck covered,

why he does not shut off

the engine at the filling station

as instructed.

But more than that,

I want to be happy

to live in a place with wolves

as large as men, to live

in a place where men talk

over warning signs.

More than that, I want to live

in a place where no one

wants to shoot anything

for any reason

easy to document.5


1 According to the Wikipedia

article “Gray Wolf,” the largest

American wolf, killed on July 12,

1939, 70 Mile River, Alaska,

weighed 175 pounds.

2 According to the Wikipedia

article, “Human,” 170 pounds

is about average for a human


On screen, the Vitruvian man

looks uncomfortable, as do

the naked Asian man, the naked

blond woman in the sidebar.

This is the first time I have looked

at pictures of naked people

on Wikipedia.

3 Several of the citations at the end

of the article, “Gray Wolf,”

credit “Graves.”

4 My comparison of footnotes

in the Wikipedia articles reveals:

146 citations, “Human,”

318 citations, “Gray Wolf.”

I do not understand why wolves

require more than twice

the documentation of people.

5 I think most of us know

something about exaggerating

the weight of things.

American Robin

Dun flight flares around the corner.

Mate or prospective mate gives chase,

red-breasted one who later waits

on a branch after the first hits

the back door’s glass, collapses

panting, dull-eyed, on the new deck.

I hold the numb bird in my hands,

wrap her loosely in a green cloth,

keep a close eye out for magpies.

Given the opportunity

they would mob the male, chase him off,

whet the edges of their black bills.

My son comes outside only once

to touch with his index finger

between wings we think are broken.

We believe telling a story

could conjure that story straight out

of the air. Her story opens

in my palm. Braille points of talons

tug at whorls. A heartbeat pulses.

She regains her ability

to stand, to perch. Return to flight.

She reappears on a low branch,

unnoticed from inside the house.

No banner unfurls for this act:

saving one life from other lives,

from the windowed door between us.

Our story is hard as glass. We slam

against it with our hollow bones.

We slam against it with our bones.

Eagle Cap Rekindling

We have not seen each other in twenty-five

years and even though back then I covered my

naked body with your naked body I do not expect

you to remember my name. I will speak

truly, there is no reason not to be honest

after so much time, I did not remember your name

until I read it on a signpost as I made my way

back to you although I have never forgotten

the feel of you wet and then you drying slow

on my skin, that glacial silt mud scent of you

mixed with the spare change tang of my sweat

how you washed me in your coldest springs

until the only odors were snow and stone.

You haven’t changed as much as I have

or if so for the better having reintroduced

yourself to wolves. Whereas I am just as tongue-

tied around you as I always was. So I offer you

my flesh, softer now, clothed or naked as you wish

and the admission that you stunned the howl

right out of me all those years ago when my tongue

knew the feel of your skin better than it knew

this voice it has grown so familiar with

so resigned to. I have longed so long to revel

in your muck and reek as one wild body

savors the blood pulse thrum of every other

wild body no matter how rocky or old.

Matt Daly is a poet and writing teacher from Jackson, Wyoming. His poetry has been published in Clerestory, The Cortland Review, Pilgrimage, Split Rock Review, The Screaming Sheep and elsewhere. In 2013, he received a creative writing fellowship in poetry from the Wyoming Arts Council and is the 2015 recipient of the Neltje Blanchan Award for writing inspired by the natural world.

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