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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

Alma Eppchez

At the Back of the Road Atlas

All text in quotes was found scrawled on the last page of a Rand McNally road atlas.

Chicago to Las Vegas dates unknown.

Eavesdropping on someone else’s road trip.

It was America, is America, it will be America.

“I guess we solved The Free-will Question. (No)”

Hypothetical disillusionment—the Freeway makes monks out of men.

It’s good, when it’s good to be wrong.

“Tiny bladder”

16oz every meal—It became an issue.

Stiff joints, playing Fight Club in the Super 8 sleep.

“What’s the closest airport?”

There is a fairground, and a strip

Where planes take off to spray the patchwork quilt.

“Little fuckers over in What Cheer, Iowa.”

Exit 201 begged to be taken. Population: 678.

Some towns have only known hard times. What did you expect?

“Yes, but at least we’d never have a reason to see her again.”

Women get easy to resent out here. Mile 937—don’t look

At the burning crash. Forget to call on your mother’s Birthday.

“Oh I’d say another two or three miles.”

Tiny bladder. The country hangs along

Interstate 80, a cheap charm bracelet.

“What would Jesse do?”

In Bountiful, Utah did you piss in Salt Lake?

Take off your clothes but don’t want to get wet.

“I’m still a guy.”

Comfort in the 3am silence—it’s not about passing.

Nod to the U-Haul speeding in the right lane.

“What is cold and wet down the back of my shorts?”

Tiny bladder. Crazy straws and watered down whiskey.

Barely any rest stops past Des Moines.

“Tie the kids to the back of the limousine.”

What would you name them?

One night stands with funny labels.

“Gunpowder and lead (lace)”

And leather. Every station is The Best Country Music.

They love it in South Africa too—something about the slide guitar.


Will you father miss his police scanner?

Roll down the windows so the smoke falls out.

“The Virgin River: because it runs just fast enough”

Utah, Arizona, Nevada. Into the Colorado

Where it slows. What did you gain in these mountains?

“Your family and their fucking gum”

All these fat and shiny memories. Deep fried things.

Gum sticks, but you’re growing up, moving on. You found the road.

“Next time we know how to have fun on a trip,

We just go to a restaurant then hangout

In the parking lot taking Boomtime pictures.”

Citizenship from Below

Mimi Sheller

The conquerors

keep easy

kinds of records—

that make it easy

for history to stay on the surface

just scratching at the paper trail.

I take solace in archeology.

As children

The conquerors—they

went to see the fossilized

dinosaurs foot prints on the banks

of the ancient river. It left such an impression.

And so they stomp heavy

dumbly fearing immortality.

Hoping to evade it

like the dinosaurs.

I take solace in extinction.

In their last will and testament

they request tall headstones,

afraid of their shadows

disappearing when they do.

I take solace in electric lights of citizenship shining up from below.

The New Old-Hack

(you remember fighting)

Oh god!

wouldn’t it be like dying?

You showed me a minefield

and told me how

you walked across it

every morning

on your way to doing

the things you love.

(you remember fear)

You had a lover once

a few steps ahead

with heartbeat

like steamroller

and diamond colored dreams,

just as

sure—just as


And when he was blown


you grew love letters

from the dirt

under your fingernails

and you cried,

but did not visit him in jail.

(you remember defeat)

And you stopped doing

the things you love.

And you don’t

check out books

from the library anymore.

You took a job at McDonald’s,

and you fell off

out of the sky.

(you remember a future)

You tell me

what the early 2000s

did to us.

You tell me a story

about this paranoia

that shattered your bones,

about a quiet

McCarthy era—


Secret Service

tapping through

your maple bark

and revolution’s sugar

flowing out

on to the ground.


My mother, the professor of childhood, gave a lecture on Snow White

My mother always sounds like she is about to weep.

Her students nod.

Mirrors mirror film.


was a metaphor for telling.

She speaks

by jumping off the edge of thinking deeply.

Walt erased all the spinning mothers.

Who does the telling anyway?


it’s a man’s world.

We held the apple in our hands and it filled with poison

It is called faulty pedagogy.

You teach about children,

so you know.

I absorb you

—with all your flaws.

You watch.

What is foreshadowing for, now that all the stories have been told?

My brother—

my father—


raspberry prologues into my belly.

Hold me like newborn ears,

because the world whispers soft and incessant.

Tell me a new story now.

No place for jealousy.

No motive but love.

Echoes of Tuskegee

some notes on my experience
during the night shift at the Fresno ER

I have a confession:

              I wore blue latex gloves,

              walked the linoleum hallway from triage and

              in the early California morning,

              under doctor’s lax direction I

              saved a woman’s life.

              She was still alive

              at least

              when my shift ended.

I am not proud;

I am terrified.

of what it means to owe someone

nothing after the night shift turns in.

Of what it means to research amateur

on a stranger’s body

and never to say,

              “May I”

              or “Thank you.”

Haunting me:

              Alabama haunts me

              from the thirties to the seventies.

              For 40 years The Tuskegee

              Institute kept black bodies

              in petri dish

              share crop quarters

              growing cultures of medical atrocity

              —growing cultures of “progress.”

              Brought to us by:

              Racialized front lines.

History has mouthfuls that

I don’t know how to talk about and

when I try to swallow—

I cut up my throat.

              I should bleed out lab rats.

              I should bleed out syphilitic sores grown on black bodies after science had a cure.

              I should bleed out their children; sick by birthright.

              I should bleed when surviving means breathing, but does not mean life.

My platelets—my whiteness:

              scab over like mercury and

              underneath these seamless scars

              we have not changed—

              growing sores

              on black bodies

              after science had a cure.

Everything is syphilis,

from night stick, to

achievement gap, prison

bars, dreams unspoken,

fish tank overpass,

dying for my sins

Garner, Brown, Martin.

              There is no consent in social experimentation.

              So how can I condescend to ask for consent?

I want to apologize:


              You are probably dead by now.

              You were maybe 40.

              They said you had overdosed on something.

              You were unconscious when they found your body.

              Your body

              I am sorry.

I know you had a life and

a story and

loved ones who remember you.

I know that your death is not a lesson and

I must learn to be better.

I do not know your name.

              I am sorry.

              I know how your naked body fell

              across the hospital cot

              in coma humiliation.

The doctor asked me if I wanted to practice CPR and

I didn’t say, “How is this practice?”

Your breasts spilling

milk over asphalt

away from my fists and

I didn’t cry, but

I should have.

              I know how your broken breastbone clicks

              in and out as I pump your limping heart.

              I know how half opened eyes roll back and

              can’t make contact and

              what could an apology possibly mean to you now?

If I had said:

              “Stay with me now.”

              You were never here with me.

              Separate lives—separate lessons.

              You had learned how to be victimized and

              I was learning how to rape.


Yes, your heart began to beat again

as I beat your chest.

I do not know how long

you survived after that—

brain dead and pale blue-black

on the cot.

              I know there is nothing right

              about living or dying

              surrounded by white coat

              strangers singing “Staying Alive”

              by the Bee Gees

              in bar room cacophony,

              so a scared little white girl

              can learn how

              to keep the beat

              on your still



The Tuskegee experiments

—echoes themselves—

echo through the nation a quiet and affecting call—



ignore . . .

Alma Eppchez is a genderqueer writer, theater artist, musician, and Quaker based in Philadelphia. Currently, ey* has two plays looking for homes, a dance film in the oven, and is developing a workshop using our bodies to notice internal biases. Ey was socialized as a white girl in Western Massachusetts. This was not a bad experience, but one that gave em many privileges, biases, and misconceptions of identity that ey is compelled to now unlearn. *Alma Eppchez’s chosen pronouns are Elverson pronouns (ey/em/eir/eirs/emself)

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