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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

George Longenecker

Polar Bears Drowning

the news isn’t so bad today

two crows perch on a large stone in the meadow

then fly off looking for a few morsels

but the pasture is barren

the war isn’t going as badly as it could

meanwhile I wait for the tax refund

which a lot of people will get this year

except people who have no income

but it’s not so bad since they pay no taxes

the two crows perch on the stone again

haven’t there been worse wars

I really don’t mind reading the news

as much as most people

many more people have died in other wars

that’s good news

this coffee isn’t too bad

and the weather isn’t as bad today

so the mail probably won’t be too late

it’s not as bad here as in some countries

polar bears drowning on page four

probably the president will do something

I think he cares about bears

the war isn’t going so badly now

the check will be in the mail

if it comes today

those crows haven’t moved

but one flaps its black wings

so it must be okay

A Protest Rally for the
Bold-faced Hyphen

Protest the extinction

of the Bold-faced Hyphen!

The once-numerous hyphen

is all but extinct.

I have seen them

flying together in pairs,

making a mad dash

to safety—

fly, fly away quickly,

before you too become extinct

and forgotten—

or held captive and misused,

for that is the apostrophe’s fate—

held prisoner in plurals,

on road signs,

in mis-punctuated ads.

Mourn the apostrophe’s demise.


Save the apostrophe

Save the hyphen

Free them from their sentences


Free the apostrophe


Save the Bold-faced Hyphen


The Garter Snake

lies coiled on quartzite

high on Worcester Mountain

it’s barely warm enough

for a reptile to emerge

onto its favorite stone

coiled facing west

in April sun

waiting for flies

for months he’s waited

sheltered in a granite crevice

covered by three feet of snow

now he’s ready for sun

who knows why people hate snakes

but human hatred runs deep as Genesis

hard as quartzite veins in stone

this year new people to hate

with the same old swords, nooses and missiles

his long beige stripe is still

his brown scales barely quiver

he watches me but doesn’t

even flick his tongue

when hate’s all around

and it gets too cold

I’d like to leave it all

crawl into a crevice

with the garter snake

maybe someday when the sun’s warm again

slither out across stone

onto the mountain


Around the bend in the canal

we startle an enormous alligator

sunning, awakened by the clack

of our canoe paddles, he splashes

into dark water and slides beneath the canoe.

My heart beats faster—you were scared

she says—well he was only six feet away—

but other alligators ignore us, barely

turning their cloudy eyes, unwilling

to relinquish their sunny places.

Alligators are accustomed to daily

canoeists paddling the Loxahatchee,

maybe they know it’s Sunday and surely

they know east, where the first sun warms

their cold hides as they slither to the bank

to bask—I offer him coffee from my thermos—

Coffee with sugar, alligator?

Sugar plantations and suburbs

have drained the Everglades and the Loxahatchee

nearly killing off the Seminole and the alligators

who now emblazon football pennants, sweatshirts

and coffee mugs: Gators! Seminoles!

The alligator basks and smiles,

he knows who’s drifting to extinction first—

we canoe around the bend where five

more alligators sleep in the sun.

I Want To Be Your Tom

Each night I climb your fence

I want to yowl at the moon

to growl and hiss at any other male

to crawl into your bed

I want to purr and lick inside your ears

to sniff you all over

to look in your eyes

to smell you so strongly there’s no other scent

I want to lay with you and put my paws around you

to lap you until you cry mrow tdrow

to feel you in heat, to feel you purr and yelp

I want you to dig your claws into my fur

And if you’ll have me across your fence

I want us to have ten kittens

I hope you dodge every car and dog

I want us to curl up together and purr when our fur is gray

George Longenecker’s recent poetry can be found in Atlanta Review, Penumbra and Santa Fe Review. He likes to find absurdity and surprises in daily life and turn these into evocative poetry. Much of his inspiration comes from the news and from the forest which surrounds his home in Middlesex, Vermont.

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