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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

Gina Loring


the women. the women. the women.

the babies. the babies. the babies.

How lucky not to remember

the mountain of missed milestones.

The spirit spark dusted over and dimmed.

How lucky to melt into yourself like that,

the entire muddy footprint path erased.

In lucid moments

few and far between

when the room comes into focus,

you remember me.

A stranger with your eyes.

You know

the straw I hold to your lips

the lullabies I sing low

the monologue prayer hymns I write in your palm:



Here to see your father?

I ask how she knows.

You look just like him.

She waves her clipboard,

motions for me to follow.

It takes three nurses to administer the medication today.

He is a restless windstorm trying to break free.

Daddy, I say, sing with me.

I’m gonna lay down my sword and shield

Down by the river side, down by the river side, down by the river side

The silver smooth of the needle shines like a tiny skyscraper.

He meets its eye in resignation, watches it disappear into his arm.

I’ve always been the type to avert the eyes,

learned early not to look.

I don’t remember the pinch of the needle sliding through skin

I don’t remember the blood draining from vein to tube

I don’t remember the waiting room or the walk back to the car

all I remember is the Polaroid of him

protocol for paternity testing, verify identity.

I was ten

and already a man had ripped apart the ribcage,

sliced my heart open

just to see.

I ain’t gonna study war no more

I ain’t gonna study war no more

I ain’t gonna study war no more

The nurses exit the room.

For now, their job is done.

Eyes closed, he claps his hands to the beat.

We sing.

Our Last Days

I. Monday, April 14th

Convalescent homes

house blank stares where

urine stank and ammonia air

fistfight florescent lights

straining to see

the million memories

suspended from the stucco ceiling

prayers scattered everywhere like rogue shooting stars,
dying as they soar.

A backwards culture we must be

leaving our elders to endless claustrophobic days and cherry Jell-O.

II. Tuesday, May 20th

My voice dangles mute from my neck

as I wipe the running from his nose

try to console the boy inside his eyes.

Sometimes he recognizes me

always meets my gaze at least once during the visit

the illusive layered dimension is lifted

together we march this sorrowful slow dance
to music we cannot remember

while earthly things like apologies and birthdays
spin weightless around us.

I want to relieve him. I cry into his chest,

savor the gift of time like a peasant at the Queen’s feet.

Wish him a good journey, free him from himself.

III. Wednesday, June 11th


We’re calling to inform you that the patient has expired.

As if he were a quart of milk.

I had seen him on Saturday, sang “His Eye is on the Sparrow,”

held his warm hand, long brown fingers
against the smaller beige version, mine.

The three days between Saturday and Wednesday
trampled me, a stampede of sorrow.

Rushed to the mirror to look at him in my face.

Angry fireflies

Traumatic experiences do not dissolve in the wind,

sweep away like dandelion petals

they do not eat themselves for dinner

disappear, a gruesome sliver

they like to hang around

pacing like an alligator in an elevator,

a swarm of angry fireflies,
spelling out the same story in the sky each night

intrusive visitors who climb in through windows, defecate on dreams

blues and greens is the song they sing

when you are in a yellow mood

admiring the moon

they tip toe in through the back door and hijack your laughter

lift your eyelids to paint a dull hue

force you to look through fun house mirrors

long after the circus has left town

being angry with god will
get you nowhere on a fast train

after the halo of stars has stopped windmilling around your head

and your face stings like a cement wall has kissed you hard and long

and you try to get up but can not make your body move

just when the world is coming back into focus

and your ribs are kicked in

the train will arrive shiny and smooth

serving complimentary champagne and warm croissants

the window seat view will be beautiful

you will have time to replay every moment

a swarm of broken and bent promise

flashes of half-hearted dreams rotting in the wind

you will lock yourself in the bathroom

the woman in the mirror will greet you with a piercing gaze

she will say you are meant to fall

to understand the meaning of flight

there is no bargaining

look down at the blueprint map on your palm, make a choice

healing is a profound art

no one can free you but yourself

the damn train is going nowhere

and you might stay on that motherfucker for years if you’re not careful

you may even drift to sleep, a cozy still

they will bring you a pillow and a mint

the tracks rocking in rhythm like a mantra

the angels will not give up on you

even when you have traveled miles and miles

they will keep the faith of your return

the porch light stays on so you know you are welcome

inside where your life is waiting

Gina Loring holds a BA from Spelman College and an MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles. She was featured on two seasons of HBO’s Def Poetry, and has performed her music and poetry in over ten countries as guest artist of the American Embassy. She is a professor in the Los Angeles community college school district and volunteers with Inside Out Writers, working with incarcerated teens. She lives in Los Angeles, and she believes in mermaids. Contact her at

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