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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

Winner of $100 for 3rd-place-voted Poems

Kate Magill

Nest Study #1

The nest in dead branches is not an empty nest:

rimed over with questions and brimful with winter,

unperturbed by the wind that threatens to whisk it

from the place where it was made, needed, abandoned.

A room woven of leavings—red thread and tinsel—

bound up for a season and slowly dispersing.

To come home each day to such finely tuned debris:

I’m sure now, here, that I could make do as a bird.

To slip between currents and make of wind a home,

knowing every dwelling is weightless as your bones

and temporary as the blood that stirs about

your labyrinth, the headlong chambers of your heart.

Nest Study #2

We built it of bottle caps and rusted barbed wire,

of green plastic army men abandoned on the beach.

We built it of sanded down seaglass, of seedpods,

of cow skulls revealed when the snow melts, pure and bleached.

We scavenged five-cent cans from culverts,

traded cap erasers for small stones,

caught frogs and fed them the right kinds of flies,

named them after villains, after heroes.

Maybe somewhere we saved up all the chewed stems

of the leaves of grass we plucked, sucking for sweet,

the buttercups we shone on chins,

the dandelions we unleashed,

propelled by whistles, pirouettes,

as we learned how our bodies,

their hither-thither breath and limbs,

could be the origin of wind.

Whatever’s Left

You need to stop reading.

The languor of someone else’s structures

holds nothing, offers all the sustenance

of stone,

of floating.

You need to stop reading.

You need to change your gaze.

The words of others are not made

to hold your days,

the heat and strife and anguish

of your living living body.

Your body.

You are made

to contain and expel,

to hold and to tell

to go forth and put forth and hold forth and hold worth—

How to measure the worth

of a moment snagged from time?

How to measure the worth

of the hook, of the line?

It may all come to nothing.

How to frame the invisible,

make its elegance plain.

It will all come to nothing.

You need to change the gaze.

Double vision—not enough.

A singular vision—not enough.

Is it enough after dark

to feel the heat of the day

come up through the soles of your feet?

Enough to taste

the heart of the matter,

tongue its bloody pulp?

Enough to say you’ve tasted it?

Someday the heat will drain

from all the promises you’ve made

and whatever’s left

will be printed

on someone else’s page.

Happy Here

an onion

an avocado overripe

stray garlic skins

and coffee grounds

a lingering smell of bleach

so deep in your skin

you can’t scrub it out

sooty footprint from the peppermill

sweaters half knit with dog hair

fly shit speckling the windowsills

the grit of a year’s worth of days

a day’s worth of years

greying itself into your bare feet

a promise you’d be happy here

white mug half black with stale coffee

not enough room in a single sentence

for happy and here to coexist

here the cupboard full of nothing

where the mice like to shit

and over there the sack of rice

fifty dollars worth of rice

dribbling onto the floor

mingling with dead skin and flies’ wings

the little bastards chewed a hole in it

keep coming back for more

failing fluorescence overhead

broken clock blinking an impossible time

and you struggling to remember the shape of the world

before the matter of yours and mine

sour milk smell from the fridge

cream you never bother with

cream you keep for guests you never have

do you long for the days

the fugitive days

the promiseless places

empty cities

cities full of cold winds

colder faces

was it easier

it was

what is home but a ratsnest

a roach motel

a mad dog thrashing at the gate

to be let out

Kate Magill is a Vermont native and a devoted backcountry wanderer. She currently resides in the Mojave Desert with her family. Her first volume of poetry, Roadworthy Creature, Roadworthy Craft, was published in 2011 by Fomite Press.

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