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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

Tom Yori


When they tipped the jars

          —which were actually those old amphorae

          that cradled wines from Rome to Tarsus,

          Hellespont to Heliopolis

          —it wasn’t water any more.

It ran red as blood

          and He fell silent

                    hearing the echo

                    of a word yet unspoken.

But the steward, an obsequious Greek

          (graduate, All-But-Dissertation

          —Pythagorean U., Corinth Campus)

          won by his master casting lots

          simpered at the rube.

Though, he said, it was quite a fine merlot,

          the main course was fish.

          Could you do something in a white?

And the guests, hearing a magician was

          miraclizing out back,

          almost stampeded to make requests:

          They were a Zealot crowd.

So Mary, seeing Him clutch His stomach,

          which threatened imminently that notorious, eruptive dyspepsia,

          asked if He’d like to leave now.

For the strangest moment He cast on her His eyes so limpid

          the world looked right through them

          and He seemed to take measure again of the measuring human heart

                    its human limits, its bonds, its obligations,

                    its specificity, its universality

then as strangely as when He obeyed her to begin

          He followed her direction again and parted.

However, the mysterious Q saw all.

He recounted it, raconteur he was,

          to a scribbler, circa 60, in Thessaly,

                    who, à la Woodward / Bernstein, plied

                              Q—with wine, not coffee—

                              slurring his notes when Q left to refill.

The story, like the scribbler’s head, and vision,

          came out blurry.

But he workshopped it at Ephesus

          where the first item to go was that charged-glance thing

                    What is that anyway?

                    You can give an Evil Eye or a Look of Love

                              either of which, to your mother, is creepy.

          Next they realized the steward’s expertise

                    in Sophocles and Aeschylus

                    detracted from focus on the wine,

                    which must have been—must have been

                    —The Best.

They eliminated also that distracting byplay about the color.

And if anyone noticed they didn’t care

          that that steward, who’s supposed to run the master’s house

          talked to his boss like someone

                    hired for the day

                              from Feasts R Us.

So anyway the point emerged:

Not what happened, but the Deeper Truth

          the unschooled hungry heart always knew

                    but never knew it knew,

As fruit yearns to ripen.

Blood Drive

They keep calling you “hero” as though you were a kid

          having to be verbally nudged off the high dive

                    or even the low dive.

The literature does that I mean:

The people with the stealthoscopes are too busy asking you

          Have you ever had sex even once since 1977 with another man?

          Have you ever paid to have sex either with money or drugs?

          Has anyone ever paid you for . . . since 1977 . . . even once

           . . . shared a needle to inject drugs?

           . . . spent six months or more total in the UK?

          (so what, you wonder, do they do in the UK when they need it?)

           . . . looked for an undue amount of time at a map of Africa?

Before you finally start

          you’ve recited your Social Security number

                    five times.

But they know you now in this church hall,

          people without pressure cuffs or red crossed coats or question or claim:

the cute white-haired Louise for instance who works the

          reception table under the basketball net

          (she reminds you of a first girl friend),

the bespectacled bustler at the recovery table

          set up by the stage preempted with afterthoughts and unfinished by-play,

          busted boxes herniating Christmas garlands in August heat.

They never seem to sport their own donation bandages.

Louise, looked at twice, may still not weigh the minimum 110 pounds.

And once upon a glance her eyes dodged to your shirt’s I Gave! stick-on

          wanting to be wanted so.

Because there’s nothing like it,

          what you’ve got aplenty.

It’s all-state     biracial     multinational

          and every kind of natural.

You may feel that you are plodding on the treadmills of obscurity

          especially Monday mornings

but you’re not the LED-up machine over there in the corner

          glaring neon colors

          coughing up product

                    at the in-chink of coin.

You are instead the real Real Thing,

          a coursing vehicle of sin and crimson essence

          beating the byways the arteries

                    putting your damaged heart into it

                              take and give

                              give and give and take

just as yours

          drew in their hour   from these tangled roots   this turf of streams.

This is what your preemie daughter needed,

          your mother, that time she had cancer,

          your brother when he wrecked that bike,

          your buddy when he took that bullet,

                    all from alien folk

                              who owed you


Stranger yourself, you don’t need what’s called closure,

          the story that a story must complete

          because they don’t just go on

          the way they really do.

It doesn’t matter, what happens to today’s pint

          what happened to the last one.

And it’s amazingly easy:

          you just like back and let it flow

          seems the least you could do:

Run in this easy-flowing roadwork,

          this highway

          this interstate system

          this over-arching network of veins




Since 1500

It’s hard to see the difference

in 25 mere generations,

though your wife’s brother Carl,

          mouth full of turkey,

          claims infallibility.

He loves to poke you in the ribs

          or gouge your eye

          with his faith   moving mountains

                    of jobs to the world’s truly


After each election he’ll crow at you

          How’s that hope thing working for you

                    that faith thing.

You want to retort

          but really he’s a brother too   throws back his head

                    laughs from his belly

                              sends huge packages at Christmas.

When he dies,

                    you will miss him,

and how he loved to tow your kids

          behind his fun, godawful


But those blunt dull tools of God’s wrath in 1500

          came rude and wet to life

                    like you;

          and so did those victim misbelievers disemboweled:

Martyr and holy murderer

          all lanced toward something

                    dimly seen

                              on a father’s spit, a mother’s blood.

Here’s the real confession:

I’m not so far beyond the burning rage,

          the lune-y howls.

The suspicions Carl had for instance

          that someone over there had a bigger,

          better boat just handed to him

          —the welfare—for nothing—

that’s not so far from the common cause I feel

          for affordable care,

          a holy spirit I long for

                    as I sing in the silent night,

or while I read the Times

          Don Quixote

          excuse me Walter Mitty

          guzzling at the fountainhead.

I know   the hunger and thirst

                              to purify this flag.

I’ve seen it all   in the Before I read.

They’re telling me with everything money can buy

          I’ve lost      and my father’s   grandfather’s   great-grandfather’s

                    monumental struggles   trashed

                              targets of cheap shots   hollow points.

                    20-something punks smirk in crocodile shoes

                              boss PhD’s   review their speeches

                              investigate prosecutors   not investigating non-existent fraud

                              create new forms   scientifically crafted bullshit

                                        moving needles

                                                  finding legs

                                                            life   sacred   CREP-form.


          I’ve lost      but

                    I could sell out my ass.

          They’d love that.

                    It’s not enough to win:

                    Everyone else has to lose

                              or else they just can’t feel good

                                        about themselves.

                    Everyone else has to ignore mere math   mere fact

                              and hail   bend over for   The Unseen Hand

                                        that gropes and violates.

                    Everyone else has to kiss   the oily lips   and beaches

                              of this petrochemical Savior

                                        Christ      You’ve Never Known

                                                         You Can’t Recognize.

and now

I can feel my soles already flying like angels,

          daily news slipped under my chin

          the crowd mocking my union authorization cards

          while the hoods whisper in my ear

          one last time:


This is Tom Yori’s first published poetry. He has published short fiction in numerous literary journals such as New England Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Long Story, Sou’Wester, and others. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and was recognized in Passages North’s 2010 very short fiction contest.

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