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Poetry Summer 2018    fiction    all issues

Poetry Cover Summer 2018


Cover Michael Lønfeldt

Carol Lischau
& other poems

Noreen Ellis
Jesus Measured
& other poems

Amanda Moore
Learning to Surf
& other poems

Adin Zeviel Leavitt
& other poems

Jim Pascual Agustin
Stay a Minute, the Light is Beautiful
& other poems

Timothy Walsh
The Wellfleet Oyster
& other poems

Anna Hernandez-French
Watermelon Love
& other poems

J. L. Grothe
Six Pregnancies
& other poems

Sue Fagalde Lick
Beauty Confesses
& other poems

Abby Johnson
Finding Yourself on Google Maps
& other poems

Marisa Silva-Dunbar
& other poems

Merre Larkin
Sensing June
& other poems

Savannah Grant
& other poems

Andrew Kuhn
Plains Weather
& other poems

Catherine Wald
Against Aubade
& other poems

Joe Couillard
Like New Houses Settling
& other poems

Faleeha Hassan
In Nights of War
& other poems

Olivia Dorsey Peacock
Thelma: ii
& other poems

Sarah Louise
& other poems

Kimberly Russo
Inherent Injustice
& other poems

Frannie Deckas
Child for Sale
& other poems

Jacqueline Schaalje
& other poems

Nancy Rakoczy
Her Face
& other poems

Ashton Vaughn
& other poems

Noreen Ellis

The Feast-Maker

Of course it was me, the daughter,

neither prodigal nor inheritor

who killed and cooked the fatted calf.

There were servants, but it was my hand

against the young cow’s complacent cheek.

I sing in her ear, watch blood drain,

make the top cuts of her choicest meat,

cut strips and mix them with salt

and herbs, juice from the pomegranate,

my anger and my spit.

My eldest brother’s anger is

a hot wind. Empty clanging boasts

the all of him. He asked me once

for a goat to impress his friends.

I laughed at him and could not,

will not, fix or fill his need

with love or praise or beast.

He beat me, as I knew he would.

My brother’s envy is my secret delight,

the twist in our father’s heart.

And the old goat himself?

Father, Abba, Master.

His worth measured in gold, tents,

fields, cattle and obedient sons,

girls and servants not worth counting.

My rich lord knows no distinction

between loved and roughly used

the taste of male or female flesh.

I slaughtered a heifer.

They gorged on the herd’s future,

feasting the return of their prodigal son.

My brother, my beloved. I dream of him

in foreign lands—an artist, a merchant, a king.

I put him as a seal upon my heart,

I opened. I waited for him

to call, “Come away, my sister,

my bride, you have stolen my heart.”

Instead I kill and roast the fatted calf,

gather and cook bitter herbs.

I laugh, I burn, I cut, I sing.

I am the honey in the halvah,

and the hunger at the feast,

for now he is returned,

penniless and smelling of swine.

One more man for me to suffer.

Grace and the Big Men

They were once the big men on campus

football heroes, wrestlers, athletes

now turned tall and girthed

into mountains that dance

holding up their trousers

with elastic and ties. Sporting shorts

even in winter, to show off their

best features: muscled calves and

well-turned ankles. Ladders of muscle

wrapped in abundance, never falling when

they drink too much, a line of dance

partners waiting for them at parties and weddings.

They lead, pushing and pulling from solid strength,

turning sweethearts with heave and sway of hip

guiding would-be lovers with the ease of leg

pressed against joint and bone, between thighs

to beats of long-stepped fox trot and gliding waltz.

And, oh! How they rumba

on size 15 slip-on patent leather loafers,

on feet that seem impossibly dainty.

They mansprawl on bar stools pulling their women

into the mound of belly, tree-trunk of their arms

hands that cover like paper on rock,

a quilt in winter, the low clouds of distant

snow. To be his woman you learn to climb him

build up the strength and stamina to hold

his heft, his weight, your hands finding purchase

in his bulk—the dihedral where chest

meets shoulder, footholds at knees

and in the flattened mesa

of his outstretched palms. You glissade

along the long length

of his major muscle groups

skirr over the slope and massif

of his body, his hardness hidden

beneath a world of flesh,

no mere mountain,

a range, no an entire planet,

of him, creating gravity as he dances.

Jesus Measured

My mother measured the cooking time

for roasted lobsters in martinis: two.

Her carnelian cocktail ring mirrored their shells

placing the lobsters, a date night treat, still moving,

aluminum wrapped, butter patted, into the hot oven.

For her sons, the portion size of spaghetti: a quarter,

cooked and topped with braised meat, sausages, bread.

The weight of her devotion. For her daughters: a dime’s-width

tossed in lemon, black pepper and salt, a lesson

in simplicity, in want. The measure of backbone and hip.

She taught me pie-crust making from her deathbed,

bare, brittle fingers pinching each batch for the right mix

of fat and flour. Those that did not measure: four. Finally, a perfect

dough, dusted with sugar, baked unfilled. “Sugar pie for my sugar pie”

we sang, her hot hand on my face, eating it all, a final act of defiance.

The span of my lover’s hand measures the expanse

of my back, his long fingers tracing the short distance

from shoulder to flank, the sweep of hip to hip, grips the extra flesh

settled there, a saddle, a hillock, a baffle, at my waist, counting

the decades he has roamed this terrain, this body: three.

I count his words, his silences, his absences.

Tally his home comings, mix tempered yeast with flour and salt

measure the time of kneading dough: until stillness.

The quiet assurance of me alone, empty, strong

waiting to be filled by bread, by honey, by sugar, by him.

Even miracles can be quantified. Jesus measured

the hunger of the five thousand on the grass: two fishes, five loaves.

And the multitude was satisfied. Twelve baskets of leavings!

But I cannot square the sum, the rule, the reckoning of enough.

Cannot gauge the measure of eating, of loved, and be full.

Noreen Ellis is a poet and chief communications officer at an engineering firm that designs and builds big public infrastructure projects. She geeks out about words, poems and bascule bridges. She is the recipient of a 2017 Troubadour International 25 for 20 Poetry prize and her poems have appeared in Cease, Cows, Poets Reading the News, Hanging Loose Press, and New Voices magazine.

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