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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

Writer's Site

Abby Johnson

Finding Yourself On Google Maps

I inhabit time as a native of dying,

and this too is a grave. Standing

in the streams of rainwater,

piled up behind the feet and ridging

where the skin touches stretches of swirling mud,

my body buried here, in the water,

the river running down

into ditches of concrete.

I am a native of moss decaying

its veiny darkness into darker blood.

I inhabit my feet as I look at them,

transcendent, quotidian, simple,

what is, in fact, nothingness itself.

I inhabit the beige-orange sky,

a sepia tone reality rushing fluid

across the reflection of streetlights,

and moving storm clouds, and the slow

fade of body into buried thing.

This hour on the cement riverbed,

beside the earth-swallowing rain water,

is a physical location too. It is a sedentary

eternality disguised as a grave marker.

Nothing Is Named Until You Name It

The soft pink light is God

on this flight. Though I have

learned to be careful

with sharp invocations of divinity:

this light is pure, it is coral

echoing from the clouds below.

The chaste sunset

becomes a rose gold wine poured

into the glass of an empty chest.

This fading sky is your heart now:

treat it as such. Drink it

as such. Shake when the wind does

and no sooner.

Everyone hopes to be remembered

for this, and that is somehow

a measure of sunlight.

Before the light rose over the world’s neckline,

before we swallowed the ocean,

we could not ever forget the ground,

and now we can do no different.

This heart is always a hanging.

It is always an ocean-swallowing ray

of modern thought. It is always

a plot of land praying to be forgotten,

waiting to be chased down with atmosphere.

Poetic Definition

Protect (v.):

                        there is no future in

                        which we all

                        make it to the end

                        of this life with

                        enough of ourselves


Engage (v.):

                        I will surrender

                        my fingers to plugging

                        all the holes in our liferaft.

Poet (n.):

                        I will keep you

                        in the social consciousness.

                        I will die before I forget.

Fear (n.):

                        There is too much

                        water in the bottom.

Engage (v.):

                        I will jump out for us.

Poet (n.):

                        I don’t care if you remember

                        me, just please say my name.

Fear (n.):

                        There is a turn in every poem.

                        I pray every day this isn’t it.

                        Expect the worst as the poetic

                        form of survival, I am always

                        minding my pen.

Protect (v.):

                        Swear you will go down

                        with this empty vessel.

Period Poem
for a Theoretical Daughter

You will lie in your own arms

counting on one hand

all the lovers you will never have.

You will name them sun, moon, sky, and self,

You will name the last one power.

You will stain. Let the river run pure

down your canvas-legs,

river rocks in the soles of your shoes.

You will turn everything red, sun and moon

sky and self, and then you will make power

bleed. This is why they will never

love you: the harsh red tint

of your reckless body.

Shame is the thing innocence

gives birth to,

the swaddled child

suckled at the breast.

I leave my motherhood


like lost keys and dishes

molding in the sink.

I leave my mothering


shining like anointing oil

on penitent foreheads.

I am sorry I cannot stop

womanhood from


A Millennial Experience:
After Smash Mouth

A frozen yogurt place was playing All Star and now I miss my friends. The song hummed across the parking lot between me and the empty orange neon of a reincarnated frozen yogurt place. I was leaving a movie right as the sun turned the clouds black and the space between them a violent pink. The strains of the song crept over the misty air, hovering on the night’s breath like cheap beer, a sweaty exhalation. The song of my people played straight through, did not become a parody of itself, though, of course, it always is.

And I was deeply sad, as though this, too, was already becoming fog. This frozen yogurt place is an ill-remembered child of a unforgotten and long gone childhood. We are not, even now, yelling along to words that are not actually in the song. We are not, even now, listening to parody after parody in the search for an unnameable authenticity. Give us something we can never know completely, and we will be ill-content and happy. Give us something we can only talk about and never name, and we will be forever in your debt. Give us something barely loved and we will proclaim it ours forever. Give us your huddled hurries, your starving sons, bedside advice, your oldest lasting dynasties. It is not about what you say, it is about what we do:

We kill corporations, watch unsympathetic as the flesh rots off, speak no elegies over things already dead, mourn only the things left living, like everything that wants attention. We are not, even now, drawing attention to ourselves, just trying to hear the music from across the street. The song makes cement and black dried concrete something organic, a formation of land always located within the encircling highways and other mall parking lots. This song is almost older than me. This mall is most definitely older than me. I have always danced under the same moon as these other living things, and that makes them organic, or, as organic as anything can be. We yelled the song from the crowd one day, yelled it and dared the years to start coming, and the trick was: we believed they wouldn’t.

The frozen yogurt place turns off its light, but the song keeps playing over the speakers as I drive away. I can’t keep talking about emptiness I feel in a system I did not create and still expect my grandparents to understand how tired I am. I think we chose the anthem we could, after being angry, and after letting dead things die. It isn’t so terrible, not as I curve my car away from the sound. It isn’t so terrible, I promise myself as the last shooting star falls to its knees right behind where the frozen yogurt place has always stood in my imagination.

Some scenes create themselves more in the mind than anywhere else and they stay there even after the past is something other people mock for existing. If you knew your history, you would be either more or less afraid, but it is impossible to tell.

Abby Johnson is a poet and a Hoosier who is proud of the local art scene that fostered her. She is pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing through Butler University. She loves her minivan and the moon. She is previously unpublished.

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