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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

Adin Zeviel Leavitt


We have so many stories already written around us

like a safety net, like a straightjacket. When I say,

“Once upon a time,” you know what sort of house I’m building.

When I say, “Boys will be boys,” you know it really means,

“Boys will be men. Men will be weapons, after all

they were raised in an arsenal. Praised for the height

of their walls. Taught that a hero holds a gun,

is made in its likeness. Why should he be held while he cries?

Power is taken, not shared, and a hero does not cry.

Disarmament is weakness, and a hero must fear

the flowers that bloom in the soft fields of his heart.”

In this story, a soldier is a hero and a gardener is not.

I am writing myself a new narrative.

In this one, manhood means believing that a garden

may not be as dramatic as a missile, but it lasts longer.

I have learned that loving the women

in my life means walking through the crowd

of hungry ghosts that other men have left behind.

I look them in the eyes: they are an ugly reflection,

for I know that I still have sharp edges

better suited to cutting skin than breaking soil.

But this I swear: to be a battlefield overgrown with violets,

tomato vines, and runner beans. To plant orchards in my violence.

To remember that my fear of the hurt

I can cause is a map of the work I must do.

I know I have left ghosts of my own behind

from the days when my love was not brave enough

to drop the clothes it was given and stare at itself naked.

How it was told that manhood means to take

before it means to hold, was taught that love looks

like a precious golden ring, a guarded thing.

That it is romantic to say “You are mine.”

That somewhere in the architecture of love lies ownership.

One morning my lover and I sat in bed

with sex indenting the mattress between us,

heavy stone it can sometimes be. We stared

at each other across the weight of it.

They have been taught that sharing their body

is betraying it. I have been taught that a partner’s body

is a belonging that should be shared. We have both

been taught that shame is an inheritance we deserve,

that we should blame ourselves for sometimes

being the string that breaks, the voice that cracks.

We have chosen to make a different way.

We are standing around a campfire fed with the pages

of an old children’s book. It’s the one with a tall tower

and a conveniently unrecognizable monster.

Where everyone knows their roles already, sword

and sewing needle waiting for hands that have no choice.

Where “he” and “she” are locked in the mirror,

a reflection without a key.

We are writing something new. In these pages,

shame is a suit of rusty armor half-buried in the soil,

with nasturtiums growing out between its gaps.

Here, the monster looks more like the ways we learned

to hurt each other. Victory is shaped like an embrace.

Here, wholeness holds its darker half.

He and she can leave those shapes behind

like a dress that has become too small,

a suit of armor that blocks the sunlight,

a locked up tower room.

This is the story of how to hold each other

like the mountains hold the sky, to adore

the way it never stays the same, to release

every kind of love that desires to contain.


On Westcliff, the ocean stretching

into the horizon like hammered steel,

an old man walks a Chihuahua in a tiny vest.

A few tourists pass him, speaking quickly

in a language we cannot understand.

They point at the dog, their laughter bursts

like summer fireworks, a field of poppies.

When they are gone, he turns to the dog

and says, “It’s alright, they were just talking

about how beautiful you are.”

What strange flotsam accumulates

in our hearts as a lifetime drifts by.

Checking In

Morning arrives like an eccentric hotel guest.

Maybe from Switzerland or some other place

with great chocolate and ice over the surface

of the water. I imagine a thick white beard

and tailored three-piece. An undercurrent

dark and iron as old blood. And what have

you got in your briefcase? Perhaps an afternoon

that opens like a piñata, all noise and color

and the gratification of simple desires.

Or lassitude, droll gray downpour. I hope

for that subtle delight that seeps under

the doorframe and through the shutters

like viscous light. Opens up the tightly locked

chest that holds wonder like a postcard

from the child you’re certain you used to be.

Or one of those flowers that blooms only once

in a decade. The laughter that is its own beginning

and end. Anything but the bone-deep damp,

hopelessness that creeps quietly under

your skin like mold beneath old floorboards.

Maybe a book given by a friend who knows you

well enough to find you, Rorschach, in a landscape

bound in ink and pages. A self-contained feast.

A missed train of a day, face-full of pungent smoke,

frustration, the scramble to fit the hours together

into an acceptable puzzle. Or maybe a nap

in a swaying hammock: slow, easy, and enough.

For Ricky

It’s nighttime in Montana. The fields

and buildings and streets are drowned

in powder white. Twenty degrees.

The hitchhiker is walking on the side

of the snowy highway, and her posture

says she’s been walking for a while. I pass

by, and my heart shudders like an engine

in the cold. I turn around at a side street,

and pull over. She gets in. Tired face,

a lip piercing, eyes too battered to pretend.

“I’m Ricky,” she says, and, “been walking

since Gallatin Gateway.” “That far?

And no one stopped?” “Everyone’s got

their own fears,” she says, “I don’t judge.”

I tell her I’m a writer. Interested in people’s

stories. And she tells me. Picture the broken

home. Only she knows the specifics, but

we are all familiar with the scene. Seen

it too many times before, in friends,

on screens, in the past that trails behind

people like a whipped puppy. She got married

at twenty, met her soul mate a week later.

Had a child. Had a divorce. Moved all over

the country, left the soul mate to get clean.

Couldn’t stay clean. Couldn’t listen to music

for six months she tells me, it hurt so much.

Weeps in the passenger seat as she speaks.

Keeps moving to stay close enough to help raise

her daughter. Sees on the news that her soul

mate died. His memory is everywhere, still,

the way things could have been. As the years

pass your life looks less and less like what

you thought it was going to be. I won’t leave out

the worst parts, but I won’t try to make them

sound pretty. Like some beautiful wreck,

an old pirate galleon drifting down through

watery sunlight into the blue-green deep.

This is no metaphor, poetic tragedy, just the way

it is for some people. The rape. People you trusted.

The end of trusting. Sleeping in ditches.

Getting a home, a job. Losing them. And again.

Being broken back down to only a body

that feels less and less like your own.

Selling it to survive. All this time, wanting

only to love your daughter, to be good

for her even if no one ever showed you how.

Somehow remaining the kind of person

who spends your last two hundred dollars

bailing a friend out of jail, even without

a bed to sleep in. Who gets in a car

with a young stranger, and tells him,

“I go to sleep each night hoping I don’t wake up.”

This is a kind of courage I cannot imagine.

There isn’t a reason I’m telling you this story.

Only that it was told to me. I just want

to share her storm with you for a little while.

It is all I have to prove she was ever there.

When I ask if I can hug her goodbye, she says

she doesn’t know how, but she still holds me

tight as a life raft before she walks into the motel.

Adin Zeviel Leavitt grew up mostly in the mountains of Montana and between the covers of books. He graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 2017 with a degree in creative writing, and can usually be found doing his best to get lost. He has published a collection of fiction and poetry, It Still Rains In Imaginary Places, which can be found on He currently lives in Vietnam.

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