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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

Timothy Walsh

My Life in Bicycles

Like a lifetime’s succession of pets,

             apartments, or houses,

schools or best friends,

I can follow my bicycle timeline backwards,

the bicycles diminishing in size—

             twenty-six inch, twenty-four, eighteen—

like an exemplum of Zeno’s paradox.

From tricycles to training wheels,

             banana bike to ten-speed,

mountain bike to city hybrid,

I loved them all—

             thought of them as living things—

creatures with spirit, energy, soul—

vehicles to augment my quotidian self,

infusing speed, agility, balance

             into my otherwise too-stolid days.

As a child—at the dinner table

             or agonizing over homework—

I felt its presence parked outside,

             waiting on its kickstand,

faithful as a favorite steed grazing placidly

until next saddled up, bound for adventure.

Even now, after a long day’s work, a quiet dinner,

             I think of it out in the garage—

perhaps take it out for a night ride—

speeding along the avenue, the twilight cathedral

             of trees—

my legs turned to pistons on the pedals,

the spoked wheels whirring against the asphalt

powering the earth’s giddy rotation like a child’s hand

             spinning a classroom globe.

The Wellfleet Oyster

“In the 1850s Henry David Thoreau came tramping down the Cape and stopped overnight in the house of the Wellfleet Oysterman, and made him a fixture in American literature. But what bugged me was that Thoreau said not a word about the oysters themselves.”

—Howard Mitcham, The Provincetown Seafood Cookbook

I didn’t much care for Mr. Thoreau either,

though I do not begrudge him his interest in that old oysterman—

that vicious murderer and despoiler who ravaged

             and decimated our population

where we rested placidly at peace in the soft sand

             off Wellfleet harbor.

Why we must be hunted so voraciously,

             our paradise plundered,

feasted on so enthusiastically, our flavor praised so highly—

as if this were recompense for annihilating us—

our shells discarded in great heaps, the world unmindful

             of this pitiless genocide,

why, why, why is the question that consumes us

as you consume us, split open on the half-shell,

             doused with lemon juice (how it burns!),

             a dash of Tabasco (how it stings!)

Mollusk, you call us, as if we were some lowly thing

             akin to slugs, snails, and whelks.

Yes, we are indisputably the finest aphrodisiac.

We can make a dried and withered octogenarian

             find his tent pole again,

inspire lustful smiles in the ardent

             as they slurp us up.

We perplex and fascinate you with our binatural sexuality—

female one year, becoming male the next,

experiencing the pleasures of both,

             the envy of Tiresias.

You glory in pearls, the oyster’s gift,

string them around the neck of the one

             you lust for,

dazzled by their iridescence as you suck our juices

             off the half-shell,

ravish each other like barnyard beasts

             and think nothing of pillaging our beds.

You say the world is your oyster—

             but what does this make the world for us?

What justice is there in hirsute bipeds

             feasting on defenseless bivalves?

Your bones will bleach as white as our shells—

             this is my pearl of wisdom.

A Poem Trying Hard
Not to Be About Death

Perhaps all poems really are about death . . .

except for all those poems about love, I guess—

though love poems bring tears as well as joy

because we all know they’ll become epitaphs soon enough . . . .

But then there are all those poems of new revelation—

             you know the ones I mean—

when a startling, slanted way of seeing things

             explodes in you like the taste of a fresh, cold grape,

making you realize how narrow our consciousness is

             and how short its duration . . .

which I guess does bring in that whole death thing again . . . .

Limericks, then, limericks are certainly not about death,

not the usual salacious sort that call up a quick chortle

             or a guffaw . . .

though the way that first rhyme spins around

and chimes with that final word

does make a circle, a circle not unlike

             the endless cycle of birth and death—

and it’s hard not to realize that even that buxom girl

             from Nantucket

will one day kick the bucket . . . .

So here I will write an elegy for all poems about death,

have the last of these last words.

Here, I hand you an elegy for all those poets

who thought they’d write about springtime

but ended up writing about death.

It is a poem we never stop writing

as this country churchyard of a globe

spins our earth-encrusted bones in a perpetual waltz

             across the vaulted ballroom of night.

Singing the Alphabet

Now that I know my ABCs,

I never sing the alphabet anymore,

             which is a shame.

The sheer joy of it, I remember, welled up

             and out and over me as we sang—

the nursery school tables piled high

             with those wooden alphabet blocks,

uppercase on one side, lowercase on the other.

Learning the mysteries of symbol and sound,

             we gazed toward the foothills of adulthood

where people spoke so astonishingly aware

of the streams of letters corresponding to whatever

they said—their voices rivers of jumbled alphabets!

Teachers and parents who could so effortlessly secure

             with ink

the silent sounds and scrawls of their thoughts . . . .

And so we sang, earnestly, proudly,

             with a tremulous yearning to learn,

thinking of those mysterious storybooks

             the older children read,

turning pages like doors, their eyes like flashlights

             cutting swaths through the darkness.

So lately I have been singing the alphabet again—

walking by the lake, singing to the mallards

             and geese along the shore,

singing to the busy muskrats, the gliding gulls,

             the curious crows.

And it seems that they, too, would like to know

the quizzical mysteries of these gnomic sounds.

So I sing, learning and unlearning as I go,

now that I know with a knowing that unlocks

             at least one secret drawer

of this labyrinthine world.

And as I sing, so does the crow—

rasping out its dark alphabet I’d sorely like to know—

while gulls glide on invisible updrafts,

             riding the unseen syllables

                          of my herdsman’s song.

Timothy Walsh’s most recent poetry collections are When the World Was Rear-Wheel Drive: New Jersey Poems and The Book of Arabella. His awards include the Grand Prize in the Atlanta Review International Poetry Competition, the Kurt Vonnegut Fiction Prize from North American Review, the New Jersey Poets Prize, and the Wisconsin Academy Fiction Prize. He is the author of a book of literary criticism, The Dark Matter of Words: Absence, Unknowing, and Emptiness in Literature (Southern Illinois University Press) and two other poetry collections, Wild Apples (Parallel Press) and Blue Lace Colander (Marsh River Editions). Find more at:

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