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Poetry Summer 2019    fiction    all issues


Cover Antoine Petitteville

Laura Apol
Easter Morning
& other poems

Taylor Dibble
A Masterpiece in Progress
& other poems

Julia Roth
Lessons From My Menstrual Cup
& other poems

Jamie Ross
Ceaseless Wind. The Drying Sheaves
& other poems

Nicole Yackley
Mea Culpa
& other poems

George Longenecker
I’m sentimental for the Paleolithic
& other poems

Taylor Gardner
Short Observations by Angels
& other poems

Greg Tuleja
No Thomas Hardy
& other poems

Joanne Monte
War Casualties
& other poems

Nathaniel Cairney
Potato Harvest
& other poems

Steven Dale Davison
Wordsmouth Harbor Founder
& other poems

Heather 'Byrd' Roberts
How I Named Her
& other poems

sunny ex
& other poems

Ashton Vaughn
Through the Valley of Mount Chimaera
& other poems

Linda Speckhals
& other poems

Lucy Griffith
Breathing Room
& other poems

Steven Valentine
& other poems

Emily Varvel
B is for Boys and G is for Guys
& other poems

Jhazalyn Prince
Priceless Body
& other poems

Marte Stuart
Generation Snowflake
& other poems

S.J. Enloe
Kale Soup
& other poems

Meghan Dunsmuir
Our Path
& other poems

Writer's Site

Ashton Vaughn

Blackbird Looming

Who turns the hands of the clock,

fastidious and careful, over

and over again and again?

Who animates the chipmunk

that gently lifts himself out of the earth,

and once, twice, snaps his head to the sky

to peer at the sun he has forgotten?

What is it that moves in the wren

to urge her to sing—

what is it that calls forth the blackbirds,

year after year,

to flood the skies in raven waves

and leave the muddled face of Death

burnished like a sigil in our thought?

I know not why when the music begins

my feet turn to dancing and my voice to song,

but I do know there is something

lively and wild and wonderful

coursing through each life, each body,

and that every time I give myself over to it

I can once again feel the sun shining upon my face.

When the raven waves arrive,

and the song of the wren is diminished,

I think I shall be waiting,

not sitting—but dancing and singing,

ready to greet them with whatever song the Earth may have of me.

Through the Valley
of Mount Chimaera

If the silence breaks,

I hope your gold crumbles upon me like dust;

Caught between the cusp,

we tasted a brevity, not short and sweet,

but as consuming as the flame which burns

on testamented trust.

And as I glimmer, a newfound thing,

a burning blaze of aurum,

enshrouded in a majesty

like the decadence of boredom,

I twist against the agony

that looms like Hades’ quarry;

a flame to raze a man’s fell hope,

a prince’s claim to whoredom.

Toll the bells,

Death’s keeling knell

shall palpitate the earth.

March in robes of sanguine red

through obsidian gates of Hell.


Snakes slithering in the undergrowth,

gloomy murk and despair

and leaves blackened by rot;

Weeds reaching clumsily through the turned earth

—earthworms, those little tendrils of life,

spindling along like fibers of the mortal system;

Orchestral buzz of flies,

stagnant water and algal bloom

(which tells of death and life,

death and life;)

Upon the earth, like gravedirt turned,

onerous ants trail back and forth—

a machine stronger than any of man’s;

And among the swamp a heron stands,

tall as a tower, and just as mighty,

his cloudy down as soft and blue as wisdom:

This is another way of life.

Halcyon is a place in one’s mind;

here, the birds fly from the earth,

and back to the earth they must go.

here, the weeds die, and come back,

and die and die again.

They’re coming back as strong and as lovely as ever.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah,
as God Looked Away

Washed up from the bay:

I am driftwood.

I am bound and I am impermanent,

I am beautiful and I am careless.

Salty water seeps from my head into the earth

as I lie in the grass on the shore by the bay,

as I lie in the fields that are faded.

My hair is woven into the ground—

I am the roots!

and my fingertips are stems,

sprouting and growing

and searching for sunlight

in this faded field

on the shore by the bay,

Where I believe I am surrounded

by the company of friends

until I notice

that the skies are empty and the birds are quiet

and I lean to my side

to whisper to the resting wolf

that “the world has gone silent”

but the wolf has gone silent also

and beside him are the birds

who are absent from the sky

and their throats don’t hum

and their wings don’t flutter

but their feathers still hold

the luster of an old life’s glory,

and so I sit beside them

and I sing the songs that they can no longer sing for me.


Song of Solomon

I.  Names inscribed on trees,

scratched along fences and bridges—

               but we carved our names into the sky,

cut out the stars and kept them like secrets in our pockets.

II.  The night I shed my clothes

you watched me.

You wouldn’t even show your face,

and later told me to get some sleep;

pixels glared back at an empty stare.

Y0u couldn’t show your face, so you watched instead.

III.  The way the earth livens before the rain.

Melodies hummed softly, held between the lips.



Salt of the ocean.

Wildflowers, freshly cut and pressed.

IV.  shatter,shatter, shatter, shatter,  shatter,   shatter,    shatter,    shatter,      ,shatter,       shatter          .

V.  I love my body but only in the dark.

VI.  Did I ever carry you?

Slung over my shoulder, the wind in our hair,

running just for the hell of it?

Did I ever carry you?

VII.  You see, love,

we were never creatures of permanence.

We douse our skin in ephemeral perfume,

laced with rose or violet

or whatever else was once new and beautiful,

and we make short love,

and then we wash ourselves of all of it

and begin again.

VIII.  But I still hold on.

               There is no desperate hope.

               There is no foolish naivete.

               There is only truth:

                      that when my lungs collapsed

                      and you were suffocating

                      I pulled you out

                      and I carefully pressed each of your blooms

                      inside the walls of my notebook

                            and now each pressed flower

                            I wear like a seal upon my arm and my heart,

                            stronger than death, the grave,

                            it’s jealousy diminishing the very flames of Hades.

IX.  I loved my body, but only in the dark.

                            X.  I left your body alone in my dark.

Ashton Vaughn is an upcoming freshman at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, OR, studying environmental studies and international affairs. When he’s not writing music or poetry, he’s often meandering through nature. Despite soon moving to Portland, Vaughn spent his entire childhood in Birmingham, AL. Much of his poetry was influenced by his experience growing up as an LGBT youth in the heavily religious, conservative South.

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