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Poetry Summer 2020    fiction    all issues

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Rodrigo Dela Peña
If a Wound is an Entrance for Light
& other poems

Shellie Harwood
Early Evening, Late September
& other poems

William A. Greenfield
The Deacon’s Lament
& other poems

J. H. Hall
& other poems

Kimberly Sailor
Two Aphids
& other poems

Sugar le Fae
& other poems

Lauren Sartor
Shopping Cart Woman
& other poems

Nathaniel Cairney
Mushroom Hunting, Jackson County, Kansas
& other poems

Elisa Carlsen
& other poems

Daniel Gorman
The Boy Achilles
& other poems

Samara Hill
I Look for Her Mostly Everywhere
& other poems

Nicole Justine Reid
Returning to Sensual
& other poems

David Ginsberg
Butterfly Wings
& other poems

Katherine B. Arthaud
Café Sant Ambroeus
& other poems

George R. Kramer
Young Odysseus
& other poems

Amy Swain
In Praise of Trees
& other poems

Frederick Shiels
Bad October: 2016
& other poems

Matthew A. Hamilton
Summer of '89
& other poems

Chris Kleinfelter
Getting from There to Here
& other poems

Martin Conte
Ghazal for the Shipwrecked
& other poems

Natalie LaFrance-Slack
I Do Not Owe You My Beauty
& other poems

Susan Marie Powers
Dark Water
& other poems

Writer's Site

Rodrigo Dela Peña, Jr.

If a Wound is an Entrance for Light

then perhaps this hurting is both wave

            and particle, a ripple on a pond,

                        a pebble. The scar on my mother’s sewn

up belly is a shadow, a partial

            eclipse imprinted on her skin.

                        I am still trying to grasp how a nick

on a fingertip can bleed so much

            and why a scan of my father’s body

                        showed constellations, a whole galaxy

that whirled within him. Think of bones and how

            they keep our secrets, a history of hairline

                        fractures, phantom aches. Think of people

who wake up, cross the streets, with a bullet

            beside the spine, shrapnel inside the skull.

                        My mother prays to saints whose miracle

it was to be suddenly graced with wounds.

            My father has been reduced to ashes.

                        Who knows of all the brightness we carry?



and there was light             a flicker, a flood

something like a face          unfurled

becoming mother                as if the world

came into shape                  by being seen

her voice a song                  sparkle of water

in the distance                     it was almost

clear and there                    came shadows

the edge                              of things a blur


Say there was a trinket in your hand,

            beads of glass strung with a thread.

Say the names of each color, the tongue

            baptizing what could be touched,

tasted. And here was a brother who took

            and took, snatching your precious away.

Say shards, say fracture, how easy

            it was for the world to be shattered.


Mother was a soiled apron, clatter

of pots and knives and spoons, was broom

that swept the floor, was fingers

on forehead, chest, left then right shoulder.

Father was a cigarette, its glowing

ember, tendrils of smoke, was a gun

in a drawer, was a gravelly voice

and the silence that followed.


The days stretched and repeated themselves.

Language began inhabiting the tongue.

I was told to wake up, obey, be quiet.

There was no way to outrun my own shadow.

A game: pass a finger quickly through a flame.

My knees always had cuts, scrapes, scratches.

A hand could be a claw, could be a fist.

I had yet to learn forgiveness.


Quick swerve along the highway

            then suddenly there was a bus

hurtling toward us, and I saw

            the wreckage that would happen,

felt the impact in my bones

            as the vehicles drew closer,

air luminous and charged

            with current at this instant,

the edges of things sharp, time

            suspended as a pendulum

in its apex, though all I could

            say then was no no no—I still

wanted to live,

                            and somehow

there was no collision, death

            speeding, missing our skin

by a hair, breath so close

            that I sensed its chill on my nape,

a flash that would return

            to me, pierce me in the years

to come, the weight of it

            settling, lightening on my chest,

only a moment but I knew

            when we stopped, struck

by a god or a sliver of luck,

            O, I was already changed.

Instead of a Letter

You who made a bracelet out of scars

on your wrist, how each slash inflicted

was a memento of getting through each week.

You from whom I learned how to drink cheap gin

straight out of the bottle, wincing at every

swig—where have you been after the tumble

of years, everyone else caught in the song

and dance of getting married, raising kids?

I heard you moved to Finland and I worry

that snow would come as a gradual

erasure of your world. You would have laughed

if I said that to you, this looking

at Nordic weather as metaphor, the way

you rolled your eyes when I wept at the ending

of a Mexican film where two stoner guys go

on a roadtrip with a woman who would lead their lips

to each other. Now the snow must be melting

in spring and I think about water draining into

sewage pipes, its many faces as liquid

on a glass, as ice cubes, as rain. You who would leave

and vanish, who would become history,

memory, elegy. Drink with me

in Manila, Singapore, Helsinki. Let me remember

your name when the credits scroll in a movie

theater. Maia, good mother in Greek,

illusion in Hindi. Aisha, meaning alive.

Rodrigo Dela Peña, Jr. is the author of Aria and Trumpet Flourish (Math Paper Press, Singapore), as well as the chapbooks Requiem and Hymnal (Vagabond Press, Australia). His poems have been published in Rattle, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Likhaan, Kritika Kultura, and other journals and anthologies. He has received prizes from the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, Kokoy Guevara Poetry Competition, British Council, among others. Born in the Philippines, he has been based in Singapore since 2011.

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