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Poetry Summer 2022    fiction    all issues

Cover of Poetry Summer 2022


Joanne Monte
& other poems

Holly York
Still When I Reach for the Leash
& other poems

Anne Marie Wells
Catholicism Still Lingers in a Concrete Poem
& other poems

D.T. Christensen
Coded Language
& other poems

Laura Faith
& other poems

Abigail F. Taylor
Winter in Choctaw
& other poems

Natalie LaFrance-Slack
& other poems

Nicole Sellino
iii. moving, an interruption
& other poems

Gilaine Fiezmont
In Memoriam / Day of the Dead
& other poems

Sheri Flowers Anderson
On Being A Widow
& other poems

RJ Gryder
& other poems

William S. Barnes
to hatch
& other poems

Suzannah Van Gelder
& other poems

Sam Bible-Sullivan
The Dying Worker’s Soliloquy
& other poems

Hills Snyder
Eclipse (July 4, 2020)
& other poems

Lauren Fulton
Birth Marks
& other poems

David Sloan
& other poems

Nancy Kangas
Dry Dock Cranes of Brooklyn Navy Yard
& other poems

Noreen Graf
In Attendance
& other poems

Jim Bohen
Nothing Tea
& other poems

Thomas Baranski
Let us name him dread and look forward
& other poems

Thomas Baranski

The salary of a soul

Put a dollar amount to my soul

I dare you! This trickling merry-go-round

cuts crooked, a cyclone of sabers

melting like teeth, leaving my tongue

split between fear and music.

I choose a diminished third

at this buffet of lacerations

where my hands serve all I have bartered

for my breath. Here each table of feasting weeks

carves their names as veins in the corpses

of forests. When life is a currency weighed

in whiplash gasps, I sprint to keep pace

with the industrial strut of chic-garbed time.

So, what then might my entire being earn?

A text, skittles on a diabetic day,

a yawn, a welcome beyond the mat, perhaps

these little gestures in Jupiter weight

drag drag raw as bone, bone as

birth: the first understanding that

we is me spelt in cuddled panic.

What is the texture of a dream

blue and bulging with metaphor

under a rent-is-due roof? In one way or

another, I never feel it enough

for my truth.

Oh! To be consumed.

Plastic-Wrapped World

How would we dance

if our lungs composed

condomed ballads of plastic romance

detailing the innocence we claim

because our blood-bleached paws

never touched the throat

of a choked turtle?

There are enough cardboard boxes

to house every human

yet the refugee’s tent still fears

the demagogue wind;

we dissect petals and eyes

to leave no trace behind

but forget we have built the crime

into the scene of our bonfire hive.

If you had to see your mother gutted:

intestines and aortae ripped out

with a plastic steak knife,

which immigrant would you blame

when the carnivore is your hand

and your teeth have rotted black

from blood-leeching the soil

beneath your lying Judas feet?

Ursa Major bears witness to our crimes

best attempting to inform the cosmic police

of the savage horrors she has seen

whilst shielding her child’s starry eyes

from the black hole that was built

by the apocalypse born of mother earth:

a matricidal race clawing in consort

to extract the black milk from her bleeding breast

all while her tears rain acid

from the dearth of clean water

and her voice attempts words to express her story

but her truth was stolen with her tongue;

now her lips are sealed with the plastic wrap

whose steak-burning altar

we have come to worship at

as we chant the mantra of extraction

and set fire to the trees beneath her crucifixed feet

laughing into the oil-black void

of the forever night

we are too flaccid to believe

will soon be our eternity.


Each human, a number,

notch on bedpost,

representing i: imaginary

invention of perverted masculinity

and a self worth as miniscule

and real

as 0.

Each new addition

to his body count

divides his soul

by his nothing self

spawning a black hole

sucking in diamonds

and doves

and any comets

whose tails

he covets.

The singularity of his pursuit

fuels his expansionist ways

and as he grows with screams

he boasts of his once lovely stardom

and rages over the supernova force

of his romantic sabine death

which will birth a million starry-eyed boys

to repeat

this infinity


Let us name him dread
and look forward

In my much younger youth, I thought a man

was the sum of his mutilations.

So my cousins and I lit dynamite

in the throats of toads.

The croaking aftershocks of my life’s explosions

still echo in the color of twilight.

My feet are scarred from the debris of indifference

unprotected by even the privileges of gated innocence.

I still do not tend very well

to the garden of my blessings.

I struggle to swim

through the flow of time,

dragged down by the guilt of caskets

and the weight of the love I can no longer give.

We call it heartbreak

because we are used to living

through the beating of broken things;

after all, we tread daily on shards,

the shattered glass of rainbow souls

jailed in the prism of white light;

Rage is the circumscribed word we must use

to describe this staining of fleshed windows

and Rage is the story of pain

untold around a wildfire; and now

think of your tongue

and all the burning years left to come.

Thomas Baranski is a writer and educator currently based in Madrid, Spain, whose work attempts to bridge the gap between honesty, reality and hope. Originally hailing from the metro Detroit area, his travels around the world have influenced the themes and wishes of his work. From environmentalism to masculinity, his pieces do not shy away from the harshness and beauty of our modern world.

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