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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

Writer's Site

Noreen Graf

Sister Mary

Sister Mary brushes snow strands

from her mother’s frozen face.

A single, silvery thread. Burrows.

Into the winter-worn crevasse.

It roots below her icy-blue skin.

Turns to twine, then twists to rope.

Sister Mary prays and pulls. Tugs.

And pries and yanks.

Her mother’s memories tumble.

Clinging. Like cat claws.

To a concocted life. Spewing.

Over. A bubbling witch’s brew.

Fallen, like apples. The memories

plunk. And Sister Mary flees.

A single, silky, silver strand. Stuck.

Beneath her shoe.

The old woman propped in bed.

Crooked. Like a raggedy doll.

Picks at her memories. Cocooned.

Stirring in her hands.

Some she flings to the floor.

Some she nibbles and spits. Tired.

She kicks them from her bed

like so many toys.

To make room, at last, for sleep.

In Attendance

The oxygen machine keeps the rhythm in the room.

Plunk, then a long hiss, regular as a tocking clock.

Her mouth gasps for air below caged eyes.

We sit. Circled around her and count time

between breaths. Tapping thumbs

to fingers. Like we were kids again.

One-two-three-four. Another breath.

We begin the count again.

One of us is swallowing sniffles.

I don’t know who.             Not me.

Cell phones silenced, we whisper

in this sacrosanct place. That used to be

our living room. A dying room.

I can’t hear her words across the bed

Over the plunk and hiss.

I think my hearing is going bad.

Did she say something?

I stick my ear to her face, and she recoils.

I’m sorry, I say, hoping to hear her whispered reply.

The plunk and hiss intrude.

Her throat rattles, lungs wheeze and weep.

Plunk. And she forever stops trying.

Hiss. To say what she has already said

and forgotten. And doesn’t need to say

because we already know.

Plunk and hiss. Something of her is gurgling.

She fights for air and drowns

in every breath. Plunk and hiss.

She exhales. We count on our fingers

like children to five.

She gasps. We startle, and count,

and wait. Plunk and hiss. Plunk

and hiss. She gasps again.

We count and wait. Hold

our breath. Plunk and

hiss, plunk and hiss.

Plunk. Her eyes and mouth freeze.

Open. To let her soul escape.

Hiss. One of us unplugs

the machine.

I don’t know who.             Not me.

We breathe in

the still air.


we break.             Even me.

What I Took

I took her amber wedding pic

I didn’t take her mink,

I took the dollies that don’t match

A rosary I don’t pray.

I didn’t want her worn-out mink

I’m keeping her diamond ring

I took the rosary I don’t pray

Her leather gloves too small.

I’m keeping her diamond ring for me.

Two dishes, roses red.

I grabbed her leather gloves too small.

Her quilt is packed away.

I took two tiny dishes, painted roses red.

A flowered plate with gilded gold

A rosary I don’t pray.

I took her amber wedding pic.

Before I turned away.

The Crickets’ Song

I listen to the crickets’ trill.

Thinking there is nothing else.

Joined in concert by skittering

leaves, and a breeze that clatters

my chimes.

I attend to the contour

of the Mango tree, against the

clouded sky. The rustling wind,

washing my face. In a rhythmic

cold embrace.

The dog sneezes, then yaps

at some distant howl. A chorus

of barking commences. Echoes.

Crescendos. Then halts, in time

for the Crickets’ rumpus refrain.

I would have called you tonight

to cackle with me. Added laughter

the this raucous. I listen instead

to the trebled call. A doleful

crickets’ cadence.

Noreen Graf was a finalist in the James Jones First Book Contest, and runner up in the Chester B Himes Short Fiction Prize. Her short fiction and graphic literature has appeared in The Ocotillo Review, Sixfold, Dirty Chai and Political Irony. She is currently an MFA student in the Creative Writing program at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

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