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Poetry Winter 2013    fiction    all issues


Alysse Kathleen McCanna
& other poems

Peter Nash
Shooting Star
& other poems

Katherine Smith
House of Cards
& other poems

David Sloan
On the Rocks
& other poems

Alexandra Smyth
Exoskeleton Blues
& other poems

John Glowney
The Bus Stop Outside Ajax Bail Bonds
& other poems

Andrea Jurjević O’Rourke
It Was a Large Wardrobe...
& other poems

Lisa DeSiro
Babel Tree
& other poems

Michael Fleming
& other poems

Michael Berkowitz
As regards the tattoo on your wrist
& other poems

Michael Brokos
Landscape without Rest
& other poems

Michael H. Lythgoe
Orpheus In Asheville
& other poems

John Wentworth
morning people
& other poems

Christopher Jelley
Double Exposure
& other poems

Catherine Dierker
dinner party
& other poems

William Doreski
Hate the Sinner, Not the Sin
& other poems

Robert Barasch
& other poems

Rande Mack
& other poems

Susan Marie Powers
Red Bird
& other poems

Anne Graue
& other poems

Mariah Blankenship
Tub Restoration
& other poems

Paul R. Davis
& other poems

Philip Jackey
Garage drinking after 1989
& other poems

Karen Hoy
A Naturalist in New York
& other poems

Gary Sokolow
Underworld Goddess
& other poems

Michal Mechlovitz
The Early
& other poems

Henry Graziano
Last Apple
& other poems

Stephanie L. Harper
& other poems

Roger Desy
& other poems

R. G. Evans
& other poems

Frederick L. Shiels
Driving Past the Oliver House
& other poems

Richard Sime
Berry Eater
& other poems

Jennifer Popoli
Generations in a wine dark sea
& other poems

Winner of $1000 for 1st-place-voted Poems

Writer's Site

Alysse Kathleen McCanna


is a tattoo on the back of my friend Martha’s neck,

a term I learned in Art History as a teenager in love

with the student teacher whose name I scrawled in my notebook

next to Pentimento. Edward.

Repentance is Wednesday evening youth group at the local

nondenominational Christian church where my knees pressed hard

against the wood back of the chair and I tried my damnedest to stop

thinking about that boy with the hair who played bass

in the church band. William.

Pentimento is what they will look for when they look at my life

under infrared cameras: “there, where she changed her mind and moved

the heart a little to the left; there, where she changed her mind again

and entirely redrew the face.”

Repentance is three days of snow in the middle of April

while I decide whether to make the same mistake again

or not or if it’s a different mistake or maybe it’s not even close

to a mistake but when will I know?

Pentimento is what happened to my body after the rape

and I couldn’t stop twitching enough to sit in a chair

for dinner and my fork flipped pasta across the kitchen

and when it stuck to the wall we laughed and laughed

in spite of everything.

Repentance is necessary for the attainment of salvation

and salvation is God putting his hand on your shoulder

and saying, “it’s okay, even I commit a little Pentimento

now and again

take a look at the world”

and when God takes his hand from your shoulder

and you hear your bones crack

that is Pentimento

and when you are dying and you see the backlit

undersides of leaves on the most beautiful tree

that is Repentance

and when you feel your heart tear and a part of it

is lost inside of you and a part of it is breathed into the world

then that is a Poem

that you memorize

and burn


In this poem, your son is your daughter

and all the ghosts are dogs. The kitchen

is the baby’s room, the baby’s room

is the front porch. Coffee cups are kisses,

the flat tire is a pot of my grandmother’s spaghetti,

the sandwich I left for you in the fridge

has someone else’s name on it.

I cut the grass this morning with scissors

because I thought I saw it in a movie

as a child about mental patients or

it may have been soldiers in the field.

I found the tiny dolls Kelli and I

used to play with in the front yard

how many years ago? Now she has a baby

that looks just like her father and my body

keeps trying to have your baby but

the baby is actually a potted plant

on the windowsill that I keep forgetting

to water but water is really milk

that I keep forgetting to pick up

on my way home and the way home

is not on this map and maps are flies

that won’t stop buzzing

around your sweaty head

the tomatoes you planted in our garden

are starting to outgrow their thin red skins

every time you place one in my mouth

it tastes like dirt and summer and this summer

I’ve been overwhelmed with coffee cups

and walking ghosts and smelling phantom

flat tires and loving your son too much,

and you not enough,

and did you find your sandwich?

Did you remember your name?

Dream of the Apples

For I want to sleep the dream of the apples,
to learn a lament that will cleanse me to earth
—Federico García Lorca

We spoke of God for an hour in the morning,

evidence of breakfast still on the plates before us

(a few flecks of basil, crumbs of toast and bacon,

my coffee gone cold).

With sleep still clinging to my eyes, teeth,

my fingers still grasping at half-remembered dreams,

I think of God, with a great Old Testament beard,

an apple in each hand, his mouth, voice high

like a bird song, points of light blazing through

the apple seeds, cutting through darkness and flesh

and earth—

I think of Abraham the way Rembrandt painted him,

dark, sorrowful and sure eyes, thrust to the edge

by God’s cold force and then held back, and wonder

if God requires of us such great anguish, such certainty

in our own triviality.

Once, I knew God (or, thought I knew God)

and He filled my shadow as rain fills a forgotten cup—

but some days, God does not rain.

God must wish to make poets of us all

to bestow us with such disease and grief—

to cause us to bubble up until our ache

spills onto others,

onto paper.

Once, I knew God, and we sat at the same table—

one day, He got up and Left.

Roane Duana

Seir lived a fair mile from Orkney harbor

and walked there twice a week

along the stone fences.

With his shoes left ashore

he wandered into the water

and felt the cool sting of autumn nearing.

One morning

when the sun was behind cloud

he found among the stones

of the shore an empty seal skin.

He held it gently in both hands

and hurried home without his shoes.

Roane Duana followed him there from the sea

and approached him at the doorway.

She had no dress and he took her to town

to purchase a fitting cloth for his new wife.

Her pale blue eyes set in white

soft skin enchanted him

and he had her every night,

but when Seir awoke in the mornings

she was never beside him

but looking out the window

to the sea.

He had heard the stories and kept the skin

hidden under the floorboards,

beneath a rug and a great wooden chest.

Duana sat before the fire many nights

with her feet resting inches above

where the silky skin lay.

Returning from the harvest

Seir approached the door of his home

and felt the air empty, found

the floorboards torn up and the skin

gone. A cry reached his ears from the sea

and he found a baby left on the bed,

conceived after she swallowed a star

that had fallen into her mouth

while sleeping.

Tell Me Again

In the bed of someone’s pick-up

a dog howls

in the heat.

It is May, now,

the sun hotter

than normal.

The mechanic behind the counter

looks like he’s rolled right out of bed

in a barn somewhere, yet his soft-spoken

words are plucked carefully as if from a vast

thesaurus—from behind browned teeth he says

the transmission flush is vital to the longevity

of your car’s performance

I imagine him atop

a tractor in Wisconsin,

red-headed young ones

forking hay, sneaking eggs

from beneath snoozing chickens.

A slim wife in a flower-print dress

on the porch, the kind of girl who

makes pasta from scratch,

knows how to mix

his drink of choice,

scents laundry

with lavender.

He must think

I’m very concerned

about the procedure

as I stare at him

thinking about life

outside the shop

I lean in and say

tell me again

about the cost of the transmission flush

listen to his poetic explanation

smell his soft, cigarette breath

wonder how it would feel

to hold his hand stretched

out in a field under a Midwestern sun,

belly fat with pending children,

a reliable pick-up idling beside us

in the tall, tall grass.

Alysse Kathleen McCanna grew up in Wisconsin and studied Art History at Smith College. After graduation she moved to sunny Colorado and resides between the mountains and the plains. Alysse works for Colorado State University in Pueblo and is an MFA candidate at Bennington College.

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