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Poetry Winter 2016    fiction    all issues


Cover Joel Filipe

Alexander McCoy
Questions to Ask a Mountain
& other poems

Alexandra Kamerling
& other poems

Debbie Hall
She Walks Into Starbucks Carrying a 2 x 4
& other poems

Michael Fleming
& other poems

Jim Pascual Agustin
Sheet and Exposed Feet
& other poems

Melissa Cantrell
& other poems

Martin Conte
& other poems

AJ Powell
The Road to Homer
& other poems

Paul W. Child
World Diverted
& other poems

Michael Eaton
& other poems

Lawrence Hayes
Walking the Earth
& other poems

Daniel Sinderson
Like a Bit of Harp and a Far Off Twinkle
& other poems

Sam Hersh
Las Trampas
& other poems

Margo Jodyne Dills
Babies and Young Lovers
& other poems

Nicole Anania
To the Dying Man's Daughter
& other poems

Lisa Zou
Under the Parlor
& other poems

Hazel Kight Witham
Hoofbeat Heartbeat
& other poems

Margaret Dawson
& other poems

James Wolf
An Act of Kindness
& other poems

Jane A. Horvat
& other poems

Bill Newby
& other poems

Jennifer Sclafani
Hindsight Twenty Twenty
& other poems

Jennifer Sclafani

This Is How Dreams Start

Without a proper beginning.

no curtain, no applause:

At a kitchen table, a father and son are arguing.

“How much does it cost?” the father asks.

Papa, we will not barter.

We will pay the rate like normal people.

“Normal people get the best value,” the father replies.

“Only a fool accepts the first price.”

In a bedroom, a wife nudges her husband.

“Turn on your side,” she groans.

“I can’t sleep while you snore.”

Sleep on the couch, then.

I can’t dream while I’m awake.

In a field, a bird catches the worm.

“Bring it home,” I tell her.

“Your babies are hungry.”

The bird doesn’t respond—

she takes flight

and I soar

by her side

into the sky

anxious to see

those tiny swallows—

Until my wingless body

catches up with my

weightless dream

and brings an end

to that which never began.

Speak Volumes

The words come to us

shouted by birds:


not finches—


in feet



Mating calls hunt

primal fears






then spit them out

into thin air,

vapor to smog,




like a silence that deafens the senses,

like the flutter of the monarch butterfly.

Hindsight Twenty Twenty

Was I a better teacher

when I couldn’t tell the truth?

Was I a better lover

when I couldn’t fall in love?

What did I do to earn the love

that made us one of two?

What must I undo to become

a mother for all of you?

The children sleep. I can tell:

their eyes, mouths, breath, heat.

They dream of dragons and octopus

and race cars chase their spindly legs

around their school yard world.

They wake me

after midnight

before my alarm:

I want to cuddle.

Without my glasses

I cannot see


the bed ends and where

the nightstand

begins or where my

glasses rest—

for only they rest tonight—

or whether they

are weeping

or giggling.

Never mind.

Come to bed.

How dare I waste these

wee hours?

What will I do

when I awake

from this day


of you?

Mot Juste

To write in my native language,

If only I could remember what that was:

Vowels that floated fluidly, before I learned


Sonorants that straddled song, before I learned


Words that were all mine, until I was given the

Right Words.

Simple truths I told, before I masked them in


My voice, before the audience arrived:

Was it sweet or somber

full of wonder or worry

of the raven or the wren?

Courage in finding a voice,

or courage to look for sense

in the cacophony of the voices?

The fire from above and the fire from below

And the poem lies somewhere in between.

Jennifer Sclafani is a sociolinguist who teaches at Georgetown University and conducts research on language, culture, politics, and gender. Her nonfiction has appeared in Scientific American, Journal of Sociolinguistics, and Language in Society. She is currently writing a book on the language of recent US presidential campaigns (Routledge, 2017). She lives in Virginia with her husband and twin daughters. This is her first poetry publication.

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