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Poetry Winter 2017    fiction    all issues

Cover of Poetry Winter 2017 issue


Cover Thought-Forms

Laura Apol
On My Fiftieth Birthday I Return
& other poems

Jihyun Yun
& other poems

Jamie Ross
Red Jetta
& other poems

Sarah Blanchard
Carolina Clay
& other poems

lauren a. boisvert
Save a Seat for Me in the Void
& other poems

Faith Shearin
A Pirate at Midlife
& other poems

Helen Yeoman-Shaw
Calling Long Distance
& other poems

Sarah B. Sullivan
& other poems

Timothy Walsh
Metro Messenger
& other poems

Gabriel Spera
& other poems

Zoë Harrison
Pattee Creek
& other poems

AJ Powell
& other poems

Alexa Poteet
The Man Who Got off the Train Between Madrid and Valencia
& other poems

Marcie McGuire
Still Birth
& other poems

Kim Drew Wright
Elephants Standing
& other poems

Michael Jenkins
The Garden Next Door
& other poems

Nicky Nicholson-Klingerman
& other poems

Doni Faber
Man Moth
& other poems

M. Underwood
In Other Words
& other poems

Carson Pynes
Diet Coke
& other poems

Bucky Ignatius
Something Old, . . .
& other poems

Violet Mitchell
Deleting Emails the Week After Kevin Died
& other poems

Sam Collier
Nocturne in an Empty Sea
& other poems

Meryl Natchez
Equivocal Activist
& other poems

William Godbey
A Corn Field in Los Angeles
& other poems

Don Hogle
Austin Wallson Confesses
& other poems

Marcie McGuire

Saying Goodbye

— for Bill Worley

Those summer nights

he lay at the window,

chin cupped in his hand,

and watched the stars go out,

the only one awake,

when even the bars

were closed, knowing then

how it was to be.

His friends refused to

understand, and merely

repeated his words,

“inoperable, chemotherapy,”

hopefully, beneath the slow

irregular rhythm of the fan.

Down the street

a screen door slammed.

His wife leaned her head

against his knees.

They tried again to tell us

what we did not want to hear.

Later they brought

slices of lemon pound cake

on clear glass plates

and iced tea with mint, and

he talked of going

to the Texas State Fair

before he died.

And after they had said

everything they could,

we sat on the floor,

our knees almost touching,

between us a half bushel

of lima beans to shell.

Still Birth

— for Megan Sleadd

As if I had actually died in that dream and

woke up dead in a garden in late summer

where a child was swinging

in the shade of a weeping willow.

Across the lawn another child

chanted the roses’ names: King’s

Ransom, Crimson Glory, Sheer Bliss,

while a woman wheeled her chair

among the beds and tilted her face

toward the sun.

As if that garden were real, the path

wide and smooth before it

narrowed and took unexpected turns,

and where there had been roses, suddenly

were ferns and mosses. Hosta dark and

striped, pale blooms on slender

stalks upraised against the sky.

Shadows of tangled vines beneath

a canopy of leaves.

As if for three seasons I had not

carried the weight of her life in mine

and had not seen bare branches blossoming

after a long winter, and had not heard

migrating Canadas returning to green waters.

As if I had never known the one who

grew for a time beneath my heart

kicking and turning in her watery world,

who was delivered into silence

one spring day.

Negative Space

I am letting these empty fields in mid-December

stand for all the places I have traveled through,

the men I might have loved, the women

I could have been, with the sun slanting across

the stubble of last year’s crops, dried seed pods

rattling in the wind. I am letting the branches

against the sky and the spaces between the branches

stand for all the time we never had.


Long after the light has moved

across her bedroom wall and out

into the night, years after the stationmaster

has pocketed his watch and turned away,

she can still hear the dogs howling

behind her house and across the fields,

just before the fast freight

rounds the bend, and her windows

rattle her awake, sensing disaster—

a pick-up truck stalled at the unmarked

crossing, a loose rail, something

abandoned in the shadows along

the tracks, her father driving home

drunk after a late night of cards.

Coming Home


Christmas day, driving into thick fog

among black cedars that appear

briefly, then dissolve around us.

Near the edges, fringes of fog like gauze

curtains moving across the trees, lifting

momentarily. A ribbon of brighter fog

floats like silk above the plowed fields and

weaves among the trees. In the distance,

wispy gray branches brush against the

sky’s pink scalp. As soft colors dissolve,

I doze in the moving car, the highway

humming beneath my feet, then wake

to a clear black sky and piercing stars.


While we slept, night hardened into crystals

that stung our fingertips as we moved hands

along the metal rail that led from our room

down the wire mesh steps to the parking lot

where a few cars glistened in the morning sun.

Later, driving through Illinois on I-64

past Burnt Prairie and Grayville,

beneath a thin, cornflower blue sky,

a haze of trees circling the open fields,

something glinting in deep furrows,

quartz veins against black earth, icy pools

between plowed rows. We cross the narrow

Black River, and the road curves around the few

isolated hills. A cow stretches her neck toward

distant fields. A pick-up truck has stopped

beside a pond. White smoke rises from the trees.


After miles of dead grasses and leafless trees,

we come across a few startling green fields. A flock

of small birds descending. Near the fence row

two trees grown so close they have become

a single tree, each branching out on the side

farthest away. There is no separating their roots,

deeply tangled beneath the earth.


An hour from home, fingers of fog curl among

the upper branches, smooth the soft gray backs of

hills, slip among the trees. The road narrows,

following the curve of the land, and we begin

a slow descent to the river valley, the sky reduced

to a wedge of gray between the hills, rain on the river,

then open fields again and black rail fences marking off

irregular hill-shaped pastures. We drive beneath

a canopy of branches, following limestone walls

built by slaves a hundred years ago.


My mother’s living room is dark and quiet,

lit only by a table lamp and the colored

lights of the Christmas tree in the corner.

The walls hold paintings done by former students

in shades of green and blue, abstract seascapes

and clouds, a footbridge over rushing waters.

A rocking chair with arms carved into

dark swans glides through this room. An angel

rises out of a single piece of wood, her face pale

and featureless, her arms lifted and held

slightly back, revealing the hollow

blackened space between her wings.


Late afternoon, I walk along streets

named Pocahontas, Shoshoni, Hiawatha,

Mojave, past tidy yards and neat brick

houses where yellow lights are coming on

in windows facing the street. Two men

lean against a truck and smoke, while

girls jump on a trampoline behind a house.

A young couple strolls down the middle of

the blacktopped street, holding hands. The

houses here are smaller than memory,

one-story brick with contrasting shutters,

modest Christmas trees in front windows,

red ribbons on the doors.

Even those places I went with my lover

now seem formal and quiet, and not

part of my past at all. The evergreens

tower over the eaves like childish drawings of

Christmas trees taped to the windows at school.

By the time I turn back, night is moving in

over the farm beyond the last houses,

roaming through back yards and

along the empty streets.


Two days after Christmas, fog has frozen

on all the trees, encasing branches and twigs.

We enter through a door that has been wired

to notify the nurses if the old ones

try to leave to buy milk for their long-grown

children. We walk past the visiting room with its

red floral couches upholstered in plastic,

past angels made of linen handkerchiefs

fluttering among dark branches while

larger angels robed in silver guard the red

poinsettias. Along the hall, we read names

of shop-owners and teachers from another

time. The one we have come to see

is inching his wheeled chair forward

with his toes, singing under his breath,

“Just Molly and me and baby makes three.”


Near campus on an overcast day,

we head east on Clayton, following the path

I used to walk the year I was thirteen,

past the empty lot where our house once stood,

past the Nazarene Church where my best friend

sang “How Great Thou Art” in a breathy soprano

while I played piano, where the youth

played kissing games in the basement after

Bible study. Then down a couple blocks and

left on Avondale, where my friend once

whispered that it was wrong for girls

to beat a boy at any game. Another left turn

and we are heading west on Jackson Street,

where I am suddenly eight years old, playing

beneath the evergreen in secret rooms

where the dark branches touch the ground

in my grandmother’s yard, or roller skating

over rough brick sidewalks and tree roots

to the corner store to get bread for sandwiches.

Just past the college football field, we park

in the circle drive before Pawling Hall,

where mom’s new office is located, the same

building where her father lived as a student

in the nineteen twenties, where fifty years later

I sat in philosophy class, debating what was real,

while Dr. Gragg stood on his desk, swatting

wasps that flew in the tall, narrow windows.

We enter through the door facing the street,

and my mother uses her master key to let us into

offices, classrooms, seminar rooms. We walk

the length of the building accompanied by

ghosts from our past, then exit out the back,

hoping the superstitions about doors aren’t true.

Marcie McGuire is a poet, memoirist, and fiction writer who has been writing for a long time but only recently got up the nerve to submit her work for publication. She was born and raised in Kentucky but now lives in Missouri, where she enjoys the simple things in life (playing music with friends, dancing, walking in nature, keeping bees). She has worked as a librarian, English teacher, and editor.

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