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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

AJ Powell


I sit in a glass chair wearing a glass dress,

holding a glass pencil, breathing glass breaths,

waiting for everything to shatter.

My fingers clink against paper in a minor key;

words fall on the page, sword-strikes

ringing out amid silence.

Light flashes, burnishing dreams both

bright and terrible, and exposing

a million flickering thoughts,

And the glass slivers and flies through the air

to waiting imaginations, embedding itself

where it lands, leaving me flesh again.


“This is nowhere,” she whispers in his ear,

“and nothing happens here.”

Then he pulls up her blouse and

ripples her skin beneath his fingers.

Together they spin a blanket

of blissful self-forgetting

threaded with sighs, moans, laughter.

Hide under it for hours

chasing down new shivers

then fall asleep like sated babies.

Wake up startled in the morning,

wide and bleary eyes falling on each other

in daylight.

The myth of meaninglessness

hangs in the air like

dust motes in sunbeams.

She shifts a shoulder and holds the sheet tight.

He brushes away sleep in his eye.

She waits and wonders

if bolting or breakfast is on his mind

and readies herself to be stoic either way.

He doubts his courage to risk what he wants

but, gazing at the lift of her breath under covers,

the want remains.

Sunlight butters across sheets

dappling skin, illuminating freckles

and hair standing on end.

Whatever they’ve woven in moments last night

awaits the morning’s quilting,

still could be cast aside threadbare or

stitched whole,

Time at hand

ready to knit a tryst

into shelter,

as pillows pull magnetic

on drowsy, awestruck heads.

Witch’s Work

I sit and stir at fate’s cauldron,

   toil to stew new trouble,

brew bright and terrible concoctions

   for the world from a wise and wizened hag—

one wart on my nose for every

   bewitched millennia I’ve stared down.

I rage today at pretty images, counterfeit and cheap:

   tedious portraits of perfection

fit only for thirty-foot-tall screens of silver,

   slivering my sisters’ instincts into nothing

till they hate mirrors and their

   own magic selves.

I choke on strange poison in the air;

   a toxic atmosphere has unleashed

a sickening, a standard view

   that age and imperfection have

no deep and particular beauty, though they do.

   I brew a tonic for modern toxins.

I cackle and curse at faked models—

   touched by false prophets who spellbind absent

every time-worn, life-earned wrinkle,

   every bit of a body’s bump and curve cut—

sacrificed to cellulose tyrants who

   demand mannequins of their females.

I cast my hex at the madness of enhancements,

   surgical monstrosities papering psyches

till even closed eyelids can’t block them out—

   my sisters marred by imaginary failings.

What sorcery is this? and who is guilty of

   inducing the poisonous deception?

As if marble is what women are made of,

   as if fake is how women should feel,

as though holding a warm breast should be less than it is;

   as if a heartbeat speeding and thudding through a chest

with love and lust and ready openness

   should split from flesh and choose plastic?

                          Try hovering in love instead.

                          Hold an eye for human bodies

                          walking down the road with bottoms

                          which are double-cupped,

                          bellies full with a solid sorcery

                          while illusions of perfection are moving mists.

                          For we are for cleaving to for life

                          like a preserver that rides wild waves and stays

                          afloat in every storm-tossed ocean.

Let us conjure away the ugliness they’re teaching,

   the curse of magazines and billboards

tossing our sisters in jail-cell expectations,

   accosting even our youngest daughters.

Stir the cauldron with me;

   banish the bullshit.

                          Find visions of beauty which follow nature’s lead;

                          let time’s travails and treats

                          build up softly on hips.

                          Actual is an attribute worthily embraced

                          with the capacity to embrace back.

                          Wander then into bedrooms with real women

                          for potent wizardry, for joyful spells.


                                                                    I will

Eat pomegranate seeds by the handful—

sweet trill on the tongue, tart pull in the jaw—

till lips and fingers stick with juice,

tentative tasting abandoned for honest hunger.

                                                       I will

Slip underwater and silence the world,

let nothing approach but bubbles,

which trace skin with lovely skimming

on their way across, around, between, along.

                                         I will

Listen in my car to favorite songs and

remember the stories behind them,

taking a tour of the past, discovering dwindled spaces—

former homes and hangouts gone small with time.

                            I will

Watch something funny and laugh,

fall into a forgetful hilarity that cracks open

a life of guarded impressions and best behaviors,

guffaw and snort and hee-haw at nothing, everything.

             I will

Dance alone to a sad song,

rock and sway in a room of candlelight,

hum along bluesy and true,

welcoming need as a gift.

I will

Stand breathless, cheeks aflame,

hauling in air halfway up a mountainside,

follow the trail to the summit above

as a zephyr quakes a stadium of aspen leaves.


Five times she held her breath

Walked five slow roads to nowhere

Wished five wishes into the wind

Watched them catch a gust and flee headlong

Toward anywhere-elses

Four times she skipped a beat

Glanced four backward glances

Missed four passing chances

Lost them without notice so without grief

But still felt absences

Three times she forged ahead

Pushed three burdens through a day

Won three closures in an open-ended world

Clenched them, claimed them, held them fast

In otherwise empty hands

Two times she gave grand gifts

Grew two perfect presences

Loved two new beings with her eternity

Understood them to be hers briefly

Despite otherwise yearnings

One time she died

Loosed one full soul to the ether

Slew one last dragon stalking her

Laid it down to rest with her body then left

For limitless shores

AJ Powell is a once and future teacher who raises her children, serves on a school board, and attempts to write in the wee hours of the morning with varied success.

Dotted Line