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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

Faith Shearin


I was a child, so it was the children I thought of,

in a remote commune, off the coast of South America,

forced to call Jim Jones father. Evenings,

when my own father took off his business suit to drink

scotch and watch the news, I listened to the stories

of disobedient Jonestown children, forced

to spend the night at the bottom

of wells, or locked in plywood boxes;

I knew they were learning to be compliant.

Anyone who tried to escape the cult

was drugged; the Jonestown children lived in huts

woven from Troolie Palm and many

suffered fevers; before they drank

the Kool-Aid laced with cyanide they were called

from bed, during an exercise called white nights,

asked to line up and swallow a cup

of juice without asking questions.

I was asked to line up too, all the time, at school.

I was a child, so it was the children I thought of,

and they were the first to die, opening their mouths

for parents or nurses, in a pavilion, in the middle

of a jungle, in the trembling tropical afternoon.

A Pirate at Midlife

At midlife, Stede Bonnet grew tired of his wife

and children so he built a ship with a library,

named it Revenge. He left behind

his sugar plantation in Barbados, swaying

under the sun, and became a pirate

though he knew nothing of sailing.

This is midlife: the nagging wife, the plantation

growing thirsty at noon. Bonnet was a terrible

pirate but he did meet Blackbeard

and, for a moment, was his partner,

which involved walking around

his hero’s deck in a nightshirt, recovering

from a lost battle by reading a book.

Bonnet died two years after he went to sea

but, before he was hanged, he learned

to fire cannons, quit paying his crew,

realizing, finally, that money made them lazy.

He was pardoned for awhile by Governor Eden

who lived in the town beside my grandfather’s cottage,

just beyond the river of my childhood, and I

liked the drawings of Bonnet in my storybook of pirates

with his fancy jacket and powdered wig. I knew

nothing yet of middle age, of the desire

for excitement before death. I used my crayons

to decorate a picture of Bonnet’s children:

waving to him from fields of sugar, while he

raised a Jolly Roger and floated away.

1901 Mourning Portrait
of Michael Fitzgibbons

after the daguerreotype

I can make out a fence and two bare trees behind

the coffin which has been opened and propped upright

so the man inside stands, one last time,

beside his wife who is still young, squinting

into the future, with her hair tied in a knot,

a baby in her arms. The older children

are windblown and one turns her face

towards something unseen, outside the frame,

while her brother looks steadily into the distance,

unsmiling, choked by a tie. There is white

behind the dead man’s head, and white

on the collars of his children; the baby’s dress

is so white her mother holds her tightly

to keep her from floating away.

In 18th Century Britain

It was fashionable for owners of country estates

to have a hermit reside in their garden grotto:

unwashed, hair long. He was paid

to go barefoot, or recite poetry for party guests,

asked to sit in silence at a desk in a hut

with a skull, a book, an hourglass. The hermit

was supposed to embody melancholy

in his druid costume, with his unclipped

fingernails, and he lived in solitude among

ponds and flower beds, his presence unmanicured.

Gardens became less geometric, more free-form,

and a hermit was hired to live in a state

of contemplation, at the edge of a deep woods,

near the shed with its rakes and spades,

beyond ladies in pale silk gowns, taking tea.

Deceased Child With Flowers

after a memento mori

In this nineteenth century mourning portrait a child

has died and now lies in a formal bedroom beneath

wreaths of flowers. What we see is a face

on a pillow—brown hair, long eyelashes—

and it is as if the tiny body is becoming a garden

of white irises and baby’s breath, as if grief

has erupted in blossoms and climbed the headboard,

as if the flowers in a nearby meadow

blew through a window and took root in this

mattress which is as soft as earth. There is

no sign, anymore, of fever or infection,

worry or doctors. The medicines, whatever

they were, vanished from the bedside table,

and now the child is becoming the flowers

which are also temporary: cut,

unable to drink, their petals tender.

Faith Shearin’s books of poetry include: The Owl Question (May Swenson Award), Telling the Bees (SFA University Press), and Orpheus, Turning (Dogfish Poetry Prize). She has received awards from the NEA and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Her poetry has been read aloud on The Writer’s Almanac and included in American Life in Poetry. Shearin’s short stories have appeared in The Missouri Review, Frigg, Meridian, and The Atticus Review. She lives with her husband, her daughter, and two dogs, in a cabin on top of a mountain in West Virginia.

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