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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

Writer's Site

Sarah B. Sullivan


—after Audre Lorde’s Coal

The indigo between violet and blue,

a setting on the field’s table.

There are many kinds of births.

How a bulb sprouts wings.

How a bee gathers pollen from the stamen.

Pollen births honey.

Like a bulb planted upside-down

curling itself around and toward the sun.

There are births wanted and unwanted,

in the middle of a field, under a table,

in whatever corner the queen is forced to squat.

Some births live in her belly,

bubbling like drowning fish. Others grow

beneath her feet, throw her off her heels,

like wild horses tired of their passengers.

Tired of being      passengers.

A bulb is another kind of birth:

an iris blossoms into a bouquet.

She is indigo because she is an iris.

Take the pollen from the stamen for your queen.

Our Stone Wall

Froot Loops spatter the table—red orange yellow.

My grandson created the art when he raised his arms,

exclaimed, “Look, Bambi!” while pointing out the window.

I am lost in the kitchen sink, in this house with my family,

washing the same pans and mixing bowls

over and over again.

My Uncle, too, is lost. In shadowy solitude. Memory

has betrayed him. The words no longer emerge

in those seven jumbled tiles he once placed strategically.

Did it all start when we buried the dog, the cat,

our childhood loves, by the stone wall

where our home ended and our imaginations began?

My solitude a sapling rooted in a crack of the dilapidated wall.

My uncle’s loneliness: crumbling mortar.

My grandson never knew the dog, the cat.

He misses nothing, yet. He runs

out the door, into his yard, his imagination, to find Bambi.

The Froot Loop mess is left for us to wipe away.

With My Luck

Is anyone so special—

     to suffer the worst outcome

          in every given situation?

Is there a lily in the field

     whose good fortune is less than its neighbors’

          even if the shade shines darker upon it?

Life isn’t fair, my mother told me

     when I was six, or maybe three—

          A terrible wonderful truth.

—A tantrum.

—A turning away

to lie on the lawn and watch some ants

     march by, lugging their loads

          while others seemed to stroll.

So many lilies in the field.

     A child     wondering in the grass.

          An ancient man     wandering vacant streets.


after Joy Harjo’s Juno

This city is made of bricks, boats, boxes of tea.

The Atlantic to the east, the curling Cape.

The suburbs to the west.

It’s always been this way, since 1630,

because pilgrims who were rebels,

fleeing and invading, claimed this land,

molded it with cobblestones and puritans.

Once, a well-dressed silversmith

rode through the streets, hollering.

The bells tolled. They still do,

hourly. The dead

                               buried beneath their headstones—

which is a world below this world—

watch, judge, murmur of our ignorant follies, sins.

I follow my Freedom Trail,

past chic cafes, up Beacon Hill,

toward the gold-domed capital.

In the Gardens I see No-one’s native

son, head against the rough damp bark.

Too dark to see who he might be.

He does not open his eyes.

I keep staring as I walk, my head

turned back. The grass a muddy carpet.

The swans paddle by without looking.

Should I touch his shoulder—him

at the foot of the tree? Say I’m sorry

for those racist remarks yelled out at Fenway Park,

where our city’s hopes and spirits rally round?

And I think of all I barely know:

a barber’s dealings in a back room in Little Italy,

a fisherman scrubbing the wharf’s film from his skin,

a forgotten toddler staring at a broken TV,

the plucked-chicken smell of Chinatown sidewalks,

the violent violations of the Combat Zone,

the Irish pubs bursting with

                                                     false glee.


I want to tell you—my body,

how it looks to me,

how much I ate or didn’t,

how much I exercised or didn’t.

I did not not eat, or eat, to draw attention.

(I did not want you to notice.)

I needed to eat nothing. to eat everything.

To get rid of it all in any way possible.

This body is my loneliness,

a shameful secret.

But I want to share these fears

which have haunted me for years.

I cannot hold them alone.

I want to admit to you—my drinking,

now that it has stopped,

or I have stopped, or both.

I did not drink to draw attention.

(I did not want you to notice.)

I drank to be free to be me, to escape me.

Neither worked.

The drinking was more loneliness,

a shameful secret.

I dare not say how much I drank,

what I did and where and when.

But I need to share these secrets.

I cannot hold them alone.

I want to show you—my scars,

now that they have healed.

I did not carve them to draw attention.

(I did not want you to notice.)

I needed those cuts

those wounds that blood

to say what I could not say.

But they are my loneliness,

a shameful secret I regret

and do not regret.

I need these scars to remember.

I need to share these memories.

I cannot hold them alone.

Sarah Sullivan, a resident of Northampton, MA, is a physician, poet, teacher, editor, lover of ocean and sun, partner, parent, friend, meditator, searcher. She is published in Switchgrass Review, Worcester Medicine Magazine, several anthologies, and her chapbook While it Happened: 30 Poems in November! 2016, and her next chapbook in press, Together, In Pieces: 30 Pomes in November! 2017.

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