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Poetry Winter 2018    fiction    all issues


Cover Elena Koycheva

Bryce Emley
Asking Father What’s at the End
& other poems

AJ Powell
& other poems

Faith Shearin
& other poems

Claire Van Winkle
& other poems

Sarah W. Bartlett
Summer Cycles
& other poems

Nooshin Ghanbari
& other poems

Meli Broderick Eaton
The Afterlives of Leaves
& other poems

Jeddie Sophronius
& other poems

Paula Bonnell
In Winter, By Rail
& other poems

Addison Van Auken Waters
& other poems

Daniel Sinderson
& other poems

Andrew Allport
All Nature Will Fable
& other poems

Marte Stuart
What an Insult Time Is
& other poems

Matthew Parsons
My Father as an Inuit Hunter
& other poems

Emily Bauer
Gently, Gently
& other poems

Bruce Marsland
A once lovelorn bard’s final journey
& other poems

Beatrix Bondor
Night Makers
& other poems

Isabella Skovira
Lawless Conservation
& other poems

Juan Pablo González
Colombia, 1928
& other poems

Molly Pines
The Pillbug
& other poems

Jamie Marie
On the Lake
& other poems

William A. Greenfield
If You Show Me Yours
& other poems

Bill Newby
Tuesdays at The Seagate's Atlantic Grille
& other poems

Elder Gideon
Male Initiation Rites
& other poems

Joel Holland
Dear Gi-Gi
& other poems

Martha R. Jones
How Lewis Carroll Met Edgar Allan Poe
& other poems

Writer's Site

Bruce Marsland

Picnics of jam and inspiration

Let’s start Euterpe’s engine

and hum gently up the avenue.

It’s crowded on the interstates

of angst and unrequited love.

           Oh my heart, my spleen, my vandalized soul.

Death spins in perpetual roundabouts

clogging commuter routes with fatalism.

           You’ll find some irony in the glovebox.

But we’ll engage the four-muse drive

to skip off road,

in search of rough terrain, the stony trails

of balancing philosophies,

the lonely thought less had.

Maps show T.S. Eliot’s tracks

as faint impressions to the east

coming and going like Shakespearean extras,

gossiping with critics in the wings

while Whitman’s yawp

still echoes in the morning air

above we loafers with leaves of weed,

and who knows what’s awaking

in the cerebral woods of revelation.

           Pass me a coffee spoon, Alfred,

           and tell me more about the mermaids.

So let’s go.

I’ll pack sandwiches.

A once lovelorn bard’s final journey

The Northern skies were streaked with signs of spring

as, embracing, we re-kindled last night’s fire,

not yet knowing birch logs book-end everything

or how commencement ceases our desire.

           It’s the heat of anticipation without fulfillment

           that burns hottest in the splintered couplets of our after-years.

           It melts the snow, it stokes the sauna,

           and it leads to a series of the wettest winters on record.

In the rising sun’s own land, with grace we leant

into each other’s shadows, racing fate.

Our Eastern moon began a shy descent,

attempting to avoid the burn. Too late.

           Oh hell. This stubborn pursuit of a classical love affair

           gets clichéd in orienting a flambéed occidental heart.

           Geishas cannot save it, nor can a struggling haiku:

           Sunny afternoon. / Kisses hot, embraces warm. / My tea has gone cold.

I’ve played my games with you, and you’re ahead.

My scrabbled brain heads South in its despair

to Ipaneman ladies who have fed

my flames but bossa nova’d different squares.

           ‘Euphemistic’ up from ‘Quixotic’ would be double triple word score,

           but I’m stumbling with pronouns near the bottom of the board.

           There’s more than one thing to do in bed, you know,

           though you couldn’t tell from the magazines of picture poetry on my shelf.

Veni, vidi, vici, love has gone

to sleep. Romance dies cold when you need a catheter to pee.

You’re my undercover policeman set upon

surveilling neurological austerity.

           My senile verse lies fractured.

           Dog-eared, dog-Latin doggerel never won fair heart.

           a² + b² = c² x

           Circle squared, I drift alone in the post-Enlightenment West.

This poem is already written

Alice Springs, Australia

“One should perhaps visualise the Songlines as a spaghetti of Iliads and Odysseys … in which every ‘episode’ was readable in terms of geology.”
—Bruce Chatwin, ‘The Songlines’, 1987

There is a well-worn path for poets

where every Google-mapped destination

holds an aesthetic scribbling,

revisiting lost love or lamenting urban indifference.

Centrifuges of literary movement,

impatient with yearning for dynamic innovation,

capture ink at instants of zenith or nadir.

This place, though, breathes a different sentient fire.

Here, the stories form in earth or rare drops of water.

Here, the poem is already written.

The muse springs round Alice, and Alice springs.

Many for whom the land speaks lyrics in their mother tongue

now hunt on the colonial road, hawk carvings in eucalyptus

or ochre-painted bark, whose symbols mean as little to tourists

as the hieroglyphs inside an ancient pyramid.

But the old red rock will not be silenced.

Histories, tragedies, comedies carved by and deep in the terrain

echo sunlight, loudly visible, comprehensible but to a chosen few,

until the dusk cross-fades to a soundtrack of drum and didgeridoo,

leaving the land to hum its mournful night-time dreaming.

The vibrant earth questions me about my ancestors;

wild parrots perch like notes on a telegraph stave

breezily whistling my tales, which the goannas already knew.

Daybreak brings the dance of clouds and the ballad of sand.

Departing in the warm embrace of dawn, I wonder

if the young pod forming on an acacia branch will grow to notate,

for those who can sing, a fleeting aside on my passing through.

The cut flower’s lament

I’m beautiful,

you say,

as I die dismembered

in an agonizing

spectral bouquet,

blooms bursting


I am cut.

I am slain.

I am forced

to give pleasure

to rapists with secateurs

who waterboard my foliage

in saturated foam.

Rootless, I wilt

in the hot sun of torture,


sniffed at,

waiting, just waiting

for my colors

to fade

in time

with her obituary.

Rhyme scene

“As most poetry practitioners in this day and age, we find rhymed poetry to be a thing of the past.”
—The Inflectionist Review, 2015

Our thesaurus lies indecent, face down still,

spine bent, splayed at the tear-stained lines you cried

in desperate explanation. I reach in guilty

shattered silence for filthy fingercourse

with salty specks of disembodied

DNA. Before divorce, your word rounds

had spat fire at me in deadly rhymes, fractured

semi-automatic iambs. Now I recoil

at spent lexical casings echoing

the air’s confession. I taste the Conan Doyle

vignette with a tone-deaf tongue, and retch the dueling

interrogatives you flung into our swear jar

between Eliots, George and T.S., on your bookshelf,

where our abandoned dual-accreditation

doggerel awaits forensics.

Bruce Marsland is the author and editor of several works on language teaching, most notably Lessons from Nothing, published by Cambridge University Press. Born and raised in the United Kingdom, he has also worked in Finland and Bulgaria. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon, working as an editor and writer. He was winner of the Sentinel Literary Quarterly poetry competition in February 2016 and a runner-up in the Prole Laureate poetry competition in 2018.

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