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Poetry Winter 2019    fiction    all issues


Cover Florian Klauer

Meli Broderick Eaton
Three Mississippi
& other poems

Andrea Reisenauer
What quiet ache do you wear?
& other poems

Alex Wasalinko
Two Dreams of Vegas
& other poems

AJ Powell
The Grammar Between Us
& other poems

Emma Flattery
Our Shared Jungle, Mr. Conrad
& other poems

Nathaniel Cairney
The Desert Cometh
& other poems

Sarah W. Bartlett
& other poems

Abigail F. Taylor
Jaybird by the Fence
& other poems

Brandon Hansen
& other poems

Andy Kerstetter
The Inferno Lessons
& other poems

Michael Fleming
Space Walk
& other poems

Richard Cole
Perfect Corporations
& other poems

Susan Bouchard
Circus Performers
& other poems

Edward Garvey
Nine Songs of Love
& other poems

Mehrnaz Sokhansanj
Sea of Detachment
& other poems

Jeffrey Haskey-Valerius
& other poems

Claudia Skutar
Homage II
& other poems

Donna French McArdle
Knitting Sample
& other poems

Megan Skelly
Puzzle Box Ghazal
& other poems

Tess Cooper
& other poems

Greg Tuleja
& other poems

Catherine R. Cryan
& other poems

Writer's Site

Richard Cole


Yes, there are days when the ER doors explode

and Code Blue comes in on a gurney, rapid

crosstalk over the patients, one right after

another. More often though,

we triage our lives with quiet, glancing

deferments of care, attention, faith, for whatever

needs us and cannot be ignored and left

to die. We have no choice but to choose

among these three—money, the people we love

and our inner life, such as it is. We can save

the one, maybe two out of three, but nobody

I’ve seen has it all. The math doesn’t work that way,

though one might serve another, the church

of parenthood, perhaps, or creativity

that pays the bills. But marriages can fail

in the face of sudden money.

We can fall in love as our business

fades, or drive down avenues

of achievement, proud and blind.

We can die before we die.

We can hold our breath for years

and do, our dreams growing beautiful

as autumn leaves, golden and forgotten.

We can find what feeds us in triage, an ascending

crisis of opportunities, thinking like nurses

and ER doctors, fast and wise

as much as possible, trying to live one life

as we save others.

Perfect Corporations

Corporations are people, too,

numbers with skin.

Like people, they have dreams.

Like people, they can ache and grow

and have that growth cut short,

wounded, and then survive

to consume or be consumed by others.

Like people at times, they have

no choice, and the better ones have come to believe

that people, natural people, are frictions,

that the best corporations are heaven on earth

as the earth drops away, trailing numbers,

human capital liquefied

and refined, the corporate body

reorganized by cold explosions leaving

a cloudy taste

and empty cubicles filled with light.

The perfect corporations are the ones

with nobody left. Breathless and calm. The ones

that have no soul.

Too Big to Fail

The sky is filled with brokers jumping from windows,

some holding hands as they step off together,

showers of suits and ties that flutter

through crashing markets, debt bombs

going off in the bundled securities wrapped

and bleeding through layers of gauze,

20 years of financial assumptions collapsing

like circus tents on fire, the elephants screaming, old lions

roaring in outrage as the furious band plays on,

and the bodies keep falling faster,

racing to the final moment, the slap

and explosion of meat

pounding the sidewalks and then

they touch down

gently, as if

on a well of bubbling energy.

“You’re safe,” the dancing master says.

“You’ll always be safe. It’s like a love affair

with gravity. Look at what you’ve already become

and what that means. You’ve made a killing.

Banks are immortal, in their way,

and so, in a way, are you.”

Becoming Air

Slow pounding on the door

downstairs, a low, steady sound

more felt than heard, month

after month for a year,

then almost two, now growing,

filling the massive house

where my sister waits

in her flying bed, exhausted,

with a painted battle scene above her head,

historic men on horseback, swords waving, charging

always toward victory.

Then a faint click.

Greatness enters the room,

pauses, as if questioning,

and offers a white flower. At last,

after years of framed achievement,

anger and controlling love,

she sighs, a burning fragment

cradled in the arms of pure death,

and together they descend with dignity,

intimate all the way down

the amazing stairs.

Richard Cole has published two books of poetry: The Glass Children (The University of Georgia Press) and Success Stories (Limestone Books). He is also the author of a memoir, Catholic by Choice (Loyola Press). His poems and essays have been published in The New Yorker, Poetry, Hudson Review, Sun Magazine, The American Journal of Poetry, The Penn Review, Image Journal and various anthologies. Cole works as a painter and business writer in Austin, Texas.

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