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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

Michael Fleming

Space Walk

A vacuum, they assured me, pushing me

into the airlock, buckling on my

bubble head. Just that one idea—

nothing, the void, the great by and by.

But nothing turns out to be everything,

and everything is music, swelling chords

of darkness-piercing light, every star singing

the song of fire! But those are just words—

what else to say when they reeled me in?

The words felt like stones revolving around

the dead suns of what I would never tell

them. All I could do was point at the spinning

cosmos, that vacuum filled with the sound

they already knew—their heaven, their hell.

He’ll Be Remembered

He’ll be remembered for the hair, I guess,

and preposterous neckties, and his name

will be a synonym for something less

than promised, a punchline for drinking games,

the name they’ll invoke at spelling bees

when the winning word is braggadocio

and some skinny, owl-eyed kid asks, “Please

use it in a sentence?” and there they’ll go

again with that Dickensian name . . . and I’ll

always think of poker, his final sneer

of malevolent, stolen triumph while

slapping down the ace of spades, till he hears

the howls of laughter at the man who loses

everything to a lousy pair of deuces.


When the time was right he told us about

the war—boredom, fear, and loneliness most

of the time, then terror and noise, and shouting,

screaming, the pop and heave of guns, ghost

moments that never go away and things

that cannot be unseen. That’s where I found

God, he said—where I found love, and the sting

of knowing what love means, how we’re all wounded

and scared, doomed but still alive—alive!

He told us about foxholes and bargains

with fate, grasping for anything to drive

away the onrush of death, make the pain

stop, hush the noise. And I’m still in that war,

still in that foxhole, he said—we all are.

—for W.W.


Let people bicker over who made what—

isn’t everybody making? Aren’t we

made for making—building, devising? But

more than that—looking for some kind of freedom

for later, some kind of heaven? I

look for it in this forest, at the edge

between summer and winter, day and night.

I look for it in tidepools, at the edge

between the sea and the land, between strange

and stranger. I look for it where the flats

meet the mountains. The edges are the welfare

of the world, the crucibles of change

and chance, the portals between this and that—

the places where the world creates itself.

The Birth of Language
(Reflections on Recycling Night)

Back in the caves, when we were showing off

our shiny new opposable thumbs

and tottering on our hind legs, enough

of us must have had the insight that some

stuff was worth holding onto, and some not—

decisions would have to be made. This stone,

that stick—keepers. But shattered sticks and rotten

meat and broken blades and blackened bones,

things whose very presence was burdensome—

into the midden. What need for words when

we stared into the embers, felt that odd

wonderment at the stars and where we come

from? No. The first useful word must have been

trash—before tool, before fire, before God.

Michael Fleming was born in San Francisco, raised in Wyoming, and has lived and learned and worked all around the world, from Thailand, England, and Swaziland to Berkeley, New York City, and now Brattleboro, Vermont. He’s been a teacher, a grad student, a carpenter, and always a writer; for the past fifteen years he has edited literary anthologies for W. W. Norton. (You can see some of Fleming’s own writing at:

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