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Poetry Winter 2020    fiction    all issues

Cover of Poetry Winter 20


French silk sample book

Paula Reed Nancarrow
Morning Coffee
& other poems

Jill Burkey
& other poems

Oak Morse
Boys Born out of Blues
& other poems

Beatrix Bondor
Engine Ode
& other poems

Monique Jonath
a mi sheberach
& other poems

Lisa Rachel Apple
& other poems

Gillian Freebody
The Human Condition
& other poems

Kirsten Hippe-Rychlik
and we are echoes
& other poems

Devon Bohm
& other poems

Jeddie Sophronius
I Rest My Mother Tongue
& other poems

John Delaney
Poem as Map
& other poems

Elizabeth Bayou-Grace
Fire in Paradise
& other poems

In Utero
& other poems

Michelle Lerner
Ode to Exhaustion
& other poems

William French
I Have Never Been
& other poems

Josiah Patterson Wheatley
Coeur de Fleurs
& other poems

Karo Ska
womb song
& other poems

Robyn Joy
& other poems

Han Raschka
Love Language
& other poems

Rebbekah Vega-Romero
The Memory in My Pinky
& other poems

Gilaine Fiezmont
Europe, too, Came from Somewhere Else
& other poems

Scott Ruescher
At the Childhood Home of Ozzy Osbourne
& other poems

Emily R. Daniel
Visitation Dreams
& other poems

Lindsay Gioffre
Toxicodendron Radicans [Sonnet 1]
& other poems

Lisa Rachel Apple


As if lynching’s strange fruits and the rapes that devour

dates and the serial killers popping their victim’s

eyeballs like grapes weren’t bad enough I know

now there is violence even in this vegetarian’s

kitchen. The world makes monsters of us all. I too

must cast my breadcrumbs into the flowing bodies

of water for even I have peeled the eyes off a potato,

gnawed on an ear of corn, broke through the smooth

skin of a plum and carelessly bruised an apple. I’m sorry

to say I have crunched through heads of lettuce and, with 

pleasure, slurped the juice that pools on the flesh of an overripe

peach. I know now it’s true: no one really gets through 

life without doing damage. Just yesterday—let me confess

to you this one more—just yesterday my incisors sliced 

through a mild-mannered artichoke’s bland, blameless


Shrugging Jesus

Whose arms you think

Are open to you but

Really he’s saying,

Boy, I don’t know. Who

Did do the dishes last night?

Shrugging Jesus says, I’ve never

Seen a less lovely sunset, upon looking

At your painting,

But has no more specific critique.

He wants to play in the

Waves but not be

Photographed doing so. He wants

To adopt a dog but oh, too much,

The responsibility.

Shrugging Jesus will recycle if

The pickup is curbside, will compost

If he’s passing on the road

To the farmer’s market drop-off. He’ll deliver

A sermon on your soul, shepherd

The offering money into his hand-sewn pockets,

Give it all to the bum who was

Yesterday picking scraps from Murphy’s

Garbage, today strewn out

On the corner, asleep and half

A man. Not because he’s good.

But because oh, the weight

Of those coins

was too much

For shrugging Jesus 

to carry.


After Unprimed Canvas 1944-N No. 2 by Clyfford Still

They used to sketch on cave walls,

bump of rock forming the hump

of a buffalo’s back. Slapping

bloody handprints onto the stone

to celebrate a successful hunt.

Centuries later, on church ceilings,

so eager to create they’d paint

over what was already there.

The rust-colored stain of hundreds

of winters worth of water damage

became an angel’s crown. A clot

of paint in a corner became a spire on heaven’s castle.

Now, people gravitate

towards only the primed canvases,

gliding past the rooms of shell mosaics

arranged on driftwood, not even glancing

at the shovel suspended from the ceiling.

But in one corner of the room

hangs an unprimed canvas. Deep, splotchy green

it challenges, who declared our surface

must be smooth even as our souls are cracked?

People stand and stare at the sterile and bright

seascape next to it as all the while it dares you to look,

whispering, who says

we cannot love

what is raw?

City Folks


We are city folks,

all of us,

waiting for the deer to cross our path.

We are,

all of us,

slightly in love with and slightly afraid

of their tangle of horns, umber skin,

suppressed muscles and cautious eyes.

We clump on the path as they

pass—nose in air and nose to tail—

single file, orderly, and silent—the ideal

elementary line.


I learned, in school deep back,

how Nacotchtank hunters bowed a deer once,

followed the blood spatters as the deer ran, watched,

still, as the deer lay down to die.

I imagine the hunter laying their hand on the deer’s cooling hide.

I wonder what it would be like to feel the last phantom pulse of the majestic dead.

We read this in a grainy packet

fastened with a staple that was too weak to clasp on the finished side so

when I turned the pages I’d sometimes prick my finger.

We were told the Algonquians used 

every part of the deer—hooves, marrow, hearts.

I’d like someone to watch over me as I curl up

by a muddy creek and bed in the trampled grass.

I’d like to think that every part of me—fingertips, arches

of feet, blades where shoulders meet back—might be of use.


My body is asleep and too often

still. Sometimes I lie on my floor—

windows open in all seasons—

place my hands on my belly,

and breathe in time with the garbage truck’s yawn.

But we are,

none of us,

breathing now.

Committed to the fine art of not startling

these precious deer, these

excessive deer, who overrun parks and starve

without enough weeds to fill around.

It Won’t

After “Happy Anniversary” by David Lehman 

You’ve been sober

three months

I think that’s

significant I do why

three is the number

of months it takes

all the leaves to drop

once they’ve changed from

green to red it’s

the number of lights on a

traffic light the number

of lives you changed the night

you ran that light while still

drunk the number of months

it takes me to fall

in love with you again after you

come home saying, “I promise,

it won’t happen again.”

Lisa Rachel Apple is a writer, teacher, and learner who lives and works in Washington, DC. She studied creative writing at Drew University where she was the 2009 recipient of the Academy of American Poets College Prize and Christopher Goin Memorial Prize. When not writing, she can be found riding her bike around the city and providing special education services to middle school math students. This is her publishing debut.

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