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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

Michelle Lerner

Why the train stops here

Plowing gone

wrought iron gone

corn river limestone

steeple run quarry yes

I remember walking

town sign behind me

tree fingers jumping wind

smooth pebbles lost keys

when they told me

it was cancer in his neck

I stopped scooping leaves

and walked

down the driveway out onto the street.

cars barely metal peripheral

grey pavement gone boot

toes cold wind cheek

I thought if I walked

to her house it would stop.

yes stream amber white

on the stones gone the mailboxes the car

yes behind me slow come back she won’t


now trains move fast away

town lines whir

she in Texas still would not

his bones break into tulips,

wild roses, leaves

August 31 Kaddish

I loved you more intensely

knowing that you were going,

inhaled your scent like sky

in the moment after gale

before rain:

swollen air,


Leaves fell

and still your nostrils flared.

You were always the last day of summer, even then—

the immensity of sun on the skin,

feeling the forecast.

Ode to Exhaustion

You’re my old man

the one I answer to


at the beginning and end of every day


as the onset of winter, the sunset, the dark.

You cover me, twine around my trunk

like a vine, until it’s difficult to tell

where you end and I begin.

You are my kudzu, prolific, verdant

and I disappear beneath you like a southern forest

where every tree and shrub, buildings and power lines

metamorphasize into vine barrens, still green

from the satellite,

the biome below slowly strangling.

And yet I cling back—

you’re all that’s left

of every death, every grip I’ve held fast

as someone plunged

through the bottom of their life

like a shattered window

every mourning moment I stretched my hand

after them

struggling to catch the hem of memory,

hold the echo in my hand.

You engulf them, hold them in your tendrils

keep them breathing and trembling

always, almost

in my reach.


The youngest son always

wears a hood.

It covers tumors

and conspiracies

lets him hide

in plain sight.

Some call him a magician

the way he fits

in small spaces

the way it’s hard

to look away.

He was in love with

your wife, he

stayed in a back room

developing potions. He knows

he’s being followed.

First he vanished into cars, then woods


in front of you,

naked but for

his covered head—

you weren’t sure

he could see you.

He could.


You’re a snake beneath my breastbone

lashing your tail hard, muscular

fast against my heart.

Sometimes you lunge up my esophagus, push

pitted head, open jaws

into my mouth.

You aim to kill.

I shove Klonopin down your throat

one after another

until your head wobbles, falls back

and I feel you slump

scales slipping past every vertebra

in my neck


to the top of my stomach

where you slumber.

I am not fooled.

You sleep in a coil

tail rattling to your dreams,

one eye open.

Michelle Lerner received an MFA in Poetry from The New School. She’s been a finalist for the Poetry Box Chapbook Prize, Bridge Eight Fiction Prize, and Book Pipeline Contest, and semifinalist for the Pamet River Prize. Her chapbook Protection is forthcoming from Poetry Box and her poems can be found in numerous journals including Lips, Paterson Literary Review, and Adanna, as well as several anthologies, and online fora such as VQR’s Instagram series.

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