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Poetry Winter 2021    fiction    all issues


Andrej Lišakov

Laura Apol
I Take a Realtor through the House
& other poems

Rebekah Wolman
How I Want my Body Taken
& other poems

Devon Bohm
The Word
& other poems

Gillian Freebody
The Right Kind of Woman
& other poems

Anne Marie Wells
Gravestone Flowers
& other poems

Laura Turnbull
& other poems

Andre F. Peltier
A Fistful of Ennui
& other poems

Peter Kent
Reflections on the Late Nuclear Attack on Boston
& other poems

Carol Barrett
Canal Poem #8: Hides
& other poems

Alix Lowenthal
Abortion Clinic Waiting Room
& other poems

Latrise P. Johnson
From My Women
& other poems

Brenna Robinson
& other poems

may panaguiton
& other poems

Elizabeth Farwell
The Life That Scattered
& other poems

Bill Cushing
Two Stairways
& other poems

Richard Baldo
A Note to Prepare You
& other poems

Blake Foster
Aubade from the Coast
& other poems

Bernard Horn
& other poems

Harald Edwin Pfeffer
Still stiff with morning cold
& other poems

Nia Feren
Neon Orange Tree Trunks
& other poems

Everett Roberts
A Mourning Performance
& other poems

Alaina Goodrich
The Way I Wander
& other poems

Olivia Dorsey Peacock
the iron maiden and other adornments
& other poems

Peter Kent

Reflections on the
Late Nuclear Attack on Boston

In the dark hours—tucked

within a crease of nubbed mountains

that once reached upward like cathedral spires

—rest betrayed me like a dozing guard

at perception’s door, and I missed

your annihilation. I should at least have

witnessed the illumination that marked

the passage into incoherence

of every creature I cared for. Instead,

it was the alarm of birds, startled

by an instant of out-of-sequence dawn,

that woke me. I knew you were gone.


Maple and birch remain cloaked

in festival-bright reds and yellows.

Though now their leaves fall like burnt scraps

of skin, becoming a blanket of muted color

unable to offer comfort. Neighbors

up and down this dirt road to nowhere

come together, speaking in whispers, as though

reverence in this church of the inconceivable

might persuade the phantom-taloned vulture

of fallout to pass on toward Canada.


Our favorite table at Algiers was any one that

serendipitously became available. Though,

I liked best when we could sit near the steel wizardry

that manipulated beans and water into beverage.

Your face by lamplight remains a medallion

beyond value in recollection’s battered vault.

A shared slice of apple pie, bulk of winter coats

across the back of chairs, notebooks filled

with hapless words . . . all a prelude

to despair.


Remember those bitter Februarys

when we could race out onto the Charles

in boots and parkas that Admiral Perry

would have admired? The wind sharp as a slap,

the snow sifted and shaped like frosting.

We never went far from shore—uncertainty

heaving like a bellows against our confidence

in the ice’s underbelly. Your fingers were always so cold.

Flesh seemed to hold you in discomfort, as if

it were impossible to keep such a being for long

in corporeal form. I choose to think that you rode

the crest of the blast, singed but soaring into

those hidden dimensions where frost and warmth

meld like the memory of a walk down Marlborough

Street on an October evening.


The power is out, and panic is rising like a fever.

The forests groan like prisoners freed

to seek out those who hacked away their liberty

to colonize these hills. Nature never needed us.

There are gunshots in the distance. All those

shadowed militias that trained for this

are now marching in lockstep with mayhem

to finish us.


In the catalog of lunacies this must seem an inexplicable entry.

No random asteroid or comet did this. The vaporized creatures

built and triggered the very devices that ended their existence.

We’re trying to harvest food from refrigerators and freezers,

and realizing we don’t have enough insulated coolers to hold much.

How do the rest of us perish? Starvation is a more subtle violence,

and perhaps it’s been reserved for the least worthy

and unlucky.


Vanity’s a victim, too. No more pomade for my hair,

nor toothpaste. Though, I suppose I’ll wear my contact lenses

until my supply’s exhausted. Deodorant’s destined to dissolve

into the distemper of vaguely remembered indulgences, too.

And, of course, what will become of entertainment?

No Netflix or HBO. Though, one supposes our satellites

will orbit like tombstones for a long time without us.

Perhaps poetry will reemerge as the preferred diversion

to recall and carry forward what it’s like to huddle

about a fire on nights that growl with radioactive beasts

and spirits we hope are the ones who once loved us.


Gasoline is fool’s gold, and we are frenetic fools.

It will take longer than we have to adapt. No one

here has a horse. Ivan—odd and cranky—has his yurt,

and he’s likely our candidate to survive the longest.

We’ve agreed to give chainsaws priority. Even green wood

can be coaxed to ignite if one’s desperate enough.

We’re presuming that a standard winter will knock on

our doors initially. We confer like cattle in council,

stupefied and unable to assert reason

to untangle the dilemmas of obliteration.


And where, I wonder, are you now? Are you

knitting new skin over the cut on my forearm?

I was clearing a blowdown from a trail and didn’t notice

the stob on the still standing tree beside me. Clumsy.

Do you see me stopping beside a brook that bends

into the woods just beyond comprehension’s reach,

striving to become stoic as a bear seeking out a den

in which to endure survival’s sanctuary, searching

for clarity in a land of shadows, working still

to harness meaning to words? I trust

that your voice is twinned with the wind,

trying yet to fill the cup of my ear

with a hymn of solace.

Peter Kent’s poems have appeared in Cagibi, Cimarron Review, Greensboro Review, Lullwater Review, New Millennium Writings, The Opiate and other journals. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

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