Volume 112, Number 1/2

Volume 112, Number 1/2

SmallPL the bitter grinding leaves you nothing…no will
to go further—in one hand the rage
I hope you have, in the other the rapture
—Thomas Lux (1946–2017)

FRONT COVER: Largest anti-Vietnam War demonstration,
April 28, 1971. Reprinted with permission of the DC Public Library,
Star Collection, ©Washington Post

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Editors’ Page

The protesters pictured on our cover massed in Washington nearly half a century ago, but the view is eerily contemporary. The issue then was U.S. involvement in Vietnam, a policy decision that had been sold to Americans for years—first with obfuscations and later with lies. Hundreds of thousands of citizens gathered in resistance, active-duty G.I.s and veterans among them, uniting to “speak truth to power.” They marched and chanted and raised home-made signs, public acts on a scale that couldn’t be ignored. But equally effective were acts of imagination that took place out of view: the work of poets, playwrights, singer-songwriters, and screenwriters who gave our fractured culture a new way to see what was happening.

In 1988, we attended a poetry reading by exiled Russian “dissident” Irina Ratushinskaya at the Folger Library, two blocks from the Capitol. In that intimate space, she let the audience pass around plastic sleeves holding scores of tiny papers: the poems she’d written during her four-year imprisonment for—writing poetry. She had composed each one with a burnt matchstick on a bar of soap, committed it to memory, and then washed it away—later rendering it on a strip of paper to be smuggled out in the shoes of sympathizers.

Maybe it’s the very intimacy of poetry that so frightens dictators. An essay in this issue (Sarah Pemberton Strong’s “Pet Rock Tricks: Metaphor and the Physics of Imagination”) argues that metaphor has the power to broaden the scope of our thinking: “When a poem causes us to re-examine what we thought we knew, it expands more than our knowledge of what is possible: it expands the possibilities of what is knowable.” The poems in these pages (including translations of work by Togo’s Anas Atakora) expand possibilities on a wide range of subjects, beginning with the dangers of love—which, like the dangers of power, can be fatal. We open with Natasha Trethewey’s sonnet “Shooting Wild,” a warning against silence in the face of abuse, and move to “Perch” by Jennifer Jackson Berry, which offers another kind of warning—“They die from swallowing the hook”—leaving each of us to consider all that it suggests.


Natasha Trethewey Shooting Wild
M.J. Arlett After He Demands I Say “I Love You”
Jennifer Jackson Berry Perch
Lucy Adkins How It Happened
Rachel Mennies I Begin a Letter and Only Write First Lines
Genevieve DeLeon Sparrow in a Field
John Sibley Williams Compared to Even the Smallest Star, the Moon Is a Child
Terence Winch A Far Cry
Carol Potter One with Others
Andrew Motion The Edge of the World Twice
D. Nurkse A Couple before the Air Strikes
D. Nurkse Ignorance at Port Angeles
Chris Souza Lion’s Hill
Chris Souza The Lamp Hours
Elizabeth W. Jackson Soldier, Phoenix
Benjamin Jasnow Departures
Frank Stewart Light Work
Frank Stewart Goats
Frank Stewart Conviction
William Virgil Davis A Winter Night
Steve Mueske The Window
Marjorie Saiser The Things of This World
Marjorie Saiser Horses, Free
Christine Poreba Lost Cities
Michael Waters Genealogy
Michael Waters Synesthesia
Deborah Fries The Islanders
William Fargason Floodwaters in South Carolina
Juditha Dowd Drought
Kelly Cressio-Moeller Letter to the Broom Moss
Ian Randall Wilson After a Hike
Karen Paul Holmes Lilacs Easily Outlive the One Who Planted Them
Jason Tandon Wading Out To Tarp the Boat on My Fortieth Birthday
Jeff Mock  The Desire To Be Useful Is One Quality That Distinguishes Us from God
Tom Chandler The winter we burned the furniture for heat
Jim Daniels Second-Hand
Michael Mark In the Ring
Daryl Jones Blue-Collar
Frank Dunbar Looking for God
Frank Dunbar Coatsworth Alley
A.L. Nielsen “Midnight Train to Georgia”
John Stupp Different
Catherine Freeling Ashland Creek: The Kidnapping
Ondrej Pazdirek Photograph with Rare Abandon
Samuel Hughes Photograph of My Grandfather Jumping from a Plane
Jay Griswold Portrait of Rilke, Muzot
David O’Connell Music from Earth
Jay Leeming Out of the Hiss and Crackle of the Air
Terence Winch Dead Stop
Tom Wayman Fifty Years of Stacking Chairs
Ken Haas Lottery Day, 1970
Sandra Marchetti Twilight
John Bargowski Jimmy Ryan
Steven McCarty The Batter’s Song
Hunt Hawkins Searching for My Old Baseball Cards
Hunt Hawkins When Sex Was Kissing
Steven Sanchez What I Didn’t Tell You
Steven Sanchez On the Seventh Day
Mitchell Untch Happy Hour
Mitchell Untch What Runs through You
Gail Martin Coming-Back Body
Chana Bloch Eros
Chana Bloch Death Row
Chana Bloch The Will
Gary Fincke Moments after Death
Kathy Engel Waking
Natasha Trethewey My Father as Cartographer

Anas Atakora (Togo) Introduction by Hodna Nuernberg

Turn the Page
The Brow of My Solitude
My City
What To Do with Hopes Washed Up at Our Feet?
I Acknowledge Receipt
Conversation between Mother and Son
Once upon a Time
One Day Dear Atsutsè


Sarah Pemberton Strong “Pet Rock Tricks: Metaphor and the Physics of Imagination”

Mary-Sherman Willis “Pocket-Sized Power: Insurgent Ferment and the Chapbook”


Dore Kiesselbach “Attractive Opposites”

The Mansion of Happiness by Jon Loomis

After Eden by Diane Vreuls

Susan Bucci Mockler “Coming to Terms with History”

Haint by Teri Ellen Cross Davis

Brief Evidence of Heaven by M. Nzadi Keita