Sixfold poetry summer 20.., p.1
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       Sixfold Poetry Summer 2016, p.1

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Sixfold Poetry Summer 2016
Sixfold Poetry Summer 2016

  by Sixfold

  Copyright 2016 Sixfold and The Authors

  Sixfold is a completely writer-voted journal. The writers who upload their manuscripts vote to select the prize-winning manuscripts and the short stories and poetry published in each issue. All participating writers’ equally weighted votes act as the editor, instead of the usual editorial decision-making organization of one or a few judges, editors, or select editorial board.

  Each issue is free to read online and downloadable as PDF and e-book. Paperback book available at production cost including shipping.

  Cover Art by Carly Larsson. Thyme Pattern.

  License Notes

  Copyright 2016 Sixfold and The Authors. This issue may be reproduced, copied, and distributed for noncommercial purposes, provided both Sixfold and the Author of any excerpt of this issue are acknowledged. Thank you for your support.


  Garrett Doherty, Publisher

  [email protected]

  (203) 491-0242

  Sixfold Poetry Summer 2016

  Sarah Sansolo | Bedtime Stories & other poems

  Miranda Cowley Heller | Things the Tide Has Discarded & other poems

  Alexa Poteet | Escobar's Hacienda Napoles & other poems

  Cynthia Robinson Young | Triple Dare & other poems

  Nicole Lachat | Of Infidelities & other poems

  Amy Nawrocki | Bad Girls & other poems

  Lawrence Hayes | Winter Climb & other poems

  AJ Powell | God the Baker & other poems

  Gisle Skeie | Rearranging & other poems

  Bruce Taylor | Always Expect a Train & other poems

  Ricky Ray | They Used to Be Things & other poems

  S. E. Ingraham | Storm Angels & other poems

  Laura Gamache | Outing & other poems

  Keighan Speer | It Rained Today & other poems

  Emma Atkinson | Grocery Stores Make Me Feel Mentally Ill & other poems

  Erin Lehrmann | Block & other poems

  D. H. Turtel | Margaret, Again & other poems

  Chris Haug | Bovine Paranoia & other poems

  Kimberly M. Russo | Definitive Definition & other poems

  Holly Walrath | A Tourist of Sorts & other poems

  Angel C. Dye | Beauty in Her Marrow & other poems

  Contributor Notes

  Sarah Sansolo

  Bedtime Stories


  I imagine my father

  carrying boxes upstairs

  in his too-skinny arms

  and my mother, suitably

  impressed. I don’t ask

  for details, just the dog

  he gave her for Valentine’s Day.

  My mother wouldn’t give it up but she told me

  about the breakup long enough

  for her to love a man who was not

  my father. It didn’t change the ending

  I know by heart: gazebo, dress,



  I can’t sanitize my stories for child

  consumption, can’t have the stuffed

  Valentine’s dog without the sex.

  There was no true love in my dorm room

  but on my twin bed Nicole found my G-spot,

  loudly. In our future, I wanted

  rings and flowers but my story is more

  the original Grimm, wolves

  under covers and blood in my shoes.

  At the AA Meeting

  You won’t believe I love you until I walk

  from Thomas Circle down to Dupont;

  up carpeted stairs, past walls

  flagged with inspiration and lists of hours;

  I enter close on your heels,

  take a back-corner seat,

  surrounded by girls who share the same secret

  again and again and never,

  never guess my secret,

  that I don’t belong.

  Every other word I write is a confession.

  But here I can’t keep pace,

  my tongue can’t form the words

  “Hi Jessica” so fast.

  I offer no memories here;

  no blackouts or mommy issues.

  I don’t repent, I don’t believe, I don’t

  even like the feel of booze. I like the taste

  of you. After prayers you show me

  to your friends, buy me honey in a box.

  Clytemnestra After the Murder

  John Collier, 1882

  I will never be a constellation. At night

  I trace the stars into gods, heroes, men

  who take—and women, victims all. I brush

  Gemini, thumb caressing the brothers

  who never once looked back.

  I blot out Cygnus. I have no stomach

  for swans. But I can stomach more

  than these female forms reduced

  to pinpoints, maidens dead for love,

  daughters sacrificed—Andromeda,

  Ariadne, Helle, Semele, Cassiopeia—

  I will outshine every one. I am a woman

  who takes back. There is bloody cloth

  in the closet, a lover in the bed.

  Better a murderess than a star.

  On the First Morning After He Marries Another

  “I languish for you . . . my sentiments for you are those of a woman.”

  —Hans Christian Andersen to Edvard Collin

  Lie to me—

  I have learned to love untruths

  when they’re all I have.

  I learn to call them stories.

  I write you in the margins:

  prince and scoundrel.

  Let me be the bride.

  I dream of metamorphosis,

  a shape to fit to yours,

  legs to part and curves that give

  beneath your hands—

  soft as seafoam,

  harsh as nettles.

  Give me your ring,

  be selfless just this once.

  At sunrise, cut my fingers

  at the knuckle,

  take my tongue,

  marry your girl in silence,

  safety. Cut between my legs,

  let me bleed out

  red as this morning.

  Remember this is nothing,

  this is fiction, fantasy.

  Remember that I’m lying.

  Close the book.

  Begin again.


  I leave doors unlocked tonight

  wanderer     I open windows

  wind in my curtains making

  nightmare shapes     I put on

  the good sheets     I put on

  my best nightgown     I brush out

  my hair     I lie down     wanderer

  I don’t sleep     I don’t hide

  don’t bunker myself tonight

  to ward away bad men

  because you     wanderer     are not

  man     what you are I can’t say

  pixie or spirit     nymph or maybe

  just girl     all I know     wanderer

  are your words     your letters

  your promises in the creases

  for me your word     wanderer

  is enough     come into my room

  into me     stay     I left wine

  on the sill     mint on the pillow

  Miranda Cowley Heller


  After our ba
sement flooded

  I waded through cardboard boxes,

  their sodden, drooping bottoms

  coming apart in my hands,

  and wished I had put them up on cinder blocks.

  Boxes of memories, electric cords,

  hair-pins, curves;

  cassettes, tangled and unwound:

  wisp-thin seaweeds of magnetic tape

  filled with lost songs.

  Baby clothes, rust-soaked and rotting,

  each tiny sock, shirt, desiccated-elastic waistband,

  a familiar note.

  And endless tax receipts that I kept

  just in case they came

  asking for proof of the past.

  I threw out a Sega, a shredder,

  three Styrofoam gravestones stamped

  Rest in Pieces.

  And a king-sized mattress, plush and coil,

  that had sponged up the first of the flood.

  It took four of us to drag its

  bloated corpse out to the street.

  Silverfish scattered into city drains.

  In the afternoon, I unzipped

  a black and green tartan suitcase

  I’d salvaged—wedged between an

  etching of Columbus in Chains

  and a rabbit-eared TV.

  Somewhere, there’s a photograph

  of my mother boarding a train,

  her graceful ankles bare,

  in steep stilettos.

  She’s smiling at someone.

  A porter stands behind her

  holding the plaid suitcase in one hand,

  a round hat-box under his arm.

  Inside the case were all the photos

  I thought I’d lost when we moved, years ago.

  Many were ruined—water-blurred and tacky,

  stuck together in chunky mille-feuilles rectangles,

  their faces and moments washed away,

  bleeded together forever—

  left to rot under the floorboards,

  the damp, flooding, rat shit,

  sad dark unearthednesses.

  I laid out my past on the kitchen counter.

  Sorted years into piles,

  sifted through the ingredients of my life:

  the exact minute my first son was born.

  He is squalling in a doctor’s arms,

  his umbilical nub dressed like a wound.

  Then, he is in my arms in a hospital bed

  latching onto my breast, suckling, pig-perfect.

  A phone line runs across me, uncoiled,

  stretching as far as it can.

  I was talking to my mother—

  telling her I had just given birth to a son.

  And the day I fell in love with my husband.

  He is standing next to a white Vespa

  in a chambray shirt, hair still damp

  from a plunge into the Sargasso Sea.

  In the photo he took of me, I am naked,

  full-frontal, Polykleitan, goddess thighs. Lush.

  Wading knee-deep in Bloody Bay.

  Afterwards, we had sex in the turquoise water

  and he didn’t tell me when he saw the shark.

  Around dinner-time, I picked up the phone

  and called my eldest son.

  He likes to tell me he has always been unhappy,

  that life isn’t worth the living,

  that he’s voting for Trump.

  But I remember him running

  across flaxen fields, wind-lapped,

  diving into the tumbling stream,

  swimming in the deep end.

  Eyes bright. Loving me back.

  I wanted to tell him I’d found a decade of proof

  that he was wrong, that I was right.

  In photo after photo he laughs,

  splashing through light.

  His phone rang a few times

  before going to voicemail.

  And I felt the emptiness of boxed air.

  But I knew what he would have said,

  if I’d reached him:

  “How do you know I’m not crying

  in all the photos that got destroyed?”

  And I would have said: I promise you

  I remember. I remember everything.

  And you have to believe me

  when I tell you it’s worth it in the end

  so please stay the course.

  A thousand moments, some lost, some found,

  and joy and sorrow,

  and Oh Fucking Christ it just passes,

  day after day after day.

  And you ask:

  How can so much have happened?

  How can so little have happened?

  How is it possible to stay afloat?

  But we do. We sail, spinnakers full,

  and look back at dry land

  from the blue horizon.

  Linden Stories

  In another world, eggs come home to roost

  chickens hang from the rafters like

  fat, auburn-feathered bats

  and my husband is in a good mood every morning.

  In another world my mother sings me to sleep.

  In another world I do not furnish rooms

  with no one in them but the dream of a future self.

  I sit in my chair every day

  and write something good. Or bad.

  In another world, a boat sinks too close to shore.

  Villagers row out in their stub-wooden boats,

  collect a cargo of linden saplings and sacks of millet,

  plant a tree that grows to be a hundred stories high,

  whose branches stretch to touch the moon

  making a bridge for us.


  Hours later, I can still smell

  his sweet-sour sweat, his traces,

  sleep-wrinkled into the pillow,

  feel the watered grit, gruel-thin trail

  drying on my thigh,

  and picture how wordlessly he crept around our room,

  stabbing for things in the semi-dark,

  trying not to wake me.

  I could hear the Town Car lurking,

  impatient, outside our house

  in the quiet gloam—

  that cusp of night and day beyond the window pane.

  A few stars struggled to stay alive

  in the hushed eggplant sky.

  He kissed my forehead, muttered goodbye.

  I listened to his footsteps leaving,

  his roller-bag strumming our cindery walk,

  rattle-plastic ball-bearings on cement.

  Watched him from the window.

  He stopped, mid-step, his back to me,

  picked up his bag,

  so careful not to disturb the neighbors

  whispering dreamed things in their lingering r.e.m.

  Lifted it three inches off the ground,

  extended handle wedged in his armpit,

  awkward, shoulder shrugged to ear.

  And I thought of the way he would

  swing our son when he was young,

  and we walked him in the park,

  and he begged for more, for more,

  for more height, more levity.

  I watched as the black car rounded the corner,

  away from me.

  Watched as the streetlights dimmed,

  one by one, in the grey quiet.

  Things the Tide Has Discarded

  I stand in bare feet at the break,

  icy water soaks my cuffs,

  a scoop of pelicans dives on bait fish—relentless, cruel.

  Kelp fronds mourn in the glassy deep.

  A hermit crab creeps onto shore,

  skittles its way across the sand.

  In the blue, soot tern wings loop the loops.

  And I lift my face into the wind.

  Away from me, sea lice bite and itch

  at damp piles of jetsam—a butter clam rotting in its shell

  a plast
ic tampon applicator, sea-glassed pink,

  crisp hollow straws and green-black weeds—

  things the tide has discarded from its tumbling nest,

  and then reaches for, stretching its wide arms in yearning,

  in regret, before turning away. I wonder about the sea.

  Does she miss the things she leaves behind, abandons, in her wake?

  My mother is holding the new baby. She offers it

  her thick, ripe breast, her puckered nipple,

  warm bechamel milk. I watch her soothe and sway,

  whisper secrets not meant for me.

  At night I wait for her to come, pull the yellow blanket

  over my head, hide from the hollow longing.

  A streetlight casts tree-shadows on my ceiling.

  Black lace branches dance in the wind.

  My room is filled with the breath of ghosts.

  I listen to the house—a body turning in a sighing bed,

  the long, dark hallway agape,

  the silence of floorboards.

  I pluck at the black-glass eye of my rabbit. Rip it off.

  Thin threads protrude from a star-shaped hole.

  They wave at me, begging for remorse.

  I clasp the cold eye in my hand, a talisman to mute the dread:

  the killer waiting in the closet,

  blazing fire, my mother dying.

  Fear is a pebbled shore of tiny glass eyes.

  Think of a white shirt instead.

  My mother does not fear death—all life is ebb and flow:

  earth worms and maggots will feed on her flesh,

  a pear tree will grow from her rich soil,

  flowers will bloom on a hillside, she says.

  She must not know the picture she paints in my head—

  she must not know the things she leaves behind.

  When I wake in the morning, the tiny black eye lies on my pillow.

  In the kitchen, my mother is making pancakes.

  There’s bacon cooking. The baby is asleep in its cot.

  She looks up when I come in.

  Alexa Poteet


  I would be good for

  eating, I said as we ate

  barbeque on the deck.

  The cooking smoke thick

  in my hair, as mosquitoes too close

  to the fire, singed to ash.

  I imagined my tri-tip

  fried over fennel. The fingernail

  you’d use to work my white gristle

  from your teeth, pearlescent

  as silver skin strung

  between ribs. Don’t be silly,

  you said, holding

  my wrist to lick

  my sauce-salty palm, then

  smiling, turning away

  to suck on a buttery bone.

  The House Fire, a Year after Moving in

  In my dreams, still, I remember the smoke alarms,

  wailing into the night like a far off arcade.

  There in the gray room of sleep, I feel embers

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