Sixfold poetry winter 20.., p.1
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       Sixfold Poetry Winter 2016, p.1

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Sixfold Poetry Winter 2016
Sixfold Poetry Winter 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 Joel Filipe.

  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

  (203) 491-0242

  Sixfold Poetry Winter 2016

  Alexander McCoy | Questions to Ask a Mountain & other poems

  Alexandra Kamerling | Prairie & other poems

  Debbie Hall | She Walks Into Starbucks Carrying a 2 x 4 & other poems

  Michael Fleming | Patience & other poems

  Jim Pascual Agustin | Sheet and Exposed Feet & other poems

  Melissa Cantrell | Collision & other poems

  Martin Conte | Skin & other poems

  AJ Powell | The Road to Homer & other poems

  Paul W. Child | World Diverted & other poems

  Michael Eaton | Remembrances & other poems

  Lawrence Hayes | Walking the Earth & other poems

  Daniel Sinderson | Like a Bit of Harp and a Far Off Twinkle & other poems

  Sam Hersh | Las Trampas & other poems

  Margo Jodyne Dills | Babies and Young Lovers & other poems

  Nicole Anania | To the Dying Man's Daughter & other poems

  Lisa Zou | Under the Parlor & other poems

  Hazel Kight Witham | Hoofbeat Heartbeat & other poems

  Margaret Dawson | Daylily & other poems

  James Wolf | An Act of Kindness & other poems

  Jane A. Horvat | Psychedelic & other poems

  Bill Newby | Touring & other poems

  Jennifer Sclafani | Hindsight Twenty Twenty & other poems

  Contributor Notes

  Alexander McCoy


           brackish boy. looking     like a question needs

                     to be answered,     the tooth-end of a smile or

         a timebomb, born into     rebel skin, as in

  where do you come from?     why are you here?

   make no mistake, Miami,     they smell the brown on you

                              like blood     in the dark.

                            in this war     there are no half-lives, either

               keep quiet, or else     learn to kill.


  Study this, the cartographer’s map of the face

  twenty-two years in the making

  much uncharted country yet left to be explored

  and you will discover a landscape

  with monuments bearing no name, whose stories

  are heard ringing down decades of damage—

  tectonic plates grinding behind

  cheekbones, summer stormclouds caged

  inside eyelids, fault lines carved into smiles.

  I have buried the faces of sadness

  like so many fossils underneath

  a million million tons of stone.

  Over time the residual bits of shrapnel

  will sculpt themselves into a slipcast mask,

  they will not let themselves be forgotten.

  Behold! a heavy painter’s canvas, a portrait

  thousands of layers thick, fresh faces

  slipped into like armor.

  Do not stare for too long

  my truest colors will always bleed

  through the cracks of me,

                                                this face,

  inherited from a lifetime of dirty laundry

  guarded behind dusty closet walls of flesh and bone

  from the inside out warped with rot—

  I cannot figure out how to keep

  the smell of the compost pile

  from creeping past my eyes,

  these neon lights blinking on and off

  Do Not Enter! Do Not Enter! Do Not Enter!


  Lately, I’ve mistaken my shoes

  for conch shells, only

  when I hold them up to my ears

  I do not hear swelling

  ocean, I hear screaming,

                                                  There is nothing left for you here

  I can read it all over

  fading brick faces

  lined up crooked like tombstones.

  The soil that once knew life

  on this small patch of ground

  I thought I could call my own

  is now cracked and bloodless,

  any familiar faces long since scattered

  like anemic autumn leaves.

  I am going to leave this place if it kills me.


  Ask me what my shoes are screaming now

  and they will tell you

  Move as far away from your family as humanly possible,

  throw your cellphone into the river

  that you might have an excuse when you forget to call

  leave all of your ironic tee shirts behind

  (you won’t need those where you’re going)

  Keep going until your friends

  are nothing more than old ghosts

  haunting all of your stories

  (Remember, you are leaving behind a ghost-town,

  only none of the inhabitants have died yet)

  Keep going until the smell of your house

  fades from the lonely pair of jeans

  you bothered to pack

  Keep going so the horizon swallows you whole,

  and you find yourself in a strange land

  where the sidewalk has a pulse

  where night is not an anvil pressing against your chest

  instead, a fisherman’s net loosed over bright millions, shining

  Go! Godspeed, you reckless Sailor


  In my car I become a satellite.

  I treat the solitude of the open sky

  as an excuse to see the world,

  and the instant I stop to catch my breath

  is the instant I drop in a blazing downward spiral

  with no safety net to catch me.

  Why should I bother inventing my own traditions

  when I will only leave them to starve in the homes I bury?

  It would be so much easier to adopt them from the cities I orbit.

  In the meantime, it’s a long shot to get to Boston,

  an endless struggle to get to September,

  although it helps to pretend

  I’m in the middle of a movie montage,

  able to skip right to the good parts

  just as soon as the staccato of low string music drops out

  So I’ll want to pic
k a CD at random and pray

  for plenty of cello, light up some cigarettes and drive

  head first into a horizon beckoning me with open arms


  This must have been how Pioneers felt,

  winding up the Oregon Trail

  towards nothing more than a smiling promise,

  walking until they stumbled into a nameless grave,

  not because they wanted to

  nobody wants to die hungry

  but because their legs never gave them a choice.

  They would rather die

  with blisters on their feet

  instead of behind their smiles.

  They would have dust coat their teeth

  before they would let it settle over their bones.

  I am going to leave this place if it kills me.

  Although, on the day that I die, when you ask me

  if I want to be buried in Worcester, I will tell you

  I thought I already was.

  Swansong for the Concert Pianist, like

  must’ve finally gone deaf to the melody in these hands like

  at what point remembering the story of that boy did you

                           condemn him to memory like

                           telling that boy he had a piano player’s fingers, needed

                           to grow into them like

                                      ten wisdom teeth crowding the same jawbone

                                      never telling him they might

                                      wind up crooked

                                      and so loud like

                                                  landmines at the ends of both arms like

                                                                                 no man’s land, no land

                                                                                     for nest-making like

                           finding that boy curled up

                                      inside a stranger’s handshake, looking

                                                  for someone else’s hands like

                                                               teach me how to grow old

                                                                                              like you

  should’ve taught that boy how to make room

                           for hands like these,

                           sing-sorry hands, stagefright hands, these

                           treat pants-pockets as second skin hands, these

                                                    borrowed birds, strangling themselves

                                                    given a moment alone hands like

                                      these fingers,

                                                  were they piano strings,

                                                  they’d be worn chords

                                                  chorusing the piano’s broken


  Questions to Ask a Mountain

  My role models are older than most,

  world-wise, slow to respond.

  I thread questions into cavernous ears,

  begging for secrets to whisper up from their veins.

                           You silent towers of stone and years! What

                           is it like to be tall—? to live

                                      with your head in the clouds and still

                                      have enough oxygen to survive—?

                           Where do you find the strength

                           to carry the sky on your back

                           on the nights it threatens

                           to swallow you whole—?

                                      Can you teach me how to stand up straight—?

                                      or else how to carve my spine

                                      out of something stronger than doubt—?

                           Can you teach me how to plant my feet

                           so deep in the Earth I never have to worry

                           about being knocked over—?

                                      how to swallow my anxieties,

                                      crush them into diamonds,

                                      bury them so deep they’re worth digging for—?

  I never learned the subtle art

  of stillness; to be most solid when

  my body is at rest; to stay in one place

  long enough to catch seeds on my tongue

  and carve my story out of the treebark.

  For once, I want a home to grow on me.

                           You ancient titans standing guard

                           over the world like teeth!

                                           Make me into a giant, a force

                           to reconsider, something to look up to.

                                           Give me so much mass

                           to withstand hurricane winds

                                           erupting from the throats of those

                                who would see me eroded,

                           would see me leveled out, see me even, see me

  and never even hear me!

  My role models are proof the world

  grows by inches. Only now

  am I learning my echo,

  my echo is a gift falling

  from their mouths. I marvel

  my voice can be so loud,

  that my words are worth repeating.

  And I will learn to show the world that I am large,

  that you need to crane your neck

  to see how high am I willing to reach

/>   when I want to grab ahold of the stars

  and carry them around in my pockets.

  If my shoulders are too broad

  for you to walk over, I will not crumple,

  an obstacle waiting belly up for the bulldozer.

  You may howl until there is no wind

  left in your lungs, but you can never

  break me all the way down, you will never

  grind me into something smooth.

  My belly is too full of smoke.

  And you will behold me

  as I block out the sun

  when I open



  Alexandra Kamerling


  In lieu of collecting rocks or coins or stamps, she collects places and hands them down to me. When I ask her what she can still smell and hear from her childhood in Kansas, she says she can smell the engine of her father’s Plymouth and hear the wind as it traveled over nothing.

  How Long She Walked

  The house I walked towards was graying and frail. It sat alone in a sea of wheat, collecting wind through the open windows. From a distance it was barely there.

  Inside the house sat my grandmother at 19, playing Solitaire at the kitchen table. She wore work clothes covered with dirt but her nails and lips were both a deep crimson, and her red hair was carefully gathered and twisted like a conch shell at the nape of her neck. We greeted one another, and she went down to the cellar for an extra chair, coming back instead with a bag of potatoes, a record player, and two pieces of chocolate wrapped in wax paper.

  A year must have passed and then the house shook us out and dissolved in a pool of dust and copper kettles. My grandmother put on her work boots and marched towards the road. I don’t know how long she walked, but I do know that in this place the vastness swallows and the road is straight.

  I left with the powder blue bathtub, which is what I had come for.

  What Did You Learn When You Spoke to Her?

  This small thing—

  That she liked to sleep

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