Carrie Fountain: Hottest Summer on
& Poem Without Sleep

Hottest Summer
on Record

for Susannah

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I’m thinking about the night
we should’ve died

again: fifteen, in the backseat
of an egg-shaped car

as those feral boys
started yelling balls out

to the driver, who gripped
the wheel and locked

his elbows and drove faster
and faster until it felt

like there was nothing between us
and the end

but the soft shoulder
of the road, the constellations

of mosquitos over the ditch,
the night reflected

in the still water there, murky
with pesticides,

then less, just flesh
on metal, metal on air,

then less, until it felt like
we could die

of speed alone, evaporate,
poof, sucked back into the holes

our insignificant histories
had made in the earth

so that no one would ever
find a trace of us, not a spot

of blood or a point of impact,
no dust or smoke

or skid marks. Maybe then
we’d never have existed

at all. Oh, how many
times did I take my dumb life

in my hands and shove it
down deep between

my thighs so no one would
see it. And how many times

did I give it away, push it
over, baring everything,

daring the night to take it
away. Hard to tell

how many real deaths
we escaped to make it

to tonight, talking
on the phone while I sit

on the porch with the baby
asleep in my arms

watching the dog chase the cat
and then—surprise—they

switch, so that now the cat’s
chasing the dog and oh

he’s gaining on her.

Poem Without Sleep

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All the things that could happen
to the baby came to me last night

as I was falling asleep. Children
of mine, they climbed into bed, sweaty

and whimpering in colorful pajamas,
with their stories, which were sad,

and their fears, which were crystalline.
Each time another arrived

I’d think OK, that’s got to be it.
But then another would push through

with her forehead or elbow, her
hot breath saying Mama, saying

Mama please. Soon there were so many
I couldn’t see any one of them,

I couldn’t hear their distinct voices,
and they jumped on the bed,

on my chest, on my face, until it was
all black with a white flash

and a thick, electric ringing in the ears.
And now, here’s the morning.

Here’s the tree flickering
behind the shade, dumb tree

with its one arm raised to the sky.
Here’s the silent tipping into another day.

And now, finally, finally, the baby, blowing
her famous raspberries down the dark

static hallway of the baby monitor. And now
she begins to whimper. And now she cries out.

And here I go to her, thank God.
Here I go to help her little life.


ART: Paul Ferragut, Leo Katunaric, Stefanie Schneider

FICTION: Bridget Apfeld, Jennifer A. Howard, Laura Schadler

NONFICTION: Joy Katz, Shena McAuliffe, Kate Partridge, Rob Schlegel

POETRY: Dan Beachy-Quick, Carrie Fountain, Jules Gibbs, Alen Hamza, H. L. Hix, Anna Maria Hong, Krzysztof Jaworski, Thomas Kane, Eric Kocher, Jennifer MacKenzie, Andrew Nance, Paul Otremba, Kate Partridge, Beth Woodcome Platow, Catie Rosemurgy, Claire Sylvester Smith, Lesley Yalen

ET CETERA: Glenn Shaheen’s
“POET The Game”

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