Sample Poems

Douglas Goetsch

The Brides of Rome

On weekends, all spring: weddings
     throughout the old city,
         bridal parties
fanned out on the steps
    of 900 ancient churches,
        from San Giovanni in Laterano
to Santa Maria Maggiore
     from Santa Maria della Pace
       to Santa Maria del Popolo,
the flustered photographers
     waving and shooing
        children, overwrought
mothers, tearful aunts,
    the fathers’ hands
        stuffed in pockets,
the groomsmen slicking back
    their hair, the bridesmaids
        tossing theirs
and glancing sidelong,
    aching for a role
        in some afternoon plot.
At the center of
    the universe, framed
        by pin curls and
a cyclone of white lace,
    the eyes of the bride
        glow like coals,
causing, for a moment,
    all of Rome
        to pale to gray—
birds in the pines,
    rooftops crammed with antennas,
        underwear on the lines,
and people,
    most destined
        never, or never again,
to be a bride—
    gypsies, fishmongers,
        pilgrim nuns,
Renaissance graffiti artists,
    pizza-munching tourists,
        machine gun-
toting Carabinieri,
    drivers of little Fiats tearing
        down cobblestone straightaways
where children
    play soccer
        with soup cans.
The rank and file
    of the human pageant
        which, all
too soon,
    the brides of Rome
        will rejoin, and resume
their places
    on the Fellini-esque
        conveyor belt
of toilers in factories,
    hagglers at markets,
at christenings,
    widows at gravesites.
        Even now,
with smiles
        as the camera flash,
they’re on their way—
to disintegrate
    into the pastel dust
        on stone walls
full of cherubs
    who have spied
        on how many
Sundays for
    how many springs,
        how many women
and how many men,
    spilling out the doors
        and down the steps?

Douglas Goetsch’s poems have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, The New Yorker, and The Pushcart Prize anthology. His newest book, Nameless Boy, is due out in Jan. 2015 from Orchises Press.

Caitlin Elizabeth Thomson

Soft Tissue

My heart is too soft to contain an echo,
  the doctor tells me it is porous, he compares it to a sponge.
He goes on to explain that my heart
  is the same now as it was in the womb.
I picture a heart the size of a moleskin journal, before I thought
  of it as a Tolstoy novel, not War and Peace, but Anna Karenina perhaps.
Weeks ago, when I was in the MRI, I fell asleep to a hum
  that initially seemed to say HelloGoodbye, and later SparrowWhale.
A technician woke me up and told me to breathe in all these different
  ways, so that he could take a picture without
too much interference from stomach tissue, bones, acid.
  I will not see these pictures, I would not understand them.

Caitlin Elizabeth Thomson resides in the rural Pacific Northwest. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous places, including: Radar, The Literary Review of Canada, The Liner, Echolocation, and the anthology Mermaids in the Basement. Her second chapbook Incident Reports is forthcoming in 2014 from Hyacinth Girl Press.


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