PoetryIssue 11 | January 2011

Ars Longa, Vita Brevis

by Joshua Michael Stewart

for Molly Gaudry

Your friends gladly pin you with dollars,
chip in what we can to repair your temple’s
leaky roof. In return, you write us poems.
We pray that you’ll strip us down,

bleed truths from bare hearts
our tongues wouldn’t allow.
We hear you behind the sheet rock
and rotting studs, shouting at the dust

particles that waltz in shafts of sunlight,
the nerve of them to treat the end as a shindig.
We wince at the shattering of fine china
against the stillness of your life.

One by one, we brave the threshold
into your room. You’ve scratched our poems
into the nakedness of the walls, each curving
letter resembling a thread of your black hair

scribbled on the pillow where you rest your head.
Our fingers trace every curl, every looping
strand of your script, patient to discover,
weave ourselves into a braid.

About the author

Joshua Michael Stewart was born in Sandusky, Ohio, but has lived in western Massachusetts since 1998. He likes to drive throughout New England, where he has (almost) struck a bear, many deer, and a famous folk singer. Joshua’s poems have been published in Georgetown Review, Massachusetts Review, Rattle, William and Mary Review, and Worcester Review. Visit him here.

Read our current issue:


Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok