Issue 29 poetry

Goliath Frog Poems  

by Emma DePanise

A pencil drawing featuring bright blue, pink and orange arches containing barely visible animals, fish and shapes.
Doorway by WART (Christian McCulloch)

Goliath Frog Whistles to Their Lover

My yellow underbelly bristles, the warm
water trickles—I’ll do the dishes every

night, I promise. My elongated second toe
can almost reach you. I didn’t kiss

that dragonfly. This July night sky
sticky and wild as my tongue. I hear

other kinds of frogs have the right
kinds of voices, the right instrument

to turn air into something bright.
But I could carry you to a bed full

of flaked wings, soft
stones and I could wrap my arms

around you. I know I can’t
sing but my webbing is humming

for you, my jeweled eye humming.
When the moon drops its silver

fruit each night, I open my mouth
and imagine the shade of your skin

skimming mine. I open my mouth and let
the moonlight in and when it leaves

it tunes a glow to the waterhush, a slow
glow that only speaks your name.

Goliath Frog Canoes with my Teenage Mother

On the Severn River, the muck
is warm, the low-tides low, she barely

gets the canoe out—has to scoot and shuffle
us into a small stream surrounded by mud

and cattails. Little green leaves. Her hair
is going blond in the sun, all the days spent

sailing, too shy to raise her hand
in school. Here, on the river, she raises both

hands into the air, wooden paddle across
her lap. Following the skyline of a blue

heron, her golden shoulders flex every time
she paddles. The body can move

so much, the body can move rivers. She is
always pushing against, pushing

against the current, still
won’t dance when I’m looking.

Goliath Frog Tells Me My Mind Is a River Full of Stones

Stones shaped like houses and your grandmother
and swamps and the river is always making things

soft in its furied current, it doesn’t even know
it’s doing it—the river just pushes and swirls, makes

and remakes, carries stones to new places, lets stones mingle
with other stones on cerebral shores. The stones are deep

in the river and they shimmer in a cold moon, full
of potential energy, full of shower-phrases, of midnight

utterances, slow syllables mouthed at dusk
to curtains, the stones are swooning in currents

or the stones are rearranged on riverbanks
holding the waters we’re born in.

Emma DePanise’s poems are forthcoming or have appeared in River Styx, The Minnesota Review, Reed Magazine, The National Poetry Review, and Passages North. She is the 2020 winner of the Blue Earth Review Summer Contest in Poetry, a 2019 winner of an AWP Intro Journals Award and the 2018 winner of the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry.

WART (Christian McCulloch) is a prolific short-story writer with a background in Fine Art. He’s been a teacher in the British West Indies, Singapore, and Japan. He now lives and creates in London. His work has appeared in Assure Press, Eris & Eros, Sand Hills, William & Mary Review, and elsewhere.