Amy Beth Sisson

Padden, Jeanne Bieruma Oosting, used with permission from the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

I Instruct My Toad How to Write Poetry

Study and Revise

Instead of cupping your bulbous 
Eyes behind your webbed 
Forefeet       after waltzing to Yma Sumac’s 
Gopher mambo in beginner ballroom,
Scrounge pen and paper.     Scrawl 
Asemic script.       The keyboard 
Can’t free you from meaning

Accept Criticism
Protect amphibian 
Skin.        Be mindful 
It is a permeable 
Membrane and absorbs 
Toxins.        This can’t be 
Avoided even during hibernation
So emerge.      Refuse to tattoo

Repeat Until You Rinse Out Meaning

On a car ride past the airport, age 9
Impressed by what you now know
Was your last sight of a sky blackening murmuration
(Although certainly smaller than in your father’s childhood)

Ask him, “why don’t they crash?”    Repeat the word 
Until it becomes pure sound.    Cry to never see more 
Than a hungry four and twenty

Amy Beth Sisson is struggling to emerge, toad-like, from the mud in a small town near Philly. Her poetry has appeared in The Night Heron Barks, Ran Off With the Star Bassoon, and Cleaver Magazine. Her fiction has appeared in The Best Short Stories of Philadelphia and Sweet Tree Review.

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Spring 2022