Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review
No. 46, Winter 2020


2019 Cover of the Poetry Review

Well, what to say about this past year?  Our issue was late thanks to a number of COVID-related delays, and whenever you are reading this, there might still be copies stuck in USPS purgatory... However, fortunately, that sense of forever stretching beyond our little horizons is captured perfectly in our cover art (by Erica Baum), so you can look forward to being assuaged. The poems inside the issue perhaps also speak to our moment, though in different and unpredicable ways.  Maurice Manning attempts to capture the past; Lauren Slaughter faces mourning head-on; and Ed Falco wonders fitfully about Narcissus. And maybe Narcissus can be a mascot of sorts for this weird moment of ours--how so many of us have stared at our own faces on Zoom and felt paralyzed, perhaps not by self-regard, but by somethign still inevitably bounded by the self.  Hopefully the poems and interviews in this year's issue of HSPR well help break you out of whatever trance you might be in.


Alexandra Beers 
Sean Cho A.
Peter Cooley
Robert Cording
Todd Davis 
Edison Dupree 
Ed Falco
Jessica Greenbaum 
Oscar Hahn
Alamgir Hashmi
Noor Hindi
Haile Leithauser
Angie Macri
Maurice Manning 
Edward Mayes

Jennifer Moxley 
Cheswayo Mphanza
Supritha Rahn
GJ Racz 
George Scarbrough 
Maxine Scates
Derek Sheffield 
Lauren Goodwin Slaughter 
Suzanne Swanson 
Roberto Tejada
Robel Yemiro 
Jon Kelly Yenser
Jane Zwart

Clytemnestra Facing the Judge by Alexandra Beers

You take from a woman what she is or once was
or could have been
and leave her to shiver on the echoing stair
so you can return to your game.
The ways she can ruin a party are numerous.

My body knows what it had and lost.
As the master came closer—conqueror, harlot on his arm—
I felt my twin more keenly. I lurched,
then licked my lips on hearing his healthy approach.
I know how to sweep up.
But I will not live as two anymore.
Grief, unnegleted, can be nurtured into something new.

Alleluia by George Scarbrough

How hard they try.
How hard the star tries
to impregnate a lamb.
How hard the lamb tries to birth a shepherd.
How hard the shepherd tries to beget a wise man.
How hard the wise man tries to accommodate a star
sweating over a dry barn.
And the star,
how hard the star tries to enflame the straw,
what an impasse it foments in brilliant foxfire.
And the foxfire,
what a speckling on the blood-dredged floor,
what rubies instilling a king’s fool-gold.
And the gold,
what a hurry it makes with the runners
coursing the sandhills of far countries.
And the sandhills,
what shifting and hiding and dismissing,
more equivocating in flight than residence.
And I, alone on a bare eminence,
what a besieged constellator I look and am.
But the subscripted star,
dragging itself into such winds,
how avoidlessly it enters the question,
suborning without even trying.

The Passionate Astronaut to Her Love by Hailey Leithauser

The pull of this world is grounding
weight, a laborous freightage
that lugs and daggles low, so
let us, my pet, unburden ourselves
of its pounds and its ballast and go
beyond where our breasts can lift
as the shy, silken tits of nymphs.
Let us go, let us offer our souls
to a lenient welkin where our hair
fans and furls to Botticellian curls,
and buttocks, swagged and slumped,
rise like new warm golden loaves.
Oh, let us hustle to gather together
our suits and helmets, our sweet
powdery ice cream, our packets of Tang
and climb to where our calves
and thighs contort once more to
infinity loops, arms loose to parabolas,
and there in the ivory night I shall
be light as a white ostrich feather
and you, spry as a blue Hindu god
and the dark between stars will
be the dark of a rapturous Grand Cru
that opens and swirls slow
to our lips with none but the biddable
draw of our breaths.