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Maggie Graber


the shape of new mexico is almost

an octagon. in my backyard, blades of yucca.

i pretend the grass nameless. my pretending

is an octagon. we must be careful, Vonnegut wrote,

about what we pretend to be. as a child i pretended

my sandbox turtle lived in a town with school

& church. i sit with a feeling, space where language

does not yet live. i squeeze honey from a plastic bear

into my tea. i pretend the bear sleeps in sunflowers.

i pretend the bear is made of honey. my pretending

is a lit candle, an actual purple butterfly.

i hold the mug to my chest & pretend

my insides rearrange like books on a shelf.

my rearrangement is an octagon.

IMG_9611 - Margaret Graber.jpeg


Maggie Graber is a queer poet from the Great Lakes and the author of Swan Hammer (Michigan State University Press, 2022), winner of the 2021 Wheelbarrow Poetry Prize and a 2023 nominee for a Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award. She is a Luminarts Cultural Foundation fellow, a Best of the Net nominee, a former certified Wilderness First Responder, and an MFA graduate of Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Her poems have been published in South Dakota Review, The Journal, The Louisville Review, RHINO, Southern Indiana Review, Nashville Review, and elsewhere. She currently lives in Oxford, Mississippi, where she teaches writing at the University of Mississippi, where she also earned her Ph.D. in creative writing. Find her online at

Bear Review


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