Category Archives: Poetry

Hunting Gems and Pamplona, Virginia, 2 poems by James Swansbrough

Photo of man and child climbing mountain

Hunting Gems I don’t comprehend the chemistry of how geodes form but their creation makes enough sense for my layman mind to teach an abridged version to my daughter: Some rocks may look dull, but many have secret hollows inside. If water and minerals can creep in and dry, over time they can grow into the beautiful crystals they are now. There’s a lesson in that for her, I’ll think. Something about humility and patience or about finding unexpected splendor on the inside. But I won’t share the metaphor with her no matter how inspiring … Continue reading Hunting Gems and Pamplona, Virginia, 2 poems by James Swansbrough

Little Betrayals and Not Exactly Genesis, 2 poems by Clair Scott

Photo of old man walking with girl

Little Betrayals I was six I knew he had a quarter in his pocket I knew it was mine if when he roared who is the greatest grandpapa of all and the silver and Wedgewood china on table shook and the Irish maids ghosted by in starched uniforms and the chauffeur polished the silver Lincoln Continental and my grandmother tended to the terra cotta pots of pink and white orchids in the gazebo and my face flamed and I yelled Grandpapa looking down at my poodle skirt its rhinestone eye staring   Not Exactly Genesis … Continue reading Little Betrayals and Not Exactly Genesis, 2 poems by Clair Scott

Russel Square by Andrew Hanson

Photo of stone gateway

Fate is read in the routes of the snails that methodically spell their own names in the park. Leaves shrivel and shiver off of white birch trees. Alongside an old church, pigeons storm a sliver of stale bread that once was communion, and the sounds of taxis and Ubers buzz by the parks as the partitioned paths of bees. Nervously, an academic and the pipes of the chemistry department share a smoke, while the pipes’ rusty stubble snags the cool evening’s light. The goldfinch warbles choirlike before it swoops in to cull a butterfly stuck … Continue reading Russel Square by Andrew Hanson

The Dumb Have the Advantage by Jim Klein

man and woman kissing in sunbeam

If you were mine, I could do such wonderful things. Oh, the stupid idea of being a human being and having to do all that sucking to stay alive—and then he learns to talk! Howl into the fierce grizzly innards of interpersonal relations. The dumb have the advantage. Nothing but silence won’t hurt. I wished, oh how it could have been, stepping into a gentle night when even leaving was a sociable act with the band playing in the background. I can’t tell you how happy I am in a land of tapping fingers and … Continue reading The Dumb Have the Advantage by Jim Klein

Carnival to Miss Greenstein by Charles Cantrell

blue and purple light swirl at carnival

My brother and I played war in a ditch near the Ferris Wheel while the carnival barker shouted. Our games didn’t take precedence over my wanting to live like a civilized person, but my father couldn’t afford violin lessons for me. Most of my teachers sucked, and we had only cookbooks and a ragged dictionary at home. My father killed so many deer we had plenty to eat, but I still wore a thick jacket in the cold. I can’t say it called me to the world, but I loved snapping the bra strap of … Continue reading Carnival to Miss Greenstein by Charles Cantrell

Here’s to Us by Mark Simpson

Woodpecker in tree

Woodpeckers at it again this morning boring into the cedar clapboard, fascia, cove boards too soft with age, too inviting for the particular family-to-be of the pileated kind, red crest pure blazon and I rise time after time, running outside arms waving yelling Out! Out! and then worse the third or fourth time, my cup of coffee gone cold, page lost in book, and it knows I’ll give it up sooner or later or probably doesn’t care if I wouldn’t but I do, feet dew-soaked from all the running around in the flagrant April green … Continue reading Here’s to Us by Mark Simpson

Passing the 19th by Laura Altshul

Woman and man in black against white city background

His mother’s words: Be a good boy! Whatever that meant in 1920. What did Harry T. Burn know? He was a man now: 24 Republican Tennessee Representative. He’d seen her in the kitchen, kerchief holding back her hair, the kettle’s steam whooshing to her face as she fished out mason jars loaded with peaches glossily preserved for winter desserts. At meals she served herself last. Listened, didn’t ask or say much. He saw her give food to men who came to the back door at strange times of the day. She wore a faded apron … Continue reading Passing the 19th by Laura Altshul

From a Stranger by Linda Lerner

narrow hall with blue carpet

For Marvin Gordon Thank you, he said when I moved well to the side to ensure a safe enough social distance for him to pass, what my ballet teacher did in those early AIDS years by shaking his head motioning with his hands to push me away when I reached out to hug this teacher I adored, just home from the hospital, who’d assured me, all of us he didn’t have AIDS, and being naive and young… but I wasn’t all that young not to get a patronizing if you say so look from those … Continue reading From a Stranger by Linda Lerner

Einstein’s Last Words and Angina, 2 poems by J.R. Solonche

Light flaring against deep blue space

EINSTEIN’S LAST WORDS (Einstein died on April 18, 1955, attended by a nurse who could not understand his last words, which he spoke in German.) Surely it must have been a simple thing, that sort of phrase the ordinary old would say, child-like, such as “More light” or “Bring me, please, water” or “Close the door” or “Hold my hand” or “I was wrong” or “What’s the time?” Perhaps it was a line or two of verse from Faust, or a nonsense nursery rhyme that curved around to close his universe. And if all it … Continue reading Einstein’s Last Words and Angina, 2 poems by J.R. Solonche

Indian Bread by Amy-Sarah Marshall

Pine bark in sun and shadow

We used to wedge our tiny dirty un- girly fingernails into the flesh of the dowdy pine trees plotted in the concrete squares that defined our territory. Indian Bread, someone called it, someone stupid. But we were stupid, too. We hungered so hard to put something real in our mouths. Every night my mother plopped a can of fruit cocktail and a pile of green peas on the chipped plates. I couldn’t put my elbows on the table while we chewed. How incredible it felt to peel the grey bark back and cull the new … Continue reading Indian Bread by Amy-Sarah Marshall