Category Archives: Poetry

Witness by Priscilla Melchior

book sale

3rd place winner of the Streetlight 2017 Poetry Contest Witness   It seemed an unlikely spot for a prophet, the annual library book sale in a dim warehouse on a summer day, but there she was, rocking side to side, the skirt of her lavender shirtwaist brushing pale shins above white socks and sneakers. Her fingers toyed anxiously with the clasp of her patent purse. “God came to me when I was at the Dollar General,” she said to no one in particular. “He told me to come down here to the book sale, He … Continue reading Witness by Priscilla Melchior

Two Poems by Linda Nemec Foster


Mount Fuji   My friend always wanted to see the mountain with its eternal snow, but she never crossed the ocean to Japan. Instead, she bought a small reproduction of Hokusai’s “Boy Viewing Mount Fuji” and hung it on her bedroom wall. Every morning it greets the daylight: the boy with his back to her as he faces the mountain and plays a flute, his body perfectly balanced on a thick tree branch that seems to slice Fuji’s heart with a rugged abandon. “In another life,” she vows, “I’ll come back as that flute, the … Continue reading Two Poems by Linda Nemec Foster

Dazzling Dinoflagellates by Martha Snell


Dazzling Dinoflagellates   We gather when the moon is hidden in earth shadow, stand in a group to hear facts, take advice, don life jackets that cover our lungs, our hearts. We drive toward a cove at the salt sea edge where the plankton proliferate, persist in a small shallow bay with its twisted neck to the sea, its reef a wall that holds them in. These bright, tiny organisms, single cell, simple we call them, beckon us to witness their wonder. Under wisps of night light we load into kayaks, follow one dim beacon. … Continue reading Dazzling Dinoflagellates by Martha Snell

Art History by Gayatri Surendranathan


Art History   “A book ‘manuscript’ should be understood as a form of sacred space: a temple in microcosm, not only imbued with divine presence but also layered with the memories of many generations of users.” My mother was obsessed With early Buddhist palm-leaf Manuscripts, their gilded edges, Lush, inky script – every morning She would pore over them, lay them In a row on her desk and hunch With a magnifying glass, pencil Notes on things like richness of color, Simplicity of line. She measured, Translated, stopping only to write Or gulp lukewarm, tannic … Continue reading Art History by Gayatri Surendranathan

Water by Joan Mazza


Water   Not all water is silk, not a curtain closed against a mountain. Not every rivulet runs to a river. Not every rainstorm beats fists against the pavement or hammers umbrellas. It doesn’t even tap a tango on a tin roof. Original element of my birth— I swam through you and into this world. Cold from the pump, metallic taste of rust, gift of the earth after a day in the desert. Water sloshes in a jug, ice clanks, a balm and treasure, better than black gold or coal. Joan Mazza has worked as … Continue reading Water by Joan Mazza

Wedding in Richmond by Carol Was

Tuckahoe Plantation wedding altar

Wedding in Richmond   they’re roasting a pig at Tuckahoe Plantation crowds gather on the grounds where little Thomas Jefferson once lived sweet jasmine tangles in the garden banjos play on the hill barbecued pork scents the air the bride with promises on her lips wears rosebuds in her hair a small schoolhouse still stands and the original kitchen butter churn in the corner pewter pitcher on the hearth a place out of time long skirts sway to the music newlyweds dance across the grass and the road has lost its edge thick with overgrown … Continue reading Wedding in Richmond by Carol Was

Snow Falls Off Bare Branch by Diane DeCillis

snow on branch

Snow Falls Off Bare Branch   At a reading, the poet responds to the art of the Japanese woodblock. But I only see the man’s head blocking my view, white hair combed counterclockwise, hiding terrain where grass no longer grows— pale heart of a lone chrysanthemum. As the poet cites Hiroshige’s cobalt skies, that mum becomes lotus on the bald pond at Shinobu. By the time she references Wild Geese Flying Across a Crescent Moon, I migrate to the edge of my seat, glimpse the side of his face. Hair parted at the temple, it … Continue reading Snow Falls Off Bare Branch by Diane DeCillis

Links of Ladder by Frederick Wilbur

chain links

Links of Ladder   Higher than a hired man’s head, a chain bubbles from the tree’s heart and falling thirteen links, dares a boy’s reaching, his pretending— its original purpose unknown. It is not a hanging tree or surveyor’s witness, but a yard-oak to dream under. The chain was left there in a fork by heart attack or by forgotten convenience, has provoked the grain to snarl and restless, has rubbed a triangle, an arrow, in the gray bark. He sees the ladder he must climb to know how chance and choice can be useful. … Continue reading Links of Ladder by Frederick Wilbur

The Paperboy Sees No Wonder in It… by Rodney Torreson


The Paperboy Sees No Wonder in It— the Snow Giving off the Only Light at 6 AM   The boy could have lived forever sliding down a hill, after watching cartoons. Now the only cartoon is himself falling through drifts to the corner, where he’s one bundle binding himself to others by snapping open their plastic straps and sitting among the papers. He rolls them into funnels, slips them into plastic sheaths, while the first house tugs at him, and he gets up, his steps a kind of wandering from house to house, each one … Continue reading The Paperboy Sees No Wonder in It… by Rodney Torreson

losing the word by Sharon Ackerman

Kimberly, Raft Point painting - Wadjina

losing the word   what is prayer but our limbic words offered to an uncertain trajectory, the cave images given language from our dark cities. i remember your prayer outside memphis whispered just beyond my hearing, lips moving beneath that crumbling billboard the veil between us never thin enough to reach a hand through your words, their white dust prophecy dying muffled against my palm   12 steps in california   he is wary though the treatment center is close enough there is a lost coast inside of him, the jagged reach where his brain … Continue reading losing the word by Sharon Ackerman