Category Archives: Poetry

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

We Always Called Him Fletcher by Barbara Conrad

global warming

We Always Called Him Fletcher   Never by his first name Albert, or Mr. Fletcher. He was tall as a sugar pine, skin the color of freckled walnuts, walked our whole neighborhood hauling an extension ladder from job to job, his back gospel-straight. I knew nothing beyond his easy manner, and that one summer morning when I rode with my dad to snag him from the Shell Station where out back he managed to unfold from a lean-to, tools in tow. There were easy lies about Fletcher. His thank-you-mam gratitude for a bologna sandwich served … Continue reading We Always Called Him Fletcher by Barbara Conrad

The Sheets Pulled Over by Tanner Pruitt


The Sheets Pulled Over   When one thinks in love about love, he’s doing what he shouldn’t. He will get it wrong. What if everything were revealed? The apples and milk on your mind when we lay down in Washington Park in the busy green city, if those were left on the bus in Flatbush, had tumbled to the gummed up floor since, and were what occupied you as we rushed back to your bedroom, gripped with heat. When we come to love we come expecting to get some part of it exactly right. What … Continue reading The Sheets Pulled Over by Tanner Pruitt

Honey and Six Poems by Sharon Leiter

drop of honey

Street of My Life   Street of my life, I have left you and I have returned,    wandering nights in your renovated future, The deed has passed into my keeping, and the dead,    ever gracious, have agreed,    to pretend they have never left. Short, unexceptional street, lined on both sides    with two-story brick houses, Each with its painted stoop, pouring bruised-legged    children down the stone steps, With its flower pots, its wooden bench and iron-fenced    “garden,” large enough for    a single flowering tree a row of crunchy-leafed bushes, And the last house with its Florsheim … Continue reading Honey and Six Poems by Sharon Leiter