Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Why Whales Breach by Jean Ryan

And then a whale
surges out of the sea,
the ocean pouring off its bulk,
its great fins and belly
white against the blue sky,
where it hangs, stopping time,
before falling back
with a tremendous splash,
the sound of its weight
claiming all else.

How wonderful it must feel
to lift that tonnage,
to pause between worlds
for an instant of dominion.
There is no other way
to account for the effort.



Jean Ryan, a native Vermonter, lives in coastal Alabama. Her debut collection of short stories, Survival Skills, was published by Ashland Creek Press and short-listed for a Lambda Literary Award. Lovers and Loners is her second story collection. Her book of nature essays, Strange Company, is available in digital form, paperback and audio. 

Monday, April 29, 2019

Sighted or Blind by Jean Ryan

Sighted or blind,
we dream of the same world.
Maybe not lightning,
or rainbows, or sunsets,
but surely the booming thunder,
the smell of rain on a dusty road,
a hot pool of sun on the breakfast table.
Not the green curl of an ocean wave,
but the creamy hollow of a seashell.
Not a dog running on the beach,
but the joy in its bark.
Not a beautiful face,
but the lip’s tender journey
across it: temple, cheek, mouth.

They have nightmares too, the blind,
more often than the rest of us,
scenes of falling, of losing their way,
of guide dogs gone missing.
They wake with a start
and hurdle into another darkness,
but this one with sheets,
a bedside table,
the jingle of dog tags
coming to the rescue.



Jean Ryan, a native Vermonter, lives in coastal Alabama. Her debut collection of short stories, Survival Skills, was published by Ashland Creek Press and short-listed for a Lambda Literary Award. Lovers and Loners is her second story collection. Her book of nature essays, Strange Company, is available in digital form, paperback and audio.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

"In a corridor of dreams..." by Ronald Moran

In a corridor of dreams
worth keeping,
I know you tracked them
before the day dimmed,
the door locked,
or the gas was

near empty,
leaving you to get
to the next substation
in that endless corridor
with few exits,

and an infinite number
of diversions, stops,
where you thought,
I'm OK. I'll make it.
She'll be there, waiting.




Ronald Moran has published 13 collections of poetry, two books of criticism (one coauthored), and hundreds of poems, essays, and reviews in a number of journals, including Commonweal, North American Review, Northwest Review, Southern Poetry Review, Tar River Poetry, and Southern Review. His last six books of poetry have been published by Clemson University Press. 

Friday, April 26, 2019

A Death Next Door by Ken Craft

My neighbor died last week.
The plastic-wrapped newspapers,

Yellow, blue, unread,
Congregate at the end of her driveway.

The tongue of the mailbox
A communion of catalogues and bills,

Postcards to the dead.
I call the post office, recycle old news,

Wait for a strange car, sudden moving truck,
Distant relative, but none appear.

Each day, before dawn, the street flows dark
Below the grassy banks of her house.

Its candlelight bulbs illuminate all but one
Window, as if Advent were April, as if spring

Were prying open the last sash,
Trying to ignite its square of trapped night.



Ken Craft is a teacher and writer living west of Boston. His poems have appeared in The Writer's Almanac, Verse Daily, Plainsong, Gray's Sporting Journal, The MacGuffin, Off the Coast, Spillway, Slant, and numerous other journals and e-zines. He is the author of two collections of poetry, Lost Sherpa of Happiness (Kelsay Books, 2017) and The Indifferent World (Future Cycle Press, 2016).

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Cactus and Skulls by Steve Klepetar

“You make a better door than a window,” she said,
and I ducked out of her way so she could see the TV,
which was her kind of window anyway, opening
on a desert of flies and heat. Nobody was there,
only cactus and skulls, the white-hot sky.
We watched for hours as night poured down
and stars burned in the sudden cold. I was afraid
to touch the remote. She only spoke to ask
for lemonade and tea. The windows were boarded
up and the only light leaked in through long thin
cracks in the plywood, making shadows like long sticks,
bending by the couches and chairs. When she finally
fell asleep, I buried my head beneath an old, white
towel where I counted my breaths until morning
broke over my hands like water spilling between stones.



Steve Klepetar recently relocated from Minnesota, where he lived and taught for over 36 years, to the Berkshires in Massachusetts. His work has appeared widely in the U.S. and abroad, and has received several nominations for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. Recent collections include: A Landscape in Hell; Family Reunion; and How Fascism Comes to America.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Last Day of Tai Chi by Katherine Edgren

We’d learned thirty poses together,
practiced balancing, slowing breath,
searched synapses for the next pose,
as we slowly moved our bodies in ancient,
graceful choreography.

Forming our usual circle to close—
arms-width apart, feet together,
we relaxed our faces with a smile,
the warrior, arm bent, fist on the right
the scholar, arm bent, flat hand on the left,
then joined hands in front of our hearts
before bowing first to the front—to everyone—
then to a neighbor on one side, then the other.
I felt a twinge that it was over—
this group, this teacher, this mirrored room,
Thursday afternoons from 1-2.

After all the stepping backward, forward,
gathering with our arms, lifting our legs to corner-kick,
patting the horse’s mane, grasping the bird’s tail,
carrying the yoke, picking up needle from sea-bottom,
chopping through mountain, making cloud hands,
we were ending
in the same spot where we began.



Katherine Edgren’s book The Grain Beneath the Gloss, published by Finishing Line Press, is now available. She also has two chapbooks: Long Division and Transports. Her poems have appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, Coe Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Third Wednesday, Peninsula Poets, and Barbaric Yawp, among others. 

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Hike by Katherine Edgren

Two miles west of Hell, Michigan
we hiked the woods near Gosling Lake
where we marveled at a city of doughy white mushrooms,
spied lacy bracket fungus—
like burnt potato chips growing up a tree—
and found brown button mushrooms
tucked into crevices of decaying trunks.

It was our first walk in the woods
since John’s hip replacements.
I wore a sling under my coat for a
broken collarbone. We wielded
walking sticks for careful trudging
up and down the low hills
and through the muddy places.

John didn’t mind my stopping to snap photographs,
because it gave us time to rest
(photography, like park benches with views).
The afternoon had started out gray, but
as we continued walking, the clouds parted,
the sun inflamed the yellows and oranges,
and the forest blazed, triumphant.



Katherine Edgren’s book The Grain Beneath the Gloss, published by Finishing Line Press, is now available. She also has two chapbooks: Long Division and Transports. Her poems have appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, Coe Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Third Wednesday, Peninsula Poets, and Barbaric Yawp, among others.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Life Can Be a Dream by Susan Carlson

My sister dreams of a life in Montana,
imagining a state where people can rest
above ground because she longs to rest
below. I dream that she might make it
there, as a waitress maybe, or a cashier –
if the tills in Montana are still the old fashioned kind,
each key bearing its value on a smooth button face
waiting to be pressed down at the sound
of the happy cash bell while Montana coffee
rests still and dark in a full bellied pot –
no cappuccinos, no computerized receipts.
Sometimes I think I see her there, pink
in her polyester dress, pockets along each hip
where she drops tips, gauges their weight
moving from kitchen to counter to cowboy hat
before heading home to smoke alone
on her wooden porch, to watch the Montana sun
drop gold as it pinks down dark. It may not sound
like much, our dream – how, at a minimum
she wants enough real estate to sit quietly at the end
of another day, and me – I want so much
to be free of her phone call, the one that always
comes, that always leaves me wondering
if I said enough to keep her on the line,
bought enough time for her paltry sun
to find another way to set.



Susan Carlson lives, works, and writes in southeastern Michigan. She has attended workshops including Tin House, the Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference, and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program. Her poems have appeared in Your Impossible Voice, Pretty Owl Poetry, The Literary Nest, The Other Journal, and Typishly, among other journals.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Creek Bed by Robert Demaree

The town parade hijacked by partisans,
We repair again, my grandson and I,
Up Perry Brook on the Fourth of July,
Cool water over our ankles,
Over dark rocks, the soft green decay
Of ancient logs.
Content with ritual, we do not try
To reach the second bridge this year.
I move less nimbly,
Balance not what it was.
While I was not looking,
Philip has become a young man
With achievements and dreams.
He still waits for me,
Holds back branches.
We look across a pool,
Reddish brown stillness.
Each of us wonders
What the other might be thinking.



Robert Demaree is the author of four book-length collections of poems, including Other Ladders, published in June 2017 by Beech River Books. His poems received first place in competitions sponsored by the Poetry Society of New Hampshire and the Burlington Writers Club, and have appeared in over 150 periodicals. A retired educator, he resides in Wolfeboro, N.H. and Burlington, N.C. 

Saturday, April 6, 2019

In February by Robert Demaree

Our children have given us a smart TV.
We love basketball in high definition
But have not tried Roku yet.
My Christmas bathrobe still hangs
In the front hall closet.
So why do you suppose that is?
More to it than the normal
Octogenarian
Distrust of change.

Once you try something,
It is already behind you.

The flowering cherries have
Thought better of it—
But it is too late,
Their blossoms committed to a bad cause,
Dingy pink against a gray morning,
Balmy January afternoons
We will come to regret.



Robert Demaree is the author of four book-length collections of poems, including Other Ladders, published in June 2017 by Beech River Books. His poems received first place in competitions sponsored by the Poetry Society of New Hampshire and the Burlington Writers Club, and have appeared in over 150 periodicals. A retired educator, he resides in Wolfeboro, N.H. and Burlington, N.C. 

Friday, April 5, 2019

No One Thing Should Hurt This Much by Isabelle Doyle

She used to melt me down and hold me
in the palm of her hand, pick me up and
sling me narrow across her narrow shoulder,
swing me all the way home, and when
I was too young to eat right, rub her thumb
across butter on my cheekbone, tell me over
and over You’re a really good daughter until
I believed her, until the year of the snakehole,
year of the nightcrawler, year even June was January
and midnights only unspooled into mourning.
I wore her thought like a soft diamond.
I pulled her shape like a cloak over my head
to keep me from rain, I stayed close as dawn
drew a lithe hand across the sky, five fingers
of light. I lay my body down beside herlessness.
Her end like knives. Pain powdered and hardened
into capsules, pain like medicine, pain taken
with breakfast and washed down with water.
I am a really good daughter. I am so complete
with knowing her and so halved by loss:
no more sugar cubes, no more grapefruit juice,
no more ringed fingers in my hair, only a body
in the world where God once was, no one
thing should hurt this much, O my woman
without end, amen amen amen.



Isabelle Doyle is a fourth-year undergraduate student at Brown University, studying English and Literary Arts. Her poetry has been published in such literary magazines as Bluestem Magazine, Typo Magazine, Thin Noon, Cargoes, The Blue Pencil Online, The Round, Clerestory, and Triangle. Her full-length poetry manuscript, BABYFACE, was the 2018 recipient of the Frances Mason Harris Prize, established in 1983, which is awarded annually to a woman undergraduate or graduate student at Brown University for a book-length manuscript of poetry or prose-fiction.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Elegy for a Broken Spoke by Isabelle Doyle

Every day she picked me up in her cloud hands
and carried me around Chicago on the command-shift of her hip,
close enough to feel laughter jumping up and out from inside her,
close enough that her body was everything,
closing her hands over mine,
God of my beginning, June of 1999:
storyteller, girl-carrier, honey-milk-maker,
star-watcher, moon-runner.
She taught me how to make a fist with my thumb outside it
because she was merciless,
walked and talked like every shadow belonged to her,
like she wouldn’t hesitate to disinherit the earth.
She taught me the necromancy of oranges,
how to light a bundle of sage and smoke out the whole house, 
how to answer the inevitable heat death of the known universe
with breakfast, You’ll feel better once you’ve eaten,
bacon sizzling while meteors fell,
taught me sunflower oil,
taught me to wear silver to weddings for luck,
taught me to never give up anything
before I was good and ready to give it up,
taught me how to ride a bike with a broken spoke,
how to loosen the spoke on the opposite side
and steady the bike’s bones, get my body home,
how to make minute, even stitches and her attention was infinite
and even when I grew too big for her to bear the brunt of me, 
she was a planet I circled like Io—
every day I try to write a poem as good as her face in front of me.



Isabelle Doyle is a fourth-year undergraduate student at Brown University, studying English and Literary Arts. Her poetry has been published in such literary magazines as Bluestem Magazine, Typo Magazine, Thin Noon, Cargoes, The Blue Pencil Online, The Round, Clerestory, and Triangle. Her full-length poetry manuscript, BABYFACE, was the 2018 recipient of the Frances Mason Harris Prize, established in 1983, which is awarded annually to a woman undergraduate or graduate student at Brown University for a book-length manuscript of poetry or prose-fiction.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Corey D. Cook's Upcoming Poetry Readings

April 10, 2019
Kimball Public Library in Randolph, VT 
7:00 PM
With Anne Shivas and Carol Potter
For more details: https://www.poemtown.org/

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May 6, 2019
Latham Library in Thetford, VT
7:00 PM