Monday, August 31, 2020

An Afternoon for Tea by Penny Harter

This is an afternoon for tea—
rich red of strawberry hibiscus
deepening in a brown ceramic cup.

I delight in dunking my teabag
up and down, lowering my face
into the rising steam’s sweet scent.

On today’s escape from shelter I ride
through a graveyard, some stones so
old their dates are half-eroded.

A light rain begins to fall, darkening
the pebbled road, nurturing the newly
springing grass between the plots.

Years ago at my mother’s memorial
gathering, my toddler granddaughter
perched on someone’s marker, singing.

I hadn’t thought of that for years, but
some roads take us back, even when
they wind through greening trees.

Home again, an afternoon for tea, hands
clasped around the cup’s kind warmth—
blessed comfort sheltered from the rain.

Penny Harter writes from the South Jersey shore area. Her recent books include A Prayer the Body Makes (2020); The Resonance Around Us (2013), and Recycling Starlight (2010). A featured reader at the 2010 Dodge Poetry Festival, she has won fellowships from the NJSCA; the Mary Carolyn Davies Award from the PSA; and residencies from VCCA. Please visit

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Baby Rabbits by Terri Kirby Erickson

Baby rabbits, you have wrung
my heart like a wet dishrag, set
my pulse racing whenever you,
your soft bodies quivering, stray
too far from the burrow. I watch
you from my kitchen window,
knowing I cannot help or save
you from the dangers lurking
all around you—the neighbor’s
cat, a hungry hawk, the heavy
paw of a large dog sniffing the
ground. So small and helpless,
the four of you, like infants left
by the side of the road, I can’t
imagine how you will survive,
though I make myself believe
you will. Have mercy, I say out
loud, my hand on the hard glass.

Terri Kirby Erickson is the author of six collections of poetry. Her work has appeared in “American Life in Poetry,” The Sun, The Writer’s Almanac, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Verse Daily, and many others. Her awards include the Joy Harjo Poetry Prize and a Nautilus Silver Book Award.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Canada Geese by Terri Kirby Erickson

Early this morning, before anyone was about,
four Canada geese were grooming themselves

in the road. They pulled their feathers, one by
one, ridding them of dirt and drops of the rain

that had fallen during the night. And as they
shook and ruffled and preened, down drifted

from beaks and bodies into the moist air, and
stuck to the street like giant flakes of freshly

fallen snow. Then they turned in unison and
walked away, feet slapping the wet pavement,

heads held high like four old friends leaving
an upscale salon, certain they all looked good.

Terri Kirby Erickson is the author of six collections of poetry. Her work has appeared in “American Life in Poetry,” The Sun, The Writer’s Almanac, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Verse Daily, and many others. Her awards include the Joy Harjo Poetry Prize and a Nautilus Silver Book Award.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Breakfast with My Parents by Terri Kirby Erickson

I loved my parents’ pillow-creased faces,
their soft robes—how their house smelled
of fresh-perked coffee, orange juice, and
toast with jam. We would sit together at
the dining room table, my mother slicing
and sugaring my father’s grapefruit since
he could barely see it—my father holding
a newspaper his failing eyesight no longer
let him read. Still, he liked the feel of it in
his hands, the sound of the paper rustling.
He would eat the glistening pieces of fruit,
talking between bites, his voice deep and
more gravelly in the mornings. My mother,
meanwhile, would move on to making the
eggs, whipping the whites and yolks with
a dinner fork while adding a dash of cold
milk, her golden hair gleaming with light
from the kitchen window. And Dad, while
he waited, would often turn on the radio,
its cheerful voice saying what he already
knew. It was going to be a perfect day.

Terri Kirby Erickson is the author of six collections of poetry. Her work has appeared in “American Life in Poetry,” The Sun, The Writer’s Almanac, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Verse Daily, and many others. Her awards include the Joy Harjo Poetry Prize and a Nautilus Silver Book Award.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Driftwood by Carolynn Kingyens

No one tells you
how it will end,
or when you know
you’ve reached
a rock bottom heart,
where I imagine
echo and void dwell
in these badlands,
in these drylands,
a tumbleweed of memory –
your dress socks
rolled into a ball
in some dust bunny corner;
loose change
atop your dresser;
a slamming door
a room away;
a long shower;
another lukewarm meal
in relative silence.

Yet we still cling
to that other
in this darkness;
our driftwood bodies
busy becoming one
in this bed,
in this flood
of our making.

Carolynn Kingyens’ debut book of poetry, Before the Big Bang Makes a Sound (Kelsay Books), can be ordered through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Greenlight, Book Culture, and Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Shop. In addition to poetry, Carolynn writes narrative essays, book reviews, and short stories. Her latest short story, "Fast Car," can be read here. She lives in New York City with her husband of 20 years, two beautiful, kind daughters, a sweet rescue dog, and a very old, chill cat.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

What I Wait For by Rich Heller

Every evening this week
at dusk she stands
by the kitchen window—

the dishes done—
listening to
the birds’ final calls,

waiting for the lone raccoon
to appear for a drink
at her tiny garden pond.

Her silhouette
in the darkening window
is what I wait for.

Rich Heller studied creative writing at the University of Pittsburgh. His poems and short stories have been published in over 25 literary journals.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Cottage on the Pond by Robert Demaree

1. Closing up the Cottage September 1986

My dad’s last summer on the pond
I flew up Labor Day
To help close up, drive them home.
The airport bus
Only came as far as Dover.
Somehow they managed to get there,
Him wandering around the restaurant,
My mother with the
Caregiver’s exhausted sadness.
The restaurant is still there,
Different name, different owners:
I pass by that place
And still feel
An unbidden welling up,
How one thing comes
To stand for another.

2. Closing up the Cottage October 2012

To our cottage on the pond,
I ascribe human attributes,
And why not:
Four generations of
Idiosyncratic postures,
Favorite chairs,
The smiles of grandsons
Around each corner,
In every splash off the dock,
Scent of decades of pine rooms,
My father’s shaving brush,
Memories in other artifacts
We did not buy.

So when we leave,
Packing up board games
Along with Beth’s shy grin,
We ease out onto the lane,
Regret visceral
Until about the Massachusetts line.
The cottage, at first forlorn,
Has figured out what’s going on,
Recognizes the red kayak,
An intruder in the guest room,
But, relaxing under its cover of
Newspaper, moth balls,
Frayed bedspreads,
Like an old bear we know,
Dozes off for the winter.

3. Opening up the Cottage June 2020

Our daughter and her husband
Came up this year
To help open the cottage
And by the time we arrived
Had done things we used to do:
Got the kayaks from the guest room
Down to the dock,
Swept up the thick yellow pollen
Left on the porch
By a New Hampshire spring,
Discarded the paper and mothballs
In which the furniture had slept.

We are older than my parents were
The last time they drove north.

We will pay to get some things done—
Pine straw off the roof;
Other things—the high windows
That face the water—may not get done.
I save for myself one task—I must:
Putting up our sign
At the head of the lane, our name,
The metal loon looking down
Toward the pond.

Robert Demaree is the author of four book-length collections of poems, including Other Ladders, published in 2017 by Beech River Books. His poems have received first place in competitions sponsored by the Poetry Society of New Hampshire and the Burlington Writers Club. He is a retired school administrator with ties to North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. Bob’s poems have appeared in over 150 periodicals including Cold Mountain Review and Louisville Review.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

To Lyman Bostock (1950-1978) by Joey Nicoletti

Dear Mr. Bostock: Abdul Jibber Jabber,
when your batting average was .147,
you asked Gene Autry not
to pay you. He said no.
You gave your monthly paycheck
to charity, and you did this in a time
when money was tight for many
in America, including my family,
when my father couldn’t work
because he broke his back,
just as you did every time you suited up
for the Twins and Angels,
a halo of mosquitoes
buzzing above a bird bath
filled with beer cans and bullets.

Joey Nicoletti was born in New York City. He works in Buffalo.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Under the weeping willow's tresses by Zebulon Huset

the doe's white tail tucked
under her camouflaged hind

three fawns curled into
slowly baking cookies
their panting pink tongues
tasting brook-cooled wind

overheated midges float
the zephyrs more than fly

beneath the khaki crab grass
earthworms sit in stasis

the waking world
waiting on sundown

Zebulon Huset is a teacher, writer and photographer living in San Diego. His writing has recently appeared in Meridian, The Southern Review, Fence, Rosebud, Atlanta Review & Texas Review among others. He publishes a writing prompt blog Notebooking Daily and edits the journal Coastal Shelf.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Grandpa Mack’s Grocery Store by Sharon Waller Knutson

sits smack dab
in the middle
of spud fields
on a highway,
a mile from town,
with a creek out back.

His wife runs off
with the freezer
salesman, his kids
grow up and leave,
and he marries
my grandmother.

Still sunrise to sunset,
snow or sunshine,
he sells bread
and baloney
to locals, sodas
and fudgsicles

to traveling tourists
and barters
with farmers
for fresh produce
and eggs. He still
refuses to close

after the freeway
bypasses the store
and chemo weakens him.
When he is gone,
my grandmother
sells the building,

which becomes a bar
where locals swig beer
from a tap and now a barn
housing horses that drink water
from the creek out back.

Sharon Waller Knutson, a retired journalist, writes poetry from her Arizona desert home. Her work has appeared in The Orange Room Review, Literary Mama, Verse-Virtual, Wild Goose Poetry Review and Your Daily Poem. She is the author of five chapbooks: Dancing with a Scorpion, My Grandmother Smokes Chesterfields, Desert Directions, They Affectionately Call Her a Dinosaur and I Did It Anyway.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Consistent with Lewy Body by Vera Kewes Salter

Abnormal deposits of alpha synuclein in the brain

He sits with his hands in his lap
          unsure where he put them
watches two women, one tall one short
          walk through the closet door

Swollen feet shuffle soggy paper towels
          to clean droplets from
the speckled tile floor -- he showers
          I mop -- then towel water from his back

At breakfast he asks:
          Why am I in Lewy's body?
we hang our answers
          on a clothesline

read the paper and pray
          for a free and fair election
together go into the garden
          turn on the sprinkler

admire the round red hibiscus
          he planted last year
watch a tiger swallowtail
          drink nectar from a tiger lily

At night he inspects the house
          turns on the porch lights
locks the terrace door
          that I left open.

Vera Kewes Salter is recently published in Right Hand Pointing, The Writers Circle 2, Red Eft Review and Writing in a Woman's Voice. Born into a refugee family in the United Kingdom she raised a family in the US and is a retired health care administrator and advocate.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Free by Holly Day

We put the small wire cage in the car next to my daughter’s car seat
where she can talk to the little purple-headed finch huddled at the bottom
while we drive it back out to the field where we first found it
lying in the snow, unable to move, almost dead.
We tried denying the little foundling a name, since we knew
we were just going to set it free once it was well enough,
but our daughter named it “Happy”
because, she said, he was going to be so happy we found him
he was going to be so happy living with us.

We get to the park and pull into the lot
and my daughter says something about Happy wanting to stay with us
and I have to tell her that birds want to live with birds,
especially wild birds, this is his home
and his friends are expecting him.
She wants to carry the cage
so we let her, it looks so big in her tiny hands
she has to use two hands to carry the small cage across the lot.

All the while, the little bird in the cage has been quiet,
hopping back and forth on the newspapered bottom to maintain balance
with the bouncing steps of the little girl
but I can tell he’s looking out through the bars of the cage
at a world he thought he would never see again
I can tell he’s wondering why we’re here.

My daughter sets the cage down on the grass and claws at the cage door
she wants to be the one to open it. I remind her that Happy
is too small for her to try to hold, like I’ve been saying all winter
that all she can do is open the cage door
and wait for the bird to come out on his own. Surprisingly, though,
it only takes a couple of seconds for the bird
to hop on the thin wire of the cage’s doorframe
as though he’s been listening to us
as though he knows exactly what’s expected of him.
“He wants to stay with us!”
says my daughter suddenly, slamming the little door shut
but it’s too late, Happy is already gone
a flutter of wings into the trees overhead.

Holly Day has been a writing instructor at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Grain, and Harvard Review, and her newest poetry collections are Into the Cracks (Golden Antelope Press), Cross Referencing a Book of Summer (Silver Bow Publishing), The Tooth is the Largest Organ in the Human Body (Anaphora Literary Press), and Book of Beasts (Weasel Press).