Monthly Archives: December 2017

“If You See Me Dancing” by Jan Day

If you see me dancing don’t let me drive
he said back when he drank
till he could do the two-step with his eyes shut.
I followed like a blind woman
who lived by touch.

Last call we’d spin out the door
so dizzy we saw stars on saguaros
and coyotes in trucks. He sang their lament.
He knew it by heart.
I found the keys.

We drove without headlights until there was no road left.
It seemed like a lifetime dancing in the dark
from coast to coast and back again. Then we stayed home
till he dared to climb
the deep part of night alone.

It was like a cave with airless walls
where I searched for him. Only once did I hear
his shuffle on stone,
the scuff of a boot to a western song.
I can’t forgive him. Not now.
He knew I’d never learn to dance on my own.

Jan Day says she is fortunate to live in interior Florida where water and light come together to create a lushness, not only of the earth but also of the imagination. She writes in several genres including fiction and plays and has written five children’s picture books published by Pelican Publishing.  Her poetry was most recently published in Peacock Journal. She resides in Okeechobee, Florida.


“Eight of Cups” by Toti O’Brien

now the measure is full
all drunk
all sunk in

(countless horses
over my chest

fine dust
from crumbled ribcage)

the sun
bled itself lavishly
to the final drop

hot wind
my parched skin

Toti O’Brien is the Italian Accordionist with the Irish Last Name. She was born in Rome then moved to Los Angeles, where she makes a living as a self-employed artist, performing musician and professional dancer. Her work has most recently appeared in Circleshow, Fire Poetry, Paper Earth, and Fishfood.

“Careless” by Andrew Clark

It’s careless:
your back arching across time
the way you drift across miles
to stand in front of me.
        We circle
        in the snow
        humming hymns, cheeks close.

It’s careless:
the way we smolder in the frost
a quiver between the trees
ice splintering around us.
       We are stars
        fallen from a fire
       once bright.
It’s a walk to the barn
in the biting cold
it’s a place to hide
from wind and world.
       It’s the two of us:
       a warm secret
       on the hay.

Andrew Clark is a poet whose work has appeared in The Ogeechee, The Miscellany, and The Pregnant Moon Review. He is the recipient of the Roy F. Powell Creative Writing Award from Georgia Southern University. He is a native of Asheville, NC, and is querying his Southern gothic magical realism novel. He is active on Twitter at @theandrewkclark. He is a contributor to Hilton Head Monthly magazine.

“Barnwork We Didn’t Talk Much About” by Charles A. Swanson

Manure was the word we used, or barnyard
muck. Not that manure was elegant,
but more so in the cattle stalls.

I still remember Christmas holidays,
the manure spreader parked,
ready, between two open doors,

and long-shafted pitch forks,
one with four tines, one with five,
the wood worn smooth in the handles,

the metal burnished and gleaming,
and the litter (isn’t that a nice word)
mixed with hay coming up in layers,

almost like thin-rolled well-baked pastry.
Cow manure smells sunny
compared to pig. Cows eat grass,

breathe grass, pass grass,
and something, though faint, lingers
of clover and sun and vegetable life.

Outside, around the doors, where sweet rain
fouled manure—imagine such a thing!—
the cows’ stomping and milling

made a black mess, a true muck—
this is what shit looks like, I always
think, even now, something fetid,

fecal, foul, black as tar, suck-
deep and miry. I walked through that,
too, as barefoot country boys do,

in summertime. But in winter,
straining to pry and peel up
a thin layer, a towel-length sheet

of cow manure, I sang (whenever,
I could find, a breath, between forking,
and tossing) every Christmas carol I knew.

Charles A. Swanson teaches English in an Academy for Engineering and Technology.  Frequently published in Appalachian magazines, he also pastors a small church, Melville Avenue Baptist in Danville.  He has two books of poems:  After the Garden, published by MotesBooks, and Farm Life and Legend, from Finishing Line Press. 



“Wild Onions” by Susan Carman

I brought home onion plants years ago
after admiring them in a friend’s garden, unaware

how like dandelions are these airy blooms, whispers
of white lifted on the breeze to land

far from where they began.
My friend died a decade ago, but I continue

to find still-green spikes poking up
among fall’s spent flowers and gently curse

her generosity. I pull them out
each year – they hold fast to the soil,

break off, roots stubborn as she was.
The pungent scent of onion lingers on my hands,

an homage to the bonds
of friendship that transcend this life.

Susan Carman is a former poetry co-editor for Kansas City VoicesA Pushcart Prize nominee, her poems and essays have appeared in publications including Coal City Review, Catholic Digest, I-70 Review, Kalliope, and Imagination and Place. Her essay, “An Extra Helping of Grace,” received a national award from Penguin Press.


“Snow Day” by Janet Reed

This new dog lifts one cold paw
into the glove of her warm belly,

eyes asking why abandon
a blanket of down for one of snow.

I tug her leash and pull on
past the school and church

in line with a wedge of geese
honking I-told-you-sos overhead,

their taunts like those I remember
after bent-arm hangs and volleyball,

pecking order lines at gym mirrors,
high-school beauties with blue eye shadows

and sharp tongues holding forth
on the faces behind them,

a Simon Says of trash talk,
one girl forward, another back.

I cared too much once, not wanting
to be the lone goose on the back row.

Those dance queens, like me,
must think about those long-ago days,

before wrinkles creased our eyes
before nipples perky in vanity bras

drooped in the folds of our nightgowns;
youth and beauty double-crossed us all.

We lucky ones lived to suffer our losses.
We have what we made of things.

I have this wind sharp against my cheek,
the joy of found time in a snow day,

the love of this dog that trusts me
to lead her on until she understands.

Janet Reed teaches writing and literature for Crowder College in Missouri.  She is a Prius-driving, Birkenstock-wearing, tree-hugging flower child whose poems reflect conversations she has with voices in her head.  She is a 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee. Her work has been published and is forthcoming in multiple journals, and she is currently at work on her first chapbook.