Monthly Archives: December 2018

Last Summer by Diane Unterweger

Your journal of daily intention was veiled like wisteria
in a thin warm rain. It seems forever sometimes—

the Trail of Seven Bridges, pink tulle.
We posed en pointe on the stairs.
I wish I could have known how ordinary grace
–the patio garden, our peeled willow swing—
is circumstantial and measured as a saline drip.

Dance the sky with me, sister—did we forget?
Not behind me now, not alone.
You wrote the body teaches
that form is fate, that luck keeps count,
our dreams between us past.

Only now is ours, this gauze and shadow June,
how a lesion blooms an answer—
Lemon honey. A blue ceramic sun.

Diane Unterweger lives on the east shore of a small lake in Wisconsin. Her poems have appeared most recently in Gingerbread House, Not One of Us, and Naugatuck River Review.

On the Occasion of 50 Years of Poems by Alan Perry

In this season of remembering
what came before us,
I think of snow.

Kaleidoscopes of flakes
that blanket bare spots,
gently fill footsteps

of trails to follow,
and groove the streets
to guide me home.

As each crystal melts,
it leaves a vanishing mark–
a point of clarity condensed

on skin–its final essence
blessing me with a tap,
comforting me with a presence.

But this poem doesn’t adore snow.
It loves the people who stepped
in and out of stanzas,

forming verses and images
of lives between the lines.
Each one’s unique countenance,

like a snowflake found
nowhere else, coming down
to touch the earth

and become it.

Alan Perry is a Minnesota native whose poems have appeared in Heron Tree, Right Hand Pointing, Sleet Magazine, Gyroscope Review, Riddled with Arrows, and elsewhere, and in a forthcoming anthology. He is an Associate Poetry Editor for Typehouse Literary Magazine, and was nominated for a 2018 Best of the Net.

“Houston Snow” by Deborah Phelps

Before dawn, snow tips the loden
Magnolias, the pin oaks, the dying palms.
Frost lies pristine in the ribs
Of the pines.

At daybreak the whiteness recedes
With children out of school
Scraping it off the car hoods
Into dirty snowmen.

This half-inch is the first ever
Seen by these children, and even
Some of their parents, who try
To take as many photos as possible

For future, warmer generations.
Afternoon, the coastal Gulf Stream
Bumps the temperature
Until snow is only barely
Visible on hedge-tops

A lace tablecloth kept for best.

Deborah Phelps teaches at Sam Houston State University. She has published a chapbook, Deep East, and in journals such as Gulf Coast, Comstock Review, and Red Coyote. She lives in Huntsville, Texas.

“Resistance” by Marian Shapiro

Ice whirling in our face. Snow angling side-
wise. We pull our stocking caps deep
over reddened ears.      Tilting forward.
Pressing on.  Everyone agrees:
this wind chill is a killer. Never-
theless, the trees, bare of all but squirrels, remain

Wait until Spring, they murmur.
Then we will dance the dance of leaves. Re-
sistance will be so lovely.

Marian Kaplun Shapiro, five-times Senior Poet Laureate of Massachusetts, is the author of a professional book, many journal articles, approximately 400  published poems, and three books of poetry. She practices as a psychologist in Lexington, Massachusetts.


“Coldsurge” by John C. Mannone

            After ‘Heatwave’ by Ted Hughes

Between Huntingburg and frozen Indianapolis
The Midwest plains had entered the fly’s belly.

Like black-eyed rabbits half-buried in snow
My plane shudders in the icy wind.

The illusion of a runway is so real
Trees sprout on it, and human carcasses.

Only droning of the engine
And no beacons for the hapless.

I cannot penetrate the silence till sunset
Releases its raptor

Over the clouds, and birds are suddenly
Everywhere, and my pilot’s flesh

freezes in the breathing-in of great eagles.

John C. Mannone has work in Blue Fifth Review, Poetry South, Peacock Journal, Baltimore Review, and others. He won the Jean Ritchie Fellowship (2017) in Appalachian literature and served as celebrity judge for the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (2018). He edits poetry for Abyss & Apex and others.


Under the Weather by Rachel Barton

remnants of ice fog sparkle like glitter
frost crisps grass and thistle
shimmer of holiday gift wrap ruffs
the bin-on-wheels pulls me in a glide over a sheen of ice
on slippered feet an unexpected ride
down the drive to the curb

this is the day after
pajamas and frizzled ham on a plate
an afterthought of toast and jam
he sips espresso  through a blanket of foam
folds himself back into a roll of fleece
drifts into a dreamless sleep

I survey the counter of holiday sweets
palate dimmed by yesterday’s surfeit
no more rush to prep or polish I pause
as sun rises above the neighbor’s roofline
a weak light slow to warm
the tinsel of silvered grasses

Rachel Barton is a poet, writing coach, and editor. She is a member of the Calyx Editorial Collective, edits Willawaw Journal, and co-chairs Willamette Writers on the River. Find her poems in Oregon English Journal, Hubbub, Whale Road Review, Mom Egg Review, Cloudbank, and elsewhere. Her chapbook, Out of the Woods, was released in 2017. Happiness Comes is just released from Dancing Girl Press.


‘Tis the Season by Karen Wolf

Blue eyes dripping sadness stare through dark
rimmed glasses and Daddy’s Mopar
truck windshield. My
running pace allowing glimpses of his
disproportionate pear-shaped scowl. Flashes
of his life imagined
schoolmate cruelties leveled for his
countenance, name calling,
social shunning, tripping, punches. A passing freight
train halts my progress enabling a hello
with Dad as he emerges from the post office, Christmas
cookie in hand. His boyhood
sadness crumbles away.

Karen Wolf has been published in Smokey Blue Literary and Art Magazine, The Wagon Magazine, Oasis Journal, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, The Bookends Review, The Drunken Llama, Blynkt, Raw Dog Press, Street Light Press, Lady Blue Literary Arts Journal, Ripcord Magazine and many others. Her chapbook, “That’s Just the Way it Is”, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2018.

She says that poetry soothes the savage beast and opens her eyes to the beauty that abounds within the world.

“Silent Night Broken Night” by Patrick Cabello Hansel

María stumbles on the road
into town and falls, baby first
on the baked earth.  José
stares at his virgin bride,
his exile, his horn of plenty. He crouches
to help her up, but she shouts “No!”
He must apologize for the strange
look in his eyes, for handling her
like a stone the moment he first
knew her weight.  The stars,

 pin pricks on the skin
of heaven, look down: here
are the children of earth, frozen
in the wounding that precedes hope.
No words redeem the time,
or take the pain away.  There is
sinew and bone break and breath.

 María and José look at each other
in the last dirt before Bethlehem.
Their eyes are cradles where no child
has yet been lain.  José nods,
leans María into his shoulder,
and as the two rise as one, her water
breaks onto her robes and his,
his feet and hers, the dust, the stone,
the river under it all.

They walk, quicker now.  No donkey,
no angel, no choir.  Just the hurried
birth racing like wind. This child
will not wait for shelter,
his name rushes headlong
through the dark tunnel
that billows into waiting hands.

There is hay and straw enough.
His skin will be wrapped
in the softest cloth.  Poor men
will bring songs. No house
dare hold this child.

Patrick Cabello Hansel has published poems in over 40 journals, including Isthmus, Red Weather Review, Ash & Bones and Lunch Ticket. His novella “Searching” was serialized in 33 issues of The Alley News and his book of poetry “The Devouring Land” will be published March 2019 by Main Street Rag Publishing. 

“Invocation // The Beast That Resides in the Acute Angle” by Gregory Kimbrell

The cabbie’s right hand travels the warm flank
of his unharnessed stallion, the striped woolen

muffler still pulled tight across his mouth, as if
to prevent himself from speaking aloud any of

the things that come into his mind after a long
day of work, before walking back down empty

streets to his shared room. The turpentine has
soaked through the earth floor at the west end

of the stable, where a clever boy who ran away
from home when he was still only fifteen used

to sleep in the hay every night. But even when
the world seems to forget us, the memories of

what we have done can seldom be rubbed out
completely. And sometimes the kids who look

far older than they are loiter behind the bolted
door to smoke, for kicks setting on fire unsold

newspapers and watching them burn up in the
rain barrel, wishing they could cause real harm.

Gregory Kimbrell is the author of The Primitive Observatory (Southern Illinois University Press, 2016), winner of the 2014 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Manticore—Hybrid Writing from Hybrid Identities, Phantom Drift, and elsewhere.

Northwoods Christmas Orphans by Nancy Austin

We caved to the kids visiting in-laws on the real holiday.
No, not chopped liver, I reassure my husband, coax a scarf
into his ungloved hands, point to crystalline aspen and hoar-frosted
huckleberry under the just-shaken snow globe sky.

Tires crunch a path around the lake, a doe darts across the wooded drive.
We kick off boots in a knotty-pine kitchen fragrant with cardamom, bacon, vanilla.
Winnie whips up her cream cheese frosting, mammoth cinnamon swirls yield
to our knives thick with sweet butter cream.
Emily, energizer bunny of this geriatric cohort, converses too quickly to think
between gasps of air, My friend can’t see with her immaculate generation.

We gather around their woodstove after breakfast.
Emily’s husband Ray recalls the year their Ford Fairlane
broke down near a rural tavern/general store,
Emily fills in every other phrase before he can finish.
Bologna at the bar. Crackers that Christmas.
Winnie and Ron remember a holiday alone,
Rotisserie chicken with our fingers in the parking lot.
They held one another’s gaze like a warm hand,
as if to reaffirm life’s slights and disappointments
form the glue that bonds, that comforts.
I nodded to my husband with that same knowing glance.
He narrowed his eyes, muttered chopped liver.

Nancy Austin has lived on both coasts, but prefers the land between. She relishes time to write in the Northwoods. Austin’s work has appeared in Adanna, Ariel, Gyroscope Review, Midwestern Gothic, Portage Magazine, Verse Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Poets Calendars. Her poetry collection is titled Remnants of Warmth (Aldrich Press/Kelsay Books, 2016).

Predictable Patterns by Laurinda Lind

I can’t stay centered on the winter solstice
even in its most ancient aspect and certainly
not its spendthrift one but when I was young,
boxes of attic bulbs determined December

along with trees that don’t belong inside
and won’t stay up, but mean it isn’t always
going to be this dark and cold, we’ll see
ground again without snow. After years

of take-apart trees and malevolent demented
light strings I have failed in the Christmas
category, either neglecting the tree till
it shredded to the touch in April and could

be scattered in the yard over leaves I never
raked in the fall, or not putting one up at all
so my daughter would come home from
college and sigh and put it up herself, and

once opened all my CDs. Stuck them on
the branches where they shone silver like
a Jetsons tree, assuming they would still
have trees in that century, that the seasons

will mean something after this terrible time
where we are now, this dark we are not
sure will take us through to spring, no
matter how much tinsel we throw to it.

Laurinda Lind’s poems are in Another Chicago Magazine, Blue Earth Review, Blueline, Comstock Review, Constellations, Main Street Rag, and Paterson Literary Review; also anthologies Visiting Bob [Dylan] (New Rivers) and AFTERMATH (Radix). In 2018, she won the Keats-Shelley Prize for adult poetry and the New York State Fair poetry competition.

“Copenhagen Morning” by Darwin Pappas-Fernandes

Eyes still sleepshod, I had myself almost convinced:

the rooftops I see from my window, a church spire brave against the sky—
it was the view from the fourth floor balcony of Vestergade 23,
buildings swirled away in dimming snow.
The day I was early to class, and she was early to class:
the two of us alone with the city.
She stepped sure through the window to me, touched
my shoulder. I pulled my scarf down and away
from my lips to say, what a beautiful morning,
and she agreed.
It wasn’t just a beautiful morning; looking at her
against the soft dove sky, it was a beautiful view.
We looked for the sun behind its barricade of cloud cover,
we looked for hooded crows, grey and black, pointing for each other.
I sensed her eyes on my cheek though we stood shoulder to shoulder,
taking apart the paradigm by proximity.
Peeking through the haze outside,
I woke thinking Denmark was here, that I was there,
not knowing, at first, how many years had passed. 

Darwin Pappas-Fernandes works in the Publishing industry in New York City. She graduated from Smith College in 2017, having majored in English and American Studies, with a Concentration in Poetry. Writing, and writing poetry in particular, has been a passion of hers since childhood.

“After Words” by Joseph Somoza

I open your book of words
to any page
and begin reading,
though, now, you too
are dead like the others,
another dead writer.
There’s no way
I’d be able to find you
in New York, and,
over coffee, ask you
what you meant,
where you were,
when you wrote that.
The words
have to make do
on their own now,
which is what you hoped for
in the first place
when setting them down—
ball-point in hand
in your study, looking
out at the street
through upper-story windows,
probably wondering where
you might go walking

Joseph Somoza retired from college teaching some years ago to have more time for writing.  He’s published ten books and chapbooks of poetry over the years, most recently AS FAR AS I KNOW (Cinco Puntos Press, 2015).  He lives in Las Cruces with wife Jill, a painter.

The Gift by Mary C. Rowin

A dream that among things
on offer I select a pair
of light green baby socks.

They are cotton, folded flat
with some eyelet stitching
around the edge of the cuff

and like the Christmas cookie
you bring home from the bank
for me, wrapped in a paper napkin,

I fold the socks and push them
into my jacket pocket. Protective.
To save for later.  Or to share.

As if I could hold you in my palm
like a small gift I chose for myself.

Mary C. Rowin’s poetry has appeared in various publications such as Hummingbird, Panopoly, Solitary Plover, Stoneboat and Oakwood Literary Magazine.  Mary’s poem “Centering,” published in the Winter 2018 issue of Blue Heron Review, has been nominated for the Push Cart Anthology.  Recent awards include poetry prizes from The Nebraska Writers Guild and from Journal from the Heartland, plus Honorable Mentions from the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets and Wisconsin People and Ideas.  Mary lives with her husband in Middleton, Wisconsin.

“Winter Decoration” by Frances Rove

At the juncture of two branches,
Blown by the wind and bounced about,
Sits a small nest to take its chances
And try to ride the winter out.

Simple and barren, mud and leaves,
Twigs and yet something else besides.
Jostled by the stiff Northern breeze.
Who can spy what soul in their hides?

Is that tinsel waving madly
On the too early budding tree?
Frost will surely nip it badly.
Far too optimistic are thee.

But did the cold bird decorate,
Choosing tinsel from other trash,
To please his tiny, feathered mate
With silver woven in their stash?

I venture closer, I must know.
Is it a trick of light or true?
Is tinsel woven in or no?
Surely, such a wise bird could do.

YES, tinsel from our Christmas time,
Chosen by some light-hearted bird.
Woven in the sweet nest sublime
And then undone without a word.

Unraveled by the frigid winds
Of the long, lonely winter nights.
Is it like mere string, as it bends,
Or is tinsel bird’s soul delight?

Silver sparkles under the Moon,
Chosen with purpose by the bird?
Decoration fades all too soon.
Wind whips, tinsel flies, all unheard.

Frances Rove is fifty-eight-year-old attorney on disability due to bipolar disorder who is writing a memoir and haas written poetry and short stories since grade school. She belongs to the National Association of Memoir Writers and Mensa and enjoys advocacy for mental health and adoption issues and for animals.