Friday, 15 January 2021

Pack Horse Librarians

by Kari Gunter-Seymour

I mean no disrespect when I say,
during the Great Depression
Eastern Kentucky was a sundered area.
Surrounded by mountains and waterways,
no easy access in or out, nor any proper
education, until the WPA employed
our grandmothers to packsaddle
literacy to the underserved.

This would be the only good thing
coal would do for Kentucky,
coal and the Presbyterians,
donating books and endowment,
twenty-eight dollars a month to any woman
with a horse or mule, and the spunk
to stand up for progress, brave the weather,
backwaters and hollers, to deliver emancipation
by means of bound dissertation.

You need to understand, this was Appalachia,
just before the war to end all wars.
Only women of disrepute were considered
working women by the church.
Christian women labored in the kitchen and fields,
birthed, prayed, died in them, albeit
many Christian women were taught to read,
if for no other reason than the Lord’s word
could be used to hold her back.

But this was the New Deal and all bets were off.
Imagine my grandmother, top of her head
barely level with the saddle’s front rigging dee,
flaming red hair, a brand of sass all her own.
Packing up at the Pine Mountain Settlement School,
Harlan County, creek beds as roads,
on foot, single file, across crag and clifftop,
sleeping in barns or lean-tos against the cold.
Deliberate as any lineman or mail carrier,
every treatise she carried, a nugget
of gold inside her saddlebags.

* * * * *

"Pack Horse Librarians" is part of A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions 2020)

Kari Gunter-Seymour’s poetry collections include A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions 2020) and Serving (Crisis Chronicles Press 2018/2020-Expanded Edition). Her work is firmly attached to her home soil and is an examination of the long-lasting effects of stereotype and false narratives surrounding Appalachians. Her poems appear in numerous journals and publications including Verse Daily, Rattle, Still, The NY Times and on her website:
. She is the 2020 Ohio Poet of the Year and Poet Laureate of Ohio.

Thursday, 14 January 2021

Daughter-In-Law Mine, Once Removed

by Kari Gunter-Seymour

There is a wall on the US/Mexico border
made of surplus steel and wire mesh.
A thousand miles worth,
back yards and alleys in Chula Vista,
as far up as Temecula.
Children stand on our side,
poke tiny fingers against those
hardly even holes for the slightest brush
of their grandmother’s fingers,
pressed inward from the Tijuana side.
I saw it in Time magazine and cried,
my own fingers urgent, the iciness
of your Colorado stand-off, rigid
as anything man-made.

Surely you remember this rich Ohio soil,
ripe to bursting, water pure, pastures plush.
A woman can make her way here.
I don’t care about the details, who was right,
who should have gotten what, but didn’t.
I don’t mind that you will never
love again, and hell’s to pay.

I care my body has gone to wrinkle
and the world to concrete and convenience.
Tractors traded for fracking augers,
though this parcel will never fall,
long as I can steady a shotgun.
With no partner but a wall to cling to,
what’s balled up can only bounce back.
Raised without old ways, a granddaughter
might never make out why
her body aches for seed and trowel.

Riffling National Geographic, it came to me
to send this telescope, highly
recommended for its ability to reflect.
Along with the moon and stars,
help her please to look south of Lake Erie,
by way of the Appalachians,
then east-by-southeast.
Tell her that’s her grandmother,
top of Beck’s Knob, waving a white hankie.

* * * * *

"Daughter-In-Law Mine, Once Removed" was first published in Still: The Journal and is part of A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions 2020)

Kari Gunter-Seymour’s poetry collections include A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions 2020) and Serving (Crisis Chronicles Press 2018/2020-Expanded Edition). Her work is firmly attached to her home soil and is an examination of the long-lasting effects of stereotype and false narratives surrounding Appalachians. Her poems appear in numerous journals and publications including Verse Daily, Rattle, Still, The NY Times and on her website: She is the 2020 Ohio Poet of the Year and Poet Laureate of Ohio.

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Peanut Butter and Ritz Cracker Sandwiches

by Sand Pilarski

We rode in the back of the red pickup truck
Huddled against the cab.
We slowly turned on hairpin curves
To reach a trail that stretched for miles.
Through jack pines and past granite piles
Away across the top of the long mountain.

In bright sunlight over newly frozen ground
Scarlet sugar maples
Shed their leaves, unlike modest oak
Who cover nakedness and hold
Throughout the winter's icy cold
Their leaves high above the mountain's two-track road.

There we were freed to run as fast as we could
And as far as we could.
Shouting, screeching, waving our arms,
Stopping to look at hardy moss,
At teaberry we came across.
At ground pine and the pockets of skifted snow.

Peanut butter and Ritz cracker sandwiches
And fresh-dipped spring water
Awaited us when we were done.
In gratitude we praised the fare
Delicious as we lingered there
Where cooped-up children could stretch their autumn legs.

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Innkeeper’s wife irate over loss

by Carolyn Martin

I could spit! I shouted in his face.
Turning paying guests away!
He brushed that couple off without
so much as, Maybe we could find … .

When will he learn? The Census earns
five years of room and board,
but lugging wood and curing hay,
learning isn’t on his mind.

Of course I’d carve a plan. I’d hearth
an extra rug to keep her bundle warm.
He and that soft-eyed man would share
a bed. And when it came her time, 

we’d march those smelly shepherds far
beyond the barn and hush those wings
and aggravating songs. Enough to drive
dreamers from their restless sleep.

And, the publicity we’d glean!
destination site, at least.
Not every day do morning stars
and cameled Kings ruckus through

our town. We’d be well-mapped,
well-known for hospitality, 
not the butt of half-lame jokes.
We lost the chance. I’m furious!

Know what’s worse? That dotty neighbor
with the rotting manger molding hay
lets strangers muck across his barn,
dropping coins to say they’ve been.

Now he roams his days across the hills,
singing sounds like tidings, peace,
and human hearts. Who talks like that?
I’d like to know. Who talks like that? 

* * * * *

"Innkeeper’s wife irate over loss" was previously published in Mistletoe Madness, 2015.

From associate professor of English to management trainer to retiree, Carolyn Martin is a lover of gardening and snorkeling, feral cats and backyard birds, writing and photography. Her poems have appeared in more than 125 journals and anthologie  throughout North America, Australia, and the UK. Her fifth collection, The Catalog of Small Contentments will be released in 2021. Currently, she is the poetry editor of Kosmos Quarterly: journal for global transformation.

Monday, 11 January 2021


by Jill Crainshaw

“The stars are falling–”
was she asking or announcing? 
“a sign of the times.”

A rocking, smiling moon 
slid beneath the stars–
to catch them, perhaps,
as they tumble
through turbulent times
to a light-hungry earth? 

“She will hold the pieces,” I said
and smiled back at the hopeful moon–
bent on cradling the aching light
until she is full–
one more time.

* * * * *

Jill Crainshaw is a poet, preacher, and teacher. Through her writing and teaching, she celebrates life’s seasons and seasonings. She and her two dogs, Bella and Penny, look for poems each day in their back yard. Sometimes Jill writes them down. Check out Jill’s most recent book, Thrive: How professionals 55 and over can get unstuck and renew their lives on her website,

Sunday, 10 January 2021

Old School Dream

by Claire Massey

Covid 19 rages like a fifties era
tyrannical stepfather who buzz cuts his hair,
embraces wrath of God doctrine,
grounds you for the slightest infraction,
juke joint dancing, wine on your breath,
a seconds late curfew violation.

Last night I dreamed I was retro living
in the Age of Aquarius,
the water bearer’s constellation brimming,
spilling overhead.
My boyfriend kissed me
in the commons garden.
Mogen David flowed.
Gently stoned friends smiled,
blessing unguarded union,
him in his surplus bell bottoms,
me with my waterfall hair,
so abundant.

* * * * *

Claire Massey is the Poet Laureate for the Pensacola, Florida branch of National Pen Women. She was a selection editor for the 2019 print edition of The Emerald Coast Review. Among other publications, her work appears or is forthcoming in Persimmon Tree, Panoply, Wilderness House Literary Review, Flights 2020 Magazine and Saw Palm: Journal of Florida Art and Literature



Saturday, 9 January 2021


by Sharmila Pokharel

If I go home
I will find my mother
doing the household chores,
tears rolling down her cheeks

With the dream of earning more
I am rushing on and on
towards success
counting each second and each minute

While she cleans the same dishes,
prepares one meal after another,
cleans again and counts the days again

As the mornings, afternoons, and evenings pass by,
her body stoops a little more
her eyes get blurred a little more.

* * * * *

was previously published in Somnio: The Way We See It, a collaborative book project of three poets and an artist including the author

Sharmila Pokharel is a bilingual poet from the Himalayan country Nepal. Her third book is a bilingual poetry collection, My Country in a Foreign Land, co-translated by Alice Major. She is a co-author of Somnio: The Way We See It, a poetry and art book published in 2015.


Friday, 8 January 2021

Ever Aftermath: the Marriage

by Carol Clark Williams

When mother was dead, father finally asked my sister,
“Why didn’t you tell me she was beating you?”

My sister responded:
“How could you not know?”

The king was in the counting house, doing his accounting.
The king was buying his new Chrysler.
The king was drinking with his buddies,

fishing in his motorboat,
away on business, playing honky-tonk guitar
with his brothers in the den.

Taking his children, the mother fled into the forest
where a house made of gingerbread—
Wait. No. Those children were alone.

Taking the children she fled into a room where
a spinning wheel with a tainted spindle—
No, that can’t be right.

Taking her children she fled into religion,
where she could pass them through a hole in god’s stomach
and drop them in the fire.

Taking the children she fled into a fury,
beat them with a belt, seized them by the ears,
banged their heads against a window pane.

The king said he did not realize
his wife was a witch who cast end spells
on his darling children

while he was busy looking the other way,
as, according to tradition, most men do.

* * * * *

"Ever Aftermath" first appeared in Reclaiming Our Voices, published by Community Arts, Ink.

Carol Clark Williams is poet laureate emerita of York, Pennsylvania and a Pushcart nominee. Her work has won state, local and national awards, and she is widely published online and in print. Her favorite occupation is teaching poetry workshops.

Thursday, 7 January 2021

Comfort Care

by Louella Lester

Precisely spaced on the low table by her bed:

a dog-eared novel, beyond her comprehension for weeks, bookmarked fifteen pages in.

an address book, names and numbers she’s no longer able to decipher, beside a landline telephone.

a pen, reminder of her once perfect penmanship, on top of two scribbled squares of paper.

a box of tissue, difficult to reach with her sore arm, next to a cup of water.

As I try to explain the changes signed this morning into her final care plan, I don’t realize my fingers are fluttering about the table, like the wings of a trapped moth, altering her own plan. She cries out and will only settle when I apologize and move each item back to its exact place.

* * * * *

Louella Lester is a writer and amateur photographer in Winnipeg, Canada. Her work has appeared in New Flash Fiction, Spelk, Reflex Fiction, Vallum, Prairie Fire, Gush: menstrual manifestos for our times (Frontenac House anthology, 2018),  A Girl’s Guide to Fly Fishing: Reflex Fiction Volume Three (Reflex Press anthology, 2020), and Wrong Way Go Back  (Pure Slush -Volume 19 anthology, 2020). Her Flash-CNF book, Glass Bricks (At Bay Press, April 2021) is upcoming. Her blog, Through Camera & Pen, can be found at

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

Knock Knock

by Angela Costi

My grandmother spoke
about her time with war,
never opening the door despite
her hearth crying for company,
“Even if the voice in the dark
sounds like your neighbour’s,
it could be the demon tricking
your mind into unlocking,
it could be the neighbour
who has become the enemy
while you have slept,” here
the sound of welcome becomes
the sound of fear, here I stand,
one side of the locked door,
noticing how my heart
is racing to open the latch
while my head is pounding
leave me alone, the knock
turns into the shrill ring into
the spill of door light’s growing
spread of familiar foreign
demanding entrance, “Who’s there?”
The reply is a cage of jokes
buried by ancestral warning.
The shadow grows smaller
retreats into the shape
of a shawl-covered woman,
softly hunched
opening the gate to leave
with no answer for the knock
of the world
demanding to greet
the body.

* * * * *

Angela Costi is an Australian-based poet and essayist of Cypriot-Greek heritage. 
She is the author of four poetry collections including Honey and Salt (Five Islands Press, 2007) and Lost in Mid-Verse (Owl Publishing, 2014). 
An award from the National Languages Board in 1995 enabled her to study Ancient Greek drama in Greece. 

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Going Home

by Claire Keogh

The brilliant light and the soft waves came
caressing me
crashing down upon me.

I saw the sunlight coming over me
and then the angels came
washing over me.

and the moonlight shone
right above me
they went without me.

It was not my time, not my time at all
so next time baby,
I’ll be ready.

Have my phone charged
and my backpack
heaven bound.

so that I can leave behind
all that’s important
in this mortal world.

* * * * *

Claire Keogh MA is an Irish writer and poet living in Dublin and currently studying Philosophy at University in Brussels. In the 1990s, she lived and studied in the United States. Claire has published work in print in both in the US and Europe, and online, and she has several books on, including a poetry collection 24 Poems in 24 Hours: A Journey and a novella A Tale of Three Weddings

Monday, 4 January 2021

Whose Boy?

by Karen Friedland

Whose lanky boy is that,
walking awkwardly, endearingly, down the street?
He is our lanky boy.

Whose towering maple is that,
Half-dead, half majestically alive?
Again—ours, our streets.

Whose are these sauntering cats,
these aggrievedly-barking dogs, this late-summer,
almost-fall afternoon
that tastes like honey?

They belong to all of us—
this whole, wondrous slice of existence,

So lush,
the scene should be rendered in oil
on a vast canvas
as a testament to living.

* * * * *

"Whose Boy" is part of Karen Friedland's chapbook Tales from the Teacup Palace
(Červená Barva Press, October 2020)

A nonprofit grant writer by day, Karen Friedland’s poems have been published in Nixes Mate Review, Writing in a Women’s Voice, the Lily Poetry Review, Vox Populi and others. Her book of poems, Places That Are Gone, was published in 2019 by Nixes Mate Books, her chapbook Tales from the Teacup Palace was published in October 2020 by Červená Barva Press. She lives in Boston with her husband, two cats and two dogs.

Sunday, 3 January 2021

Eros and the Arts

by Karen Friedland

Lying here, with my dogs,
I am day-dreaming about saucy male poets
who still know how to flirt—
a rare pleasure
in this blue, Calvinistic city of ours.

And I am fetched to higher realms,
such as where good poetry takes me—
because eros and the arts
are my main forms of transportation

in this humble little glimpse
of the world we are given. 

* * * * *

"Eros and the Arts" is part of Karen Friedland's chapbook Tales from the Teacup Palace (Červená Barva Press, October 2020)

A nonprofit grant writer by day, Karen Friedland’s poems have been published in Nixes Mate Review, Writing in a Women’s Voice, the Lily Poetry Review, Vox Populi and others. Her book of poems, Places That Are Gone, was published in 2019 by Nixes Mate Books, her chapbook Tales from the Teacup Palace was published in October 2020 by Červená Barva Press. She lives in Boston with her husband, two cats and two dogs.


Saturday, 2 January 2021


By Joanna Friedman

You know those before and after photos? The before with the heavy, unhappy woman, and the after with the smiling skinny one?
Lacey’s before was on a billboard that stood on a hillside above Bellflower. Forever wearing a bikini and frown as she pinches the skin near her hip. Above her head the slogan:  Summer isn’t summer until this is gone. Beneath her feet, a parade of Slim Star diet pills.
Except there wasn’t an inch on her body that needed correcting. She was beautiful and I hated how I felt when I looked at her. But that was before I met her and interviewed her for our school paper.

The highway toward Lacey’s house curved through hills, rolling green ones, with only a farm house every few miles. They’d planted the billboard on the highest and widest hill, so no one would miss her on display. Her waist was flat, perfect, nothing like what I had, and what I had made me want to do a thousand sit ups and eat only salads. At least I had blonde hair, but why did it have to turn out frizzy? God, you could have given me a little bit of what Lacey has.
Past the exit, the road turned to gravel. A pink box of donuts bounced up and down on the passenger seat. The words for the story were already writing themselves, the interview would be the icing: 
We all have wished for the gorgeous body; flat abs, hips curving–not too much, but only a few lucky women look like that in real life, and computers do the rest. Even the girl in the billboard isn’t happy. Research shows diet products don’t work, and can lead to eating disorders. What does the billboard girl think about that? 
Ms. Lacey Bellflower USA- the truth from your lips will save a lot of girls from a lifetime of body bashing.

Her house was smaller than I’d imagined. A dilapidated chicken coop stood to the right, past it a lily pond, and the noisy highway further down. From behind a screen door her long hair seemed darker than in the photo. An autumn brown kind of hair, flowing down to her waist, the kind I’d always wanted. Her yellow shirt knotted above her left hip. Billboard girl. Diet pill pusher–I reminded myself of that girl–not the one in front of me making me fiddle with the camera strap. Making me wish I was wearing something better than a black jersey dress and tennis shoes. 

Photo 1: Lacey behind a porch screen door, hands pushing against it. Serious hazel eyes. Gray eyeshadow. Perfect lips, coral red. Perfect chin. Perfect hair.

Smiling a perfect half-smile like she was inviting me in, but hoping I wouldn’t ask too many questions.
“Alexa.” I held out my hand. “From the school paper? The billboard story?” Her hand felt warm, and I had to reaffirm my reasons for being here: figuring out how she looked like that. Focus. I handed her the box.
She paused, a hint of frown, as she took the donuts. If she ate them, it would prove that she didn’t believe in diets; that she was a fraud. But it could also mean that the diet products worked. I wish I’d thought the test through a bit more, but she took the box and led me through her home.
Furniture piled with cartons, covered with sheets and all sorts of junk. She moved around it all, tanned, her dark hair bouncing, curled against her back. She turned, “I know you think I’m awful for doing that ad.”
It was awful, but she wasn’t awful. Of all things, I came out with, “It’s just –we have to do better as women, right? Even if we are beautiful – I mean not me.” This blurting of questions wasn’t like me, but here we were. “More like you.”
Lacey paused in the darkened living room, and laughed an awkward snorty, not very beautiful laugh, which I wanted to hear again, right away. I dug my fingers into the spirals of my notebook. Focus Alexa. More professional. Ask better questions.
She continued through to the kitchen. “I have a long way to get to beautiful.”
“See that’s just it. If you have a long-way, then how about the rest of us frizzy-haired girls?” I was trying to keep it light, but the truth was my lumpy figure wasn’t exactly the stuff of romance novels. Anyway, I wasn’t here to write romance, or for beauty tips.
In the kitchen, her mom, heavy set, drank black coffee–and scowled at the donuts. “Sorry, hun. This is a sugar free house.” Took a sip of her coffee. “Killer on the thighs, right, Lace?” 
Somewhere inside the house, “Eat sugar each day, watch your beauty fly away.”
Lacey glanced at me, winked, rested the donuts near the fridge. “I’ll take care of them.” 
Her Mom steadied the coffee against her lips as she spoke. “Are you going to make Lacey look bad?”
“No, Ma’am.” I nodded. The sun glowed on Lacey’s hair as she popped open a diet coke.
Her mom continued, “You need to understand–Lacey’s got a career now. This has got to be all positives. And my Pixie, mention her, alright? She’s just getting started.”
“What are those?” A young girl–about eleven–wearing heels, a crop top and mini skirt, blue eye shadow, hair combed out, pounced on the donuts like I’d brought poison. “No sugar.” She lifted her arms over her head, stretched out her torso, and flicked her hair back. “But you can take my picture.”
Lacey–now blushing- handed me a diet coke. “Can we dial down the attitude, Pix?”
But that only encouraged her more. “Not when the paparazzi’s here.”
I snapped the shot.

Photo 2: Pixie’s catwalk through the kitchen.

Lacey caught my eye, “Well then, let’s show the paparazzi our back porch.”
On the wooden steps, the donuts between us sat melting in the heat, while Pixie, diet coke in hand, ran off to the lily pond.

Photo 3:  Close up of Lacey. Her hair curled around her ears. Her shirt collar touching her neck. Sipping on a diet soda. Long eye lashes. Smudges of mascara. Her eyes with their flecks of brown and gold, and clouds of sad peeking through.

Pixie took off her shoes and burrowed her feet into the mud at the edge of the pond. Around Lacey’s crossed ankles the thin straps turned a few times, the wedge heels were thick and high. She chewed on her lip and asked. “Alright, how about more questions about how I’m a bad influence.” 
Something about the way she asked seemed familiar. Like she’d spent time beating herself up about it already. The same way we all beat ourselves up about everything. All I’d planned to ask seemed out of order, but I had to see this through. “Only a few lucky women have a body like that– it’s not even your real body, right?” Her eyes fell and I felt terrible for asking. “It’s just it makes the rest of us feel inadequate . . .”
Her gaze drifted to where Pixie’s heels sank into the earth near the pond; the cars speeding on the highway at the bottom of the hill. A few strands of hair loosened against her cheek and brushed against the freckles near her nose, landed right where her shirt ended and her skin began. Finally, Lacey asked, “The diet stuff, doesn’t it at least give us hope?”
“So, you’ve tried those products, and they make you feel better?” My pen hovered, ready, for her response.
She leaned back. “Even if I did, I’d never look natural and beautiful, like you.” Her fingers strayed to my curls, and pulled one down near my chin. “It’s like hair that you have after a long crazy swim. Like memories of a wild summer.” 
Dragonflies dipped onto the lily pads, bouncing on water as warm as the air. Yes, summer hair- not bad to have that. In the margins I doodled translucent wings fluttering just short of landing on leathery green leaves with their cracks and spots of brown and me swimming among them.
She was a much harsher critic when it came to herself. “I hate my natural color. They lightened it with computer graphics for the ad. And my stomach–” She lifted her shirt a little, and exposed her midriff with three beauty marks and curves, soft with layers – not like the image in the billboard.
“What else?” Her dark hair, against the light gray wood of the porch, and the brilliant blue sky just past her shoulder, she leaned back, “You know, for the story?”
Pixie ran over screaming – “Huge toad!”– her toes muddy. She was dramatically panting, her entire body heaving with laughter. “My hair got messed up. And my stomach-” Pixie began poking at her stomach with muddy fingers, leaving spots wherever she pinched herself. “I need to lose at least fifty pounds today.” 
“Stop!” Lacey grabbed her wrist gently. “Alright already. You won’t be able to catch that toad if you don’t keep those muscles.”
Pixie lifted the lid off the donuts. The chocolate had melted. “Those look so gross.” Her fingers had made their way into Lacey’s and now both of their hands were muddy.
“Liar.” Lacey teased her.
“I want to have a billboard too.” 
“Alexa will put you in the paper. You’ll look a hundred times better.” Lacey’s trust made me want to take better pictures, write a better story.

Photo 4: Her head near Pixie’s, some of the mud smudged on Lacey’s cheek. Pixie’s hair wild. Lacey’s arms around her little sister.

I loved how one of her teeth tilted just a little forward when she fully smiled. No one saw that on the billboard. “So, why did you do that ad?”   
“I wondered if I could look beautiful.”
“Did you?” I already knew the answer, but I pushed her. “Feel beautiful?”
She squinted into the sun. Pixie’s mouth opened slightly, listening for Lacey’s next words, but there was only one soft one. “No.”
Exactly. None of us felt beautiful. No matter what we tried.
“Except,” she pulled in Pixie close, smiled at me with that serious smile of hers, “The three of us together, today, look beautiful.”
I pointed the camera at us and snapped the shutter.

Photo 5: Three faces, touching, grinning.

Pixie moved to open the box of donuts – they’d melted and fallen all over each other. “When I get ugly, I’ll go on a diet then.”
“Yeah, and what kind of diet will fix the uglies?” I asked. 
She lifted the soda into a toast. “The Pixie, Lacey and Alexa diet soda and donuts and hang out together all-day diet.” Chocolate smudged on Pixies upper lip, and Lacy and I toasted to that.
Near the pond I took the final photo.

Photo 6: Lacey laying on the shore, her legs in the pond. Small concentric circles created waves out over the glassy surface. The skin falling over the top of her shorts. Tiny hairs on her legs. Shades of stubble under her arm.  The way her mouth opened a little. The bump on her nose. Laughing at her sister racing to catch a toad.

Dear Editor,
Here’s the article, “Summer Wasn’t Summer Until I met Lacey.” Photos attached.

                                                                               The End.

* * * * *

Joanna Friedman's fiction and poetry have appeared in a variety of anthologies and online publications. She works as a psychologist in the San Francisco Bay area and lives with her husband, twin girls, and pug. Her writing is inspired by the complexities of relationships. Follow her on twitter, @j_grabarek or her website,

Friday, 1 January 2021

A New Year

by Erica A. Fletcher

Throw open the curtains
change these wet sheets
we ebb and sigh into each night

It’s a new year
the city is coated in egg white and sugar

Soon these hard nights will be ages ago
a dusty crate of records
griming your fingers
if you dig through too recklessly

I will sweep up clots of soil in the hall
tracked from your boots
when the season turns to mud

It will not always be the first month
cold, raw, new
blossoming with pain

In time small things will grow
outside our open windows

Our bedsheets will smell of summer
air and light
tears and deception rinsed out in the wash

Maybe still a stain faded by the sun
you can only see
if you look too long.

* * * * *

Erica A. Fletcher works in biomedical research and plays rock music in the band Nurse & Soldier when she has time. Nobody knows she writes poetry. She lives in Boston with her husband and children.