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Poetry Winter 2020    fiction    all issues

Cover of Poetry Winter 20


French silk sample book

Paula Reed Nancarrow
Morning Coffee
& other poems

Jill Burkey
& other poems

Oak Morse
Boys Born out of Blues
& other poems

Beatrix Bondor
Engine Ode
& other poems

Monique Jonath
a mi sheberach
& other poems

Lisa Rachel Apple
& other poems

Gillian Freebody
The Human Condition
& other poems

Kirsten Hippe-Rychlik
and we are echoes
& other poems

Devon Bohm
& other poems

Jeddie Sophronius
I Rest My Mother Tongue
& other poems

John Delaney
Poem as Map
& other poems

Elizabeth Bayou-Grace
Fire in Paradise
& other poems

In Utero
& other poems

Michelle Lerner
Ode to Exhaustion
& other poems

William French
I Have Never Been
& other poems

Josiah Patterson Wheatley
Coeur de Fleurs
& other poems

Karo Ska
womb song
& other poems

Robyn Joy
& other poems

Han Raschka
Love Language
& other poems

Rebbekah Vega-Romero
The Memory in My Pinky
& other poems

Gilaine Fiezmont
Europe, too, Came from Somewhere Else
& other poems

Scott Ruescher
At the Childhood Home of Ozzy Osbourne
& other poems

Emily R. Daniel
Visitation Dreams
& other poems

Lindsay Gioffre
Toxicodendron Radicans [Sonnet 1]
& other poems

Writer's Site

Jill Burkey


a Buddhist meditation bracelet

When Jupiter was out, I slipped

it on my nightly wrist

like a ring of stars

reminding me that pain

isn’t suffering if you accept it.

With each breath I count, in and out,

I’m snake, sea, wind, and night,

alive again like blue trumpets

glorying in morning—

who knows how they hold

their vibrating shape, their liquid color?

Silk petals papery as love

or is love the sturdier stalk

that stands, waiting through winter,

while beauty dissolves

into the longing ground.

Columbus Goes to the Moon

Last night my son told me

if it weren’t for the Dark Ages,

Columbus would have landed on the moon

instead of in the New World.

Tonight he says stars are so far away

we can only guess their size

by the color of light they emit.

I’m surprised by this and confess

I always thought stars were the same size as planets,

so I assumed they were just as close.

He smiles and gently explains we can only have one star

in our solar system or it couldn’t exist—

another star would wreak havoc,

and the closest star, besides the sun,

is four light years away—

twenty-four trillion miles . . .

I didn’t think our sun a star,

just as I don’t think my son a man,

yet both are plainly true.

I gaze at him, across the kitchen,

and realize we are all alone.

The stars chaperoning us each night

are impossibly far away

and we’re just eight planets and their elements

gliding around the one god

we are all tethered to

like children fluttering around a maypole.

I lean back against the black granite countertop

flecked with gold and listen as he tells me

blue stars are bigger than red ones

but don’t live as long

because blue stars burn through their fuel faster.

Our sun, he says, will become a red giant,

and will live a billion years.

The dishwasher hums its familiar refrain

while questions spiral my mind.

He says goodnight and hugs me

with arms tanned by the sun.

I feel his blue cotton T-shirt, soft on my cheek,

and wonder where we would be

if the Dark Ages hadn’t happened,

or if our sun had consumed itself too fast,

exploding into the vast darkness

that surrounds us,

and I wonder how on earth

we ever ended up

right here.

The Duration


It’s the time of lions and lambs,

the time to beware the Ides of March,

but little did we know

how much we had to fear.

I promise to stop watching the news,

but tune in to another pandemic press conference.

I wrestle with distraction

as I try to write and work from home.

My family and I take hikes and walk the dog,

who is oblivious to this slow-moving crisis.

My daughter and I listen to her favorite playlist

as we drive by packed grocery stores

and empty downtown sidewalks.

Haven’t we all secretly wished

for the world to slow down?

But now that it has,

we can’t accept it.

We want to make a new wish.

My body misses yoga class

and my head aches from too much

wine and bad news.

I’m scared to touch the mail,

scared to breathe infected air.

I don’t want to be the one

to make my family sick.

It’s odd when the way to help

is to stay home.

Our grocery list grows longer,

and even if the shelves are stocked,

I don’t want to venture out.

I find myself repeating

my mom’s and grandmother’s sayings—

Waste not, want not.

Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.

I reuse tinfoil and plastic bags,

bake and freeze banana bread instead

of throwing brown clusters of crescents in the trash.

I think about my grandmother, who saved

every morsel of food, no matter how meager.

I think of how, in May 1944, my grandfather

put her and their two small daughters

on a train bound for his mother’s in Lincoln

before he shipped out with his unit for England.

The newspaper called my grandmother and her little girls

the duration guests of her mother-in-law,

a phrase I didn’t follow at first,

but now we find ourselves saying for the duration,

because like World War II, we don’t know

how long this crisis will last.

We must endure for the duration—

endure not knowing how it will turn out,

endure not knowing who will live or die.

Time feels slow and thick, but also like a pinprick

because we’re forced to remain firmly in the present—

no such thing as making plans.

With everything on hold,

the whole world holds its breath.

With well over 100,000 hospitalized,

44,000 dead, and 22 million unemployed,

the pandemic is taking a toll, but seems smaller

than what the Greatest Generation endured.

The numbers keep rising,

we won’t have a vaccine anytime soon,

but birds still happily sing the dawn,

trees haven’t changed, except to slowly grow

and thicken their buds,

and daffodils bloom bright yellow

as if they trust the spring.


We have entered the bleak midwinter,

the dark December of the pandemic,

losing thousands of lives a day,

more than the 320,518 Americans

killed and wounded in World War I.

I wonder what those soldiers would have given

to trade their rubberized gas mask for one made of cloth,

or their rat-infested trench for a tender home.

Or would they claim, like some today, that being asked

to mask and quarantine is too much sacrifice?

We conceived a vaccine,

but do we have the will to stay home

on Christmas Eve,

the will to wear masks until immunity?

Christina Rossetti wrote

these bleak midwinter words:

If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;

Yet what can I give Him: give my heart.

Who loves more—

those who won’t let a pandemic

keep them from their loved ones?

Or those who stay away

in order to keep them safe?

Is it two sides of the same coin?

If only love was enough

to see us through the duration.

New Year


Snow nestles in crooks of branches

of the bush outside my window.

It rests on top of pine needles

that found themselves stuck there, in limbo

between the higher tree they fell from

and the ground.

In the distance, a snow shovel scrapes pavement,

its low growl trying to wake those who are sleeping

on this foggy morning, the sky disorienting, yet tucking us in

to this neighborhood, this street, this house.

Even though it’s New Year’s Eve,

the snow and needles sit undisturbed,

patiently waiting for nothing.

Just being, just waiting.


I start the car and watch snow

fall like confetti in slow motion

the way we fall through our lives,

each flake’s brief flightpunctuated

by gusts of delight and perilous dives.

My daughter emerges from the house,

clarinet case in hand, backpack over her shoulder.

Tiny snowflakes sparkle in the headlights

and mix in the wind with wisps of her long brown hair.

For a moment it seems as if she’s surrounded by bits of magic.

We drive by quiet pastures on unplowed roads

as the morning flushes towards dawn.

It is the first day of school in the new year.


I want to protect her from the perfectionism

that pushed her to tears last night

when she tried to mend her torn clarinet book.

I want to shield her from the terrible secrets

of growing up. I want to fix the slight twist

of her spine and the cyst on her wrist,

but the only thing I can give her this morning

is silence, quiet as the snow,

as she hovers, like the pine needles,

between her childhood and adolescence.


We turn east towards the sunrise,

and the blanketed world glows

in muffled orange light.

We’re the first car to venture down this lane

and we see a trail of tracks on the snowy road.

I can’t help but wonder aloud

who or what made the haphazard patterns—

no straight lines when nothing’s there to guide them.

She leans forward in her seat like a fledgling

peering over the nest’s edge and says,

The snow filling in the tracks

is like the Buddha Board—

it erases everything.

Her words dissolve time,

and it is just us,

the snow,

and the empty road ahead.

The Two Hearts Inside Us

What is it like to be a root,

             to grow away from light,

             to dive deep into darkness

             hoping to find something good?

Is there any part of us that does the same?

             Some internal hero making it all possible,

             like the stomach, for instance,

             that churns what we give it

             into something useful

             the way a furnace

             creates warmth from coal.

What is it like to be a root,

             opposite of stem,

             helping beauty stand tall from far below,

             never to see the flower it feeds?

Thin, fibrous roots spreading like roads

             on a map through black.

Maybe they’re like the two hearts inside us—

             the one that breaks,

             and the one that goes on beating.

Jill Burkey’s work won the Mark Fischer Poetry Prize, the Denver Woman’s Press Club Unknown Writers’ Contest, and others. Her poems have appeared in Pilgrimage Magazine, Paddlefish, Soundings Review, Front Range Review, and others. She earned a BA in English and business with endorsements in secondary education from Nebraska Wesleyan University. From 2011 – 2016, Jill taught poetry to hundreds of elementary and high-school students as a writer-in-residence for the Colorado Humanities Writers-in-the Schools program.

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