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Poetry Winter 2022    fiction    all issues


Li Zhang

Ana Reisens
Pam asked about Europe
& other poems

Krystle May Statler
To the Slow Burn
& other poems

Kristina Cecka
On Remodeling
& other poems

Belinda Roddie
Bless The Bones Of California
& other poems

Summer Rand
Alexander tells me how he'd like to be buried
& other poems

Alexander Perez
Toward the Rainbow
& other poems

Karo Ska
self-portrait of compassion…
& other poems

David Southward
The Pelican
& other poems

George Longenecker
Stamp Collection
& other poems

Mary Keating
& other poems

Talya Jankovits
Imagine A World Without Raging Hormones
& other poems

Laurie Holding
Sonnet to Mr. Frost
& other poems

David Ruekberg
A Short Essay on Love
& other poems

Elaine Greenwood
There’s a thick, quiet Angel
& other poems

Richard Baldo
Carry On Caretaker
& other poems

Jefferson Singer
Dave Righetti’s No-Hitter…
& other poems

Diane Ayer
A Fan
& other poems

Kaecey McCormick
Meditation Before Desert Monsoon
& other poems

Meg Whelan
& other poems

Katherine B. Arthaud
& other poems

Aaron Glover
On Transformation
& other poems

Anne Marie Wells
[I'm crying in a sandwich shop reading Diane Seuss' sonnets]
& other poems

Holly Cian
& other poems

Kimberly Russo
Selective Memories are the Only Gift of Dementia
& other poems

Steven Monte
& other poems

Mervyn Seivwright
Fear Mountain
& other poems

Writer's Site

David Ruekberg

A Short Essay on Love

People talk about love and other people

talk about what love means and everyone

knows more or maybe less what they mean

when they talk about love but no one is

able to say just what it is they really

mean. We try to come up with metaphors:

Love’s a rose, love’s a two-way street.

Or definitions: It is patient and kind,

it’s a precious and delicate thing, and

so forth. Or maybe love is two nude and

neutered bobble-headed hominids touting

tired and true credos, such as “Love is

getting a hug and a compliment each and

every day.” Or as the poster says, Love

comes and goes, but people are forever,

or did I get that backwards? It’s tough

to define a thing so big that you can’t

even see. Sunrise arrives in stages—one

instant it’s so dark all you can see is

a blue so black you could fall straight

into it and the burnt branches of trees

and maybe your hand before your face if

your heart is so alive your skin glows.

Then the next the sky is aglow too, and

then only memory and a mind as quiet as

a breezeless lake can say if there were

moments between light and darkness. Say

that the moments are bare plaster, then

memory is a primer you seal it with. So

you apply a first coat, remembering the

memory. Then in wonder you tell someone

else, and that coat adds veracity. Then

you tell it again, touching it up a bit

and then a bit more, so that it becomes

like the walls of an old house, clothed

with character, the nicks and warts and

other imperfections so embellished that

the paint itself forms nicks and warts.

And that’s what love is like. Though it

isn’t quite love, actually; in fact, it

seems love’s a contract, a construct (I

think), an abstracted form of a need to

bond, then to bind and enslave, then to

reconstruct in one’s own image what you

have colonized. But also love is a gift

that you give without expectation. It’s

a burden you can’t bear anymore, so you

give it to a friend. There is a freedom

in the moment they take it, like flying

through space. Then the space fills up,

with guilt or remorse or envy or any of

that other stuff of living. You see you

will never be free. Or maybe, if you’re

lucky, one day you attain satori, so at

least you know that there is a Promised

Land, how it looks. You get to sniff at

its perfumy river, you pluck one of its

petals as a souvenir, you press it into

the leaves of your diary. Later, one of

your grandchildren finds it when you’re

gone, and maybe she thinks, I love you,

Grandpa, her heart lifting like a bird.

Walking and Breathing

Easter Sunday, 2022

My wife is standing at the kitchen sink looking

out the window at the back yard all lit up with

April green, the sun making a go of painting it

with Easter yellow: you know, the lemony pastel

Peeps hue of the day after a cold rain and snow

spits, cherry blossoms preparing to unfurl like

a grove of umbrellas by the back door. “My goal

for today,” she says, “is to walk and breathe.”

This may sound philosophical but it’s a literal

fact. After six weeks of raging bursitis in the

hip capsule caused by a fracture of the femoral

head seven years ago that has kept her from her

morning walks, just as she was starting to take

to the street and trails again, she was knocked

flat by a crippling rhinovirus (not COVID) that

evolved into acute sinusitis (which did not, we

are glad, invade her asthma-ravaged lungs)—then

just when she was mostly recovered from that an

over-zealous physical therapist over-worked her

quadriceps and soleus and put her back onto the

cane we resurrected from the attic for one more

week. Notwithstanding all the above, it is also

philosophical, because that’s just how Leah is.

Her morning meditation practice has brought her

to a place where every day she wakes to joy and

gratitude for simple things: the dawn chorus, a

good pen, the perfect three-minute egg. Whereas

my discipline has waned, and even at its height

I was never what you’d call “joyful,” though on

the whole my scale tips towards optimistic, for

the most part. You’d know this if you’d read my

poem, “Bike Ride in Central Park,” where I said

that I was born in the key of “A-minor...with a

few variations into G major” (a quote of myself

that was already a quote of myself). Though she

cares about war and pollution and the future of

this planet our grandchildren will inherit, she

doesn’t drag her gloom around like a pet cloud,

like yours truly. Okay, occasionally she forays

into dark thoughts. One time as we were driving

home from Pennsylvania in separate cars with CB

radios (okay, I’m dating myself) we still owned

from our move from Colorado (which caused a big

disruption in our marriage, though we worked it

out), my radio crackled with her excited voice:

“Did you see that?” I radioed back, “Yeah, it’s

beautiful,” meaning the Susquehanna River which

we’d just passed over. “People think New York’s

a vast land of steel, concrete and skyscrapers,

but it’s mostly trees and water,” a gripe she’d

heard me assert before. “No,” she said, “I mean

those skid marks”: two serpentine black burns I

did recall seeing just after the bridge, doubt-

less some sleepy drunk who’d hit black ice last

February, or his victim. So “skid marks” became

our private joke for how we, like everyone, see

the same things differently at different times,

depending on our moods or context. Though we’re

more alike than different. That is, we all are,

but Leah and I, being part of the we, are also,

obviously, I mean, we’ve been married 34 years,

and compatibility rubs off on one another. Leah

still remembers it was the Susquehanna; that it

was a sunny day much like this one, but in late

September; that we both still smile whenever we

recall that moment. Sometimes we switch places,

like when she gets worked up about the previous

President, or how our neighbor is poisoning the

neighborhood with his yard sign screeching that

Democrats are attempting to destroy the country

(January 6 notwithstanding), or how the heavens

above Rochester are too often gray. That’s when

we trade places, I take a turn as the optimist,

or at least recommend equanimity. It’s a way we

humans have of enacting binary opposition, that

is, we seek a balance, or maybe simply control,

since it shows a lack of empathy, trying to fix

the other. When you listen without veering into

the other’s lane, just looking in their window,

as if you were on the inside, you let the other

view sink in, and find its long-lost partner in

your own skin. “Yes,” I say to Leah, as the sun

ducks behind another monotonous cloud, “I think

those are good goals. I have a pretty long list

for today, but walking and breathing, those are

good ones to start with.” Leah smiles at me, or

maybe it’s the sun peeking out again, or both.

Last Evening in April

If you turn the sound down on the highway,

the sun sinks more slowly in the west, the

mourning dove buffering its fall, and over

in the near woods a cardinal announces its

superfluous uniform, and there—quicksilver

across the grass—a sparrow stitches it all

together into one fabric. Rumbling beneath

that carnival the river of everything that

happened today mingles what I can remember

with what I want in as many colors as I am

able to imagine, in as many rooms equipped

with as much furniture as they are able to

handle, down to the etchings of you and me

riding the rapids, watching as John hauled

in Pete who’d tumbled over; of us making a

toast at our wedding, your dad crying real

tears, mine bowing in prayer; of watching,

helpless, that night your dog, Ginger, got

hit by a car because I thought dogs should

run free; of that afternoon in the kitchen

when we thought it was over; of the weight

of your arm like a blanket on my shoulders

after my cancer; of your arm heavy on mine

as we staggered under inebriate magnolias,

the arthritis in your hip making each step

a trial, yesterday it was, and now today’s

sorting and planning and listening to each

other’s hearts beginning to blend with the

leisurely sun, with the spruces, the noise

of the highway just now restarting, lifted


David Ruekberg (MFA, Warren Wilson) lives in Rochester, NY. These poems use a monospaced font and the same number of characters per line to create a form he calls “little coffins”—not to say that language is dead but, as expressed in another poem: “Words are / shadows that mime shadows on a wall.” The form puts pressure on ideas and language to create the finished poem. Read more at

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