Paul Fisher, “The Secret Lives of Birds”

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The Secret Lives of Birds

Snowy owls never read
the Annotated Guide to Birds,
but rooster feathers sometimes line
the nests of well-read hens.

Great white herons, unaware
of poems with ponds where they appear,
vanish like the dinosaurs they were
into the many minds of air.

Peopling the atmosphere
like winged seeds and unstrung kites,
cranes and egrets disappear
to emerge from mist as metaphor.

Birds like us go with the flow—
eagles high, wrens low.
With clipped wings and puffed up plumes,
parrot laureates bite their tongues.

To learn what feathered brains know,
consult the raven, ask the crow.
Lose your phone. Fly alone.
Watch the harpy upchuck bones.


A former art teacher, llama wrangler, and Greenpeace activist, Paul Fisher lives in Seattle with his wife, two bossy cats, and a five-pound poodle. He studied creative writing and visual art at the University of Washington, earned an MFA in poetry from New England College, and is in the throes of birthing his second book, An Exaltation of Tongues, forthcoming from MoonPath Press. Paul’s poems have appeared in The Antioch Review, Crab Creek Review, Cutthroat, Nimrod, and many other journals.



Jared Carter, “Xenia”

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Olives and wine, then—placed before
       whoever comes
In supplication to your door.
       Let them, if numb

With cold, draw near your warming fire,
       and may the goose
That you had thought to serve, retire
       among the loose

Folds of the stranger’s gown. Then ask
       that all be still.
The fire gleams; within its flask,
       the wine refills.


Based on Ovid’s account of Baucis and Philemon.

Jared Carter’s Darkened Rooms of Summer was the first book selected for the Ted Kooser Contemporary Poetry Series and was published in 2014 by the University of Nebraska Press. Carter lives in Indiana.


Jake Sheff, “When Dad Condemned His Brother”

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When Dad Condemned His Brother

The woods of St. Cloud bristled in the frost.
The boughs that broke like rifle shots or backs
were in the background of their argument;
its tone and accusations froze the furze
on other continents in calmer days.
The new year meant their polestars lost their ways,
another door to twilit labyrinths
and terra incognita currents. Boys
who witness fathers lose composure lose
their sense of compass. And compounded by
the pompous cold of winter and a skin
of snow and ice to separate from kin
at will, whatever will compel migration will.


Jake Sheff is a major and pediatrician in the US Air Force, married with a daughter and three pets. Currently home is the Mojave Desert. Poems of Jake’s are in Marathon Literary Review, Jet Fuel Review, The Cossack Review, and elsewhere. His chapbook is Looting Versailles (Alabaster Leaves Publishing). He considers life an impossible sit-up, but plausible.