W. F. Lantry, “A Winter Sowing”

W. F. Lantry spent many years gardening in his native San Diego and in the South of France. Currently he lives in the frozen North of DC. He has two full-length collections: The Structure of Desire (Little Red Tree), winner of a 2013 Nautilus Award, and The Terraced Mountain (Little Red Tree). Honors include: The National Hackney Literary Award, Lindberg Foundation International Poetry for Peace Prize (Israel), CutBank Patricia Goedicke Prize, Crucible Editors’ Prize, Old Red Kimono Paris Lake Poetry Prize and Potomac Review Prize. He is the editor of Peacock Journal.

orange line

A Winter Sowing

Start counting backwards. Pick your average date
of last frost in the Spring. It’s April tenth
most years for us. Sometimes the early winds

may seem to warm us, but you cannot trust
even the farmer’s almanac these days.
It’s all a gamble: place your bets, begin.

We have a couple hundred solo cups.
A drill will make three holes in each one’s base.
Dampen the potting mix until it’s firm

within your hands. Remember, every seed
is passionate to grow, and you are here
to give it every chance. Dibble a space

just twice as deep as your new seed is wide.
and if your seeds seem smaller than the dust,
they may be sifted to the surface, held

only by surface tension till they break
with small white roots, breaking the fragile earth,
to swell and reinvent the universe.





Donald Zirilli, “My Mother Won’t Let Go”

Donald Zirilli was a finalist for the James Tate Prize and a nominee for the Forward Prize. He was editor of Now Culture and is a member of the Red Wheelbarrow Gang. His poetry was published in Anti- poetry magazine, ART TIMES, Nerve Lantern, River Styx, and other periodicals and anthologies. He and his wife live in an idyllic corner of New Jersey with two dogs and a cat. His chapbook, Heaven’s Not For You, was published in September 2018 by Kelsay Books.

orange line

My Mother Won’t Let Go

My mother won’t let go, as if I were
a kite or fishing pole. The party’s not
for me. The celebrants all stare at her,
at us, at this unending clutch, this clot
of blood, of love. She won’t endure the loss,
won’t let me die or even be afraid
of dying, not while she’s alive, the cost
too high to borrow or collect. She’s paid
enough already, watched me grow apart
and blessed me on my way. She won’t condone
departure from this world. She holds on hard,
as if she were a cast on broken bones.
A love too great for me to comprehend,
the power that made me will not let me end.





Paulette Guerin, “Just Married”

Paulette Guerin is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of Florida. She lives in Arkansas and teaches literature and writing at Harding University. Her poetry has appeared in Best New Poets 2018, Epiphany, Concho River Review, 2 River View, and others. Her poetry collection Wading Through Lethe is forthcoming from FutureCycle Press. She also has a chapbook, Polishing Silver. Her blog is www.pauletteguerinbane.wordpress.com.

orange line

Just Married

I found a decade-old receipt
for the kitchen floor’s terra-cotta tiles,

the ones he cut and I laid.
That was back when he cooked

and I watered the basil until it died.
The lavender thrived, brought bees.

Left to its own devices, the yard
nearly swallowed the house.

We pursued other vices,
rising late, new tiles cooling our feet.





Kristin Czarnecki, “Failure to Thrive”

Kristin Czarnecki is an English professor at Georgetown College and past president of the International Virginia Woolf Society. She has published essays on Virginia Woolf, Jean Rhys, Louise Erdrich, and Leslie Marmon Silko, among others, in journals such as Woolf Studies Annual, College Literature, and the Journal of Feminist Scholarship as well as in edited volumes. In March, she published her first book, a memoir called The First Kristin: The Story of a Naming (Mint Hill Books label of Main Street Rag), about the experience of being named after a deceased sister.

orange line

Failure to Thrive

88. That’s a good run.
It was clearly time.
Everything was
shutting down.
She was done.
She had a good life
and everyone has
to go sometime

Such are the
phrases I intone
to assuage my
guilty conscience
my lack of tears
since she died

Oh, I cried

over the years as she
became more decrepit
spinal stenosis
fractured pelvis
frequently fell
needed a cane
then a walker
then a wheelchair

I cried

during the last
six-week slide

when she stopped reading
when she stopped eating
when she made no sense
when she couldn’t hear me

And I cried

the weekend before she died
as we gathered around her bed
talking, reminiscing, holding
her hands

The room was stuffy
I don’t think
she recognized me
said everyone’s name but mine
asked questions of all but me
her pale blue eyes looked into mine
but didn’t seem to see me
she hallucinated

I tried

to find the poetry
in what she said
she thought she’d been kidnapped
said the three of us betrayed her
talked about the “inside room”
I didn’t know what
I was feeling
numb from so much loss

88. That’s a good run.
It was clearly time.
Everything was shutting down.
Her poor body and mind were done.

I don’t know how
to be without parents