Lynne Handy, “Poem for Morgan”

Retired librarian Lynne Handy devotes her time to writing poetry, flash fiction, and novels. She co-founded Open Sky Poets, a collaboration of poets in the western suburbs of Chicago, and her work has been published in several journals, including Clementine Unbound. She lives in a river town in northern Illinois with her two rescue dogs, Schatzi and BoPeep.

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Poem for Morgan

Last night, I dreamed
I’d gathered up
my daughter’s flesh
and bones left
after cancer’s ruin,
so fragile that I held
them like a loose bouquet
of lilies, and pressed my face
against the blooms.
“I love you,” I said.
“You are my precious girl.”
My mind defaults to images
of her as newly born,
red-haired and gentle,
soft and mewing, lying
in the blue bassinet
that had been her brother’s.

There’s not much left
in the trailer where she lived.
She never wanted much,
never acquired worldly goods.
Her brother stands among the ruins,
sorrowing that such a rich soul
has left so little of herself behind.

John Muro, “Birch Mountain”

John Muro, a resident of Connecticut and a lover of all things chocolate, published his first volume of poems, In the Lilac Hour, with Antrim House in 2020. He’s a two-time 2021 Pushcart Prize nominee whose poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Barnstorm, Clementine Unbound, Grey Sparrow, and Sky Island. Pastoral Suite, John’s second volume of poems, will be published this spring.

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Birch Mountain

Descending headlong from empty boughs
like a lanky child, ill at ease;
sunlight awkwardly alights

upon blue combs of grass roused by a slow
surge of wind; clutched fingers released
to cushion the blow midflight.

Propped upon bruised shins and knees,
the astonished body abruptly rights
itself, expands to luster and takes in the field below—

hobbled orchards and stubble where a few crows
gather to assess the new balance of things;
a landscape’s nudged into brittle brightness.

Flock and forsaken farm are now clearly exposed—
shoe-button-black scatter and the keepers of night.

Jared Carter, “Remnant”

Jared Carter’s most recent book of poems, The Land Itself, is from Monongahela Books in Morgantown, West Virginia. He lives in Indiana.

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Fragment of a queen’s face (Metropolitan Museum of Art)


It is part of a woman’s face,
       broken off now
And canceled, except for the grace
       of those lips. How

Much damage was done, for that smile
       to emerge from
The stone? For that grace to beguile?
       Once you were one

Who sensed the uncanny, the strange.
       Then came the call
About changing your life. You changed
       nothing at all.

Robert Nisbet, “Bird Life”

Robert Nisbet is a Welsh poet whose work has appeared widely in Britain and the USA. He won the Prole Pamphlet Competition in 2017 with Robeson, Fitzgerald and Other Heroes. In the USA he has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize four times in the last three years.

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Bird Life

Back there, back then, we had robins
and blackbirds, red chests, orange beaks,
and that spring song rich as morning.
(Likewise, starlings, tits and jackdaws.)
We were country cousins, had
the pop lorry Tuesdays, fish and chips,
with bread and butter and a cup of tea.
The locals, darts and dominoes.

Two decades later, cities, studios, offices.
Casinos, cinemas’ new multi-screens,
the canapé and cappuccino eighties.
Our bird life now was city-life exotics,
the workplace nightingales, the peacocks,
Paradise birds, persuasive, glistening,
the promises, the sheen of grins.
(The odd black mamba in the undergrowth.)

But hark back. Listen again in memory,
in the shops and the pubs. Wasn’t there then
the odd sweet-talker nightingale? Promises
fanned out like a pack of cards?

And back there in the city’s forest,
there was always the odd voice of calm,
the cheering song of an office blackbird
and now and again a robin, standing quietly by.