Paul Fisher, “The Secret Lives of Birds”

orange line

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”

orange line


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”

orange line

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.


Jared Carter, Voyageur

orange line


Across the shallows, into sleep’s
       elusive realm,
You venture now, but cannot keep
       a steady helm;

Ahead, moss-covered logs rise up,
       and splintered trees
Glide by. You drift, and reach to cup
       the cooling lees

Of darkness in your hand. Before
       begins to clear,
And after fades along that shore
       now drawing near.


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.


Michelle Delouise-Ashmore, “In the Index of My Days”

orange line

In the Index of My Days

lichen, cold mornings,
earth, my mother, sleepy
afternoons, songbirds
in       canopy

i have been driving for miles
& miles, always this back & forth
between us.    i want to tell you
that the yellow flower-weeds
have started growing
in walkway cracks

       i am blissful in sitting,
in sitting around people for whom my heart
always beats so heavily   & sitting below
the growing canopy of trees,     feeling
whispers of rain fall from their leaves

in stillness, my body stops ringing.

i remember that i am full
of grief & longing & that this has always
always been the case, but all that feeling
is consequence of the fact that i am here,
& that all of everything
is happening

& right now i am yawning in my 8am class,
drinking coffee with too much sugar
while in another city, a mother is choosing the color
of her infant son’s coffin, & at home, my father sits
in his kitchen brewing coffee, alone.
     somewhere, along highway 85,
you are sitting in traffic, humming
along quietly to the radio

i am overrun with memories
of all this       between us,
rooms where i have been held carefully
along the small of my back. memories
of being a child playing kick-can in the yard
with other children,     & even today—
the soft voices we use with one another
on warm,       quiet afternoons.
there are little schools of fish
swimming through my eyes
all day
        & night

these days i speak of myself in past tense,
writing about today (yesterday)
as though tomorrow    is no more
than early morning dew settling on blades
of grass. the whole sky this morning was ringed
in peach & apricot at the horizon, the honeysuckle
wearing a faint veil of pale green, the daffodils & dandelions
have been patient in the cold, the new moon is coming,
& the birds, always the birds. i think of days when this weather
meant you were not so far away,      & the light,
changing so fast i believe i can see you
turning a corner & then the rain comes in,
smelling of pine & moss, a kind
of shameless intrusion on the quiet seeds of spring


Michelle Delouise-Ashmore is a Native Hawaiian poet living in Arkansas, where she is working on her degree in creative writing at Hendrix College. Her work has been published in Rookie Mag, Rising Phoenix Review, and The Aonian, and she has a poem forthcoming in The Olive Press. She is a reader for Hendrix College’s literary magazine, The Aonian, and an intern at E&JG Little Press. She can often be found tripping over her own feet and spilling coffee on everything she loves.


Erica Hu, “Goat Meat Gives Her Beard”

orange line

Goat Meat Gives Her Beard

He fell in love with a woman in Rwanda
on his business trip.
One day,
they visited gorillas.
That night,
he offered to buy her dinner,
so they went to a local braai bar.
Performers played afrobeat
in the motley festival lights.
People ate kebab
and bantered in the fume of roll-up cigars,
chugging glass after glass.
He beckoned the bar owner
to order ten strings of goat meat.
he noticed a nuance of shadow
on his girl’s face.
“You don’t buy a girl goat meat here,”
she said. “It gives us beard.”


Erica Hu is a high school senior from Cleveland, Ohio. She loves creativity-related work. She travels, takes pictures, makes vlogs, and reads in her spare time. Erica’s biggest inspirations in poetry come from Tony Hoagland, Billy Collins, Elizabeth Bishop, and Louise Glück.


Brennan Downey, “Georgia and the Night”

orange line

Georgia and the Night

       Two fatherlands I have: Cuba and the night.
                      —José Martí

I eat a peach over my kitchen
sink in Georgia. This is what
I imagined would happen when I
moved to this state. This and extra
crickets at night. I got
both. I’m not alone. I have crickets.
I have myself. I have fresh produce.
I have a life on microfilm that I need
to scan before it gets redacted.
I am a secret. I am a map with red push pins
and red string in between.
Did I prepare for that?
Is that what I’ve been doing? Preparing?
I drop the peach pit in the sink of my stomach.
Is that right? No, I drop everything,
even the sink. I call the night
for the crickets. They’ve got the numbers.
It’s the night. It’s Georgia. It’s halfway
home. I’m just a fresh peach. I’m not
local anywhere today.
At least I have you, the night. I have you.


Brennan Downey is a wilderness therapy field guide in Vermont who was raised in Virginia and who once won an award for his laugh.