The Blue Heron Speaks Featured Author for October 2016 is Pamela Ahlen!

Welcome to the October 2016 Blue Heron Speaks feature! This month we are delighted to shine a spotlight on the thoughtful and beautifully layered work of poet, Pamela Ahlen. The essence of living exists in Pamela Ahlen’s fresh, insightful details. These are poems that breathe for us. We live with and through the words, the sacred images, the reverence for the everyday. We are “hunting the holy” with her, and searching for answers, through these poetic meditations. Please visit the Blue Heron Speaks Featured Author page of our site, to read 3 sample poems from Pamela’s chapbook, Gather Every Little Thing (Finishing Line Press, 2013).


(Author photo by Kate Reeves)

Pamela Ahlen
is a retired music educator from South Florida.  She and her husband relocated full-time to Vermont in order to experience rural life and enjoy the outdoors in all its seasons.  Pam is the program coordinator for Bookstock (Woodstock, Vermont), the Green Mountain Literary Festival.  She organizes literary readings for Osher (Lifelong Education at Dartmouth) and is currently compiling an anthology of Osher poets and writers.  Pam received an MFA in creative writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is the author of the chapbook Gather Every Little Thing (Finishing Line Press, 2013).

Gather Every Little Thing (Finishing Line Press, 2013)


(Book cover created by Kate Reeves.  Kate is a professional gardener and artist living in Woodstock, VT.)

2016 Best of the Net Nominations for Blue Heron Review: Special Mini Issue


Blue Heron Review is pleased to announce our nominations for Sundress Publications’ Best of the Net Anthology! (All poems must have been first published or appeared on the web between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016.)

From BHR Summer 2015 (July) issue #4:

• Ray Young Bear (“A Life Shaping Spoon”)
• Anne C. Kaiser (“Minnows”)
• Chris Abbate (“Sisters Praying”)

From BHR Winter 2016 (February) Issue #5:

• Florence Weinberger (“Three Miles on Gracie Ditch, Nevada County”)
• Cathryn Essinger (“What He Saw …”)
• Devi Laskar (“Most Days a Passage”)

For your reading pleasure, we have a special showcase issue below, to help celebrate our very fine writers. Blue Heron is honored to publish the work of ALL of our poets. We are only allowed to nominate 6 poems for this award, but please know that we hold our writers in the highest regard. Poets appearing in Blue Heron Review are some of the finest, contemporary poets writing today!

Ray Young Bear (“A Life Shaping Spoon”)

A Life-shaping Spoon

The clear, plastic spoon, which Ke ti ko na,
Eagle Feather, keeps in a school backpack
is a tangible indicator of change. In this case,
it’s the all-important name of a newlywed
kindergarten teacher. With a summer-
reddened face, Amy arrives and soon
becomes a Mrs., making the spoon
a keepsake. Since it came from
a draped table of a glorious party
where a giant cake was served,
it’s arguably a life-shaping utensil,
the kind you can see through
and examine under safety. And
it’s insignificant if he wasn’t there
or whether the spoon was used
for a mid-morning snack. What
matters is what it means to Amy–
and ostensibly for him. So we clean
it in the kitchen sink with diligence
and add it to his basket of sunlit

Anne C. Kaiser (“Minnows”)


Brushstrokes of life
painted singly or in groups
catch sunlight like bent grass
scatter and reunite beneath water’s living velvet.
My shadow rises and falls on waves,
glows copper,
is traced by the liquid stitchery of water bugs;
minnows decorate my head, living ideas
spotting a phantom crown
haloed by undulating sun stripes.
Above, sky the color of Delft china
sings blue as infinity
painted by a strong west wind.

Chris Abbate (“Sisters Praying”)

Sisters Praying

If they knew the Sun
was a fleck of sand on the beach,
or that they were two blue
raindrops in the ocean,
one sister wouldn’t be kneeling
by the bed of the older sister
on an August afternoon,
helping her breathe
through a Hail Mary
she cradles in her hands.
If they knew the Earth
was just a speck of dust,
that what they prayed for
was wider than these walls,
they wouldn’t have carried
each other these seventy years,
they wouldn’t have a name for God
like dough rising in the kitchen.
If they knew they had always lived
in the center of the circle,
that there was nothing to ask for,
the older sister wouldn’t be
whispering into her bed sheets,
telling the younger one a secret
about disappearing,
about the light she would soon become,
that she too is a fleck of sand.

Florence Weinberger
(“Three Miles on Gracie Ditch, Nevada County”)

Three Miles on Gracie Ditch, Nevada County

To whatever power banged sun into being,
pinned oak, pine, sycamore, big leaf maple
to the black unsettled earth, I give thanks

for the walk on Gracie Ditch Trail this morning.
For rocks and roots that declined to trip me,
for cooling shadows.  We dodged the joggers,

the dogs, the bikes, shmoozed between breath
and silence, your cousins, the town where
you live now white charm through the trees.

When conversation lagged, the birds kept it up,
tailing after us with their scolding and nattering,
so we laughed as if we knew

and I was grateful, too, for the light that drizzled
like manna through speckled leaves, banked dirt
that subdued the meandering ditch,

how its waters sang as they zig-zagged,
nimble as your hands that gripped
my elbows, guided my unstable steps,

eased me around the rusty gate, its trusty
cadence mostly unnoticed until you got me
back intact to my daughter’s house,

still humming its stumble and consequence.

Cathryn Essinger (“What He Saw …”)

What He Saw…

She holds the moon between two fingers
like a pearl, and then places it in the sky
between the church steeple
and the distant river,

and if she tips her head for
just a moment, rests her chin
in her cupped hands, she might
become Art Deco,

a billboard perhaps by Mukta,
but she stands, picks up the check
and moves to the door just as
the moon clears the steeple.

It continues to rise after she is gone,
papery and thin, finding other landscapes
to imitate, all the while making
it clear that it is what it is,

and nothing more, no more a part
of art than the girl who created
the moment.  Still, he thinks
about a watercolor by Monet

and then a Van Gogh arbor painted
“by moonlight.”  But it is not
until he pushes his books away,
spreads his hands on the table

that the moon, that sweet conspirator,
bends over the table and he sees
the smooth china of her face,
reflected in his empty cup.

Devi Laskar (“Most Days a Passage”)

Most Days a Passage

There are nations within me,
tribes of angry dispossessed

people who are good at riding
horses, making spears, singeing

souls with a single glance. Look
at me, I change but remain the same

the way a wall clock pulses forward
the time but still retains its shape.

I try to gather the people
within, as the days gallop

by me, when I study the stars
at night. There is something up

there, looking back at us: see
how those constellations blink

and nudge, disappear altogether
when the sun gods come out

to bicker over the price of shade.
Don’t try to follow me,

you’ll only disturb my dust.
There are days when the rains never

stop, there are days when the snow
drifts in to every crevice and hides

all our faults. Most days it’s a passage,
the thinning line between the living

and the dead, the moment just as
Persephone leaves the underworld

and steps into the lands of Ra,
Apollo and Surya, shimmering.

The September 2016 Blue Heron Speaks Featured Author is Kai Coggin!

Welcome to the September 2016 edition of Blue Heron Speaks!  After our summer hiatus, it is a great pleasure for me to share with you our featured author this month – the very talented, open-hearted poet, Kai Coggin.  With lush imagery, sleek, musical phrasing, and inventive language, Coggin skillfully awakens a sleeping world for us.  We see Coggin unfold her own wings with an elegant display of tender vulnerability and passionate poetics.

Please visit the Blue Heron Speak page of the BHR site to read 3 sample poems from her latest book, Wingspan (Golden Dragonfly Press, 2016).


Kai Coggin is a former Teacher of the Year, turned poet and author, living on the side of a small mountain in Hot Springs National Park, AR.  She holds a BA in Poetry and Creative Writing from Texas A & M University, and writes poems on love, spiritual striving, body image, injustice, metaphysics, and beauty.  Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Blue Heron Review, Lavender Review, Broad!, The Tattooed BuddhaSplit This Rock, Yellow Chair Review, SunStruck Magazine, Drunk Monkeys, Snapdragon, Women’s Spiritual Poetry, Elephant Journal, and many other literary journals and anthologies.  Kai is the author of two full-length collections, Periscope Heart (Swimming with Elephants Publications, 2014) and Wingspan (Golden Dragonfly Press, 2016).  Her poetry has recently been nominated for The Pushcart Prize and Bettering American Poetry 2015.  She teaches an adult creative writing class called Words & Wine, and is also a Teaching Artist with the Arkansas Arts Council, specializing in bringing poetry and creative writing to youth.

Wingspan (Golden Dragonfly Press, 2016)