BHR Issue 11 Winter 2019

 

BHR11 Winter 2019 FINAL Cover

(Cover art credit: Lou Nicksic)

 

CONTRIBUTORS:
Poets:
Linda M Fischer * Don Pomerantz * Cynthia McCain * Laurie Kolp * Alina Borger * Barbara Johnstone * Margaret DeRitter * Linda Whitesitt * Sharon Foley * Ed Higgins * Jackie Langetieg * Linda Wallin * M J Iuppa * Jan Chronister * Andrée Graveley * Nixi Schroeder * Shawn Aveningo Sanders * Robert Cole * Karla Huston * Sylvia Cavanaugh * Lisa Vihos * Bruce Taylor * Kathleen Phillips * Caroline Collins * Adria L Libolt * Olga García Echeverría * KB Ballentine * Kersten Christianson * Chris Daleiden * Phil Huffy * Laurel Devitt * Simon Perchik * Gary Glauber * Nancy Jean Larson * Diana Woodcock * Dawn Hogue * Yvette Viets Flaten * Alexis Brown

Artists:
Lou Nicksic (cover artist) * Jason Iffert * Carol Tahir * Paula Lietz * Derik Hawley * James Curley * Jennifer S. J. Peña * Karen A VandenBos * Fiona Capuano * Jeannie E Roberts * Alexis Brown

 

1st Blue Heron photo

(artist credit: Jason Iffert)

 

LINDA M FISCHER

Without You

The we was you and I—
hard to drop even now
as the leaves come down—
you behind the blower,
me behind a rake—
forty-eight years
of give & take a marriage.

I miss your accommodating ear—
things I want to tell you—
that I bought grapevines
after an epiphany about where
to plant them—that the roses
held on well into December—
the daily currency I save
like pennies in a jar, unspent.

Linda M Fischer has poems published in Atlanta Review, the Aurorean, Ibbetson Street, Iodine Poetry Review, Poetry East, Potomac Review, Roanoke Review, Schuylkill Valley Journal, Valparaiso Poetry Review, The Worcester Review, and many other journals. Twice a Pushcart Prize nominee, she was a winner of Atlanta Review’s 2010 International Poetry contest and a finalist in both 2014 and 2016. For information about her chapbooks, Raccoon Afternoons (2006 finalist in the New Women’s Voices Chapbook Competition, Finishing Line Press), and Glory: lindamfischer.com

DON POMERANTZ

The Crumbs

Outside a cooled window to make room for the shrinking light to pass, the natural world itself its one and only instrument scrapes memories of the year’s presence from her branches reassembles them into a commonplace, a bed of leaves where nothing sleeps as it refoliates the oaks and other adventures with the drowsing sun of autumn—

a bed of leaves into which a wave of starlings descends of a sudden by the hundreds maybe one for each leaf as if from the sky of a newer dimension where lives permission to invade other dimensions, pillage and forage among unanswered questions they march decisively through the leaves pecking, snatching, swallowing what could not be seen through the window beneath the covering of dried leaves their shifting constellations reshaping themselves as they dance, stomp rapidly along toward the west feasting on bits of ambrosial detritus before lifting off too quickly for naming with or without a story to take along and ascending back into the dimension from whence they came leaving this one a velvet tad lighter.

Inside the window above the porcelain sink a butterknife in her hand poised to scrape then scraping the blackened crumbs away from the rest from atop the small world of slightly overdone toast, repairing towards a minor perfection. They scatter over a half empty cup, speckle its tepid mocha pool, stipple a blue and white plate with remnants of night sprinkle the rim, sides, and sink’s bottom with blackened stars in an off white night: constellations proclaimed and enlarged, made denser by each tone of metal on toast.

Observing, he declares that he will bring the larger napkins next time, he declares, fill their holder in the shape of, in the shape of whose origins are unknown. Next time, he will lay a knife with bakelite handle the color of butter upon a napkin, just so, he will recede the dial on the toaster just slightly. Next time, no crumbs, only late October’s sun will burn.

For now, she turns the faucet as she must and though the dark constellations rinse from a world not of their own making, even the smallest fragments of even inadvertent love, having no weight, remain, successfully resisting dissipation.

Don Pomerantz lives in New York City where he is an educator. His poems have appeared in Washington Square, Failbetter, Potomac Review, Eclectica, Conium Review, Kestrel, SAND and elsewhere.

 

Carol Tahir pair w Cynthia M

(artist credit: Carol Tahir)

 

CYNTHIA MCCAIN

Tides

Sail on currents of rich water
by the isles of bitter pines.

The roses beneath the waves
from past climates of hope
bloom for the fish
bloom for the pines.

If the tides pull me out
into the water
under the waves
I will pick
a flower from before
and tie it to your anchor.

Your ship must be
in some sea
above brittle coral reefs
in wind
without the scent of trees.

Cynthia McCain lives in Oregon. Her work has appeared in journals such as Blue Heron Review and Heart, and on the old movie marquee where Corvallis, Oregon displays poems for the surprised citizenry.

LAURIE KOLP

Foster Parents

The robin was not dead, although my husband
found him lying prostrate on front lawn
in an orange-grey downy bed of dew-dropped
foot-high grass. We caged him
in our garage, finally named him
Fred instead of George, nursed him
back and forth and back to health again.
For weeks, we fed Fred the best
watered him, cheered for him
like over-emotive folks
first time he cooed and flapped his wings.
Sometimes we moved his cage outside
so Fred could soak up the sun.
Basking, he would look at me through those
black ball-bearing beady eyes as if
he loved me, too. Let me tell you
letting go was not easy, but we knew
when it was time. My husband
unbolted the cage door and for an hour
we watched Fred perched in his usual spot.
It was if he had stage fright. We finally
went inside for dinner and when we returned
Fred was gone. Still, we kept his cage in the same spot—
door opened wide, birdseed and water inside—
just in case he ever came home.

Laurie Kolp, author of Upon the Blue Couch and Hello, It’s Your Mother, has poems in Rust + Moth, concis, Up the Staircase, Front Porch Journal, and more. An avid runner and lover of nature, Laurie lives in Southeast Texas with her husband, three children and two dogs. Learn more at http://lauriekolp.com.

ALINA BORGER

Once Upon a Time

The Wheaton library had more books,
more librarians, and more space—
with orange carpet everywhere and racing
stripes along the walls to the basement.

You went there to check out huge
jumbles of books, treating yourself
to a free public education with your card
and me holding your hand. Weekends,
you helped me bring home my own piles:
picture books, Boxcar Mysteries, and facts
about sharks or white-tailed deer.

We walked out drunk, wobbly towers
of books in our arms so tall we couldn’t
find your little brown Chevy in the lot.
I was six. I was your daughter. Remember?
We were alike. You were alive. And we
belonged to each other.

Alina Borger writes and teaches in Iowa City, IA. She is the author of Tuesday’s Children (Hermeneutic Chaos Press), and her other work has appeared in Midwestern Gothic, The Cider Press Review, and The Pittsburgh Poetry Review, among others. Visit www.alinaborger.com or Twitter @AliBG.

 

Paula L Pair w Barbara J

(artist credit: Paula Lietz)

 

BARBARA JOHNSTONE

Your Life

And what if you didn’t
make your dreams come true?

Some redwoods don’t
reach the stars.

Your roots were clipped.
The pot was small.

What if you saw
the bonsai beauty of you—

how for six decades you used
even the dead wood,

found the living vein
that survived it all,

and grew this work of art
that is your life?

Barbara Johnstone is originally from New Mexico. She recently retired from her psychotherapy practice in Seattle, Washington and is enjoying more time with family, friends, mountains, gardens, her cats and poetry. Her poems have appeared in Raven Chronicles, Dirt? Scientists, Book Artists and Poets Reflect on Soil and Our Environment, Hummingbird, and elsewhere.

MARGARET DERITTER

If friend had as many variations as Arctic snow

I’d have a word for the friend who shows up on my Facebook list
but never on party invitations, who clicks on all the animal videos
I post and tells me Happy Birthday online but never in person.
That word would sound nothing like friend.

I’d need an ambiguous word for the man I talk to every Sunday after church
who translates Dutch when I need it and knows where I go on vacations
and whether my knee is aching but who never asked about my wife.
After all, she didn’t go to church and wasn’t my husband.

The women in my writing group would come up with their own word,
maybe something with a hint of muse or cattle prod or the slow bloom
of a Madagascar palm. We started out sharing only poems, but now we play
extreme croquet and discuss replacement parts for aging limbs.

There’s a good word already for the friend who saw me through every
breakup known to woman, fed me spaghetti and challah and sarcasm
before she moved to Chicago, and still invites me to her kids’ graduations,
bas mitzvahs and birthday parties—she’s a mensch.

I’d add a sassy sound for the man who took me to my first gay film, first gay bar,
spun me around that Carousel floor as it rained down men and lesbians,
watched me head home with my first woman lover, made up a nickname only
he ever called me, and flew to my wedding more than thirty years later.

And I haven’t even gotten to the friend whose memories stretch back
with mine to American Pie on a school-bus ride. We sang it straight through
to the very last line, and I can imagine us singing that song till the day we die.
There’s gotta be a word for someone I’ve loved such a long, long time.

After my wife left me, another friend lent me her own family, her brother’s tortillas,
her sisters’ casino trips, sat with me as my wife’s cronies yukked it up over
Dunkin donuts and styrofoam coffees the day they hauled her stuff
from our house. Have some compassion, she scolded, and settle the fuck down.

I could have loved her the whole damn way to Mexico just for that,
but she also called every morning for months. Hey, are you still alive?
Get your ass out of bed, you lazy oaf. She deserves a word all her own—
part sister, part smart ass, part saint.

Margaret DeRitter is the copy editor and poetry editor of Encore, a feature magazine for Southwest Michigan. She lives in Kalamazoo and was a winner of the 2018 Celery City Chapbook Contest, sponsored by Kalamazoo’s Friends of Poetry. Her first full-length collection is scheduled for release in 2020 by Unsolicited Press. Her poetry has appeared in a number of literary journals, including New Verse News, Third Wednesday, Melancholy Hyperbole and The 3288 Review, where one of her poems received a Pushcart Prize nomination. Her work was also included in the 2018 anthology Surprised by Joy (Wising Up Press). DeRitter worked full time as a journalist for 30 years and has taught journalism at Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo College.

LINDA WHITESITT

Striking Water from a Rock

He wouldn’t take no for an answer.
Our wheat was growing, the weather
was cooperating, and life was calling
him to celebrate.
Honey, he said, why don’t you
help get some food together?
Your brother and I will set up the tables.
I’ll take my violin.
We’ll sing hymns.
Maybe we’ll even have a baseball game.

So one day in midsummer, dressed
in our Sunday best, our wagons and buggies full,
we set out with our friends to have a picnic.
It was a fine day, warm, not too hot,
the bluest of blue sky and a breeze taking its time
to sashay across the prairie.

We had enough food for the whole province —
cold baked ham and fried chicken,
potato salad and coleslaw,
jellied fruit and pickled beets,
breads and buns and rolls,
cakes, pies and cookies.
Every bit of it the best anyone had ever tasted,
or so said every man there. Of course,
there wasn’t a woman among us who hadn’t
saved her finest meats, her freshest vegetables
for the picnic. Not that we wanted to show off.
That wouldn’t’ve been neighborly.
As we ate, our talk meandered from weather
and crops to children and their schooling.
The more we talked, the more we realized
how important our tight-knit community
was to our lives, that no matter how parched
from heartache we might be,
no matter how dry the future might sometimes look,
our friendship tapped a deep spring,
quenching the isolation of prairie living.

The picnic became a bookmark in my memory,
a place I turned to every time I needed reminding
it’s love that strikes water from a rock in the desert.

Linda Whitesitt’s recent publications include The Summer of Our Awakening: My Grandmother’s Solstice Story, We’re Surviving Cancer . . . Today (co-authored with her husband), and The ARTS Book: Designing Quality Arts Integration with Alignment, Rigor, Teamwork and Sustainability. A professional violinist, she is currently working on a collection of poems that tell the story of her Swedish-American grandmother who scratched out a life for her family on two, dry and dust-blown prairie homesteads in the opening decades of the twentieth century.

SHARON FOLEY

Cumberland Farm

A skyward pointing weather vane
hobbled barn, toothless rake
lean-to-chicken coop
fifty two acres of blight
couldn’t hold Aunt Emily back
from caring for Cumberland farm.
She sang to the milk cows
worked the sandy soil
like kneading kringle dough
encouraged fields to open up
like vowels.

Sun tea brined
on her white washed porch
while blue ribbon turnip and carrot grew
yellow squash, ripe and full.
I was Sherpa
in her base-camp-kitchen
as we stemmed, cubed
and brewed together
vegetable harmonies,
brimmed mason jars
before the long decrescendo of fall.

We harvested purple tops of clover
to weave into laurels
for my ten year old head
for pig, horse, cow.
I was royalty
during solemn coronations,
a cornstalk as my scepter
billy goat crowned prince.

When she died,
I was the one
who laid her down in the wheat fields
let the songs left full in her mouth
ripen the soil.

Sharon Foley’s poems have received recognition and awards from Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, Wisconsin Writers Association, and the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including the Aurorean, White Pelican Review, Common Ground Review, Bellowing Ark, Chest and Plainsongs. Her first collection of poems, What Is Endured, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2017. She lives in Whitefish Bay with her husband, sons and ferocious five-pound Morkie, Dash.

 

FireSpiritsCrossingARiver Pair w Ed H

(artist credit: Derik Hawley)

 

ED HIGGINS

We two

have this entire lifetime left, so let’s waste it
still in whatever repair we can manage. I’ll
bury my face in your still beautiful hair, breathing
in all our forgotten and remembered treasures,
the grey-streaked years melting like a Dali clock.
We ripen in time like fall colors of the tall liquid
amber we planted beyond the pump house years
ago. Our mixed pulse an extravagant music of
complexities, joy and grief, while we pause here
on this moonless night listening in one another’s
arms. Embracing all those lost ghosts, waiting for
others to arrive, bound to their voices catching at
the soul’s happy or sad fire. Love’s the surest sign
you say and I agree, its absence or loss a sure proof.

Ed Higgins’s poems and short fiction have appeared in various print and online journals including recently: Peacock Journal, Uut Poetry, Triggerfish Critical Review, and Tigershark Magazine, among others. He and his wife live on a small organic farm in Yamhill, OR raising a menagerie of animals, including an alpaca named Machu-Picchu. Ed is also Asst. Fiction Editor for Brilliant Flash Fiction, an Ireland-based journal.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

(artist credit: James Curley)

 

JACKIE LANGETIEG

When Does Love Die?

If I were to write about love today
I could write that my husband still proclaims,
after living apart for almost 30 years, that

I’m the only woman he’s ever loved and still does.
He left a message last week on my phone
that he missed me and really “liked” me.

I guess that’s love. He’s coming today
to defrost my freezer, so that shows
what he says is what he does.

We are friends and that is where we began
almost a half century ago. We’ve never divorced
so I guess that’s another testament to love.

Jackie Langetieg is retired and lives in Verona, Wisconsin. Her chapbook, White Shoulders, was published in 2000 by Cross+Roads Press. She received the 1999 Excellence in Poetry award from the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, the Jade Ring award from the Wisconsin Regional Writers Association, and was co-editor of the 2004 Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar. She has published three other books.  Her most recent book is the memoir, Filling the Cracks with Gold: Coming of Age Stories (2019).

LINDA WALLIN

The Soul Quilt

To cut pieces of their soul off with a knife
Then weave them into a blanket
To protect you. —Hafiz

It can be a woman who has been left on her own
with children to support,
or a mother whose child has meltdowns,
or a man who has experienced such severe depression
that he lost hope of ever being sane.
It can be a brother who helps you move six times,
or a friend who has shown the wonderful change
you inspired in her life,
a child who begins to believe in himself,
or all of these, sewn together
by the one who loves you.

Linda Wallin grew up in Palatine, IL near Chicago. She has a B.A. in German Secondary Education and an M. Ed. in Preschool Special Education from the University of Illinois. She received a Certificate of Advanced Study in Technology in Education from National-Louis University. She taught disabled students full-time for 30 years and discovered her poetry in a journal after neglecting it for decades. She also teaches gifted children Lego Robotics at the Center for Gifted in Glenview. She has three children and three grandchildren who bring her great joy. She has been a member of Poets and Patrons in Chicago, IL for many years, and served as President for one term. She has won in some of the competitions by that organization and has had three poems published. When she is not on the computer, she is quilting, reading or writing. Her websites include: www.dwna.net, Wallin’s Wave, Living with Geniuses, and A Boomer Retirement.

M J IUPPA

May Life Be Kind While It Lasts

There’s a stack of dinner dishes soaking in the sink,
waiting for me to scrub them clean. I begin every

morning like this: a pang of despair followed by hope,
slipping the last dish in the drying rack as fresh coffee

gurgles in the pot. I pluck a clean cup from the cupboard
and pour what’s ready, realizing that this is it—my life’s

restart button. I think I can go out into the world, despite
the news, and listen to traffic that passes me in footsteps

and conversations and cars going somewhere without
me. I am the reader, the one who makes notes in margins;

who absent-mindedly places a hand over heart when I
see the turning point & feel surprised by what can happen

in that tender moment that changes everything without
calling attention to generosity said in a nod, a wave of

the hand, a slight smile, looking back over a shoulder
to see that person disappearing down the stairs, taking

quick steps to meet someone who’s waiting somewhere
just to be with them.

M J Iuppa is Director of the Visual and Performing Arts Minor Program and Lecturer in Creative Writing at St. John Fisher College, and is a part-time lecturer in Creative Writing at The College at Brockport. Most recently, she was awarded the New York State Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching, 2017. She and her husband Peter Tonery live on a small farm where they practice organic food sustainability.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

(artist credit: James Curley)

 

JAN CHRONISTER

Love is . . .

saving gas rations
for a honeymoon

a swatch of fabric
from the bed of conception

lunch hour phone call home
every day for forty years

a kiss to rival Klimt’s
at granddaughter’s
wedding dance

Mom’s pajamas still hanging
on the back of Dad’s
bathroom door
three months after she dies.

Jan Chronister lives and writes in the woods near Maple, Wisconsin. Her full-length poetry collection, Caught between Coasts, was released in 2018 from Clover Valley Press. For more, please go to www.janchronisterpoetry.wordpress.com

 

Jennifer P USE Pair w Andree G.

(artist credit: Jennifer S J Peña)

 

ANDRÉE GRAVELEY

The Home I’ve Made For You

The Sufis believe the large world is inside,
and it is there I’ve made a home for you.
There, where anything is possible,
a fire always burns for you. We sit and
warm ourselves by it—reading Thoreau,
or poetry, sometimes Donne’s holy sonnets:
“batter my heart three-person’d God.”
Or you reach for your mahogany
bass and the rest is music. We grow old,
but no matter—this firelight we read,
write, and play by is unquenchable.
Cheer up, I tell you, cheer up.
The battering is done, the ravishing
complete. The tree survives, and see,
I enter our home laughing, branches
so overfull of fruit, I stagger.

Andrée Graveley is a poet, a peace activist, and a student of Jungian dream-work. She lives on an island in northern Wisconsin where she keeps a rustic cabin resort built by her grandparents. Her work has appeared in Midwest Prairie Review, North Coast Review, Red Cedar Review, Verse Wisconsin, and Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar.

NIXI SCHROEDER

Homesick Blues

I used to think home
meant the cool hum of granite,
meant snow-drizzled mountains peeking through haze
like tourists through shop windows, the stink
of cow lingering
in pastures that have since become mini-malls, the black echoes firewood
traced
on small white fingers.

But now

when I read the news
and I reach for the space your hand used to fill—
when I roll over at thunder and feel for beard bristles,
quills you long abandoned in my pillowcase, when
the smell of years and years of you
pressed into walls and carpet
like a four-leaf-clover
is too faded
to bring luck—

when I cook soup for two
and lay out too many spoons and bowls, watch the steam twist up
into the shape of a phantom limb—

I wonder, now,
if home is habitual:
a series of rehearsed attitudes, half-intimated,
if home

is a life we imagined
we lived. A life

that inside of us,
somehow,
is still living.

Nixi Schroeder is a writer and teaching assistant at Truman State University, where she is currently pursuing Masters degrees in English and education. Her work has appeared in Spectrum, The FEM, Eyedrum Periodically, Everyday Poets, Windfall Magazine, The Monitor, and Minnesota Outdoor News. She also currently serves as a poetry reader on the editorial staff of the Chariton Review.

 

Pair w Shawn A S

(artist credit: Karen VandenBos)

 

SHAWN AVENINGO SANDERS

Letting Go

I’m scooping up as much sand in my hand as I can, but no matter how hard I try, the granules bleed through my fingers and I just can’t figure out how to hang on. I dream of her sleeping upon my chest, remembering how she needed more than the fading sun to calm her, how magically our hearts would sync. Now it’s my heart that sinks. Every time I turn around, I’m failing her. Saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, writing the wrong thing…but for all the right reasons. I remember twenty, that age when we feel invincible, and we hold tight to our new paradigm—freedom. So I give her wings, without judgment, weightless so she can soar. And then I wonder. Does she think I don’t care anymore? Does she wonder how it is that I could kiss and bandage her knee one minute and watch her fall down the next? She doesn’t see the tears I’ve collected and put in the bell jar. I think of my own mother and remember times when I was too quick with my sharp-witted tongue, proud of my sarcastic quips, unaware of the pangs in her heart that sang in silence. I hear those songs in my heart today. So many words I wish I could swallow.

Shawn Aveningo Sanders is a globally published, award-winning poet who can’t stand the taste of coconut, eats pistachios daily and loves shoes … especially red ones! (redshoepoet.com) Shawn’s work has appeared in over 100 literary journals and anthologies. She’s a Pushcart nominee (2015), Best of the Net nominee (2017), co-founder of The Poetry Box®, managing editor for The Poeming Pigeon®, and was named Best Female Poet-Performer in Sacramento News & Review Reader Poll (2009). Shawn is a proud mother of three and shares the creative life with her husband in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon.

 

USE pair w Robert C.

(artist credit: Fiona Capuano)

 

ROBERT COLE

Bridge

I spent my whole life trying to connect heaven and earth
but didn’t know it until much later.
Who after all would arrive with a set of instructions
that abstract, or even instructions?

Still, I might have noticed the signs when I was fifteen
and grew so fast my bones ached,
the skin stretching around my joints
like little rivulets still flowing over hips and knees
almost forty years later. My arms becoming so long
I could grasp things beyond the reach of my peers.
Retrieving, even then, a desired object for others.

At its best it’s like translation, this solitary dharma.
Leaning into the wordless with a dictionary
written in invisible ink lodged under the rafters
of my left rib. Trying to approximate in language
the way a newly bereaved father witnesses a bird
for the first time in his life. I’ve burrowed into lairs
of creatures so unlike us as to be unrecognizable
just to cipher out their sandy sleep of longing.
Such is the grudging addiction of my kind.

Sometimes I meet others afflicted with the same blessing.
It’s usually just in passing, but that moment of recognition
peals like a church bell in my solar plexus.
And for that second I’m kind of home again,
kind of remembering the family I was separated from
before boarding the train that took me to this station, earth.

We give each other silent high fives from the corner of our strange eyes,
ones that can’t help but see something greater than all this
aching to enter the world and make it real again.
Hoping our assignments will lead us back to a place
where we can finish the mission and marry a cloud formation,
drifting without intent or obligation through a sky
that spent its whole life trying to come to ground
through these earnest and faltering vessels.

Robert Cole is a professional writer, teacher and public speaker who has been writing poetry for over thirty-five years. His poems have appeared in literary journals, anthologies, and non-fiction works. In 2011 his chapbook, The Life of the Body, was set to music by noted New York Art Song composer Tom Cipullo, and has since been performed with chamber ensemble and vocalist at venues around the US and Canada, most recently at Carnegie Hall.

KARLA HUSTON

My Mother’s Lost Teeth

She popped them out at whim,
my mother’s false teeth—the shock
of seeing them on the end table
or the edge of the sink, a nightstand,
her upper lip sunk in rivulets
of wrinkles. She was buried in them,
I’m sure, so why did I find
this set in her bathroom closet?
Pink plastic gums—“gooms”
like brooms, she said—
and nearly white, a haze
of effervescence still clinging
to the surface. Now, around my neck,
a pendant made of her gold bridge,
replaced long ago with porcelain.
She’d tucked it into her wallet
waiting for me to find.

Karla Huston, Wisconsin Poet Laureate (2017-2018) is the author of A Theory of Lipstick (Main Street Rag, 2013) as well as 8 chapbooks of poetry including Grief Bone, (Five-Oaks Press, 2017). Her poems, reviews and interviews have been published widely, including the 2012 Pushcart Best of the Small Presses anthology. She teaches poetry writing at The Mill: A Place for Writers in Appleton, Wisconsin.

SYLVIA CAVANAUGH

Rockford

Just three years
a mere fragment of my life
decades long gone
but I hold this little satellite
whirring through
the wide galaxy
of old thought

frail city
though it was
with its rapid decline
belted by the rust belt

walls built of brick
and downtown granite
cast cold shade
on winter sidewalks
all year long
the best restaurants
were wine-dark inside

some other sort of city
stands there today
but my Rockford is magic

we were all so alive
when we looked
each other in the eye
and I developed
a fondness even
for mirrors

waiting for some kind
of rain
to trickle down
from the flat rooftops
those heavy factories
used to have so many windows
but they were shuttered shut
except for the chiclet factory

remember the way
chiclets corned themselves
into the flesh of our mouths
and we popped them in
one after another

Originally from Pennsylvania, Sylvia Cavanaugh has an M.S. in Urban Planning from the University of Wisconsin. She teaches high school African and Asian cultural studies and advises break dancers and poets. She and her students are actively involved in the Sheboygan chapter of 100,000 Poets for Change. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her poems have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies. She is a contributing editor for Verse-Virtual: An Online Community Journal of Poetry. Her first chapbook, Staring Through My Eyes, was published by Finishing Lines Press in 2016. A second chapbook, Angular Embrace, was published by Kelsay Books in 2018. You can find more of Sylvia’s poetry at https://sylviacavanaugh.com/

 

Pair w Lisa Vihos

(artist credit: Jeannie E Roberts)

 

LISA VIHOS

Some Him, Some Her: A Poem of Longing in Six Parts

I.
She would know him
if she saw him yesterday,

today or tomorrow
on a street corner

buying a newspaper
or having a coffee.

He would be tall
with silvery hair.

His smile would
light the whole street

like a meteor streaking
through midtown,

a fiery, rolling ball of mayhem
come to unify things.

II.
He is never on time
but does his own laundry.

He can cook, mow a lawn,
crack open a cold one.

He knows there must be a place
where miracles occur. Funny,

how all the good things
happen to other people

and all the bad things
just happen. Funny—

though they have never met—
he clearly recollects

her softness pressed against
the hardness of his chest.

III.
She waits, but
he is not ready.

He does not know
how to begin

to give her what she
wants to give him.

She has seen him
in her mind’s eye

her entire life
but does not believe

he could possibly find her.
He loves her the way

a dog loves a bone, gnawing
on the very thought of her.

IV.
He cannot remember
a time when he did not

love her. She remembers
only being not loved.

He keeps things in his pockets
that will conjure her.

She conjures nothing
but her own grief.

He sits in a car by the lake,
watching the waves roll in.

The couple in the next car
go at it in broad daylight.

People do strange things
when the spirit moves them.

V.
If he is the knife
she is the sheath.

If he is the tree
she is the blossom.

If he is the wine
she is the press.

If he is the egg
she is the basket.

She can’t put her eggs
in one basket. He won’t

pour wine from a rotted press.
She can’t help but weep when

blossoms leave the tree; when the knife
goes missing from the sheath.

VI.
One day, they will meet.
They will find each other

in the most unlikely of places.
It is a place that does not exist

on any creased map,
or dog-eared guidebook.

A place unnamed, unknown,
no compass point, no pole star.

A place of which they’ve dreamed
yet it remains a mystery.

Bigger than a bread box, smaller
than a universe. Long waiting,

they were cold through the eons,
but with each step, they get warmer.

The poems of Lisa Vihos have appeared in numerous journals both print and online including Big Muddy, Bramble, Forge, Red Fez, New Verse News, Portage, Seems, Verse Wisconsin, and Wisconsin People and Ideas. She has two Pushcart Prize nominations and four chapbooks, the most recent, Fan Mail from Some Flounder (Main Street Rag Publishing, 2018). She is the Poetry and Arts Editor of Stoneboat Literary Journal and the Sheboygan organizer for 100 Thousand Poets for Change. She compiled the anthology, Van Gogh Dreams (HenschelHAUS Publishing, 2018) and co-edited with Dawn Hogue, From Everywhere a Little: A Migration Anthology forthcoming in 2019 from Water’s Edge Press. Also in 2019, she is mid-stream in an ongoing project to design and build a children’s reading garden in Malawi.

BRUCE TAYLOR

Some Many and Untold Year

from now, doddering along our worn path
by the river, the water at its usual ebb
or apogee, your gold hair gone silver
my silvered hair gone altogether,

I will whisper again not originally
I’d like to see you in a slip of that color
meaning as I always do the sky that day
had its perfect pitch, incline and hue
because we are together under it.

Bruce Taylor is Professor Emeritus at UWEC and former poet laureate of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. His poetry has appeared in such places as: Able Muse, The Chicago Review, Cortland Review, The Formalist, Light, The Nation, The New York Quarterly, Poetry and on Writer’s Almanac. He lives in the village of Lake Hallie, Wisconsin with his wife, the writer, Patti See.

 

USE Pair w Kathleen P

(artist credit: Fiona Capuano)

 

KATHLEEN PHILLIPS

And so to sleep again
(Thanks to Patti Page)

Some widows say they cannot sleep
in the same bed, too much empty space,
but my friend solved that problem—
accustomed as she was to clinging
to her own side, she piled his side high
with magazines, books and writing materials.
Another bought a dog, has less room
now than she did before.

I use the whole bed, sleeping well
under a summer blanket, storing
the heavy quilt he loved and I always
kicked off. I talk to him every night,
sharing bits and pieces of my day,
explaining all the changes. And he seems
at ease with how things are going,

though he probably wonders how on earth
I keep my feet warm.

Kathleen Phillips continues to live and write in Milwaukee, close to Lake Michigan. Now 82, she finds time for activities with a lively family that can’t keep her from getting older, but engage her in their wonderful adventures. That is also true of the vibrant city-life around her. Katy lives at Eastcastle, a senior residence where she and a friend started a memoir group. She is a member of Hartford Avenue Poets and Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. Her poetry and creative nonfiction have appeared in many publications, most recently, Nature’s Healing Spirit published by Sowing Creek Press and the on-line publication, Parks and Points.

CAROLINE COLLINS

Van Gogh’s Night Horse

Under the lacy, floating stars
and the café’s sloping roof,
beside the hulking buildings
and against the stroked-in background,
Van Gogh’s night horse waits in the wings.

Everything in the Café Terrace
traces back to this: heart-shaped shoulders
and haunches disappear into the dark
carriage, backlit by the horseman’s lantern,
its wheels merely long slashes,
his top hat only a shadow.

Think of the winter days Van Gogh spent
learning to draw in just a few strokes
the bright triangular ears, the dark
forelock, fallen over one eye,
and the other eye, a quick, sharp jab.

A flick and twist fashion the forelimbs,
one hoof lifted but still,
then stippling brings in the yellow tints
like a fine dusting of pollen,
more a child’s drawing than the worn

cab-horse of his letters to Theo—
young and strong but patient,
with a visage full of hope
and powerful shoulders
so full of love, ready now
to set the bright stones ringing.

Caroline Collins holds an MFA in Creative Writing and a doctorate in nineteenth-century American literature from the University of Arkansas. Her book Presences was published by Parallel Press in 2014. Her most recent poems have appeared in Arkansas Review: a Journal of Delta Studies and Big Muddy. She teaches composition, literature, and creative writing at Gordon State College, and she is currently at work on another collection of poetry.

 

MayanPool Pair w Adria L.

(artist credit: Derik Hawley)

 

ADRIA L LIBOLT

Detached on the Amore

Colored locked padlocks hold together lovers and families
names Marie, Robert, and their children for life
attached to fences and any chicken wire available
glinting in the sun of the Via dell’amore.

We had ice cream at the higher restaurant above Riomoggiore
overlooking the Mediterranean and walked back
the last train, last anniversary night,
when I lost you in a rush of chattering teens.

Surprised at how unhinged I was,
flustered in a sea of strange languages
I took faith steps into the car, relieved you boarded,
the taste on my tongue metallic, mulling over flesh’s fragility,

rusting apart in distance and decay
weathered salt-breathed metal padlocks
linked hanging locked. I twist
the gold finger ring matching yours.

a pasta lunch at Vernazza, you
poured water into your wine,
fooled by glasses the same size
laughing you turning it to Cana
your hand touches my back

memory’s fleeting moments and desires
form strong links, look back
grow entwined knotted
you were always free to leave

the train bound to its tracks feels unfettered
floats from the station to Monterossa,
our limbs after the five-town walk
ready for rest.

on our honeymoon we slept
in the sleeping car crossing the country.

Adria L Libolt is from the Pacific Northwest but spent her career in Michigan, where she worked in Michigan prisons, as a deputy warden. Her book, Reflections of a Deputy Warden, was published in 2012 by Wiph & Stock. She attended three Michigan colleges: Calvin, Michigan State, and the University of Michigan, where she received a Master’s Degree. She taught in two Michigan schools and a community college before working in the prisons. She lived on the Grand River, where she watched blue herons, kayaked with her husband and gardened. She returned to the Northwest recently, where she lives close to the Canadian border and Bellingham, Washington. She volunteers and writes mostly essays.  Adria’s book, Food: An Appetite for Life (White Bird Publications), was just published in Jan. 2019.

OLGA GARCÍA ECHEVERRÍA

Despues de la muerte, la poesía
(for tatiana de la tierra)

Now that you’re gone
you’re everywhere.

In the translucent plastic Buddha
on the porch, glowing green
at dusk and dawn.

You’re in the orange fleshy papaya
ripening on the kitchen counter.

You’re in the wind chimes
in the rooster’s crow
in my morning coffee cup.

Now that you’re gone
you’re with me here
under the Ceiba tree
in the dispersed cotton silk
floating in the air like ghosts.

You’re in the sweat lodge
in the cold creek
in my dreams
riding shotgun in the car.

Now that you’re gone, tatiana
you’re in the shimmering eye
of the peacock feather

in the winter Magnolia Galaxy bloom
in the Super Blue Blood Moon

I see you

cradling planets
spiraling in the Milky Way
jamming on Sappho’s eternal lyre.

Olga García Echeverría is the author of Falling Angels: Cuentos y Poemas. Her work appears in Lavandería: A Mixed Load of Women, Wash, and Words, U.S. Latino Literature Today, Telling Tongues: A Latin@ Anthology on Language, Bird Float / Tree Song, The Sun Magazine, and Imaniman: Poets Writing from the Anzalduan Borderlands. She was selected by A Room of Her Own (AROHO) as the 2013 Touching Lives Fellow, and in the spring of 2015 she was a finalist for AROHO’s Orlando Literary Prize in the genre of Creative Non-fiction. She writes, teaches, and shape-shifts in Los Angeles.

 

DragonsEye Pair w KB Ballentine

(artist credit: Derik Hawley)

 

KB BALLENTINE

My Hands, Cracked Cups

When words breathe,
tongue the bark of birch
and flit through leaves,
whispering —

When embers burn to earth,
candelabra of branches
etched in sand
shifting, sifting into nothingness —

When threads connecting the stars
unravel, fray into daybreak,
to summon promises stroking
blood from stone —

carols of clouds will span
thyme and cosmos —
my heart braced, waiting
in longing and praise

KB Ballentine has an MA in Writing and an MFA in Creative Writing, Poetry. Her fifth collection, Almost Everything, Almost Nothing, was published in 2017 by Middle Creek Publishing. Two collections, The Perfume of Leaving and What Comes of Waiting, won the 2016 and 2013 Blue Light Press Book Awards. Published in Crab Orchard Review and Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, among others, her work also appears in anthologies including In Plein Air (2017), Carrying the Branch: Poets in Search of Peace (2017), In God’s Hand (2017), and River of Earth and Sky: Poems for the Twenty-first Century (2015). Learn more about KB Ballentine at www.kbballentine.com.

KERSTEN CHRISTIANSON

Blues

Like robin’s egg
or Rie Munoz sky
reflected in sea
(bagel wrapper,
chipped mug,
pottery shard
beached in stone,
smooth moonstone
cupped in my hand)
the broken mussel
shells of my heart
clank and rattle
in my skin.

Kersten Christianson is a raven-watching, moon-gazing Alaskan. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing through the University of Alaska Anchorage and recently published her first collection of poetry Something Yet to Be Named (Aldrich Press/Kelsay Books, 2017).

 

Paula L Pair w Chris D.

(artist credit: Paula Lietz)

 

CHRIS DALEIDEN

Midnight TV
(For my brother)

The night staff says Billy
awakens after midnight, shuffles
out to the silent living room,
turns on the TV, and sits for hours.

I sense his pull through that fuzzy
access, feel him sigh
as we connect in the night world.

I fret about him — is he conscious
of his retardation, does he mourn
what he never had?

Through the nocturnal gateway,
Billy shifts me to see
another view of his sixty year life.

He is a forever child, sheltered
and tended by the merciful
and loving souls of Helping Hands,

his group home family,
who tuck him into bed
each evening where he will sleep
until after midnight.

Chris Daleiden lives in Fond du Lac, WI with her husband, Jim. She is semi-retired and enjoys spending time on her poetry and paintings. She is a member of WFOP and WWA, and finds inspiration in daily events, as well as in the wild outdoors.

PHIL HUFFY

You

Linus’s piano, that’s me,
you, the Mighty Wurlitzer
at Radio City.

I am an epigram, unrhymed,
you, a perfect sonnet penned,
abundantly textured.

Call me a crust of salty rye,
you, a baker’s triumph made
for royal partaking.

See here this uneven shadow,
you, a ray of laser light
bright beyond all measure.

Phil Huffy is a repurposed lawyer who came to poetry after hobbying for years as a songwriter and solo performer. Song lyrics are usually not stand-alone poems, but working on them for so long has been good training. Recent placements include The Lyric, Gold Dust, Westward Quarterly and Poets Reading The News.

LAUREL DEVITT

Diva Tulips

They come gleefully,
wave wildly from
their clear glass carriage.

Lustrous in ruffled
yellow Goddess gowns
with crumb-catcher bodices,

the Diva Tulips, those
eager heralds of spring,
flounce to the stage

and beaming and swaying
sing a song
pure and clean as ice.

Heads fade into shadow
as the sunny stunners
diminish everything else

into
everything
else.

Laurel Devitt lives and writes in La Crosse, WI among the beautiful bluffs and rivers. She recently (over winter months when gardening is out of the question) happily renewed her acquaintance with her piano. In doing so, she
discovered you can teach an old dog new tricks!

 

USE Pair w Simon P

(artist credit: Fiona Capuano)

 

SIMON PERCHIK

*
You sit along its rim, count
the way this well returns
wishes and seawater

and each sky scented
by the damp breeze
that suffocates its prey

—you don’t escape, let
the warm sand take hold
surround your arm over arm

as a day still struggling
thrashing in nets, tossing out
balloons no one wants anymore

or celebrates the catch
where a small stone
was asking for you.

Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, Forge, Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker and elsewhere. His most recent collection is The Osiris Poems published by box of chalk, 2017. For more information, including free e-books, his essay titled “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities,” please visit his website at www.simonperchik.com.

GARY GLAUBER

Long shot

We are drawn
to the allure
of the impossible.

She is Nordic perfection,
an ethereal vision, a sprite
taming woodland animals,
speaking the reindeer language.

Her very presence suggests
a play by Strindberg,
something serious,
representational, confounding.

Her ghost sonata voice
of distant cello
plays on brisk winds,
reciting whole passages
of Kafka, Camus, and Weil,
seeing bleak reality
fraught with contemplative angst.

Me, I’m more of a Shecky or Rodney,
a standup kind of guy
with roots on the lower East Side.
Overstuffed deli sandwiches
are the sloppy oeuvre of
my silly observations.
I am crowded subway car,
urban sprawl of loud sweaty complainers.

The noise, the speed, the chaos
allows no moss to grow underfoot;
mine is a cracked mirror universe
lacking serenity & perhaps that
is why I am so drawn
to her loner’s solitude & peace,
those green eyes & soft curves,
her ability to sit & read & ponder.

She is peace; I am war.
Yet the same rain
envelops us in springtime,
& she’ll urge me
to cast aside bruised psyche,
to feed the million hungry pigeons
gathered in Belvedere fountain.

Soundtrack swells
into blossomed crescendo
& I can almost taste
green tea on her honeyed lips,
the promise of words
before they arrange
into memorable stanzas.

Siren’s silent call
is enticingly inviting,
yet disarming as romance
found within graveyards.

Inhaling the gift
of her forgiveness,
I call for more,
a gesture, a reckoning,
a miracle,

reminded that even
the occasional clunker
hoisted up from the corner
hearkens toward reverse parabola
& finds nothing but net.

Gary Glauber is a poet, fiction writer, teacher, and former music journalist. His works have received multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations. He champions the underdog to the melodic rhythms of obscure power pop. His two collections, Small Consolations (Aldrich Press/Kelsay Books) and Worth the Candle (Five Oaks Press) and a chapbook Memory Marries Desire (Finishing Line Press) are available through Amazon.

 

Paula L Pair w Nancy L.

(artist credit: Paula Lietz)

 

NANCY JEAN LARSON

A Thousand Words for Snow

A love song really,
as the neon suited Olympic skier
kneels to kiss you—her gold medal snow.

Like the word become flesh
you are water balled in our fists,
and our slide, glide, walk-on-water play.

Languages intimate with you
crystallize words branching
through your stages, precise physics,
spirit and meanings.

Your temperate cycles:
November tease over crackling leaves and retreat.
December cozy celebration.
Night drive tunnel through dancing dazzle.
January squeaking Styrofoam.
And not always you, but the wind over you
speaking truth to our face.
February encrusted waves sublimating to blinding sky.
March metallic smell mingling with open earth.

You record who comes and goes:
Chickadees who twitter over you.
Mice who scurry under you and poke air holes.
White marsh hawk who dives her black wrists
to wing prints upon your face.
Deer who struggle though you to their bellies and paw in hunger.
Unseen frogs who shelter below in life-death pose.

In boreal retreats, cedar and spruce
wrap in your blankets long into spring,
hold you close against parting.

High North, Far South, and Mountain Tops,
you compress to layers
write the carbon ledger
in your epochs
going from sedimentary to metamorphic.

Calving and shrinking,
you melt north with the white birch.
Leaving us,
your tired roadside snowbanks
draining ashen sins.

Nancy Jean Larson enjoys life on a little farm in Marengo, Wisconsin with her husband and several animals. She recently retired from a long career in natural resources and continues to work with environmental non-profit organizations. Her poetry has appeared in the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets’ Calendar, An Ariel Anthology, and Blue Heron Review.

DIANA WOODCOCK

Ta Prohm Temple, Angkor

It all happened so unexpectedly—
I’ve fallen for a tree.
One grey afternoon, smitten
in spung-scented air—my spirit
reaching back to the 9th century,

monkeys softening brittle ruins
with agile leaps and jaunts.
I could have stayed, I surmised,
among mosquitos and dragonflies,
rough splendor of trailing, snake-like roots.

Blessed be each bird that sat and pooped
out seeds on the tip of the temple roof
from which the stately giants sprang.
I’d be bohemian, a Buddhist monk
in a saffron robe, a weaver of golden

Khmer silk in the shade of a Spung.
As in a mythical romance, we’d dance
the labyrinth together. Sanctity
of the Spung tree, flow of seasons
in run of roots over crumbling stones.

Let me waltz like these yellow moths
among its branches, releasing in me
pent-up lungta.* I cast my eyes
heavenward to its crown, in that instant
invoking and riding windhorse.*

Wind in its leaves more melodious
than favorite songs. Scene silvery-green
against a pewter sky. Roots snaking over
weather-worn stones softened by emerald moss.
Silver trunks tall and dignified rise into clouds.

Grass blades and tiny blue blossoms
spring up between cracked stones.
I dance among the roots from which
mysterious light issues forth—my moves
precise, articulate, smooth as an apsara dancer

delivering a message from the gods
to the king. I would creep along with them
a thousand years across the temple’s face,
take back this forest space, ignore the mirage
of ghostly demons and gods.

The monkeys will egg us on,
condoning our love affair—
my body shape-shifting into a Spung,
comingling my roots with the one
to which I gave my heart at Ta Prohm.

*meaning windhorse, Tibetan for uplifted energy

Diana Woodcock is an associate professor of English in Qatar at Virginia Commonwealth University’s branch campus, where she teaches composition, creative writing, and environmental literature. She is the author of six chapbooks and three poetry collections: Tread Softly (FutureCycle Press, 2018), Under the Spell of a Persian Nightingale (Word Poetry Books, 2015) and Swaying on the Elephant’s Shoulders (winner the 2010 Vernice Quebodeaux International Women’s Poetry Prize/Little Red Tree Publishing, 2011). Her fourth book, Reverent Flora ~ The Arabian Desert’s Botanical Bounty (Little Red Tree Publishing), is forthcoming in 2018. Widely published in literary journals and anthologies (including Best New Poets 2008), her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net Award, as well as performed live onstage in Lincoln Park, San Francisco at Artists Embassy International’s 21st Dancing Poetry Festival. Prior to teaching in Qatar, she worked for nearly eight years in Tibet, Macau and on the Thai/Cambodian border. She is a doctoral candidate (Creative Writing) at Lancaster University.

DAWN HOGUE

You can tell which pictures my mother took

They’re the blurry ones. They’re the ones
where Dad’s head is sheared off at the edge
or my brother is half there or missing altogether.
In one picture, my dad’s head is bent close to mine.
I have framed it. Blurry or not, we look good,
just us two.

I don’t remember my mother’s hands shaking,
but they must have as she tried to center us
in the lens, and now, my grown children
standing behind me, none of us knowing
what to think or say, for what is there to say,
I notice how peacefully her hands lay crossed
upon her lap, and I think how odd this stillness,
how odd her still body, quieter than ever
she was in life.

I don’t remember my mother’s hands shaking
as she lumbered like a monster and chased us
around the yard, or as she forced us to dance
upon her feet, or lifted us and twirled us
around and around until she fell with us,
dizzy and laughing.

I don’t remember my mother’s hands shaking
as she held me on her lap and turned the pages
of a picture book, her voice deep as the bear,
light as the fairy. Or later, as she tucked me
into bed, her arms wrapped around me,
telling me with unruffled certitude
that the whole wide world waited,
just for me.

Dawn Hogue is a Wisconsin writer and former English teacher. Hogue is the winner of the 2017 Hal Prize for Poetry. Her poetry has also appeared in various literary publications including Stoneboat Literary Journal and Inscape Magazine. A Hollow Bone, her debut novel from Water’s Edge Press, was released June 2017.

 

Paula Lietz3 Pair w Yvette F.

(artist credit: Paula Lietz)

 

YVETTE VIETS FLATEN

39th Anniversary

Our most very special day
has come around again.

Today recapitulates it exactly.
A Saturday. Opening Day
of Deer Season in Wisconsin
(more telling than you’d think).
The sun out at 7 o’clock on a
knife-edge November morning.

He’s gone off, just as he did then,
to get away. Keep his head clear.
In the game.

I’m reflective, just as I was then,
thinking how marriage would change
my tiny family. Three plus one can
only equal four.

Ceremony complete, he was able to eat;
I could not. I laughed and talked and
kissed the guests while he grew quieter.

When we escaped unto ourselves
the day had shushed from sunshine
into grey onto snow.

We drove in near silence
to our honeymoon suite,
wipers sweeping.
I have never known any
nicer moment than when
he turned the Pinto’s key
to ‘off.’

Yvette Viets Flaten of Eau Claire, WI, is active in the local arts community and her poetry has appeared in numerous journals. She won the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets’ Muse Prize for Excellence in Poetry in 2008 and 2013 and the Wisconsin Writers’ Association’s Jade Ring for poetry in 2010 and 2015. She loves to read, cook, and travel.

 

Blue Heron Full Image copy make last image

(artist credit: Alexis Brown)

 

ALEXIS BROWN

For the Abandoned

When Confused, return to your roots.
If you find that you don’t have any roots, GROW SOME.
Plant yourself in all the riches of this life, that your seeds may become lost and seek out your roots; which have been dipped in the deepest well of wisdom, the finest wine of joy, to be guided by the eternal gift of happiness.

Alexis Brown was born and raised in Radcliff, Kentucky. Alexis received her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree with an emphasis in Drawing from Bellarmine University 2006 in Louisville, Kentucky. Latest works by Alexis are completed in micron pen and digital illustration. These works vibrate a deep sense of healing and connectivity to those entertained by her works. In 2015 Alexis launched STIX Publishing. Her latest publication, The Purpose Tree, was finalized by the generous support of Sallie Bingham and The Kentucky Foundation for Women residency program 2017. In 2018 Alexis relocated to Clearwater, Florida. The maturity in her work is very noticeable. It is easy to spot the confidence in her lines, attraction to flat colors, and curiosity for unique and subjects. “The Blue Heron” is the most recent work by Alexis and is the perfect reference to her growth as an artist. Facebook: www.facebook.com/stixcreatmesumartbrown
Instagram: Stix_Brown

 

ARTIST BIOGRAPHIES

LOU NICKSIC ~ Lou Nicksic is a Wildlife/Landscape Photographer based in the Pacific Northwest. With an abundance of mountains, islands, waterfronts, and hundreds of amazing bird species, the availability of photographic subject matter is endless. What makes Lou’s bird images special, is that he tries to capture unique positions during flight, landing, or while the birds are preening in contortion like poses. On occasion, the birds get into an almost, human-like pose, adding a humorous flavor to his images. Lou considers outdoor nature photography to be a spiritual experience for him, and that a one-of-a-kind image is a wonderful gift worth cherishing. For those interested in licensing his images, or obtaining prints, please contact him at his website: www.loupho.com. He welcomes your feedback and will happily answer any questions that you might have. “Through Art and Photography, one gains entrance into the arena of contemplating meanings…”—Lou Nicksic

JASON IFFERT ~ Jason Iffert moved from the Twin Cities to Lake Country, WI about eight years ago. He graduated from Minnesota School of Business with a short degree in graphic design and marketing. Jason also studied art history at the University of Minnesota. He started using his first camera in 2007. After moving, Jason started a little business called ID (Iffert Design). He currently works as a freelance graphic artist and photographer.

CAROL TAHIR ~ Carol Tahir has been painting and drawing in various mediums since early teens. She studied with private teachers to hone her craft over the years. Carol has been developing a California Impressionism style these last few years. Visit her at Carol Tahir @ Facebook.com

PAULA LIETZ ~ Paula Lietz is a multifaceted artist, writer and award winning photographer. Continually gathering inspiration from the remote area she calls home, the edge of renown Riding Mountain National Park of Canada. Her website features original work and is truly a reflection of self and her genuine gratitude to the credited collaboration with peers of varIous genres in numerous venues over the past ten years. Website: pdlietzphotography.com / Twitter: Pd@Prairie_Sprite / Instagram: pd1xonly

DERIK HAWLEY ~ Derik Hawley is an artist, writer, and composer, living in Oakville, Ontario (Canada). He enjoys exploring creative themes, new techniques and media. www.derikhawley.com

JAMES CURLEY ~ James Curley is an avid photographer who resides in Clarkson, Mississauga (Canada). He has been enamored with photography since he was an 8-year-old, stalking the family’s cat in the backyard with his Grandfather’s old Brownie. James’s subjects are an eclectic mix of vibrant colors, shapes and exquisite forms of life—from the tiniest of creatures and flowers—to the austere, angular world of metal and glass. Not to mention Landscapes—immense vistas that seem to swallow you whole. Through photography, he has attempted to capture these “singular moments,” so that others may be moved and inspired.

JENNIFER S J PEÑA ~ Jennifer S J Peña is both a mathematician and an artist. Her work is inspired by the patterns of nature. She works in a variety of mediums including pen and paper, oil paints, collage, and beads. A member of the Random Acts Inspiration Crew for Random Acts of Poetry and Art Day, Jennifer creates work to put more joy out into the world and to create an environment for healing and happiness for those who admire her work.

KAREN A VANDENBOS ~ From the time she read her first story book as a young girl, to her high school years of being active in journalism and editor of the student writing & art magazine Tabard, Karen A VandenBos has always known she has the heart of a creative spirit. Being a seeker by nature, Karen’s curiosity led her to explore many interests. Some let her follow her muse, like having a few of her poems published locally, while others steered her way off course. In 2008, Karen completed a PhD in Holistic Health. One of the courses was about Shamanism which influenced her to write her dissertation on the healing power of nature and the importance of finding one’s totem animal(s). Just three years ago, photography connected Karen to her spiritual path. While she has always dabbled in photography, this time taking photos has become her passion. It is nature that speaks to her heart, and Karen’s photographs showcase this connection.

FIONA CAPUANO ~ Fiona Capuano was born in Istanbul and raised in New York City. She has an MFA in Fiction Writing from The New School and BA in Clinical Psychology from NYU. In addition to writing and painting, Fiona loves nature and wildlife and enjoys taking nature photography. She lives in with her husband, two kids and a dog. And many bird friends.

JEANNIE E ROBERTS ~ Jeannie E Roberts is an artist, a poet, and a photographer. When photographing, she focuses on the shapes, textures, and natural design elements found outdoors. Her photos appear in online journals, magazines, and print anthologies, including An Ariel Anthology, Anti-Heroin Chic, Blue Heron Review, Midwestern Gothic, Off the Coast, Portage Magazine, Presence, Quill and Parchment, Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets’ Bramble Literary Magazine and elsewhere. She has authored four poetry collections, including the most recent The Wingspan of Things, a poetry chapbook (Dancing Girl Press, 2017). She is also the author and illustrator of Rhyme the Roost! A Collection of Poems and Paintings for Children (Daffydowndilly Press, an imprint of Kelsay Books, 2019) and Let’s Make Faces!, a children’s book dedicated to her son (author-published, 2009). She is Poetry Editor of the online literary magazine Halfway Down the Stairs and a member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets.

ALEXIS BROWN ~ Alexis Brown was born and raised in Radcliff, Kentucky. Alexis received her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree with an emphasis in Drawing from Bellarmine University 2006 in Louisville, Kentucky. Latest works by Alexis are completed in micron pen and digital illustration. These works vibrate a deep sense of healing and connectivity to those entertained by her works. In 2015 Alexis launched STIX Publishing. Her latest publication, The Purpose Tree, was finalized by the generous support of Sallie Bingham and The Kentucky Foundation for Women residency program 2017. In 2018 Alexis relocated to Clearwater, Florida. The maturity in her work is very noticeable. It is easy to spot the confidence in her lines, attraction to flat colors, and curiosity for unique and subjects. “The Blue Heron” is the most recent work by Alexis and is the perfect reference to her growth as an artist. Facebook: www.facebook.com/stixcreatmesumartbrown
Instagram: Stix_Brown

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(Blue Heron Review holds first publication rights of poems. All original rights go back to individual authors/artists.)