BHR Issue 3 Winter 2015

BHR Winter 2015 cover Issue3 image(Cover art by Jason Iffert)

M J Iuppa * Simon Perchik * Arya F Jenkins * Gonzalinho da Costa * Sandra Lindow * Trina Gaynon * Ann Wehrman * Laura Bayless * Bruce Dethlefsen * Ronda Broatch * Pat Wadsworth * Marzelle Robertson * Allison Grayhurst * Joan McNerney * Mary C Rowin * Philip Dacey * Ronnie Hess * Lauren K Carlson * Andrew Albritton * Sarah Rehfeldt * Wendy Thornton * Kiarra Lynn Smith * Chad Hanson * Robert Nordstrom * Tim Gavin * Chris Abbate * Russell Colver * Steven Bucher * Laura Rebecca Payne * Richard Havenga * Sarah Brown Weitzman * John Grey * Yvette A Schnoeker-Shorb * Tim Suermondt * Jeff Burt * Daniel James Sundahl * Sheelonee Banerjee *

Jason Iffert * Sarah Rehfeldt * Jeannie E Roberts * Richard Havenga * Sharon Auberle * Annette L Grunseth * David Seth Smith * Daniel Adams


(photo by Sarah Rehfeldt)


Boy with Bird, 1964
after a color woodcut by Masuo Ikeda

Outside an open doorway, a boy
sits cross-legged—his silky black
hair falls over his eyes.

Evening’s bronze shadows
pool around his slender body,
holding him still.

From dusty eaves, a sparrow
flutters, landing on his shoulder.
Without fear, it looks deeply

into the boy’s eyes for a long
time, waiting for tears to fall
freely & quench its thirst.

M J Iuppa lives on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. Between Worlds is her most recent chapbook, featuring lyric essays, flash fiction and prose poems (Foothills Publishing, 2013). Recent poems, flash fictions, and essays in When Women Waken, Poppy Road Review, Wild: A Quarterly, Eunoia Review, Andrea Reads America, Canto, Grey Sparrow Journal, The Poetry Storehouse, Avocet, Right Hand Pointing, Tiny-lights, The Lake (U.K.), The Kentucky Review, and more. She is the Writer-in-Residence and Director of the Visual and Performing Arts Minor Program at St. John Fisher College. You can follow her musings on writing and creative sustainability on Red Rooster Farm at:



Though her finger can’t reach
she’s telling you be quiet
as if there’s a word for it

shaped by a breath from where
the light on her face was lowered
–shadows know this, let you

lie there, go over the details
–from the start, her breasts
wanting so much to make a sound

cover the dirt with your mouth
pressing against her, begin
as silence, then nothing.

Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, Poetry, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. His most recent collection is Almost Rain, published by River Otter Press (2013). For more information, free e-books and his essay titled, “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities,” please visit his website at


Sleeping Next to Death

I sleep little
Next to the one who is dying

Couched in my own conceits
Irretrievable in faraway places

While her eyes dim and flutter
Practicing closing for all time

Her hands
Languorous and disconsolate
Rest crossed over her belly


And I am her night
Bringing darkness
To feed her
Like seeds to a bird in its cage

No matter what I say
Or fail to say
The dark truth between us
Is that she will go
While I will stay

The muses of unrelinquishable loss and grief
Sing this in the space between us.

Arya F Jenkins is a poet and writer whose work has appeared in numerous literary and online journals such as Agave Magazine, Brilliant Corners, Cleaver Magazine, and The Feminist Wire. Her poetry received a Pushcart nomination from the editors of Agave Magazine this year. Arya’s poetry and essays have been included in three anthologies. Her poetry chapbook, Jewel Fire, was published by AllBook Books. She writes short stories for Jerry Jazz Musician, which commissioned her to write jazz fiction. Visit her blogs: and


The World Is

The world is a waterless white expanse.
Abandoned cities stand as termite mounds,
Hubs of gulley networks lined with salt.

Beetles make homes where no humans roam.
Scorpions tiptoeing track tiny dimples.
Lizards scurry about as if electrocuted.

The wind whistles through honeycomb ruins.
Tiny tornadoes raise their fists.
Hot dust puffs like gun smoke.

We walk among windswept dunes of ash.
We quarry for light and dig for springs.
We tap at stones and ask for mercy.
We water ourselves to water the world.

The Song of Creation
To Gerard Manley Hopkins

Creation sings of the glory of God.
We do not hear it but see it
In brilliant interstices
Opening and closing
Of trees waving to and fro
When the world is radiant,
In glittering leaves,
Beaming stones,
Mountain streams, flashing
Metal foil flattened
By fists, smoothed
By hands.

The blind hear the song in the trees yearning to speak.
They inhale it in the attenuated wind,
Taste it in fruits bursting with water.
Bending down to touch the earth,
They become one with the beginning of all things,
Pushing roots into the soil,
Unfolding leaves,
Joining hands with the sun and the dead
Brought back to life.

Gonzalinho da Costa is the pen name of Joseph I. B. Gonzales, Ph.D. He teaches Methods of Research in Management, and Managerial Statistics at the Ateneo Graduate School of Business, Makati City, Philippines. He is a management research and communication consultant, and Managing Director of Technikos Consulting, Inc. A lover of world literature, he has completed three humanities degrees and writes poetry as a hobby.


(photo by Sharon Auberle)

(photo by Sharon Auberle)

Driving After Chemo

Too early to know
whether suffering pays off,
whether chemo will work
to render
another twenty years:

Adrift above the street,
one helium balloon, wind tossed,
pale and fragile,
a blind kitten’s blue-eyed stare.

Sandra Lindow lives on a hilltop in Menomonie, Wisconsin. She teaches, writes, edits and competes with wildlife for the sustenance of her vegetables and flowers. She has published seven books of poetry. Her prizes include two WWA Jade Ring poetry awards and the CWW Posner Award for best book of poetry. For 25 years, she’s served as WC VP of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets.


Kitchen Creek Lullabies

The plate glass window shook
when Delia started to sing.
Amazing Grace powered its way
out the door at Drowsy Maggie’s
echoing down University Avenue,
as if it were a desert canyon.
Theresa waited to steam her latte
until the last note, so bright
it lit up the J. C. Penney’s store,
escaped Delia’s chest and lips.

Cathy, the evening’s headliner,
opened with an instrumental–
guitar notes drifting around walls,
failing to find the windows
or run out the door and into the street.
Even Marshall in the kitchen, calling
out dinner orders, muffled his voice.
For when Cathy began to sing–
we heard reeds blowing against
each other in the Santa Ana winds.


Follow the path of the sun
though the cobbles underfoot
rock, worn uneven through time.

Follow the path of the sun
though it shifts through seasons
and with the place you call home.

Welcome the blossoms that flourish
and the fruit that ripens for harvest
under the caress of sun, wind, and water.

On that path Wisdom tastes
like honey cake, sticky on the tongue.

Follow the path of the sun
where it gleams upon the surface
of the ever-changing ocean.

Follow the path of the sun,
twinkling through leaves and branches,
spilling onto and through fresh waters.

Welcome the rain from thunderclouds,
mists that sweep across the land,
and dew that causes grasses to laugh.

Trina Gaynon’s poems appear in the anthologies Saint Peter’s B-list: Contemporary Poems Inspired by the Saints, Obsession: Sestinas for the 21st Century, A Ritual to Read Together: Poems in Conversation with William Stafford, Phoenix Rising from the Ashes: Anthology of Sonnets of the Early Third Millennium, Bombshells, and Knocking at the Door, as well as numerous journals including Natural Bridge, Reed, and the final issue of Runes. Her chapbook, An Alphabet of Romance, is available from Finishing Line Press.


Gentle Poverty

TV screen blinks in my darkened room
feelings ooze as I taste
the boiled potato Lara prepares for Zhivago,
their last

this year, again, I didn’t visit the dentist
get a new pair of glasses or new shoes

I feel shame
before the world’s victims
of war and disaster

thank God
when I wrap warm blankets around myself
before falling asleep on my carpeted floor
because I have coffee in the morning
can make a pbj to take to work
can pay my heating bill

but I dare not tell my boss
how hard it is to walk home on heel spurs
after eight hours of waiting
on customers in his store

Ann Wehrman is a creative writer and musician living in Northern California. She earned bachelor’s degrees in English Education (2001, Humboldt State University) and Music (Flute) (2010, CSU, Sacramento) and a master’s degree in English/Creative Writing (2005, CSU, Sacramento). Ann currently makes a living teaching English Composition online full-time for University of Phoenix and part-time for Ashford University.

Ann’s writing has appeared in print and online journals including Tule Review, Sacramento News & Review, Medusa’s Kitchen, The Ophidian, Rattlesnake Review, and Poetry Now. Rattlesnake Press published Ann’s broadside, Notes from the Ivory Tower, in 2007 and her chapbook, Inside (love poems), in 2011. Her writing also appears on at, Contact Ann at:


(photo by Jeannie E Roberts)

(photo by Jeannie E Roberts)


Breakers bellow on Moonstone Beach,
drown out other sounds.
The dark rocky sand offers
rough multi-colored jewels
for my pockets.

Light near water
paints the air,
dances silver stars
on the surface of the sea,
a scintillation reflected
on tiny polished pebbles
that shift beneath my feet.

I become light’s priestess,
and she my muse.
Foam leaves behind swaths
of diamond chips,
erased again and again —
the endless consoling ritual
of shimmering salt tears

that do not last for long.

Laura Bayless is the author of three collections of poetry, The Edge of the Nest, White Streams and Touchstones, and Persistent Dreams. Her poems have appeared in many local and national publications and anthologies, including Dancing on the Brink of the World, Selected Poems of Point Lobos, Porter Gulch Review, The Homestead Review, and Avocet. She has participated in seven Women’s Voices readings at the Carl Cherry Center. She is co-editor of an award-winning compilation of stories and poems about the Carmel River – Passion for Place.


Shadow Work

there lies a gift
beyond the orange blue crepuscular sky
and in patient intense silence you will find
the gift is you

Bruce Dethlefsen, Wisconsin Poet Laureate (2011-2012), has three full-length books of poetry published, Breather (Fireweed Press, 2009), Unexpected Shiny Things (Cowfeather Press, 2011), and Small Talk (Little Eagle Press, 2014). He sings and plays harmonica and bass guitar in a blues band, The Big Talkers. Bruce lives in Westfield, WI, runs Poet Camp twice a year, and has taught over a thousand people how to juggle.


You Tell Me Happiness May Not Be Communicable

yet there are otters beneath my feet.
There are dogs on the sand.

An eagle sweeps the sky of rain
and I wonder, have you seen

the exhale of eel grass, beached
carrion calling each crow

Come, eat, this is my body
given for you. One fine

corvus brachyrhynchos selects
a crab leg, flies it to her mate.

I have a camera.
I have all day.

She has let the leg drop.
He consoles; they are so close.

There are clouds no one knows the names of.
There are many ways to arrive.

Ronda Broatch is the author of Shedding Our Skins (Finishing Line Press, 2008) and Some Other Eden (2005). Publications include: RHINO, Prairie Schooner, Blackbird, Mid-American Review, and Fire On Her Tongue: An Anthology of Contemporary Women’s Poetry (Two Sylvias Press). Nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Ronda is the recipient of an Artist Trust GAP Grant, and a May Swenson Poetry Award finalist. Moon Path Press will publish her next collection, in spring 2015. A Seattle native, Ronda is a graduate of the University of Washington. Currently, she edits the literary journal, Crab Creek Review. In her spare time, she photographs poets and birds in their natural habitats.


(photo by Jeannie E Roberts)

(photo by Jeannie E Roberts)


rather than fly
like the winged things
I will flow through and around
like singing springs

life’s important lessons
are not learned, but remembered
memory cues lie
in the softness of wind
the firmness of earth
the unconquerable yielding
of water

For Pat Wadsworth, attempting to convert the joys, sorrows, pain, beauty and the wonder of life into words has been a lifelong, impossible quest. Writing is her way of keeping balanced in good times and sane in bad ones. The written word helps her to gain a deeper understanding of her world and herself. Pat has written poems, short stories, and kept journals ever since she learned to read and write. Marriage, children, and two decades working with high-risk youth and families, left little time or energy to seriously pursue a writing career. In the past three years, Pat has had the time and opportunity to enroll in writing courses at her community college. Until recently, only close friends, family, teachers, and classmates have been privy to these attempts. Their encouragement has emboldened her to begin submitting some of her prose and poetry pieces. Pat received Honorable Mention for her short story entry in the New Millennium Writings’ 2012 competition. She was named second prize winner in Mind Magazine’s poetry contest, and one of her poems was published in the Voices Project 2014 publication.


Road from Castolon 2
after Bob Stuth-Wade

From the ancient desert floor,
look up. The young light
bends over the mountains
with soft exhalations
and a momentarily tender eye
on the stone gods sleeping,
their giant torsos prone
like campers mounded
among the foothills,
their chiseled faces, cool.
Some are draped in sheer shadows,
which they will throw off
in the full flush of morning;
and if this should be the day
the light rouses them, and they rise
out of the desert, sand falling away
from their thorny acacia crowns,
and they go gathering ankles,
knees, pelvises, curving spines,
bleached clavicles from their garden,
secure them in massive arrangements
with limbs of flowering huisache,
and carry them abroad, the desert
will quake and break open;
and the pinnacles and mesas crushed
by the falling boulders of their heels
with each long stride will be swallowed.
When the storm of dust subsides,
the gods, in their thirst, will drink
the Rio Grande dry, then sit down
at the drifting hem of unending sky,
collect the broken pieces,
and begin again.

Marzelle Robertson has been an English teacher and a school counselor. She and her husband enjoy traveling, especially to the Big Bend area in Texas, which has influenced a number of her poems. Other poems have appeared in The Evansville Review, The Lyric, Borderlands, Passager, Stoneboat, First Things, The Comstock Review, Ekphrasis, Pudding Magazine, and other journals.



Patterns of
perfect chaos,
intricately separate and
growing, inside the fulcrum
of my personal biology.
Defined only by my relation
to another, weighted down to this rock,
this glorious giver of gravity and greenery.

Dreams of galaxies, streams of potent
heat, maneuvering glows,
brilliant pallets, housing
celestial communities.
Limited to a repetitive rhythm that alters
incrementally, evolves, slow, unperceptively, inside
of that,
I expand, fingers not
like the dead-hand of a yogi master, lifted
permanently drained, shriveled by an irrational
devotion to suffering, but like a startled
infant’s fingers, outstretched
mid-air in a move of instant instinct I touch
merge with their flow,
twists and swirls,
cosmos canyons, rivers, dunes –
a sweet remembering of womb-like love,
a thumbprint kiss from lips I have always
always known.

Allison Grayhurst is a full member of the League of Canadian Poets. She has over 400 poems published in more than 205 international journals and anthologies. Her book, Somewhere Falling, was published by Beach Holme Publishers in 1995. Since then, she has published ten other books of poetry and four collections with Edge Unlimited Publishing. Prior to the publication of, Somewhere Falling, she had a poetry book published, Common Dream, and four chapbooks published by The Plowman. Her poetry chapbook, The River is Blind, was published by Ottawa publisher above/ground press December 2012. Her e-chapbook, Surrogate Dharma, is pending publication by Kind of a Hurricane Press, Barometric Pressures Author Series. She lives in Toronto with her family. She also sculpts, working with clay.


(photo by Annette L Grunseth)

(photo by Annette L Grunseth)

Wintry Bouquet

This December
during wide nights
hemmed by blackness,
I remember roses.
Pink yellow red violet
those satin blooms of June.

We must wait six months
before seeing blossoms,
touch their brightness
crush their scent
with fingertips.

Now there are only
ebony pools of winter’s
heavy ink of darkness.

Dipping into memory of
my lips touching petals
tantalizing sweet buds.
My body longs for softness.

I glimpse brilliant faces of
flowers right before me as I
burrow beneath frosty blankets.
Bracing against that long, cold
nocturnal of wind and shadow.

Joan McNerney’s poetry has been included in numerous literary magazines such as Camel Saloon, Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Blueline, Spectrum, three Bright Spring Hill Anthologies and several Kind of A Hurricane Press publications. She has been nominated three times for Best of the Net. Four of her books have been published by fine, small, literary presses.



I can see you sitting at the desk that’s now in our den, and you’re bending, bending to write a letter on Sunday after midday supper of roast and carrots and potatoes, from which you’ll make hash, and bending you write the weather is fine, or not, your health is fine, or not, Mother is…probably not, and then you get up and put on your cap and drive to the Post Office to mail it on Sunday, so I will receive it on Tuesday.

Every Tuesday, a letter. You probably hoped if you mailed a letter on Sunday, that I received on Tuesday, I would have time to write a response on Wednesday, mail it on Thursday, and you would receive it on Saturday, and then you could reply on Sunday. But I never did.

One day in another of my attempts to get Mother to understand me, to see me, to love me, my husband said, Your Father loves you.

He writes every week.

Mary C Rowin’s poems have been published in Verse Wisconsin, Stoneboat, Solitary Plover, Mariposa, Zo Magazine, and Silly Tree Anthology.  She has also been published by the Science Fiction Poetry Association and by the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. Mary’s work appears in Echolocations, Poets Map Madison, and The Ariel Project: Anthology of Poetry and Art. Mary blogs at:



Not my mother
though her ghost
hovers around
every keyboard.

Likewise the ghost
of the child I was
sitting beside her
on the squeaky bench
whenever she played.

So one pianist
is the three of us.
And the recital hall
is the alcove
in the dining room
where the upright stood.

That the music is not
a Broadway tune
but a dissonant
Russian sonata
makes no difference,

nor can anyone
in the audience know,
when the music ceases
and the pianist slowly
lifts his hands from the keys
to settle them into his lap,

why I am the first
to break the silence.

Philip Dacey’s latest of thirteen books of poems is Church of the Adagio (Rain Mountain Press, 2014), and his previous book, Gimme Five, won the 2012 Blue Light Press Book Award.  His work appears in Scribner’s Best American Poetry 2014. The winner of three Pushcart Prizes, Dacey is the author of complete volumes of poems about Gerard Manley Hopkins, Thomas Eakins, and New York City. With David Jauss, he co-edited Strong Measures: Contemporary American Poetry in Traditional Forms (HarperCollins, 1986).



(photo by David Seth Smith)

(photo by David Seth Smith)

The Far Reaches of Dreams

You travel together
but then she goes ahead,

crosses the river
without noticing the ferry

while you stand on the shore
waiting to catch up.

But the boats have no schedule
and you become feverish with impatience.

The tour company provides no updates,
tries instead to distract you

with a comic wedding in the desert
the bride and groom moving forward

on a camel, the smiling bridesmaids
dressed in gold. You see your mother

in the distance in white shirt, blue sweat pants,
scanning the horizon, her hand in the air.

And you take this silence as farewell.

Ronnie Hess is a Midwest-based journalist and poet, the author of a culinary travel guide, Eat Smart in France and a chapbook, Whole Cloth: A Poem Cycle (Little Eagle Press). A second chapbook is forthcoming, A Woman in Vegetable (Kattywompus Press). She blogs for MyFrenchLife and writes frequently for local and regional newspapers.


Directions Home

The way scent has a string with self on one end and memory on the other, and pulling the string is like unraveling a ball of yarn from which to knit a sweater, where every stitch is a loop in a patterned mind.

Weave the memory through the fingers, like the traditional bracelets made of color and floss by women selling trinkets near the end of the train tracks, outside the corner store and a cart full of tropical coconut ice that will eventually melt its trail down wrists and over tongues in the city sun.

Follow the people that shake on the bus, shifting from the center as they ride over the broken road. Pockets where the hot crust of the earth, vibrating under our soles, unsettles and stirs up cracks that children later ask questions about.

Remember that we are scraps of time that haunt the dawn with our living shadows cast against the setting rhythm of heat and work or life. Alive against the spinning planets and the sun. Each to each, finding the dark shadow of the stable at twilight like the scratch and peck of chickens turning the compost pile on the farmer’s only farm. The throng of the flock fleeing for the coop-door at sun down, after combing the grass for worms, for flies, for grub, scratching at last fall’s leaves and sticks, wetting out the mud of spring.

Pull a thread coming home. Roll it between your finger and thumb. Unravel it all the way back to the cattail muskrat huts laced tight like the shoe strings of punk rock sneakers, filthy and untied during the concrete months of summer city festivals and polka dot gum trails and beer puddles, with pinstripe tents hovering over tacky grills and skewed meats with foreign and exotic spices penetrating thick summer air in the wind over the shore.

Return to the sleepy eye of peeling walls hung against cracked plaster in the halls;
the people who hurry past the lichen lined porch concrete, the ivy-trained wrought iron columns under the shade.

Rest in the spot where slate stepping stones skip a path across overgrown weeds to a familiar back door with a screen that slaps flat against hollow wood and wear your secrets like a handmade scarf, knit together with the scent of spring brush piles wafting bonfire smoke against ordinary clouds and gathering in the sky like hoarded garden statues on a front lawn—a collection of clay angels, all clasping hands and folded wings that beat their soft echo into the dust of God.

Lauren K Carlson is a poet, writer, mother, and wife who lives in southwest Minnesota with her three boys, herd of goats, and flock of chickens. Her work explores life and death on the rural prairie.



There is close darkness, where unseen
canyons wind tortuous paths
and spots of phosphorescence cast
no corona, illuminate only themselves.

The darkness is giving way
to a twilight in which gigantic
shadows lumber and sing.

The light continues to increase
until there is a radiant azure,
run through with silver darts.

At the breach of the surface,
there is a sudden freedom.

The blue becomes lighter,
and fades into
another twilight.
Now a new darkness,
where everywhere are
spots of light, great distant orbs
illuminating worlds.

Andrew Albritton is working on a PhD in English from the University of Nottingham. He is writing his thesis about punctuation marks(!). He lives in Springfield, Missouri, and works at Missouri State University.



(photo by Sarah Rehfeldt)

(photo by Sarah Rehfeldt)

Leaves, Rain, Return

When spring comes,
it will be the rain again
that draws you forward,
pulls you into the straight green grass,
and the memory of it
whispered on the leaves and in the branches,
Come and be forgotten.

Sarah Rehfeldt is a writer, artist, and photographer from western Washington. She is a recent Pushcart nominee and author of, Somewhere South of Pegasus, a collection of image poems, which can be purchased from her photography website:



Shhh. Let’s turn the lights down, turn the sound off,
Listen to the crickets sing in the dark. A spark of life
Still remains even in the night, even with the sound
Of silence broken only by crickets. We’re running
All day long and the siren song of getting and spending
Wears us flat out, but when the lights go out
We fill the night with music, canned laughter, drown out
The peacefulness of crickets, as if, left to our own devices
Our own thoughts, we would think the worst of ourselves,
Sunday school sermons, you did – yes and then – and worst of all
Do you remember when – boy howdy, bad times,
But now, now we work, we’re good, we do what we should,
We shut the crickets out, noisy little reminders
Of night’s power, keeping us awake, ignoring the fact
That morning will come too soon, that we should say, who cares,
Let’s rub our legs together and howl at the moon.

Wendy Thornton has been published in Riverteeth, Epiphany, MacGuffin and other literary journals and books. Her memoir, Dear Oprah Or How I Beat Cancer and Learned to Love Daytime TV, was published in July 2013. She has won many awards for her work. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and has been Editor’s Pick on multiple times. Her work is published in England, Scotland, Australia and India.



I remember in my back

Images of us climb a winding ladder of bone
Searching for the chords of summer jazz

Cowrie mouths dangle from my ears and drink
The alto honeydew of voices mellifluous
My fingers tighten on yours
We snap, bob, arise dancing

Your hand: my curves
You play the keys of my spine
Like a rhapsody

Kiarra Lynn Smith is a visual and literary artist. She illustrates books for children and seeks to preserve African history through creativity.



(photo by Jeannie E Roberts)

(photo by Jeannie E Roberts)


I went to school at a university in the Midwest. The library stood seven stories tall. Before I knew who I was, I used to eat lunch in the Map Room. Topographic maps. In drawers arranged by state. Montana. Wyoming. New Mexico. Sometimes I turned into a God. Peering down from the sky. Raven on my shoulder. Other times, a mouse caught in the current of a stream. I tried on topographies like people try on shirts. I pressed myself against the certainty of rock. I traced the topography with my two hands. I pleaded with the ground, “The clock sees us. Let me deeper into the day.”

Chad Hanson serves as Chairman of the Department of Sociology & Social Work at Casper College. His creative non-fiction titles include: Swimming with Trout (University of New Mexico Press, 2007) and Trout Streams of the Heart (Truman State University Press, 2013). His collection of prose poems, Patches of Light, won the Meadowhawk Prize (Red Dragonfly Press, 2014).


Night Voices

In youth
just before sleep
someone whispered
sometimes shouted
but I could not make out
what he sometimes she
was saying. The voice
too soft or too loud
to unravel the clue
unveil the mystery.

brittle memories
prescient messages—
questions turn
rhetorical with age.

as I was then
and still am
I keep interrupting—
What…what…what? Please
repeat that please.

Robert Nordstrom is a poet, freelance writer, and school bus driver. Recent work has appeared in upstreet, Main Street Rag, Boston Literary Magazine, Comstock Review, Blue Heron Review, and Naugatuck River Review. His poem, “Old Lovers,” won Peninsula Pulse’s 2014 Hal Prize. As a school bus driver, his most recent accomplishment is teaching several kindergarteners how to snap their fingers.


Taste of Salt

So for a taste of salt Zedek would walk 50 kilometers,
Ignoring reckless taptaps and fresco vendors
And egg handlers. He would walk in rhythm
To the truck horns’ blare avoiding grape-vining motorcycles,
Realizing that nobody is calling his name
Or requesting his help as he weaves
Through the bodies crowding the market
In Mirebalais. He feels the salt in the air,
And that’s all he desires. As it
Creates a membrane over his skin,
He dreams of a hard boiled egg
White and smooth with a dash of salt
Sprinkled over it, longing to sink
His teeth into the tender yellow yoke
Just for once the taste of salt.

Tim Gavin is an Episcopal priest, serving as chaplain at The Episcopal Academy, located in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. He oversees the school’s partnership program with St. Marc’s School in the Central Plateau of Haiti, which he visits three to four times a year. His poems have appeared in many journals and most recently in The Anglican Theological Review, About Place Journal, Digital Papercut, and Screech Owl Review. He lives with his wife and sons in Havertown, Pennsylvania.


To My Brother and Sisters

A girl and boy
meeting over a toboggan
after a February blizzard
launching their bodies
into a winter courtship
a fall wedding
a suburban ranch
with green shrubs
a white mailbox post
and inside
mixing their bodies together
like water and flour
to make you and you
and me
and then you
our adjectives
into glass rooms
miles from
the original hill
its inadvertent snow
still whisking
their diligent bodies
young and clamorous
their joyous winged bodies
pressed together
under teenage clothes
headlong into a blank canvas
her arms circling his waist
their eyes full ahead
their laughing mouths
a verb
like a toboggan carving
outlines of us
in the trail behind them

Chris Abbate’s poetry and short fiction has appeared in various journals including Main Street Rag, Common Ground Review, and Comstock Review. His more recent awards include honorable mentions at the 2013 Nazim Hikmet Poetry Festival and the 2012 Flyleaf Poetry Contest. He is a member of Living Poetry, an active group of poets in the Raleigh area. Chris resides in Holly Springs, NC where he works as a database programmer.



(photo by Jeannie E Roberts)

(photo by Jeannie E Roberts)

Lauds, November 2:
New Camaldoli Hermitage, Big Sur

After the earliest chapel bells,
before first light begins its
revelation of the landscape,
I wait in the empty country of the stars.

Day lifts its chalice slowly
in the immense stillness of the Sur,
tips onto sleeping spiders
and the cool skin of the madrone,
the hunting fox who is only
a rustling in the brush, and far below,
the rough and silvering carpet of the sea.

In this congregation of shadows, I wait
for the ceremony of the sunrise.

Along the road, after, I startle four young deer.
One by one, each raises her head
to study me, then drops to graze again,
a silent fugue of presences
on this day of all souls.

All souls.

All. Souls.


Russell Colver lives and works in North Carolina. Her poems have appeared in the Sewanee Review, Shenandoah, and the American Poetry Review.


A Simple Passage

Deer passing through snow lit trees at twilight
A movement of gray and white
Through gray and white

Recalling my father at the end
Head raised
Turning to raise himself
Through twilit torment
Eyes alight
Smiling through lips long cracked
And dried with blood
Sparkling as if to say
“Come on…let’s blow this place
And go get a martini”
Then leaning back
Resigned to the pillow and the pillowed bed
As if knowing finally
After years of fading faculty
The time for that had passed

Eyes closing
The smile remaining but not the flame
Hand in hand
Squeezed at times and squeezing back
Speaking to me in desperate words
Only he could understand
Breathless whispers on lips long cracked
And dried with blood
“Come on…let’s blow this place
And go get a martini”
As life drained and breaths grew shallow
Until the last

So peaceful the passage
So unsure the footing
So welcome the hand

There are seasons in their turn
That do not know themselves
April days devout
When winter will not yield
And spring will not be held
When snow blows ‘round blossoms
And sky defies detail

Caught between we stand still
As the foreground familiar
Grows dim against a darkening sky
And we draw darkly
From an ever deepening well
Awaiting outcomes we cannot see
And cannot do without

Hand in hand the last few steps
Finding human warmth along the way
And a quiet fortitude amid April torment
To take fierce hold
Upon a firm and fresh horizon

Steven Bucher is a new poet living on a small farm in the Virginia Piedmont. His work has most recently appeared in Calliope Magazine as well as the Summer/2014 issue of Blue Heron Review. He has a PhD in philosophy from the University of Toronto and wrote his dissertation on Friedrich Nietzsche’s, Also Sprach Zarathustra, as viewed from the movement within 18th and 19th century German thought, to create a new mythology.


I Don’t Know History

Nine years old and looking for my future
on a fieldtrip. Weighed down with flip-top
fruit cup and a pink-frosted sugar cookie.
Our teacher promises “Fountain of Youth”—
forever hidden in textbook
sketches from history class.

And I am ageless and looking
beyond bus windows toward heaps
of gray rock, splotched with mildew:
skeptical and petrified hard. I scrutinize
this history lesson and resolve
to nibble my pink-frosted sugar cookie,
savor it, chew around edges first, until each bite
will be only center, soft and warm.

Ponce De Leon, our teacher swears,
found this fountain, searched it out,
sabor-cut through Florida jungle
with his conquistador side-kicks. Until here,
he determined miracles for real, built his fort
of gray stone (now turned mildew heap)
to wait out youth and fortunes of gold Incas.

You can drink the water,
our teacher says, pure and cold, and,
although I cast my shadowy hopes,
I suspect fountains deliver little
fortune and only fleeting youth.
But I sip out of tiny Dixie cup
to be safe. Later, the sun settles
back-dropped, sending shadows from fallen forts,
long, almost standing strong.

Laura Rebecca Payne’s work has most recently appeared in A Shared Voice, Iron Horse, Texas Soundtrack, Iconoclast, The Distillery, and Night Train. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Million Writers Award, and has been anthologized in New Stories from the South and CrossRoads. Professor of Creative Writing at Sul Ross State University in beautiful Alpine, Texas, she co-edited and contributed to a collection of Texas women prose writers entitled, Writing on the Wind, and served as editor of New Texas: A Journal of Literature and Culture.



(photo by Richard Havenga)

(photo by Richard Havenga)

Clouds Collect Color (Montana Series)

clouds collect color
twilight settles on grasslands
Meadowlark’s last song


(photo by Richard Havenga)

(photo by Richard Havenga)

Heron Sleeps

morning heron sleeps
still as the log he stands on
shadow waits below

Richard Havenga seeks to make the ordinary extraordinary through close, personal observations of nature. Weaving words of grace and gratitude through the tapestry of his exquisite photographs, Richard shares everyday miracles with the rigorous curiosity of a naturalist, and the immeasurable perceptions of an artist. Richard writes with a supple blend of awareness, spirituality, and discovery. Always attentive outdoors, always searching for new epiphanies of beauty, always grateful for the extravagant gifts of creation, he leads the reader-viewer along an inviting trail of words and images; gifts thoughtfully selected, and graciously given. Richard Havenga is a writer, nature photographer, poet, teacher, naturalist, and author of the blog, “Walk With Father Nature.” He’s been married to his loving wife, Mary, for 43 years. They live on ten wooded acres, on a designated “Natural Beauty” road near Cannonsburg, Michigan. Find out more about this author. Blog:


Exit Music

The first fronds, huge and shiny
as tin, tinkle like crystal chimes

in the inexperienced wind.
A choir of birds, mostly tenors

and sopranos, blend with the altos
and baritones of the animals

as the first rain pings
on the leaves like scales

over the thrum of the insects.
The young moon marks time

with its shape
like a slow-motion accordion

as the rivers jingle over the stones
and the angels

–oh, they had voices –
but the apples, heavy with red,

clack and clack like cracked bells
when those two fled through the gates

and long after.

Sarah Brown Weitzman, a Pushcart nominee, has been widely published in numerous journals such as America, Art Times, The North American Review, Rattle, The Mid-American Review, The Windless Orchard, Poet Lore, Potomoc Review, Poet and Critic, etc. Sarah received a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her latest book, a departure from poetry, is a children’s novel, Herman and the Ice Witch, published by Main Street Rag.


The Dipping of the Toes

Her shadow skirts the
bank of the pond,
dips into its lapping edge,
followed by bare toes,
small stones at her feet,
untied like shoelaces.

Fish thread the water
to soften it, wriggle
one egret bust away
from the big Pisces sleep.

The landscape’s filled with creatures
that can never get beyond the basics:
hunger and species perpetuation.
Everything hangs on
who will survive or who will be accepted.

I watch her face,
listen to her flesh,
the silent rites of aeration
and testing the waters,
gentle, reasonable,
a perfection that persists.
A bird plays piccolo
and my heart takes up the call.

It’s late afternoon.
Light is swarming souls.
Fields are supple and hushed.
And the sight of her
is still what pleases me.
“It’s cold,” she finally declares.
Such a gloriously wrong answer.

John Grey is an Australian born poet. Recently published in Paterson Literary Review, Southern California Review, and Natural Bridge, with work upcoming in the Kerf, Leading Edge, and Louisiana Literature.


Poem for a Prairie

When you’ve had an intimate
brush with this rustling land,
the seemingly plain prairie
isn’t so bland; its seamless
grassy grays and greens lean
cleanly into the cloud-scaped sky
shading a curl of racing black lace,
its harsh yellow stripe nothing
compared to the fair gold of wild
sunflower, mild sego lily, brilliantly
fragrant balsamroot, or soft sway
of western wheatgrass, sweet
inflorescence gently rising
where wind has more voice
and a human is a mere whisper.

Yvette A Schnoeker-Shorb’s poetry has appeared in Sierra Nevada Review, Apeiron Review, Dark Matter: A Journal of Speculative Writing, Wilderness House Literary Review, Petrichor Review, Concho River Review, Entelechy: Mind and Culture, The Blueline Anthology (Syracuse University Press), A Journal of the Built and Natural Environments, Pedestal Magazine, Kudzu Review, and other journals and online forums, with poetry forthcoming in the anthology, Talking Back and Looking Forward: Poetry and Prose for Social Justice in Education (Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, 2015), Caesura, Aji Magazine, and others. A past Pushcart Prize nominee, she holds an interdisciplinary MA from Prescott College and is co-founder of Native West Press, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit natural history press (which seeks to enhance public awareness of some of our non-charismatic creatures with whom we share the American West).


(photo by Jeannie E Roberts)

(photo by Jeannie E Roberts)

All the Amplitude We Need

Easy to say the world is fractured—
when so much of the world is,
but as my wife and I walk through,
around, under and over the city
we wallow in its hubbub, going out
of our way to follow what might prove
to be extraordinary, a glitterati of sights
even at the end of an avenue, the beginning
of a side street fogged by a spewing manhole,
perfume and other odors tying themselves
around us like lariats while a swan escapes
the park, moving between cars and buses,
momentarily jolted as we are by the junkie
yelling from a second story window, asking
for money no one will give him, his gaunt
face breaking into light from the sunray
he lets comb what hair he has, his nervous hands
moving in bizarre, but beautiful pantomimes
before he goes inside, beaten yet again, fractured,
which is where my wife and I came in, vowing
to be blushed by gratitude and never giving in.

Tim Suermondt is the author of two full-length collections: Trying to Help the Elephant Man Dance (The Backwaters Press, 2007 ) and Just Beautiful from New York Quarterly Books, 2010. He has published poems in Poetry, The Georgia Review, Blackbird, Able Muse, Prairie Schooner, PANK, Bellevue Literary Review, Stand Magazine (U.K.), and has poems forthcoming in december magazine, Plume Poetry Journal, North Dakota Quarterly and Ploughshares. After many years in Queens and Brooklyn, he has moved to Cambridge with his wife, the poet Pui Ying Wong.


To Cori on Sunday

What will the bees write this spring
From the fountain of flowers
They have drawn from?
How will they pen the new letters
On the sides of the iris
Or the patterns on pansies
Or the strokes on the rose?
One of these Sunday mornings
When the wood is all purple
From rain and descending dew
Dappling the quince, we shall go
Out into this happy life
Where the sky is feathered with clouds
And sit close to the bees
As paper sits to pen
To see if they will write us
The same way that grass gleams
When the sun softly bends it.

Jeff Burt has works in Verse Wisconsin, Thrice Fiction, Windfall, and Treehouse. He won the 2011 SuRaa short fiction award.


(photo by Jeannie E Roberts)

(photo by Jeannie E Roberts)

To the Horizon Line

Somewhere a girl
I haven’t seen for years
Rests in her northern home.
The lines in her palms
Are dreams when touched
Are like a face that rises,
Her eyes restless, disconsolate.


The winter the drifts bulked
The wind came down hard;
Sometimes at night someone
Would lean down and pass
Light and scent over my face.
I would wake to stand and look
From the window to see and listen
For the wind, crystalline and elegant,
A holy twirl drifting on white surfaces.

Time has cooled my fever;
I rest more easily.
Life has become the sentiment
Of neighbors passing by,
A sheltering of honest agreement
Each year, each inch of time.


Lost in the legends of the Chippewa,
She writes her letters on white birch bark
Girdled from the tree.
Much of what she wrote
Is unrecorded history.


I tell her I have written her
A thousand letters telling her
The dreaming in our bodies is a promise
That sustains us, a line that always rises;
How my eye goes from cracks in the pavement
To the horizon line, how my endings
Always seem flawed, how I know this
Before it happens, how each day the sun shines
I clock its progress, each day
The line exact as every the eye will see.

Daniel James Sundahl is Professor in English and American Studies at Hillsdale College where has taught for thirty years.


Diagram of Serenity

Reduce the temperature of feelings,
mutually exclusive and opposite.
The warmth of floating roses have spread.
Vibrations across world waters can start
from the point of the Ganges.
At this time, beads of prayer
become sea anemones.
Flower shaped, they eat up edges
of nothingness and breathe deeply
at profound times of need.
Age rapidly moves from childhood
to death, in between the eyes flutter
at things longed for, heaven received in
pieces, combing bits of black mist from
phases that are in the past and forgotten,
for the kind of cracks they made on the earth
at their times of domination.
All the while the soil around the healers,
cries softly and having risen from ashes of gold,
whispers seasons and flowers that
run free as children across wide green fields.

Sheelonee Banerjee graduated from Presidency College (Calcutta, India) with a B.A. in English Literature and received her M.A. from University of Calcutta. She was awarded the Prize for Technical Excellence in Drama and for Best Play by Loreto College at The Ajit Roy Millennium Intercollege Drama Competition, Calcutta, India (2007), Third Prize in Street Theatre by St. Xavier’s College, Calcutta, India (2007), First Prize in Inter College Poetry Competition, “Reflections of a Roadside Minstrel,” at St Xavier’s College, Calcutta, India (2006), and Third Prize in Creative Writing by The Bhawanipur Education Society College, Calcutta, India (2006). Her first fiction publication, “Colours of a Dark World,” was in What’s Hot, The Times of India (2008). She currently resides in San Diego with her husband, Dr. Sourav Banerjee.

(photo by Daniel Adams)

(photo by Daniel Adams)


JASON IFFERT (Cover artist for BHR Winter 2015) ~ Jason Iffert moved from the Twin Cities to Lake Country, WI about six 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 call ID (Iffert Design). He currently works as a freelance graphic artist and photographer.

SARAH REHFELDT (One of our BHR anniversary photo contest winners!) ~ Sarah Rehfeldt lives with her family in western Washington where she is a writer, artist, and photographer. She is a recent Pushcart nominee and author of Somewhere South of Pegasus, a collection of image poems. It can be purchased from her photography web pages at: These images were taken in Netarts Bay on Oregon’s North Coast.

JEANNIE E ROBERTS has worked as a professional portrait photographer for Lifetouch, Inc. She has also worked as a freelance fashion and nature photographer. Her nature photos have been exhibited in galleries, have appeared on websites and in on-line journals, including Midwestern Gothic and Quill & Parchment. Jeannie is also a visual artist and a poet. She has exhibited her drawings and paintings throughout the Midwest and in Mexico City, and her artwork hangs in corporate and home settings. Her poems have appeared in Blue Heron Review, Festival of Language’s Festival Writer, Misty Mountain Review, Off the Coast, Verse Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets’ Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar, Your Daily Poem and elsewhere. Her books include Nature of It All, a poetry collection (Finishing Line Press, 2013) and Let’s Make Faces!, a children’s book (Rhyme the Roost Books, an imprint of JR Creative Studios, 2009). Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Jeannie lives in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. For more, visit

RICHARD HAVENGA seeks to make the ordinary extraordinary through close, personal observations of nature. Weaving words of grace and gratitude through the tapestry of his exquisite photographs, Richard shares everyday miracles with the rigorous curiosity of a naturalist, and the immeasurable perceptions of an artist. Richard writes with a supple blend of awareness, spirituality, and discovery. Always attentive outdoors, always searching for new epiphanies of beauty, always grateful for the extravagant gifts of creation, he leads the reader-viewer along an inviting trail of words and images; gifts thoughtfully selected, and graciously given. Richard Havenga is a writer, nature photographer, poet, teacher, naturalist, and author of the blog, “Walk With Father Nature.” He’s been married to his loving wife, Mary, for 43 years. They live on ten wooded acres, on a designated “Natural Beauty” road near Cannonsburg, Michigan. Find out more about this author. Blog:

SHARON AUBERLE is the author of three poetry collections – two of which also contain her photographs and artwork.   She has also collaborated with poet Ralph Murre, in a collection titled Wind Where Music Was.   She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, a Best of the Net award, and her work has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies, both on-line and paper copy.   For reasons, which are still a mystery to her, she has authored a blog – Mimi’s Golightly Café for nine years, which contains a potpourri of her images and words.

ANNETTE L GRUNSETH is a freelance writer and poet who has been published in Midwest Prairie Review, Wisconsin Academy Review, Door County’s Peninsula Pulse, The Door Voice, Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets’ annual calendars, The Ariel Anthology, Free Verse, Fox Cry Review, and The Poetry of Cold. She often combines her photography and poetry in greeting cards for family and friends and is working on a chapbook combining both artistic talents. Her career focused on healthcare marketing, advertising, and public relations spanning the past four decades. She currently entertains her creative muse with travel, photography, and poetry; when not on the move, she resides in Green Bay with her husband John.

DAVID SETH SMITH is an editor and resident poet/artist at and is also co-founder and contributing artist at the Art Ambush Project. He currently resides in Virginia.

DANIEL ADAMS (One of our BHR anniversary photo contest winners!) ~ Daniel Adams is an accomplished artist and gallery owner, living in the beautiful Hill Country of Texas. He has won hundreds of awards, including many Best of Show awards across the United States. He was head of an art department for Walt Disney Productions. He has drawn over two hundred thousand people. Daniel has taught different art processes and techniques, juried art shows, and designed the Challenger license plate for the State of Florida. Revenue from this design built the Astronaut’s Memorial at Cape Canaveral. He also designed the Official Flag for Orange County, Florida. He is a founding member of “The Open Arts Alliance.” Winner of the “Idea of the Year” at Disney World, Daniel was also an Art Director for Metrovision Motion Picture Studios. The winner of several poster design competitions, he also received the “Ambassador’s Award” from the Astronauts’ Memorial Foundation, their highest honor to bestow.  Daniel Adams very graciously provided Blue Heron Review with our logo symbol of “The Great Blue Heron,” when the magazine was founded in October, 2013. Learn more about this artist:

Copyright © 2015 Blue Heron Review ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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

6 thoughts on “BHR Issue 3 Winter 2015

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