The Blue Heron Review Winter 2017 Issue – Just Released!


(Cover art by Ira Kennedy)


Ethel Mortenson Davis, Richard King Perkins II, Sarah Rehfeldt, Hedy Habra, Ann Wehrman, Sylvia Cavanaugh, Lorraine Caputo, L B Sedlacek, Jason Talbot, Keith MacNider, Lizzy Larson, Robert Ford, Sandra J Lindow, Timothy Walsh, Phyllis Beckman, Janet Reed, Eileen Mattmann, Sue Scavo, Steven Bucher, Martie Odell Ingebretsen, Irene Zimmerman, Mehtab Khalsa, Yvette Viets Flaten, Jacki Martindale, Beth Snyder, Richard Havenga, Fred Kreutz, Janet Leahy, Barbara J Holt, Marie Loeffler, Robert Lee Haycock, Julie A Dickson

Ira Kennedy (Cover Artist), Leilani Carroll, Sarah Rehfeldt, Fiona Capuano, Anne C Kaiser, Karen A VandenBos, Teri Peterson, Jeannie E Roberts, Ann Leshy Wood Fuller, Lillian Havenga, Lorraine Caputo

Welcome to Issue #7, our Winter 2017 collection of poetry and art for Blue Heron Review!

It is such a pleasure to read submissions for Blue Heron and to reach out to talented artists to contribute to our issues. Each offering of poetry and art provides a resting place for our readers to pause, reflect, meditate, and refresh the spirit.

I hope that you will enjoy this issue as much as I have enjoyed being the curator. Let Blue Heron be your sanctuary, when you need to take a deep breath and infuse your life with creative energy.

Visit the BLUE HERON REVIEW ISSUE 7 WINTER 2017 page of our site, and dive right in!

With kind wishes,
Cristina M. R. Norcross
Founding Editor
Blue Heron Review

Blue Heron Review News for February and March 2017

February and March are busy times for BLUE HERON REVIEW! Here are some things on the horizon!

The Blue Heron Review Winter 2017 issue is due to be published online at the end of February or early March! (Please be patient, if our release date is the first week of March.) Stay tuned for some beautiful offerings of poetry and fine art photography! Read past issues of Blue Heron Review all year long, by visiting the archives page.

The next OPEN CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS for Blue Heron Review will be from March 20th through April 20th, 2017. THE HEALING ISSUE: As always, Blue Heron welcomes all meditative, reflective, and metaphysical poetry. For this issue, Blue Heron is looking specifically for poems about HEALING. This can take any form you wish: physical healing, emotional healing, spiritual healing, global healing, and the healing of our planet. (See the Submission Guidelines page for full details.)

The current Blue Heron Speaks Featured Author for the month of February is poet, Karissa Knox Sorrell, author of Evening Body (Finishing Line Press, 2016). Read 3 sample poems, and learn more about her work, on the BLUE HERON SPEAKS page. We will have a new, featured author in March. Can’t wait to share the news with you!

May your days be filled with creativity and inspiration. Put some goodness back into the world, with your words!

With kind wishes,
Cristina M. R. Norcross, Founding Editor
Blue Heron Review

The Blue Heron Speaks Featured Author for February 2017 is Karissa Knox Sorrell

Welcome to the February edition of Blue Heron Speaks! It is my great pleasure to shine a spotlight on the vivid, evocative, and lush verse of poet, Karissa Knox Sorrell, author of Evening Body (Finishing Line Press, 2016). Her beautiful imagery weaves a tapestry of color, emotion, and meaning in ways that the reader only truly absorbs after experiencing each poem several times. These are thoughtful, artful works that ask us to journey to the center of ourselves, when moving toward the center of each poem. Walk down the road ~ follow the path of words.

To learn more about the writing of Karissa Knox Sorrell, please visit the Blue Heron Speaks page of our site, where you will find sample poems by our featured author and information about where to order her books.


(author photo by Karla Wardlow)

Karissa Knox Sorrell is an ESL teacher, poet, and writer from Nashville, Tennessee. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Murray State University in 2010. Her poetry chapbook, Evening Body, was published in 2016 by Finishing Line Press. Karissa’s poems have been seen in journals such as Cumberland River Review, Gravel Mag, Two Cities Review, and Whale Road Review. Karissa has also published essays in journals such as St. Katherine Review and Cargo Literary, and has an essay in the anthology Soul Bare, published in 2016 by InterVarsity Press. She is currently working on a second chapbook and a YA novel. Connect with Karissa at or @KKSorrell.

The Blue Heron Speaks Featured Author for January 2017 is William Carlos Williams

Welcome to the January 2017 edition of our Blue Heron Speaks monthly feature. At least twice a year, I save space to share work by a poetic voice from the past. It seems only fitting to launch 2017 with the spare, yet evocative, words of one of my favorite modernist poets, William Carlos Williams (1883–1963). This month we celebrate the flower-like swirl of the ocean, the beauty of a broken green bottle, the solitude of snow falling, and the famous, red wheel barrow of Williams.

Visit the Blue Heron Speaks Featured Author page of our site to read sample poems by William Carlos Williams, and to learn more about his literary legacy.

January is a time of new beginnings, but as much as we like to think that we are meant to zoom forward, returning to the self and turning inward is often just what winter asks of us. If you have poems from past years, left dormant in a drawer or a forgotten computer file, perhaps now is the time to dust off those lines and polish those once bright images.

Don’t forget that the next open call for submissions for Blue Heron Review will be from March 20th through April 20th, 2017. Send us your hidden gems, your heart’s flutterings ~ your pearls of reflection. Looking forward to reading your latest work, for possible inclusion in the summer 2017 issue of BHR!

With kindest wishes for new beginnings,
Cristina M. R. Norcross, Founding Editor
Blue Heron Review

The Blue Heron Speaks Featured Author for December 2016 is Jacinta V White

Welcome to the December edition of Blue Heron Speaks! We are so honored to share the work of poet, editor, and speaker, Jacinta V White.

We are bathed in healing words, when reading the work of Jacinta V White. There is no denying the gentle journey she takes us on in each poem. There is a crescendo, when intensity rises, and then there is a tender sotto voce, when we least expect our hearts to soften even more. These are poems of memory – of caring for moments, like folded lace. We seek within ourselves and see what makes us whole. Jacinta takes us to the places we thought we lost, and it is here that we are found.

Please visit the Blue Heron Speaks page of our site to read 3 sample poems by Jacinta V White. Linger here awhile. Enjoy the whispers you hear from your own windows to the soul. Please join us. Visit often.



(author photo by John H White)

Jacinta V White is a published poet, a NC Arts Council Teaching Artist, and an arts facilitator who uses poetry and art as catalysts for self-exploration and expression.

After experiencing the sudden passing of her father, Jacinta discovered that “poetry heals;” and in 2001, she founded The Word Project as a way to provide a safe, healing space for others to share and heal through creativity. She works with groups and individuals interested in using art on their healing journey, leads retreats, and offers online poetry classes.

Through The Word Project, Jacinta also serves as the poetry editor and publisher for the international online quarterly, Snapdragon: A Journal of Art & Healing. Her own poetry is featured in a number of magazines and her chapbook, broken ritual, was published by Finishing Line Press.

For more, visit:
To follow on Facebook:

broken ritual (Finishing Line Press, 2012)


2016 Blue Heron Review Pushcart Nominations

It is a true pleasure to curate each issue of Blue Heron Review. We celebrate the many gifts of all of our writers. Each year, when the reminder postcard comes in the mail for the Pushcart Prize, I know that I will be faced with some difficult decisions. I am only allowed to choose 6 poems to nominate. I hope that you will join me in congratulating this year’s Blue Heron Review nominees for the Pushcart Prize Anthology! Please enjoy reading a mini issue, published on this page, with all of the poems.

BHR Pushcart Prize Nominations

“We Love Images of Tiny Houses” By Joan Mazza (from Blue Heron Review, Issue #5, Winter 2016)

“A Mother Brushes Her Daughter’s Hair” By Karissa Knox Sorrell (from Blue Heron Review Issue #5, Winter 2016)

“Discovery” By Emily Harel (from Blue Heron Review Issue #5, Winter 2016)

“Homesick” By Hillary Kobernick (from Blue Heron Review Issue #6, Summer 2016)

“Third Person” By Kai Coggin (from Blue Heron Review, Issue #6, Summer 2016)

“Moonlight Bay, 1915” By Erin Slaughter (from Blue Heron Review, Issue #6, Summer 2016)


We Love Images of Tiny Houses
By Joan Mazza (from Blue Heron Review, Issue #5, Winter 2016)

Some on wheels, one with a Murphy bed
and a basket on the wall filled with scarves,
mittens, hats by the door, and a hook

with an Anorak. Rag rugs, a crazy quilt,
cast iron pots and pans and a woodstove,
with a handy pile of seasoned logs. Outside:

a stairway to the roof to watch for shooting
stars. To live in one room, without clutter
or glitz of crystal, silver, souvenirs.

Enough space for one to sleep and eat
parked in wilderness with woods wide
enough for thought, where you see deer

at dusk and dawn. To drink from the swirl
of the Milky Way, sleep to the lyrics
of crickets and tree frogs. To thin

out the litter in our minds, let the loops
of obsessive thoughts flatten, drop
silently, like hair—cut and falling

around a chair. No sweeping it up.
Birds know how to weave it into nests.

A Mother Brushes Her Daughter’s Hair
By Karissa Knox Sorrell (from Blue Heron Review Issue #5, Winter 2016)

You cry out.

I don’t want to hurt you,
but you must learn this lesson:

Your hair is your strength.

A woman’s hair is much like a woman’s soul:
pinned back, tugged tight, lest one lock
fall out of line.

You will learn to love the curls nagging
at the nape of your neck, their rebellion
hidden from the world.

And then you will learn to use
your hair to be dangerous. It will
rush from your scalp and shout!

You will learn the many ways
a woman cries, and sometimes
that is by laughing.

You will learn that every 28 days
your skin sloughs off, giving you
new armor to inhabit.

You will learn to drape your hair
across every wound,
cover your body with softness.

You will learn the force
of love, of grief – are they not one?
You will learn that you can bear both.

You will learn to be untangled
without flinching.

Every tug of the brush
will be a tug on your memory
one day,
the weight of remembering me
too hard to bear.

Here is what you will remember:

This was your first lesson
on how to be strong.

By Emily Harel (from Blue Heron Review Issue #5, Winter 2016)

you place the wet frog in my hand. water drips
off his body, pools in my palm. with a croak,
his white throat a balloon.
a thin rain falls.  thousands of shooting stars.
in the darkness, we stand
face to face, quiet as trees.
we stare at each other, at the silver rain running
down our bodies, at the tiny pale moons cupped in our hands.

By Hillary Kobernick (from Blue Heron Review Issue #6, Summer 2016)

I dream of salmon and wake up
with fistfuls of okra, kudzu
wrapped around my bed frame
tying me to the Georgia clay.

When the wind blows and the
rain falls like a torrent of Bibles
assaulting Third World missionfields,
my skin turns salmon swimming

upstream. I miss the ocean’s saltiness
the scent of a world textured with
tears. My scales fall every day
the kudzu becomes pillow and the

cicadas with their nightly bandstands
become lullaby. I grow Georgia fins
and still—my accent does not disappear.
Just puts on new clothes. I always dream

in saltwater.

Third Person
By Kai Coggin (from Blue Heron Review, Issue #6, Summer 2016)

I was born cut out of the abdomen of a star,
dropped from the Heavens into chaos and form,
sky stitched up with lace to lay me down into this body,
undercurrent of becoming fire,
growing up into beacon,
filling out the empty skin of a torch.

I climb the stacked rungs of my spine,
porcelain teacup tower,
hand over hand ladder to firmament,
footsteps to light, testament to breaking free,
I stand outside my skin,
hover over head, a halo of watching,
a ring of empathy circling around my body
waiting for the human soul to step out of the broken and sing,
to pick off the pieces of tattered promises and turn them into wings.

Do you know the silent science of disrobing,
detaching from what has built you from ground?
The moment you unrecognize mirrors,
it begins,
third person self,
omni-unpresent still, but pulling,
pulling up by golden thread,
lifting up out of body into open eyes,
into the cusp of blooming nebulae,
into stardust and atoms,
into that which doesn’t shatter
in the frequencies of knowing,
the vibrations of breakage and becoming whole,
this glowing eternal self from which you fall
all the way down to earth, to rise.

Moonlight Bay, 1915
By Erin Slaughter (from Blue Heron Review, Issue #6, Summer 2016)

Hear the bells, kitten heels
on a dusty mustard carpet,
the muffled joy of bare feet
and sangria-stained mouth. Dance
while we are bodies. Dance while we are heat
and holy flesh. Through the open window,
lavender breeze wraps the room in summer honey.
We do not know the very air is falling in love with us.
We do not know we are all falling in love
with each other, with each revolution
of the record. Dance for the radio static
where our souls go after dirt, after wood and worms,
after afterwards. The voices will be there to welcome us,
huddled in harmony, singing ardently
of moonlight.

The Blue Heron Speaks Featured Author for November 2016 is Connie Post!

Welcome to the November edition of Blue Heron Speaks! We are proud to shine a spotlight on the work of our featured author, Connie Post. Connie’s voice beckons us to go deeply into her words and images. There is a magic to these subtle lines. We learn what it means to connect with the sacredness of a stranger. We are prompted to engage with nature as our wise mentor. These poems are meant to be read, slowly, and to be enjoyed several times. There are layers of meaning and nuance to uncover here. I hope that you will return to this feature in the month of November, and reflect on how the earth is changing for us – a display of quiet transformation. There is a certain gentleness, of going inward, which autumn invites.

To read two sample poems from Connie Post’s full-length poetry collection, Floodwater (Glass Lyre Press, 2014), please visit the Blue Heron Speaks page on our site.


(photo credit: Ronna Leon)

Connie Post served as Poet Laureate of Livermore, California (2005 to 2009). Her work has appeared in CalyxThe Big MuddyComstock ReviewSlipstreamSpoon River Poetry ReviewThe Pedestal MagazineValparaiso Poetry Review, and Verse Daily. Her chapbook, And When the Sun Drops, was the 2012 Fall Aurorean’s Editor’s Choice Award. Her work has received praise from Al Young, Ursula LeGuin, and Ellen Bass. She has been short listed for the Jack Kerouac Poetry Prize, The Muriel Craft Bailey awards (Comstock Review), Lois Cranston Memorial Awards (Calyx), Blood Root Literary Magazine, and the Gary Gildner Award (I 70 Review). Her first full length book, Floodwater, was released by Glass Lyre Press in 2014 and won the Lyrebird award. She is the winner of the 2009 Caesura Poetry Award, and most recently, the 2016 Crab Creek Poetry Award.

Floodwater (Glass Lyre Press, 2014)

Available on Amazon

Available online at Barnes and Noble

SPECIAL OFFER: For the Month of November, Glass Lyre Press is offering a promotional offer on Floodwater, if you order directly through the press. Send an e-mail to Price is $12.00 INCLUDING shipping and Handling. Just note “Floodwater Promotional Purchase for November” in the e-mail. Once the book is sent, the publisher will send a Pay Pal invoice to your e-mail address.


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

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


(Author photo by Kate Reeves)

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

Gather Every Little Thing (Finishing Line Press, 2013)


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

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


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

From BHR Summer 2015 (July) issue #4:

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

From BHR Winter 2016 (February) Issue #5:

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

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

Ray Young Bear (“A Life Shaping Spoon”)

A Life-shaping Spoon

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

Anne C. Kaiser (“Minnows”)


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

Chris Abbate (“Sisters Praying”)

Sisters Praying

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

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

Three Miles on Gracie Ditch, Nevada County

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

still humming its stumble and consequence.

Cathryn Essinger (“What He Saw …”)

What He Saw…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Devi Laskar (“Most Days a Passage”)

Most Days a Passage

There are nations within me,
tribes of angry dispossessed

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

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

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

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

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

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

and nudge, disappear altogether
when the sun gods come out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Wingspan (Golden Dragonfly Press, 2016)