Weather, No Forecast by Christine Vovakes

Weather, No Forecast

After three dry months
a night-long rain broke through
combing the morning with wet fingers.
A slow-eyed sun rose through cloud remnants,
spread a gauzy layer over the lawn
as I walked the dog out back to the apple
and peach trees, the crevices of their pruned limbs
empty cribs March will fill with buds and nests.

Geese break the silence, a noisy skein
dipping toward the nearby river.
I’m tethered here: no wings, no tongue to taste
the wild salmon the eagle hunts.
My black lab alerts, scent of mole,
and digs deep in search.
Dirt flies. I bend down, crumble
a handful of damp soil, dank earthy smell,
summer’s rotting wildflowers
and the last of autumn’s fallen fruit–
a spoiled brew letting microbes fester;
new life looms where the earthworm wriggles.

by Christine Vovakes

Editor’s note: The personification in the first stanza captures the attention, and cradles the detailed imagery to follow.


The Hotel Is Lonely Because You Aren’t There by Tim Suermondt

The Hotel Is Lonely
Because You Aren’t There

And the day was charming, people
sprinkled over the avenues and boulevards,
the park full of carriage riders and flowers—
even the dirty statues of the once prominent
flashing an aura of loveliness.

And now at night I lie on the bed, reading
a book where on page 17 one character
says to another “I miss her.” Enough.
I close the book and turn off the desk light,
watching a few city lights rummaging

behind the curtain’s gauze, pulsating
like the stars and the sad hearts of the ghostly.

by Tim Suermondt

Editor’s Note: A great title and excellent personification make this poem a delight to read.

The Dark by Alan Walowitz

The Dark

Though I’ve called the county plenty,
the street light’s been out for days
while I’ve struggled in this moonless winter dark
for the path to the door, crunching in the now faint footsteps
I’d previously made, and more than once fumbled my keys
and hoped I’d catch them, the way a trapeze artist
might feel for the hands of his mate in the neon circus dark.
But when they fall, as they will, I pray they’ll dent the layer of ice
that’s limned the lawn for weeks now, and might be dug out easy,
and God forbid, not have to hear them skid down the hill we live atop
and back into the street, which is the direction I’ve already come
so many times, and it’s dark down there and oh so cold.
Don’t buy a house on a hill. the inspector’d said.
You won’t be young forever.
Dark magic, that he could tell the future,
and how like me that I was bound,
as if by spell, not to pay him any mind.

by Alan Walowitz, first published in Muddy River Poetry Review.

Editor’s Note: This poem’s conversational tone deceives the reader into thinking that it is about an ordinary night, when in fact the narrator moves beyond that moment and into more mysterious places by the last three lines.

sometimes coyotes by James Brush

sometimes coyotes

sometimes there are coyotes
all around the house

they bed down in the front yard
in the trees and behind my memories

asleep with one eye open watching stars
twirl the pole counted and known

they’ll rise and howl at owls, the moon
or anyone else impersonating

strangers who come up to the yard
they stalk a defensive perimeter

while we sleep while we dream
they open the fridge and eat

the last of the girl scout cookies
a little whipped cream for their coffee

come morning they’ve gone, a few
paw prints in the dewy grass

by James Brush

literary journal: Gnarled Oak
twitter: @jdbrush

Editor’s note: Surreal, dreamlike imagery moves through this poem, much like a wild animal moves through the spaces we think we own.

January at Five in the Afternoon by James Owens

January at Five in the Afternoon

Sun on snow a shine
too bright to look at:
blindness, migraine,
glister of frostbite,

all day as if alive
inside the mind
of a child
thinking of white.

Now, as evening lowers
over these fields of snow
that earlier fired and froze
with an unnuanced purity,

we find a grainy, scumbled grayness
rising in them, somehow kind,
which is sleep growing heavy
in the child, her own and the sky’s.

by James Owens

Editor’s Note: The imagery in this poem is startling and true.

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Beasts by John Riley


And it must be faced
something wild moves through
your evening
perhaps a coyote
driven down from dry hills
has heard it is the night
you may embrace his embrace
or a fox fattened on dreams
will settle on your lawn
with no regard of stars
or wind or even the tilt
of the chimney smoke
remnants of your fire
or it could be just a crow
tired of the wire
fresh from a funeral
and an hour of cawing
at you beasts
padding by

by John Riley

Editor’s Note: The unusual enjambment pushes the reader off balance, yet is perfect for the narrative of this poem.