5 poems by Ethel Rackin

This Late

in the day
the sky’s thirsty tilting
staring down on us—
all of it—the drinks—drunk—
as you and I might slip
into the kind of trance
we were in
at the beginning
if we’re not careful
if it’s still possible:
on another side.


A Solitary Box

is arranged
to you it’s just
a box
but to me it holds
so much


A Way Out

The shells you wear you
withdraw into—
by staying motionless
you prepare
a temporary explosion—
not to say whirlwind—
it’s in your nature.



Someday you’ll rise
and face the sun
head into the hills—
your heart’s interest—
nearly stunning
in your vicissitudes
you’ll shun that sun,


Small Things

get to you
wherever you are you are
whether or not you leave
you leave—
this flowering triangle
will come to nothing
if you’re not steadfast
or true. Be the wind
in sail. All precious



Ethel Rackin is the author of three books of poetry: The Forever Notes (Parlor Press, 2013); Go On (Parlor Press, 2016), a National Jewish Book Award finalist; and Evening (Furniture Press, 2017). She is currently at work on Crafting Poems and Stories: A Guide to Creative Writing (Broadview Press). Her collaborative lyric sequence, “Soledad,” written with Elizabeth Savage, was awarded the Thomas Merton Prize for Poetry of the Sacred by Elizabeth Robinson, and another collaborative sequence, “Silent e,” is included in They Said: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Collaborative Writing (Black Lawrence Press, 2018). Her work has appeared in The American Poetry Review, Colorado Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Hotel Amerika, Jacket2, Kenyon Review, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, Volt, and other journals. The recipient of a MacDowell Colony fellowship, she has taught at Penn State Brandywine, Haverford College, and Bucks County Community College in Pennsylvania, where she is a professor of English.

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