Of Course the World Still Spins by Hillary Nguyen

Of Course the World Still Spins

But grief will latch onto bone once
Crossing the threshold one last time
These heavy wooden doors citadel
Threshold fortress protectors of home
How many sobs kisses deep belly laughs
Settled into these textured walls
The dust of dead skin in this grout
And windowsills know more
Of your memories than your skin
That renews itself every blind
Month or two this home has
You in its every nook– How
Could you leave like this?


Hillary Nguyen (she/her) is Vietnamese-American writer from the Bay Area who enjoys experimenting with new creative mediums (such as poetry, photography, and fiber arts), and exploring eclectic places. She creates spoken word as well as written poetry, and her work has been featured in LL Anthology: Circles, Hot Pot Magazine, and erato magazine.

Four Poems by Linda Laderman

My Mother Holds Her Grief

like a collection of precious stones in a plum pouch. I watch her untie its silk strings & spread the stones across her satin sheets. She separates them by color & holds a cerulean blue with faceted edges up to the light. She rubs it over her body & lingers on her thigh, then takes a red thread & wraps it around. She hangs it from her neck, an amulet to hold her grief. She teaches me to hold her grief too, says it’s as easy as making a bed. Hold it there, fold it here, tuck the corners under. Always tuck the corners under. I sit beside her bed. She gives me a turquoise, cool and smooth. When she turns away, I rub it on my thigh & tuck it under the corner.


I should have left you first

but I waited until autumn’s red birds scattered
their seeds, giving way to a bitter winter, expected,

but holding out for a thaw. I waited for the peony,
pale pink, to emerge from the mound of dirt

near our doorstep, dependable, a return to life.
I waited for the blood moon to reveal itself, hopeful

it could be seen through earth’s hazy gaze—
I waited for spring’s rainy season to clear,

though June, being unseasonably stingy,
refused to cede a day without a downpour.

on summer’s cusp, I woke from a half sleep,
my skin drenched in knowing. still, my eyes

stayed shut, until the blue-black night found me.
I waited until the days stretched, the sun set late,

temperatures rose, and the duck in the Hosta
vanished, leaving a gap strewn with leaves and grass,

her batch of eggs hatched and ready to fly. I waited
until the children left, filled with illusions of time,

as if life was forever—a chance to do what I couldn’t.
I waited for your infatuations to wane, but they didn’t.

I waited for the first freeze, then blew my breath
into the icy vapor, kissing winter’s frosted air.

thinking, if I waited long enough, my haunted dreams
would disappear. and you did.


When We Dance

We dance on the hardwood floor. His white hair lays
        bare my memories. The nights that lasted until morning.

The sound of Detroit Jazz pushes us. Belgrave, Franklin, Carter.
        I turn it up. I’m wound. Our arms zig and zag, two old saws.

I hip bump him, snap my fingers. He lets out a surprised
        laugh and twists me around our kitchen. I let him do it.

We twirl. His face is red, shy, like a boy. I want to seduce him,
        but I don’t know. I’ve gotten used to not having.

My breath is hard. My hands sweat. I wonder if he took a Viagra.
        I take his arm. Purple blotches stain his skin. Mottled by time.

In the morning, I ask if he remembers when each day took its time.
        How we craved a chance to hear the silence.

Now, I store time in a stone. I step over its power to fool.
        When I feel regret, I sink into a place with no light.


Fine China

I worry that my last poem will be my last poem. Let’s talk about quatrains. I create a series of prompts, a list of lines. I’m exhausted from nothing. I list nothings. Nothing good can come from this. Can all this be for nothing? She has nothing on you, You know nothing about me. Only lines stacked, like my fine china, packed away, forgotten as the drop of dried cranberry stuck under the rim. I take the place settings out of the basement cabinet, sit on the cold concrete floor, and remove the felt separators. Nothing. I focus on the memories the dishes hold. An ekphrastic after the matching teapot? Nothing. Empty, like the dishes. I bring two place settings upstairs to soak. I shop for a roasting chicken, red potatoes, baby carrots, and a brown sugar pecan pie. If I can’t write, I’ll fill the damn plates.


Linda Laderman is a Michigan writer and poet. She is the 2023 recipient of The Jewish Woman’s Prize from Harbor Review. Her micro-chapbook, “What I Didn’t Know I Didn’t Know” will be published online at Harbor Review in September, 2023. Her poetry has appeared in The Gyroscope Review, The Jewish Literary Journal, SWWIM, ONE ART, Poetica Magazine, and Rust & Moth, among others. She has work forthcoming in Thimble Literary Magazine and Minyan Magazine. For nearly a decade, she volunteered as a docent at the Zekelman Holocaust Center in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Find her at lindaladerman.com

Two Poems by Lisa Zimmerman

Love is Invincible is What I Wrote

in my notebook. However,
it can only go so far
in terms of grief—
running parallel to the river,
kicking up dust, breathing hard,
never stopping to rest.
And the river of grief does not know,
is rushing so fast over stones,
bending its streaming tears
around fallen logs and tree roots—
Why do we pray? Why do we cry?
Love does not stop racing
beside our hurtling anguish,
won’t give up even though it knows
the galloping water is surging
to the sea of all grief. Why do I keep crying?
Love will be there too, not breathless,
not worn down or diminished,
but strong enough to hold
the whole cold ocean of grief
and never be drowned.


Things My Friend Mary Said Years Before She Died

She told me fear was just an acronym
for false evidence appearing real, as in
fabricating a future of tiny failures adding up
to disappointment in advance.
Fear is a lack of information, she said,
an absence—not of faith—but of trust.

Better to trudge the winter field this morning
with the dog, both of us unleashed among the dead
branches blown down from last night’s wind,
my mind empty of anything like knowledge
just a light scarf of sadness drifting behind me
like a broken aura, the white sky crimped
along its edge by mountains.

When my son was a boy he said, Fear is like a door.
I just have to walk through it.
Mary’s not here for me to ask, Who made the door?
And who made the other side?


Lisa Zimmerman’s poetry and fiction have appeared in many journals and anthologies including Florida Review, Poet Lore, Hole in the Head Review, and Cave Wall. Her collections include The Light at the Edge of Everything (Anhinga Press), The Hours I Keep, and Sainted (Main Street Rag). She is a professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Northern Colorado.

Evidently by Michele Parker Randall


My sister keeps using the word forensic
while breaking up dad’s house. Breaking

down? Breaking house. Stacking empty
blue Royal Dansk tins that held cookies,

then jam tarts, year after year. Drinking
cups of coffee as we jab with boxes,

memories, facing poses in dusty frames,
any thunder long passed, but the echo of

was that when…he must have been…did she
ever…do we dare ask? I place a few photos

under my knee—my sister by a honeysuckle-
covered slash pine, the kiddie pool at our house

on Cecil Field Naval base, a slumber party
with our pink sleeping bags, our Great Dane,

Cindy as my pillow. I can’t remember where…
whose orange tree were we in…where was…?

We never ask. There is no coming back from
critical-hit throws of the die. No escaping

a once remote thought sharpened into fact. But
we dig on, silently, for material and evidence.


Michele Parker Randall is the author of Museum of Everyday Life (Kelsay Books 2015) and A Future Unmappable, chapbook (Finishing Line Press 2021). Her poetry can be found in Nimrod International Journal, Atlanta Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Tar River Poetry, and elsewhere.

OLD GRIEF by Sean Kelbley


Someday you’ll glance at bare-branched trees
and not think veins, and in those trees

the squirrels’ ragged nests will not be clots.
Above, the wispy cirrus clouds will look

like clouds and not at all like strands of lost
and drifting hair. It will be the same, in time,

with taste and touch and smell: senses
apprehending too-done steak, pilled Army blanket,

rained-out fire as only and exactly
what they are. Then dawn will dawn

as dawn instead of shiv, instead of even
dull and rusted butterknife, and you’ll forget

to wear an albatross to breakfast.
Which day? I’m sorry,

but it has to be a missed surprise,
unrealized until next morning

or a month of mornings after that—
whichever day some hungry disremembered

correspondence comes to table,
looking for a place you didn’t set.


Sean Kelbley lives on a farm in Appalachian Ohio and works as a primary school counselor. In addition to ONE ART, his poetry has appeared in Rattle, Sheila-Na-Gig Online, Still: The Journal, Sugar House Review, and other wonderful journals and anthologies.

To My Sister on the Anniversary of Her Death from Covid by Margaret Dornaus

To My Sister on the Anniversary
of Her Death from Covid

It’s been two years, and there are
those who still ask me to believe
you’re in a better place. Or
that we all are now that all is
said and done. Now that life is
back to normal, or at least
back to a semblance of the life
we once knew. Remember
how you liked to say you were

our mother? How you’d take us all
on weekend outings to bowling
alleys and drive-ins. The larger than
life images of good and evil projected
on a big screen. How we’d watch
Kong battling Godzilla, wide-eyed,
sure of nothing more than our own story.
The way summer nights embraced us,
the way starshine followed us home.


Margaret Dornaus holds an MFA in the translation of poetry from the University of Arkansas. A semifinalist in Naugatuck River Review’s 13th annual Narrative Poetry Contest, she had the privilege of editing and publishing a pandemic-themed anthology—behind the mask: haiku in the time of Covid-19—through her small literary press Singing Moon in 2020. Her first book of poetry, Prayer for the Dead: Collected Haibun & Tanka Prose, won a 2017 Merit Book Award from the Haiku Society of America. Recent poems appear or are forthcoming in I-70 Review, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Minyan Magazine, MockingHeart Review, ONE ART, Silver Birch Press, and The Ekphrastic Review.

Two Poems by Karen A VandenBos

Even Loss Can Be Beautiful

Loss comes quietly.
It surprises us as we look in the mirror, turn on the news,
answer the phone, open an email, look out the window
or spin around.
What was once a forest of golden leaves has faded into a
grove of muted browns and empty cathedrals.
The pure white of snow has been stained by the mud of
spring, no longer inviting.
Some lost things are found to have taken on new shapes:
a mitten without a thumb, a feather with a broken spine,
ashes with no fire.
They ask us to see the beauty in being broken, messy. Let
them surprise you with what they have to offer.
Let once shining blue eyes, now dulled by all they have
witnessed reopen in wonder.
Loss becomes rivers accepting the melting ice, forests
resurrecting into sanctuaries of green light and new life
awakening from a long winter nap.
In the way of the seasons, there is no word for loss, only
a continuous ebb and flow, a cycle of death and rebirth
where beauty can be found in the tiniest flaws.


Autumn in the Rear View Mirror

Our small lives rise and fall as
another November recedes in the
rear view mirror.

It has been a season of few mercies.
Bones worn down to the marrow and
hope vanishing like smoke from an
extinguished match.

The sun’s light grows softer as
the days grow shorter and shadows
lengthen. There is a new chill in
the air.

Night drapes us in her black robe
before the chime of the evening
church bells ring a call to vespers.

The trees are bare and the north
wind carries us inside.
Inside where we sit by the fire
dreaming of things that cannot last.


Karen A VandenBos was born on a warm July morn in Kalamazoo, MI. She can be found unleashing her imagination in three online writing groups and her writing has been published in Lothlorien Poetry Journal, The Rye Whiskey Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Blue Heron Review and others.

Three Poems by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

In the Garden, Again

After breaking, after kneeling,
after raising my ripe fist, after
opening my palm, after
clenching it again, after running,
after hiding, after taking off
my masks, after stilling,
after shouting, after bargaining
with God, after crumpling
and cursing, after losing,
after song, after seeking,
after breath, after breath,
after breath,
I stand in the sunflowers
of early September
and watch as the bees weave
from one giant bloom to another,
and I, too, am sunflower,
tall-stemmed and face lifted,
shaped by the love of light
and the need for rain.
I stand here until some part of me
is again more woman than sunflower,
and she notices how,
for a few moments,
it was enough just to be alive.
Just to be alive, it was enough.


A New Kind of Conversation

It is possible to be with someone who is gone.
—Linda Gregg, “The Presence in Absence”

I have no phone receiver to connect me to the other side,
but every day I speak to my beloveds through candle flame.
Every night, I speak to them through the dark before sleep.
I speak to them in the car when I am alone.
I speak to them when I walk beneath stars,
when I walk in the woods, when I walk in the rain.
It is possible to be with someone who is gone.
It is possible to feel what cannot be seen,
to sense what cannot be heard,
to be held by what cannot be touched.
It is possible for love to grow after death.
If there is a secret language, it is, perhaps, openness.
The way air lets light move through.
The way a window invites in the scent of grass.
The way sand receives the ocean,
then, rearranged, lets it pass.



Now I understand how grief
is like a mushroom—
how it thrives in dark conditions.
How it springs directly
from what is dead.
Such a curious blossoming thing,
how it rises and unfurls
in spontaneous bourgeoning,
a kingdom all its own.

Like a mushroom,
most of grief is never seen.
It grows and expands beneath everything.
Sometimes it stays dormant for years.

Grief, like a mushroom,
can be almost unbearably beautiful,
even exotic, delicate, veiled,
can arrive in any shape and hue.
It pulls me closer in.

Like a mushroom, grief
asks me to travel to regions
of shadow and dim.
I’m astonished by what I find—
mystery, abundance, insight.
Like a mushroom, grief
can be wildly generative.
Not all growth takes place
in the light.


Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer co-hosts Emerging Form podcast on creative process, Secret Agents of Change (a surreptitious kindness cabal) and Soul Writers Circle. Her poetry has appeared on A Prairie Home Companion, PBS News Hour, O Magazine, Rattle, American Life in Poetry and her daily poetry blog, A Hundred Falling Veils. Her most recent collection, Hush, won the Halcyon Prize. Naked for Tea was a finalist for the Able Muse Book Award. One-word mantra: Adjust.

Three Poems by Meg Freer

Grief Has a Name

A full ten minutes at sunset, hundreds
of crows fly south over the woods.
Moments after the last one,
snow blows in from the north.

I follow sheep trails across the fields,
unwind details I have been avoiding,
mental terrain more suited
for moose than human.

Mom’s two birthday balloons cling
together in her dining room for a day,
before one migrates to the kitchen
and the other moves into her bedroom.

A day later, the bedroom balloon
floats into Dad’s study to stay
just above the books. Dad must be
directing this scene from beyond.

In my dream, he fades into view
in the doorway holding a basketball,
says nothing, watches while I read
on the sofa, then drifts away.

Grief wants me to call it by name,
knows all 360 joints in my body,
tapes their seams to keep itself
from floating into oblivion.


All the Sounds of Summer

As gently as he once held a fledgling blue jay,
he cradles his sister’s arm, traces each of the thin,
horizontal lines he never knew were there,
saddened by scars not yet faded to white.

All the sounds of summer vanish
as he enters into her night and wonders at the fluency
of hands that treat the body in such disparate ways.
How to fathom the plight of molecules gone awry?

Ever distressed at the sight of his own blood,
though he understands artery over vein, he can’t
understand pain that calls out for more pain and hopes
his sister will fly, as the fledgling he buried never did.


New Mother
        for Mary P. and Minnow

I offer to walk with her on the nearby trail,
get her out of the house for a while.
We greet Archie and Jughead, the goats
with curly horns, as we pass their pen.
I pick up a guinea hen feather to bring home.
She sets a brisk pace as we leave the farm.
It hasn’t hit her yet, this unexpected freedom.

She stops short, as if she’s seen an apparition.
A cow stares at us through the brush.
What are you doing way over here by the fence?
Shouldn’t you be over with the horses?
This moody cow moves around the horse pasture
every day, rarely spends time with the other cows,
sometimes goes off by herself to figure things out.

We leave the cow to her moping, resume walking,
then she stops, looks back down the trail.
Wait. Am I even supposed to leave the farm?
I have babies back there, you know.
I reassure her that it’s fine to take a break,
she nursed her puppies, she needs fresh air.
She catches a whiff of spring and trots off.

The robins and redwing blackbirds are singing,
the stream is flowing, the spring scents
keep enticing, we continue our walk.
A bit further and she stops again, looks back
the way we’ve come, looks up at me.
Are you sure I was supposed to leave?
My puppies might need me, you know.

I try to persuade her to keep walking,
but no luck. We turn back, the cow
is still at the fence, but she doesn’t notice,
she is so excited to return to her seven pups—
lick them all over, move them around
with her paws and nose so they all
get a turn to nurse—be a good mother.


Meg Freer grew up in Montana and now teaches piano in Kingston, Ontario, where she enjoys the outdoors year-round. Her prose, photos, and poems have won awards in North America and overseas and have been published in journals such as Ruminate, Juniper Poetry, Vallum Contemporary Poetry, Arc Poetry, Eastern Iowa Review, and Borrowed Solace.

Passover by Ann E. Michael


The first holiday without,
grief burns like anger.
Irritant. Tough fibers
scraping at skin raise a rash,
sore during celebration.
Empty ritual this year.
Empty place at the table–
bitter, bitter herbs.


Ann E. Michael’s upcoming chapbook is Strange Ladies, slated for publication in 2022 (Moonstone Poetry); she is the author of Water-Rites and six other chapbooks. She lives in eastern Pennsylvania and blogs at https://annemichael.blog.