I thought the door
was standing open
and beyond it
all the blue
of heaven,
that it was
only necessary
to pass through
and so into
the beyond
and who cares if
metaphoric or real, pass
into a place
like heaven,
a heaven blue
as something
or other but
even that wasn’t
Yes, it might
have been
blue but it might
have been otherwise
as we often are
and the things
around us, even me,
I wasn’t
needed, not even
the door,
though it was
there, and
standing open
and I could have,
yes, easily,
could have, but
there are
limits and this
could very well
be mine.


Marc Harshman’s WOMAN IN RED ANORAK, Blue Lynx Prize winner, was published in 2018 by Lynx House Press. His fourteenth children’s book, FALLINGWATER, co-author Anna Smucker, was published by Roaring Brook/Macmillan. He is co-winner of the 2019 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award and his Thanksgiving poem, “Dispatch from the Mountain State,” was recently printed in the New York Times. Poems have been anthologized by Kent State University, the University of Iowa, University of Georgia, and the University of Arizona. He is the seventh poet laureate of West Virginia.

A Catholic’s Guide to Avoid Going to Hell by Valerie Frost

A Catholic’s Guide to Avoid Going to Hell

Use your manners,
even if the other person doesn’t deserve it.

Smile, a lot, sometimes painfully.
Grit your teeth if you must to really sell it.

Be a generally good person, by society’s standards-
whatever society you happen to be a part of.

Don’t be the person who breaks a pay-it-forward chain
in the Starbucks drive-thru line.

Keep most of your thoughts to yourself,
(people don’t usually take kindly to them).

Always bless people when they sneeze.

Tell white lies to protect other people’s feelings.
But also never lie, it’s wrong.

Maintain impeccable customer service,
no matter how awful the customer is.
It’s your fault, anyway.

Treat all animals better than humans.
Animals are the closest thing to God
(besides the Pope, of course).

Give your money away-
no matter how hard you work for it.
You don’t deserve it.


Valerie Frost is a Garden State native. She lives in Central Kentucky with her twin three-year-olds. Her poems have appeared in the Eastern Iowa Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, Thimble Literary Magazine, and elsewhere.