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.

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.

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.

Two Poems by Jennifer L Freed


pulls you close.
You know it too well
to think you can live without it.
You’ve learned
it is a chair that will hold you
up and ask nothing
of you but to live
with it. And so you live

through this spring day, drifting
from bureau to bed,
table to desk, touching
the shirt, the pillow, the cup,
the book; looking
out the window,
your hand on the windowsill, the sun
on your hand. Here is the view
so changed from yesterday. Here

is the blue of the veins in your wrist.
You can do nothing
and are grateful
there is nothing you need to do.
You let yourself sink
into your chair, let
the chair
hold you.



Some days, she chooses not
to eat.
She needs to let absence
fill her body, to move with it, know
that she can.

On the table, fresh strawberries, radiant
in their blue bowl.

Without meals, extra pockets of time
unfold. She turns toward
books, sketch pads, longer walks
with the dog. Hunger swells, fades, swells and fades

By night, stomach growling, she feels surprisingly
strong. She looks forward
to morning, when, standing at the counter, she will inhale
the scent of toasting bread.


Jennifer L Freed lives in Massachusetts. Her poetry has appeared in Atlanta Review, Atticus Review, Rust + Moth, West Trestle Review, The Worcester Review, Zone 3, and other journals. Her poem sequence “Cerebral Hemorrhage” was awarded the 2020 Samuel Washington Allen Prize (New England Poetry Club). She is the author of a chapbook, These Hands Still Holding, a finalist in the 2013 New Women’s Voices chapbook contest, and of a full length collection, When Light Shifts (Kelsay, 2022), based on the aftermath of her mother’s stroke.

One Poem by Julia Caroline Knowlton

Self-Portrait with Loss of Appetite


The crux of it is, who does not want to glide

through space, light—to enter like a dancer,

exit like a gold autumn leaf, float away?


Winter hunger always roving in my mind.

Hidden brush strokes, silver on snow falling.

This angel bone haunting, an absence I must find.




Julia Caroline Knowlton is Professor of French at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta. She has an MFA in poetry from Antioch University and a PhD in French Literature from UNC-Chapel Hill. The author of four books and an Academy of American Poets prize winner, she was named a GA Author of the Year for her 2018 chapbook, The Café of Unintelligible Desire (Alice Greene & Co.). Her second chapbook, Poem at the Edge of the World, will also be published by Alice Greene & Co. Julia regularly publishes in journals including One Art, Roanoke Review, and Boston Literary Review.