At Kohl’s Jewelry Counter by Eileen Pettycrew

At Kohl’s Jewelry Counter

I want to put them on myself
my mother said of the clip-ons
she beheld like a glittering prophecy,
while I held her purse thick with Kleenex
and the aches and pains of the old.
But she struggled to slide the earrings
onto her lobes and close the clips,
letting them hang halfway, barely,
like spent seed pods,
and the small oh that escaped her mouth
each time one slipped off
was like the faint coo of a distant dove,
as if she had flown toward a horizon
beyond the foothills, and I was alone
on a dirt road listening
for her call. She taught me
how to feel sorry for people,
call them poor things,
like the stocky girl in my class who wore
a miniskirt and knee-high boots,
her thighs like bread dough.
Earrings of loss
falling to the floor, and me,
my mother’s only witness,
the familiar bag of pity ballooning
in my chest, crowding out
anything else I might have felt.


Eileen Pettycrew’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in New Ohio Review, CALYX Journal, Cave Wall, SWWIM Every Day, and elsewhere. In 2022 she was one of two runners-up for the Prime Number Magazine Award for Poetry and a finalist for the New Letters Award for Poetry. A Pushcart Prize nominee, Eileen lives in Portland, Oregon.

Two Poems by Kathleen Cassen Mickelson

What I Love About Mondays in the Spring

I love how there is birdsong, urgent and lovely,
as we walk before sunrise, one dog
beside each of us.
I love how the light spreads behind the neighbor’s red pines,
creating incandescent tree silhouettes.
I love how bustle fills our kitchen like an embrace:
dishes clink, cereal rustles, coffee gurgles to its finish.
I love how butter pools into little golden oases
on my dry toast, how you brush your lips on my cheek
when my mouth is full.
And I love how, when you leave,
the silence afterwards is soft, not final.


Mothers Understand Each Other

She wakes, adrift between sad and nostalgic,
happy and anxious.
She thinks of the new wedding dress
her daughter will wear in six months
when all traces of little girl will be scrubbed away.

Outside, her husband and dog
stare at a fox in the driveway.
He whispers through the open bedroom window.

Come here! You need to see this.

She peeks out the window, surfaced from sleep
enough to reach for her camera,
goes outside barefoot in pajamas.

The fox watches them all,
sits tall next to the garden,
bushy tail splayed behind,
swollen teats distinct.
A mama fox.

She leans forward, wishes she could speak fox,
one mother to another.

Your babies will be gone too soon.

She adjusts her camera for low morning light.

They’ll have babies of their own,
mates not of your choosing.
You’ll become irrelevant.

The fox blinks, yawns, stretches out in the grass,
mindful of the two humans, the dog,
the hungry kits hidden nearby.

She takes a few more photos,
tiptoes back inside. Her husband and dog follow.
She glances back, but the fox is gone,
a wild mother who knows exactly when to take her leave.


Kathleen Cassen Mickelson (she/her) co-founded the quarterly poetry journal Gyroscope Review and acted as co-editor until 2020. She is the author of How We Learned to Shut Our Own Mouths (Gyroscope Press), and her work has appeared in journals in the US, UK, and Canada. Prayer Gardening, a poetry collection co-authored with Constance Brewer, is forthcoming from Kelsay Books at the end of 2023.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Susan Cossette

Wide Sargasso Sea
August 2000, Darien CT

I do not remember my son’s third birthday.

But the photographs stuffed in my mahogany night table
show a too-thin frantic girl with untamed curls
serving drinks and cake to family,
my mother and father in ecstasy.

I was a mother. I was married.
Oh, how I wanted to please them,
their supplicant, their sacrifice.

Look at the crazy girl,
her father’s daughter.
Crazy like her aunt,
crazy like her grandfather,
beat into tacit submission.

She is safe, for now.

Later, my child clutched two tiny wooden trains,
chubby hands, face smeared with sticky cake icing
regarding sailboats in the harbor
and white clapboard mansions by the sea.

My small house was supposed to be
a sanctuary, but the ocean closed in on me–
marooned among twisted seaweed
and ragged grey oyster shells.

Everything was either brightness, or dark.

Floating face up, palms up to the blood moon
illuminating the grey harbor.

Look at the crazy girl,
her father’s daughter.
Crazy like her aunt,
crazy like her grandfather.

Then came the flames,
then my streaming hair,
tangled and strangled.

The girl caught in a gilt frame,
crooked pirate smile.


Susan Cossette lives and writes in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Author of Peggy Sue Messed Up, she is a recipient of the University of Connecticut’s Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize. A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rust + Moth, Vita Brevis, ONE ART, As it Ought to Be, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Amethyst Review, Crow & Cross Keys, Loch Raven Review, and in the anthologies Tuesdays at Curley’s and After the Equinox.

A Short Game of Catch, Then Back to Bed by Bryce Johle

A Short Game of Catch, Then Back to Bed

We played catch once
with the baseball mitt I got
when Mom and I were movie extras
in our little Pennsylvania town.
You taught me how to throw

straight up sky high, keeping
my eye on the ball, and catch
my own pitch. That way, even if
you aren’t here because your back
and mind ache and it’s just me,

beside my forgettable forty-eight
frames of fame, I can still practice.


Bryce Johle is from Williamsport, PA and earned a B.A. from Kutztown University. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Parentheses Journal, Litbreak Magazine, Eunoia Review, Literary Yard, October Hill Magazine, and Maudlin House, among others. He lives in Pittsburgh, PA with his wife and stepdaughter.

For my mother by Elizabeth McConnell

For my mother

Within a deep slice of cove, along this ragged coast
straddling the gateway to a labyrinth
of cordgrass and tannin-rich water,
I stand before that driftwood and pine shingled cabin
enchanted by tall and thick pickets of rosemary.

In the evening, breezes weave through
needled branches and her scent beckons
for the shine of golden lemons,
whispers of lavender.
And I promise, in the morning
to snip some sprigs,
take them home to culture.


Elizabeth McConnell lives in Morgantown, WV. She earned a BA in English from Hollins University. She has worked with the Morgantown Public Library Children’s Programs and served on the Morgantown Public Library Board of Trustees. Elizabeth participates in the WV Master Naturalist Program, WV Writers, Morgantown Writers Group and the Carlow University Madwomen in the Attic Workshops.

Mother’s Ready by Tina Barry

Mother’s Ready

I wish for my mother’s death,
as she does, if only for her to be reborn
lucky. The take for granted kind of luck–

Pretty face.
An aptitude for math.

I go to a tarot reader.
After a few flips, the death card.
I imagine the drawing

on its face is a knight on horseback,
some sign that my mother will exit
life in a romantic stampede.

But it isn’t shining armor, just a hood
draping death’s face.
Is it wrong to wish for her end to be as glorious

as the watercolors she painted?
Café scenes and seascapes.
A coral reef–

red and its shadow–so real,
she could hold it in her palm
like a tiny hand.


Tina Barry is the author of Beautiful Raft (Big Table Publishing, 2019) and Mall Flower (Big Table Publishing, 2016). Her poems and fiction have appeared in numerous literary publications such as The Best Small Fictions 2020 (spotlighted story) and 2016, The American Poetry Journal, Sky Island Journal, Nixes Mate, Lascaux Review, Harbor Review (book review), Nasty Women Poets, A Constellation of Kisses and upcoming in Rattle. Tina is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and has several Best of the Net nods. She is a teaching artist at The Poetry Barn and

Songs for My Mother by Lynn Finger

Songs for My Mother

Every death is
its own fingerprint,
nobody’s is the same:

in a dark house,
in a ward, in the sky,
in the waves, no one
leaves in the same way.

As you sleep,
nothing speaks,
webs of dawn gather,
cindered ash motes,
the glitter as sun
streams through
the glass of your window.

The oaks outside stand
crooked. I count their leaves.
I wonder why you
don’t open your eyes.
We don’t know if you
will want to see anything

I walk in the Dante Forest
not because I want to.
It has a slight path
crossed by unsure sunlight,
where a hundred senilities
cast shadow.

My mother was a mermaid,
your story begins,
and my father a bear.
It’s not written down,
It has to have been sung to you,
when young.
You’ll know, if the words
vibrate like a bee
in your hair,
you’ll know.

In the dark corner,
the oxygen machine
roars, its own sea,
and your clock stops at 10:35.
I go home to sleep.
The shades are slant against
the evening, and that night
they call,
you are gone.

How to stop time.
It’s pouring honey
over the stars to hold them
still, but they continue,

The oak branches creak
in the night wind,
their leaves open up,
eyelashes of the sky.


Lynn Finger’s writings have appeared in 8Poems, Perhappened, Book of Matches, Fairy Piece, Drunk Monkeys, and Anti-Heroin Chic. Lynn also had a poetry chapbook released this year, “The Truth of Blue Horses,” published by Alien Buddha Press. She was nominated for the 2021 Best of the Net Anthology. Lynn edits Harpy Hybrid Review and works with a group that mentors writers in prison. Her Twitter is @sweetfirefly2.

The Choice by Sharon Waller Knutson

The Choice

He has no choice when his mother
dies giving him life with his father’s
name sealed on her blue lips.

He has no choice when his adopted
mother chooses him and sits
with him during sickness and nightmares.

Walks him to school, makes him peanut
butter sandwiches, kisses his bruises
and laughs at his silly jokes.

But when he is ten, he is asked
to make a choice at the Rose
Ceremony on Mother’s Day.

White if your mother is dead.
Red if she is alive. The only mother
he has known is sitting stiff

on a folding chair and he knows
she wants to jump up and say,
It’s okay if you choose her.

And he knows his birthmother
who is watching over him
wouldn’t mind if he chose red.

But it is his choice. With his right
hand he reaches for the red rose
and with the left hand he picks the white,

sticks them in his buttonholes
and marches off with the scout troop
to salute their mothers.


Sharon Waller Knutson is a retired journalist who lives in Arizona. She has published several poetry books including My Grandmother Smokes Chesterfields (Flutter Press 2014,) What the Clairvoyant Doesn’t Say and Trials & Tribulations of Sports Bob (Kelsay Books 2021) and Survivors, Saints and Sinners (Cyberwit 2022.) Her work has also appeared recently in GAS Poetry, Art and Music, The Rye Whiskey Review, Black Coffee Review, Terror House Review, Trouvaille Review, ONE ART, Mad Swirl, The Drabble, Gleam, Spillwords, Muddy River Review, Verse-Virtual, Your Daily Poem, Red Eft Review and The Five-Two.

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.

Bird Watching by Maureen Fielding


In my mother’s garden
amid the blue hydrangeas,
begonias and hibiscus blooms,
a red-headed finch sits atop the fence,
nervously eyeing the feeder.

Prodding hungry stomach,
tiny internal debate—
last doubts extinguished,
fears overcome,
he flutters from fence to feeder,
hurriedly, blissfully
guzzles the seed provided with love,
always aware
that his quiet meal
may be jarringly interrupted,
that the same hand that pours the seed
and fills the bath
is the same that flings open the doors
and shatters the moments of silence, safety, sustenance.

For sometimes my mother stands
entranced at the window,
tuned to the finch’s fragile courage.
At other times
her world is devoid of finches.
She tramps loud and heavy
on the hearts of all.


Maureen Fielding is an associate professor of English and Women’s Studies at Penn State Brandywine. Her work has appeared in Westview, Black Fox Literary Magazine, Marathon Literary Review, WLA, and other journals. She has taught English in South Korea and is currently working on a chapbook based on research conducted in South Korea about Japanese Militarized Sexual Slavery. She has also written a novel inspired by her experiences as a Russian intercept operator in West Berlin during the Cold War.