Three Poems by David Salner

New York

When I lived in New York, I’d bathe in the kitchen
because that’s where the bathtub was.
Ancient history. I should keep it to myself.

Some people lead exciting lives,
and who doubts their miraculous stories
of the cave-in, the fire, the flood.

All I can tell you is of the warm bathwater
and the drowsy feel, of looking over the porcelain rim
at a frying pan I didn’t get clean.


Ice Water in Hell

—and don’t we
deserve it
all of us longing
for hell to freeze over
stacking life’s ingots
beside hot furnaces
at the ceaseless conveyor
of modern life
in this dark-mill place
the din of machines
thundering around us
while we wring buckets
of our precious sweat
from sopping bandanas
wearing t-shirts
with slogans that
proclaim how unrepentant
we are, will always be
and when we pull them off
sweat drips down a chest
containing a heart
longing to sin again.



From the blacktop road
and the school bus stop,
look down the lane
between muddy pastures
and wire cow fences
to that house
where a man
who’d like to be
feeding the world
raises his hands
to plant the barrel
of a shotgun in his mouth . . .


David Salner’s debut novel is A Place to Hide (Apprentice House, 2021) and his fourth poetry collection is The Stillness of Certain Valleys (Broadstone Books, 2019). He worked as iron ore miner, steelworker, machinist, and now librarian. His writing has appeared in Threepenny Review and Ploughshares. Innisfree Poetry Journal 33 featured a retrospective of 25 poems drawn from his four books.

One Poem by Patricia Davis-Muffett

What to do with your grief
       for Dionne, June 2020

Butter. Sugar. Flour. Salt.
I am doing what I know.

Nineteen, I call my mother crying:
“I can’t make the pie crust work,”
“Come home,” she says. “We’ll fix it.”
The ice in the water,
the fork used to mix,
the way she floured the board.
It’s chemistry, yes–
but also this:
the things you pass
from hand to hand.

9/11. Child dropped at preschool.
Traffic grinds near the White House.
A plane overhead. The Pentagon burns.
The long trek home to reclaim our child.
We are told to stay in. I venture out.
Blueberries to make a pie.

My mother, so sick. Not hungry.
For a time, she is tempted by pies.
I bring them long after taste flees.

New baby. Death. Any crisis.
I do what my mother taught me.
Butter. Sugar. Flour. Salt.
I bring this to you–this work of my hands,
this piece of my day, this sweetness,
all I can offer.

Today, Minneapolis burns
And sparks catch fire in New York,
Atlanta, here in DC.
My friend’s voice says
what I know but can’t know:
“This is my fear every time they leave me.”
Three beautiful sons, brilliant, alive.
I have little to offer. I do what I know.


Patricia Davis-Muffett (she/her) holds an MFA from the University of Minnesota. She was a 2020 Julia Darling Poetry Prize finalist and received First Honorable Mention in the 2021 Joe Gouveia OuterMost Poetry Contest. Her work has appeared in Limestone, Coal City Review, Neologism, The Orchards, One Art, Pretty Owl Poetry, di-verse-city (anthology of the Austin International Poetry Festival), The Blue Nib and Amethyst Review, among others. She lives in Rockville, Maryland, with her husband and three children and makes her living in technology marketing.