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.

Spring by Paula J. Lambert


The strange beast of the night
has retreated, hackberry down,
no more damage than that
and the echoing tinnitus you woke with,
b flat, constant, dull.

The wind’s wild paw—
which took out a city west of here—
left the fence intact. Small favor.
Elsewhere, children are dead.
The storm, sure. The anguished shooter.
Pockets of silence everywhere,
in the aftermath. You calculate:

chainsaw, chipper, enough mulch
to cover the peonies, the lilacs,
the hydrangea and rose of Sharon
sure to follow.


Paula J. Lambert has published several collections of poetry including The Ghost of Every Feathered Thing (FutureCycle 2022) and How to See the World (Bottom Dog 2020). Awarded PEN America’s L’Engle-Rahman Prize for Mentorship and two Ohio Arts Council grants, she is also a visual artist, small-press publisher, and nascent literary translator.

Two Poems by Gerry LaFemina

It Was the Start of Spring and Anything Felt Possible

You can sit there
on the bust stop bench like at your desk
in sixth grade, squirming
with not wanting
to work or else longing for attention.

Dusk the only bus coming down the avenue.

Ear buds broadcast the same five albums
you’ve listened to this month,
more songs about heartache,
more songs about absence,

so many such songs by now, it’s a wonder

anything more can be said on the subjects.
Lights appear in high rise windows,
bright yellow faces
like daffodils, how hopeful, how happy
those fragile visages

particularly in early April
particularly in a city like yours—
so much cement & steel, & still

those flowers for a few short weeks.


After the Divorce

That day a boy climbed
the monkey bars higher, he believed,

than anyone had before
because he’d heard the story about

the tower of Babel & had wanted
to be struck down, too, by god

not for hubris but for solace,
but even the divine didn’t seem to be

watching, so he stayed put
until night pulled on

its dark sweater with silver buttons
& the crickets began chatting in

their alien dialect, & the boy
became too frightened or too tired

to climb down even though
his mother’s call echoed

& echoed, worry italicizing
his name in her mouth, so

he let go, finally, to hunger
& the chill that crept from the metal

into his fingers; how he fell through
the steel lattice—despite

the foam layer above it,
the ground remained firm, unforgiving,

ungiving, & thus the warm air
in his lungs was pushed out

in a long exhalation
of vapor, & it wasn’t ‘til later that

we found, like flotsam after a storm,
his crumpled body, not quite

lifeless, but fractured
so that when he tried to answer

our inquiries while we waited
for the EMTs (we could already

hear the angel wail of an ambulance)
we couldn’t understand a word

he uttered, couldn’t even decipher
the shapes made by his pale lips.


Gerry LaFemina’s next collection of poems, AFTER THE WAR FOR INDEPENDENCE, will be released later this year from Stephen F. Austin University Press. His other books include THE PURSUIT: A MEDITATION ON HAPPINESS (CNF) and BABY STEPS IN DOOMSDAY PREPPING (prose poems). LaFemina teaches at Frostburg State University and in the low-residency MFA program at Carlow Univerisity, and fronts the four piece punk band, The Downstrokes.

Because it is Spring in Appalachia by Bonnie Proudfoot

Because it is Spring in Appalachia

and the rain has stopped pummeling
the solar panels on my roof,
I begin noticing things,
the rush of green outside hits me
like a fanfare, the sun
sparkles in every droplet,
and then I realize
the applause I thought I heard
was not applause at all,
it was a pair of small birds
pecking away at the inside
of my walls because they decided
that their new nesting place
could be that little hole
in the space between the eaves.
And there it is, the outside world
has come home to roost. And me,
I couldn’t pull the trigger of the 22
on the groundhog in the blueberries,
I try to save the planet,
not just for me, alone, but so I
can share it, but not my house,
I think, yet that is
what is happening now
and here I am,
still hoping to return
to Aaron Copeland in my mind,
but the wide world has other ideas,
like a new station on the dial,
these little syncopated taps,
call on me to act or be acted upon,
and isn’t that what I secretly wanted
from this ragged, unfinished life?


Bonnie Proudfoot has had fiction and poetry published in the Gettysburg Review, Kestrel, Quarter After Eight, the New Ohio Review, and many other journals. Her first novel, Goshen Road, published by Ohio University’s Swallow Press (2020) was selected by the Women’s National Book Association for one of its Great Group Reads for 2020. It was Long-listed for the 2021 PEN/ Hemingway Award for debut fiction, and in 2022 it won the WCONA Book of the Year Award. Her poetry chapbook, Household Gods, is forthcoming on Sheila-Na-Gig this summer. She lives in Athens, Ohio, and in her spare time she creates glass art and plays blues harmonica.

Periwinkle blue, a spring night’s by M.J. Iuppa

Periwinkle blue, a spring night’s

slow awakening— a steady drag &
           lift through depths of iciness

hearing the shrill whine of a lone
           tractor spraying the orchard’s

shadows before daylight & bees’ due
           diligence, only the cab’s lantern

casting a line of sight for the lonesome
           farmer who steadies the wheel

of this hour, moving forward, willing
           to carry his father’s obsessiveness

as if it were his own.


M.J. Iuppa’s forthcoming fifth full length poetry collection The Weight of Air from Kelsay Books and a chapbook of 24 100-word stories, Rock. Paper. Scissors. from Foothills Publishing, in 2022. For the past 33 years, she has lived on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. Check out her blog: for her musings on writing, sustainability & life’s stew.

Two poems by Carla Sarett

They Made Wars

We drank sweet Turkish coffee
and talked long into the night
of mothers who lost children in cities,
who locked them out of houses in thick rain,
who foresaw snow on a warm spring day,
how snow fell after their words.

By dawn, we forgot which stories
we had told and which we had forgotten
in the eagerness of our first revelations.

By starlight, we whispered our terrors:
Giant mothers outgrew houses.
They made wars without anyone noticing.

We never mentioned fathers.
Those pale and harried men.


no one says it

Deirdre’s sending
love w/ exclamation points
love! love! love!
John texts it (love)
no point wanting
a love letter she knows
that’s not the #love
they’re sending
& that song
love love love
all you need is
not the #love
she needs


Carla Sarett’s recent poem appear or are forthcoming in Blue Unicorn, The Virginia Normal, San Pedro River Review, The Remington Review, Sylvia, Words and Whispers and elsewhere. Her novella, The Looking Glass, will be published in October (Propertius); and A Closet Feminist, a full-length novel, will appear in 2022 (Unsolicited Press.) Carla lives in San Francisco.