Summer by Donna Hilbert

          for T.E.

Solstice again. One year, we waded into the sea
to wash crystals. (It was all about feng shui.)
The water was cold, the sky, cloud gray.

Back in the house, you fingered your name
onto the foggy windows, with hearts for O’s,
frames, and punctuation.

I took a photo of this.
Now, it’s proof you were here,
and for a time, happy.


Donna Hilbert’s latest book is Threnody, from Moon Tide Press. Earlier books include Gravity: New & Selected Poems, Tebot Bach, 2018. She is a monthly contributing writer to the on-line journal Verse-Virtual. Work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Braided Way, Chiron Review, Sheila-Na-Gig, Rattle, Zocalo Public Square, One Art, and numerous anthologies. Poems have been featured on The Writer’s Almanac and on Lyric Life. She writes and leads private workshops in Southern California, where she makes her home, and during residencies at Write On Door County. Learn more at

Summer by Valerie Bacharach

           for Paul

Suppose I said summer, wrote “heat” on a notecard,
slipped it into your pocket.
Would you think of Rome?

Frozen bottles of water from street vendors
held against foreheads, the back of our necks,
a shield against wet, thick air as we wandered
among ruins and gardens.

We stopped at any store with air-conditioning,
took three showers a day, never again so clean.
And oh, that restaurant in Trastevere,
zucchini flowers stuffed with cheese, one salty anchovy,
fried to crisp decadence.

You bought me a necklace in the old Jewish ghetto
so intricate it was like holding liquid silver.
We kissed as clerks and customers applauded.

Sometimes life is so hard it seems made of stone.
But think of our last evening in that ancient city.
We strolled cobbled streets in warm night air,
the two of us slipping into each other’s heat.


Valerie Bacharach’s writing has appeared or will appear in: Vox Populi, Whale Road Review, The Blue Mountain Review, EcoTheo Review, Kosmos Quarterly Journal, Amethyst Review, On the Seawall, Poetica. Minyon Magazine, One Art, and Writer’s Foundry Review. Her chapbook Fireweed was published by Main Street Rag in 2018 and her chapbook Ghost-Mother was published by Finishing Line Press in 2021. She has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize.

Procrastination by Susan Cossette


Next summer I will plant flowers
in a perfect circle around the towering pine–

Carve tiny cradles for each pink impatiens,
pat flat the cool damp mulch.

Next summer I will tame wild ivy
on the hundred-year wall,
coerce it into tidy compliance.

The soaring rhododendrons stand guard,
old wise, twisted roots.
The stories they can tell.

Next summer I will hang a suet feeder
outside the kitchen window and await red cardinals.

It is August, and next summer is a long way off.


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.

Summer Speaking in Turn by Vivian Eyre

Summer Speaking in Turn

On the beach, a whale looks up at me
in blue crayon, drawn on a heart-shaped stone.
My finger traces the thick-lined body,
just as I did in my whale book at ten,
certain about their signs of happiness —
when flukes were held high,
just like the flukes on the stone I hold now.
It’s July. High season for out-of-towners
when I face the bay only in early morning.
Why are you here? I ask the heart stone.
I don’t know. Maybe the stone is a valentine
to be delivered by tidal whims to a whale
with a heart the size of a Harley. I pocket
the stone heart, the smile, the whale’s face.


You’ve Got This—written with a red paint-pen
on a rock, then deliberately planted
on Race Point beach by the artist.
Later that week, a woman finds the rock,
and in this loose communion, her smile
dolphins up. No longer was she a small raft,
a speck floating. She leaves
the rock in its sand bed hoping
children would discover it. Imagine
this kind of day when you don’t expect to
find a friend. Yet you find one, featureless,
as alive as July. The beach is pulsing.


Vivian Eyre is a Rhode Island-based poet, and the author of the poetry chapbook, To the Sound (Finishing Line Press 2013). Her poems have been in The Massachusetts Review,J Journal, The Fourth River, Quiddity, Spire, Pangyrus, Book of Matches, Bellingham Review, Asheville Poetry Review, Twelve Mile Journal, The Sandy River Review. She served as the guest curator for the Whale House (Southold, NY), and as a rescue volunteer for cold stun sea turtles on the eastern shores of Long Island.

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.

Winter’s Toll by Melanie Figg

Winter’s Toll

The deer are starving.
Summer was too dry and snow came too soon
and too thick. They usually don’t come out
of the woods until February. It’s almost Christmas
and they’re in the trailer park by ten.

My mother died a week ago.
We cleaned out her refrigerator,
found two bins of apples
she had no energy to can
and left them for the deer.

After bar close I drive in slow: two doe and a fawn.
For a minute I feel lucky—to see animals so hungry
they’re at front doors eating
Christmas wreaths. One doe swings her head,
watches me park and go inside
my mother’s house. They keep walking,
looking for apples on the snow-covered lawns.


Melanie Figg’s debut poetry collection, Trace (New Rivers Press) was named one of the 100 Best Indie Books of 2020 by Kirkus Reviews. Melanie has won grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, The McKnight and Jerome Foundations, the Maryland State Arts Council, and others. Her poems, personal essays, and book reviews can be found in dozens of literary journals including The Iowa Review, Nimrod, and The Rumpus. As a certified professional coach, Melanie teaches creative writing, offers women’s writing retreats, and works one-on-one with writers and others.