February, 2017

Science Class by Amanda N. Butler

On a homeschool-winter day,
an ice-bird
became the object of science class:

two feet curled under tucked tarsi,
in a posthumous attempt to keep warm.
I’ll never forget the way it looked at me
with lost eyes, forever wide with frost.

A quick hypothesis gathered –
snow on a branch knot.



The Wing Tattoo by Amanda N. Butler

 I nearly fall asleep
as the needle pokes my sweatiest pores
for four and a half hours

I dream of flying away
but I’m an imitation
of the flock of gulls that opens my eyes

my toes still feel the sand
stuck in my shoes from the last time
I tried to take a running start

Amanda Butler is the author of chapbook Tableau Vivant (dancing girl press, 2015) with an upcoming chapbook, effercrescent, to follow this fall through the same press. Her poetry has also appeared in ALTARWORK and Saint Leo University’s literary journal Sandhill Review. She can be found online at arsamandica.wordpress.com and on Twitter @arsamandica.

 “Poetry matters because every poem is a time capsule, a still-life of the world around the poet. Every poem stops time for a moment and reflects current attitudes about the environment – religion, politics, nature, and human relationships – to be unpacked every time these poems are read. Math builds up, science builds ahead, and poetry builds behind as a part of history. If we were to combine every poem ever written, we would have a single poem that defines the human condition.”



AS HOME GRIPS the body    she is dark looked into

where gauze and tongs hold     parts of him in phantom

as if there would be more     of what the limbs belong to. Lying

back in a chair, his rupture slowed   and the room a dread to enter.

Effaced, they are each the other    seen through animal sense

and at the window an emptiness    roaming from place to place.

                                                                                    by Joan Houlihan

Joan Houlihan is the author of five books of poetry including Shadow-feast, forthcoming from Four Way Books in 2018.  Her other books are: Ay (Tupelo Press, 2014), The Us (Tupelo Press, 2009), The Mending Worm, winner of the 2005 Green Rose Award from New Issues Press and Hand-Held Executions: Poems & Essays (Del Sol Press, 2003). She is contributing critic for the Contemporary Poetry Review and author of Boston Comment, a series of critical essays. She has taught at Columbia University, Emerson College and Smith College and serves on the faculty of Lesley University’s Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is also Professor of Practice in Poetry at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Houlihan founded and directs the Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conference.

On the importance of poetry:

“Because words fail—in trauma, in mystery, in the experience of the sublime—poetry is necessary to break the silence.”


1.20.17 by Robbie Gamble

Remain in the light, though it may waver.

Remain in the gentle grasp of hands you trust.

Remain open-mouthed, wide-eyed, arms spread to possibility.

Though dark oceans are rising, remain afloat.

Remain at your post: at the blackboard, on the shop floor, hand on the plough.

Remain upright, remain in motion, remain ever on course.

Remain gorgeous, remain lyrical, remain for the last encore.

Remain outraged at cruelties that gouge through our humanity.

Remain for the casualties, chant their names in the streets.

For all the barbed words that would hook you, remain thick-skinned.

Shoulder your remaining hurt and empty, bring it with you.

Foothold, slip, foothold: remain focused on ascending.

Remain calm in the belly.

Remain eye-to-eye.

Remain sane.


Robbie Gamble recently completed an MFA in Poetry at Lesley University. When he is not fixated on image and line breaks, he works as a nurse practitioner caring for homeless people in Boston, Massachusetts.

“In these turbulent times, I realize more and more that poetry is both the candle and the canary in our collective coal mine.”


In each paper cell by Barbara Rockman


gray light chambered

symmetry that astounded

The firs breathed overhead

As a girl I’d overheard stories

of sting and nest

how I could take weightlessness

in my hands and understand a swarm

that had abandoned

harm that could be done

wings and vanished wing. . .

Underfoot    crunch and collision

cone   boot   dried leaf

a sheen of ice

above   clouds like snow-swayed tents

from Sting and Nest, (Sunstone Press, 2011)

Barbara Rockman teaches poetry at Santa Fe Community College and in private workshops in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is Workshop Coordinator for Wingspan Poetry Project bringing poetry to victims of domestic violence.

Her poems appear widely in journals and anthologies and have received three Pushcart Prize Nominations, the New Mexico Discovery Award, The MacGuffin Poets Hunt Prize, Southwest Poetry Prize, and the Baskerville Publisher’s Prize. She is editor of the anthology, “Women Becoming Poems,” and author of “Sting and Nest,” which received the National Press Women Book Prize and the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award. A new collection is forthcoming from University of New Mexico Press. She has collaborated with artists on numerous image and word installations and has been awarded residency fellowships to PLAYA and Atlantic Center for the Arts.

Barbara received her MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and her M.Ed. from Antioch University-New England.

Why poetry matters?
“Poetry holds our human impulse to praise, question and attend to the details of the daily world. It wakes us, heightens our senses, rocks us with music, and offers refuge in beauty: things we desperately need in times of rancor and uncertainty.”