Winter Quarterly 2019/2020

Featured Poems

The Janitor by Danny P. Barbare

Getting into the routine
emptying trash
the old clock inside me
begins to hum along
a steady tick
as if the red hand quickens
to the hour.

Danny P. Barbare’s poetry has recently appeared in Columbia College Literary Review, Fredericksburg Literary & Art Review, The Aurorean, Plainsongs, Ottawa Art Review, and many other online and print journals. He attended Greenville Technical College where his poetry won The Jim Gitting’s Award and his poetry has been nominated by Assisi Online Journal for Best of Net. He lives with his wife and family in Greenville, SC.

Joseph Cornell Tries to Explain by Barbara Siegel Carlson

I loved each bead with its hole.
Every Cracker Jack toy has a story
that whispered to me as a bookmark
in a dream, a place I could lie down inside
where the blinds have cracks
and moonlight whitens the floor boards.
Because each symphony starts
with the movement of an ant
taking its grain of sugar back
to its home in the hole between voices.
Under the quince tree’s falling leaves
I lost myself, and my breath
couldn’t hold onto or let go of the bodies
of the stars that tore through it.

First published in Lily Poetry Review (Summer 2019)

Barbara Siegel Carlson is an author, translator, editor, teacher, and tutor.  She is a graduate of University of Rhode Island and the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA Program.  She lives in Carver, Massachusetts, where in her free time she likes to walk the cranberry bogs.

The Taj by Sascha Feinstein

Like most “last breath” stories, this one’s a good lie:
how Mumtaz Mahal, still bleeding from childbirth,

pulled Shah Jahan to her mouth, begged for
a temple in her memory. How he based the dome

on the curve of her breast. How, when she dies,
he turns gray overnight. We know she’s entombed

twenty-two years later, that he’s deposed
by his son and—every guide will tell you this—

imprisoned in Agra Fort so he’ll die overlooking the Taj.
It’s a death sentence, too, for the dream of a bridge

and a perfect shadow in black marble. Instead—
and this fact’s true as death—he’s buried

beside his wife, breaking absolute symmetry
for another form of perfection. Even in India,

our greatest love stories are never quite enough.


“The Taj” by Sascha Feinstein from Ajanta’s Ledge (The Sheep Meadow Press, 2012). Reprinted by permission of the author.

Sascha Feinstein is a poet, essayist, and editor. His books include two collections of poetry, Ajanta’s Ledge and Misterioso (winner of the Hayden Carruth Award), two memoirs, Wreckage: My Father’s Legacy of Art & Junk and Black Pearls: Improvisations on a Lost Year (now available from Carnegie Mellon University Press); a collection of interviews, Ask Me Now: Conversations on Jazz & Literature; and two related scholarly books, Jazz Poetry: From the 1920s to the Present and A Bibliographic Guide to Jazz Poetry. He writes regularly for JAZZIZ magazine. In 1996, he founded Brilliant Corners: A Journal of Jazz & Literature, which he still edits. He has also co-edited four books: The Jazz Poetry Anthology and The Second Set (both with Yusef Komunyakaa); The Jazz Fiction Anthology (with David Rife); and Keystone Korner: Portrait of a Jazz Club (with Kathy Sloane). He a is Professor of English at Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA.

On My 75th Birthday by Joan K. Harmon

Is our life “The Hubble” that meditates
In ever-widening worlds?
Is it surveyor’s scope that validates
A landscape view of earth?
Is it a table lens that speculates
On inward parts and thoughts?
Does heavy, wasteful ore accumulate
Instead of shedding useless ways?
Or does the diamond tongue regenerate
The dunes that other words have spoiled?

Joan K. Harmon is a recent resident of Texas, moving there to live out her life with a daughter and her husband. She, herself, has been a daughter, wife, teacher, mother, and grandmother in consecutive order. Reading and writing have been important in her life at every stage and venue.

On why poetry is important, she states, “Writing poetry gives a chance to make word pictures in an inferential way that prose cannot.”

JUST THIS by Lori Levy

No operas in my lungs today
or wild horses in my pulse.
No tight-lipped mouth or drooping frame.
No chin heavy in my palm.
Just arms laid lightly on the desk—
world in my window, blue and green.
Just these shadows on the lawn,
swan’s neck, rabbit ears.
Sun on a jade and white striped chair.
Just a leaf curled on the pavement, dead
or dying,
and wires stretched across the sky—
like a staff waiting for composers’ notes,
or a line of birds.
Just a taking in, a letting be,
a day held gently on the breast.


First published in Cumberland Poetry Review (Spring 2001)

Lori Levy’s poems have appeared in Rattle, Nimrod International Journal, Poetry East, and numerous other literary journals and anthologies in the U.S., the U.K., and Israel. Her work has also been published in medical humanities journals, and one poem was read on a program for BBC Radio 4. She lives in Los Angeles, but “home” has also been Vermont and Israel.

The Mouse by Jeff Oaks

 A heart as small as. An eye as black and alive. An impossible
leafprint of a foot. Large sensitive ears, just as. Against the house
settling or the furnace kicking on or the refrigerator’s ice supply
refilling or the knock of the washing machine’s water. Those feet
made of rice grain, of the chaff of rice, as small. For months, there
was this stir at the corners of my eyes. I’d turn and it would be
nothing. Maybe the guy next door died or something. I thought, a
ghost. As if a pigeon flew between the sunlight and the back win-
dow again. I blinked the startle away. Then one day I opened the
drawer full of silverware. The pills of its waste like lint. The mid-
den I’d become. I held my breath and my heart began to pound.
Down among the pipes and centipedes. Nights, at the light click,
it runs right into a crack and through. As a thief if the space is safe
enough. In the dim light of the middle of my life. As I am making
decisions about what to do.


“The Mouse” from Little What (Lily Poetry Review Books, 2019). Reprinted with permission by the author.

Jeff Oaks is the author of a full-length collection, Little What (Lily Poetry Review Books, 2019) and also four chapbooks, The Unknown Country, The Moon of Books, Shift, and Mistakes with Strangers. He has published poems in a number of literary magazines, including Assaracus, Best New Poets, Field, Georgia Review, Missouri Review, Superstition Review, and Tupelo Quarterly. A recipient of a Pittsburgh Foundation Grant and three Pennsylvania Council of the Arts fellowships, he teaches writing at the University of Pittsburgh.

Two Poems by Miriam O’Neal


I begin again on the far side
of something I only barely understand
as holy. Like the orange light
that drills through the west-facing windows
of the barn, spills out the other side
so the pear tree’s pale green lichens glow
at sunset, and the fine ice over the grass
seems steeped in rose-hip tea.

In the long, mowed fields of midday,
where the hedgerows of autumn olive
barely shook on the winter breeze,
I saw my own body striding
like it knew where it was and who loved it—
felt the way the space between us
opened again, and closed, and opened
as simply as breathing.


Previously published by Silver Needle Press (July 2018),
and forthcoming in Body Dialogues by Miriam O’Neal (Lily Poetry Review Books, 2019).



Today the rain falls cold and fast—
bangs on my windows, little fists.
Percussion, I say: the wind
the surging bass, the feathery snare of my husband’s
breath in sleep, my snoring dog,
the steady click
of my fingers at the keyboard—

All Amens.
All Amens.


Forthcoming in Body Dialogues by Miriam O’Neal (Lily Poetry Review Books, 2019.)

Miriam O’Neal’s work has appeared or is coming soon in Blackbird Journal,
The Ekphrastic Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Parentheses Journal, Passager
Journal, Ragazine, and elsewhere. She has 2 collections of poetry, We Start With
What We’re Given (Kelsay Books, 2018) and The Body Dialogues (due in early
2020 from Lily Poetry Review). She was awarded a Beginning Translator’s
Fellowship from the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) for her
translation of Alda Merini’s, Poema della Croce. She was a 2019 Pushcart Prize
nominee, and has been named a 2019 Commendable Poet by the International
Westival Poetry Competition, and a 2019 Poet of Note by the Disquiet International
Poetry Competition. She lives in Plymouth, MA.

every bone by d. ellis phelps

when the bear comes
carrying her dark body
& the moon has hidden
behind the sky

crouch close to the fire

when the sun’s face
turns white   and the elm
lays her golden offering down

do your digging
find the worms

each seed makes its sacrifice in solitude

every bone knows:       the underworld
tends its own

d.ellis phelps’ first full-length collection of poems, “what holds her,” a work of ecstatic prose-poetry is forthcoming from Main Street Rag (2019/20). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Texas Poetry Calendar 2020; Enchantment of the Ordinary, The Larger Geometry and elsewhere.

The Visit (for Joe G.) by Neil Silberblatt

When I entered, the door and your lips
were both ajar,
parted slightly to let others
know you were still breathing
as they silently reviewed your vitals,
not as vital as they once were.
I did not call before coming,
certain that you would say not to bother
certain that I would ignore you
certain of little else.
As you slept, I stole one of the errant
grapes from your tray table
as it rolled closer to the lime green
sugar-free Jello, so tepid and so tasteless,
glancing at your well-balanced meal
and you
both going to waste.
I wanted to rub your hands
or a rosary, but
did not know which knuckle or bead
represented grace
and which
the hour of our parting.

“The Visit (for Joe G.)” from Past Imperfect (Nixes Mate Books, 2018).
Reprinted by permission of the author.

Neil Silberblatt’s poems have appeared in numerous journals including Poetica Magazine, The Aurorean, Two Bridges Review, Ibbetson Street Press, Naugatuck River Review, Chantarelle’s Notebook, Canopic Jar, First Literary Review, Muddy River Poetry Review, Mixes Mate Review, and The Good Men Project. His work has also been, or will soon be, published in various anthologies, including Confluencia in the Valley, The First Five Years of Converging with Words (Naugatuck Valley Community College, 2013)University of Connecticut’s Teacher-Writer magazine; Collateral Damage (Pirene’s Fountain)and Culinary Poems (Glass Lyre Press). He has published three poetry collections: So Far So Good (2012), Present Tense (2013), and most recently Past Imperfect (Nixes Mate Books, 2018). He is also founder/director of Voices of Poetry, and host of the Poet’s Corner radio program featured on WOMR/WFMR out of Provincetown MA.