Emily as the Shape on the Side of a Hill

& black-hooded,
Emily won’t move
until she affects

the growth
leaving the valley,
until the slight death
carries a meaning

forward.  Emily says
I’ve done nothing
to help with race
in Ohio.  Indignant

I point to her small
shadow, slowly  
drowning the green.
Emily says I should

watch her stomp.
I spent my life watching
& sure enough,
that patch of growth

rose higher, scarred
& memorable,
it was carried upward
with our times,

which Emily elbowed
into proper being
& was resolute enough
to mark.

Darren C. Demaree

Darren C. Demaree's poems have appeared, or are scheduled to appear, in numerous magazines/journals, including the South Dakota Review, Meridian, The Louisville Review, Grist, and The Colorado Review . He is the author of "As We Refer To Our Bodies" (2013, 8th House), "Temporary Champions" (2014, Main Street Rag), and "Not For Art Nor Prayer" (2015, 8th House). He is the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology. He currently lives and writes in Columbus, Ohio, with his wife and children. 

I Am Feathered by the Moonlight

Werechicken, wereowl, werehawk,
Each evening cracking the egg
Of the sun to tune my wing and peg
My beak, bristling in the moon-pocked

Darkness.  Here I’m afraid, here I’m shocked,
Here I’m going brave to beg
Then catch her by the wrist or the leg,
To pull her into myself, talons loaded and cocked.

The sparrow of her soul is a little knocked,
The worm of her heart sags,
The mouse that runs her veins tags
The circuitry of her brains and rocks

The nest where we’re docked.
Our pinions fuddle and the stars flag,
The morning dumps its bag
Of light onto us.  We start to talk:

Our feet go dull so we can walk
Through the feelings that gagged
Us, the alien avian lags
Until the beak is understanding, the feathers, locks.

Jared Pearce

Jared Pearce teaches writing and literature at William Penn University.  Some of his poems are forthcoming from Angle, Far Off Places, and Belle Reve; others have recently been shared through Paper Nautilus, Interdisciplinary Humanities, Anthem, and Apeiron.

Vigeland Voyeur

earth's core
smelt the cast of gods
furnace the pillings of man
and child bullions
lay bare in stone and iron
casting off the foil of vanity
show the coil of ages run
stack the human parcels skyward
toward the warming star
that serves all needs
reveal the kin of atlas
with genitale and womb reveered
know the torment of minions daily lives
from creation to conclusion
dance among vestal virgins and
old men with worn loins
in a frolic of comraderie
amidst the sheaves of flower crests
serviced by pure unrefined glacial melt
wander the cosmic confines
of the Frogner asteroid belt
kiss the stone lips that warm
the hearts of vellum Viking voyagers vaults
treasure the silent voice and vices
of flesh and stone
this orbs strattorium
and hall of flame

then with a whisp of comprehension
fashion the mortal mind that
gestated this playground
for gods and visions of man

Jim Work

Jim Work has flowed with Big River Poetry Review since its inception in 2012. He lives mere blocks from the muddy banks of the Mississippi from which he draws inspiration from time to time. He writes for pure pleasure, not profit or publishing credits. This offering attempts to capture the legacy of an unsung sculptor, Gustav Vigeland, and his entire life's gift to the world in Frogner Park in Oslo. Jim has wandered and wondered on most every trail for many hours in three visits to this enchanted place. He submits this verse in hope that it may lure others to behold this fusion of man and art.

After the Facts
My next door neighbor Mitch has been talking about selling
for several years now. His wife died around five years ago
when she fell asleep at the wheel, then was awoken,
then put back to sleep again by a big oak. Our lots are big too
so I didn’t learn about his wife until six months after the fact
when the daffodils arrived and we reacquainted ourselves
with the sun and the line at the edge of our lots.
Mitch’s forearms and elbows are distorted with odd-shaped
tumor-like bulges, though they may be misplaced pockets of muscle
from 40 years hacking and hauling choice cuts of beef
from the sides of steer. The pool he put in a couple of years before
his wife died to lure the grandkids over to the house
now features a layer of green scum, minus the grandkids.
The deck is falling apart and his lawn, never sullied by a dandelion
when his wife was alive, is now carpeted with thick green spikes
sharper than a butcher’s blade. Mitch had a girlfriend
a couple years back. My wife and I ran into them at a local restaurant.
They were holding hands but it seems his grip was tighter than hers
because she’s since slipped away. Yes, Mitch is talking about selling.
I saw him driving down the street today in the old Mercury,
slumped a little lower in the seat, steering wheel looking a little bit bigger,
as if that big old Mercury might be driving itself—which
made me think of Dad, who died back in ’93.
Toward the end, one day when I visited him at the nursing home
and noticed the empty bed on the other side of the room,
I asked him what happened to his neighbor—Henry…Hank…can’t
remember now who was lying there the day before--
and Dad said, “Oh, he died last night,” then went on to tell me
what they were serving for lunch.

Robrrt Nordstrom

Robert Nordstrom is a poet, freelance writer and school bus driver living in Mukwonago, Wisconsin. A member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, he has published fiction and poetry in numerous literary magazine, including, most recently, The Comstock Review, Naugatuck River Review, Upstreet, Main Street Rag, Stoneboat, and Blue Heron Review. His collection, The Sacred Monotony of Breath (Prolific Press) was published in the spring of 2015. As a school bus driver, his most recent and worthy accomplishments are teaching kindergartners how to snap their fingers and warning that it's probably best that they not lick the seat in front of them.

Late and Soon

As the sun slips into the cold tallow
of a northern sea -- a wick of amaranth
to ignite the dimming sky --

I see myself regenerate
from so much wasted energy
now recollected -- retrieving cares

from the seven winds,
crashing free of the waves, heavenward,
restored into a monstrous form.

And in that dream, I throw down the host
of minor gods and lesser devils
I let cheapen all these days,

the blushing socket of sky stained
with the shadow of the sun hurled against it
by the radiance of my gathering wrath.

But the sky cools
through lavender to indigo,
and the vision grows diffuse,

and upon this wind-worn shore,
diminished and deposed, I’m left
beneath the night advancing.

Kevin Casey

Kevin Casey has contributed poems to recent editions of Grasslimb, Frostwriting, Words Dance, Turtle Island Review, decomP, and other publications.  A graduate of UMass, Amherst and the University of Connecticut, his chapbook “The wind considers everything --” (Flutter Press) was published this spring.  He currently teaches literature at a small university in Maine, where he enjoys fishing, snowshoeing and hiking.

Old Country
The creepers undulating up from the stream’s cold
stone bed wrap her ankles as if death was intimate
while she listens to the water’s musical murmurs
in the braided roots of a wind-felled elm.
She locates the hooves of the bay roan pacing
on the grass, cuneiforms, four dark notes inlaid in air
then her hand sways to the mare’s tail as if
conducting the humming blue bottle-flies’ pandemonium.
The morning glories climb, their purple lips open where her hands
curve over the garden’s fence rail as if at an upright Steinway.

Allan Kaplan

Allan Kaplan spends much daytime alone writing and revising, or watching endless late night movies with his wife. His books are: Paper Airplane (Harper & Row) and Like One of Us. His poems have appeared in journals of various persuasions over the years; i.e. Poetry, Apalachee Quarterly, Paris Review, Iowa Review, Quarterly Review of Literature, Washington Square Review, Barrow Street, Wind, Folio, Gulf Stream, Widener Review, Nimrod, and Bad Penny Review.

Even the lambs are gray. The ewes, new-shorn,
thin, seem bludgeoned by their children-each pair,
twins, butt too fiercely at empty udders.
This is the season when nothing is born,
when the weary mothers stolidly stare
through bare black tress, noses pressed to mud, or
sparse short grass. I don’t stop with my mother.
She clutches her boiled black coffee, her bit
of dried biscuit-no color here but those red
orange berries whose name I’ve forgotten, dead
fire burning in a roadside ditch.
I know now’s the hundredth time she’ll mutter
"this is my last fall," for the hundredth sing,
"but darling, it was a beautiful spring."

 Kelley White

Was it spring when they set the blueberry fields ablaze?
And we watched from the village in grace
as the mountain burned, the smoke a fleece
blanket on our woods, songbirds and crows
circling above the smolder, the men dancing
hot feet on embers crackling, the wind’s howl
dreaded:  perhaps a spark would  howl
down into the village, set an aging barn blazing
then steadily leap through town, dancing
from roof to roof, and only by the grace
of lighting, of rain crackling across the crow’s
nest on a widow’s house, not fleecy
clouds, but thunderheads setting the night howling
against the bright and thundering blaze
against the small men and women dancing
in the rain, celebrating this moments grace
until the calm coming of dawn, of cock’s crow,
of calm flocks standing, damp fleeces
drying in the sun, whitening to snow-pure fleece
our flocks safe here as no wolf had howled
for a dozen years and more, our hunters crowing
at their victories, at their gun’s blaze
at gentle and fierce alike, all meat, table grace
before us and after as we said grace dance
heads bowed, breathing deeply in the dance
of our God, God of shepherds, pasture, fleece
blankets on our beds, wind dancing grace
full fall and winter coming, or had we howled
down one winter and now await spring blazing
our fields to life—overhead the crows
tell us nothing of the season, they crown
all skies, all light and darkness grace
to them, the black of their feathers blazing
as much as the purest white of the fleece
of the lamb of God. Let hunger howl
we may whisper, knowing we will dance
tomorrowlaughing at your graceful
trees, laughing at even the great clumsy crows,
at the raucous rooster howling
as he struts his foolish barnyard dance,
as his red comb flashes against the white fleece
of his neighbors, as even the blaze
on the crowned forehead of the little red heifer howling
for her mother, her heart blazing with fear, hooves dancing
in the grace of the barn, the peace of snow falling, fleece falling.

Kelley White

Pediatrician Kelley White worked in inner city Philadelphia and now works in rural New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in journals including Exquisite Corpse, Rattle and JAMA.  Her most recent books are TOXIC ENVIRONMENT (Boston Poet Press) and TWO BIRDS IN FLAME (Beech River Books.) She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant.
Finding Her Voice
God looked at everything He had made
and He found it very good. Evening came
and morning followed— the sixth day.  Genesis 1:31

And then
a red-brown cry
erupts from inside the new man
God’s own creation--
snap of a rib
first blood drawn
first pain
a busted alleluia
answered with nasal complaints
from raw umber mountains
valleys begin a hum deep in their green throats
river deltas wail in b-flatted blue notes
and He looks at the fractured bone in His own hands
feels the tremble
of a crystal soprano
trying out the full rainbow of her register
scatting over virgin seas and lands
filling her breasts with that sweet high C
enough to feed the multitudes
and on the seventh day
He tries to rest.

Marilyn Shapley

Marilyn Shapley is a graduate of LSU, and lives in Baton Rouge where she and her husband are small business owners.  Her poems have been published in several college journals, including The Delta Journal, Louisiana Literature, The Comstock Review, and Riverrun 2 ,where she won a first prize.


Egrets, she said, the white.
she repeated.
They filled the yard:
strut and announcement
of all-colored presence.
She watched.
I watched her.  She stood
by the coulee, slipped off
her sandal, dipped her toe,
and wrote our parish name
into the slow water.
I wished I was praying
to grass as once I did.
I wished some clever word
could woo her whiteness.  Well.
There are means of love. You learn
the currents.  You know
toe from tow.  You discover
what's under your feet.
You think you're looking at egrets,
but it's the mind that's white.
There are feathers.  It might fly.
At worst, it's some highway
where they rise, confused
by cars but unharmed.  Love
comes like grass, unasked for,
where egrets find their food
after I've spent all day
mowing.  The sweat pours down.
I look at her in the garden:
one foot is out of its sandal;
a toe is writing in the dirt,
digging out of the earth our name.

Michael Alleman

Michael Alleman is an Associate Professor of English at Louisiana State University Eunice. His poems have been published in The Louisiana Review, and has poems forthcoming in Chiron Review. He has a Ph.D. in Humanities from the University of Texas at Dallas. He lives with his wife Angela just outside Lafayette, Louisiana

Damn Fool Concept of Note


I read that a water bed 
has been developed for cows
and think, they couldn’t
have started there, maybe
snakes first.  I fantasize
a bag of serpents let out 
to shift their bellies into
oscillations against a feeling
new within the universe 
of greater snakedom.  Maybe
two of the six released,
linger atop the bed under 

the eyes of two professors 
so hard bitten by the lure 
of science that they can hardly 
talk to their wives anymore.
I see dark stubble across these
North Dakota prof’s chins.
I smell the reek of coffee
from the backs of their throats
as they bark at graduate assistants 
to go easy picking up a 
wayward rattler by the files.

Now there is only one 
snake left on the water bed. 
It is on its back, belly up
like never before.  All its
side winding fervor gone
still, slow, stirless.  Eyes  
blink dim with yes, and yes, 
and yes.  Release.  One snake, 
one hour, so far from sand,
muck, stars.  One snake,
given over to how we want to be. 


Then I come upon the actual web-site 
about some big-shouldered, shy 
farmer-guy in Ohio who figured 
a way to make a waterbed 
“for the comfort” of his cows.
You try lying easy on your hocks 
with a ton of beef to hoist.
Seems the bony prominence’ 
get such pressure from bare ground, 
wears the hide straight through. 
Infections: flies, eggs, fester.

Not for this Clem
who’s got the happy beef
swishing around all mid day,
munch a munch of alfalfa;
sawdust for to roll in.
If they weren’t just
headed toward the hammer
life could be so sweet.

Ed Ruzicka

Ed Ruzicka has published one full length volume, “Engines of Belief - Engagement in Modern Art (Abenbook, 2014), and his work will appear in the anthology “Maple Leaf Rag, Volume 5" set for release Aug.3, 2014.  He was a finalist in the Atlanta Review Poetry Contest and has appeared in a variety of literary journals.  Ed lives in Baton Rogue, Louisiana, and is an occupational therapist.