Slippery Elm Literary Journal

Thanks for spreading the word, Bob! Slippery Elm LJ is truly top-notch!

O at the Edges

Slippery Elm Literary Journal’s 2019 issue is now live in the Slippery Elm online archives. My poem “This Oak” appeared in the print issue. If you have a chance, take a look at SELJ‘s offerings and/or consider submitting a few poems or entering the 2021 Slippery Elm Prize competition, now open for submissions. Many thanks to the journal’s editorial team, and especially EIC Dave Essinger, whose professionalism and personal kindness place SELJ at the top of the ladder in the world of literary journals.

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I am a pink rose petal’s pale glow

black ash tamped in furrows
between the breath of the living
& the souls of the dead

the dawn’s blush unfurling over sand dunes

& seagulls soaring on thermal spirits
of iodine      salt     & shellfish

& sometimes     scattering in the wind
I can’t find where everything else ends     & I begin

Now rising from the morning hush     this cloud of me
speaks to the red tail hawk perched on a streetlamp
& tells her I’m fine     because I’m still not sure
how to talk about not being fine

I am an instar     trying to be
the clearest version of myself     to sculpt
a final skin of lucent crystal

so that when you come to see my cinder eyes
glinting diamond dust     I will be
the embered dusk bleeding into the sea

& you will know the truth of me


A previous version of this poem first appeared in Sixfold magazine, winter 2014.

The Shadow Tendrils

The Winter Solstice has traditionally been a time of reflection (both figuratively and literally!), particularly with the coming of the New Year. We decorate our environs with brightly colored lights and candle flames, or adorn evergreen trees (which, unlike us, don’t go dormant in the dark, cold months) with light-reflective crystal and metallic ornaments, in an effort to remind ourselves of all that is good, beautiful, and right with our lives, and to spur ourselves on to tweak and futz with aspects that could benefit from a change.

Today, I stumbled across this Villanelle I wrote several years ago smack dab in the middle of summer just after a Hawaiian vacation… It gives me pause to reflect on the ways that light can so easily be obscured by shadow without a good tweaking now and then… May Love and Light be with you all this Holiday Season, and always!

I sat deep in thought for a good, long while
beneath the shadow of a banyan tree
whose tendrils sought the river of denial

and reached the furthest edges of my isle.
Though entirely surrounded, I was free.
I sat deep in thought for a good, long while.

Bird calls damped in the darkness did beguile
from untold hollows looming in that tree,
whose tendrils sought the river of denial.

My mind climbed a high, winding cliff-top stile
to a fog-cloaked abode above the sea.
I sat deep in thought for a good, long while.

But my heights and depths could not reconcile
paths masked by the twilight’s shadow in me,
whose tendrils sought the river of denial.

Hid by its veil, my soul’s begrudging smile
stayed swathed in shadows of the banyan tree.
I sat deep in thought for a good, long while,
while feeding from the river of denial.