About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis (susanlewis.net) is the editor of Posit (positjournal.com) and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom, winner of the 2017 Washington Prize, Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in such places as The Awl, Berkeley Poetry Review, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Cimarron, Gargoyle, The Journal, New American Writing, The New Orleans Review, Prelude, Raritan, Seneca Review, So to Speak, Verse, Verse Daily, and VOLT.

Anne Riesenberg

On a Rainy Spring Night

They were both sick He was traveling for Work when the worst of it hit She was home with the Pets they weren’t talking Much she felt Guilty he had to Push so hard his Earnings so obviously What kept them Going

Her fever was close to 102 when he asked Would she pick him up at the Airport and it hadn’t Occurred to her that He would make Such a request she couldn’t Breathe it was raining and She’d have to stay up for Another three hours but Since he had asked She was stuck

So she pressed a little Asked him if he needed Her to come get him and He said need No but want Yes and so she agreed Knowing part Of her simply Couldn’t bear to hear the Tone in his voice when He thought she Was selfish

Another part felt backed into a Corner didn’t want to Bow to his need to Be sicker more deserving More something that would Support what He wanted or maybe That was all in her Head the legacy of having Done things she didn’t Want to for fear of Reprisal and so she skewed Ordinary neediness into a Darker story

When his plane got Delayed he wrote You are released from your offer And she was grateful She didn’t have to Push past her limits and Closed her eyes savoring the Value of imperfect Choices the grace of saying Yes within the context of Love

She went to Bed moving hesitantly her Skin steaming the sheets much Too rough and listened to a Recent retelling of the Trojan War saga how willingly the King sacrificed his daughter How faithful the Queen was to revenge

Two hours she lay There worrying about Him coming home In the wet and the Dark and then it was an Hour past when he’d said He’d be back and she was Concerned and sent Him a text

I’m just landing he said Will you come get me and She realized she wanted to And stepped into the Night the streetlight was out in Front of the house the Sky unbelievably black the road Slick with new Leaves

She wore her pajamas the Airport was only two miles Away the route almost Deserted she circled Three times looking for Him then Parked and tried to Absorb the late hour the Mist as it blew in From the sea

And then He was in the car and They were home and Resolution trembled Above them its own finely Wrought cloud

What Isn’t There

It’s dark in the room Her sister is trying to sleep On the recliner she’s Curled on a joke of a Cot their mother lies barely Alive in her Bed no food a few sips of Water some Indistinct smiles the Lights are Low the staff has been Increasingly kind and Solicitous all day They have been Attending their mother’s Dwindling breath

She wants to Sleep her body is pinging Pain zigzagging her limbs she Wants stillness a moment Alone in this overwrought Triangle of female Alliance today for the first time Since her mother fell She felt her guts shift towards Death a teetering extravagance like the Moment in labor she Knew she was Losing control

Her eyes had felt Extra wide the vista She was able to see increasingly Dimensional beyond Comprehension sensations Unruly unknown she wants This kind of expansion she Hungers desperately for It

She has just fallen Asleep she is wandering in A parking lot with rusty Old cars a howling Dog tied to a Fence she Can’t tell if it’s Mad or afraid When she feels a Hand on her foot the Hand pulls then Yanks her sister’s voice a Fish hook into her dreams She wakes the Voice says this is it She is going

She struggles off the Cot and goes to the Edge of her mother’s Bed her sister’s Tucked between her Mother’s tiny back And the wall She takes her mother’s Hand cradles it they Watch her breathe

Her mother’s eyes startle a Far off uncertain stare Knees pump up and Down like she’s running her gestures Faster more adamant Than seem possible She’s been Barely substantial for years gradually Her legs calm her Breath still shallow but Starting to regulate the Moment passes they Try to sleep

June light wakes them early Her head feels purple Amoebic nerves briny and Cold her mother Says good morning her Eyes steady as If nothing has Happened her sister hurries Over she takes a sip of water Opens the blinds

Under her skin the Lingering chill of her sister’s Hand on her foot the Undeniable absence Of her affection

Like Wasps Under Her Skin

She is waiting for the repairman to replace the furnace. He does all the work — reinforcing the wall for proper attachment upgrading the wiring removing the one that blew up. He tells her he needs two weeks to install the new equipment. A bubble of terror glistens inside her I can’t wait that long she says and he laughs. There’s a piece of pink tissue paper folded into a square inside the folds a mouthful of diamonds. Light from a window sends prisms onto the walls she smiles for the first time in days where did the jewels come from whose are they she wants them she really wants them as though if she has them she will be whole. In the morning the repairman accuses her of stealing the diamonds and threatens to have her arrested. She has learned not to defend herself in situations like these.


She needs to move a large object across a chasm there is a mechanism for doing so that demands measurement and precision she is not strong enough to do it alone so finds other people to help. Pete has a grey hairy back the whole of it inked with an arcane symbol she’s never seen five red orbs and a black scroll that defines them. Pete is another kind of man his wife Patty acts as his handler he is a wildcard and needs to be managed. They plant trees in an ornamental flower garden, flame-shaped elms to protect the blossoming vines. She sleeps that night in the bower when Pete gets in her bed she wakes becomes small starts to scream. Patty arrives and tells Pete to leave. In the morning her mind is intact but her bones have softened to rubber she is flat now like Gumby and very flexible.



She lies flat on her stomach at the edge of a cliff a beach far below ocean rising and falling against the rocks. She lowers kitchen appliances into the water with a long rope — a blender a microwave an orange Crockpot then a garbage disposal — she registers the differences in their weight by the burn in her arms as the objects enter the water — the garbage disposal descends quickly most definitively jerks her slightly closer to the edge. She sits up as she tries a canoe digs her heels in the dirt to brace herself as it falls into the water she can not keep it from entering the ocean nose first. She hears a sucking sound then a gulp as it sinks. When the tide recedes she hauls it back up it’s the tug in her arms she can’t do without — the interplay of heaviness and immersion how she assimilates gravity in her muscles and flesh.


The following day she returns to the cliff the president’s daughter not this president’s daughter not one she recognizes but an important young woman with body guards and a cloud of foreign dignitaries hovering. The daughter has lowered a rowboat into the water seeking a similar array of sensations the men who attend her are worried – she fell into the waves came close to drowning and they think it was intentional. The body guards ask her what she knows about this practice of lowering objects into the depths she lies down next to the cliff to explain looks into the water the water has become opaque the precariousness of her endeavor abruptly obvious.

Anne Riesenberg received her MFA from Lesley University. Winner of Blue Mesa Review’s nonfiction contest and Storm Cellar’s Force Majeure contest, finalist in the Noemi Press Prose contest, her work has also appeared in The New Guard’s BANG!, Heavy Feather Review, What Rough Beast, The Maine Review, Naugatuck River Review, Solstice Magazine, and elsewhere. She lives in Portland, Maine.

Kelly Nelson

I Hear America Singing

I loved a pricey device
for igniting a bomb,

free of purpose,
intent, more just

winging it, feathery
accessory, accessory, accessory.

Yes, they’re trendy.
Yes, they’re made

of gold. Unparalleled, they are
that too.


América carols mechanics singing plank máson
leaves boatman boat steamboat nging sits on bench
nging song delicious or of young singing party songs


I, Too

Yeah, I know money
tucks away

the muzzle, money

the moan. I know—
I loved a loaded woman.


ng nd company comes well Tomorrow
company comes Say e ashaméd America


Danse Russe

I already gave you
my supper

& the abortion
& my jiggle

of egg, milk & sweet.


baby and white disc mists dance naked, grotesquely
lonely was born to lonely admire flanks


Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

I know that mansion
& I know

she laid out
in the sun. It was

an inelegant tow rope
I wore & I know

she derided me, a thousand
times she jeered.


Who these village My horsé queer To stóp
farmhousé To ask Of easy downy promis
miles befóre miles befóre


The Day Lady Died

You’re only half
here, I submit.

Your cough, adorable
as a bullet, walking

like fending off
a bull. A bird

the accidental inmate
of a cardboard box.

I spun no feathers
around your neck.


York and I go shoeshine I don’t sun to see these Linda
nce quandariness store and Avenue Theatre and
casually cartón cartón now whilé keyboard


The Road Not Taken

I pray to see
the possum

before it sees me. It prays
to see me

like this—buckled
and gasping for breath.


Two roads diverged far as wanted same leaves
for another ever come a sígh hence has made
These poems were created through a process of experimental translation. I start by finding Spanish words living within well-known poems written in English. For instance, a Spanish river (río) runs through the middle of the word serious and the word darkness begins with the Spanish verb to give (dar). I then gather a constellation of these unintended Spanish words and translate them into English to compose new works.

The erasure-palimpsests that appear below each poem carry echoes of the original poems while also showing these two languages coexisting within the same lines, the same words. This is my own small way of trying to unbuild the wall between us and our neighbors to the south.

These poems retain the original titles of the source texts, poems by Walt Whitman, Langston Hughes, William Carlos Williams, Frank O’Hara and Robert Frost.

Kelly Nelson’s experimental translations have appeared in Anomaly, Interim, Seattle Review, Best American Experimental Writing and elsewhere. She teaches Interdisciplinary Studies at Arizona State University and is the author of two chapbooks. More at kelly-nelson.com.

Simone Muench & Jackie K. White


but dresses dressed in dresses are dresses
—Saeed Jones

The dress says I will frame your beauty
when I bury you. The dress is a chateau
of ghosts demanding don’t go, don’t love
your nakedness. It is the vehicle, the volta

that comes too soon, without steering, only
sash for a wheel. Let it fly loose, grip yourself.
The dress is a liar laced with history’s lies.
Your beauty needs no frame; pivot on this

exposé as the body drowns its cargo
of blues beneath a voluminous red dress
that enters the room before you do.
Let it go on ahead, swirl its cliché, evoke

whatever gazes it can. That nakedness
you do love refigures any space you choose.

Department of Brokenness

The desert is an armory of black tires.
Assemble the animals. Assemble
the murder ballads, and the trembling
shadows. Silence strung along barbwire

catches the heat, the threat against flesh,
and starts to hum. Always the eye believes
human forms will emerge, some voice
will clear debris, give guidance or light.

Instead, fading notes, roadkill. A mass
of songless bodies trussed tight with shoulder
holsters. The weathervane no longer moves,
the land is out of breath. Assemble

every muted scarecrow. Every body’s
just as frail, and even the silence lies.

Solve for X

Everything is loss and the longing for
connection, but the ache of vacancy
has no home. Brittle stem flower—headless,
every planted thing knows its own uprooting,
knows that this is the way we wound—
sometimes a needle, sometimes a shovel.
Morning’s wasp-bright sting turns bodies
to stories of wreckage, of folly, the dull

thudding steps we plot for going on.
If salve or salvage exist somewhere,
do the stories weave what leads us there
away from the garden’s rot, obit, subplot,
toward something less dark. Not quite song
or sugar water, but a wrought ripe, sunlit.

Process Statement

Our primary approach is one in which each of us decides on a specific poetic form (sonnet, cento, glosa, pantoum, etc.); or, in some cases, we merely make a decision about stanzaic length (for example, we may choose to write in couplets). We then begin a stanza, establishing its length as well as any other parameters, before giving it to the other person through differing collaborative encounters including email, text, phone conversations, and bi-weekly meetings. During our meetings (typically over a glass of Malbec), we discuss new topics and possibilities as we reflect on our discoveries about our collaborations. We continue to develop those ideas as we write, editing as we go along as well as after each poem is completed. The sonnet seems particularly suited to a two-person collaboration due to its dialogic nature, and so we find ourselves returning to this form frequently.

Simone Muench is the author of six books, including Wolf Centos (Sarabande, 2014). Her recent, Suture, includes sonnets written with Dean Rader (BLP, 2017). She is an editor of They Said: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing (BLP, 2018) and curator of the HB Sunday Reading Series in Chicago. Additionally, she serves as faculty advisor for Jet Fuel Review and as a senior poetry editor for Tupelo Quarterly.
Jackie K. White is a professor at Lewis University and a faculty advisor for Jet Fuel Review. Recent poems appear in Tupelo Quarterly and Superstition Review along with collaborative centos in Isthmus and a collaborative sonnet in Cincinnati Review. She has also published three chapbooks and served as an assistant editor for the collaborative anthology, They Said.

Alexandra Mattraw

/ Vigil /

a hiccup of light
where I flashes
in and out   :   room
to whip hours
verging fiction
until ours leans
to real sea

 :  make rooms
ripen the smell
of a heart   :   rip
out the iris
to see under
cadence moving
berber   :   wood
  :   flesh where I
fells speech to

honest as any
treeless place

/ Vigil /

// confide to the invertebrate hour / hurrying to sharpen these windows / leaning on the sun / as checkmarks shine across / pages to hinge / fence wings / a house sparrow clamors / footprints beating within / chest flutter / widens eyelids to rehearse seconds / to narrow impulse / I split / infinitives to / engolden / dirt and breath / tethers bone / wedded to this / addiction to holding in / the swarm of things //

Dear Believer,

Imagine waking to a white room fitting white sheets of words on a nurse whose eyes hold no other color asking of the pills Why are you so afraid in the corridor of her unlined palm she asks Don’t you love nature she says like a ghost echoing she says nature to brand the white fever of her finger onto your tongue she says All you are doing is taking some of the sea into your mouth

Alexandra Mattraw’s full-length book of poems, small siren, is available at Cultural Society (2018). She is also the author of four chapbooks, including flood psalm (2017, Dancing Girl Press). You can find her poems and reviews in places including Denver Quarterly, Fourteen Hills, Jacket2, The Poetry Project, and VOLT. In Oakland and San Francisco, Alexandra curates an art-centric writing and performance series called Lone Glen, now in its eighth year.

Beth Lo

—click on any image to enlarge—


Artist’s Statement

My work in ceramics and mixed media collage revolves primarily around issues of family and my Asian-American background. Cultural marginality and blending, tradition vs. Westernization, language and translation are key elements in my work. Since the birth of my son in 1987, I have been drawing inspiration from major events in my family’s history, the day-to-day challenges of parenting, and my own childhood memories of being raised in a minority culture in the United States. I use the image of a child as a symbol of innocence, potential and vulnerability.

Beth Lo makes work in ceramics and mixed media about family, culture and language. Her Good Children vessels and sculptures have been exhibited internationally and she has been the recipient of a United States Artist Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship, Montana Arts Council Individual Artist Grant and an American Craft Museum Design Award. She is also a children’s book illustrator and professional bass player. She retired after 30 years of teaching ceramics at the University of Montana in 2016.

Sonja Johanson


At least
within geological strata
toss them into
a       billion
All of them

erasure, Anne Rice, Taltos, p.10
Pinnae segments from fertile fronds, Sensitive Fern, Onoclea sensibilis


fall into
quantum physics
tracing the path of particles
brimming world
empire                      of                      paper

erasure, Anne Rice, Taltos, p. 470
simple leaves, Pincushion Moss, Leucobryum glaucum


mixed and ready,
dying in the air.
a discreet
came again,
dark and distinct,

erasure, Anne Rice, Taltos, p. 120
capsules and berries, Japanese Spindle and Privet, Euonymous japonica and Ligustrum compactum

This series of erasures use the Anne Rice novel Taltos as their source text. I elected to perform these erasures using plant materials as a way of celebrating and mourning our current ecological state; the breakneck speed of climate change and globalization is easily observed by those working in horticulture and conservation. These plants represent both native plants that are threatened by habitat loss and the non-natives that are replacing them. In selecting materials for these erasures, I looked for plants that were accessible in the New England landscape during the month of October, and sought diversity of form, texture, colour, and botanical structures.

Sonja Johanson has recent work appearing in THRUSH, Bellevue Literary Review, and American Life in Poetry. She is a contributing editor at the Eastern Iowa Review, and the author of Impossible Dovetail (IDES, Silver Birch Press), all those ragged scars (Choose the Sword Press), and Trees in Our Dooryards (Redbird Chapbooks). Sonja divides her time between work in Massachusetts and her home in the mountains of western Maine. Follow her at sonjajohanson.net.

Miriam Hitchcock

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Artist’s Statement

Making art is a function of living, a material practice that allows me to examine the ordinary and illuminate the familiar. My creative attitude and working process are largely informed by the inherent displacement and fragmentation characteristic of contemporary life and the landscape we now inhabit, against a diminishing wilderness. Allusions to aftermath and anachronism reflect my fascination with the experience of time. Finding that text and sound are potent collaborators, I now make short time-based media projects alongside painting, which constitutes the core of my studio practice.

Miriam Hitchcock lives and works in Santa Cruz, California. Born in San Francisco, she grew up in a nature loving family on the peninsula, attended University of California at Santa Cruz and went on to complete an MFA in Painting from Yale University. Miriam has taught Painting, Drawing and Design at Brown University, Rhode Island School of Design and Cornell University. Returning to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1990, she instructed studio Art courses at Stanford University, San Jose State University, and continuously from 1992 to 2012, the University of California at Santa Cruz. Miriam has led studio intensive courses in Rome, Italy through the Cornell University Dept. of Art and Architecture and The American University in Rome as well as University of California at Santa Cruz. She began incorporating animation and time-based media into her life-long painting practice in 2012, and received an award for Best Experimental Film in the 2018 Annual Copenhagen Film Festival, Denmark.

Jessica Hines

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Artist’s Statement

My Brother’s War is an eleven chapter series (so far) of personal photographs reflecting my investigation into the circumstances of my brother’s early death after the war in Viet Nam. The work is about loss, healing, hope, and living in the aftermath of war – both for a veteran and for his family and friends. Gary was sent to Viet Nam at the height of the war in 1967. He arrived in Qui Nhon on November 4th. It was my 8th birthday. Honorably discharged from the army in 1969 with a “service connected nervous condition”, we later came to know his plight as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My pre-war brother, a normal and well-adjusted person, had become, according to the U.S. Veterans Administration, 50% disabled. He took his own life about ten years later. Determined to find more information about what happened to him, I contacted his comrades 35 years after the war, traveled to a reunion of his platoon, found the home where he died, his burial place, and twice traveled to Chu Lai, Viet Nam, where Gary was stationed during the war. I used his photographs and letters to serve as my guides, sometimes combining his photographic vision with mine. The project, nearly twelve years of effort, has evolved and changed with time, using a variety of formats to tell the story. In titling this work My Brother’s War, I make reference to other families worldwide that have lost, and are presently losing loved ones to war. My works seeks to inspire, as the only alternative, a peaceful coexistence.

Jessica Hines received her BFA from Washington University in St. Louis and her MFA in photography from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She won 1st Place in the Kuala Lumpur International PhotoAwards, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 1st Place in NEXT: New Photographic Visions, Castell Photography Gallery, curated by Elizabeth Avedon, Asheville, North Carolina, The Kolga Award for Best Experimental Photography, Kolga Tbislisi Photo in Tbilisi, Georgia, Humanitarian Documentary Grant in the WPGA Annual, Pollux Awards, juried by Philip Brookman, Chief Curator and Head of Research at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DC, First Prize in Fine Art Portfolio in the World Wide Photography Gala Awards, and Grand Prize for portfolio in the Lens Culture International Exposure Awards 2010. Her work was exhibited in the New York Photo Festival 2011 in Subjective/Objective, curated by Elisabeth Biondi, New York, New York. Hines has lectured and exhibited throughout North and South America, Asia, Europe, and Oceania.

Judith Henry

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Artist’s Statement

For almost 50 years I have created conceptual multimedia artworks exploring the friction between our interior lives and public selves. I have secretly observed, listened to, photographed, filmed and recorded strangers in public places while remaining largely invisible. When using myself as subject, I have appeared masked or hidden, as in several recent series.

After graduating Carnegie Mellon, I moved to New York from the suburbs of Cleveland and found myself in a densely populated metropolis. For me, each person was a matchless original as well as a stereotype. In 1970, with a small, cheap camera, I began surreptitiously photographing people on the streets, often listening to their conversations. In an attempt to tease out patterns of human experience, I aggregated thousands of photographs.

For years, I repurposed my street photographs in many forms: books, videos, photographs, installations and sculptures, and even created Who I Saw in New York from 1970-2000, a book and gallery installation consisting of photographs of thousands of people.

When I moved from SoHo to Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 2008, I became dependent on the L train to visit Manhattan. This made it easy to go to galleries, museums, visit friends, see doctors, etc. I now found myself in close quarters with a vast and, for me, new, population. As a pastime, I began photographing other passengers with my iPhone. At the same time, I continued my art in the studio by developing several series of myself behind masks.

In 2017, it was announced that the L train would be closed for 18 months for repairs. What would this mean? How would my life be affected? Would my work practice change? It would not, but the focus, the idea would have a different urgency. I decided to start a new project, painting portraits of the passengers I had photographed. With free, quick, gestural strokes and a palette of both muted and intense colors, I tried to bring life to the gray underground. The speed of my painting reflected, for me, the crowded, ever-moving population of passengers; hurried, contemplative, sometimes angry, occasionally musical and lyrical. Almost half a million of us would be dislocated or stranded every day.

Underground became integrated with above ground. Everywhere I walked, construction crossed my paths. I photographed my altered landscape. The images became backgrounds on which I mounted several of the portraits. This recombination created context which has always been crucial to my art practice. I called the series L Train Bye, Bye. But then, overnight, everything seemed about to change. The governor had somehow discovered a new technology at the last minute. No shutdown, he said. No fast track. But my work would stand with a new title, They Rode the L Train.

Judith Henry is a multi-media artist, born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. After receiving a BFA from Carnegie-Mellon University, she moved to New York in the late 1960s and started making art that explored the friction between interior life and public persona, developing themes of self-disclosure, identity and loss. She utilizes drawing, photography, typography, video, painting and sculpture. Several of her works resulted in large installations. In addition to exhibiting internationally for decades, in 1976 Henry and artist Jaime Davidovich created Wooster Enterprises, whose conceptual paper products were sold internationally. Her conceptual Crumpled Paper Stationery was produced and sold by The Museum of Modern Art for years. MoMA also commissioned her to produce Overheard on the Way to MoMAQNS when they closed the 53rd Street museum for renovation and temporarily moved to Queens. Judith Henry’s Overheard book series was published by Universe/Rizzoli from 2000 to 2002 and in 2006 Atria Books published her Overheard in America. Henry has shown in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Cleveland, Philadelphia and internationally in Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Istanbul, London and Switzerland. Her most recent solo shows were at BravinLee programs, New York, 2015 and 2018, Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, 2016 and The National Arts Club 2017.

Kathleen Hellen


the limbless in the
curtained cots of
shivered blisterspit. So
many in the chalkline, so
many in detention, you want to
build a house for them. A heaven for
their tents. A made-for-hope of
numbness as
the tactic you have mastered as
the happy ending—it’s only
human feeling you control in
nightly buttons: that
red one—remote

as in background tasks when screens go black

while I idle

there’s a mushroom
a diety toadstooling

between the sillpan and the slab
between the subfloor and the threshold

a navel
sprouting worldsinsideofworlds

a trickster
pretending to be oyster

a fairy in the dome
sponging off the glut
surviving in the storm and drought

the only way out

no reflection

Wolves talk. A thousand rats
I wear the dividend of bats, opening to night’s
cold occupation. The tillandtamp
of every penny nickeled, every dime a habit
the math
the master-slave exactly

no allowance in
copper, obsidian
mercury’s amalgam
the master plan
far worse than being dead

I pay the ferry
poppy seeds and sand
the poorpuny flies to which we are attracted

Kathleen Hellen is the author of The Only Country was the Color of My Skin (2018), the award-winning collection Umberto’s Night, and two chapbooks, The Girl Who Loved Mothra and Pentimento. Nominated for the Pushcart and Best of the Net, and featured on Poetry Daily, her poems have been awarded the Thomas Merton poetry prize and prizes from the H.O.W. Journal and Washington Square Review, and appeared in American Letters and Commentary, Barrow Street, The Massachusetts Review, New Letters, North American Review, Poetry East, Prairie Schooner, Salamander, Seattle Review, the Sewanee Review, Southern Poetry Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Witness, and elsewhere. For more on Kathleen visit kathleenhellen.com.