Ramps, by Jeff Burt

by Jeff Burt

The coon froze on the fence as if sculpted,
a taxidermist’s art, not a flinch or tic of muscle,
not a wandering eye of inspection or fear.
I was no enemy, so moved, but fixed the coon remained,
and I saw two wet waifs on the bottom of the other side
of the fence waiting for cues to cross from their mother.
They could not stay still for long, their cells animate,
climbed, slipped, and climbed again,
never drawing a turn of neck nor hiss of disapproval.
I spoke, said time to get along in a low assured voice,
and the mother broke, the two young slow to master
the top of the fence, tripping, going backwards.
How exhausted she appeared, clean but haggard,
not frightened or anxious. One young fell,
could no longer climb, so the mother took the strong one
toward a trail behind my neighbor’s house,
looking back as if to orphan the weaker one.
I took a wide board saved for repairs
and made a ramp to the fence top and poked
the little one with the handle of a rake
until it used the ramp to make the top of the fence
and slip off to the other side to join mother and sib.
The mother turned at the corner of the house
and looked back at me and I wish to say
I saw acknowledgment, perhaps an animal thanks,
but it was weariness I saw. She was beat.

I remember this today as I disengage from work
serving a mother with children who escaped Syria
on a boat to a camp in Italy where she said she played
the part of shepherd for her kids, herding them here
and there, protecting them from human wolves,
entire days spent at times in lines for food
or haggling for a transport to where her uncle lived,
and I saw those eyes again, not thankful for my assistance,
but weary, fixed on a place in a landscape I could not envision,
a stare into nothingness, a blank.
Today my ramp was words, direction,
of assistance, grants, aid for her children,
a slow elevation of her vision to find
the point of escape, of rescue,
in the worn and faded future she beheld.

I remember my daughter eight months pregnant with Covid
walking the hills of Vermont for ramps,
wild allium, leeks, so her husband could make a pesto
that cannot be purchased, home-made,
and thus avoid human contact.
She converses internally with her child
at all hours, tired, ready to birth, yet
not, the fear of the virus, the apprehension,
the ignorance of not having a predictable outcome.
Her voice on video is monotone except for when she speaks
to her child in utero, when like music
it falls and rises, rises higher to an almost clarinet’s squeak,
or when she speaks of finding clusters of ramps,
fistfuls, the pearls of the soil taken from the clam of wet dirt.
so I study allium, study pesto, pull a few wild leek
from the corner of the yard by the same fence
the raccoon had almost lost her young,
and my daughter and I talk of harvesting ramps
for ten minutes, and this is all I can provide,
not absolve the fear of separation, of illness,
but a slight elevating lever from her distress to the joy
that the world could provide for her and her baby,
a bridge for all of the internal discussions she has
to take root again in the external world,
to which she will, as I have done, yield.

Jeff Burt lives in Santa Cruz County, California with his wife. He has contributed previously to Red Wolf Journal, Williwaw Journal, Heartwood, and many other journals.

Trestle, by Jeff Burt

by Jeff Burt

We had gone as far as the trestle that led to the pond
with its rickety boards and missing wood
           that left holes to look down into the creek
and wondered if we had enough daylight left

to walk across and watch the sunset
sparkle the water, the few geese swim
           without wake, the duckweed once brilliant
turn to a lesser shade of neon.

The dog wanted to run across, frightened
of the tremor of loose footings.
           naked bolts and crossbars,
but head up, seemingly aware of each paw-trap,

never slipped, not in gracefulness,
but in awkward strides, in the manner a tether
           of a boat in a storm pulls taut, relaxes,
pulls taut, and the boat lurches, survives the storm.

Emerson’s divine animal came to mind,
the body, but our mind and eyes
           looking into the near future
were too far from ground to be trusted.

Perhaps the republic has traveled
just so, ignoring the missing architecture,
           the gaps in justice and equality,
a trestle made for the train of commerce

but not the evened path for others.
Perhaps we have wanted not bliss
           but ignorance, pretending not to look,
to keep our heads trained and vision up.

My mother told me often as I wiped dishes
to only see the good in people
           because the bad will be evident
whether you try to see it or not,

and perhaps that is like crossing
an old trestle, a blithe unawareness
           until your sole fails to find firmament
and your ankle scrapes against a ragged board.

The dog feels tremors, and moves.
If we avoid seeing, we plunge.
           We choose to cross. For the others
who traipse this trestle, I count the missing

and damaged planks that float without anchor,
the planks with wooden spirit worn
           and split, make a date to return,
a list of lumber and coated common nails.

Jeff Burt lives in Santa Cruz County, California with his wife. He has contributed previously to Red Wolf Journal, Williwaw Journal, Heartwood, and many other journals.

In Apollo’s House, by Emil Sinclair

In Apollo’s House
by Emil Sinclair

Pan’s forest carnival got too wild
and noisy for me;
too much joy and pain.
So I live here now in Apollo’s house,
where reason rules
and cosmos is king.
Here truth casts no shadow into lies;
and ideas are clear and distinct,
as Cartesian as Descartes.
Words mean what they mean,
and not what we say.
It is cold here now in Apollo’s house;
the sun he lifts for others
brings no warmth to him.

Sometimes at night,
under moon and stars,
from the wooden deck out back,
I listen to the sounds of the woods.
I can hear Pan’s pipes,
and your sweet voice whisper;
I can feel your breath
on the back of my neck,
in the warmth of the evening breeze.
But when I awake in the morning,
after a fitful broken sleep,
I can no longer remember
my nightly dreams.
Now that I live here alone
in Apollo’s house.

Emil Sinclair is the pseudonym of a sometime poet and longtime philosophy professor in New
York City.

Red Wolf Editions Spring 2022: A Change of World

a change of world spring 2022 issue 20

Red Wolf Editions Spring 2022
Theme: A Change of World

Since 2020 the world has changed radically. Who could have imagined this, a pandemic world? Should I say, post-pandemic, going forward? To be honest I’m not so sure how that will be, but hopefully it will, as they say, morph into an endemic flu situation, where fatalities are relatively low even though the Delta variant continues to spread like wildfire. Our new issue here is not meant to be about the pandemic as such; it definitely takes it on board though, and you, like me, may wish to do so in our writing. But change is meant to be taken in a generalised, more internalised sense. But of course what is internal is reflected in the external world. One mirrors the other. Isn’t that true?

The pandemic has stopped the world in its tracks and put us all on a rocky journey of uncertainty. It changed the way we work. Work-from-home was very much an alien concept—when I worked as a contract worker my boss wanted me to come to the office everyday—even though I had other stuff on my plate. It was difficult. And now look what’s the new norm. In schools where there’re Covid cases, the students had to self-isolate and attend online classes instead. Most classes have moved online in universities. Things may change in the near future when universities decide it’s safe to return to in-person classes but there’s a lot of one-step-forward-and-two-steps backward as the highly transmissible Delta variant wreaks havoc. Borders have closed. That’s a real bummer. Not just for tourism but for workers who used to cross borders daily for work. The pandemic caused financial hardship and mental issues. The concept of social distancing has been implemented in dense cities in a way that’s unimaginable till now. Orange netting covered seats at food centres forbidding one to sit. Barriers have been set up so one has to walk a circuitous route to get into places just so that contact tracing can be enabled. Masks are mandatory and countries have gone on serial lockdowns. Oh has not the world changed? How has it changed in your part of the world?

Before things changed, before anything changes, there is a sense of a lack of change, of deadwood, and of the desire for change. Since the time for change hasn’t come, one has to wait it out. The state of waiting for change is one of apparent passivity, but it need not be. What one does to fill the time while waiting is one question. The other question is one of dissatisfaction and longing, and with that comes an internalised clock where one prepares for change. This is an intricate process, perhaps like how a spider constructs its web, or how a bee flies from flower to flower to gather pollen. It is a process of long patience and internal work coupled with actual steps of doing.

Which brings me to the next point, and that is that loss is change. Even if things are in a state of equilibrium, it cannot remain still. Things will change. The loss of things leads to change. There are many things that can change, such as your youth, your job, your partner, your health, your friends, etc. When you look back at the stages of your life, you will realize this. It’s as if the curtain falls, the stage that opens in the next scene is different, has progressed. Sometimes the scenery changes, or the people are new, or if the same, they are altered by events. The social dynamics also change with time. Do things change for the better, or for the worse? How does one deal with loss, with change? Does it lead one to cynicism, bleakness, depression? Does it lead one to a sense of stoicism, fortitude, maturity and wisdom? All these questions are concerns that your poems shall perhaps address. Poetry above all, charts these feelings with exactitude and hopefully, finesse. Aren’t we, as human beings, a hotbed of desires for one thing or another? When do desires turn to change? What are the changes in your world? How do you feel about the world’s environmental issues of change, which appear to be at tipping point? How have you changed? Are the changes minute or huge, gradual or sudden? What changes are a delight; what about those that are a pain? Yet it’s never one thing, is it, but losses and gains, they balance each other out? The body deteriorates, the spirit comes into abundance? And to put a bummer to it, isn’t the ultimate change death? A change of world that we’ll have to die to find out.

Though it may be your end, the world doesn’t end. Like a wheel, it spins, as seen in Chagall’s The Creation of Man, and a new human and other new creatures shall spring forth. Nature works in cycles, in seasons of change.

Time may be silenced but will not be stilled,
Nor we absolved by any one’s withdrawing
From all the restless ways we must be going
And all the rings in which we’re spun and swirled,
Whether around a clockface or a world.
—Adrienne Rich, “A Clock in the Square”

Finally, I’d like you to think about poetry and change. Do you, like Rich, believe that poetry, as it is imaginative, is also transformative? That it is not mere self-indulgence, a marginal activity, that its voice, alongside other human endeavors, grounds us, reminds us, prods us, that it is “not a resting on the given, but a questing toward what might otherwise be” (Rich, What Is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics), toward change? Perhaps not ‘change’ in capital letters yet but changes within the self, toward a new reflection of self and world? A rebirth of your world begins with the self. I believe that imagination leads to a change of self and a change of world, however you interpret it. A person, after all, is a world. To quote Alan Walowitz, in his poem, “Revision”:

I assure you, from vast experience,
to change a life requires more than one’s full portion.
But to revise, to see yourself again,
that can be an everyday miracle, if only we’d try.
Some of our fathers tell us we’re not quite chosen,
but just to be certain, we had better be better
and a light unto the nations.
This is hard work, the toughest there is,
but, didn’t I hear God say, in some unrecorded verse,
Hey pal, isn’t this what you signed up for?

The world as you imagine it, day by day by day, is a powerful one, can determine your mood, stance, everything.

Read our submission guidelines here. Please check back on our site to see if your poem has been selected. We will not be sending out any rejection letters.

Submissions period: September 2021 to February 2022. Selected poems will be posted here on this site as well as on this site and compiled into a PDF release in Spring 2022.

Good writing.

Irene Toh
Spring 2022

PDF Release of My Dream of You Issue 19

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I am pleased to announce the release of the Fall 2021 Issue.

The poets with work in the My Dream Of You edition are:

Virginia Aronson
Rose Mary Boehm
Jeff Burt
Joe Cottonwood
Holly Day
Edilson Ferreira
Charles Halsted
John Huey
Kathleen Latham
Ron. Lavalette
John Maurer
Michael J. Leach
Joan Mazza
Karla Linn Merrifield
Kate Meyer-Currey
Michael Minassian
John Muro
Heather Sager
Tricia Sankey
Emil Sinclair
Debi Swim
Ivor Steven
Alan Toltzis
Mark Tulin
Alan Walowitz
Robert Walton

You may download a copy of the PDF release here.

My Dream of You Fall 2021 Issue 19

You’re invited to submit to our new issue, titled A Change of World. Read submission guidelines here. You may also find us over at the other site at Red Wolf Editions. Happy writing!

Irene Toh
Fall 2021

The Coronavirus Poetry Issue Final Edition

A poetic response to the pandemic

The Pandemic Issue

The poets in this collection gave witness to a pandemic that had taken over the world since March 2020. Italy was the first European country to go into lockdown, and it was a matter of time before Covid-19 became a global pandemic. Over 4 million people have died after contracting Covid-19. At the time of writing, the Delta variant is causing third or fourth waves all over the world.

The pandemic has forced the shutdown of economies and of borders. It was like an apocalypse movie of death and privation. We are so familiar by now with its new lexicon of lockdowns, social distancing, remote working and learning, zoom meetings, swab tests, contact tracing, self-isolation, face masks, vaccinated travel lanes, etc.

The pandemic foregrounded the economic divide, between those with the resources and those without. In particular richer countries have high vaccine rollouts and poorer ones are floundering. People’s livelihoods are under threat or have gone under. So although the world is mired in the same threat, it has not handled the crisis on the same level or footing in terms of resources and governance.

Things will not return to pre-coronavirus ways for a while yet. While we’re preparing to be Covid resilient, to open borders, we cannot rule out repeated lockdowns and its collateral damage to economies, livelihoods and mental wellness. So it is that our mindsets have been forced to change. What is the state of our psychological well-being? What about lives that have fallen apart and have to be rebuilt? What does a new normal look like? Our poetry must continue to tell these stories.


This is the third reiteration of the title. The first was released in Fall 2020, the second in Spring 2021 before this final edition. A couple new poems were added but most of the poems were written about a year ago, before or after. Just so you know the different time stamps as you read the poems. The earlier issues may be found under the red wolf issues tab on https://redwolfjournal.wordpress.com/red-wolf-issues/

The poets with work in this issue are as follows:

Misky Braendeholm
Wendy Taylor Carlisle
Mike Dillon
Preeth Ganapathy
Marion Leeper
Jack e Lorts
Jane Newberry
Emalisa Rose
Sally Sandler
Emil Sinclair
Julia C. Spring
Ivor Steven
Adrienne Stevenson
Debi Swim
Alan Walowitz
Robert Walton
Jon Wesick
Elise Woods
Fred Zirm

You may download the issue here.

The Coronavirus Poetry Issue Final edition

Census of Dreams, by Alan Walowitz

Census of Dreams
by Alan Walowitz

The dream is a lie, but the dreaming is true.
Robert Penn Warren

Where are you calling from tonight?
Another place I haven’t been awake,
but play the perfect host
adrift in a world I claim I never made:
I nod, tip my hat, and soon I’m gone.

Sure, the dream feels real–
enough to wash me from the first of dawn,
through day’s uneasy peace,
till creak of porch in stale night air
stills an unrequited yawn.

But end of another endless day,
brings no rest I dreamed
and fills my head like a waiting room
where lost friends are counted
for the long journey home.

Instead, all peace I sought gets dashed
on a jagged thought, skipped breath,
late night call and no one there.
And you, last dream to the door,
ask nothing but to leave alone.

Alan Walowitz is a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an Online Community Journal of Poetry. His chapbook, Exactly Like Love, comes from Osedax Press. The full-length, The Story of the Milkman and Other Poems, is available from Truth Serum Press. Most recently, from Arroyo Seco Press, is the chapbook In the Muddle of the Night, written both trans-continentally, and mostly remotely, with poet Betsy Mars.

Somewhere, Anywhere, by Jeff Burt

Somewhere, Anywhere
by Jeff Burt

It’s natural to think the thread of a spider that wafts
from a dying oak branch toward a blueberry bush
is cast like an anchor from one ship to a floor,

but the filament is spun as it drifts, the spider is not in safety
on deck but riding the forefront whiffed by the breeze
eyes set on nowhere in particular or a vague set of greenery

where chances of prey are plentiful, being prey are few.
They are the perpetual first astronauts launched
in a cone on the top of a rocket screaming into space,

Not a void as in nothing in it, but void as in empty of experience.
My ancestors from Sweden took trips in the dark night
and ill holds of transports with all the other poor farmers

for a vague territory on a map of the western Great Lakes,
not attached to a tow line that could snap them back to Sweden,
but riding the deck, splashed with spray, to an unseen port,

like yearling whales on ancient and epic excursions
ribbing sea’s mountains and shoals following the same
genetic geographic destiny without a clue of a resting place.

Even today at the 7th Avenue stoplight
I think of being taught detachment from desire
will enable us, but to what when we do not desire?

We feed on want and wish like fire eats oxygen
and bound carbon until the flame poofs out.
Bound carbon—that is what we are anyway,

waiting to be unleashed, our DNA demanding
the chains be sparked into explosion,
to do, to act, to have something other than.

Other than—to be other than what we are.
Some of us are not meant to stay on the dying oak
or strung on a taut string in comfort.

Some of us are not meant to farm the old land.
Some of us are meant to launch into the air
screaming as we head to who knows where.

The red light changes. I walk. I dream
I have somewhere, anywhere, to go.

Source: A street corner moment

Jeff Burt lives in Santa Cruz County, California with his wife. He has contributed previously to Red Wolf Journal, Williwaw Journal, Heartwood, and many other journals.

Dreaming of a Northern Spring in the Subtropics, by Rose Mary Boehm

Dreaming of a Northern Spring in the Subtropics
by Rose Mary Boehm

A month or so before winter stencils the almost bare
branches of the ash in anticipation of silver-green turning
to black and brown, when the muddy earth waits patiently for its
feed of ash mulch, when the worms retire from the surface
to prepare their survival deep in the warm earth, everything
is ready, expecting death and rebirth. The centipedes huddle
under the mountain of firewood just delivered, the river rats
dig into the Styrofoam-covered ceiling, the last of the autumn
apples are rotting between brown tufts of grass, while the fox
barely remembers his friendship with the wolf dog. They’d danced
only one summer. The sun hangs low, the moon a faint Cheshire cat
rising behind the mountain, the poppy seeds rattling in their pods.
The ravens croak overhead, steering with their diamond tails.
The bird-scare guns are silent—no longer protecting harvests.
There is a sharp scent of snow in the air, for now a warning,
and the swifts dip their wings in yet another goodbye.

Rose Mary Boehm is a German-born British national living and writing in Lima, Peru. Her poetry has been published widely in mostly US poetry reviews (online and print). She was twice nominated for a Pushcart. Her fourth poetry collection, The Rain Girl, was published in 2020. Her fifth, Do Oceans Have Underwater Borders, has just been snapped up by Kelsay Books for publication May/June 2022. Her website: https://www.rose-mary-boehm-poet.com/

Winter 2020, a Sonnet, by Wendy Taylor Carlisle

Winter 2020, a Sonnet
by Wendy Taylor Carlisle

This is the time of year for fever, the time
for downed timber, for masks in the grocery
and for seeing through the trees, how many

trailer houses sprouted up this summer.
Out in the chill, we find Indian currant
on the trail, shocking pink berries chilled to purple,

bird-fodder to the end of winter. We pass
a low-scarred elder, where baby bucks have
sharpened new antlers, count wild cherry logs,

pumpkin orange. There are galls on the Oak,
eggshell thin, caterpillars gone. This is the cold time,
time for sickness and loss, the rain crow vanished,

whose stutter and croak called out storms. We urge the one
last persimmon from its tree, find it gone rotten.

Wendy Taylor Carlisle lives and writes in the Arkansas Ozarks. She is the author of four books and five chapbooks and is the 2020 winner of the Phillip H. McMath Post-Publication Award for The Mercy of Traffic. Her website is http://www.wendytaylorcarlisle.com.