The Lifespan of a Cricket – a personal essay by Barbara Alfaro

The Lifespan of a Cricket

It’s three a.m. The cricket has been quiet for a while but I still can’t sleep. I want to go outside and stare at the moon and the stars. Of course, I won’t. The neighbors might think me a burglar and yard dogs would bark.

Calling for a mate, the cricket who lives in back of the washing machine chirps cheerily and loudly much of the night and he keeps me awake much of the night. I say “he” because female crickets do not chirp. After a week of fractured sleep, I realize the cricket has no intention of leaving the house the same way he came in. I google “How long does a cricket live?” I am somewhat relieved to learn the lifespan of a cricket is ninety days. The question Google cannot answer is can I last ninety sleepless nights listening to him? I muse that perhaps he is an old cricket – still horny but old, say two and half months or so. Suppose, however, this particular cricket is very young. I decide to expedite his demise and google “How to kill a cricket.” Poison is the answer. However, in researching the various cricket-killing poisons it is clear they will also kill my little dog Darby, a blessed creature who truly appreciates a good night’s sleep as well as morning, afternoon, and early evening naps.

I’m the kind of person who apologizes to a bug before I squash it. When not squashing bugs, if they’re big enough, and slow enough, I paper cup them and put them out in the yard where they belong. I feel terrible when I use ant traps. I’m not certain, but I think the ants are expecting nookie when they enter the teeny traps. An assignation at cheap motel gone terribly wrong. It’s interesting how romance minded insects are. I really didn’t like the thought of offing Jiminy Cricket. I speak with some authority on the matter having once played the Blue Fairy in Pinocchio.

I recall with a tinge of sadness that the only time I heard my parents argue was when I was a child and this one truly terrible argument was caused by an infestation of crickets in our home. Even late in life, my mother and father were always sweethearts, holding hands, exchanging soft smiles. We lived in a little house appropriately enough in Little Neck, New York. It is one of those suburban communities where, except for the different colors of the houses, the houses all look the same, the same window boxes with geraniums nestling in them, the same flagstone walks curling toward front doors, and oddly, usually the same number of children in each family. I was awakened one night by the sounds of my parents yelling at one another and the noise of the vacuum cleaner. My father was vacuuming what seemed hundreds of crickets while my mother wrangled any insect stragglers with a broom. I was shocked to hear something I had never heard, my parents saying mean things to one another. It didn’t last long. Perhaps they were shocked too. Even as a child I understood clearly it was all because of those damn crickets. And here am I, undone by one.

Sleeplessness engenders morbid thoughts and something only God knows and Google doesn’t have a clue about is how long I will live. I remember second grade catechism class in Catholic grammar school. Seven year old boys dressed like miniature businessmen and little girls wearing blue jumpers and white blouses with Peter Pan collars taking flight into theology. The nuns described purgatory and hell with such gusto and glee you’d think they’d just returned from a bus tour to both locals – with pockets full of complimentary tickets for their students. My classmates and I were often told our sins caused the death of Our Lord. I couldn’t fathom what sins I had actually committed. Well, yes, I did knot all my brother’s socks and ties but he decapitated my doll for heaven’s sake! Surely, some sort of retaliation was in order. Her name was Suzy and she was my favorite. I was shocked to see that her wooden head had been fastened to her rubber body with a thick rubberband. I can still see Suzy’s head beside her little body on my pillow. The rubberband was between them. What irks me even now, all these decades later is that I did nothing to provoke this act of barbarism on the part of my brother. Brothers do this sort of thing. There is no explanation other than that.

It would have been kinder if the good sisters had been more forthright and told their little charges something like “Oh, nothing you’ve done now you sillies, but just wait, just you wait till you’re older, you’ll be sinning like crazy then!” Thankfully, today the emphasis is on love, not fear. But that doesn’t help an aging scaredy-cat like me.

I’m having difficulty enduring a single, noisy cricket. How am I going survive all that fire and smoke in the hereafter? It’s difficult for me to conceive of a deity who isn’t as kind as I am. If, as I was taught, I am made in the image of God and I cannot stand to see suffering, why would God be okay with it? I understand the need for justice especially when I think of people who are deliberately evil but what about the likes of me – those burdened by wrong or just plain stupid choices? Someone (probably Thomas Merton) once said that the memory of our sins is punishment enough. Saint Augustine prayed that God would “banish such memories” from him. It would have been grand if the saint’s misogyny had also been banished. Augustine believed women were not made in the image of God. This honor was reserved for yet another exclusive men only club.

I can’t help wondering just how long a stretch is awaiting me in those flames. And, will the length of punishment time be shortened for “good behavior” – not squawking too much, being considerate of fellow firemates, that sort of thing. Can one even measure time in eternity? That’s a question Einstein might answer. Somewhere along the road of history, priests invented the concept of purgatory because Christians found the idea of hell so scary. I hope the entranceway to the former is clearly marked “Purgatory, NOT Hell!” or something to that effect so I know heaven is in the offing. The thief on the cross beside our Lord served no time at all. “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

Years ago, I participated in a spiritual retreat at the Washington Retreat House hosted by the Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement. A lot had happened between second grade and middle age that needed some serious atoning. The Franciscans are known for their spirit of hospitality and the memory of those gentle days of warmth, quiet, and prayer comforts me even now.

Understandably, my fear of death is intensified by the pandemic. Epicurus, the Dale Carnegie of antiquity (both men seemed overly fond of maxims), taught there is no reason to be afraid of death because you feel with your senses and as your senses end when you die you won’t feel pain. You will no longer be. Not exactly cheering but logical. This thinking only works if one doesn’t believe in an afterlife. That’s not a view I accept. If I could overcome my fear of dying, contentment would be easy for me. I am a childless widow without an ounce of ambition. I have all that is needed – a longing for God, a home, dear friends, and silly as it sounds to some, my pet pal. I don’t know how anyone living alone can go through what we are all experiencing now without a cat or dog to care for and nestle beside. Or even a canary. Doctors call not being able to touch or embrace another person “skin hunger.” Snuggling with my dog certainly isn’t the same as being held by or holding another person but it is warm, if somewhat furry affection and that’s no small thing.

I’m remembering the Franciscan nun who told me in her soft Irish brogue, “Ah, I don’t believe any of that hell business. I think when you die, it’s just like takin’ yer coat off, only the coat is all yer sinfulness, and then, there you are – in bliss.” I’m sleepy but not too tired to hope she was right.

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Barbara Alfaro is the recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award in Playwriting. Her memoir Mirror Talk won the IndieReader Discovery Award for Best Memoir. Barbara’s poems have appeared in or are forthcoming in Poet Lore, Boston Literary Review, Trouvaille Review, The Blue Mountain Review, and Voices de la Luna. 

An Angel Swims – a poem by Janet Krauss

An Angel Swims

Her body of air knows its way
as she swims in the water,
feels the hush of the ocean’s touch.
She sees the sun’s light keeping pace
by her side, hears the slow sound
of rush her rhythm creates,
tastes the salt that brims her lips,
smells the seaweed that trims
the shore, knows the time
has come, as the tide recedes,
to find her wings before dark sets in.

.

Janet Krauss, who has two books of poetry published, “Borrowed Scenery,” Yuganta Press, and “Through the Trees of Autumn,” Spartina Press, has recently retired from teaching English at Fairfield University. Her mission is to help and guide Bridgeport’s  young children through her teaching creative writing, leading book clubs and reading to and engaging a kindergarten class. As a poet, she co-directs the poetry program of the Black Rock Art Guild.

The Shoal Lilies – a poem by Kathleen Brewin Lewis

The Shoal Lilies

It’s not what you were expecting
as you kayaked around the bend,
it’s what you received:
throngs of tall white lilies—
rare six-pointed stars—
thriving on the shoals.
Blooming islands rooted
in the crevices between
the river rocks, scenting the air.
You found a watery path
through a stand of them,
lifted your paddle, let the current
pull you along. Your heart,
tugged and tattered,
swung open and let
a vagrant peace flow in.
That such abundance
was here in the world
and you hadn’t known it existed
until this day. This day,
the day of the shoal lilies
along the Broad River.

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Kathleen Brewin Lewis writes about the natural world and family life. She’s the author of two chapbooks of poetry, Fluent in Rivers and July’s Thick Kingdom. Her work has also appeared in Valparaiso Poetry Review, The Christian Century, Southern Poetry Review, Cider Press Review, and The Southern Poetry Anthology Vol. V: Georgia. She’s a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee and a Best of the Net nominee.

Sacrament of Girl – a poem by Angelica Whitehorne

Sacrament of Girl

childhood is clean cotton sheets, a girl in one piece
lying underneath, wind breathes and sheets roam,
but girl stays, keeps herself inside herself, her mother’s
redemption, all the mothers’ unyielding relief

there will be no heart strings left on
a man’s starched sleeve, not this time, not yet,
such careful strategies, the lord was splayed out
for man’s sins, but hers would be left unfinished,

unrecognized, buried deep,
unwelcomed if risen,

innocence is a loan, debt comes
as a confession, she was taught early
on how to fall to her knees by the men
in vestments, take sacrament.

repenting for curious hands, for
the peck to the boy’s mouth corner,
and for her sacred, tempting existence
so very necessary, but still a nuisance.

body, carrier pigeon, the messages as violent
as biblical, possibly synonyms, girls as birds,
all breast and clipped wings, locked away,
loaded onto, bred miracles through,

silent as the night they were born into,
translucent as the ghosts they’ll turn into.

but imagine this time, women write the book, don’t barter
for another white, daisy day, don’t asked to be saved,
this time she becomes her own religion, centuries old,
fresh as fruit off the tree, a new creation story.

off the alter, arms released from carrying, eyes alert
and hair uncovered, unrepentant in the breeze,
this time choosing what grows inside,

this time the men on their knees, this time
she flies without testimony tied to her avian feet.

 

Angelica Whitehorne is a recent college graduate who writes for the Development department of a refugee organization in New York. At home she writes her poetry and stories with her 10 plants as backdrop and her future on her tongue. She has forthcoming work in the Magnolia Review, Crack the Spine, and Breadcrumbs Magazine.

 

LADDER HILL – a poem by Richard Britton

LADDER HILL

Head in the sky bravely facing death.
I don’t want to die,
I want to die through you,
From your clipped cliff face to your
Bouquet moorland,
Writhing into the sky.

Summer’s thrill is high in your up-tilted gaze
Photons of bronze smashing out illicit
Blue that emperors’ pride could not subdue.
Law and Word etched in your granite smile
Cannot be owned
But speaks only through the light and shade.

The inland sea of being beckons from your edge
Not mimicking the ocean
But the cosmic sphere
Where the waves of the skies
And the winds of the seas
Trick each other up to the line.
Birds swim and fish fly.

Lightning without thunder,
Anger without hate.
Your head emerges after each flash,
As I sit on my chair, legs sunk into stones,
Hoping for more, wanting a crash
But even as the tower of gunpowder cloud
Presses above me
You whisper through raindrops.
An orchestra tuning up.

Sometimes you vanish.

When my day is vague and thoughts won’t dance
As I want them to. The thick gluey haze
Clears until a lonely cloud bobs along above you

As the sun sets your face changes.
Lights switched off
One by one in a theatre.
A grey capped man sweeps the embers
From your granite.
A flickering ballet
Floats silently into the night.

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Richard Britton is a theologian, elder and a worker in the criminal justice sector. His writing links the sacred to the everyday. He is published in The Ruskin Review and Bulletin, Philistine Press and Another North. He has a book out with Semeia SBL next year on metaphor in Romans.

When the Wound Reopens – a poem by Elizabeth Bolton

When the Wound Reopens

I am every person I have ever hated;
this is the great trick You pulled on me
who thought I spat my bitterness away
but only spat on a mirror.
When the wound reopens
music is mockery;
the songs I once sang along to
laugh hardest of all.
When the wound reopens
beauty – the urge for it – has flown off
and I do not now
nor have I ever had wings to follow.
When the wound reopens
poems do nothing: I both understand
and hate the girl who wrote them.

When the wound reopens
I forget here
I think of there
I think of rain, the smell of it
in a foreign country and it tortures me
how little I knew of pain
when cold sodden feet
forced to stop in an ice cream shop
were enough to ruin the day.

When the wound reopens
You come pouring in
and I must sift through silt –
the glittering dark powder
into which Your light is fused.

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Elizabeth Bolton is a doctoral student at the University of Toronto where she researches poetic literacy practice and education. Her stories and poems have appeared in Existere, Open Minds Quarterly, EVENT and Mothers Always Write. You can find her on Instagram: @elizabethboltonwriting.

Device – a poem by Sanjeev Sethi

Device

You incise your script on my breath.
I hold you without arms. Our minds
schtup at odd hours. In the bazaar I
lose body parts: your bag is full of me.

I wear the headdress from happiness
with worriment, but adorn the poster
of pain with ease. Its benchmark hogs
a spot in my heart, leaving me breezy.

The finest way is to vanish inwards.

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Sanjeev Sethi is published in over 25 countries. He has more than 1200 poems printed or posted in venues around the world. Wrappings in Bespoke, is Winner of Full Fat Collection Competition-Deux organized by the Hedgehog Poetry Press UK. Its his fourth book. It will be issued in 2020. He lives in Mumbai, India.

Sunday Rescues – a poem by Skip Renker

Sunday Rescues

If we’re already saved, why pray
for someone to throw us a rope,
I wonder as I sit on the riverbank,
watch two deer slip out of the woods
to drink from the shallows, their heads
bowed on this Sunday morning,
revolving ears attuned, as if

downwind from an enemy
or a sermon. I sip coffee
from a thermos, peer down through
clear water at bottom-feeding
carp, prehistoric mouths
scouring the gravel bed.
Not many minnows get away.

The sun slanted through our tent flap
this morning, lifted us out of sleep
and back into the safety of each
other’s arms and abashed apologies
for last night’s quarrel. I smell
broiling trout, my wife busy around
the campfire. Upstream, a gospel

says nobody clambered out of the boat
to venture over water except Peter,
whose feet moved like his teacher’s
until dark wings of panic fluttered
in his chest, death ready to follow
on the heels of daring love, then
the sure grip, the lift from the sea.

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F.W. “Skip” Renker has recent poems in Presence, Leaping Clear, and The Awakenings Review.  His poems have appeared in numerous journals as well as the Atlanta Review, Poetry Midwest, and Passages North anthologies, and he has a Pushcart Nomination.  His books are Birds of Passage (Delta Press), Sifting the Visible (Mayapple Press), and Bearing the Cast (St. Julian Press).  He lives with his wife Julia Fogarty in the beautiful lakefront town of Petoskey, MI.

Last Stop Merzouga – a personal essay by Susanne Davis

Last Stop Merzouga

Deep within the Ksour Mountains, there exist caves that hold humanity’s secrets. These were the words the Algerian man spoke to my son that afterwards, I would remember.

He’d been studying Arabic in Morocco for six months, my younger son, when at the end of his program we went to meet him for a trip to the Sahara. We took the train from Rabat to Meknes, and got on a super tour bus for an overnight ride south over the High Atlas Mountains. I spent the entire night praying as the bus driver sped around hairpin turns without guardrails. The moon was full and lit the cavernous drops from a height of 2260 meters. My two boys, young men really, slept peacefully behind me with no knowledge of the danger. I knew I wasn’t overreacting when a young mother holding two small children vomited into a balled up blanket from nausea over the ride.

We arrived safely just before dawn in the town of Merzouga and my legs wobbled from residual fear as I got off the bus and announced to my crew that I was the self- appointed guard dog. They laughed, needling me. If I was such a guard dog why hadn’t I anticipated the rough journey and done something to guard against it? It turned out they had each taken a sleeping pill to avoid a sleepless night on the bus. After that, each time a decision needed to be made, or some wrinkle arose in plans, they wanted to know why the guard dog hadn’t done her job better.

A Berber man, dressed in jeans rather than the colorful traditional robes of the other tour guides, met us. He held up a paper with our names so we would know him and he led us on foot, pushing his bicycle along side. He wound his way along the dirt main street and then cut through a dirt alley through the more private buildings to the hostel/camp situated right at the edge of the desert.

The camp was a beautiful structure with a flowing fountain in an open courtyard and bedrooms with cobalt blue doors and elaborate decorative metal work. The guide directed us up a set of steps at the side of the building to the rooftop.

“Go watch the sun rise,” he said. “I must go meet another party.” That party, it turned out, was the Algerian man who spoke words of poetry and mystery about humanity’s secrets. He was traveling with his German wife and their son. The three were to become our companions in the trip to the desert.

But as we waited for the sun to rise, we hadn’t yet met them. Up on the rooftop, there was absolute silence. None of the busy city sounds of Rabat, the capitol city, or the murmuring voices and diesel engines whining on the ride through the Atlas Mountains, or the calls from merchants and guides trying to get tourists’ attention. We watched the sun pour light onto the tufts of desert grass; it was like a curtain rising on a stage, illuminating the dunes and shifting blobs of brown that in a moment revealed themselves as camels, the very camels we would climb onto the backs of for our journey.

I watched the sun rise off the backs of the camels and remembered the last time I had been in Morocco, sixteen years earlier, with my Aunt who had lived there for decades. I felt my aunt’s spirit with us on the roof but didn’t say it to the others for fear they would laugh at me.

After we watched the sun rise, we went to our rooms, napped and then walked back into the little town for lunch. We returned to our camp late afternoon, as our guide had instructed. He and two others had brought the camels to the edge of the desert sand and they beckoned us over.

The other family waited their turn as the Berber guides helped our family one by one onto the camels’ backs. When all seven—we four and they three were mounted, the three guides led on foot, at the front, middle and rear of the line. The camels walked, connected by pieces of rope tied from the tail of one camel to the next camel’s mouth.

The other family spoke only amongst themselves and after Alex’s six months of intense language immersion and rigorous academics, our family made no effort to be social either; we were happy to reunite and enjoy the vista of endless dunes as the guides led us further and further into the Sahara.

We stopped just before the sun set. The party disembarked in exactly the reverse fashion as we’d mounted, one at a time with each camel folding itself to the ground to make dismounting easier. The guides led us away from the camels to the top of the nearest dune and offered to take pictures as the sky lit on fire. Our family stood together, a little apart from the German family as the guides took our pictures.

Then the father of the other family handed his camera to the Berber guide and asked for a photo of the seven of us together. He threw his arm over Alex’s shoulder as if we were all connected and that was how he and Alex struck up a conversation. When Alex told the man he had been living in Morocco to learn Arabic, the man began speaking Arabic to him, patiently repeating and searching for understanding between them because although they both were speaking Arabic, his was the Arabic of his native Algeria and Alex, while fluent, was speaking standard Arabic.

The man told Alex that he had studied geology. He’d left Algeria and now did something with water and engineering in Germany. But he said his life had started in Algeria. Alex translated for us and the man waited for him to finish translating, then went on speaking. The Sahara desert covered more than four fifths of his land, a land he loved. This is what he told Alex, as they looked over the three miles of Sahara desert separating us from Algeria, the two of them standing shoulder to shoulder in the desert. He told Alex that he reminded him of an earlier version of himself.

After a few moments, seeing the rest of us left on the periphery of the conversation, awaiting more translation, the two of them turned back to the group.

The Algerian man pointed across the desert and said, “Deep within the Ksour Mountains, there exist caves which hold humanity’s secrets. If you have ever the chance you must go. But not here,” he pointed across the desert. “This border is closed.”

One of the Berber guides heard him, and spoke firmly, “Yes. Very important. Not here. You must not cross.” He pointed to the Atlas Mountains in the near distance to our left. “Military rangers are posted there. If you try to cross, they will shoot you.”

I looked out over the desert. The mountains rose jagged and dark, snow glowing on the peaks. I couldn’t imagine snipers crouched with rifles trained on the border, or on us.

The Algerian man spoke to the guide. “I remember when the desert was the desert. There were no boundaries, and anyone could cross.”

The air became charged with tension, but the guide said nothing and the moment passed. The Algerian man went on speaking to Alex.

“How old are you?”

“Twenty,” Alex replied. “How long have you been gone from Algeria?”

“Twenty three years,” the man replied. “I am forty-five.” His eyes were full of light and his face unlined. His body was spry and lean.

Someone in the group expressed surprise at his age and he said proudly, “I run to keep myself in shape.” He looked back to Algeria in the distance just beyond the point of the horizon where darkness had fallen.

“1.5 million people died,” he shrugged. “That’s life. I left with my parents and my grandmother.”

“Why Germany?” Alex asked.

“My grandmother hated France,” the man said. “What the French did,” he shook his head. “No good. She would not let us go to France.” His wife stepped close to him then as if to keep him from slipping into dark memories. He took her hand and smiled. “My wife.”

We walked together down the dune to the Berber camp where we would spend the night. A series of rooms had been created with Berber carpets strung on the poles and as flooring over the sand itself. Inside each room, cots set up –for the four of our family in one tent, and three cots in another tent for the German Algerian family. Some native Moroccan college students on holiday shared another tent and came late to the dinner tent, just as the Berber hosts were carrying in huge bowls of couscous and meats that they’d prepared in another makeshift cooking tent. They placed the food on a low table before us and we ate for a few minutes in silence.

The Algerian man, who never gave us his name, waited for us to serve a second helping and then he spoke again. “My brother stayed. He married a woman.” He pointed to himself, “But for me, freedom was the most important thing.”

He must have seen the puzzled looks on our faces because he went on to explain: France had seized his country back in 1830 and during WW I, Algeria had hoped for independence and after World War II, when France’s promise for greater independence went unfulfilled, this became the Algerian war of 1954-62. Then, Algeria won its independence, but from 1991 to 1999 civil war pitted Islamists against the government.

“My older brother married during that time and stayed in Algeria because of his wife and her family. I was always afraid: afraid to sleep alone, to walk to school, even to talk too loud. 6000 civilians disappeared in the night. One of them was my uncle. My uncle had often talked too loud,” he said.

The Berber guide stepped back in then and announced a bonfire. He stared hard at the Algerian man as he shepherded everyone out to the fire. “We will sing you a song and then you may sing one for us,” he said.

We sat crosslegged around the fire, forming a circle. At the end of a traditional Berber song completed with instruments, the guides handed the rattles and drums to Alex for him to distribute. “Your turn to sing,” they said.

We conferred. Strangely, only one song came to mind that we all knew the words of. Off key, we sang John Denver’s “Country Roads take me home, to the place I belong…”

The Algerian man seemed pleased with the song. Every time we sang the chorus, he sang along, encouraging us. He had a good voice. When the song ended, he continued to hum the chorus to himself. A few Moroccan university students came out from the food preparation tent to join. They rolled a joint and started passing it just between themselves. The group broke apart then and headed back to the sleeping tents.

But I could see Alex wasn’t ready for sleep. He walked a bit past the tents, out into the dunes and I followed him.

Fearful of snakes and now the snipers in the mountains, I paused on a lower ridge while he made his way higher, holding his Iphone flashlight out before him. A billion stars lit the night, but still I lost sight of him with the rise and dip of the dunes.

“Alex, come back,” I tried to keep the fear out of my voice. “There might be poisonous snakes.”

He laughed. “It’s fine, Mom.”

I thought of the Algerian man holding his hand to his heart, saying “Freedom. The most important thing.” The snipers in the mountains somehow made the cost of that freedom so clear.

I knew where this was all going even if I didn’t really. I felt the ghostly presence of my Aunt, lecturing me to let Alex go. But, at least for the moment, I climbed the dunes to be closer to him. He was looking in the space between the camp and the border between the countries, not with fear though. He leaned forward, almost as if getting ready to sprint toward it.

As I saw the flaring forth of his passion there in the desert, I knew my time of being his guard dog, if I had ever been, truly, a guard dog, was almost over. Did the Ksour Mountains hold in those caves with their prehistoric pictures of horses and elephants a secret to humanity’s freedom etched into the stone? I wanted to believe so and I prayed that it be a freedom of peace.

At that moment, a shooting star fell across the sky, falling toward the Ksour Mountains.

“Did you see that?” I whispered.

“Beautiful,” Alex said, to let me know he had.

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Susanne Davis is the author of The Appointed Hour, a short story collection published by  Cornerstone Press (in 2nd printing) and Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Hope College. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Individual short stories have been published in American Short Fiction, Notre Dame Review, descant, St. Petersburg Review, Zone 3, Carve and numerous others and have won awards and recognition. Nonfiction has been published and in 2019 named best personal essay by Connecticut Press Club.

(Out)look – a poem by M.J. Iuppa

(Out)look

How do beads of rain
stick to windows?

Each droplet contains eyes
Looking inside of this

room’s confinement.

Outside— spring isn’t
hard to distinguish.

Red-wing blackbirds
bath in a pool of light.

Inside— silence
hums hypnotic.

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 M.J. Iuppa’s fourth poetry collection is This Thirst (Kelsay Books, 2017). For the past 31 years, she has lived on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. Check out her blog: mjiuppa.blogspot.com for her musings on writing, sustainability & life’s stew.