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Free Verse  with Vera Ignatowitsch

Out Sailing Late in the Day

         —i.m. Donald Hall, 1928–2018


South of the Potomac near the Virginia line

the salt smell of the Bay reappears

like a drop of iodine spreading in water.

In the northern Bay the air clears,

so many rivers pouring down from the mountains.

Southern oysters are saltier

but the hard faces of oystermen look the same.

Everywhere the hours are long,

their backs almost break.


Before it grows any later I want to go south

back to the mouth of the Rappahannock,

far far away from here

before the sun goes down in the dark.



Michael Salcman is former chairman of neurosurgery at the University of Maryland and president of the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore; his fourth collection, Shades & Graces (Spuyten Duyvil, 2020), is the inaugural winner of the Daniel Hoffman Legacy Book Prize.

Vacuum Cleaner, 1950


My mother sang while she vacuumed,

            O God, our help in ages past—

sucked it in with her breath,

            as if not wanting to hear herself.


We heard her, her counterpoint

            to the upright’s drone. We saw the bag

inflated, smelled the must-and-pepper mix

            in the electric disturbance of our home.


The war was over, but the lyrics were not

            self-instruction like the singing women do

at looms, where songs sing designs of weft and warp,

            a count of color, flower and medallion,

a chanted mnemonic that becomes

            the poem, then the Persian rug.


No. Our hope for years to come knew no possibility

            of instruction or of art, as the machine gnawed

at wool knotted in Tabriz. My mother sang

            no more than for refuge, hymnal domesticity,

deep within her fragile shelter from the stormy blast,

            the cord, which she did not see as connection

to anything, always in the way of her feet.



Anne Harding Woodworth is the author of six books of poetry with a seventh, Trouble, appearing in late 2020. Her work is published widely in the US and abroad, in journals such as TriQuarterly, Poet Lore, Innisfree Poetry Journal, and Antiphon.

One more time


I just want to hug him

Teri cries into my shoulder,

holding me tightly,

Monday morning in the dark,

before waking Dan up for school.



he felt so solid, so there,

so alive,

compared to my

wasted, dilapidated frame,

and he would hold me tightly,

no reservation,

no hesitation.


Asia, leaving

on her way back to Poland

tells me, You hug like Ben.


I know, I know,

I say to my sobbing wife

Me too.



Sam Norman is the author of Still Here. His works have appeared in Verse-Virtual, Amethyst Review, Down in the Dirt, Red Eft Review, Better Than Starbucks, and Praxis. Sam lives in Connecticut with his wife, their children, and their beloved dogs.

Instructions for Lovers


Touch as gently

as you can

as if you were

picking up one

sesame seed

and your fingers

glanced against

the floor boards

and then

and only then



Peter Waldor is the author of eight books of poetry. His new book, Unmade Friend, Elegies, is due out soon from Finishing Line Press. This poem is part of a series of love poems called “Something About the Way.”

This Perfect Day


in the white room

room for nothing but the one thing

you laid out the toast and eggs

the spiders in aspic


on the morning the shadows curled to make a fist

you counted the teeth in the auditorium,

leading the new lost

in an exhibition of mass cheer:


whatever happens never happens here.



Clay Waters has had poems published in Santa Clara Review, River Oak Review, Poet Lore, Literal Latte, and Roanoke Review. He lives outside Orlando, near the theme parks.

A Life Bespoke


Had there been a choice, would I have chosen

this arrangement of molecules, elements?

Why not a tree, a hunk of quartz,

or the tenacious barnacle clinging

in the tidal wrack? That would be a rhythmic

life—daily, nightly, the tides expected.

In between? Perhaps, ease.


Certainly not this constant waywardness,

nor the suspect step, nor the knowledge—

always in hindsight.


Who tailored this ill-fitting life, anyway?

Who thought these arms and legs would know

what to do? Or this awkward heart?

In the night damp I twitch

to push this, that way. To pull that, this way.

To untangle the thread of base elements.


To cry, here carbon atom! Meet nitrogen, or oxygen,

or some other sibling hiding in the seams.

Go! Go off together. Become something.

Something fine and simple. Something that fits.

First published in Stoneboat Literary Journal.


Shutta Crum’s poems have been published since the 1970s. Her chapbook When You Get Here has just been published. She is also the author of Thunder-Boomer! (Clarion/HMH), a Smithsonian Magazine Notable Book and an American Library Association Notable Book.


Archive of Free Verse Poetry with Suzanne Robinson by issue:

     May 2020     March 2020     January 2020     November 2019     September 2019    July 2019    May 2019   

 March 2019     January 2019     November 2018      September 2018     July 2018     June 2018     May 2018     April 2018   

  March 2018     February 2018     January 2018     December 2017     November 2017     October 2017     September 2017   

   August 2017     July 2017     June 2017     May 2017     April 2017     March 2017     February 2017     January 2017   

  December 2016     November 2016     October 2016     September 2016     August 2016     June 2016     May 2016

Archive of Free Verse Poetry with Vera Ignatowitsch by issue:

     May 2020     March 2020     January 2020     November 2019     September 2019     July 2019     May 2019

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