Birthday Song – by Kathleen Strafford


In the dark corridor
          I hear women
                singing in
                  pitches and tones
                        all their own
feeling their way through shadows
                       through the music
                        of epidurals
                             in this dissonance
I hear my dead mother’s melody
             soft from my daughter’s lips
                            its waves unravelling their DNA
                                       on our hospital walls
                                                              with interlocking shapes
                                                                         of crowning concertos
                                       Oh    what else can unzip
                                                                 the pain          of stretching skin
                                                                                  into pure song?




Kathleen Strafford is a student at Trinity University in Leeds studying for her MA  in creative writing.  She hopes her first collection of poetry will be published this coming year after graduation.  She has been published in magazines & online:  Interpreter’s House, Butcher’s Dog, Fat Damsel, Ink Sweat and Tears, Panoply, and various anthologies.

Reverence – by Maximilian Heinegg


We keep no garden while the drought hammers
the yard to cinders. By day, rabbits stand
brazen in the clover, which means they number.
Here’s where we dug deep to uproot the invasive
Norway maple, where we spliced raspberry bushes
the spiders own, & where we planted a fig tree

to learn we don’t like figs, where the firewood
that has seen winter is seasoned into best burning,
but where a diligence of insects colonizes
beneath the wood’s brown tarp. What’s ends up
in the amber of our errors is the living
we did in the skin of the flaw. From the steps,

I see where the ice dams grew & poisoned the joist,
where the water sank down the railing & expanded,
but the cracked granite steps are our perpetual altar,
& these devotions are daily. We need no priest
to find the psalms or bend faith to reach us.
We are already singing the song we want to hear.




Maximilian Heinegg’s poems have appeared in The Cortland Review, Tar River Poetry, December Magazine, and Columbia Poetry Review, among others. He teaches English in the public schools of Medford, MA. He is also a singer-songwriter whose records can be heard at