What the Grass Said

That sky is only space

and waits for us to sleep,


to sow and reap the usual way,

that roots are all that count


dendritic, subterranean like old love

waiting for a time to green.


That we will be cut down,

left fallow, grazed to ground,


That we should try

to memorize the sound


that falling water makes

on stone or latent soil, or grace


in dreams before dark horses

come to trample blades.


That we might speak in tongues

in terrible wildness once again


to say please to broken earth

made willing to all seed cast down


to feed the brutal hunger

spring always draws out of us.


by Roberta Senechal de la Roche

Roberta Senechal de la Roche is an historian, sociologist, and poet of Micmac and French Canadian descent, and was born in western Maine. She now lives in the woods outside of Charlottesville, Virginia near the Blue Ridge Mountains. She graduated from the University of Southern Maine and the University of Virginia, and is Professor of History at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. Her poems have appeared in the Colorado Review; Vallum; Glass: A Journal of Poetry; Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review; Yemassee, and Cold Mountain Review, among others. She has two prize-winning chapbooks: Blind Flowers (Arcadia Press) and After Eden (Heartland Review Press, 2019). A third chapbook, Winter Light, (Fall 2018) and her first full-length volume, Going Fast (2019) are being published by David Robert Books.

Why I’m okay with the C on my first French test, in thirteen footnotes

Because it takes two extra steps to add accents with my keyboard and I “don’t have that kind of time.”[1]

Because “I hate to tell you this, but I have a gun,”[2] and “Could you sound a little less angry?”[3] and “I’m telling you, watch out for that bitch.”[4]

Because, “[security officers] became suspicious when they saw the suspect following women through the store”[5] and “We’re so grateful for those who have stuck with us during this time. They know who they are.”[6] and “He’s still the best man I know.”[7]

Because, ‘When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.” [8]and “Is this judge a really good man? And he is. And by any measure he is.”[9]

Because fluent, cadenced nonsense used to tumble from my toddler’s mouth like birdsong.

Because “there are very fine people on both sides”[10] and “3,000 people did not die in Puerto Rico.”[11]

Because “when you finally realize that you do not need to understand everything said, you will know victory.”[12]

Because of the plane trees.

Because “Hey man, I feel like if you’re going to criticize this country, you know, you can just leave.”[13]

Because it’s so far away from everything I’ve ever known and also, it’s so far away from everything I’ve ever known.

Because I understand too much of my mother tongue.

My mother



[1] Anne Lamott https://www.npr.org/2011/04/18/135517274/beyond-bunnies-the-real-meaning-of-easter-season.

[2] My assailant. December 15, 1989.

[3] Faculty Meeting, April 2012.

[4] Former Colleague, April 2017.

[5] https://www.thecabin.net/news/2012-06-13/vilonia-teacher-charged-harassment.

[6] Former friend, former Vilonia teacher, Facebook post.

[7] Former friend, former Vilonia teacher’s wife, e-mail correspondence.


[9] https://www.sltrib.com/news/politics/2018/09/17/sen-hatch-says-christine/

[10] Donald Trump.

[11] Ibid.

[12] How to Get Really Good at French. Polyglot Language Learning, 2017.

[13] Overheard, University of Central Arkansas Fitness Center, September 11, 2018.


by Stephanie Vanderslice

Stephanie Vanderslice is a prose writer and creative writing professor at the University of Central Arkansas. Publications include Ploughshares Online, EasyStreet Online, So to Speak and many others, as well as several books such as The Geek’s Guide to the Writing Life (Bloomsbury 2017).

A Poem Interrupted by AM Radio, New York City, 1985

When the radio blasted

over the art gallery,

and Jim Morrison crashed

my only reading in the Big Apple,

eyes of famous poets in the audience

averted from my broken smile,

I wasn’t there—I went way past the headlights,

out past unrecorded tribal rubric,

airwaves drumming through me,

flew to a hideout on my own back streets:

Schadhouser’s yard, 1953,

one sticky afternoon

we beat each other up

on the same wedge of dirt

my mother, a little girl, played

Hopscotch on in 1929

between Cronin’s barn and a paint peel

on the fence of a three-decker—

who knows who lived there—

Cid Corman maybe

who moped down Annabel

muttering blessings.


That afternoon, my smile might have

made you grimace, too.

It does me, as my fingerprints

corrode this yellowed polaroid

the hostess was so quick to shoot

before she unplugged “Riders on the Storm.”

My father’s gift for the rare

true smile and my grandmother—

cloud hair, morbidly soft skin,

and tyrannical—come back alive again,

come back to me

through this photograph of a shudder

and a trace of alleys and shame

in my disrupted line,

her only recorded history

when, circa nineteen-ten,

she took the hand of the one

who kicked this broken smile

down the staircase of the spine.


by Michael Daley

Michael Daley’s poems have appeared in APR, New England Review, Hudson Review, Ploughshares, Rhino, North American Review, Gargoyle, Writer’s Almanac, and elsewhere. Awarded by Seattle Arts Commission, National Endowment of Humanities, Artist Trust, and Fulbright, his fourth collection of poetry, Of a Feather, was recently published. He lives in Anacortes, Washington.

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