I circumambulate Mt. Rainier, tallest of the Cascade volcanoes. My friends come and go for different legs of the journey. They take away my dirty socks and supply the next days’ food. Everything is calculated— 93 miles in 9 days, the weight of my gear, the calories of my food. It is summer and I am between teaching. I won the lottery. You can only circle this volcano if you’ve won. I’ve been given a gift— being able to skirt danger at rest. I walk clockwise, its summit in view over my right shoulder. For days, I put one foot in front of the other, one thought spilling into the next.

I am 16, driving for night-hours in my white mini-van on country roads truncated by suburbia. My friends and I sing Dylan, Joplin, and The Doors. We belt “White Rabbit” until catharsis strips our vocal chords and empties us of everything that was misunderstood by day.

Beside the volcano, I catch up with each of these friends in my head—I haven’t seen them in years—before dropping them off one by one. I pull up to my house and kill the engine, abruptly putting an end to Dylan’s raspy drawl. I look up at my house looming still and dark as if my newfound hollowness conjured up the dreams that cradle my brother’s schizophrenia and the sleep that holds my parents’ silence.

Who knew then that someday I’d be 36, circling a volcano, thinking of the smoke rising from my childhood chimney and oak leaves backlit by streetlamps? Of the way my house appeared at the top of a hill, like a fortress, on those late nights?

The crater steams from vents that lead deep into the earth. The hot air sculpts ice on its way to the surface. I never asked when the last eruption was, or when the next might be. I imagine phantom rumblings in my solar plexus.

I cross bridges over icy rivers. I look into heads of glaciers slithering down valleys, ancient snakes so cold against the warm emptiness below. I walk among the purple larkspur and yellow lilies blooming atop the volcano’s fingers. I am at home beside a mountain that can gut itself at any moment.


Caroline N. Simpson

Caroline N. Simpson was a 2020 Delaware Division of Arts Established Artist Fellow in Poetry. Her chapbook, Choose Your Own Adventures and Other Poems, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2018. She has thrice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, both in poetry and nonfiction, and in 2013, a collection of her poetry won Honorable Mention in Hot Street’s Emerging Writers Contest. She teaches high school English at the Tatnall School in Wilmington, DE, and has taught at international high schools in Turkey and Spain. You can follow her at

On Frairy Street

She peels gum from the sidewalk,

pops it in her mouth, ignores the grit.

There is some sweetness left.


Skip and chew, skip and chew,

she gloats to herself—sure that none

of her siblings had gum today.


She once heard her mother say—

Don’t ever swallow gum or it’ll stay

in your stomach for seven years.


Seven plus seven—I’ll be fourteen then.


* * *


Tonight for dinner, again they pick

dandelions in the backyard, catch

crayfish from the brook.


She eats the bitter salad. Refuses the meat.

For dessert—she retrieves her gum

from beneath the table.


The sweetness is gone.

She thinks of another place to stick it—

on a park bench, the apple tree trunk,


the tar-coated telephone pole—

because she can’t swallow it.

She just can’t.


Seven years is a long time.


Lisa J. Sullivan

Lisa J. Sullivan holds an MFA in Poetry from the Solstice Low-Residency MFA Program at Pine Manor College, where she was a Kurt Brown Memorial Fellow. Her work has appeared in The American Journal of Poetry, The Comstock Review, Puckerbrush Review, and elsewhere. Her ekphrastic piece “To the Bog of Allen” was selected as the United States Winner of the 2013 Ireland Poetry Project contest in collaboration with the Academy of American Poets. She is an associate editor for Lily Poetry Review Books and a poetry editor for Pink Panther Magazine.

Too Many Questions

Six weeks

after I began ninth grade,

Mother went to bed.


She closed drapes, hid

autumn light, knotted

her body beneath winter blankets.


Seven years earlier,

her brother went to work

then crawled under his desk,



White jackets took him away

and whispers I overheard

spoke of electroshock therapy,



Confused by my feelings,

I asked no forgiveness

for liking the new quiet,


but it felt strange

to exist without her anger,

her disappointment.


I pedaled to the cemetery,

walked among tombstones,

sorting my unsettled mind

as I questioned skeletal remains.


There was John, the soldier

from South Carolina

whose brother had disappeared.

But not under blankets.


I asked James, the eldest

of ten children, what he knew

about living in the dark.


He kept it simple, suggested

I leave her alone,

get on with my life.


I bemoaned my transfer

to a new school,

but Daniel, who grew up

on a farm in south Georgia,


laughed, said school was school

and I should just shut up.

Or pack a bag and run away.

My choice.


I thanked them all,

bid them good night

and rode home

as streetlights began to buzz.


Is she thinking

about my mistakes,

storing up punishment


and criticism to use

when she gets well?

Will she get well?


And who is cooking dinner?



Linda Wimberly

Linda Wimberly is a writer, artist and musician from Marietta, GA. A former Vermont Studio Center resident in writing, her poetry has appeared in The Raw Art Review, Lunch Ticket, Stone River Sky: An Anthology of Georgia Poems and others and a short story appeared in Cricket. She is a self-taught abstract artist and her images have appeared in or been cover art for jelly bucket, Critical Pass Review, Inscape Magazine and others. Her image “Woman on the Move” won the 2019 Art Contest for So to Speak: feminist journal of language and art. (

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