Volume 113, Number 3/4

Volume 113, Number 3/4



There is no simple formula for the relationship of art to justice.
But I do know that art——in my own case, the art of poetry——means nothing
if it simply deocrates the dinner table of power which holds it hostage.

 —Adrienne Rich (1929–2012)

 FRONT COVER: “Contemplation of Justice,” United States Supreme Court. Photo credit: Architect of the Capitol.



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Editors’ Page

As you climb the Supreme Court’s wide stone steps, you’ll pass James Earle Fraser’s “Contemplation of Justice” statue on your left. This iconic image, featured on our cover, depicts a seated woman in a regal pose. One arm rests on a book of laws, while the other hand grips the diminutive figure of blindfolded “Justice,” who holds a set of scales. These are the symbols of an American ideal: justice for all under the law, justice that is blind to irrelevant distinctions, justice that is measured and measurable.

What does the poetry of our moment have to say on the subject? What can it show us that we can’t find in news reports, commentaries, and non-fiction books? From Tony Hoagland’s “Squad-Car Light” in our opening pages to Jacqueline Allen Trimble’s closing portfolio about the overt and covert forms of racism that still divide us, many poems in this issue enact concerns about fairness—and what a wide array of approaches they employ. In “A Rock and a Hard Place,” Deborah Paredez adopts the structure of dictionary definitions to address the bitter history of relocation and dislocation among Native Americans; Gretchen Primack’s “R.H. in the Waiting Room” evokes the tenderness and fear an incarcerated father feels for his young son within an imagined speech; Jacqueline Balderrama makes ruin vivid in a dreamlike take on Hurricane Maria. Other poets explore more intimate forms of equity, set within the precincts of love and family.

Later in this issue, you’ll find D. Nurkse’s “Poems, Prose Poems, Decoy Selves”—an intriguing look at genre distinctions—and engaging reviews of eight recent collections, some of which (like David Gewanter’s Fort Necessity) address questions of injustice directly.

At the end of “Squad-Car Light,” Hoagland writes: “Remember the ones you let go in your place. / Remember the ones all over the world / who are raising their arms in the air right now, // then putting their wrists behind their backs….” Poetry can insist as well as enchant, reminding us of what we’ve forgotten or refused to see—and perhaps in that way, it serves justice too. Not “poetic justice” with its arch, ironic undertones, but the higher justice of our shared humanity.




Tony Hoagland, Squad-Car Light

                           The Power of Traffic

                          Damaged Nerves

Myra Sklarew, Playing Ping Pong with Claude Brown at Yaddo

Michael Lauchlan, Denied Entry to a Prison

Gretchen Primack, R.H. in the Waiting Room

Albert Garcia, Basic Biology

E.A. Greenwell, Ursa Major

Peter Leight, Note from the Underground


Michael Minassian, The Rosenbergs Come out to Play?

Deborah Paredez, A Rock and a Hard Place

Holli Carrell, At Dead Horse Bay

Elizabeth O’Brien, Love Poem

Matthew Porto, In Vermont

Jim Daniels, Dirty Laundry

E. Laura Golberg, Dry Cleaning

Kelly Cherry, Life, or Something Like It

Bruce Willard, The Half-Life

Gary Stein, Hindsight

Danny Duffy, Landscape with Charon Crossing the Styx

Chelsea Krieg, Everything Is Water

Emily Ransdell, From the Boat

                           What I Know About Fire

Jess Williard, Instruction


Jacqueline Balderrama, “Alas” translates to “wings”

Hannah Craig, Abandoned House

Gabrielle Claffey, Lines for Summer

John Bargowski, Nowhere

Megan Alpert, Rage as Bird

Rebecca Foust, The Dream of the Rood


Joseph Ross, My Brother’s Keeper

Joanne Rocky, Delaplaine Bogotá, 1964

Wale Owoade, Apocalypse

Pablo Medina, Now Night

                         Eight Men Rowing

Dara Elerath, The Disappointment of the Cantaloupes

Henry Taylor, Two Winter Landscapes

Jan C. Grossman, Too Much Snow

Frannie Lindsay, Refuge

Kevin Casey, Late Winter Rain

Paul Martin, Two Boys on the Ice

James Crews, Light Preserves

Matthew J. Spireng, Morning Fog, Late September


Lucy Adkins, White Cat

Grant Clauser, Crime Scene

Daniel Arias-Gomez, We’re Loudest When We’re Quiet

Julie Walls,  Three Days Before the March on the Pettus Bridge, 1965

Scott Withiam, Of All Observances


Poets Introducing Poets

Honorée Fanonne Jeffers Introduces Jacqueline Allen Trimble

Jacqueline Allen Trimble

                    How to Survive the Apocalypse
                    My Son Says the Moon
                   Landing Was a Lie
                  Oh, Say Can You See
                  Nat Turner Returns for His Stolen
                  Parts and Finds a Sermon of Rage
                 Counting Race
                World Economics
               “We Was Girls Together”


D. Nurkse “Prose, Prose Poems, Decoy Selves”

                   Letter from Twilight
                   A Secret
                  The Pass to Domodossola
                  The Thicket
                 The Bossy Child


Mary-Sherman Willis “Yet Again, the Traditional Charm”

                  Bye-Bye Land by Christian Barter

                  Fort Necessity by David Gewanter

                 Magdalene by Marie Howe

Lee Rossi, “Hillbilly Prodigal”

                Was I Asleep: New and Selected Poems by Jackson Wheeler

Anne Harding Woodworth, “Looking for the Light Four Ways”

               Haji as Puppet: an Orientalist Burlesque by Roger Sedarat

               The Island Kingdom by Pablo Medina

              Bloodline by Radha Marcum

              The Scientific Method by Kim Roberts


Richard Harteis, “Celebrating William Meredith’s Centenary”

Recent & Forthcoming Books by Poet Lore Poets