Shanna Powlus Wheeler


Yards from a murmurless creek
grows this crooked cherry
with a zig-zag trunk,
angular as

the lightning bolt that struck it,
snapped its trunk nearly off,
thus the zag, the sharp
sag, the steep jut

downward. Yet the cherry lived,
mending its fracture, now
an arthritic joint,
bulbous and thick.

Livid then, the cherry grew
up against the droop, thus
the trunk's second joint,
the zig—it looks

just like a human elbow,
and the whole double-kink
trunk, like an arm bent
to wrestle air.

One Grand Oak

For Louise Johnson

I left it, one grand oak now rooted deep
in my hundred acre alfalfa field.
I don't remember why—a spot of shade
in summer maybe—nothing to do with art.
But once every season, camera in hand,
a neighbor stands in the field, far enough
away to capture the perfect globe
of branches. He eyes the oak between shots
as if waiting for wind to flip the leaves
like the wings of restless birds, or the sun
to light the dense network like the burning bush.
He gave me a gift of three framed shots.
The oak in winter: an eerie nest, gray sky.
Decked in summer's greenery, the oak leans
in a yellow breeze. Harvest: now I see
the oak orange and round as a pumpkin.
My kitchen window frames the tree each day;
I never noticed till his watchful stance,
the camera lifted to his eye, and these
pictures of a tree always just a tree
firm in the field, left to burrow roots
and broaden branches skyward. Growth, I saw,
not grandiosity, my eyes on sprays
of cow's milk, my hands powdered with feed.
I've lived too close to the land, seeing use
and yield. I now look twice at eager sprouts
of alfalfa, each bony calf, each crooked
line of leg. My square-bodied cows are black
and white photographs. The strutting rooster
embodies sunset and autumn. My eyes:
a camera. All of it art—these acres,
these animals, the oak that nods to me.


Shanna Powlus Wheeler studied poetry at the Pennsylvania State University, where she received her M.F.A. in 2007. Poems from her manuscript "Lo & Behold" have appeared or are forthcoming in Crab Orchard Review, North American Review, The Evansville Review, The Christian Century, Christianity and Literature, Relief: A Quarterly of Christian Expression, Watershed: The Journal of the Susquehanna, and other journals. Native to central Pennsylvania, she directs the writing center and teaches composition at Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA.


Tiel Aisha Ansari
B. J. Buckley
Terese Coe
Carol Dorf
Jehanne Dubrow
Nicole Caruso Garcia
Ona Gritz
Kathryn Jacobs
Allison Joseph
Susan McLean
Marilyn Nelson
Janice D. Soderling
Shanna Powlus Wheeler
Marly Youmans

Jane Sutherland: I choose subjects that I cherish, or that spring from deep rooted feelings, or that come to me intuitively--dogs, roses, cranes, an iconic work of sculpture; and I concentrate on the details and slightest disparities in color, tone and textures in order to show how extraordinary are things we think we know and take for granted. The process of painting for me is connected to the physical properties of the subject as well as to its meanings, associations, and memories.
32 Poems
The Academy of American Poets
The Atlantic
The Christian Science Monitor
The Cortland Review
Favorite Poem Project
The Frost Place
The Iowa Review
Light Quarterly
Modern American Poetry
The Poem Tree
Poetry Daily
Poetry Society of America
Poets House
Raintown Review
String Poet
Valparaiso Poetry Review
Verse Daily
Women's Poetry Listserv
The Yale Review

Bread Loaf
Poetry by the Sea


Barefoot Muse Press
David Robert Books
David R. Godine Press
Graywolf Press
Headmistress Press
The Johns Hopkins University Press
Louisiana State University Press
Northwestern Univ Press
Ohio Univ Press
Persea Books
Red Hen Press
Texas Tech Univ Press
Tupelo Press
Univ of Akron Press
Univ of Arkansas Press
Univ of Illinois Press
Univ of Iowa Press
Waywiser Press
White Violet Press

City Lights
Grolier Poetry Bookshop
Joseph Fox Bookshop
Prairie Lights
Tattered Cover Bookstore

92nd Street Y
Literary Mothers
Poets & Writers