Jean L. Kreiling

Young Reader

For Tommy

At first the letters make no sense,
and so he looks ahead and back
and gathers up the evidence.

He’s mastered this. He can unpack
the phonics and the context—clues
to mysteries that he will crack.

By now, not many words confuse
this kid, who knows exactly how
to use this passport he can’t lose,

to lose himself in stories. Now
and then, he lets a grownup read,
but when he does, his furrowed brow

bends close to every page, his greed
for this brand-new enchantment clear.
He grows, as they say, like a weed,

but there’s unseen expansion here
as well: his world has widened, brain
grown mightier. One day Shakespeare

may thrill him; Poe may entertain
this avid fan of fantasy.
For now, he’s happy to explain

Dogman and Wimpy Kid to me.
I’m happy, too; it’s bliss to see
a kid who’s reading, blissfully.

Lessons in the Form of Nonets

1. Driving Lessons

A wrong turn is sometimes the right choice.
Insistence on one’s right-of-way
may just prove to be dead wrong.
Braking prevents breakage,
unless one follows
too closely, fast,
and is forced
to stop

2. Drinking Lessons

Vodka can slake thirst, or deepen it.
Bourbon, neat, can make you sloppy.
Go green: add a twist of lime.
Champagne would be pointless
without bubbles and
a graceful glass.
Danger lurks
on the

3. Downsizing Lessons

You do not need three sets of china.
You do in fact need all those books.
To pack is to reminisce.
To discard is to shed
extraneous weight.
Find your rhythm:
sort, donate,

Winter Greetings on the Walking Trail

Plymouth, Massachusetts

We seldom say more than a word or two,
but seasons color our brief courtesy:
our winter words are meaningful, though few.

Cold-weather greetings often hint at who
and where we are: pride and tenacity
emerge from no more than a word or two.

Someone says Brisk! or Crisp!—a terse review,
not a complaint, and called out cheerfully—
a boast about our sturdiness. A few

will mutter Stay warm!—in a pithy clue
to our New England solidarity:
we care, if brusquely. In a word or two

we might affirm that fashion and hairdo
mean little: Nice hat! (In reality,
my earflaps look absurd.) I’ve heard a few

laments—once Hurry, spring!—and yes, it’s true
that sometimes we just nod, so cold that we
can’t sacrifice an extra breath or two.
Our winter words are meaningful, but few.


Jean L. Kreiling is the prize-winning author of three collections of poetry: Shared History (2022), Arts & Letters & Love (2018), and The Truth in Dissonance (2014). She is an Associate Poetry Editor for Able Muse: A Review of Poetry, Prose & Art and a longtime member of the Powow River Poets; she lives on the coast of Massachusetts.


Jane Blanchard
Barbara Lydecker Crane
Mary Cresswell
Barbara Crooker
Sarah-Jane Crowson
Claudia Gary
Julia Griffin
Mia Schilling Grogan
Kathryn Jacobs
Jen Karetnick
Jean L. Kreiling
Jenna Le
Kathleen McClung
Diane Lee Moomey
Leslie Schultz
Natalie Staples
Kathrine Varnes
Joyce Wilson
Marly Youmans


The latest addition to the Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline Database is Rachel Wetzsteon by Patricia Behrens. The Poetry by the Sea Conference is scheduled next year from May 21-24.

Maureen Alsop:I often create visual art as a memorialization to the closure of a written work. However, many of these visual pieces arrived as a trajectory while writing a larger 'work-in-progress.' The text within the visual poems do not speak to the content of the larger work but are autonomous, acting as bridge between the written and visual bodies. The original text draws upon ghosts in the hall of battles. It is a glittering solar analemma, an unattested revolution, an infinity reflected in ellipses, omissions, and disintegration. A full collection representing many of these images came to fruition recently in Tender to Empress (Wet Cement Press). Yet the act of creating from text continues, as the digital collages here also include newer works based on miscellaneous notes, old emails, and most recently a short story, "The Unnamed Woman of Mary River" (forthcoming at South Dakota Review). The title to these are based on cargo ships which I pass on my daily commute from island to mainland. These small cities of people, afloat for weeks on end out at sea, are a looming story that embarks and disembarks in my imagination.

The visual poems are crafted under the mechanics of "Écriture Féminine," literally "women's writing." These principals advance a feminine perspective. I write from parallels, cyclical slips through stream of conscious and fragmentary processes. The writing exists as rough erotic. As talisman. Interpersonal in their ruptures and syntax, soft in their discomforts; a splintered narrative. Through writing, I can go anywhere and never be found.

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