Since 1996 Volume XXII

      Dianna  Mackinnon Henning

Dianna holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College. Published in, in part: The Moth, Ireland; Sukoon, Volume 5; Mojave River Review; the New Verse News; Naugatuck River Review; Lullwater Review; The Red Rock Review; The Kentucky Review; The Good Works Review; Blue Fifth Review; The Main Street Rag; Clackamas Literary Review; 22 wagons by Danijela TrajkovićIstok Akademia, an anthology of contemporary Anglophone poetry; California Quarterly; Poetry International and Fugue. Three-time Pushcart nominee. New work due out in New American Writing, The Kerf and Sequestrum. Henning taught through California Poets in the Schools, received several CAC grants and through the William James Association’s Prison Arts Program.  Henning’s third poetry book Cathedral of the Hand published 2016 by Finishing Line Press.




There once was a girl who had no waist.

She held up her skirt with bobby pins,

so, her mother made plaid pinafores for her

but the girl didn’t approve of apron-like garments,

traded them with girlfriends or stuffed them

in the school locker. Her mother, quite chagrined,

never understood where the pinafores went.

Quite out of desperation her mom attached alarms

in the hems of such pinafores to announce her daughter’s

scandalous behavior. The daughter, sensing something amiss,

unstitched the hems, took the alarms and sewed them into her mother’s clothes.

She always wanted to alarm her, to make her, for once, see her.


The Hello Fresh Day

says there’s no accounting for history,

how it peaks interest in the future, or instead rolls back

months that sound like cannons set free. Just when you think

you’re on top of your calendar something goes amiss,

one day lost to a sea of outrage. That’s when so and so

got elected. There are shadows behind the month’s names. September

came down with a case of distemper. I once was afraid of my shadow,

ran to the nearest person with “Lift me.” Downcast is the name

I gave myself after the elections. Now, I ravage memory for warm

stones that quietly hum on summer days.





The basement of my house is taproot.

It grows inside me.


One word supposedly cups

the elbow of another.


We age in the basement

and require assistance up the shoddy stairs.


A woman will walk a man to his grave,

give some measure of praise,

but cannot change what came between them.


In the terrible high voltage

of a fitful sleep,

I reach for you, but you are not there.


Venturing into the darkness alone,

could be like when you entered

and felt me leaving.


At Seathwaite Cottage UK, Guidelines

for Visitors Say: No Naked Flames.


the wick:

a woman

on the lip

of a candle,

her body


by heat,

so much

so all

she can do

is dance;


at the flesh,


near the core


by nothing

more than one

hot pool

of wax

that will not


will not empty

to free her.


Spare Nothing




Not even the Ojibwa tea given me by a tribal
elder known for medicinal powers, who
claimed the deer had given him

the healing leaves cured

my mother. In the hospital’s

waiting room, a strobe of lights,

buzz of electrical currents.


Since she died, I’ve hunted

for a quiet room inside myself, one

without fluorescents, one

without arguments, one without


accusations. I’ll riffle

through relics in her cedar chest—

yellowed photos, quilts, scraps, name

tags from dead dogs. I’d like her


to hold me one more time. To say




I’m sorry. You 

could have used birch
branches for bones to make
a second mother, wrapped her liquid
folds around a bough
stripped of bark, tucked her 

into its form. Imagine this:

a daughter arranging limbs on the leafy ground
to puzzle out maternal shapes—to find 

the heart, hold it in her hands,
examine it closely. 

Make another mother--who
ever heard of such a thing?

Your Yankee heritage dictated spare
nothing, toss nothing. What 

were those hanging sheaves of skin but
something to be turned useful? If 

one mother died, there was always a spare. 










Copyright, Dianna  Mackinnon Henning.
All Rights Reserved.

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