Since 1996 Volume XXIII






Sandra Anfang is a poet and visual artist. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including San Francisco Peace and HopeThe Tower Journal, Poetalk,Unbroken Literary Journal, Rattle, and Spillway. Her chapbook, Looking Glass Heart, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2016. Road Worrier: Poems of the Inner and Outer Landscape (Finishing Line Press, 2018) followed. A full-length collection, Xylem Highway, was released in March, 2019 from Main Street Rag. Anfang has been nominated for a Best Short Fictions award and a Pushcart Prize. Unbroken Journal featured an interview with her about the prose poem. (http://unbrokenjournal.com/2016/02/an-interview-with-sandra-anfang/) She is founder and host of the monthly series, Rivertown Poets, in Petaluma, California, and a California Poet/Teacher in the Schools. Find her atsandraanfang.com


She stands in the field 
takes the long view down valley.
In spite of tethers and concrete blocks 
her easel lists in the wind that winds uphill.

The Eucalyptus are creaking;
the sound reverberates 
in her mother’s knees
echoes her constant complaint.

Once she saw a huge branch break off 
and thunder to the trail a few feet on. 
She shudders at the memory.
Light is fading fast.

In the distance she hears 
someone hewing wood for supper.
The first crickets tune their wings 
to a higher key.

Childhood’s End

When I was three I stripped the Red Maple bare
to make a bouquet for Mother.
She cried, composed her face,
and said I must not pick the leaves off trees.

After that my memory clouds distinctly.
When did we stop watching the Sweet Gum grow
counting the Red Maple’s leaves
the pear tree’s offering?

Roses crept up over the wrought iron table
melding with the ivy, molting their pale skins.
Cigarette butts filled the rock garden
under the second-story bathroom where I’d sneak a smoke

adding contrast to the landscape.
When did I begin to witness their accumulation—
like sheaves of discarded calendar pages—
as evidence of the passing years?

When did we stop tagging
the downward-hunted seconds
of high-flown omnipotence
from our perches in the Crabapple

children who descend 
to quiet suppers
from their sylvan lairs
like so many upright apes?

The Rapture

The young stallion abandoned in his stall
incognizant of the end
played like it was yesterday.
Inside the envelope of his memory
an image of how he carried a boy
who tousled his mane
nuzzled his cheek with his own
and fed him apples from the Gravenstein tree.
He froze
tasted the direction of the wind
and understood 
that no one would come for him. 
He played like it was yesterday.

It’s Alright

It’s alright if your poems
accumulate in fraying journals.
It’s alright if some are stillborn.
It’s alright if there are days
when the touch of a pen makes you blanch.
It’s alright to give in to the sun
lying in the tall grass
counting midnight meteors
striping the sky.

Why must your life be a production run
though I know you were weaned on one?

Sit in the sand and feel the tide
suck out your sorrows.
Pelicans will lift them, one by one,
diadems to feather their nests.

It’s alright if our marks on the world
are but scratches in the dust
erased by the mercurial wind.
The trees know you’ve lived, Sandra.
You’ve already penned their story.
Count the rings to remember.


I welcome the shrinking of the light
drape myself in dying vines;
the minted breath of evening’s breeze
mists the desiccated trees.

In spite of bloodless papered leaves
that line the path like cicada sheathes
summer lurks to steal our tears 
of laughter from the carefree years

of shoeless wonder, river frolic
timeless play with Wren and Lark;
the smoke from autumn’s funeral pyre 
stirs the soul and stokes the fire.

We retell tales of trolls and goblins
revel in the dark delights
lick our wounds and feed our hearts
dreaming of the vernal arts.

—These poems all appear in the book by the author, Xylem Highway, from Main Street Rag.  

All poems are 
Copyright © Sandra Anfang.

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Mary Barnet


Grace Cavalieri

Joan Gelfand

Janet Brennan