glimpse some poems. savor, expand, and enjoy. also, maybe test out some of your own, while you’re at it.

anything marked jrh. is solely by jennifer hetrick.

collaborative river poem no. 7
by sam traten, jennifer hetrick, and barbara tucker

sam: ah, we’re back—
a steel town’s river and
the canal that brought
coal from upriver collieries to
fuel blast furnaces

jennifer: barbara’s feet caked lightly in mud,
now dry, sam introduces us to caviar on rice
crackers as we sit in camping chairs

spying a great blue heron
slow-prancing in duckweed
under an island, home to one
wavy-branched willow tree

barbara: lazing on a stone-strewn bank,
the muddy big water flow
southeast toward the atlantic ocean

as we watch & talk, talk & watch,
remembering other times & places

s. plants closed now,
converted into condos,
—nightlife and art galleries
alive with young lovers

b. we make toasts, pink moscato
to all, to the baby blueness
and fluffed up whiteness of sky’s clouds looming
over the tall, straight, many-colored trees

j. an unmoving rope swing suspended high
from the shore across from our poetry-writing
selves—when we are brewing in our conversations,
the great blue heron we could hardly stop gazing
at earlier is yards away from us, sniffing out our

little jar of caviar

b. without us noticing, mr. big heron pops up
next to us before taking wing, and with dynamic
precision, swoops right onto the other side of the water,
lands, grooms his feathers, and i whistle

j. attempting to photograph the winged
one fast enough, midflight, over this
pushing surface, under this august sun

s. herons stalk minnows in
shallows here for millennia,
and nothing is changed

b. i can’t help it, i really can’t help myself
the deep feeling of wanting to touch him
hold him or just be known to him

firefly-enamored minutes
jrh. 3 july 2016.

i see you trailing across air, firefly,
cascading your summer color through night sky,
light pulsing from the shell of your body
as you map your flight under the moon.

nameless she
jrh. 18 january 2016.

her footsteps
leave behind
when she walks
in wet soil,
forget to hunt for her.

the world’s history of bones
jrh. 10 june 2016.

i embrace the world’s
history of bones, marrow
feathered and waiting

lilly jay sports invisible wings
jrh. 29 march 2015.

it is july. my niece lilly jay
is six, at least in these human
measures we use. we are at the top

of fairview cemetery, sprawled
in grass, then hopping around.
we blow bubbles, these iridescent

globes offered as orbs of hope,
peace, and loving energy to two
baby sisters whose graves show

that their family lost them
after barely a month’s worth
of october days, for one,

and hardly a year or two,
for the other. their names
are ethel and elsie. they

died between 1898 and 1900.
a purple ribbon is wrapped
around their tombstones. we

send them prayers of kindness,
morsels of peace for their spirits.
we talk about what their brief

lives must have been like, how
hard it must have been for their
mom and dad to see them leave

life so early as children.
but lilly jay carries their
spirits upward with her

movements. she bumps around
so many blades of grass, saying
goodbye to the sunset as it

escapes from the hillside
to rise up for strangers many
stretches away from the patches

of earth we know in pennsylvania.
lilly jay says she wishes she
could fly. it is a deep-seated

want, but she lets it have air,
and a few hours later, she sees
that wish breathe. we drive

to the fleetwood carnival, parking
at a grocery store. once we buy
tickets, she chooses the swings

as her first ride. buckled in,
we whir, and our feet leave
the ground. buzzing upward more

and more, lilly jay’s eyes
glitter, and she squeals, i’m
flying, aunt jenny, i’m flying !

she understands that she
is capable of so much related
to magic, that she is magic.

she has taken on electronic
wings for the moment and will
learn more as she grows

and understands the feathers
she has are sometimes ones
she’ll notice more in dreams.

poems by students