Weekly Write: “To Keep Away Crows Feet” by Tyler Dettloff

To Keep Away Crows Feet

I watched a dozen red wing black birds
fight over a single maggot in the church parking lot
as funeral barkers repeated the priest.
The birds smeared that crawler into a grease
to bake on the blacktop. Maggot resin
waxed their beaks. Soon I will gather fiddle head ferns
and place their fuzz on my tongue.
I thought about paving my driveway,
left it dirt instead.
I won’t reseed the lawn either.
I can smell the bog’s breath.
Thickets are not fallow.

Last winter I crept to the crawlspace
slept away four moons. When I awoke
I could only stomach tubers and a few berries.
But I wanted meat in my mouth.

Mayflies hatch and we tie bait
to match. Fingertips gaunt and sharp
from feathers and thread, a tight quilt
knit to moisten trout tongues.
Fly rod flits cast spells over swamp streams.
I do not understand trout rising in the thaw
but I damn sure know the comfort
in the underbelly of a bog.
Worms and maggots ask questions
all winter long between roots and decay.
I plug my ears with mourning dove songs.
I tilt with the earth away from the sun.
Together we burrow blindly
like voles chase winter grubs.

If we traveled like birds we’d grow fat and pretty.
My hands would soften.
I’d moisturize my crows feet and fallow heart.
At every funeral I’d say the same thing.
I’d knead spruce sap against my gums
and ask the needles to have mercy on my tongue.


Tyler Dettloff is an Anishinaabe Métis, Italian, and Irish writer, professor, musician, gardener, and water protector raised on the edge of the Delirium Wilderness. He currently lives in Gnoozhekaaning (Bay Mills, Michigan) and teaches College Composition at Lake Superior State University. He has earned a B.S. in English and a dual track M.A. in Literature and Pedagogy from Northern Michigan University. His work has been featured in Voice on the Water, Crab Fat Magazine, and Heartwood Literature Magazine. Mostly, he enjoys walking along rivers with his wife Daraka and through swamps his dogs Banjo and Fiddle.




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Weekly Write: “Afterlife” by Anna M. Spears


After he passed, I saw him
Born in a field of dormant corn
Amid papery stalks and a gentle breeze
A shadowed sunset with too heavy clouds
Faded mile markers on Old 16
Smiled at him through the window and knew
The air smelled of tears
I breathed it in anyway.
A flicker of wings and a toss of hair
Dancing with fireflies into the twilight
Lighting the way with tiny iridescent bulbs
Betraying leathery wings tinged with gold

It’s not so scary now, I think
This fragile peace permeating the ground
The darkness closing in
Betrayed by the blinking
The sorrow and fear and anger and disbelief
And you knew. Something in you knew.
How could you?
Your tear would unravel the whole fabric,
Bare us to the wind chill.
In a moment it was gone
The air, calmed and lighter, and something
Something is there, and I know it
Hiding in the field among the tall grass and hay bales
The dried out reeds swaying to the bird song
And I found myself in the back seat
We are the only car here for miles
Stopped at a traffic light.

Anna M. Spears is a poet with a bachelor’s degree in English with a specialty in Creative Writing from Denison University in Granville, Ohio.



“Like”, “Share”, and comment on this poem to nominate it for the Annual Swimming with Elephants Publications 2019 Anthology.

Click here check out Parade: Swimming with Elephants Publications Anthology 2018 available for only $10.95.

Weekly Write: “rest here” by Zoe Canner

rest here

i always approach
the person in the

room who holds
the least power

and turn my
hands into a cup

and listen to them
& try to hear

and turn my head
at an angle and

turn my shoulders
down and my

sternum inward &
try to bow

and turn my nose
into a swamp & try
a silence

and turn my cheeks
into a great plain &
try to lift

and turn my
forehead into a

landing pad for
hands & fingers

rest here

and turn my eyes
into still waters
and turn my mouth
into a brace
a carriage

i care
i care


Zoe Canner’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in SUSAN / The Journal, Naugatuck River Review, The Laurel Review, Arcturus of the Chicago Review of Books, Storm Cellar, Maudlin House, Occulum, Pouch, Indolent Books’ What Rough Beast, and elsewhere. She lives in Los Angeles.




“Like”, “Share”, and comment on this poem to nominate it for the Annual Swimming with Elephants Publications 2019 Anthology.

Click here check out Parade: Swimming with Elephants Publications Anthology 2018 available for only $10.95.

Weekly Write: “John Muir Sprains his Ankle” by Scott Ferry

John Muir sprains his ankle

I landed oblong on that fawn-shaped round of granite
by the Yosemite Creek, just down the path from my cabin.
Thank God I did not injure myself 20 miles from here
down Bridalveil Creek. But I would have made it back,

by the grace of the elderberry, service berry, wild cherry
and would have had to thump deliberately through
the sage with a numb limb. Reading Emerson
doesn’t help directly with the pain, yet being able

to float upward, distinct from my frame
to list willowy in the black oak and afternoon
scent of incense-cedar, this can be useful.
When I write about light, I don’t know if I am understood,

nor believed. People can see the swollen club
of my naked ankle, people can understand agony,
seeing many thousands slaughtered by this
country tearing at itself, not civil at all. People

can steal, can be stolen from; can hold an infant,
can weep as their mother slides away. But most
cannot comprehend joy and glory to the degree
of breaking, straining the daily thought forms apart

until the capsule cracks. Saint Teresa and I
recline on these sheepskins, listening to God’s
blood run through the cabin floor and the ferns
reach to the light and twine together.

And when the peregrine swings down and sears
its vibrating laugh across the valley the glow
from inside of the white fir stretches into the
air around it and weaves with the glow of elk

of sequoia of raccoon until it bathes the entire
flight with tears. This is too uncomfortable, the weeping.
I have been attempting to describe it in words,
as the letters open like moths and drift

into this same glory, unseen.

Scott Ferry helps our Veterans heal as a RN. In former lives he taught high school and practiced acupuncture. Recent work can be found in Chaleur, Cobalt, Bitter Oleander, and Cultural Weekly, among others. His collection “The only thing that makes sense is to grow” will be published by Moon Tide Press in early 2020. You can read more of his work at HTTPS://FERRYPOETRY.COM

Weekly Write: “Pretty in a Hard Way” by Michelle Brooks

Pretty in a Hard Way

The ground moves with snakes,
and the sky bleeds red streaks,
as if the night couldn’t leave
without a fight, and all your dreams
are tragedies where no one dies,
but everyone suffers. In your past
life when you woke up hungover, you’d
think, Anything is better than this.

You were a confection, a little
dead around the eyes, the kind
of woman people describe as
pretty in a hard way. And you
refuse to go gently into that good
night. And let’s face it. Not all
of them were good ones. You don’t
care. There is nothing you can do
about it now. Gather the pieces
as best you can even if they cut you.

Michelle Brooks has published a collection of poetry, Make Yourself Small, (Backwaters Press), and a novella, Dead Girl, Live Boy, (Storylandia Press). Her poetry collection, Flamethrower, will be published by Latte Press in 2019. A native Texan, she has spent much of her adult life in Detroit.