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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.




“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: “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.

Weekly Write: “This Body Will Not Carry” by Annie Elizabeth Cigic

This Body Will Not Carry

I go on long drives–childless–
a loud peace. An empty backseat,

ignoring seatbelts & airbags. No bodies
traveling at the same speed as mine.

No questions about the sky–why the clouds hang
low & heavy some days. No one to count the broken

white lines or ask why the roads light up
at dark. I drive until I see barren

landscapes–hurricanes won’t touch
this wasteland.


Annie Elizabeth Cigic is a poetry MFA candidate at Bowling Green State University. She teaches first-year writing and plans to pursue a PhD in Rhetoric and Composition to study how to merge creative thinking and pedagogy together. She is currently working on a poetry chapbook.




“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: ” Somnambulist” by Charles Duffie


The pills knock you out, so you’re asleep when I make the rounds. That’s good. Easier. You hate that I still do this. I got into the habit when you were pregnant. It was prayer back then, pausing in each room, murmuring, “Thank you” and meaning it. Every night. Sixteen years.

So, I make the rounds, even now. Stand in the kitchen, where he picked up your love of cooking. The living room, where every Wednesday was Family Game Night, even when he got busy in high school. Our bedroom, where you fell asleep so easily, curled in contentment. The little sunroom where I pretended I was a novelist and he pretended he was a songwriter. His bedroom, where he evolved like the history of man, from neanderthal toddler to cro-magnon tween to a sometimes surly, often fine homo sapiens.

So every night I make the rounds, pause at each station, but without “Thank you” now, those clasped words slammed apart as easily as the Honda slammed through the guard rail, our boy asleep at the wheel. He just fell asleep. That’s all. Why is that the one detail I can’t accept?

The first few weeks, it hurt you, that I kept making the rounds. Your husband became a somnambulist and all you could do was sleep. I envy your hibernation. You’ll survive this long winter and wake in some unseeable spring. Meanwhile I go through the motions. I feel unmoored even from my grief. I kneel in the surf of the shag carpet; I’ve been in a shipwreck, a castaway washed ashore in my own home.

That annoying grandfather clock he loved chimes downstairs. As if summoned, I shuffle into the kitchen. This routine I do for you, while you sleep. I make the rounds for me, I make dinner for you. This was your sacred space with him. God, he was a chubby kid. That’s why you learned to cook. No more fast food, you said. All the diets the two of you started and quit.

I flip The No Meat Athlete Cookbook to the next recipe. I hated all his plant-based lectures. But I have to admit, he lost weight, got trim and fast. Watching him glide downcourt, stretch his body, pluck the ball from the air and finger-float it through the rim — he was more beautiful than anything in nature. A gazelle leaping is a graceful machine, but a boy doing that? That’s conscious grace. That has to be proof of something.

Tonight I’m making Loaded Spaghetti Squash, Garlicky Rosemary Potato Soup, Kale Salad with You-Won’t-Believe-It’s-Cashews Ranch Dressing, and No-Bake Mocha Cheesecake. The silvery sounds of new pans, ceramic plates, glass bowls, steel measuring cups — his birthday present from you, a complete set. Crisp cuts through squash, potatoes, kale stems; easy motions, pouring, whisking, scooping; distinct smells, garlic, rosemary, basil, bay leaves; stirring slow like cranking a gurney or prayer wheel. I lose myself in these mundane things until the flavors sweeten the air and pull me back.

It’s a feast. Center all the bowls on the white table, each filled with color: bright orange pasta, golden soup, blue-green salad, small black cheesecake with blanched almonds serrating the edges. Sometimes I notice there’s no silverware, sometimes I don’t.

It’s almost 3 AM. We haven’t sat together, husband and wife, at this table since the crash. But I end up here every night. Maybe I’m waiting for the day I’ll feel hungry again. I don’t know. It’s only been six weeks. Give it time, people say. I’ve lost thirty pounds. How do fathers do it? This is an old story, losing a son. How have all the fathers before me carried on? Why can’t I wake up?

My foot bumps something. His basketball rolls out from under the table, across the hardwood, taps against the front door. Yesterday when you went shopping, I played in the driveway, then hid the ball when you came home. I forgot to move it back to his room. You don’t like me doing anything we used to do with him. His death grated across us, leaving all these holes in our life. Everything is falling through.

It’s cold outside. Look at that moon. Almost full, almost there. I shoot a few hoops, the ball bouncing, hitting the rim, so loud in the silence I stop, waiting for someone to shout out their window. But if anyone’s awake, they keep it to themselves.

I should go back in, but the park is just down the block. I can’t see it, so I walk to the street lamp on the corner. From here, the jungle gym looks like a pile of empty cages; the trees are as still as a diorama. And all that night behind it. Somewhere out there is the basketball court where we played until, one day, he magically was better than me.

“What?” I say to the half park.

It’s so quiet, I hear water in the sewer flowing under my feet. Somewhere behind me, the freeway sounds like a river too. I feel like I’m being swept away.

“What?” I call. “What?!”

I throw the ball like I’m trying to hit something. It loops high into the dark, gone. A moment later I hear it bounce on the court, again, again, then gone.

It takes a long time, until the sky softens, but I turn around. There’s nothing to do but follow the curve of the earth back home, choke the food down the disposal, and clean the kitchen before you wake up.


Charles Duffie is a writer and designer from California. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books and Role Reboot, and will be featured in the 2019 American Story Anthology published by New Rivers Press.



“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 $7.95.