Monthly Archives: December 2022

J.D. Smith, ‘Consultative’

The noted scholars of the institute
Are tasked with framing issues and debate.
Through data and the values they impute
By proxy–or assume—they correlate

The wealth of nations and their policies,
Distinguishing phenomenon and cause
Until equations cut through fallacies,
Assuming over time the air of laws.

Accordingly, with every factor weighed,
The State will be apprised of how to spend.
In high demand, proportionately paid,
Those who’ve advanced their field approach day’s end

With puzzles yet to solve, but satisfied,
And step around the beggars stretched outside.


J.D. Smith writes: “The poem arises from the daily–and uneasy–contrast between ‘Washington’, the arena of politics and policy that draws players from around the world, and ‘DC’, the place that most residents know, with all the attendant problems of urban life in the United States. (I work in the former, though in a minor capacity, and live in the latter.) A complex society needs experts, so I won’t get on the bandwagon of anti-intellectualism, but I remain deeply troubled by the disconnect between many of those experts’ abstract work, accompanied by ambition, and how they address or refuse to address the actual human beings they encounter.”

J.D. Smith has published six books of poetry, most recently the light verse collection Catalogs for Food Loversand he has received a Fellowship in Poetry from the United States National Endowment for the Arts. Smith’s first fiction collection, Transit, will be published in December 2022. His other books include the essay collection Dowsing and Science. Smith works in Washington, DC, where he lives with his wife Paula Van Lare and their rescue animals. Twitter: @Smitroverse

Separated at Berth” by Chicago Man is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

Short poem: ‘Death Spiral’

We spiral round the sun, like water
spirals round a drain;
herded like sheep to the slaughter,
it’s an old refrain–
what you coulda, what you oughta…
so few years remain.


This short poem was recently published in The Asses of Parnassus – thanks, Brooke Clark! Btw sorry if the poem seems morbid – fall/winter has always made me reflective; I’ve been feeling time running out since my teens.

File:Pool drain vortex as viewed from above the water at Grange Park wading pool.jpg” by Glogger at English Wikipedia is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Melissa Balmain, ‘Not So Snow White’

Things started so well: found a chick in a box,
got her out, and days later, we wed–
such a snap because, speaking of life’s pleasant shocks,
my stepmom-in-law turned up dead.

Home that night, after finally fooling around
(happy ending for both!), I sighed, “Heaven.”
But my wife simply stared at the ceiling and frowned:
“Is that it? I’m accustomed to seven.”


Melissa Balmain writes: “This poem comes from my latest collection, The Witch Demands a Retraction. To anyone who has mistakenly bought a copy of it for little kids: I am sorry. Maybe the book’s subtitle (fairy tale reboots for adults) should have been printed bigger. Or maybe the illustrator, Ron Barrett, should have made his drawings less adorable. Either way, to prevent further disasters in gift-giving, here’s a partial list of topics in the book: Interspecies adultery. Corrupt puppets. Kinky princes. Elderly cannibals. Impotent baked goods. Porcine insurance fraud. And, yes, eightsomes that include Sneezy, Happy and Dopey.”

Melissa Balmain edits Light, America’s longest-running journal of light verse. Her poems and prose have appeared widely in the US and UK. She’s the author of the full-length poetry collection Walking in on People (Able Muse Press), chosen by X.J. Kennedy for the Able Muse Book Award, and the shorter, illustrated The Witch Demands a Retraction: Fairy-Tale Reboots for Adults (Humorist Books). Her next full-length collection, Satan Talks to His Therapist, is due out in fall 2023.

Photo: “Snow White Mural” by ATIS547 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.