From the President

MCCC is delighted to share with you the work of many local writers and artists in the Kelsey Review. This year marks Kelsey Review’s 36th issue, and it is a pleasure to see how this journal continues to serve the community by sharing the work of talented individuals who live and work in the larger Mercer County area. This literary journal is just one of the many ways the College shares the cultural wealth of our area.

Mercer County Community College directly serves thousands of county residents, and indirectly tens of thousands through its many ties to the community. WWFM broadcasts quality programming to the county and even the world through the internet. Kelsey Theater stages a wide range of drama for county audiences, who also have access to the college’s Art Gallery. Our nationally-ranked MCCC athletic teams offer chances to root for stellar local athletes. See more about the college and Mercer County at

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The Kelsey Review is distributed in part through the Mercer County public library system and funded by Mercer County Community College and the Mercer County Cultural and Heritage Commission. Each edition of the Review presents professional-quality poems, fiction, non-fiction and art that provokes thought and with luck, inspiration. Enjoy what you find here.


Dr. Wang signature

Dr. Jianping Wang


Mercer County Community College

The Majolica Wine Jug

Marge Dwyer

I’m eight years old and I guess I’m pretty smart; my teachers say I test way above grade level. But, right now I can’t stand my life. I’m scared a lot, and sometimes it’s hard to fall asleep. My mother and I are living here with Blue Nana (that’s what I call my grandmother ‘cause she always wears something blue). After the lawyer sends the papers I’ll be the only kid I know whose parents are divorced.

When we first arrived, Blue Nana pulled my face smack into her fat chest and smoothed my hair over and over, her rings getting caught in my red curls. “There, there little lady,” she kept saying. She meant to make me feel better, I know, but I couldn’t wait to get loose what with her perfume climbing up my nose and my hair being pulled every which way. “Oh, Sara Jane,” she sighed, shaking her head as she let me go.

I went outside to sit on the stoop and since nobody was looking, and to prove I wasn’t a “little lady,” I dug out a booger from my nose and rolled it between my thumb and finger before I threw it into the snake plant.


My mother was happy for my grandmother to take over; it left her free to take long walks and read her dumb romance novels. “Healing takes time,” she told me when I asked her if we’d ever be happy again. “We must be patient.”

Nobody explained to me why we were getting a divorce. Daddy was out a lot and he drank too many Manhattans when he was home, saving the cherries for me before he fell asleep in the easy chair. But he was fun lots of times. Like when he brought the lobsters home for dinner and let them race each other across the kitchen floor or pushed me in the swing on the old buttonwood tree, so high that my toes could almost touch the branches. And when I jumped to him in the deep end of the pool his eyes were the blue-green color of the water. I loved the way he laughed, a deep rumble from way down inside his chest. He always called me Sassy because he knew I hated Sara Jane. I know I’m not pretty like my mom and Blue Nana, but I don’t think he should have gone away without saying goodbye.


The Monday after we came to Blue Nana’s, I lagged behind my mother while we walked the long brown corridors of the Robbins Elementary School where I was enrolled in the 3rd grade. My stomach was reacting to the lunchroom odors of vegetable soup and warm milk. I was scared again and I was worried about what would happen to me when she left.

“I’m afraid I might throw up,” I said, hoping for a miracle.

“You’ll be fine, Sara Jane,” she said, kneeling and looking into my eyes, her beautiful pale hands holding my damp paws. Then the door closed and I was imprisoned with twenty-five classmates led by the towering Miss Ogden whose face was a sterner version of George Washington’s. She introduced me as a new girl and directed me to the empty desk in the back row. Forty-four dark eyes followed me as I stumbled by the blackboard and fell into my seat. It looked like my entire class was made up of Italians who probably lived nearby. I knew this because when my grandfather was still alive he would look up from his daily reading of the Bible to complain that the wops were taking over the neighborhood. “Hush now, they’re not wops, they’re Italians,” Blue Nana would say when she was around. Mostly she wasn’t around and he’d go on and on about the wops.

As that first week went by I knew I was not going to be popular at school. Out on the dusty playground I was building character. “We were afraid you’d be pretty,” two fat girls with tiny mustaches told me before they lumbered off. The boys weren’t any better. One tried to trip me and said my hair looked like piss, then ran snickering to the fence where his friends joined in the laughter as they glanced back at me. I willed the tears back and pretended to be fascinated by an ant hill by my foot.


“How’s school going?” Blue Nana asked a week later.

“Nobody likes me,” I answered. I was sitting on a stool next to the dressing table watching her roll her hair into a neat coil at the back of her neck.

“They’re just jealous!” she said.

“Jealous? Why would they be jealous?” I sputtered.

“Because,” she dabbed My Sin behind her ears, “you’re different and that scares them but at the same time it fascinates them.”


“Well,” she explained, “they have a lot in common; they have the same dark coloring, go to the same church, all live in the same neighborhood and have a pretty similar home life. Then you come to school in the middle of the year, a stranger with your fiery red hair and freckles, as different from them as you could be. They don’t know what to make of you but they can tell by the way you walk and hold your head up high that you are SOMEbody.”

I still didn’t understand. “But, what’s special about me?”

She put the cap back on the perfume and powdered her long straight nose with Ponds loose face powder. Apparently satisfied with the result she turned and looked straight into my eyes. We were very close and I could see her nose hairs. “Soul,” she said. “You have soul, Sara Jane. It’s hard to explain, but let’s say, it’s having a great, big generous heart. One that feels pain and joy extra much.”

“What good is that?”

“Wait and see,” she said, standing and brushing off her dress.

“It will serve you well.”


What saved my life was my voice and Blue Nana’s love of hearing me sing. In the old days, on visits, I had felt so happy when she would turn on the Victrola and play the “Italian Street Song” from “Naughty Marietta,” a high energy number which had the power, as I sang along, to cast me into outer space. Now that we were living with her, Blue Nana volunteered to do the dishes every night if my mother would play the piano while I sang. She claimed my voice thrilled her so much it made goose bumps up the backs of her legs.

On Saturdays she would take me downtown to the movies for a matinee that she thought was suitable for someone my age. We saw The Wizard of Oz four times; we were both in love with Judy Garland. Blue Nana said she had lots of “soul.” At night in bed, I began to plan a movie star career as I watched the streetlight glow outside my window and heard the trains passing to and from the railroad station three blocks away.


Toward the end of the year I had done nothing remarkable at school. The kids had stopped picking on me, but I was still floating on the edge, not really “in” anywhere. The big excitement was a talent contest being conducted by the Italian American Club around the corner from school. Anybody could enter by paying a dollar. The purpose was to raise money for the family of an Italian born laborer who had died on the job pulling wire rope for the local steel company. With no benefits, and hardly speaking English, the family was bad off.

I began talking the contest up to Blue Nana because I knew my mother wouldn’t go for the idea. I needed help getting there that night plus I needed her to bankroll me with a one dollar bill.

“Please, it’s for a good cause,” I whined. I said I knew she would feel sorry for immigrants since she came from England. She was shocked.  “England is the mother country,” she explained, “and that fact exempts the English from immigrant status.” I was not going to win her over easily. Meanwhile, I kept singing “The Italian Street Song” around the house and World War II love songs after dinner. Belting out my version of “Give Me Five Minutes More” and “Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree” I felt like a budding Judy Garland. I glowed. I sparkled.

“All right, you win,” Blue Nana relented.


On the big night, mother continued recovering by playing bridge at a neighbor’s house. Blue Nana backed out the old gray Hudson and drove us to the Italian American Club. We parked nearby and walked toward the large double doors with the stained glass windows. My heart was pounding like a bongo drum, my hands were getting all sweaty and I almost tripped going up the cement steps.  I started to rethink the whole thing.

“Blue Nana, maybe we sh….” But her hand was already turning the doorknob.

As we entered the hall we were aware of a few curious stares. Blue Nana’s height was impressive. No one knew her elegant black wool designer suit with the blue brooch was a copy she made at home on her Singer sewing machine.  The black hat with egret feathers added certain ‘panache’ she said. I was wearing my one good dress, a dark green silk she had made with heart shaped mother-of-pearl buttons at the cuffs. She moved like an ocean liner to the front of the auditorium and spoke to the surprised director. He looked over the sheet music she handed him and accepted the dollar entry fee. He nodded for us to take a seat in the front row.

The place was filled with familiar faces: Mr. Santoro, our shoemaker, Mrs. Epifanio, whose fruit stand I passed every day on the way to school, and others. They and their big boisterous families flashed warm, toothy grins our way. I exchanged vague signs of recognition with some of my classmates but could see suspicious curiosity in their eyes.  The two of us sat on the folding gray metal chairs and waited. We watched jugglers, accordionists, and tap dancers perform, all to polite applause.

Finally the director beckoned to me with his finger. My grandmother squeezed my hand and suddenly I was in front of a microphone, under a spotlight just like the movies, listening to the introduction. Remembering Judy’s soul-piercing “Over the Rainbow,” and in the grand tradition of all abandoned women, I began softly. “Darling, I’m so blue without you” pause “I think about you” pause “the live long day.”

Hot white light blinded me; a frightening hush told me I was alone in this one. I dug deep into the secret bucket of unshed tears I carried around and poured them all into the song, gaining momentum along the way. “You went away and my heart went with you, I speak your name in my every prayer.” My phrasing and timing were followed perfectly by the piano player and at the end I was at full tilt. “If there is some other way to prove that I love you I swear I don’t know how, you’ll never know if you don’t know now.”

I opened my eyes and floated back down to earth. I was weak; all used up. There was no clapping. I began to fear that my career as the world’s youngest torch singer was over before it began. I looked over at Blue Nana. Her chin was up, lips pursed, eyes squeezed shut. A good sign. I knew right away it was the goose bumps. Then the applause burst through the silence like a huge, glorious waterfall echoing off the wooden walls and floor of the auditorium. That noise was better than having ice cream every day for a year.  I was startled by the kids from my class who were suddenly jumping around me, smiling and pushing to get closer.

“Hey, you were good, S.J. I mean…really…you were great!” They kept saying things like that and a couple of the boys even hit me, nicely though, like I thought a big brother might. It wasn’t the same as getting tripped in the schoolyard. It wasn’t the same thing at all.

The show was over and the director asked for order. He called me to the table to select the first prize. I could have had any of them, but I picked the majolica wine jug because the blue-green enamel reminded me of my father’s eyes.


When we got home my mother was in the living room looking worried. “It’s late,” she said. “Where have you two been?”

“Sara Jane’s been busy tonight,” Blue Nana answered, pointing to where I was standing holding first prize. “We were at a talent contest and your daughter brought down the house. You should have seen her!”

“What are you saying?” She was completely baffled. We explained. “But, how did you do it without my knowing?” she said finally.

“It was easy,” I laughed. “Every night I practiced while you played the piano.” She didn’t respond and I felt suddenly shy. “And tonight,” I said quietly offering the jug to her, “I won the contest, Mom. I got first prize.”

“Oh,” she said slowly and put the jug on the mahogany drum table without so much as a backward glance. “Well, you better get to bed now, it’s late.” She hugged me then and went into the kitchen to pack tomorrow’s lunch. All of a sudden I felt the scaredness coming back. Blue Nana could tell.

“Don’t mind her,” she said, giving me an Eskimo kiss, “she’s just not herself yet.


Blue Nana thinks I’ll be famous someday if I keep singing with soul. I really think the majolica wine jug’s pretty darn ugly. It’s got these different colored bumps that look like a weird skin disease I saw on the newsreel. Chances are my mother will never see my father’s eyes there, but every time I look at it I start to smile.



About the author:

Marge Dwyer’s past credits include Kelsey Review, U.S. 1, Sacred Journey, and a WW 2 memoir she edited called So Long for Now. At present she has published a novel, The Heart Knows the Way, available through Amazon, and she is currently working on a second novel. She has been a book columnist for The Lawrence Ledger and a copy writer for a radio station.


Edward Carmien

Review: Pecking Order by Nicole Homer

Write Bloody Publishing, 2017

New Jersey poet Nicole Homer’s first book, Pecking Order, produced by Write Bloody Publishing, is a hell of a book of poems. Fair warning: I am Homer’s colleague at Mercer County Community College, where she is a professor. Equally fair warning: I gave up poetry about the same time I earned an MFA in poetry as the 1980’s died—poets work too hard—so it has been awhile, but I’ve kept my hand in and have not let poetry entirely die from my soul. Nicole Homer does the hard work of poetry extremely well in Pecking Order. In it she sweats blood, rakes her flesh open, and makes words do her muscular bidding. To her and all poets: I salute you.

These 35 poems represent traditional forms; words in lines in stanzas—and a few less common forms, prose poems that echo Jersey boy Allen Ginsberg, with their vivid visual interpretation and rippling, often chuckling, rage. Even in our supposed post-racial, diverse, happy-go-lucky America, only today in 2017 do the heroes of the Confederacy fall from their pillars. And when those statues fall, those who operate the cranes that pluck them down receive threats from newly emboldened racists. Or worse yet and more particular, in the spring of 2017, a white man in Portland, Oregon attacks two women because of the color of their skin. In our society, Homer, as a black woman, remains the Other.

No one more keenly knows this than Homer herself, as in part her own body outs her. In the savagely comic “The Woman Who is Not the Nanny Answers at the Grocery Store Concerning the, Evidently, Mismatched Children in and Around Her Cart,” Homer opens with “I stabbed her, / the skinny-half-caff in the high-waisted yoga pants / so I can only assume that she is still in the alley.” Between the expositional title and the first line the story is told; some of her children are brown, one is not, and people indulge in “prying questions.” Homer pries right back.

She recites a list of ways this could have come about, each less likely than the last; she kills parents then abducts their children. She describes “my boy, / it was so hard to get him. / I had to practically bribe the IVF doctor / to put that white woman’s eggs in me.” To the inattentive to good manners, to the unimaginative unable to process difference before their eyes, to the intellectually lazy, Homer shows no mercy.

This son, in “Lottery” seen as “pale as the ghost of a black boy,” is one of several threads in Pecking Order; motherhood weaves here, too, in the powerful “I wish I was More Mothers” in which Homer lists all the wished mothers for us, her readers: “One to take the picture, another to be in it / One more still to apply the filter and type #nofilter / One to pin the things on Pinterest / One to collect the pine cones and organize the glitter….” This three-page poem does what it does as sharply as Plath, evokes moment as Rich, and if these references show tarnish on their silver, it is possible Rachel Zucker represents an adequate, more contemporary touchstone. But probably better can be, should be named, if one must sort and categorize this work. Someone else can do that. Read this work for itself, or better yet witness Homer performing her work.

Pecking Order possesses effective blurbs; I cannot do better than Rachel McKibbens, who notes “The poems in Pecking Order are electric with interrogation and revelation. Here, Nicole Homer navigates the cost & demands of domesticity and Black American motherhood with a fanged precision.” The teeth here do bite, and should: we are all the ventilated woman in the high-waisted yoga pants, we are all the “Casual Racist” who notices only the skin color of the narrator’s children, sees “only what a stranger might notice in the street and nothing more.” These teeth latch on, bite us, draw blood, insist “there is a long American history of people who look like us—all our many faces. / Which is to say my family is not groundbreaking. Not new, not novel, not even surprising.”

But these poems do break new ground, or put another way, turn over familiar ground we forget isn’t new, ground we should know, but all too often do not. The book is good. Pecking Order manages to be that first book of poetry that compels desire for the next one. May it arrive soon.



About the author:

Edward Carmien is a writer, academic, and former editor of Kelsey Review. His story “The Beautiful Accident” won first prize in the professional division of the Heinlein Centennial’s writing contest in 2007, and was published in Kelsey Review 35.1. He’s a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), and more can be found about him at

The Sugar Book

Nancy Demme

It was sweltering in the school’s narrow cloak room, bodies pressed close, the smell of old socks and potato soup. Rationing had just begun, and mothers, old men, and lost-looking youth stood front to back, their baskets and satchels wedged against buttocks. A bare light bulb lit the constrained faces when Joli LeFevre, sixteen, squeezed and tore her way to the front of the line.

“Joli! Here! Up here!” her mother, the school’s custodian, called to her. “Here! Here!” she called, stretching her arms through the crowd. “I’ve saved a place for you. She’s my daughter,” she said in response to the grumbling crowd. “My boy’s in the army, very important,” she whispered to the angry woman behind her.

Joli tore her sleeve on an old man’s belt buckle but managed to ease into the awkward position beside her mother.

“But Fredrick…”

“Fredrick’s as good as serving,” her mother said, her voice lowered, lisping. “He got his papers didn’t he?”

“But he didn’t sign…”

“Do you think the army cares for chicken scratch on paper? Good as serving,” and she fell into a half slumber as she rocked on her heels.

“Next!” cried a short man at a paper strewn table, his blue blazer stretched across his generous middle. The crowd inched forward.

“Besides, Joli, he’s a peace boy, always has been. Remember him with those kittens he found on the fire escape. Nursed them himself, found homes for them, and cried when I wouldn’t let him keep one.”

“But the war, Mama…”

“This,” she said firmly, “is our war,” and she pointed to the sweaty faces behind her.

“Next!” the man in the blue blazer cried.

“You can’t keep him hidden under your skirt forever,” Joli whispered, taking her mother by the elbow and motioning her to the table.

“Name goes right there,” the man said, his thumb pressed against the paper as if he were afraid the big, glaring woman might take off with it.

“Joli?” she said, pulling the paper from under his thumb and handing it to Joli.

“Right there,” the man said, pointing to paper and holding out a pen.

“You put it down, Joli. You have those lovely curlicues.”

“Madame, are you the head of the household?


“Then you need to fill it out. One per household. That’s the rule.”

Then she stared at the wall above the man’s head and said, “She’s my eyes and ears. I don’t read or write.”

“Oh,” then turning to Joli, “Write your mother’s full name. Marta Hoffman LeFevre,” he recited. There was an audible gasp and the name Hoffman and German was bandied about in conversation behind her. “Spouse’s name?”

“Gone,” Marta said.



“Very well then,” he said buttoning his jacket though his face was beaded with sweat. “Number of children?”


“Mama,” Joli said warningly and tugged at her skirt.

“Well, we can’t count Hans,” and she looked back at the crowd. “He’s your cousin and will be going home to Greta at the end of the month. She’ll get her own book. Isn’t that right?”

“You’ll describe them then, your five children,” he spat, spittle settling on Marta’s hands.

“There’s Joli, blonde and blue-eyed. Takes after me. Fredrick, dark, like his father, brown-eyed, Christine, blonde, blue-eyed, Martin, brown-haired, brown-eyed, and Sylvie.”

Joli gasped, “Mama!”

“Am I forgetting to say that Sylvie is the beauty of the bunch, slim, blonde, blue-eyed?”

Joli’s hands worked themselves against her mother’s skirt.

“Can you write your name here?”

She took the pen with a flourish, waved it in the air and settled it on the paper as if she had been signing documents all her life.

“There,” she said and fixed her gaze on the man. “Is that it?” she said and he nodded, handing her the book of ration stamps. She turned to leave and he brought her back with his thick, clenched voice.

“Ma’am, Mrs. LeFevre? This is for your use only, if you’re found selling or using these coupons improperly, I will warn you there is a stiff fine. A very stiff fine.”

“I understand perfectly,” she said, baring the black hole that had been her front teeth, and she gave the same smile to the crowd who refused to budge before her. They exited the cloak room, hugging the wall. An older man, wizened, called after her in whisper, “Swine.” Once outside in the May sunshine, they drank in great gulps of air and loosened their clothes.

“Joli, you take this,” and she thrust the ration book into the girl’s hands. “Go to Sampson’s Grocery and buy up as much sugar as they’ll let you have. I’ve got a yen for apple strudel. Apples are still plentiful. Girl, don’t look at me like that. Mr. Sampson knows you. It’ll be fine. I’ve still got to swab the toilets. You don’t want me to lose my job, do you? Now run. Run.”

At the moment Joli turned, the sugar book clutched in her sweaty hands, her mother called out to her, her voice plaintive, “He’s not a coward. I told him. I told him if he went, I couldn’t look him in the eye again, couldn’t stand the notion he might have killed his own kin. I told him.”

Joli ran, the sugar book flapping in the scanty breeze.



About the author:

Nancy Demme, a retired Children’s Librarian, has facilitated creative writing groups for adults, teens and adolescents for 25 years. She has been published in US1, Confrontations (LIU’s literary journal), Kelsey Review and Foliate Oak Literary Magazine. She is an active member in the Garden State Storyteller’s League and recently performed an ensemble piece at the Ellarslie Museum in Trenton. She currently teaches Writing in English to ESOL students.

Kelsey Review 35.4: Summer 2017

Kelsey Review 35.4

Summer 2017


From the President

From the Editor





Spit Shine

Steve Smith

Mucho Brillante” I said to my friend Luis
who shined boots, cleaned and starched uniforms
and mopped the floors of our barracks,
then returned to the tin shanty he lived in with his wife
and nine children on the edge of Panama City
where raw sewage ran in a ditch behind the house.
He sat on his wooden shine box popping and buffing
the tips of my army boots with a rag, spitting into the wax
as he polished until I could see my face in them.
When he was done he smiled a broad gap toothed smile
and snapped his index finger in the air crying out, “Que Chula.
I laughed, sat down on the edge of my bunk bed
as we talked of Panamanian boxing champs
Ismael “El Tigre” Laguna and Roberto “Cholo” Duran,
of how good the Panamanian national baseball team
was doing, about last night’s shooting of local student
demonstrators protesting the United States occupation
of the Canal and about Colonel Manuel Noriega,
the head of the US trained and financed
Guardia Nacionale” who did the shooting.
El es un hombre muy malo” I said in the fledgling Spanish
Luis had taught me. He nodded and smiled again
when I thanked and gave him a two dollar tip.
Then I put on my freshly starched MP khakis, holstered
my forty five caliber Army issue pistol and went
to my guard duty post at the fort’s front gate overlooking
the canal with my boots shining like bullets.



About the author:

Steve Smith is a Poet/Artist from Pennington N.J. A graduate of the School of Visual Arts, he is retired Theatrical Scenery Painter.

The Lie

Nancy Demme

She lied all the time, backward, forward, big, little, grey, red, black. It was like quicksilver when it came upon her. She’d turn to look at the sunset, a slight shift of her left foot, and her mouth would open like some smooth stone truth, and there was no disputing her. A vortex came upon her, sucking her down, swirling into something elemental like how her grandmother homesteaded the view beneath the ebbing sky, how she had killed a man for trespassing, had fourteen children, all but four had died of tuberculosis, how her father had brought three sons into the world, idiots, before they had her. The idiots had been institutionalized, Freddy, Trevor and Francis.

In quiet moments she wrote the truth on her long, white sleeves, hidden under the black lace shawl, so she could remember herself, remember from where she had sprung. She wrote in beautiful black cursive, cryptic, with the pride of a calligrapher. Untarnished facts adorned her blouse.

Born in Tallahoochee, March 1, 1925 to Edna and Granger Turbin. Father – a linen draper.  Mother – an egg merchant. No siblings. No familial diseases. Father and Mother died of natural causes when she was 15. Sent to live…

And there it stopped. She stepped, turned, paused for the rising sun, a lie forming, wormlike, smelling like ancient earth, on the tip of her tongue.



About the author:

Nancy Demme, a retired Children’s Librarian, has facilitated creative writing groups for adults, teens and adolescents for 25 years. She has been published in US1, Confrontations (LIU’s literary journal), Kelsey Review and Foliate Oak Literary Magazine. She is an active member in the Garden State Storyteller’s League and recently performed an ensemble piece at the Ellarslie Museum in Trenton. She currently teaches Writing in English to ESOL students.


Wanda Praisner

          Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies–
                    Edna St. Vincent Millay

Friday morning on 84, driving
New Jersey to Connecticut
to babysit our grandchildren for a week,
you point to an exit sign:
“Hey—there’s another Sandy Hook!”
and I remember taking our young sons
on outings to the Jersey Shore.

We arrive an hour later to the news on TV:
twenty first-grade children,
six adults shot and killed
in Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Our grandchildren move closer.

The monsignor at Saint Rose of Lima Church,
one of the first clergy on the scene,
says six or seven were parishioners.
“One was going to be an angel
in our Christmas pageant next week.”

In Saturday’s paper: the killer, as a boy,
had attended seventh grade
in Saint Rose of Lima School;
used his mother’s registered guns;
she, the first victim, shot repeatedly in the face.
Her mother, in Florida, unable to make
a statement to the press.

Below the high school podium bearing
the presidential seal for his Sunday visit,
twenty-six small, white, lit candles.
Along roadsides, cutout angels
begin to appear.

               Newtown, Connecticut, December 14, 2012



About the author:

Wanda S. Praisner, a recipient of fellowships from the NJ State Council on the Arts, the Dodge Foundation, P’town Fine Arts Center and VCCA, won the Egan Award, Princemere Prize, Kudzu Award, First Prize in Poetry at the College of NJ Writers’ Conference, and the 2017 NJ Poets Prize. She has appeared in Atlanta Review, Lullwater Review, and Prairie Schooner. Her latest book is Natirar (Kelsay Books, 2017). She is a resident poet for the State.

Cox’s Orange Pippin – Ireland

Lavinia Kumar

The essence of an apple is a Pippin.
I still look for it in autumn markets,
just as fond of it as when only three,
as I saw in a letter from friends
to my father.  I would stay
at their house up a hill from Killiney sea.
I remember being picked up to reach
for a fresh apple. I loved those friends,
and they loved having me.  At the core
was attention given.




About the author:

Lavinia Kumar’s poetry book is The Skin and Under (Word Tech, 2015). Her two chapbooks are Let There be Color (2016) and Rivers of Saris (2013). Her poetry has appeared in several publications in the US and UK such as Atlanta Review, Colere, Edison Literary Review, Exit 13, Flaneur, Kelsey Review, New Verse News, Orbis, Peacock Journal, Pedestal, Pemmican, Symmetry Pebbles, Lives You Touch, & US1 Worksheets. She is a member of poetry groups in Princeton and Pennsylvania. Her website is