Kelsey Review 40: Fall 2021

Please look below for the extraordinary art, poetry, fiction, and nonfiction created by the talented artists and writers of the Mercer County area!

From the President…

From the Editor…


Lauren Fedorko, “One More Month” (Cover art, above)
Dave Olson, “Two Sugars Please,” “Grouchy Moon,” and “Nothing Like that First Cup”


Michael Griffith, “Still (for Kathi Paluscio)” and “Naked”
Stevie Voss, “An Abecedarian Conversation Between Two Star-Crossed Lovers”
Amelia deGuzman, “I Was 19 Years Old When I Wrote My Mother’s Obituary”
Wanda Praisner, “That Wallenda Gal”
Carolyn Phillips, “The Roosevelt Memorial, Washington D.C.”
Lauren Stanzione, “Ama L’ignoto”
Elane Gutterman, “Dancing Out of Her Skin”
Lavinia Kumar, “Husband and Wife at the Bulkhead”
Nancy Demme, “Hobo Bound”
Dorothy Anna Timberlake Moore, “Traveler” and “Moonrise”
Lois Marie Harrod, “Clara, the Rhinoceros of Venice”
Harvey Steinberg, “Still Reading at Age 88”
Steve Smith, “Retired, I Read the Latest Scenic Artist Union Newsletter”
Lauren Fedorko, “Beach Musings”


Janus C., “Hysteria”
Lauren Stanzione, “I Am Meant to Be Here”
Karen Carson, “They Still Go to the Big City: Reflections on My New York Salad Days”
Ilene Dube, “The Bather”


Barbara Krasner, “Black Taffeta”
Paul Levine, “Getting to Carnegie Hall”
Judith Salcewicz, “Horsing Around”
D.E. Steward, “Pete”


Jacqueline Vogtman, “Book Review: Tidal Wave by Dennis H. Lee

From the Editor…

I’m writing this letter on Thanksgiving Eve (that’s a thing, right?), and I’m finding myself thankful for so many things. First, for the truly talented folks that surround us in Mercer County who generously submit their work to be published in the Kelsey Review. This year’s issue is filled with a variety of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction that can move the reader to laughter or tears, and sometimes both. I’m thankful too, for our readers: those of you in Mercer County and beyond, family, friends, strangers, who all love literature and art and the wisdom that can be found in these creative works. I’m also incredibly thankful to my fellow Kelsey Review editors: Robbie Clipper, Luray Gross, and Ellen Jacko, who always have such a good eye for picking out the best work for our (virtual, this year) pages, and who are such a joy to meet with each year. My gratitude goes out, as well, to Mercer County Community College, especially the Liberal Arts Division, the English Department, the Publications department, the President, and VPAA, who have all supported this project in some way. Thank you all! Often, in the face of overwhelming gratitude, it’s hard to know how to repay it. Well, in this case, I think the repayment is in the form of the poems, stories, and creative nonfiction in this issue. I’ll also leave you with a poem from the famous poet Mary Oliver, who always has such a clear voice of gratitude. This is a poem entitled “Messenger” from her book, Thirst.

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

I hope you take some time to enjoy the creative works in this issue, and everything else in life.

Take care,

Jacqueline Vogtman

Editor, Kelsey Review

From the President…

Mercer County Community College is delighted to share with you the work of many local writers and artists in the Kelsey Review, the College’s county-wide literary journal. This year marks Kelsey Review’s 41st 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 journal is just one of the many ways the College highlights and shares the cultural wealth of our area.

MCCC directly serves thousands of county residents, and indirectly tens of thousands through its many ties to the community. Not only can county residents be a part of Kelsey Review, they can also enjoy the many other community offerings that MCCC has to share. WWFM broadcasts quality programming that listeners can enjoy in Mercer County and all over the world by listening online. Kelsey Theater stages a wide range of dramatic performances 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. Learn more about the college and Mercer County at

Kelsey Review is now available online, where it can be shared worldwide! To keep up with the Review year-round, please “like” the publication on Facebook.

Each edition of the Review presents professional-quality poetry, fiction, non-fiction, art, and photography that provoke thought and spark inspiration. Enjoy what you find here.  


Deborah E. Preston, Ph.D.


Mercer County Community College

Kristi Marciano

Family History

I am from gli accerani
leathered farmers sunstruck
and windswept pescatori
breathing salt breeze off the Tyrrhenian.
Women with skin the smell of zucchero
and homes of pommodori
dry calloused hands soaked too long in water
and flour.
Slang is sweet on our tongues and ears;
a language of our own.
Like ancient, cracked bowls
with gold in the seams,
we piece together words like beads
on the necklace of war.
Here we waste nothing for we remember
Lombards Normans Saracens Romans Greeks Etruscans
a village leveled by Hannibal
razed by Vesuvius
slaughtered by Nazis.
My great grandfather at the gates dalla città
Partigiano, Eroe
fighting to protect his home
of three-thousand years.
Vai, andiamo in America.
Fleeing, haunted voices drape
a lingering sable shroud
upon the azure coastline.
I imagine my grandmother
pale, ravaged
cancer twisting through her veins
like roots clasped to bedrock
prayers rolling off her tongue like incense
swirling to the skies
to grieve
a land torn
a home fled
a lineage split
enduring only through stories
and tambourine bells on the wind.

About the author
is a professional content writer specializing in environment and sustainability writing. She is currently earning her master’s degree in science writing from The Johns Hopkins University. You can follow her on Medium @kmarciano and on Twitter @kristi_marciano, or you can reach her at

Steve Smith

Like a gray ghost in the cemetery of my memory

the shuttered Alcoa aluminum factory in Edgewater, New Jersey
looms, taking me back to when my friends and I would squeeze
through the chain link fence, past the No Trespassing signs,
climb through cracked windows to explore the stained concrete
rooms and floors strewn with rocks, broken glass, twisted piles
of metal wire, broken palettes and rusted pipes…our noses
seared by the remnant scent of toxic chemicals and dead vermin.

Once the town’s pride, provider of livelihoods, the pounding
aluminum presses resounded throughout town like the stomps
of a dinosaur. Neighbors with gritty faces carried lunch pails
through the gaping maw of the entrance, wearing hard hats,
protective gloves and safety glasses to operate machinery
and furnaces that hissed, thundered, glowed the windows orange,
sprayed them with firestorms of white hot sparks, those workers
came back when their shifts were done dark circles
under their eyes faces charcoaled with metal dust…only
to come down with mysterious illnesses after the company
abandoned town in 1964.

We watched rays of light slant through the broken windows casting
strange angles and figures on the walls as we went from room
to room, exploring, chilled by the echo of our own footsteps
and shadows and by the cold air whistling down the stairwells
like the murmur of something that still squatted there in the vast

About the author
Steve Smith
earned a BFA at the school of visual arts in NYC. Steve’s poems have appeared in the Kelsey Review, US1 Worksheets, The New Jersey Journal of poetry, Paterson Literary Review, Nerve Cowboy, The Barefoot Muse as well as the Mid-West Prairie Review. Steve resides in Pennington N.J. with his wife Fran.

Blake Kilgore


put your fingers down
roll them into your pockets
lock the dragon in silence

now find your children
hold their hands and kiss their cheeks
escape these bonds of violence

About the author
Blake Kilgore
is the author of Leviathan (2021), a collection of poetry. A wanderer, he’s from the South and Midwest and now the Northeast. Blake used to be a preacher but walked away to find his faith. He’s been winding his way back now, and love of his wife and four sons is a balm. A junior high basketball coach and teacher, Blake is also refreshed by the idealism of his young students. His writing has appeared in Barely South Review, BULL, Lunch Ticket, and other fine journals. To find out more, please visit

Michael Griffith


In the casket, Pappy’s big hands are unnatural.
They shouldn’t sit that way, there, braided and pretty,
on top that button-up vest. (He never once wore a vest,
not even in that old brown wedding photo where
he and Grammy don’t look happy and don’t look old
and look like they’re holding their breath, where
they’re holding hands like children practicing.)

About the author
Michael A. Griffith
began writing poetry while recovering from a disability-causing injury. Mike teaches at Raritan Valley and Mercer County Community Colleges and hosts poetry workshops for the Princeton Public Library. He lives in Belle Mead, NJ.

Elane Gutterman

An Homage to Franz Kafka

A little girl Liselotte lost her favorite doll, just before Kafka,
hauling his burdens, met her weeping in the park.

Though he looked for the doll, helped Liselotte search again
the next day, the outcome remained stark.

Then Kafka pulled out a letter for Liselotte handwritten
by Belinda her doll saying “Please don’t feel all is dark,

I’ve taken a trip to see the world. Now, I must tell you about eating
cake the size of a castle with His Majesty the King of Denmark.”

At each visit Kafka shared the doll’s animated words. Liselotte grew
transfixed, her brave Belinda was sailing in a sea with sharks.

Finally, Kafka came back bearing the doll (newly bought).
“It doesn’t look like my Belinda at all, her hair, far too dark.”

But Kafka was the wizard of story plots, the wise
brother prodding his little sister’s spirit to spark.

He simply took out another letter. In it Belinda made clear,
“My travels have changed me, left their mark.”

About the author
Elane Gutterman
recently published her first poetry collection, Tides of Expectation: Memoir Poems. Her latest poems have appeared in Kelsey Review, The Ekphrastic Review, The Fib Review, and Shot Glass Journal. She is Chair of the Literary Arts Committee at the West Windsor Arts Center, where she is also a founding board member.

Adam Que

It Happens In The Reward Circuit

You were pressed lips against the jagged edge—
shoes that seesawed across the electric barbed wire.

You were a scarab flying through a tunnel of speeding cars—
a prank that left you to starve with only rancid almonds to eat.

You were a snake charmer tempting the cobra—
a skydiver plunging without a parachute

but something caught you in midair,
was it you had to be a better example

for little eyes, hands, feet—
did that purge your system?

You took the leap to live in another country
where its language sometimes sounds like prejudice—dare I say racism

but its opportunity sounds like if you’re willing to, then have!
And you created prosperity for you and yours;

but how do you stave off the creeps that want to jut up your nose—
the crashes of the rush that is seemingly parallel to self-mercy.

I sometimes witness you lose and grapple
with those demons that look like pirates with an eye-patch

wanting you to come back aboard and be part of the crew again;
though after the looting when you come to, the apologies still hurt.

I can say, you have to do more 
but I can also say, look how far you have come—

and I can say both lines to myself.

We’re not that dissimilar you and I—you and I
who howls at the pirates to stop—

telling them, enough is enough!

About the author
Adam Que
is a writer/creator from Union City, New Jersey. He competed as an amateur mixed martial artist and was working to become a professional fighter/athlete, until he rediscovered a need to share his raw creativity. This has led him down a path and journey that has truly sparked open his soul, which is shown through his work. He has most recently appeared in The Abstract Elephant Magazine LLC, Carcosa Magazine and Wingless Dreamer, as well as The Purpled Nail, GRIFFEL, Rigorous and others.

Carolyn Phillips

January 1

Vowing now
to change
to paint new life
over old
a palimpsest

About the author
CAT Phillips
, a resident of Mercer County, is a retired teacher of English. She has enjoyed publication in several journals, both local and national. She twice won a contest for ekphrastic poems describing sculptures at Grounds for Sculpture. She continues to meet with a group dedicated to reading and writing poetry.