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Alicia Hoffman

Originally from Pennsylvania, Alicia Hoffman now lives, writes, and teaches in Rochester, New York. Author of two collections, her recent poems have appeared in a variety of journals, including Radar Poetry, Glass: A Poetry Journal, Escape Into Life, A-Minor Magazine, The Penn Review, Rust + Moth, The Watershed Review, Typishly, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University. Find out more at:

Poem Ending in a Line from Emily Dickinson

Start here, between wakefulness
and sleep, between the reckoning

of another day and the bliss
of the body between the sheets.

Dickinson said after great pain
a formal feeling comes, but this,

too, is cause for recognition: moments
the cobwebs drift into our minds’

corners—the eyelids lifting but not
yet awake—not yet ready to claim

the day’s minutiae—so just sit—
stay still—look to the back window

at the female cardinal harvesting
the early worms from the warm

spring earth, the grass just beginning
its lift of spears and the small buds

of the weeping cherry readier now
then ever to announce the world

is changing yet again, as our bodies, too,
turn into another season, another day older,

which makes it even more urgent
to contain what remains as we lift

into the day’s routine, capture like magic
with the click of a key or the stroke of a pen

this very instance, as gratitude for the gift
of waking at all is a gift worth formulating

again, and again, in its dizzying varieties before
first—chill—then stupor, then the letting go—

The Deep and Secret Yes

The hummingbird has it, hovering over
the bright red yawn of poppy blossom

in late August. So does the black cat
I call Cho-Co, though I’m not sure

if that’s his name, or even if it’s a he
or she. I am most familiar with the way

the animal sidles up to my ankles
some summer mornings, greets me

with the whole of its feral form,
rolls onto the grass at my feet to purr

for belly pets, a hairball of bliss before
spotting some shadow only a feline

can spot, then scattering in an instant,
a black ink splotch blotting the day.

Later, I find its fur stuck to my pants,
little strands of letters, a record of time

spent, and my body, too, is a page to fill,
a well of experience. Of want. Though

I am not as obvious as the bird or cat,
I, too, move through the world beating

the wings of my message. I, too, curl up
to comfort, feed at the trough of sweetness

while it lasts. And now that the leaves are
changing, what choice do I have but to drink

deep the nectar, rub into someone I love,
splay the secret core of myself, say yes.