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Valerie Little

ValerieValerie Little studied creative writing and music at Pennsylvania State University and was twice-published in their undergraduate literary journal, Kalliope. She holds a Master of Music degree from the University of Texas, where she was the managing editor for the annual gender studies journal, Intersections. She currently lives in Minneapolis, where she earned a Doctor of Musical Arts at the University of Minnesota. Professionally, she is a violist and orchestra librarian with the Minnesota Orchestra. Her literary work focuses on themes of nature, love, loss, fear, and capturing short snapshots in time.


The sun is coming up on Tussey Mountain.
Dry leaves crackle and sticks snap beneath our boots.
We climb higher to see it, faces ruddy from the wind
on this morning of little consequence.
We’ve given up Jesus
and the rest of the world
for the carols of evergreens,
the second nativity of us.

In the afternoon, we read Szymborska aloud,
laugh as we play some game you made up with your son.
By dusk, we’ve turned your living room into a cynosure.
Warm from the good whiskey,
we slow dance to no music.
No presents either, love, except whatever we can compose
with our bodies across the heirloom sheets
or on creaking wooden floors.

Contradictions of Flight

The sky is thinly veiled with clouds,
a silken barrier
between takeoff
cruising altitude,
save for one cerulean hole through which we can slip
into the lower stratosphere.
I exhale in relief at being loosed from the gravity of day to day living.
We are all going somewhere
to something
to someone.

When there is turbulence, I rustle through my carry-on,
nonchalantly searching—

lip balm
water bottle

for anything to distract my mind from
the jostling winds of the universe bearing down on this aluminum straw
being lobbed around the curvature of the Earth.
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