by Sarah Shellow:

For Gary Snyder

The full moon announces itself to this night
a specter chiseled by branches and leaves.
And the honeyed air loiters in the dark particles of day’s exhaustion,
remembering the difficult work of re-creation. 

How this suburb longs to be wild with the neighboring woods,
with slatted moonbeams drawn across its forested face. 

But these shiny lit facades of houses startled by street lamps
give us no place to
obscure ourselves.

Return, to masted quarry,
Reach, through obstructing leaves,
and feel the lick of this moon’s silvery tongue
cool your cheeks
hot from running


funny: The purple feather on my dash flew out the window. What do I know?

                  1. television:

                  The spicebush swallowtail caterpillar has false eyes

               you cannot tell when it is walking away 

               2. grocery:

               A bar code swiped

               identifies a package by its


               Who is there?

The cotton in my ears must have arrived in my sleep. I couldn’t hear by morning.

By midday, curious, the silence was louder than the noise of petals falling.

Dreamed pieces clack and slide in auricular tubing against hammer, anvil, stirrup


no one can hear

but me

I took my knowing

down by the river,

washed it, and let it go

3. she hung in silks across my path

tangled and free,

like me,

not you.


breakfast: it was too late to eat dinner, so I ate breakfast.

no margarine

               4. a sunrise.

(Today’s poems appear here today with permission from the poet.)

Sarah Shellow lives in Bethesda, Maryland. Her short fiction, short stories, and reviews have appeared in The Pitkin Review and The Atticus Review. She was a critical commentary editor for The Pitkin Review and presently serves as an associate editor for the Potomac Review. She has taught creative writing for sixteen years to third grade through graduate-level students, and she works as a literacy educator for first-year public school teachers at Center for Inspired Teaching in Washington, D.C. She blogs at

Editor’s Note: When I sought out a submission for this series from Sarah Shellow, she sent me a wide array of poems. I read and re-read them. I vacillated. There were so many things I loved in each, yet each was so different. Should I share the more traditional poem or the more experimental? What do my readers want to be exposed to? In the end, I decided her work, and your eyes, deserved a sampling of both ends of the spectrum. With “Full Moon in the Suburbs,” the poet shares something more familiar in its style and use of imagery, and mirrors the layout and language of the poem with the subject matter itself. In “A Day’s Line of Reasoning” she treats us instead to an exploration of the other, in both the way the poem interacts with the page and in the varied, sometimes nonsensical narrative. I think, for a reader, it is important to be exposed to both, and that it is particularly interesting to see how one poet’s work can encompass such vast and varying planes.

Want to see more by and about Sarah Shellow?
Sarah Shellow Official Blog
The Atticus Review


  1. Being a Moon-Child temporarily trapped in suburbia, Sarah’s first piece comes to me on a beaming moon, through the mulberry-leafed tree … ‘feel the lick of this moon’s silvery tongue’: Yum!


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