By Lynn Powell:


Sly old guru, Rorschach moon,
you’re calling me again with your round riddle,
your paradox of Ohm and moan.
All day the sun was up on its soapbox, a Pollyanna
casting out the darkness in everybody else.
Now we’re back at the window where we started—
me with my midnight weakness, and you
with your sleight-of-silver ministry
to anyone unguarded and alone.

Slow moon, you’ve lingered near the cloister and the dance hall,
laid your soft law down on wide and narrow beds.
You’ve faced yourself in ponds, thrown yourself
on the mercy of a moody sea. You’ve been the slick
Houdini of horizons, sliding out of each tight spot
the night has tried to trap you in.
What’s left for me to misconstrue?

I’m tired of my mind and its whitewash,
tired of your low-light revelations.
And how will I find the dark forest if you keep
murmuring silky nothings to the trees?

Cold moon, unmake me
in your image. Pare me down
to the bleak beatitude, the black sum
of all you know for sure.


             Has the rain a father, or who has begotten the drops of dew?
                                                                         —Job 38:28

From the car window, after the fog lifts,
the autumn fields flash with sudden flowers—

              like filigrees of mirror, like alloys of lace and light.

A weird miracle? Some brilliant, manic manna?
Until, of course, it’s only spiders—ten thousand

              that have worked the dark with rigs of silk

to snag a fly and then, surprising themselves,
have step-fathered the dew.

              And so, for an odd hour, hunger

glistens in galaxies, sieved
from passing thoughts of lake and air.

Today’s poems are from the collection Season of the Second Thought (University of Wisconsin Press, 2017), copyright Lynn Powell, and appear here today with permission from the poet.

Lynn Powell has published three books of poetry: Season of the Second Thought (winner of the 2017 Felix Pollak Prize), The Zones of Paradise, and Old & New Testaments. Her nonfiction book Framing Innocence won the Studs & Ida Terkel Award from The New Press in 2010. A native of East Tennessee, Powell teaches in the Creative Writing Program of Oberlin College.

Guest Editor’s Note: Lynn Powell’s work is reminiscent of “The Parable of the Sunfish” in Ezra Pound’s ABC of Reading. Powell is a poet who gains deep understanding and insight into her subjects, examining them over and over from unique angles until she has observed their essence. In “The Moon Rising,” for instance, the moon is a “Sly, old guru” a “Rorschach,” a “slick/Houdini of the horizons.” It possesses a “slight of hand ministry” or can lay its “soft law down on wide and narrow beds.”

Throughout her collection Seasons of the Second Thought, line by line Powell examines, prods, and dissects until she has mastered her subject, rewarding her readers with an intimacy and understanding that is both profound and revealing. In “At the Equinox,” she observes the world with such intensity that she is able to see the creators of the miracle she is viewing not as their mundane selves — “only spiders—ten thousand” — but as creatures that “have step-fathered the dew.” Powell’s work is an enlightenment that allows the reader to see the world for what it can be when observed fully.

Want to read more by and about Lynn Powell?
Buy Seasons of the Second Thought from University of Wisconsin Press
POETRY Magazine
Bellingham Review
American Literary Review

Guest Editor Alan Toltzis is the author of The Last Commandment. Recent work has appeared in print and online publications including Hummingbird, Right Hand Pointing, IthacaLit, r.k.v.r.y. Quarterly, and Cold Noon. Find him online at


After nearly ten years as Contributing Editor of this series, it is an honor and a unique opportunity to share this space with a number of guest editors, including the editor featured here today. I am thrilled to usher in an era of new voices in poetry as the Managing Editor of this series.

Viva la poesia!
Sivan, Managing Editor
Saturday Poetry Series, AIOTB


  1. Wow, what a line: “//like filigrees of mirror, like alloys of lace and light.//” Such an image! And then, before it All, there was Job 38:28.


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