Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review

No. 45, Winter 2019


2019 Cover of the Poetry Review

This year’s issue of HSPR is a collection of small things – a changed logo, different paper, new fonts. But those small changes add up to a pretty big difference in the journal’s physical presence on the shelf.  And the poems in this issue consider those things too – the way the small things, the things we almost could overlook, often drive art as much as larger considerations. This year’s magazine has poems about punctuation marks, poems about basement clutter, poems written in epigrams, poems about plants, poems about snippets of memory...  Our 4x4 section this year continues the theme – Richard Kenney, Tobi Kassim, Jessica Fisher and Stephanie Burt all weigh in on the role of small things in both making poems and appreciating them.  We hope this one small copy of a magazine will play an outsized role in your reading this year!


Mikhail Aizenberg
Tara Bray
Stephanie Burt
Mary Cisper
KE Duffin
Bobby Elliott
Kerry James Evans
Carla Sofia Ferreira
Jessica Fisher
Eamon Grennan
J Kates
Tobi Kassim
Richard Kenney
Kimberly Kemler

Jenna Le
Sandra Lim
Brian McDonald
Robert McNamara
Matt Prater
Rachel Rinehart
Natalie Shapero
JR Solonche
Maura Stanton
Adam Tavel
Anna Tomlinson
Nikki Wallschlaeger
Lesley Wheeler
Jonathan Wike

Winter Birds by Mary Cisper

When winter birds scatter at shadows,
cacophony delivers them again:

saltbush, the wind’s pickup lines.

The dead still aren’t talking:
father speechless

unlike a machined hummingbird.

The drone when space is a bullet
not a camera

calls wherever we go a postcard.

After our sister’s wedding
my drunk brother takes my arm

blind as a broken wing.

Dear Talon,
when a bird flies into the house

hold him.

Naxos by Sandra Lim

Nothing consummates an idyll
like abandonment.

Zoom back. A marvel then,
to be here with you.
Nude like fruit, and motiveless.

The grey-leaved olive trees outside seem like
young women: small, light, exciting.

I love you, I wish there was some more
original way of saying it.

We drink our bitter coffees on the terrace.
And the little dark stone
of work that secures me, where is it?

Millions of hard stars flood the sky
each night, gentle wording
defending mystery.

My own timidity, pale as meal,
will turn out to hold some ruthlessness, too.

I draw a line down the middle
of my life—
that’s my night now, that’s my day.

Each day the sea is blue, then amber,
then burning red; it declares love, it takes it back.

Twilight by JR Solonche

Twilight, and the light follows the sound of a plane west.
The sound fades away, and the light fades after it.
It is pulled, unwilling to leave, and it turns while leaving.
All there is to hear is the water and the birds.

But the sound of the water is not the voice of the water only.
On the tongue of the water is also the voice of the culvert.
And the sound of the birds is not the sound of the birds only.
In the mouths of the birds is also the voice of the empty road.