north of oxford poetry

Ten Most Read Poets @ North of Oxford 2022

Ten most read poets as determined by the readership of North of Oxford for 2022

Manasi Diwakar

How Dreams Grow by Manasi Diwakar


Layers of Blankets by Doug Holder

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Pandemic of Violence Anthology II – Poets Speak

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The Ballad of Morbid and Putrid By Sawyer Lovett

Topsy Turvy

Pandemic of Violence Anthology I – Poets Speak


Sisson’s by Eric D. Goodman


High Stakes by Ryan Quinn Flanagan


Two Poems by Susana H. Case


The Game by Matthew Ussia

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Two Poems by Kerry Trautman




Fine Lines by Sean Howard


Fine Lines 

Standing at the edge of the sea is exhilarating. This is the meeting place of terrestrial and marine life, where two ecosystems intertwine.

Jeffrey C. Domm, Canada’s Atlantic Seashore

i. Northern Rock Barnacle
Mouth at top
is closed during
low tides’
(Slow rush,
ii. Eyed Finger Sponge
‘Branches have small
holes, or “eyes”’
(Wave, hand
staring back
at you…)
iii. Northern Quahog
‘Interior of shell
with purple
(Quahog Grail,
iv. Samphire
Salad days
(no takers?) –
‘Succulent stem and
branches, bright
green in spring’
v. Maritime Garter Snake
‘Rests very
still in the sun,
collecting warmth’
(What beggar
could choose
vi. Piping Plover
‘…nest in a
(How many
of us dare?)
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Sean Howard is the author of five books of poetry in Canada, most recently Unrecovered: 9/11 Poems (Gaspereau Press, 2021). His poetry has been widely published in Canada, the US (including North of Oxford), UK, and elsewhere, and featured in The Best of the Best Canadian Poetry in English (Tightrope Books, 2017).

High Stakes by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

High Stakes 
Seizing the high ground is important,
have you not read of the great campaigns?
 And here this stooped man with his back to me,
a pile of stakes which he hammers into the soil above.
 An old slag heap now repurposed and green again,
stakes driven deep into this unnatural hill to form a line.
 A drooping pair of overalls, I see each faded denim strap
disappear over a mountain of disjointed shoulders.
 The stacks from the nickel mines in the distance.
Billowing out their many black dahlia plumes.
Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many bears that rifle through his garbage.  His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, Chiron Review, Setu, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.

Dear Anonymouse by Mike Maggio

Dear Anonymouse
Dear Anonymouse:
I’ve noticed how lately
you’ve taken up residence
and claimed free reign of my humble home —
as if you were meant to be here.
How you scurry about my kitchen, Earl of Morning,
Prince of Demurity, Sovereign of Shyness
scorning contact, refusing to concede even my presence
while I’m perking coffee or scrambling eggs
or simply puttering about.
The pantry, too, has succumbed to your shenanigans.
You’ve raided the rice, finagled the figs
rummaged the rind of a yet-to-ripen melon.
And all you’ve given for my unwilling generosity
is the back of your timorous tail
and a profligate amount of your prodigious pellets.
Now I’ve tried to be lenient with you —
even, one might say, tolerant of your presence.
I’ve left you offerings for your midnight snack —
tempting morsels meant to appease your avid appetite —
a crumble of cheese beneath the sink
a pat of peanut butter near the fridge
even, once, a bowl of fruit left, unwrapped,
beside a special cocktail I concocted
meant to con you, meant to attract you
to my little contraption in which I wished to whisk you away.
And yet, to no avail. You avoid my good will
and continue to sashay through my kitchen
ogling me as if I’m the one who should take his leave.
Dear Anonymouse:  please understand:
I do not wish to harm you.
I merely bid you and your progeny godspeed.
So please: pack your things.
Make haste with your belongings.
Seek shelter in some other domicile.
Because come tomorrow
a certain calico companion is about to join my campaign.
Mike Maggio is a poet and fiction writer with nine full-length works to his name and numerous publications in journals including The Northern Virginia Review, The L.A. Weekly and others. His newest poetry collection, Let’s Call It Paradise,  , will be released in 2021 by San Francisco Bay Press.. He is an adjunct assistant-professor at Northern Virginia Community College and an associate editor of The Potomac Review His web site if

Celestial Elbow by D.R. James

Celestial Elbow
The sky wore the regalia of flames but
turned lavender-violet quietude
in a moment’s romance. And the breeze, how
it finessed everything and cradled me.
Awakened by the dazzle, I reposed—
riveted, infused, imbued by satin.
Gift after gift from ginger tongues, then glow
audible like visions. It was never
a coddling. The nod from the heavens
judged some memories mere indulgence—and grudge.
D. R. James’s latest of nine collections are Flip Requiem (Dos Madres, 2020), Surreal Expulsion (Poetry Box, 2019), and If god were gentle (Dos Madres, 2017), and his micro-chapbook All Her Jazz is free, fun, and printable-for-folding at Origami Poems Project. He lives in the woods near Saugatuck, Michigan.

Two Poems by John Dorroh

For Mary Oliver Who Loved Dogs
We are learning new things
about the history of dog bones,
how they permeate the soil
on every continent, a gauge
of the manner in which civilizations
have flourished and failed, burying
their own bones beside them.
The collective souls of canine
beings – wolves and chihuahua,
beagles and basset, mixed breeds
and the paperless hound – form a cool
gray layer that only those who’ve
fallen in love with them ever sense
or see. It’s in our marrow, saturating
the pulp of existence.
We’ve always loved them, even
as they crouched on the perimeters
of pre-historic fires, inching forward,
cowering on bellies that kissed
the cold ground, stealing bits of skin
and meat while humans slept under
the stars.
Reluctant Crow
There’s a reluctant crow stuck in my throat,
unable or unwilling to recognize my face.
How could he not remember these acid-etched
furrows, this cute pink nose, such rosy cheeks
and a head the shape of a cube? He’s not trying,
that’s all. Sad bird. If I can remember the way
that green bottle flies entered the dead man’s mouth
at the river when I was 8, their drone-like metallic
buzzing, the way the lemon sun felt on my neck,
and the excitement when we pulled up obsidian
glass shards from the bottom of the gravel pit,
then why can’t this crow remember me? Perhaps
he harbors some gene for resilience, or experienced
a traumatic avian childhood with blood-drenched
scenes that he can’t get out of his head: witnessing
a bald eagle being shot from the sky, or seeing
his father murdered?  Hundreds of articles
documenting the intelligence of crows and cousins
of crows, feathered beings worthy of scientific literature,
of behavioral antics that defy description: Betty,
a New Caledonian, picks up a piece of wire
in her cage, uses an object to bend it, like a junior
engineer, into a hooked tool that she uses to lift
a chunk of scrumptious pig heart up into her beak.
Instead, I have the special crow, the one who doesn’t
fit the mold, the one who grew up just like me.
John Dorroh’s poetry has appeared in about 75 journals, including Feral, Dime Show Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Os Pressan, and Selcouth Station. He also writes short fiction and the occasional rant.

Two Poems by Mike Wilson

Castle Keep
I never saw it coming.
It doesn’t have a face,
is known through absence
of chunks and parts,
small paving stones of ordinary
gone missing.
Empty boxcars uncoupled
still rolling with momentum
from a life lived, carrying him
through days, a click
clack along an old track,
a train without a schedule.
At first preoccupied, then reoccupied
by patterns he no longer owns,
fragments of stories, twisted
paragraphs clutched, the abridged
version of his life, shorthand
dictated, no longer transcribed.
Alone in gray that could turn black,
becoming the prey of his own mind,
the timbre of words
not tempered by love
uttered with prompts, delivered to
an audience of tissues and tears.
I buried him, broken,
and shuffled along, waiting
until they made me sell the house
and settled me in assisted living
with meals, a bed, and no meaning,
but everyone is kind.
The Golden Years
She calls the nurse,
pressing the button nobody hears.
She calls family,
they let it go to voicemail,
waiting to see if she will die.
She doesn’t…
She calls to God,
presents her argument,
makes her plea,
waits for the judge’s gavel
to strike the bench with a ruling.
They stick her in a home.
Night fears
make conjugal visits.
She calls the aide
but can’t remember why,
can’t remember the girl’s name,
but pretends she does.
The girl leaves
when she thinks she’s done.
It must be nice.
The same with visitors –
muscle memory
of social interaction
kicking in the tune
but not the words.
All these strangers
who are like fishing bobs
bobbing up, bobbing down,
looking at their watches.
Mike Wilson’s work has appeared in magazines including Cagibi Literary Journal, Stoneboat, The Aurorean, and The Ocotillo Review, and in Mike’s book, “Arranging Deck Chairs on the Titanic,” (Rabbit House Press, 2020), political poetry for a post-truth world. Mike resides in Central Kentucky.

Two Poems by James Tyler

Cumberland River, 2am
There’s a latitude and longitude in Tennessee
where I step in the dirty Cumberland River,
mud between toes, those brittle bones.
It goes from here to the Queen City,
winds its filth, memories of Civil War
and white paddle steamers.
Wind sings songs on the surface
to rainbow trout and walleye,
to the bones of drowned lovers.
White lights shine on black water,
reflect the last silver quarter minted 1964.
The Queen City is asleep now,
nestled against the Cumberland River, 2am.
There must be some equation
explaining how the river bends into nothing—
darkness a heavy, bottom-dwelling catfish—
darkness that betrays no moon tonight.
I could slip nude into these black waters,
but it’s too cold and the current might take me away—
for I am a man and not Ophelia,
for there is no bard to orate about me but me.
Somewhere around here I wish starlight could sink
all the way. I wish I could play the flute,
coax sleeping fish away from the reeds
so they could follow me into my own dreams.
My father taught me to fish these waters,
how to hook a night crawler and cast a line,
but I never got the gumption to gut one.
Put your ear to these waters and they’ll sing
a whole history, how sun and star burn in turn,
and maybe they’ll tell the truth, or just a little lie.
Blade of Grass
O to be a blade of grass, trampled upon
by the soles of a thousand feet,
to fall victim to the gardener’s blade
in the morning before the spring storm.
Dear wind, your northern breath sour
from snowstorms and icy midnights,
spreads pregnant pollen across meadows,
the whorehouses of nature.
I am not a wildflower, red columbine or harebell,
just a blade of green that has grown too tall,
quite worthless in the eyes of flower pickers,
but am I not one of God’s children, equal
to lily and rose, though not fragrant or fair,
free to be pissed upon by your purebred dog
and forgotten like one of a thousand banquets
whose mother is dirt and water, seed and sun?
The double rainbow is essential to my soul
in a mundane world whose colors are black and grey,
where I kiss the dew with tongue and a force
that can cut this blade, this insignificant flower
whose song remains unsung in the season
who becomes golden in its turn and spun,
becomes humble food for cattle and horse,
forsaken by me, yet still touched by God.
James Tyler earned a BA in English from Austin Peay State University. He has been published in such journals as Chiron Review, Cape Rock, Doubly Mad, and Poetry Quarterly. He currently resides in Nashville, TN.