north of oxford

The Child Who… by Maria Keane

ant trail 2
The Child Who…
I am the child who smells earth after rain,
who watches trails of ants that go nowhere,
who plucks the air just after
the monarch leaves its milkweed.
Who kneels in moist wells
of fern below
a ceiling of leaves
beneath a bruising sky.
Tangled in a thin layer of dust
I watch the falcon glide
above the mottled hologram of earth.
I dig small hollows in the shadow of the oak
that cover the limp green garden snake.
The Child Who…
I am at the velvet edge of exploration.
I listen to beats beneath the earth
separating groves of blood roses.
My garden dance
becomes redundant.
I look beyond a patch of grass with stringy roots.
where uncertainties never pierce the spine.
The sun is winking between the clouds.
I shrug off origami cranes attempting flight.
                                          Thin promises  of paper,  my blueprint.
Maria Keane, visual artist and published poet, served as Professor of Fine Arts at Wilmington University, New Castle Delaware from 1984-2009.  Her book of poetry, Being There, is being published in October, 2018 by Page Publishing, N.Y.  She was awarded a Professional Fellowship in Works on Paper in 1997.)

The Teacher by Joan McNerney

The Teacher
Had hoped some would leave,
rise above dirty factory gates
past plumes of smoke spewing
from the cement plant.
Occasionally when discussing
great American novels, the walls
shook. Ravines were being blasted
for more rocks to crush into powder.
She wished they would not become
clerks for soul-less chain stores or
cooks in fast food joints where
smells of burning grease lingered.
What was the use of teaching literature
and poetry to these teens who would
soon grow listless?  Their spirits ground
down like stones in the quarry.
Joan McNerney’s poetry has been included in numerous literary magazines such as Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze, Blueline, and Halcyon Days.  Four Bright Hills Press Anthologies, several Poppy Road Review Journals, and numerous Kind of A Hurricane Press Publications have accepted her work.  Her latest title is Having Lunch With the Sky.

Dry Spell by Ann Christine Tabaka

Dry Spell
Fissured mud,
dry, hard, gray.
So many interlacing
fingers reaching out
in every direction,
crumble to the touch.
Arid summer,
sucking the breath from life.
Languishing thirst.
Wilted flora bow their heads.
Fallen warriors lack resilience
to withstand the furnace blast.
Parched earth,
crying out for sustenance.
No clouds in sight.
Not a drop of compassion
to be found.
Cruel season of drought,
unexpected curse.
Farmers pass their hats
and lay low,
hands folded in prayer.
Rotted fruit.
Tiny shrunken globes of despair.
Shrunken heads
hang limp and forlorn
upon dying hosts.
Time stands still.
Torrid air strangles all
within its grasp.
I exhale the dragon
from my lungs.
Scorched clay drifts from my hand,
dispersed into the atmosphere.
Well of hope, dry as dust.
Foreign to some years,
a vengeance in others.
All promise lost,
walking away
faces turn upward
in disbelief,
as forgiveness rains from the sky
Ann Christine Tabaka has been published at:  Pomona Valley Review, Page & Spine, West Texas Literary Review, The Hungry Chimera, Sheila-Na-Gig, Synchronized Chaos, Pangolin Review, Trigger Fish Critical Review, Foliate Oak Review, Better Than Starbucks!, Mused, The Write Launch, The Stray Branch, The McKinley Review, and Fourth & Sycamore. She lives with her husband in Delaware, USA.

2 poems by Len Krisak

Mourner’s Candle
The tall glass cylinder wears David’s star,
The corpse’s body thought of as a wick.
(A flame stands for the soul). Too weak to char
The flesh, this Hebrew fire flaps at Heaven,
Reminding us that shiva translates seven.
As it burns, the days are passing quick.
And yet it seems too little and too late
For what its fire would commemorate.
For one brief week, subsiding inch-by-inch,
The timid blaze is tasteful with respect.
What is it then that makes me want to flinch
Each time I see this flame, to re-direct
My gaze?  These candles make such meager lamps,
Yet by their light, I see the chimneyed camps.
While sparse November leaves leave limbs half-flocked,
Earth eats the burden of her dust—a mouth
In which the urn of ash is pocketed.
So taught, I pocket, too, the folded check
That notes how much half of her life was worth.
(Half his as well—her mate much put-upon.
Six years now that my father has been gone.)
She left a dirt-floor school-house/barefoot south,
Left there a black sheep brother, half redneck.
She’d plotted from the day she’d given birth,
But never planned this gift her going gave:
Ghiberti’s doors and Canaletto’s views
Await the sexton’s shoveling in the grave,
And it only remains to book the cruise.
Len Krisak has published 9 collections of poetry. His poetry has recently appeared or is forthcoming in The Antioch Review, The Sewanee Review, The Hudson Review, Raritan, The Southwest Review, The Oxford Book of Poems on Classical Mythology. He has received the following honors: Richard Wilbur Prize; Robert Frost Prize; Robert Penn Warren Prize; The New England Poetry Club Book Award. Krisak is also a four-time champion on Jeopardy!

Most Read Poets of 2018 at North of Oxford

The following list consists of the 15 most read poets as of December 2018 determined by readership at North of Oxford.


A Poem by Kristina Krumova

Byron Beynon 2014

3 Poems by Byron Beynon


2 Poems by Lilah Clay


Voices by Linda Stevenson


Uncle by Michael A. Griffith

Byron Beynon 2014

In the Mirror by Byron Beynon


Winter Tune-up by Charles Rammelkamp


Lectures on Poetry by M.V. Montgomery

Writer's Photograph

One day, her hands became birds by Arlyn LaBelle


Temple of Jupiter by Jeffrey Cyphers Wright

author pic

Bait by Daniel Casey

ed c

2 Poems by Edward L. Canavan

John D Robinson

2 Poems by John D Robinson


2 Poems by Carl Kaucher

tony w

Leave by Tony Walton



Beauty and the Unrequited Landscape by John Goode



By Lynette G. Espositio

John Goode’s Beauty and the Unrequited Landscape published by Rain Mountain Press is an image-laden delight of poems that visualize, conceptualize and realize perception from different but common landscapes.

Bill Yarrow, author of Blasphemer and The Vig of Love says “John Goode’s poems are—all things wild and wonderful.”  The reader can see this clearly in his poem When My Father Took His Chainsaw into the Forest on page 30.
                    the television died. 
                   Cartoons crawled across the carpet
                   and begged for more cereal. 
                   The small angel of my life curled up
                    inside me. 
                   The sun dragged a generator across the sky
                   and the grass turned brown.
The visual is so clear the reader wants to hug the narrator.  The poem continues with this sharp visualization of the setting, tone and timbre to reality-based images that set time and place into emotion.
                   When my father took his chainsaw into the forest,
                    he cut the opossum
                   out of the encyclopedia 
                    He turned comic books
                    into woodchips and stone.
This clear evaluation of a father by his young son depicted in the images chosen reveals a landscape of detail and emotion.

This continues on through the four parts of the 104 pages of poems followed by an interview with Goode where he discusses motivation and technique.

Goode continues to visualize and conceptualize his poems even in the titles from as simple as Unemployed to Elegy for a Tree in a Poem Written by a Young Woman Sitting at the Bar.  His poems, like his titles, vary in length. Some are one stanza and some are several pages. I find this detail of form gives support to the themes.  Most are free verse/blank verse in narrative form.  In the five stanza poem The Riot of Waitresses, the first lines set a contemporary situation: The girls at work are giving birth to televisions without doctors.  From page 87 to page 94, the narrator discusses the thwarted plans of women with their breasts trapped in their boyfriends’ hands like pigeons. Goode juxtaposes common images with an unorthodox landscape.  Breasts, boyfriends, pigeons…I love it.

The reader begins through the visualization to realize something special is happening.  Goode is able to make a point or points by choosing common understandings that expand out to fresh perceptions on how life works in suggestive images that conjure many interpretations.

The poems are consistently both interesting and surprising.  In A Note From My Boss on page 95, Goode uses the letter format and uses the salutary Dear Jude to make a point.

The first line gives real sarcastic attitude please wipe up the Lysol carcasses.  This memo to the boss ends with authority: Thank-you and no signature.  How impersonal is this as a reference to real life workers and how effective in a poem.  Thank-you, John….Yours Lynette.

Beauty and the Unrequited Landscape is available from

Lynette G. Esposito has been an Adjunct Professor at Rowan University,  Burlington County and Camden County Colleges. She has taught creative writing and conducted workshops in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Mrs. Esposito holds a BA in English from the University of Illinois and an MA in Creative Writing and English Literature from Rutgers University.  Her articles have appeared in the national publication, Teaching for Success; regionally in South Jersey Magazine, SJ Magazine. Delaware Valley Magazine, and her essays have appeared in Reader’s Digest and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Her poetry has appeared in US1, SRN Review, The Fox Chase Review and other literary magazines. She has critiqued poetry for local and regional writer’s conferences and served as a panelist and speaker at local and national writer’s conferences.  She lives with her husband, Attilio, in Mount Laurel, NJ.

Revealing Self in Pictures and Words by Tom Taylor aka the poet Spiel aka Thoss W. Taylor

By g emil reutter
“… every Saturday morn, I lay upside down on my self-upholstered wrought iron radio bench to listen to opera from New York City even though I knew that a boy, plus opera, worried my third generation farmer father.” – Tom Taylor
Tom Taylor is a painter/poet, a child of the 1940s he grew up on a farm, learned at a congregational Sunday school, active 4-H guy and Boy Scout. At an early age he knew he was different. His road would be difficult and different from many he grew up with. He embraced his sexuality at an early age and fought the battle that many fight when afflicted with mental illness. He escaped to Los Angles where he became known as Thoss W. Taylor- Painter. He gave up the L.A. lifestyle and returned to Colorado later in life with his partner.
Taylor’s beautiful images populate this 118 page memoir of his life. Surreal and real he is an exquisite creator as a painter as when one looks upon the images, one feels the artist’s passion, pain and joy. Coupled with the images are the poet’s words, like his paintings are devoid of fiction, excerpts that roll from page to page boldly revealing his life without any pretense.
He tells us:


“Gravity wants me back but I’m not ready to eat dirt—just like all the previous
times when I face the door to the end. Though the worldwide rubbish of
deception and discontent mount, there’s too much beauty and revelation in
rare moments of universal connection and clarity that set me up to soldier
on—such positive insight seldom prevails more than two winks and a nod.”
“I am a rambling maverick man. I’ll be sleeping with new light to maintain my
stance against the knives and when this cloth becomes too-small, my sword is at
my side.”
This memoir of images and words by a “maverick man” is a must read for all those who have lived a full life, who know the struggles and joys, who take the hard stand to be who they are no matter what the hardship. It is not just a memoir for those who are gay or those who struggle with mental illness but for all who live a full life and overcome the obstacles the brutal reality of life throws at us. I for one am glad that Taylor has avoided gravity and is not ready to eat dirt. This memoir is a gift to all of us and we are better off for Taylor’s continued living, creating words and paintings.
g emil reutter is a writer of poems and stories. He can be found at: