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Author: dhenning

From the Northeast Kingdom

From the Northeast Kingdom

When the black bearskin hung from the tree
like a rug drying on the clothesline,

the hunter recounted how he started an incision,
cut upward to the head,

stopped at the mouth’s corners. From the rear paws
I cut to the elbow, crossed to the chest incision,

his voice razzed the youngster who watched,
Are you sickward, Child? It wasn’t until he

got to the head that fuzziness rocked her.
Between kerosene kerplunking into the cook-

stove, and her Grandfather’s graveled voice,
she silently wept for the ears turned

inside out, pressed back. The bear’s


life spoke to her of fresh droplets
coating his fur tips, and the scent of blackberries rose.
Inside the bear’s choice thicket, paws reach for vines,
and he pulls leaves, thorns, berries towards him,

meshing them into his mouth—such sweetness.
Only when he satiates himself,

turning in his dark poetic cape does the hunter
bring him down—a moment of beauty and satisfaction

supremely merged, and he falls,
as only a black bear falls, king

of his forest, crowned by the rainfall.

Nagatuket River Review

Because He Cannot Be Human, and She Cannot Be Donkey.

His name is Jacob, his fur an unruly thatch.
My sister is in love with him, brings him carrots,
apples and such. He lives in a field down the road
from her in Starksboro, Vermont. They are neighbors.

I wonder if he dreams about her at night,
if he’d like to snuggle with her at the old Mill House
on cold evenings. He reaches so far into his barreled chest
for a voice to greet her that it must take years

for such braying as his, a voice filled with such sadness
that only momentarily they will meet like this; two
reaching across the fence to hold, to stay held, to be
steadied by what fierce yearning as brings opposites together.

                                Poetry Pacific #37

Rhubarb Season

Rhubarb Season

A rooster crowed at the first
strike of light, awaking the stone
child who held her own

child, and was herself
a child. In England, the first
rhubarb of the year is harvested
by candlelight to enhance a more
tender, sweeter stalk. There’s even

a Rhubarb Triangle, where growing sheds
dot the land. This resembles wonder. Salt
on rhubarb is what you remember. You
offer a bite to the stone child. She
wrinkles her face into a smile. You’ll never

get used to the way memory
makes you live many lives. In a single season
of rhubarb, countless

stone children are unearthed.

                                New American Writing 37

Brief Bio

Dianna Henning – email:, PO Box 184, Janesville, CA 96114

Founder/Facilitator of Thompson Peak Writer’s Workshop in Janesville, CA

Area-Coordinator for California Poets in the Schools and creative writing instructor in Grass Valley, CA. Also served as poetry teacher for Lassen County Schools facilitated through California Art’s Council grants. William James Association’s Prison Arts Program Artist Facilitator (retired) for California Correctional Center and poetry/creative writing instructor at Folsom Prison, Duell Vocational and several other CA prisons.

Henning’s third poetry book Cathedral of the Hand published 2016 by Finishing Line Press.

Recent Publications: Pacific Poetry; New American Writing; The Kerf which nominated “Picking the Bay Laurel With my Daughter” for a Pushcart; Plainsongs, The Moth, Ireland; Mojave River Review; the New Verse News; Sequestrum and Naugatuck River Review. Four-time Pushcart nominee

Published in:
Autumn Sky Poetry Daily; VerseVirtual; New American Writing; Your Daily Poem;The Kerf; Plainsongs, The Moth, Ireland; Sukoon, Volume 5; Mojave River Review; the New Verse News; Hawaii Pacific Review; Sequestrum; South Dakota Review; Naugatuck River Review; Lullwater Review; Blue Fifth Review; The Main Street Rag; Clackamas Literary Review; 22 wagons by Danijela Trajković, Istok Akademia, an anthology of contemporary Anglophone poetry; California Quarterly; Poetry International and Fugue. Crazyhorse, Seattle Review, Asheville Poetry Review & The Louisville Review.

The Leaf Cat

The Leaf Cat

If you stare at something long enough it assumes a life all its own.
Even the wind carries a child in a rucksack.
The child’s name could be Leaf,
emblematic of green, its mixture of yellow and blue.
Our tortured world loves the color green,
its promise of better times.
Oh, to be green in the long night of terror.
Meanwhile, the leaf-cat reclines on a padded porch chair.
The cry in its throat is red

New American Writing Issue: No. 37


Mother once told me my wakefulness took
up an entire floor—that’s

why I house myself in the woods. All
the tree knows of cover is moss. All

the child in Aleppo knows of cover is run. I can’t
reconcile what’s happening in the world. Night

leavens its darkness, buried
in hypocrisy and vile

politicians. There’s a fog
catcher in Lima who brings water

to the poor. I’ve asked him
to speak to us.

                    Sukoon Vol. 5 

Set Free

When my husband caught the trapped hummingbird
and freed it from the screened-in porch,
his big hands, a woven bird’s nest,
a few fingers opened into an escape hatch,

I held my breath as one does before the delicate—
that spot of bird, singular in its journey,
wings like small lead windows.

It seemed strange to see a big man
who could easily crush the body of such a small thing
release to air the hummingbird, who once in flight,
turned as if to say, I’ll remember this.


Your Daily Poem, on-line, 2014

Between Young and Old Time

I am reading a book loaned to me by a very old woman.
Her hands are on the pages and they are slipping into mine;
flesh of a book against my brow as I close my eyes to rest.

What I love best about this book recommended by an old woman,
is how a single strand of silver hair becomes my bookmark—
between two pages, a single strand of hair tells where I left off.

Where I left off is not where I am or where I intend to be.
Further into the book than ever imagined is a story about being
an old woman who reads a book and recognizes herself

in a character. The old woman looks out from the book,
an old woman’s eyes large as an oasis and clear as sunlit sand.
Her hand is a vine of many veins that intertwine and signal something.

Something close and dear as song expresses itself on her lips.
She is sipping lyrics from the air through the straw of a strand of hair.
Her hands are on the pages and they are slipping into mine.

Published In England’s Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual 2014–Finalist



I wish I could tell you more about the man
bent over the drawing of his daughters
Sofi and Sonia, how like Saint Bartholomew
in Rembrandt’s painting, the man becomes so intent
that his pencil is now another finger,

and the man himself leaves, as though absorption
in what one loves calls the being from the body,
and being, the only true state, shapes the careful eyes
and lips of his girls. I would like to tell you the man’s name,
but I am sworn to silence on the prisoners I work with.

Were it possible to portray the man
accurately, his skin sewn in a tight weave
of tattoos, I would start with his eyes,
tell you how I see in them the brown loaves of bread
his mother made, his mouth about to form what he is unable to say.

What we cannot utter must write its meaning elsewhere—
the fragments of language building the innovative.
If there is a heaven of words, or at the very least
a storage place, what goes unspoken must send its roots

into a future we know nothing about.
It’s yard recall, but the man, still absorbed, draws
his daughters, his head so close to the paper
that he could be outlining himself—
the shapes of their lovely mouths,
butterflies with spread wings.

The Butcher’s Apprentice

                     Hawai’i Pacific Review, 2006


First he showed him how to hold the cleaver,
where to make the best cut,
said to keep his eye on the meat’s grain,
hold the blade steady,
and how beautifully the meat opened
on the maple chopping block,
gracious host to its own body,
the apprentice wiping his bloodied hands
across his heavy cotton apron;
his sigh, such finesse,
a sigh a lover might make,
satisfied before ultimate
pleasure—but, no climax here,
only the calm of knowing

one did the other body right,
and can’t you tell
that the one being trained
seeks the best advice to finish meat,
especially since fine butchery is nearly extinct,

for why else
would the Master train
the hand coming back to fingers,
to opening, carefully at first,
the red flesh that was once desire.