At last a spray of gladioli

in a glass vase,
the big yellow
doll house raided
by hornets.
She parks her
brain in the
coffin pew
and does not.
flinch at hope.=
Why do I=
wince when
grace is said?
Who will hear
Our father
keeps at me,
his voice bright with

by Todd Robinson

Todd Robinson’s work has appeared most recently in Sugar House Review, great weather for MEDIA, Arc Poetry Magazine, Natural Bridge, burntdistrict, A Dozen Nothing, and Chiron Review.
His first collection of poems, Note at Heart Rock, was published by Main Street Rag Press in 2012. He has taught for the last decade in the Writer’s Workshop at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “At last a spray of gladioli”?

The piece began as an address to my sister, an attempt to apologize for being a bit of a beast to her when we were children. The gladioli were a gift “to say sorry for the Charlie horses.” Then I ticked off a few more sins before veering into the imperfections of our parents, as if to vindicate my youthful barbarism. Somehow I crammed twenty years and four lives into two hundred words and thought the resulting shambles (then titled “Living Amends”) beautifully bleak. Alas and alack, my writing group could not see through the muddle and told me so in several ways. To my everlasting gratitude, our host, the great David Wyatt (http://garev.uga.edu/spring14/wyatt.html), circled a few charged phrases and urged me to build a new poem from the wreckage of the old. These fragments, with some tweaking, became the work you so graciously accepted. My revision wasn’t quite finished, though—your 20-line limit confounded me until I lopped off the then-new title (“The True Apology Takes Years”) and made the first line (“At last a spray of gladioli”) a lead-in title. This had the salubrious effect of removing an abstraction and that somewhat simpering, self-pitying tone and highlighting what may be the best phrase of the lot. The resulting poem is lean, mean, and a bit ambiguous rather than sloppy, whiny, and expository. I’ll have to buy my writing group a pizza to thank them for their ruthless aesthetic honesty…


Congrats to Christopher Allen for having a work from HOUSEHOLD TOXINS being chosen to appear in BSF 2019 from Sonder Press.

Check out the write-up of the journal in The Writer.


Poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction/prose poetry submissions is now CLOSED. Check out our new category triptychs! The next submission period opens September 15, 2019; submit here.


05/23 • Nance Van Winckel (1 of 8)
05/30 • Nance Van Winckel (2 of 8)
06/05 • Rachel Rodman
06/06 • Nance Van Winckel (3 of 8)
06/10 • Erica Soon Olsen
06/12 • Beverly Jackson
06/13 • Nance Van Winckel (4 of 8)
06/17 • Avra Margariti
06/19 • Tommy Dean
06/20 • Nance Van Winckel (5 of 8)
06/24 • Stephen Reaugh
06/26 • Hege Lepri
06/27 • Nance Van Winckel (6 of 8)
07/01 • Danielle Hark
07/03 • Shirley Harshenin
07/04 • Nance Van Winckel (7 of 8)
07/08 • Matthew Barrett
07/10 • Andrew Stevens
07/11 • Nance Van Winckel (8 of 8)
07/15 • Peter Cherches
07/17 • Christopher Ryan
07/18 • Alex Durham
07/22 • Jessica Kehinde Ngo
07/24 • Jillian Pretzel
07/25 • Danielle Hark (1 of 6)
07/29 • Theresa Senato Edwards
07/31 • Stephanie Dickinson
08/01 • Danielle Hark (2 of 6)
08/05 • Callista Buchen
08/07 • Sara Elkamel
08/08 • Danielle Hark (3 of 6)
08/12 • Steven Ostrowski
08/14 • Karie Luidens
08/15 • Danielle Hark (4 of 6)
08/19 • Nick Ackerson
08/21 • Tyler Friend
08/22 • Danielle Hark (5 of 6)
08/26 • Suzanne Verrall
08/28 • Amelia Wright
08/29 • Danielle Hark (6 of 6)
09/05 • Richard Baldasty (1 of 4)
09/12 • Richard Baldasty (2 of 4)
09/19 • Richard Baldasty (3 of 4)
09/26 • Richard Baldasty (4 of 4)
12/23 • Tara Campbell