Recent Publications

Litchfield Magazine: May/June 2022: “Puzzle”

2River Summer 2021: “Bargain” and “Tantric Tinder”

Prairie Schooner Winter 2020: “St. Patrick’s Day”

Crazyhorse Spring 2020: “Up Against It”

Kestrel Winter 2019: “A to Z” and “Tweak”

Birmingham Poetry Review Spring 2019: “Further up the Road”

2River Spring 2018: “Domesticated” and “Mildred’s Granddaughter”

The American Journal of Poetry: "Boys Among Men"

Pool: “Anxiety of Influence,” “Back to Wendy,” “I’m Beat,” “Dogs,” and “A Woman’s Touch

LiveMag: “Scene” and “Palette”

The Cortland Review: “Four Minutes” “Private Practice,” “What the Wind Says Before Bed,” “What the Moon Says Before Sunrise,” “Fallow” and “Stopping”

2River, Summer 2014: “High Priestess” and “Justice”

Diode, Summer 2014: “Expecting Modification” and “Repetition”

Muddy Bank: “Justice”, Poem-A-Day: "Thief"

Pool: “Makers,” “House” and “For Love to Continue”

Muddy Bank: "Defiance", Poem-A-Day: "Call Us"

Mudlark: "The Sense Series, Book One, I-III"

U City Review: “The Duck,” “Partner,” “The Poem is Not She,” “Product,” “Responsible,” “Sequel,”

Verse Daily: “Metronome”

Anti-: “Thwarted”

2River: “Pioggia,” “Ancora La Pioggia,” “Bound,” “Monopoly”

No Tell Motel: “Ice Cream Sunday,” “Homeopathic,” “I Can Keep a Secret,” “If I Were King of the Poetry World,” “Poethics.”

Storyscape: “Cartographer”

Diode: “The Residence,” “My Skinker,” “Topography of the Sound Universe”

Fogged Clarity: “Curdled,” “Pot”

Contemporary American Voices: July 2009 “Eve:Sunday,” “Eve: Monday,” “Eve:Tuesday:Adam,” “Eve Learns,” “Suitable Helper,” “Friday:Regret,” “Eve to God,” “Eve: To the Serpent,” “Eve to Earth.”

Ping Pong: “Deranged”


We have the wherewithal
to weather this partial
eclipse, this moment
when the moon is
mottled, when the sun
thinks it doesn’t want
to shine anymore.
The illuminations on your cheek
revive me. They are
disproportionate to
the lunar depressions.
They light up the relics
we keep in the basement
to remind us of how
much an ounce of faith
weighs. We measure
what we believe in by
cauterizing our leaking
windpipes. Mine are
dense with blisters. I’m
wholly fixated on
swallowing a new language,
words I can feel, sounds
I can emulate.

december, 2018, Nominated for the 2019 Pushcart Prize

Double Entendre

I’d really like to reveal
myself to you, but I am
prevented from doing so
by my frenum, the muscle
between my two front teeth
that acts as a body guard
whenever I turn my sights
inward to dispel the lethargy
swarming around the analyst
in me who doesn’t want to look
under my tongue. Would
you either? I’m finally alone
in my quiet mouth. Let’s make
a pact. If I don’t unearth
my weaknesses, then I won’t
bury you with them. I’ll spend
all night gargling with warm
salt water to practice. Then,
in the morning, we’ll put our
fingers down our throats
and see who wins.

Poetry Ireland Review, 2018

I Remember Telemachus

I am susceptible to
forgetfulness. I know
where my car keys are
now, submissively tied
to the whistle I have
never blown in self-defense,
but I can’t recall the conversation
you say we had about whether
or not our friends had mentioned
that they would like to meet us
in Portugal next fall. Some things
I let lapse, like most of my
college experience, but I’m
a pushover for lavender and
open magnolia blossoms. I’m
better at sight than recording
words, but if I could harness
the sound of your voice
when you’re happy, like it was
last night when we arrived late
at the party at the lake because
the afternoon light detained us,
I would change my ways.

Irises: The University of Canberra Vice-Chancellors International Poetry Prize, 2017

Housewife as Poet

I have scrawled audible lifelines along the edges
of the lint trap, dropping the ball of towel fuzz
in the blue bin lined with a thirteen-gallon bag.
My sons' wardrobes lounge on their bedroom floors,
then sidle down to the basement, where I look
forward to the warmth of their waistbands
when I pluck them from the dryer.
Sometimes I wonder why my husband
worries about debt and I wish he wouldn't.
Sometimes I wonder how high the alfalfa
will grow. Sometimes I wonder if the dog
will throw up in the night. Like my mother,
I'm learning not to tamper with anger.
It appears as reliably as the washing machine
thumps and threatens to lurch across the floor
away from the electrical outlet. Nothing's worth
getting worked up about, except for death.
And when I think of the people I have lost,
I wish them back into their button-down shirts,
their raspberry tights.

American Life in Poetry: Column 712, 2018 and Promise 2017

The Book of Usable Minutes

I heard the mother in the row behind me
explain the safety instructions
to her small noisy children.

I began to calculate how much time
I have spent listening to an automated voice
tell me how to identify the best exit routes,

how to use the seat as a flotation device,
how to place the oxygen mask over my mouth
and continue breathing. If only the flight attendant

could advise me on how to remember
my father, how to say goodbye
to my friend, how not to love my husband.

The Writer’s Almanac 2017 and Promise 2017


We were drawn that way at a young age on the main line
west from St. Louis to the Columbia spur north to Moberly
where our grandparents picked us up at the station

and showed us the quarry behind their house on Gilman Road,
warning us not to try to jump off the edge of the cliff
with an umbrella the way Uncle Robert had.

Our mother had traced our blood to Squire Boone, Daniel’s brother.
It coursed through our father’s veins when, as a sixteen-year-old
with a summer job on the railroad, he fought to get the cinder

out of the tracks that blocked the switch as the 12:05 bore down on him.
Sixty years later his grandsons spin the wheels of their three speeds
on the gravel path above the wide brown river, sweating

as their knees pump on pedals their feet have out-grown.
We stay at a bed and breakfast on the bluff, walking down
to Dutzow for the Friday night fish fry. Back on our bikes

on the Katy Trail the next morning, stopping along the way
to swing on the vines and poke our heads in the caves,
we race the last mile to the marker in front of the Boone Homestead.

The Writer’s Almanac 2017 and Promise 2017

© 2024 Sally Van Doren