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Poetry on Winter Grounds: Part I

TFTL Kiki Petrosino


Note from Professor Kiki Petrosino, Director of Creative Writing in University of Virginia's College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

As the chill of winter lifts (slowly, slowly) from the edge of the Blue Ridge, the Creative Writing Program offers this glimmering handful of poems to light our shared path to springtime. These works, each penned by a Third Year poet in UVA's Master of Fine Arts Program, anticipate the arrival of St. Valentine by marking moments of intimate awareness. In these poems, observation—the poet’s multi-faceted, multi-sensory gem—is made all the sharper by emotion, ecstatically felt. Together, we witness how snow “redraws the streets” leading to a lover’s door; we recall the “blue-/gold sheen of trees” in a far-off valley; we track the “starlings / in glitchy murmuration” above a surreal, cinematic landscape. These are exciting poems, which—much like the season—hum with energy and delight.


TFTL sun thru snow trees




-p. hodges adams


wishing for a month of sundays, that jump

uncompleted, little breath

before the singing,

the edge—


i live toward him. snow redraws the streets,

narrower now. six days of the week

i wake and wonder, what

light, what color—


the world is colder than a bird expects.

all day i wait and fail to make a nest.

and sunday comes, and in

her scarlet best—


one month of bright red all i want is

warm the door i open is a dawn

my fingers shake when i

get dressed.



At the edge of the Willamette,

     -Hannah Dierdorff


we ply the water with stones, bend low 

to pick rocks and skip them across the river.

Picture three silhouettes against the sun

hovering beyond the oaks on the opposite shore,

three bodies in bas relief, the background a blue-

gold sheen of trees and sky doubled on the water.

We are ankle deep in laughter. We are touching

the moment the way the current polished these

stones—noticing, lifting, letting it go. O to pocket

the ease of our bodies bowing side-by-side,

to collect the light and halos of water,

to refract the waves of our voices to where

we will be after this leaving. In the early darkness

of winter, when we are in rooms, alone,

may we still hear the footfalls of these stones,

may we still ask, Have I known any word but love?



Trinity’s Ode to Neo
            -Raisa Tolchinsky


Praise god I say and mean the bullets clattering to the ground.

Your hand pressed against the rotted oak. Your mouth’s mainframe, the stillness

which opens into spiral moon, chlorine drip of sky, not sky—

votive that lights and lights again. I chew the wires. I know how it feels

to be an artificial blaze. As promised, every red pill sloughs off

my concealer. They taste like Ricola cough drops but I can still see you,

dancing to your doom metal. Rock is dead say the 90s already behind us.

So I wear your slim sunglasses. I fill the fields with crows. On loop,

our new life: blue hills, bath-water, the asphalt fluxing back

to crude oil. I want to see. I want to know what’s underneath

your day’s dirty plastic bags, asthmatic blink in the empty streets, starlings

in glitchy murmuration. At home, you chop every pearl onion 

just right. You rewire the boombox, polish the rotted mirror.

So I’m braver, now. No more zeroes and ones. I make an ugly face

just to see if my smile is real.