All posts by Ann Thornfield-Long

Ann Thornfield-Long, a co-author of Tennessee Women of Vision and Courage (Crawford and Smiley, 2013), has published poetry in Artemis, Silver Blade, The Linnet’s Wings, Riddled with Arrows, Quill and Parchment, and other publications. She has received Rhysling, Pushcart and Best of the Net nominations. She lives in East Tennessee.

Traveler by Ann Thornfield-Long


The ticking clock is the song
that metronomes my passage.

I am a time trekker, peripatetic
nomad. Who can say where

I will lodge tomorrow
A cough can condemn

me to the gallows. Sunday afternoons
I am homesick for a place or time

to which I cannot return. Hireath?
A home that never existed except

in dreams of Miltown.
Everything smells of old books.

Memory miscarries the golden years
while Eisenhower tried to break 80

on the green, grandparents napped
and Little Rock roiled.

Starched white curtains
stand out from the window

on the fragrant breeze
of everything will be alright.

I have a yearning worse
than thirst, than peace.

My thoughts finger the handle of a grip.
A ghost traces my face with a touch

that feels like a spider’s net.
My familiars hear me keening
in the squeal of rails.

Miltown was one of the first psychotropic drugs used in the United States in the 1950s for “nervous tension.” In the 1970s, it was largely replaced by Valium and other medicines.

Editor’s Note: There are allusions to the lyrics of “everything will be alright” by The Killers, as well as to “Everything’s Alright” [Jesus Christ Superstar (1973)]

Image Credit:

The Pond in Winter – Poem by Ann Thornfield-Long

The Pond in Winter

            After Henry David Thoreau


The winter of ’19, it rained nearly every day,

water gushed from sky, no windshield wiper

equal to it. A slough swelled in the low spot

of the yard, lapped the steps, like a wolf


at the door. It was the wolf supermoon that

reflected off the surface one rare, naked night—

quicksilver eerie and lovely as icy solitude,

consoling, clear. A sorrow-voiced owl cried


in the pre-dawn, foreshadowing death,

as owls can. Loss spilled over the wall

of my soul and into the crevices where I hid

my treasures, floated them out of their deep


secret places onto the banks from underearth

where bluets and bloodroots drank to the dregs

as I would after I saw the land open its mouth

and swallow my love whole, leaving me to choke


on the hemlock of grief. I’ll carry the disfigurement

of this flood, a high-water scar the rest of my days.

Not everything, nor everyone survives. Winter

cannot last forever.