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Featured Reader

Sandra Anfang

Virtual Event on December 13th, 2022–6:00 P.M to 8:00 P.M.

Live stream will be available on our YouTube Channel at the time of the event!

Sandra Anfang

Sandra Anfang is a Northern California poet, teacher, visual artist, and editor. Her poems have been published in numerous print and online journals including Rattle, The New Verse News, The MacGuffin, Gyroscope Review, Jambu Press, and Spillway. Her poetry collections include Looking Glass Heart (Finishing Line Press, 2016), Road Worrier: Poems of the Inner and Outer Landscape (Finishing Line Press, 2018) which was a Lorien Prize finalist, and Xylem Highway (Main Street Rag, 2019). Her new chapbook, Finishing School, will be published in January of 2023 by Kelsay Books. She has been nominated for a Best Short Fictions award, Best of the Net, and a Pushcart Prize. She has won several first and second-place prizes in the Ina Coolbrith Circle Poetry Contest and Poets’ Dinner Contest, and second and third place awards for prose poetry in the Soul-Making Keats contest. Last year, she took second place in the San Francisco International Haiku contest. Anfang is founder and host of the monthly poetry series, Rivertown Poets (established 2013) and a radio program by the same name at KPCA.FM. She teaches with California Poets in the Schools. Samples of her poetry and visual art can be seen at and on her YouTube channel, Rivertown Poets.

Fourth Period

Outside the classroom window,
two Ravens squabble in a Jeffrey Pine
then sit in silence,
aiming the coffins of their bills—
shiny as turn-of-the-century hearses—
away from each other
in apparent ennui.
Perhaps they are merely biding their time,
waiting to collect the next
out-of-luck vole
that happens out of its hole on an
otherwise uneventful afternoon.
Inside, the students hunker, alternately rapt
and restless, watching a film about Poe,
snatches of enacted tales woven into
the weft of his sad chronology.
I see the scales of their young minds
weighing his luck against theirs:
his unofficial adoption
versus an alcoholic father,
his self-loathing against
their tyranny of bullies.
Outside, the Ravens scan the windows,
silent now. The students don’t see them
waiting for us to open our books
to read The Black Cat aloud.
When the cops break down the madman’s wall,
they weigh in with a caw
that scatters prey for miles around.

© Sandra Anfang

Published in PoetTalk

Ode to a Deer Carcass at Rush Creek

That day we hiked along the slough
calling out the names of birds—
Blue Heron, Kite, Canada Goose—
I never knew
grace would save the best for last.
We climbed steep hills
watched openmouthed
as flocks of sea birds—
tails in their bills—
helixed round the sun
boomeranging back again.
A King Snake scissored through the dust
Alligator Lizards did pushups on rocks
strutting their six packs.
Already drunk on beauty
I ran my fingers up a dead tree’s spine
home to woodpecker generations
beebeed with holes like a shooting range.
I never knew
grace was saving the best for last.
On our final leg
splayed on a grassy altar
you lay on your side bleeding like Jesus.
I could read the stigmata, the pomegranate
slice tattooed on your shank.
Twin priests dipped their lusty beaks
into your open chalice
stooping to drink your holy wine
the black feathers of their vestments
lifting in the light wind.
I wanted to stop their feeding
long enough to close your eyes.
Already I missed your thick hooves
clomping over asphalt
your lightning leap
over the stunned fence.
O lucky me! I got to bless your body
in its ripest suit of flesh
a life of forage shut and bound
like an ancient tome where
pressed between thick leather covers
grace had already penned your obituary.

© Sandra Anfang (Published in the San Diego Poetry Annual, 2021)


A quiet morning in the house
hummingbirds rev their engines
in the yard the air holds its breath
already hot at eight am
trees so dry they crackle
but the lone tomato plant
her rusted shoots feigning drought
straightens her desiccated spine
births tiny miracles that swell a bit each day.

My mother’s hands were like that
in her last year sandblasted to a satin finish
when I’d lift them they turn to piles of leaves
we’d crunch underfoot on the
way home from school—confetti in our fists.

The wind picks up at four o’clock
blows moguls round the soft Sonoma hills
gnaws at my belly, reminds me
of the gate I built between my father’s house and mine.
Each of us longed to stroll the other’s land
but the latch, famished for oil, rusted shut.

Twin fears of engagement
clenched their teeth around our hearts
sloughed our will like the dead skin of hope.
In the dream the breeze rustles
his baby-fine hair—my birthright—
makes me long to hear him jawing with the Blue Jay.
Gone are the rippling waves it cuts
whistling through a scrubby field of hay.

© Sandra Anfang

Published in Third Estate Art’s Quaranzine