Judy Kronenfeld is the author of four full-length books of poetry and two chapbooks. Her most recent collections are Bird Flying through the Banquet (FutureCycle, 2017), Shimmer (WordTech, 2012), and  Light Lowering in Diminished Sevenths, 2nd edition, (Antrim House, 2012)—winner of the 2007 Litchfield Review Poetry Book Prize. Her poems have appeared widely in such journals as American Poetry Journal, Avatar Review, Calyx, Cider Press Review, Cimarron Review, DMQ Review, Innisfree Poetry Journal, Natural Bridge, The Pedestal, Sequestrum, Spoon River Poetry Review, and Valparaiso Poetry Review, and in two dozen anthologies, most recently, Bared: Contemporary Poetry and Art on Bras and Breasts (Les Femmes Folles Press, 2017), and Far Out: Poems of the ’60s (Wings Press, 2016). She also writes creative nonfiction, which has appeared recently in Under the Sun and Hippocampus, and the more occasional short story (Literary Mama, Madison Review, and others). Judy is also the author of a deeply researched study addressing oversimplifications in “new historicist” criticism: King Lear and the Naked Truth: Rethinking the Language of Religion and Resistance (Duke, 1998) which earned her one of the two UCR Non-Senate Distinguished Researcher Awards for 1996-97. Three-times nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and co-winner of the first poetry contest sponsored by the dA Center for the Arts, Pomona, California, in 2002, Judy is Lecturer Emerita, Creative Writing Department, University of California, Riverside, and an Associate Editor of the online poetry journal, Poemeleon. She lives in Riverside with her anthropologist husband; they have two far-flung children, and four grandchildren.


What we want when the days
begin to pile up against us—though we mumble
only about work not going well,
about a blister on a heel, and our friends
or lovers sigh “Tell me what you want
me to say”—is instinctive enlightenment
megawatts beyond our own—
a rush of it, revelation opening
like the first-seen broad avenues
of a famous city from the heights.

What we want is not laboriously folded
origami birds made according
to instruction—however clever.
We want wild parrots feathered chartreuse,
scarlet, cyan, bursting from their jungle cover,
carrying astonishing messages
in their beaks.

published in Valparaiso Poetry Review 16, No. 2

The Dark

I rose at 2:00 a.m., as I often do,
as our ancestors have been said to—
after their first long nap
starting at nightfall—rising to pray
or talk, back when people spent
more hours under covers, bastioned against
the unlit cold. Half asleep, I walked past
the empty guestroom in my dark house, the door
partly closed, wanting, I thought,
a cool glass of water. How miraculous
it was that my bare
feet could find the path
to the kitchen and not stumble
on the dog or the rug or the jutting
bookcase in the hall; how comfortable
this dark was, how dear, a squared-off
compartment of the great dark sweeping
its tide across the globe. And I also thought—
or, felt, really—as I passed,
that something about the angle of the door
seemed purposive, that someone unknown
could be sleeping in that room, which had
briefly housed—after the children left—the various
long dead: friends or uncles and aunts, or my mother
and father, their chests peacefully rising
and falling.    

Maybe I wanted to invite in
someone,  some flimsy
flitting ghost for whom
the room would be a kind of ballast.

I poured my water from the pitcher
in the fridge, that cheery welcomer—
like parents putting on the yellow
porch lights for their kids’ safe entry
late at night—and drank it while my eyes
began their readjustment to the dark,
then  tip-toed past the open door—not quite yet
disappointingly familiar.

published in Miramar 3 (2015)


May you fall into it
groggy and disheveled as a baby
who lets go of his mother’s
nipple with a thwuck—head lolling,
cowlicks sticking up,
lips open and glistening.

May you fall into it
like a drunk keeling
over onto his own stoop,  
having staggered the last possible
step on his slog from the bar.

May you not stand alone
on the shore at 3:00 a.m.,
longing to extricate yourself
from the gritty sand
of consciousness, when everyone
you know has been swept out
by the sea of sleep.

May you reclaim once or twice
the gauze-fine sleep of childhood—
calmly gliding from flickering shadow
to light, from flickering light
to shadow, like a punt
on a tree-lined river.
And may your last be utterly
black and quiet,
and last forever.

published in Avatar Review 17 (2015)


Judy Kronenfeld



© 2017 Judy Kronenfeld


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