Before Tomorrow Came
In this pandemic, I’m thankful for the chance
to say, I love you, because there’s not
always tomorrow when the world’s been thrown
a curveball. Where’s Superman when you need
him? I thought I could do it, you know, save
the whole universe, but God must have gotten
annoyed with my prayers after a while. Too much
to handle, so many problems all at once. It can’t be
easy being the one who watches over everyone.
I know, just from worrying about my own children,
I have hives in several undisclosed places.
At least my dermatologist says that what they’re
from. An unscientific term she calls motherly unease
All my joy and anxiety has always been from
my kids. But now it’s only anxiety about mine
and everyone’s kids. Still, each night I set
the table and I’m grateful for the home we
live in, for the walls that shelter us inside—
and for the windows that overlook the garden
where we used to walk beneath the gazebo
beside the roses all in bloom, where we’d talk
about a wedding planned for June, or who’s
wearing what this coming year—and as I place
a glass to the right of each dinner plate
and the Waterford silverware carefully over
the double folded napkins, as I position chairs
for us who used to sit together and enjoy
a meal with banter about the day’s doings—
a parking ticket, a college acceptance letter,
a broken washing machine, a visit to the Vet,
now I’m just grateful to sit together
and for memories of what used to be

In the kitchen, I remember my mother
handing a glass of Scotch to my dad
wearing his favorite green plaid shirt
the color of trees—our dog Blackjack
and his broken look after being scolded
for scarfing down a lump of eggs, I gave
him as he waited routinely under the table—
where beneath a world of loss rested
on the hollow of a hardwood floor. How
that floor came to echo voices of the dead
and the clang of hanging bells every time
another passed. My father reading names
in the obituary, the sharp edging of metal
that scraped my knees as my weight shifted
from one side to the other—the dawn’s light
an amber river that streamed in from the half
opened window in the empty space of morning
Sometimes, your mouth is an ice cap
of arctic gray. When you’re angry
I’ve felt the urge slide away—
the way a greyhound runs over land,
if only I could capture your anger
in my arms, but you are a victim
of your own trigger and the coldness
that lives in your mouth; a freeze I can’t
cross no matter how inviting
the tongue that often imitates
a home or even the heat of one
lone burning star.
Letters to My Brother
Brother, today I sit on the brick bench of the house
—Cesar Vallejo
Brother today I sit on the brick bench
of the house where we grew up
and think back to another time
when the two of us were young,
you younger than me, and the way
we’d bicker about everything. Your
hands in the pond by the side
of the house searching for tiny
green frogs, you so much faster
than me and how I was only searching
for you, my palm upturned and waiting
for some sign of closeness between us,
but you were only passing time
hoping for the next fleeting thing
that couldn’t be caught, your fingers
dipped beneath the murkiness of water
even now, the best place to hide. 
Brother today I sit at the cemetery
where our parents are buried,
both of them in the same tomb, father
above mother so carefully placed in their
ornamental caskets as I watch the sparrows
in the nearby olive trees and the squirrels
scamper over grass, and I remember
the day we walked this boneyard 
together, our feet sinking into the softness
of  newly opened ground, how we said
things will be different now, how we said,
from this day on, we’ll stay in touch
the way we always should have,
the way our parents would have hoped
for, yet here I am, sitting on this bench
alone, without you, we’ve not spoken
in months, or maybe we have, but I don’t
think we said anything worth remembering.

Daily Ritual
My child’s skin was the taste
of apples in the warmth of summer—
there’s a way of holding an apple,
cradling its preciousness like a baby
in your hands, the startling sweetness,
of flavor that lingers all day, stays
inside my throat. A child isn’t yours
when they are grown, yet the feeling
of being needed by someone so trusting
reminds me of the way I yearn for apples
in summer, fearing one day
my hands will be empty.

About the Author:
Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas is a ten-time Pushcart Prize nominee and a seven-time Best of the Net nominee. In 2012 she won the Red Ochre Chapbook Contest, with her manuscript, Before I Go to Sleep. In 2018 her book In the Making of Goodbyes was nominated for a national book award and her poem A Mall in California took 2nd place for the Jack Kerouac Poetry Prize. In 2019 her chapbook An Ode to Hope in the Midst of Pandemonium was a finalist in the Eric Hoffer Book Awards. In 2020, two of her sonnets were given Honorable Mention in the Soul Making Keats Literary Competition. Her new book Alice in Ruby Slippers is forthcoming from Aldrich Press. She has been the featured poet at countless venues, most recently, Mezzo Cammin and Verses Daily. She is the Co-Editor-in-Chief for the Tule Review and former Editor-in-Chief of The Orchards Poetry Journal and a member of the Sacramento Poetry Center Board of Directors. She is currently enrolled in the Vermont College of Fine Arts, MFA in Writing program.