It’s my father’s birthday. John Churchill Chase has been gone nearly 11 years now. And April 4 feels like an appropriate day to post about my very first poem in print. Which happens to be about him.

My mentor at Butler University, Chris Forhan, suggested The Greensboro Review. It’s a fine journal, a little old school, and the editor, Sean Whiteford, was incredibly professional with the edits—gentlemanly all around. Although I’ve been a professional editor for years, I played a bumbling fool when Mr. Whiteford actually liked and even wanted to publish my poem. He even took the time to gently remind me of deadlines for galley approvals, and to make sure I fixed the spelling of fillet, which I had incorrectly spelled the French way.

The cover of the Spring 2016 / Issue 99 of The Greensboro Review

Old school

I feel gratified to see this poem about my mother and father in a Southern journal that was established the year I was born. You’ll have to look it up to see when that was!

In celebration, I send out encouragement to all my poet friends and colleagues—especially those whose work has yet to be published.

Here’s to the artists! Please keep believing in yourselves, your art—and poetry itself. The world needs it. Maybe especially now. And, for me, especially today.

Here’s the poem . . .

Image of page 3 of the Spring 2016 / Issue 99 of The Greensboro Review. Alyssa's poem, "My Mother and the Orange": She could fillet a Louisiana navel // to its skeleton, the rind one unbroken // curl, unraveling the way the wind unwound // The Kansas City Star that fluttered // through the yard while my father dozed // in a wrought iron chair. On the broken // brick patio, crab apple trees rained petals // and cancer bloomed in his shrinking gut. // No stent or marrow transplant // or redirection of plumbing // could circumvent it. No reason for that // seed sent to sully an otherwise // perfect man. My mother said this // about water: It must lie flat. // That's the rule she learned in school -- // an artist's tool for controlling // the landscape. With her eyes on the picture // outside the kitchen window, she gripped orange and knife // and began the correction.

The poem…on page 3