Villanelle for Winter 2021

by Kimberly O’Connor


Today the cruelest question: how are you?
The freezing smog enshrouds the winter sky.
A prophecy, how smoke replaces blue.

A million hungry children, all on mute,
watch on Zoom as teachers teach—or try.
Today the cruelest question: how are you?

The wildfires start in February. Soon
a million forest animals will die.
A prophecy, how smoke replaces blue.

If I could sleep for seven weeks, I would.
I’m fine: I always answer with a lie
when asked the cruelest question: how are you?

The power’s out. The tigers in the zoo,
though saved from poachers, dream of their lost wild.
A prophecy, how smoke replaces blue.

Put on your mask and hope to do some good
in this world where both fields and hearts are dry.
A prophecy, how smoke replaces blue.
Today the cruelest question: how are you?



Kimberly O’Connor is a North Carolina native who lives in Golden, Colorado. Her manuscript White Lung is forthcoming from Saturnalia Books in 2021. Kim is the Young Writers Program co-director for Lighthouse Writers Workshop. She received an MFA from the University of Maryland in 2009, where she was a winner of the Academy of American Poetry student prize and the AWP Intro to Journals contest. She has taught creative writing and literature in Colorado, Maryland, West Virginia, and North Carolina. Her poetry has been published in B O D Y, Copper Nickel, Colorado Review, Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, Slice, storySouth, THRUSH, and elsewhere. Liz Baron is an artist and restaurateur who lives in Texas by way of New York City. She and her husband, Jim, founded, own and operate four Mexican-Southwestern restaurants. She got her Bachelor of Fine Art from Pratt Institute but stopped painting when restaurant work and family life consumed most of her time. She is grateful to the online art classes of Sketchbook Skool that helped her regain the joy of a regular art practice. 

One thought on “Villanelle for Winter 2021

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s