Cliff Bernier



I had no other fuel—

snow fell in sheets.


I lit my Title Page,

incinerating my theme.


Twigs wouldn’t take;

I ignited Acknowledgements,

searing assurance.


Copyright, Table of Contents—

identity and structure—

up in smoke.


To fan the blaze

I fed my notes, diffusing history.


I was cold. Desperately,

I torched my poems, one by one,

oxidizing substance.


When I had fried my last poem

night fell, I was freezing.


Frantically, I wrote,

on leaves, on bark, on my clothes.


Long poems, short poems,

metaphysical couplets—quickly consumed—

sonnets that burned hot and slow.


I was naked. Day broke.

Cliff Bernier's chapbook Earth Suite is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.  A second chapbook, Dark Berries, is forthcoming from Pudding House Publications. He has appeared in Potomac Review, Baltimore Review, the online journals Notjustair and Innisfree, and elsewhere, and is featured on a CD of poetry duets, Poetry in Black and White, as well as on two Jazzpoetry CDs, Live at IOTA Club and Cafe and Live at Bistro Europa. In addition, Mr. Bernier has been featured in readings and jazz poetry performances in San Francisco, Seattle, Buffalo, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and around the Washington, DC area, including the Library of Congress, the Arts Club of Washington, The George Washington University (where he is a member of the Washington Writer's Collection), and The Writer's Center. He has been a reader for the Washington Prize and a judge for the National Endowment for the Arts' Poetry Out Loud recitation contest. Founder and former host of the POESIS reading series, Mr. Bernier has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Best of the Net Award.



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A CLOSER LOOK: Alice Friman

Elvira Bennet

Kristin Berkey-Abbott

Cliff Bernier

Nancy Naomi Carlson

Michael C. Davis

Brent Fisk

Martin Galvin

Taylor Graham

John Grey

Clarinda Harriss

Nellie Hill

David Hornibrook

Jacqueline Jules

Rose Kelleher

Robert S. King

Ann Knox

Judy Kronenfeld

Lyn Lifshin

Diane Lockward

Donal Mahoney

Laura Manuelidis

Nancy Fitz-Hugh Meneely

Julie L. Moore

Judith S. Offer

Roger Pfingston

Oliver Rice

Lynda Self

Ellen Steinbaum

Karen J. Weyant

Edwin Zimmerman















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