Nicole Bethune Winters

Nicole Bethune Winters is a poet, writer and multi-faceted artist. Her first collection, brackish, was published by Finishing Line Press, and her work has appeared in Backlash Journal, Wild Roof Journal, and Seaborne Magazine. When she isn’t writing or wheel-throwing, Nicole is likely at the beach, on a trail, climbing, or exploring new landscapes with her dog. She currently resides in Southern California, where she works as a full-time artist from her home studio.

Valley of the Moon

there are some places that invite you to pour

yourself into them all sharp rock

and sand and cactus needles glittered

with drops of nectar where horses

are lean and wild and roam the way

they’re meant to whinnying blends

with wind and there’s a toughness

to everything the air tastes like

determination behind the hard

is sweetness the soft flesh of fruit

under a rind mica shining

in the black scales the lizard

sheds after basking at noon

the heat is a second-skin the sweat

turns to clay smeared by fingers

shaped by calluses the desert remembers

that you are 60% water and it will

suck every last drop


When the Whitewater Thickens

between waves woven
so tight they bury the

trust the current to breathe
you to the surface

& catch the breath in the split
second between breaks

brine heaves
let the salt sting,

a sky so swollen
asphyxiates, let the wind
out of your lungs

let it wail,
hammer against the bluffs,
the ocean has never been afraid
to rage.

Rose Colored Glasses

I thought I was lucky
impervious but salt eats
away at everything eventually and

the sandstone bluffs collapse and
twenty-nine is a landslide after heavy

 a total loss the cliff 

can’t rebuild but it can erode
into something
new like the sand
I am breaking

away from the rock
I was cut from

another thrifted thing

the lamp is my new favorite
it’s brass
and the whole thing gets hot when it’s been on awhile
and the lights bend and move
and it’s perfect next to the pull out bed by the fireplace

and it reminds me of the ones
in my grandparents’ house in hendersonville
where squirrels come to the porch for walnuts
where sometimes, reading in the green chair,
you can see a black bear roaming
where my sister and I used to sprint
without abandon down the golf course hill
in our swim suits while the sprinklers ran

back when catching fireflies in jars
and looking for frogs with flashlights after dark
was enough
I found one that still had a tail, once
not a tadpole, but not fully a frog

caught between one thing
and the other.

NOVUS Literary and
Arts Journal
Lebanon, TN