Janet E. Aalfs

Blue Fire

When this body’s done, my breath
will find another
shape to flame in. Pink-speckled
heart leaf, spiraled fossil, good luck
cat, yellow-eyed, paw raised.

Oh to be that blue
star morning
sun ignites. Petals
curled toward heaven,
filaments at the center

spilling light.
Or the turquoise glass
bead hanging from a silver paper
crane, drop of ocean solid
in the window, shard of sky.


Listen to “Freezer,” “The Girl Who Fear Does Not Break,” “Inherited Device,” “Blue Fire,” and “Reflected,” read by Janet Aalfs:

Cover image: Reach

Out of print

“I love Janet Aalfs’ poems — they're tender and sharply delivered, filed with what is most human, and so graceful and sure they lift you, almost, in their arms, and bid you to dance. She says in one poem, ‘Crane dances / because she loves to.’ The crane and Janet Aalfs not only dance because they love to dance but also because they know how to dance.” —Thomas Lux
“Aalfs’ poetic talent…[reminds] me of the central role of mindfulness in a poet’s approach to the world.” Lambda Book Report
“Aalfs is that rare poet whose writing encompasses both body and spirit in a seamless whole.” The Women’s Times
“Janet Aalfs is, simply, one of our best contemporary poets…[Her] poems celebrate the body from a knowledge of it that is utter artistry…They open possibilities not only for the body, but for what it wants, what it needs, and what may be in store beyond.” Peregrine

Janet E. Aalfs

After publishing her first book Reach, Janet E. Aalfs was poet laureate of Northampton, Massachusetts from 2003 to 2005. She has poetry, fiction, and essays in numerous journals and anthologies, and has published several chapbooks. In 1996, she won Peregrine’s annual poetry contest. Aalfs is a 7th-degree black belt and the director of Valley Women’s Martial Arts: Institute for Healing and Violence Prevention Strategies. Festivals and conferences at which she has performed weavings of poetry and martial arts include the GR Dodge Festival, Goddard/ TLA’s Power of Words, Split This Rock, MA Poetry Festival, AWP, and as part of an ongoing U.S./South Africa performing arts teaching exchange. A 2013 recipient of the UMass Center for Women & Community’s Leadership and Advocacy in the Arts Award, Aalfs is dedicated to creating sites for revelation. Her most recent book is Bird of a Thousand Eyes (Levellers, 2010).

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