Monday, May 21, 2018

Three Poems by JD DeHart


We take the branch
to preserve the bit
of forest we have known.

A specimen in a jar
for some, the mantis
husk, insect artwork.

The woodlands are in
us, memories of paths
not yet cleared.

Our feet would stomp
patterns into the tall
grasses, new predators.

Clear as the Ice

Winter has continued
in our northern world.
We tunnel out
of days of icy captivity.

A fine shining surface
has settled on the universe,
a preserving casement
of frigid whisper.

When white pristine
layers swept in, we learned
the beauty of kerosene
heaters and living without
convenient energies.

Bandage the Broken Limb

I wove a tourniquet
for the wounded branch,
snapped wildly
by a passing creature.

The forest merely
laughed at me, twittering
with ancient sound,
unseen insect noises.

I've been here a thousand
years, you a mere
century at most.  Bind
your broken self, she said.

JD DeHart is a writer and teacher.  He blogs about books at

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Three Poems by KB Ballentine

Blossoms, Laced with Snow

Marooned in shadows of frost,
dogwoods blush with bloom.
The bluebird's throat unrusts,
song spinning across the dawn,
pouring through forsythia branches
tipped with gold.

Tufts of daffodils spark the yard.
Like a whirling compass needle,
Spring's gift, chased by snow clouds,
blend into sullen shadows.
Crocus and violet taste the brittle air,
hide their buds in crumpled leaf scatter.

Soon this white weight, winter's last song,
with sigh under the sun, days lengthening,
hopeful and warm.

Written in Water

          -- Connemara, Ireland

Taste the ocean on your lips.
Wind scorns the sun, tosses
your hair till you can't see,
can only feel June's raw bite.
Foxglove curves on the cliffs,
purple bells summoning the dawn.
Moss dimples, water faeries
flirting in the spray.

Here, in the half-light, shadows dust
the stones and highlight fussing gulls,
conceal the rooks, their cawing demands.
Breathe the salt, the Burren
gray and hazy across the bay.
You can't remember the last time
you cried for beauty.

Two boys and a girl plunge onto the sand,
chase clouds, kelp that laces the shore.
Sprites vanish into tidal pools,
wind frothing the waves.  Sun whispers
across the gathering blue, plovers
hopping in and out of the surf.
Rush and foam calling, calling.

Until the Raven Comes

The eye of the hummingbird delights
in bright, bold color--petals and stamens
of fuchsia, long throat of honeysuckle
to sneak, to tongue--beak parted,
devouring the solstice song of summer.

Sun and moon share this day,
gather the luster of the hummingbird's
wings, green shimmer pulsing the sky.

Wrens fold their melody into the wind.
Squirrels chuckle in the chestnut oak,
dashing above kayaks drifting
on the river's swell.  Downstream, dusk
crouches on the horizon.

KB Ballentine's fifth collection, Almost Everything, Almost Nothing, was published in 2017 by Middle Creek Publishing.  Two collections, The Perfume of Leaving and What Comes of Waiting, won the 2016 and 2013 Blue Light Press Book Awards.  Published in Crab Orchard Review and Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, among others, her work also appears in anthologies including In Plein Air (2017), Carrying the Branch:  Poets in Search of Peace (2017), In God's Hand (2017), and River of Earth and Sky:  Poems for the Twenty-first Century (2015).  Learn more about KB Ballentine at

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Two Poems by Jo Simons


As the bowels of the earth opened up
on November 4th
spewing forth Satan's spawn,
the one constituent they couldn't buy,
Mother Earth, took notice.

As they strutted about,
bragging plans to further the rape of the planet
to fill their coffers with black and gaseous gold,
her back began to rise.

Mother Nature will not passively stand by.
Her wrath shows no mercy!
The acts of a few will drown us all in her fury.
Skyscraper-sized waves are heading our way.

Other parts of her precious earth will mercilessly fry
and turn to dust
forcing it's helpless, starving inhabitants
seeking refuge elsewhere to no avail.

Satan and friends can fume and fuss
but they are no match for the Queen,
a gently lady who loves beauty and peace
unless some fool thinks he can disrespect her.

Watch out.
She put up with our folly long enough
and now she wants her planet back.
It's probably too late for us.
Satan, I suggest you offer her roses.

A New (old) World

Trees are talking
amongst themselves
in their secret Barksap language.

They have received messages
via tree-mail from
their cousins, aunts and uncles
across the globe.

The time has arrived--
on April 1, 2012
they will all lift their
roots from the ground
and stampede.
They've had enough!

We clueless humans
who think we know it all
as we disrespect nature everyday
foolishly thinking we're
superior to all other species
are in for a big shock.

Nothing is safe from
the tsunami of trees
lumbering together in
search of the world
they had before humans
took control of the planet
and began the destruction.

And once the global woods have
completed their journey
crushing the unnatural
world in their wake,
eradicating the souls who were
listening to the wrong rhythms,
they will return to their new (old) world
and begin again.

This time wiser, more cautious,
more protective to crush alien beings
who might once more start up a
colony not seeing or hearing truth.

Jo Simons is a piano and Music Together teacher in Madison, WI.  She is also a first-time author of a biography of her musical parents, My Father Wakes Up Laughing.   She started writing poetry in 2011 when her 94-year-old father announced his life was over.  He's still here and is the oldest orchestra conductor in the world.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Three Poems by Michael Keshigian

The Earth Within

We awoke in light,
wriggling in palm
of a muddy hand,
divided into portions
under a stone,
we were the life
that delighted the sun
as we edged toward an empty cave.
Heaven rinsed us with a sigh
and set afloat
the Earth in our veins.
Behind our eyes
loomed the ocean,
beneath our fingernails
vegetables slept,
between our toes
hovered the path of discovery,
a model universe floated
undiscovered in our brain.
The great plates trembled
and the chatter of teeth
shattered the ensuing silence,
glacial ice masses cracked
and the capillaries of vision
slid into a sea of fascination,
a body born
under sunlight, in sand,
saturated with rain,
blossomed skyward
to propagate the world.


Let love be written
upon the water of calm lakes
not upon rivers running.

Let it be written by a loon
while singing a lamentable verse
amid the hidden coves.

And when it dives gracefully
beneath the blue surface,
leaving only echoes of song,

placid water will condense
to provide
some needed rainfall.


From early morn till death of sun
in a watery maze, we pierced
waves with pointed bow,
the hostile undulation lurched
relentlessly in our path,
punishing us with overspray.
There was no comfort this day,
riding the salty froth,
its anger tested our skill
in concert with wind and water,
it logged our skin like sodden earth.
The merciless oscillation foamed
a curdled white atop a green tint
that mixed with the sediment below,
bucking beneath the boat
like a stallion, deep and dense,
and we were frightened,
afraid to loft as a momentary sail
then dive headlong through the wind
into to percolating cauldron
full of seaweed and shells,
sinking like stones through translucent layers,
till we rested upon a reef.
But luck this day rested
beneath our brackish shoes
when the deck steadied
as the slickened skipper brought the rig about
to deflate the shredded wings
that flapped erratically upon broken masts
in the errant wind and suddenly
the sea surrendered, the toppling ton of waves
ceased their urgent assault,
the wind lost its breath.
We floated dazed till darkness,
mute, white, upon the cusp of lethargy
till shoreline lights blinked welcome
and we flirted with the notion of sanctuary.

Michael Keshigian, from New Hampshire, had his twelfth poetry collection, Into the Light, released in April 2017 by Flutter Press.  He has been published in numerous national and international journals including Oyez Review, Red River Review, Sierra Nevada College Review, Oklahoma Review, Chiron Review and has appeared as feature writer in over a twenty publications with 6 Pushcart Prize and 2 Best of the Net nominations.  (

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Three Poems by Marianne Szlyk

Variation on Chapman Road

        After photograph by Northscapes Photography, Presque Isle, ME

Cirrus fissures the November sky,
mirroring the ice cracks found
in the almost-frozen pond.

The photographer blows on his hands
and tugs on his gloves
as the last orange light dissolves.

He counts the days
until first snowfall, first flakes
like stars falling from above.

But stars are harder, colder.
They are a code
for him to puzzle through.

Snow is not a puzzle.
It covers the ground.
Like the sun, it dazzles his eyes.

Behind him the moon is rising.
Behind him clouds glaze
over the stars.

Tomorrow the snow will fall.

Antelope Island, Great Salt Lake, 1994

Gnats rise from the beach; the water
is too far for her to touch.

She stands on damp sand,
looking out to barren mountains, skulls

that will become islands
when the water is within reach,

when it splashes tourists' shoes,
stings their fingers, corrodes the rocks.

Now water withholds itself,
folding into the mountains' shadow.

She sees no boats, no cars.
Only gnats rise from the beach.

No salt tide brings seaweed.
No smooth stones or glass surface.

She turns around to fly home
to July's heatwave, to beach roses

that reaches out, pursuing
her past the rim of rocks.

At home
only humans withdraw.

Following the Moon

During our last bus ride
of the evening, heading east
towards home, the moon rises
alone in the puffy sky.

The moon is a pearl
button on an angora sweater,
an actress in front of
the heavy curtain on stage,
the spotlight trained on her,
a white cat peeking out
from the dark.

We've heard rumors of stars,
but they are elsewhere, further
north, further west.  The moon
is here with us tonight.

It follows us home.  It sees us
inside.  It keeps watch
until dawn.

Marianne Szlyk is a professor of English and Reading at Montgomery College.  She also edits The Song Is . . . a blog-zine for poetry and prose inspired by music (especially jazz).  Her first chapbook, Listen to Electric Cambodia, Looking up at Trees of Heaven, is available online at Kind of a Hurricane Press.  Her second chapbook, I Dream of Empathy, is available on Amazon.  Her poems have appeared in Jellyfish Whispers, of/with, bird's thumb, Cactifur, Mad Swirl, Solidago, Red Bird Chapbook's Weekly Read, and Resurrection of a Sunflower, an anthology of work responding to Vincent Van Gogh's art.  Her third book may be coming out soon.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Three Poems by Patricia L. Goodman

Painted Pond

She's on her way home, but I
stop her by crossing her path.

I crouch to look closer, discover
her secret--the back end of her shell

covered in mud.  She has been
laying eggs.  That's all there is

to motherhood in turtles:  no
sleepless nights, early mornings;

no doctors, no endless driving.
Incubated by sun, the eggs will develop;

quarter-sized hatchlings will scramble
to the pond--no diaper rash,

no skinned knees.  When this female
grows old, she will die alone;

no hospital, no visitors, no I love you's.
Evolution crawls on.  My son sent

flowers for my new home, granddaughters
flooded me with hugs after my concert.

My daughter invited me to Thanksgiving
dinner.  And I too, can swim in the pond.

Back to the Woods

A crack.  A splash.  Upstream
a wet squirrel
crawls from the creek; mid-flight, an airliner
hits turbulence, leaves stomachs
on the ceiling; constant buzzing signals
the yellow-jacket nest inside a bedroom wall--

last week, the phone call--
                There is a mass in your left kidney . . . 

The world
                        stops             more
    tests       hours
                                         in MRI's          date
with surgeon     dare with robots                  sleep
                invaded with dreams--     rats
my singer's
                          vocal chords     can't get them
        off         a boulder rolls uphill
pins me     can't breathe           a thousand
my stomach       crawl out
                                          my incisions.

Blood pressure soars.  Big girl bonnet
knotted under my chin, rod
up my back, I dodge the dagger
at my throat.

A squirrel chatters from the scarlet oak
across the road, loses his grip, belly-flops
to the street, leaps up, scurries unhurt back
to the woods.

A 23rd for the Bees

The bees are my pollinators:  I shall not
go hungry.

They maketh me to sit down with abundance:
they leadeth me to threive.

They restoreth my faith in Nature:
they leadeth me to the Southern Magnolia--
scent nearest to paradise.

Yea, though I am threatened with starvation
if they vanish, I fear not:  for they are with me;
their strength and tenacity comfort me.

They prepareth a table before me in spite
of their enemies:  they annointeth me
with honey; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow them
all the days of their lives: and they will dwell
in the blessings of heaven forever.

Patricia L. Goodman is a widowed mother and grandmother and a graduate of Wells College with a degree in Biology and membership in Phi Beta Kappa.  She spent her career raising, training and showing horses with her orthodontist husband, on their farm in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.  She now lives in northern Delaware, where she enjoys writing, singing, birding, gardening and spending time with her family.  Many of her poems have been published in both print and online journals and anthologies and she was the 2013 and 2014 winner of Deleware Press Association's Communications Contest in poetry.  Her first full-length book of poetry, Closer to the Ground, was a finalist in the Dogfish Head Poetry Contest, and was published in August 2014 by Main Street Rag Publishing Company.  In 2015, she received her first Pushcart nomination.  Her second book, Walking with Scissors, is currently being considered for publication.  Much of her inspiration comes from the natural world she loves.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

A Poem by Josh Mayesh


a welcome visitor,
crackling like fire outside the window,
chasing fire,
riding on the back of wind
and filling old tins,
sweeps away the stings of yesterday.
its motion
sets the past aflame--

Extinguishing the night
drowning bird calls and cricket chirps,
lovers laugh,
barking dogs and caterwauling cats;
All silent
listening in the gloom
to thunder kiss the room,
drinking in the
rhythm of the rain.

Josh Mayesh's poems and short stories have appeared in various literary journals and websites.  An assortment of his work can be found in his Amazon Kindle ebook collection Shards of Dusty Yesterdays.