Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Poem by Suzette Bishop

Take Me In


Woods, but near enough
To still see the house
Through a Japanese screen
Of leaves, evergreen branches.
Earthen path take me
Into the smell of leaves,
New, ripe fluid inside with Spring,
Crumbled to a dry, musky powder
With late Fall.
Vines take me to the canopy,
To bark breaking under my hand,
In bird-song,
In speckled sunlight.


Ocean, briny
Underwater heave
Over my head,
Pulling sand from my feet,
Sometimes something sharp,
Keep me to depths where I can still
Stand, looking out to where
The bottom falls away.


Saltwater marsh,
Allowing a break
In the sea grass
Toward the cormorant praising


Brush country,
Green despite aridness,
Stickers, thorns
From a delicate, tensile branch
Scraping my jeans,
Cactus hiding venomous creatures,
Baby rabbit watching, uneaten.
Thunder, wind me through
Smell of sage,
Smell of Huisache,
To follow your hoof prints
Back out,
If we can find them.

Suzette Bishop teaches at Texas A&M International University in Laredo, Texas, and is a contributing editor for Stockport Flats Press.  She has published three books of poetry, Hive-Mind, Horse-Minded, and She Took Off Her Wings and Shoes, and a chapbook, Cold Knife Surgery.  Her poems have appeared in many journals and in the anthologies Imagination & Place:  An Anthology, The Virago Book of Birth Poetry, and American Ghost:  Poets on Life After Industry.  A poem from her first book won the Spoon River Poetry Review Editors' Prize Contest.  In addition to teaching, she has given workshops for gifted children, senior citizens, writers on the US-Mexico border, at-risk youth, and for an afterschool arts program serving a rural Hispanic community.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Poem by Sarah Doyle

I, Autumn

I know they dread my coming, and am hurt by it.  I cannot help what I am, what I am not.  There is, within me, a burnished fragility.  I am quiet in my approach, deceptively tentative.  A stealthy guest is not always a welcome guest.  I bring a season of harvest more meaningful than the blossoms of my showy cousin, Summer -- but still, I am resented.  Despised for what I herald -- darkness, cold, hopelessness -- I am the anti-Persephone, the fall of leaves, the closing of doors and hearts.

Sarah Doyle is the Pre-Raphaelite Society's Poet-in-Residence.  She has been widely placed and published, with her first collection, "Dreaming Spheres:  Poems of the Solar System" (co-written with Allen Ashley), being published by PS Publishing in Autumn 2014.  Sarah co-hosts Rhyme & Rhythm Jazz-Poetry Club at Enfield's Dugdale Theatre.  More at:

Friday, June 26, 2015

A Poem by Simon Perchik

What a strange crop the smell
spread out the way this mud is plowed
already warmed by the descent

used to one, one more, one more
though you are circling it
with your mouth left open

holding nothing, moving nothing
nothing but this dirt
no longer thirsty, confident

--what struggles here is the rain
still on the ground, thinning out
as lakes, at most as lips and distances

--here you've got to bend
to get a closer grip, pull up
this hillside broken loose

and lean into where this water takes you
handcuffed, smashed against the rocks
and on your knees more kisses.

Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, Osiris, Poetry, The New Yorker, and elsewhere.  His most recent collection is Almost Rain, Published by River Otter Press (2013).  For more information, free e-books and his essay titled "Magic, Illusion, and Other Realities" please visit his website at

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Poem by Jeanine Stevens


Some things go unnoticed,
like the ornate label on this olive-oil bottle
brown filigreed villages dotted
with green and white trees
(product imported via Hackensack).
Etched leaves puff around the neck,
and at the bottom, a border of cabbage roses
caught in a golden banner,
like the sash worn by beauty queens.
If I hadn't been so still
I would not have noticed the hawk
in the oak so close to my house,
nothing moving
but made known by his block shape.
Only when I raised my tea cup
did he startle, narrowly missing my face,
rising airborne to his claimed perch
in the highest redwood.
Here again, a vast whiteness
filled in by browns and greens.
The spicy nasturtiums frozen all winter
begin to show variegated ivory and lime leaves,
miniature lily pads.  (The seed packet
identifies, "Alaska" variety;
the photo resembles a shrunken pea).
What transformation, how lush,
I will add blooms to a salad,
complementing the bergamot in my Earl Grey.
Hawk watching, has no need of me,
its mice he's after.
From another angle he could blot out the sun.
Architecture, structure; canopy of trees,
understory, snail trail--
scaffolding I just noticed.

Jeanine Stevens poetry has appeared in Pearl, Earth's Daughters, North Dakota Review, Evansville Review, Perfume River, Tipton Poetry Review and Arabesque.  Her latest chapbook, "Needle in the Sea," was published by Tiger's Eye Press in 2014.  She has awards from the Bay Area Poet's Coalition, Stockton Arts Commission and Ekphrasis.  Raised in Indiana, she now divides her time between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe.

Friday, June 5, 2015

A poem by Barbara Brooks

Marbled Spider

          Its web stretches
across the trail.  A deer fly brushes
its sticky center.  The spider
watches as it struggles.

          As the web stills,
the spider crawls down,
wraps the body in a cocoon,
injects its venom.

          The spider sucks
its capture dry, snips the silken
husk from the snare,
removing any hint of death.

          Broken threads
repaired, the spider slides
under a leaf, legs poised
for another capture.

Barbara Brooks, author of The Catbird Sang and A Shell to Return to the Sea chapbooks, is a member of Poet Fools.  Her work has been accepted in Avalon Literary Review, Chagrin River Review, The Foundling Review, Blue Lake Review, Granny Smith Magazine, Third Wednesday, Shadow Road Quarterly, Indigo Mosaic, Muddy River Poetry Review, Boston Literary Magazine and online at Southern Women's Review, Poetry Quarterly, Big River Poetry, Agave Magazine among others.  She currently lives in North Carolina with her dog.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Three Poems by Don Mager

November Journal:  Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Like the silent loping of a deer
as it emerges out of shadows,
passes and subsides in the distance,
beneath the ripe gold of the full moon
a solo runner glides down the street.
His tireless legs glow white and lithe in
washes of lunar clarity.  His
white gloved hands piston-pump the frost cleaned
air.  Beneath his hood, breath clouds spurt from
his thrumming oxygen-flushed heart.  His
loping stride passes the house.  Without
a shift of gear, his body leans as
he glides up the steep hill.
                                        The morning
paper dangles from the watching hand.

November Journal:  Thursday, November 21, 2013

As light packs up to sail west, the
air tastes chilly cider residue.
On the ledge above the tired rake,
the few last sips at the bottom of
the thick mug fill the mouth and linger
happily.  They scarcely notice how
alone they are.  All day the palate
is busy with the herby dryness
of leaves.  The mouth imbibes gulps--all day--
of cold air spiked with dust.  Now air takes
in, with each waning sip, pristine breaths
of vanishing light and holds their bright
bouquet.  Scattering light's soft ashes
across still dark waters, air exhales.

November Journal:  Saturday, November 23, 2013

Resigned to be bare patches of cold
clay where fallen leaves are scuffed aside,
afternoon crawls parched and impotent.
It mumbles through circle on circle
of prayer beads whose repeats transform time
to timelessness.  It kneels and looks down
on the stream whose leaf clogged pools are glass.
Their lit icons flicker in the shade
of the bank.  Unmoving, afternoon
succumbs to a trance.  Unmoving, the
stream stares back.  From carcasses of trees
in distant wetlands, unnoticed crows
caw and scold the ears' inner edge but
they are tuned to hear silence only.

Don Mager's chapbooks and volumes of poetry are:  To Track the Wounded One, Glosses, That Which is Owned to Death, Borderings, Good Turns, The Elegance of the Ungraspable, Birth Daybook Drive Time, and Russian Riffs.  He is retired with degrees from Drake University (BA), Syracuse University (MA) and Wayne State University (PhD).  He was the Mott University Professor of English at Johnson C. Smith University from 1998-2004 where he served as Dean of the College of Arts and Letters (2005-2011).  As well as a number of scholarly articles, he has published over 200 poems and translations from German, Czech and Russian.  He lives in Charlotte, NC.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Three Poems by Ralph Monday


After the fire was roaring in the fire pit
false red and orange suns, the
hemlocks frozen, green-crusted by
falling snow, I listened to the whisper
of snow sifting through trees, the
uneasiness of blackbirds picking at
brown stubble in the garden.
I knew that this Octavia, this winter
storm, was not the same as the wife
Mark Anthony divorced--but yet a
strange connection--in the way of
the world--for both came to icy
completion and passed away.
My hands warmed by the fire I am of
winter-mind:  Old High German wintar, Goth
wintrus, Old Norse Vetrardag--more than
fifty winters I have loved.
This Octavia connects the past with now,
her billowing white skirts settling over the
land like a wedding dress, not a funeral
shroud, for this white time is not the moment of
hibernation--instead a steady tick of ice, sleet,
snow writing the book of winter, snow February
moon, there hidden deep behind thick
clouds.  The modern masses huddle in consternation,
but I, I laugh with those in all the past who left
snowprints through forests, and would know
today the many arms of Octavia
saying these are my wintry breasts, my
snowmilk to nourish.

Winter Wind

We walked on the frozen trail through
the woods, when I stopped and said
do you hear?
A far off roar, like a tornado coming
closer and closer.  Then the treetops bent and
swayed as the mighty presence rushed past--
wind through the treetops like some
hurried god late for a
so strange, only a few trees but one in particular,
a great red oak bent back and forth like the
ticking hand of a clock as though singled
out.  The force swept away as quickly as it
came.  I knew that this was a living presence,
something on a mission that sought out that
tree like a Druid priest.  We weren't supposed
to be there, to have witnessed this god of
air as it exhaled the potency of dim, far stars.
          See see, I felt it say.
You are frail avatars waiting to be
spliced within the seeds of the
earth.  Shadow smoke rising from a 
wood stove, vapor, twice-made silhouettes beneath
heaven's windows--spirits moving on and away.

Morning Psalm

She wrote the psalm for the morning
on her palm where the forest dripped
sodden tones, tree roots buried tongues,
moss her sage gown that sweeps along
a wild ballroom floor the way she once
danced to manifest notes, childhood
memories of girlhood:
long skinny legs, an imagined ballerina's
pirouette on bone white river stones,
antlered arms reaching out to embrace
the lead in the Black Swan and
trees bow down, cry out for more after
the curtain call where the river sweeps
by singing the last morning hymn.

Ralph Monday is Associate Professor of English at Roane State Community College in Harriman, TN, and published in over 50 journals.  A chapbook, All American Girl and Other Poems, was published in July 2014.  A book, Lost House and American Renditions, is scheduled for publication, May 2015 by Aldrich Press.