Monday, July 25, 2016

A Poem by Rick Hartwell

Neighborhood Cemetery

Fascinated by the flurry and sudden fury of wild birds
fighting over breakfast seeds set out every morning,

Their antics invigorate the day infusing it with a will
to carry on at least one more revolution of the world.

Frequently seen is the shimmer of two or three birds
resembling sparrows in all but their fashion apparel.

They may be the bastard descendants of the sylvan-
green parakeet lost to the backyard of the neighbor.

Sated for the moment, four breakfasters now make
morning ablutions in a birdbath with two voyeurs,

One lime green, observing from on the ivied fence,
while the balance of the flock gather on the feeder,

Or under it as seeds rain down in a squall, while
three-toed feet tiptoe on the graves of their fallen,

Interred under popsicle-crosses made by children
after burying depredations by an adolescent hawk.

Rick Hartwell is a retired middle school teacher living in Southern California.  Like the Transcendentalists and William Blake, he believes that the instant contains eternity.  He has been published in Birmingham Arts Magazine, Cortland Review, Mused, Kind of a Hurricane Press, Everyday Fiction, Everyday Poets, Poppy Road Review (selected as Best of the Net, 2011), Torrid Literature Journal (inducted into the Hall of Fame, 2013), Synchronized Chaos (selected as Best of the Net, 2013), and others, both print and online, as well as several anthologies.  He can be reached at

Saturday, July 23, 2016

A Poem by Maria A. Arana

Road Atlas

vacation ideas
pour from leafs
filled with places
never seen

mountains reach peaks
of a thousand or more feet
buildings circle streets
like lighthouses

beckoning all to watch
water fountains
spray mist
on children's faces

colorful lights
surround cities
unless peace and quiet
is what's needed

docks, cliffs, and lakes
are there for the picking
and animals too rare
to experience

approach visitors
for a bag full
of special treats
let ostriches be friends

the road is paved
with veins and arteries
on a map they breathe life
along the coast and inland

so destinations
can be reached

so trails
can be followed
so one day
that atlas is you

Maria A. Arana is a teacher, writer, and poet.  You can find her at

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Two Poems by Vicki Gabow

Beneath the Old Cherry Tree

Upon old homestead high atop the hill,
life mixed with soil -- scattered 'round --
beneath the old cherry tree,
grandma rests.

Marking time with white-grey ash
she sees the changing seasons
just as every year before.

Beneath the old cherry tree
spread among the wildflowers
her nurturing influence lives on.

Upon the hill
I sit, beneath the old cherry tree
sensing grandma's presence here abides.
Knowing one day, I too will be scattered
upon this farmland
beneath the old cherry tree, high atop the hill.

Morning Brood

An overgrown thicket
shelters a mother and her young
as spring rains drench the world
all 'round.

This foggy morn spent
wandering in forest dense and earthy
eases my troubled mind.  Though
cold and damp seep into the forest floor,
I linger here for clarity.

Over her brood, she hovers;
a nest lined in fur
with kits nestled close.  The doe
holds out against the rain.

As I happen by her little
huddle, I catch a glimpse
knowing full well she sees.
Though no threat I pose, she tenses
ready to dart and flee; I turn away
rerouting my journey home.

I'll not cause you stir
on such a day as this; my solace
found among the trees and wild undergrowth.
To the business of keeping warm, I leave you in peace
having sought and found mine within your home.

Vicki Gabow is a high school teacher by day and a storyteller, poet, and painter by night.  In her spare time, she enjoys communing with nature, bird watching, crocheting, and making a glorious mess in her studio.  She lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania with her husband, Dan and two cats, Zoey and Doodle.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A Poem by Lance Sheridan

Yet the fog shall rise, and many blackened wings shall wane

To light upon branch and twig yet not to rest,
but into silence--
feathers unfed from wind,
wings hemmed in the stillness of mist and water;
soft, rippling waves search
for the shore where languid pleasure fades.

In the midday, perhaps, one lust, one dream--
to fly,
for small voices to be heard stringing through
the fog,
bend ye wings on these, on hopes. . .
or shall we sate obedient.

Yet (surely) the fog shall rise, and many blackened
wings shall wane . . .
soon, crowned with grey feathers,
and cold wind with icy fingers--
thrusting a hand before the lifted flight
(if thus it be, in a drop of time).

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Two Poems by Lyn Lifshin

North of Cotton Wood

               rose lichen
                    gamble oak
                         globe mallow

               bent in rain
                    blue lupine
                    juniper mistletoe

     it rains and keeps raining

these rocks
               pulled from each other

     two million years ago

          wrenched like a woman
whose child is grabbed

               on a cattle car

                    smashed into stone

her eyes, streaked
     like tonight's sky

   a Monday, all sipapu,
     a spirit entrance
          into the underworld

Arizona Ruins

Past Mogollon River
          the limestone ruins
scrape it with your finger
                    and the floor breaks

                              The talc
                    must have dusted
          their dark
bodies as they squatted on these
          floors grinding
mesquite and creosote

No one knows
          where they went
                    from the cliffs
          with their
                    earth jars and sandals

Or if they
cursed the
          desert moon
                    as they wrapped
their dead
                    in bright cloth
                              and jewels.


Now cliff swallows
          nest in the mud
                   where the Sinaqua
                   until water ran out

High in these white cliffs
          weaving yucca and cotton
                    How many nights did they listen
                                        for cougar
                    as they pressed the wet
                             rust clay
                    into bowls
          they walked
200 miles to trade in Phoenix
          before it was time to leave

40 years
before Columbus


Noon in the

          it is summer the
                    children are sleeping

The women
          listen to a story
          one of them has heard
          of an ocean

                    Deerflesh dries in the sun
          they braid
willow stems
          and don't look up

When she
is done
          they are all
stoned on what could come
                    from such water

It is cool and dark
          inside here

                    This was the place


The others
have gone to find
salt and red
          stones for earrings

climb down

                    To look for lizards
          and nuts he

          takes the girl he
          for the first time

                    Her blood cakes
                              on the white chalk

                    Her thighs

                              will make a bracelet
                                        in his head


Desert bees
          fall thru the wind
                    over the pueblos
                              velvet ash and barberry

They still find

          buried in the wall
                               a child's bones
                    wrapped in yucca leaves
                              and cotton

bats fly thru the
          ruins now
                    scrape the charred
          walls white

                              The people left
                    the debris of their lives here
          arrows, dung
                               And were buried
                    with the bright
          turquoise they loved
                    sometimes carved
          into animals and birds

Lyn Lifshin has published over 140 books and chapbooks and edited three anthologies of women's writing including Tangled Vines that stayed in print 20 years, And Ariadne's Thread from HBJ, and Unsealed Lips, from Capra Press.  She has several books from Black Sparrow books:  Cold Comfort, Before It's Light, Another Woman Who Looks Like Me.  Her web site,, shows the variety of her work from the equine books, The Licorice Daughter:  My Year with Ruffian and Barbara:  Beyond Brokenness, to the most recent book:  Secretariat:  The Red Freak, The Miracle, all from Texas Review Press and on Amazon, as all her other books are.  Recent books about dance include:  Ballroom, Knife Edge and Absinthe:  The Tango Poems.  Other new books include:  For the Roses, poems for Joni Mitchell, All the Poets Who Touched Me, Living and Dead All True, Especially the Lies.  Most recently:  Girl Goes Into the Woods from New York Quarterly Books; Malala, from Poetic Matix; Tangled as the Alphabet:  The Istanbul Poems from NightBalletand out most recently from Glass Lyre Press:  Femme Eterna:  Enheducanna, Scheherazade and Nefertiti.  Forthcoming books include Degas' Little Dancer, Through Stained Glass, and Maple.  She has given readings and workshops around the country and has had fellowships to Yaddo, Millay Colony and MacDowell colony.  She is the recipient of many awards including Bread Loaf scholarships, The Kerouac Prize and a New York State Caps grant, etc.

Friday, July 15, 2016

A Poem by Jean Louise Monte

Ladybugs are Worth the Foxtails

It's hard to
walk the
when the
are thick
from the rain
and their
stickers embed
in the hem
of my jeans.

I ought
to weed,
except the
are here
the foxtails,
on the weedy
stalks, and climbing
on my hands
as I meditate.

Jean Louise Monte lives in Southern California with her husband and four furry children.  She is the author of one book of poetry, Leaves, Like Party Ornaments.  Her work has been published in California Quarterly, Avocet, Jellyfish Whispers, Life As An [Insert Label Here], and several anthologies.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Two Poems by Natalie Crick

Hush Hush

Again the storm is waving, and concealed
Between these waxen nets
We look on.  I can see no cordon,
But the brittle fence and shushing stalks

By which morsels of brush and neighborly gusts
Strained on fresh waste, can be absorbed.
So for an hour I have sat and thought
Swelling in a pool of electricity.

I have sat and thought about this novel fury for an hour.
I have heard the gale roar above my head
And whip through the bricks and lick
It seems, around this house alone.  I am content in

Painting in trance
The knowledge that this performance
Of dancing drums and stabbing ribbons
Is happening outside my window.

No Surprise

There was no rain
Through the sky sagged and slumped,
An old coat cradling the lane,
Wearing thin with empty pockets.

You are inclined to believe the latter; luminous purple, ashen green.
And you are wrong because I remember that part
But, I forget where we were.  Does it matter:
For poignancy is often personified when we are lost.

We swallowed the road with great swooping gulps,
Bounding with confidence, as very small cars often do.
The moon ran with us, I noticed,
Which was thoughtful, because we were all alone.

The forest mob loomed up on the left,
Hurling hostile tremors from her core.
We bravely edged onward
Though our faceless friends were engulfed in her silent roar.

We tore through the black
And he followed.
In a soundless haze, the hooves vaulted upward,
Clearing us with space to spare.

Natalie Crick has found delight in writing all of her life and first began writing when she was a very young girl.  Her poetry is influenced by melancholic confessional Women's poetry.  Her poetry has been published in a range of journals and magazines including Cannons Mouth, Cyphers, Ariadne's Thread, Carillon and National Poetry Anthology 2013.

Monday, July 11, 2016

A Poem by Kevin Stadt

Come Smell the Rain with Me

she leans at the window
flung wide open
breathes the washed air
with eyes closed
when I walk in she turns
reaches out
to me
and says
"Come smell the rain with me."

her slender arm
slides around my waist
warm skin and
cool, washed air
from the sky
to the earth

she drinks it in
this way and no other, here
eyes open, now
drops in oblong spheres
lips pursed for a kiss
arms in circuit
all for a moment,

how can I explain to my sons?
which friends
which school
which job:
all are details, following after
the one true nub--
the pivot point
hides in finding
a woman
who floats into your afternoon
of plotting and scribbling and fretting,
slows it to a poem,
and says something like
"Come smell the rain with me."

Kevin Stadt earned his M.A. in teaching writing and his Ph.D. in American Literature.  He teaches English at Seoul National University of Science and Technology.  Though he hails from a small town in Illinois, he now lives in the Korean countryside with his wife Hyunju and sons Skyler and River.  His horror fiction has appeared in Under the Bed, and his science fiction story "Lunar Escape" will appear in an upcoming anthology, Lazarus Risen, published by Bundoran Press.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

A Poem by Bryan Damien Nichols

Nature's Signals

The grass billows
In the wind's grace.
Blossoms bulge
Wherever they are,
And because they are.

These crowns of
Waving green,
Of waving red,
Yellow, blue, and orange
Are like flags.

They signal not
The beauty we see,
But the beauty they are.


A brushstroke of deep orange shrinks
On the horizon:  the night drips
Into the patio.  It's all been
Happening, gradually, to the taste
Of grapefruit.  I've been

Thinking about my ability to think,
And wondering why I wonder.

Bryan Damien Nichols was born in Houma, Louisiana, on August 30, 1978.  He earned a B.A., summa cum laude, in Philosophy from Baylor University, and a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law.  He has practiced law both in Houston and in Texas' Rio Grande Valley.  Bryan currently lives in Los Fresnos, Texas, with his loving wife, Michelle.  Bryan is best known for the poetry he writes through his two heteronyms:  (1) Kjell Nykvist; and (2) Alexander Shacklebury.  These two heteronyms were featured in Bryan's debut poetry collection, Whispers From Within (Sarah Book Publishing).  In his new collection, by contrast, Bryan writes in his own name, and explores numerous themes and issues that are important to him personally.  Through his heteronyms, and in his own name, Bryan has been published in dozens of literary journals, ezines, magazines, and anthologies.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Three Poems from Marianne Peel

Salutation to the Strawberry Moon

Two day ago I elongated my body,
stretched to reaching places,
saluted the sun
in simpatico with the thousands

who laid out mats worldwide.
Inhaled exhaust or lilacs
exhaled spirit self together
to honor the Summer Solstice

Bodies moving in a silent rave
arching toward the horizon
ending in Namaste.
Sacredness within me, surrounding me.

Tonight I walk toward the strawberry moon,
ferreting it out from leaf and limb.
I ground myself on a field of summer wet grass
Soles pressing into soil.

I am rooted as I bring up the chi
thumbs pulled back slightly from my palm
there is current following in a line of light
up my arm, to my center.

I rock gently strong, side to side,
as I wave hands like clouds
masking the moon with my palms
just for a moment.

There is no fragmentation
just flow of movement one hand following the other
a moon dance
and I voice five distinct howls

barbaric yawps at the very pull of this moon
one for each of my four daughters
honoring the fertility of their femaleness
their companion moon, antiphonal singing.

I howl once for myself
crone and cycleless now,
but still connected
to this gravitational dance.

And then I come back to my sphere of possession
lowering my hands
a contrapuntal exchange as I
straighten knees, unfold my spine.

I rub my hands together
conjuring friction between willing fingers
smooth palms across my cheeks
my eyes, my forehead.

And I move in the direction of home
alive with chi,
knowing I am radiant
by the light of this strawberry moon . . .

Subsidized Housing, Ditches, and Daffodils

Before you were a daffodil
you were an idea wrapped in a fist
of a palm with life lines rusted with soil.
Screwed down into the earth on a day in November
before the ground stiffened into impenetrable clay.

Before you were a daffodil
the shutters were still lopsided
and the paint dangled in shreds from the eaves.
The foreclosure sign hung crooked
from the cape cod across the street.

Before you were a daffodil
this place was a barren ditch
collecting water from a clogged drain.
A debris of a space with brown leaves tattered,
not worthy of ironing flat into a journal or a bible.

Before you were a daffodil
you were buried beneath
only to rise on this April day
emerging as a confident vibrato,
one cello string pressing long and slow at daybreak.

Come Closer

An evening of Sandhill Cranes
scavenging among autumn leaves.
Migrating soon, these down-in-the-swamp birds
dare us to come closer with laughter
that volcanoes inside their searching throats.

A chickadee careens down onto my fingertips.
Birdlegs balancing
on the edges of my hand,
ferreting out seeds
from the hollow of my palm.

Eiderdown swans,
silhouettes of grace
on murky water,
before moonlight
bares her breast to the lake.

Marianne Peel taught English at middle and high school for 32 years.  She is now retired, doing Field Instructor work for Michigan State University.  She recenlty won 1st prize for poetry in the Spring 2016 Edition of the Gadfly Literary Magazine.  She also won the Pete Edmonds Poetry Prize.  In addition, Marianne has been published in Encodings:  A Feminist Literary Journal; Write to Heal; Writing for Our Lives:  Our Bodies--Hurts, Hungers, Healing; Mother Voices; Metropolitan Woman Magazine; and Ophelia's Mom.  Marianne also received Fulbright-Hays Awards to Nepal and Turkey.  She is a flute playing vocalist, currently learning ukulele, who is raising four daughters.  She shares her life with her partner Scott, whom she met in Istanbul while studying in Turkey.  Most recently, Marianne was invited to participate in Marge Piercy's Juried Intensive Poetry Workshop in June 2016.

Friday, July 8, 2016

A Poem by Sasha Kasoff

The Garden

You don't weed it as often as you should.
You know that.
You like to let it overgrow a bit.

You like the idea of abundance,
but you've planted things you'd rather have less of;
you don't want to eat those fruits.
You may cringe at their bounty,

but the snails are overfond of them,
leaving their silvery trails glistening over the green foliage,
over the ripening tomatoes.
The damp shade is full of them,
skirting the repellent you have scattered.

But your garden also has mysteries:
purple beans, volunteers, and pinstriped watermelons appear out of the leaves.
The lemons are a sunny yellow,
waiting to jab you with a thorn when you come to harvest.
You may complain there is never enough of the good stuff,
your favorite fruits don't flower--
but tend it well and you will reap your greatest desires.

Sasha Kasoff's poetry can be found in two self-published books and many anthologies, magazines, and other literary presses all over the world.  She is currently earning her MA in Creative Writing at Oxford Brookes University in England.  Look for her author pages on Goodreads, Facebook, and at