Friday, March 23, 2018

Three Poems by Victoria Crawford


Dinner Breeze

Shaking her sky blue skirts,
Mother scatters seeds
for sunset birds.
Pigeons mumble murmur over
free dinner, strutting,
quarreling riot.  A male
puffs out his feathers
and spreads his tail for
a coy female.  Pleased,
the Old Crone knows
next season will see young pigeons.

Two doves, neat checkered
necks, lurk on the fringes
of their pigeon rivals.
Nest waits in a broad-leafed
old tree, no eggs yet.
A breeze quivers heavy seeded
tall grass to shed their bounty
for the favored pair.  Mother
empties her pockets, knowing
she shouldn't play favorites,
but likes their neat
resource conservation.

Marsh marigolds tremble
as the local tiger cat slinks,
amber bead eyes
track the grounded flyers.
The Matron snaps her fingers--
the evening deepens,
frog song summons
fish to water surface:
cat can have fish tonight

Diurnal cares, nocturnal duties,
fold one into the other as
Mother's broom tidy sweeps
setting sun into rising moon.
Checking the doves, she finds
that Maiden will soon see eggs
in the woven circle home.



Summer Solstice at Kourion

The longest day, the hardest seats,
sizzling late afternoon in June,
Mediterranean island, Kypru
for people named Athena or Theseus,
Cyprus for the rest of us.

Cicada whir their immortal song
to salute another sunset,
cooling, bold light angling
westward as the horizon sweetens
into fruit salad colors
of honeydew, melon, and grape.

We sip Aphrodite's white wine
and eat dinner picnics,
shifting from cheek to cheek
on Greek gritty stone benches
on crescent land naturally descending
to the original cobalt sea,
on shaped amphitheater rows ascending
to sacred olive groves.

The clink of glasses, silverware rattle stills,
murmurs hush sun downwards,
expectation clenching
as gluteus muscles numb,
after all, the play's the thing,
isn't it?

Whether Sophocles then or Shakespeare
in the here and now,
the shortest night, the play must begin
in day's closing
backdrop twilighted west
to the unknown Gates of Herakles,
At Kourion, once again, Prologue enters:
it is a midsummer night's dream.



My Zen Garden

My zen garden,
immutable peace
shoji screen reveals
often raked sand
in tumbling waves
circling rock mount

Frozen moment,
eternal perfection
without incursion
of external flora
abiding refuge

Yet--abstinent absence
lichen forest greens
the stone mountain top



Victoria Crawford is a poet currently living in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and has been previously published in journals such as Hawaii Pacific Review, Peacock Journal, Califragile, Wild Flowers Muse, and Coldnoon.




Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Three Poems by Peter Magliocco


Catacomb Gods in the Dark Star Cave

Cave walls became prehistoric canvas
the naked buffalo goddess danced on
as warriors set out to hunt her
fire burned any trespassing lovers
with loins morphing animalistic
shapes the artist's brush captured
to crystallize his voyeur's gaze

Not yet fully humane nor human
enough to fete any aesthetic color
beyond the slaughtered deer's red
blood coruscating in polymorphic vision
as divine beast-like rocks empowered
rose from those stalagmite shadows
to crucify graven images of fallen man



Finding a Wormhole in the Light of Ages

What conceives the photon's rash
ascension into a mind drunk
with darkness?
To sit somewhere
on a razed portico
wind abrades with time's polish
over my private statuary
of bony rock

& know, despite everything,
what carries a dreamer's mind
back to its elemental beginning

is teleportation of thought-waves
in the electromagnetic field
growing between us:

For all creatures, alive or dead,
sit here with me drinking the night
air's falling rain cloud
(sweet with energy's stir)
of neo-sentient consciousness,

waiting for the light years
of divine knowledge
to see our earth again.



Convict Lake

I want to tell you how the cold
whittled into my bones at night
as speckled brown trout slept
in umber heavy lake currents
slowly gravitating dark grottoes

the stalking eyes of crabs see
traipsing with jerky slithers
into the lake's muddy bottom
mirroring floating seaweed souls
while, above in the lake parking lot,

two frigid boys shiver wide-awake
submerged by a visionless cell
in the icy hull of a '57 Ford wagon
with whitened windows frost-caked
where my cousin & myself cry

from nerve-numb bluing pains--
& a damning adult punishment
for being inept little fishermen,
now bait for waiting aqua gods
the lake's true nature crowns



Peter Magliocco writes from Las Vegas, Nevada, where he occasionally edits the lit-zine ART:MAG.  He has poetry in Harbinger Asylum, Poetry Life and Times, VOX Poetica, Midnight Lane Boutique, In Between Hangovers, and elsewhere.  Recently nominated for a poetry Pushcart Prize by The Greensilk Journal, his latest poetry book is Poems for the Downtrodden Millennium via The Medulla Review Publishing.




Monday, March 19, 2018

Three Poems by Hillary Lyon


The Pigeon on the Sidewalk

fattened on breadcrumbs
under closer inspection
this ubiquitous bird
is iridescent by the grace
of a brilliant sun

yet sadly drab at dusk
its black bead of an eye dreams
of being a Harris hawk
with a wingspan wide enough
to eclipse the world



Florida

it's true
throw anything out the window
it takes root and blooms
in you     what a lovely garden
you once had     vines of night
blooming jasmine
pots of shrimp
plants and pink moss roses
trailing out into the grass
that had to be cut
every week     this wild and fecund nature
inexorably encircling the house encircling
the dreams you threw out
the ones that refused to take root     the dreams
now floundering     drowning slowly
in the turquoise silence
of the swimming pool



Clouds So Low

clouds so low
their fog entangles

the trees on the mountainside
on the mountainside the lone fox

treads on cool moss the moss coats
the fallen trees the woody mushrooms sprout

on the fallen trees the sunlight filters
through the fog the silhouetted shadows

the ghosts at last finding form
in clouds so low




The founder of and editor for the independent small press poetry publisher, Subsynchronous Press, Hillary Lyon earned her MA in Literature from SMU ages ago.  Her poems have appeared in publications as varied as Shadow Train, Red Fez, EOAGH, Eternal Haunted Summer, Farther Stars Than These, Illya's Honey, and Red River Review, as well as in various anthologies.





Saturday, March 17, 2018

A Haiku by H. Edgar Hix


White tiger lily.
I watch you
calling to bugs.



H. Edgar Hix is a Minnesota poet and haikuist with roots in the South.  He has been publishing since the late 60s.




Thursday, March 15, 2018

Three Poems by Kelley White


All of the Trees are Broken

 You think the mourning dove's coo
is an owl calling from dark blossoms
or the insect sound that rises from blossom,
or the sound of a dozen robins scattered
into branches around the pond.

In its darkness, insect sound rises brief
above into pale evening light, racket
of bats settling into another bowl
of night.  Creaking sticks with pinecones.

After three months the broken tree
still has green leaves.  A mourning dove
blows a single note across a green glass bottle,
the voice of a flute, one note:
frozen trees, remember to dance.



An Unrooted Tree Dances Upon Stones

This tree rises on its roots like a singing bird.
Last year I spoke here to the young owls.
They cried for food.  I offered them a bowl of small fishes.
Ah frozen dancing trees, will you remember to dress in leaves?

Here is a single new pinecone.  Here are sticks
that blossom.  Here a thousand thousand leaves.
All of the days are cold.  I wear my cloak of skunks,
of chipmunk, of foxes, of owls.  The sky grays.

A heavy whine.  That is just a mourning dove.
Why did the birches fall so uniformly?
What wind?  What ice?  What snow?  So many have prepared
bonfires of sticks.  Like a stinging moth.  Nothing

lives here.  Moss.  Lichen.  Stone.  Stone.  Stone.  Leaf.
Bracket fungus.  I nearly fall.  Slip on dead leaves.  A ladder.
Divisions of stone.  More holes drilled to fresh wood.
Why have the owls abandoned their perfect tree?



In Praise of the First Runner Up for Mr. National Bird

How can I fail to admire an animal
who shakes his tail and struts
with his flaming red neck
while the females peck in the mud--

Wild Tom Turkey on the first day of spring
stands in the middle of the road
daring down cars and calling to his harem.





Pediatrician Kelley White has worked in inner city Philadelphia and rural New Hampshire.  Her poems have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Rattle, and JAMA.  Her recent books are TOXIC ENVIRONMENT (Boston Poet Press) and TWO BIRDS IN FLAME  (Beech River Books).  She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant.




Tuesday, March 13, 2018

A Poem by Kirsten Luckins


Snail Migration

Cutting down the fennel
I reveal them at their pinnacle,
breeding, always breeding,
taking their time.
Six hours winding
a slow gavotte to reach this little death,
like glaciers cavorting, nipping
each other's eye buds, sharing slick.

I should brand them,
daub pink nail-polish on them and fling them
beyond the fence, see how long before
they come sliming back,
start breeding,
touching face-fronds,
pale undershells canted, pulpous bodies
in desire's garrotte.

When they mount,
undulate frills strain to ridges,
they blacken mantle to foot,
shoot in a pick of bone, snap back
like a throat, like
they like it.

Not in my back garden.
I hack their shelter to the knotted, oozing root.





Kirsten Luckins is a poet, performer and spoken word theatre-maker based on the north-east coast.  She has been a finalist in the BBC Poetry Slam, has toured two solo shows, and her first collection (The Trouble With Compassion) was published by Burning Eye Books in 2016.  Her current collection is the willfully whimsical Utterly Otterly!, which she also illustrated.  She blogs at www.kirstenluckins.wordpress.com 







Sunday, March 11, 2018

Three Poems by Byron Hoot


Dreaming Spring

Almost, it seems, overnight
the ground around the base
of the trees in size and shape
almost symmetrical as if a spell
was cast has turned the ground bare.
The unmelted snow beyond
the trees makes me think
a shaman is at work,
one tired of the cold and snow,
a distant cousin, though, of the snow.
Once a thaw begins nothing stops
it.
          Any thaw at all gains
momentum until it reaches
the edge of necessity and changes
like water into wine,
                                      the best at last
least expected by the guests.
But now, it's early.
                          But the roots,
I think, heard the spell
and are moving and in their slow,
deliberate dance have warmed
the earth up around the trees.
Yesterday, it wasn't like this;
today, it is . . . some kink
of magic, some shaman
of the wood dreaming spring . . .



This Light, This Darkness

If the darkness of the dawn
is not the time of light,
I don't know what is.
The brilliance of the day
is slight compared to end
of night, beginning of day.
For a moment it seems it
will not happen
                          and then,
perhaps, some wind sighs
and the arrival and departure
begins.
             I almost fell into that trap
of dark and light . . . getting out
of the dark, getting into the light,
but that's a lie,
an old, big lie.
                                  We need night
as we need day--each is the promised
hope of the other having, giving
what the other lacks,
needs, desires.
                                It doesn't seem
like much, but I suspect
it's a pretty big thing
knowing what the dark and light
inside each of us gives . . .



No Grasp So Strong

Here now hold not that which cannot
be held but chooses only
to stay constantly changing
like Poseidon in his sea of change
each ebb and flow never the same
always something new left
on the shore, always something
taken back out into the depths
of the sea before it returns.
So, too, the ground I walk
does that ebb and flow which
comes over me.
                           There is a touch
of eternity exquisite
that feels as if forever is real
until the grasp of time tightens
and it flees and the knotted muscles
of a forearm testament to what
no longer is but had been remains.
To hold too tightly is to hold
nothing--a touch more than
suffices to know how one is kept
by that grace that leaves nothing
untouched, unblessed . . .
Water running through a hand
is exactly the power all
have to hold what is given
constantly flowing whether
on a shore or dry land
the ebb and flow no grip
is strong enough to grasp.




Byron Hoot lives in central Pennsylvania as a monk with no order in a monastery with no rules, aka retired.




Saturday, March 10, 2018

Three Poems by Miki Byrne


Natural Hunger

In three years, ivy squirms
through orifices of dead buildings.
Tiny tendrils suck to desiccation.
A cycle as slow as a seasons turn.

Grass prizes apart pavement teeth
and time edges them with moss-plaque.
Worms slither blindly beneath graffiti
of silver-trailed snails.

Water infiltrates.  Sulks its way
through wood, brick, plaster.
Oozes in capillary action.
Oxidizes iron rebar to bleed rust.

Wallpaper molds, peels leprous,
flensed by decay.  Silverfish scuttle
in seams of dark rooms,
air vents clog with chickweed.

Ants rustle a chitinous stream
over surfaces, spiders colonize corners.
Hang clinging drapes.
Thumb-size cockroaches scuttle.

A building sheds its last vestige
of human occupation.
Smothered, drawn down to earth.
Reclaimed by natures hunger.



Tall Trees

Deep in winter--sleep,
tall trees stand wintry brown.
A haze of lichen
flares on bough and branch.
Creaks and wind-howl mix,
in sad and mournful sound.
Hums around and through
their chill-held stance.
Last year's nests are empty,
no small birds snugly lie
and all of nature seems
to softly sleep.
Yet her sweet force abounds
with pulsing new supply
as slowly rising sap
begins to creep.
And as bright April's sun
bathes all in warming light,
new leaves pop and burst
in green array.
All is shown of brand-new birth.
Its growing fresh delight.
A fortune gathered
by a blue spring day.



Poem to a Silver Birch

She sways, silver-white.
Bark soft, with a sheen
like raw silk.
Ragged strips peel back
curling tongues
and underneath new bark
shows pale and green.
Diamond leaves tremble.
Pale back-skin flirts, flickers
and darker top surfaces
ripple and whisper
as she sings into the wind.
Joins others in concertos
that echo nature-songs.
Slender limbs move,
hipped and elbowed
in delicate bends.
Her whole body curves
in sinuous sway.
Dainty roots grip the slope.
Her song swells.
Of leaf, weather, sun and rain,
she stands like a dancer
ready for applause.
I silently shout, Bravo!  Bravo!




Wednesday, March 7, 2018

A Poem by Julie A. Dickson


Mortarous

A massive wall, crumbling
to a pale powder--chalky white,
flakes of pink lay in slivers
on dark pavement.

visualize this old building
bricks a sun-faded russet
with loose fine dust, barely holding
between the courses,

a mortarous barrage waiting to rain down.
Once steadfast against winter storms,
breaks free under the hot sun, baked
dry, any last remnants of moisture.

The wall appears to slough off
a shower of forgotten fragments,
exfoliation of time, exposing
an under-layer anxious to be seen.



Julie A. Dickson is a poet and a writer of fiction and non-fiction.  She resides in New Hampshire with two rescued black cats, close to the ocean--a favorite muse.  A graduate of UNH, Dickson is board secretary for the Portsmouth Poet Laureate Program.  Her work appears in Poetry Quarterly, The Harvard Press, The Avocet, Nature Poetry Review, Five Willows Poetry Review and in several published works.




Monday, March 5, 2018

Three Poems by Bryan Damien Nichols


Sojourner in a Mountainous Landscape

These thousands of tall, skinny spruces--
tracing the mountains like wicked staircases--
each enrobed in midnight green speckled
with pale aqua when the full moon
comes to rest atop her effulgent throne.

The living waters, those many streams,
are like veins under human flesh,
their silvered scintillation like
a half-hidden heartbeat.

I wish I could pour myself into this land,
or soar as metallic light above it,
or become the high-hung, whorled branches,
my needles forming a thousand
spiral staircases.



Lessons from the Yukon

Falcon-spread, emerald spruce.  Svelte lodgepole pine.
A steady wind with ephemeral clouds.  Water-mirror.
The undulations of green-grown hills and mountains.

Here is circumscription, defied.  Like I Am Who I Am.
Our attempts to paint the land, defied, no matter
The colors used, or figures enslaved, or whether words
Be simple, abstract, or grandiloquent.  There is only

The chance to describe.  Imperfectly.  And reflect.
And reflect.  To see our imperfections in what is perfect.

To see what we might be, knowing that
What we might be won't compare to this.



The Watcher's Query

In the wind's whimsical dance,
in the subtle, soothing play
of bright sun and dark cloud--
at dawn, at noon, at night--
I listen throughout for
the soft waving of oak branches,
the scratch of palm leaves
against themselves, the protest
of yellow hibiscus blooms,
the riot of cordyline, like a commotion
in bright purple, the restless waves of
bougainvillea in permanent green
and garish violet, the ixora's stance
in stolid, impenetrable yellow,
the lily's stutter in mellow green and blue--

and I suddenly wonder:
do all these precious gifts--
soft-caught, sun-sprung,
uniquely moving, singularly inspiring--

listen to us?




Bryan Damien Nichols was born in Hourna, 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.





Saturday, March 3, 2018

Two Poems by Gary Metras


Little Dance

Seven turkeys leave the forest, walk out on
the meadow.  The only male fans his tail and struts.

He chooses a female to circle, persistent, but she
keeps foraging as if her world was a straight line

to somewhere else.  Besides, his juvenile sex
isn't bold enough.  They all ignore his little dance.

The young male lowers his feathers, assumes
the posture of feeding.  When they reach the end

of the clearing, his tail flourishes one brief time.



On the First Perfect Day of Spring

On the greening hillside beneath the clubhouse
of this campground, a lost block of wood,

rough sawn, split edged, abandoned to weather
and bad luck.  When I lift it, sand greets flesh.

There is no heft to these seven inches and when
I tap its flank, such a hard, hollow heart I cannot

know with my blood.  Only an empty, blackened
half circle through the top where a blade bit out

the know shows promise for a story--a skill saw
bucking up the arm of the man so that he bled

without metaphor.  Today's breeze so compassionate
that slim branches need not bend to another's desire.

I want an ant, hauling a white egg sac fatter
and as long as its own dark body, to crawl out

the crack of the wood's ribless side to make
this more than some carpenter's discard

so indifferent to this first pregnant April day.



Gary Metras has two new books of poetry:  Captive in the Here (forthcoming from Cervena Barva Press) and White Storm (Presa Press, February 2018).  His poems have been in recent issues of Muddy River Poetry Review, Common Ground Review, Poetry East, Steam Ticket, Ibbetson Street, and Main Street Rag.  He is the editor and letterpress printer at Adastra Press in Easthampton, Massachusetts.  He fly-fishes his home rivers as often as possible.




Thursday, March 1, 2018

Three Poems by Jim Zola


The Crows of Wimberly Drive

There are other birds here.
But the crows of Wimberly Drive
stick to the shoulder
and casually scoot when I cruise by.
The crows of Wimberly Drive
hide their bluest feathers
and play piano in my dreams.
Sailor songs and cantatas.
And the crows or Wimberly Drive
mourn the mornings.  I know.
They tell me so.  I wave
to the crows of Wimberly Drive.
I love them because they don't mind.



The Way the Rain Softens the Edges of Everything

The sky, mottled with dark clouds, gives us
something to talk about.

The rain is closer now.  I feel it in my bones.

You look out windows,
this ceremony of rain.

In the garden, peonies
bent towards the earth
leave a legend of petals.



How I Know

I look out the window and see
a field, trees and then
more houses.  I think of you,
wherever you are,
wearing slippers, a cloud
of sadness, keys in hand,

ready.  But there is something
stopping you, an absence
that wraps around your shoulders
like a worn coat.  I'm not sure
how long I've been sitting here.
The dog whines.  A red-tailed hawk
lands on the collapsed swing set
in the yard, head cocked,
looks straight at me.




Jim Zola has worked in a warehouse, as a security guard, in a bookstore, as a teacher for deaf children, as a toy designer for Fisher Price, and currently as a children's librarian.  Published in many journals through the years, his publications include a chapbook--The One Hundred Bones of Weather (Blue Pitcher Press)-- and a full-length poetry collection--What Glorious Possibilities (Aldrich Press).  He currently lives in Greensboro, NC.




Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Three Poems by Michael Keshigian


Mt. Washington Cougar

As far as mountains go, it's not very tall
though its winter personality is precariously erratic
and the most difficult to tame.
But during the summer and in my boots,
I climb and climb the various trails
until every foot of its six thousand plus
are behind me and nothing remains
but blue sky, bald summit observatory
and a green beard,
reaching outward all around.
On a clear day, in one complete turn,
I can see the ocean, the concrete peaks
of a city over one hundred miles away,
westward hills humped like camels
against the melting sky,
and northward, another country.
Yet the most striking vision of all
stepped out from a cloud of maples
and padded along the brink,
sure footed and unafraid,
a magnificent cat perusing her property.
Her wide gold face was interrupted
with a white muzzle, intense hazel eyes
and black lips that curled a subtle snarl,
her shoulders vibrated and her tail swayed
as if to sickle the wildflowers.
Moments later she was gone, leaving me alone
to contemplate her perfection,
a lean and muscular mystery
that belonged to the achievement
that was the mountain,
home to such creatures
whose distinction is nature's miracle,
randomly revealing themselves
from the waterfalls, forests,
and unencumbered caves of this idyllic green cage.


Flowers Along the Path

Fickle flowers with your collection of colors,
summer is the season you flourish,
a time when you demand
precise attention from sunlight
and a beverage from the clouds,
lest you wilt with a crusty edge
while the wind steals away
random petals, unlike brethren trees
with branches that bear
the weight of winter's calamity,
you hibernate, snuggled
beneath a frozen pod of sod
then dance enthusiastically in Spring
beneath lightening and rain
while others seek cover.
You would shrivel
should the clouds abstain.
What schemes do you concoct
in starlight as you ready
to fulfill the drone's sweet appetite,
secrets hidden well within your corona,
a watchful eye that guards
your fragile disposition.
To those of us that daily pass
your handsome trail,
our troubles buried deep within,
your smile provides a welcome distraction,
your scent an intoxication
that momentarily vanquished worry.


Synergist

All day
I've listened to the song
of a single cardinal

ripple stillness
just outside my office window.
An opera in red tux

his throat is a spring
stretching an aria
through the cluttered house

of sound, awakening memories
of events since past.
The timbre enlivens my heart.

I can almost touch
what once was
as it floats between

song and wind.  An inflection
so crisp, that I'm convinced
that cardinal sings for more

than to merely texture
the commotion.  His tune
incites another gift.

He performs daily,
tireless and without hoarseness,
to make sad hearts flutter.



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 a feature writer in over twenty publications with 6 Pushcart Prize and 2 Best Of The Net nominations.  (michaelkeshigian.com)




Sunday, February 25, 2018

Three Poems by Cleo Griffith


Across the Blue

How teasing, these clouds,
these diaphanous streams across the blue,
scarves dropped from a dancer
now on the other side of the mountains,
feathers from a giant, yet light-weight owl,
layers like whipped frosting spread with sky-spatula,

they dim the sunlight but little,
promise no rain to this dry valley
but, carefree, float romantically
without haste, for having no delivery to make
time is of no essence.  Oh pretty gatherings,
would that you could join yourselves,
become massive, dark and heavy,
and share your beauty even more through
the water that shapes you.


Crepe Myrtle

By the time crepe myrtle blooms pink,
almond orchards have greened,
the neighbor's peach-colored roses
softly outlined their short driveway.

By the time crepe myrtle blossoms pink
iris have given their purple salutes,
expired into dark shriveled nubs.

Before crepe myrtle flowers pink,
lemon blossoms scent the neighborhood,
the resident blue jay squawks from the nectarine tree
anxious for the small green bulbs
to expand to pink-blending-red globes of dinner.

Crepe myrtle pushes pale pink buds
among chartreuse leaves, take over the back yard
until Fall when it sprinkles its pastel bounty
across my green lawn.


My Season's Sky

There is no welcome stream along our property
nor river close where we can browse.
Large gray cranes do not rise from a bank
across wide blue sky,
but I have seen many attractions such as today's
early afternoon flock of white doves,
each etched and colored in my mind.
I've seen more than twenty-nine thousand sunsets
still I marvel at my season's sky
where crimson lights the peaked evening clouds
just before I pull the blinds at night.
Each leafless tree of winter's days
remind me of the lime-green wealth of spring
in all the many towns in which I've loved,
no place that was all bad, all good, but balanced
always by one of nature's joys--
summer thunderstorms, winter's icy sculptures,
one ocean's roar or the warmth of another's shore,
massive green of rain forests, wide desert plain.
Whatever is not here, still is with me as I have seen
the water and the wind, the mountain and the sea,
ghosts as real as my eyes, ears and grateful heart.




Cleo Griffith was Chair of the Editorial Board of Song of the San Joaquin for its first twelve years and remains on the Board.  Widely published, she lives in Salida, CA, with her husband, Tom, and their tabby, Tank.



Friday, February 23, 2018

Three Haiku Strings from Don Mager


Haiku String #38
(Prague in March)

March washed dry leaves
along the bridge curbs--flocks of
little birds gusting

against a big wind.
The wind swoops down like hawks to
follow the river's

brackish elbows.  It
laps the castle walls and the
shuttered shop windows

and children huddle
outside closed school yards.
Wind holds a cold claw.

One must live with false
beginnings that come knocking
and knocking again,

for when the solemn
vocation arrives at one's
doorstep, without them,

one would not know how
to let the door swing open.
One's terror would not

know how to grow vast.


Haiku String #41
(Petersburg in May)

The eastern Baltic
wind rides with the larger sun.
The oaks are bragging

in their new leaves while
pines backdrop themselves like a 
chorus of dancers

who sink into the
blue shadows as the prima
ballerina swirls

incessantly on
one toe.  Birds birds birds applaud
applaud applaud.  And

then, suddenly, you
notice, the fountains have been
turned on in the parks.

Water and light are
whispering their tireless
duet.  You cup it

in your palm--first light,
then water--and spill your lap
with it, palm after

palm, until through the
coarse fabric, chill tongues your thigh,
Baltic tongues your hair.


Haiku String #42
(Paris in May)

Gray rain falls in sheets
like slabs of slate onto black
umbrellas tipped to

brace against the wind.
The sheen on them glistens like
ravens' wings.  Beneath,

heads are bent like tucked
heads of birds.  Ash gray faces,
from which expression

has been wiped away,
as an academician
might wipe the slateboard

of chalk at the end
of a ponderous lecture,
stare down.  They look to

cobbles and puddles
which glisten like old scratched-up
mirrors from which the

silver backing has
become flaked.  The faces in
the puddles stare from

tucked heads and their eyes
are holes.  Day after day in
May, crowds in rain flow

corteges across
bridges.  None seem to have a
destination to

which it intends to
arrive.  Each umbrella's sheen
braces to the wind.




Don Mager's chapbooks and volumes are To Track The Wounded One, Glosses, That Which is Owed to Death, Borderings, Good Turns, The Elegance of the Ungraspable, Birth Daybook, Drive Time, and Russian Riffs.  He is retired and was Mott University Professor of English at Johnson C. Smith University where he also served as Dean of the College of Arts and Letters.  As well as a number of scholarly articles, he has published over 200 poems and translations from German, Czech and Russian.  In the 1970s he published articles and reviews on Gay Liberation.  He lives in Charlotte, NC, with his partner of 36 years.  They have three sons and two granddaughters.




Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A Poem by Richard L. Ratliff


Snow

Snow is both sides of the same page
It covers the grave and the tulip
It holds the heat in and reflects it back
While falling it hides your passage
When finished it documents your path



Richard L. Ratliff is a baby boomer, born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana.  His Mid-West ties have built the foundation and setting for his poetry.  He is a Purdue University graduate, with two years of engineering that turned into a degree in English Literature, along with being a two-year letterman in wrestling.  All of these eclectic combinations have given him a career as a boiler and combustion expert and poet.



Monday, February 19, 2018

A Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen


on retreat

lay aside those
lists of things
to worship
a nearby path
through the aspen
has daydreams of
wild orchids beside
emerald lakes and
beckons to bare
bone and heart



ayaz daryl nielsen, veteran, hospice nurse, ex-roughneck (as on oil rigs) lives in Longmont, Colorado, USA.  Editor of bear creek haiku (30+ years/140+ issues) with poetry published worldwide (and deeply appreciated), he is also online at https://bearcreekhaiku.blogspot.com








Saturday, February 17, 2018

A Poem by David Subacchi


Nothing Sailing

A winter afternoon
At the best table
With sea views,
Starlings swirling
Around the pier,
Half-hearted joggers
In fading light
And gulls hovering
With little confindence
Of unguarded takeaways.

In the bay waves ripple
In a non-committal
Sort of way,
For nothing sails
In this greyness;
Even the lifeboat
Is locked away;
They are preparing it
For the next launch.



David Subacchi lives in Wales (UK) where he was born of Italian roots.  He studied at the University of Liverpool and writes in English, Welsh and Italian.  He has four published collections of his poetry in English and one in Welsh.  David's blog with more examples of his poetry can be found at:  http://www.writeoutloud.net/profiles/davidsubacchi




Thursday, February 15, 2018

Four Poems by Don Thompson


October

It's not warm enough to ripen
The year's last, hoped-for figs,
Still green with leaves
Turning brown around them.


September

Mimosa sunlight in the nut groves
Early on opening day.
Champagne pop of .410 shotguns:
Tonight, drink to the fallen doves.


Equinox

Autumn's anthem:  Bees
Humming in the Chinese elms.
When there's no more honey to make,
They make music.


Noon

Contrarian ghosts haunt us
At noon, seething in the heat.
Malevolence like that
Will keep you awake all night.



Don Thompson has been writing about the San Joaquin Valley for over fifty years, including a dozen or so books and chapbooks.  For more info and links to publishers, visit his website at www.don-e-thopson.com




Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Three Poems by Dah



Cicadas Coyotes Future

Sounds from the day have died
but the meaning
is still here.  The future does not
reject this,
does not block the view

Birds have tied themselves
to perches, wings
tucked under, eyes inward,
songs put away

There's an endless drone
of cicadas,
their hard wings
are night-buzzers vibrating

Dew quells the desert dust.
The cicada's noise
is like a high-voltage storm
and with an old-world sound
coyotes voice their opinion


Forevermore

The light has eyes
the light has ears
we are eternally dead

The dark has teeth
the dark has blood
we are eternally dead

The sky has hands
the sky has voices
we are eternally dead

The wind has bellies
the wind has hunger
we are eternally dead

The earth has feet
the earth has lips
we are eternally dead

The rocks have breath
the rocks have shoulders
we are eternally dead

The rivers have lungs
the rivers have fingers
we are eternally dead

The sand has ears
the sand has toes
we are eternally dead

Silence has words
silence has hearing
we are eternally dead


Seeds

Seeds milk the sun's tit
ingesting heat,
seeking roots
moisture, depth,
splitting rocks
upon formation

If you hold a seed with roots
you'll become a grounding rod
There are no words for this:

lets call it, beginning.  No,
lets call it, in the beginning dark
composed us

therefore, Desire is a floral
intimacy:  a fruit
bursting forth, like a verb,
the tree shakes, an apple falls,
sparrows take the sky with wings
of evolution:  crawling

like a root, a legless reptile,
suggestive as the apple
and from this, the original bruise



Dah's sixth poetry collection is The Opening (CTU Publishing, 2018) and his poetry has been published by editors from the US, UK, Ireland, Canada, China, Singapore, Spain, Australia, Africa, Poland, Philippines and India.  His poems have recently appeared in Straylight Magazine, Otoliths, The Cape Rock, Acumen Journal, Sandy River Review, Indian River Review, and Junto Magazine.  Dah lives in Berkeley, California and is working on the manuscript for his ninth poetry book.  He is Pushcart Prize nominee and the lead editor of The Lounge, a poetry critique group.  Dah's seventh book is forthcoming in July 2018 from Transcendent Zero Press, with his eighth book forthcoming in November 2018 from Stillpoint Books.




Sunday, February 11, 2018

A Poem by Christopher Kenneth Hanson


On A Bridge Near Trout Point Lodge
                                         [Nova Scotia, August 2017]

We stand on a shoddy wooden plank bridge
facing a setting sun- still- overlooking-
& underneath-a beautiful quick
flowing river,

there are rocks of various
sizes ribbed & jagged- sticking out
here and there in the current-

the rocks, scattered about the current
make spots & lines of the river appear

rust-iron red as the river streams bounce & hiccup
via the grooves of eroded rock & green moss
marked surfaces-

the deep dark blue water snakes past &
crisply shimmers off the protruding rocks-

various frayed stick-wood pieces sit awkwardly &
haphazardly- via way of the swift current-

milk-white foam bubbles whirl
in shallow parts of the river body now;

dusky currents rest via some
tepid pockets; the rays of sun

peek through bold green pine trees
which line the cobble stone paths-

Originally bringing us
to the bridge-



Christopher Kenneth Hanson is an interesting poet hailing from New Jersey, USA.  Christopher has had poems published in suave journals/magazines and has created visual art and fiction stories including composing alternative music as well.  




Friday, February 9, 2018

Three Poems by Carol Alena Aronoff


Flow

Twilight gathers dusky wings
into long sleeves of evening,
dreams through the night.
Moon silk lights the way to dawn
awakening tide pools and travelers.

Wind moves between time with
ease as if knowing timelessness.
What if we could live as seamlessly
with no resistance?  What if time
and matter didn't matter?

As sun pays homage to morning
in ribbons of mauve and apricot,
it leaves the rest of the day in our
hands.  We can find miracles beneath
small rocks or fault lines in sand.


A Place for Hummingbirds

A clutch of hummingbird eggs nestled
in seed down and feathers, bound
together with spider silk, adorned
with paint chips and flowers, rests
in the pocket of an apron left hanging
on a clothesline.  Safe from predators,
protected from wind.

A light bulb in the basement, beneath
a bridge, in a culvert or deep ravine.
In the unremembered.  The thin shell
between us where we hide what's
most precious.  Where we break.

Out of sight, in that cradle of silence,
the cocooning of seedlings and small
things.  A fluttering, giving vent to
birthing its opposite to see itself.

Those moments when forgetting
is an art form, spectacular sunrise
free of restraint, we revel in the absence
of veils and artifice, all separation,
and recognize the call of bird wings
to a more authentic even dangerous
place to rest.

An aerie open on all sides with no
ground.  Nameless.  No maps or
hidden corners, a seamless flow
of river and rain.  We cannot abide
there too long, just long enough
for understanding to dawn.
Like hummingbirds, we seek refuge


Nesting

Dried leaves and twigs shaped round,
resting in the crook of a lemon tree.
A hint of blossoms to soften night's air,
the intimacy of feathers settling in
to roost.  A place for dreaming.

Safe . . . moon calls, igniting
the nest in a spray of silver.
Remember you can wrap yourself
in solitude or claim the fellowship
of sparrows and shadows.

Borrowing the wings of an owl, I search
my heart for the feeling of home, that
realm where my spirit can rest.  Do I
need to let go of everything I know,
all that I am, to fly without reference
to a place I never left?



Carol Alena Aronoff, PhD, is a psychologist, teacher and writer.  Her poetry has been published in Comstock Review, Poetica, Sendero, Buckly&, Asphodel, Tiger's Eye, Cyclamens & Swords, Quill & Parchment, Avocet, Bosque, 200 New Mexico Poems, Women Write Resistance, Before There is Nowhere to Stand, Malala:  Poems for Malala Yousafzai, et al.  She was twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, participated in Braided Lives, collaboration of artists/poets, Ekphrasis:  Sacred Stories of the Southwest, and (A) Muses Poster Retrospective for the 2014 Taos Fall Arts Festival.  The Nature of Music was published by Blue Dolphin Publishing in 2005, Cornsilk in 2006, Her Soup Made the Moon Weep in 2007, Blessings from an Unseen World in 2013, and Dreaming Earth's Body in 2015.  Currently, she resides in rural Hawaii--working her land, meditating in nature and writing.





Wednesday, February 7, 2018

A Poem by Fanny Suto



Trees

All this wasted sunshine
If I had green cells I could
transform light into food
we could learn a lot
from trees
Also patience
standing in the same place for years
sometimes centuries
While I
can't stay here for more than an hour.
When I say "immortal"
why do you think of vampires
when you should think of trees.

But maybe when they think
nobody is looking
they walk around at night
dancing around the lawn
swaying their long leaf hands.




Fanni Suto writes poetry, short stories and a growing number of novels-in-progress.  She published in English and Hungarian and finds inspiration in reading, paintings and music.  She writes about everything which comes her way or goes bump in the night.  She tries to find the magical in the everyday and likes to spy on the secret life of cities and their inhabitants.  Previous publications include:  The Casket of Fictional Delights, Tincture Journal, Enchanted Conversation, and Fundead Publications.  Website:  www.inkmapsandmacarons.com 



Monday, February 5, 2018

A Poem by Sandra T. Adeyeye




By the River of Cassandra

By the River of Cassandra,
Where dreams live on tall trees,
The sky meets blood streams,
In rain, allies are found.

By the River of Cassandra,
Blood of bulls flow at the altar,
The thunder and lightning cackle,
Like a predator against a cattle.

By the River of Cassandra,
Pity is eroded by scarred bravery,
The earth quakes at misery,
Tears twinkle as stars.

By the River of Cassandra,
When the moon and sun collide,
The mountains refuse to be hiked,
The grass remains marked.

By the River of Cassandra,
The dawn breaks on the new born,
In a pouch, two does and one buck,
Breast milk and veggies builder of body strands.

By the River of Cassandra,
Ice wind sweeps through the planet.






Saturday, February 3, 2018

Three Poems from Sarah L. Hill


Lost Fields

walking to the school bus
autumn and spring
the morning dew heavy
on the clover

black-eyed susans bent their heavy
necks trying to reflect back the sun
serenaded by insects
the timothy gathered weight
through summer
shorn close in waning light
cubed as sugar tanned and dry

this long walk uphill
we once ran down
seldom pausing to breathe the scents
of earth  flowers  grass
to gaze at the blue or cloud brushed sky
reflected in the distant lake

the cows and horses
once hayed for
are long since gone
and so followed the fields

we would not have believed
the neighbor's house at the roadside
would someday be missed
lost within a manse
gobbled up like a caper
forgotten with the chaff



Shadows in Flight

the crows flew
several days ago

three growing
once cramped
in an ever-shrinking nest
attempt balance
on the branches
and try to spring
to catch the air
with spreading wings and flap

one flies and leaves the others behind
they hold out another day
jealously clinging to branches
watching their sibling
swooping between wires and trees

the others flew in the morning
I watched from behind the glass pane
cheering like a proud aunt

they slept in the tree again that night
heavy wing beats have recently
announced daybreak as they attempt
to turn, to rise, to survey our lawns
in the early

when later I slip outside to walk
they greet me
all three plus one
who cackles and throws his neck forward
in my direction
which weeks earlier
may have made me jump or gasp in surprise
I bid him good morning from the ground
nod in kind
to the others

they regard me
with wary eyes
how can they know
I have watched them so long
that I count myself family



Garden Yamadanchi

black
with a spot of white
a lone dragonfly skitters
straight and directed
over the pond's surface

dancing
a ribbon of sea green
flickering with movement
the butterfly alights
on a tree and competes for the breeze

sharp
and sudden a fin slices
the water parts and speaks in ripples
a flash of orange breaks the surface

slow
as a breeze blown leaf
a turtle trolls through the pond
head peering at the world
cheek smeared with a line of rouge

shaking
with full-body purpose
birds step carefully
in   then out
feathers scattering shining droplets

black
descends upon the shore, dispersing the others
moves jauntily
tests the water
gazes sideways at this crow reflection
tastes a plant
looks about with beak agape.



Sarah L. Hill has lived and worked on three continents and currently resides in Arlington, MA.




Thursday, February 1, 2018

Four Poems from Adam Levon Brown


Nymphs Advocate for Justice on the Stone of Hera

Jeweled-encrusted tombs placate in places of ruins
to be ransacked by the unworthy eyes of wrath

Bliss exudes beatitude in breaths of ease and wealth,
searching for malignance to disembody

Nuanced pragmatism shuttles forth breaking time
with cult-flower memorization in flavors of teal

Pyre-dancing nymphs salivate for hyacinths
of justice, while purloinings manifested in paradise

Makings of granite pride advocate for seasons
of carnation-bled freedom in sounds of pink


Nascent Eyes Ogle Flesh of Pineapple Shrills

Pomegranate flesh eats the scents of foxgloves
while mounting pineapple taste buds in cloves

Dissident mules of aged holly flood channels
into decadent springs which marvel at oceans

Poppies of gray drive away incense in mills
of pebble gateways, growing with fevering nettles

Crimson lust vacates brick-mortar homes
and spirals through trees of brushwood brightness

Hilltop swing-jazz mixed with calls of birds
shrills, overcome nascent eyes ogling silver lore

Acorned squirrels scuttle across myopic tree
branches, reaching for dove-quaked love


Cheetah Runs with Orchid-bloom Resonance

Liquids of steel-shone Orchids bloom wildly
next to oats of harvest-tuned holly.
Breaths of Iris escape the mouths of joy,

bringing swelling lips to taste simplicity
in washing waves of decadent crispness.
Evergreen palace of green and bark seep

into ears of highway-piled motorways
which fly on mossy wings of paradise.
Bottles holding oceans waiting for messages

from moon-tide blessings bring yearning.
Jilting crescent earnings move forward,
bringing ides of monolithic space to cry

heaven into a pool of love-ridden guilt.
Posh undertakings of wood and stone
build new archways in architecture

filled with decency and optimistic sway.
Miles of cheetah-paw walk with human
hand, hoping to find the path to purity.


Heaven and Hell on the River Bed Named Life

Pregnant oleander searches for climbing ivy
in sunset delicacy, pushing away ladders of ghosts

Preening feathers of guilt from the bust of Eagle-tipped
negligence, wild branch soars among hawks of steel

Moray steel monarchic order filets salmon on beds
of rice, only to be captured in talons of perch-fed heron

Jilted clovers gild rivers of isometric compassion
storming mountains with wildflower sonnet escape

Prong-ridden fire escape crawfish wriggle into depths,
hidden beneath high-rock nebulas, hoping for sanity

Hectic highway of water capitulates to the brazen
dust which settles on its floors, purifying heaven from hell



Tuesday, January 16, 2018




Jellyfish Whispers Is Open Again!!!

We've been gone for awhile but we're back and ready to get started in the New Year!  We've missed all of your wonderful work and cannot wait to see what new and amazing creations you have to send our way!  So please visit our submissions page, and send your best work our way!!!