Sunday, June 24, 2018

Three Poems from A.J. Huffman



Arctic Butterflies

Portraits of fragility echoing definitive
definitions of strength spread
their darkened wings, gather sun’s warmth.
Dorsal basking, lateral basking, mid-flight V,
every move is designed to harvest heat
as they flutter and dance their way across
summer fields, becoming, in visitor’s minds,
flash-bulb moments of nature’s possibilities.





from Flamingo this Vision

of self-containment, internal
flight.  Movement stifled, re-routed,
released in flutter of pink
feathered eyes seeing beyond
sky.  Balance
can be extended.  One leg
bending between two planes.





Hosak’s Cave

A crack of light,
of life, brown but not out
of the cycle. 
The walls are breathing,
breeding
a carpet fit for the king
of beasts.






A.J. Huffman has published thirteen full-length poetry collections, fourteen solo poetry chapbooks and one joint poetry chapbook through various small presses.  Her most recent releases, The Pyre On Which Tomorrow Burns (Scars Publications), Degeneration (Pink Girl Ink), A Bizarre Burning of Bees (Transcendent Zero Press), and Familiar Illusions (Flutter Press) are now available from their respective publishers.  She is a five-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a two-time Best of Net nominee, and has published over 2600 poems in various national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, The Bookends Review, Bone Orchard, Corvus Review, EgoPHobia, and Kritya.  She is the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press.  You can find more of her personal work here:  https://ajhuffmanpoetryspot.blogspot.com/


Friday, June 22, 2018

A Poem from Susan Dale


Leaving to Promises

If mom left when spring was arriving
What does that say about life?
For while we were committing her to eternity
Violets were unfurling their purple capes

But how do we accept the thrust of blossoms
On bare branches
And the smiles of daffodils
At the same time
She was taking her place
On the top of a hill
Where the winds of heaven
Were meeting the promises mom could not break

Nor could we halt the jubilant feet of spring
Dancing into our collective sorrow




Susan Dale's poems and fiction are on WestWard Quarterly, Mad Swirl, Penman Review, The Voices Project, and Jerry Jazz Musician.  In 2007, she won the grand prize for poetry from Oneswan.  Two published chapbooks, The Spaces Among Spaces from languageandculture.org and Bending the Spaces of Time from Kind of a Hurricane Press's Barometric Pressure Chapbook series, have been on the internet.



Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A Poem from Heather Gelb


Under the Tree

Supine on a spherical covering
Of buttery flowery petals,
I gaze up through the feathery branches
Of a flowering tree,
Each twisting branch sculpted from a
Solid center and reaching towards a light
I can still see when I close my eyes to hear
The soothing hum of bees that fill the spaces
Between the ephemeral and the enduring.
Beyond the bee song I hear
The light tread of gazelle leaping through
A nearby field, finding space between
The stalks of golden grain . . .
And still the golden petals rain down,
Released by the light touch
Of dancing bees.
I am aware of a slow mounting marvel
That fills the spaces between
The holy and the mundane.



Heather Gelb grew up in Colorado and Ohio before leaping off to distant hills in Africa then Israel.  She is an aspiring writer, poet, yoga instructor, tap dancer, banjo player, holistic nutritionist, world traveler and long distance runner who is raising her five children among the Judean hills in a house that her husband built.  Heather Gelb feels most fulfilled leaping from hilltop to hilltop as she writes in her published memoir about her journey from Rwanda to Israel:  https://www.amazon.com/Hilltop-My-Path-Rwanda-Israel/1937623076  Her poetry has been published in such diverse works as Poetica Publishing, Deronda Review, Green Panda Press, Pyrokinection, Dead Snakes and NatureWriting.






Monday, June 18, 2018

Two Poems from Phil Wood


Snap

No zebra crossing, close-by a menace
of lionesses; flies swarm, wildebeest fidget.

And then the rain.  The river's rain-happy.
A flock of pink flamingos flight a sunset.

I take a photograph.  The guide and you.
A hippo yawns.  The crocodiles smile.



Forester

That canopy of russet forest
beguiles the crowd.  On Cannop Ponds
a cacophony of mallards,
moorhens and coots, a herring gull;
along the track the herds of bikes
and hikers, kids and dog walkers;
an oak, squat like grandma's clock,
dazzles, unthreads his hooded tale.
Her weathered cloth warms his morning,
the dreams of wolves whisper once more.



Phil Wood works in a statistics office.  He enjoys working with numbers and words.  His writing can be found in various publications including:  The Open Mouse, Autumn Sky Daily, London Grip, Ink Sweat and Tears.





Saturday, June 16, 2018

A Poem from Lily Tierney


Frozen

A dust storm engulfed wind-carved thoughts
as a polar ice cap suppressed her most fiery desires.

She was forced to live life with a volcanic mountain of thought
in an unforgiving solar system.

Looking up at the two asteroids, she remembered a love song
that collided with the past, present, and future.





Friday, June 15, 2018

Three Poems from Linda M. Crate


spring's arrival

spring has burst open
with all her flowers:
daffodils, tulips,
flowering trees including
the magnolia
pinwheel phlox,
and many others arm the earth

winter faded the crocus
song long before
their time
should've been over,
but now spring has the upperhand
disarming winter
with all her flaming hands;

the sun is no longer
content
to play hide-and-seek
with the clouds
old man winter cannot creep in
destroying our dreams
any longer
he has been put to death.



no more snow

bumble bees
the size of my pinky
buzz
around the dandelions
i feel a peace
that winter is gone
sometimes sadness lingers,
but the seasonal depression
is gone;
flowers are good at making
me forget my sorrows
so is the creek
washing away all the ugly things
in me that keep me
up at night--
as i get caught up in the fragrance
of spring
summer is treading lightly
i know her song will be here, soon,
but as i was born of her flames
she means me no harm;
i smile thinking of all the lovely things
that will crest like ocean waves
where winter snow cannot pull me into
long white sad silence.



daughter of the flames

i have met
so many
thorns of winter

that thought their
cold and snow
would kill me,

but i've endured
showing them
my summer flames;

no will will hold me
back from the whispers
of my dreams

i will catch them all
and my roses have thorns, too,
they shall cut the coldness

until it stings my flesh
no longer
until winter realizes

he has no power
over my pretty little red heart
and stops chasing me--

i am a song of white suns
the lyric of golden moons
daughter of the flames.




Linda M. Crate is a Pennsylvanian native born in Pittsburgh yet raised in the rural town of Conneautville.  Her poetry, short stories, articles, and reviews have been published in a myriad of magazines both online and in print.  She has five published chapbooks:  A Mermaid Crashing Into Dawn (Fowlpox Press -- June 2013), Less Than A Man (The Camel Saloon -- January 2014), If Tomorrow Never Comes (Scars Publications, August 2016), My Wings Were Made to Fly (Flutter Press, September 2017), and splintered with terror (Scars Publications, January, 2018).




Thursday, June 14, 2018

A Poem from Tim Gordon


Nature

La nature devrait tout dire ou rien . . .
                        -- Pascal, Pensees #72

Beyond the Latilla fence nothing to harvest
but gritty sand, bunchgrass, all prickly flora,
real failures to launch verdantly or in frippery,
as is their wont, until you breach the imaged coppice,
wild plum and crab-apple, mulberry maidenheads
taken by insatiable chatterbox silkworms, a veritable
veldt of desert beneath the widow's-peak shadow
mountain brow where fall almost ends, winter blossom
begins, back-channeling its Endless Summer trope,
color amok yet on front- and- up-range slopes, on the undreamt
an unloved, humpback butte and mesa, seamless plateau,--
gully, gulch, arroyo, ravine, dumb dry wash until every
evening prairie star torched just for them in the falling blue
half-life before the first blanched clutch of ice and frost
radiates everything and nothing with quicksilver white light.




Tim Gordon's Dreamwind chapbook was accepted by Finishing Line Press (April 2018), its full-length complement is concurrently under publisher review elsewhere, his seventh book, From Falling, was published by Spirit-of-the-Ram Press (Autumn 2017).  His work appears in journals like Agni, Cincinnati Poetry Review, Kansas Quarterly, Louisville Review, Mississippi Review, New York Quarterly, Pittsburgh Quarterly, Rhino, Sonora Review, Texas Observer, Texas Literary Review, and Baseball Bard, among others.  Everything Speaking Chinese was awarded the SunStone Press Poetry Prize (AZ).  Some recognitions include NEA &  NEH Fellowships and nominations for four Pushcart Prizes and The NEA Western States' Book Awards.  He divides professional and personal lives among Asia, the Desert/Mountain Southwest and coastal Maine.






Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Three Poems from Darrell Petska


Two Sticks

Two lean sticks
descend the muddy shallows--
the great blue heron is cloud and sky
above the water's edge.

Light languors at the surface,
lulling time and sense.
The great blue heron rides the earth
like a wispy wetland willow--

at a ripple in the murk,
light breaks the plane
to grasp and swallow in its flash
what swam in blue sky's shadow.



January June

Snow sun cannot melt.
The shaded trail white,
the creek banks,
the downy air.

White caps for the owl chicks.
Nest liner supreme.
Grand sport for children
turning with the breeze.

No gutter is immune.
Screens gasp for breath.
Leaf blower blizzards
spiral into lawns.

The Avenue of Cottonwoods
strews its watery course till
green's lush primacy rights
June's January lapse.



Porch Light Tango

On our mad dalliance
throw the switch,
oh pitiless light bulb
I once thought the moon.
My true destiny fades
against your searing tongue.
Must I throw myself upon you
till I drop, battered hull
spent at your feet?

I am Progenitor Rex.
Generations unfold within me,
yet time contracts, your glow
chancing the unborn.
How heartless your heat:
I falter, I fry.
The common toad of existence
eyes me for its meal--I beg you
snare some other wayward planet
with your blazing tractor beam.




Darrell Petska's writing has appeared in Mobius:  The Journal of Social Change, Chiron Review, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Star 82 Review, Bird's Thumb, Verse-Virtual, and elsewhere (see conservancies.wordpress.com).  Darrell worked for many years as communications editor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, leaving finally to focus on his own writing and his family.  He lives in Middleton, Wisconsin.






Friday, June 8, 2018

A Poem from Bernadette Perez


Running Free . . . I Am Weed

Rain feeds hungry plants
contender survives the storm
grows with a vengeance

spread throughout waste land
migrating from across regions
multiplying fast

carelessly blowing
appearing without a cause
why did they spring

In competition
cultivating plants fight for space
wild rooted left stranded

tumbling about
performing handsprings in fall
somersaults in meadows

In late summer broken
brittle and dry
dispersing seeds

no longer desired
I was weeding flower beds
weeping their return




Bernadette Perez is a poet possessing expression and creativity.  In 1990, Bernadette received the Silver Poet Award from World of Poetry.  Her work has appeared in The Wishing Well; Musings in 2010, Small Canyons Anthology in 2013, Poems 4 Peace in 2014, Fix and Free Anthology in 2015.  She is the President of the New Mexico State Poetry Society.





Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Two Poems by Sydney Peck


Winter is Coming

Dried leaf scratches its noisy way
Across my path.
Cat retreats deeper into the doorway
Out of the blistering wind.
Sky full of clouds, smell of snow.
Winter is coming.



Scavengers

Night sun buries his face to earth.
Slowly suspending his daily harvest--
Piles of tint and heaps of chroma
In oat house and warm barn.

Rays of darkness
Spread across the twilight
Sky stealing in small corners of the loft,
Scavengers ransacking the day.
Greens devoured by omnivores;
Black skeleton left.




Sydney Peck is a schoolteacher and ardent poet, and in his spare time enjoys singing and playing traditional folk music.





Monday, June 4, 2018

A Poem by Michael Lee Johnson


Saskatchewan Sky

Saskatchewan
sky,
just a preview of love,
chip off
an edge of
prairie
chip an edge off
winter--
and opening
multiple eyes
toward spring.
They--lovers, find themselves
near evening bush fire--
great seal fish and open lake,
cuddle together--
so wonderful together--
where she comes from,
where did she go to
from here.



Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era and is a dual citizen of the United States and Canada.  Today he is a poet, freelance writer, amateur photographer, and small business owner in Itasca, Illinois.  Mr. Johnson published in m ore than 1016 publications, his poems have appeared in 36 countries, he edits, publishes 10 different poetry sites.  He has been nominated for 2 Pushcart Prize awards for poetry 2015/1 Best of the Net 2016/ and 2 Best of the Net 2017.  He also has 158 poetry videos on YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/user/p_oetrymanusa/videos.  He is the Editor-in-Chief of the anthology, Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze: http://www.amazon.com/dp/15304_56762 and Editor-in-Chief of a second poetry anthology, Dandelion in a Vase of Roses: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1545_352089




Saturday, June 2, 2018

Three Poems by Joanna M. Weston


On the Hillside

fog creeps
into my eye sockets
nestles against jaw
blankets my ribs
in damp comfort

I rest on the moors
hear curlews
a distant crow
touch dewed grass
an open daisy
feel the crawl
of working ants
a spider's thread
and know myself
at one with earth



The Remains

there's nothing I can call my own
not the slant of moonlight
through midnight trees
nor the rise of dawn beyond the hills
not the flight of siskins
nor gossip of crows
only the words that fall onto the page
which is only paper that can be burned
no more and then there's nothing
left of mine at all



The Qualities of Herbs

the dandelion returns
faithfully each year

to the glory of bay
perhaps inspired by
angelica's magic

to be preserved by dill
protected by garlic

to the praise of fennel
while lily of the valley
flowers contendedly

with the wisdom of mint
the long life of sage
the devotion of a violet
and the courage of thyme




Joanna M. Weston is married, has one cat, multiple spiders, raccoons, a herd of deer, and two derelict hen-houses.  Her middle-reader, Frame and The McGuire, was published by Tradewind Books in 2015, and her poetry collection, A Bedroom of Searchlights, was publish by Inanna Publications in 2016.  Her other books are listed on her blog at http://www.1960willowtree.wordpress.com/



Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A Poem by Husain Abdulhay


Kiss of Sea

roving through a niveous track
chaperoned by a caroling cricket
sundering silence of winter-tide glen
beneath mesmerizing moonless welkin
in a gelid protracted crepuscular eventide
beleaguered by skimpy stars
besprinkled packed like sardines
whilst donning my albescent attire
and hovering adrift in a quiescent canoe
I bivouac chez Stella Maris
circumvallated with slushy ground
tinged with tang of vernal zephyr
which can be smelt of farther afield



Husain Abdulhay has poems published in Avocet, Cacti Fur, Fib Review, Foliate Oak, Quail Bell Magazine, and Ygdrasil.  His haiku appears in Failed Haiku and Haiku Universe, likewise.




Sunday, May 27, 2018

Two Poems by Greg Schmult



Weaver

She appears of a morning sudden
each brittle early autumn with
October just becoming ragged; away
but returned to country to assert
as absolute her right of harvest.

Sulfur-on-jet leviathan
a bloated black pearl with a saffron tiara
arrayed with little pomp between
nodding, pliant racemes of Solidago
a thread-throned queen in goldenrod

the ebony of her waiting suspended
like a jeweled obsidian dewdrop from
the arching, nighttime scaffold of her legs
and her pike-footed purchase of dew-
glittered radii, afloat on the filament vantage
of an undulating great room floor.

Resplendent, briefly, but with each offering
she comes in a relentless rush, pinfooting
like a twilight avalanche
and when the meadow has made its tithe for days
the floor is grown cluttered and tatty
like an over-furnished, moldering room
draped over for the coming winter.

Her consort, a king in name, a tenth
the size and maybe smaller, watches
sidewise at the edge of silk, crouches rigid
timorous and tense, a chitinous afterthought
with a dab of color.

As autumn deepens, lesser crops
are eschewed for larger meat:  preyed upon
mantises, once bulb-eyed and stilting
green and angle-plated, now smooth
and elliptical, white and hammock-slung.

They trampled miniature worlds in early morning
splay-legged raiders stalking the stem tops
frantic ahead of them
a prow-wake scattering of life, but now
slow netted pirouettes
breeze danced and downward, submissive
in their dusty finery.

Autumn narrows to a stipple of purple asters
and browning blades of bluestem
and she abides as the field goes cool and sluggish

ever more quiescent, waiting
on noontime sun
accepting what is given, but
acknowledging no obeisance.



Murk

My father took me fishing summers
in a dented silver rowboat
and we bottom-rigged for bullhead
with worms on Cedar Lake.

He would pull and creak the locks
and I would twist and lean and peer
beside the rasping bow that creased
the open pads of lily and lotus, above

arthritic stems gnarling away the light
and I wanted to climb them down like Jack
Pull myself toward leviathan
shadows nosing the lakebed past
slanted hulks of broken boats
half astern in mud.

At anchor, the leaden teardrop sinker cored
the water's slab, dingy with suspended murk
poplar fluff and flaccid husks of damsel flies
then burrowed through the fleshy stems
of Elodia and coontail, found the pliant floor
and footed hard

the crawler, pierced, self-braiding
to a turgid knot, pulsing
in an unseen plume of silt, imagined all
as if the sinker was a scoping camera
threaded on a slender flexing wire.

He taught me to cast and wait and how
a calloused leather work glove shielded
hands and fingers from
the mudcat's painful spines
and how rusted needle pliers disgorged
a swallowed hook, which they did often
inhaling with their wide, disconsolate mouths

not so much a strike as stealing and trying
to carry an air bubble unbroken, and you might
miss it altogether if you were nodding
the filament line barely splicing

the lazy, green-shot surface
becoming slowly implacable as
the rod-tip finally bent and then

they would go heavy with the dimness
as there might yet be some deep brute beneath
a creature sea-born, out of place and past its time
and only for me

because the waters of the world hide
their worlds from all of us personally, each
according to a need, and from children
most of all.

Easing them, so weighty and impassive
up the dark was an act not of muscle and sight
but of invisibility not yet failed
before the barbels and the saddened snout
emerged like everything I did not yet know
but still wanted to.




Greg Schmult lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he works as an environmental consultant.  His poetry has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Hanging Loose, Iodine, Poetry Quarterly, Spillway, and The Main Street Rag.





Friday, May 25, 2018

A Poem by Robert Halleck


Saturday

You were
in the shower
so I walked to
the beach.

Warm breeze,
cumulus clouds,
blue skies,
5759 steps.




Robert Halleck is a retired banker living in Del Mar, California with his muse Della Janis.  He has been writing poetry for over 50 years and has published three collections of his work.  He has appeared in a number of Kind of a Hurricane Press publications.  His recent work has appeared or will appear in The San Diego Poetry Annual, The Patterson Review, Third Wednesday, Chiron, Halcyon Days, and Rusty Truck.  He has a weakness for open mics and loves to race Thor, his old but sturdy Porsche.  He will be attending Kenyon College's summer program for the second year during the July session.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Three Poems by Bobbi Sinha-Morey


Wooden Path

The shady wooden path
has opened for me,
the red sorrel blushing
in the growing light,
and I am free in a world
where no one can rob
me of anything, my heart
exalting at the sweet bevies
of fern and bayberry threading
their way, and round-faced
roses smiling up at me.
A cool sun is up ahead as
far as my eyes can see,
my spirit brimful with
the cardinal's song; no trace
of anyone's malice, only
the restful peace of nature's
balm, touched by the angelic
softness of blue delphiniums.
Before me butterflies pause
in their dance, white single
poppies warming their petals
are befriending me.  I could
walk barefoot all day here,
terracotta hickories on
either side of me, blessed
to be so far away from
any ill wind, sheltered by
flushed apple trees.  No one,
no living thing knows where
I am, just mariposa lilies
gleaning the sky's brightness
with me.



Nature's Wellness

Rainbow water came
spilling down the edge
of a fountain reviving
my senses, lavender
healing my spirant breath,
a lace of jasmine around
my wrist, a gift from an
angel who cared, knew
I needed wellness only
a sachet of lady's slipper
could bring, a gentle dose
of mimosa to sponge onto
my skin so my heart brittle
with tension will be still,
the aroma of white blossom
to calm me and free me.
restore my mind with the
violet petals of a crocus,
extract their loving energy.
I sleep on a pillow of blue,
pale rises, lost in the world
before I am woken, cleansed
in the tranquil night, my faith
in this loveliest of flowers.



Magenta Sunset

My heart firm as the green
calyx, I bravely, at first
shyly, walk by the ethereal
blueness of magnolia trees,
the deep purplish red sunset
having woken the resilient
light inside of me.  Quietly,
with the sweet scent of rose
petals so close to my skin,
I let joy find its way in,
clear barley water having
soothed me as if I were
at the hands of a lover.
I could breathe my whole
soul in the hybrid of violet
and yellow blossom, find
myself melting, stroked
by God's graceful touch
and all the love he pours
into the earth.  I quiver in
pleasure at the last notes
of a grey sparrow lingering
in the air like a plaintive
sigh, seal in the well of
my memories the apricot
honey of poppies.



Bobbi Sinha-Morey writes poetry in the morning and at night, always at her leisure.  Her poetry has appeared in a wide variety of places such as Plainsongs, Pirene's Fountain, Helix Magazine, Toasted Cheese, Delphinium, Miller's Pond, and Spirit Fire Review.  Her books of poetry are available at www.Amazon.com and her work has been nominated for Best of the Net.  She loves aerobics, knitting, reading, and rock hounding with her husband.





Monday, May 21, 2018

Three Poems by JD DeHart



Curators

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 readingandlitresources.blogspot.com.




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 www.kbballentine.com




Thursday, May 17, 2018

Two Poems by Jo Simons


Payback

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.



Relief

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.



Sailing

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.  (michaelkeshigian.com)






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
                            eat
my singer's
                          vocal chords     can't get them
        off         a boulder rolls uphill
pins me     can't breathe           a thousand
                                      centipedes
         invade
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


Tranquility

Tonight,
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.
Still
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.




Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Haiku by Sana Tamreen Mohammed



Colours of new dawn
In sweet chirpings of one bird
Scent of spring in air



Sana Tamreen Mohammed is the co-author of Kleptomaniac's Book of Unoriginal Poems (BRP, Australia).




Monday, May 7, 2018

A Poem by Pat St. Pierre


A Turkey Hangout

Large black wings flap
as an enormous bird flies to the ground
and begins to forge on damp grass.
Other birds slowly arrive walking
across the street into a suburban yard.
Suddenly, the huge bird flaps his wings.
They open up like a colorful shawl
around his neck and body.
As he turns in place, I realize that it's a turkey
who has come to visit.
This grand bird is strutting and fanning
around the backyard--puffing for all to see.
Soon a female enters the scene.
She parades across the moist grass
with eight little chicks following her.
Perhaps these babies belong to the
majestic tom turkey as the family
gathers together for an outing.



Pat St. Pierre is a poet and writer of fiction and nonfiction for both adults and children.  Her third poetry book "Full Circle" was published by Kelsay Books.  Her writings have appeared in numerous places, i.e., Outlaw Poetry, Poetry Pacific, Minute Magazine, Whisperings, Three Line Poetry, etc.  She is also a freelance photographer whose photos have graced the covers and been included both in print and online.  Her blog is www.pstpierre.wordpress.com




Thursday, May 3, 2018

A Poem by Elaina Frulla


Blemish on a Blue Jay's Face; or, the Judgmental Corvid

               I.
Charming black spot,
singular and centered
like one dried drip
on a blank
feather canvas.

It's a third eye
charming from below
the glassy black marble
you call a real eye.

Radiating dot,
permeating dot
pulses through my eyes
when I lean in.

               II.
Judgmental blue Corvid
monitors me
through glassy black marbles.
Head cocked,
crest raised,
he releases a scold
that burns
and leaves
me
sweating
despite the nature dust
drifting.
It accumulates on my shoulders
and in my hair,
but dissolves
where I've been charred.

"I see you," he says,
"sitting around again."




Elaina Frulla teaches literature and composition at Siena College in upstate New York.  An avid bird enthusiast, Elaina values the way in which bird watching has influenced her artistic endeavors.






Wednesday, May 2, 2018

A Poem by Yuan Changming


My Crow

Perching long in my heart
Is a white crow that no one has
Ever seen, but everyone may
Long to be

Always read
To fly out, as if hoping to bring back
A glistening seed, a colorful feather
To festoon its nest



Yuan Changming edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan and hosts Happy Yangsheng in Vancouver; credits include ten Pushcart nominations, Best of the Best Canadian Poetry, BestNewPoemsOnline and 1,419 others worldwide.




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.