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


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 

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
          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
             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


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.