SHARED SPACE ISSUE
Susan Fiore * Kim Klugh * Amy Murre * Laura Goldin * Ellen Lager * Diane Vogel Ferri * Karen A VandenBos * Mary Anna Scenga Kruch * Margaret Rozga * Pam Lewis * Elizabeth R McCarthy * Sami H Tripp * Richard Havenga * Michele Mekel * Lucy Tyrrell * Keith MacNider * Derik Hawley * Patricia Carney * Julie A Dickson * Erna Kelly * Nancy Murphy * Abha Das Sarma * Yvette Viets Flaten * Maryann Hurtt * Mary McCarthy * Fred Kreutz * Erik Richardson * Eamon O’Caoineachan * Ann Wehrman * Fredric Hildebrand * Thomas A Thrun
Cynthia Yatchman (Cover Artist) * Michael Jeske * Karren Jeske * Janet Ruth * Jeannie E Roberts * Thomas A Thomas * Derik Hawley * Gail Goepfert
There’s no accounting for the rush
and push of fierce possession
that burns through my motherbody:
brain, womb, veins, arms.
These two woven from my fiber are
me and not-me, mine and not-mine,
bone, hair, eye, eye,
arms, hands, bellies, feet,
babies to boys to men.
The umbilicus is stretched but unbroken,
nourishment now flows back.
Awed, I gave them milk, meat, myself.
Now they hold me tenderly in their separate lives.
Susan Fiore, a Wisconsin native, grew up in the Driftless Area. She has degrees from UW-Madison in music theory and music history, and “verbal music” is an important part of her poems. She and her husband and two cats live on the glacier’s terminus in Dane County.
Like a golden grace note
darting about the garden,
the yellow finch
lights on the lip
of the blue-glazed birdbath
a tawny sparrow sentry
side steps down
the shed roof shingles
watching and waiting
with wings tucked
to quench its tiny thirst
the mourning dove bobs along
in patches of ivy ground cover
until she flutters upward
from the shadows
for her turn to sip—
then with feet clipped
like miniature clothes-pins
to the ledge of the
she soaks the tips
of her orange toes
lifting off, she settles
among the trees
preens her scapular feathers
then folds her wings—
ready to roost
with gray breast puffed
to pillow her head
her doleful tones drift downward
through layered piney boughs
like soft evening prayers
gracing the twilight garden.
Kim Klugh is an English/writing tutor at a technology college in Lancaster, PA. Her poetry has been published on Verse-Virtual, Frogpond, Global Poemic, and Silver Birch Press: Poetry and Prose from Prompts. Several of her poems have appeared as samples in three craft books edited by Diane Lockward. Her work has also been included in the online journal, Failed Haiku.
To Pass the Time
To pass the breath between our lungs,
The sound between our throats and open ears,
For what is once breathed echoes
Forever into space, another endless wave.
To pass the warmth between our hands,
The microbes between our bodies,
Those frail and complex systems, all we are.
To pass the key of survival,
Buzzing, not speaking, between keen minds,
Nothing like lighted candles after all.
Amy Murre lives and works near the shores of Lake Michigan in southeastern Wisconsin. She writes poetry and prose, creates art, tends to family and animals, and teaches at MSOE University. Her poetry has appeared in journals such as The Cliffs, Stoneboat, and Bramble, among others, and in anthologies including From Everywhere a Little: A Migration Anthology (Water’s Edge Press). Her last name is pronounced just like Murry or Murray.
(after Ruth Danon)
A burning cigarette, half-opened window, smoke,
the silence that is always to think about.
I am the shutter’s eye, says the boy in the chair,
and it’s odd coming from him
because he hardly says a word,
but you know what he means,
know what he wants to tell you about looking.
Open a drawer, pull out a butter knife, an old
Sun’s getting low and everything
already happened that was set down for today.
God’s little playbook all filled up,
and now He’s moving on, unfastening the band
that holds His pages tight together. They run past us
with the grace of way-back, always-been-together lovers.
Crickets, bird calls, all as usual in blue air.
So the table, so the room again.
Something again about the boy,
and what he sees behind the window.
Things he says to us, and what he means by them:
I fold you
I unfold you
Laura Goldin is a publishing lawyer in New York. She has studied with Hermine Meinhard, Elaine Equi, Jim Moore and Mary Stewart Hammond, and her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Comstock Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, Bellevue Literary Review, and Driftwood, among other publications.
Crescent Lake Ridge
I have climbed this pathway before,
sheltered beneath the mother-trees.
Red pines shoulder the clouds,
draw water with deep roots,
nurture their shallow-rooted seedlings.
Beneath my boots, I track a mattress of needles
thick with the citrusy smell of pine resin.
Here I am comforted by the blueprint of forest,
the fluid vibrato of wind in the treetops,
a blind faith in the seen and unseen.
Tiny creatures tunnel through carcasses of fallen birch logs
and the red squirrel jitters a warning.
Poplar trees litter the woods with fuzzy catkins,
spawn new generations I will never see
as the bald eagle unfolds its wings from high pines
and the world lifts away.
Ellen Lager’s poems have been published in The MacGuffin, Neologism, Sheila-Na-Gig, Litbreak, Halfway Down the Stairs, and Sanskrit as well as various anthologies. She is an active member of the League of MN Poets and spends much of her time writing poetry in Robbinsdale, a suburb of Minneapolis, and at a lake cabin in northern MN with her husband, two rambunctious dogs and two sleepy cats.
DIANE VOGEL FERRI
i’m like a pencil sketch now
faded, gray, yielding
on yellowed fragile paper
in another unwanted reinvention
i walk into morning light
as dreams crawl off my shoulders
my body like feathers
my feet flat and steady
muscles slivering away
except the pulse of heart
it has never beat gently
into the night for you
you can’t see me but I will stretch
like a shape-shifter for you
walk across the crooked river
swim the eerie lake for you
i will swallow the wrongs
like a heron
taking the fish whole
Diane Vogel Ferri spent her career as a teacher of special needs children. Now she is a volunteer tutor, poet, and writer living in Solon, Ohio. Her latest novel is No Life But This: A Novel of Emily Warren Roebling. Her essays have been published in Scene Magazine, Raven’s Perch, Yellow Arrow Journal, and Good Works Review, among others. Her poems can be found in numerous journals such as Wend Poetry, Her Words, Rubbertop Review, and Poet Lore. Her previous publications are Liquid Rubies (poetry), The Volume of Our Incongruity (poetry), and The Desire Path (novel).
KAREN A VANDENBOS
Return to the Forest
It is time to return to the forest
where you lie belly down and knead the earth.
The forest where women meet to bleed
in moss covered clearings and leave
stained with tears and touched by the moon.
The wind tastes like smoke and feathers touch
skin and form wings.
Secrets are found hiding in acorns and treasure
lies buried in the trunks of trees.
Running through the woods we realize
the generosity of our breath.
Tenderly we unwrap our grief and watch
falling leaves birth poems.
We let go of our obligations and know
what it is to be unnecessary and afraid.
We carve oars that rhythmically dip and
clear the water, scrying for truth.
Under the canopy of trees we are being
touched by the invisible fingers of God.
How delicious this solitude and silence.
In 2008, Karen A VandenBos completed her PhD in Holistic Health where a course in Shamanism inspired her to write her dissertation on the healing power of nature and the importance of finding one’s totem animal(s). In 2014, photography led Karen to a deeper connection with nature. While she has always dabbled in photography, now taking photos has become one of her passions. It is nature that speaks to her heart and Karen’s photographs showcase this connection. Karen has found a home for some of her previous photos in Blue Heron Review. She is also active in two online writing groups and has had poems published in The Ekphrastic Review, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Verse-Virtual, and others.
MARY ANNA SCENGA KRUCH
prevents us from being pen pals
the kind where I would tell you
in so many words
in fancy, handwritten script
about minimal proceedings:
an errant teapot whistle
that nearly woke the family
as I sought my stained, most favorite
blue pottery cup
early this morning
when you too may have sat
pen in one hand
perhaps a mug of Lipton
in the other
open to inspiration
or the rudimentary verse
I wrote twenty years ago
swiftly shred today
and the pile I put aside
reams of white space
that screamed for
SO MANY WORDS.
Mary Anna Scenga Kruch served as an educator from 1973 through 2022 and is now a full-time writer who has been married nearly 50 years to her husband Bob. She has published a textbook, Tend Your Garden: Nurturing Motivation in Young Adolescent Writers (2012), a chapbook, We Draw Breath from the Same Sky (2019), and a full-length hybrid memoir, Grace Notes (2021). Recent poetry can be found in Wayne Literary Review, Trinity Review, Panoply, and Humana Obscura. Mary Anna is working on a chapbook titled, A Finely Penned Road.
(At the Field Station)
If I begin with drawing
weeds, their leaves, the spot
of yellowed brown, a spent dandelion,
I feel a trickle of words, rough and green,
rise like blades of grass and begin
one following another like one ant
following the scent of another
until a procession over uneven
terrain, making it look as if it’s easy.
Over the weathered Adirondack chair
scaly with moss, bird droppings, lichen,
they go for crumbs of bread
and the sweet residue
of hot chocolate
in the paper cup I almost discarded.
Margaret Rozga’s fifth book of poems is Holding My Selves Together: New and Selected Poems (Cornerstone Press, 2021). As 2019-2020 Wisconsin Poet Laureate, she co-edited Through This Door: Wisconsin in Poems with Angie Trudell Vasquez. She served as the inaugural artist/scholar at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee at Waukesha Field Station.
Learning to Float
I knew the water could teach me,
that summer at the lake,
but I gripped my toes hard
against the yielding sand,
trying to be safe from the lift
of strange new weightless places.
At night, I swam across the room,
buoyed by empty air.
I knew how to rest on shifting
waves or wind.
In daylight, dreams burned off
like mist above the lake,
but the body is a good vessel
for dreams, and a way
to know what’s true,
and so, one day,
I lay down on formless water
beneath an August sky.
Pam Lewis enjoys writing about everything from the sublime to the ridiculous. She has been known to get lost in a dictionary. Now retired, she lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
ELIZABETH R MCCARTHY
Waking from a nap
under a sunlit window
next to soft fur bodies
sprawled out, asleep.
Dog snoring at my feet,
cat’s dreaming claws attached
to the faded blue pillow
that holds my head.
Afraid to move, I lay
there thinking how calm
and zen-like life can be
when your outer being
is held captive by love,
tying you down with threads
so fine the slightest breath
can break loose a room
full of hungry beasts
who at that moment
care nothing of your
personal awakening, or
the love that holds you still.
Elizabeth R McCarthy lives in an old farmhouse with her husband and cat. Her poetry connects with life in the rural landscape of northern Vermont. Retired from teaching in 2018, Elizabeth turned to poetry in March of 2020, when COVID closed the world down and time became a windfall. She is an online member of the Lockdown Poets of Aberdeen, Scotland.
SAMI H TRIPP
born in a golden year
stalking through decades
sage eyes gazing
beyond a broken tooth
crushed velvet fur covers
crunchy joints that crackle
when held, claws click
on the floor, overgrown
from being unable
to reach them—
that sleek black coat
can only hide so much time
& it is wearing thin
on your hips.
I am listening to the wind
push the plastic on the windows;
instead of the whistle of drafts
blowing through this tired house
I hear the sound of your lips
smacking after a midnight snack
The shadows in the corners
of my eyes will never be you
again. I’ve learned home is not
the same without you. How do
I exist in a space that is used
to having you invade it? Your
tiny paws, wrinkled with age
laid gently on the back of my legs,
demanding to be lifted high
enough to survey your space
That favorite spot where you drew
your last breath, where you felt heavy
for the first time. But carrying you
was the least I could do.
From your beginning to your end,
you never left me for too long—
I can’t think of a more beautiful gift
than sharing one’s whole existence.
Sami H Tripp is a Slav-Latinx librarian and poet. They received their MLIS from University of Wisconsin Milwaukee in 2020. Privileged to be working, writing and living on Yokuts land, they are now a first year MFA student at Fresno State.
The river is now collecting
They are falling and giving
a kind of grace
to the woman watching.
She listens for their joining,
the welcome reception,
the soft touch of
leaf upon water,
the easy change of life.
Accepting the new direction.
Living in the present.
Carried by the gentle current
to a new place
Grateful for this
fragment of time
flowing by without words,
she accepts the grace given,
watches more leaves land on the water.
—its petiole pointing toward Heaven—
touches her soul gently,
like a future prayer
that could be answered.
Richard Havenga started writing poetry a few years after his retirement and has published 700 poems and 250 haiku at his blog, Walk With Father Nature. Now, in his mid-seventies, he frequently writes outdoors, surrounded by and inspired by nature. Richard integrates his own nature photography between the verses of his poems. Married to Mary for 50 years, they live on ten acres near Cannonsburg, Michigan.
Plumb blue-black depths
searching for the Siren song—
an epic ballad
that sings your heart
all the way home.
to contented desires—
whispered sotto voce.
These shamanic melodies
in the folds
of our being.
Now, in this moment, release
your elemental music
onto the wings
of the wind.
Living in Happy Valley, Michele Mekel wears many hats of her choosing: writer and editor; educator and bioethicist; poetess and creatrix; cat herder and chief can opener; witch and woman; and, above all, human. With more than 125 poems published, her work has appeared in various academic and creative publications, including being featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac and nominated for Best of the Net. Her poetry has also been translated into Cherokee. She is co-principal investigator for the Viral Imaginations: COVID-19 project (viralimaginations.psu.edu).
Return to Capistrano
A shoulder of swallow passes by
the Mission where earth-mud nests
used to cling to arching ruin,
window alcove with four panes
of cobalt sky.
To preserve the crumbling edifice,
nests were plucked off—
removing enticement for feathered migrants
to end their journey here.
Then men constructed a wooden arch,
and nests from molds and dental plaster—
a way to reach out, call in a gulp
of cliff swallows rolling by
Last light from the west
illumines the ruse,
offers somehow to make amends.
Lucy Tyrrell lives near Bayfield, Wisconsin. Her poetry is inspired by nature and wild landscapes, outdoor pursuits (mushing, hiking, canoeing), travel, and her everyday experiences. Lucy Tyrrell lives by her favorite verbs—experience and create. She was Bayfield Poet Laureate 2020-2021.
New Moon Curve of the Bay
(in deference to Seamus Heaney’s poem, Postscript)
New moon curve of the bay
wild with foam and glitter
At first beads of lace
then frothy bubbles
woven by a sea giant playing
music I can only just hear,
a note or two as if from
a forgotten dream
as quickly gone
I breathe of you like that,
lace of your words, soft white skin,
brightening smile, those deep
Perhaps you were born of the sea,
each of us webbed and foamed,
rushing up and down the beach
making love with the earth and sky
the sun and moon. Perhaps,
perhaps it was us I glimpsed
that day, wild with foam and glitter.
For Keith MacNider, writing poetry is both a voyage into words and sounds and a return to self, sometimes in ways known and yet deeper, as well, an honouring often of place and time. His father, Stanley MacNider, wrote poetry, too, finely etched like his paintings.
A Meditation for Getting Through a Long Day
Even when distracted and overwhelmed
we stand within two rivers; remember.
The river that runs from the sky to the earth
through the mind, inviting
ideas and possibilities.
A future’s beginning
in living flow,
through the neck and shoulders,
down the arms,
and into the hands;
affecting all that we touch,
with gentle ideas
and even our most delicate feelings.
The river that runs from the earth to the sky
up the spine, supporting
Traditions and ancestors
in living flow,
enter the eyes and ears,
and strengthen our senses;
as we become
the learning edge
of a living and growing past.
we stand upon the solid earth
and beneath an open sky;
Canadian artist and writer, Derik Hawley, is based in Oakville, Ontario. He likes to explore creativity in all aspects. Including theatre and music.
Mother stared over the rail
of the overburdened boat
clinging to the baby and hand
of her toddler fearing a capsizing
Immigrants fleeing to the sea
the latest refugees up-rooted
from their homeland soil
sailing down the coastline
battered by waves under the cliffs
Roots of trees exposed by erosion
from bomb blasting as the rains
washed away the rich topsoil
leaving a windblown bareness
drying out sustenance for trees—
Trees still clinging to eroding cliff
half-exposed roots raining down
the exposed face unable to finger
the soil like a mass of tangled hair—
Refugees flocked onto the shore
using the tree roots as a hand-hold
trying to gain a footing on rocky
landing not a beach under the cliff
like children clinging to the strings
of their mother’s tattered apron
clinging to her during a great fright
Patricia Carney, Cudahy,WI lives along the southeast shore of Lake Michigan. Carney is an earth poet writing in sync with the wind and waves of this Great Lake; published throughout the Midwest, her most recent publication is A Kayak is My Church Pew, published by Kelsay Books, 2021.
JULIE A DICKSON
Crow picks up masks, cups and paper, lines nest
Boy’s invention funnels plastic from sea
Buy food in glass, not plastic, do my best
Crow picks up masks, cups and paper, lines nest
Teacher speaks conservation to the rest
To listen, to care, hear earth’s heartfelt plea
Crow picks up masks, cups and paper, lines nest
Boy’s invention funnels plastic from sea
It’s not too late to care, find other ways
Walk more, drive much less—emit fewer fumes
I use less heat, wear warmer clothes these days
It’s not too late to care, find other ways
Better act now than wait, see how it plays
out, our children will now learn in classrooms
It’s not too late to care, find other ways
Walk more, drive much less—emit fewer fumes
Julie A Dickson has written on Star Island, NH, near lakes and ocean, addressing bullying, animal welfare, nature and environment. Her poems appear in Sledgehammer, Proems, The Ekphrastic Review and Blue Heron Review, among other journals; full length works on Amazon. A Push Cart nominee, Dickson is a past poetry board member, coordinator of 100 Thousand Poets for Change, and advocate for captive elephants.
Moonset at Sunrise
You woke me up this morning
coaxing me out of a warm bed
calling me to the western window—
Good morning, Moon.
Last night I greeted you
in the frosty air, reluctant
to go in; too cold to stay and talk.
Last night you made me think
of gentler evenings
when bathed in soft air
I strolled the streets and
listened to the leaves.
Last night I lamented
November’s harsh harvest:
leaves down, scratched off
the ground, shrouded
in black bags or huddling
But this second sighting
above the frost on my window,
through bare branches,
this glimpse of you against
a soft gray sky redeems
November’s hard, cold dark.
You hold your place so well
I can gaze for an hour
warm and awake as you dip
behind branches and rooftops
more meek, more gentle,
than any autumn sunset.
Erna Kelly, originally from upstate New York, settled to teach in Wisconsin after a detour to Southern California. Her poems appear in anthologies, including Upriver 4, Ariel, and Soundings: Door County in Poetry, as well as in journals, including The Aurorean, The Portage Review, Verse Wisconsin, and Poetry Hall. She was a co-editor of the 2020 Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar.
A Piece of the Calm
(after Mark Strand, “A Piece of the Storm”)
From the California sky, silver sun slides into the kitchen
between the slats in the window shades. It taps on the table,
not impatiently. It doesn’t wait for me to notice, it is beyond
needing things like that from the world. I am reading the news
of the day, weeping, sipping breakfast tea from the other side
of the world, English tea is really from Assam, Ceylon,
Darjeeling. How I miss the mystery of the old names.
Sunlight tiptoes closer. I suddenly feel watched, look up,
light upon fuzzy headed treetops in the yard waltzing
with the glimmering from above. Doves are fluttering
their adoration for each other. I pour from the half full teapot.
Nancy Murphy is a Los Angeles based writer and recent winner of the Aurora Poetry contest. Previous publications include Gyroscope Review, Stoneboat Literary Journal, Sheila-Na-Gig, The Ekphrastic Review, The Baltimore Review and others. She was recently featured in “Poets on Craft” at Cultural Daily. She has a B.A. in American Studies from Union College, Schenectady, NY. www.nancymurphywriter.com
ABHA DAS SARMA
In the quaint city of Carmel-by-the-Sea,
Like a humming bird friendly and private,
I walk down the beach, bare feet.
Children are building castles
Beside each other,
Little dogs sniffing through them.
The air soaring the kites high,
The seagulls flying low and pelicans swooping for fish.
Surfers are dressing to claim the waters
In skin tight suits defying adversity.
Stepping forward with receding waves,
Icy waters speak of the doubts and pains.
Legs covered in wet sand,
I let the sun warm the face and
A life not abandoned yet.
Back in the hotel, I watch the rain
Drop through the autumn trees,
Gently on the bed of fallen leaves.
An engineer and management consultant by profession, Abha Das Sarma enjoys writing the most. Besides having a blog of over 200 poems (http://dassarmafamily.blogspot.com), her poems have appeared in Muddy River Poetry Review, Spillwords, Verse-Virtual, Visual Verse, Sparks of Calliope, Trouvaille Review, and The Ekphrastic Review. Having spent her growing up years in small towns of northern India, she currently lives in Bengaluru.
YVETTE VIETS FLATEN
Place of change
a strip of sand or rock
precious real estate
where I step through
a magic portal and leave
one state to become another,
terrestrial to aquatic
blooded warm to blooded cold
released of earth, awash in
life’s sanctified stream.
Pushed out and pulled back
pushed out and back again
until, toeing the bottom,
hauling myself out of the tide
I follow my minutest, most distant
cousins, and climb up, languish
on the sand, trade my gills for lungs
and feel myself reborn.
Yvette Viets Flaten (Eau Claire, WI) lives along the Chippewa River and enjoys watching its ever-changing nature. Yvette writes both fiction and poetry, and her poetry has recently appeared in Bramble, Island Intersections, A is for Apostle Islands, and Ariel Anthology. She enjoys walks with Daisy, reading, cooking, and travels with Dan.
Birds, Always the Birds
I slip under the comforter
its downy feathers
float out tiny holes
the cover sent here
after my father took leave
and flew far away
the one he crawled beneath
for how many years
I wonder do we slide into
each other’s warmth
even when we are gone
I believe in protection
the way the feathers swirl around me
a downy woodpecker bangs
next to my bedroom window
see how I watch over you
you’re never alone
Now retired after thirty years working as a hospice RN, Maryann Hurtt is now retired but still amazed by resiliency and beauty in hard times. She lives down the road from the Ice Age Trail where she hikes, bikes, writes, and reads. Her new book, Once Upon a Tar Creek: Mining for Voices, came out in 2021.
Sometimes a Stranger
or someone just recently met
comes up to me and says
“Here is my greatest sorrow
my most secret grief”
and hands it to me
like some precious
the oyster’s pearl
a milky luminescence
grown layer by layer
over a stony thorn
that still feels sharp
fresh as when it first
pierced the heart
And I can only
take it in my arms
and let it rest there
with all my own
kept like a blessing
to be forgiven
and returned to them
lighter than it was
Mary McCarthy is a retired registered nurse who has had a lifelong love of writing and visual art. Her work has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including The Plague Papers, edited by Robbi Nester, The Ekphrastic World, edited by Lorette Luzajic, and the latest issues of Third Wednesday and Earth’s Daughters. She has been a Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee.
There walks a dog on a mission
chocolate headed, milky white after that,
ears alert, nose aimed, tail atwitch
dragging his short leashed handler on a straight line to somewhere.
They’ve both been here before, perhaps many times,
but there’s more purpose today in the dog’s strut,
he’s more focused with his eyes …
single minded in his brain.
There’s adventure ahead, a new scent to be explored,
something that he and this leash person
have not before shared.
He cannot lose a second.
“Let’s go” his haunches say to his owner.
“There’s no time to waste …” as if he knows time better than the man—
as if he knows his dog years pass far faster,
and his master should understand and respect his time—
limited as it is.
Fred Kreutz (is or has been) a dishwasher, night watchman, student, teacher, bartender, photographer, husband/father, driver of convertibles, mediocre sheepshead player but better cribbage competitor, rapscallion, and bon vivant.
bread and roses redux
(in the shadow of James Oppenheim, whose poem became an anthem,
and of every woman who marched and fought or will yet)
seamstress to scientist
mill worker to moon walker
darkened kitchen to capitol
marching arm in arm with ghosts
of mothers and sisters who came before
the beaten and bruised
on a list too long and for each name
how many more unsung
who shook off handcuffs and hunger strikes
hearts starved as well as bodies
always back up, putting soup on the table
and bread baked in the fire of tireless hope
lifting the family up at dawn and singing them to sleep
echoing the chorus of unnumbered women dead
“bread and roses, bread and roses.”
each march, one stitch
each scalpel incision to heal and every finger prick
as they piece the torn fabric back together
threading needles with hair and unraveled hems
a quilt against the cold for daughters coming after
Erik Richardson lives in Mexico, Missouri, where he runs his own company designing & building e-learning and engaged storytelling tools for businesses all over the map (literally and figuratively). His poetry has appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies. His first published collection, a berserker stuck in traffic, came out in 2014, and his second poetry chapbook, song of ourself, was published in 2017.
Mono no aware
A lovely melancholy—
the wistful leaves of a cherry blossom
cling to the pathos of things
in the long wood.
A valediction of leave-taking
and taking leave,
there are drops
at the heart of things.
But, in the kindred cypress shade
of a transatlantic spring
the wedded chess apples will gleam—
blooming en masse
with my white-gold cherry blossom
round your blue-sapphire whitebeam.
Eamon O’Caoineachan is a poet, originally from Co. Donegal, Ireland, but living in Houston, Texas. His work is published in several poetry journals. He is the recipient of The Robert Lee Frost-Vince D’Amico Poetry Award and the Rev. Edward A. Lee Endowed Scholarship in English at the University of St. Thomas, Houston. He has his Master in Liberal Arts in English, and his first poetry collection, Dolphin Ghosts, was published in Spring 2021.
almost Christmas, pondering
what can I give my yoga students
all seniors, we thumb our noses
at unstoppable disintegration
accept aging with grace
counter it with our practice
I could make brownies
bring packets of herb tea, bath salts
warm socks, a CD
tied with ribbons, a little card for each
cold, blustering, rainy Sunday morning class
my students have come despite this plague
COVID has made us fear showing our faces
taking one another’s hand, spending time together
yet my senior students return each week
they bring their hearts, shining eyes
share trials and aches
asana, meditation, conversation
what gift could compare
to treasures shared
mind and body, spirit and flesh
inhale and exhale
all of each of us, one and all
sharing practice, healing, joy
Ann Wehrman is a creative writer and musician living in Northern California and currently teaching English composition online. Her poetry, literary reviews, and short fiction have been published in diverse print and online journals. She also is a classical flutist, performing with a local community college orchestra. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Evening at the Northwoods Inn
The elderly couple next to the window
eats in silence.
They sit at a small pine table on hard chairs,
plates nearly touching as they lift
their forks at the same time.
Perch dinner, fireplace, taxidermy bears,
antlered heads surrounding them;
soft evening snow.
My wife and I listen for any sounds
they might make: a soft cough,
a sigh of satisfaction.
Nothing except the clinking of dishes
in the kitchen, the television
in the bar down the hall.
The man savors his fish. The hint of a smile
as he eats. New wool vest, horn-rimmed
glasses. His face warm and round. He smiles
at the woman across the table then looks
out into the snowy night.
She looks content as she sips her wine.
Gray hair neatly in a bun, lipstick,
They understand each other. It’s about
something they know well—
bringing up children,
watching them grow,
We brought conversation but prefer
watching them, wondering
how they arrived at this place
where silence is enough.
Fredric Hildebrand is a retired physician living in Neenah, WI. He is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Northern Portrait (Kelsay Books, 2020), and A Glint of Light (Finishing Line Press, 2020). His recent poetry has appeared in The McGuffin and Sky Island Journal.
THOMAS A THRUN
Any Post in a Storm
the sparrow knew
any post-top beneath
the shelter of our porch,
out of the storm, might do.
But why she chose mine,
I haven’t any clue.
Was it just to
get out of the snow
and the gusty wind?
Or was it because this is
where her home has always
been? Where she always
chirps and connects with all
her other fine-feathered friends
and shares any seeds she has
in weather good or bad? When
she was happy or perhaps
when she was sad?
I too have sat,
both on porch posts
and bar stools, treasuring
my friends and suffering fools.
And, if I had to choose,
I’d take advice and learn from
my little sparrow’s example:
One has nothing to lose
by coming home to roost
on the post-top, to connect with
friends one loves the most,
their seeds to share
and to sample!
Now, close your eyes
my little one, my sparrow.
Fluff your feathers, roost and
sleep. With dawn, there may be
a warmer sun tomorrow! But now
the night is long and the snow is deep.
Close your eyes. Not another peep!
I will keep vigil through the night.
Yes, this post will do, because
you have me and I have you.
Thomas A Thrun, currently retired in Oconomowoc, WI, draws upon his Wisconsin farming heritage for a great deal of his poetry, as well as the works of Robert Frost. An English/Journalism major at UW-Platteville, he edited both the campus student newspaper and literary publication his senior year. Thrun worked as a local, weekly newspaper editor for many years in Wisconsin and Washington state. Look for his last latest published poem in the 2022 Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar.
CYNTHIA YATCHMAN (Cover Artist) ~ Cynthia Yatchman is a Seattle-based artist. As a former ceramicist and art teacher, she went back to school in 1991 to receive a B.F.A. in painting from the University of Washington. Since 1995 she has painted nearly full-time from her studio in Seattle. Her works are housed in numerous public and private collections and have been shown nationally in California, Connecticut, New York, Indiana, Michigan, Oregon, and Wyoming. She has exhibited extensively in the Northwest, including shows at Seattle University, Seattle Pacific University, Shoreline Community College, the Tacoma Convention Center, and the Seattle Pacific Science Center. She is a member of COCA, Center of Contemporary Art in Seattle, WA.
MICHAEL JESKE ~ Michael Jeske’s photography is inspired by his father who took photos of their family events and nature when he was young. He has been a serious photographer/artist since the early 1970s. Today, photographing nature is one of his greatest joys. His camera is his talisman to find beauty and wonder in nature and the world.
KARREN JESKE ~ Photography has been Karren Jeske’s muse since she was a young child. She had the Family of Man photo exhibition book, in her bathroom, of all places, and spent many hours contemplating the 503 images it held. Photographer Edward Steichen described his photos as, “a mirror of the essential oneness of mankind throughout the world.” From Brownie and Instamatic, to mirrorless and cell phone, cameras are Karren’s constant companion to connect with others, and see details she would otherwise miss.
JANET RUTH ~ Janet Ruth is a New Mexico ornithologist. She is an artist as well as a poet, whose work focuses on connections with the natural world. Her first book, Feathered Dreams: celebrating birds in poems, stories & images (Mercury HeartLink, 2018), featured her photographs and pen-and-ink drawings as well as poems. It was a Finalist for the 2018 NM/AZ Book Awards. Her photos, drawings, and collage have also accompanied her poems in a self-published chapbook, What is the Boiling Point of Clouds?, Tiny Seed Literary Journal, Unlost: Journal of Found Poetry and Art, as well as previously in Blue Heron Review. https://redstartsandravens.com/janets-poetry/
JEANNIE E ROBERTS ~ Jeannie E Roberts’s work appears in online journals, magazines, and print anthologies, including Anti-Heroin Chic, Blue Heron Review, Braided Way Magazine, Bramble, The Poeming Pigeon: A Journal of Art & Poetry, Portage Magazine, Quill & Parchment, Silver Birch Press, South Florida Poetry Journal, Synchroniciti Magazine, and elsewhere. She’s worked as a freelance fashion and professional portrait photographer. She’s also the author of several books and serves as a poetry editor for the literary magazine Halfway Down the Stairs.
THOMAS A THOMAS ~ Thomas A Thomas has been making photographs a bit longer than he has been writing poems, though he has practiced both for decades. His photos and poems appear in print and online journals, most recently at The Banyan Review and in the Spanish language journal, Revista Cronopio. His book of poems and photos, Getting Here, is available in print and e-versions on Amazon and other sellers. He has been nominated in recent months for both Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize awards.
DERIK HAWLEY ~ Canadian artist and writer, Derik Hawley is based in Oakville, Ontario. He likes to explore creativity in all aspects. Including theatre and music.
GAIL GOEPFERT ~ Gail Goepfert has two passions—photography and poetry. Her photographs appear online at the Chicago Botanic Garden, Olentangy Review, Storm Cellar, Blue Heron Review, 3Elements Review and on the cover of February 2015 Rattle. In 2020, she published a photoverse book—her photographs illustrate Patrice Boyer Claeys’s fruit centos. She lives, writes, and snaps photos in the Chicagoland area. Her poetry life includes a role as associate editor of RHINO Poetry and many publications including a chapbook, three books of poetry, a collaborative chapbook about the early days of the pandemic, and an early book of poems with her photographs, in gratitude for days gone by.
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