BHR Issue 16 Spring 2023


BHR16 Cover Image Edit2

(Cover artist credit: Thomas A Thomas)




M J Iuppa * John Davis * James Crews * Mary Alice Williams * Michael S Glaser * Kai Coggin * Javi Maria Cain * John M Bellinger * Tad Phippen Wente * Gloria Heffernan * B L Bruce * Beate Sigriddaughter * Jo Taylor * Patricia Nelson * Lisa Romano Licht * Andrea Potos * Kristen Baum DeBeasi * Abha Das Sarma * j lewis * Elizabeth McCarthy * Angela Hoffman * Jeannie E Roberts * Jenna Wysong Filbrun * Kathie Giorgio * Jennifer Dodge * Susan Glassmeyer * Mary Anna Scenga Kruch * Steve Bucher * Ginny Lowe Connors * Kathleen Deyer Bolduc * Helen Bournas-Ney * Penny Harter * Chrissy Stegman * Colleen Keating * Daniel Lanzdorf * Gwyneth Wynn-Davies * Ronnie Hess * Lynne Burnett * Carol Alena Aronoff * Diana Raab * Cheryl Byler Keeler * Patricia Carney * Jan Chronister * Joyce Ritchie * Joan Leotta * Michael Minassian

Thomas A Thomas (cover artist) * j lewis (featured artist) * Fiona Capuano * Michael Jeske *


Great Blue Heron3 copy

(Artist credit: j lewis)


Drink This In

“Why drink from another’s well?
When you have your own
inner-ocean?” ―Rumi

In the dark of morning’s twilight, you
wake with a thirst that’s so dry, it hurts
the back of your throat, and you swallow
a gulp of air, trying to breathe without
triggering a cough that hurts your ribs.

You think you’ve been careful.
You think there is still time to get away.

Yet, you lie there, thinking of a beach
that is only two miles due North, and
the dome of sky is no longer the start
of another day, but brewing a storm
that comes to shore, wave after wave,
until raindrops dimple the sand with
precision, and you feel your torso
floating, there—sinking into distant
hours of afternoon.

M J Iuppa’s fifth full length poetry collection, The Weight of Air, from Kelsay Books was released in September 2022.  Her chapbook of 24 100-word stories, Rock. Paper. Scissors., was published by Foothills Publishing in 2022. For the past 33 years, M J Iuppa lived on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. Check out her blog: for her musings on writing, sustainability & life’s stew.  Editor’s note: M J Iuppa passed away in April 2023.  She was a beloved member of the Blue Heron Review community.  M J will be greatly missed.  Her poetry was a true gift and a blessing.  


Beyond the Pond

Underneath you a stream
laces through earth. Your shoes
have found the silence between stones.
With every breath, begin to love
the leaves that cover your tracks.

You have discovered how dew
escapes into sun and now you
escape under the arch of alder limbs.
Nothing can replace the rhythm of your footsteps.
Nothing you have ever done is too late.

John Davis is a polio survivor and the author of Gigs and The Reservist. His work has appeared recently in DMQ Review, Iron Horse Literary Review and He lives on an island in the Salish Sea.


Winter Prayer

The world moans this morning,
and the whole house with it.
Snow blows against the windows,
making rippled drifts on each side
of the now impassable driveway.
Fine by me. I’m held inside this
pool of lamplight with a perfectly
milky cup of steaming coffee
around which I wrap both hands,
my own form of winter prayer.
A blue fleece blanket is draped
over my shoulders, with memories
of every summer I’ve ever lived
locked inside me—riotous green
leaves bursting my seams, so filled
with heat, all I have to do is
touch the frosted glass, and a tiny
porthole appears, through which
I can see the light at the end
of this and every storm.

James Crews is the editor of several anthologies, including The Path to Kindness and How to Love the World. He has been featured in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, New York Times Magazine, and on NPR’s Morning Edition. The author of four collections of poetry, James leads workshops on kindness, mindfulness, and writing. He lives with his husband in the woods of Southern Vermont.


Time Out of Time

Among marshy reeds
a plumed swan
builds her nest
tugging long strands
of switchgrass, reedmace,
bulrushes, collecting
fallen branches with her cob,
thatching, hollowing
(hallowing) a creche
to cradle creamy eggs.
She knows no words
for worry, war, want
so, I can let them go for now.
In this space
nothing is promised,
everything possible.
My hopes
in porous shells
are warmed.

Mary Alice Williams, a native of Providence, RI, lives and writes in Grand Rapids Michigan. Winner of the Dyer-Ives Poetry Contest judged by Conrad Hilberry, she has recent work in several on-line journals. She is published in the recently released River Raw Press anthology, Sunflowers, and has three poems in the current issue of Peninsula Poets, a collection of 2022 Michigan Poetry Society contest winners. Since retiring from human services, Williams has focused on honing her voice as a poet.


The Woods

The woods open me
to the mystery

of how patiently each tree
embraces the slow unfolding

of the seasons and how
unfailingly each seems to know

when to send forth buds
and when to let go.

I long for their certainty,
their trust in the resurrection of Spring.

Michael S Glaser is a Professor Emeritus at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and served as Poet Laureate of Maryland from 2004 – 2009. The recipient of several awards for his teaching, his service to poetry and for his poetry, he now co-leads retreats which embrace the reading and writing of poetry as a means of self-reflection and personal growth. He has published several collections of his own poetry, edited three anthologies and co-edited The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton (BOA 2012). More at:

dragonfly by a swamp copy

(Artist credit: Fiona Capuano)


I Sit with a Master
(for Jane Hirshfield)

I sit with a Master
of poetic craft, her essays,
the nine gates of her soul-piercing words,
under the blazing sun overhead.

I lie down on the mahogany deck,
it warms my back with ambient fire, I radiate
and my ribcage (heart)
opens like a cracked hymnal
as I read, the book is surrounded
in blue sky above and moving
billowing white clouds that
swirl in a dance around this learning,
this prayer of attentiveness,
this call to concentration
the language of her words suggests.

I live this way already,
tuned to a higher frequency,
a foot in both worlds, I tread
the trails of stars while dipped
in this humanness.

Attentiveness. Observation.
Attentiveness. Observation.


All of my eyes are open,
my cells divide into infinities,
I taste this moment with all of my bodies,
the book’s slick cover and grainy pages,
the summer morning’s soft breeze,
the billowing nimbus,
her voice coming through ink,
in the ability to stop time
and become a part of every moving cell around me,
the abundance of thanks
that wells inside my body knowing I can speak
a language that pulses in all things,
knowing silence is its own music,
knowing I have been trained to talk unashamed to flowers,
to hear the woodpecker hollow out a song into pine,
to move with the dragonfly alight on the page right now,
landing divine on the dog-eared pyramid
as if dipped in gold, the sun
kaleidoscoping his wings
with another planet’s iridescence.

Attentiveness. Observation.
Attentiveness. Observation.


All of my eyes are open,
I try to catch all the images moving
like salmon in a stream before me,
try to hold them slippery and fleeting
in an act of poetic preservation,
but there is no stopping
the passing of everything as it dances
with everything.

Suddenly a hummingbird
whirrs over me
and pees on my forehead.

Dare I call it nectar of the gods?
Sugar-sweet ambrosia?
A baptism?

Dare I call myself anointed?

Dare I?

Kai Coggin (she/her) is the author of four poetry collections, most recently Mining for Stardust (FlowerSong Press, 2021) and INCANDESCENT (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2019). She is a Certified Master Naturalist, a K-12 Teaching Artist in poetry with the Arkansas Arts Council, an Artist Leadership Fellow with the Mid-America Arts Alliance, and host of the longest running consecutive weekly open mic series in the country—Wednesday Night Poetry. Recently awarded the 2021 Governor’s Arts Award, named “Best Poet in Arkansas” by the Arkansas Times, and nominated for Arkansas State Poet Laureate and Hot Springs Woman of the Year, her fierce and powerful poetry has been nominated six times for The Pushcart Prize, as well as Bettering American Poetry 2015, and Best of the Net 2016, 2018, 2021— awarded in 2022. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in POETRY, Prairie Schooner, Best of the Net, Cultural Weekly, SOLSTICE, Bellevue Literary Review, TAB, Entropy, SWWIM, Split This Rock, Sinister Wisdom, Lavender Review, Tupelo Press, and elsewhere. Coggin is Associate Editor at The Rise Up Review, and serves on the Board of Directors of the International Women’s Writing Guild. She lives with her wife and their two adorable dogs in the valley of a small mountain in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas.


Ode to a Water Skimmer

I watched your legs broker
a beautiful curvature
on the surface of water.

I want to move through our world
as you do. Respectful
as a guest.

Touching this world lightly.
Pressing where the veil
will yield.

Javi Maria Cain is a Northwest writer and poet. She is currently a third-year candidate in Pacific Lutheran University’s low residency MFA.



It’s an oxidized virtue, this
taking laundry down from the wind,
unruly arms and legs
into a basket, spilling prevailing westerlies
out of fitted sheets
and textile pockets – all that
folded air, unwrinkled
in time.

there is something easy
about the sun –
it leaves a lamina of warmth –
the thoughtless pleasure of its throat,
a clouded lisp on the wind
of fundamental fire:
No uncluttered playing field for
your private agenda,

just extruded plastic
strung across the air,
and all the clandestine in your clothing
dancing naked in a public place.

John M Bellinger is the Co-Managing editor of The Comstock Review (37 years in print!) He has, indeed, published poetry in his time, and intends to publish more before that time is over.

Clear-Lake-Sunrise1 copy

(Artist credit: j lewis)


Lake Michigan Sonnet: Oct. 30

The last of clouds retreat before the moon
inhales the breath of gulls, their blue-white wings
soft harbingers of autumn’s sunset soon
releases citrus skies for nightish things.

November’s balance yellows in old leaves
of books’ imprinted tales, faded poem.
Recite the sugared summer as it heaves
toward southern hemisphere on loan.

Last freighter waits out anchored from the wind,
its glitter lights faint dance for sleeping shore.
An echo shines from sky where stars are pinned,
ghost season’s silence harbored with a roar.

Remember when we sailed?
Then, great fires on the beach?

Tad Phippen Wente lives in Port Washington, Wisconsin. Her writing appears in Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar 2023; Sheltering with Poems: Community & Connection During Covid; Responding: A Conversation in Color; From Everywhere a Little: A Migration Anthology; and other publications. Her most recent piece, combining the art of language and quilting, was part of the WMQFA Biennial Exhibition “Hide and Seek.” She taught writing for 40 years and continues to work with teens in a writers’ group so they can create what they want. She earned her M.A. in Creative Writing from UW-Milwaukee.


Encounter on Route 169

One summer night, my mother loaded us
into the car that never passed inspection
and drove along Route 169 in Bayonne
to a deserted service road where acres
of oil tanks were surrounded
by tall grass and a chain link fence.

She told my brother and me
to hold out our hands
as she dropped sugar cubes
from a brown paper bag,
then told us to reach
through the fence and wait.

What are we doing here? I whispered.
Shhh, she replied, pointing a finger
to something moving in the grass.
I followed her eyes and saw two
shaggy horses ambling our way.

They were the first horses I had ever seen
that didn’t have cops astride their backs.
She held my wrist to keep my hand steady
while the caramel horse with the blond tail
bent its head and parted its velvety lips
to take the sugar cubes from my small palm.

I squealed the squeal that fuses fear with delight,
wondering how she found this spot in the shadow
of factories and power lines
where horses and goats and sheep
could be seen and touched and fed.
Wondered how she learned to braid
the threads of an urban childhood
into the mane of an unfettered horse.

Gloria Heffernan’s Exploring Poetry of Presence (Back Porch Productions) won the 2021 Central New York Book Award for Nonfiction. She is the author of the poetry collection, What the Gratitude List Said to the Bucket List, (New York Quarterly Books), and two chapbooks: Hail to the Symptom (Moonstone Press), Some of Our Parts, (Finishing Line Press), and Peregrinatio: Poems for Antarctica (forthcoming from Kelsay Books). Her work has appeared in over 100 publications including Columbia Review, Stone Canoe, and Yale University’s The Perch. For more information, please visit her website at


Years Gone

Years gone, yet the memory lingers like mist above the mud-smell of the lakeshore, in any listless gray sky. After the spring rains, reservoir flooded, the waterline rose to swallow the trunk of the eucalyptus. We shimmied the great bodies of their limbs, leaped from their low branches into the silt-water.

Ashore, we smelled of mud. My mouth pressed to the hollow bowl beneath your sternum—that fragrance of marsh on your skin, the coming of my womanhood.

Mournful grebe-call echoes out over the water. For you, I’d have crossed deserts on my hands and knees.

B L Bruce is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee and award-winning poet. With a bachelor’s degree in literature and creative writing, Bruce is the editor-in-chief of the nature-themed literary magazine, Humana Obscura, and the author of four books: The Weight of Snow, The Starling’s Song, 28 Days of Solitude, and Measures.



the mystery of midnight
sanctuary extraordinaire
steal back your life
from the sad jail of conformity
reality is sleeping
in indigo serenity
dress up your spirit
with feathers and rhinestones
the gods have arrived
to dance

Beate Sigriddaughter,, lives in Silver City, New Mexico (Land of Enchantment), where she was poet laureate from 2017 to 2019. Recent publications include a poetry collection, Wild Flowers, and a novel, Soleil Madera. In her blog Writing in a Woman’s Voice, she publishes other women’s voices.


Dixie Landing

From town, go down the paved road towards Johnson’s
Chapel for two miles until the road makes a sharp turn
to the right, a large, white farm house in the bend,

turn left on a dirt road through brambles and overgrown
bushes until the air grows cooler and then drive
a few hundred feet past overhanging limbs and branches

stinging with new life and there, when the road ends,
you’ll find Dixie Landing, a swimming hole with cool,
unemotional water and turtles on logs getting what little sun

they can find in the naked light, where the moon feels
challenged in its rendezvous with its mirrored friend during
the nighttime, where a verdant foliage invites kingfishers and

lacey, translucent-winged dragonflies and butterflies and twisted
primeval cypress entices teens to swing from its ropes far out
over the water.

Jo Taylor is a retired, 35-year English teacher from Georgia. Her favorite genre to teach high school students was poetry, and today she dedicates more time to writing it. In 2021 she published her first collection of poems, Strange Fire, and in 2022, she was nominated for Best of the Net. She enjoys morning walks, playing with her two grandsons, and collecting and reading cookbooks.

Wild Grass copy

(Artist credit: j lewis)


The Women of Paradise

The real women they remember
now seem heavy, full of earth—
white roses black with bees.

They want tall, transparent women
bearing brightness, floating
near them like a silver sleeve.

Women to gather the darting light,
to feel the many wishes
swimming in their skin.

Whose job it is to promise. To lift
the light and play it like a horn
for the eager and imperfect.

Patricia Nelson is a former attorney who has worked for many years with the “Activist” group of poets in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has published books of poetry with Poetic Matrix Press.


Good Silence

An apologetic cough
scrape of a wooden chair
punctuate the good silence

Air pungent
with wet coats, old newspapers
unspoken thoughts

share banquet tables set
for bookish hunger

Swaths of sunlight
mimic long windows
wake each tired binding

All eclipsed by shelf after shelf
rich with thousands of tomes
millions of pages, billions of words

Sanctuary for the reader
centuries blurred
I, my own ancestor

Lisa Romano Licht is a lifelong New Yorker whose poetry and creative non-fiction have appeared in The Westchester Review, San Pedro River Review, Ovunque Siamo, Mom Egg Review and other journals. Her work was selected for Vita Brevis Press’ Nothing Divine Dies and The Year’s Best Dog Stories 2021, both anthologies. Find her on Twitter: @LRLwrites


My Belonging

My yaya’s voice: koukla
still circling around me,
ghost presence of her arms
as she stands at the stove, minding
her stuffed peppers, her dolmades
wrapped in the grape leaves she gathered
with the other Greek ladies
along the banks of the Milwaukee River.

All this she will spoon onto plates for us,
beside her salads–wooden bowls finger-polished
with olive oil from the Old Country, sprinkled
with parsley sprigs and wedges of deep
crimson tomatoes, scents still rising
from her matchbox-sized back garden.

Andrea Potos is the author of several full-length collections of poetry, including most recently, Her Joy Becomes (Fernwood Press). Other books include Marrow of Summer and Mothershell, both from Kelsay Books; and A Stone to Carry Home and An Ink Like Early Twilight, both from Salmon Poetry. Her poems appear widely in print and online, most recently in The Sun, Potomac Review, Main Street Rag, Adanna Journal, Braided Way, One Art and others. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.


Blue Heron

At dawn comes stillness, meditation. She,
a silent shadow, steals down my waterways
seeking the nourishment I secret away in dark places,
the morsels that enrich me. She leaves tracks

in my soft tissue, on the banks of every river
I have stood beside, embosses my core
with the opportunity of accord, waiting
for light to dawn. She does not hope

that peace will happen. Instead, she impresses her mark
on the mud of me, reminds me that slow living
is illuminating. Peace. A river. A field.
An irrigation ditch. It makes no difference to her.

I could idle with her for hours. For as long as she allows.
She reminds me that an invisibility is welcomed—
even optimal—at times. That being present and unseen
allows me to watch, to listen, to revive. She could be

another shade of sky or water. Blue or gray. Could be
another reed standing rooted. Unrushed.
Ancient and mutable. Even the beating of wings
need not be hurried.

Kristen Baum DeBeasi is a poet, writer and composer whose poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Muleskinner Journal, Menacing Hedge, a moon of one’s own and elsewhere. A native Oregonian, she was raised in Michigan and now resides in Los Angeles.


A Pilgrimage

The prayer flags line my path
As I climb atop
The hills of Anjaneya Mahadev.

A veiled woman sits at the foot
Hammering into stones
Unmindful of roars
As the Beas flows
Through bends and unknowns.

Incessant barking of dogs is awash
Under water and cold—
Littered in white and black,
Sheep contour the slopes.

Thoughts pass in waves inside the cave—
I stand seeking forgiveness, searching my shadow.

Above the murmur of rocks
Dripping over the red Hanuman,
A morning star speaks from far clouds—

You, the child of this earth
Come journey with me
To the towns lost, homes abandoned
Families in pain—
Be the light
For what lies ahead
Do what we must.

All is lost to the view of darkness
And life’s celebrations—
Wind is winging away my burden,
Not praying enough.

Below a motorbike races past,
Sister kisses the young seated behind her—
Imprinting love
That would live beyond her life.

(*Note: One of my happiest moments was during my trip to Manali, a high-altitude Himalayan resort town in India’s northern Himachal Pradesh state. After crossing the river Beas and climbing a small hill through a thin layer of snow, I was surprised to find a temple of my favorite God Anjaneya Mahadev, also known as Hanuman, in a small cave like place. I stood there for a long time, all alone in stillness.)

An engineer and management consultant by profession, Abha Das Sarma enjoys writing. Besides having a blog of over 200 poems (, her poems have appeared in Muddy River Poetry Review, Spillwords, Verse-Virtual, Visual Verse, Sparks of Calliope, Trouvaille Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Silver Birch Press, Blue Heron Review and elsewhere. She has also contributed to print anthologies, Pixie Dust And All Things Magical and Soul Spaces: Poems on Cities, Towns & Villages. Having spent her growing up years in small towns of northern India, she currently lives in Bengaluru.


silent walks

the nature of distance is to mute
sound, sight, emotion, memory
until the weight of silence
presses what is, what was,
even what might have been
into the ice that forms
thick across the lake
dense enough to hold
joys and sorrows
dreams and fears
even heart-heaviness
rigidly in place

and yet

in my daily walks
along the frozen shore
distance thaws beneath
the sun of recollection
releasing wintered moments
like pleasant ghosts that slip
the icy grip of time
and float back to me quietly
reminding me to watch
for signs of early spring

j lewis is an internationally published poet, musician, nurse practitioner, and Editor of Verse-Virtual, an online journal and community. When he is not otherwise occupied, he is often on a kayak, exploring and photographing the waterways near his home in California. He is the author of four full length collections and several chapbooks.


Becoming a Lioness

When I was ten, I lounged
in the sprawling branches of an old apple tree
that stood at the edge of our back lawn.

Its scaly gray bark had worn smooth where I lay
dangling bare arms and long legs,
catlike and camouflaged.

Escaping the suffocating heat of summer,
avoiding dangerous things
that dwelled down on the ground.

With sullen face and gazing eyes,
I looked out on a world that didn’t recognize
a young lioness lazing in a tree,

stalking the wild beasts of self-doubt
and newly found angst
that grazed in the grasslands below.

I stayed there until the sun set,
the air cooled and it was time
to climb down to join the herd as it wandered home.

Elizabeth McCarthy lives in a farmhouse in northern Vermont with her husband, where they raised two children. At age fifty, she received a Master of Arts in Teaching, then taught in Vermont schools and at the Community College of Vermont before retiring in 2019. Elizabeth turned to poetry when COVID closed the world down and time became a windfall, joining the online poetry group, the Lockdown Poets of Aberdeen, Scotland and the Poetry Society of Vermont. Elizabeth’s manuscript, Digging Potatoes, was shortlisted for the Hunger Mountain: VCFA May Day Mountain Chapbook Series in 2021, and her chapbook, Winter Vole, was published by Finishing Line Press in November 2022. She has poems appearing in other publications such as, The Washington Post, Poetry Society of Vermont, ZigZag Literary Magazine, Shorts Magazine, The Lake, Blue Heron Review, and The Main Street Rag.

Fiona C. bluebells

(Artist credit: Fiona Capuano)



A day alone, alive, in love with me; sisters joined at the hip
is a decision, delicious, filled full, complete.
It is one piece of toast cut in half with cinnamon and sugar
the way my mother always made it
hours spread long and wide for whatever might visit.
I light a match, officiate a ceremony between me and me.
In this sacred space with dog-eared books, my journal waits
alongside my muses: a feather, smooth stones, an empty nest.
The spectacle of the current season filters through lace curtains;
a soft rain, a snowfall that silences, dancing birches all golden
the window boxes bursting with pink.
I wait for the tug of words, write the verse, pin it to the line
let it blow in the breeze.
A sip my coffee while savoring the ordinary
swallow the unbearable
happiness contained in the moment
in the splendor of the dappled light of the room.
I’m never alone. I pay attention with my God eyes
like the ones I once made at Girl Scout camp;
yarn and hope woven around twigs.
I fill a jar with slips of paper, things I am grateful for:
pesto made from my basil, cilantro, garlic scapes
served over a bed of arugula and salmon
a hand slipped into mine
connections stitched with threads of synchronicity.
I’m at home here in my body, loved, worthy.

Angela Hoffman’s poetry collections include Resurrection Lily (Kelsay Books, 2022) and Olly Olly Oxen Free (Kelsay Books, 2023). She placed third in the WFOP Kay Saunders Memorial Emerging Poet, 2022. Her poetry has appeared in Solitary Plover, Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets’ Museletter and Calendar, Agape Review, Verse-Virtual, Visual Verse, Your Daily Poem, Writing In A Woman’s Voice, Moss Piglet, Amethyst Review, Orchards Poetry Journal, POETiCA REViEW, Wilda Morris’s Poetry Challenge, and Lothlorien Poetry Journal. She has written a poem a day since the start of the pandemic. Angela lives in Wisconsin.


Basil Embraces the Ho’oponopono Prayer

My care deepened as the carbon steel blades sought division;
the dull kitchen scissors dispatched the impossibility of swift
separation. Remember, autumn’s harvest will bestow winter
meals (a consoling reminder to follow this course of injury).

In summer, as if beloveds, we nurtured one another – She,
with her bounty of leaves; Me, with my gratitude in hand.
Rooted in the health of sunshine, water, and simplicity,
we grew in strength. An interconnected orbit,

we were united kingdoms refined by the reciprocation
of tenderness. I’d named her Anahata and she’d thrived
in a clay pot. My care deepened as the carbon steel blades
sought division; the dull kitchen scissors dispatched

the impossibility of swift separation. In mantric repetition
my heartbeat echoed, I’m sorry. Please forgive me.
Thank you. I love you. The pulsations carried my petition
across the matrix of eternity, permeated real, imagined,

and virtual realities – it swept atop mountains; rolled
along meadows; hummed above roads; billowed over cities;
rippled beneath lakes, seas, oceans, and rivers; caressed
the whales; heartened the redwoods; embraced all species

of animals, land plants, fungi, and algae as it realigned
the galaxy of wrongdoing with the energy of forgiveness
and reconciliation. In a twinkling, the fourth primary chakra
integrated the effects of an unhurt, unstruck, unbeaten

realm of existence. Here, my vital center soothed my anxiety
as my earthly presence prepared pesto for pasta in a harbor
of sacredness called home.

Jeannie E Roberts has authored eight books, six poetry collections and two illustrated children’s books. Her most recent collection is titled The Ethereal Effect — A Collection of Villanelles (Kelsay Books, 2022). She’s an artist, animal lover, a natural enthusiast, and a poetry editor for the online literary magazine Halfway Down the Stairs.



When I turned to the trees,
they were curious and soft-smiling,
even when I told them I was breaking.
They didn’t stiffen with blame,
didn’t explain why I was wrong.
They nodded and leaned in to listen.
Yes, they said when I told the whole truth,
You belong here with us.

When I went to the mountains,
the peaks ducked and towered
over the hills. They tucked me
into their folds and told me
how to be alive. How joy
is not something you feel,
but something you become—
these boulders, this butterfly,
these heart-cracks of thunder
that tremble the ground,
this hill rounding
down to the stream.

Now you become
tree-like and mountain-like,
says a little nudge
when I try to pray.

Jenna Wysong Filbrun’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Amethyst Review, Blue Heron Review, Crosswinds Poetry Journal, The Dewdrop, Eco Theo Review, Snapdragon Journal, and others. Her first full length collection of poems, Away, is available for presale, as of March 2023, with Finishing Line Press. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of one chapbook, The Unsaid Words (Finishing Line Press, 2020). She lives in Indiana with her husband, Mike, and their dogs, Oliver and Lewis. Find her online at



When I stay at the little house
with the ocean in the back yard
I never shut the door to the bathroom.
I soak in the shower til the water runs cold.
Only do laundry when I have no more clothes.
Make coffee while standing naked in the kitchen.
Eat what I want when I want.
Breakfast can be at noon
Lunch at four
Dinner deep into the night.
I talk to myself and
talk to the ocean and
talk to the words on my computer screen.
There is an open book on the kitchen table
another book beside the bed
a third by the couch
and I replace them with others when I’m done.
I take walks by myself
sleep by myself
sit at the computer
and the television
and the deck overlooking the ocean
by myself.
And it’s so, so quiet.
But in the middle of the night
when I look out the window from the bed
and I see the light from a passing fishing boat
like a bobbing star on the waves
I am happy for the company.

Kathie Giorgio is the author of six novels, two story collections, an essay collection, and three poetry collections. A poetry chapbook, Olivia In Five, Seven, Five; Autism In Haiku, was just released in August 2022. Her seventh novel, Hope Always Rises, was released in March 2023. She’s been nominated for the Pushcart Prize in fiction and poetry and awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association, the Silver Pen Award for Literary Excellence, the Pencraft Award for Literary Excellence, and the Eric Hoffer Award In Fiction. Her poem “Light” won runner-up in the 2021 Rosebud Magazine Poetry Prize. In a recent column, Jim Higgins, the books editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, listed Giorgio as one of the top 21 Wisconsin writers of the 21st century.


We Are Here

You string the hammocks yourself.
They swing like half-moons winking at us.
I settle into mine and you into yours,
then you call out for me to come over.

I tell you,
we will be too heavy,
now that you are thirteen.

You give the look that no mother can ignore.
Even if we sank to the forest floor,
it would be worth it.
So, I join you, in yours.

Your head rests on my middle, cushy as a worn pillow.
Suspended, we are here.

Your hand swipes overhead to draw a ceiling of black over us.
We are cocooned, unborn into the world,

You are thirty seconds new,
wide-eyed on my clammy skin
with your scent of lavender milk.

We are here,
one breath weaving between us.

I finger dry dirt near your ear,
tuck my chin into your buttery hair,
inhale the ripe sweat of a boy becoming a man.

Though, I still sing to you to sleep,
tell stories of mother nature on your back.

We sway,
in a waft of woodsmoke
to cooing campfire crackle.

The trees never creak,
bands never slip,
burrowed inside,
we are here.

Jennifer Dodge writes poetry and creative nonfiction. She is currently working on a memoir about the power of self-discovery and healing invisible wounds. Her writing can be found online at She lives with her husband and son in Bend, Oregon.


The Air Was as Naked as I

After arriving, I went out into the cool darkness
and looked up. The big dipper rested its ladle on
the cabin roof. The starry dome was a milky lover.

A long time ago didn’t you say you were a sucker
for augury? Me too, although I looked up the word
to see if we were dwelling in similar possibilities.

I’m writing to say I placed the fallen rose petals,
thin as lingerie, over my breasts before drifting off
to the lake’s reliable chant. The air was as naked

as I. Nothing prepared me for the quiet
thrill of an untroubled place such as this.

Susan Glassmeyer has been imagining poems since childhood when her Kentucky grandfather explained the language and meaning of train whistles. Her lyrics and narratives are rooted in both personal and transpersonal experience. Because Susan’s poems are grounded in the sensory life of “the body,” they ring true for readers engaged with the world as it is — with all its grief and sorrow, as well as its beauty and joy. She has four books of poetry, including her latest publication, Four Blue Eggs: American Cinquains (pronounced sĭng’kān’). Susan Glassmeyer was named Ohio Poet of the Year in 2018 for her collection, Invisible Fish.



Well past dusk, she lay near the lake under a trio of white pines, back bent, eyes shuttered, breath rising and falling with the adagio of the waves; hearing a loon’s tremolo, she is young again, fancies herself a feather of a loon left on shore near the place quartz and serpentine congregate, rises up to embrace the surf in its crescendo of unbroken notes — and under a full Sturgeon Moon becomes one with Orion’s harmony of newborn stars, her wings a link to the firmament.

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, The Wild Word, and Ovunque Siamo. Mary Anna is working on a third poetry collection entitled A Finely Penned Road.

Timpanogas copy

(Artist credit: j lewis)


Summer’s Edge

I set upon a path today
I thought I’d never tread
Mountain shimmering
At summer’s edge
Glimmering as though
Not quite there

A tale told to wide
Expectant eyes

Aside the craggy path
Expectant eyes alight
You stood with hand and heart
Knowing more than ever I
About this doubtful way

More than I
Though I’ve eyed
This rock-strewn way
Through days and time outspent
With hard and
Winnowing intent …

Yet foot unsure

I set upon a path today
Your steady hand to guide
My stumbling step through
Sloping stretch in heartfelt silence
As neither knew
The other’s words

Words without
Walking Summer’s dying edge
Hand in glimmering hand
Amid this haven’s hush and
Stilling rush of loved ones

Smooth as whiskey aged
Each step a dram
Old souls lost in
Oak and barley
Love from a glass
Round and berry ripe

Heedless of the path ahead
Or left behind
We walked the shallow ground
Just beneath our feet
As day grew dim and hunger
Loomed above the crags

Above our lagging limbs
We spied and reached aloft
Into night as soft …
As whisper

Plucked from a pendent moon
Round and berry ripe
As our eyes told
The gathering tale

Steve Bucher lives and writes poetry in the Virginia Piedmont. He is an active member of the Poetry Society of Virginia. His first collection of poetry, We Stay a Brief Telling, was recently published by Propertius Press. His poetry also appears in Blue Heron Review, Journal of Inventive Literature, Glass: Facets of Poetry, California Quarterly, Way to My Heart anthology, deLuge Journal, Artimis, Nova Bards, and Smoky Blue Literary and Arts Magazine.



Built from brick, from stucco, from logs
planed smooth or not. We fashion it from stone,
from blocks of ice, animal skins. From bamboo or sod,
from the bark of elm trees. It is high above the city.
It is nestled among trees. Dug into red hills.

Home is the skin we grew into and out of. A baby’s cry,
a man’s rattling snore. It’s arguments and fevers,
rituals and ribbons. A song that Mother sang
late at night. Home is a tattered box, red
and heart-shaped, one that remembers a dozen sweets.

Photographs of ancestors, the bent pages of books,
milk stains. Window glass streaked with rain.
Some nights dreams wander around home like ghosts
picking up grapefruits, squeezing them a little, putting them down.
And if you have left, Come home, say the ghosts, come home.

Ginny Lowe Connors is the editor or several poetry anthologies and author of five poetry collections, the most recent of which is Without Goodbyes: From Puritan Deerfield to Mohawk Kahnawake (Turning Point, 2021). She runs a small press, Grayson Books, and is co-editor of Connecticut River Review.


Rivers of Living Water

Within my center
soul exists a chamber
beautiful beyond telling
where springs of living water flow
into stream, river, sea
of liquid love and pulsing light

Here I rock in Mother arms
rest in Father love
this sanctum my harbor
a mooring place
to let down sails of self
lover, mother, daughter, friend
tattered and
in need of mending

Naked I immerse myself
baptize my brokenness
break blue waters like a fish
dripping, trembling, alive


Conduit of electric love
I unfurl sails
hoist up anchor
journey back to solid ground
on rivers of living water

Kathleen Deyer Bolduc is an award-winning author, spiritual director, and founder of Cloudland, a contemplative retreat center in southwest Ohio. Her books, including The Spiritual Art of Raising Children with Disabilities and Autism & Alleluias, contain faith lessons learned parenting a son with autism, and finding healing and restoration through the spiritual disciplines.



Big yellow bowl. A wooden spoon. A mid-
December’s sifted afternoon rolled out and out,
tasting like vanilla and sweet butter.

Preparing kourambiédes:

Shape into crescents for the mystery of night.
In the center, place a clove to say we are exotic.
Haven of crushed almond, orange zest, torrents

of powdered sugar poured over each created shape.
We work together. Watching what you do, I follow.
Pleasure and attention mixing as the kitchen warms.

Helen Bournas-Ney was born in Ikaria, Greece, and grew up in New York City. She served as a writing instructor, Assistant Director of the GED Center at NYU, and Director of the Learning Center at SUNY Farmingdale. She received the Anaïs Nin Award for her work on Rimbaud and George Seferis. Most recently, her work has appeared in Plume, The Ekphrastic Review, Ergon, One Sentence Poems, Mom Egg Review – Mer Vox, The Bacopa Literary Review, and the anthology Plume Poetry 7. Her poetry was nominated for Best of the Net 2021.


Craving Ocean Again

I’m craving ocean again, wanting to lift
my head as a dog would to sniff the salt air,
to tilt my ears seaward to better hear the
slap and swish of waves as they rise and fall,
obedient to the changing moon.

I need ocean again, want to walk the tides both
coming in and going out, bare feet imprinting
hard sand at the shore’s edge as I resist going
in too deep, refuse to drown in incarnations left
behind—sand castles dissolving.

By incarnations, I do not mean the horseshoe crab,
ancient ancestor washed up to mate and sometimes
die in the sun, or colonies of jellyfish, their slimy
discs riding too close to shore for those of us who
dare to wade in among them, fearing their sting.

No, I mean the child who watched her mother dead-
man float and feared her loss. The one who sat at a
knotty pine table bearing fish fries and cob corn many
summers of childhood, or the mother of two little
ones in a family camped by the sea.

This spring morning, my body is an hourglass, sand
running through it again and again. Next week is my
birthday, and early in my eighth decade I crave ocean
in any weather, bow to its endless give and take, and
still stoop to gather shells as I wander the sea’s edge.

Penny Harter’s recent collections are Still-Water Days and A Prayer the Body Makes (Kelsay Books, 2021; 2020), and a new collection, Keeping Time: Haibun for the Journey, is forthcoming from Kelsay Books in summer of 2023. Her work appears in Persimmon Tree, Rattle, Tiferet, and American Life in Poetry, as well as in many other journals and anthologies. Featured reader at two Geraldine R Dodge Poetry Festivals, she has won three fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts; the Mary Carolyn Davies Award from the Poetry Society of America; and two residencies from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. You can read more about her and sample her work at

Michael's Redtailed Hawk 2 copy

(Artist credit: Michael Jeske)


A Pilgrim’s Pace

The day has found the
prayerful leaves and
walked her children of brightness
back from the night
and under her belly, in darkness grows;
a slow haze,
a spark that breaks,
up into the mouth of each leaf
and from its heart;
following a pilgrim’s pace,
till the greenness
And every mouth is open upon the earth,
and none are left broken.
The day breaks the hand
of night in its hand, and says
forgive me, I can’t look at you
and opens the bright face
of the flowers.

Chrissy Stegman is a wife, mother, poet, and forest dork from Baltimore, Maryland. Her work often explores everyday life and the various intersections of humanity, including her childhood summers spent in the foothills of the Appalachians. Recent works have appeared in Oddball Magazine, Rejection Letters, Prometheus Dreaming, and elsewhere. She is the winner of the 2022 Patricia Bibby Poetry scholarship and placed second for the 2022 Ellen Conroy Poetry Prize.


winter days

On the mud-flats near an afternoons silver lake, i stop to watch a red dragon kite
soar with dips and dives on whistling air.

a child again
neck crinked back

A fisherman and solitary figure on the dunes watch this bird-like thing swirl and whirl.
Purple ribbon tails flutter, tangerine feathers swell, puffed up with air, tugging the string
the woman holds. I hum the Lark Ascending. I ask the woman why she comes each afternoon.
She replies, because looking up makes me feel so much better.

one feather
holds the worrying day

A Sydney-based, Australian, award-winning poet, Colleen Keating has four poetry collections and two verse novels published. Colleen belongs to several poetry critique groups – U3A poetry, Pennant Hills, Poetry at Writing NSW, and a Haiku group (White Pebbles). Her verse novel, Hildegard of Bingen: A Poetic Journey was double winner for a poetry book and for a non-fiction book in the Society of Women Book Awards in NSW State Library. Her new verse novel, Olive Muriel Pink: her radical and idealistic life, was launched in October 2022 in the Olive Pink Botanic Garden, Mparntwe (Alice Springs) and is being highly acclaimed.


Inside the Pink Cottage

They approach the cottage near cliff-edge,
perhaps for the last time, her sun dress
covered with shadowy spots,
the crush of a sweet peach upon their lips.

He paints flesh and lilies
with a million brush strokes,
as muscled boaters play the line
between sky and sea caps.

Who remembers him now
inside the dark bedroom?
As moon and blinds slit the glass window
and enormous whispers grace his lips.

Daniel Lanzdorf writes poetry and short stories. He has attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has been an active writer with Red Oak Writing for several years.


A Mother’s Love

and if I speak of wonderland
of sanctuary and peacefulness
then I’m speaking of my mother
and her infinite love for me.

Who asked me to keep her secret
always, safely on my person
where only I would know

somewhere written down
kept hidden in my pocket,
that way no one else could steal it.
She’d say it would be mine alone
for when I am under pressure

I would be able to feel it,
smell the violets on her handkerchief
which I kept forever with me.

And if I sang quietly under my breath
to relieve the stresses of my day,
I should take myself to a quiet spot

a beach headland with barren sands
stretching before me for miles and miles

lay down in a meadow with a gentle breeze
wafting tall fronds of feathery grasses across my face,

stand barefoot in the shallows of an icy forest stream

or walk round, deeply emersed in the history and
the tranquility of the old priory at dusk

my sanctuary, my peaceful place

where I could relive my wonderland
that my mother had shown to me.
Let the evening sun shine her light on it
through dappled branches,
so I could find fresh hope to
begin another day and keep watch
over it ’til I fall asleep.

Born in England in 1948, now living in Scotland, Gwyneth Wynn-Davies, began writing poetry at the start of the millennium. She now enjoys participating in a poetry group by Zoom, started at the beginning of the coronarvirus pandemic. A small group of aspiring poets from across the world get together to share, appreciate, and critique each other’s work each week.


On Visiting the Monastery at Santes Creus, Spain
(in memory of George Roeder)

Do not be afraid of the darkness,
purple mornings and penetrating cold.
Trace smooth stones, drink
from a simple earthenware bowl.
Make words with a careful hand.

Cypresses swing in the wind sheltering
small but articulate birds. Light traces
semicircles and points on the cloister walls.
When you go from this place, rub garlic and tomato
on thick slices of toast. Sit in the sun, speak to strangers.

When you rise from the table, say con permiso.
Touch each shoulder as you leave. The people—
try to remember them.

Ronnie Hess writes at her kitchen table, in a sun-filled room, in Madison, WI. She is the author of six poetry collections, the most recent from Kelsay Books (2022), Tripping the Light Ekphrastic. She is also a non-fiction writer of award-winning culinary travel guides about France and Portugal (Ginkgo Press).


Back in Puerto Vallarta

We arrive at the hotel like royalty—
remembered, waved through
the sea breeze of halls and floors
to our room, a welcome platter
of fruit, chilled bottle of wine,
a card—that’s all it takes to
pull off our clothes, shower,
sit on the balcony white-robed,
watch the waves rolling toward us
until they roll all the way in and
we let go the body that struggles,
let anything and everything swim
out of us, follow a dark fin far
and away from the old shore,
the sea surging, filling my mouth
with its need to be tasted—salt lick,
tongue slick with the eloquence
of stars.

Lynne Burnett lives on Vancouver Island. Her poems have appeared in many magazines and anthologies in the US and Canada. A Best of the Net and Pushcart nominee, she won the 2016 Lauren K. Alleyne Difficult Fruit PP, the 2019 Jack Grapes PP and was a finalist for the 2022 Montreal International PP. Finishing Line Press published her chapbook, Irresistible, in 2018. Visit her at

full moon in pines copy

(Artist credit: Fiona Capuano)


Lucid Dreaming

In the sanctuary of dreams
when night swoons
over a lilting moon and owls
question dark’s embrace,
I am content to be alone.
In this landscape of sleep,
I am conjurer and vessel.

My mind has summoned up
a pastoral scene, unpeopled–
sought refuge in frangipani
and figs, in the soft underbelly
of mosses and marigolds. In
the silence of stars.

Under a fairytale moon
whose light ruffles leaves
and leaves a trail of watery
tears, I dance with abandon,
dance out my sorrow, dance
away fear.

The safety of willow boughs,
sweetness of sparrow song
fills me with peace. Aware
that I’m dreaming while
I am dreaming, I can move
from dreamscape to waking life,
know there is no real difference.

Carol Alena Aronoff, Ph.D. is a psychologist, teacher and poet. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies and won several prizes. She was twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Carol has published 4 chapbooks (Cornsilk, Tapestry of Secrets, Going Nowhere in the Time of Corona, A Time to Listen) and 6 full-length poetry collections: The Nature of Music, Cornsilk, Her Soup Made the Moon Weep, Blessings From an Unseen World, Dreaming Earth’s Body (with artist Betsie Miller-Kusz), as well as The Gift of Not Finding: Poems for Meditation. Currently, she resides in rural Hawaii.


Here and Now

This peaceful day has arrived upon my windowsill.
as the sun rises on its horizon,
while every joy, tear and fear
passes my awareness begging for attention.

I will invite them all into my heart
breathe them in with a longer exhale,
to be void of that pain they want to instill,
detaching from both good and bad.

Our shadows then emerge,
followed by chagrin
to whisper hello with a smirk
knowing of their impermanence.

Remain thankful for this present moment,
and grateful for whatever unfolds
right now, and on that other side
as we heal in life’s sanctuaries.

Diana Raab, PhD, is an award-winning memoirist, poet, blogger, speaker, and author of 10 books and is a contributor to numerous journals and anthologies. Her two latest books are, Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life, and Writing for Bliss: A Companion Journal. Her poetry chapbook, An Imaginary Affair, was recently published in July 2022 with Finishing Line Press. She blogs for Psychology Today, Thrive Global, Sixty and Me, Good Men Project, and The Wisdom Daily and is a frequent guest blogger for various other sites. Visit:


Becoming Mountain

The mountains call through winter trees,
their blue curves alluring. My friend’s ashes
rest there, 100 miles south.
She’s in the crevices of ancient energy

as winds blow over her, and snow drifts on her.
Her photo peers out from my fridge door
—she & me & others—
on a day when we knew none of this.

Other bones, too, on the blue mountains,
particles of beings, old gods. Sun shines
on all the cracks it finds. A new year, friend,
lying there, becoming mountain.

Cheryl Byler Keeler writes poems that arrive line by line in quiet spaces. Some of these have been shared in International Psychoanalysis, Mom Egg Review, Hospital Drive, BODY, The Courtship of Winds, Blue Heron Review, Pulse, and About Place Journal. She has spent most of her working life managing a branch public library that she opened in the small town where she lives.


Sanctuary at High Water Line

Have you ever wondered
why the trout breaks the surface
flipping through the air?

Watching from beach at high
water line, my sanctuary
on this wide sandy shore

Ebb and flow timed by moon
the washing and receding
detritus deposited along the line

Washed, bleached, laid bare
scales, feathers, shells milked-out
down to their skeletal frame

Life and death in rhythm
with waves cresting, receding
beginning and ending

Sailors etched pictures
on bones, scrimshaws of boats
where they found sanctuary

As I etch on my poetry pad
from this line of sanctuary
wondering about the divide

Like the trout, I dive into a wave
holding my breath, immersed
in the vast and deep unknown

Patricia Carney, Cudahy WI, lives and writes along the south shore of Lake Michigan, meditating daily along the shore, taking mystic cues from the muse of this Great Lake. Her poems are published throughout the Midwest, including her latest chapbook, A Kayak is My Church Pew (Kelsay Books, 2021).


Under the Pecan Trees

Our house was built
in a pecan grove.
Every yard on the street
displays century-old giants
still dropping abundant nuts.

In December
the four in our back yard
wave branches tipped with stars
exploding in warm sun.

I climb a ladder
to a wooden platform
that once held a child’s slide,
gaze up as magic wands
transform me.

Jan Chronister is a retired English teacher now devoting time to her own writing and multiple gardens. Two of her books have been recognized by the Wisconsin Library Association as Outstanding Books in Poetry. She recently served six years as president of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets.

Yellow Feet copy

(Artist credit: j lewis)


Seashore Summer Solstice
(after Frank Gaspar)

It was for the light as much as anything.
It was for the breakers, the dolphins arcing
like joy out beyond them, for the surge,
the long slow swell, the thundering collapse.
For the open sky and the laughing gulls.
For the wide beach, empty footprints
coming and going. For the salt air
and the southwind singing, the sting
of sand whipping my legs, how the sun
warmed my wearied shoulders. For the
deep breath and the cleansing release.
How the swash rushed cool over my feet.
Then my heels sinking, shore heaving back to sea,
the momentary disorientation. For the boardwalk,
the dressed-out shops: red-hot reds and bubblegum
pinks, palm-tree greens and popsicle oranges,
all their perfect tawdry exuberance. Then
the slow walk back through the loblolly forest,
for the respite of that canopied cathedral
opening to the sun-sparkled salt marsh,
the afternoon stretching out before the turn.
For the egret stalking and the scuttling crabs.
For the scudding clouds and the sun’s languid
slip into the riffling tide, the ebb and flow,
and inconstancy, its own comfort, its own
murmuring refrain. It was for the wonder,
all the wild infinite harmony, for remembering
my place in it. It was for the reminder.

For Joyce Ritchie, a lifelong reader and classically-trained musician, words and music have been a through-line of her life. A Midwest transplant to the Mid-Atlantic, these environments live in her poems. She was a career fundraiser; these days, she views the world through a poet’s lens, rediscovering her love of words and music — word music. Publications include Passager, Canary, Persimmon Tree, and Snapdragon, and two chapbooks in collaboration with plein air painters.


My Seat at the Table

“Come to Rome,” my friend said
when our son died.
She offered us her Rome apartment.
“You love Rome. It’s
a safe place for you to heal.”
We did not go.
Rome was and is a place of joy
for our family, but it is not
my sanctuary.

When the chaos of loss
becomes too much
I retreat to
my “place” at the table,
where we four,
son, daughter, husband, and I
ate and laughed and talked,
did crafts. The spot where I sat
and worked before I had an office—
that small space is my sanctuary.
Seated there I often
feel our son walk behind me
give my shoulder a small squeeze, and
in a soft voice, not quite a whisper,
say, “Love you, Mom.”

In that moment the pain of
loss is replaced by the
joy of hearing his voice—even
only in my head, and heart.
It’s where I am released
to function without forgetting
to enjoy peace surpassing
That chair at that table
is my place of sanctuary.

Joan Leotta plays with words on page and stage—performing and writing about food, family, strong women. She collects seashells (mermaid treasure) and is often found with a pen in hand or her nose a book.


Daewonsa Templestay
(Gapyeong, South Korea)

I. Spider’s Web

Near the temple gate
a spider appears trapped

in its own web,
bouncing in the wind.

I dream of more metaphors,
try to explain the world.

Emptiness doesn’t mean empty—
just not full.

II. Red Flowers

Climbing the hill
I step from stone to stone.

Red flowers on the cliffside
seem to grow

out of living rock
still warm from the sun

I’m sure there’s something
else there alive

awaiting my next move.

III. The Sound of One Dog Barking

In the mountains
dark comes quickly
and brings the cold.

A dog barks—
a lone voice
in the stillness.

With the first glow
of morning
the barking returns

like a bell reminding me
to pay attention
to the light.

Michael Minassian is a Contributing Editor for Verse-Virtual, an online poetry journal. His poetry collections Time is Not a River, Morning Calm, and A Matter of Timing, as well as a new chapbook, Jack Pays a Visit, are all available on Amazon. For more information:



THOMAS A THOMAS (cover artist) ~ 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.

J LEWIS (featured artist) ~ j lewis is an incurable amateur photographer who believes you can never get too close to nature. His photos have appeared in local fitness magazines, online in various journals, and in his book of poetry and photography, a clear day in october, which is available via his website

FIONA CAPUANO ~ Natural beauty and wildlife inspired Fiona Capuano to highlight these moments in Brentwood, Tennessee, where she now lives with her husband, two kids and their dog. Fiona also shares her photography on Facebook.

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.

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(Blue Heron Review holds first publication rights of poems. All original rights go back to individual authors/artists.)