(Cover art by Anne Slatinsky-Raskopf)
Kristina Moriconi * MJ Iuppa * Davita Joie * Lisa J Cihlar * Lila Hope-Simpson * Joseph Farley * Darshan Frances Jessop * Jane Blue * Gail Goepfert * Russell Colver * Jack Riggs * Caitlin Johnson * Nicole Simonsen * Cynthia McCain * Kenneth Pobo * Heidi Hallett * James P Roberts * Ed Higgins * Terrence Sykes * Martie Odell-Ingebretsen * TM Moore * Martin Willitts Jr * Patrice Boyer Claeys * Robert Nordstrom * Glenda Barrett * Chaya Rosen * Su Zi * Mary Jo Balistreri * Steven Bucher * Erina Booker * Donna H DiCello * David Scheler * David Seth Smith
Anne Slatinsky-Raskopf * Patricia Bashford * David Seth Smith * Pd Lietz * Su Zi * Heidi Hallett * Jason Iffert
(photo by Pd Lietz)
(photo by Patricia Bashford)
Bands of rock cliffs
line the river gorge. We stand close
to the edge, think about miles
clocked on odometers,
about the evermore
intangible idea of home.
I trace my finger
along letters etched into boulders,
wanting to carve our names,
something to last
beyond this moment,
the Mountain Laurel bloom.
Below, the rush of water reminds me
how so much of what happens
is bound and fated
You will not be with me
when I pass this place again;
I will walk the winding trails alone,
learn to live without you.
Keep in Mind
She has come here
half-knowing there is a home
that she is forgetting;
in the front yard,
there is a hill.
Far away—the names
of family, their faces,
all the things
she collected, as if to say,
you will help me
Teacups and milk pitchers,
and paring knives;
in her pocket,
there is always
a tangle of string.
the small muscle movement
but does not recognize
the sound of my name.
There is grief
in this kind of failing,
behind. I begin saving
what I can.
Kristina Moriconi received her MFA in creative writing from Pacific Lutheran University’s Rainier Writing Workshop in Tacoma, Washington. Her work has appeared most recently in Mobius: The Journal of Social Change and The Hive: Apiary. Her recent chapbook is No Such Place (Finishing Line Press, 2013). She teaches writing in the Philadelphia area and runs a writing workshop with Mothers in Charge for women who have lost children to violent crime. Kristina Moriconi is the 2014 MCPL Poet Laureate.
in shades of amber, an ecology of ash
& aspens, their expansive reach to a cloud
chasing sky casts a spell over me . . .
I look up into heights I rarely perceive
from a farm whose land was once smoothed
by the press of a glacier’s hand.
And so, I slide
into the pool of my shadow & sit there quietly
waiting for the windless explosion of monarch
wings or a thousand leaves tumbling like loose
coins tossed into autumn’s sunlight to take
my breath away.
in kitchen’s warmth
kneading dough alive
MJ Iuppa lives on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. Her most recent poems have appeared in Poetry East, The Chariton Review, Tar River Poetry, Blueline, The Prose Poem Project, and The Centrifugal Eye, among other publications. Her most recent poetry chapbook is As the Crow Flies (Foothills Publishing, 2008), and her second full-length collection is Within Reach (Cherry Grove Collections, 2010). Between Worlds, a prose chapbook, was published by Foothills Publishing in May 2013. She is Writer-in-Residence and Director of the Visual and Performing Arts Minor program at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York.
In This World
I want to crawl inside the color purple
Hide myself in an amethyst bubble
View the world through a lilac haze
Drink indigo nectar from a mauve-y chalice
Smell the air, redolent with orchid
Hear the secrets Violet spreads, like pregnant seeds
Lick the sides, discover how magenta whirls across the tongue
My instincts tell me
Nothing tastes of grape
Davita Joie is an essayist and poet currently living in upstate New York. She holds an MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College and her work has appeared in the Freerange Nonfiction Reading Series and Dark Phrases. She is also the former Entertainment Editor and contributing writer for CityFlight Newsmagazine and Lover’s Latte columnist for MochaMatch.com. Twitter: @davitajoie
LISA J CIHLAR
The Old Man Pumping Gas Tells Me Stuff I Didn’t Know
See over there? They took up the old tracks a few weeks back. Went from here to Minneapolis/St. Paul, then all the way to the ocean. Your grandpa and I went west once. There’s a place called Montana, where nothing stops your eye. Not like here where the trees crowd in. Nope, not like here. That train just kept rattling us West. We hardly slept, sitting by the windows, watching a new world in moonlight. Even at night, little towns lit up the prairie. Your grandpa always worried seeing farm house lights on late. Said nothing good was ever happening when a farmer was up late. Once we saw a barn afire. If we could of got off we would of. Carried buckets all night long. But trains don’t stop like that, so we watched it burn, for a long time, getting smaller and smaller, going out on its own accord, or so it looked to us. I think I might have stayed in that Montana, but your grandpa, he had to come back to your grandma. Good thing, too. Braided a line right down to you. But I liked those wide open blue sky spaces myself.
Sides too smooth for the ant to scale. Tub none-too-clean. I would have thought the insect could get purchase, six legs straining. But alas, no. I feel bad. I tear up. I drape a toilet paper bridge into its path. It scurries up a square or two but when I lift, the ant falls off. Over and over we play this out until I shrug, leave it to its ineffectual sorties. It doesn’t trust me to save it from eventual drowning or death from lack of food, unless it eats soap scum in which case it is trapped in some kind of ant heaven.
Lisa J Cihlar’s poems have appeared in Blackbird, South Dakota Review, Green Mountains Review, Crab Creek Review, and Southern Humanities Review. She has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize and was also a Best of the Net nominee. Her chapbook, The Insomniac’s House, is available from Dancing Girl Press and a second chapbook, This is How She Fails, is available from Crisis Chronicles Press. She won the Blue Light Press chapbook contest and that chapbook will be published in 2014. She lives in rural southern Wisconsin.
I am ready
I have been loved.
I have loved deeply.
I have bled.
I have given birth.
I have fed babies at my breast and held the hands of many children.
I have buried my elders throwing dirt into the ground.
I have scattered the ashes of friends.
I have missed and mourned and prayed for the dead
and have spoken to spirits.
I have traveled to far off shores.
I floated in the Dead Sea and rode a camel in the desert.
I swam with the dolphins and stingrays and turtles.
I ran with the bulls and hitchhiked across Canada.
Hiked the Great Wall and floated down the Yangtze River.
I have laughed until my face hurt
and cried myself to sleep.
I have confided and I have listened to others.
I have consoled, hugged and kissed.
I have broken rules.
I have witnessed the seasons come and pass.
I have dreamed and I have forgotten dreams.
I have felt my inner strength
and I have allowed my spirit to guide me.
I have friends who have been sisters.
I have given love and care to my animals
and stood in awe of hummingbirds and owls.
I have watched the moon grow and stars shoot through the sky.
I have observed the corn growing in the fields
and the rush of crowds on city streets.
I have had a home that was my sanctuary
built by a man whom I love.
I have worked hard
and achieved the goals I set for myself.
I have been motivated, challenged and driven.
I have written books and was granted awards.
I cleaned my closets and swept my floors.
I have been in love. I have been in lust. I have been alone.
I have taught my children well.
I have held my grandchild in my arms.
I have been poor and I have been rich.
I have lied and I have learned to speak only truth.
I am a daughter wife mother sister aunt niece grandmother friend lover
teacher writer dreamer.
Come for me now. I am ready.
Your flesh is my flesh.
When your bones crack,
Mine shatter too.
My spirit is broken.
My heart pumps tears for blood.
Where are my guides and protectors?
Where are my ancestors and my soul mate?
I can’t think.
I misplace my keys.
Numbers don’t add up.
My rice sticks to the bottom of the pot.
I have no need for money.
The things I want right now cannot be bought.
My friends weave a net
To catch me from spilling onto the earth.
They embrace me with nourishing words,
Feed me soothing food.
They hold me up
Like an offering.
I feel my wings begin to unfold.
I see the ice sparkling on frozen branches
And spot deer in the orchard.
I share a bottle of wine with my husband.
I don’t cry every single day any more.
I see a circle ahead of me
Instead of a straight line.
It’s going to be okay.
Okay, okay, okay
It’s going to be okay.
Your flesh is my flesh.
When your bones knit together
Mine heal too.
Lila Hope-Simpson is the author of Fiddles & Spoons: Journey of an Acadian Mouse (Nimbus Publishing, 2012), Lila was awarded the Marianna Dempster Award for Children’s Literature from the Canadian Author’s Association. She received the Best Specialty Column Award by the Atlantic Newspaper Association for her Positive Parenting columns, which were compiled in the book, The Clothesline Collection. Lila is the author of the novel, Stepping Out (Three Dogs Press, 2013). Her writing reflects her interest in diversity, destiny, heritage and exploration. Originally from Montreal, Lila Hope-Simpson is a writer and Early Childhood Educator living in Nova Scotia, Canada. Learn more about this author: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lila-Hope-Simpson-Author/394376437349383
(photo by Patricia Bashford)
all hope and fear
along with all memory
of pain and false joy.
Wash away, wash away
in swirling waters,
kind beyond kind,
water turning, churning,
spinning down drains,
all coming from the sky.
Joseph Farley edited Axe Factory from 1986 to 2010. His books and chapbooks include Wolf Poems, Suckers, For the Birds, Longing for the Mother Tongue, Waltz of the Meatballs, Her Eyes, and Crow of Night. His work has appeared recently in Verse Wisconsin, Boston Poetry, Wilderness House Review, Eskimo Pie, Rusty Nail, Rusty Truck, Horror Sleaze Trash, Danse Macabre, Schlock, Assisi, Indigo Mosaic, US1 Worksheets, and many other places.
DARSHAN FRANCES JESSOP
is in an earthen vase
buried in a busy modern life.
of how some ancient history
has traversed the ages
to become a part of now.
It is the breath
of human spirit
as it has been swept
Something in it begs a story,
something buried in this human spirit,
buried in an earthen vase
It’s cooler with each step,
walking down the well-trodden path into the cave
and it is silent.
The walls seem to lurch in
the reflection from the torch catching water,
or minerals, or curves in the wall.
And still cooler now, it is quiet.
Quiet like I yearn for all the time;
I can feel my heart quicken
in the growing silence.
Now there is no more rustling of grasses above,
now the footsteps are muffled,
now the silence grows into a meek roar,
a roar that wants to emerge more.
And blissfully, with each step, it does.
Now it takes on a flavor,
a flavor of deep guttural mosses,
walls that have not seen sunlight,
A loud pulsating roar
echoing within the caverns of self,
silence so deep
it begins to take the form
of the ground beneath my feet
and the walls to each side,
the patterns of the flames,
the breath that I breathe,
Silence so deep that all is contained in it,
every molecule, and every atom.
I can walk with sure footing,
deeper and deeper
into the sacred cave of my being
and our universe,
into the roaring silence and back again.
Darshan Frances Jessop is a writer, poet, musician, consummate entrepreneur, and busy single mom. Originally born in England, she has lived in 40 different places, in four countries and has been enjoying the delights of the High Desert Plateau in New Mexico for the past 18 years. She is currently developing a new, non-profit business to serve children and youth. Find out more: projecturbangreenhouse.org
The Last Rose of Summer
Imagine yourself as an opera singer
tripping up and down the scales
every day, athletic, like running
up and down staircases for exercise,
learning the words for love
in Italian, French, German, Russian:
whatever you’re asked for,
spewing syllables as loudly as you can,
because you mean them––
even the words for hate, and all
the other passions: sorrow,
jealousy, anger. You are
larger than life; it must be a little
like blowing glass, your lungs a bellows
in a hot furnace, as exhausting
and exhilarating as sex;
even in those heavy, brocaded clothes
you are naked, you lie down on the floor,
you swoon off the bed and the bell
of your voice becomes
a body all its own; right now
the soprano is soaring into the aria,
“Letze Rose,” from Martha,
and suddenly I am crying, lifted
on those notes that I could never reach––
Oh, but if I could! My lungs
and diaphragm pumping and expanding
I would live
A woman pushes her child in a stroller with big blue wheels and a canopy; cleverly hinged it began as a buggy for an infant, but now the child sits up, bonneted and alert. There is a definite smell of smoke in the air but the sky is blue: a quickly extinguished grass fire somewhere nearby. Leaves and bark that peels from the plane tree this season litter the lawn from yesterday’s hot wind; the particular light of solstice, the way it clings to the mottled forks of trees.
Yesterday, escaping from the heat we ate crepes far away outdoors. Today a breeze pushes down the river from the bay and the pink roses are blooming. In Colorado a fire rages but only its rumor reaches here: a vision of birds singed and silent and no other sound but the roar of flames and the wind flames make. Here trees spread and merge into one another so that the sky is green with patches of blue. An unknown bird chirps thank you, thank you, thank you over and over again.
Jane Blue has been published recently in Pirene’s Fountain, FutureCycle, The Innisfree Poetry Journal, Stirring, and Avatar. A new book of poems, Blood Moon, was just published by FutureCycle Press (2014). She was born and raised in Berkeley, California but now lives near the Sacramento River with her husband, Peter Rodman. She has recently been experimenting with the Japanese form of haibun. Find Jane Blue’s new book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Moon-Jane-Blue/dp/193885344X
It is coming back to me.
another of body’s ripening
In the glass of my eye
like stenciled shreds
Speckled flies fly
by day, by night,
dart on the rim.
On the lip
of my mind’s eye.
plump globes of juicy
flesh in season,
for the lattice-top pie,
to her hunched spine,
her clock’s tick-tock.
Light dims in a blink.
How is it possible
that I taste with my eyes?
Like silk stockings
on a clothesline,
they come to me,
the leaves of red-oak
diaphanous in the lap
Veins in crackled
It’s hard to brood.
I gather light
coming and going.
Gail Goepfert is a Midwest teacher, poet, and nature photographer. Currently, she serves as an associate editor for Chicago-based RHINO. Her publications appear in anthologies and print and online journals including Avocet, After Hours, Caesura, Florida English, Poetic License Press, and Examined Life Journal, Ardor, and Bolts of Silk among others. She was a Poet of the Month for yourdailypoem.com, two of her poems rode a PACE bus in a Highland Park, Illinois, annual Poetry That Moves contest, and she’s been a runner-up for Journal of Modern Poetry and Mississippi Valley Poetry Contest. As a middle-school educator of many years, she now finds herself in the position of being a student of poetry and writing, and she can’t really decide which side of the desk she loves more. Many of her poems are inspired by place. She loves to travel, and she is refreshed by desert, woods, mountains, and always the sea.
Prayer for the Dark Time
let me become
a leaf shower in November
gold rain down
let me float from attachment
and wait for translation
into fertile decay
let me rise up again
when root suck
or smoke drift
lifts me toward heaven
and let my eternity be
no fantasy of golden streets
again and again
with the cloud-swimming earth
world without end
Because the forecast was for ice,
I came the night before.
You said I looked like a vision
as I crossed the parking lot,
my pillow under my arm,
wearing the only heavy coat I had kept
when we moved south.
I slept in what had been Grandad’s room,
and found bags of peas in the freezer
for your injured shoulder.
We made it a sleepover,
with popcorn and a chick flick,
heavy curtains pulled across the hiss of sleet,
melted butter and Helen Mirren
dressed in nothing more than her best pearls
and the wide-brimmed hat of her dignity
as she posed for the young photographer.
In the morning we made coffee.
It was the last time.
It was like an echo,
that unexpected night,
of all the years I had come
from one city or another,
and we would sit together
at the glass-topped kitchen table
while the kids watched Nickelodeon
with Grandad in the other room.
We would finish off the coffee,
our words easy, deliciously weightless
and of no consequence,
while time closed behind us so quietly
we never noticed.
Last Night the Owls
Last night the owls called each other.
Their soft ghost talk
rubbed the genie lamp of night
releasing a sudden flare of wing
and silent flight from tree to tree.
They summoned me right out of sleep
to float in the light of the bone-white moon
and listen to distance drown them
one by one.
Russell Colver lives and works in North Carolina. Her poems have appeared in the Sewanee Review, Shenandoah, and the American Poetry Review.
(photo by Jason Iffert)
Our son, is my boy.
Forgive me saying this.
I don’t mean to upset you.
You see, I know he’s yours too,
Ours together, differently, the way
His bone and blood come from neither of us.
We took him home,
A boy with three garbage
Bags of clothes, showed him the room
That would always be his as we dipped hands
Into bright paint, bold orange and reds, solid palms
Pressed against forest green walls, the first portrait of a family.
He has been
A challenge, hasn’t he?
God’s love bestowed on us
Unapologetically. But you know
This story, and I am not trying to claim
More than we already possess together. We
Are all in on this one, you and I, and that is good.
But tonight, it is I who will tell him that you are sick.
It is up to me to break the news, and I am afraid
My words will crush our son, that he will see
Us like all the others before who left
Him wrecked, his world
A stuck record,
It is dark when we return from baseball, you standing in
The kitchen alone as I deliver the troubled words.
I cannot see his face as from the car he looks to
You, but I feel sadness pooling in my eyes
Desperately wanting to reach out,
Lay a kiss on this boy that
I cannot heal.
With deed done, we walk toward the door and you. He
Possesses now your malignancy, incipient, swirling
Out beyond this evening’s dusk. There is nothing
More to offer him, the first cold night in
Mid-October, tiny hand sliding into
Mine, unexpectant, full of grace
As moments like these are.
Boy, sweet boy,
Jack Riggs was raised in Lexington, North Carolina, which became the inspiration for the fictional town of Ellenton, the setting of Riggs’ award-winning novel, When the Finch Rises. Published by Ballantine Books in 2003, When the Finch Rises won Georgia Author of the Year–First Novel. The American Library Association recognized it as a Top Ten First Novel, while The Atlanta Journal-Constitution called it one of the top Southern novels of 2003. The Fireman’s Wife, Riggs’ second novel, again won Georgia Author of the Year–Fiction and was selected as a Target Breakout Book, February 2009. “My Boy” is Riggs’ first published poem. Riggs lives in Decatur, GA with his wife and two children.
Slipping between trees
on moss-cool ground.
I haven’t been one with the earth
in a decade, inhospitable
as I am to soil & snails,
ferns & fawns, mud & meadowlarks.
The unaccustomed girl,
they will call me, one who has shunned
the ocherous, small-petaled wildflowers
& saturated coffee tones of bark,
the sky in patches above the canopy
of shelter these oaks & ashes
present, unfaltering in their duties.
I stop to sun myself on a flat
gray slab. When I close my eyes,
I inhale the wilderness;
I exhale butterflies.
Caitlin Johnson is the Managing Editor of CAIRN: The St. Andrews Review. Additionally, she holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Lesley University. Her work has appeared in All Things Girl, Boston Poetry Magazine, Charlotte Viewpoint, Foliate Oak, Fortunates, Gravity Hill, Infinite Press Literary Journal, Pembroke Magazine, and What the Fiction. Caitlin Johnson blogs at http://cateismilesaway.net/
The Marshmallow Test
Tonight my daughter failed the marshmallow test.
She didn’t know it was a test
or that how she answered
would determine her future,
whether she’d make money,
or have job satisfaction,
or get divorced,
or even whether she’d become
a homeless alcoholic
like the phantom bag lady
of West A Street
who sipped sweet wine
from a crumpled brown bag.
Children who fail the marshmallow test
They watch TV instead of doing homework,
they kiss boys behind the dugout,
they skip class and go to the river and
drink wine coolers and throw the empty bottles
into the rushing water
or else leave them in bushes
for the good kids, who did not fail the marshmallow test,
to find and bag because they are racking up
community service hours to impress
Harvard, Yale, Princeton,
and get good jobs and become pillars of
the community and captains of industry and
good stewards of the earth.
She only knew that she was being offered
that she could have two
if she waited until morning.
But she is only six.
She lives in the present moment –
the Eternal Now! –
what the great spiritual teachers tell us is
all we really have.
Unlike the delayers,
she knows to catch joy
the moment it is presented to her,
letting it melt on her tongue, gooey and sweet,
trusting that something more will
arise for later.
Nicole Simonsen’s first published short story just appeared in the November edition of the online magazine Talking Writing. She has three more pieces forthcoming in Brain, Child, SmokeLong Quarterly, and Bartleby Snopes. Nicole earned an MA in writing from UC Davis. More recently, she attended the Squaw Valley Writers Workshop in the summer of 2012. When not writing or taking care of her family, Nicole works as an English teacher at an urban, public high school in Sacramento, CA.
Spirit Quest Day 2
Cloud shadow fringed by the heat
shimmers over the sage.
Round leaves are restless
in the strengthening breeze.
The white bodies of the aspens
comb a growl from the wind.
I rattle. The green gourd bounces.
I rattle. The green gourd shakes.
I rattle ‘til I am green and shapely and loud.
I rattle for the mothers.
for the daughters
for the sons
for the sisters
for the fathers
I rattle and the sound flies
like pine needles in the wind.
Cynthia McCain lives in Oregon, where she’s been a forest ecologist. Her short poems are open windows for her life.
Aunt Gwen Caving
Gwen had a fight on the phone
with her daughter, Delia Anne,
who just got canned. She’ll try
to come home, the fourth time. Gwen
mulls this over in Luray Caverns,
her friends Carla and Mandy walking
behind her, scared of falling
stalactites. Her daughter,
made of mercury, appears,
disappears, often at the same time.
Cave-deep, the guide cuts the lights,
invites a beautiful and terrifying
darkness. All she sees
is Delia Anne’s face in seventh grade,
her half-smile and nervous eyes.
The light returns. A collective
release of breath. Squinting,
they enter sunlight, buy cones,
talk about being young mothers
in babushkas and open toe flats.
Kenneth Pobo has a new chapbook out from Eastern Point Press called, Placemats. His work has appeared in: Mudfish, Indiana Review, Orbis, Hawaii Review, and elsewhere.
(artwork by Heidi Hallett)
Traded Places; Traded Views
The sunset glazed
A plum pink cast
On Lake Michigan
Under a water blue sky
Paisleyed with coral cloud.
Each became the other,
And then back again.
Sky and Lake Michigan,
Lake Michigan and sky.
Heidi Hallett sees creative expression through poetry as a way to collaborate or converse with others. She finds that poetry enables us to examine and appreciate life, and she enjoys working with the imagery in poems to explore an idea. Heidi is a small animal veterinarian who paints with oils as well as words, often using these two mediums to complement each other. To find out more: http://www.aquaartideas.com/home.html
JAMES P ROBERTS
I crave figs.
Their brown sweetness reminds me
I chew love, roll it
on my tongue, savor the rising juices.
Pluck me a fig, o nymph!
Dangle it before my lips.
Taunt me with the color
of your hair as it brushes
Heart, you are a fig
from which I have removed
James P Roberts is the author of four poetry collections: Derne Runes (1996), Spirit Fire (2003), Dancing With Poltergeists (2008), and A Demon In My View (Pickle Barrel Press, 2014). He is the South-Central Region Vice-President for the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets and hosts the annual Winter Festival of Poetry, an eight-week long series of readings held in Madison, between January and March. Recently, he was featured on Wisconsin Public Television’s Wisconsin Life program talking about the Little Free Libraries.
Do behold the King Sequoia! Behold! Behold! – John Muir
Maybe I will embrace
you. Or I will refuse you.
But believe in my longing
nonetheless. Yet this will
not be proof of you. As if
proof of you were my exclusive
province. As in the taste of mist
in an old-growth forest.
There I once embraced
a Giant Sequoia. A
group of twenty of
us holding hands.
circling the impossible
trunk. Morning mist in
cathedrals of sun-slant.
The fibrous bark biting
into my arms and chest,
a scented woodsy hair
shirt while kneeling there
on needle humus. This is
a memory stitched of hope
and I can wait with
uncertainty. I will unravel
there even certainty. Looking
for faith to catch up, holding
upward against all
ok, ok, so I concede
some answers are enough to make you cry or laugh yourself to death funny to think we can see all the way past the sky and stars sometimes even to the ocean floor if we dive deep enough but yet just between
of your favorite pinot
we are all on a trembling shore strolling along a minor cosmic beach
somewhere in the milky way’s stellar fog holding hands with star gods
maybe making love-not-war or both sometimes within our bungeed contingency
at least listening to gulls and the milk-white breakers shifting sands of quandary
watching at the edge of silences mystery twinkling light years out towards countless galactic clusters scrambling to see
Ed Higgins’ poems and short fiction have appeared in various print and online journals including: Monkeybicycle, Pindeldyboz, Tattoo Highway, Word Riot, and Blue Print Review, among others. He and his wife live on a small farm in Yamhill, OR, raising a menagerie of animals including two whippets, a Manx barn cat (who doesn’t care for whippets), two Bourbon Red turkeys (King Strut and Nef-ra-Turkey), and an alpaca named Machu Picchu.
quays & cathedrals
rue & chamomile
tea brewing in a café
on the Left Bank
mapless & memoried
pressed & placed
in camphor trunks
cargoed in some
to & fro in dawning winds
orient nor occident
across some grey foggy
mizzle laden arrodissement
pigeons or angels
to carry me celestial bound
Terrence Sykes was born and raised in the rural coal mining area of Virginia. This isolation brings the theme of remembrance to his creations, whether real or imagined. Though not traditional in his spiritual path, these traditional threads of his past are woven into his tapestry of writing. His poetry has been published in India, Scotland and the USA. His most recent publication was in Poetry Quarterly.
The Opal Water
Long past noon
when the banshee sleeps
and the tall grasses stiffen,
you may find an indentation in the ground
where lovers, rolling and wet,
covered with pearls of sweat
had open-eyed sex.
The earth saves things like that.
It keeps them like marbles and summer wine
until they are warm and green.
Caught against a rock, sun spent,
they will change their color each morning
until the last wind coats the ground with dust.
Who will remember when lush summer lips
begged blossom from a seed?
In the harbor,
far from the loud noise of meadows,
the fog has closed the sky
and muffled the mood of salt.
Even the sea has gathered oil and water
and twirled some forbidden coffee spoon into life.
Martie Odell-Ingebretsen was born in Pasadena, California. She fell in love with books at an early age and continues that love of reading. She received her AA degree at Pasadena City College and attended the University of California at Berkeley and several California State College campuses where she majored in English Literature and Creative Writing. She is a child-development specialist and taught young children for over thirty years. She and her husband owned a flower shop for twenty years, where she spent many holidays delivering flowers. Martie has taken many classes in creative writing, poetry and fiction throughout her life. Her Novella, Sweet William, was published in 2013. She has also written a number of short stories, and over two thousand poems, some of which have been published. She continues to write and finds poetry to be a way to express her deepest feelings. She is a keen observer and finds imagery in all things, and in so doing, appreciates the beauty and learns from the wisdom that surrounds her. Martie lives in Sacramento, CA.
Between the shutter slats, I look out on
the Blue Ridge, lying off a way – serene,
sublime, and subtle as the unnoticed dawn.
The leaves, which otherwise would block this scene,
are gone, and now the trees seem braced to greet
the coming cold courageously. Above
the town the buzzards find the rising heat
and kettle on the thermals. (Who can love
such splendid ugliness?) The dark, gray sky
provides a fitting stage and background for
their effortless display and dance, there high
above the almost-winter valley floor.
Such everyday delights are tokens of
unfailing faithfulness and steadfast love.
TM Moore is Principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He is the author of more than 20 books, including 4 books of poetry. His papers, articles, essays, reviews, and poems have appeared in dozens of journals, periodicals, and websites. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Lucketts, VA.
MARTIN WILLITTS JR
(photo by Patricia Bashford)
Sitting Still To Hear the Quiet
If you listen, you can hear it,
a blackberry changing from flower
to berry, in the slowness
you can hear the leaves make oxygen,
like filling a low tire,
or a pinfeather breaking loose,
the still has different shades of quiet,
some potency, and then,
the words disappear
you have to lower the heart
like temperature, like a stone
in molasses, filling the emptiness.
Martin Willitts Jr has been nominated for 6 Pushcart and 6 Best of the Net Awards, and he has 5 full-length and 20 chapbooks of poetry, including national award winning, Searching For What Is Not There (Hiraeth Press, 2013). His forthcoming poetry books include: Waiting For The Day To Open Its Wings (UNBOUND Content), Art Is the Impression of What an Artist Sees (Edgar and Lenore’s Publishing House), City Of Tents (Crisis Chronicles Press), Swimming In the Ladle of Stars (Kattywompus Press), A Is For Aorta (Kind of Hurricane Press), Martin Willitts Jr., Greatest Hits (Kattywompus Press), The Way Things Used To Be (Writing Knights Press), and Irises, the Lightning Conductor For Van Gogh’s Illness (Aldrich Press). Martin recently won the 2014 Dylan Thomas International Poetry Award.
PATRICE BOYER CLAEYS
Along the Hudson
Stepping down and through the archway
we entered a room as white as milk
its unexpected spirit-lift as sudden
as the shock of a shell’s smooth secret.
The shiny wedding tent rose in spires, poles
spiking the taut skin, stretching
to give us fine, high spaces to send our joy to.
Twining the skyward pointing masts,
delicate fingers of lacy moss
trembling leaves the size of thumbprints
and fairy lights, tiny points
each shining with crystal fire.
We sat on golden chairs in neat rows
perched to take it all in—
the stately carved black urns
holding frothy green hydrangeas
mysterious jungle orchids with speckled throats
deep red dahlias the color of life’s vivid pulse,
as lush as the inside of a lover’s mouth.
We loved you, Brother, in your happiness.
Our fingers felt the smoothly sliding gold
the cool solidity of encircling resolve.
Our smiles came wide and true
like yours, prolonged and generous
nakedly innocent once more,
accepting and accepting.
We sat in circles around smooth white stones
their beauty magnified, contained in water
anchoring the graceful stems
centering the easy conversation
the laughter of those chosen to share your open heart.
Our father, sadly absent all these years,
appeared in the fluttering hems of the dancing girls,
surfaced in the face of his brother
happy to be among the sons and daughters.
Our mother, slow and smiling,
moved quietly, her silver jacket
loosing disks of light,
leaving tiny constellations on cushions and lapels
as she leaned to kiss and be kissed.
And out beyond our elevated place
tree trunks stood in silent witness
mist gave way to warming sun
grassy hills rolled to the river
and children, dressed in vests and pastels,
turned cartwheels to consecrate the day.
Waiting for the Elevator
Thinking of what
she said, I wait
on the tenth floor
by doors that read
the branched marble
through black rock.
in the core of time,
the fissure thins
to snake like blood
constricted but flowing,
in white veins.
“You’ve never been
afraid of complexities,”
she says, referring
to the inner maze
motifs, as she smiles
and recedes. Stepping
into the elevator,
I breathe in
the warm, woodsy
scent of someone
here and gone,
and for the first time
in my fifty years
I thank God
for who I am.
Patrice Boyer Claeys holds a certificate in poetry from The Writer’s Studio at the University of Chicago. Her collection, Good Girls, resulted from this work. She spent ten years studying at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Northwestern University, where she was a contributor and editor of the Journal, its award-winning literary publication. Her work appears in The Mom Egg Review, Found Poetry Review, ARDOR and Poet and Artist Chapbook of the Northwest Cultural Council. She is a member of Serious Play, an ongoing workshop led by Alice George in Evanston, Illinois.
What Is Missed
In youth summer dripped
like ice cream down the side of a cone
autumn stood at attention
in the cool morning light
winter’s presumptuous hieroglyphics
etched against gray skies
promised soon soon
the earth will crack open again
all that was missed
like this old woman
who picks a can of soup from the shelf
puts it in her basket
picks it up again
places it back on the shelf
and rolls slowly away
Sing to the Edge
Stand at the edge and
to the forest’s
black airless pockets
to the worm-rotted trees bowing
beneath the luxurious silence of new shade
from the heart Zorba’s song
until birds dance in the trees
until the heavy fruit falls
into streams and rivers
as their pits roll like stones onto distant shores
to be cupped and kissed by children
as their black soulless eyes are relit
and sour breath sweetened
to the edge of every thing
Robert Nordstrom is a poet, freelance writer, and school bus driver. His poetry and fiction have appeared in numerous literary publications, including Verse Wisconsin, Rosebud, Miller’s Pond, Echoes, Poetry Quarterly, Staccato Fiction, Pif Magazine, Peninsula Pulse, Main Street Rag, Boston Literary Magazine (forthcoming) and Upstreet (forthcoming). As a school bus driver, his most recent accomplishment is teaching several kindergarteners how to snap their fingers.
The first half of my life,
like a gerbil in a cage,
I ran around the wheel.
With a sense of urgency
I multi-tasked way before
the word became popular.
Perfection was the key.
Stay in control and keep
it together at all costs.
Show no signs of weakness.
It was only after I heard
the word, “Incurable,”
I learned to pay attention
to things like: the slow, steady
rhythm of a single, falling leaf,
the touch of my grandson’s cheek,
a splash of sun on red geraniums,
genuine laughter on a tired face,
and the scent of wild honeysuckle.
Then, and only then
did I know how to live.
Glenda Barrett, a native of Hiawassee, Georgia is an artist, poet and writer. Her paintings are on display at Fine Art America. Glenda’s writing has appeared in Woman’s World, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Country Woman, Farm & Ranch Living, Rural Heritage, Psychology for Living, Nostalgia, Journal of Kentucky Studies and many others. Her poetry chapbook titled, When the Sap Rises, is available on Amazon.com.
You keep coming back
in spite of neglect
to nourish you
You keep being
of heart losses
or intellect tosses
You are symmetry
not humble enough
Chaya Rosen’s multi-cultural background includes an upbringing heavily influenced by post Holocaust Era and a strong spiritual framework from a childhood in Israel. As an adult, she lived in New York, California, Colorado as well as New Hampshire. She received a BA in Communication from the University of Colorado in Denver and a Masters of Science in Management from Rivier College in Nashua, New Hampshire. Chaya’s writing is based on a lifelong journey, of a spiritual and introspective nature, to examine and define frailties and tragic loss by the human condition. She is the author of two poetry books, Streaming light and Scattered Stones.
(artwork by Su Zi)
their orange eyes unfaltering
Cranes, two, in request.
still, these small souls pose,
on branch or wire, a moment’s
this moment is round;
most faithful the Cardinals,
soft chirp for the now.
The Frankenstorm has put frost on the blades of Florida
and there are angry dishes in the kitchen
of this house that you touched briefly so long ago.
The tree you planted is full, vigorous and larger than expected.
Your tears in the water are a chemistry beyond your degree.
There’s a full moon that is livid in the northeast
and a pink candle in the window to the north,
because you have aged past
Jack O Lanterns
and my children have fur.
You would be eighty one today
and my costume is your habit: jeans, flannel, thick boots,
Of your many gifts, I have your eyebrows
your soup recipe —
Oh how I would invoke
your lullaby or your laugh.
The flesh of the earth yields,
turning between small, square palms.
It is the day for dice and the washing of graves,
so the last feathers of the late storm
make a thousand thousand perfect circles at 3pm
to the gratitude of the grass, which glows,
to the glory of the names facing skyward.
Here is our oval, rising into shapes
veils of evaporation
urns of clay
the full moon later
with Jupiter on her shoulder.
In the blue of the morning,
while the oldest oak still dreams of night’s mists,
the moon pales west past fallows and pastures
dew spangled cobwebs,
tiny skittering birds.
My hands speak all day of grain and reins,
keypads, of a bruise,
of the definitive slant of light,
of these moments without memory.
Yet my attire is your lesson:
big sweaters, careless hair,
bare face, blue jeans
my meal is dinner, because
that’s what you taught,
and there’s the purchased plate of fried shrimp.
In fact, the chocolate phosphate of your Depression Era soda-fountain childhood
is now an unspoken institution at the dam diner: a legacy
to those who never knew you.
There’s no one to see
your echo in my face,
the jokes made only we would find funny.
We are women who look down when we walk,
and now today walking,
there were all those we took
so the conversation continues
all the internal, reflexive anachronisms.
It was on this very porch
how it would be
when that phone call came.
I said “can you make it so,”
and you said, “I can do that.”
Thus, it was
(and it was strength to hold fast when unknown voices
counseled otherwise, but
you were wise “ignore them”
thus, it was).
Okay, maybe I am an odd girl.
I am your girl,
ending three days homage birthday
with this memento mori
of that one morning
I called you, your voice a single guttural wheeze,
as the Parkinson’s froze your throat,
and I said, “I just called to listen to your life.”
For a minute I heard your room through the telephone
until your lost grasp.
A few mornings later, it was 10:35, the nurse answered.
Unwilling to leave your couch and TV, gave breezy syllables,
but it was then
your final stillness,
yet I felt you for hours.
At 4pm there was a wind of relief,
full sails of joy.
I felt you blossom
into the physics without formula.
Now this gibbous moon rides forty degrees into her ascent,
and the crickets are the symphony of summer age seven.
Nothing will be as crisp as those new cotton pajamas
after a post-sunburn bath,
and if our bodies remember
all the ways,
then this is one of your many.
Thus, it is
square hands never resting,
opening not to ashes, but
the creeping chill
an awaited whisper, that I
know is yours.
Su Zi has spent her life in dedication to art, working in the various genres of writing and visual work. She is the founding editor of Red Mare Press, a handmade chapbook serial publication. Each copy has an individually block printed cover, a hand sewn binding, and is numbered. She is a bibliophile, a tattoed person, an equestrian, and a second-generation eco-conscious person. Su Zi welcomes inquiries about her work. She has had essays published on both the Cosmoetica and the Gypsy Art Show sites. Su Zi’s latest art book, Pillar of Salt, is available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Pillar-Salt-The-Art-Su/dp/0988859939. To browse handmade, original art by Su Zi, and to view copies of the Red Mare Press annual chapbook series, please visit her Etsy page: https://www.etsy.com/listing/192198340/red-mare-8-maxine-chernoff
MARY JO BALISTRERI
A Ballet Tribute to Frank Sinatra
White gossamer unfolds on stage,
unfolds like petals of a newly opened rose.
Dazzling dancers, lovers in a Manhattan
skyscape glide under a star-studded sky
woven together with moon glow, swirling
into a kaleidoscope of lunar reflections.
In the shadows, “Ol Blue Eyes,” with slouched
hat, the famous trench coat, croons
“Fly me to the Moon” and the implosion
of ballet, show biz, and music fills
the auditorium with sighs of desire.
The old tunes, the jumps, the twirls, leap
across generations, the years of toe shoes
and twisted feet forgotten. A woman inhales
a deep drink of possibility, wants to sing among the stars.
As she leaves the theater, light-headed and giddy,
open to the warm night, the glow of impatiens
throws orange petals at her feet. She wants to propel
herself onto the wooden bench, spread her arms
wide and sing
Let me see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars.
Mary Jo Balistreri has two books of poetry published by Bellowing Ark Press, Joy in the Morning and Gathering the Harvest. Her chapbook, Best Brothers, was recently released by Tiger’s Eye Press (Spring/2014). Mary Jo has published widely in journals such as Grist, Passager, The Examined Life Journal, Verse Wisconsin, Windhover, and others. She has three Pushcart nominations, and two Best of the Net. One of the founding members of “Grace River Poets,” Mary Jo enjoys bringing poetry to churches, women’s shelters, and schools, showing with life examples how God uses poetry as a vehicle for affirmation and healing. Please visit her site for more information at maryjobalistreripoet.com
In the dim
and quieting candle light
In the last few moments
just before sleep
Beneath the carved beams
and slanting rafters
arched above the bed
I drift amid
the blessed shadows
of the day
And the soft lit beauty
that you bring
So far beyond
my simple sight
to draw you close
That we might share
this faint and flickering grace
The candle now
does not dispel the dark
But gives it
Embracing me in a love
beyond heart’s measure
So that the shadows
of my life
No longer threaten
but carve the hard facets
of my lengthening soul
in endless stars
The burning beauty
of your simple flame
Steven Bucher is a new poet living on a small farm in the Virginia Piedmont. He is an active member of the Poetry Society of Virginia and was invited by the Society to read a selection of his poetry at the Potomac Poets Series in the spring of 2012. He has a PhD in philosophy from the University of Toronto and wrote his dissertation on Friedrich Nietzsche’s, Also Sprach Zarathustra, as viewed from the movement within 18th and 19th century German thought to create a new mythology.
(photo by Patricia Bashford)
The endless blues
of gospel songs,
a thousand geographies
and melded twilight colours;
the evening lengthens –
outside the window
palm fronds absorb the green band,
reflect an ashy blue,
pearlised by street lights,
dense in their
tropical lushness –
a theme and infinite variations;
but despite this profusion of tint,
I never tire of tracing
the blue veins
over the muscles
of your arms –
soft tributaries from
your beating heart.
We knew it was there
all along –
intricacies of melody, rhythm, in
the wind the wood
the horn the hide
this cathedral of sound
this healing force,
merge the elements:
put the hide to the gourd
the breath to the reed
the lips to the horn
and peg the gut precisely
on the wooden frames –
enlightenment streams between;
place your fingers
produce the sounds
of molecules and atoms
Erina Booker has written poetry for most of her life. She completed a Major in Literature within her Bachelor of Arts degree from Griffith University, Queensland, Australia. While living at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, she studied and wrote poetry. Some of her work was published in The Ithaca Grapevine. She has published five books of poetry, and is currently working on her sixth. As a counselor, and teacher, Erina uses the power of words for healing.
DONNA H DICELLO
At ten I would steal
to the top of the house,
the quiet aerie,
step after step creaking,
groaning, as I made my ascent.
Aromas of sauce trailed behind,
as I opened the door
the smell of mustiness and heat.
Through that portal
I learned my solitude,
bowing to its power;
dreams darted and shone
like tungsten stars,
books were consumed with unquiet delight
as the rocker kept time and cadence,
the words looping and falling.
Even then I plucked them like grapes
from my grandmother’s vines,
savoring their sweetness and
fleshiness, closing my eyes
in expectation for all
of the worlds yet to be.
Donna H DiCello is a clinical psychologist whose first loves have always been the mind and the shape, sound, and meaning of words. After leaving academia and returning to full-time clinical practice she has begun writing and studying poetry in earnest, a true “coming home.” In her poetry she values both a sense of time and place as ways to emotionally reach the reader. Donna lives in CT with her spouse and their feisty Norfolk Terrier.
Burn me into vapors
the way a blue flame
the melting crimson
into a fragile spectrum.
My prayers rise in smoke
of paraffin dreams—
the white light of infinity
refracted through prisms,
dividing in fractals—
patterns of light in a tapestry
repeated in rhythms of Persia.
The colors are bordered
of yet other borders
we bind clear and clean
united in a pattern of whiteness:
the complement and completion
Near the Alps of Provence
lie miles of fields
where spring’s wild red poppies
stand full in meadows
spread with violet lace.
Before the lavender
begins to blow,
the countryside is a mist
of rose and purple wind.
This is where my life
begins to rise, here, there,
like a swallow. The route
to Moustiers Ste-Marie
is filled with warbling.
I ascend toward the sky,
clouds in the pass
cling to white cliffs,
sheer walls plunge
into the Gorge de Verdon.
I rest near the crest, vertiginous,
and sit beside a waterfall
that flows over boulders
covered in emerald moss.
The water tumbles to the base
of the mountain
and my river flows on
to Lac Ste.-Croix.
May my obituary
read like this.
David Scheler, a graduate of UW–Madison in philosophy, is a freelance marketing researcher. He was a jewelry designer for over 15 years. Other interests include gardening, fishing and music. Publications in which his poems appear include Avocet, Comstock Review, Main Street Rag, Ranfurly Review (UK), Reed, and a chapbook, Casting For Meteors (Finishing Line Press, 2011). In reacquainting himself with the French language, he has translated over 100 of his poems into French.
DAVE SETH SMITH
We are present tense
place ourselves around corners
not yet turned
or in reminiscing,
our better fictions.
We live in
the time between
seeing the shot
and the clicking
of the shutter,
or by studying
that was held
for the briefest
and wondering again
what that was.
It is the distance in
the automatic door makes,
as you are regarded
before it opens,
in the distance
between the teeth
in a watch
and follows the
Tick, tick, tick.
(photo by Dave Seth Smith)
Anne Slatinsky-Raskopf (BHR issue 2 cover artist) resides in Wisconsin. After receiving two, art merit scholarships, she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Anne moved to New York City after graduation to pursue a Graphic Design career, where she worked in the publishing industry. After many years in the graphics field, Anne returned to painting. She paints both residential and commercial murals, having adorned homes and establishments throughout the Lake Country Area. More recently, she has devoted more of her attention to fine art. Collectors of Anne’s work enjoy pastoral settings, steeped in personal significance. Anne is the Associate Director of the Delafield Arts Center in Delafield, WI. You can view Anne’s work at special exhibits and art shows throughout the year. Find out more about this artist: www.anneraskopf.com
Patricia Bashford is an award winning photographer and a retired professor of photography, theatre, film, and communications. A world traveler, her trespasser’s eyes connect the revealed image with the rhythms that underpin the landscapes of daily living. In countries as diverse as Russia, Turkey, Cambodia, China, Greece, Ireland and the United Kingdom, she has captured images that reflect both documentary and personal visions. Pat works almost exclusively in digital formats, though her background includes the traditional darkroom. She has exhibited extensively in the Northeast in numerous solo and group shows, and sells her work to private collectors. She is listed in Women in the Arts and Who’s Who Among Professional Women. Patricia is the co-author of Living Nature’s Moments: a conversation between poetry and photography (Vox Novus Press, 2014). To find out more, visit her website: www.travelswithpat.com
David Seth Smith is an editor and resident poet/artist at BlogNostics.net and is also co-founder and contributing artist at the Art Ambush Project. He currently resides in Virginia. To view more of his digital art online, please visit David Smith’s Digital Art page.
Pd Lietz is a widely published artist from Canada. Her writing, art and illustrations have appeared in and as covers of many publications: Naugatuck River Review Summer 2011 & Winter 2013, MaINtENaNT: Journal of Contemporary DADA Writing and Art #4 5 & 6, Visions, Voices and Verses, Sunrise From Blue Thunder, DoveTales “Occupied” an International Journal of the Arts, Uncoil A Night, Beautiful Women an anthology, Origami Poetry Project, Songs of Sandy, When Women Waken, to name a few. She is also artist-in-residence for Writers for Peace. Links: http://www.pdlietzphotography.com; http://writingforpeace.org/artist-in-residence; http://saintjulianpress.com/index.html; https://twitter.com/PaulaLietz; http://madswirl.com
Su Zi has spent her life in dedication to art, working in the various genres of writing and visual work. She is the founding editor of Red Mare Press, a handmade chapbook serial publication. Each copy has an individually block printed cover, a hand sewn binding, and is numbered. She is a bibliophile, a tattooed person, an equestrian, and a second-generation eco-conscious person. Su Zi welcomes inquiries about her work. She has had essays published on both the Cosmoetica and the Gypsy Art Show sites. Su Zi’s latest art book, Pillar of Salt, is available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Pillar-Salt-The-Art-Su/dp/0988859939. Signed copies of Pillar of Salt are also available on Etsy. To browse handmade, original art by Su Zi, and to view copies of the Red Mare Press annual chapbook series, please visit her Etsy page: https://www.etsy.com/listing/192198340/red-mare-8-maxine-chernoff
Heidi Hallett sees creative expression through poetry as a way to collaborate or converse with others. She finds that poetry enables us to examine and appreciate life, and she enjoys working with the imagery in poems to explore an idea. Heidi is a small animal veterinarian who paints with oils as well as words, often using these two mediums to complement each other. To find out more, please visit www.aquaartideas.com.
Jason Iffert moved from the Twin Cities to Lake Country, WI about five years ago. He graduated from Minnesota School of Business with a short degree in graphic design and marketing. Jason also studied art history at the University of Minnesota. He started using his first camera in 2007. After moving, Jason started a little business call ID (Iffert Design). He currently works as a freelance graphic artist and photographer. More of Jason’s photography will appear in the winter 2015 issue of Blue Heron Review.
Copyright © 2014 Blue Heron Review ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
(Blue Heron Review holds first publication rights of poems. All original rights go back to individual authors.)