Issue 2 features the poetry of Tony Bates, Arlo d'Olivine, Diana Dunn, Mara Inglezakis, Kathleen Finn Jordan, Tanja Kummerfeld, Bethany Lee, Donna Pucciani, Laura Grace Weldon, and David M. Williams.
Enjoy these offerings either by clicking on the authors' names above or scroll below.
Supernatural, intuition, supra natural, unconscious,
Sin, sex, satisfaction, self-denial, surrender,
God’s gifts from the river of forever,
Vision beholden to dream-light.
The engine of intention shifts gears
From the sun’s gift to sight,
Snagged in the stream of becoming.
Resting before a pond, in reflection.
A body of water,
I am about 60% water.
Born of the daughter of laughter,
I converse to the music of becoming
On my short stretch along the falls, eddies, and oxbows,
Winding and widening vocabulary,
Body in verbal sea.
We seldom know
What other people are thinking.
Though the suspicion grows,
Truth’s insect seldom settles there.
When that conviction blows in,
Grass becomes lawn
Delusion mows it blind.
Starlight sorts out confusion
Among the blades,
As the sweep of headlights
Nets black fly, biting midge, fruit fly and fungus gnat,
True to themselves
Among the fireflies
Wings sing in the ear.
Photo by Ritchie Valens on Unsplash.com.
Tony Bates grew up in different parts of the world following his father’s postings in the Foreign Service. Now living in Alexandria Virginia, he is a retired government bureaucrat, house husband, part time writer, gardener, and community volunteer. Both a self-styled "Citizen of Nowhere” and a concerned citizen of this remarkable country.
To Make Plans as a Blade of Grass
Today? Let us play with our meat,
paint it up and toss
about while we’re still fresh. Let’s pull
our hair in tears in bed
at three a.m. Let’s fuss
and find a way to be, spit
in spite at those too close
or else too far and strange.
No need to speak the stakes. Bleed over
borders, lose sleep for a name.
I am. Am I, yes, I?
That settled, scrap and bend our backs,
kink our wrists to roll
someone else’s boulder,
wishing always it were ours,
for gas money, rent, a meal.
Meet a stranger, beach
our boats together. Nest and weather
every storm in hope
that winds are easier
withstood in groups, give and bend
until the I am can give
no more. Morning. Appreciate
the flotsam, jetsam, lagen, derelict,
everything we’ve touched
that bobs and glints behind us.
You and I, let’s pretend
to meet accidentally
a lifetime, give or take,
after our souls first saw each other
and decided to cross that floor
and dance again. Let’s forget
and leave the front door open, just
a crack, uncharacteristic
of us, distracted, swept up,
but greet what comes. Maybe slack
our tired hands, let go
what we hold, were told
that makes us special, instead become
what’s beautiful. Let’s give
our love and hope and all to youth and know
they’ll cry and pull their hair regardless.
The Weight of a Man
Forgiveness ends the dream of conflict here.
-Helen Schucman, A Course in Miracles
Logical conclusions: 100% Dacron Polyester
pressed slacks, pressed flat, pressed navy-blue against the neck, against black
and blacktop. A manufactured weave left in the skin, in negative.
Nothing is an accident. What use is knowing the weight of a man
applied, with care and intent, when we can barely speak the name of the figure
behind him, hands on epaulets, pressing down. It’s on the video,
between the frames, if you hold your phone just right. But still, he placed his knee
and waited. And here, safe in the quiet world of beads and candles, I wonder:
how pleasant to dream all conflict sublimated to forgiveness, imagine
seeing all as sinless. Too close to accept the things we cannot change
and other existential pleasantries for sale in painted pine.
All well and good but where to start? Forgiveness by the minute? Second?
Forgiveness for every plea for breath, plea to man, for mom, for God?
I can’t. Who could name constellations from the stars in his dying vision?
Score the symphony behind the pin-pricks danced across his tongue?
I can’t. The video re-plays. He dies every time. Black
on blacktop, slacks sharp pressed. Abrasion resistant and hypoallergenic.
Dacron Polyester. Authority Blue. Logical conclusion.
Arlo d’Olivine works with databases by day though he is an artist at heart, working in music, prose, poetry, and photography when he can. He lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with his family. His work can be found on notebooks and hard drives strewn about the house.
Photo by Federico Beccari on Unsplash.com.
Who Asked Me
What do you want?
What do you want from me?
Breakfast. French toast. No. Cereal.
To sit on your lap. To twirl your hair.
What do I really want?
These come out as complaints, demands, shrill attacks, and defenses.
I want to sit quietly.
I want to look and observe and see.
I want to be on the quiet outside.
Who asks me?
Jesus. “What do you want?"
What do I want?
I want to be calm and looking and observing and seeing and quiet when you ask for breakfast, change your mind, demand more, climb on my
lap and twirl my hair.
The Door Doesn’t Answer, But Calls;
or Lady, Bug
Again, the Door has dawned.
Walk through the spider webs trapezed across its opening.
The discomfort—lacey dust clinging to my cheeks, nose, face.
Release “I can’t.”
Invisible threads. Mighty bars. Noisy shackles. The internal dialogue “I said the wrong thing. She doesn’t like me now. I regret all of this, the house, the marriage, the dogs, I can’t do this anymore.”
Each night the spider spins its web
back and forth over the opening door.
A thread of shame.
A thread of fear.
Another of lack, disdain.
This one of insufficiency.
Here is a secret:
Each morning, I am to gently sweep my soft, sleepy hands over the glimmering threads,
and make my
daily prison escape.
Before the morning stampede of feet cascading down the stairs and hurried hands rummaging through the cupboards.
Hear the call of dawn, step through, and be ransomed!
Rescue Becomes Voyage
The storm has past.
The Storm is not over.
Who can tell the difference?
The blood orange sun is glowing, shielding its eyes from behind a cloud as it looks down on you.
Who is brighter?
Who will enter into eternity?
faith, hope, and love
Who can tell the difference?
See now, look around,
you are helping yourself inside your own work.
But the mystery; when does the rescue become voyage?
ask this, as you turn, startled, now terrified, to find the oars have slipped out of your hands; watching them disappear into the deep.
Photo by Meghan Schiereck on Unsplash.com.
Diana Dunn finds any and every outlet to cope with the daily triumphs and defeats of being her own self, a wife, a mother, and a therapist. Diana writes in spurts; it comes all at once, like a wellspring that’s suddenly tapped into and then left to recover and regenerate until the next showering.
The Girl Who Gave Blowjobs in the Stairwell
The boy who made the crowd stop
breathing when he sang O Holy Night
died of a drug overdose. He was adopted
by a rich white family from somewhere
in sub-Saharan Africa, they told him.
We sat next to each other on the bus on the way
to the rich white school that would expel me for
promiscuity, the school that would let him stay on because he
sent the right message.
He enclosed me in his headphones, sometimes;
the music of the blood and
‘I think I love you.’
He was a full-spectrum streetlight
shining at the center of a void.
I was so afraid.
The Last Among Us
I felt him coming and I hid myself
behind the first boulder I could find. He called
my name and he called up a wind
to press back against me. He asked
me if I’d like to become a dick joke someday.
He had me when I laughed. I told him yes
when he asked if he could start with my hands.
Under his, the trackmarks
blossomed. They turned
into tattoos of roses;
my mother’s initials; a sacred snake.
We walked out of the house together,
fingers laced. The people were amazed.
Some young blonde woman wearing signs—‘Science
Is Real Black Lives Matter Water Is Life And
All Are Welcome Here’—she seized me from behind.
She screamed across the raw shell of my ear: Amazing!
Your leprosy is gone! I told her
none of us are lepers. None.
The Seditionist’s Mother
I will always remember you with your head, here,
in my palm and in the space between the bicep
and the tricep of my other arm.
I will remember your
body, the length of my forearm to the tip of my
middle finger. I will remember the sound
of your blood.
It has the power to drown out
everything—whatever you are,
whatever they think you are.
Photo by Brock Wegner on Unsplash.com.
Mara Inglezakis is a poet and informatician with a background in practical epistemology and vocal music. Writing about faith, generational trauma, and sexuality, she lives in the Midwestern United States.
Opening the chalet door
The forest looms encircling all
And I, dot like, in the scheme of green
Sluice into the waiting chair
Gasping at the view
Loved into a new consciousness
By brushed air in the overwhelming heat
graced, shaded, smiled upon by sycamores
Aware of the silenced once murmuring brook
Life giving spring water slurped up into the heat of the day
Ketamine still- eyes held fast on the trees
I watch and sit as early evening shadows slip into gaps
and dappled sunlight patches disappear
Leaves whisper in the breeze from the west
Chirping day birds yield their places
Woodpeckers cease their rhythmic patterns
Deer run deeper into the brush
And the night birds hovering in the highest levels of the trees
Begin their antiphonal chanting non stop til daybreak
And the beginning once again of the cycle of nature
Here and very much now.
Trapped Inside a Grapevine
Trapped inside a grapevine
Reaching for the sun
Popping out the luscious fruits
Clinging to the posts for fun
Bordeaux is my setting
Smiling vineyards home
Loving every moment
In the rich earthy loam
My future after stomping
Slips into a crystal glass
With notes of sky and field and love
Promise of life and joy and class.
Darkness falling -- but why
Magic gone and weightiness
Burdening, grinding, pummeling all
Into sandy crustiness.
Disenchantment – crystals deadened
Sunlight disappearing agency silenced
Nowhere to go. No one to inspire
A giant curtain has fallen
And blindness has set in
Need braille, need light, need a sparkle wand
To sprinkle, spangle, splay
And a spray of ocean wind to blow away
The haunting bass chords
And tipple into champagne bubbles
And lyric crescendo
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash.com.
Kathleen Finn Jordan is a native New Yorker, first generation American who has spent her time teaching in the United States and abroad. She enjoys writing, exploring new ideas, and sharing in interesting discussions. She regularly participates in online poetry-art publication on Spark and is currently retired and living in Washington, D.C.
The Vultures Have a Heart of Their Own
I do recognize their feathered shame in
many shapes. Their shame is not my shame.
I have my own to deal with. Inside I am torn—
like the pieces of meat, they fight about.
It sometimes feels like being eaten alive—
a tiny mouse trapped in their beaks.
They can swallow me whole, if they choose.
And that wouldn’t be—
pretty at all.
Passing a mirror, I recognize
my feathered shape.
I am a vulture, too.
I drop my gaze and
(advise you to)
walk lightly out of
the danger zone.
The Spider (for Emily)
The spider crawls along
my balcony table. He is
flat, flatter than any
being I have ever seen.
When I stare at him, he
stops. Does he feel
my eyes on him or
am I just making
I let the spider
crawl on my leg. Yikes. It is all
transient and I am the queen of
I dwell in it. Every day.
I make it my hostess,
my good friend.
I have planted some seeds +
seedlings to remind
me of the beauty
that appears among
all the pain, among the ghosts
of the past. Every day.
Inspired by the poem “Kastanien” by Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger
Die Kastanien liegen auf meinem Weg.
Ich lese sie auf, eine nach der anderen.
Kann ich mir auf diesem Weg vergeben?
Ich lese sie auf die Kastanien, eine nach der
anderen und sehe mir ihre Form an, ihre Unterschiedlichkeit,
ihre glänzenden und matten Brauntöne. Ich frage sie, was
ihre Bestimmung ist. Wie sie die Leere füllen: Sie lächeln und
sagen. Ein Moment der Freude.
Chestnuts (Translation from German)
Chestnuts lie scattered around my path.
I pick them up, one by one.
Can I forgive myself on this path?
I pick them up, one after the
other and look at their form, their differences,
their glossy and matte browns. I ask them, what
their purpose is. How they fill the emptiness: They smile and
say: “One Moment of joy.”
Tanja Kummerfeld, Über die Vergänglichkeit (On Transience)
Tanja Kummerfeld studied American and Italian Literature at the Universities of Hamburg and Delaware. She is currently on a strange journey and doesn’t know yet where it will take her. Writing and painting are ways of explorations for her. Sometimes she dares to call herself a poet, other times she is a secretary who happens to write.
If I Have the Courage
Everyone talks about what to do
when the door closes against you,
dismisses a disappointment
with the flippancy of a fridge magnet
“When God closes a door
he opens a window,” which—ugh
that’s not terribly helpful with your nose
still stinging from the slam in your face
It takes time to reorient hope
to abandon a cherished course
and fall in love with a new one
To stand by the window and gather
bravery for the leaping
I know this pattern well
but it is not the only way forward
For once in a while, an open door
appears along the way
beckons without revealing
almost anything about the other side
just a glimpse, never enough
to make the choice an easy one
These thresholds perch on the edge
of the void and I waver, wondering
whether I might be willing
to step out into the stars
and asking if I have the courage
to let my old life close behind me
I keep myself open for the beckoning
the wind that blows through whispering
This way lies your undoing, my child
and the birth of your next becoming
The Darkest Point in Our View
You walk on the high side
You sleep on the walls
This is what balance looks like today
You hold on with your toes
and both hands
sometimes with your teeth
You don’t feel strong
You don’t feel okay
You eat anything you can keep down
You endure whatever comes up
You have thoughts you don’t want
You have fear
You wish you could run away
You don’t know what to do with the fact
you will never be this young again
You just want to be safe
and for it to be over
You may not recognize yourself
beyond the horizon
The storm erodes your marrow
You went expecting to return but
you are discovering
along with all who have left
there is no way back
If I’d started out by saying
this was going to be about the moon
what image would have jumped to mind?
Would there have risen in your thoughts
a bright full globe
the sort the cow jumps over?
A flashing at twilight—
brief, slivered arc?
The moon nearly full
A perfect hemi-
See the shape
of what is not
This too is part
of the beauty
Attend to the scar
in the flawless sky
the darkest point
in our view of the past
Photo by Sheldon Kennedy on Unsplash.com.
Bethany Lee, author of The Breath Between and Etude for Belonging from Fernwood Press, lives in Lafayette, Oregon, in a house at the edge of the woods. Her writing is often inspired by the space at the edge of things -- her experiences as a hospice harpist, the year she spent traveling by sea, and the deep silence of her Quaker practice.
This is what’s left
made of paper
the blue origami of death
No mourning only
envelopes of lost breath
strewn like roadside flowers
husks of respiration
The crisp little booklet, eyelids closed,
sockets empty, arrives in the mail today.
Sadness spills into me with a fresh ink,
catches me in the snares of encroaching age,
the stasis of the present moment,
while the past vanishes like blades of grass
cut with a reaper’s scythe,
and the future rises like a white curtain
blowing out of an unseen window.
I witness my “girlhood” disappear
in the dumping ground of discarded forms,
officially expired. My new photo, unrecognizable,
with blank eyes—I was told not to smile—
and silver hair, floats a different person now.
The story of myself is nowhere,
the yesterdays of English gardens and tea-rooms,
the old British aunties, the Italian cousins,
their strong coffee and kisses on both cheeks,
and an American niece in Madrid,
all gone in a routine act of dated nullification.
I have been officially “disappeared,”
my youth kidnapped, never to be seen again.
The faint, dry breath of a decade’s turbulence
rasps through new pages. I hold the old ones
the way a child clutches a bedraggled bear
stained with grime and saliva.
A blank booklet, issued during a pandemic,
when no country wanted an American,
erases the smell of airports, the tattered luggage,
awaits my journeys in palpable silence,
an empty shoe for a barefoot pilgrim.
Let’s bury the stars now,
while night is at bay
and crystal birds
come out to play
in sunlight’s gauzy breath.
It’s been too long.
A rumor of magnolias
rustles in the brightening air
with wordless sighs
that bid goodbye
to lamplight’s winter.
A black cat on the doorstep
inscribes circles in the air
with white paws
and a long tail waving
at the city inside this room
where the liquid silk
of summer’s lavender
sends its trembling scent
into every subway car
where I ride into the rumbling
flicker of fusty graffiti, where I sit
in an armchair made of memories,
where at last I shed
the snakeskin of darkness,
where pollen from all the lost trees
has come alive to fill my body
with the foolishness of lilacs
and the brazen hope
of one red geranium.
Donna Pucciani, a Chicago-based writer, has published poetry worldwide in Shi Chao Poetry, Poetry Salzburg, Voice and Verse, Mensicus, Journal of Italian Translation, ParisLitUp, and other journals. Her seventh and most recent book of poetry is EDGES.
What's incomplete in me seeks refuge
in blackberry bramble and beech trees,
where creatures live without dogma
and water moves in patterns
more ancient than philosophy.
I stand still, child eavesdropping on her elders.
I don't speak the language
but my body translates best it can,
wakening skin and gut, summoning
the long kinship we share with everything.
-Reprinted from Blackbird (Grayson Books, 2019)
I can’t call up the familiar name of our vet
who walked out back with us through heavy snow
to check our feverish cow in this day’s quickening darkness.
My skittering memory
only shows me his thick hair and wise eyes,
his hand gently resting on the head of our old dog
like a blessing easily bestowed.
No name comes to my lips
although somewhere a space in my mind
prompts the letter D.
Eyes closed, I drift into that space
untangled like a fish freed from a net
swims gratefully into open waters.
There I remain, no thought at all
for long moments, when somewhere
behind my eyelids I see
a complicated garment
sagging at the shoulders where it’s held
as if by invisible hands.
I know this
is the lifetime my soul wears.
Vastness like a perfect secret stays with me
as I open my eyes,
remembering of course
we’re outfitted in ordinary guises,
going by names as if we are simply human.
And I recall the name he wears.
-Reprinted from Tending (Aldrich Press, 2013)
Moonlight leaks through the curtains.
I lie awake, listen to coyote songs
circle and connect, stitching together
the night's raw edges.
Each time I hear their howls
my bone marrow sings.
What's muzzled in me lifts.
I seem silent and still,
yet my pulse races through the trees.
-Preprinted from Blackbird (Grayson Books, 2019)
Laura Grace Weldon was Ohio’s 2019 Poet of the Year and is the author of four books, most recently the Halcyon Poetry Prize winner, Portals. She works as a book editor, teaches writing workshops, and maxes out her library card each week. Learn more and reach out at lauragraceweldon.com.
I Live in the Spirit
I live in the Spirit.
I breathe, break bread,
move in the moment
with the Spirit. I am grateful
to hear Him, to see Him,
to sing Him a new song.
I am an entertainer.
I am always entertaining Him.
How lucky I am when I
entertain Him in the hearts
and minds of men and women!
For He is with us all, within
us all—awareness not required.
Love Does Not Crucify
Love does not crucify.
Fear crucifies. Hate crucifies.
Fear is brought by the other’s demons
but fear is born from many things.
Ignorance fosters fear.
Blindness begets fear.
Hate is an errant choice,
a stumbling off of the path.
It is a turning away from God. Hate is
not from God. Hate is
not of God. Hate and fear
through the looking glass are Love.
Truth is Simple
Truth is simple,
not easy. Truth is
kind. Truth is Love,
God is Love. God is
The meaning of life is Love.
There is no meaning in the Universe
without the Greater Being.
He is all places at all times.
But He is not recognized,
not harnessed often in darkness.
If you truly do not believe
You will not see Him.
If you leave the door
open a crack He will
come through to you.
If you reside in His Heavenly
Kingdom on earth you will
see him, hear him.
You will glimpse Paradise.
Notes: "Love does not crucify" and “Truth is simple” are quotations from Helen Schucman’s A Course in Miracles. “Truth is simple, not easy” is a quotation from Helene Pasquin.
Photo by Marek Piwnicki on Unsplash.com.
David M. Williams is a poet and singer-songwriter who came to these pursuits later in life. He is a retired Program Director and Teacher of English to Speakers of Other Languages for adult immigrant parents and international students. His poetry has been published by Time of Singing, Tiferet, the Gazette of the Church of St. Luke in the Fields, and the annual Riverside Poets Anthology. He lives in South Orange, New Jersey, with his husband, the cellist and author David Black.