a date with god – a poem by Sharon Lopez Mooney

a date with god

Sharon Lopez Mooney, poet, is a retired Interfaith Chaplain from the End of Life field, living in Mexico. Mooney was given a CAC Grant to establish a rural poetry series; nominated for “Best of the Web Award”; co-published a regional anthology; co-owned an alternative literature service; produced poetry readings, continues facilitating poetry feedback workshops. 

Mooney’s poems are in publications nationally and internationally, like: The Blotter, Umbrella Factory Magazine, Kennings Literary Galway Review, California Quarterly, Ginosko, Door is a Jar, The Ricochet Review, Glassworks, Tipton Literary Journal, Sybil, Revue {R}Évolution”…, anthologies: “CALYX; Cold Lake; Strong Words; Smoke & Myrrors” (UK), amongst others.

A Morning Theophany at Noah’s Arcs 2022 – a poem by Barbara Usher

A Morning Theophany at Noah’s Arcs 2022

‘Let the fields be jubilant and everything in them.’ Psalm 96:12

Lambs play ‘king of the castle’
from old mats, graduate to upturned water
troughs, leap as only tups do once adult, feed
with tails whirring like prayer wheels.
Cuthbert watches from solitary walnut tree …..
smiles as leaves and lambs unfurl.

Barbara Usher practises animal theology on her 4 acre animal sanctuary, Noah’s Arcs. Her poetry has been published in Borderlands:  an Anthology,DreichLast Leaves, and in Liennekjournal. Her work appears on the Resilience soundscape for Live Borders, and she has contributed to a local project with Historic Environment Scotland. 

At a coffee shop in Rogers – a poem by McKinley Dirks

At a coffee shop in Rogers
Break it like communion bread,
my best friend said of the coffee cake,
thick gluten-free and afternoon cold.
My fingers stalled on the spongey
dough, sugar granules pressed
into skin. Don’t make this holy, I said,
that stresses me out, stared at the snake-
skin swirl of cinnamon through its center.
I might have scrambled for a pen, cast
my hands to a pocket notebook,
scribbled words that would become a poem
about how a piece of coffee cake
becomes a holy thing, leaving sticky
ridges on the page because I couldn’t pause
to rub the sugar from my fingers.
But not anymore. Anxiety is the absence
of surrender, pride the alienation of
holiness, and my halted hands pull
this bread in two pieces, brush the crumbs
from my skin, offer her the half with less
sugar because she is more health-conscious
than I. The blogs tell me anxiety is not
punishment, not an enemy, but a catalyst
for deeper faith in the One who tested
Job when he was faithful, banned Moses
from the Promised Land. Why shouldn’t I
ask to be whole again? How am I to pray,
Lord, break me     like communion bread.

McKinley Dirks grew up in Castle Rock, Colorado and now resides in Northwest Arkansas with her one-year-old corgi, Bentley. She received her Bachelor’s of English from John Brown University and spent much of her time there as editor-in-chief of the student-run publication Shards of Light. In addition to poetry, she enjoys art, flower bouquets, and mysteries.

Lilies of the Field – a poem by Mary Ellen Shaughan

Lilies of the Field

A diaspora of day lilies sprouted
in random clusters beside steel
girders over which a train runs 
every morning at four.
There they huddled, 
their cheery orange heads 
whipped sideways by the 
hot rush of the train’s engine 
until that day in early summer 
when I uprooted them and 
brought them back to my 
waiting garden, where they have 
lived and multiplied for a decade. 

I do need to keep an eye
on the youngest generation, 
though, as they are showing
a proclivity to wander.


Mary Ellen Shaughan is a native Iowan who now lives in Western Massachusetts with her beagle, Zeke. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals and magazines and in her first collection of poetry, Home Grown, which is available on Amazon.

If I’d Known You Were There – Prose Poetry by Elodie Barnes

If I’d Known You Were There

We would have walked across thick moorland, you and I. Damp heather softening under our boots; a quivering autumn sunset, golden red feathers fraying at the edges and brushing across the sky. You were too young to see, but I would have described it all to you. How the sheep paid us no mind, how they were beginning to huddle into clumps of shadow by the stone walls. How the crows gathered and disappeared into the valley ahead. I would have held your hand, the darkness drawing us closer together. Would you have lifted your face too, and sniffed the air? Peat, woodsmoke, cold. I don’t think so. You were too young to smell, and there are some things that can’t be described. 

We would have stopped here, you and I. Our boots crushing grass instead of heather, and moonlight blossoming like lichen on the stones. I would have told you how some of them stood taller than me, how their perfect circle aligned to the rhythms of the sun and moon; that there were eleven stones and we made thirteen; how the Goddess wound a milk-white thread around us and bound us together, giving you what my body and heart never could. I would have asked you if you could feel it, the faint heartbeat that echoed in the stones. If it echoed in you too. 

I would have held onto your hand. I wouldn’t have let go when the clouds drifted across the moon, inking us into blackness. I wouldn’t have let you melt into stone, into earth, into the sighing song that lingers above these hills even now. I hear it sometimes, and I think it sings forgiveness even though that’s not possible. Only love can forgive, and you were too young. 

Elodie Barnes is a writer and editor living in the UK. Her short fiction and poetry has been widely published online, and is included in the Best Small Fictions 2022 Anthology published by Sonder Press. She is Books & Creative Writing Editor at Lucy Writers Platform, where she is also co-facilitating What the Water Gave Us, an Arts Council England-funded anthology of emerging women and non-binary writers from migrant backgrounds. She is currently working on a collection of short stories. Find her online at elodierosebarnes.weebly.com, or on Instagram @elodierosebarnes. 

Psalms – a poem by Jason Brightwell


Her hymn was the calm
broadcast, slow 

dancing on the same frequency 
as nature’s wild eye. 

Mary blue-eye, a hum to
iron out weathers’ wrinkles.

His boomed. Slow beat—
war drums, leading harvests 

through dark root and worm.
Compelling sea life to gift.

Hallowed in our child eyes. 
The graveyard is fat now,
we recall their songs,
chant them in the family home—

a sacred keep for old gods.

Jason Brightwell lives in a tiny coastal village tucked along the Chesapeake Bay where he finds himself routinely haunted by one thing or another. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals including: Gravel Magazine, East Coast Literary Review, Phantom Kangaroo, and The Tower, among others.

Sheep Watching St Cuthbert’s Procession – a poem by Barbara Usher

Sheep Watching St Cuthbert’s Procession

Hefted to the Cheviot hills
We nibble on grass, sweet near the root
A distant sound afears us
with swelling beat, of voices, feet.
My left ear turns, hones in, a-tunes.
Humans bode no good to sheep.

Yet sound-joy abounds, no room for fright
sun-warmth shines through new-shorn fleece.
Ground aware, we feel the grass vibrate
I hear my stomach relax, feel my jaw gyrate
Stretch out my neck, smell sweetness,
touch, bite into spine-tingling flowering gorse. 

Barbara Usher practises animal theology on her 4 acre animal sanctuary, Noah’s Arcs. Her poetry has been published in Borderlands:  an Anthology,DreichLast Leaves, and in Liennekjournal. Her work appears on the Resilience soundscape for Live Borders, and she has contributed to a local project with Historic Environment Scotland. 

St Cuthbert’s Procession – a poem by Barbara Usher

St Cuthbert’s Procession

‘He was invited by my master Sibba….. who lived near the river called the Tweed, and came to his village with a company of people piously singing psalms and hymns.’ Anon. Life of St Cuthbert

Sing praise 
wholehearted words
to the bright blessed graceful 
salmon that is as wise as Himself
the salmon at the well of mercy 
We meet on the joyful path. Created
word-wise, we delight to praise Him 
in our own tongue, oft with joy-craft. 
Bless our swine, kine, sheep 
may they rest 
grass-sated in leaf-shade of rowan.

No boundary steppers we,
mindful of our covenant with the Rune Man
we bless you otter, gliding, mud wrestling,
wild goats skipping on the hills 
Be healthy Walker-weaver,
Be healthy Leaf-worm
As day’s eye petals bloom, open to the peace candle
we offer Sib-love, truth love of friends and un-friends alike
Let all unfriended people come, we will share.   
Heart love, bee bread, meat.

Endnote:  In Old English, joy-craft = music, boundary stepper = those who transgress, Rune Man =  decipher-er of mysteries, here with capitals applied to God.  Walker-weaver = spider, day’s eye = daisy,  peace candle = sun, bee bread =  honeycomb , meat = food. 

Barbara Usher practises animal theology on her 4 acre animal sanctuary, Noah’s Arcs. Her poetry has been published in Borderlands:  an Anthology,DreichLast Leaves, and in Liennekjournal. Her work appears on the Resilience soundscape for Live Borders, and she has contributed to a local project with Historic Environment Scotland. 

The Green Glass Swan – a poem by Robin Turner

The Green Glass Swan

I find her forgotten
on an old thrift shop shelf, lit

like a lantern in the late Texas sun—
a small swan of green glass, etched

in elegance, baptized in dust.
The cool bowl of her body

is made for my palm. The curved cup
of my hand her safe harbor. Her green

is my green, my longing, my undying,
her hollowed out center my own.

She lives with me now in these woods
in this new town, is shy with my husband,

speaks only to me. Come spring I will fill her
with pine forest & wild aster, wood rose & thistle,

buds gathered at dusk, rainwater brimming 
green sorrow, green song.

Robin Turner has recent work in The Fourth River, Bracken Magazine, One Art, and Ethel, and in the Haunted anthology (Porkbelly Press). A longtime community teaching artist in Dallas, she is now living in the Pineywoods of rural East Texas for a spell. She works with teen writers online.

Writing and the Sacred – a reflection by Patricia Furstenberg

Writing and the Sacred

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ~ Maya Angelou

I think that all writers are artists, the way painters, woodworks, and stonemasons are artists carving visible, palpable artworks. For a writer, and by the same token as it is for an artist, the desire, the urge to create, to write, comes from within, from the heart and the mind. Or is there a different, higher source?

Writing, as a word, originates in the Proto-Indo-European to tear, to rip, that further evolved into carving, then engraving, and finally, it became writing. No wonder writing feels like pouring out our soul, our heart, on paper. We spill ourselves; we tear bits of ourselves, of our life, and build something else that further lays out in the open. 

But writing is also energising and enriching, it is giving and receiving (like any other form of art), and maybe through writing wordsmiths do accomplish both because through this kind of carving we do connect ourselves with a higher power. 

When I write, I look for this inspiration in the silence within me, and the silence around me. That is the place, the moment when, for me, the cacophony of noises fades away and I find my inspiration, I hear that hum of ideas, like distant echoes. I try to harvest them, to catch them the way one would grab at the string of a kite, and I begin a creative dialog that will later pour onto paper. Yet I listen to these echoes and, at the same time, I contemplate the images forming in my mind. What starts it all for me, the writing process, it is an echo as much as it is an impulse, a tingling in my fingertips as much as an impulse. 

Yet what could its source be?

Inspiration, the muse, the idea (call it as you wish) – it comes to us, I think, through a ray of energy, or a simple thought, that was born, formed, at a higher (atmospheric) level before it reached us. If you wish, the way water circulates in nature, rivers evaporating in mist, forming serene clouds, then raining and snowing, thoughts could follow a similar pattern. What we imagine, what we dream, is escaping us as we exhale, as we wish; but the energy of that thought is never lost, yet it floats until it reaches the pen (and mind) of an artist.

In this way, I believe, writing and the sacred are connected. Like the trunk of a tree connects its roots with its branches and leaves. None could live without the other. None could survive if the other is not sound. In the same way, “What you think you create. What you feel you attract. What you imagine you become” – and writing connects our souls with the energy surrounding us, with the same energy that fuels us. We are, and become, this energy and soon we discover ourselves in everything that surrounds us. Now, looking past the religious perspective, connecting ourselves with a higher power does offer a drop of hope, that after bad some good will come, that life is worth fighting for, and that after each storm the sun will shine again.  

Writing is looking for the sunshine at the end of each sentence that feels complete; at the end of each chapter carved after the thought and the feeling that ignited it; at the end of each poem or book.

Writing, as a creation, must be that invisible thread that connects us with the sacred. Creating with words is as much an intellectual venture as a physical one. It is taking the life, labouring on it with our hands, pouring our heart into it, setting it alight with our minds, but the result would still be nothing without this sacred thread that came to us through a thought, or a pocket of silence. And I am grateful for it.

With a medical degree behind her, writer and poet Patricia Furstenberg authored 18 books imbued with history, folklore, legends. The recurrent motives in her writing are unconditional love and war. Her essays and poetry appeared in various online literary magazines. Romanian born, she resides with her family in South Africa.