Onion Skins – a poem by Blair Kilpatrick

Onion Skins 


(or huevos haminados)

Curling brown leaves
a pile of discards 

But I see treasure
scraps of parchment 
for telling an old story

The onions emerge
shiny and white 
brown coats left behind 
stripped by
a masked man 
with kind eyes
hands the color of onion skins
who does not look surprised 
when I ask
for a bag of the leavings

—I’ll take an onion too, I tell him

I want him to know
I know
grocers can't make money
on a bag of 
onion skins and air 

—Come back on the weekend, he says
and I can give you more

He wants to help me
— does he know?
I hear an echo of Spain 
in his voice
so perhaps he shares
my secret

We have survived this plague,
my man and I,
passed over
at least this time
So I have ventured out
searching 
for a few more provisions
for this season
this day
this evening's meal 
of remembering

Betrayal and death
and rebirth
or at least deliverance
endings and beginnings
two stories intertwined 
two traditions
but hope and gratitude
either way
 
I almost forgot about the eggs

Now back home
they are swimming

Floating in a swamp
of onion skins
chips of garlic
oil slick on top

They will emerge transformed
by water and fire
their shells burnished deep russet
whites gone nut brown
yellows a deeper gold
and inside
the ancient taste of
smoke and tears


—Passover/Easter 2021

Blair Kilpatrick is a psychologist and musician in Berkeley, California. She is the author of Accordion Dreams: A Journey into Cajun and Creole Music (U. Press Mississippi, 2009). She was the recipient of the first annual Slovenian Literary Award (2019) and is currently working on a family roots memoir. In her free time, she enjoys baking bread, playing the Cajun accordion with her fiddler husband, and visiting their adult children in Toronto and New York. Her website is www.blairkilpatrick.com

Faith – a poem by Monica Mills

Faith 

this is how we worship when
the cross is an oxygen tank 
chained to our backs at birth. 

we starve for the setting sun
and communion is had on 
unholy days. crucifixions come 
cradled as scent of blood-red 
wine after decades of drought. 
we drink deeply. we die of thirst. 

our New Testament descends 
as the oldest myth in life’s album 
of make-believe moments. see 
it run from what was burned. 
see the bruise become a scar. 

we at the pulpit are Cain. our 
crops converge into swarms 
of locusts. we in the pews are Abel 
and sit, sobbing like newborns 
for warmth we cannot remember.

this is the cuter damnation.
the pretty one who ties her hair
in bantu knots and laughs as the 
shackles are tightened. 

Monica Mills is a Jamaican-American writer and poet. She is from Maplewood, New Jersey and has a bachelor’s degree in political science and English from Rutgers University. Monica’s recent work appears in journals such as West Trade Review, Anthologist, and New Verse News among othersShe enjoys rainy days and ginger tea. 

Life itself is a resignation – a poem by Nancy Byrne Iannucci

Life itself is a resignation.

            Go ask the mouse in talons mid-flight.

Butterflies know your destination.

 

            Swaying, short-lived, in heroic retaliation,

they fluttered in secret one starry night.

            Life itself is a resignation.

 

Unless you are fooled by power and temptation.

            Did you really think they wouldn’t fight?

A dozen butterflies know your destination-

 

            one can travel only so far on manipulation-

I’m not going anywhere, darling! You said in spite

of life itself, a resignation.

 

You believed your culture would be your salvation.

            A Pax Romana, or Caesar in white,

yet the butterflies know your destination.

 

            You thought you could rise above conviction,

but their weary wings gained greater height-

pulling you down to a life of resignation-

these brave butterflies knew your destination.


Nancy Byrne Iannucci is the author of Temptation of Wood (Nixes Mate Review 2018) and Goblin Fruit (Impspired, September 2021). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in a number of publications including GargoyleGhost City PressClementine UnboundDodging the RainThree Drops from a Cauldron8 PoemsGlass: A Journal of Poetry (Poets Resist)Hobo Camp Review, and Typehouse Literary Magazine. Nancy is a Long Island, NY native who now resides in Troy, NY where she teaches history at the Emma Willard School. Web: https://www.nancybyrneiannucci.com/

Attainments – a poem by Sanjeev Sethi

Attainments


At the end of our anthology, the ambient stir-- 
an expedition through wobbly terrain: like  
one held captive before a buffet, not permitted 
the courtesy of consumption. There is no-one
to implicate but my untutored heart and hungry 
body. Each togetherness has a tenure. There is 
grace in accepting it. In the shapelessness of
drifts, I see a silhouette: this is consciousness.

Sanjeev Sethi has authored five books of poetry. Hesitancies by CLASSIX, an imprint of Hawakal, in July 2021 is his latest. A month before it, he released Bleb from Hybriddreich in Scotland.  He is published in over thirty countries. He is the joint-winner of Full Fat Collection Competition-Deux, organized by The Hedgehog Poetry Press UK. He is in the top ten of the erbacce prize 2021 UK. He lives in Mumbai, India.

In the beginning was the Word, an essay, and ‘Cernunnos’, a poem, by M. Anne Alexander

In the beginning was the Word

“In the beginning was the Word…” (1)Then why is it so hard to write poetry on sacred themes?

    Having come to write poetry as an outcome of counselling, I began by exploring my faith, and yes, Bible characters sprang to life: poetry could paint poignant pictures of them and their interactions; you heard their voices; you wondered at limitations in narrative perspectives, especially regarding women. Yes, narrators could be blinkered by the contexts of their times; even so, that ‘Word’ was there from the beginning of Genesis, speaking of His saving function in the New Covenant, and there, at the end, in Revelation. At least, this is the Christian tradition, and linked to Hebrew tradition, even, in part, to Islam. 

    But who cares? It is like getting out that photograph album … You still have them? Fascinating, perhaps, if you know the characters in them, but unrelated audiences may be left cold. Not always, though: there may be other connections … like an interest in history. Readers interested in Ancient History might search Scripture. Some readers might respond to the imagery and cadences of the Prophets … As for the Psalms, well, all human feeling is there, already, poetically expressed … What can you add? 

    Well, that is it: you relate to those who share something of your experience. Pope (2) may have argued that what is thought before may as yet be ne’er so well expressed but I was not up to the competition. You communicate faith through who you are, even your failings, not through what you write, in my experience … only … you do so because of a longing to connect on a spiritual plane … and words come out of that. 

    Those words tend to be passed down through orally related experience, like stories of when ancestral spirits seem to speak to the bereaved, for example, rather than written down in sacred writings. Stories would evolve, like flashes of light from the moors being seen as signs from former folk, still living, as fairies, perhaps, in caves underground, though survival of the human race depended so closely on knowledge of the world around them, that it is hard to believe that people really believed in these tales, not as factual.

    Curiously, that brings me back to that ‘Word’. Sacred writings may argue that the Word links us to eternity, to the life of the whole world, even the universe. Archaeologists, too, explore these ideas, as through the tiny figurine that they named Cernunnos, (3) linking him to possible deities, or expressions of the human desire to seek the source of life and meaning. Yes, I could write a poem on that.

     And I could write poetry linking us to archaeological evidence of the significance of the evolution of empires, as in Homo Hunter, in the Locked Down Anthology published by Poetry Space, in March this year. Now, history can link that with sacred writings … and flesh the significance of archaeological finds.

    But perhaps, today, Climate Change reveals our strongest link with eternity. Survival depends on grasping our links with the dust of the stars and the water vapour of the clouds and rivers and seas. Engaging with the cycle of needs of every living thing is crucial to see ways to save the planet, not just ourselves. And that is why my poetry has evolved to explore restorative relationships with all living things. Interesting, though, how those scriptures relate the life of the planet, and our role in it, from beginning to end, as deriving from the ‘Word’…

Cernunnos                              

Cernunnos, they called him,
this small figurine:
five centimetres of copper alloy

or the god of wild things … 
found in the ground,
the only one in this land.

Google calls him the god of many things,
linked with Herne the Hunter and The Green Man,
with male energy.

But could this figurine 
of two thousand years ago
be but a symbol

created by someone 
searching for the source 
of life and meaning?

 M. Anne Alexander

1 N.I.V. Bible .John 1:1-3; 17:5; 1John 1:1-2; Gen.1:1; Rev.19:13

2 Pope A. 1688-1744, on “true wit”, in An Essay in Criticism

3 National Trust magazine, Summer 2019, page 18: article on a figure found by archaeologists at Wimpole Hall.

M. Anne Alexander’s poetry generally explores restorative relationships with Nature, especially in landscapes with spiritual, historical and contemporary significance. Her background is as a lecturer in English and teacher of Music. She began writing poetry as an outcome of counselling. Poems are published regularly in the Bury Free Press and in Poetry Space, including in their recent Locked Down Anthology. Other poems are to appear in the August and September issues of Dreich. She is also author of Thomas Hardy: the “dream-country” of his fiction – a study of the creative process (Vision Press/Barnes & Noble).

Rose Thorns Received: Step Beyond the Veil – a poem by Jennifer Silvey

Rose Thorns Received: Step Beyond the Veil


I love my rose: the woody perennial flower with jagged thorn.
The petals bend, soak up some rain, the magenta tone.
I found the flower in my hair; I floated on into the East.

A train with all the treats. A carriage made for the dead.
Zipping down tracks hidden in an ancient forest.
The whistle to waltz on into the forgotten realm.

A walk through the woods with a lantern in my hand.
I have a staff, I have a crescent necklace, I speak with satyrs 
about platforms, train schedules, and connecting lines.

Above me, the stars flummox as time ripples and particles wave.
Black holes: the circumstances light can’t escape.

Deep in the forest, near the uncharted blankets of wormholes, 
the rain, to help you pass the veil into the afterlife, to bend petals
out of the way, the petals blocking the view.

Board the next train. Go with those who’ll sleep all winter. Those lost, 
hungry souls. They’re ready for the perpetual hinterland.

Butterfly soon. Final plank: my train—the caterpillar body on the tracks—
where will it go? How will its body stretch on the tracks?
Will it find wings as it hauls the dead, as it hauls into the ether?

Jennifer Silvey lives in the St. Louis area with her husband, their two cats, and their dog. She studied digital film for her bachelor’s and creative writing for her master’s. Both degrees were earned at Missouri State University in Springfield, MO. Her book Midnight Galleries is slated to be published through LCk Publishing.

Green Hallelujahs – a poem by Pat McCutcheon

GREEN HALLELUJAHS

                                         "The voice of Zen is too lean and cold"
                                                                        Chiang Shang Hua
                                                                        A Chinese Woman in Iowa 

The voice of Zen is too lean and cold 
       though I longed for it.
My religion was rounded as ample bosoms
       encased in flowered dresses 
       sticking to slick pews the color of Log Cabin syrup.
       Sweaty as men in shirt sleeves
       mopping their foreheads.
       Loud as the clammy heart thudding      
       "while every head is bowed and every eye is closed.
        I see that hand.  I see that hand.”
The scent of Zen is too absent and saffron
        though I savored it.
My religion was crowded with smells 
         tuna casseroles and roll on deodorant,
         too much aftershave, pink clouds of White Shoulders,
         never the alluring bite of My Sin.
         Religion tasteless, soggy as Styrofoam
         wafers dissolving on the tongue,
         redeeming nothing.
The flesh of Zen is too taut and big
         though it aroused me.
My religion was small as promised forgiveness
         teetering in tiny glasses,
         purple tinkles in heavy stainless steel.
         No room in this religion for curly 
         hair escaping
         a swimsuit on the minister's wife,
         her sagging upper thigh
         white as a sepulcher.
The mind of Zen is shady and webbed,
         too trapped in its head--
         how I trusted it.
My religion shook its head sadly, clucking its tongue          
         for souls lost, confusion of koans.         
         My religion knew the sound of one hand		 
         slapping,                                                                                                                
         the difference between right and wrong,
         held the line against sleeveless blouses,
         drive in movies, pierced ears, dancing.		          
The blood of Zen flows thin and clear.
          How I longed to lie down in its cool waters,	                               	
          taste them washing over me
          No more sticky blood of lambs,
           no more being born again 
           and again.	
           The rod of my religion did not comfort 
           me. Who could hide in its cleft, clenched rock?
The stain of my religion spills like grape juice and guilt,
            cares nothing for what I think now.
            It spreads to my throat, clogging
            at the first notes of Just As I Am.
            Without one plea, it floods my eyes,
            still alters the way I see
            a maple tree stretching, lifting
            shaggy elbows in green hallelujahs.

Pat McCutcheon’s been a student on the University of the Seven Seas, first grade teacher in a barrio, and Peace Corps volunteer in Venezuela. Now retired from teaching as a college English professor, she writes in the redwoods of far northern California. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, and her chapbook, Slipped Past Words, was published as a winner by Finishing Line Press.

Sometimes the dead – a poem by Larry Thacker

Sometimes the dead  
 
eventually come to realize how right it was
back when they were told
 
how we carry the center of the universe with us
wherever we step.
 
      How impossible it was
to believe, they laugh to themselves,
remembering when that shift of brightness arrived.
 
It was always just beyond reach
in days with so little light.
                                          Right there, waiting.   

Larry D. Thacker is a Kentuckian writer, artist, and educator hailing from Johnson City, Tennessee. His poetry is in over 180 publications including SpillwayStill: The JournalValparaiso Poetry ReviewAmerican Journal of PoetryPoetry South, The Southern Poetry Anthology, and Appalachian Heritage. His books include Mountain Mysteries: The Mystic Traditions of Appalachia, and the poetry chapbooks Drifting in Awe and Memory Train, as well as the full collections Drifting in AweGrave Robber ConfessionalFeasts of Evasion, and the forthcoming, Gateless Menagerie. His MFA in poetry and fiction is earned from West Virginia Wesleyan College. Visit his website at: www.larrydthacker.com

My stone self and the forgotten calves – a poem by Lindsay Rockwell

My stone self and the forgotten calves



I sit still as stone counting
how many times my breath stops. 
Stand on the edge of a cliff, 

miles below the sky and miles above 
the river, see the hinterlands 
where forgotten calves born to slaughter 

live lives unlived, still as stones
—cornered into a lifetime of breath 
that is no breath. My pulse quickens 

as I eye a herd of clouds, their buffalo
forms hurtling toward my sorry throne 
of cliff. The homeless wind brushes 

my hair. I wonder if my heart and face 
are canvas for sorrow, my mind 
and body paint. The clouds begin 

hurling their rain and wind. I shut 
my two telescoping shutters, feel fear 
rise through the forgotten calves’ hooves

then course their viscera, making 
their hides roil and ripple, shudder 
from snout to curl of tired tale. 

Their matchstick legs shift, and shift 
and shift again, and I am 
a helpless stone self, a canyon, 

far from sky and far from swallowed 
river. I feel the brine of my tears 
brim, form a stream roiling, though more  

sad and slow than that, feeble down 
my cheeks, my feet not shifting 
my heart not stopping, my soul 

aching as the herd of now black 
and blue buffalo clouds rumble 
their arrival above their tortured kin. 

And my stone self strips 
her stone skin and I jump 
or is it fly or is it fall.

Lindsay Rockwell won first prize in the October Project Poetry Contest in April 2020 and has been published in Iron Horse Literary Review, Perceptions Magazine, TheCenter for New American’s Poetry Anthology and The Courtship of Winds. She is currently the poet-in-residence for the Episcopal Church of Connecticut as well as host for their Poetry and Social Justice Dialogue series. As a medical oncologist she has been published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology and coauthored In Defiance of Death: Exposing The Real Costs of End-of-Life Care (Praeger, 2008). 

The Altar – a poem by David Chorlton

The Altar


The road to the Sun Stone runs
over hills that shine with rain
and past forest so dense time cannot pass through it.
A bus leaves every day
with its motor complaining and music
playing on the radio, all sweeping romance
and glitter turned to sound.
It grinds its way back from now to
an age preserved in lava
where an orchid grows
in each chest cavity emptied
of its heart.
                  The ride continues along
steamy heights and muddy
valleys, more dream than journey
as jaguars reclaim their history. When the wheels
fall away all
that remains is to walk and walk beyond
familiarity. Long avenues open
and beside them the foundations
of a culture press
through the moss, yearning
to return. And it does. With paths
winding deep into anyone’s mind
who has made it this far
and with a secret buried inside every mound.
It’s beautiful here,
                              but a sting
is hidden under every leaf. An alligator sleeps
a sleep carved into rock, while steps lead
into the clouds
where the sun waits on an altar
for the flint knife to release
its light.


David Chorlton is a longtime resident of Phoenix, who has grown into the desert climate and likes it. Visits to Costa Rica and the rainforest made a significant and vastly contrasting impression on him compared to his usual dry surroundings.