A Little Less to Cut – a poem by Edward Alport

A Little Less to Cut


I know where I will lie,
Down where the hawthorn and the blackthorn
Hide the water and the sea,
And keep the goats at bay.

I may not know how many times
I’ll cut the grass and trim back the hedge.
Every year a little less to cut,
Another patch to weave the mower round,

Another friend of mine, named in stone
Another face who knew me as a kid.
They all wait for me, and to them
I’ll always be the kid, and always was.

I know where I will lie.
Part of the village memory.
A name. A place, ordered in a record book.
‘Wasn’t he the poet?’ That’s what’s left of me.



Edward Alport is a retired teacher and proud Essex Boy. He occupies his time as a poet, gardener and writer for children. He has had poetry, stories and articles published in a variety of webzines and magazines. He sometimes posts snarky micropoems on Twitter as @cross_mouse.

Life Labyrinths – a poem by Mark D. Stucky


Life Labyrinths



Nothing frightful lurks in sacred labyrinths.
No Minotaur inside waits to devour us.
No complex branches exist to confuse us.

Only a single, circular path,
winding back and forth,
silently invites us.
A path sketched on the ground.
A path for prayerful healing
of any monsters in our minds.
A path intended for mindfulness,
peace, and private pilgrimage
toward contemplative centeredness.

As in life, our path curves
and endures sudden detours
and substantial reversals.
Our goal comes closer to us
but then recedes from us
over and over again.
But we can be certain
we’ll eventually enter
that elusive center.

Mark D. Stucky has degrees in religious studies, pastoral ministry, and communications. After being a pastor, he moved into communications and has been a technical and freelance writer. During his day job, he has documented diverse technical products. In free time, he has written articles, stories, and poems on a variety of topics. He has received over three dozen writing and publication awards. For more information, see linkedin.com/in/markstucky and cinemaspirit.info.

Upland – a poem by Edward Alport

Upland


Why do you come to the moor?
Where the paths are mere skinny tattoos on the beast’s skin 
Drawn from memory of sweating herds and flocks and swearing men.

Why do you look for silence?
Where the steady breath of the beast heaves in its sleep 
And incurious sheep rip at its hair with vindictive lips?

Why do you grind at its wounds?
Where your cleated boots gash the tattoos on its sleeping flank
And the mud weeps, glistening and red, puddled on its skin.

Would you care for the beast to stir?
It’s many years, and many, so many years more 
Since the moor was ripped from the dry bone bed
And writhed and thrashed and bended and bled
And was tamed by the work and the patterns of men.
You came for the silence.
You came for the blood.
Do you want to wake it again?

Edward Alport is a retired teacher and proud Essex Boy. He occupies his time as a poet, gardener and writer for children. He has had poetry, stories and articles published in a variety of webzines and magazines. He sometimes posts snarky micropoems on Twitter as @cross_mouse.

The Seas Ring – a poem by Tom Bauer

The Seas Ring

I never thought about it, but hear it now;
the omniworld of clicks and surges, barks
and pops of blaring fishes as they sing.
And are those sirens chuckling down below?
I need to know, following chirps and squeaks
through murky depths of night. Gliding past cliffs
into the deeper sea, faint veils and wisps
of bubble thread expire on lichened rocks.
A pressure bulb blossoms in jellied water,
expels a spray of sounds from hidden depths.
Is there no place that doesn’t blast a note?
The dense formless everything, choired in light,
crashes musically in frothy waves ashore.
It’s everywhere, the ocean’s full of song.

Tom Bauer is an old coot who did a bunch of university and stuff. He 
lives in Montreal and plays board games.

a widow’s mite redux – a poem by Jill Crainshaw

a widow’s mite redux

“don’t take those coins”
mama says in her scolding voice
as the girl dips into the wishing fountain
toward a sun-polished silver orb
the girl jerks her hand back
hides it in her jeans pocket
peers side-eyed into the sparkling water

“you don’t want to steal the wishes other
folks whispered into that old pocket change
if only alice would get well if only
raymond knew i love him if only
a nickel for passing tomorrow’s
math test a silver dollar to see daddy
one last time a dime for snow this
christmas a quarter for the violence
all of the violence all of the violence 
to end and who wants to 
carry any of that home”

the girl squints at the magical water-spray
and then just over there where silver-white curls 
spray out in the march wind but the woman
seems not to notice as she searches through
a well-used handbag “she looks lonely”

the girl stuffs her hands deep in her pockets
digs out a blue lego the yellow eraser she 
found in her desk in mrs harvey’s 2nd grade
reading class grandpas old car key a piece
of red yarn and two brown pennies

she reaches out to the woman
“one for me and one for you and we can 
wish at the same time mama always says 
be careful what you wish for” and 
the two of them old and young pitch
a single cent 
each coin somersaulting
into the water slipping 
through the surface down 
down on top of 
nickels dimes quarters
woman and girl watch
till the ripples quiet enough to 
mirror their faces 
reflected 
side by side

Learning to Pray…Again – a poem by Gloria Hefferman

Learning to Pray…Again

When I was a child
I prayed like a parrot,
a hatchling swallowing 
the food from its mother’s beak.

But I am not a parrot.
And if I were,
I wouldn’t spend my time
repeating everything I heard.
I would quietly preen
my emerald feathers and fly away 
to a rain forest in the mountains of Costa Rica
where I would hear only waterfalls 
and the raucous caw caw caw of my own kind.
And what sounds like random noises
would be my prayers uttered from a perch
high in the trees because I would be closer
to God’s ear there and wouldn’t have to squawk 
so loudly to be heard.

No, I am not a parrot.
And I am not a child.
And the prayers that spring to my lips
are not the words inscribed 
in the Baltimore Catechism,
or memorized in Sunday School
half a century ago.
But I trust God hears them.
So I kneel beside the bed once more 
and press my forehead 
to the cool sheet and beg,
Lord help us. 

Gloria Heffernan is the author of the poetry collection, What the Gratitude List Said to the Bucket List (New York Quarterly Books) and Exploring Poetry of Presence: A Companion Guide for Readers, Writers, and Workshop Facilitators (Back Porch Productions). Her work has appeared in over 100 journals including Chautauqua, Presence, Dappled Things, Braided Way, and Magma. She leads workshops on poetry as a spiritual practice.  

Make a Tree Good – a poem by Ryan Keating

Make a Tree Good

Make a tree good 
and its fruit will be good…
Matthew 12:33

I

I am tempted to staple a fig
To the branch from which is has fallen
Unburied brown in piles of failed fruit
That cover the shame of shallow roots
Turn the flat bruised side toward the trunk
Wipe it clean and shake off the tan worm
Paint it purple with faded green spots
Spray it with a fruit essence perfume
Keep it moist and sterile, sanitized
Step further back and admire the work
Because I am afraid I don’t know how
To make a tree good.

II

Sure, why not make it good
And make it well
Sink the roots deep 
And write the plot thick
Keep it secure
Commercial free
And incorruptible
Of shade but not dark
On a hill but not steep
Cured and decanted
Crispy
With soft contours
And clean lines
But free flowing
Fresh, fertile
Intricate, durable
Inspired in season
With lots of pockets?

That might be a harvest
Worth waiting for.

Ryan Keating is a pastor, writer, winemaker and coffee roaster on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. His work can be found in publications such as Saint Katherine Review (forthcoming), Ekstasis Magazine, Agape Review, and Miras Dergi, where he is a regular contributor in English and Turkish.

Grace, defined – a poem by Caroline Liberatore

Grace, defined


i.

I am spineless, stiff-armed,
coveting guilt. I know
my own hands. They’re soaked

with ichor, viscous 
from attempted mercy.
Saccharine stain nauseating
in wake of a foreign economy.

My slitted sinew unravels.
          Oh, nods mercy, It will be hemmed. 


ii.

Slander slices a carving
knife into blood orange
and seeps. You peeled
instead of mourning,
citric carcass rested gently
on the sill. Wedge to lips, now
             take, sip the nectar.


iii.

Cross-examined, then consoled:
             We’ll have nothing more to do with that. 


Caroline Liberatore is a former English student and future librarian. She has also been published in Ashbelt Journal, Ekstasis Magazine, Foreshadow Magazine, and Clayjar Review. You can read more of her work at carolinelib.wordpress.com.

Natural Light – a poem by Jessamyn Rains

Natural Light

The crayons crumble inside their plastic bag
and a stick floats around the house, trapped inside

like a bug. The Tupperware is muddy,
the cardboard boxes soggy, and rocks

slide down the chute of a toy cement truck.
I feel like a drying-out drunk today, inside

a bloated laundry basket
with a headache, and my joints are bone

on bone, my brain a misfire
of thought and emotion. Natural light

fills the room through slats of a window blind,
alternating bars of dark and light,

and the picture on the wall is of a butterfly
stretching and drying its crumpled wings.

Jessamyn Rains is a writer, musician, and mother of four. She loves old books and new poetry. She lives with her family in East Tennessee. 

Guardians – a poem by Louise Mather

Guardians

Birds sing, 
butterflies watch on in, 
they don't know, 
they can fly away. 

Clouds swim calmly by, 
as sparks of heaven fall 
from the sky – 
raining white feathers 
to remind you. 

Louise Mather is a writer from Northern England and founding editor of Acropolis Journal. A finalist in the Streetcake Experimental Writing Prize, her work is published in various print and online literary journals. Her debut pamphlet The Dredging of Rituals is out with Alien Buddha Press, 2021. She writes about ancestry, motherhood, endometriosis, fatigue and mental health. Twitter @lm2020uk www.louisematheruk.wixsite.com/louisemather