Become – a poem by Johana-Marie Williams


………Why aren’t i a poet?
………a slam poet, a free-styler, from the tip of my tongue
………to the tip of your mind and you like that don’t you,
………“tip of your mind”?

Why can’t my words flow in the free wheeling free rhyming rhythm
that so many others of my descent seem to be fully capable of?
Is that I am not urban? I’m sorry but I am not.

………Somewhat country,
………definitely small town,
………black (African American)

but I am not urban; born and raised in a
college town with access to broader culture but still
small enough to still feel like I might possibly be able
to leave my door unlocked if I absolutely have to
and at the end of the day come back
to a fully furnished home.

Yes I am a small town, small group, homebody kind of black (African American)
girl-woman, classically trained by her mother–and I’ll be honest a little disconnected
from the history that is so much apart of me though not by choice,
and I make up for it with my access to “higher” forms…
Wait, is that what we’re calling it now, “higher” forms of art?
Somehow the only thing that seems “high “about them is
their distance from me and the ideas they are meant to express.

Anyway, the nonconformist in me won’t let me contain my expression
and if I will not be allowed to break the mold by adhering to my roots,
I will form a new set of roots drawn out with
black eye liner, plum colored hair,
Gothic subculture, safety pins, Cocteau Twins,
Anti-Racist Skinheads, post hardcore, Art Nouveau,
………up-chuck-inducing love.

Yes, I will hammer the floor with my fist and scream “I wanna see waves!” over and over again  in a growl that so many emotive hardcore boys will learn to envy. And oh you didn’t know I was that kind of girl too? But see behind the small town, homebody, post-punk, post hardcore, neon, burn-my-palm-on-a-candle-flame-love, African American girl woman is one who wants more than any of these identities can begin to offer. It’s a cliche she needs, the meaning of life, the universe, and everything, and surety of her own existence. A girl woman who wants to be sure that she’s not a unicorn.

………That is, she wants to be sure
………that she not a thing that does exist
………but only as an idea
………of something that does not actually exist,
………not as something actual,

but soon she is convinced that
it’s okay to be the unicorn,
to be the thing that isn’t actually actual
except as an idea because she-me–
is God’s idea and His ideas are so far
beyond ours that they do become actual things
that do actually exist.

And that’s all anyone could ever ask for.

At the end of it all I am poet, a slam poet.
My words can flow in a free wheeling
free rhyming rhythm and I can compete for ideas
I can think fast on my feet,
even if only with a pen and paper or laptop in front of me,
and that’s okay.
Above all these, I am an idea become actuality,
and who could ask for more?

Johana-Marie Williams is a writer, artist, and historian focusing on Black women and femmes’ health and religio-spiritual experiences. Her current projects include her perzine caro and papers on the history of Black midwives in Leon County, Florida and Black female protagonists and transhumanism in science-fiction and fantasy media. You can see her work at

Acolyte – a poem by Eabhan Ní Shuileabháin


I wait here for you every night, all night,
my back strong, my hands resting,
my eyes staring straight ahead, unseeing.
They think I am meditating,
They watch me every night, yearning, praying;
in the day, they give me courteous words,
treat me with hushed respect.
They see me as a mistress of emotion,
one who is close to awakening.

They see only my body, my discipline.

I am raging within this cage,
past sorrow, past curling into your arms,
past caring. I need to feel you inside
my heart again, cannot stand this desert,
this yellow sun screaming from its blue sky.
I need to be back in the valley again,
without fear, always without fear,
knowing you are there before me, beside me,
knowing as the sands slip through my fingers

you are holding the hourglass near.


Eabhan Ní Shuileabháin is an Irish poet, born of an American father and Irish mother, who has lived as an outsider all her life in Ireland, Holland, America and Wales. She has had work published in a range of journals in Ireland, Britain, America, Europe and Australia.

At long last – a poem by Fabrice Poussin

At long last

As if in the enjoyment of a final breath
she sits at the threshold of tomorrow
choosing the snowy peak of Mt Blanc
for the purity of its jagged creation.

Her eyes are closed as a gate to the senses
a statue on her throne in light muslin
she lives inside where nothing can reach
a soul growing with the light of the planet’s heart.

These are only memories of a lifetime now
pictures of many hues, symphonies or rainbows
before the table of the last festivities
her pinkish envelope barely shivers.

Time has found a new expression in the eternal
Big Ben itself has fallen into deep silence
close to the firmament she is warm within
communing in peace with the cosmos her domain.

She may never again stand, nor wave at the world
reigning above the many lives she ever had
safe in the virgin territories of the monument
finally at rest, invisible to mortals, she is infinity.

Fabrice Poussin teaches French and English at Shorter University. Author of novels and poetry, his work has appeared in Kestrel, Symposium, The Chimes, and dozens of other magazines. His photography has been published in The Front Porch Review, the San Pedro River Review and more than 300 other publications.

Bending Light – a poem by Maria Mazzenga

Bending Light

around the curve of
summer’s first day
the sun jumps,

leaps to the left,
she’s citrus
in orange neon,
shimmering wide hips,
wailing like a siren—
cars swerve as she shimmies
across the street

after all, half the world’s on fire,
lunatic bugs buzz
like mad, blazing
with her waxy drippings

forget circumferences and
temperatures, arm’s length abstractions
and theories of light—
the mother of all bombshells,
breathing nuclear secrets
into the ear of Eve, who still
listens from


Maria Mazzenga is a poet from Arlington, Virginia who’s been writing poetry for 30 years; she was first published in The Catskill Review, and later in Poet MagazineTakoma Voice and Bitchin’ Kitsch, among other publications.  She has done readings in Maryland and Washington, D.C.   She is currently an editor on a new online poetry publication Jump, where she has also published a few of her pieces.

Source Code on Blackheath, London March 20th, 2015 – a poem by Jane R Rogers

Source Code on Blackheath, London March 20th, 2015  

Our skyline, once openhearted
is now shored-up
in your penumbral shadow

…………..suspended to only a likeness,
…………..brittle as toffee-candy.

Copying crows, alerted to life
at your second contact,
we find shine in flight, our scattered feathers

…………..settle, mysterious in the heath’s trees,
…………..we trust in our own coronas.

We make no caws in this unlit surround,
hemmed in, within your partiality,
instead borrow another world of minims and muscle,

…………..and measure this time as magnetic,

in the obscurification of our source code,
find earth on Earth
in Moon on Sun.  Moving.

Jane R Rogers has been writing poetry for seven years and is a member of the Greenwich Poetry Workshop. Jane’s poems have been published in print and online – appearing in Atrium, Prole, Ink Sweat & Tears, Long Exposure Magazine, Obsessed with Pipework, and in the Tate Gallery Website poetry anthology 2012. Jane lives in London but misses the West Country.

Homework – a poem by Mark J. Mitchell



                                    My eyes sting with these relics

                                                                        —Gary Snyder

                                                                        The Manicheans


The Dante notebook appears on his desk
solid as a slap and cold as his hell.
He means to get back to those pages—next
week or month or year. He could never spell
in Italian and his college handwriting
terrorized every nun who taught him.
Maybe with a cracked toy decoder ring—
that thought conjures up the falling limbs
in the suicide forest. Last night’s dream
was littered with bleeding branches who called
his name. This bright and holy morning light
isn’t helping. The sinfully sad ream
of paper is his punishment. His fall
accelerates—he’s about to take flight.


Mark J. Mitchell’s latest novel, The Magic War just appeared from Loose Leaves Publishing. He studied writing at UC Santa Cruz under Raymond Carver and George Hitchcock. His work has appeared in the several anthologies and hundreds of periodicals. Three of his chapbooks— Three Visitors;  Lent, 1999, and Artifacts and Relics—and the novel, Knight Prisoner are available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. He lives with his wife Joan Juster and makes a living pointing out pretty things in San Francisco.

Burned – a poem by Larry Pike


after Anne Ross Bruce

Then Abraham returned to his servants,

         and they set off together. . . . —Genesis 22:19 (NIV)

Young Isaac had seen enough sacrifices to know
something was off  ̶  the long journey to a far mountain,
the confusing absence of a lamb. “God will provide, my son,”
Abraham said, an incomplete truth Isaac didn’t recognize
until ropes were knotted and he was trembling on the wood.

Years later Isaac may have wondered why he couldn’t protest
when Abraham bound him, why he looked up when Abraham
raised the knife, squinted against a beam bright as the image
of the Lord mirrored in the blade, and simply whispered, “Father?”
Everyone knows Abraham didn’t open his son’s throat

or burn his tender frame on the bitter altar. Everyone knows
an angel interceded, a ram appeared, trapped in a thicket.
Isaac survived. But say the angel had been delayed in traffic,
the ram had wriggled free, and Abraham, receiving no reprieve,
had plunged the knife and lit the flame. Back home,

what account could have satisfied Sarah? Everyone knows
crazy people say God made me do it. Sure,
God tested Abraham, and Abraham solved for x instead of y,
gambled on obedience rather than love. Maybe
God didn’t mean to see if Abraham would give up

his treasure, but whether Abraham could stand up and say,
“Lord, no, You know this is wrong. Everyone knows.”
After, Abraham loved Isaac, of course, likely with some guilt,
as fathers often do. He gave Isaac everything. Yet
at the end of his long life perhaps Abraham,

instead of never doubting his devotion, suffered some shame
that he hadn’t raised a question instead of a knife;
recalled in his waning hours the complicated conversation
with Isaac as they watched the ram’s charred bones cool;
regretted with his final breath descending the mountain alone

while Isaac remained, determined to have his own talk with God.


Larry Pike‘s poetry and fiction has appeared in Aethlon: The Journal of Sport Literature, The Louisville Review, Hospital Drive, Seminary Ridge Review, the chapbook Absent Photographer, and other publications. In June 2017, he won the George Scarbrough Prize for Poetry.

Rookery – a poem by Julie Sampson



I know it’s dark
and hard
in there
the rook canopy.

Usually, when I visit,
lay flowers,
I weep for your
unfulfilled lives
snuffed in earth,

this time,
singing yellow
in Zephyrus’ wind,
tell their own story

and above,
in the tall firs
your son planted
fifty years ago
missing those from our first home
just crow miles
back up the road

……….and dive,
fractalling deep
into graves.

you must be taken back
to those mornings,
spring-filled, post-war years –
when, in the kitchen, you’re stirring spoons of rennet
into warmed milk in pans,
and outside,
shooshing heifers from the shippen
out to cud, you’re looking forward
to the afternoon
when, hand-in-hand,
you’ll leave through the lych-gate frame
under your canopy of rooks,
stroll away from the wild ridge
down Bourchier’s Hill
to the lure of the folk chatting below
by the submarine trees,
in the depths of your Lyonnesse town.

Note: ‘Lyonnesse town’ is North Tawton, named as such by Ted Hughes, in ‘Error’ in Birthday Letters.


Julie Sampson‘s poetry is widely published, most recently, or forthcoming, in ShearsmanMolly Bloom, Allegro, Dawntreader, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Journal, Noon , Poetry Space Algebra of Owls and The Lake. Her poetry collection Tessitura was published in 2014 (Shearsman).See

Tea Water – a poem by R.W. Jagodnik

Tea Water

While enjoying a blessing,
the tea water boiled,
churning faster on the stove,
calling my devotion away
from Ryokan’s poem before
I reached the end; however,
I finished it just the same
and found my water just
as mossy, but never as quiet
as his was.  And no mountain,

R.W. Jagodnik has had poems published in The Cortland Review, M Review, The Poeming Pidgeon, Borrowed Solace and The Mantle. Currently, they care for developmentally-disabled adults in Milwaukie, OR.

Hagiography – a poem by Ray Ball


Like Saint Onophrius she kneeled the hair off her legs.
Unlike him she did not live in a hermitage

somewhere close to Constantinople or maybe Cyprus.
Who can remember all their saints except for the nuns?

The evergreens were her cathedral. They
taught morality differently than the stained glass.

She walked through the nearly silent woods.
Sun filtered into shadows by boughs.

Closer to the water now, the babbling of brooks —
singers of praises, readers of the hagiographies of nature.

She thought in fragments of light and sight,
In mystic sherds the shape of trodden leaves.

They had the textures of a thousand kinds of bark
and moss and grasses: All of creation,

but Eden it was not. Only the patterns of a gossamer
web woven from unoriginal sin to make up her habit.


Ray Ball is a writer and history professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage. When not in the classroom or the archives of Europe and Latin America, she enjoys running marathons, reading, and spending time with her spouse Mark and beagle Bailey. Her poems have appeared in journals such as Alaska Women Speak, Foliate Oak, and NatureWriting. She tweets @ProfessorBall