Shoreline Song – a poem by Mark S. Burrows

Shoreline Song

There’s a song the grasses know but never
sing, holding it in the secrecy of silence

on calmer days; it awakens only when
the winds stir up from the distances where

they wait and begin to rehearse again
the promises they keep. The sands know

of this, too, and the gulls, each murmuring
in their way while on and on the stealthy

dunes crawl, moving imperceptibly as they
drift slowly along the edges of the sea.

 

Mark S. Burrows is a theologian, poet, and translator. A longtime resident of New England, he currently teaches religion and literature at the Protestant University of Applied Sciences in Bochum (Germany). His recent publications include Meister Eckhart’s Book of the Heart. Meditations for the Restless Soul, with Jon M. Sweeney (2017); a new book of his poems, The Chance of Home, will be published in March, 2018. http://www.msburrows.com

The Car at 3 am – a poem by David Chorlton

The Car at 3 am

The three o’clock darkness is thick
enough to stir. Interrupted dreams
fly up to roost
in the attics of houses
along the street where a car
feels its way slowly to the point
at which it must turn back
into the land of wakefulness.
The animals who descend

from the mountain after dusk
are threading their way
between our sleeping lives.
They are ancient
in a city edging toward the future
without knowing which god
to follow. There are so many

books, and a different answer
in each one; the driver
cannot know which direction to take
as the headlights burn
holes in the silence. The unsolved

mysteries surround him. He is
undecided. The GPS system
doesn’t apply to Heaven or Hell.
But it’s beautiful here; waiting
for the desert slopes to rise
into the light at dawn; listening for
the first bird to call out
that he is still alive.

David Chorlton is a transplanted European, who has lived in Phoenix since 1978. His poems have appeared in many publications online and in print, and reflect his affection for the natural world. His newest book publication is Shatter the Bell in my Ear, his translations of poems by Austrian poet Christine Lavant.

 

19. March – a poem by John Gimblett

  1. March

This eclipse, I remembered later, reminded me that night
of a jackal I watched skulking at the roadside late evening
in Diu. It fell into my frame with its stiff straight legs and
blurred fur, whispering into a hedgerow. In another place,
on another day, reedbeds played with another light; each
reed bent and bright pulled down Spring sunshine. Made
some trickling of shadows stutter like pale lace in the weft

with straws cross-hatching. There was a haze on the estuary;
no discernible meeting of water and sky, the whole maze
of seascape had become endless. And fine threads of silver
chalked flat lines that the sun caught, lifted them clear from
the mud flats and salt marsh, harsh spears suspended then
laid on their sides. When the moon passed away from the
sun the blackbird in the oak tree lost its darkness; the sun

became what it should be: buttery, freed from the cloak.

John Gimblett lives in Wales, UK, and is primarily a poet and novelist whose work has been published widely. He has read at the Hay Festival (‘The Woodstock of the mind’ – Bill Clinton) and elsewhere. His novels are crime/thrillers set mainly in my home city. #NewportNoir @johngimblett

Sanctuaries – a poem by Tim Miller

Sanctuaries

At some point the landscape was not enough,
or it was so necessary that we
were prompted to respond with our own hands:

boundary of stream and pool, frame of mountain
and forest, horizon of lake and plain.
And so, in a place to see it all best,

dig a ditch to enclose and to widen out,
post and wall and a roof over the central pit,
offerings as much to the underground

as to the wide sky and the deep valley.
Hang old weapons from the entrance, from the walls,
shields of rotting wood and leather, and swords

all broken and rusted, bent and dismantled –
even the embalmed heads of enemies,
and even the heads of offered cattle

become corroded skulls up in the corner.
What we erected had to rhyme with the land,
even though our clutter of offerings

and objects could never match the simplest
grove or lakeside, plateau or hollow or
the wordless, most unassembled spread of oak.

But we did our best with gold offerings
and the feast, with wine drunk and ritually spilled,
with every tribal action preceded

by some gift and question about the land,
about another war or more travel.
What we made by ourselves was a reminder

of our own bewilderment and ignorance
but also of the clues left us, the love,
the seasons and their mighty moods, the land

and its inclinations, the animals
and their whims and tempers and emotions.
Knowledge makes none of this any easier,

but meaning is meaning for being hard.

Tim Miller writes about religion, history and poetry at www.wordandsilence.com. This poem is one from a larger collection on (mostly spiritual) life in prehistoric Europe, the entirety of which will appear later this year from The High Window Press. Other poems from this collection have appeared in Crannog, Londongrip, The High Window, Poethead, Cider Press Review, Cumberland River Review, Isacoustic, The Big Windows Review, The Basil O’Flaherty, Albatross, The Journal (Wales), and others.

Where Grace Is – a poem by Carrie Danaher Hoyt

Where Grace Is

In the gold case.
Behind drapes and gilded gates.
Under feathers and flames.
In the orange-jumpsuit-clad trapped in cages or inside broken minds.
In the swell of milk-drop on a mother’s breast.
In ash and grease and sweat.
In the rise of sun and compassion.
In cafés sipping coffee over dreams.
In the abandon of trust and deceit.
In the brush of whiskered breath or jet engines.
In cloudy film on corneas and lakes.
In the wasting of potential and organic things.
Where technology without faith makes light.
Where metal blades extract or access what is vital.
In music from a string, vibrating, or the night.
In the reach of men in palaces and underhulls of ships.
In soldiers armed with swords or righteousness.
In children, rocked in sleep or naked bottoms squatted over gutters in the street,
In the reflections of you and me as chance and morning traffic pass us by.
In the string of drool or thought from midday nap or hunger.
In the fury of infirmity or flight.
In the fathomless black of pupiled-eyes, the opaque liquid of their cup reflecting.
In the curl of smoke from thurible or cigarette.
In fingers twitching on triggers or lover’s flesh.
In unlit littered alleys and satin-sheeted beds.
In the passion of arms outstretched in lust or rigor mortis.
In the innocence of skin unblemished or shrapnel-shredded.
In temples, framed by hands in prayer or wielding whips, made of matter
Shaped with reverence and built or broken with a purpose.
Where mobs and lonely teem within a space, trapped and held in place
Like tea leaves in a bowl, cupped close and agitated.
In oil thick with musky scent or color painted on a canvas or a newborn baby’s head.
In fields of concrete boxes under stones,
In all we do and do not reap from what is sown.
Where prayer is necessary or forbidden.
Where grain transforms to flesh when fed to beasts
Who seek salvation or to live another day.
In the hammering of rain and sacrifice.
In the too-sweet press of lilies opened and forgiveness.
In the blue of noon and in acceptance.
In tumors or wombs where cells attach and multiply.
In the struggle of first breath and surrender.
In mercy and irreverence.
In words that weave into belief
Nothing.
In denial of randomness.
In the throats of those who thirst for that extracted of what’s fallen
But still blessed, sanctified and pressed to life again.
In the twisted limbs and minds and roots of men.
In kingdoms lit with fires long ago burned out.
In Hope
When we gaze up at this glow,
The place that fills the space of all the things we do not know
But seek.

Carrie Danaher Hoyt is a life-long lover and writer of poetry. Carrie lives in Massachusetts where she is a wife and mother of three school-aged kids. To pay the bills (as her poems don’t yet do this) she works as an estate planning attorney. Carrie has poems at twitterization.wordpress.com and cabinetofheed.wordpress.com

And Then – a poem by Jennifer Davis Michael

And Then

And then there are days
when the air is so mild,
the current so gentle,
it holds you, benevolent,
like a lover’s hand on your back,
a child’s trusting grasp.

It holds
the birthday candles,
the IV drip,
the pink slip,
the rogue cells,
the unmade bed,
the blackened eye.

It holds.
In this still moving,
everything is held.
It is weather, and more than weather.
And it is very good.

Jennifer Davis Michael is Professor and Chair of English at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Mezzo Cammin, Southern Poetry Review, Literary Mama, Switchgrass Review, and Cumberland River Review.

The Fractals of the Cathkin Braes – a poem by Derek Brown

The Fractals of the Cathkin Braes

Tragically persistent, the
work of beauty
flawed on purpose,
like these city views, subscribing
to bastardisations, space and time in a devious mind.
Neither victim nor perpetrator, where dark is sweet
and light grows bitter there is nothing else
that needs reversed, before the iron ravens
and the sparrows of steel, my vision of ice
does not turn to heat, the traffic moves
unperturbed by distance, the commuters forget
what they’ve learned of death, be a moon in water
or a sea on fire, and the metal faces of leviathans
become like milk, rippling, curdling, towards their margins.

The machines shall thrive, alive in their deadness
The dead only speak to the dead, this is why we envy them.
Sometimes there are no other shapes but circles
And when within them we recall who we are. Glasgow a book
with torn out pages fluttering in purgatorial wind,
its half-words and letters floating, onto sycophantic laps, dancing
before a flotilla of eyes unable
to transmit or receive, but are self-containing
to the point of implosion, craving
gourmet oblivion.

And the fractals of the Cathkin Braes
seek to signal their own narcoleptic shadows, sheets where ghosts
have no other option but to choose to remain there
No word once written erased completely,
this is the law no human hand could enforce. Linger the architectural
transcriptions of a universe whose planets
only appear to collide
but in fact move through each other
like water moves through water.
Artifice concedes to artifice as flesh concedes to flesh.
The electric becomes the electric.

Derek Brown was born and raised in Glasgow.
He has been published in various New Voices Press anthologies.
He believes any form of completeness is ultimately deceptive.

Spirit Down to Bone – creative nonfiction by Mary Ellen Gambutti

 

Spirit Down to Bone

Steeped in family faith, receptive to the holy, I witnessed my first miracle as I played beside my bed one day. The corpus of the pink plastic phosphorescent crucifix fascinated, glowed green at night, and when held under the dust ruffle. It jumped away from me. Awestruck, I called to Mom, “It moved itself! My cross!” She expressed no doubt.

*

A visit with Dad to his Irish-born Great Aunt Kate at her New York convent nursing home room yielded more keepsakes. Withered, feeble fingers groped in the nightstand for holy cards, miraculous medals and black rosary beads. Nothing of value to bequeath but tokens of faith that passed from her ancient hands to mine. I kept her treasures in a shoebox with other religious articles; plastic glow-in-the-dark manger scene, the pink crucifix, my first communion prayer book, and took the box from my bookcase to inventory, perhaps test their power to move me, or move themselves.

 

Mary Ellen Gambutti’s stories appear or are forthcoming in Gravel Magazine, Wildflower Muse, The Remembered Arts Journal, The Vignette Review, Modern Creative Life, A Thousand and One Stories, Halcyon Days, Nature Writing, Post Card Shorts, Memoir Magazine, Haibun Today, and Borrowed Solacehttps://ibisandhibiscusmelwrites.blogspot.com/

Morning High Above Bordeaux – a poem by Paul Bregazzi

Morning High Above Bordeaux
I look down from on high
at Bordeaux every morning
or rather it looks down
from above my desk at me.
The postcard bought
when we flew over
is now my daily matins for you.

A prayer of the eyes,
lifted briefly from private thought
to where you’ve gone to roost
in a fusty attic in the russet roofs,
near the green pool of a municipal garden
and the twin-spired cathedral;
my hands to heaven.

Paul Bregazzi’s poetry has appeared widely in print and on-line in Ireland, the U.K., France, Mexico and the U.S. His work has been shortlisted and awarded in numerous competitions in Europe and the U.S., including the Bridport Prize. He was Cuirt New Writer of the Year 2017.

Pruning the Thorn Child – a poem by Jenny Jordan

Pruning the Thorn Child

for Jane and Katie

Handle everything with open hands,
showing warmth.
Spread your fingers apart
the thorns will rest between them.

Grasp slowly.
Trim small.
What you cut cannot be undone
So train your eyes to feel.

Pull quietly, without fuss, eyes averted;
the Osage is easily embarrassed.
……….Leave the bird’s nest there:
……….wonder and beauty and surprise
……….are required in every thorn child.
……….This is why we plant them.

Cut everything that crosses,
Everything you can reach.
What you can’t reach, commend to God.

Those branches, even tangled,
will reach the sky anyway
stretching to the light,
towards God,
towards flight
thorns and all,
every one.

Jenny Jordan grew up in Liberia, fleeing the approaching civil war with her family in 1990. She now lives in Wisconsin with her husband and teen daughter. She has a formal degree in architecture and an informal one in parenting an unusual child. She blogs at anewelephant.wordpress.com