Iglesia 1953 – a poem by Antoni Ooto

Iglesia 1953

no one sweeping the stairs
no one comes and goes
no services posted
a soundless congregation

(curious thoughts of a young child)

on this German-Irish-Italian block,
Dutchtown’s misplaced immigrant
foreign, mysterious,
marks time in silence––

alongside Lou’s butcher shop,
lacking sacramental staging,
this small chapel––
more a landscape where people pass by,
hear little
see no one



Antoni Ooto is a poet and flash fiction writer.  He has been a frequent contributor to Palettes and Quills and An Upstate of Mind.  He lives and works in upstate New York with his wife, writer/storyteller Judy DeCroce.


Holding Open – a poem by Deborah Leipziger

Holding Open 

“The gates made of light swing open.
You see in.”

I want to enter the Gate of the Beloved.
Wait for me there
Holding open the gates of light.

Your blue eyes beckoning,
Bid me enter your city
Ancient, lovely, petrified.

I enter your gates with offerings —
Pomegranates and honey dates.
All that I will be is here.


Deborah Leipziger is an author, poet, professor, and mother. Her chapbook, Flower Map, was published by Finishing Line Press (2013). She is the co-founder of Soul-Lit, an on-line poetry magazine. Born in Brazil, Ms. Leipziger is the author of several books on human rights and sustainability. http://flowermap.net/

A Hummingbird Suite – poetry by David Chorlton

A Hummingbird Suite

. . . and their image was impressed
upon land the rain scarcely knew, in limestone
that endures the passing
of the sun, so they can be seen
by the gods of light
when their time comes to seek
refuge on Earth.

In the age before, an evil spirit
gambled against the sun
and lost,
…………….then in his anger spat
lava enough to burn all
the Earth. Where the tall and mighty
failed, a hummingbird
went out to gather clouds
from which
……………………the rain extinguished
every fire. Daily now
the bird appears atop the sunrise
displaying on its throat
the colors it acquired
flying through the rainbow.

From any window, at any given time, one
may be seen to hover
by the desert willow, at the lantana in bloom,
in a tangle of mesquite,
…………………………………….with a heart
that beats two hundred times
each second, and sixty seconds
in every minute of its life.

The oldest story is
that people lived inside the ground
until they sent a hummingbird
up and out to see
what was above. The newer version
has us burdened with ourselves, all darkness
and anxiety,
……………………but the fluorescent
reflection in a falling raindrop
says to live on.

The elders could not see beyond blue sky
to know what forces
gathered there for good
or evil, or
to keep the planet’s place
within the universe,
……………………………………so they freed
the hummingbird from the tendrils that bound it
to them and waited
for it to return and describe
the other side of existence.
So it came back
………………………….even brighter
than it had been, and hovered in air
to display itself as part
of the only world created.

At two o’clock each afternoon
thunder breaks and the sky
pours down into
a forest where lightning
spears an errant leaf
from the tip of which a Violet Sabrewing
drinks green rain.

Of lichens, down, and spider silk, the nests
can float on storms
and when the eggs have hatched
expand. After fledging time
it holds a while
to the branch like a purse whose only penny
bought redemption.

A Costa’s hummingbird, each afternoon,
rests on the slender inches
growing out from an ocotillo stem
and prints a silhouette
against the air, moving only
for preening as he lifts a wing to scratch
beneath it and briefly spread
his tail before he turns his beak a few degrees
to be a compass needle for the sun.

Because we have no better explanation
we shall say
that fallen warriors ascend
to the sun, where they become
hummingbirds and return to Earth. We
shall say that each moment spent
watching their feathers glow
brings us more than a lifetime
in war.

We see
but do not hear
the Anna’s hummingbird until
it is close
and the wings vibrate in sympathy
with the red

While the larger birds enlisted
to defend the skies: the hawks
and eagles with their wings spanned wide
and talons unsheathed,
those who occupied the deserts and
leafy canyons called
……………………………………on hummingbirds
to dazzle any threat that came their way
with drops of color flashing. While condors rattled
in their armor
high above the world,
the Emerald and Woodstar
colluded with a Thorntail to reclaim with grace
what fate and force
had stolen.

Then we shall say they bring rain.
For in a lasting drought we have
no other hope. And if rain does not come
we shall say we lived in beauty
to the end.


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.


Book Review: Dreams of the Sacred and Ephemeral by Kiriti Sengupta

Front Cover Final

Dreams of the Sacred and Ephemeral: Blurred Territories of Conventional Genres (Hawakal Publishers, 2017)

Review by Nabanita Sengupta

Kiriti Sengupta’s Dreams of the Sacred and Ephemeral is a unique attempt in genre bending. It not only brings together forms of prose and poetry, but also makes use of images as texts. Dreams is a poetic trilogy, loosely bound by poet’s thoughts on various issues ranging from the mundane to profound and from sacred to profane, as even the title suggests. The first and the second parts of the trilogy follow the ancient tradition of prosimetrum while the third part experiments with words juxtaposed with pictures, presenting a poetry-picture book in black-and-white. Prosimetrum, as the name suggests brings together prose and poetry. The degree of prose or verse used varies from text to text. The term dates right back to the 12th century AD with Dante Alighieri’s La Vita Nouva being a classic example of medieval courtly love in this tradition. The text alternates between personal narratives and lyrics emerging out of those narratives, giving the work a unique structure within European literature. In modern literature too we find the presence of this genre. A more recent example would be Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland, a work in which prose narrative occupies greater space than verse. The term prosimetrum had never been much used in popular coinage, but its examples are scattered far and wide in world literature of various ages and culture. Sengupta’s first and second parts of the trilogy can be treated as a part of this ancient and enriching tradition. He merges the mundane with philosophical thoughts. Each section generally begins with prose rumination and goes on to end with a related verse. The choices of topics are quite eclectic and the readers feel as though they are meandering along a sensitive and poetic mind in motion.

The first part of the trilogy, My Glass of Wine begins at the beginning — beginning of the author’s association with literature which also coincided with the beginning of his romantic relationship with his future wife. The location is also important — Coffee House of the College Street area in Kolkata. The place that has seen the rise and fall of so many literary Mohicans becomes the birthplace of another new poet. The poet candidly expresses his ignorance of Bengali literature to his future wife, but at the same time puts in a diligent effort to inform himself on the topic, and thus begins his relationship with literature. The transformation from a dental surgeon to a poet begins with this encounter. This section interestingly ends with a short poem titled “Consumption,” where the poet compares the time passed with that of milk consumed by an infant — both leaving their effects in the building up of the persona. Sengupta’s first date and his consequent love for literature is also like that milk which nourishes the poet’s poetic persona.

In a true prosimetric tradition, Sengupta traces the origin of each of his verses in short, succinct prose narratives. In My Glass of Wine, they often originate out of the lived life of the poet, making the narrative partly a life writing too. Small incidents from the author’s life are integrated within narratives along with philosophical and religious discourses. He talks about his various encounters with religion and his once intimate relationship with Christianity, moving on to share his encounters with other religions — his acquaintance with Tantric Hinduism and Islam. This extensive prose narration too ends with a verse elucidating the important position that “blood” holds in all the religions. There is a parallelism drawn between the use of blood in various religions and the sanctity of blood relation. Both ensure a continuity of the legacy, as something “inevitable” and “impeccable.” The linkage between blood, religion and relationships inevitably trigger other associations in the readers’ mind, of spilt blood and violence, along with other sacred associations that the poet highlights. Cruising through the prose and poetry of the first part of the trilogy, we meet the poet’s sister, son, mother, and his Master — his spiritual guru, renowned Kriyayoga Master, Dr. Asoke Kumar Chatterjee. The mystic self of the poet comes forth in the section “My Master and the Cover”. He talks of his initiation into Kriyayoga, the world of “quiet ambience” and his “practice of self-realization.” The section as well as the first book ends with a verse on complete renunciation of the world in spite of being one of it—

My master enjoys the stage;
Looking at the sparkling crowd he tells;
Reach the void, and see the cage. (50)

The second book of the trilogy, The Reverse Tree, continues with the genres of prosimetrum and life writing. The poet continues with his journey of the poetic mind and poetry emerges from his consciousness formed of the everyday. In a stream of consciousness like movement, we move from topic to topic, touching upon various aspects of life. Sengupta narrates a touching story of a transgender, Lara, who lived the life of a woman and desired a man whom she could spend her life with. The story is one of courage and resilience in the face of adversity. In his discussion regarding sexuality, he ropes in the concurrent political and the social condition too, standing unhesitatingly by the sufferings of the LGBTQ community, empathising with their marginality.
In The Reverse Tree Sengupta calls himself an “alternative poet,” interestingly borrowing the term from its usage in alternative medicine, because of his narratives on the third gender. He uses words in an unconventional way throughout his work and there are quite a number of places where he uses one word to signify something completely different from its lexical meaning. “Rains” and “Clips” are two such examples from his first part of trilogy. “Rains” to him is “a situation , which makes (him) feel lost … lost in the crowd, lost in (his) thoughts, lost in (his) occupation…” which “dampens the interior, and cannot be seen” (28). The “Rains” section, therefore, contains some of his most beautiful evocations on love — poems that he had written with a “bleeding heart.” Similarly, “Clips” are appliances to hold things together; that can be braces to hold teeth in place or letters from the past that hold bits of that time together. Sengupta’s creative mind transforms a mundane word like clip into an illusory, metamorphosing entity with a fluid identity.

Like My Glass of Wine, The Reverse Tree too ends in a metaphysical note. The reversal that he talks about in “The Reverse Tree” is a Tagore-like understanding and acceptance of death. He talks about his anthology named Epitaphs where only a few poets had composed epitaphs for their own sake. Sengupta is concerned: “if poets fail to consider death as an inevitable reality, what will be the reader’s stand?” (103). The book ends fittingly with a poem on the understanding of the “existence of mankind.”

The final section of the trilogy, Healing Waters Floating Lamps (HWFL), is not a prosimetrum. It is the author’s tribute to the poet seer Rabindranath Tagore, a poetry picture book in black-and-white. Though poetry-picture books tend to bring to mind children’s book of verses, in modern literature, there is ample presence of such books for adults as well. Yet there are hardly any that can match the serious and philosophical tone that we find here. Minus the colours that otherwise characterise the poetry picture books worldwide, HWFL accentuates the solemn and metaphysical mood of this trilogy by keeping the pictures black-and-white. The final trilogy offers a closure to the circle of poetry that began with My Glass of Wine. Just as a circle has no beginning or end, Sengupta’s beginning and end too shed their exclusivity as we find here a number of verses reiterating the prose narratives of the previous texts or simply repeated from the other two parts. But reiteration does not take away the charm of poetry as the verses have a freshness and originality in them. The accompanying pictures, the metatexts, add another dimension to their meanings. Though the poem “Unravel” is a part of the first trilogy as well, here, an accompanying picture of a parrot in a cage adds another layer to the text, comparing each of us with that imprisoned creature, bereft of any actual agency. Alternatively, a few lines are changed in “Initiation” to make the verse stand firm as an individual piece and not as a part of a larger narrative as in My Glass of Wine. Most of the poems are fresh ones though, not originating in the other two books of the trilogy. The verses here are more profound, as if after his long travel from My Glass of Wine, the young verses have reached the profundity of age. Curiosity and restlessness of youth is now replaced by sombre, matured reflections of life. Prose is no more required so it is completely abandoned but in its place comes pictures. In HWFL Sengupta makes his complete appearance as a poet.

The trilogy, Dreams of the Sacred and the Ephemeral, in spite of crisscrossing through genres of prosimetrum, life-writing and poetry-picture book, emerges finally as a book of verses. Even in the prose section, the poet persona of the author remains. He is bold in his choice of genres and presents us with a unique composition. The crossover genre of this work enriches it and liberates it from the traditional compartmentalisation that we otherwise find in literature. This work therefore compels its readers to move beyond the comfort zone of all the established norms of a poetry anthology and creates a distinctive place for itself in contemporary literature.

Nabanita Sengupta is presently working as assistant professor in English at Sarsuna College, affiliated to the University of Calcutta. Her areas of specialization are 19th century travel writings, women’s studies, translation studies and disability studies. Some of her translated short stories have been published, the latest contribution being in the anthology of modern Bengali short stories, published by the Sahitya Akademi. Her creative writings have also been published at various places like Muse India, Cafe Dissensus, News Minute, among others.

Granted – a poem by Melanie Green



and the wide consolation
of night.

unburdened light

and breath
of day.


Before I woke

brought me



that my heart may know
it is a heart.


Melanie Green is the author of two collections of poetry, Determining Sky, and Continuing Bridge, available through Mountains and Rivers Press of Eugene, Oregon. She is a founder of and participant in two support groups for people living with chronic illness.

Heavenly Bodies – a poem by Aviva Satz-Kojis

Heavenly Bodies

God is not real
or maybe he is
or maybe she is
or maybe
God is dead.

God is a baby
sick and frail
with an empty face
and a silent deafening mouth

God does not have eyes,
neither do the trees,
but God watches me
when I stare into the sun
grow roots in the mud
swim in the sky
God sees it all.

But the trees open their arms,
embrace me,
surround me in their omnipotence.


Aviva Satz-Kojis is a writer and student from Ann Arbor, Michigan. In her free time she enjoys spending time with friends outside, riding her bicycle, and doing gymnastics.


Achalay (Rejoice), For Music is Euphoria of the Soul – a poem by Anne Whitehouse

Achalay (Rejoice), For Music is Euphoria of the Soul

In the Chiquitania, deep in the heart
of the Amazon basin, in plains
bisected by rivers, dotted with lakes
and swamps, flooded half the year,
the inhabitants built vast earthworks—
raised beds for farming, drained by ditches,
fish weirs, and canals and zigzag
causeways permitting year-round travel
in remote places unreachable by roads.

They were nomadic tribes
speaking unrelated languages
five hundred years ago
when the Jesuits established their missions
to protect them from the Mamelucos,
slavers who preyed on them.
Not with threats nor the sword
did the Jesuits evangelize,
but with soaring melodies,
sacred harmonies and counterpoint
played on organ, flute, violin, harp,
horn, cello, and viola—
sounds that pierced the hearts
of the Chiquitanos and the Guarayo,
who made the religion and its music their own,
lightened with their folk songs
and leavened of its sorrows.

They learned to build instruments
of native cedar and mahogany
that sounded true and did not warp or crack.
At night the fireflies glistened
among the heavy leaves of the mamey
and orange trees, and their music welled up
into the warm, scented air.

There never was a golden age;
their lives were often in peril,
and yet the eighty years of the missions
before the Jesuits were expelled
by the Portuguese and Spanish
seemed ideal compared with what came after.
Like its music, mission life
was based on order, harmony, hierarchy,
submission, worship, and celebration.
Crafts and learning flourished,
workshops, schools, and libraries,
a careful husbandry of plants and animals.

From a communal life arose a shared culture;
native words mixed with Spanish lyrics
among the ten thousand compositions—
operas, songs, cantatas, concertos—
preserved in the church of Moxos
long after the rest of the world
had thought them lost. In the years
after the expulsion, missions all over
South America were plundered,
abandoned, and fell into ruin. But not
in the Chiquitania, where the natives
claimed the Jesuit traditions
as their own to cherish and preserve,
not out of force, but from love.

They still care for the churches
with their balusters and cupolas,
live in the flat-roofed adobe houses
dazzling against the dark, metallic-looking
foliage of the trees, and travel the sandy streets
crossed here and there by rough-hewn stone
to break the force of water in the rainy season.

The people sit in the market-place
with baskets of fruits and flowers,
dressed all in white, their hair
cut square across the forehead
and hanging down their backs.
They are soft-voiced, keen-sighted,
and they say they are born with a violin
in their hand. Every child learns to play
an instrument. The older children teach
the younger ones.

Achalay, achalay! 
Pputijnijpac, sosperar. 
Achalay, chalay! 
Llanquijnijpac, sollozar.
 Achalay, achalay! 

Rejoice, rejoice!
We shall grieve and sigh.

Rejoice, rejoice!
We shall work and sob.

Rejoice, rejoice!


The quoted lyrics are from “Fuera Fuera,” a villancinco or festal carol by Bolivian criollo composer Roque Jacinto de Chavarría (1688-1719). Here is a wonderful recording of contemporary Bolivian singers performing “Fuera Fuera” with Europeans.

Anne Whitehouse is the author of six poetry collections, most recently Meteor Shower (Dos Madres Press, 2016), and a novel, Fall Love. Recent honors include 2017 Adelaide Literary Award, 2016 Songs of Eretz Poetry Prize, 2016 Common Good Books’, 2016 RhymeOn!, and 2016 Fitzgerald Museum Poetry Prizes.

A Loud Cacophony – a poem by Judy DeCroce

A Loud Cacophony

recall the quiet of churches
the precipice of streets
with the spokey sound of bikes

while a parenthesis of quiet
is poked through but not lasting
trucks, trains, fading clatter

not so now
noise moves through and around
and again around
carried in pockets
or hands
or in clouds, somehow––

the world is too loud for angels


Judy DeCroce, a former teacher, is a poet/flash fiction writer who has been a frequent contributor to Palettes and Quills and An Upstate of Mind.  She is a professional storyteller and teacher of that genre.  Judy lives and works in upstate New York.

For the New Year – a poem by Steve Broidy

For the New Year

   A Rosh Hashana reflection

Comes the reckoning:
Who shall live, and who
shall die. Now, as the finest of
Fall days fade, as our steps
shatter leaves into dust, and the
chaff of woods and lawns
let loose attar of toast,
the nose of ancient blood-red
wine; now let us toast
the year to come. May we
be among those who live
to the ripeness of age.

Now, as the bean fields deepen from
gold to plum; as legions of
corn—old soldiers proud
and wizened, guns slung
low on their hips—go marching,
marching to harvest; may our steps
be light, may we dance yet again
to the thrill of that still, small voice,
the voice the corn heeds on its march;
the voice raising sweet sweat of
woods and lawns as they fling off
their worn summer clothing;
the voice that paces their steps,
and ours.

Steve Broidy is Emeritus Professor of Education at Wittenberg University. He is editor and contributor to From the Tower: Poetry in Honor of Conrad Balliet (Main Street Rag Publishing Co. 2016), and has published in The Midwest Quarterly, Dark Matter, The Resurrectionist, and Allegro Poetry Magazine.

Lost Sounds of St Kilda – a poem by Helen Ross

Lost Sounds of St Kilda

You are here: the past

dividing the discord
of a fulmar catch
fowling for gannets
in psalm-soaked gorse
gathering storm songs
Scots and Norse.

On the verge of the world:

cave of spells
still rock of ruins moving
first page of Exodus
left sleeping
on a brae of weeping.


Helen Ross is a teacher of History in Glasgow. She has published in a range of academic and popular history magazines but has only recently started writing poetry.