Five Barley Loaves and Two Fish – a poem by Mairi Murphy

Five Barley Loaves and Two Fish

Take my small offering
Make of it what you will
If it can expand the whole, so be it
If you need it to increase, increase it
But take it anyway, it’s all I have
If you need to keep it small for a time
I don’t mind, it will be transformed
When you are ready
To accomplish what must be done
I don’t mind being hidden
As long as you look after me
Keep me and my offering safe
Anything I can do for you
Is good enough for me.

Mairi Murphy is a graduate of Glasgow University’s MLitt course in Creative Writing where she was awarded the 2016 Alistair Buchan Prize for poetry. Her poems have been published in New Writing Scotland 30 and 35. Observance, her first poetry collection, was published by Clochoderick Press in March 2018.

Coronary Truth – a poem by Diane Elayne Dees

Coronary Truth

My friend calls to tell me
he’s had a heart attack.
I pace with the phone,
and through my kitchen window,
I see the season’s first oriole,
darting along the lawn
as if nothing amiss has occurred.
I listen to my friend describe
the pain—the trip to the e.r., the fight
with the nurse—while a chickadee
checks out an abandoned bluebird
nest. Only this morning, I struggled
to ignore the heaving in my own chest—
the clenched fist tightened around my
broken heart that renders me breathless.
Outside, tiny hearts flutter as feathers
whir by my window, brown leaves
are thrashed, and seed falls to the ground.
My friend makes heart attack jokes,
but I know he’s afraid. I am afraid: for him,
and for our hearts, no longer protected
by pure being, but rendered fragile
as hummingbird eggs by a lifetime
of confinement in human cages.


Diane Elayne Dees‘s poems have been published in many journals and anthologies. Diane, who lives in Covington, Louisiana, also publishes Women Who Serve, a blog that covers women’s professional tennis throughout the world. (

Tortoise – a poem by John W. Steele


What if you were sitting, folded forward,
your legs stretched out along the ground, arms splayed
beneath your thighs and wrapped around your waist,
fingers clasped behind your back, shoulders
clamped down by your legs, face down in
the dirt between your calves? If you find
it hard to breathe, relax. You’re no ordinary
tortoise. Even here at ocean’s bottom

you can bear the pressure, plus Mt. Meru
on your back, with ease—of course it burns;
those gods and demons yanking on the snake
coiled round the mountain, twirling it to churn
the seven seas—making the elixir
of eternal life—what if this is it?


John W. Steele is a psychologist, yoga teacher and recent graduate of the MFA Creative Writing / Poetry Program at Western Colorado University, where he studied with Julie Kane, Earnest Hilbert and David Rothman. His poetry has appeared in Blue Unicorn, The Lyric, Society of Classical Poets and Boulder Weekly. Blue Unicorn nominated his poem “My Grandpa Lost” for the 2017 Pushcart prize. His poem, “Ignis Fatuus,” won The Lyric’s Fall 2017 quarterly award.

Finitude – a poem by M.J. Iuppa


Night’s forced air leaves
fire to smolder in its pit
like sleep’s barter—
hidden prayer offered
in the veil of smoke
lifting— over-


M.J. Iuppa ‘s fourth poetry collection is This Thirst (Kelsay Books, 2017).For the past  29 years, she has lived on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. Check out her blog: for her musings on writing, sustainability & life’s stew.

History – a poem by Julian Nangle


Feeble words fill the room’s dark duty
Rain slams against the roof above their heads
As two friends engage in final whispers
One, immobile, placid, his face disfigured
By loss of energy, by approaching death,
The other, white haired, offensively fit.

They sit together, close, one last time
Reminiscing through bleary eyes
Over past epiphanies and small awakenings
Resist spinning the tongue like a wheel of fortune
To see where the arrow of thought lands, finally;
They know its direction, that nothing can be done
That any battles to be fought have already been won.

Julian Nangle is 70 years old, is married and has had 5 children, and now has 11 grand children. He is a poet, publisher (as Words Press), rare book dealer (as Words Etcetera) and psychotherapist. He has been writing poems since he was in his teens and published some in the little magazines during the 60’s and 70’s. He has produced 4 collections of poems, the last being ‘Windfalls’ in 2014. He is poetry editor for the magazine Self & Society. In September 2017 he lost his youngest daughter to cancer which has prompted many poems relating to grief and loss. The poem published here is just one of them.


Daily Bread – a poem by Renwick Berchild

Daily Bread

Inside the ache. Doused in the heat. The plastic Virgin won’t
address me, her eyes cast down.

I hear her sighs. I hear all the mother gods and idols sigh.
The Gaia, Ishtar, Ix-chel, Chang’E on high

draped in her nightgown.
Gravity pulls the blood from my body, the unborn

sinking fog, wending rivers, rustling greens;
so even the mountain will not last forever, fated to be swallowed

and drawn low. What to do
with all these elementals and goddesses then?

Every morning, I drink from a manufactured chalice,
sip the Earl Grey, the black Darjeeling, the Pekoe.

I navigate around the islands in my apartment, read the books
that imperfect but eager people sent into the future,

run my fingers over an unclean counter,
grasp a doorknob,

breathe. So where are
the holies and their likenesses,

where be their words in my daily doings?
Books of the dead, Abrahamic verses, the written words of pilgrims

pressed between bindings, grimoires, old folk songs
that refuse to dim;

how could I have ever hoped
to catch the new sermons spoken?

Merely, I envision their pillars, breasts of nectar, blue
shoals, eyes like dead fish, smiles from cut stone, hands wringing

out tree limbs, choking them barren, burnt colors
scarring my human skin; I guess somewhere,

in these lines, I might’ve unconsciously uttered

Renwick Berchild is half literary critic, half poet. Her poems have appeared in Spillwords, Vita Brevis, The Stray Branch, Lunaris Review, Slink Chunk Press, Streetcake, and other e-zines, anthologies, and journals. She was born and raised on the angry northern shores of Lake Superior, and now lives in a micro-apartment in Seattle, WA. You can find her work and additional links at