The Laughing Buddha visits our local Panera Bread – a poem by Kristine Brown

The Laughing Buddha visits our local Panera Bread

There goes Ch’i-t’zu
peddling his expertise to the girl with golden rain boots, an elf of
fourteen years
who would just like a week out of this lifetime that permits the
casual wear of ordinary flip-flops.
Mud between toes, a chocolate cake to corrode your sweet tooth
“There, there,” sings the monk of Fenghua,
“Tomorrow…a high of 83 degrees. Rain will sleep in bed, with a bowl of black bean soup
taking her temp. from the nightstand
as you climb these trees of oak.”

“Okay, Ch’i-t’zu.
What other tricks dance in that burgundy burlap messenger bag?”

“Well, let’s see. I’ve got satin bears, pinewood tops. Hot Wheels for boys, but I think what this Little Miss would really enjoy is this lavender My Little Pony. Friendship is magic.”

There goes my little Ashlyn
waddling forth to wisecracking Santa, giggling as if she heard a joke from
Mommy, away on a business trip
who would wag her finger at such an engagement, but within ten minutes
relent and return his black tea grin.
Our personal Boo Radley? The neighbors say so.
“I hail from miles beyond,” Ch’i-t’zu clears his throat,
“But I’ve heard this town’s bereft of cheer. Morning toast, without your favorite strawberry jam.
Tortillas. Without meat. Or salsa.”
We can only nod
while Ashlyn blesses his cotton tummy, rotund.


On the weekends, Kristine Brown frequently wanders through historic neighborhoods, saying “Hello” to most any cat she encounters. Some of these cats are found on her blog, Crumpled Paper Cranes ( Her creative work can be found in HobartSea Foam MagPhilosophical Idiot, among others, and a collection of flash prose and poetryScraped Knees, was released in 2017 by Ugly Sapling.

Pebble and Stubble – a poem by Ken Allan Dronsfield

Pebble and Stubble

That which gives often…
often receives nothing in return.
Do not be deceived by the
writings etched on stone pillars.
Corn often grows taller than words
words often grow taller than deeds.
The simple man strides upon fields
with stalks as thick as dictionaries.
We take a full cache and fill silos
forty suns per one field.
Horse hooves and wagon wheels cut
deeply into furrows of freshly turned soil.
Geese feed in flocks as finger-like
tendrils of wispy fog rises.
Wrung ones neck for our bellies
now we give it spit and hot coals.
At dusk, we watch wise men
gather petrified husk and stubble
to craft tablet and rope.
Field mice dart across the clods of
earth, searching out feed and trying
not to succumb to a Great Horned Owl..
Starlings, crows and ravens pick
clean all discarded pebble and stubble.
Within our breath, the sun reappears
another slow time within the solstice.


Ken Allan Dronsfield is a disabled veteran, poet, and fabulist. He resides in Seminole Oklahoma, USA. He works full-time on his poetry, dabbling in digital art. Ken’s poem, “With Charcoal Black, VIII” was selected as the First Prize Winner in a recent major Nature Poetry Contest from Realistic Poetry International.

SECULAR COMEDY – a poem by Mark J. Mitchell


A cool moon chimes softly in the winter sky,
swelling like a bell in an empty church.
The stars twinkle as soft as some nun’s sigh.
Tonight is lousy with liturgy. I search
for secular symbols, untouched, unglossed
by doctors of divine arcana. Black
as an old cassock, torn, carelessly tossed
upwards, this sky is a tangible fact.
I sully it with nuns and bells, the dust
of my lost religion. It’s a disease
I can’t cure or won’t. I mistake stardust
for ritual, moon for meaning. Cease.
Enough. I will look at things as they are.
I’ll learn to walk at night and just see stars.


Mark J. Mitchell’s novel, The Magic War appeared from Loose Leaves Publishing. He studied  at Santa Cruz under Raymond Carver and George Hitchcock. His work appeared in several anthologies and hundreds of periodicals. He lives with his wife, Joan Juster making his living pointing out pretty things in San Francisco. A meager online presence can be found at

deluge – a poem by d. ellis phelps


i stop
& nod

to the cement-truck

the farm to market
road…….—huge tumbler


I think…….about



too much
too little



how many roads
we’ve travelled

the day…….you

i’ve joined the army
how i thought


how it did:

pills for rage
pills for sleep
pills for pain

too much

………for years

you wouldn’t
look up

your back
to every wall

have you…..ever
for rain
for a job
for a soul
today…….you call


of the old…….you
the one…….i knew

i want
 to tell you
i have     
so many
I think…….about

of faith
of mistakes

how i
came to
call you

my son

by making one

I think…….about

the time…….you
& i………prayed

…….for our lives


in front of
the cement plant

that day
the tornado

turned up

only yards
from us


how we shook
how the deluge

(almost) overtook

how we bow

to a god
neither of us



d. ellis phelps’ poetry, art, and essays appear most recently or are forthcoming online and in print in The Enchantment of the Ordinary; Texas Poetry Calendar 2019; Poets & Dreamers:  Dreamers and Displaced Issue; & Voices de La Luna.  She is the author of Making Room for George, a novel and of the blog formidableWoman.  She is co-founder and animating director of the poets for peace, San Antonio reading series. recently serving as managing editor for the inaugural anthology of that group, The Larger Geometry:  poems for peace (peaceCenter Books, 2018).

The Imams Pray at Auschwitz – a poem by Phebe Jewell

The Imams Pray at Auschwitz

“To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.” – Adorno
Once you enter these gates
you know there is no place
to hide in the safety of metaphors.
The sky above you,
the earth below you,
the graves stretching all around you.
If you were to recite
all the names of the dead,
your lips would become numb,
you would lose your voice.
In the shadow of the chimneys
you must not submit to anything,
not even as you kneel at the Wall of Death.

Once you enter these gates,
you cannot escape
the factory of symbols,
churning out images day and night,
gestures of meaning,
left or right,
life or death.

Pity, love, reverence
will not save you,
your call to witness
will be studied, weighed, judged.

Yet every prayer is a question
with no beginning, no ending.
Pray you must, for the limits of prayer,
the betrayal of words.
Pray for the sky, the earth, the questions.


Phebe Jewell is a writer and teacher from Seattle, Washington. Her work has appeared in Bindweed Magazine, Crab Creek Review, and Crosscurrents.

The Light Tears Loose – a poem by KB Ballentine

The Light Tears Loose

Every now and then/ I see a sunset / and I want to crawl inside of myself / and match that kind of glowing. —James Diaz

Evening sun divides the horizon,
shadows whispering the lawn,
that last blaze burning the sky.

The air sparks –
the cosmos no longer contains me,
and my soul twists in longing . . .

A bend in the road surprises with fields of poppies –
awe swelling when I breathe wren-song,
listen to violets unfolding.

And when the light finally flares, then disappears,
I am the craggy mountain, the grain of sand
lapped into the ocean. An ember
arcing, illuminating the deep.

KB Ballentine
’s fifth collection, Almost Everything,
Almost Nothing, was published in 2017 by Middle Creek Publishing.
Published in Crab Orchard Review and Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal,
among others, her work also appears in anthologies including In Plein
Air (2017) and Carrying the Branch: Poets in Search of Peace (2017).
Learn more at

Maple – a poem by Jessica Rae


in the cool air, searching
for joy – I find it in a
maple tree’s fiery mane situated
in a secret place atop
a hill against
clear blue sky
I feel closer to holiness
than the broken glass pressed
into clay soil at
its feet.

Jessica Rae is a perimenopausal, solo and childfree undergrad student, writer, and poet with chronic illness. Currently, she works at the campus library to help pay tuition, enjoys riding her bike along the Erie Canal, and writing about the environment, social justice issues, and other topics.



In the tear tuned lustrous night
When water is blood softly hammering in the earth’s old veins
And dew sobs into the bone end of hours like a lullaby.
I am the smallest note, the quietest, in this unsung magnificat.

Light calls from behind the cirrus curtain
Muted moon
Alto comets
Plastic satellites synchronize their electronic pulses to four four
Sweep in metronymic precision left to right, right to left;
Held between earth and the infinite by a thought, a notion,
And gravity’s steadying hand.

There is a rhythm to the universe
A chord played below the level of the noise,
That resonates across the strings of those attentively listening
And resonates across those that aren’t.


Marc Janssen is an internationally published poet and poetic activist. His work has appeared haphazardly in printed journals and anthologies such as Off the Coast, Cirque Journal, Penumbra, The Ottawa Arts Review and Manifest West. He also coordinates poetry events in the Willamette Valley of Oregon including the Salem Poetry Project, a weekly reading, and Salem Poetry Festival.


THE ANCIENT WORLD – a poem by Anne Whitehouse


“To imagine the sounds and smells of the ancient world
is to bring that world to life.”
-Robert Koehl

The ancients believed that demons
haunted thresholds.
The bells sewed to the hem
of the High Priest’s knee-length ephod
announced his entrances and exits
into the Tabernacle.
He made his presence known
so he might not die.
Alternating with the bells
were pomegranate-shaped tassels
of blue, purple, and crimson yarn.

Outside the Tabernacle
was the altar anointed with the blood
of animals offered in sacrifice.
The fires, the meat smoke rising
from the altar pleased the Lord,
fat and flesh consumed in smoke.

Over his fine garments
of gold, blue, purple, and scarlet yarns
held by a woven waistband,
the High Priest wore the breastplate
of Urim and Thummin,
used to obtain God’s decision
on important questions
where human judgment
was found inadequate.

As the High Priest moved,
the bells tinkled softly,
and the smell of the meat smoke
and wheat cakes
mixed with frankincense
rose in the air.


Anne Whitehouse is the author of six poetry collections Meteor Shower (2016) is her second collection from Dos Madres Press, following The Refrain in 2012. She is the author of a novel, Fall Love, as well as short stories, essays, features, and reviews. She was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, and lives in New York City. You can listen to her lecture, “Longfellow, Poe, and the Little Longfellow War” here.

Charlemagne – a poem by Nancy Byrne Iannucci


Oh, father of Europe,
purveyor of Christianity,
father to me, Gisela-
you cherished us, all eighteen,
your daughters explicitly,
a smothered spinster like
my sisters, I write in
Carolingian minuscule
to reveal I’m broken,
a lost little girl who
cannot hold a shield without feudal circles,
cannot mingle without manors,
multiple wives & multiple mistresses,
you left me wary of men.
Alcuin taught me the skies,
I treasured the constellations
in his eyes, and for that he called
me Delia, nothing more,
You would not allow it,
You would not allow me,
and so I’m preserved
in his poetry,
and in this poem,
living on, but
never lived.


Nancy Byrne Iannucci is a historian from Troy, NY. Her work is published in numerous publications including Riggwelter, Three Drops from a Cauldron, Typehouse Literary Magazine, Allegro Poetry Magazine, Gargoyle, and Autumn Sky Poetry Daily. Her first book of poetry, Temptation of Wood, was recently published by Nixes Mate Review.