Specter of Essence – a poem by Ken Allan Dronsfield

Specter of Essence

Seasons of query; blood moon sullen
keeper of the corn; coolness of breath
peeking sun warm; misty fogginess lifts.
grass wet with dew; footprints are aplenty.
fresh moldy earth turned by the oxen.
hard sharp edge; pussy willow softness
smells of mint tarrow; thankful for senses
buds burst with sun; lilacs bloomed today.
spector of essence; keeper of the scents
wafting through life; freshness of cut grass
inner core of sulfur; bud of bursting leaves
pious taste of roses; electric with the sun.


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.

RAUCH – a poem by Marc Janssen


In the swirl, intense
Calmness of the Pacific
Is a reflection

You flow like a river, a fire hose, a mouse’s tracks on new snow; of words dancing between mind and hand and pen and paper and eye and mind; of light as it slants through the memories of smoke from mom’s cigarette lazing in a July morning living room; of food and hunger and scent and everything that makes me an animal; of thoughts and emotions and everything that separates me from everyone else.
You are atoms between stars and skin cells; the water blue, the Crater Lake blue, the sky blue, the emotion-filled can’t-find-the-right-pantone blue of the baby’s eye.

In the red embers
The cooling flame’s curling smoke
Is a reflection

You are connected to the locomotive tiptoeing down the center of Front Street in the middle of the night; to the explosions deep inside the sun; electronic messages, emails, texts; to the boy who wants to know how to hold the hand of the girl; to the girl who is a woman who is a mother who is alone who is happy and sad and angry and laughing; to the fingers and the tendons and the muscles and the skin and the nails and the crinkled edges of the baby’s hand as she dozes crumpled on her sleeping dad’s chest.

In the air, this air
This vacuum, town, anywhere
Is a reflection

And you touch the shoulder of the drunk veteran, the inner world of the middle school girl, the guy driving to work with the sun in his eyes, the music major, the protester, the police;
The shoulder of a mountain, of Orion, of imagination, of the sound you make when you smile;
Lightly brushes the hour, hair, heaven, hurt, hate, honor, heritage, the hush.
Looking up, intently, breast to mouth, the baby sees a sky of intimacy and smell and nourishment and familiarity and

In a universe
Of big broken reflections
Flowing is love, love


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.

Unpacked – a poem by Kristine Brown


this, the lean season
calling for the culling
of berries, their tears.
broken lute,
shattered bits
disperse and settle
on the shifting ground
feeling of both swamp and tundra.
the shadow is an amulet
gleaming amidst moons
to soothe a struck night.


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 (https://crumpledpapercranes.com). 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.

Remember the Stars – a poem by KB Ballantine

Remember the Stars –

how you ached when you left
the lavish cloak of space
became stardust then dew,
leaves and blossoms bright
with the last echoes of your light:

sparking, dancing,
licked by rain and by rivers
through riffles and pools
Magnolias blushing, mimosas feathering
between sky and earth, the groan
of loss rasps past –

a tune half-remembered in the wind,
on the wing of a wren,
a note lingering in the glitter path –
calling, drawing you home


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 www.kbballentine.com.

The Blessing of Rain – a poem by Carol Alena Aronoff

The Blessing of Rain

The meadow folds in on itself
with an approaching squall.
Tall grasses lean over,
form shelters for mongeese
and other small creatures:
a casual benevolence
mothers know.

The air sizzles, sky larks wing
back to nests and hatchlings.
Kukui leaves tremble, turn upward
showing silvery slips. A lone
frog takes cover beneath
a banana leaf. Does it need
anything? Or think of death?

Prelude to the deluge, wind
drives clouds across grim sky,
then bows in silence at Gaia’s
altar. The momentary hush
is filled with holiness, everything
just as it is. Rain’s benediction
descends as truth, elixir
of unspoken mystery.


Carol Alena Aronoff, Ph.D. is a psychologist, teacher, poet. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies and won several prizes. She was twice nominated for a Pushcart.  She published a chapbook and five books of poetry: The Nature of Music, Cornsilk, Her Soup Made the Moon Weep, Blessings From an Unseen World and Dreaming Earth’s Body (with Betsie Miller-Kusz).

No Choice – a poem by William Fogarty

No Choice

I have—for many years—
fallen in love with phantoms—
enamored—of morning dew—
shuddering—at impermanence.

Grabbing a fistful—
It slickly slips—
through my fingers.

Inevitably I return—
to reddening leaves—
the ground of life—
the Bodhi Tree…

William Fogarty is a practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism, Roman Catholicism, and Energy Mastery. He is also an aspiring English and Italian Language poet. He currently lives in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. You can view more of his self-published work at https://wfog35.wordpress.com/

rachmaninoff      off key – a poem by d. ellis phelps

rachmaninoff …….off key

a minister
maybe…….a member

of the house of restoration
this man……stands

in the street
asking…….for handouts
my hand’s out
the window

holding…….spare change


coming toward me

—his steps…….tentative
—his eyes…….locked on mine

he stops

a few feet from me
takes a tiny bow


emboldened by this:

act of prayer
he approaches

holding a pamphlet
in his large…….dark

hand…….he hands

me the slip

for the son of man
has come to seek
and to save that
which was lost
it says


this man’s story
i do not know

but i…….have seen
his eyes…….in my mirror


flatness…….looking back

—song birds…….soaked
…….in oil


perhaps like saul…….like me


his name has changed
& now…….a witness

he wears…….fluorescent-yellow
—vestments— city-issued

that make
his claim

to this intersection:

—of failure
…….and faith



you say
god helps those
who help themselves
and my hand
out the window

will only encourage
his begging

i say

there comes…….a blackness
when flesh…….abandons bones
when confounding voices     
deafen reason
when every hand
on every clock
turns back
to the hour
of your regret
& the whiskey
you loved
—nettle in your blood
in your veins
as you needle
through…….one more
like rachmaninoff…….off key
and you cannot stop
you cannot…….stop
you…….cannot stop
and you feel
your body
to its end
to be
the light

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).

Remembering the Black Forest – a poem by William Ruleman

Remembering the Black Forest

I saw far fewer sights than I had planned.
Some little thing would take me by surprise:
A stand of flowers that had seized my eyes,
A cuckoo call I strained to understand.

Those firs and pines that loom on every hand
Will have their way and cut one down to size;
The tangy air, in time, will mesmerize
One—leave one sapped and frayed at last—unmanned.

So there are towns that I may never see—
Triberg, Schönwald, and Bad Säckingen—
Mountain meadows I may never reach

Fringed round by walls of oak and spruce and beech
That will forever loom beyond my ken
And yet forever haunt my memory.


William Ruleman recently retired from college teaching to devote himself to writing and painting. His most recent books include the poetry collections From Rage to Hope (White Violet Press, 2016), Salzkammergut Poems (Cedar Springs Books, also 2016), and Stefan Zweig’s unfinished novel Clarissa (Ariadne Press, 2017). His website is www.williamruleman.com.

That summer – a poem by M.S. Rooney

“A happiness within you – but not yours.”
– Dag Hammarskjöld

That summer,

beneath a blue-white sky,
we ran along the river,
crushed thick grasses and vines
beneath our feet
as we searched for a way
to cross to the other side, to find
what we could not see
yet had somehow caught
and changed our hearts.

Sometimes our deepest love
speaks in a foreign tongue
we must translate
without key.


M.S. Rooney lives in Sonoma, California with poet Dan Noreen. Her work appears in journals, including Leaping Clear, Ekphrasis, Heron Tree, Naugatuck River Review and Soul-Lit, and anthologies, including American Society: What Poets See (FutureCycle Press), edited by David Chorlton and Robert S. King, and Ice Cream Poems (World Enough Writers), edited by Patricia Fargnoli. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

HAWK SHABBAT – a poem by Anne Whitehouse


Once a Cooper’s Hawk settled
outside the first-floor window
at the back of our Manhattan apartment,
perched on the wrought-iron bars
of an empty air conditioner cage.

In the cold, high realms of the air
it had traveled a great distance
and from afar with piercing vision
had spied our cage and courtyard,
one protected space within another.
It felt safe enough to rest surrounded
by high walls, like being
at the bottom of a well of air.

The hawk was so tired it didn’t care
that we were inches away,
separated only by a pane of glass.
Its head swiveled all around,
facing backwards on its neck,
and with its beak it ruffled
its neck feathers and tucked its head
under its wing and was fast asleep
while fierce-looking talons
gripped the bars of the cage.

It was a Friday evening, and the peace
of Shabbat was falling like a veil,
shadowing the world as the hawk slept.
Not wanting to disturb its rest,
I left the room dark as I set the table
next to the window and lit the candles,
softly singing the blessing,
shielding my eyes in prayer.

My husband and daughter and I
blessed the wine and the bread
and quietly ate our dinner by candlelight.
Twice the hawk woke and stared at us.
Its black pupils rimmed in gold
pierced me with inexpressible wildness,
as fierce and strange as God’s angel.

Like a sheet of mica clouding its gaze,
the hawk’s inner eyelid slid from front to back,
and again its head rotated, and it bent
its beak under its wing and slept and woke
and slept again. I woke in the night
and it was still there, a dark form
immobile against the darkness.
In the morning it was gone.


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.