Fighting Death – a poem by M.J. Iuppa

Fighting Death

In the late garden, I stand among stranglers, those late bloomers, hiding
beneath thick and green leaves of summer, waiting for their tender skins

to thicken a bit more, before the first hard frost, before ice seals their in-
fancy without thinking twice. This natural elimination is hard to take.

Once again, I overplanted the garden. I couldn’t hand select the plants
started from seed. I thought everything deserves its one chance. . . .

Now, I’m miserable. It’s mid-October, and I find myself, checking on
the preemies— wishing I were a witch who could cast an intoxicating

spell upon these rows of peppers, and overnight, they will be ready
to be picked and cleaned and put by in whatever recipe I have on hand.

I long to save them, and feel the late morning sun creep over my shoulder
and settle upon this garden’s compulsion to live, like me, to the bitter end.

 

M.J. Iuppa  is the Director of the Visual and Performing Arts Minor Program and Lecturer in Creative Writing at St. John Fisher College; and since 2000 to present, is a part time lecturer in Creative Writing at The College at Brockport. Since 1986, she has been a teaching artist, working with students, K-12, in Rochester, NY, and surrounding area. Most recently, she was awarded the New York State Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching, 2017. She has four full length poetry collections, This Thirst (Kelsay Books, 2017), Small Worlds Floating (2016) as well as Within Reach (2010) both from Cherry Grove Collections; Night Traveler (Foothills Publishing, 2003); and 5 chapbooks. She lives on a small farm in Hamlin NY.

A Monk’s Tale – short nonfiction by James Hannon

A Monk’s Tale
It’s a midwinter night of a waning moon. I am on pilgrimage over the mountain to a monastery– for much needed illumination. Thick snow walls line the way like a bobsled run and the road is packed squeaky hard. I don’t know its length but it leads straight to my goal, a blessing as I’ve lost my sense of direction. And I have all the time in the world since I don’t know what to do next.

I am prepared — a warm coat, felt lined boots and a sheepskin hat–though frost is forming on my beard and long hair. I try on Rasputin or Tolstoy and listen for distant wolves. Maybe a pirate with a bad conscience. A partisan, courting death and every woman in town. How can I be lost when the road is so straight except for ups and downs?

Down I drop again and see lights of habitation far on the port side. I close in on a barn incandescent at 3 a.m. A nativity scene? The baby Jesus? Am I a magus?

It is far too bright for a dairyman monk, as tied to the land as any cenobite. But he is not alone. A midnight birth has gone badly. There is a healthy looking calf but her mother hangs by her back legs from a hoist in the barn roof. The blood is abundant. I am committed to silence and this is no time for inquiry of the exhausted farmer. I walk past.

What sign is this? On how many nights would I view this nativity scene? Not too many. Coincidence, of course, but how can we be shown the remarkable except by coincidence? Where do we see signs? Does it matter if we can’t read them?

I arrive an hour before dawn. I enter the open chapel and lie down in a back pew. Awakened as the monks arrive for Lauds, I try to look pilgrimy. One monk asks me to come with him to a waiting room. After Lauds the Guest Master comes to greet me. This is Brother Placid, who asks me, “F-f-f-f-f-r-o-o-m wh-wh-where h-h-h-h-a-v-v-e u-u–u-c-c-c-come?” I am tired and young. I laugh. It seems like a joke. Placid is as good as his name.

He brings me to robust Brother Anselm who asks if I have ever stained a floor. Having pulled myself together a bit, I say “No, but I think I can manage.” We work a large room in silence for a few hours. Then breakfast with a reading. I expect now to be asked my purpose or vocation. I get a ride in a station wagon back over the mountain to town where Anselm will stop in at the hardware store. We talk on the way about his lifestyle and he drops me off at a good location for hitch-hiking. My monastic career is over.

 

James Hannon is a psychotherapist in Massachusetts where he accompanies adults and adolescents recovering from disappointments and illusions.  His poems have appeared in Cold Mountain Review, Soundings East, Zetetic and other journals, and in Gathered: Contemporary Quaker Poets.  His collection, The Year I Learned the Backstroke, was published by Aldrich Press in 2014.

Affinities – a poem by Sanjeev Sethi

Affinities

I reach your energy
with the hope of
deterging myself.
You’re my nurse,
my need.

In the hush-hush of
my interiority you’re
aglow, steering me
to newer expressions,
screening me from myself.

 

Sanjeev Sethi is the author of three books of poetry. His poems are in venues around the world:   A Restricted View From Under The Hedge, Pantry Ink, Bonnie’s Crew, Morphrog 16, Mad Swirl, The Penwood Review, Faith Hope & Fiction, Communion Arts Journal, and elsewhere. He lives in Mumbai, India.

 

The Splendid Ship – a poem by Jill Pearlman

The Splendid Ship

I remember standing
by the river
your hand inside
mine furled

our minds unwound
our drink that night

that tall black gulp of air

the ghost ships
white as paste on
onyx glass

rocking in total stillness

in the silence
we knew where
we dive

to extract a

word

our futures

flat-pressed to now.

 

Jill Pearlman is a writer and poet based in Providence, RI.  She has published in Salamander, Frequency Anthology, Soul-Lit, Crosswinds and others.  She writes a blog about ecstasy, art and aesthetics in wartime at jillpearlman.com

Invocation to Patanjali – a poem by John W. Steele

Invocation to Patanjali

O Sage Patanjali, who brought us yoga,
We sit before you, palms together, bow,
recite this kernel of your yoga sutras:
Let us study the art of yoga, now.
Single-minded practice stops the stream
of thought, unveils our true identity.
Or else we’re caught up in our dreams
and can’t distinguish truth from fantasy.

O snake-man, shaded by your seven cowls,
incarnation of Lord Vishnu’s cobra,
show us how to burn with zeal,
cut through delusion, discern what’s real,
heal our bodies, turn our minds around.
O snake-man, blow your conch and wake us, now.

 

John W. Steele is a psychologist, yoga teacher and graduate of the MFA Poetry Program at Western Colorado University, where he studied with Julie Kane, Earnest Hilbert and David Rothman. His poetry has appeared in Amethyst Review, Boulder Weekly, Blue Unicorn, The Lyric, Society of Classical Poets and Verse-Virtual.

Vital Signs – a poem by Will Cordeiro

Vital Signs

Each raindrop, a miniature
part of the nona stop flood

of stars. & every wound
was like an eyelash shivering—

our knowledge sadder
for its slow arriving. All history

is alive and yet historical: a clattered drawer
of knives which fall. Bloodstream,

plastic & a scattered gunk that clogs
the riverside. Fog-light like an oracle.

A torrent which casts junk aside.
A dry lake’s rot, as each monsoon

soon leaves its watermark. Nightlong
along the swollen sodden banks

through bright insistent dark’s
swift counter-spew of flotsam

nerve-springs sparing with
their shards & gloss, trash

going by, all rankled, ruin-tossed,
a circumfluent panic of the cross-

winds in their erasure-shine-and-gash.
A single dove flew off

& became
the moon.

 

Will Cordeiro has work appearing or forthcoming in Best New Poets, Copper Nickel, DIAGRAM, Fourteen Hills, Nashville Review, Poetry Northwest, Salamander, Sycamore Review, The Threepenny Review, Zone 3, and elsewhere. He has two chapbooks: “Never-never” (White Knuckle, 2017) and “Opinions and Reveries of Mr. Figure” (RDP, 2016). He is grateful for a grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, a scholarship from Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and a Truman Capote Writer’s Fellowship, as well as residencies from ART 342, Blue Mountain Center, Ora Lerman Trust, Petrified Forest National Park, and Risley Residential College. He received his MFA and Ph.D. from Cornell University. He lives in Flagstaff, where he is a faculty member in the Honors College at Northern Arizona University.

CHIA – a poem by Jay Ramsay

CHIA

Is it really my brain
that with the utmost clarity
can retrieve a thought
I had the day before yesterday
in one word…despite
haste and anxiety
medicinal hangover and cloud as I sit;
or is it a voice speaking to me
precise as a needle, or a beak
alive to every cell of my being ?

Vocation: image, cave, messenger; we think it is.

29.7.18
note: ‘vocation means to be addressed by a voice’—CG Jung

Jay Ramsay, who died in December 2018,  co-founded Angels of Fire in London in 1983 with its Festivals of New Poetry, was the author of 30 + books of poetry, non-fiction, and classic Chinese translation (with Martin Palmer) including Psychic Poetry—a manifesto, The White PoemAlchemy, Crucible of Love–the alchemy of passionate relationships, Tao Te Ching, I Ching—the shamanic oracle of change, Shu Jing—the Book of History, The Poet in You (his correspondence course, since 1990), Kingdom of the Edge—Selected Poems 1980-1998, Out of Time—1998-2008, Places of Truth, Monuments, and Agistri Notebook (both 2014). In 2012 he recorded his poetry-music album, Strange Sun. In addition, he edited 6 anthologies of New Poetry—most recently Diamond Cutters—Visionary Poets in America, Britain & Oceania (with Andrew Harvey: www.tayenlane.com), as well as many collections for other poets, also under his own pamphlet imprint Chrysalis Poetry. He was also poetry editor of Caduceus magazine, working in private practice as a UKCP accredited psychotherapist and healer, and running workshops worldwide (www.jayramsay.co.uk).

Textures – a poem by M.S. Rooney

Textures

“Whisper songs” of Steller’s Jays,
those almost inaudible songs
sung for reasons no one can name.
Who are these ones, these fellows?
How do we sense the textures
of the other without limit,
let word cages drop?

 

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.

Offering – a poem by Julie Sampson

Offering

As our animal carcasses queue up one by one
in trucks, on digger-scoops,
there is no Arc, no Noah,
no dove-green frond of olive branch
to save them drowning in their blood,
from being forked dust to dust under rusted earth
or from the scourge of flaming pyre.
After all their slaughter is to keep the country
on a straight political track.

Yet, following rural ancestors,
through the mass of this ritual cull
we find ourselves retraced to Medieval fates
remembering earlier acts of violence
on local soil,
lives rendered for future ills –
St Urith from the heart of our farming land
and from the cathedral city, St Sidwell.
Severed, each saintly head is sacred.

We sip from the bowl-hollowed cranium
in the cradle of hallowed earth,
spin through the dreaming gyre of her well –
everlasting as stars
flowers perpetually teeming
from the depths of this deadly seed-bed.

 

Note; The last Foot and Mouth outbreak in Devon, in 2001, had a huge impact on the rural community, with repercussions that still resonate with many people. Both St Sidwll and St Urith are associated with Devon. As martyrs their severed heads possessed the power of healing: flowers were said to bloom whenever a drop of blood was sprinkled on the earth where they died.

In recent years Julie Sampson‘s poetry has appeared in a variety of magazines, including Shearsman, Ink Sweat and Tears, The Journal, Amaryllis PoetryThe Algebra of Owls, Molly Bloom, The Poetry Shed, The Lake, Amethyst Review, Poetry Space and Pulsar. Shearsman published her edition of Mary Lady Chudleigh; Selected Poems, in 2009 and a full collection, Tessitura, in 2014. A non-fiction manuscript was short-listed for The Impress Prize, in 2015 and a pamphlet, It Was When It Was When It Was, was published by Dempsey and Windle, March 2018.

The Desert Wind – a poem by Mark Tulin

The Desert Wind

There’s an eastern wind from the desert
that blows
dry air into a big swirl.

The wind whispers a strange
melody, a discordant rhythm,
an odd rhyme, a pause that could delay
or destroy.

It is a song of surprise and suspense.
It is a song of sorrow and dread.
It stops our lives.
It steals our families from the hillsides.

It blows the fertile fields bone dry,
engulfs our hearts, and softens our hope.
It disrupts our sense of place
and time.

It burns the browns and greens,
the yellow of the golden reeds.
It moves along the sloping mountainside,
blowing embers along the foothills,
burning flakes of smoldering trees.

It crosses highways.
It sparks old memories.
Flames that soar so high, it seems to touch
the roof of the sky.

We never know which way the wind
will head. We never know how fast or slow.
The fire is unleashed, set free.
A spirit that travels on its own accord.

 

Mark Tulin is a former family therapist who lives in Santa Barbara, California.  He often finds richness in the lives of the neglected and disenfranchised. He has a poetry chapbook, Magical Yogis, published by Prolific Press (2017).  His work appears in Vita Brevis, Page and Spine, Fiction on the Web, Friday Flash Fiction, The Drabble, smokebox, and Cabinet of Heed. His website is Crow On The Wire.