Last Sunday in Church – a poem by Don Thompson

Last Sunday in Church
(Francois Villon)

The shunned offering basket gets even lighter
when it passes by you,
the sleight-of-hand unnoticed
as you slipped a coin
into a ragged coat pocket
while simultaneously crossing yourself.
A man of faith. No doubt.

But the bishop’s still searching
under the cushions of his overstuffed sofa
and in the black-out curtains of his cassock
for his dignity
that you pilfered and pawned
to buy a round for everyone at the pub.
They drank to you, called you a saint.
Maybe, but widows clenched their mites
tighter when you sauntered by…

I would’ve had coffee with you afterwards,
fellowshipped, as we say,
but you’d already vanished—
returned to the thin air you came from,
jittery with schemes,
the rope burns still red on your dirty neck.


Don Thompson has been writing about the San Joaquin Valley for over fifty years, including a dozen or so books and chapbooks.  For more info and links to publishers, visit his website at

When I Awoke in the Mountains – a poem by Emily Peña Murphey

When I Awoke in the Mountains

When I awoke in the mountains
I sensed the green outside before opening my eyes.

When I awoke in the mountains
Scents of toast and bacon
Wafted from a linoleum kitchen.

When I awoke in the mountains
Big white mists were clearing in wisps,
Revealing the sun
In a bright blue sky.

When I awoke in the mountains,
Elders were gathering early below
Seated around a silver-edged table,
Sipping hot coffee,
Sharing their stories.

When I awoke in the mountains
I pictured at once the beloved surroundings:
Red soil dappled with shiny mica,
Spotted cows in an old hill pasture,
Blackberry bushes, a musical brook,
And a venerable black walnut tree.

When I awoke in the mountains,
Things awoke in me
That would never be shaded or silenced:
The mystery of families and places,
Humility of moving through forms that reach heaven,
The deep silent souls of rocks and plants;
A wish to enfold creation
In my childhood arms


Emily Peña Murphey is a retired psychotherapist with academic training in psychology, social work, and Jungian psychoanalysis. She has family roots in Texas’ Río Grande Valley and the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, and sings and plays the traditional music of both regions. She has published short fiction in several online journals, and enjoys writing from a cross-cultural perpective.  Her current projects include a collection of short stories and a trilogy of trans-border novels. She lives in Philadelphia.

Sacristy in February – a poem by Anne Higgins

Sacristy in February


What to do with the Poinsettias
when Lent approaches?
Red leaves still velvet, still sumptuous,
gathered in a group of six,
they flow together like flames in a fireplace.
What to do with them now,
when the sacristan rousts them from the sanctuary,
relegates them to a cart in the hall?
Here, in the land where Poinsettias don’t bloom outside,
I can’t keep all these refugees in my room.
I can’t consign them naked to the cold earth
where their velvet will wither into black rags.
So I decapitate them,
deflower them,
pull their rootbound potshaped soil,
snowy with vermiculite.
I dump those clumps
onto the mulch gone ground
over the tulip bulbs.


Anne Higgins teaches English at Mount Saint Mary’s University in Emmitsburg Maryland, USA. She is a member of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. She has had about 100 poems published in a variety of small magazines. Five full-length books and three chapbooks of her poetry have been published: At the Year’s Elbow, Mellen Poetry Press 2000; Scattered Showers in a Clear Sky, Plain View Press 2007; chapbooks: Pick It Up and Read, Finishing Line Press 2008, How the Hand Behaves, Finishing Line Press 2009, Digging for God, Wipf and Stock 2010, Vexed Questions, Aldrich Press 2013,Reconnaissance, Texture Press 2014, and Life List, Finishing Line Press 2016. Her poems have been featured several times on The Writer’s Almanac.

The Nature of Prayer – a poem by Carol Alena Aronoff

The Nature of Prayer

A rosary of flowers,
a litany of birdsong,
cricketspeak and
traveler’s palm
No need to light
candles as sun
illuminates the space
between branches
and leaves, warms
the petals of plumeria
and puakenekene
so they release their
fine incense to fill
the air with scents
of the sacred.

Nature’s temples,
abide in silence
and beauty,
surrounded by
swirl and torrent,
cycles of tumult
and calm inseparable.
All part of that
divine, seamless fabric
imbued with
intelligence and spirit,
patterned and naked
awareness. No need
to pray or ask for
anything, just rest.


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).

The Prophet – a poem by Cynthia Pitman

The Prophet

The present turned into the past
almost too fast
to call it the present
as she stood transfixed there,
hiding from the future —
the future that always,
became the present,
then the past,
thus blending time together
into one prophetic vision,
searing the seer’s all-seeing eyes
that she hid behind her cowl,
the prophet’s cowl, that
always failed to veil them.


Cynthia Pitman began writing poetry again this past summer after a 30-year hiatus. She has recently had poetry published in Amethyst ReviewVita BrevisRight Hand PointingEkphrastic ReviewLiterary Yard, Adelaide Literary Magazine, Postcard Poems and Prose, and Leaves of Ink. She has had fiction published in Red Fez and has fiction forthcoming in Saw Palm: Florida Literature and Art.

The Call – a poem by Ash Dean

The Call

Geese take wing in choral cacophony.
.Each extending itsneck beyond the thump

of its breast...As a quiet wake

of backlit haze envelops the lake..With

the first calls of morning they say—On
….they say—the way is long

they say—and so—
……they say —

To be human is to witness. Each day
you take your place. Be still. Be vigilant. Alert

to possibility. Aware of grace and pain.
How difficult not to know

what will happen next...The oblivion
stars unlearn the future all the time...Ages on

they turn to dust……&this dust
becomes you. Even at this distance you burn,

though slowly. Because ears are always open
we hear the call. This dust that is me

and the dust that is you awakens
to a kinship. Put aside

your memory of wreckage. Even what
is deep in your animal mind:

you must put it aside...With the gravity
of the first tumultuous

thoughts of morning you must
..walk—-no matter how slow—

but walk—
out into the sounding pool

of the arriving day.
If I knew another way—

………………I would name it.
Here is my only guarantee—

That I will

………………go too
for so long as I can

……………..— I will go—



Ash Dean grew up in Ferguson Missouri. He is a graduate of The International Writing Program at City University of Hong Kong. His work has appeared in Cha, Drunken Boat, Gravel, Ma La, Mason’s Road, Soul-Litand Afterness: Literature from the New Transnational Asia. He is the author of Cardiography from Finishing Line Press.  He lived in Suzhou, China for 6 years. He currently lives in Songdo, South Korea.