Blessed are the Peacemakers – a poem by Marissa Glover

Blessed are the Peacemakers

God did not send an angel to my husband, telling him I would conceive a son. God did not tell me to name him John. I named him John anyway, after an ancestor who signed the Declaration of Independence. Baby John was circumcised on the third day and home under bilirubin lights by the eighth. Queen Elizabeth II was on the throne—she did not order him to be killed. And so he was permitted to live past two years old, if he was lucky enough to escape the current threat.

And when he was thirteen months old, there in stroller, I took Baby John with me to buy meat at the deli. We were second in line. The woman in front turned around, said she hoped John would stay little forever, never grow up to fight in one of Bush’s wars. The aproned man behind the counter selling pulled pork stood to his full height and decreed: John will be a peacemaker.

At thirteen, John is still growing into his name, still learning what it means to be a child of God. Peace is easier for the meek. At thirteen, John has not yet inherited the earth—for there is too much Fortnite and hormones and rebelling against Miss Collins’ rules in civics class. Middle school and puberty conspire against his calling. Still, grace abounds.

Blessed is this boy, for he shall inherit my calves, my curiosity, my habit of washing hands. Along with these gifts, he will also inherit his father’s baller skills, eyebrows, constellatory moles. The boy shall inherit his family’s love of board games and play Monopoly with the temptation to pass Go and collect more than $200. The boy will grow as the years allow, fed by sunlight and rainfall—fruit chews, goldfish, and sharp cheddar string cheese. Someday, he will take stock of all that his parents and this world have left him, remember the prophecy and make his choice.

 

Marissa Glover teaches and writes in the United States, where she is the co-editor at Orange Blossom Review. Marissa’s poetry has appeared in Amaryllis,RiggwelterPicaroon Poetry, Nine Muses, Solstice Sounds, and Ink, Sweat & Tears, among others, and is forthcoming from SWWIM Every Day and First Things. You can follow Marissa on Twitter @_MarissaGlover_.

Walk at Easter – a poem by Jeff Burt

Walk at Easter

Why call it a false step,
that sudden stretch
in the dark when the foot fails
to find the even earth
and plummets down a void
before hitting bottom?

Why not a true step,
the embarrassing lurch
into ignorance, hands
clutching the unsupportive air,
arch breaking through the scrim
of comfort into another step of faith?

All love’s a pitch,
a wobble on the walk
of terrain, a theft of the firm
assurance turned in reach
to an unknown other.

 

Jeff Burt lives in California. He works in mental health, and has work in The Monarch Review, LitBreak, Terrene, Nature Writing, and won the 2017 Cold Mountain Review poetry prize.

A ROSY CROSS – a poem by Mark J. Mitchell

A ROSY CROSS

A Bach fugue has the crucifixion in it.
—Grygöry Kurtág

You do not see him coming—his slow hands
heavy with nails. His long face stays hidden
beneath a black hood. His hammer’s just blunt—
nothing else. You stay stretched out and he stands
behind you. His breath provides the constant
beat. Time doesn’t count. It meets—here—its end.

This moment, though serious, touches light
with pale fingers and tickles you to joy—
the joy of numbers that hold square and true
to a hammer’s voice. The nail scratches you
like God’s kiss and now your sound’s perfect toy.
The pain’s built of delicate notes in flight.

Your flesh is pierced sharply—square on the beat.
Prayer must be like this. It always asks you
to hand over more than you have. The work
is joy but the melody you hear defeats
your fingers—blunt nails, warm flesh. You jerk
your hands away. Count time: One. Two. One, two…

 

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 https://www.facebook.com/MarkJMitchellwriter/

 

Europa – a poem by Merril D. Smith

Europa

Europa spews water in prismed plumes
erupting into space.

Moon goddess, icy-faced,
she circles her bull-god, the abducting lover.

He is drawn to her, iron to her magnet,
but she keeps her distance in this ancient contrapuntal dance.

Our past, our future,
she whispers
 
in shadows and light
in language with the smooth smell of ever-

never and if—
just beyond understanding

she aches music,
dripping harmony into diamond showers

while we dream
of floating in a cerulean sea,

the whisper in its slipstream–
our past, our future.

 

*“Icy Moon of Jupiter Spews Water into Space”
Morning Edition, NPR, May 14, 2018

 

 

Merril D. Smith is an independent scholar with a Ph.D. in American History and numerous books on history and gender issues. Her poetry and stories have appeared recently in Rhythm & Bones, Vita Brevis, Streetlight Press, Ghost City, Twist in Time, and Mojave Heart Review. Her blog is at merrildsmith.com.

The evening wind rises – a poem by M.S. Rooney

The evening wind rises,

weaves through the strings
of the worn guitar
leaning against the open door
in this room far from home,
strokes the darkening walls
with remembered song.

Do you feel the curve,
the deepening center?

No bedrock,
but so many carved alcoves.

 

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.

INVOCATION – a poem by Rupert Loydell

INVOCATION

What is the function of invocation, what
do we hope to achieve? Grotesque rituals
as a form of ghost dance, dodgy seances
with incoherent messages from the dead,
do not constitute a resurrection machine.

When people listen to themselves what
do they hear? Years of silence, whispers
of brutality and inner selves. Help us
to reconfigure and confuse, to stay alive
and respond to the command interface

you specify. Death is a Möbius strip
of lies and decay, so what keeps you
going now you have abandoned life?
Emails from the living, kind eulogies,
and traces of self-evident decay.

In the beginning we invoke the one,
but now we are struggling to breathe.
What is the function of elucidation,
transformation, the idea of the divine?
Something to cling on to as we die.

© Rupert M Loydell

 

Rupert Loydell is a writer, editor and abstract artist. His many books of poetry include Dear Mary (Shearsman, 2017) and The Return of the Man Who Has Everything (Shearsman 2015); and he has edited anthologies such as Yesterday’s Music Today (co-edited with Mike Ferguson, Knives Forks and Spoons Press 2014), and Troubles Swapped for Something Fresh: manifestos and unmanifestos (Salt, 2010).

Sacred Woods – a poem by Julie Sampson

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In recent years Julie Sampson‘s poetry has appeared in a variety of magazines, including Shearsman, Ink Sweat and Tears, The Journal, Amaryllis Poetry, The 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.

Synecdoche – a poem by Alexander P. Garza

Synecdoche

So much of her voice is in me,
It’s like our family is a real living organism,
Each appendage is one of us,
Me, my wife, my son, and my daughter.

She smiles even when she’s sick.
Ever-courageous, she tumbles through the threshold,
Shoes on the wrong feet, bottle in hand,
A shriek of joy silences the masses.

She asks for more milk to drink than she can handle,
Ever-doubtful, she mistrusts even herself,
But I’ve seen her climb up into her car seat
As if it were her Everest.

I let her fall a little,
So, she practices how to get back up.
I think what people mean when they say to learn to get back up
Is you should learn how to fall first without it breaking you.

 

Alexander P. Garza is a writer, actor, and educator from Houston, TX. His work can be seen in Nine Muses Poetry(forthcoming), Magnolia Review (forthcoming), Little Rose Magazine (forthcoming), Ariel Chart, Literal Magazine, and Broadway World Houston. He has worked on and offstage at The Alley Theatre, Houston Grand Opera, Main Street Theater, and Mildred’s Umbrella Theatre Company. Visit him on Instagram/Twitter, @alexanderpgarza, and on his website http://www.alexanderpgarza.com.

The Opposite of Stars – a poem by Alia Hussain Vancrown

The Opposite of Stars

1.
Grieving you is terrible work because I don’t know how to do it. Light pours into the room like stale tea between blinds gnawed through by the frustrated cat unable to go outside. There are teeth holes and claw holes in the white, enough holes to be the opposite of stars.

2.
I make mushroom tea, watch the ground volva float then catch in the strainer like silverfish. I force its spine down my throat, wait for the wriggling to start.

3.
Grieving is self-induced ritual, or has become self-induced ritual, after it was natural. Enough years have passed that people don’t want your name on my lips anymore. I imagine what your young body must look like now in the ground. Are you skull and hair? Are you vertebrae and nails? It’s smart to subscribe to religion that describes the soul—what the body becomes, to earth, to bugs, is unbearable and unforgiving.

4.
I chug the hot juice of smaller gods faster, scald the architecture of self, brutalist. Here is the heart made geometric, concrete, an institution. Here is the brain, simple and utilitarian.

5.
Until frogsong croaks in nighttime reverie, masks street traffic, marital arguments, the neighbor’s crated terrier.

6.
I went into this thinking I’d resolve death as if by magic.

7.
Dendrochronology reveres trees. Who above listens to the chatter of teeth?

 

Alia Hussain Vancrown has published in journals and magazines in print and online. Her poetry has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She was selected to participate in Winter Tangerine’s 2018 workshop, Singing Songs Crooning Comets, featuring seminars by Kaveh Akbar and Aricka Foreman. Alia works at the Library of Congress in the Law Division. She currently resides in Maryland. For more, please visit www.aliahussainvancrown.com and Instagram @aliagoestothelibrary.

The Flying Cage – a poem by Rajnish Mishra

The Flying Cage

I saw a flying iron cage, yes, the bars
were round as I saw the silhouette and there was an iron
desk in it and a chair of iron to sit on.

All the things were patterned as grills, so
I could see through them from my terrace as the cage flew
high in the sky. The night was dark around

the cage and I had no time to check whether any moon
gave its light anywhere. I had no time,
as I was busy calling my children from downstairs

to come watch that quaint thing with me. No, it was not
magic, the orange glow that showed the cage
to me below came from the fire from under

the balloon that lifted it. No, my children did not
join me to witness the spectacle and to make it complete as,
the man that sat at the desk just opened the door

of the cage
and jumped,
bungee style.

 

Rajnish Mishra is a poet, writer, translator and blogger born and brought up in Varanasi, India and now in exile from his city. His work originates at the point of intersection between his psyche and his city. He edits PPP Ezine.