The Beata – a poem by Ray Ball

The Beata

The historian: I found
in my research into the records
of the inquisition
that in the beata’s room
sat a pot of marmalade,
along with bundles of herbs,
fragments of leaves, and
flowering plants. On her cell wall,
a small icon much like the one
in the beguinage’s chapel hung.

The beata: I was
once a candidate for sanctity,
though I am but a frail
and weak woman.
I told them I consumed
scents of blossom and incense.
Fragrant wood,
the breath of whispered intercessions.
Spice of holiness.
Yes, I made a tincture
for pain relief. This was
after my visions arrived. I saw her,
the Virgin, radiant in blue.
She waited at the bridge.
Rain had given way.
The earth and I were
both sated with her dazzling light.

The confessor: She told me
the herbs helped her to see.
My tongue clicked against
the remains of my teeth.
The world is full
of sinful and false
women. I refused her
absolution until she
denounced herself
before the holy tribunal.

The beata: I was
imprisoned in a crumbling cell.
They questioned me many times.
We women cooked the meals
and served them.
They questioned me many times
often in the morning
extracting my answers
the way barbers lance a boil.
Then they whipped me
in the city square.
Sentenced me to the exile
of seasickness and humid jungle.
But still I see the Virgin
among the flowers. I pray
for forgiveness so that
my own soul blossoms,
so that the bees bring
the pollen of her love.
I pray to be worthy of growth
like the Saint John’s wort
also transplanted here.

 

Ray Ball grew up in a house full of snakes. She is a history professor, Pushcart-nominated poet, and editor at Alaska Women Speak. Her first chapbook Tithe of Salt was recently published by Louisiana Literature Press, and she has recent publications in Coffin BellMoria, and UCity Review.

The Ethereal Divine – a poem by Cynthia Pitman

The Ethereal Divine

I stood atop a copper-colored cliff,
the rocks beneath me cantilevered,
forging for me a perch from which
I could shape the white cotton clouds
into celestial portals. The sky-tunnels
that spiraled forth from them
were formed from deep blue
lapis lazuli and spider-spun gold.
I gazed up at them.
I let my head fall back.
I closed my eyes
and felt the rich syrup of colors
melt on my upturned face.
This was the mask of my constant days,
collected and uncounted.

 

Cynthia Pitman is a retired high school English teacher. She began writing again in the summer of 2018 after a 30-year hiatus. She has since had poetry published in Amethyst Review, Vita Brevis, Leaves of Ink, Right Hand Pointing, Third Wednesday, and othersHer first book, The White Room: A Poetry Collection, is forthcoming from Kelsay Books.

The structure of – a poem by Melissa J. Varnavas

The structure of

Let’s talk about
the structure of
peace.

Let’s establish
its scaffolding
galvanized

iron, of course,
wrapped in leaves of
gold and platinum.

The windows won’t be
windows at all, but
waterfalls to distort

the view of the violent
world around our construction.
And in the universe, the blown

brown-flecked seagulls and
the heron storm so blue you
lose sight of the flying

to the coming night.
Forget about structure.
What peace would

have structure anyway?
It is fly and fly and a sudden
collection of winter

moths brushed up from
a pile of wet November
leaves because they see

the florescence through
office windows. And so they
gather there, their luminous flux

frozen to the glass, reminiscent of
a touch so tender it makes you
shudder. Let’s call that flicker

of recognition, peace. As much
as the flicker of Saturday morning
sunlight through the maple fire

red, orange, yellow, gray branches
through the panes of glass to moss-light
your bare breast as it rises and falls

like poetry,
like chaos,
smooth.

 

Melissa J. Varnavas is a poet, journalist, and editor living in Beverly, Massachusetts. A graduate of the Solstice MFA program at Pine Manor College, her work has appeared in the literary journals in Oberon, End Times, Blast Furnace, Margie, The New Guard, and elsewhere.

Obstructed View – a poem by Robert S. King

Obstructed View

The brightest stars burn beyond my fence,
a world beyond the length of my arms.
Both my age and the weather are growing colder.
Still, there’s a local breeze on fig leaves,
a duet of birds, a dance of butterflies—
a wannabe paradise whose fruit
never falls beyond the chain link,
whose bountiful summers feel cold.

I could stay here in the peace that accepts,
watch the dying sun go down in steaming flames,
knowing while there are days left
that it will rise again in a familiar place.

Yet I dream of wings with streams of winter vapor,
dream my feathered arms fly warmly with them
to the far edge of starlight.

 

Robert S. King edits Good Works Review. His poems appear widely, including Chariton Review, Kenyon Review, Midwest Quarterly, and Southern Poetry Review. He has published eight poetry collections, most recently Diary of the Last Person on Earth (Sybaritic Press 2014) and Developing a Photograph of God (Glass Lyre Press, 2014).

Her Drop of India – a poem by Jessica Rigney

Her Drop of India

It was. As he
Said of stone. A temple
Silver carved

Up doors. Ceilings of
Lotus bloomed. Outside
In dirt a Kolam. An entrance

Ran itself. ‘Round
A spiraling she. Bent
A doorway. Through millions

Over thousands—
Years to bow. As he said
It would have been. Flames

Of camphor billowed out. Lives
Alluded to in breath. The sun
And she—vermillion faces bared. Un

Wrecked. Wornly rough and
Smoothed in stone—the oil.
In blessing she becomes

Clink—just one of mumbling
Chant-bare feet upon. Marigold grains
Rice of no solitary thrum. This

He did not submit—the suddenness
Of sound’s armistice. And her?
’Twas all evaporation’s trick.

And nothing. No
Nothing
Of her resisted.

 

Jessica Rigney is a poet, artist, and filmmaker. Listen to her voice & see moving pictures here. She is twice a quarter-finalist for the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry (2016 & 18.) Sample her poetry at Salomé and Cider Press Review. She is poetjess on Instagram.

Ongoing – a poem by Jill Pearlman

Ongoing

There is always a tiny hole
the thin green line left by the setting sun
on the sill of the window
left open

Consider the horizon’s lids —
glossy, gleaming
lightly separating
each moist, parodying the other
twins in slow conversation
a kiss prolonged
perched on the verge
bending over a sleeping child
peering into those thick lashes
with a light to see if she’s really sleeping—

The voice may stop singing after,
but the poem, never

 

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

Beauty for Breakfast – a poem by Ariella Katz

Beauty for Breakfast

1.

When they come for me, they will not be able to find me because I’ll be hidden in stones and oatmeal and three minute words.

I will not die —
Beginning to remember.

2.

Morning times.
Morning crimes.
Morning rhymes.

3.

Somebody lost a glove,
………but it is not me.
………………………Mine is not on the ground. I do not
..know where mine is.

Your eyes tire me out, but I will listen. I will devour the breakfast that you have prepared for me and clean the plate with my bread, mopping up the very last drop.

4.

Reading the Gospel of Matthew, we rise with him to the mountain top

and plunge into the epistemic anxiety of the parables. The Sermon gives us clarity.

 

Trying to interpret the parables reminds us that God’s intellect is beyond

the comprehension of our own. As we wrestle with the apparent

 

contradictions and tensions of divine justice, we can perhaps,

in our own extremely limited way, partake in the vulnerability

 

that he felt when he submitted himself to the ultimate just injustice

decreed by God. But because of this, we can all the more share

5.

The ….weight of yours
On the weight of mine
Your breath

Now
Our breath

Because of your freckled.
…………Knees.

 

Ariella Katz is a Boston native living in Moscow, Russia. Her writing has appeared in Arion, The Gate, and East from Chicago. She is the co-editor of Does the Sun Have a Light Switch? A Literary Criminal Almanac, an anthology of stories and poetry by formerly incarcerated people in Moscow.

Fail better, Sam? – a poem by Ailisha O’Sullivan

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” Samuel Beckett

 

Fail better, Sam?
But what if we just
fail worse
or simply
fail the same?
Is life nothing more
than a trying and a failing
a hoping and a waiting
a no-win game?
Surely, Sam
life’s something more than
obeying the call
to get up
and maybe fall
every morning?
No?

No.

No.
Get up and walk
your man said.
Get up.

 

Ailisha O’Sullivan graduated with an honors degree in History and English Literature from University College Cork, Ireland and worked in the Chicago Public Library system for several years as a librarian and storyteller before moving to Cluj, Romania, where she held a position as managing editor at Koinónia Publishing. She currently divides her time between translation and editing projects and working with local non-profit organizations. A sample of her poetry can be seen in the upcoming May 2019 issue of The Scriblerus Arts Journal.

The Fig Tree – a poem by Mark Tulin

The Fig Tree

It’s the biggest fig tree in California
People get off the train to take pictures of it
Children play around its shady umbrella
Animals burrow inside its mammoth confines
The sky rains on it and the sun gives it light
The homeless have a place to shelter
Its ecological system is vast
Its branches extend a full city block
Its roots are written in calligraphy
It can ask the eternal question
It spreads open like the book of answers
It transcends nature and primordial man
It is the symbol for a universal sisterhood
It is the Tao
It understands the way.

 

Mark Tulin is a former family therapist who lives in Santa Barbara, California.  He has a poetry chapbook, Magical Yogis, published by Prolific Press (2017). He has an upcoming book of short stories entitled, The Asthmatic Kid and Other Stories.  His stories and poetry have appeared in Page and Spine, smokebox, Vita Brevis, Leaves of Ink, The Drabble, among others. His website is Crow On The Wire.

Phoenix Ascending – a poem by L.B. Stringfellow

Phoenix Ascending

Out of my agony, I came.
Out of the fires that swallowed me.
I rose from the dreary egg of ashes,
a shattered pyre of scorched wood and bone.

I first thought of the landscape,
and my eyes came into being.
There was no more fire,
and the tears erupted and fell
through my spirit to the dust,
where my body rose up
and breathed its first real breath.

I remembered my wings,
each new feather
sprouting into being out of thought.
The old wood and fire
were no more.
In its place were rain and soil,
my body, my blood.

 

L.B. Stringfellow writes both verse and prose poetry, often exploring themes of transformation, woundedness, and interdependence in her poetry.  She grew up in the Southern US, has worked as a university instructor and as a professional tutor, and holds an MA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing.