Jochebed – a poem by Vanessa Stein


It’s not natural
being away from your child
when your child is ill
you’d rather eat your own flesh.

My daughter’s therapist has set
clear goals for her patient:
dig tunnels, keep her mind intact,

stand up to the world.

That’s exactly what I want
for her, for me too.

I tried but I failed
to build a wall around my garden
to build a garden at all,

break open, crack, and then forty days in the desert
but did you know that at the end
you have to make a whole lot of noise to celebrate?

I have never celebrated anything,
been too busy eating my own flesh
been too busy digging tunnels,
worrying at them

(breathing has always been difficult)

but you can hold them in your mind
and they you in theirs.

The law cuts deep. I’ll put my baby
in a basket made of reeds any old time,

but people don’t just disappear
into the ether, into deep voids
that fall away like galaxies.

After the session,
I walk out slowly into the spring night,

(it is now possible to breathe)

carve out a space for the golden calf
in the face of great cruelty.

If they are still there, not fallen,
I’ll learn to blast some trumpets then
I’ll even drink some vino in a cafe window
and praise god, hallelujah
as I sip and slip into dream.

You’ve got to be noisy
the Pharaoh bids us work quietly
so you’ve got to be noisy
(pleasure is your birthright).

What feels intolerable? I ask everybody
who comes to me for advice,
speak up.

I really need to fall off my soapbox
the fight or flight response
is primitive, the therapist informs me.
She’s lost her voice
still she wants me to know
that I should put down my weapons,
that a greater care of me is needed.

But how do you hold someone in mind?

Put down your weapons
lie in the weeds and soak
up the hot Egyptian sun;
some lovely princess
come to take care of them
some lovely soul
come to nurse my darlings.


Vanessa Stein is an actress with extensive experience in the theatre . She currently teaches acting and is working on her first full length play and a collection of poems. Vanessa is based in Cambridge, in the UK.

The Witch’s Hearing – a poem by Katerina Neocleous

The Witch’s Hearing

A wasp had flown in earlier
while I’d been busy
getting ready, a creature
easily misunderstood.
I helped it leave my room
and asked it, to rid me
of my ills – a heavy task
for such small wings –
or take my plea upwards,
and intercede for me.
Outside, the breeze sets
a birch ablaze
with trembling sunlit leaves;
while decollated cherubs
hover over mounted cameras
and laminated exit signs:
a stick figure bolts into
an empty square, salvation
indicated by an arrow
pointing down, at court 2.
When my secret trial starts
I must not risk contempt
by speaking: the family judge
has alerted everyone about my
poisonous maternal eloquence.
I will be a humble appellant and
sit with hands in lap, head down
in a plain shift – surrender to
a higher justice – pray my child
stays with me, protected.

Katerina Neocleous is assistant editor of the poetry journal, Obsessed With Pipework. She is widely published in magazines; and has two pamphlets forthcoming in 2019 – one from Maytree Press, and another through Obsessed With Pipework and Flarestack Publishing. She is also a mother and gardener. For more information please visit her at

Her rapture had ended – a poem by Claire Sexton

Her rapture had ended

One memory still persists; of my
mother looking over me; chock-a-block
with disease and pestilence in her
bones and brain but still interested in
whether I am sleeping; remembering
or even seeing in me there another
daughter; with less growth and
neophyte exuberance.

She was suffering and near her
cancer-blackened end, but in the
middle of that summer night she
thought to look in on me, and, and,
when I asked her if she was ‘Okay
Mum?’ she turned and walked away;
shuffling, as if I had broken some
spell she was under.

Her rapture had ended.


Claire Sexton is a fifty year old librarian living in Berkshire, but originally from Wales. She lived in London for twenty years and is currently detoxing from this experience. She has been published in Ink, Sweat and Tears, Foxglove Journal, Amethyst Review, and Light: a Journal of Photography and Poetry.

The Size of Infinity – a poem by Robert S. King

The Size of Infinity

How do I explain my body
as more than its own universe
of gravity and undiscovered particles?

No one is tightly bound,
but maybe we’re all micro and macro,
each atom a solar system
sailing in infinite inner space.

Size doesn’t matter.
Space is vast between any bodies,
from galaxy to God Particle.

Imagination may be a signal received.
Yet I fear that enlightenment is local,
how I look inside to see
fireworks of stars exploding
on the low ceiling of my skull.


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).

We Live Among Ghosts – a poem by E. Martin Pedersen

We Live Among Ghosts

We live among ghosts
We prefer their company
Ghosts love us more
God loves us
Jesus loves us
Mary loves us
The evangelists too
The disciples too —
undecided about Judas,
The saints and popes for sure
Lots of dead people love us
We believe only
love outlasts death
trickles down to us
through limestone
fills our pure wells
We all need this liquid
Sing it, dance it
Breathe it, drink it in
Allah, Buddha, Shiva
Adam and Eve, uh
Even Killer Cain loves us
Everybody loves us
Doesn’t it feel good?

Okay, your sister won’t speak to you
about that thing that happened at Christmas
plus, Mom had post-partum depression from
your birth through graduation
Mark, your colleague, that deserved the
promotion you got by blowing
the boss and several more
but there’s comfort available
if you know where to look —
Look to the ghosts

My grandfather taught me to shine shoes
That girl I kissed once got killed
One of my ancestors was a slave
Singing sad slow songs
I love all the ghosts
that I carry with me always
Jimi, Janis, Lennon, Marley
John Kennedy, the president

and Marilyn
in my house all the time
in her silk robe Geisha-style
She says, “Come to me and open wide …
Oh, my wife
doesn’t act or dress like Marilyn
plus, I’m not sure she really loves me

With that love genuine and simple
warm and ecstatic
like Mary and Jesus
all the saints and popes
all the beautiful ghosts.


E. Martin Pedersen, originally from San Francisco, has lived for over 35 years in eastern Sicily, where he teaches English at the local university. His poetry has appeared in The James Dickey Review, Ink in Thirds, Mused, Oddville, Former People, The Bitchin’ Kitsch and others. Martin is an alum of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. He blogs at:

Head in the Clouds – a poem by Ellen Chia

Head in the Clouds

Can you ever ask a cloud
To slow down for you,
To stay in such and such
A shape or formation
Of your fancy?

Unfettered, those sky gypsies
Are shapeshifters drifting
Across the endless azure plains,
Doing what they do best –
Inventing and reinventing
Themselves as they go along,
Offering no apologies whatsoever
For not having lived up
To your expectations.

Whilst there have been attempts
To classify them with names
With the likes of cumulus, cirrus,
Stratus, fractus and altocumulus,
Such a list remains inadequate
In the light of their morphing fluidity;
Providing them with ample room
To manoeuvre from the
Limiting labels stamped on them.

Naturally, they are aerial surveyors
In constant contemplation of
The vast expanses,
Amassing as they go along
A trove of variant perspectives
Beyond our accessibility.
And when the occasion
Calls for them to unburden,
They leap into their next
Earthbound adventure;
Finding themselves

Absorbed into a
Gravity-defying vessel tour
In the interior of an
Arboreal antiquity,

Frolicking amongst whales
And other sea monsters,

Another time, plunging over
Some precipices in a
Tropical jungle

Or meditating as a glacier
Beside an emperor penguin

Life’s possibilities are for them as
Inexhaustible on earth as it is
In the atmosphere.
And often in my life,
I have wished to be this
Fluid and adventuresome.


Ellen Chia  lives in Thailand and enjoys going on solitary walksin woodlands and along beaches where Nature’s treasure trove impels her to document her findings and impressionsusing the language of poetry. Her works have been published and forthcoming in The Ekphrastic Review, Nature Writing,The Honest Ulsterman, Zingara Poetry Review and The Tiger Moth Review.

The Spring into Summer Collection – a poem by Jeannie E. Roberts

The Spring into Summer Collection

The lake washes with liquid corduroy and yoryu
crinkle. Its brocade puckers in lines of seersucker,

flickers in slivers of silver organza and gauze.
A showcase of plumage glides across crepe,

spins atop satin, weaves upon a runway feathered
with migratory fashions. Mallard enters

garbed in green iridescence, as bufflehead follows
in black-and-white suit. In stiff-tailed attire,

ruddy duck rounds the ramp as the Canadians work
their plumes in an avant-garde gaggle of style.

Loon lifts her shawl of quills, spilling thrills in high-
flown-full-turn-and-swim combinations.

Buoyed by diamonds, Mother Nature bows, splashes
kisses, slips her designer shift toward the waves

of another season, another reason for ready-to-wear,
and the runaway collection of summer.


Jeannie E. Roberts has authored six books, including The Wingspan of Things (Dancing Girl Press), Romp and Ceremony (Finishing Line Press), Beyond Bulrush (Lit Fest Press), and Nature of it All(Finishing Line Press). Her second children’s book, Rhyme the Roost!, was recently released by Kelsay Books.

Illinois River – a poem by Deborah Dawson

Illinois River

West Fork of the Illinois
Hisses as she sculpts the walls
of serpentine mineral into ravine or gorge.
Covered in a kaleidoscope weave of
fragrant Myrtle, pale-polished Madrone
Fir, Cedar and Pine-
Arboreal landings for Western Grey Squirrels
Sipping dew from Bryophytes swollen in the mist.

Green eyed lady dancing her way through drifts
of rosy Willow, Red Alder and Hazel-
Rippling past grey driftwood-
Cedar logs uprooted and torn
In the violent surge of winter storms,
Laying like giant bones abandoned.

Seeps and bogs of Darlingtonia Californica,
Cone flower and Rhododendron occidentale.
Home to Black Racers, Damselfly and Salamander.
Giant boulders softened by watery embraces,
Make drumming sounds, whispering ancient songs
Of sleek Salmon returning, Otters playing, Ravens soaring.
Native voices chanting like Cicada in the night.

Wild in December she licks and eats the earth.
A hungry beast that growls with rocks in her crop,
Always tumbling, rolling and ever grinding.
In Oregon’s summer heat
she becomes shallow pools filled with water skippers.


Deborah Dawson, native Southern Oregon Artist and Naturalist of 40 years paints watercolors that are passionate interpretations of nature and reflect her earth-based spirituality. Deborah loves using color and texture whether with words or pigment to express the subtle poetry of Oregon’s flora and fauna. The Artist has coined the phrase “Organic Design” which she has used for 20 years to describe her process.

On Sunapee Ridge – a poem by Brett Peruzzi

On Sunapee Ridge

That last night on the trail
in a lean-to high on Sunapee Ridge
you woke in the middle of the night
and lay there with the moon shining
down through the trees
listening to the night sounds
– the wind overhead, insects chirring,
your companions breathing around you.

And you thought of the next day
when you would leave the woods
after five days and over fifty miles of hiking
and go back to electricity and running water.

You felt a bit beat up climbing mountains
with a full backpack in your fifties
but you were glad you did it
and came through with nothing more
than sore feet, and bruised shoulders
from the pack straps.

There was no patch that would be earned
or any certificate bestowed for hiking
the entire Monadnock-Sunapee Trail
but those solitary minutes looking up at the moon
and listening to the wind were enough of a reward.


Brett Peruzzi lives in Framingham, Massachusetts. His poems have appeared in Boston Poetry Magazine, Muse Apprentice Guild,Gloom Cupboard,The 5-2: Crime Poetry Weekly,Modern Haiku,Sahara, Pine Island Journal of New England Poetry, and many other publications.

Another bird poem – a poem by Melissa J. Varnavas

Another bird poem

Here it is. Another bird poem.
Another bird bellowing, and I am
chasing the sound down the dense
hall of morning to the damp pear
branches where its call drowns
out all other thoughts, my book
forgotten, held open in light fingertips,
as the cars pass, drivers ogling as I
stand on the sidewalk, head tilted
heavenward focusing to find
the bird amongst the silver-sheened
greens and shifting golden globs of
too-early light against the dark
shadows, searching for the sound,
for the bird that must be
huge to make a trilling so
reverberant it beats against the
heart and overpowers it.

But it’s just this, a full-throated
house sparrow offering
its song to the wind.


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.