Why Would I Pray? – a poem by Ken Gierke

Why Would I Pray?

A cardinal, watching
from an oak without
judgement for who I am.

Waves that gather sunlight,
even as they relinquish it,
lapping at the shore.

Brushstrokes in the night sky,
stars calling to us
with ancient mysteries.

The secret of transformation,
an elusive quality held
within a monarch-to-be.

The celebration of life
in the color of maple
leaves, even as they die.

 

Ken Gierke started writing poetry in his forties, but found new focus when he retired.  It also gave him new perspectives, which come out in his poetry, primarily free verse and haiku.  He has been published at The Ekphrastic Review, Vita Brevis, Tuck Magazine and Eunoia Review.  His website: https://rivrvlogr.com/

Playing, Agnes Martin, 1993-1994 – a poem by Kyle Laws

Playing, Agnes Martin, 1993-1994

The gray strip under clouds plays with you
becomes darker and wider as it descends

comes on faster than you want
even though you are tired of watering the garden

want a relief from the obligation to nurture
want the rush to first snow

that will cover your faults and the heaviness
of fruit that weighed you down

brought you to your knees
still with a chance of seedlings in spring.

 

Kyle Laws read and responded to the psalms during her studies of contemplative prayer in the Benedictine tradition in monasteries in Colorado and New Mexico.  A number of the poems were published as Going into Exile, a chapbook supplement to the journal AbbeyOther collections include Ride the Pink Horse (Stubborn Mule Press), Faces of Fishing Creek (Middle Creek Publishing), So Bright to Blind (Five Oaks Press), and Wildwood (Lummox Press).    

When It’s Time – a poem by David Peterson

When It’s Time

for Karen

Death should not be antiseptic. It should not
smell of bleach or antibacterial soap. It should not sound
of monitors and alarms
…….and with readouts from sterile machines.

If I die in the morning, I want the smell of coffee
and waffles and of bacon sizzling in a pan. I want the
sound of overlapping voices, plates, cups and glasses clinking
with some laughing.………….and some crying.

If I die mid-day, I want the smell of mowed grass
and sunscreen and a pot roast being started. I want the
sound of children playing, adults consoling and reminiscing
and with some game or match playing on the TV.

If I die in the evening, I want the smell of bourbon,
maybe a sweet-smelling pipe, and of a bouquet of flowers
…….brought in…….from the garden that day.
I want the sounds of conversation between family and friends,
with music…………..and of doorbells announcing callers.

If I die at night, I want the sound of meditation
and prayer, with the gentle humming of intimates.
I want to be lifted up…………..while being let go,
…….and to feel the embrace and caress and breath of my love.

 

David Peterson is new to writing poetry, taking up voracious reading and now the writing of poetry during his wife’s 85 day hospitalization following a botched surgery. David a retired public school teacher and administrator who, with his super-hero wife, lives north of Phoenix.

wishes in the bottom of a well – a poem by Mela Blust

wishes in the bottom of a well

turning, unturning
there is a moth where the light should be
and no light
i’m bleeding, this moon
is the cycle
let it ruin to rot, never turned
…..to embryo
wishes are pennies
…….we never threw
pennies are arms
……….with no hands

i couldn’t throw and the well
was empty

god doesn’t dance
…..without light
light doesn’t pray
……without solace
ballet can’t be seen
…….in the darkness

my cave is nightlit lit,
…….whisper-sweet
…….and dances alone
love can’t try to be anything other
…….than love

 

 

Mela Blust‘s work has appeared in The Bitter Oleander, Isacoustic, Rust+Moth, Rhythm & Bones Lit, The Nassau Review, and more. Her debut poetry collection, Skeleton Parade, is forthcoming with Apep Publications in 2019. She  works with Animal Heart Press, a poetry reader for The Rise Up Review, and Barren Magazine.

Snowy Egret – a poem by Mark Tulin

Snowy Egret

I become a snowy egret on the beach,
staring into the choppy, translucent sea,
skinny legs swaying on each breaking wave,
sinking deeper into quickening sand,
snatching worms or insects as they fly,
nature’s rippling tide, I ride.

A brief and treacherous journey,
I participate in collectively.
A free and easy universe enabling me
in the water and the air I breathe.
With allies and predators alike,
I spend my life in the bittersweet swell.

 

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.

 

QUIS HIC LOCUS, QUAE REGIO, QUAE MUNDI PLAGA? – a reflection by Annie Blake

QUIS HIC LOCUS, QUAE REGIO, QUAE MUNDI PLAGA?
from ‘Marina’, a poem by T.S. Eliot

There is an infinite aspect of our being which knows more about us than we do. Writers who converse with themselves are lights flickering in liminality. This passage urges them to progress to wholeness and safety in a world which does not proffer absolutes. Many adhere to structures like time and conventional morality. Writers will risk unhinging these to engage in introspection.

The sacred is similar to an orchestral composition whereby the accompaniments align into synchronistic harmony. This dislodges the pervious interior movement of the psyche, or the soul or even God. This can be interpreted to mean the core or true self, which desires us to stretch or fan its natural and relational potential like the splayed branches of a tree.

Writing is a dialog with this Self which challenges the false self or the constructed ego. Wholeness begins to form when contact has been made with the sacred. The ego functions instrumentally rather than as an obstruction and the Self rises like the string or umbilical cord of a kite in the wind.

Writing is a reconciliation of tensions beneath conscious awareness, so thoughts, feelings or ideas which are initially located may assemble very differently by the end of the page. What is written can never be wrong, because what emerges spontaneously from the psyche always tines towards a purposeful direction. What we believe may be an error or a slip will be pregnant with meaning and serves as a providential knot because untwisting it reveals some aspect of our lives we were once unaware of.

Intuitive writers float between conscious and unconscious worlds. They communicate between the two realms and understand there is no fixed or finite reality. Physical reality is only a slither of what is and what our senses limit us to. The sacred world is non-spatiotemporal. It is a layered and webbed sea made of gossamer – very delicate and seemingly ephemeral.

What is under our skin remains whether we distract ourselves from it or not. It may slide under consciousness, but it will never disappear. It can only be resolved, and writing, being a personal, idiosyncratic and patient process, enables us to grasp these spiritual aspects of ourselves.

Therapeutic writing serves to bind our loosened ties to unite our own being which, in turn, can untie generations of complexes. We are not just one being but one part of a natural jigsaw. Every thought or feeling results in particular tendencies which affect others we are most closely related to. These gradually vibrate like waves radiating into the wider world. Writing is a way of catalysing the sacred in preparation for the potential of those after us.

Interacting with the world without introspection results in a dissociation from the sacred. It is like arranging the branches of a tree and realizing too late, that you have no trunk, roots or the ground to grow from.

 

Annie Blake’s research aims to exfoliate branches of psychoanalysis. She enjoys semiotics and exploring the surreal and phantasmagorical nature of unconscious material. Her work is best understood when interpreting them like dreams. She is a member of the C G Jung Society of Melbourne. You can visit her on annieblakethegatherer.blogspot.com.au and https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009445206990.

Mothers – a poem by Rose Fairfield

Mothers

I watched a documentary
About wildlife in the savannas
A mother cheetah stared down a snake
….That had just eaten her baby
Until the snake coughed
The tiny carcass back onto the sand
I imagined how it must feel
To be snatched from our life’s mother
How our life’s mother would feel
….Would she bellow
Into the glistening cosmic sphere
A voice where there shouldn’t be
Caustic and shrieking
Starved voids turning
….Their mouths away
Refusing to swallow
Would she summon her plasmas
All scorch and terror within a frame
Of humming celestial ash
To tower over the juncture of here
And not here
Would she intimidate the quivering
….Dimensional curtain
Into regurgitating our bodies
Wet with whatever
Comes after
Smelling of saltwater
….Musk and pennies
Would she use her stardust tongue
To lick the goneness
From our dripping hair
If she could
Or is this all wrong
The curtain….the mother….the assumption
Beyond the snake’s throat
What might spread the fabric
Or welcome us in
Or want us back

 

Rose Fairfield lives with her family in the Appalachian Mountains where she serves her community as a behavioural health professional. By night she enjoys reading, writing, and spoiling her cat.

The Road Made Visible – a poem by Sandy Rochelle

The Road Made Visible

 

You take my hand and fold red ribbons in my hair.

Wisdom leads you through the fog.

Fields part opening to wide forests and a road made visible.

We speak our own language known only to infants, the elderly and the silent.

The ground opens up and we disappear into a land of mystics and saints.

We are driven by unseen elements.

You speak an unspoken tongue.

Taught by beings of the past and souls forgotten.

You communicate with worlds that have fallen.

Worlds with strange names become our allies.

You become our interpreter as we ascend.

 

 

Many of Sandy Rochelle‘s poems have been  influenced by her son, David, who is autistic and deaf. She is the recipient of the World Peace Society Award for Literature, and  The Autism Society of America’s Literary Achievement Award. Individual Publications include: Moon Shadow, Sanctuary Press/Formidable Woman,Visions International, Ekphrastic Review, Writing in a Woman’s Voice Tuck, and others.

At St. Patrick’s Cathedral, My Mother Told Her Truth – a poem by Vikram Masson

At St. Patrick’s Cathedral, My Mother Told Her Truth

My mother would sometimes take me
to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral on Saturday afternoons
in the fall, the sky gray and rippled.
We’d sit silently for a few minutes, before rising
to light a candle. She fiddled with the wick
until it stood ready to receive the holy flame,
then placed her hand on top of mine.
Together we’d take a stick and gently draw fire
from another candle and light ours,
amid the whiff of smoke and wax.

I would sometimes ask why we came
to this temple with a man hanging from a cross
when we had an abundance of devas
jostling for devotion in our own home –
Vishnu, Shiva, Lakshmi, Ganesha?
And she would say, The divine is all the same;
Beneath the forms is the One. What Christ and Krishna
pointed to flows like fire through our
pulsing hearts. Eckhart intuited it
and Al-Hallaj died proclaiming it.
It is the oldest of all truths.

She would dab my head with holy water
before we’d walk onto Fifth Avenue, where for years
a wizard of a man drizzled sauerkraut and mustard
on hundreds of hotdogs emerging endlessly
from his cart, which he’d then bundle
in wax paper and serve to his prayerful
customers approaching his cart
under a canted umbrella on the sidewalk.

All the same, my mother would continue to insist
as we walked back to the subway. This is a woman
who saw a man of one religion set a man of another
on fire because he didn’t think it was all the same;
who constantly shrugged off friendly pamphleteers
imploring us to accept the One True Way
so we wouldn’t molder in some made-up hell.
But she glowed with this conviction until the end,
and swore it made her as strong as
the great Atlas heaving up the world
across from the cathedral’s gray spires.

 

Vikram Masson is a lawyer by training who lives in Richmond, Virginia. His poetry is featured or forthcoming in Amethyst Review, Allegro Poetry Journal, Young Ravens Literary Review, and The American Journal of Poetry.

FROM THE CAIRO GENIZAH – a poem by Anne Whitehouse

FROM THE CAIRO GENIZAH

Documents and manuscripts
containing God’s name
couldn’t be destroyed in the usual way.
For a thousand years,
the Egyptian Jews of Fustat
put their old Bibles, prayer books,
and law codes in a hiding place
in Ben Ezra synagogue,
along with shopping lists, business records,
marriage contracts, divorce deeds,
fables and philosophy,
medical books and magical amulets,
and letters by the thousands.

But what was written
did not stay buried.
Eight hundred years later,
in a library in New York,
an old man touched a letter
written by Maimonides,
and he did not court disaster
as superstition predicted
but on the contrary was infused
with so much energy
it buoyed him up
and he practically floated
out the front door
of the library on 122nd Street,
walking as if propelled,
with the gait of a young man,
all the way downtown
to Times Square.

 

Anne Whitehouse is the author of six poetry collections Meteor Shower (2016) is her second collection from Dos Madres Press, following The Refrain in 2012. She is the author of a novel, Fall Love, as well as short stories, essays, features, and reviews. She was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, and lives in New York City. You can listen to her lecture, “Longfellow, Poe, and the Little Longfellow War” here.