Into Knowing – a poem by Sarah A. Etlinger

Into Knowing

Let me imagine you
as shadows, as soft hair
and glass,
as heavy whispers
trying to span the spaces
between what we can be
and the world at sleep–

our sins only
that we are praying
at all, asking with compass hearts
for time, time–bundled hours
where we can mend holes,
watch gravity pass us
on its hurtle;

let me imagine you
as a long pause
in the sentence we could,
would become, if only loss
were not so dear,
if love were ever just.

Instead, we have only
the stain of ethics,
the weight of truth and light.

But the morning lifts
its skirt, sometimes,
to reveal where we might
enter: brief clutches
of breath and cadence,
into knowing.

 

Sarah A. Etlinger is an English professor who resides in Milwaukee, WI. A Pushcart-nominated poet, she is author of two chapbooks: Never One for Promises (Kelsay Books, 2018) and Little Human Things (Clare Songbirds, forthcoming Fall 2019). You can find her work in places like Neologism Poetry Journal, The Magnolia Review, and Brine.

On Transformation – a poem by Jokshan Pasamonte

On Transformation

I.
The bird does not know
that God is in its small body,
and when it sings into the clear blue sky,
it does not know that God is also in its song.

II.
The river becomes conscious of itself.
It feels every molecule bend to
the curve of the sloping earth.
It is suddenly aware of its wetness, its translucence.
It knows it cannot flow on its own,
and therefore has concluded that it must
have come from somewhere else.

III.
What if death to the individual is like
the life of a caterpillar? It settles on a leaf
and its body is slowly, over time, covered
in a thick hard shell, and inside the shell
it is being transformed into a being that it
could not possibly conceive of when it was
merely a caterpillar. And soon it emerges,
breaking free of its shell, with colourful wings,
a brand new body, and the ability to fly.
What if death was like that, like a transformation
we could not conceive of while we are living?

I do not know the details of the plan God has
laid out for me. I do not know why I am alive
or what comes next. In truth I am not
certain about many things, but I know I can
see and feel, taste and smell, hear and think and
have dreams of living or dying. I have died the
type of death a stone dies when it becomes sand.
And I have news for you, it isn’t all that bad.

When it is time, take my ashes and
pour them out into the river. Let me go where
I will, let me see the world with brand new eyes.
Then I will say a prayer for you, and one day, maybe,
when you see a dandelion seed floating in the wind,
or the sun at an angle that casts everything in a splendid light,
you’ll have known that I’ve seen you in that very moment,
for everything you are and everything you are not,
and loved you all the same.

 

Jokshan Pasamonte is a poet residing in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. He writes about the natural world and how it relates to the individual. Some of his themes are philosophical in nature, and he writes primarily in free verse.

Enus – a poem by George Elliott Clarke

Enus

Poet’s preface:

No poetry is more powerful than that of The Scriptures, all of
em. I find it intriguing that all of the gods/goddesses (capitalize
as you like) speak to Believers’ hearts in poetic verse and
song. In leafing through the shorter books in The Book of
Mormon, I was intrigued by the audible anxiety felt by some
of the scribes/prophets in their relations–as putative Christians–
to Indigenous peoples of the Americas. I’ve tried to echo that
angst in my re-voicing, so to speak, of “Enus” (“Enos” in the
original).

Enus

1. To win Redemption, I bled out a crying—
or cried out a bleeding—
hymn to God.

2. Adrift in wilderness, the jungle of pines
and willows,
I stayed alive by stalking bears,
smashing in their skulls,
slurping the smeared meat of trout, salmon,
or blueberries crushed into honey.

3. While I was outside caves,
away from homefires,
hunting now bears, then deer
(venison-on-the-hoof),
that’s when struck home
this fiery lust for Redemption.

4. I fell, screeching to Heaven,
from my knees.

5. A voice thundered back. Had to be God’s!
I know so: because God is Truth.

6. His Mercy unpent my scalding tears.
Thus was I cleansed—purged—of Sin.

7. But God doomed “transgressors” to Turmoil!
All my fellow and sister citizens—
denizens—
of caves,
and our theologians, cross-legged, in tents.

8. Again I pitched—and inked—my voice
to rise stark against the sun,
dark against the moon,
“Lawd, God, spare we Lamanites!”

9. But God directed me to preach—prophetic,
apostolic—
to the Nénuphars.

10. But these clans—reforming themselves—
could not help me reform the Lamanites,
who are, they spit out, “too wild,
too often naked, too violent
(tearing out their enemies’ hearts
and gulping down the blood);
too indifferent as to whether they gobble shit
or blood-sausage;
too willing to spoon up worms, ants, maggots,
for food.”

11. Well, it’s damnable Truth!
We Lamanites like too much to sleep in tents,
with the wind whiffling through;
or before campfires in a cave;
we like our buckskin loincloths,
setting us always free to breed—
whenever Desire strikes!

12. We do like to shave our heads à la Mohawk,
and hurl spears and launch arrows,
and eat raw whatever we kill,
whenever we got no time to cook.

13. I understand well the easygoing Nénuphars—
soft as pussywillows, delicate as lilies.
They’re agrarian—
ranchers of cattle, farmers of grain,
vintners of grape.

14. They’re lily-wristed, panty-waisted, pretty people,
who we Lamanites do love to set a-squealing
like pigs….

15. In contrast, we’re unbowed, unbowing types:
Mortal Apollos, Dianas,
stone-carvers, iron-workers, flame-wielders.

16. Still, God’s right to charge me
to warn my compatriots,
of our eventual Slavery, Exile, Genocide,
if we heed not The Decalogue!

17. I take up this mission, for, post-Death,
I’ll prove immortal,
and lounge in God’s Carrera-marble palaces.

[Vulcano (Italia) 21 juin mmxvii]

An “unbaptized African Baptist outta Nova Scotia,
Canada, 1960-issue”, George Elliott Clarke teaches English
at the University of Toronto. Once a prof at Duke and Harvard,
he has books in Chinese, Italian, and Romanian translation,
and was Poet Laureate of Toronto (2012-2015) and Poet
Laureate of Canada (2016 & 2017).

 

On Climbing Durham Cathedral Tower – a poem by Rory Tanner

On Climbing Durham Cathedral Tower

Yes, climb! You’re fit, well shod,
above those many gravestones
for monks who died while fighting, adorned with swords,
and with such life remaining it behooves you now to climb,

to elevate yourself by increments,
each step lifting up your heels,
each step defying still relics below, defying Cuthbert’s feretory
and Bede’s chapel, defying the quiet veneration of heavy stone,

until atop, to see across the palace green,
defying holy undercrofts older than English
and worn deep by creeds, ever crouched between their burdens.
All this way up, all this way here, from Jarrow, Lindisfarne,

but now standing, as boughs overspreading this well of a green world,
and what can lively stones yet build?

 

Rory Tanner is a general-purpose writer based in eastern Ontario (Canada). He’s published a handful of essays on the poetry and politics of early modern England, and regularly reviews volumes for the Journal of Canadian Poetry. He received a PhD in English Literature from the University of Ottawa a few years ago, but has been working as a technical writer pretty much ever since. 

confession found in a Motherhouse – a poem by MEH

confession found in a Motherhouse

for Jeanine Hathaway

Are there prayers enough to cushion this quid pro quo religion
I propagate, grace enough within a thousand Hail Marys, once
I’ve seen behind the curtain, read beyond my vows to open cells
and sentences aligned in tightly kerned prose, passed down
world without end? Am I clothed in more than pleated boundaries—
this habit of black and white contentment, where all substitutes
for sex are self-indulgent— where strangers are made intimate
by the memories they engender? Can I remain faithful in a role
I haven’t felt in years: the good wife embracing a sacrament
of silence when I prefer rage to sadness, flight to lying down?
How am I to grow in love for the invisible finger stuck in my pie,
holy intrusions said to be for my own good? But divine retribution
seldom comes in predictable forms, and I have pride enough
to assume humility in all the appropriate ways. Melancholia
strengthens the heart like an antiphon forgotten
the more its response is sung. Perhaps this is the hymn required
in a strange land. in Nomine Patris, Filii, et Spiritus Sancti

~ MEH

 

MEH is Matthew E. Henry, a Pushcart nominated poet with works appearing or forthcoming in various publications including Amethyst Review, The Anglican Theological Review, The Other Journal, Poetry East, Relief Journal, Rock and Sling, Spiritus, andThe Windhover. MEH is an educator who received his MFA from Seattle Pacific University, yet continued to spend money he didn’t have pursuing a MA in theology and a PhD in education.

 

Behold a Pale Horse – a poem by Cynthia Pitman

Behold a Pale Horse

By day, the sun will go black,
trapped by a cold halo –
daylight denied.

At night, a blood moon will heighten
the midnight fights of feral cats.
The Four Horsemen will arrive.

The ground will grumble under their
galloping steeds as tectonic plates
stretch to claim new terrain.

The rifts will split the earth.
The masses will fall to the depths
of a yawning abyss.

A few will flee with nowhere to go.
Soon they will slow and claw the earth
with desperate crawls.

But still the ragged prophet on the corner
will stand steady and hold high his sign:
“Repent! The End is Near!”

 

Cynthia Pitman is a retired English teacher with poetry published in Amethyst Review, Vita BrevisEkphrastic ReviewPostcard Poems and ProseRight Hand PointingLiterary Yard, Adelaide Literary Magazine, Three Line Poetry, Leaves of Ink, Third Wednesday, Scarlet Leaf, Ariel Chart, and Mused. Her poetry book, The White Room, is forthcoming.

Speed of Time and Light – a poem by Lisa Zimmerman

Speed of Time and Light

After a light sculpture by Collin Parson

The day after the dog died my friend
from Denmark wrote from dust to dust,
from light to light. These concentric
radiant threads agree—a ladder of light
to earth and back again, the journey
all souls take only to abandon here
on the mirrored lake of forgetfulness.

*

Saint Clare lived 29 years beyond the death
of her beloved mentor Saint Francis
who knew so much about the positive void of God,
who sat content at the banquet of hallowed emptiness.
He taught her prayer travels at the speed of light

so she became a bone-thin candle always burning, even
as she slept, her head on a smooth river stone, even
as she fasted for days on the silence
at the heart of bread rising, on air and sunlight
that filled and filled the holy void inside her.

Lisa Zimmerman’s poetry has appeared in Florida Review, Poet Lore, Colorado Review, Cave Wall, SWWIM Every Day and other journals. Her first book won the Violet Reed Haas Poetry Award. Among other collections are The Light at the Edge of Everything and The Hours I Keep. She’s a four-time Pushcart nominee.

Red Admirals – a poem by Katerina Neocleous

Red Admirals

She mends her dress in rough stitches
cresting recklessly along the hem,
pulls the long thread out

in a wide sweep, like an archer
with a bow, over the painted eye
on a boat’s prow

as she courses with the stars
or fate, whatever colour
the sail is – psyche’s wings.

If one butterfly can cause
a tidal wave, just by flapping,
imagine a fleet.

Pity a ripple could drown her.

 

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 visionsfromhell.wordpress.com

Saint Clare of Assisi: At the Beginning of My New Life – a poem by Lisa Zimmerman

Saint Clare of Assisi: At the Beginning of My New Life

I first saw Francis preaching in San Giorgio.
Most people, even my pious mother,
thought he was mad, perhaps from the hard year
in prison during the war—the stone bed, stale crust of each day—
and the illness that followed. Oh, and all that followed—

He was beautiful when the Gospel tenderly set its talons
upon him. When he spoke I saw tears drop onto his tunic,
small moons of grief and bliss—that he had only this
thin body to offer, this frail and furious life.

But it was a kind of singing, the words of Christ
rising out of his throat, and I felt wings
of a giant bird or angel beat in my breast.
I was so afraid the joy would tear my soul
from my body, I could only beg our Lord
for time to be His servant here first.

I said no to the world that day and yes
to the world inside and yes
to the promised one, beyond.

Lisa Zimmerman’s poetry has appeared in Florida Review, Poet Lore, Colorado Review, Cave Wall, SWWIM Every Day and other journals. Her first book won the Violet Reed Haas Poetry Award. Among other collections are The Light at the Edge of Everything and The Hours I Keep. She’s a four-time Pushcart nominee.

Prayer – a poem by Jonathan K. Rice

Prayer

Evening prayer
inhabits the chapel
where I kneel

as wind blows
purple wisteria
outside the heavy
wood door.

God listening perhaps
through top heavy oaks

whose roots
crack sidewalk,
street, water main,

baptizing
the neighborhood,
the ground,
my shoes, my feet.

I plod off
through the night,
the mud,
the darkness.

 

Jonathan K. Rice edited Iodine Poetry Journal for seventeen years. He is the author of two full-length poetry collections, Killing Time (2015), Ukulele and Other Poems (2006) and a chapbook, Shooting Pool with a Cellist (2003), all published by Main Street Rag Publishing. He is also a visual artist. His work has appeared in numerous publications. Jonathan is the recipient of the 2012 Irene Blair Honeycutt Legacy Award for outstanding service in support of local and regional writers, awarded by Central Piedmont Community College. He lives in Charlotte, NC.