The Path of Ghosts – a poem by Antoni Ooto

The Path of Ghosts

huge night unwraps what folds silently
in the half light quivering
in the evening mist

losing the sense of day
the sound,
a different place to sway

familiar specters
with an eye to the next path
moving along losing a little

feeling the world roll beneath
knowing others are present
and coming, coming gently

so long a way from the start


Antoni Ooto is a poet and flash fiction writer.  His works have been published in Nixes Mate Review, Pilcrow & Dagger, Red Eft Review, Ink Sweat & Tears, Young Ravens Literary Review, Front Porch Review, Amethyst Review, An Upstate of Mind and Palettes & Quills.

Goddess of Wind – a poem by Kyle Laws

Goddess of Wind

She has a wingspan, chest shaped into kite
that can soar above limestone cliffs over the lake
formed of a river off the Continental Divide.

Puzzled that no one else knows how to fly, so simple
in dreams—stretch out your arms and step off
into a wind that carries you across the sky dotted

with cumulus clouds, soft white across a Colorado
blue once the sun has passed noon on the dial
from where you stand without shadow,

hips slimmer than span, belly rounded above
legs proportioned so that they will steer
you to the other side, land gently on the far shore.


Kyle Laws is based out of the Arts Alliance Studios Community in Pueblo, CO where she directs Line/Circle: Women Poets in Performance. Her collections include Ride the Pink Horse (Stubborn Mule Press, 2019), Faces of Fishing Creek (Middle Creek Publishing, 2018), This Town: Poems of Correspondence with Jared Smith (Liquid Light Press, 2017), So Bright to Blind (Five Oaks Press, 2015), and Wildwood (Lummox Press, 2014). With six nominations for a Pushcart Prize, her poems and essays have appeared in magazines and anthologies in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and France. She is the editor and publisher of Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press.

Absence – a poem by Janet Krauss


Gone is the birch tree
that filled the corner window,
its white amidst the notches of black
quietly assumed peace exists.
I search for the tree in pictures,
lithe, drop shaped leaves
in spring, flurry of color in autumn,
and locked in ice in winter.
So locked in the present is the absence
of all I hold close. I hurry to find
the photo of my friend after we reached
the sky-filled tarn together,.
my mother gazing at her granddaughter
with a smile da Vinci could not equal,
my father feeding his grandson
for the first time afraid to smile for fear
he will lose hold of the fragile, pulsing
life force I placed in his lap.


Janet Krauss, who has two books of poetry published, Borrowed Scenery, Yuganta Press, and Through the Trees of Autumn, Spartina Press, has recently retired from teaching English at Fairfield University. Her mission is to help and guide Bridgeport’s  young children through her teaching creative writing, leading book clubs and reading to and engaging a kindergarten class. As a poet, she co-directs the poetry program of the Black Rock Art Guild. In  May, 2018 her poem, “A View from a Window” was published in Amethyst Review.


We Christen the Canoe Sunday School – a poem by Dayna Patterson

We Christen the Canoe Sunday School

For silver lake, and mist scudding water,
knocking boats at the dock, and oarlocks,
plastic ponchos made from garbage sacks,
and the hour of rain that made us miserable, thank you.

Thank you for a warm wind luffing us dry,
and blue minnows of smoke rising between pines,
a rope of cloud settled across the green,
its white partition bisecting mountains.

For the rut of college kids on the beach,
their aluminum canoes roped for tug-of-war,
the six packs of boys, thin bikinis of girls,
their laughter rioting across the water, thank you.

Thank you for the visitation of an osprey,
dipping deeply over silver surface,
for her choppy, lop-sided ascent,
spark of scales, tailfin in her talons.

For a rainbow caught on a dry fly,
the rich gold of its coin eyes,
copper flecks in pectoral fins,
silver glimmer of its belly, thank you.

Thank you for a careful knife inserted in the fish’s anus,
for a silent score to accompany the gutting,
these daughters who satellite their father,
hands over mouths as fish viscera drift off. Thank you.

Thank you for teeming canoes and kayaks splashing,
a flotilla of paddleboats churning,
a motorboat’s steady whine and white wake,
and a beatific quiet after its passing.


Dayna Patterson is the author of Titania in Yellow (Porkbelly Press, 2019) and If Mother Braids a Waterfall (Signature Books, 2020). Her creative work has appeared recently in POETRY, Crab Orchard Review, and Passages North. She is the founding editor-in-chief of Psaltery & Lyre and a co-editor of Dove Song: Heavenly Mother in Mormon

All the Time in the World – a poem by Rupert Loydell

All the Time in the World

Imaginary friends are leaving us
and it’s about time. Let new love
start and the city deconstruct
itself before evolution begins.

The architect of ruins has quite
a job, with a pay packet to match,
but he is a two-headed snake
and you should avoid listening to

his hollow lectures and preambles.
From here to there and then on
to everywhere, there is no time
or way to assure our future.

You say that angels weep in heaven
and that we can awaken elsewhere
in golden light and rainbows,
but shadow voices suggest otherwise:

there is no far away and you cannot
carry me to safety or change
what we have become: adrift, bereft,
in need of salvation and song.

© 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).

THE BACK OF THE TABLETS – a short story by Wayne-Daniel Berard


“Here!” the young man almost shouted and dumped the contents of the bag onto the rebbe’s desk. Pieces of blanched, yellow stone, pock-marked and worn, spilled out across the green blotter.

The young man slumped into a chair in the corner of the office. The rebbe merely sat, unmoved, at his desk.“Two years!” the young man groaned. “Two straight years of work, and I still can’t make heads or tails out of them.”“It is not such a long time . . .” the rebbe spoke quietly.

“It is to me!” The young man leaped up and began to pace around the small office. “My whole career is tied up in those fragments, Professor — my entire life. I’m supposed to defend my dissertation soon, and . . . and there it is, in pieces. Everything. In pieces.”

He dropped again into a chair and buried his head in his hands.
“Jacobson,” began the rebbe. “I’m not even on your committee. You didn’t want me, remember? ‘This is about science, not fairy tales,’ you said. “Biblical archeology . . .”

“But you know!” Jacobson stood up wildly. “You’ve always known, haven’t you! When I found the shards at Horeb . . .”

“Sinai,” murmured the rebbe.

“Yes, yes. And when I devised a way to get them out. . .”

“Stole them!”

“The university disagreed, Professor. They were more than glad to have these treasures here. And, as the peace talks were underway, and actual ownership of the territory in dispute . . .”

The rebbe slammed his palm on his desk as he stood up.

“Coveting academic position for its own sake! Stealing from the most sacred! Lying to everyone! Infidelity! Idol worship!”

“Don’t give me your old commandments, Abramovich! Or rather, let me give them to you. Here. Now.” He pointed to the heap of stones. “Besides, I’ve never been unfaithful to anyone. And what do you mean, ‘idol-worship?’ In this day and age?”

“You clearly have all the answers, young man.” Then, under his breath, “. . . for all the good they’ve done you.”

Jacobson began to circle the room, agitated, frustrated.

“I saw it in your eyes the day I announced their arrival. Whenever we passed in the hall or met on the quad. They were laughing at me, your eyes. You refused to come to the exhibition. You knew I would get nowhere on this.

“I’ve assembled and reassembled these pieces a thousand times. I’ve used the best scientific methods, employed the most complete linguistic sources — hell, you taught me Biblical Hebrew yourself, years ago!”

“I remember,” the rebbe sighed.

“Then why?!” Now it was his turn to slam his hand to the desk. “Why does the answer elude me? What do you know that I don’t? Tell me! Tell me!”

The rebbe turned his back to Jacobson.

“Please!” he whispered.

Then, out of the stillness.

“Torah,” spoke the rebbe.


“What you don’t know. You don’t know Torah. Specifically, Exodus 32: 15-16 . . .”

The rebbe pulled a watch from his pocket. “Not to mention 34: 29. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a class. Kindly lock up when you leave.” And he swept past the confused graduate student and out the door.

Jacobson stood stunned for a moment, then knelt to burrow in his leather bag. His lap-top was there, notebooks, daybook, but no . . .

His eyes quickly scanned Professor Abramovich’s shelves for a Torah — in English. Jacobson leapt to his feet, tore a volume from the shelf, racing through the pages like a madman. Soon he had found it:

Moses went back down the mountain holding
the two tablets of the Testimony inscribed on
both sides, on the front and on the back. The
tablets were the handiwork of God, and the
writing was God’s writing . . .

“Of course!” he said, slamming the book shut like a shot. “Of course!” And he laughed aloud. “It’s backwards! That’s why I couldn’t decipher it! The commandments on the back of the tablets . . .”

Unceremoniously, he reopened the Torah, searching furiously. He read how Moses had smashed the original tablets at the infidelity of Israel with the calf of gold. That God had recalled him to the mountain to receive them once again . . .

So Moses remained with the Lord forty days and
forty nights without food or drink. The Lord wrote
down the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments,
on the tablets.

“It doesn’t say, ‘both sides,’ ” Jacobson whispered to himself. “The second time it doesn’t say ‘on both sides!’” And he stared incredulously at the pile of stone pieces before him.

It didn’t take him long after that. He found a dictionary of Biblical Hebrew on the professor’s shelf. Searching through the jig-saw shards that he already knew so well, he began to reassemble the tablets. First, the well-known ten. That done, he slowly, carefully flipped each fragment over, and there it was. The letters backwards from left to right, the commandments from ten to one. The reverse side of the Law.

It was finished. Only then did he stand back and truly begin to read.

Desire what you already possess.
Give true witness to yourself.
Give to each what truly belongs to them. Do justice.
Be faithful.

Honor your children, that they may have long life in the land.
Remember to keep part of the Sabbath in every day.
Make right use of the Lord’s name:

See my image in the self alone.
You, too,“Shall Be Whatever You Shall Be.” Then . . .

Be Whatever You Shall Be,
and thus lead yourselves out of the land of Egypt,
of narrowed straits, of slavery . . .

Jacobson began to swallow hard. He didn’t really want anything that he had, not his knowledge, the students he taught, the professors who taught him. They were all only boring means to an end — scholarship, a high position at a major university. But even that wasn’t what he truly coveted.

To tell the truth, what he really wanted, had always wanted, was prestige, fame, to be looked up to and fussed over by all he met. It just so happened that his gifts lay in books and school — not in, say, hitting a ball or saying the right thing at a party. Or understanding business and landing a high-paying job with just a bachelor’s degree. Or . . .

There was Liza. She admired him, his intellect, his determination. She loved him. He’d never been unfaithful to her, never had the time. The old man was crazy . . .

But then, what did she like to say at department parties when they were together? “Jon’s work is his wife. I’m just his mistress . . . .” Everyone would laugh.
He stared again at the pieces of history before him. He recalled the deception, the bribes involved with bringing them back to America. He’d even sought out another member of the party whom he knew was smuggling drugs back home . . . God!
There was the sound of shuffling in the hall — classes changing. He had missed his teaching assignment that day, and it wasn’t the first. He’d had too much anxiety, important work to do. He hadn’t even posted the cancellation — stupid kids, mindless, half-savages. He was their teacher, but they meant nothing to him, these children of his . . .

His head slumped to the desk. Exhausted. He never stopped working, wheedling, politicking, advancing himself. And now this. Oddly enough, his great discovery did not fill him with energy, with enthusiasm. Quite the opposite. The thought of the work ahead, the papers, lectures, books, appearances, positions and promotions — the idea itself drained him to his soul. His soul was tired. Whatever his soul was . . .

For there lay the long and short of it. Sitting at a metal desk behind ivied walls, his cheek against its cold surface, on the verge of his great triumph, Jacobson began to weep. “You Will Be Whatever You Will Be” — but he had no idea who that was. A beautiful partner, a string of academic honors, and now his future expanding limitlessly before him, and he wept, infinitely strange to himself. A line surfaced of its own before his swollen consciousness, “An infant crying in the night; An infant crying for the light; And with no language but a cry.”

His tears trickled through the cracked spaces between the shards like narrow straits.

He barely heard the office door open or Dr. Abramovich enter. The rebbe placed a thick hand on the younger man’s shoulder. Jacobson turned his head.
“What should I do?”

The professor smiled. “There are one hundred-eighty six chapters in Torah,” he said. “You’ve only glanced at two of them.”

“But the fragments, their message . . . we have to tell somebody, to do something with them . . .?”

The professor paused.

“Moses smashed the tablets because the people worshipped a piece of gold,” he said. “And God chose not to rewrite the back of the commands. Even Moses did not go against that choice, did not reveal the inverse of the Law to the world, even after all that time in the desert . . .”

Dr. Abramovich looked out his high window, across the quad and on to the city skyline in the distance.

“A piece of gold . . . Are we more ready than Israel at Sinai, Jonathan . . .?”

“So . . . we just sit on this?” Jacobson gestured across the desk.

“Begin with the Torah,” answered the rebbe. “Come tonight and we’ll study together. In forty years, we’ll see. Maybe.”


Wayne-Daniel Berard, PhD, teaches Humanities at Nichols College, Dudley, MA. He publishes broadly in poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. His novella, Everything We Want, was published in 2018 by Bloodstone Press. A poetry collection, The Realm of Blessing, will be published in 2020 by Unsolicited Press.

The Mirror and the Candle – a story by Wayne-Daniel Berard

The Mirror and the Candle
Once upon 2.5 million years ago, the climate began once more to change.

Life became drier, less fluid, more difficult. The rain forests began to withdraw; in their place, grassy savannas manifested themselves. The great, green canopy upon which so much life had depended gave way to vast expanses of coverless sky and uncamouflaged territory.

For the living beings that had prospered among the trees, there was little place left to hide. Safety became a premium. Those who would prey upon others found their lives exponentially easier. Those who wished only to live in the shade and bother no one were suddenly grounded. And at risk.

This was especially true for one particular troop of nearly hairless monkeys. When the trees upon which they’d depended became sparse and separated, they discovered themselves at the mercy of the open skies and scattered about the dry plain. They did not have sharp claws with which to defend themselves, or great speed to outrun their attackers, or venomous fangs, or quills, or shells, or any other type of natural defense. Whatever would happen to them?

Now, each species in the universe has a pair of divine beings, entrusted by The All with its well being and growth. Aleph and Tav, also known as Alph and Avi, were the guardians of this particular troop of nearly hairless monkeys. As they watched their charges panicking around the savanna like pre-chickens with their stone-age heads cut off, they consulted with each other.

“They have great potential,” Avi observed, “if they survive.”

“Then survive they shall,” said Alph. “When all else fails, use what you’ve got.”

And what the troop had was . . . organization. The capacity to put everything, including themselves, into an established order, and maintain it no matter what! So, with a bit of inner whispering from Alph and Avi, the monkey troop began to, quite literally, organize the hell out of their situation.

Every member of the troop was given a job, one about which they had no choice, and from which they could not waver, if the group was to survive. A troop is only as strong as its least distracted primate! Some members were gatherers; their job was to find fruit and nuts and berries, nothing more. Some members were lookouts, stationing themselves around the perimeter, watching solely for anything that lurked, or stalked, or slithered in the tall grass. Still others were warriors, meant exclusively to fight as best they could any who threatened the troop. Mothers could be only mothers; only the strongest males could be fathers, and children were expected to be seen and not chatter! And the leader was unquestioned as the leader.

No one was asked what he or she wanted to be. No one was allowed to leave their established place in the organization — ever! And if anyone, deep in the recesses of their own heart, ever asked themselves, “Am I really happy with this? Am I fulfilled?” they never let on or allowed it to compromise their position in the group. The survival of the troop simply took precedence over the meaning of any individual.

And it worked! The troop of nearly hairless monkeys not only survived, it thrived. It went forth and multiplied, filling the earth and subduing it.

Alph and Avi were happy — almost. “But what will we do with these?” one asked the other. In their hands they held two divine objects of great power: a Candle and a Mirror. And as they were divine beings, they hovered over and apart from Time, from the collective future of the world, including that of the troop. It stretched out beneath them like a long pathway, the beginning and end of which they could always see.

“Walk with me,” said Alph who, along with Avi, then set off along the trail. Invisibly (most of the time) they passed by nations and empires, rises and falls, triumphs and abominations. In due Time, they came to a dark but comforting recess, into which they walked. Deeper and deeper they went, until they came to a place smack in the Center of It All. Here, they placed the Candle and the Mirror. “When they are ready,” each of them said. And disappeared.

Time passed — and sometimes fumbled, was sometimes intercepted, a nd often penalized back to the spot of the original foul. But forward progress did eventually reach the point where the race of nearly hairless monkeys was no longer threatened by everything around them. There were no more lions crouched in the grass — which indeed they now had to mow and treat with Chemlawn to keep growing at all. The night no longer threatened, but was lit with the light of a million environmentally- friendly LED’s. Much disease had been eradicated, and people lived longer than ever before.

But still, the old, ingrained paradigm remained unchanged. People stayed in their place, rarely asking themselves if it made them happy, and oftentimes pushing away the answer if they did. Their survival had long ago stopped depending on the tight, unbending organization, but yet gatherers and lookouts, warriors and mothers, men and women, leaders and followers all still acted as if individual happiness and deep fulfillment would mean the death of them all!

Finally, from their timeless perch above everything, the guardians of the nearly hairless monkeys looked at each other and said, “It’s time.”

And so they sent into the troop the greatest tool in the arsenal of the angelic: Inspiration. Soon, books and poems, films and songs, reforms and new ideas began to flood the minds and hearts of the nearly hairless monkeys. They began to become Inspired with Questions that were more Important than Answers, with Acceptances that were more Important than Difference, with Callings that were much, much more Important than Mere Security, individual or communal.

Finally, on one Blessed Night near the beginning of another year, the divine beings entered into the Collective Consciousness of the entire troop, in a dream as everyone safely slept. They led that Consciousness gently down the long path of its history, and deep into the dark, comforting recesses of the Center of It All. There, Alph handed Consciousness the Candle, while Avi stood before it, holding the Mirror.

The divine beings spoke, “Hin-nay-nee” – “Here I Am.” And the Candle lit to life in the hands of Consciousness.

“This is your own Light,” Alph said. “You have been taught that your Light is to be ignored, that the Good of All depends on your pushing your Light aside, that if you were to Become your truest self, the Entirety would be weaker and the Community divided. But look . . .”

And all around, the Light of Self illumined the deep recesses, for the Darker it is, the more Illuminating a single Light can be. Shapes that had seemed dangerous and threatening now were revealed to be just outcroppings and dips along the path, as natural as the Light itself. Monstrous, alien faces and clawed fingers that seemed ready to reach out and devour, in the Light of Self could now be seen as simply gnarled old roots and withered branches, hardly worthy of notice, let alone fear and its reaction. “How odd,” the Collective Consciousness thought to itself, “that the more I am my own Light, publically and unreservedly, the less foreign and fearful the world is seen to be.”

“Now,” said Alph, “think of the things, the good and beautiful things that you have the most difficulty hearing about yourself – the compliments that make you wince inside. For, over countless generations you’ve been taught that to Love yourself, to give First Cause to your own Infinite Light would lead only to pride and selfishness, and to the abandoning of your post in your troop’s fight for survival. But could you even know whose survival concerned you so?”

Avi held the Mirror a little higher. In it, Consciousness could see its own Light, reflected back upon Itself.

“Who is that?” it asked. “What am I?”

“You are a divine being,” Avi answered. “You are One of Us. And only another divine being has the depth, the capacity to Mirror you back to Yourself. Yes, we do need each other. Desperately. But not for Protection. For Illumination. Not for Safety. For Selfhood. And watch!”

Alph bent near and blew out the Candle! Consciousness gasped!

“But look,” Alph gestured. And in the Mirror, the Light still shone, Radiant as ever.

“The Mirror of the Other retains your Light, whether or not you yourself recognize it. This is called ‘Love.’ This is why you have a troop in the first place.”

“And watch this!” Avi exclaimed. And he turned the Mirror away. It took Consciousness a moment or two to realize that its own Light was once more shining in its hand, as it has always been.

“The Other shows you your Light. But he or she can never put it out. Even if they turn away from you. This is called ‘Freedom.’ Your own Light is dependent on no one.”

And in that Infinite Instant, the Collective opened itself, revealing each Individual Consciousness that it contained. Each and every Life the troop had ever held from the moment it had descended from the trees manifested him or herself right there in the very Center of It All. Each held a Candle, and each held a Mirror. Each showed its Light of divine being to the other, and each reflected that divine Light back to the other, until the collective future of the world shone and vibrated and hummed beyond all Limitation, bathed in Fearlessness.

Then, with a soundless blink, with not a Bang but a Blossoming, a new Cosmos was born.

Hin-nay-nee. Here I am.


Wayne-Daniel Berard, PhD, teaches Humanities at Nichols College, Dudley, MA. He publishes broadly in poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. His novella, Everything We Want, was published in 2018 by Bloodstone Press. A poetry collection, The Realm of Blessing, will be published in 2020 by Unsolicited Press.


Tell No One – a poem by Todd Copeland

Tell No One

Peter had built them after all.
Three tabernacles stood empty
when we returned in the evening,

darkness following us
up the mountainside.
We stood where Moses and Elijah

had appeared. Neither of us had expected
to find anything, and yet
we couldn’t resist the dreaming

of our hearts. We knelt where we had
pressed streaked faces to the earth.
The voice in the cloud? The cloud itself?

We stood and watched as the land
emptied of color and the warrant
of our sworn silence took hold.


Todd Copeland’s poems have appeared in The Journal, High Plains Literary Review, Southern Poetry Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Sewanee Theological Review, The Wallace Stevens Journal, The Antigonish Review, and Columbia Poetry Review, among other publications. He won Descant’s Baskerville Publishers Poetry Award in 2018. He lives in Waco, Texas.

On gazing up – a poem by David Hanlon

On gazing up

Let ego fade into foliage seas
burnt orange…….fringed clouds sailing above

Restlessness…………downward spiral…..pirouetting leaves
from Oak trees……….they stand insistent………they encircle

a way of life
hardship testing character

Testing your skin……..peeled plum
bark scratch

Leaves pull apart at their veins

We only glide………on the eagle-span wings of essence
dodge surface………structured artifice

Troubles are meddling mounds….unsteady footing
stand stagnant……… are a stable Oak

focus through the lens of lucidity
a gift as abundant as trees themselves


your feet……….resilience-entwined roots

up at the breadth of your branch-made shelter

inside your earthy heart…….revel in your majestic stature

Gaze up at your canopy

let ego
fade into foliage
into burnt orange fringed
clouds sailing above

Now step.


David Hanlon is a confessional poet from Wales, living in Bristol, England. He is a qualified counsellor/therapist. He is a Best of the Net nominee, and you can find his work online in Into The Void, Barren Magazine, Mojave Heart Review, Kissing Dynamite and Homology Lit, among others. His first chapbook is forthcoming in Spring 2020 with Animal Heart Press.

An Artist’s Still Lives – a poem by Deborah Guzzi

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Deborah Guzzi writes full-time. Her book, The Hurricane, is available through Prolific Press. Her poetry appears in Allegro, Shooter, Amethyst Review & Foxglove in the UK-Existere, Ekphrastic Review, Scarlet Leaf Review & Subterranean Blue, Canada – Tincture, Australia – Datura, France –Vine Leaves Australia – Scarlet Leaf Review – Greece—& many in the USA.