The Day You Kept Me from Harming Myself,
I Embraced You as You Left My Side
—for Tula & Jenn
I remained silent, my movement & stillness familiar,
your voices light over me, laughter leaving me no strength
to end it all.
My heart sparked despite itself,
& your warmth dusted me; you held my eyes
to yourself, cupped my ears
in your hands until I heard God wash
against me, hold me abandoned in floods,
wounds cleaned & smoothed.
How clever we molded together,
reached depths no light touches. You each drew me closer,
hid me within you, not from you: the last look of you filling my eyes
with yours, & I remember the looks,
how it told me you both would never leave.
Ariana D. Den Bleyker is a Pittsburgh native currently residing in New York’s Hudson Valley where she is a wife and mother of two. When she’s not writing, she’s spending time with her family and every once in a while sleeps. She is the author of three collections, nineteen chapbooks, three crime novellas, a novelette, and an experimental memoir. She hopes you’ll fall in love with her words.
On the Way to the Basilica of Saint Francis
To say they were like pigeons—that little flock
of Asian nuns hurrying down a narrow street
in Assisi—is to say their gray cotton habits
looked layered and pearly in feathered April sunlight.
It is to say also that Francis would have loved them
as he loved the tiny sparrows, the small and certain
industry of their prayers, their unmistakable chirps of joy.
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.
Grace laughs at beauty.
Even the misshapen squash
has its own season.
Jen Stewart Fueston lives in Longmont, Colorado. Her work has appeared in a wide variety of journals, most recently Ruminate, Rock & Sling, and The St. Katherine Review. Her poems have twice been finalists for the McCabe poetry prize, and been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her first chapbook, “Visitations,” was published in 2015, and her second, “Latch,” will be released in early 2019. She has taught writing at the University of Colorado, Boulder, as well as internationally in Hungary, Turkey, and Lithuania.
“Are not all ministering spirits
sent out to serve…?” -Hebrews 1:14
Just like that—
we imagined later—
the quick flick of blue,
the sly leap of yellow,
the sharp prick of red
revving up into fiercer flames
and escaping from our
chipped brick chimney to our
cold 20’ x 20’ square of space,
rough floorboards where we
—only the night before—
huddled our child bodies
together for warmth while—
inches from our sleep-deprived
but truth-telling eyes—that specter,
muscled guardian of light—spread
like a shield his shimmering wings
before the dilapidated fireplace.
The next night of long-remembered,
only ash-left destruction,
after heat flung itself from floor
to curtains to outer door,
and the entire structure of our home
crumbled, we knew—though away
and unaware at that moment
of the blistering dangers of the hour—
yes, we knew as children know, the wide,
protective arms of angels, the blazing
gratitude of the saved.
Winner of America Magazine’s 2019 Foley Poetry Prize, Lock Haven University English Professor Marjorie Maddox has published 11 collections of poetry—including Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation and True, False, None of the Above—What She Was Saying(prose); children’s books; Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania (co-editor); Presence (assistant editor). See www.marjoriemaddox.com
Russian Sage (Pervaskia)
I have to get close
to breathe in with my eyes
the astonished quiet brightness
of the lavender flowers
that have come to stay with me.
I watch how they endure
the worst of storms
lashed about and bent
by whipping winds
and slashing rains
only to stand upright
the next day
on their feather shaped
leafy stems, tall in strength.
They teach me how to cope
and how to enjoy the sun.
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.
Acrostic for Therese of Lisieux
Doctor of the Church
Trust in Jesus. Give
Him your heart. This simple truth I struggled to
Express. The “little way” I called it. From the inner
Recesses of my soul, I prayed my earthly
Exile would be brief (God’s will), begged for
Strength to bear peacefully and joyfully
Every suffering, desiring not my own consolation, but the
Opportunity to give pleasure to Jesus, to keep the
Flame of love burning. I abandoned myself to
Love, even when I felt nothing, abysmal
Indifference, so dense it threatened to
Suffocate my very being. Your yoke
Is sweet, Your burden light, I prayed, trusted that
Entering heaven, I’d be granted my fervent wish to be
Used for good on earth. Only one surprise: such
Xstasy, as is His, now is also mine.
Note: A Carmelite nun, Therese of Lisieux’ memoir, Story of a Soul, is a spiritual classic. She was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1997.
Maryanne Hannan has published poetry in Magma, Stand, Oxford Review and elsewhere. Her first book, Rocking Like It’s All Intermezzo: 21st Century Psalm Responsorials, will be published by Wipf and Stock (2019). She lives in upstate New York, USA. Her website is www.mhannan.com.