Spider – a poem by Lucy Whitehead

Spider

 

I am watching a spider crawl

in circles, anticlockwise,

toward the centre of its web,

meting out its sticky silk,

deft legs weaving the thread,

pulling the weft taut, letting it go,

while wind buffets the doily

of elastic lace,

an almost invisible spiral

against the grey-bright clouds

woven so tightly it could trap

the tiniest wings.

 

Two centimetres from the centre

the spider stops and leaves a gap,

weaves itself a little seat,

a transparent lily pad. I wonder

if it got tired, on the hottest

day of the year, or decided

to weave some emptiness

into its web

to let the breeze

blow through.

 

 

Lucy Whitehead‘s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Amethyst Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, Barren Magazine, Black Bough Poetry, Burning House Press, Collective Unrest, Electric Moon Magazine, Ghost City Review, Mookychick Magazine, Neon Mariposa Magazine, Pussy Magic, Re-side, and Twist in Time Magazine. You can find her on Twitter @blueirispoetry.

Solutions – a poem by Victoria Crawford

Solutions

To solve the problems of the world,
a sunset robed monk,
a dress-by-guess artist,
and talkative philosopher,
three friends sit in the restaurant garden
over wine, dinner, and coffee.
Voices spiral through the points
of the compass rose
and entwine the geographies
of speculation
and the human condition,
voyage to Esoterica.

Delicacy of ferns
and silver bamboo leaves
climb the grotto wall
where the stream chuckles
at diners and
a lone frog croaks truth
solving the problems of the world.

 

American poet Victoria Crawford has lived in various Asian countries and now calls Thailand home. Her poems have appeared in Samsara, Time of Singing, Parousia, Braided Way, Heart of Flesh, and other journals.

Hope Never Dies – a poem by Michal Mahgerefteh

Hope Never Dies

Nothing interrupts the darkness
except an invisible speck of light,
teetering like a candle’s wisp about
to be extinguished into thin shrouds.

Chosen ancestral-ghosts of youth,
hope seizes as you appear by the
Gate to claim him, Hebrew hymns
vibrating the root chakra of Malchut.

Hear my voice before you lift the veil.
I stretch arms with piercing prayers,
each vowel trembling flesh and bone
until his ageless soul shouts, hallelujah!

Malchut—head chakra

 

Michal Mahgerefteh is a poet and artist originally from Israel, living in Virginia since 1986. She is author of four poetry collections, managing editor of Mizmor Poetry Anthology, Anna Davidson Rosenberg Annual Poetry Award selecting editor, and,The Poetry Society of Virginia
student award judge.

The World is a Mirror of Infinite Beauty – a poem by Marc Janssen

The World is a Mirror of Infinite Beauty

The world is a mirror of infinite beauty
Found in the unaware smiling faces of the children of a hated race;
In the worst dazzling morning of your life;
Looking from the weed filled lot to the sleeping robin blue of the sky;
Listening to the symphony of traffic above an adagio of wind through oak trees;
Walking down the street in the evening, the scent of dinners sing.

The world is a mirror of infinite beauty
And we are lucky, lucky to for a moment become a witness.

 

Marc Janssen lives in a house with a wife who likes him and a cat who loathes him. Regardless of that turmoil, his poetry can be found scattered around the world in places like Penumbra, Slant, Cirque Journal, Off the Coast and The Ottawa Arts Journal. Janssen also coordinates the Salem Poetry Project, a weekly reading, and the annual Salem Poetry Festival.

At Prayer – a poem by Tony Lucas

At Prayer

Stillness has dressed the table, smoothing
reflections in a marble floor.
One icon set against the whitened wall.

Briefly we rest with this, and then assault
the silence with our thoughts and feelings
all our tensions and attentions.

It appears not to resist, only makes way
before us, gracious, accommodating,
until we relent, too easily fatigued.

Deftly, the quiet settles back.
Somewhere there is water trickling
in the roof, birds beyond windows,

and a distant hum that switches off
and on. None of these affect
the stillness. It is all waiting.

We have such small endurance.
Suddenly a bell surprises us.
The world will soon enough resume.

This quiet will remain on hand, patient
of calm or tempest, pregnant with questions
of our readiness for change.

 

Tony Lucas has lived and worked in inner South London for many years, and continues to write and publish poetry.  His last full collection, Unsettled Accounts, was published by Stairwell Books in 2015, and he put together a pamphlet of more recent work, Presence, earlier this year.

5 Rhythms – One Awkward Dialogue Between The Body and the Soul – a poem by Sam Hickford

5 Rhythms – One Awkward Dialogue Between The Body and the Soul
Soul – “Space, would that I could find thy beating heart;
wouldst that thou and I could live as one,
a prison leaping into an open breath.”
(Body – “This joker always tries to have me on
ripping up the urgent letters that I send.”)
Then soul again – “But let me practise mine own death:
let me try to shovel out, beyond
the stacked-up invoices that he has left.
Listen to me.” Body – “No. This is just a con,
you bastard. You can only leave me once.”

 

Sam Hickford is a poet and journalist who is currently having a Julian of Norwich-esque visionary experience involving a computer screen, a tea-spoon, a flat-cap, and several yards of open space. His knavish scribblings have deigned to appear in The Guardian, The Tablet, Ink, Sweat & Tears and Amethyst Review

A Desert Primer – prose by Patsy Kate Booth

A Desert Primer

Shade and water. Those two comforts are mighty scarce along this wrinkled landscape. The shade is ground level and ideal for lizards and snakes. The water is thick as bean soup. To hike this Rio Grande corridor I must abandon preconceived ideas of comfort and ease. Isolation. Heat. Cold. Rattlesnakes. Plants, animals, reptiles, and insects that scratch, poke, sting, or bite live here. The temperature varies as much as 50 degrees from noon to midnight.

On any given day, my walk starts in an early morning chill. I shrug on a jacket or fleece vest pulled close to keep in body heat. The negligible dew drifts up from the river bottom only to evaporate rapidly when the sun slides above the rind of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The rising sun blows a warm wind that ruffles my hair like an affectionate wake up from my father. By 9:00 AM, the sand beneath my feet is pleasantly warm. That affection turns harsh as the sun rolls into its apex and hammers the crown of my head. My vulnerable flesh is sapped of moisture by the ever-increasing heat. I tilt my big brimmed hat to shade my eyes. Next to water, the hat is my best friend even when the interior head band crusts with salt. I take every opportunity to douse my hat and bandanna in the river. That is, if I’m able to scramble down the descent without snapping an ankle in the sharp cluttered volcanic rock escarpment.

No matter how hot the long sleeve shirt seems, I leave it on; otherwise, the sun will broil me scarlet. The shirt soaks up the trickle of sweat under my arms and down my back, but I’m glad I wore it in spite of the heat. The dampness cools me briefly then vanishes leaving behind a fine grain of human salt caked in the fibers that scratch like too much starch. Drink more water.

My socks are soaked. My leather boots are comfortable, but cook my feet in this desert heat. But I have learned not to wear sandals or thin canvas type shoes out here. The sand heats up under the unfiltered sun so that it blisters the soles of my feet when I remove my boots and attempt to walk to the canyon rim. I try to change my thinking to a “fire-walker” stepping into a bed of coals. But, I leap into a wild saint vitus dance routine back to the rock where I took off my boots. “Stupid! Goathead stickers, razor grass, wasps, cactus and burning sand. What was I thinking? My feet are what got me out here and will have to get me home. Better take care.” Those sandals are terrific once I settle in for the night, but I must remain wary of cactus or scorpions hiding in wind blown mounds of sand.

There is not a scrap of shade in sight and the heat chases me to the river’s lip. The deer carved a winding pathway through the willows, chamisa and rabbitbrush and rock. I step through the oven of basalt boulders, slap the brambles away and make my way to the sound of water. I avoid touching the shaded clandestine ledges where sleeping snakes wait out the sun’s assault. I feel dizzy and faint. A cry drums in my head. “Go to the river. Remove your boots. Peel off your socks. Squish your feet in the mud. Knead the cool ooze between your toes. Feel the gooey sensation wrap your feet.” I follow my desires. The river song soothes my thoughts and cools my body. Sinking my bare feet into a small pool, I moan aloud, “Ahh, like a mud bath at the Santa Fe spa.” The tingle rises from the soles of my feet, up my tight calves, relaxes tired thigh muscles and permeates to the core of my body.

I dip my hat into the slow, opaque water and spill the contents over my head. No need to look fashionable, or even good. There is nobody watching, except the Peregrine Falcon sailing on the breeze hunting rodents.

I lay back; breathe in the perfume of wet dirt, baked sagebrush and my own desert essence. I pull that soggy hat over my face and take a long pull from the nearly empty bottle of tepid water. A gentle breeze taps my shoulder. I close my eyes.

The air comes alive with green-backed swallows, desert wrens and a family of ducks quacking jubilantly around the bend. In the most distant wisp of atmosphere, I listen for the aerial conversations of Sandhill Cranes forming and reforming on their communal flight north.

Refreshed by a cold river bath, I feel the tightening of my stomach and am reminded that food is the next step toward maintaining energy and a healthy attitude.

Choosing the right food for desert travel is simple since heat spoils anything not jerked in chili peppers and salt. Beef Jerky, wedge of Parmesan cheese, salted nuts, dried fruit and hardtack crackers are in my daypack. Dinners consist of instant soups and other quick, easily prepared foods from a box. Tea, hard oatmeal cookies, instant milk hard candies. Small flask of tequila.

Nights in the desert are downright cold. Pleiades’ icy stare announces the time hour by hour. The constellation wakes me like a silent alarm clock as it creeps across the sky. The wheel of stars lulls me to sleep, but I open my eyes at the perfect moment when a bright flash bursts blue and streaks across the moonless black canopy. The brilliance of night marinates my soul and impales an obsession for starlight, unhampered by man. I fall into the dizzying space around me and give myself to the sanctuary of high desert and the delirium of empty wild space. I share infrequent shade with native creatures and venerate our bond here. I am nudged by some unnamed source that whispers to dance with the unknown. The desert exposes my vulnerability and this is good.

I am deeply aware of the freedom and peace surrounding me here in contrast to civilization with its inundation of commerce. What to buy, what to sell, where to go, not go, whom to be, not be, etc. Without refuge, silence, wild places and befriending the unknown, one is condemned to fret about security, loneliness, disease, jobs, money, and specific to the desert, air conditioning or something cold to drink.

 

 

Patsy Kate Booth is a lifelong adventurer, poet and writer. Her work has been published in several anthologies, including Lummox Press, The Sandhill Review, Willow Creek Journal, A Walk Along the River, and recently prose in Why We Boat, a compilation of river stories. She is currently working on poetry and stories of her life in the upper Rio Grande of Colorado. You can visit her new blog at patsykate.wordpress.com.

In Pursuit of Flying – a poem by M J Iuppa

In Pursuit of Flying

A girl races down the sidewalk, dragging
her stick across bars of sunlight streaming

through the neighbor’s slat fence, like
music, her shadow dancing in & out

of time’s blank space— that reckless
moment held up to history’s sudden

humors, knowing her body could vanish
into deep silence—our hearts hoping

to hear her sail over the crack & land
in a turn— the curve of air, still

swirling, like a sigh, like a cello
trailing its slow exhale.

 

M.J. Iuppa ‘s fourth poetry collection is This Thirst (Kelsay Books, 2017).For the past 30 years, she has lived on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario.  Check out her blog: mjiuppa.blogspot.com for her musings on writing, sustainability & life’s stew.

After Visiting Southwark Cathedral – a poem by Joe Cushnan

After Visiting Southwark Cathedral

A public prayer board, small notes asking God to bless
the homeless, the hungry, the helpless, the lonely,
a sick mother, a deceased uncle, a man job-hunting,
carers, peacemakers and more, and one sticks out,
written by a child, early-learning handwriting,
deliberate letters in painstaking ballpoint, on a slant
from the top to the middle of the paper:
Father, please put things back to normal.
A child putting in a request for God to put things back to normal.
A child. A child. A child.
Maybe trouble at home or at school or in the big world,
a child realising the life he or she has been born into,
the years of baby joy ebbing, pampering attention fading,
innocence dissolving, happiness interrupted forever,
giving way to worry, purity stained and now rough-edged.
Put things back to normal’ added to God’s to-do list.

Joe Cushnan was born and raised in Belfast. Now retired after a long retail management career across the UK, he devotes time to writing. He has a portfolio of published features, reviews, poetry and short fiction.

Blog: www.droppedthemoon.blogspot.com

Twitter: @JoeCushnan

Four poems from POND – by John Stanizzi

1.12.19
7.12 a.m.
16 degrees

Prescient wind anticipating the ice, leaves its handprint on the
obsequious water which obediently freezes in place.
Naysayers of the cold, a fistful of chickadees tossed into the bramble, will not
deign to my plans; instead they demand I get busy feeding them.

**

1.13.19
8.23 a.m.
15 degrees

Priding themselves on their size and intelligence, five crows
obey the call, and though hardly a murder, all the other birds scatter
nonetheless. Food is scarce, and the bitter cold continues; the run-off is frozen.
Digging deep beneath dead grass some tiny creature scratches for warm, sustenance food.

**

1.18.19
9.16 a.m.
24 degrees

Projectors of the weather say big snow tonight, the first this winter.
Oleographic flurries overnight have distressed the tops of most branches.
Nothing nuanced about the pond this morning; it is evenly coated perfection,
dusted and nestled in, surrounded by weathered reed-grass, bent, broken, and waiting.

**

1.19.19
9.02 a.m.
29 degrees

Panoply of birdsongs – titmouse, chickadee, cardinal, jay, nuthatch, and
outward from the feeders, somewhere in the woods, a red-shouldered hawk is
naming the world with two syllables — keee-aaah; the morning is
deep-rooted shadows, and the bump-bump of a red-belly in the cedar.

**

2.5.19
7.48 a.m.
33 degrees

Picking the boardwalk instead of the pond this morning,
onward through the woods, the ground a mosaic of leaves
necessary for the crosshatch of broken branches to fall silently;
dim in the overcast, the cedar is possessed by bittersweet.

 

 

 

John L. Stanizzi is author of the collections – Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide – Ebb Tide, Four Bits, and Chants. His newest collection, Sundowning, will be out this year with Main Street Rag. John’s poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, American Life in Poetry, The New York Quarterly, Paterson Literary Review, Blue Mountain Review, The Cortland Review, Rattle, Tar River Poetry, Rust & Moth, Connecticut River Review, Hawk & Handsaw, and many others. His work has been translated into Italian and appeared in many journals in Italy. His translator is Angela D’Ambra. John has read and venues all over New England, including the Mystic Arts Café, the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, Hartford Stage, and many others. For many years, John coordinated the Fresh Voices Poetry Competition for Young Poets at Hill-Stead Museum, Farmington, CT. He is also a teaching artist for the national recitation contest, Poetry Out Loud. A former New England Poet of the Year, John teaches literature at Manchester Community College in Manchester, CT and he lives with his wife, Carol, in Coventry.