Epiphany – a poem by Philip C. Kolin

Screenshot 2019-12-10 at 12.28.19

 

Philip C. Kolin, Distinguished Prof. of English (Emeritus) at the Univ. of Southern Mississippi has published nine collections of poems, the most recent being Emmett Till in Different States: Poems (Third World Press, 2015) and Reaching Forever: Poems (Cascade Books, Poiema Series, 2019). He has published more than 350 poems in such journals as Spiritus, Christian Century, America, The Cresset, Theology Today, US Catholic, Sojourners, St. Austin Review, Christianity and Literature, Michigan Quarterly Review, Louisiana Literature, Presence: A Journal of Catholic Poetry,
Emmanuel, and Vocations and Prayer.

Re- (A, The, A) – a poem by Andrew Hutto

Re- (A, The, A)

Re-see the high mast bobbing
us, those mythic explorers.
Okay, not acknowledged in foundational
schematics the ways my brother and I
asked our mother to glue toilet paper rolls together
telescoping imaginations of ibises flying over
green-waves. Some might say it is so, but they
have the wrong idea. Recapture lost treasure.
Daresay: The holy mysteries are still there tomorrow?
Walk on water, hold your breath.

 

 

Andrew Hutto is originally from north Georgia but currently writes out of Kentucky. He recently graduated from the University of Louisville with a degree in English. His sonnet was selected for the Hands and Feet Poetry Derby at Churchill Downs. In the summer of 2019, he served as a preliminary judge for the Louisville Literary Arts Writer’s Block fiction prize. His poetry appears in Thrush and is forthcoming in Barnhouse and Eunoia Review. For more information visit www.andrewhutto.org

I want to believe – a poem by Claire Sexton

I want to believe

‘You’ll find a nice boyfriend soon’ she said.
My aunt, with her humongous strength. Her raucous,
cigaretted laughter and Celtic black hair.

In her matchstick box kitchen, with her kind heart, she
finagled me into her world of faith.
‘He believes in you even if you don’t believe in him’, she said.

And I wanted to believe; like Fox Mulder and his poster.

 

Claire Sexton is a fifty year old librarian living in Berkshire, but originally from Wales. She lived in London for twenty years and is currently detoxing from this experience. She has been published in Ink, Sweat and Tears, Foxglove Journal, Amethyst Review, and Light: a Journal of Photography and Poetry.

 

Beneath our Feet and In Our Hands – a poem by Jill Crainshaw

Beneath our Feet and In Our Hands

Jack Frost is curled up napping
In my bones.
Backyard grass crunches
Beneath my feet.
Summer sunflowers hibernate
In my heart.

Could it be—
When I hold this dried out husk
Springtime rests on wintertide fingertips?
Death—birth—
Tender-strong sugar snap seedlings
Unfurl from soil-stained shells,
And burst through splashing earth
Gasping for the sun—

Storied dirt collects under ungloved fingernails,
We plant seeds of sensuous new seasons.
Infinitesimal harbingers of arugula and radishes;
Sealed wombs of history repeating itself:
The farmhand mama is a sinewy ghost now, her
belly a tomb of memories; wasting away
workers harvesting fecund fields
on empty stomachs to satisfy
other people’s ravenous appetites.

Dirt weeps sometimes too.
We dare not forget
What remembering sows
In our bodies.
We are braver than we want to be
In our bones.
When we take our shoes off,
We absorb holy ground nutrients
Beneath our feet.
And we water with tears
This garden we hold
In our hands.

 

Jill Crainshaw is a professor at Wake Forest University School of Divinity in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Her poetry explores connections between the sacred and everyday life.

Considering the Lilies – a poem by Diane Elayne Dees

Considering the Lilies

In my yard, rain lilies bloom
in profusion. The same water
that startled them into their subtle
pink glory also bends their stems
flat to the ground, where they lie
scattered like throw pillows tossed
by careless fairies. The next day,
the sun revives them, but their numbers
are fewer. I stand among them—
at once grateful and disappointed—
and wonder why I still resist the lesson:
Nature is perfect,
nature is imperfect.
And that, too, is an illusion.

.
Diane Elayne Dees’s chapbook, I Can’t Recall Exactly When I Died, is forthcoming from Clare Songbirds Publishing House; also forthcoming, from Kelsay Books, is her chapbook, Coronary Truth. Diane also publishes Women Who Serve, a blog that delivers news and commentary on women’s professional tennis throughout the world.(http://womenwhoserve.blogspot.com)

Explorers – a poem by JBMulligan

Explorers

“Al Biruni climbed the highest mountain in Persia and noticed the deep blue, almost black, skies at high altitudes.”
Peter Pesic, “Yes it’s Blue: But Why?”)

 

It’s always been a scrabble toward the heights
not easily reached (but never past the doubts
that make the climb a need), scattering stones
at those behind you, like fossilized remains
of dung to mark a narrow, crooked path
on which to carry questions toward the truth,
up from the spill of light to darker blue,
where the edge of heaven meets the edge of you.

 

 

JBMulligan has had more than 1000 poems and stories in various magazines over the past 40 years, and has had two chapbooks published: The Stations of the Cross and THIS WAY TO THE EGRESS, as well as 2 e-books, The City of Now and Then, and A Book of Psalms (a loose translation). He has appeared in several anthologies, among them: Inside/Out: A Gathering Of Poets; The Irreal Reader; and multiple volumes of Reflections on a Blue Planet.

Latch: Poems by Jen Stewart Fueston – review by Sarah Law

Latch: Poems by Jen Stewart Fueston
www.riverglassbooks.com

I’m catching up with some great publications that have been sent to me over the course of this year, and, particularly in this Christmas season of celebrating a birth in all its fleshly and spiritual implications, I couldn’t do better than spend time with Jen Stewart Fueston’s chapbook Latch.

This is a powerful short collection with an overarching theme of birth and motherhood; a perennial experience presented afresh with rich lyricism. Motherhood in these poems is something longed for and experienced on a physical, spiritual, and emotional level, from the contingencies and difficulties of conception, through the self-emptying of birth, and the loosening of the self’s boundaries as a baby is breastfed (both the title term ‘latch’ and ‘milk’ are explored as potent words that function as both noun and verb). The poems are also alive to the metaphorical resonances of language; they are lucidly and sometimes playfully written, and because of this, touch on many other aspects of human experience too.

Even when not primarily evoking maternity, the poems are all personal and – to a greater or lesser degree – embodied: (‘The flesh permits departure /not escape. The body quieted, not shed,’ as noted in ‘A Swim’). But this embodied lyrical voice is coupled with an intense engagement with the world around us, in both nature and also art and culture. Nature features throughout of course – we, our embodied selves, are inextricably part of it – but also in moments of acute natural beauty, such as the jay, spied by mother and son in ‘Common Loon’:

His black eyes interrogate through glass,

his tufted twitching, speckled body
bobbing white and blue,
a blue like loss that fades into more blue.

In fact, there is a lot of blue in these poems, the colour itself becoming a particular locus of nature and spirituality, frequently merged together: the rich mineral blue of the Virgin Mary’s robes is the subject of ‘Ultramarine’, and, later, her ‘deep blue robes’ comfort the dead in ‘Pablo C. Tiersten, 38, Kansas City’. The ‘wide blue air’ is actively cradled by a vacated nest in ‘The Empty Nest’; the blue hues of water feature in ‘A Swim’ and the metaphor of a ‘blue-eyed mole’ for a wriggling son in ‘Zookeeper’.

As well as colour, there is an insightful, but still personal, affinity with art. I loved the imaginative engagement with famous paintings, such as the female model in ‘The Interior of Oude Kerk, Amsterdam’ whose weary head is ‘spinning with rough chores’, and the reimagined Mary of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s ‘Annunciation’ in ‘The Virgin, Home from the Mall’ : ‘Her lips are rose, precisely lined./ She stopped off at Sephora for this shade, thornberry.’ Equally striking is the insight in ‘Taking the Baby to See Rothko at the National Gallery,’ where the non-figurative, visceral genius of Rothko’s art is unexpectedly appreciated by an infant who is ‘himself another masterpiece of bright, unsayable things.’

Stewart Fueston’s skills include a vivid, often quite delightful use of imagery – I was particularly struck by the descriptions of her baby son shapeshifting through a whole menagerie of animal metaphors in the already-mentioned ‘Zookeeper’: as well as a blue-eyed mole he is ‘a dangling possum’, ‘a four-limbed snake’, ‘the red hawk and I his next meal’ and ‘a bear cub against a drowsy mother’ (and more). I’d like to contrast this poem with, ‘Qualifications’, another long-line, list-based piece which showcases Stewart Fueston’s equally intense powers of perception of things in themselves. The poem should be read in its entirety for full effect, but the questions it poses make life vivid and precious:

Have you curved your hot palm around the soft crown
of a newborn’s head? Have you walked in a pine forest

after rain? Have you stood in the middle of soft lit bridge watching
the sun slip into the mirror of the river? …

Taken together, these skills of imagination and observation enhance a beautifully crafted poetic voice, making it both authentically centred and wide-ranging.

Finally, there is also a poignant acknowledgment, in some of these poems, of lives not conceived, and of things broken. As Stewart Fueston reminds us in ‘What Bears the Light’, it is brokenness (for example of glass, or mica-flecked stone) that reflects light best, and nature shows how being broken open leads to new growth and creativity. Witnessing to such is also intrinsic to the poetry here, as is our whole human experience of gathering up and letting go, intrinsic to each of us from the very beginning as evinced in bath-time play:

Learning again from him how to want
to gather everything,
and the play the water makes
as we let it go.
(‘Bath Time’)

Congratulations to Jen Stewart Fueston on this lovely chapbook. I hope this review inspires some more readers to seek it out.

Sarah Law

Icarus Imposter – a poem by Mark Tulin

Icarus Imposter

A jumping-off point
not very far from the sun
upon a vulnerable cliff,
the hang glider navigates
the wind and the clouds
and the unstable waves below.

It is the hang glider’s lament
to be the deity he is not.
Not a bird or an airplane.
Certainly not an angel
coming down to rescue us
or a saint to perform miracles
that raises us higher.

More likely, an Icarus imposter,
an intolerant risk-taker,
a power broker of higher altitudes
whose only saving grace
is to come down without a loud crash
or to cheat himself out of death.

 

Mark Tulin is a former family therapist from California.  He has a poetry chapbook, Magical Yogis, and two upcoming books, The Asthmatic Kid, and a poetry collection, Awkward Grace. He has appeared in Fiction on the Web, Free Verse Revolution, Leaves of Ink, among anthologies and podcasts. His website is Crow On The Wire.

Chrysler Aspen – a poem by Cameron Morse

Chrysler Aspen

Aspen leaves clap above Golfview,
light hand turning over dark hand, dark
over light, so swiftly a sort
of flicker ensues among the heart-shaped
and trembling leaves

whose heartfelt applause is hushed
with each passing pickup truck,
each black sedan, along Golfview Drive
where work is always being done.

Theo and I bark at the dog in the window
screen that is barking at us.
Cobwebbed yews blister with the red
berries I’m careful not to let Theo move to his mouth.

A Chrysler Aspen stirs an eddy of tiny leaves.

 

Cameron Morse lives with his wife Lili and son Theodore in Blue Springs, Missouri. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His latest is Terminal Destination (Spartan Press, 2019).

 

Buddha Smile, Siam – a poem by Victoria Crawford

Buddha Smile, Siam

A joy of jasmine day
with white petal scent in
Buddha’s topknot above his
bronze face
on a Chiang Mai wall
courtesy of Roone,
Siam housekeeper, lady of the flowers,
Buddha smile ineffable, slight.

That smile is metal molded
minimal upturn,
junk shop find in Kobe
near railroad train clatter,
the long earlobes,
inscrutable smile proclaim
his enlightenment,
the sharp crescent brows
his Asian home.

No name for that smile
only questions,
in a room moon-shadowed.
Does a tree falling in a forest
make a sound if no one
is there?

Hung on foreign walls,
often dusty, often ignored,
he seems at home
in Thailand, maybe the happiest
he’s ever been. It’s probably
Roone’s flowers; jasmine aroma
a smile.
Still, I look at that smile,
and always,
it is a koan to me.

 

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.