Dear Dreamer – a poem by John Rock

Dear Dreamer

Deer singing the world into being
Deer rolling the rocks from the cave door
Antlers emerging from the chinks of the flaring woodstove
A beloved’s tracks
In my heart gathered
On the moon tonight
Eating night’s highest flowers and blue pools
Milkweed and moon
Shedding the snows of life
Quilts of seed
Coats of armor decomposed
Deer people of the shedding sun
People of the moon deer
Deer of my heart of husk
Dancing among the fallen shrouds
Deer forest of torches
Dancing into being the foxfire ground
Deer tipping its head in the foxfire forest of antlers found
Eclipsing all human tools
Deer giving the shrouds back
To the waiting moon


John Rock grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan in the United States and spent many years making and showing experimental films in San Francisco and on the shores of Lake Superior working on poetry.  He is the author of the poetry collections DANCING THE SOLITUDES and THE DIARY OF SNOW ARISEN and the novels REPORT THE EARTH, THE NIGHT FLYING COLLECTIVE, TO THE WELL OF EARTH and ORDERS OF THE MOON.  Books and audio recordings at

Renewal – a poem by Ann Weil


The sheets at Frances Street
Are as soft as a lover’s caress.

I’ll just stay here today, I think.
A bed-in, protest of sorts
Against venturing out
Once again into the
Unknown of the day.

But the sheets have a serious rival.
Through the curtain gap
I glimpse golden light,
The kind that beckons
“Come, see! Look at
Paradise found!”

I obey, and sleepwalk
To the kitchen kettle.
Soon, with my inky black tea
I step out the back door.
Bask in the sun’s rays,
Dip toes in the pool.
Marvel at the jungleness of our yard.
Stop to catch the scent of gardenia
But it’s only an imposter.

Breathe in.
Breathe out.
Sigh. Sigh again.
Elusive peace lives here, I think.
How lucky am I
To have found its nest?


Ann Weil is a former teacher and professor. Her third act includes writing poetry that explores and honors the continuum of human emotion.


No Good Meditation – a reflection by John Backman

No Good Meditation


6:10 a.m. Semi-lotus, hands in lap, eyes front. Focus soft. Chin tucked. Go.

Sitting. I am sitting.

That’s what Zen masters tell us to focus on. Wait, no, there’s no I involved. Just sitting.


I shall have shredded wheat this morning. Sumatran coffee. Drifting. Hurt’s still there. Wonder if I can ever forgive them. Or myself, when I look in the mirror. I look in mirrors and see a woman’s eyes. Eyes, window to the soul. Cliché. Come back.

I am sitting.


On my forearm: stink bug? They’re in the house. Sit, goddamn it.

Sitting. Sitting.

Sitting zazen. Zazen eases depression, said that magazine. Send them one of my essays? No, not shredded wheat: the new Kashi cereal I picked up. Maybe a combination. With coffee.


Come back. Glance at the clock. Five more minutes. Must hurry. Sitting. Sittingsittingsitting.

No, not like that.


Bow. Up. Creak to my feet. Bow thrice: to Buddha, to Jesus, to Thérèse of Lisieux—my BFF, Catholic saint extraordinaire, who said, “I want to spend my heaven doing good on earth.”

Wonder what she meant by good. Maybe she looks down from heaven and sees what I’ve done here and thinks bad. Yeah, but this is zazen: no good, no bad, just is. At least I’ve learned that much.

I think.


#  #  #


A writer, speaker, and spiritual director, John Backman writes about ancient spirituality and the unexpected ways it can affect postmodern life. This includes a book (Why Can’t We Talk? Christian Wisdom on Dialogue as a Habit of the Heart) and personal essays in such places as Tiferet Journal, Amethyst Review, and Belmont Story Review.

Her Own Kind of Cloister – flash fiction by Marsha Timblin

Her Own Kind of Cloister

In the empty twilight of an overcast Monday afternoon, Elizabeth took the Lord’s name in vain. Loudly. Aggressively. The whole sanctuary reverberated with her “God fucking damn it!” It bounced off every pane of stained glass, every sacred icon, every wood-carved cross. It seeped into the vestments of the altar. It greased the candles.

A goose-egg pushed up under the skin where she had cracked her forehead on the pew while polishing the linoleum beneath. She saw stars, which, until that moment, she’d thought only happened in cartoons. Her breath caught in her chest; she felt dizzy. She clutched her dust rag in one hand and the broom handle in the other as she eased onto the seat behind her. Good God she needed a drink. She hadn’t thought she would so soon. Not here. The dispatcher at the cleaning service where she worked had put Elizabeth on the church circuit permanently. Quiet, reliable, respectful, responsible. Trusted not to nick valuables from the vestry. All reasons why she sat there now, with a splitting headache, blaspheming and craving alcohol.

At first, she had thought she might like the new assignment. The noble reverence of tidying-up the house of God. Or rather, as it turned out, seven houses of God. Scheduled by management for 31 hours per week to avoid having to pay her benefits, she’d have to bust her ass to get them all in appropriate condition by Sunday morning. Every week. She hadn’t thought it’d be bad. She wasn’t afraid of hard work. In fact, hard work in a solitary, spiritual environment seemed like just the kind of thing she needed to get her life back on track. Her own kind of cloister.

But she hadn’t really known what she was getting into. The buildings were old. Dust settled on every surface at a pace that matched the silent snowfall outside. Candlewax drips pocked the burgundy carpets. Smears of peanut butter tainted 80% of the surfaces in the nursery. At least one Styrofoam cup, half filled with pungent coffee and ringed in old lady lipstick, lay tipped over in every. Single. Trash can. And the stench in the bathrooms curdled the air to the point she could not even imagine how God fearing people could make such a stink.

When she’d spoken to her sponsor about how the position was not at all like she thought it would be, he reframed the situation for her and gave her a different perspective: She had steady work. Work that was safe, fairly paid, and respectable. She had the health and well-being to complete the tasks asked of her. She was quite far ahead of so many that he sponsored. She just needed to get used to this new life. This better life.

The stars faded, dawn breaking. Elizabeth fingered the new topography of her scalp and took a deep breath. She stood and found her balance steady. Padding noiselessly down the carpeted aisle, she made her way toward the back stairs that connected the altar to the kitchen below. Maybe she could find an ice pack in the freezer to take the swelling down. But she didn’t make it to the steps. The unassuming closet tucked in a tiny room just off the pulpit distracted her. She could feel the pull of the elements through the knotty pine door. The ungreased hinges and hitch in the latch announced her trespass.

She wasn’t much for theology. She didn’t know if Christ was really here; if it was somehow really blood in that clear glass vessel. If it was, it could just as easily be her own. Poured out and sitting, locked away, on a dusty shelf. Waiting to be consumed. Warm and sweet, the wine slid down her throat. As she finished the bottle, the ache in her head migrated to some chamber deep down inside that she could never quite tidy up.



Marsha Timblin received and MFA from Chatham University and her work has appeared in The Occulum, Cold Creek Review and Boston Accent Lit. She writes fiction from her home near Pittsburgh, PA, where she lives with her husband, son and Shiba inu puppy. Follow her on Twitter @MarshaLena.

Pan-Cake Day – a poem by Edward Alport

Pan-Cake Day

Winter’s time is running out.
We’ve got it in a corner, trapped and on the ropes.

Its fangs are out, now,
Weaving and striking for the throat,
Claws out
And pale with desperation.

That final slice of predatory cold
Glints in its eyes,
On the windows,
In the fires,
While winter waits on its whiplash spine
Intent on the creeping ring of flame
We lit to kill it.

It knows that everyone will eat its blackened skin
Bleached on the bone and crispy with lemon

And now its time is running out
With everybody’s finger on the trigger.
The cold is cowering and everyone is laughing
As we shuffle forward in our huddled lines
Holding hands while winter spits
In our eyes, looking for the undone button, the naked flesh.

But it has no hair
And it is running out of time
And it knows it.



Edward Alport is a proud Essex Boy and retired teacher. He occupies his time as a gardener and writer for children. He has had poetry published in a variety of webzines and magazines. When he has nothing better to do he posts snarky micropoems on Twitter as @cross_mouse.

Hibernal – a poem by Todd Copeland


Late February, the darkness
ecumenical beneath the night’s new moon.
Another norther filigrees

fallen leaves and windowpanes
with a delicate, light frost.
Why draw a line between

the living and the dead
on such a night, when the darkness
within everything everywhere

acknowledges itself?
One stares through a window
at the allusive, bituminous view,

a ghost of breath upon the glass,
once again the unborn child who,
after six months in the womb,

opens his eyes for the first time
and finds the comprehensive darkness
the mother holds within herself.


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.

Creative Matrix – a poem by Yuan Changming

Creative Matrix

Screenshot 2020-01-24 at 17.29.03


Yuan Changming published monographs on translation before leaving his native country. Currently, Yuan edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Qing Yuan in Vancouver. Credits include ten Pushcart nominations, eight chapbooks & publications in Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17) & BestNewPoemsOnline, among 1,609 others across 43 countries.

Saffron Monk – a poem by Heather M. Browne

Saffron Monk

The saffron monk sits still
Upon the bench of wood
Feet tucked
Wrapped round and round in streams of cloth
Rippling rivers rise

He is a mountain
A hive of bees
Honey held sacred within his soul
His chant a buzzing calm
His offering

He is a giant cinnamon bear
Warm and rough giving way
To wait
It is not yet his time
Patient, he will not disturb the fish
And reverent, hums


Heather M. Browne is a faith-based psychotherapist, recently nominated for the Pushcart Award, published in the Orange Room, Boston Literary Review, Page & Spine, Eunoia Review, Poetry Quarterly, Red Fez, Electric Windmill, Apeiron, The Lake, Knot, mad swirl.  Red Dashboard published two collections: Directions of Folding and Altar Call of Trumpets.

Whisper – a poem by Marjorie Moorhead


When sky is baby blue
and the clouds mirror newly fallen snow,

white fluffs clean and crisp,
tucked in around all edges, a comforter

matching robin’s egg, and the trees,
who whisper to each other

constantly, trunks gently swaying,
branches bare, but not brittle,

what are they saying?


Marjorie Moorhead writes from a New England river valley, surrounded by mountains and four season change. She is an AIDS survivor, and mother, who tries for a daily reverent walk. Finding a voice in poetry has brought Marjorie much joy, and a needed sense of community. Her work is found online at many journal sites, in several anthologies, and two chapbooks.

Red letter days – a poem by Kate Garrett

Red letter days

Before I could hold my head upright, I’d been
going to church every week – nestled in a corner
of the Sunday school room, snug in a baby seat,
a beatific smile radiating peace, at Christmastime
reminding the older children of our infant Lord.

Later I grew curious, asked questions of God
he seemed unable to answer. I wanted to know
why the teacher at the new church said I’d
go to hell if I didn’t say the words just right
to ensure I’d be saved. My grandmother tutted

and said boy, you only need the red letters. I would
read them, embroidered fine among the black
and white, poetry in scarlet ink – old words in
an old order. Father forgive them; for they know not
what they do. The words as Jesus spoke them, a

gift to us: as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
And over time I discovered new expressions of love,
that later bought me disapproval, even as I breathed
his fine merlot words and felt a honey sting – devotion
not guilt, staying drunk on joy for as long as I could.


Quotes in italics from the King James Version – Luke 23:34; John 13:34


Kate Garrett is a writer, witch, mama, and drummer who sometimes haunts 450 year old houses (as a heritage volunteer). Her next book, A View from the Phantasmagoria, is due out in October 2020 from Rhythm & Bones Press. She lives halfway up a hillside in Sheffield, England.