Wind, Whispering – a poem by KB Ballentine

Wind, Whispering

Flecks of leaves and sun dust the water –
molasses-brown haze of mud and mangroves,
roots curve in cobwebbed barks.

Wood ducks and song birds summon her,
pink flush just beginning to stipple eggs,
nests etched into cups of twig and straw.

Winter’s mourning wanes.
An egret nods once then pierces
the stillness, a rhythm of ripples spinning –

a moccasin lifts its head, s of its body coiling…
shadow shifting in the root-twisted earth.
In the beginning was darkness

and then came the light.


KB Ballentine’s sixth collection, The Light Tears Loose,
appeared this summer with Blue Light Press. Published in Crab Orchard
Review and Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, among others, her work also
appears in anthologies including Carrying the Branch: Poets in Search of
Peace (2017) and In Plein Air (2017). Learn more at

Thrill Seeker – a poem by Emily-Sue Sloane

Thrill Seeker

The one who walks a tightrope across canyons
invites the Specter in
for tea
His balancing pole,
toward ground,
the line
His quick,
the wire
in an improvised
midair ballet
performed joyfully on the crescendo of silent prayer


Emily-Sue Sloane lives in Huntington Station, NY, where beautiful vistas hide beyond crowded roadways. Writing poetry helps her to frame her personal observations within wider, more universal truths. Her work has appeared in Front Porch Review, The Bards Annual 2019 Poetry Anthology, Avocet, The Weekly Avocet, and other anthologies.

All I Ever Had – a short story by Mike Neis

All I Ever Had

Christianity marked us, but it marked you, my dear sister, more than anyone I knew. Mom hated it. She hated anything that threatened the household. I never saw her so angry as when you took me to be baptized. After that, she stopped speaking to you. Dad liked talking about Christianity with his friends, so he sympathized. He drew the line, however, when you started bringing sick people home.

“Go to the sanitarium,” he said. “You’ll find plenty to do there.”

I did not have your gifts. All I ever had was music. I had difficulty with what the priest said, but from the moment I heard the faithful sing, I wanted to join the chorus. Like leaves and branches, music and Christianity came inextricably linked for me. I loved singing the Gloria most. I think the assembly liked it too—they sang it so well at Mass.

I was also skilled with the lyre, which I played at home for Mom. I tried playing in the theater but did not like it. I preferred playing in church. The theatre was cold, and the audience sat back and judged me. In church the assembly was part of me.

The chorus made me their director, even though I had never been much of a leader. One day the deacon approached me after Mass, and put his face in front of mine. “You can’t sing that Jesum Christum Regem song!” he said. “Jesus is not equal with God the Father!”

My heart thumped. “But it’s a good song,” I said. “I can’t just eliminate it.”

The pores in his pink face shouted his anger. “But it’s wrong! How can the earthly son be as great as the eternal father? At least change the words.”

“That’s how the song goes,” I said.

“We’ll see about that,” said the deacon. The floor shook as he walked away.

The church was relentless in its challenges to do more, so I joined you at the sanitarium. The stench of sickness assaulted my nose. I heard crying and moaning. They assigned us to bathe a large woman, but her complaints showed years of unrestrained bitterness. We were too rough. The water was cold. I was stupid and you were the devil. After that we cleaned bed pans which was simpler, even if it smelled awful.

After a few hours I was exhausted, but you remained. You were always stronger than me. I left while you helped a physician reset the broken arm of a screaming boy.

On my way out I stopped at the common room. Patients were resting and staring into space.

“Are you a doctor?” asked an old woman.

“No,” I said.

“Oh,” said the woman, looking down. “My side still hurts. I’ve been here for so long, and I’m so lonely.”

My heart pounded. “I’ll be right back.”

I went home for my lyre. I returned and sat down next to the woman. I sang folk songs and anything I could think of. I was tired and did not sing well, but the patients listened. Some sang along with the popular songs. Then I went home.


Dad said to keep quiet when they decreed the new laws against Christians. Persecutions had already swept the land before. Times would change. The emperor’s reign would end.

Enemies can make things happen, however. When they arrested you, I knew you would not back down.

I came to visit you at the detention center. “I want to see my sister,” I said.

“Will you get her to recant?” they asked.

“I want to see my sister,” I repeated. They let me in.

The buzzing of flies hung in the air. You were happy to see me. The magistrate would be coming that afternoon. You shared a cell with four others whom I recognized from church. They sat on the dirt floor and stared into the air, limp, motionless.

My heart thrashed in my chest. I knew what to do. What I was meant to do. I started singing the Gloria, just like in church. The guard jumped as if stung by a hornet. “Shut up!” he said. “Shut up!”

He hit me and I fell. Then I started singing again.

You were horrified. “Brother! No! This is not for you!” The others in the cell looked up, and then they started singing too. My face hurt, but I pulled myself up and bellowed the words. You could not stop me, any more than I could stop you.

More guards came. “He’s one of them.” They picked me up and threw me into the cell. When I got up, the side of my head was bleeding.

At the trial I would not speak. I let you do the talking. The magistrate did not want to pass the decreed sentence. He tried to find some way to make you relent, but you refused. You had eloquence, understanding, and strength.

All I ever had was music.

The next day we walked, hand in hand, into the square to have our heads cut off. I was glad to be with you. I saw our parents in the crowds. Dad watched in a stony silence but Mom did not. She pointed her finger at you as we passed. Her words pierced the still air like a diving hawk.

“You killed my son!” she said. “You killed my son!”


Mike Neis lives in Orange County with his family, and works as a technical writer for a commercial laboratory. His work has appeared in Stonecrop Review and Anti-Heroin Chic. Besides writing, his outside activities include church music, walking for health, and teaching English as a second language.


Limen – a poem by Marian Christie

Screenshot 2020-02-21 at 12.52.46


Marian Christie’s poetry has appeared in, among others, Allegro, Black Bough, Independent Variable and Pushing out the Boat. When not writing or reading poetry, Marian looks at the stars, puzzles over the laws of physics, listens to birdsong and crochets gifts for her grandchildren. She lives in Kent.
Twitter: @marian_v_o.

Walking – a poem by Cynthia Pitman


I go walking barefoot every night.
I want to feel the path my life follows:
the touch of dew of the new green grass,
the crisscrossing pine needles, thin and sharp,
the brittle brush of bushes, piercing
the pads of my feet.
All of it, all of it, I want to feel
so I might know where I go
as the heart of the earth
beats strong beneath my feet,
guiding each step, leading the way
to the End of Days.


Cynthia Pitman has had poetry or prose published in Amethyst Review, Saw Palm: Florida Literature and Arts (Pushcart Prize nominee, 2019), Third Wednesday (contest finalist), Vita Brevis, Leaves of Ink, Ekphrastic Review, Adelaide Literary Review, Right Hand Pointing, Dual Coast Magazine, and others. Her poetry collection, The White Room, is forthcoming.

Waystation – a poem by Kyle Laws

—after a photograph by Barbara Jabaily

Sun burns a cross into the frozen lake
century old bristlecone pines circling round
as audience to those who left prints in the snow.

The sun did this, not as it rose but as it set into
Wet Mountains in the Sangre de Cristo Range.
I look at it over and over because it feels a rise

as if there is a tomb tucked into the limestone cliffs
and the irregular circle at the base is where people
stopped to pray at a waystation to the other side.

This is before the melt, when what was underneath
was solid, when all you’d known since birth held
its stance, when even if you hurt, you were loved.

Still, this is where you ventured, the base of mountains
where everything becomes symbolic, even the melting
of a winter lake outside the season of Lent.


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 eight nominations for a Pushcart Prize, her poems and essays have appeared in magazines and anthologies in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Germany. She is the editor and publisher of Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press.


Ocean Whispers – a poem by Mark  Tulin

Ocean Whispers

I believe in the ocean.
I worship quietly
in her liquid comfort without fanfare,
in her smaller bodies of saltwater,
the inlets and the bays,
along her shoreline where seaweed
skids into a foamy paste,
exchanging a few sacred whispers,
a heavenly sun to illuminate her presence,
an impromptu hymn from the saints
to commemorate her lasting grace
and a succession of minor miracles
that pass slowly from one wave to the next.


Mark Tulin is a former therapist who lives in California. Mark has two poetry books available at Amazon, Magical Yogis and Awkward Grace. The Asthmatic Kid and Other Stories will be published in August of 2020. He’s been featured in Poetry Village, Oddball Magazine, Poppy Road Review, among others.  Follow Mark at Crow On The Wire.

For the Sorrowing – a poem by Melissa Chappell

For the Sorrowing

There is a tree down by the river.

By a stubborn piece of bark
a solitary branch clings to its trunk.

We are so frail,
yet by a stubborn piece of hope
we cling to a life dug deep.
At a given moment
we may be seized
by a wind so strong,
or ice so cold,
or heat so unbearable
that it may be too much.

Too much.

But let it not be so much
for the wayward mercy,
which comes
on a wing of the breeze,
that bears us up
in our sorrows,

and returns us
to our joy.


Melissa Chappell is a writer native to South Carolina where she lives on land that has been in her family for over 130 years. Besides writing, she also loves music, and plays guitar, piano, and lute. Music and the land are her great inspirations. She lives with her family and two miniature schnauzers.

Who Stopped? – a poem by Marjorie Moorhead

Who Stopped?

Forgetting begins
when we leave
a world of beauty, belonging,
tactile closeness to clouds,
the stars, the leaves;
as if there’s no separation;
no distance to travel.
Reaching, reaching
yearning to touch; reunite.

We turn from the world that is a net;
a weave that holds us all;
all things.
Remember when you’d lie spread-eagle
looking at the sky,
and it was there for you;
rushed to meet you,
close as an embrace.
Who stopped hugging first?


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.

Southwark Cathedral – a poem by Edward Alport

Southwark Cathedral

If the gnarled veined fingers
Of an old grey man,
Stretched up a hundred feet
Above my head,
With fingers interlaced,
And nails silver painted,
And wrists all decorated,
By the dead

Then I could believe
I was in the cathedral,
And it may say something
For the soul of stone,
That the cool crisp vaulting
Still conveys some benediction
From the trees outside
To the carved oak throne.

And the snarling gryphons
In their bright new livery
Watch the snarling traffic
In its jostling lanes,
But the cathedral echoes
To the peace of plenty.
And the organ echoes
With the growl of trains.


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.