Wry Duty – a poem by D. R. James

Wry Duty

—somewhat after G. M. Hopkins

Rococo of branches’ scribbled bliss—to
skies of cirrus filtering streaking-linen
grace; to fuzzed nubs of antlers on young bucks
out back; rotunda’d, wind-felled oaks; insects’
notes; hedges shivered and lulled; dawn, water,
and dune; to plants’ husks, tremors, vibrations,
and tongues; stems’ tubes sculpted, impromptu, and
smooth-furred; to whatso is furtive, vital,
and taut-calm; still-strung; benignant-brute—their
lyrics’ candor captures absolution.

 

D. R. James has taught college writing, literature, and peace-making for 36 years and lives in the woods near Saugatuck, Michigan. His latest collections are If god were gentle (Dos Madres) and Surreal Expulsion (Poetry Box), and a new chapbook, Flip Requiem, will release in March 2020 (Dos Madres). https://www.amazon.com/author/drjamesauthorpage

Awakening – a poem by Cynthia Pitman

Awakening

Lie back on the young spring grass.
Let the wind ruffle its blades
against your skin. Feel their green.
The sun shines softly today.
Let it in.
Close your eyes, but only half-way.
See the blur of the azure sky,
puffed with clouds of white and gray.
The birds wild cry on high
as they float on the waves of air.
Today tastes like warm wine.
Drink in its elixir.
Begin anew.

 

Cynthia Pitman, a former high school Advanced Placement English teacher from Orlando, Florida, has had poetry published by Amethyst Review, Right Hand Pointing, Three Line Poetry, Third Wednesday (contest finalist), Vita Brevis, Leaves of Ink, Ekphrastic Review, Postcard Poems and Prose, Adelaide, and others. Her book, The White Room, is forthcoming.

The thin silence – a poem by Naomi Marklew

The thin silence

is the hush between breaths,
the single atoms’ breadth between us,
which has of late gaped to a void
when darkness slipped into the gap.

Blinker my eyes to see only light,
set my stumbling feet
into a cleft in the rock;
anchor me there as you pass by.

Come to me in quietness,
or let me find you at my elbow
where you have been waiting
for the trembling to stop.

 

Naomi Marklew lives in Durham in the North of England, where she moved to study poetry in 2007. She writes poems and blogs at poeticpotential.blogspot.com.

Singing Out for Love’s Return – a reflection by Jake Morrill

Singing Out for Love’s Return

For twelve years, Daisy has been the best dog any person could love. But last week, when she disappeared into the woods? That wasn’t what I was thinking. As I tramped along the wet trail, calling for her, other words came to mind.

We’ve rambled together through these woods for years. Well, I ramble. She bounds. Even now, slowed by arthritis, something out there makes a puppy of her. So, mostly, she remains a black blur through the trees. After a while, I turn back and she meets me at the trailhead. Except last week, when, for the first time, she didn’t. I had to walk back up the trail into the woods, whistling, singing out, “Daisy! Daisy! Here girl!” Like a fool.

Which is how it is sometimes between me and God. Some know God as a thunderstorm: scary, overwhelming. Others, as a porch light: steady, soft, always on. But I like a Celtic image for the Spirit: a wild goose. Untamed, ungoverned by our words, our demands, our categories of mind. A wild goose goes where it will.
For Christians, Lent is a wilderness time. A time when it’s not clear how, or if, Love will win in the end. A time to ponder Love’s elusiveness. Its absence. I’ve known times when I’ve wandered, bereft. Maybe you have, as well. What if Love wasn’t a far porch light, toward which we had to trudge? What if it was a wild goose, a wet dog? Instead of some grim pursuit, in our desire to meet it, we’d be compelled to sing out. To invite, to entice, it.

In the end, Daisy returned, very pleased with herself. But, before? In the woods? When I thought she was gone? All I knew was my part: to sing out her name.

.

Jake Morrill is a minister and therapist in East Tennessee. He holds degrees from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and Harvard Divinity School, and is a recipient of the post-graduate Michener-Copernicus Fellowship from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His 2011 novella, Randy Bradley, was published by Solid Objects (New York). He has upcoming publications of narrative nonfiction pieces in River Poets Journal, Braided Way, Round Table Literary Journal, and Adelaide Literary Magazine.

Ode to Elijah’s Laughter – a poem by Julia Bonadies

Ode to Elijah’s Laughter

Your laughter sounds
like the forgiveness
I have never been able
to offer myself.

Whole, pure, and healing.
A song of redemption—

Raise my right hand
over your heart and I might
leave it there, so I can feel
where your joy is born

and name that place
what we have no language
to contain.

 

By day, Julia Bonadies is an 8th-grade English teacher at Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts Middle, and by night she is a professional writing tutor at Manchester Community College. Her work most recent work can be found in The Chronicle, Halfway Down the Stairs, and NEATE’s The Leaflet.

“Death is the mother of Beauty” – a poem by Janet Krauss

“Death is the mother of Beauty”
Wallace Stevens

To know this truth
is to follow the path
of a gull as he glides
downward in the stillness
of a held breath.

To know this truth
is to linger as a silent
procession of small ripples
of waves makes its way
to the rocks where
it consents to stop
without a stir or sound.

To know this truth
is to watch the late autumn
sun brush the trees’ last leaves
of brown with a copper tint.
They chime in the uplift of the wind.

 

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.

On a Northern Shore – a poem by Brian Palmer

On a Northern Shore

The shining neck creates a quivering song. The loon becomes a sound.
Its throat shimmers above the lake, and now the tune becomes a sound.

The lake takes the blankness, night’s blackness, and all sound is dissolved.
Echoes resound off water, up, and the round moon becomes a sound.

What of those old elegiac notes of dawn’s despair? They disappear.
What of desire? With the time to attune, it too becomes a sound.

Sunset once more and from a silent throat comes something that just is,
releasing the long day; that everlasting boon becomes a sound

washing away the light, the water, darkness, and desire.
Wait, pilgrim on the silent shore, listening soon becomes a sound.

.

Brian Palmer is inspired by the idea that everything lies in beauty along a continuum of emergence and decay and at any given moment has the capacity to inspire. Recently, he’s been published at The Ekphrastic Review, in Small Farmer’s Journal, and The Light Ekphrastic.

Gently does it – a poem by Kate Garrett

Gently does it

It takes time for the days to strengthen. We want the world to be golden and emerald when we open the door to a March morning – we want daffodils resting on clover, gilt eggs, the heat of day. But this light is lemon, the pale neutral of newborn swaddling blankets. This is still a chilly sun, but the breeze promises leaf buds and the answers to your prayers as a reward for your patience. There’s no need for a sacrifice – unless you want to give up everything that wastes your time, to make room for brighter beams when they at last shine across the path. Give thanks to the sun and the shadows while we are perfectly balanced, spinning in space. The story repeating here is undefined; the magic of renewal is one-size-fits-all. In Christ, they say, they are born again. But every spring we are all born again. Each rotation is a chance to greet the slow warming ready to run – lips parted, a mouthful of song.

 

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. www.kategarrettwrites.co.uk

Beads – a reflection by Susie Gharib

Beads

My fascination with beads began when I was five years old. My dad
brought me an abacus to calculate my sums at school, but my
enchantment with numbers went beyond the mathematical. It became
associated with colorful globes with pivotal holes, rows of planets
whose interactions produced pleasant sounds like that of glass, with a
rapidity of motion that slides as in our playgrounds. As I grew older,
the sight of a string of beads in my grandmother’s hand gave those
orbs a mystic dimension, for they slowed their pace between her opal
fingers as she mumbled her daily invocations to God with a hushed
sound to express reverence. I thought my grandmother was making with
devotional beads her own prayer sums. Despite the slowing of their
motion and the subduing of their glass-like sound, they kept their
fascination in a child’s mind.

When I was in Australia hunting for a job, boarding myriads of
Melbourne’s trams, I always met the same old man, a very tall and
stout figure with snow-white hair and a silvery beard, covered all
over with fascinating rows of beads. He had them everywhere, round his
neck, his hands, and on his fingers. I called him the Beads Man. He
must have been a religious priest in some mystic cult. His eyes shone
with intelligence and gleamed as the beads with which he was heavily
adorned, his beaded armor.

I learnt lately that some people believe that beads ward off evil. In
some countries, babies have a blue bead attached to their clothes to
counter the pernicious effect of the wicked eye. I can understand that
the allure of a blue bead could distract the malicious eye, but can
beads defeat Satan with all his might. If they can, it must be the
power of prayers with which beads are endowed.

Susie Gharib is a graduate of the University of Strathclyde with
a Ph.D. on the work of D.H. Lawrence. Her poetry and fiction have
appeared in multiple venues including Down in the Dirt, Impspired
Magazine, Mad Swirl, A New Ulster, Adelaide Literary Magazine, The Ink
Pantry, and the Pennsylvania Literary Journal.

Basins of Sound – a poem by Phoebe Marrall

Basins of Sound

There is no top. There are always further heights to reach.

—Jascha Heifetz, Lithuanian-born violinist

Once in a while,
the drifts of what I hear
arc above muddy sounds,
and their permanence is sensible,
I am glad to sharpen my listening.

Will I, like the young who need
high volume sound piped into their
ears until the throbs beat again,
attune my listening only to my whims?

My ears, catchment basins of sound
and filters against the cacophony
which is merely noise, increase keenly,
and reach beyond the familiar,
and learn anew as Heifetz did.

 

Phoebe Marrall, orphaned at the age of nine, was a survivor of The Depression and of a grueling childhood. When she died in 2017 at the age of eighty-four, her daughters Jane Hendrickson and Camille Komine inherited hundreds of poems she had written. They remained unpublished during her lifetime, but it is the intention of her daughters that a collection be compiled for readers to appreciate. Relief, Have You a Name? is currently a work in progress, being edited by Gayle Jansen Beede.