FROM THE SUMMIT – a poem by Tony Lucas

FROM THE SUMMIT

You could take it in your arms –
so intimate, this silence
settling through the evening air.
It rises from enshrouded valleys
over long ridges shrouded thick
with trees, fills every space between
the mountains, turning the light
to haze, sound to almost nothing.

It is as if the circling hills
linked arms around you, from
coastline through the inland ranges
back toward the bay. Their colours
softening with the last pink sun
before they all subside beneath
the billowed covering of dark.

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Tony Lucas has lived and worked in inner South London for many years.   Hs work has been published both in the UK and America, with the most recent collection of his work, Unsettled Accounts, issued by Stairwell Books in 2015.

That Something – a poem by Darrell Petska

That Something

Something inobvious hovers
about the memories of dearly departed
grandpas and grandmas, uncles and aunts,
moms, dads, brothers and sisters,
something scarcely known
suffusing all that loss like sunlight’s
slant through stained glass windows.

Into that something pain transforms.
From that something solace flows:
kinship like a river winding
that joins the family to one.

High, deep and wide surrounding,
yet elusive to the touch,
a wordless poem, a soundless song,
promise without any object.

Something we wear, eat, make love to.
Something like wind fresh at our backs.
Something like you behind this veil
whose willing breath sustains me.

Not quite mystery. Not quite joy.
Almost a home where all abide.
A dream fulfilling. Clearing skies.
Something we die for to attain.

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Darrell Petska‘s poetry has appeared in journals such as Muddy River Poetry Review, Chiron Review, Star 82 Review, Clementine Unbound, and After the Pause (see conservancies.wordpress.com). He’s tallied thirty years on the academic staff at University of Wisconsin-Madison, 40 years as a father (seven years a grandfather), and longer still as a husband.

What If in Some Alternate Universe I Had My Heart & Lungs on Display? – a poem by Ariana Den Bleyker

What If in Some Alternate Universe I Had My Heart & Lungs on Display?

The girl I am descends
heart-first under the last October sky.
I’m a deity of the rivers raging.
God, I’m open.
I’m a salmon swimming back upstream,
cut & bruised, leaping against waterfalls—
strong—my only dream to return
to the source, & in that thought, my iron age turns
golden & suddenly I’m a hero,
my nature seeking the nature it once had,
though wholly lost yet remembering the whole.
I, silver salmon, sparkling fierce
under the blue belly of sun,
speeding through the mountains
immovable in that same blue.

I can feel the iron & thundering,
half-moons rising in my palms seeking
to catch an echo or a rainbow.
It’s true other years bore other fruits,
there to remain forever sweet—
how my first bite of fruit always tastes best.
Year after year I’m unable to divine the good
because rain & tear are not the same.
It’s true every tale must end,
somehow remain behind,
the same dreaming never enough.
& sometimes my fear calls loud
as a sleepless owl, regenerating life
as a bird crooked at the wings.

I must dive as an anchor into the past,
though arm’s length from it,
for fear of being dragged back home.
Here, I only see what isn’t & what isn’t me.
(I’m half-hell & half-morning.)
How I fear the world for dividing & dividing
into things without ever being born.
I want to believe it’s natural to give, to generate,
to take something and make it new.
I wish I could break
& leave nothing but a kind mess.
& you’d be with me in that world.
& I’d let you touch me.

.

Ariana D. Den Bleyker is a Pittsburgh native currently residing in New York’s Hudson Valley where she is a wife and mother of two. When she’s not writing, she’s spending time with her family and every once in a while sleeps. She is the author of three collections, twenty chapbooks, three crime novellas, a novelette, and an experimental memoir. She hopes you’ll fall in love with her words.

Prayer to the High Priestess of Pain – a poem by Jennifer Brough

Prayer to the High Priestess of Pain

for Frida Kahlo

o, holy mestiza
……………mirror
……………mirage!

how many are drawn
to the bedded isle
to see her lace-lined face?

pilgrims’ sighs infuse the house
reverence is a honied song
around this bright retablo

tin hands beckon from the altar
once the offering is laid
now kneel amid the marigolds

and light a yellow candle
cradled in her flaming gaze,
speak the thing you seek

i wish to make peace with pain
drape it in bright colours
and dance with its crooked form

around the portrait roots climb
caress like a lover’s rough fingers
from the cracked earth

a mystic answer echoes

some are born under a star
but others explode from earthquakes
bleeding glitter

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Jennifer Brough is usually writing, editing or reading. Outside of these wordy pursuits, she is learning Spanish and dreaming of Mexico. Her work has most recently appeared in Re-side, RIC Journal, Burning House Press and is forthcoming in Barren Magazine. She can be found @Jennifer_Brough and on jenniferlbrough.com.

San Juan Diego and the Virgin of Guadalupe – a poem by Lisa Zimmerman

San Juan Diego and the Virgin of Guadalupe

The Franciscan priest who baptized Juan Diego
could not pronounce his Nahuatl name
but the peasant didn’t mind.
His wife’s sweet nickname for him
evaporated from his heart the day she died
and many neighbors had already accepted
Spanish names to go with the cupped handful
of holy water ladled on their foreheads.

Think of Juan Diego’s astonishment on his way
to Tenochtitlan that winter morning
hearing his real name Cuauhtlatoatzin!
called into the brittle air—how her radiance
dropped him to his knees in the cold grass,
his eyes briefly blinded by the shimmer
of stars in her long black hair, how
he understood every word she said.

Of course the local bishop didn’t believe
the old man’s testimony until fresh Castilian roses
tumbled from Juan Diego’s open cape and the Virgin’s
beautiful face appeared on the cloth like an admonishment.
Of course the shrine was built and the cape preserved.
Native people walked miles to the sacred spot.
They did not doubt each other or the Virgin
who bore such hope for their lives and told them so
in their own tongue.

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Lisa Zimmerman’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Florida Review, Poet Lore, Chiron Review, Trampset, Amethyst Review, SWWIM Every Day and other journals. Her first book won the Violet Reed Haas Poetry Award. Other collections include The Light at the Edge of Everything (Anhinga Press) and The Hours I Keep (Main Street Rag).

Mother Teresa of Calcutta – a poem by Philip C. Kolin

Mother Teresa of Calcutta

You were a mustard seed growing great
for continents to rest on your arms.

You never abandoned anyone
but gathered flocks of outcasts

who has less dignity than mud-
matted stones or flies on

decaying bodies. You awoke the dying
to give them the last rites of comfort.

A beggar once asked you to put air
back into his lungs. Your smile

gave him the breath to bow before
God alive in you.

Your eyes glowed like cathedrals
solemnizing untouchables,

seeing their sores and stringy
rags as scarlet vestments.

No one ever left your hospice
without a spiritual passport.

Your touch sent them higher
than the pyre smoke of Calcutta

that could never cloud the radiant faces
you saw in heaven’s windows there.

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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.

Small Graces – a poem by Melissa A. Chappell

Small Graces

I sit down with my lute
of Western Red Cedar and Yew,
I mother it gently into my lap,
its curved back, like the curve of the earth.
My fingers search the courses,
fumbling, breaking the melody
into fractious shards,
the undeniable broken strains
of the world’s descant ruptured.
Yet dreams of wholeness
blossom in the spaces between,
dreams of daffodils and blue bonnets,
small graces, defying their seasons,
blooming along this stony road
that is ours together.

.

Melissa A. Chappell is a native of South Carolina, USA. Besides wrting, she enjoys the outdoors and plays several musical instruments, including the lute. She has a BA in the Theory of Music and a Master of Divinity. She shares her life with her family and two miniature schnauzers. Her favorite authors are Adrienne Rich and Wendell Berry.

The Broken Tulip – a poem by Deborah Leipziger

The Broken Tulip

For decades, no one knew
what caused the flaring
the feathering of tulips,
Parrot like,
Red on orange
Peppermint red on white
Black on tangerine —
The eruption into flame
for broken tulips like
Absalom and Mabel

What causes tulips to “break”?
The mosaic virus
carried by aphids
infects bulbs
and the flower breaks
its hold on one color,
the primary color suppressed
and lighter colors bleeding through

the beauty of a curse

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Deborah Leipziger is an author, poet, and professor. Her chapbook, Flower Map, was published by Finishing Line Press (2013).  In 2014, her poem “Written on Skin” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.  Born in Brazil, Ms. Leipziger is the author of several books on human rights and sustainability. She advises companies around the world on social and environmental issues. Her poems have been published in Salamander, Voices Israel, POESY, Wilderness House Review, Ibbetson Street, and the Muddy River Poetry Review. She is the founding co-editor of Soul-Lit.  http://flowermap.net/

Late Night Call with God – a poem by Phil Goldstein

Late Night Call with God

God’s voice echoed through
every house I’ve ever lived in
and every house I’ve ever lied in
whispering I don’t know how you have done it
withstanding the waves and the woods
the knife and the night
the stillness of the void

If You don’t know then who does
I breathed into the stars
Certainly not me
I can’t even understand how I write these words sometimes
let alone live

God replied gently
Writing and living is plenty

.

Phil Goldstein is a journalist and writer who has been living in the Washington, D.C, area for more than a decade. His poetry has been published in the journals In Parentheses and The Ideate Review, and his work is also forthcoming in Awakened Voices. By day, he works as a senior editor for Manifest, a content marketing agency.