Salt in July – a poem by Shannon Cuthbert

Salt in July

Grandpa brought us to his church
some Sunday mornings
after we slept over
and before he would let us escape
to the swim club,
strange in its chemical blue beauty.

Alive with the vibrating
bodies of divers
and old ladies peeling in lacy petals.
We begged to visit the snack stand
which drew us at noon from
our deep dream of breathing beneath the water.

The church was a smooth hollow
we found ourselves fallen,
where sounds and time stood strange.
The priest’s voice shrouded,
refracting stained glass.
We burned our fingers on its blue.
Mesmerized, memorized shapes in windows
of men contorted, conflicted in pleasure.

Pagan children, we melted wafers
and prayed to new gods,
imagined our exhales bent cool blue.
Grandpa bent in prayer,
his athlete’s limbs gnarled as storm-trees
sloughing off old ills.
We watched, we chased his patterns of faith,
strange as lullabies grow over time.

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Shannon Cuthbert is a writer and artist living in Brooklyn. Her poems have appeared in Gingerbread House, Collidescope, and Enchanted Conversation, among others. Her work is forthcoming in Dodging the Rain and Schuylkill Valley Journal.

Giant Inflatable Whale – $19.59 – a poem by Megan McDermott

Giant Inflatable Whale – $19.59

“Use this giant ocean pal as part of your Jonah And The Whale lessons or have him make a splash at any Sunday School or VBS event.”

The “or”
is what interests me,
a whale able to play
two roles: either
Jonah’s doom-slash-
savior (doom because
who wants to be
stuck in whale
insides, savior
because it was dry,
it wasn’t drowning,
it wasn’t death)
or just some generic
example of God’s
creation, to be
dragged out of
the closet for any
old event.

Though, on some level,
maybe it makes sense
to play both roles at once.
Jonah’s whale wouldn’t
define herself by Jonah,
who was just a bit of odd food
she couldn’t digest, a footnote.

If the whale was being used
by God then, it didn’t know it.
What, then, of the whale’s own graces,
things for which we have no record?

.

Megan McDermott is a poet and Episcopal priest living in Western Massachusetts. She is a graduate of Yale Divinity School and Susquehanna University. Her poetry has been published in various publications, including The Christian Century, The Cresset, Psaltery & Lyre, Amethyst Review, Rogue Agent Journal, Gyroscope Review, and Saint Katherine Review.

The Legacy of Dreams – a poem by Robert S. King

The Legacy of Dreams

I swore no cold headwind
would ever make me shiver
nor blow me back
to crossroads tied in knots.

I swore that this is the road
going somewhere, everywhere,
an invincible dream passing
through roadblocks like a ghost,
all the way, all the way, all the way
to the end of time,
to where the dream turns to dust,
where the road dead ends
but somehow keeps on going.

.

Robert S. King edits Good Works Review. His poems appear widely, including Chariton Review, Kenyon Review, Midwest Quarterly, and Southern Poetry Review. He has published eight poetry collections, most recently Developing a Photograph of God (Glass Lyre Press, 2014) and Messages from Multiverses (Duck Lake Books, 2020).

The World is just A Lie – a poem by Hongri Yuan

The World is just A Lie
translated by Yuanbing Zhang

The world is just a lie,
truth is on the other side of the world.
We can neither see the light of time
nor know that everything is a shadow on the running water.
There is another me on another planet,
you have never been born or died.
When the maze becomes transparent, the door of time-space opens,
you will shake hands and smile with the giant in the heavens.
The words are both music and the epic of the soul,
telling you that the palaces of outer space are incomparably lofty,
as if they are as endless as the mountains of gold.
03.17.2020

世界只是一个谎言

世界只是一个谎言
真理在世界的另一面
我们看不到时间之光
不知道一切只是流水之上的影子
另外的星球上有另外的自己
你不曾出生也不曾死去
当迷宫透明时空之门敞开
你将和那天上的巨人握手微笑
那词语是乐曲也是灵魂之史诗
告诉你天外的宫殿无比的巍峨
如黄金之山岳连绵而无际

.
2020.03.17

.
Hongri Yuan (b. 1962) is a Chinese mystic poet and philosopher. His work has been published in journals and magazines internationally in UK, USA, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Canada and Nigeria. He has authored a number long poems including Platinum City, The City of Gold, Golden Paradise, Gold Sun and Golden Giant. The theme of his work is the exploration about human prehistoric civilization and future civilization.

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Yuanbing Zhang (b. 1974), who is a Chinese poet and translator, works in a Middle School, Yanzhou District , Jining City, Shandong Province, China. He can be contacted through his email- 3112362909@qq.com.

Blackberry Winter – a story by L. W. Nicholson

Blackberry Winter

“The Old Man, or the Good Man, or the Old Gentleman – these names for God are used even by deeply religious hillfolk…But the Old Boy means Satan.” – Vance Randolph and George P. Wilson, Down in the Holler: A Gallery of Ozark Folk Speech

We used to have blackberry winters late in May when the fruit was plump and tart and the dogwoods were in bloom like forest angels, when the air tasted like gnats and sweat and honeysuckle. The wind would grow thick, and suddenly it would be snowing. My grandmother would pour flavored syrups over cups of cotton. I was too young then to get drunk on wine and talk about bad horror movies, killer Santas, oxygen levels, the never-ending heat. Back then I was green and sweet and elbows, elbows, elbows.

Old Man and Old Boy would walk out among the thin flakes. Old Man, gray and thin as pine straw, would eat handfuls of cold redbud blooms and touch the leaves tenderly with his long fingers. He would shake his head at the sky and mourn his garden and repeat “blessed be” like a mantra until his lips would crack. Old Boy, though, almost the same age as Old Man, would run as fast as he could, kick up puffs of white and decaying leaves and creek water, and clap his hands at the stars in the clear sky. His shouts and whoops could be heard around the holler.

“There goes Old Boy,” my grandmother would say whenever we heard his bellows echo through the tree limbs. The wind would blow and blow.

Old Man and Old Boy lived in a cabin with a tame bobcat named Tootie. I visited them on Sundays while Grandma took long naps. My Mary Janes would swing off the front porch steps. We talked about caterpillars and bark and yellow pocket knives. One day when we were deep in spring and I had just finished fifth grade, my mentors felt like this was an important time to discuss My Future, the dark and murky mudhole at the far end of the field.

“What do you want to be, Libby Girl?” Old Man asked.

This felt like a monumental question. I had been asked before, but now it had the weight of time upon it, and I could feel myself collapse beneath. I considered carefully my answer; I did not want to disappoint Old Man.

“I want to be a flying fox bat,” I said decidedly.

“Me too,” said Old Boy. “No, I want to be a goat.”

“I’d like to be a sail,” I said.

“I’d be an oar.”

“You two aren’t sensible,” said Old Man. He looked disappointed, but he smiled too.

Old Boy did not like to be sensible and neither did I. Grandma said to listen to Old Man and to ignore Old Boy, that Old Boy was full of fancy and feathers and few good things.

“Old Boy will make you suck an egg,” said Grandma. “He’ll tell you the moss is soft and then fill your hair with chiggers.”

But Old Boy had taught me to dance, to make my teachers ruffle their feathers like pigeons, to smoke Grandma’s cigars until my chest was hot as an iron wood stove.

“I want to be a river rock,” I said, “a minnow, my brother’s shelf of animal skulls, a book of ghost stories.”

“What about kind toward others?” asked Old Man. “What about loving?”

Old Boy was dancing in the front flower bed. “There once was a man who lived in a haunted house with an old skunk skull, and at night the skull would whisper, ‘Orance, orance.’”

His knees were jitterbugging. Tootie watched, eyes intense and daring.

“I should think that’s enough,” said Old Man. He was suddenly serious. His brows were like geese flying south.

“Can’t I be both? Can’t I be everything?”

Old Man shook his head, “That is not an easy thing.”

“Look,” said Old Boy. It was starting to snow. I darted with him out to the yard, and the two of us stretched our arms to the sky. “Orance! Orance!” I chanted, spinning and spinning till everything disappeared in white.

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L.W. Nicholson is an educator and grower of tomatoes from Southeast Missouri. Her work has appeared in Moon City Review, Smokelong Quarterly, and others.

To Basho – a poem by Brian Palmer

To Basho

Birds or leaves?
On this path,
it’s hard to tell
what’s falling down
from bare, cold branches
or what’s flying up to them.

They,
these less-than-concrete
mid-air moments,
matter.
Mid-day or mid-night,
these every shadow moments matter.

Bud and flower;
I see my younger
and my older figure
walking on a crystal road,
moving
to a white and freezing river.

Both
source and mouth
exist at once.
And as the water moves
but freezes,
I stand silently perplexed.

I know what you would say, to only watch
my current feet, hold autumn—now this dying
bird—beneath the rising moon where shadow
limbs and scattered leaves and feathered snow
soothe the ailing earth.

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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, Small Farmer’s Journal, and The Light Ekphrastic.

October Morning – a poem by Fredric Hildebrand

October Morning

The maple
this morning

shadow tree
ghost tree

black leaves haunt
the night sky

the gray grass
gloomy yard

embers wait
dawn to soak

this day in color
my rising light.

 

 

Fredric Hildebrand is a retired physician living in Neenah, WI. His poetry has appeared in Art Ascent, Bramble, Millwork, Tigershark, and Verse-Virtual. He received the Mill Prize for Poetry Honorable Mention Award in both 2017 and 2018. When not writing or reading, he plays acoustic folk guitar and explores the Northwoods with his wife and two Labrador retrievers.

Presence – a poem by Dennis Daly

Presence

At depths no conjurer could reach
Belief becomes so touchable,
So burgeoning with life, so full
That being’s song inclines to preach.

Thus, waits that fundamental breech
Between form and the fizzable
At depths no conjurer could reach.

It’s there one feels the real outreach,
The presence of non-visual
And sacred motes that pair and pull
The godly words that make up speech
At depths no conjurer could reach.

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Dennis Daly has published seven books of poetry and poetic translations. He writes reviews regularly for The Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene and on occasion for the Notre Dame Review, Ibbetson Street, Wilderness House, and the Somerville Times. He occasionally reads his poetry at various venues. Please see his blog at dennisfdaly.blogspot.com.

 

On Knowledge and Love – a poem by Jacob Riyeff

On Knowledge and Love
—Schlitz Audobon Society during the Pandemic of 2020

A solitary tom strolls
over moss-blanket timbers,
thru the underbrush and trunks—
I’ve never known the wet
beauty of bogs and swamps,
marshes and fens, mudsunk
logs like shipwrecks in the fern
drowned deep in the mire,
radiance of cowslip against the black
rot of last year’s leaves—
My hand brushes over beads,
a red-tasseled mala
left in raincoat’s pocket
on retreat in Big Sur—
And these pines sing to those pines,
growing beside their seas.

OM Abba OM

Gobbles sing out around us,
they continue their halting trek
thru the dank duff of spring—
The blue-white spangle
of a perching tree swallow
welcomes us to the prairie,
children and turkeys calling
to each other across the grass.

OM Abba OM

There are those who say knowledge
is prior to love—And those
who say God can be excepted,
because God is prior.
I wonder if the earth
should be excepted too—
But then I breathe the fog
in off the Lake and hear
the birds’ rowdy harmony
and know, like God, the earth
is prior—And so, we love
and are one, even
when we’re too dull to know.

OM Abba OM

.

 

Jacob Riyeff (jacobriyeff.com, @riyeff) is a translator, poet, and scholar of medieval English literature. His primary interests lie in the western contemplative tradition and medieval vernacular poetry. He is a Benedictine oblate of Osage Deanery and lives on Milwaukee’s Lower East Side.

Lost and found – a poem by Lisa Creech Bledsoe

Lost and found

The weight of the few secrets
I’ve collected has stitched my feet
tonight to the stones in the creek
folded my longing against the mossy logs
who are unmaking themselves into the slush

Night drifts nearer—
a sheet settling over a bed,
her light slanting purple and brown
through the naked branches where
I wait, dusted with snow, shaking
leaning according to the unbalance
in my brain—wait to be
learned or found

Bees as they grow take on new jobs
within the hive; their brain chemistry
changes, too, so I don’t call this a disease
but a teacher, and I wait to empty out
and replenish

The river hasn’t lost me, and won’t—
even the bees clustered against the winter
know their work and can be trusted

But this can’t be said quickly
……..you will be orphaned of all gifts
……..then opened to new ones

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Watched by crows and friend to salamanders, Lisa Creech Bledsoe is a writer living in the mountains of North Carolina. She has two books, “Appalachian Ground” (2019) and “Wolf Laundry” (2020) out, and new poems in American Writers Review, The Main Street Rag, and Jam & Sand, among others.