Bruce’s Memorial Bench – a poem by Judy DeCroce

Bruce’s Memorial Bench

you were the years
days slept on

but today, sky comes down to you,
it carries an ocean,

keeps returning impulsive wind
covering hours in sand—

where in a sojourn of yellow heat
life was long and death is newer;

after a storm shudders by,
some will come and remain—gentle.

.

Judy DeCroce, is an internationally published poet, flash fiction writer, educator, and avid reader whose works have been published by Plato’s Cave online, The Poet Magazine, Amethyst Review, Tigershark Publishing, The BeZine and many journals and anthologies.
As a professional storyteller and teacher of that genre, she also offers, workshops in flash fiction. Judy lives and works in upstate New York with her husband poet/artist, Antoni Ooto.

Why Not the Temple – a poem by Jessica L. Walsh

Why Not the Temple

I am attached to my attachments
feed them like pets
and to my own pet
a small puppy
to him too I am attached

I say daily to my beloveds
I love you every day always
like a chant to save them
or a leash to hold them

My love loops and repeats
a hungry circle

I am failing Dorje Kelsang
and I’m doing it like a child
my excuses part lies

I do have time and a good car
even money to donate
soup to bring for others

but I can’t face you Dorje
to say my needs are unbeatable
and I’m not even trying anymore
to love anyone as much
or love my loves less

Pray for me Dorje
and know I tried a little

just enough to love you
not enough to love all

.

Jessica L. Walsh is the author of two poetry collections and two chapbooks. Her work has appeared in RHINO, Tinderbox, Connecticut Review, and more. She is a professor at a two-year college outside of Chicago.

Harvest – a poem by Holly Day

Harvest
 
we found the tomatoes grew best in the cemetery
sending their thick roots deep
into the soil, wrapping thickly-furred cilia between
sinew and bone, found new life in places 
left for the dead.
 
we threw our seeds random between
the overgrown plots, hoping the tiny plants would escape
the eyes of the caretaker, the blades of his mower
the heavy footsteps of other people
visiting other graves.
 
late summer, when the vines rose high
climbed around the rough trunks 
of ancient willows of firs
we crept into the graveyard, baskets under our arms
collected enough ripe fruit to last through
the long, cold winter ahead. 
 

Holly Day (hollylday.blogspot.com) has been a writing instructor at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Grain, and Harvard Review, and her newest poetry collections are Into the Cracks (Golden Antelope Press), Cross Referencing a Book of Summer (Silver Bow Publishing), The Tooth is the Largest Organ in the Human Body (Anaphora Literary Press), and Book of Beasts (Weasel Press).

Pilgrims in Tibet – a poem by Emily Strauss

Pilgrims in Tibet

We climbed the scree slope
high above tree line
bleached stones lined the path,
found enormous prayer wheels
mounted in a square structure,
shuffled clockwise, touched each one,
the wheels turning in the wind
frayed flags blew, faded colors
from winter suns, summer suns

searing at altitude. The pilgrims
prostrated themselves at each step
months away from the temple,
at night they boiled millet
over a tiny dung fire
before rolling into thick woolen robes
ground frozen hard by morning.

We walked on following our camels,
nodded at the pilgrims as we passed
they hardly noticed,
intent on kneeling on leather-shod
knees, leather-lined palms,
leather-bound foreheads
hour after hour, dust-coated
at 11,000 feet, we breathed hard.

.

Emily Strauss has an M.A. in English, but is self-taught in poetry, which she has written since college. Over 500 of her poems appear in a wide variety of online venues and in anthologies, in the U.S. and abroad. She is a Best of the Net and twice a Pushcart nominee. She is interested in the American West and the narratives of people and places around her. She is a retired teacher living in Oregon.

A Short History of Frankincense – a poem by Mary Mulholland

A Short History of Frankincense

Screenshot 2020-07-25 at 10.59.19

Mary Mulholland came to poetry after careers in journalism and psychotherapy. She has a Poetry MA from Newcastle and has been published in magazines and anthologies. She won the US Momaya prize in 2019, and has been commended and shortlisted in several national competitions. She co-edits The Alchemy Spoon.
www.marymulholland.co.uk
@marymulhol

Cease-Fire – a poem by Erika Kanda

Cease-Fire

Impotent and haunted shore
heavy cask whose faults are mine
are we only bone Pangaea
doomed and bound by birth to split?

Held in fluid and suspense
full of fear and mortal gods
what becomes seductive faith
when neurons call a truce?

When the harbor is not safe
and numb is not a feeling
who among the sum of us
hopes to be the first to burn?

.

Erika Kanda lives in Northern Virginia, USA with her partner. She loves hot press paper and all things speculative.

 

No Body – a poem by Robert S. King

No Body

Surely there’s a shore
where no bodies wash up
except for the purest
grains of sand.

There must be a river
that runs uphill
and a road that lifts
from the earth to spiral
with the galaxies.

Wonder too if no body
held us up, if winds carry our dust
to a crossroad without signs,
not to an end but to a choice
where we might go all ways at once.

.

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).

November, Blackford County, Indiana – a poem by Daniel Bowman Jr

November, Blackford County, Indiana 

Daylight Savings Time has come to an end
            and I find myself grateful
to live on the western-most edge
            of the Eastern Standard zone,
where the light—the sun and all it shines on—
            stays a little longer.

Yet sometimes, driving home at dusk,
            I feel the urge to pull over, park,
get out, enter the vast fields of corn stubble
            along Route 26, walk in the mud
toward the patch of woods on the horizon.
            As the poet said:
promises to keep, etc.

            But what of this desire 
to be swallowed by darkness,
            out of reach of fluorescent lights,
streetlights, headlights, God forbid screens,
            to render useless nearly everything
            except one’s own dumb presence,
 the wind, and whatever creatures
            scurry about?

 I don’t pull over, of course, don’t get out. 
            I go home
where everything looks right,
            where everything is just as it should be
except my animal heart
            lost in the thicket,
burrowing deeper toward the core.

Daniel Bowman Jr is the author of A Plum Tree in Leatherstocking Countryand Notes from the Spectrum (Brazos Press, 2021). A native New Yorker, he lives in Indiana, where he is Associate Professor of English at Taylor University and Editor-in-chief of Relief: A Journal of Art & Faith

The Work – a poem by Lisa Creech Bledsoe

The Work
“You are not obliged to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” — Rabbi Tarfon

What I’m asking
is for my body to become
settled

so I stand in the yellow-leaved
ironwood grove to tune my heart
and press my shaking hands
to one steadfast trunk, then another
sending up my hope-promise:
all will be well

Sinking in the damp loam
offering healing for pain
to the dark root of all things
I wait to sense
the rise and fall of eras

mostly I wait

and breathe,
mostly
still
all will
be well

the mountain
and people,
these hundred trees
this thousand—

baptized in flickering
November sun:

There is work not up to us
to complete, but neither
will we abandon it

.

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.

Review: Edge by Katrina Porteous

Edge by Katrina Porteous, Bloodaxe Books 125 pp. Review by Marian Christie

Edge: Amazon.co.uk: Katrina Porteous: 9781780374901: Books

Katrina Porteous is a poet based in Northumberland, England, who focuses ‘on the theme of ‘nature’ in its widest sense, and ‘place’ in its deepest.’ This has led her to consider some of the profound questions that have concerned philosophers, religious thinkers, scientists and writers for millennia: What is the nature of matter? What is reality? How did the Universe come into existence? What is ‘out there’, beyond the confines of our planet Earth?

In Edge, her third collection with Bloodaxe, Porteous explores themes from contemporary physics and astronomy using the poet’s lens of imagery and metaphor. The collection is divided into three extended sequences that have their origins in performance pieces she created with the composer Peter Zinovieff for the Life Science Centre Planetarium in Newcastle. However, as Porteous makes clear in her Introduction, these are not so much poems about science as about ‘the poetry of science…. a search for alternative narratives to replace old theologies’. No scientific knowledge is required in order to read them and indeed Porteous herself does not have a scientific background, although she has clearly carried out meticulous research into her subject matter. The collection also addresses themes that are perhaps more familiar in poetry: perspective and perception, translation, the limitations of language as well as its capacity for revelation.

Field, the first sequence in the book, is an imaginative interpretation of quantum field theory. Wisely, Porteous makes no attempt in her poetry to explain the concepts involved (the interested reader is, however, provided with copious notes at the back of the book) and she avoids using terminology that would be unfamiliar to a general reader. Instead, she seeks to express the theory’s essence, its dualities and uncertainties, its symmetries and mysteries, as well as the sense of wonder that it invokes. The sequence opens with a statement of the great unresolved conundrum of modern physics: the incompatibility between the large-scale theory of general relativity and the theory of quantum mechanics, which applies on a sub-atomic scale:

‘They will not mesh, the very small and the very large.
They will not converge.’

The pared use of language and spacious layout suggest the precise, formal elegance of the field equations. But how to express in poetry the depth, complexity and profound ramifications that these equations signify? Porteous turns to metaphor, seeing in the behaviour of elementary particles a wilful playfulness analogous to that of mythological characters such as the inhabitants of Ovid’s Metamorphoses:

‘The Ancients were right. It is all
Coupling
And disguises,

Feverishly swapping bodies
When no one is looking.’

The second sequence, Sun, takes as its subject the star at the centre of our solar system, its structure, dynamical processes and the scientific methods used to glean information about its interior. Sun begins with a question – ‘Darkness said to the Sun/ Who are you?’ – and subsequent poems in the sequence pursue this theme of inquiry through a succession of dazzlingly inventive images. ‘Who is bouncing pebbles on the Sun’s slow drum?’, the poet asks in ‘Sunquake’. Sunspots are seen as ‘dark wounds’, while the fluctuating features of the solar surface are likened to ‘pockmarked orange-peel granulations’ and ‘whirlpools flowering and fading’. Interpreting the sun’s characteristics is as challenging as trying to decipher an unknown and mysterious language:

‘Body and Not Body. One figure of speech
Wrapped in another. Deep
Disagreement in its grammar.’

Edge, the final sequence, is a poetic voyage around four of the moons in our Solar System: Io, Enceladus, Titan and our own Moon. The opening chant has echoes of a Greek chorus and powerful, tidal rhythms:

‘Like a tree of branching numbers,
Like the frost unfurling flowers,
Like a loop between two mirrors –
Folding back and curling over’.

The connection with ancient Greece continues as each moon is assigned one of the four fundamental elements (earth, water, fire, air) that were postulated by Empedocles in the 5th century BCE – an elegant tribute to the origins of western scientific inquiry.

Our insights into these moons are derived from interplanetary missions such as Apollo, Cassini and Galileo, ‘Carrying our human hunger/ Into the perpetual silence’. Just as these missions push the boundaries of our scientific knowledge, so Porteous pushes the boundaries of language, generating extraordinary sonic effects. Of small, icy Enceladus she writes:

‘Little sinister
Tinkles. Silvery
Trickles, tiny splinters’

while volcanic Io
‘Screams, gasps, grunts, howls, shrieks
Bending the dark,
Dragging back darkness like a catapult.’

Our own Moon is ‘Nothing’s mirror’/ Stripped of sound, leeched of colour’, bearing ‘fossil footprints’ from last century’s lunar landings.

After such bleakly desolate moonscapes it is a relief to return to the familiarity of Earth. The collection ends with a Coda of three poems, set respectively in Cambridge, Durham and Northumberland. They are infused with spiritual sensibility, contemplating from a very human, location-specific perspective ‘the mysteries of origin’ and the cyclical nature of growth, death and regeneration. The concluding poem, with its deliberate emphasis on the first person pronoun – ‘I walked out to the end of the Broad Rock’ –  is at once a subtle reminder of our place in the vastness of the cosmos and an affirmation of humanity’s ongoing quest to explore the edge of knowledge and push ever further the boundaries of our understanding.

Marian Christie is an applied mathematician and poet. She blogs at www.marianchristiepoetry.net.