Ringing of Bells – a poem by Debasis Tripathy

 Ringing of Bells
You enter the temple, you ring the brass bell.
The sacred belief to alert God before entering 
his house. No one wants to intrude upon privacy
preserved for him. Who wants to incur the wrath?
The result is a rigour, relentless in ringing―
high-pitched music repeating Aum, Aum, Aum ... 
It is this rigour that I love. The repetition
of an ordinary act producing an extraordinary
acoustical event. Common men & women transforming 
into anthropomorphic forms of the divine. The wonder
of rigour. I search for God sometimes, mostly 
outside of where he regularly resides. When 
I go to a temple, it's here outside, on the steps,
I like the most. I see the divine in the eyes
of seekers, depending on their devotion 
to someone I never got to see. It is logical 
for me to be an atheist or even an agnostic,
but I am a firm believer in shapes & sounds,
sanity & simplicity. I believe because I want 
to be happy. I want my heart to be open 
like my ears, open to the ringing of bells.

Debasis Tripathy works for an IT Company in Bangalore. He also writes – poems and short fiction.  His recent work has been featured in Squawk Back, Collidescope, Turnpike, Adelaide Magazine, Kitaab , Punch Magazine & elsewhere.  Occasionally, he tweets at @d_basis

On Death. – a poem by Riley Bounds

On Death.
In the space
where life
either bleeds
through linen
and strings
on tile 
or faces
through tables,
or in the space
where life
through zodiacal
and dust,
there’s no place
left for messengers.

Riley Bounds’ work has appeared or is forthcoming in Ekstasis MagazineHeart of Flesh Literary JournalThis Present Former Glory: An Anthology of Honest Spiritual Literature, and Saccharine Poetry, among others.  He is Editor of Solum Literary Press and Solum Journal.  He lives in La Mirada, California.

SCRABBLE© – a poem by Mark J. Mitchell

            Brothers, do not make collections of words
—Zen Master Hengchuan (1222-1289)
                                    He played on screens
                                    like everyone else.
                                    Still, around the house,
                                    in jars that once held fruit
                                    preserved from fall, pickled
                                    eggs to last through winter,
                                    he kept ancient wooden
                                    tiles, unsorted. From time
                                    to time, but every day,
                                    he filled his right hand
                                    with letters. Worried them
                                    like rosary beads. Sure
                                    that runes would give up
                                    meaning and form themselves
                                    into that one, perfect score:
                                    The misplaced name of God.

Mark J. Mitchell was born in Chicago and grew up in southern California. His latest poetry collection, Roshi San Francisco, was just published by Norfolk Publishing. Starting from Tu Fu  was recently published by Encircle Publications. A new collection is due out in December from Cherry Grove.He is very fond of baseball, Louis Aragon, Miles Davis, Kafka and Dante. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the activist and documentarian, Joan Juster where he made his marginal living pointing out pretty things. Now, like everyone else, he’s unemployed.He has published 2 novels and three chapbooks and two full length collections so far.

For Love of Fresh-Baked Bread – a story by Darrell Petska


 For Love of Fresh-Baked Bread

“You could do more,” the visitor told Wilbur Crane of Crane’s Bakery, a landmark in the city for years.

Wilbur sensed he was dreaming. They were seated at a table in the bakery’s coffee nook, overseen by a black-and-white print of an old man saying grace over bread and a framed portrait of the Crane family: Wilbur, Clara, and their two sons—neither of whom cared to put in the hours the bakery business required.

Dreaming Wilbur squinted through his glasses, trying to make out the visitor’s features, and made a mental note to improve the coffee nook’s lighting.

“You could do more…”

The alarm clock tore Wilbur from his dream and sent him shuffling down to the kitchen to help Clara, who already had bread loaves in the oven.

Around sunrise, Wilbur noticed a man staring at the fresh-baked bread Clara had just set out. The window-shopper then joined another man toting a stuffed plastic bag, as they settled on the steps of the public library.

Twenty-four hours later, the same individual stood before the bakery window, eyeing the fresh loaves glistening in the light. Noting the man’s appearance, Wilbur grabbed a plump Italian loaf and stepped outside.

“I have plenty,” Wilbur said to the man, who accepted the loaf, then hurried across the street to share it with his companion.

The next morning, the man appeared still again, gazing through the window at the fresh-baked loaves. This time, Wilbur motioned him inside: “Take one, and free coffee’s over there.”

The man left, clutching a bread loaf and a cardboard tray with coffees. Wilbur watched the two men settle on the library steps, divide the bread and sip coffee. The scene cheered Wilbur, so much so that an idea came to him: why not give back to the community by donating bread to the homeless shelters?

Clara, the business mind of their operation, reminded Wilbur that their margin remained thin, but when Wilbur recounted his nighttime visitor’s suggestion to “do more”, Clara relented.

“Wilbur, your heart is one big cream puff!” she laughed, kissing him on the forehead. “But who will do the deliveries?”

He found his solution the next time the two men appeared. Wilbur waved them inside and asked them to take a seat in the nook.

The window-shopper introduced himself first: “Conrad.” His companion followed, shyly: “Richie,” eyes lowered toward a plate of cinnamon rolls Wilbur had placed before them.

“That’s me: Wilbur,” he pointed to the family portrait hanging above them. That’s my wife, Clara, who baked these delicious rolls, and those are our two sons. Now, here’s the situation,” he continued, “we could use some help.”

The two men looked at each other. “How do you mean?” Conrad asked.

“There’s an efficiency upstairs, behind our apartment. It sleeps two in a pinch—our boys shared it. There’s a private entrance. You could live there in exchange for helping around the bakery, making deliveries, maybe even a little baking if you’re inclined.”

“It’s a deal,” Conrad said. “’Right, Richie?” The latter nodded agreement.

“Maybe you want to see upstairs first, or talk this over?”

“No, it’s a deal.”

Wilbur confessed to Clara what he had done when he stepped back into the kitchen. Clara left off kneading some dough, began to say something, then sighed. “Wilbur, you amaze me sometimes.”

Conrad and Richie took readily to their new situation. Freshly groomed, and coached by Wilbur and Clara, Conrad helped with maintenance and deliveries while Richie demonstrated an aptitude for baking.

As for Wilbur’s hazy dreams, the visitor returned now and then, always suggesting Wilbur could do more. “What more?” Wilbur always asked, but he never received an answer.

Months passed, then a year. Aided by Richie’s skill in the kitchen, the business became profitable enough that both Conrad and Richie could draw regular salaries.

One morning, while his aches and pains kept him late in his bed, Wilbur had another brainstorm: student interns, with whom they could share their love and knowledge of baking.

Thus began a series of interns, semester after semester, who worked closely with Richie, Clara and Wilbur to learn how to bake, market, and operate a bakery business. Wilbur spent portions of each day seated in the nook, visiting with customers or simply resting—his heart and his back required that he lighten his workload. Nonetheless, he felt great contentment seeing Conrad, Richie, the interns, and Clara doing what they had come to love.

The years stacked one against another like bread loaves on a shelf. On the eve of Wilbur’s 74thbirthday, the dream returned. Eyeing the visitor’s indistinct features, and expecting what he’d hear, Wilbur spoke preemptively: “You are persistent.”

The visitor smiled. “You’ve done well, Wilbur. There’s nothing more you need to do.”

Wilbur sat up straight, straighter than he’d been able to manage for some time. “I’ve done enough?”

The visitor nodded. “Let’s take a walk.” Standing into the additional lighting that Wilbur had installed years back, the visitor’s face finally became clear: though decades younger and brimming with idealism, it was Wilbur’s own!

Seeing himself that way seemed entirely natural. They rose together, glanced about Crane’s Bakery—Richie, Conrad and Clara were already at work—and stepped through the front door.

Wilbur marveled at the blossoming morning—a spectacle he seldom experienced since he usually found himself busy in the kitchen. A brilliant sun had begun to climb the horizon.

“This is glorious!” Wilbur exclaimed, noting how effortlessly his legs moved. His street and the expansive day spread before him, awash with the aroma of fresh-baked bread.


Darrell Petska‘s fiction has appeared in Flash Fiction Magazine, Loch Raven Review, Right Hand Pointing, Potato Soup Journal, Boston Literary Magazine and elsewhere (see conservancies.wordpress.com). With 30 years on the academic staff, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 40 years as a father (eight years a grandfather), and longer as a husband, Darrell lives outside Madison, Wisconsin.

Momentariness – a poem by Sanjeev Sethi

Decryption from theological texts 
diminishes me. For the most part 
this lifts my beat but during bouts 
of burdensomeness I inquire: Is 
there any force more persuasive 
than Faith?

Sanjeev Sethi is published in over thirty countries. He has more than 1400 poems printed or posted in literary venues around the world. Wrappings in Bespoke, is joint-winner of Full Fat Collection Competition-Deux organized by the Hedgehog Poetry Press UK. It is his fourth book. It will be issued in Jan 2021. He lives in Mumbai, India.


                (after Hokusai)
Up on a roof,
Up on a hill,
Above the clouds.
The Temple always needs repairs.
It’s always deteriorating—
And so we are always building, building.
And so the kite is always flying, flying,
Over the clouds,
Attached to a string
Held by someone far below us
Among the huddled houses.
And a scaffolding touches the sky
From somewhere across town;
But nobody climbs it,
Nobody hangs on for dear life.
White clouds pass through its skeleton
Swaying in the wind from the Mountain.
The Temple needs repairs.
The kite is always flying.
The scaffolding touches the sky.
Up on a roof,
Up on a hill,
Above the clouds.

Lee Evans lives in Bath, Maine, with his wife and works at the local YMCA.

And Laid Him in a Manger… – a poem by Tony Lucas

Some want of clinical hygiene, perhaps,
but then birth always is a messy business – 
blood and tears, tissue, pain and sweat.  
To add in dung and straw, earth floors 
and darkness, only amplifies the context 
out of which this frailest hope is born.
However faltering a candle in the gloom
it will attract unlikely visitors.   Expect
the fluttering wings, or steamy breath,
intruding stares, the timid holding off;
all wondering why they should feel moved,
so deeply by another mouth to feed.
It’s one more head to count, yet such our hunger 
for some chance of change – however long 
the odds, how faint a promise, or how often 
hope gets snuffed out, overwhelmed with troubles, 
threatening dark, that yearning still persists – 
the slightest crack for new light to seep through. 

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.

Anything But – a poem by Carol Casey

Anything ButBeauty is truth, truth beauty”
John Keats

“Tell all truth but tell it slant”
Emily Dickinson

It’s tricky of truth to need 
to slant all blinding beauty
so that cornea, lens, retina 
tamper, measure, clip, 
alter light to give us only 
what won’t kill or drive insane.  

And malleus, incus, stapes
contain galleys where 
excruciating music gets 
rinsed, chopped, cooked, 
and presented as 
a comforting pablum 

while censors in the brain keep 
busy with white-out so that cognition 
receives its correspondence full 
of gaps- blank spaces with 
enough words left to make sense, 
leave us unsuspecting.  

And some filter, when we 
look at each other, illuminates 
blemishes, jowls, wrinkles, 
skin colour, scowls, scars, 
stains, fashion sins-
anything but the miracle.

Carol Casey lives in Blyth, Ontario, Canada. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has appeared in The Prairie Journal, Sublunary Review, Plum Tree Tavern and others, including a number of anthologies, most recently, Tending the Fire and i am what becomes of broken branch. Facebook: @ccaseypoetry; Twitter: @ccasey_carol; Webpage: https://learnforlifepotential.com/home-2/poetry/

Driving Home on Highway 10 – a poem by Jean Biegun

Driving Home on Highway 10
My Honda speeds
past a sudden field of yellow. 

I don’t do what the Buddha said:
Let it go. 

So much of me desires
instant yellow fields,
bouquets of Heaven’s
smiley face salutation, 

high-fives of that bliss
I rush to.

Jean Biegun, retired in Sacramento, CA, began writing poetry in 2000 as a way to overcome big-city job stress, and it worked.  Poems have been published in Mobius: The Poetry MagazineAfter Hours: A Journal of Chicago Writing and ArtWorld Haiku ReviewPresence: International Journal of Spiritual Direction and other places.

The Church in Exile – a poem by Patricia Davis-Muffett

The Church in Exile

Here is the truth: when the pandemic forced us
to move church online, join the Diocese
in Cathedral services, I was swayed
by the beautiful windows captured on video,
the professional cantor’s voice
echoing in the empty chamber.

I miss you, fellow travelers--
still saying the peace to each other through texts,
as we meet in the virtual Cathedral.
Maybe this is ok.
Maybe this is the future.

But then, the call comes, 
and I do as I have learned--
from you, from my mother, my grandparents.
Yes, I will pick up food from our repurposed church,
take it to desperate mothers.
I drive to our church, step through the side door,
met again with the dirty steps, the peeling paint,
our strange sanctuary, its unfinished floor.

Here, my first child crawled, knees and hands blackened,
as I found my voice and sang of resurrection.
Here, I prayed for the lost babies (two)--
hidden lives, the grief that much harder.
Here, I welcomed the well-wanted child,
her laugh filling eaves, her steps racing thunder.
Here, I grieved and was held.
Here, I held the grieving.
Here, I cried for my child alone, in pain.
Here, he prayed for lemurs’ survival
while fighting for his own.
There was work.
There was boredom.
Money to be raised, 
the building to keep up, 

Here, the rose windows 
are the eyes of those fed.
Here, the cantor’s voice
of our rambunctious children.
This, our dingy cathedral,
the one we have built
from the lint in our pockets,
the gum in our mouths,
the spit of our thumbs, polishing faces.
Our foundations buttressed
by the arms of our elders
grasping on tightly, holding us up.

It is not photogenic, 
but I will choose this imperfect cathedral--
our home--when the locks are undone
and all of us, dirty, limping and loud,
stream once again through its doors.

Patricia Davis-Muffett holds an MFA from the University of Minnesota and her work has appeared in several journals including The Slate, Coal City Review, and Gypsy Cab, on public radio, in the di-verse-city anthology of the Austin International Poetry Festival and is forthcoming in Rat’s Ass Review. She lives in Rockville, Maryland, with her husband, three children, one good dog, one bad puppy and a demon of a cat. She makes her living in technology marketing.