WILLAMETTE AUGUST, SYDNEY LANDING
It is getting toward evening and the light is falling down
Green tree lined banks make the river look like an eternal corridor
Like one of those classic European architectural tricks
Where the road, flanked by tall elegant buildings,
Gracefully curves away from the eye and into an unknown possibility.
The same here with cottonwoods and Oregon ash
Taking the place of anything created with
The contrivance of human hands.
Infinite and limits on display here at Sydney Landing.
If the source has limits
The trees' attention on each bank blocking out the land behind tan cliffs
Wicked submerged logs
The tittering of a rock shelf
Amusing so obstinate in the river’s powerful cut
If this source is limited, then so are we.
If the source is infinite
This water, flowing from the sky to here
Through another grateful graceful corner then another
Until it finally finds its way back up into the sky
Which is right now cloudless and other-waterly blue
If the source is infinite, then assuredly so are you and I.
Marc Janssen lives in a house with a wife who likes him and a cat who loathes him. Regardless of that turmoil, his poetry can be found scattered around the world in places like Penumbra, Slant, Cirque Journal, Off the Coast and Poetry Salzburg. Janssen also coordinates the Salem Poetry Project, a weekly reading, the annual Salem Poetry Festival, and was a 2020 nominee for Oregon Poet Laureate.
The LyrebirdSurely one of the most extraordinary voices in the animal kingdom.—Jennifer Ackerman in The Bird Way
Adept in mimicry, the lyrebird
can sound like almost anything: ax blows,
a banjo’s twang, a cello’s highs and lows,
and scores of different birds. It seems absurd,
so deep a repertoire in just one bird,
and why it’s so prolific no one knows.
Oh, there are theories, couched in careful prose,
but none would dare to claim the final word.
I think the lyrebird gives prose the lie
by telling lies that tell the truth, in verse,
net up, in imitation of the leaves,
the waves, the raptor’s cry, the quarry’s curse.
But lyrebird, too, may deceive. Truths fly
at speeds no swooping peregrine achieves.
Dan Campion is the author of Peter De Vries and Surrealism and co-editor of Walt Whitman: The Measure of His Song, a third edition of which was issued in 2019. His poetry has appeared in Poetry, Rolling Stone, and many other magazines. A selection of his poems titled The Mirror Test will be published by MadHat Press in February 2022. He lives in Iowa City, Iowa.
The wood of the old farmhouse still crumbles, the paint powdery and chipped. I pick at a flake with my fingernail float from room to room through a fragile past tumbling along the scent of dust and bone.
My sisters waken in the bedroom to the cry of the osprey. Insulted by the dawn, she shrieks loudly and dives into her hunt circling, circling over woods that still hold Indian pipe and lady slippers – as thrilling to find now as we did then.
I lift a tattered sheet curtain revealing poses of ancient paintings acted out
With mops, brooms and tablecloths
My mother is rouged and lipsticked, frantic and angry. Before church, she moans about my dirty nails, dirty face, scabs on my knees, she wants me to atone for all of the dirt a child could possibly wear, intoning Sweet Jesus why can’t this child bear to stay clean.
The scent of printers’ ink and cigarettes wafts around my father. He’s hiding in the library until church is over, praying to be spared its infinite blessings. Praying for salvation
from the off-key voice of the pious choir lady
raised in praise of the Glory of God in the Highest.
The air on the porch is heavy and thick with the remains of the night fog – phantoms idly conversing within a cold dampness. that never dries, the salt air clings to my skin. My old dog looks up, thumps his tail with a vague sigh of recognition.
I pull away from my Beloved Ghosts, and gather smooth flat rocks in my pockets. I skip them two, three, four times across the inlet. If I frighten the night heron standing alone at the lagoon I will ask her by what right she deserves peace.
Susan Peters is a New England girl through and through. Born in Massachusetts, she spent much of her youth in Maine in the country of the pointed firs. Her passion is horses, particularly Icelandic horses and she frequently travels to Iceland to ride and learn as much as she can about Icelandic sagas. She began writing poetry after her children were grown and has been trying to catch up ever since.
My sister points at a passing van
with Faith Technologies printed on its side.
Make a good tattoo she comments and bets me
that 40 percent of folks under 40 get tattoos
She likes her Biblical numbers and preaches
to me on three fingers that 40 is holy—
for 40 years the Israelites wandered the wilderness,
for 40 days Jesus fasted and fought temptation,
for 40 nights Noah waited and watched it rain.
She’s turning 70 soon. Nothing special
about 70, nothing prophetic or even
Only the numerical answer to the problem
how many times must we forgive
the ones who did us wrong. 70 times 7
I remember from my Bible School days.
She kids she might get a tattoo for her birthday—
Faith Technologies in bold letters needled
on her back to testify, like the van,
that handy tools are inside
(and she gestures fist to chest)
for fixing her years of wear and tear.
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 Magazine, After Hours: A Journal of Chicago Writing and Art, World Haiku Review, Presence: International Journal of Spiritual Direction and other places.
4 Experiments from
101 Experiments in Philosophy
I'm watching a spider.
Patience is another name
for a spider. It waits and waits
in the centre of its web
unable to think yet
poised for ambush,
triggered by the slightest twitch.
Its life is circumscribed
by a billion years of practice
as are the trees, sharks, mosquitoes
and my own tabby cat.
Stopping thought is impossible
(although neither trying to think
nor trying not to think is possible)
but if it were possible maybe
we'd tumble into a state
of stupefaction (into animal consciousness)
or else we might fall into the bottomless
abyssal silence of infinite compassion.
In this state we might row between eternity
and the instant in an instant
or we could be the blue sky
watching the clouds go by.
A ray of sunshine slants through a window;
thousands of minuscule dots, bits, flecks, fluff
and sparks dance within a cube of light, a universe
of dust suddenly made visible, spiralling, turning,
crossing; each infinitesimal smut passes from light
into darkness like Bede's sparrow
flying in and out of a room.
Instead of trying to be serene
experiment a little:
cultivate a little terror.
What if you can't stop thinking
that thinking can't be stopped
what's to stop you thinking
the next person you meet
has murderous intentions
and you're her next victim
or that some bright spark (he's a chemist)
has what he thinks is an original thought,
he's thought up a silent killing spree scenario
but he doesn't know he's simply terrorising
himself and he chickens out when it comes
to acting on the thought and anyhow
on second thoughts you realise this
is all in your mind and the chemist
and the murderer appear and disappear
there like vaporous clouds or froth.
101 Experiments in the Philosophy of Everyday Life, Roger-Pol Droit
Eric Nicholson is a prize-winning poet (Opossum 2020) and a retired art teacher. He is a Zen practitioner and this may influence some of his poetry.
Tread softly on the body
as for those who open their eyes,
each dawn is a little dying.
The woman sleeping beside you knows.
Hands are never gentler
than at sunrise, when mist-song spirals
from the river, and light shifts
so carefully you aren’t even sure it’s moving.
The flickering sound of a name caught
between sleeping and waking,
a flame lit by longing.
All those who are living know.
The body is at its tenderest
when, for a moment, it dwells in something bigger
Elodie Barnes is a poet, reviewer, fiction writer, and essayist who can be found writing in France, Spain or the UK (usually mixing up her languages). Her flash fiction has been nominated for Best of the Net, and she is guest editor of the Life in Languages series at Lucy Writers’ Platform. Find her online at http://elodierosebarnes.weebly.com and on Twitter @BarnesElodie.
Where does the labyrinth end?
There is a single entrance and exit.
Grass peeks through the cracked moss stones--
It knows the soles of my feet,
The way my mother memorized my warm breath against her neck.
Where does the labyrinth end?
Dragonflies and sparrows hide in the hedges,
Whispering to the fog, null chatter.
They know the hollows of my thoughts--
My inability to pilot blind alleys, wandering in circles searching for a center.
Where does the labyrinth end?
Your rings and spirals bring me to slay dark demons—
Palms up, unable to see sky.
Susan Cossette is the author of Peggy Sue Messed Up (2017). A two-time recipient of the University of Connecticut’s Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize, her work has appeared in Rust and Moth, Clockwise Cat, Anti-Heroin Chic, and in the anthologies Tuesdays at Curley’s and After the Equinox.
“body politic” is a joint creative effort, with photography by Rebecca Barrow and words by Diana Hurlburt. Becky is the author of the contemporary teen titles You Don’t Know Me But I Know You and This Is What It Feels Like, as well as the Archie Horror novel Interview with the Vixen. Her YA thriller Bad Things Happen Here is forthcoming in 2022. Diana is a librarian and weird horse girl whose short work has appeared most recently in Memoir Mixtapes, phoebe, and Luna Station Quarterly. Her mini-chapbook Nothing Natural is forthcoming from Sword & Kettle Press in December 2020.
I watched the saints in their Sunday windows;
they never moved, even St Christopher
striding the foaming river with the anxious infant,
but they let such light in, made you think.
And now I’m watching you, immobile too,
your eyes upon the flickering picture:
hours of seedy property shows, no illumination.
And still I’m watching you emerge to dare the stairs,
stop every third and then, tired out,
arrive, subside into your meal,
well tried, now back to bed.
I think if this was me, I couldn’t bear it.
Ten years gone, and though that title’s taken,
you have become the pale saint of patience,
paraded through the world
on high days and holy days only,
acknowledged briefly then laid down
faint and under wraps for another season.
But you are flesh and blood, not glass or alabaster
or the strange cross-products of my Catholic imaginings.
Pain frays the edges of your daily blanket;
you are trapped in the slow breathing
of the empty spaces at the back of churches.
No saints. No miracle.
And yet I like to think you keep quite safe
a tiny shard of jewelled glass from a church window.
It lies tight-tucked beneath your pillow;
released, it ricochets the light
in turquoise speckles round the ceiling.
One day you’ll go to Africa
on your own strong, freckled legs;
in your backpack there will be a sketchbook and a novel.
You will write tunes and carry unexpected burdens,
love the world again and do some good.
I like to think this happens soon;
please may it happen soon.
Annie Kissack is a teacher from the Isle of Man. A fluent speaker of Manx Gaelic, she enjoys singing and writing music for her choir, but only began writing poetry in the last few years, becoming the Fifth Manx Bard in 2018. facebook @anniekissackpoetry