Sacred Numerology – a poem by Jean Biegun

Sacred Numerology 

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
these days.
  
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
mandala-worthy. 
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 MagazineAfter Hours: A Journal of Chicago Writing and ArtWorld Haiku ReviewPresence: International Journal of Spiritual Direction and other places.

4 Experiments – poetry by Eric Nicholson

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 – a poem by Elodie Barnes

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
than itself. 

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’ PlatformFind her online at http://elodierosebarnes.weebly.com and on Twitter @BarnesElodie. 

Labyrinth – a poem by Susan Cossette

Labyrinth
 
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 MothClockwise CatAnti-Heroin Chic, and in the anthologies Tuesdays at Curley’s and After the Equinox

body politic – a mixed-media prose poem by Rebecca Barrow and Diana Hurlburt

“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.

Patient – a poem by Annie Kissack

Patient


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

The Sheaves of Grain, Submissive Now, Bend Low – a poem by Leonor Scliar-Cabral

The Sheaves of Grain, Submissive Now, Bend Low           
      translated by Alexis Levitin
 
 
Beyond the sea famine had spread like fate.
Jacob, tense, made the situation clear:
 “Before all’s gone, before it is too late,”
 His anxious children gathered round in fear, 
 
“To Egypt we must go to purchase grain
From Pharaoh’s stored up wealth. For word has spread
His viceroy, whose wisdom has won fame  
Declares his will to give the starving bread 
 
From Pharaoh’s stores. Young Benjamin alone
Will stay with me. The rest of you should go 
To bow for me to Egypt’s foreign throne.”
 
Kissing the arid crimson earth, unsown,
The sheaves of grain, submissive now, bend low
At last, before their brother, still unknown.

 Leonor Scliar Cabral is one of Brazil’s leading linguists. She is also a poet who still loves traditional forms, such as the sonnet. Her book Consecration of the Alphabet consists of one rhymed sonnet for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The book was published in five languages in Brazil, with my translations into English.         

Alexis Levitin translates mostly poetry from Brazil, Portugal, and Ecuador. He has published forty-six books of translations, the best known being Clarice Lispector’s Soulstorm and Eugenio de Andrade’s Forbidden Words, both from New Directions.

Translator’s note: The Book of Joseph retells the Biblical story of Joseph in a series of sequential sonnets. Leonor’ challenge is mostly technical: how to tell the tale in perfectly rhymed iambic pentameter sonnet form. The challenger is even greater for the translator into English, a notoriously rhyme-poor language.

The Northern Wood – a poem by Tony Lucas

THE NORTHERN WOOD
 
 
There was a crack that ran right through 
the landscape, where the trees stood bare 
- a solemn flaw that winter cold exposed.  
 
Frost spread its stars across the wall; 
she fingered their strange patterns, bright 
in the sombre morning.  Mindful  
 
of how some took for granted her belonging 
she had stayed on, content with their 
accommodation, though aware of never 
 
being quite what they believed she was.  
A shift of light had changed the music.
Resuming her uncharted way, she saw
 
how green persisted under the naked trees 
and hoped their dark deposit of dead leaves 
would soon be webbed with snowdrops.
 
 
 
 

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.

Such Things – a poem by F.C. Shultz

Such Things
by F.C. Shultz
 
Whatever is
like a timely sunrise;
meditate here. 
 
Whatever is                                                                                             
like a spring doe;
linger long here. 
 
Whatever is
like a shared tricycle;
turn these over often. 
 
Whatever is
like a swaddled firstborn;
consider these.
 
Whatever is
like a steaming cobbler;
marvel here.
 
Whatever is
like a crayoned scribble;
ponder here. 
 
If there be any
open-armed apology;
dwell here. 
 
If there be any
open-handed surrender;
dwell here. 

F.C. Shultz‘s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Ekstasis Magazine, The Show Bear Family Circus, and The Joplin Toad. He is the poetry editor for the Webb City Sentinel and his debut poetry collection was recently published by Pub Hound Press. His website is fcshultz.com.

Rising – a poem by Margo McCall

Rising
It’s too loud in this cacophonic cave
echoing with old lovers’ cries
too bright with the light
of passing smiles,
the dazed glory of dazzle,
all razzle and righteousness,
arms and legs of a thousand
bodies thrashing against
Despair.
 
The journeys taken,
Never taken, wrong turns
Fording mountains to 
The inner realms
The outer realms
Realms, a silver thread
Straining and pulling
Tight, all gossamer, all
Shiny with light.
 
Below, the vibrating undercurrent
Of eternal sweetness,
Thrum of hummingbird wings,
Morning breeze ruffling the curtains,
A pie cooling on the ledge.
The battle will be fought
And refought –no winners, only
Scarred participants 
Dragging themselves up,
Rising to live and fight
Another day.  

Margo McCall‘s short stories have appeared in Pacific Review, Heliotrope, In*tense, Sidewalks, Rockhurst Review, Toasted Cheese, and other journals. Her nonfiction has appeared in Herizons, Lifeboat: A Journal of Memoir, Pilgrimage, the Los Angeles Times, and a variety of other publications. A graduate of the M.A. creative writing program at California State University Northridge, she lives in the port town of Long Beach, California. For more information, visit http://www.margomccall.com.