A Desert Winter Suite – poetry by David Chorlton

A  Desert Winter Suite

It’s warm in the winter sun that touches
down on the dry
grass in the park, growing quietly
through whatever comes, whoever
walks or sits there while the mountain
watches with nothing else to fill
its time but being still and bearing
the weight of light that passes
over it. Sunday, Sunday, Sunday;
the week holds its breath
but it’s still a working day
for the sky. So much for it to do, and
the night to come, when
it hangs from a star: canvas
with a black silk lining.
A hawk sways back and forth
in a cradle of wind, his tail
above houses, while his eye
already sees the desert with its thirst.
A grey light showers
from the sky today, catches
in the needles on saguaro,
and scraps of it are carried away
in a Rock Wren’s beak. The air
is the color of rain, but
none falls. Cloud for cloud
the hours cross the mountain
in shades of dry, until the longest
night begins with Jupiter
and Saturn embedded
in the velvet sky.
A scene remembered floats
through starlight;
it’s midnight past and present
with the owl’s dark calls
woven into woodsmoke.
The city’s lights reflecting
from the far
side of South Mountain
are the late night hum from distant
traffic turning orange in the dark
and the air is dragon’s breath. Bees
are sleeping in a hollowed space
in a wall in the wash
where a sandy trail runs
between rocks and rocks
and javelina rumble down
the slopes, bristle-backed in moonlight,
into streets that lie
at rest. Coyotes make
their nightly rounds from park
to pond and cul-de-sac,
while above them, stars
are loose change in the sky.
The street’s a secret passage
here to there, and never ends;
it runs in its own time guided
by the streetlamps
and doesn’t stop to ask the way.
The owl knows where it leads,
brushes some dust from the dark
with a wing
and its two repeated notes
buff against the bone-light
from the moon.

David Chorlton lives in Phoenix, close to a large desert mountain city park from which various creatures visit after sundown! He has published several books and performed poetry on occasion with his recently deceased wife, a violinist who brought out extra dimensions in the work with her music. 

The Lesser God Pan – a poem by Daniel Hinds

The Lesser God Pan
Non-stick coating
Tangled in the earth.
The snare holds your handle
Your handle levers the earth.
You have outlived ancients. 
With a prang
A hoof steps onto the black plate.

Daniel Hinds won the Poetry Society’s Timothy Corsellis Young Critics Prize and he was one of the winners of the Shortlist Book Review Competition, held in celebration of the Dylan Thomas Prize. His poetry has been published or is forthcoming in The London MagazineThe New EuropeanWild CourtStandBlackbox ManifoldThe Honest UlstermanFinished Creatures, and elsewhere. Twitter: @DanielGHinds 

Unholy Sonnet – a poem by Nada Faris

—    After Mark Jarman 
When Abraham felt his heart
waver, Allah granted him a miracle: 
the dismembering of a flying bird. Its bones 
were wrenched apart, then gently 
set on separate mountaintops. Feathers
and flesh flew together, complete. A beak
began to dote and speak words of surrender. 
The word surrender opens gated dimensions
where Time neither ticks nor passes, it heaves 
like our breasts, like beasts who only want 
to love God in every language where mysteries are captured 
with a swallowing love: three times the size of a universe, 
from Big Bang to human consciousness, 
and seven times smaller than a pearl.

Nada Faris is a writer and teaching-artist who received an Arab Woman Award in 2018 from Harper Bazaar Arabia for her impact on Kuwait’s creative sector. Her work has been published in Nimrod, Sukoon, Norton’s Anthology for Hint FictionThe Indianapolis Review, and elsewhere. Website: www.nadafaris.com. Twitter: @nadafaris.

The Three Day Festival – a poem by Clive Donovan


They are finally slumped and out of it
in what used roughly to be a circle;
the tired drummers, the flute-shooters and the last of the
gourd shakers dropped off, sighing and snoring...

around the hard-stamped ground, in the middle of which I am,
progressing slowly the dance that must never cease
at this festival of continuous celebration.
All day there were dozens taking part

and firecrackers and stews and kissing.
There were balloons and goats and climbing ropes
and this dance that must never stop, by custom.
And now the pulse is mine, I hold the tribe

in hands that would wrench down a purple sky,
enveloping my people. And my heels pause.
My hips stop. My heart and breath become the dance. Look!
It is all mine – armfuls of lives, precious, asleep.

Oh tiny hours! Steered by the stars!
Remember me like this if you can.
A finger of dawn. As dreams become thin,
A slip of a child stirs, starts clapping.

Clive Donovan devotes himself full-time to poetry and has published in a wide variety of magazines including The Journal, Agenda, Acumen, Poetry Salzburg Review, Prole, Sentinel Literary Quarterly and Stand. He lives in the creative atmosphere of Totnes in Devon, U.K. often walking along the River Dart for inspiration. He is hoping to entice a publisher to print a first collection. 

Ghosts all Around – a poem by David Dephy

Nothing flies as quick as the past.
Nothing lasts forever, but future.
The spirit of time changes. We are thirsty
All the seconds we have drank. Still thirsty. 
About a century has passed, there is no space 
left in our diary. All the faces we have seen,
all the words we have sung, all the heroes
we have loved still hungry. We are empty 
and the moon is empty deep inside, 
and the legendary Fort Knox too, maybe. 
Birds? What we have learned from the birds? 
Their wings are razor blades, the shades of twilight, 
the state of blood. We are thirsty, but listening 
to winds on the other side of hunger gives us 
the courage to fly there, our voices are hopes 
trusting the dark.

David Dephy: A Georgian/American award-winning poet and novelist. The winner of the Finalist Award in the 2020 Best Book Award National Contest by American Book Fest, the winner of the Spillwords Poetry Award, the finalist of the Adelaide Literary Awards for the category of Best Poem. He is named as A Literature Luminary by Bowery Poetry, The Stellar Poet by Voices of Poetry and The Incomparable Poet byStatorec. His works have been published and anthologized in USA, UK and all over the world by the many literary magazines, journals and publishing houses. He lives in New York.

Snowfall on Opening Leaf Buds – a poem by Leo Aylen

Snowfall on Opening Leaf Buds: Sonnet

Guides do appear, almost invisible,
Flickering through the grass beside the path,             
Or glimpsed flying through a gentle snowfall
On opening leaf-buds, when the season’s growth                  
Seems to halt for an hour. Who are they, though,      
These guides? Afterwards we thoughtlessly talk                   
About them as ...dreams more fragile than snow                   
Falling only to melt. So can we walk             
In the direction they have taken, doubting
Whether it is direction or mere aimless
Wandering round in circles? Will we find
Anything anywhere? Silence is shouting
At us: “Look up. Look down. Look back. The nameless
Wonder is here. Oh why are you so blind?”

Leo Aylen was born in KwaZulu, South Africa, was educated in England and has lived in London, New York, LA. He has 5 prizes, about 100 poems in anthologies, 100 broadcast,  9 collections published, the latest The Day The Grass Came, called “a triumph”  by Melvyn Bragg, “Stupendous” by Simon Callow, “An energy which could leave readers gasping” by Martyn Halsall. He often writes in strict forms.

Huldah Prophesies – a poem by Julie L. Moore

Huldah Prophesies (a Premature but Peaceful Death for the Beloved King of Judah)
            ~II Kings 22:14–20 & II Chronicles 34: 22-28
My name is nothing to brag about—
its origin akin to vermin, 
weasel or mole—imagine naming
your daughter that!—though I do dig 
beneath the meanings of things. 
Messengers and priests visit me often
here in the Mishneh, the new quarter
where business booms and the western wall 
rises. I’ve grown accustomed to their nagging 
questions, their desire to hear from on high
arduous answers. And today, four men—
               Hilkiah, the high priest, 
               Shaphan, the scribe, 
               Asaiah, the king’s servant,
               Ahikam, and Akbor—
like horses in the future apocalypse— 
came to me (not my cousin
Jeremiah), the wife of the royal 
wardrobe’s keeper, I, who sift serial facts 
from fictional chaff, who can offer  
mercy for the king who’s just discovered
his nation’s sins. 
                                 What can I say?  
Amid my lesson to the young 
women in my house, the men galloped in,
breathless, their voices braying, 
brows caked with dust and the sweat 
of urgency. They’d found a book
buried beneath precious metal 
hidden in the temple. I tell you 
it doesn’t get any better than this. 
And I was the one who knew 
whether it was the word of G-d.
I sent the women home, 
then took a look. 
                                 Sh'ma Yisrael,
yes, listen, my tongue intoned, 
eyeing these men who studied Hebrew texts 

incomplete until today. They were obeying
orders, pulverizing idols, repairing the breaches 
of the temple, the couplings and roof-beams 
desecrated, when they found the terrifying treasure.
Tell this man, I said, for I knew Josiah was
created from clay like me. Mine was the voice 
of Yahweh that rose above the masculine crowd. 
I sometimes didn’t recognize its commanding 
pitch and tenor, its throaty insistence on decrees
and divinations. No one could keep it
               Tell him the nation will fall. 
Eleh haDevarim, these are His words. Curses! 
Curses. You and I will see it all 
before we die. The men’s necks
tightened, their mouths filled with speech-
less fear. An owl on the roof howled. 
I who am chosen of Adonai
to speak these hard truths
took one necessary breath.
Then, beyond anyone’s imagination,
came the rest.

A Best of the Net and six-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Julie L. Moore is the author of four poetry collections, including, most recently, Full Worm Moon, which won a 2018 Woodrow Hall Top Shelf Award and received honorable mention for the Conference on Christianity and Literature’s 2018 Book of the Year Award. She has also had poetry appear in African American ReviewAlaska Quarterly Review, Image, New Ohio Review, Prairie Schooner, and The Southern Review. Moore is the Writing Center Director at Taylor University in Indiana, where she is the poetry editor for Relief Journal. Learn more about her work at julielmoore.com.

In the Beginning – a poem by James Green

In the Beginning

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
Genesis 1:1 

We are told
by those who claim
such knowledge that the universe
is still expanding: Matter since creation
lunges further, further into the abyss we fathom
only as theory, redefining space, fragments charged
by echoes of first cause altering time in swelling symmetry,
invading void with power and glory, bejeweling the nightscape
until (some say) nebulae turn inward again and retreat to home,
colliding, collapsing into the dark vortex of their fiery origin,
tightening focus, drawn into negative space, the tiny
mass vanishing at the sound of a faint crunch
when, again, a spark strikes the urge
of a fresh heartbeat.

James Green has published four chapbooks of poetry, the most recent of which was named winner of the Charles Dickson Chapbook contest sponsored by the Georgia Poetry Society. Individual poems have appeared in literary magazines in Ireland, the UK, and the USA.   Formerly a university professor and administrator, he is now retired and resides in Muncie, Indiana. You may contact him through his website at www.jamesgreenpoetry.com.

Meadow – a poem by KC Bailey

Time departs on air
dandy clocks
spread their hands
fine fingers, feather weight 
            float     out       of         v     i     e      w
swept up on unseen drafts
into crisp sky-light
lost to the blue
eyes cast higher
to follow 
the haphazard path
of a dancing seed
a cat chasing butterflies
weaves senseless loops
children           leap     and clap
at rising soap bubbles
random acts of joy
in organised shapes
beauty in non-conformity
that hides mathematical certainty
be more like a petal
on the breath of a summer's day
let airstreams guide you –                   soar. 

KC Bailey is a writer from the UK. Publication credits for poetry, fiction and non-fiction include The Ekphrastic Review, The Hellebore, Black Bough PoetryMonkey KettleThe Tide RisesBlack Flowers, The Failure Baler, Idle Ink, CaféLit and the BBC. She has an MA in Creative Writing and Tweets @KCBailey_Writer.

Lament for Lost Things – a poem by Annie Kissack

Lament for Lost Things

I have found a place
where stray ferns link
long-fingered fronds
high above steep, damp verges
and below, in fuss and foam,
a stream emerges.
But sometimes from
the hurrying water
breaks a shy, jagged thought
born of the ravine, 
not sought:
a jutting fragment
offspring of the river bed,
aslant, no doubt
slippery to tread
and bearing the broken edge
of a voice 
that once I heard. 
After that, nothing, 
not a shiver,
not a word
just the steady spill
of all known things
down a shadowed bank
for who now sings
the scattering of stone
and feathered rock,            
and memory
and mark?

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