Ode To My Wrists – a poem by Lisa Molina

Ode To My Wrists

My wrists
tiny glass brittle bones broken,
shattered when I slipped and fell.

My wrists
hung on a Chinese finger trap with
weights pulling them to realign in the ER.

My wrists
“Will I be able to play piano again?” 
I ask the doctor, even though my wrist’s fingers hadn’t touched the dusty keys in over a year, 

My wrists 
repaired with metal plates by a surgeon three days later, held together with pins and plates forever.

My wrists 
trapped in their bandaged wrapped cocoons, 
waiting for the fluttering wing fingers to emerge.

My wrists
unable to turn pages of a book or 
write a poem or text a friend or
caress the fluffy fur of my cat..

My wrists 
finally released, spreading their fingers
outside their cocoons, covered in scars
of remembrance and gratitude.

My wrists  
lay their fingers on the piano keys and begin to play the notes through my whole body as I joyfully weep in prayer of swollen pain.

My wrists caress/console/carry/captivate/pen/pages/poems/



Holding a BFA from the University of Texas, Lisa Molina has taught high school English and theatre, and served as Associate Publisher of Austin Family Magazine. Molina now works with students with special needs. Her poetry can be found in Trouvaille Review, Beyond Words Magazine, Ancient Paths Literary Magazine, and The Ekphrastic Review with poems soon to be featured in The Peeking Cat and Silver Birch Press. She lives in Austin, Texas.

Sometimes We Must be Swallowed – a poem by Alfred Fournier

Sometimes We Must be Swallowed

“I will not be swallowed,”
I believe were Jonah’s exact words 
before the gaping fish maw folded darkness 
like a tomb shroud around him. 

He was stubborn, like his God, clinging 
to a skeletal certainty he’d hammered 
into place around him, calling it home. 
His faith in clockwork sun so fast, 
only darkness could save him. 

He brooded in that echoey ribbed cathedral 
until a storm savaged the sea. He marveled 
to feel the hurtling vessel of the fish slacken 
on the untold will of the waves.			

Wrenching fear like a dagger 
from his stone of his heart, 
he laughed—to his surprise—
and stood amid the pitching waves
and cried the song of all his joy to God. 

Alfred Fournier is a writer and community volunteer living in Phoenix, Arizona. His poems have appeared in Plainsongs, The Main Street Rag, Third Wednesday, Kind Writers, Ocotillo Review and elsewhere.

in place of an answer – a poem by Whitney Rio-Ross

in place of an answer

after Cy Twombly

he asked me what i meant 
by god, as if some wisp
of my soul could carry
his abandon, solid enough 
to shoulder a self.

if i stay still for long
i can watch my colors lose
themselves to the gaps between
my footprints. i ask for
a darker shade, some form
of permanence, but am sent 
smeared fingers to stretch 
my frame without 
asking for directions.

understanding is the greatest 
pretense we’ve found 
for erasure. our eyes
are too weak to watch it
disappear, arms too small
to wrestle a blessing.  

i want to carry him 
an outline to hold, say 
this body is given for you,
broken, open to embrace.

Whitney Rio-Ross is the author of the chapbook Birthmarks (Wipf & Stock) and poetry editor of Fare Forward. Her poetry has appeared in or is forthcoming in New South, America Magazine, So to Speak, Rock & Sling, The Windhover, 3Elements Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Nashville, TN, with her husband and practically perfect pup.

Writing and the Sacred – a reflection by Clive Donovan


How are writing and the sacred connected? 

As a poet I feel lucky and blessed if a poem, whose progress in detail has not been necessarily planned, ends up touching a new aspect of the sacred for me, the first reader, to view, to contemplate and to enjoy. This might involve a demonstration of the plight and struggle and contradictions involved in the human condition. Even if the poem is about a tree or the sea it will still, in some way, incorporate the feelings or reactions of the human observer. 

A major part of the poet’s job, as I see it, is to uncover the divine in the human world – to divine the sacred in that incredible mixture that constitutes this conscious animal we call man. So the poem may make points about fortitude, resilience, sacrifice, redemption, empathy, compassion and also may invite discernment of the contrast of the dark shadows – for how does good become corrupted and transform to evil? The list is endless really and will vary according to the individual expressive genius of the poet, who is only a man or woman after all, not special, except insofar as they have chosen this particular wonderful art form to articulate the truest and deepest parts of themselves that they have the skill or grace to access.

And if the work is to attain any sort of interesting meaning or psychological depth, one could argue that it must touch upon the sacred. And often, marvellously, close reading by an intelligent other will find some worthy, perhaps allegorical, insight that even the poet did not fully realize.

But, as for me, I have discovered something of myself concerning those fallow periods when I am not writing: variously and famously described as ‘writers block’, ‘resting’, or a ‘lack of inspiration’ and suffered by most writers, I believe, as a state of frustration. 

I find I am at my most prolific when I am troubled, say, in a relationship, or saddened at its ending. But when I am content and happy, maybe a few stanzas emerge about a bird singing in a sunbeam and that’s it.

So here’s the thing: When am I most in touch with the divine? When I am writing [which is itself a struggle – though ultimately addictive and satisfying] or when at peace, empty, not writing, simply enjoying life and doing those things that poets write about?

I deposit that conundrum for you to wrestle with.

Clive Donovan
 devotes himself full-time to poetry and has published in a wide variety of magazines including Agenda, Amethyst Review, Fenland Poetry Journal, Neon Lit. Journal, Prole, Sentinel Lit. Quarterly and Stand. He lives in Totnes, Devon, U.K. by the River Dart. His debut collection will be published by Leaf by Leaf in November 2021. 

Lifeline – a poem by Eve Kagan

The grains of sand, so large,
not grains, so much as tiny stones,
revealing the passing of time
in waves across shores,
like the lines of my ancestors
reaching across my forehead.
A history. A memory of
mountains, dunes, the skeleton
of a world pounded into pieces
that spill between my fingers rough
and smooth, slipping off
my daughter’s knees as the light
hits her fine blonde hairs
she sprinkles them like
glitter, like magic,
while I trace the pattern
of life turning over.

Eve Kagan is a trauma-informed therapist, educator, and theatre-artist. Her poetry is forthcoming in Eunoia Review; her personal essays and short stories have been published in various journals and anthologies, including HuffPost, Role Reboot, Mothering through the Darkness, and Dark City Lights. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Meditation Interrupted – a poem by Judy De Croce

Meditation Interrupted

In this space of trees and hush,
searching the edges, seeking a center;
eyes close, focus, erase and begin. 

down a mine of calm
settling like an airship
where I watch losing myself

separating from inner voices
standing and vacant,
searching for emptiness
under a curious neglect of time.

I hear the past where those loved are held,
stretching forward on a slip of life—
interrupting my way of silence

and yes, you and I,
are caught there too

                                 begin anew…

Judy DeCroce is an internationally published poet, flash fiction writer, educator, and avid reader whose recent works have been published by The BeZine, Brown Bag Online, North of Oxford, The Poet Magazine, Amethyst Review, The Wild Word, OPEN:Journal of Arts & Letters, and many journals and anthologies. As a professional storyteller and teacher of that genre, she also offers, workshops for all ages in flash fiction. 
Judy lives and works in upstate New York with her husband poet/artist, Antoni Ooto.

Writing and the Sacred – a reflection by John F Zurn

This is a brief discussion of writing and the sacred.                  

The relationship between writing and the sacred has existed for thousands of years. During the Greek and Roman eras, for example, myths were eventually formalized into story forms and described religious beliefs and practices. Nevertheless, writing also remains one of the most powerful ways to express spiritual themes. I would like to express a few of these relationships that have been important to me. These reasons can be seen as descriptive and are not my attempt to limit or deny other equally important ideas.

The first and possibly most important of these relationships is in expressing devotion. Whether its praise, gratitude or petition, writing devotional words on a page often gives these words special meaning. A spiritual poem or prayer is either written to God or for God, so it must be carefully written with a spiritual attitude. For example, when writing a prayer about “Despair,” the literary poem is transformed into a spiritual exercise. When the prayer is finished, I can feel closure, and my relationship to God may become more intimate. Since the poem may take at least two hours to finish, the whole time may be spent in thinking about our relationship. This sincerity can also provide the opportunity to discover thoughts and feelings that lead to a greater understanding of the divine. After a dangerous experience or memorable encounter, writing can integrate the experience into a higher spiritual awareness. Thus the feeling of exploration and searching becomes a part of writing and the sacred.

For example, sometimes memorable encounters can transform writing into a spiritual experience. When I was nineteen, I hunted at my Uncle’s resort. One day, as I sat under a tree on a sunny afternoon, a huge snowshoe hare, prematurely white prior to the first snow, hopped fifteen yards directly in front of me. If I were to kill the hare, the whole hunting lodge would have cheered. However, I realized it was my soul that I was preparing to kill. I dropped my gun and never picked up one again. Years later, when I wrote the story, it became a spiritual epiphany for me and much more than a woodland adventure story.

Perhaps, the most subjective writing expresses personal spiritual experience itself. Often these experiences are so intense, writers feel compelled to either share them, or never reveal them. Those who decide to reveal their spiritual experiences may be challenged with the doubt and rejection of others. Many years ago I had an experience in meditation during which I realized that: “God is love in the form of light energy.” Like most people who discover something beautiful, I was intent on sharing the experience. However, my friends and family ignored or rejected it.  Now, by writing poems that explain this experience with verses and images, this discovery is, at least, not immediately discounted. Writers often employ literary devices to explain these experiences and this might seem more practical.

Writing about the Divine can be lonely and frustrating, but it can also be rewarding to the adventurous writer who searches for self-discovery.

John F Zurn has an M.A. in English from Western Illinois University and spent much of his career as a school teacher.  Now retired, he continues to write and publish poems and stories. As one of seven children, his experiences growing up help inspire his art and influence his life.

Songbirds – a poem by Lisa Meserole


do you remember the first time you sang?

was it 4 am, your soul’s sound a lone ripple in darkness
or did you wait for the morning chorus, blend your voice in?

was it midday, your lungs pointing toward the sun
or was your first warble just before bed
a lullaby to the wind-swaying trees?

did you present yourself on the highest stage
or nestle invisible behind the curtain?

did you call out to every star and syrinx
or did you sing soft and quiet for no one at all
or share only when loved ones were listening?

where did you learn to hear the music of being
did someone help teach you arpeggios and scales
or were you born with special knowing
your own perfect pitch?

do you remember that very first song
did you bob your head to your heart’s singular beat
or did your lungs fill with melancholy air?

were you scared
did you wait past your peers until you alone were ready,
or were you curious
did melody burst forth from your feathers
you couldn’t have held back if you tried?

do you remember
that first time you dared sing in this world?

did you feel so fluttery with goodness
or were you ashamed?

tell me, did your voice feel as true
and breathtaking as wings?

does it still? 

Lisa Meserole teaches music and movement to young children in Connecticut. Her poems have appeared in Waking Up to the Earth, and in Oysterville: Poems, as well as in Connecticut River ReviewGreen Hills Literary Lantern, and Shot Glass Journal. She was also an Edwin Way Teale Writer-In-Residence at Trail Wood.

The Hunch – a poem by Nicole Lee

The Hunch
I can’t watch John McEnroe
I want him to win so much
he’s brilliant but oh so
volatile and I know
that if I care I’ll doom him
if I watch he’ll surely lose
his insouciance his touch
But that is magical thinking
and obviously absurd
and when I’m kneeling
at the Communion rail
how primitive is it
when the vicar murmurs
Body of Christ His Blood
Everybody knows
when you’re dead you’re dead
and that’s just how it goes
there’s no such thing
as an immortal soul
and nothing’s changed
by a prayer you’ve said
Yet the demonstration
of particle physics
that observation
switches quantum states
the butterfly effect
e equals mc squared
law re energy
being a constant
able like the body
to be transformed
but not destroyed  
hint how this human
hunch is relevant

a clue left by God
that maybe he’s here
for are we not
energy made briefly
conscious and those
spasms Eternity’s
voice in our ear?

Nicole Lee was born in Kuala Lumpur and educated at Malvern and Oxford. She has worked as a banker in Hong Kong and London and now lives in Wandsworth, works in Kew and writes poetry. She has been published in various online journals and long-listed in the National Poetry Competition.

Life Story – a poem by Diane Elayne Dees

Life Story

Our self-portraits, rendered dense by pentimento,
reveal the paths we took, and those we feared—
while the stories of our lives are so much cento,
that who we are is never really clear.
Are those our thoughts, or are they someone else’s?
How much of what we went through is repressed?
We’ve worn so many masks, they’re now like faces
that change without our knowledge. Is it best
to know that we may never see our souls
revealed in any but the dimmest light?
Perhaps we need to give up all the roles
that have defined us—but do we want unfiltered sight?
Our layers thicken as our years increase;
do we dare to peel them off and welcome peace?

Diane Elayne Dees is the author of the chapbook, Coronary Truth (Kelsay Books); she has two other chapbooks forthcoming. Diane, who lives in Covington, Louisiana, also publishes Women Who Serve, a blog that delivers news and commentary on women’s professional tennis throughout the world.