Failed Sail – a poem by Cordelia Hanemann

Failed Sail   

You moan of your spiritual dryness.

You have polished the gunwales,
adjusted the rudder, tightened the halyards,
trimmed out new sails. You are ready
for your adventure; but, alas, no wind:
God has not shown up.

You must now, in your frustrated
prayer moment, grit it out alone,
sit, fists furled in your lap;
or, you pace the unsteady hull,
wiggle the dagger board, yank
the tiller, pivot the boom. Nothing.
You’ve been stood up by an uppity God,
putting you in your place.

Did you expect God
to light on your bow,
bluster into your sails?
Don’t you know that God IS
(always showing up), that it is 
you, who have not shown up?

Perhaps, God-who-IS is waiting 
for you to let go 
the tiller, haul up the anchor,
risk a drift with the current. 

Cordelia Hanemann is writer and artist in Raleigh, NC. She has published in  journals: Atlanta Review,  Southwestern Review, and Laurel Review; anthologies, The Poet Magazine’s Friends and FriendshipHeron Clan and Kakalakand in a chapbook. Her poems have won awards and been nominated for prizes. Recently the featured poet for Negative Capability Press and The Alexandria Quarterly, she is now working on a first novel, about her roots in Cajun Louisiana. 

With the Tenderness of the Rain Forest – a poem by Andre F. Peltier

With the Tenderness of the Rain Forest


I read the world in a glance. 
All the back-alleys, 
all the lost continents 
and secret haunts. 
Treasure trove of the Caribbean, 
buried by pirates 
distant and forgotten. 
Blackbeard’s ghost, Mary Poppins 
in the campground of yesteryear,
Main Street USA,
and I think of my future 
and God. 
Seven years old 
and my road-trip summer 
overflows with melting crayons. 
I feel the wax 
between my fingers 
and write love letters to tomorrow. 
The Carousel of Tomorrow 
spun and there was a great 
big beautiful tomorrow 
when I looked at the AAA 
roadmaps. 
And there’s a great big beautiful 
tomorrow 
when I see the atlas 
in the eyes of God,
the contours of the 
farthest reaches,
the four corners of the globe.
Strong Sahara shoulders 
upon which rest the weight 
of our weary word.
The paths of Alexander
From beautiful Asia Minor 
to the twelve altars on the Hyphasis
the deep lines on His cheeks.
From mighty Mount Whitney 
down the long grey beard.
The sailing stones of
Death Valley: each vertebra.
The joy of His laugh, 
the joy of continents: 
West Africa and Western Australia. 
His piercing stare, 
like the sheer slopes of 
the Matterhorn. 
An atlas in every breath.
Amazon heart pumping 
love and grace
from backwater swamp 
and the headwaters 
of ancient Machu Picchu. 
A watershed 
to the lifeblood of oceans.
“Cast down your bucket,” 
the captain called in the mouth 
of the mighty river.  
“Cast down your bucket where 
you are,” he repeated. 
So wide they couldn’t 
see the shore. 
So wide God’s Amazonian 
tenderness. 
So wide the carousel 
of this very moment.

Andre F. Peltier is a Lecturer III at Eastern Michigan University where teaches literature and freshman composition. He lives in Ypsilanti, MI, with his family. His poetry has appeared in or is forthcoming in numerous journals In his free time, he obsesses about soccer and comic books.
Twitter: @aandrefpeltier

Looking the Other Way – a poem by Laura Foley

Looking the Other Way
 
I go out and climb the hill, to see the way grass
accepts the wind’s direction, how it yellows
with the season, goldenrod fading to ashy grey,
to brush my hair with the breeze, to hear
the poplar’s leaves speaking of autumn’s in-between.
But sometimes, instead of gazing toward the woods I’ve climbed,
I turn and look the other way, toward mountains
that lead to other mountains, and then the sea.
I imagine I’m a butterfly, the orange and black one
just now taking flight, lifting to the topmost branch.
I envision a thousand mile journey along the coast,
over the Gulf’s wide, churning waters,
her fragile escape. Then, from what I’ve gleaned
in contemplation of another’s freedom, I’m ready
to descend, to accept the work of home again.

Laura Foley is the author of seven poetry collections. Why I Never Finished My Dissertation received a starred Kirkus Review and was among their top poetry books of 2019. Her collection It’s This is forthcoming from Salmon Press. Laura lives with her wife among the hills of Vermont. 

Our Father’s Body – a poem by M J Sully

Our Father's Body

He had always been lean, strong, a cyclist.
Rode a fifty-mile, timed trial two days before
his appointment at the hospital. Just a test
he said, an enquiry into his body. It was news
to the rest of us that he'd felt poorly for a while.

Weeks later he came home for Christmas,
wrapped in canvas. We found him hiding
within the alcoves of his skin, saw the inside
of his smile as his face caved in; the pale
pull of muscle shredding against bone.

We loosened and peeled back the sheet,
tried to catch him but he slipped away
in the water that streamed from his limbs,
that ran down my arms as I kissed his hands;
strange how it felt so cool, so clean.

M J Sully ‘s publications include Prole, Strix, Trouvaille Review, Pulp Poets Press and Obsessed with Pipework. She’s been long-listed for The London Magazine Poetry prize and is currently working on a pamphlet of poems about dementia based on her experience of looking after her mother.

August Night – a poem by Roberta Santlofer

August Night

 
The cat’s night walk is as synchronized as the cricket’s chirp
But much slower
As August’s humidity thickens
The night slurs like a drunk
In need of a shower and sleep
Distant rumbles can be heard
Perhaps rain will follow
And the cat will walk more distinctly

Roberta “Bobby” Santlofer (1943-2020) was a mother of sons, an avid reader, and a poet. A posthumous collection of her poetry is forthcoming. Santlofer’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Black Coffee Review, Bluepepper, Chiron Review, Eunoia Review, Gargoyle, Philadelphia Stories, Grey Sparrow Review, The Pangolin Review, Remington Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Vita Brevis, Wine Cellar Press and elsewhere.

Midsummer’s Eve – a poem by Carolyn Ostrander

Midsummer's Eve

I draw no conclusions in porchlight.
With fence and lawn and neighbors
abstracted by the night,
we sit beneath swayed boughs.

With fence and lawn and neighbors,
all that meaning dropped away.
We sit beneath swayed boughs,
still minds transfixed by beauty

All that meaning dropped away.
The tree like us, composed,
still; minds transfixed by beauty:
five leaves and five leaves and five.

The tree like us is composed
as the vision is unfurled:
Five leaves and five leaves and five,
whose patterns adorn my world.

As the vision is unfurled, 
slim-stemmed topaz and rubies
whose patterns adorn my world
are suspended beneath the trees.

Slim-stemmed topaz and rubies,
abstracted by the night,
are suspended beneath the trees.
I draw no conclusions in porchlight.

Carolyn Ostrander, a freelance transliterator for the Deaf, lives in central New York. Her poems have appeared in The Comstock Review, (she is currently an editor) and Monday Night Poetry Anthology 2006. With degrees in linguistics and composition/rhetoric, she researches and writes about disability rhetorics, suffrage and nineteenth-century rural women.

Atlantic Nocturne – a poem by David Chorlton

Atlantic Nocturne


A distant rumbling keeps the clouds from sleep.
Lightning reaches for the shore
where a turtle’s slow tracks in the sand
mark her passage to moonlight
pooling in a hollow. Between silver
and darkness she casts a shadow weighing more
than her shell, while the ocean’s pulse
has a steady beat and its heart
glows deep beneath
the surface.
                    Tonight
the carvers of stone calendars
awaken in time to see
their predictions fulfilled, as the turtle
draws strength from ancient storms
to lay an egg for every flash.

David Chorlton is a longtime resident of Phoenix, who has grown into the desert climate and likes it. Visits to Costa Rica and the rainforest made a significant and vastly contrasting impression on him compared to his usual dry surroundings.

Going to Church on a Weekday – a poem by Susan Bennett

Going to Church on a Weekday			                         

Moving with the simple elegance of a dancer,
exquisitely patient.
Each deliberate exertion,
weighed down by deadly intent.
Gunmetal grey feathers
soften his spindly frame.
The color of where water and sky meet
and lose themselves in each other.

His patience far exceeds my own.
I stop on my walk to drink in this vision.
He freezes in place, has he seen me?
We share a moment of dead quiet.
I begin to wonder,
how long can I stand unmoving?
When I stop wondering
being still becomes easier.

All my desires and deceits
dissolve into this singular moment.
All I can ever remember wanting 
is to be here watching him, 
as long as he allows it.

I can’t say how much time passes,
but it is long enough.
Just as thoughts of tasks ahead begin
to invade my peace, he plunges 
his sharp beak into the pond, 
raises his perfect neck victorious,
skewering a silvery fish 
bigger than his own head.

Two swallows and the fish is gone.
He returns to his motionless stance.
My shock is surpassed only by my delight.
Blessed by the ministry 
of the Great Blue Heron,
I continue on the path.

Susan Bennett is a ritualist and emerging poet. She has been leading women’s spirit circles in Northern Virginia for fifteen years.  Her poem “In the Center Ring” was published in Gargoyle Magazine, Spring 2021. She is a graduate of the University of California, San Diego.

What will she do today? – a poem by Meg Freer

What will she do today?
for Jennifer A.


Her house has no bones,
no room for a hand dragged over skin
or the kiss crass and sharp.

She feels kind today, helps clear away
residual calculus on night’s edges,
travels sunwise as shoulders read
the world. She fuels jazz on a porch
with a purple bench, leaves a margin
for the elastic recoil of riches
unfurled by eastern cloud-flow.

She inhales primary colors,
exhales secondary hues of violet,
marigold, tangerine, emerald.
Sometimes audible, sometimes private
—breath—
always the main character.


Meg Freer grew up in Montana and lives in Kingston, Ontario. She has worked as an editor and currently teaches piano. She enjoys taking photos and being active outdoors year-round. Her writing has been published in anthologies and various journals such as Vallum, Arc Poetry, and Sunlight Press.

Turbulent Times – a poem by Jennifer Clark

Turbulent Times
 
God takes up lots of space on the plane,
insists on having the window seat.
I slide over to make room.
 
Moments before unrestrained objects
begin to shift, the pilot announces
we are heading into turbulence.
 
I reach over to hold God’s hand
but God is busy, conducting
a symphony of birds drunk on sky.
 
If my faith were pushier,
I’d brush my fingertips
against the hem of God’s cloak.
 
Instead, I sulk and get dizzy
watching God out of the corner
of my eye devouring pretzels.
 
Will I give up this easily? Why not
interrupt and say something? Then
the plane pitches and yaws,
 
an orange rolls down the aisle.
Still busy with birds, God looks
unperturbed and yawns.
 
I see a tree inside God’s mouth
and hanging from a branch, a swing.
It would be brazen to say it was waiting
for me, but it was.

Jennifer Clark is the author of a children’s book and three full-length poetry collections, most recently A Beginner’s Guide to Heaven (Unsolicited Press). She has a hybrid collection, Kissing the World Goodbye, forthcoming from Unsolicited Press in 2022. She lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Her website is jenniferclarkkzoo.com.