the snow is a metaphor – a poem by Rana Bickel

the snow is a metaphor 

i’m not so into purity these days but
man does the snow do it for me

pure white gleaming in the sun
like an endless whiteboard covered in glitter 
flawless and blinkingly bright
heaps of cold for miles

these days i’m about as pure as blood but
this view makes me yearn for 
a time when i didn’t feel this way

truth be told in my religion we’re more into 
blessed wine and living water
moving us through holiness
than stagnant virginity white

the wind meets me vividly on the downhill 
trees lined up like rows of eager candles 
snow perching on floating pine 

the snow is indiscriminate 
frosted on trees smeared on surfaces
clouding the mountain air 
turning everything from the earth to my breath 
into white itself

need i mention the mountains?
hovering purplebluebrown in the distance

sun on snow sparkles like nothing
natural ought to have the right to
blindingly whitepurplegreen 
as it begins to melt 

turning the inscrutable unknowable 
into clear clear water

almost makes me believe God could be

Rana Bickel (she/they) is a queer Jewish poet from Maryland residing in Chicago. She is a recent graduate of Barnard College where she was a member of the slam poetry team. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in Bourgeon Magazine, Thimble Literary Magazine, and the Jewish Literary Journal. She loves books, community, and rainstorms. 

yahrzeit for my past self – a poem by Rana Bickel

yahrzeit for my past self 

a broken glass 
wrapped tenderly in a napkin

a soft black skirt 
a faded siddur

first i say the mourners kadish 
to an empty room

yisgadal viyiskadash shemey rabba
my tallis wrapped around my living shoulders

(they say that every single cell in your body is different than it was seven years before
i Know this to be true)

i inhale the spices, flirt with the flame and drown 
the many wicked candle in the red

then i tear off my clothes
and run into the sea

Rana Bickel (she/they) is a queer Jewish poet from Maryland residing in Chicago. She is a recent graduate of Barnard College where she was a member of the slam poetry team. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in Bourgeon Magazine, Thimble Literary Magazine, and the Jewish Literary Journal. She loves books, community, and rainstorms. 

The Inner Ganesh in Our Soul’s Eden – a poem by S.T. Brant

The Inner Ganesh in Our Soul’s Eden

Your face is an elephant of roses in my heart;
	your soul I know,
For it is me stampeding, and off falls fire, 
	deciduous flames
On the tree of my being fill the steps of my running
	through your garden
And become other gardens where echoes stampede
	until all the microcosms
Of this joy exhaust the energy of limit
	and it submits
To this endlessness of feeling; birds fly
	from beneath my feet,
Created as the sound of my stampeding, singing
	into the air
Where they swim with the whales and dolphins and seals. 

S. T. Brant is a teacher from Las Vegas. 
Pubs in/coming from EcoTheo, Timber, Door is a Jar, Santa Clara Review, Rain Taxi, New South, Green Mountains Review, Another Chicago Magazine, Ekstasis, 8 Poems, a few others. 
You can find him on Twitter @terriblebinth or Instagram @shanelemagne. 

Place of No Anger – a poem by John Grey

Place of No Anger 

The angry man described himself barren, useless,
but a reflected shine - gift of a copper ray
released him like the sun itself, once fogged by morning
now, in brightness, emboldening the sky,
made him king of drunken pools courtesy of dew,
as if the light had liquefied,
flexing orange crystals under leaves, promise under skin,
while insects coated pond and rivulet - a Venice of fresh life,
and diamonds filled his crevasses, gleamed blue-green,
while monarchs unfurled, floated slow,
and his shroud lifted, jettisoned his pain.
High on a hill, flowers arrayed bulky oak trunks,
life beat soft inside the petal silence,
he grew from quiet destruction, salient decomposing,
man and nature tempered by their clocks,
from mossy walls to saturated dark brains,
sun passed through his face, gilded new eyes,
ruby blooms loosened scenes from his calendar,
shuddering indifference like a bell tongue
showed him lightness, as imagination faked gravity,
the innards of his tired old ballet turned inside out,
new and clear as honey drip,
as water drew back, censure receded,
left the earth to its human findings.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Stand, Poetry Salzburg Review and Hollins Critic. Latest books, Leaves On Pages, Memory Outside The Head and Guest Of Myself are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Ellipsis, Blueline and International Poetry Review.

In the Shrine of Margaret Clitherow – a poem by Helen Jones

In the Shrine of Margaret Clitherow

Outside there was always blood,
Black jewels shackled to the stalls,
Flies hovered drunk
On the decaying flesh and cleavers
Swooped like falcons,
Flashing in the sun.
She grew in blood,
Bore children to the stink of it,
She knew bone shatters and the soft flesh breaks,
Saw the thin line between life and death,
Made friends with it.

The blood river bore her to an older faith.
She rode it lightly,
Walking from guest to guest,
Greeting her neighbours,
A mock to those who seek them, and she smiles,
Always seeing blood in the corner of her eye.

Taken she will not plead
For no offence, dismisses evidence they got
Between an apple and a stick,
No drooping head, no penitential pleas,
Looks in their eyes and they
Like gasping hounds scent quarry, smell the blood.

Prison confines her body, frees her soul.
She rocks the child within her womb, 
Making her shroud,
Each stitch a step upon the road to death,
Fashions a shift just like an eager bride,
And hurries, seeing a familiar friend,
Eager for Lady Day.

The feast is Crucifixion Day that year,
No shift allowed; defiance must be shamed.
Frightened by certainty, they strip her bare,
But cannot kill.
Hired beggars place the stones under her back,
 A dull domestic door to bring on death.
Pile on the weights,
Bones snap,
Lungs fail.
Blood flowing on the cobbles 
Wipes out their names,
Carries hers down the years.

Helen Jones gained a degree in English, many years ago from University College London and later an M.Ed. from the University of Liverpool. She is now happily retired and spends a lot of her time writing and making a new garden. 

Unweaving the Veil – a poem by Melanie Weldon-Soiset

Unweaving the Veil

She, a tamarisk tree, still has russet bark, 
a sapling barely capable of shade. 

Yet she knows the verses her mother has spoken
over her, teaching the moral way to handle seed.

Seed is precious, Anne says. Generation
a dangerous affair, requiring the utmost care, 

safeguarded in veiled ritual. These expectations
clothe the young Nazarene, tight Tanak threads 

that have woven her world. 
Then the angel came. 

Maria Cosway and Joos Van Cleve paint
Gabriel gesturing with one hand to the sky,

the other one clasping a staff.  
But that’s not what she sees. 

The messenger of God unweaves, gently
reaching for the cloak that has contained her

since birth. Gabriel teases patterns apart,
tight grids unraveling. She’s now a newborn, 

unswaddled, limbs flailing in fibril mess. 
A universe crashes, planets and stars

scatter like shot marbles. Favor? How 
can this be? Under the weight of divine shade,

she bends down to see pearls at her feet,
her cambium curving in a new direction. 

Melanie Weldon-Soiset’s poetry has appeared in Geez, Vita Poetica, and Bearings Online. A 2021 New York Encounter poetry contest finalist, Melanie is a contemplative prayer leader, #ChurchToo spiritual abuse survivor, and former pastor for foreigners in Shanghai. Feel free to sign up for her poetry and prayer newsletter at

Gabriel – a poem by John J. Brugaletta


The Father sent me, so of course I went.
The planet and the village both were small.
I was to tell her of the Lord’s intent
to mitigate the sickness of the Fall.

I saw her praying, and she seemed to me
an ordinary, not-so-pretty girl.
But when she spoke she seemed an almond tree
about the time its tender blooms unfurl.

When I’d arrived, I was to say, “Fear not.”
But when I’d had my say, she looked at me
with eyes that held me rooted to the spot.
“I am a leaf,” she said. “He is the sea.”

Amazed by these few words, I took my leave,
and marveled how the Father knew his child.
Yet, curious, I hung about the eave
to see her candor. Then she knelt and smiled.

John J. Brugaletta has eight volumes of his poetry in print, the latest of which is One of the Loaves Was Yours. He is professor emeritus at California State University, Fullerton, where he taught courses in the works of C. S. Lewis, Shakespeare, Dante, and Homer.

Annunciation – a poem by Russell Rowland


You’re nothing and nobody, naturally—
downcast, inconspicuous as befits
your station, flying under the radar—

then, no particular day, there’s a flutter,
a flash, an advent.  Because of you,
the Big Man’s chair will get tipped over
with the Big Man himself in it.

You can say “No way,” or “Let it be,”
or both.  But you will be remembered
always, as the head of what followed.

I never thought to start a line of kind
children, change the mood in a hall
by standing up to speak quietly,
help carry a stretcher out of the woods.

Then, a hawk’s shadow passed over
as I walked in the Ossipee highlands.
I thought, “Gabriel?”  And I called,

“Not happening, thank you very much.”
The winged shadow circled back.

Seven-time Pushcart Prize nominee Russell Rowland writes from New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, where he has judged high-school Poetry Out Loud competitions.  His work appears in Except for Love: New England Poets Inspired by Donald Hall (Encircle Publications), and “Covid Spring, Vol. 2” (Hobblebush Books). His latest poetry book, Wooden Nutmegs, is available from Encircle Publications.

Wherewith thou shalt do signs – a poem by Tristan Cooley

Wherewith thou shalt do signs

The sage steppe yields up flickering the moment that it ashes
skyward, limbs smelted from a quail house into blinking
infrared, into data; translations of the cindered land spit forth
the zeros and ones for GPS; wardens give their go-
ahead for a scramble to the drop. Best practice
digs perimeters protracted from above
in grunt work ‘round the augur’s templum,
neon clad accounted for with every pickaxe
swing. Corralled by amber ganglia,
the hills the earth just grid to gash,
grown hotter since the bush burned
holy. There, where speech is sacrilege
and air pollutes the lungs, aphasia
one more grace descended
tongue to flaming tongue.

Tristan Cooley lives in Vermont and works on a fruit tree farm.

A Beggar at Heaven’s Door – a poem by Sakina Qazi

A Beggar at Heaven’s Door

I kneel at your gate in the maiden winter,
Near the cherry tree
And the sycamore
The painted fence
And the lantern pole
As they stand in their frozen languor.
I think, stooped on these ragged knees of mine,
What a callous cure is frost!
And her house of numb, numb rest
That never welcomes me.

Last year and the year before
My palms were cupped and dried
But they were contained.
Now they bleed and flail
And stain your entryway.
I watch the blood as it runs,
Four rouge gullies in the gravel.

Last year and the year before
My call to you was unsteady,
But it was civil, it was clear.
Now it is unmoored;
In the rain it cracks and splits
With that mauve sky besieged.

But your gate is yet unopened, 
And thus I kneel
Through all these gelid nights.

Sakina Qazi is from Long Island, NY. She is currently a junior at the University of Miami, where she is Editor of Mangrove Literary Journal.