Presentiment – a poem by Tony Lucas

Presentiment

Slip from a warm bed
dark in the night and all
the house still sleeping
draw back a curtain on
 
the garden stained with
street light expectation
of some revelation
disclosure of small secrets
 
trusted to no one else
yet only stillness
maybe a breath of wind
to agitate deep bushes
 
at most a stalking cat
sound of a car door on
the nearby street nothing
remarkable by daylight
 
nobody else to share
the privacy of this small
silence which sustains
your premonition
 
around hidden meaning
fancy of secret knowledge
wrapped in such scraps
as you alone have seen.

Tony Lucas is retired from parish ministry but continues work of editing and spiritual direction.  His poetry has appeared widely, on both sides of the Atlantic, and past collections Rufus At Ocean Beach (Stride/Carmelyon) and Unsettled Accounts (Stairwell Books) remain available.

Catharsis & Kenosis: The Sacred Art of Writing – a reflection by Kathryn Sadakierski

Catharsis & Kenosis: The Sacred Art of Writing

To create art is to express something of what lies in the soul, conveying the spirit onto paper. The process of writing has an inherent spirituality, as the writer pours themselves into their words. Writing is a way to share what inspires us. We may write with the goal of inspiring others in turn- encouraging readers not to give up, to know that they are not alone, to pursue their passions, and to positively change the world. 

Being a writer is a vocation, beyond the writer themselves. In writing, one has the power to teach, to enlighten, which isn’t one-sided, but a collaboration. Teaching allows the teacher to learn, too, to be humbled by students, and strive towards a higher purpose, still. The act of sharing knowledge is an act of self-giving, spiritual generation, bringing new learners into the fold, teaching them how to carry the torch forward. Writing is never stagnant, always in flux, welcoming others to reimagine the world, so that there is constant artistic creation, perpetual responses ignited by the original spark. It’s why we return to reading classics, finding inspiration in works by the likes of Jane Austen or Shakespeare, continuing to react to them in our own inventive ways.

What is sacred is transcendent. Written works transcend time and place, reaching across the distances. If there wasn’t something sacred about writing, it would be easy to simply let it be, without allowing it to breathe and transform, to grow ever more radiant in giving it a life beyond one’s notebooks in a drawer. While taking what can be daunting steps to disseminate our words, we can transcend our human fears. Because writing is so personal, so close to the heart, being an extension of the inner spirit, it can be difficult to share. We may be inhibited by self-doubt, rejecting our own work before it has been read by another. However, the spirit that drives the writing process often wins, the transcendent rising above the corporeal, with the need to help, to teach, to share, triumphing over fear. 

Writing that endures is writing that is empathetic, appealing to the human heart in all its stages of life, in any time or place, because what is sacred is given fully, unconditionally, from the self, the epitome of agape, sacrificial, love, so that even when it hurts to write, reliving sorrow and pain, wounds are mended. As the heart breaks, it becomes stronger and richer, deepened with love. Understanding is the root of the love, and the heart that breaks knows suffering, feeling for others. Never solitary, writing takes on meaning in new ways by passing through other hands, touching other hearts. It may be cathartic, releasing emotions helping us to heal ourselves, but ultimately, it is a form of kenosis, emptying the self to heal others. Writing fills the empty vessel, the blank page, with light, shining not only to reflect what’s within us as individuals, but for others to see, and find their way, too.

Kathryn Sadakierski’s writing has appeared in Agape ReviewCritical ReadHalfway Down the StairsLiterature TodayNewPages BlogSilkwormSongs of Eretz, and elsewhere. Her micro-chapbook “Travels through New York” was published by Origami Poems Project (2020). She holds a B.A. and M.S. from Bay Path University.

Timing – a poem by Linda McCullough Moore

Timing


We each one have our own
particular idea of at what hour,
say, what minute, the Resurrected
roused and stretched, scratched 
and blinked, hard, twice, 
and arose.

From the dead.

We some have it daybreak
when He soldiers forth, a squirrel, 
a Middle Eastern squirrel, the tiny, 
witless witness of the day the world
changed. God loved one squirrel 
that much.

We some have Him shake off 
the shroud like silky cobwebs 
in the middle of the night, feel dew 
deeply in the darkness as He first fills, 
refills, lungs. Feet loving wet grass,
toes happy. The whole world fast asleep.

(The book does say: 
resurrection of the body.
Resurrecting any other bloodless thing
is of no interest to me whatsoever.)

So, we will have body, 
if not bawdy, boldly please.
Not only toes, but turban hair, cramp, 
wrinkle, myrrh perfume, a drench.

There are of course others 
have Him rising later
—six-fifteen, six-thirty – 
there approaching dawn, the only 
one who sees him, stumbling home,
a drunk, who does not know he’s 
there, who does not know He’s there.

That is who God comes to,
dripping glory on damp sand.
But at what hour, 
seen or gone unnoticed, 
that’s more difficult to say.


Linda McCullough Moore is the author of two story collections, a novel, an essay collection and more than 350 shorter published works. She is the winner of the Pushcart Prize, as well as winner and finalist for numerous national awards. Her first story collection was endorsed by Alice Munro, and equally as joyous, she frequently hears from readers who write to say her work makes a difference in their lives. For many years she has mentored award-winning writers of fiction, poetry, and memoir. She is currently completing a novel, Time Out of Mind, and a collection of her poetry. www.lindamcculloughmoore.com

This Life – a poem by Kristy Sneddon

This Life

There are those who hike swiftly to the top,
who take the shape of bent crosses,
shoulders leaning forward,
 
and others who drift among the ferns
and moss, ghostly footprints, scarce
patterns in the fronds and stalks.
 
And there are people like me,
who prefer to climb sideways
and in all directions,
 
noticing. We are the ones who think
this is our work, in this body,
to give attention to the mountain laurel
 
and beneath it the dead leaves,
fertilizer where the roots tunnel
into this winter’s sleep.
 
Let me reach the top
gently and lay down my head
on the welcoming rocks.
 
Forget about my Sunday clothes,
rings taken from my fingers,
white hands folded over my chest.
 
Don’t undress me
for the crematorium,
turning me to cinder and ash.
 
Let me take my sleep
here near the cave,
this life’s sanctuary,
 
where my cheeks freeze red
to match the winter berries,
and there is nothing left to fear.

Kristy Snedden’s life work is as a trauma psychotherapist.  After a long love affair with words, she began writing poetry in June, 2020 and her poem, “Dementia,” was awarded an Honorable Mention in the 90th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition (August, 2021). She has been taking classes at The Writer’s Studio since September, 2021. 

Columbia Communion – a poem by Kayden Vargas

Columbia Communion
 
A lady bug
lands on my finger —
Red, yellow, and black, a smiling face.
A leaf falls;
The river begging it home.
When I die,
scatter me splintered
into the water.
We are one and the same,
merely formed into different shapes.
And for once I am not afraid
of the scattering.
So mundane it is sacred -
Transcendent
Transgender
Triumphant.
 
My bones, feral foundations.
My body, carpentry of cathedrals.
My breasts, sanguine stained glass windows.
My breath, a waving willow.
My ribs, anointed altars
My scars, a haunted hallelujah.
My voice, a change in tempo.
The whole ocean in one drop.
My blood, crimson confirmation -
I am that I am that I am.
My clitoris, the red lamp calling holy home.
My orgasm, transubstantiation.
My eyes, the vine that climbs to climax -
Circling cemetery walls -
Full of careful clergy, crucified saints, and careless Christians
who don’t know ancient cathedrals when they see one.
 
My genome, sacred synergy.
My body, trans tabernacle
We worship at its edges.
Another leaf falls,
Ripples the rio with gentle grace.
When I die,
Scatter me whole in this holy water;
One and the same -
Forever Calling me home.
I am unafraid of the scattering.
One day you’ll see me,
This reckless reckoning.
This trans cathedral.
 

Dr. Kayden Vargas (they/them) is a nonbinary psychologist by day and poet by moonlight. They enjoy utilizing psychological, religious, and spiritual themes. They are originally from Brewster WA, and their longest lasting love is the Columbia River. They currently reside as an activist, scholar, and therapist on Yakama Nation land.

Otherworlds – a poem by Marly Youmans

Otherworlds

Physicists go trailing after poets:
Dante saying distanced things may show it’s

Just one space they share in Paradiso;
How the strings of harpsichords could be so

Entangled with some hyacinths (a world
Away) that unexpected fragrance curled

Into George MacDonald’s sitting room
And tinged his Lilith’s page with its perfume…

Since thinnest places are a fragile screen,
Inspect the mounds where fairy folk were seen,

Mull the spirit kingdoms of the muses
And sluice of silver rain no bard refuses,

Weigh the way, the cost of sacrifice,
The radiance, the shores of Paradise.

Marly Youmans is the author of fifteen books of poetry and fiction. Her latest poetry collection is The Book of the Red King, from Phoenicia Publishing in Montreal, 2019, and her latest novel is Charis in the World of Wonders, published by Ignatius Press of San Francisco in 2020.

Winter Desert Sky, Joshua Tree – a poem by Maryrose Smyth


Winter Desert Sky, Joshua Tree

I swear I saw forever last night
at midnight from my bed
from my bedroom window in our tiny
desert rental but that it could have been
high noon, so full and bright was the moon
out over the desert. I swear there was no ground,
no yuccas, no cacti, no shadows underneath
the yuccas or cacti, no animal carousers, only
blackness and black sharps pointing like fingers
at the distant mountains that I swear looked
like a long serrated knife held up against a throat
of blue as if threatening it, threatening
to free itself in search of a better heaven
maybe but I swear I heard 
no howl at the slide of jagged steel
on celestial flesh but that it left its mark 
along the blade’s edge and in the tint
of wound on the cosmos like the froth
I’ve seen at the seashore that it tipped from navy
to burgundy to lavender to salt white foam
like an ombre chiaroscuro I swear looked
like the sky was bleeding alone
in utter darkness at her demolishment
at the violence but that she held fast
to her mantle so determined was she to birth
stars she tossed about her like they were nothing, like
they were white caps on an open sea and I swear she
pulled her mantle closer around her and to the desert,
dear earth, as if by prior covenant so intent was she
upon protecting what was sacred, this place, this creature
pleasure, this minute, this hour, hers, ours
an honor she bestowed in her embrace that burned
like a secret between us, an oath between lovers,
brothers, sisters, strangers
no more, better because one dared
to rouse to witness and one dared to be
what she was
 
an ocean of sky. 
 

Maryrose Smyth lists her passions as: art, family and preserving a one woman artist’s preserve in the tiny canyon where she and her family live in Los Angeles where she says humor and a working blue Bic pen are her basically her only policies.

How a Thai Garuda Made Me Laugh – a prose poem by Tanya Sangpun Thamkruphat

How a Thai Garuda Made Me Laugh

After a dire day, I was watching the sunset from my backyard stoop. However, my evening was interrupted by a Thai garuda. Its enormous flapping wings caused quite the commotion as he perched on my citrus tree. Once the ornate half-man, half-bird settled atop the tree, he unnervingly stared at me. I stared back at him with equal intensity even though I was scared. Then, unexpectedly, he asked me about my day. I responded with shock and silence. By the time I realized I was being rude, he let out a belly laugh that rippled toward the heavens. I began laughing, too. As they say, laughter is contagious. Once the Thai garuda saw me laughing, he flew away into the celestial sky. What an unforgettable evening. Now, every time I have a bad day, I remember the day I met a Thai garuda and how he made me laugh. It’s amazing how a day can turn right around when you least expect it. Laughter truly is the best medicine.

Tanya Sangpun Thamkruphat is a Thai-Vietnamese American poet. Her poetry has appeared in Button Poetry and Z Publishing House. Her poetry chapbook, Em(body)ment of Wonder, was released by Raine and Rose Co. in 2021. Currently, she lives with her two feline overlords and her partner in Southern California. 

Refraction – a poem by Diane Elayne Dees

Refraction


It is early evening, yet the moon,
a half-sliver shy of its full glory,
rests above a billowing streak of melon
on a muted purple canvas of sky.
Only an hour before, the sky was deep indigo,
and the burnished gold of autumn
leaves, mirrored on the water’s surface,
made me wonder how Monet 
might have captured the moment.
I consider my retinas, the millions 
of cones thriving outside of my awareness,
firing messages to my occipital lobe,
merging my eyes, brain, and heart
in a unity that transcends science.
I study these complexities, 
approach them with curiosity.
But I am not a scientist,
and I will never fully understand.
It is enough, however, to know
that I can walk under an indigo sky,
see myself in a shimmering mirror 
of liquid gold, and satisfy my hunger
with a generous slice of melon moon.

Diane Elayne Dees is the author of the chapbook, Coronary Truth (Kelsay Books), and the forthcoming chapbook, The Last Time I Saw You. 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.

Eckhart Ice Dialectic – a poem by Rose Knapp

Eckhart Ice Dialectic 

The same eye in which I see God
Is the same eye in which God sees me

Monotheistic God morphs merging with 
Forms of the divine femme, Sophia

Rose Knapp (she/they) is a poet and electronic producer. She has publications in Lotus-Eater, Bombay Gin, BlazeVOX, Hotel Amerika, Fence Books, Obsidian, Gargoyle, and others. She has poetry collections published with Beir Bua Press, Hesterglock Press, and Dostoyevsky Wannabe. She lives in Minneapolis. Find her at roseknapp.net and on Twitter @Rose_Siyaniye