In the Refectory of the Blessed
Fresh mint and lily-of-the-valley bells
Swished out of cool, clear water, as from wells
Unfailing, herbs and flowers for the blessed
That filled the hall: old monks and nuns all dressed
in grey, keen-eyed and radiant, and they
sat rapt in joyful banter on this day
Of their reunion.
Weary from the quest,
And anxious I was not a welcome guest,
Voiceless and fearing I could not be seen,
I hoped the old brown friar would let me glean
Whatever stems remained. He was the one
Whose heavy steps I followed, he alone
Carried the pail and drew the herbs and flowers
In bunches from the water.
It seemed, at last, he turned to me and drew,
From the same water, plants of startling hue:
Deep purple columbines and plum-tree leaves,
Silent and gazing down he gave me these.
Flowers of the eagle’s talon and the dove,
My bridal flowers and my living trove.
Lubna Haddad Walford is a stay-at-home mother and former Latin literature teacher. Her work has appeared in The Catholic Poetry Room. She resides in Southern California.
There’s a church on the lake
up ahead. We travel down a
narrow road that leads to its
dead, wooden doors, hoping
that the drive itself is not the
full journey, that deferral is
not our final destination. The
end of the road is always a
river: it flows in a different
direction, sometimes against
where we’re praying to go.
It’s not opposite arrival but
sideways, off parallel paths
into bleak interiority. These
nearby lakes are shining
with a resonant life while
the church is empty. Still,
there’s something piercing
and angelic hovering over
both. It’s something great,
Alexandria Barbera (she/her) lives in Ontario, Canada and is a regular contributor at Women in Theology. She recently completed her MA in Cultural Studies at Trent University, where she studied literary ecology. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Tiny Seed Journal, The Other Journal, Ekstasis Magazine, Frogpond, and Modern Haiku. She is currently the editor-at-large at EcoTheo Review.
Box Turtle Jazz
I wish I could come back sometime
to this spot of woods. After
the world recovers from us.
When fires blazing
punishment have long swept
our harm into nothingness.
When the box turtles feast
on wild strawberries and on
the roots of nature’s return.
After the last cracks of concrete
and remnants of our indifference
have decayed to a blessed September
timpani. And the saxophone
wind blows alto jazz again
smooth into the night.
When the sassafras trees
burst from their sandy loam soil
belting Hallelujah through
stained glass open sky.
Where I could enjoy
the tangerine sunrise.
Breathe in the quiet.
Give an audience
to earth’s healing.
Sarah Mackey Kirby grew up in Louisville Kentucky. She is the author of the poetry collection, The Taste of Your Music (Impspired, 2021) Her work has been published in Impspired Magazine, Muddy River Poetry Review,Ploughshares, Third Wednesday Magazine, and elsewhere. Sarah loves to cook and feel summer dirt on her hands. She and her husband split their time between Kentucky and Ohio. https://smkirby.com/
the spinning stars, riding along the dark elliptical arches
of a sacred temple
gaze down upon us
a round and radiating brilliance in their eyes
progressing past us, deep in their own thoughts
which they do not share
leaving a still, open space
that begs a burning question of the darkness
to which they give no answer
but for their waiting
for us to unknot our perplexities
until we whisper yes and yes and yes
for a fleeting moment
the stars shine brighter, answering ah!
we gaze back in silence, empty and unbounded
in each black pupil, a glimmering pearl
Victoria Twomey is a poet and an artist. She has appeared as a featured poet at venues around NY, including the Hecksher Museum of Art, The Poetry Barn, Barnes & Noble, and Borders Books. Her poems have been published in several anthologies, in newspapers and on the web, including Sanctuary Magazine, BigCityLit, PoetryBay, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, The Tipton Poetry Journal and the Agape Review. Her poem “Pieta” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
As If God Will Dress Me Down to Dust
or descend me deep into a grudge of shadows,
sometimes a bitter eye glints in me,
but soon I feel eternity flow through a horse’s mane,
as it spirits across a glen
under my shirt button, as if right behind
the blowing through is the veil between this life and the last.
A backlog of belief bares as fact: God knew me
before I was born—even with my eyes unfinished,
and no spark lurked in them—when He
tussled with my bones to prop up
my heart—sumptuous breath laid out in a wreath—
as he gave my cheeks a pinch of sky to fly on,
and impulsive me nodded “Yes! Yes!”
right there in the garden, since even there the head
was first to form. But in the gruel of birth and wandering
flesh I forget: sixty odd years has the weight of 600,
though later, realizing I, maybe, signed up for this,
I grab onto faith in the free-flowing mane
of perhaps a palomino, head jutted forth—
as if out of my chest, knowing that later,
in a struggle to mount, I’ll get the vaporous push
up its flanks to perch upon its sleek back
and veer toward the hidden field.
The former poet laureate of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Rodney Torreson is a retired parochial schoolteacher who taught in the Lutheran Church Missouri-Synod for thirty-six years. He won the Seattle Review’s Bentley Prize, and Storyline Press named him runner-up for the national Roerich Prize for first books. In 2015, the Dyer-Ives Foundation honored him “for his longstanding commitment as a poet, teacher, patron, and advocate for poetry in West Michigan.
His third full-length collection of poetry, THE JUKEBOX WAS THE JURY OF THEIR LOVE, was issued by Finishing Line Press in 2019. Torreson has published in many journals, most recently AMERICAN JOURNAL OF POETRY, MAIN STREET RAG, NORTH DAKOTA QUARTERLY, PATERSON LITERARY REVIEW, AND TAR RIVER POETRY.
Disturbing the Peace
There is a silence.
A curlew’s shriek shivers the air.
Flocked sparrows bustle from the hedge
falling on the arcs of grain where the trailer turned,
corn stalks clack as a breeze lifts the skirts of the fields.
A man approaches.
The slap of his sandals making puddles of sound.
Muscles wired, he climbs the bell tower,
cutting through the angled sun hazing the cornered dust.
The sally falls like a liana, twisting before resting.
Hands held in a pistol grip he rings the bell up,
pauses, and then makes a leisured pull,
leathered hands relaxing as the rope careers through his grasp.
The bell speaks.
Thunder plunges down the tower,
storming into God’s Acre.
The stones flinch as the song punches the deep air.
His skin prickles, veins bulged and blue.
He reaches up
to pull again and
tell of harvest home.
Viv Longley has been writing for her own pleasure since she was a child. Later in life she undertook an MA in Creative Writing at The Open University, specialising in poetry. As well as having one collection (Tally Sheet, Currock Press, 2021) she is undertaking a number of collaborative publications. Notably, Daughters of Thyme (available from Daughters of Thyme imprint from November, 2022). She is also preparing a second collection of her own and a number of essays – the latter to be called I am in a Hurry. ‘Now nearing my 80’s, you just never know how much time you have left!’
Mary Conjures a Spell
Orion with his belt of lights.
Slither between dandelion and crab grass.
Salamander at night.
How to walk the ways unknown.
A world gone wrong.
The welcome note promises a thriving.
You take what you can get.
Tinder from the banks of Purgatory Brook.
Waiting for the intoxication of the lilac.
Spice of kielbasa spooned during war.
After the locusts and before the star glow.
The odd forces of again and again.
Mortar and pestle.
Tiny stitches at the hemline.
Belonging becomes benign.
Chisel imperfections from the marble.
A prayer or a commandment.
Burn an offering to the old ways.
When to mourn and when to eat tomorrow.
How candle-bubbled soup becomes a pie.
D. Walsh Gilbert is the author of Ransom (Grayson Books) and forthcoming, Once the Earth had Two Moons (Cerasus Poetry). Her work has recently appeared in The Lumiere Review, Black Fox Literary Magazine,and the anthology, Waking Up to the Earth, among others. She serves with the non-profit, Riverwood Poetry Series, and as co-editor of Connecticut River Review.
God, it’s another day
Blown past in a chilly squall
Dried out by the bright sun’s ray,
Unseen, but felt by each and all.
Rev the engines; flip the bird.
Another post-industrial box
Flies paralyzed, not a word
To speak but a palsied squawk.
Forgive us these snotty thoughts
And empty deeds, these firecrackers.
Bring whispers, love, this fight fought
In the nightmare of history unlacquered.
Deliver this undiluted hate and see it
Through to the self, the atrophied hands
Of Felix Randal and Joe Plumber. Sit,
Crucify aeon time, reduce to dry sands.
God, dilate the days and chomp
The bit; the sun dips and abyss again
Grips what has been, crushes, stomps,
What I decry. This prayer is answered.
Chase Padusniak is a PhD candidate in Princeton University’s English department, where he specializes in late medieval mystics like Julian of Norwich, Marguerite Porete, and Jan van Ruusbroec. He is an associate editor at Macrina Magazine; his poetry and prose have appeared in Soft Cartel, Church Life Journal, Comitatus, Augustinian Studies, Athwart, as well as the edited collectionSlavoj Žižek and Christianity (Routledge 2019), among other outlets. Twitter and Instagram: @ChasePadusniak
After Robert Bly
When this cup is empty,
I will slide my chair back from the table,
I will rise in morning light
and thirst no longer.
Once, I strode across bright fields
between houses, between roads.
I listened to the catbird’s call from the tanglebush.
I pocketed her song, should I need it later.
This is how it is. The count of our days
like waves that break unseen behind hills.
Wash of a tide that sustains us, barely an echo
as we go about our day.
Our business is not what we thought here,
not what we were taught to want at all,
but what we saw in the mirror
when we were eleven,
the age my daughter is now.
I hope she won’t forget, won’t be lost
like the rest of us for decades.
A secret knowledge simmers in us.
I will pass beyond those hills.
This knowledge comforts me now.
It curls up like a cat beside me.
No trumpets. No angels. Only tea by the window,
breakers swelling in the distance,
if I’m not mistaken.
Alfred Fournier is an entomologist, writer and community volunteer living in Phoenix, Arizona. His nonfiction and poetry have appeared in Amethyst Review, Delmarva Review, American Journal of Poetry, Lunch Ticket, Gyroscope Review, The Indianapolis Review and elsewhere. New work is forthcoming at Blue Unicorn and Drunk Monkeys. His Twitter handle is @AlfredFournier4.
ClaspGod did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them. -- Acts, 19 11-12
Thousands of years after,
thousands of miles away
from so much as the dust
of any piece of cloth or cup
your hands had handled,
or had bumped or brushed
against you, I still search
for particles, vestiges
of what came into contact
with you, whether left
in the veins of leaves
or in the soil on a stone,
whatever could be carried,
somehow, across the sea
and the centuries, brought
to me by sympathetic wind
or the friendliest of waves,
by a caregiving Earth
as if offering me some soup,
not necessarily to heal me
or because I had a demon
to evict, just to acknowledge
that to be a disciple is not
simply to follow but to adhere
to both teaching and teacher,
secured not like a strand
of hair curled inside a locket
but like a locket’s chain,
links that want only to
encircle, to hold on.
Shane Schick is the founder of a publication about customer experience design called 360 Magazine. His poetry has recently appeared in Ekstasis, Macrina Magazine and other publications. He lives in Whitby, Ont. with his wife, an Anglican priest and their three children. More: ShaneSchick.com/Poetry. Twitter: @ShaneSchick.