“Now mark the truth of this figure.” – Jan van Ruusbroec
Patted and clapped in primeval
Un-time, before memories of good
Or ill, like the great ivoried remains of
A pterodactyl, or the half-known unclad bars of
Homo erectus. So are each of us, known before
Some delight in this un-knowing. Some
Puzzle over prior facts. But this forming
Does not depend, hangs on a central point,
A burning love exceeding wildest desire, un-
Pointed, but fathomless flowing out and filling,
“If you hate your enemy, you are damned […] You should not despise, oppress, judge, nor condemn anyone […] Despise yourself, judge yourself, damn yourself.” – Jan van Ruusbroec
What to do? On the damnedest days,
Darkness spreads in the mind’s sky
And blots out one memory, stokes
Another, unleashing a deluge of burning
Malice, envy, sadness, hatred, rage-filled,
Falsity in guise of selfless penance
Flags itself by the fruits of such an overripe,
Rot-branch tree. In knowing our un-knowing—
So we outline this form, shadowed around
This same-self, and, thereby, grow, prosper,
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
Ben Groner III (Nashville, TN), recipient of a Pushcart Prize nomination and Texas A&M University’s 2014 Gordone Award for undergraduate poetry, has work published in Rust + Moth, Cheat River Review, Whale Road Review, Stirring, Midway Journal, and elsewhere. He’s also a former bookseller at Parnassus Books. You can see more of his work at bengroner.com/creative-writing/
To Survive Another Season
I follow my cat’s intent stare across
the yard to see what she sees that I don’t.
Three young deer disappear amid the dross
of autumn leaves. I freeze and hope they won’t
see me inside the screened porch where I read
about extinction. Their colors blend
with the browns and beige of the woodland
all around us as they silently feed
without their mother. To hide in plain sight—
the trick of camouflage, cloaked in color
and texture to match the woods. Their plight
doesn’t point toward evolving to be smaller.
They struggle on through traffic, drought, and snow
certain of sustenance that I don’t know.
Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist and psychotherapist, and taught workshops focused on understanding dreams and nightmares. She is the author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self. Her poetry has appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Prairie Schooner, Slant, Poet Lore, and The Nation. She lives in rural central Virginia.
Driving Home from Tilghman Island in the Pouring Rain
Cloud-shackled sky. Field
of winter-burnt wheat gleaming
in rain, seagrass bleached to brown.
Power lines swaying. A lone
by wind-stripped trees.
Through the cracked window,
briny, pine-scented air.
Static on the radio, a veil
of rain on every road
from here to home. The scent
of incense, stale and musky,
hangs in your hair and clothes.
You lean forward in your seat, but
deceived by distance and dark,
see no better than before.
The windshield wipers struggle
and fail to keep pace
with the storm. Tomorrow looms.
Trash sputters across the road.
You think this drive will break you,
leave you lonely in your loneliness,
but I promise it is not too late
for your sorrow-shackled heart.
It’s only rain, and when it lifts,
the world will open up
and you will see that all,
even the rain, is gift.
Mary R. Finnegan is a writer and editor from Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in several places including The American Journal of Nursing, Lydwine, Catholic Digest, PILGRIM: A Journal of Catholic Experience. She is currently pursuing her MFA in poetry at The University of St. Thomas, Houston.
All day up and down the shore the
the crash of water-volume
and splash of froth
and beech seedling
the soil drinks
the chipmunk drinks
the multitude in the soil drinks
when they are quenched, what remains
works its way
to seep through
in joyful cataract
to the big water
returning yet again
for all that
Peter Taylor attends to inner landscapes in people and in words. Deeply rooted in New York City and woodland, he and his husband now make their home on a Nova Scotia bluff overlooking the North Atlantic.
A Subtle Art
The air took me quietly, a small
solar flare, found penchant
misnomer, misguidance guiding me
to the footfall where I lay softly
at the feet of everything, which
includes nothing. No sacrament,
no starry-eyed gaze, just wist and
for a moment, peace. I stared
and decided this was poetry,
the leaving and the returning and
every inch of lichen growing beside
my window, pleading here with
quiet sighs and shadows. So write.
So speak it with your breath and
record it in the asterisks, the meadow
at half-moon. The forgetting, the
picture frame preservation. My eyes
when they see the stars. Mother
watching the ceiling at midnight,
preacher trying to feel God,
horizon beckoning us to elsewhere.
If everything and nothing is home,
then I belong nowhere but here,
breathing inside and outside,
uncertain and so very sure.
Natasha Bredle is an emerging writer based in Ohio. She writes about what she thinks about, which is really too much for her poor brain. You can find her work in Aster Lit, Trouvaille Review, and Full House Lit, to name a few.
Instructions as Ars Poetica
after Joy Harjo
To die we open our whole selves
to that daybreak blaze. We wake and know
the bones we ate or snapped or sang
will live but we will not. We may corner
a cave, crest a peak, breach a fault. Or
we may grieve our years or rail the blow.
Either way as we leave we say to our beloveds:
you who get to stay are blessed. You whom
I’ve loved all my life keep singing that hymn.
It doesn’t matter who I am or how I’ve
fallen or what I bared. What matters
is I spark the night for others to cross.
What matters is that I, too, follow that fire.
Cheryl Slover-Linett (she/her) is a poet based in Santa Fe, NM. Her poetry is featured or forthcoming in Eunoia Review, River Mouth Review and Haiku Journaland she serves on the editorial team at High Desert Journal. In addition to writing, she leads wilderness retreats through Lead Feather, the nature non-profit she founded in 2008, and spends as much time as she can in the high desert mountains of northern New Mexico.
The Annunciation of a Dying Woman
Gabriel undresses my tongue
a little more each night,
folds my worn words
into neat little squares,
places each gently in the heart
of a cedarwood chest
he carries under his wing.
Devils whisper dementia, but
I know I go
unsullied by tense,
unbroken by words,
save Father, Mother, and Son,
kissing the voice of an angel
who might be a holy ghost
carrying me under his wing.
Mary Alice Dixon is a hospice volunteer who finds prayer in reading poetry to the dying. She is a Pushcart nominee whose work appears inGyroscope Review, Kakalak, Main Street Rag, moonShine review, Northern Appalachia Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Pinesong, three PSPP anthologies, and elsewhere. She lives in Charlotte, NC, frequently walking the Stations of the Cross.
Miracles and Sorrows
poor death, so bored, so certain
unable to close his gaping jaw
waiting a lifetime
with his one-trick mouth
while we cling to our delicate thread
dangling for a moment in sanctified light
mortals swinging from miracles to sorrows
and back again
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.
watch and wait
the branching trees and their capillary networks
flush with nothing for many months.
you learn the words xylem, phloem. run them around
your mouth like magic rinse.
something so big can live, breathe, shed and then,
shuddering, come into a tender green
with the foul-smelling white flowers, or the stony
berries, or sway alone with papery leaves.
it’s easy to love a thing adorned. a thing in its spring
blush. but someone’s heart must pluck
at the sight of the barren fingers arcing against blue,
laced by ice and sugared with snow.
someone must mourn kore’s arrival, her petal train,
her pollen parade. gone, the ice. the burning cold.
hands outstretched instead of curved around
exothermic bundles deep in downy pockets.
someone must make do with the stray breezes,
the summer hail, the sky torn apart by rain.
count down the waxing days until the dark embrace
wraps round again, and frost unfurls its blankets.
agesander, i wait with you. two lovesick fools
struck dumb by the same song,
the same circle creaking along since the first dawn.
the rose garlands dry in our grasp,
but when she tires of embellishing the branches,
ornamenting with fruits and flowers,
it will be our turn to bedizen. to drape the world in
monochrome, to lay beauty to rest for a time.
a a khaliq is a poet and medical student from the midwest. she writes, in the tradition of kafka, to close her eyes.