Old Fish Crow – a poem by Barbara Tyler

Old Fish Crow

Walking into church we hear 
the raspy caw of a Fish Crow, 
his guttural uh oh alerts us 
to something we do not know. 

During the service I count 
four trains, the tracks only 
two hundred yards away, 
as the Fish Crow flies. 

In our traditional service 
I no longer hear children, 
no babies to interject during 
hymns, sermon, or prayers. 

In Sunday school the same 
bald man who links Bible stories 
to lost liberties, interjects twice today, 
never realizing he preaches to a choir 
of tired, old, white men. 

I note Isaac translates he laughs, 
while Ishmael means God hears, 
and my husband tells me later 
he didn’t realize concubines 
were an acceptable practice 
in Biblical times.

Please old Fish Crow, 
please tell me something 
I want to know.

Barbara Tyler is a visual artist currently trying her hand at poetry. She uses words for the same reason as visual media—to express emotional reactions to aging, relationships, and faith as well as history, culture, and nature. Her art and writing can be sampled at btylerfineart.com.

A City Church – a poem by Helen Jones

   A City Church

Here you may bathe in silence,
The thud of traffic on the road wiped out
By eternity.
Here stones breathe out
The softened breath of centuries.
Here men have worked,
Patiently coaxing worlds from wood and stone
To make creation new.

Here, each strike of chisel, chip of wood,
Has fed a quest for the divine.
Here the vaults oar towards a distant heaven,
Carvings unseen are carefully teased out,
Made perfect, not for sight of men,
But for the eye of God.

Rough craftsmen, hardened by a bitter world
Brought life from stone,
Pictures of those in power, long despised,
Making their noses long, their chins too big.
Carpenters made the dark wood bloom
To fill an aching void.
Here monkeys and grotesques,
Pigs running, pipes blaring, 
Angels, lute-playing, wives beating,
Elephants trumpeting, lions roaring,
Ploughmen who turn the sodden land
And women gleaning after harvest.

Here velvet rose flowers and the lily blooms,
Vines twist abundant, gentle Mary smiles,
Green men are peeping from the tangled woods
To watch good souls go climbing up to heaven.
Here pig and rose, the pipes and lilies,
Today and yesterday, what is to come, 
All sing as one, creator’s bounty
Under an arc of grace.

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. 

Springtime Meditation – a poem by Joseph Kleponis

Springtime Meditation

On this spring afternoon,
There’s a wind from the northeast.
That in its dampness
Almost carries the scent of the sea.
And the just-budding apple trees
Stretch crooked limbs upward,
Asking for the heaven’s warmth –
Or are those outstretched limbs
Admonitory; pointing to the sky
To remind us that the heavens
Which reach the earth
And fill us with life,
As in the nascent buds
On those nearly barren branches,
Might just as easily
Rain down ice
Or unmerciful sun?

Joseph Kleponis lives north of Boston, Massachusetts. His poetry has been appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, Eucalypt, First Literary Review -East, Penmen Review of Southern New Hampshire University, Muddy River Poetry Review, and Wilderness House Literary Review. Truth’s Truth, his first book, was released in 2021 by Kelsay Books.

Kinnikinnick – a poem by Sylvia Byrne Pollack


The low shrub you know as bearberry
also bears the castanet name kinnikinnick
scientific moniker of Arctostaphylos
uva-ursi    Beloved by bears and hummingbirds   
it thrives in bright sun and poor soil   
makes the best of things

Do not be confused by the fact it has
different names. Don’t you? 
Don’t you have multiple ways of being 
in the world depending on the day   the year 
who you’re with and where?

In the mishmash of thoughts   experiences   
hopes   regrets – all the stuff of “being human” 
we live not one life but many   have multiple 
transformations like instars of a Cecropia 
changing shape   colors   crawling   spinning
finally flying   We morph and what the world sees 
looks different

But how altered is what lies within? 
Some will say I’ve always been this way 
but others of us know we’ve been reworked
fibers unwound   restrung to play a different tune
rough edges painfully ground down 
glowing now with rich patina

Our facets   cracks and divots are unique
have their own inimitable splendor
kinnikinnick’s small pink 
vase-shaped summer flowers   
autumn’s scarlet berries

Sylvia Byrne Pollack’s poems appear in Floating Bridge Review, Crab Creek Review, The Stillwater Review and many others. She is a two-time Pushcart nominee, 2013 Mason’s Road Literary Awardee, 2019 Jack Straw Writer, 2021 Mineral School Resident. Her debut collection is Risking It (Red Mountain Press 2021.) www.sylviabyrnepollack.com

Gnosis – a poem by Erin Olson


Let the ocean enter you,
let the rush of saline silence fill the dark cavern 
cluttered with detritus,
with your collection of broken thoughts, 
obsessions and addictions piled like idols.

Awash, submerged, and sunken -
observe their frailty.

Waters deeper than you knew 
settle into glassy reflection.
All open, receiving, all palms thankful,
ears fanned like conch shells. 

This mirror birthed in briny wash
and reverence -
gaze there to see the mystery.

Erin Olson is a licensed professional counselor living in southeastern Wisconsin. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Neologism Poetry JournalLast Leaves Magazine, and Sky Island Journal

Jacob’s Angel – a poem by James Green

Jacob’s Angel

And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. 
And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.

Genesis 32:26 (KJV)

The herder Jacob, gripped by guilt and fear,
has wrestled with a stranger all the night
when in the borderlands of dawn he hears
his foe entreat to end the fight.

I will not let you go, the herder cries,			
unless you bless me! Then awakening
from sweat-soaked sleep he rubs his aching thigh
and hears an echo from the fading dream:

From now you shall be known as Israel! 
And as he limps into the breaking day,
while meditating on this nameless angel’s
benediction, Jacob asks if he

had just contended with his God or if
the mystery angel might have been himself.

James Green is a retired university professor and administrator.  He has published five chapbooks of poetry and individual poems have appeared in literary journals in Ireland, the UK, and the USA. His collection, Stations of the Cross, was nominated for the MLA’s Conference on Christianity and Literature Book of the Year. His website can be found at http://www.jamesgreenpoetry.net.

Illuminated Manuscript – a poem by Marion Evalee

Illuminated Manuscript

I am the flourish,
Not the trumpet,
Yet I am at least
If not instrumental,
To the prophecy—
Come to think of it,
I am in the same
Position as God the
Father, always
Sky, not the sun, neither
The accumulating
Nor dispersing clouds.
But I am a handful
Of colors (available to men 
In the medieval period), the
Incomplete without
The whole sum
Of foreground, middle ground,
And back, animate
And invisible musics,
And the spirit of
Coursing through it all.

Marion Evalee (they/she), formerly Justin Burnett, has appeared in Montage, Survivor Lit, The Boston Compass, Neologism, and Willows Wept Review. A selection of their poetry was featured in the anthology 14 International Younger Poets, edited by Philip Nikolayev.

Siddhattha Rewrites “O Store Gud”- a poem by Renwick Berchild

Siddhattha Rewrites “O Store Gud” 

Let us not worship sadness for the aim of great art; 
I say, let us worship art, for the sake of great sadness.

Bow your head and pray, without the content of your words. 
Pray with your knees, pray with your slumped shoulders, 
pray with your chin set, in the basket of your clavicle. 

A buddha might sit 
in a blade of grass, in a bowl of water, 
along a fly’s hum, on a weathered stone

but no buddha has ever nor will ever be housed in your form. 
There is no enlightenment for you, for are you not 

We may yearn for what we’ve forgotten. 
Never was there safety or simplicity within the womb you might long for. 
How many ways you could have died, how many sufferings you did endure.

My god is the God of General Sadness. 

No god requires you to believe, for holy places be dark places. 
No gospel was ever meant to be written down, 
spoken aloud, agonized over, 
kept, cradled dearly.

So draw the face of your god. 
Paint the trappings of the next, the nothing, 
the end, the beginning you have never known.

You have been given no soul that is whole. Rather, you are building it. 
            I say, you must labor, you must pain over it.

When you ascend, or sink, or dissolve, or join, 
will you be a being? Will you be whole?

När brister själen (When the soul breaks)
ut i lofsångsljud, (and the hymns sound,)

            let us be as great art. 

Let us in finality be hung on the walls. 
Ourselves, at last, surrendering.

Renwick Berchild is half literary critic, half poet. She is lead editor of Green Lion Journal and writes at Nothing in Particular Book Review. Her poems have appeared in Porridge Magazine, AIOTB, Headline Press, Whimperbang, Free Verse Revolution, Vita Brevis, Streetcake, and other e-zines, anthologies, and journals. She was born and raised on the angry shores of Lake Superior, and now lives in a micro-apartment in Seattle, WA. Find more of her work at www.renwickberchild.com