A Dartmoor Cross – a poem by Tony Lucas

A Dartmoor Cross

Knee-deep in wild flowers 
and fresh bracken, twisted
as if the weather of twelve 
centuries could finally 
warp granite - the stone cross 

leans on its high hillside,
but will not fall, socketed 
by four mossed boulders 
sunk in deep, locked with 
conviction of significance. 

Did they come here to pray
stand in the sun or rain
in view of forty other hills
ranged out like ripples
from this one dropped stone?

The valley folds round those who
sing their matins wondering 
who’ll repair the leaking roof.  
Here, scabbed with old lichen 
arms cut back to stumps -

a tree-stump petrified -
this elemental sign may 
stand for centuries yet.
witness both of change 
and changelessness.

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.

Carer Complex – a poem by David Hanlon

Carer Complex
Sometimes I want my existence
to have no impact,
but my bedroom door creak-squeaks
every time I open it.
How much support is right?
Is enough?
Is never enough?
The sun does not discriminate
in its light-giving,
yet some of us can’t receive it;
& every day the withering flat fills
with cigarette smoke
as the sun blazes outside.
How much of an open window can I be
to air it out for you to breathe?
Is the trick of this life
to hold the black tar of it
in cupped hands and shout “Sticky!”
with full-throated welcome?
Ironically, I’m stuck
pretending my hands are still smooth
as it thickens,
now pooling at my feet.
How long
before my knees are muddied too?

David Hanlon is a Welsh poet living in Cardiff. He is a Best of the Net nominee. You can find his work online in over 50 magazines, including Rust & Moth, Icefloe Press & Amethyst Review His first chapbook Spectrum of Flight is available for purchase now at Animal Heart Press. You can follow him on twitter @davidhanlon13 and Instagram @welshpoetd

Nachshon, Who Led the Way – a poem by Jacqueline Jules

Nachshon, Who Led the Way

Trapped between the Red Sea
and Pharaoh’s army
Nachshon listened while others
bickered over who would go first. 

He watched Moses cry and pray.

Then he stepped into the water. 

I close my eyes 
and imagine Nachshon,
moving forward with faith, despite
being drenched to the chin.

Did he know the sea would split
before it covered his head?

That Adonai would admonish Moses
for offering prayer when action was needed?

When my moment on the shore has passed,
will it be said I stepped into the water 
instead of standing back, waiting
for someone else to go first?

Jacqueline Jules is the author of Manna in the Morning (Kelsay Books, 2021) and Itzhak Perlman’s Broken String, winner of the 2016 Helen Kay Chapbook Prize from Evening Street Press. Her poetry has appeared in over 100 publications including Amethyst ReviewThe Sunlight Press, Gyroscope Review, and One Art. Visit  www.jacquelinejules.com

The Gardener – a poem by Mary Durocher

The Gardener

Her name was Rose. She sewed dresses for the girls
who stepped up to the altar and made their First Communion.
My mother scorned the gaudy options in the shopping mall,
she swore to me I wouldn’t be a little bride. So, one Sunday,
she tapped on Rose’s shoulder and asked for a favor.
I was obliged to one fitting. She offered a plate of Pizzelles
as my mother tried church gossip. Rose’s father sat mum,
hunched in his La-Z-Boy armchair. Before we left,
he broke his silence and offered a tour of the garden.
An oasis grew out of a city plot’s malnourished soil.
He gifted us bunches of lettuce, handfuls of zucchini, 
and pints of cherry tomatoes. I didn’t want to go.
My communion dress ended up plain and dove white
against a mirage of cream-colored ruffles and frills.
Weeks after, my mother told me the old man was dead. 
Rose had risen from her sewing machine and found
her father in the garden. His cheek was pressed to the earth,
his fingernails were full of dirt and his blue eyes rolled back.
The pear trees and grapevines slumped in grief. I was a child,
but I too wanted to lay down on the earth, reaching out
for fresh seedlings as my soul was let loose.

Mary Durocher is a poet from Schenectady, New York. She also writes fiction, non-fiction, and cultural criticism. She’s a graduate of Marymount Manhattan College, where she studied English & World Literature and Creative Writing. Her work has recently appeared in The Carson ReviewLaid Off NYC, and KGB Bar Lit. She lives in Queens, New York. 

A Rock Displays – a poem by Don Brandis

                A Rock Displays

“For the error bred in the bone
 of each woman and each man
 craves what it cannot have...”
         - Auden, ‘9/1/1939’

A rock displays its ardor and release
it shrinks and swells, we climb or pocket it
its truth becoming ours in each of these

it keeps its counsel, not a moody beast
it sheds the uses we had thought would fit
a rock displays its ardor and release

our climbing codifies what we would keep
we pocket pestles, arrowheads and flints           
its truth becoming ours in each of these

a crocodile will swallow stones to knead
apart its dinner’s features: heads limbs hips
a rock displays its ardor and release

we want these stones to still us when we bleed
to make us steady, heal our rages, rifts
its truth becoming ours in each of these

we would become steadfast but cannot be
our rascals blind us, still our light persists
a rock displays our ardor and release
our truth becoming its in each of these

Don Brandis is a retired healthcare worker living quietly outside Seattle writing poems.  His latest book of poems is Paper Birds (Unsolicited Press 2021).

Sonnet on Otherness – a poem by David Leo Sirois

Sonnet on Otherness

My bones my breath my thoughts my wants
my I my me my mine ~ 
I throw into the bright white fire 
of light that sways my spine.

With power to reveal the real ~
even darkness can be kind.
The night that will conceal & seal,
the shade in which all things can shine.

Our air that birthed both you & me,
& helped our hearts begin to beat,
is everywhere it needs to be,
gives & yet remains complete.

If I didn’t have the sense of ‘other,’ 
would I ever suffer?

David Leo Sirois is a Canadian-American poet published 137 times, in 21 countries, in 12 languages (such as Hindi, German, & Spanish). He hosts the Zoom continuation of SpokenWord Paris. First collection: Humbledoves (poems to pigeons & plants). He won Third Prize in Winning Writers’ Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest, & his poetry has appeared in journals such as The Bombay Review, Paris Lit Up, & One Hand Clapping.

The Numinous – a poem by Chelsea Lynn LaBate

The Numinous

I’m on a wave. 
Foam crinkles at my back. 
Salt water drips from my face. 
I dig my hand into the jade green wall 
and ride North into the direction of hard truths. 

I now feel worthy of knowing 
the power of my own light. 
No more hiring crooked archers
to take me out. 

A band of pelicans moves in,
in perfect formation - 
their wings almost kiss the sea. 

I am supported by the seen and the unseen. 
The entire galaxy has my back. 
When I move my body I am in prayer
for those suffering and lost in transition. 
When I gain speed the Light of the One 
builds inside of me and I send it out 
over the Earth - 
this Earth - whole in its vision,
this Earth - ripe with ancient secrets,
this Earth - strong in its determination to 
shake off this infection of fear, 
greed and delusion and return to the Original Balance. 

I get out. My feet make prints in the sand. 
The sky above me stretches up forever. 
Crabs choose their direction. 

How will you come to know the totality 
of your being when you are in fact, limitless? 
How will you understand everything you 
hope to become, you already are?
I’ve shed my titles. 
I’ve dimmed my ego. 
I make my home in the numinous. 

Chelsea Lynn LaBate is an award winning poet, songwriter, painter, book binder, runner, surfer and yogi. She has played thousands of shows for the global community, including performances for children and elders. She has released several albums, animated music videos, and a podcast for songwriters called Songcrafter, which aired on the radio as an hourly Saturday morning special. She has a collection of short love poems, Sugah, which she handbound into miniature wearable books. She also has a collection of long format poems called Free Roses, inspired by the pandemic, which is set to be printed in winter of 2023. She lives a simple life by the sea, helping others with her words and making her art.

Mundane – a poem by Dylan Webster

The table groans like a grandfather, 
my weight upon it. 
The wood cheaply slapped together, 
purchased and chosen by frugal necessity,
dutifully serving us for half a decade.
My skin brushes over the ridges and indents,
valleys and chasms – etchings 
created by cups, plates, utensils of family,
of time spent here, talking, 
voices echoing in the valleys below –
Child’s choral chanting, 
Songs of the river maker.
I am no cartographer,
I don’t wish to map over this geography,
this patchwork island of reminders,
it bears our name, a new image.
Once, a cup toppled over, tower like, spilling;
the water pooled in vast lakes, manmade,
Child-made, rather, and in these same ridges
I saw rivers raging,
carving out new chasms, canyons, 
birthing other small streams, spider legs of water.
I expected to see trees sprout anew, 
to see parched birds gulping from the riverlets –
Drinking unrestrained and winging into edenic heaven. 

Dylan Webster lives and writes in the sweltering heat of Phoenix, AZ. He is the author of the poetry collection Dislocated (Quillkeepers Press, 2022), and his poetry and fiction have appeared in anthologies by Quillkeepers Press and Neon Sunrise Publishing; as well as the journals The Dillydoun Review, Last Leaves, and The Cannons Mouth by Cannon Poets Quarterly. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. 

Beyond the Body: Evidence for the Soul – a poem by Estan Rodriguez

Beyond the Body: Evidence for the Soul

They will try to explain it away. Living is
firm and grasped in neurons—an airtight
terrarium’s fist—elliptical and meaningless
in its many rebirths. Here, you can watch
all the phases: green leaves, the town’s
many children; old roots, the traditions
that ground them; mushrooms, the same
across all metaphors—sheets on deathbeds.
Soil sinks to the bottom, leaves rise
against the glass. They say living is a habit,
triclinic, its crystals growing into the same 
oblique framework: bones, roots, and
everything else. We live in its music,
they tell you, so choose a key. Major or minor.
Make sure to end on the same note. Close
the loop, let the leaf become leaf again.
Life is a thing to be repackaged and resold.
But listen to the hauntings in the jar
flash in the sunlight. There is a fluorescence
you can’t flush out: it’s in the moment
before it’s gone. See how the luster shifts
when you squint your eyes and slant your head?

Estan Rodriguez is a young poet living in the United States. His work is published or forthcoming in Eunoia Review, Beaver Mag., and elsewhere. You can try to find him birdwatching on Saturday mornings, but he walks quietly and doesn’t leave a trace.

God’s iPad – a poem by Lauren Meir

God’s iPad

It is dark in the room when my son,
newly six, asks me to cuddle. I am

holding him, smelling his curls when he says,
(carefully and clearly, as though he understands
things I can't possibly, but needs me to hear)

God has an iPad
He watches us, all the people in the world
Billions of people
Seeing us in every moment, all the time
He can visit anyone he likes
He can replay a memory from anyone's life
He can see what we do, who we love, who we hurt
the mistakes
we make, all the bad and all the good
all he has to do is touch the screen
on a person's face to see the story
of their life play out
like a tv show that never ends.

I am quiet.
I don't know if I believe in God,
but I believe in something.
I believe in my son, who has lost his third
tooth and speaks with a lisp.

Does it make you feel comforted
I ask,
that he is always watching?
(I myself am unnerved, the unknown
shadows menacing darkly on the wall).

I am his mother
so I do what comes naturally, pull
him tighter, listening to the rapid thump
thump thump thump of his now six year old heart

he answers with absolute certainty
his voice calm,
Even in the times when I feel sad
he sees I am sad, it feels like
there is a creature inside me,
it's a small thing,
but heavy
it sits in my chest
God knows it's there
God understands it
It makes me feel better
knowing he is watching, listening
And then the creature will go away
And I'm not sad anymore

I hug my son tighter. He is
just six, loves easily, has faith
in a way I might not ever know
something he found inside
himself, maybe the creature
has it, maybe it can teach us
to hug a little tighter, imagine that
all of us, on God's iPad

Lauren Meir is a writer and communications professional who works out of Detroit. She has lived in both Europe and the Middle East, writing her way through countries and cultures. Her work has appeared in the Huffington Post and the Detroit Jewish News, and she is currently submitting poetry and creative nonfiction to lit magazines while working on her book. You can find her at laurenmeir.com or on twitter at @LaurenMeir.