Apis Vero Est – a poem by Charles Haddox

Apis Vero Est

The bees in
scatter iridescent lures 
before the
open boundary fence;
a diligent, eloquent
Avenues of almond trees
fringed with mint and rue
welcome gold-winged 
chanting by the dawn.

Enlivened in
their gathering task 
to live a now familiar life
after the bee of Nazareth,
in lambent cells
of wine--
their healing angels
ward the life
as slender Wedgewood thyme.

All labor ends at sunset,
but singing
never dies.

Charles Haddox lives in El Paso, Texas, on the U.S.-Mexico border, and has family roots in both countries.  His work has appeared in a number of journals and anthologies. charleshaddox.wordpress.com

Inheritance – flash fiction by Barbara Diggs


An oval of silver, feather-light against my throat. Mother Mary stands atop the world, a serpent crushed beneath her feet. Her arms are open in welcome. Rays of light descend from her palms. Grace. Blessings. Once my mother’s, fallen to me.

When I was pregnant with you, my fifth pregnancy, my first surviving child, I remembered. I scrabbled through my closets for her red lacquered jewelry box; untangled the pendant from tarnishing chains, placed it around my neck. Grace flowed from it, seeping into my body. Light like gold flecks infused red blood cells. Cupping the curve of my belly, I whispered: My blood sings with grace. My blood is a blessing to you. Over and over. And I could feel it, a Mother’s grace, spiraling through the cord that bound us, nourishing you, plumping you, keeping your grape-sized heart, going, going. This heart would not stop.

Last night, you cried as you studied for your chemistry finals. I’ll never remember all this, you shrieked, and something slammed against your closed bedroom door. You let me enter your room, smooth your hair, kiss the top of your head, while you stared at sketches of polymer chains as if they’d betrayed you. I started to unclasp the pendant from my neck and fasten it around yours, but you put up a hand. Mom, you know I don’t believe in that stuff.

Your words fell like arrows. Somewhere, they pierced. But before the reality of you, what could I do except nod? I know too well: Some gifts can’t be given, only found. So, I just lay my hands on your cheeks, wiped your tears with my palms.

Marveled at the light seeping into your face,

the gold flecking your brown eyes. 

Barbara Diggs’ fiction has appeared in numerous publications, including FlashBack Fiction, Reflex Fiction, (mac)ro(mic), and Ellipsis Zine. Her work was Highly Commended in the 2022 Bridport Prize, and has been longlisted and shortlisted in the Bath Flash Fiction Awards. Barbara lives in Paris, France with her family. 

a date with god – a poem by Sharon Lopez Mooney

a date with god

Sharon Lopez Mooney, poet, is a retired Interfaith Chaplain from the End of Life field, living in Mexico. Mooney was given a CAC Grant to establish a rural poetry series; nominated for “Best of the Web Award”; co-published a regional anthology; co-owned an alternative literature service; produced poetry readings, continues facilitating poetry feedback workshops. 

Mooney’s poems are in publications nationally and internationally, like: The Blotter, Umbrella Factory Magazine, Kennings Literary Galway Review, California Quarterly, Ginosko, Door is a Jar, The Ricochet Review, Glassworks, Tipton Literary Journal, Sybil, Revue {R}Évolution”…, anthologies: “CALYX; Cold Lake; Strong Words; Smoke & Myrrors” (UK), amongst others.

A Morning Theophany at Noah’s Arcs 2022 – a poem by Barbara Usher

A Morning Theophany at Noah’s Arcs 2022

‘Let the fields be jubilant and everything in them.’ Psalm 96:12

Lambs play ‘king of the castle’
from old mats, graduate to upturned water
troughs, leap as only tups do once adult, feed
with tails whirring like prayer wheels.
Cuthbert watches from solitary walnut tree …..
smiles as leaves and lambs unfurl.

Barbara Usher practises animal theology on her 4 acre animal sanctuary, Noah’s Arcs. Her poetry has been published in Borderlands:  an Anthology,DreichLast Leaves, and in Liennekjournal. Her work appears on the Resilience soundscape for Live Borders, and she has contributed to a local project with Historic Environment Scotland. 

At a coffee shop in Rogers – a poem by McKinley Dirks

At a coffee shop in Rogers
Break it like communion bread,
my best friend said of the coffee cake,
thick gluten-free and afternoon cold.
My fingers stalled on the spongey
dough, sugar granules pressed
into skin. Don’t make this holy, I said,
that stresses me out, stared at the snake-
skin swirl of cinnamon through its center.
I might have scrambled for a pen, cast
my hands to a pocket notebook,
scribbled words that would become a poem
about how a piece of coffee cake
becomes a holy thing, leaving sticky
ridges on the page because I couldn’t pause
to rub the sugar from my fingers.
But not anymore. Anxiety is the absence
of surrender, pride the alienation of
holiness, and my halted hands pull
this bread in two pieces, brush the crumbs
from my skin, offer her the half with less
sugar because she is more health-conscious
than I. The blogs tell me anxiety is not
punishment, not an enemy, but a catalyst
for deeper faith in the One who tested
Job when he was faithful, banned Moses
from the Promised Land. Why shouldn’t I
ask to be whole again? How am I to pray,
Lord, break me     like communion bread.

McKinley Dirks grew up in Castle Rock, Colorado and now resides in Northwest Arkansas with her one-year-old corgi, Bentley. She received her Bachelor’s of English from John Brown University and spent much of her time there as editor-in-chief of the student-run publication Shards of Light. In addition to poetry, she enjoys art, flower bouquets, and mysteries.

Lilies of the Field – a poem by Mary Ellen Shaughan

Lilies of the Field

A diaspora of day lilies sprouted
in random clusters beside steel
girders over which a train runs 
every morning at four.
There they huddled, 
their cheery orange heads 
whipped sideways by the 
hot rush of the train’s engine 
until that day in early summer 
when I uprooted them and 
brought them back to my 
waiting garden, where they have 
lived and multiplied for a decade. 

I do need to keep an eye
on the youngest generation, 
though, as they are showing
a proclivity to wander.


Mary Ellen Shaughan is a native Iowan who now lives in Western Massachusetts with her beagle, Zeke. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals and magazines and in her first collection of poetry, Home Grown, which is available on Amazon.

If I’d Known You Were There – Prose Poetry by Elodie Barnes

If I’d Known You Were There

We would have walked across thick moorland, you and I. Damp heather softening under our boots; a quivering autumn sunset, golden red feathers fraying at the edges and brushing across the sky. You were too young to see, but I would have described it all to you. How the sheep paid us no mind, how they were beginning to huddle into clumps of shadow by the stone walls. How the crows gathered and disappeared into the valley ahead. I would have held your hand, the darkness drawing us closer together. Would you have lifted your face too, and sniffed the air? Peat, woodsmoke, cold. I don’t think so. You were too young to smell, and there are some things that can’t be described. 

We would have stopped here, you and I. Our boots crushing grass instead of heather, and moonlight blossoming like lichen on the stones. I would have told you how some of them stood taller than me, how their perfect circle aligned to the rhythms of the sun and moon; that there were eleven stones and we made thirteen; how the Goddess wound a milk-white thread around us and bound us together, giving you what my body and heart never could. I would have asked you if you could feel it, the faint heartbeat that echoed in the stones. If it echoed in you too. 

I would have held onto your hand. I wouldn’t have let go when the clouds drifted across the moon, inking us into blackness. I wouldn’t have let you melt into stone, into earth, into the sighing song that lingers above these hills even now. I hear it sometimes, and I think it sings forgiveness even though that’s not possible. Only love can forgive, and you were too young. 

Elodie Barnes is a writer and editor living in the UK. Her short fiction and poetry has been widely published online, and is included in the Best Small Fictions 2022 Anthology published by Sonder Press. She is Books & Creative Writing Editor at Lucy Writers Platform, where she is also co-facilitating What the Water Gave Us, an Arts Council England-funded anthology of emerging women and non-binary writers from migrant backgrounds. She is currently working on a collection of short stories. Find her online at elodierosebarnes.weebly.com, or on Instagram @elodierosebarnes. 

Psalms – a poem by Jason Brightwell


Her hymn was the calm
broadcast, slow 

dancing on the same frequency 
as nature’s wild eye. 

Mary blue-eye, a hum to
iron out weathers’ wrinkles.

His boomed. Slow beat—
war drums, leading harvests 

through dark root and worm.
Compelling sea life to gift.

Hallowed in our child eyes. 
The graveyard is fat now,
we recall their songs,
chant them in the family home—

a sacred keep for old gods.

Jason Brightwell lives in a tiny coastal village tucked along the Chesapeake Bay where he finds himself routinely haunted by one thing or another. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals including: Gravel Magazine, East Coast Literary Review, Phantom Kangaroo, and The Tower, among others.

Sheep Watching St Cuthbert’s Procession – a poem by Barbara Usher

Sheep Watching St Cuthbert’s Procession

Hefted to the Cheviot hills
We nibble on grass, sweet near the root
A distant sound afears us
with swelling beat, of voices, feet.
My left ear turns, hones in, a-tunes.
Humans bode no good to sheep.

Yet sound-joy abounds, no room for fright
sun-warmth shines through new-shorn fleece.
Ground aware, we feel the grass vibrate
I hear my stomach relax, feel my jaw gyrate
Stretch out my neck, smell sweetness,
touch, bite into spine-tingling flowering gorse. 

Barbara Usher practises animal theology on her 4 acre animal sanctuary, Noah’s Arcs. Her poetry has been published in Borderlands:  an Anthology,DreichLast Leaves, and in Liennekjournal. Her work appears on the Resilience soundscape for Live Borders, and she has contributed to a local project with Historic Environment Scotland. 

St Cuthbert’s Procession – a poem by Barbara Usher

St Cuthbert’s Procession

‘He was invited by my master Sibba….. who lived near the river called the Tweed, and came to his village with a company of people piously singing psalms and hymns.’ Anon. Life of St Cuthbert

Sing praise 
wholehearted words
to the bright blessed graceful 
salmon that is as wise as Himself
the salmon at the well of mercy 
We meet on the joyful path. Created
word-wise, we delight to praise Him 
in our own tongue, oft with joy-craft. 
Bless our swine, kine, sheep 
may they rest 
grass-sated in leaf-shade of rowan.

No boundary steppers we,
mindful of our covenant with the Rune Man
we bless you otter, gliding, mud wrestling,
wild goats skipping on the hills 
Be healthy Walker-weaver,
Be healthy Leaf-worm
As day’s eye petals bloom, open to the peace candle
we offer Sib-love, truth love of friends and un-friends alike
Let all unfriended people come, we will share.   
Heart love, bee bread, meat.

Endnote:  In Old English, joy-craft = music, boundary stepper = those who transgress, Rune Man =  decipher-er of mysteries, here with capitals applied to God.  Walker-weaver = spider, day’s eye = daisy,  peace candle = sun, bee bread =  honeycomb , meat = food. 

Barbara Usher practises animal theology on her 4 acre animal sanctuary, Noah’s Arcs. Her poetry has been published in Borderlands:  an Anthology,DreichLast Leaves, and in Liennekjournal. Her work appears on the Resilience soundscape for Live Borders, and she has contributed to a local project with Historic Environment Scotland.