Kneeler – a poem by Barbara Daniels

Kneeler
 
She saw selectively—flaws 
in her skin, sagging thighs 
that bulked impressively 
 
over her knees. Her wooden 
kneeler clanked coldly, down 
for prayers, up for hymns. 
 
She sang in her sleep, waved 
an arm rhythmically, smiled, 
sighed. When she had breath, 
 
she breathed without thinking, 
thinking instead of thrushes 
in grottos of ferns, water moving 
 
beside them, songs plaintive, 
repeated, hawthorns unnamed 
except by the specialist, 
 
butterflies captured and held 
in her hands. She saw bits 
of blue wander through clover. 
 
Cars thrashed by. She didn’t 
believe in luck though 
she knew she was lucky. 
 
She knelt on the floor, on 
beach sand by water, on dark 
soil and the shining street.

Barbara Daniels’s Talk to the Lioness was published by Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press in 2020. Her poetry has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Mid-American Review, and elsewhere. Barbara Daniels received a 2020 fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. 

Evening Mantra – a poem by Nancy K Jentsch

Evening Mantra 
 
Pour dusk’s song like wax 
from guttering candle 
that leaves a hushed stripe 
 
Listen to cat’s drowsy breath 
a stately Sarabande 
accompanying flame’s dance 
 
Sense pendulum sway 
in counterpoint 
to cat’s dreaming sleep 
 
Knit and purl a wish to frame 
and mount the moment 
despite clock’s mocking tick 


Nancy K. Jentsch’s poetry has appeared recently in EclecticaEcoTheo Review, Panoply and in numerous anthologies. In 2020, she received an Arts Enrichment Grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women. Her chapbook, Authorized Visitors, was published in 2017 and her writer’s page on Facebook is https://www.facebook.com/NancyJentschPoet/ 








Wind Takes Care of Me – a poem by Janet Krauss

Wind Takes Care of Me

The tree sheds its leaves on my deck.
I sweep them off. The next morning
they return.  I laugh a puff of surprise. 
The following day the wooden planks,
weathered a faithful grey, are free 
of the curling, brown clusters.  I laugh
again to know the wind slipped in
during the night,  and in one breath 
scattered the litter of leaves
to the ground,  perhaps for birds
to gather to line and warm their nests.
 
One afternoon I rest on the deck.
A breeze comes close and knows to lift
away the tightness in my chest,
the frown on my forehead, and ease
me into a daydream of colors
lit fleetingly with the brush of sun.
 
On the shore the wind, over the surface
of the sea, winks everywhere at me
to enter the waves, guides me to swim
within them, my arms enthralled
with theirs as they rise and fall in rhythm
with my  life’s  breath.

Janet Krauss, who has two books of poetry published, “Borrowed Scenery,” Yuganta Press, and “Through the Trees of Autumn,” Spartina Press, has recently retired from teaching English at Fairfield University. Her mission is to help and guide Bridgeport’s  young children through her teaching creative writing, leading book clubs and reading to and engaging a kindergarten class. As a poet, she co-directs the poetry program of the Black Rock Art Guild.

Photograph: The Nuns and Me – a poem by Dede Mitchell

Photograph: The Nuns and Me
 
 
The image gives me back myself at twenty-two
 
            in a brown skirt 
 
and sunny blouse, 
 
smiling, 
 
one sister’s arm tucked into mine.
 
 
Their habits, like the full moon on a windy night
 
            rode the air.
 
                                    The women, mere passengers,
 
traveled       lightly      in the folds, 
 
                        each face her own.
 
 
They were contemplative
 
                                    by mission and by nature, except
 
            Patricia from Ireland
 
                        who folded the laundry—those lunar gowns—
 
                                                and carried me along with her brogue
 
                                    and bravado—a stormy tale of drugs, poverty
 
                        and unlikely rescue 
 

in the quiet kindness
 
                                    she often felt compelled to disrupt.
 
            
You look happy, a friend says of the picture.
 
It’s decades later.
            
            Maybe I was.
 
I’m married now, have two sons, write poetry.
 
Maybe I would have been.
 

Dede Mitchell‘s work has appeared in NC Literary Review, Kakalak 2013, Role Reboot, and is forthcoming in Cider Press Review. You can also find some of my writing (as “Dede”) at OurBlueBoat.org, a blog that celebrates and muses on our relationship with the earth.

God as Mountain – a poem by Gail Thomas

God as Mountain

Refusing to pray
I watch instead the mountain.

Masked by fog, its crest
remains implacable, moved

neither by my sins or joys.
And below, scars —

from wild fires, strip mining,
toxic spray, clamor of wind,

baptism of erosion —
the vellum weather uses

to disrobe folds of earth,
its language of rift and upsurge.

Underground veins
smolder and flare, leave

eruptions cooled
to a jagged rage.

I do not ask if I, and we all
will be forgiven.

.

Gail Thomas’ books are Odd Mercy, Waving Back, No Simple Wilderness, and Finding the Bear. Her poems have been widely published in journals, and her awards include the Charlotte Mew Prize from Headmistress Press,  the Narrative Poetry Prize from Naugatuck River Review, and the Massachusetts Center for the Book’s “Must Read.” http://www.gailthomaspoet.com/

The Little Girl Who Laughed in the Graveyard – a poem by Ken Hines

                                                                                        
The Little Girl Who Laughed in the Graveyard 
 
Watering my mother’s freshly seeded grave 
I am alone, I think, 
among the unliving—until those giggles 
electrified the empty air.
 
Hidden by skeletal trunks 
of crepe myrtle she hopscotched 
among the mounds, 
her laugh 
the sermon I needed to hear.
 
It said: 
Ignore the crows in the distant pines
and their chorus of complaint.
 
Marvel at the gall of fescue seeds
bearing possibility without promise.
 
Testify to the courage of gravestones
telling so little of what they know. 
 
I, finishing up a son’s final chore, 
was hoping for more somehow.
Yet there is a dark place in the heart 
that whispers Amen.
 

Ken Hines writes essays and poems on matters he finds puzzling. Some of those pieces found their way into Philosophy NowThe MillionsBarrelhouseMocking Heart Review and AIOTB. He lives in Richmond, Virginia.

All Saints at St. Peter’s – a poem by Dede Mitchell

All Saints at St. Peter’s

The Sea of Galilee floats on plaster and in the foreground
a young man, bearded, stands. Another on knees reaches up
and we are reaching up, our voices resounding, our hands crying,
our eyes exclaiming, our knees swaying,
our hearts.

The mind is struck silent when the host is raised, the wine poured.
The body is ours, given, taken, received. Every time we speak the words,
Lord I am not worthy, we are made worthy, beloved, one.

The people sing because they have a song.

In the bright day, we step out, each one back to an ordinary life,
infused, but apart, no longer shining or singing.
A red-haired woman discusses a project at work;
the man next to me pushes past as the wind catches his jacket
like he might take flight. The church goes dark and quiet.
A small flame burns there.

.

Dede Mitchell‘s work  has appeared in NC Literary Review, Kakalak 2013, Role Reboot, and is forthcoming in Cider Press Review. You can also find some of her writing (as “Dede”) at OurBlueBoat.org, a blog that celebrates and muses on our relationship with the earth.

Alabama Lizzie Siddal – flash fiction by Taylor Wyna

Alabama Lizzie Siddal

It doesn’t take long for your feet to slip beneath the slick moss // you hear the last wisps of their laugher // and soon one by one they follow suit // their bare feet collide with mismatched rocks // forgotten arrowheads // and the riverside fennel that’s squished between their toes // yet somehow they avoided the tadpoles // their black googly eyes shake beneath the gentle tide // for a moment you lay there // letting the moss and stray honeysuckles catch root in your hair // your clothes spread wide and ripple under the current // the water is shallow here like a smudged millais painting // perhaps I’ll stay here forever // you think // I’ll rest in this heavy creek that sits on a road called rosemary // I’ll float here and stash their prayers // harvest their memories from the daisies and spanish moss // perhaps I’ll stay here // dear mother // until the violets come back.

Taylor Wyna is a writer from Birmingham, Alabama whose work has been featured in Cypress Press, Aura Literary Arts Review, and Reckon Women. She is the Founder and EIC of Camellias, a Southern Regional magazine dedicated to the modern Southern woman. Say ‘hi’ on Twitter and Instagram @TayyWyna

THE LAST ROOM OF THE MIND – a cento by Kathleen Gunton

THE LAST ROOM OF THE MIND
Lisel Mueller: Cento*

It is the end of the story
From which I wake up grateful
Becoming lighter, losing ground
Something in me, an alteration
With anticipation of light
Across the windows of the the soul
Shivering points of light
A momentary vision of heaven
What luxury to be so happy
The music emerges more luminous
How light we are becoming
My life in the corner winks
As if I were a saint
And how infinitely the heart expands
To share the altitude of the dead
I search the language for a word
In the last room of the mind
Where I started your own work of art
Toward death by love, for love, because of Love
Bells tolling
The party in heaven
We are beginning to live forever
It is never sunrise or sunset
It is golden
In a marvelous castle, enjoying
All we know of God
He is certain power and gentleness
The mystery we were promised
Answers to questions—an endless supply—
That death came to you in your proper time
I live here
Now in the thriving season of Love

* Each line is drawn from a different poem in Lisel
Mueller’s collection, Alive Together.

Kathleen Gunton is a poet/photgrapher who believes one art
feeds another. Often her words and images appear in the same
publication. Over 45 of her cento poems have appeared in literary and
faith-based publications such as Anomaly, Commonweal, Cura,
First Things, Rhino, North Dakota Review
and Studio One.
She lives in Southern California.

Please – a poem by Peter Schneider

Please
 
 
                                    Take care
                                    of time
                                    as you are
                                    a filter and it
                                    flows through you.
 
                                    A slight shift of signal
                                    and the observer is
                                    the observed.
                                    The breath sees itself
                                    preparation to the blank
                                    screen.
 
                                    You must give up so
                                    give up give up give up
                                    make a magnanimous gift
                                    aware, a skeptical shift and
                                    the clear rivulet flowing 
                                    over grey rock
 
                                    twists, braids and disappears
                                    rejoins itself downstream
                                    a receding notion 
                                    
 
                                    Have a tender care for your
                                    fellow objects. In your absence
                                    the room persists, dust motes
                                    live in air. Such as these are no
                                    better or worse than they are.
                                    
                                    Be fair with them; be each object
                                    cascading down over sharp
                                    turbulences-creating points of rock
                                    through a thousand transforms
                                    to be there, a bareness
                                    laid bare.
 
                        
 

Peter Schneider is a poet, psychotherapist, and zazen practitioner who lives in Brooklyn, NY. and Rochester, Vt. His poems have appeared in AMP: The Journal of Digital Literature (Hofstra Univ.); The Buddhist Poetry Review; Mobius: The Journal of Social Change; The Shot-glass Journal; Kairos; Better Than Starbucks; Big Windows Review and in the broadside collection, A Midnight Snack. His debut collection, The Map is Not the Territory was published by Anaphora Literary Press in April 2018. His MFA is from Columbia University and his Ph.D. is in clinical psychology from New York University.