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.
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
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 Eclectica, EcoTheo 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
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
The image gives me back myself at twenty-two
in a brown skirt
and sunny blouse,
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
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.
smolder and flare, leave
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
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,
the sermon I needed to hear.
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 Now, The Millions, Barrelhouse, Mocking Heart Review and AIOTB. He lives in Richmond, Virginia.
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,
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
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
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
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.
as you are
a filter and it
flows through you.
A slight shift of signal
and the observer is
The breath sees itself
preparation to the blank
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
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.