Platonic Israel – a poem by Andrea Kibel

Platonic Israel

It was with trepidation that I leapt
across the ocean to the desert sand
for which I had myself not even wept,
since I was foreign to the holy land.

Ancestral shores aren’t real to those who roam
awash in all the nations’ ageless squall;
we’ve lost our memories of hearth and home;
diaspora makes strangers of us all.

But special is the gladness of return
for those who’ve never tasted Zion’s air,
who can distill each joy for which we yearn
into a common dream to carry there.

Meanwhile, our God is blind to place of birth;
the true Jerusalem is not on Earth.

Andrea Kibel is a new poet and 24-year-old graduate student in biology. A child of immigrants from South Africa and Zimbabwe, she grew up in the redwoods of California’s Santa Cruz mountains before studying in Dallas, TX and South Bend, Indiana. Andrea draws on science and nature, strangeness and isolation, and Jewish experience and imagery to create poems ranging from free verse to blank verse and sonnets.

Inversion – a poem by John Muro

Inversion
 

Brilliant as the day, the harbor could be
A second sky, a cistern of unblemished
Blue, with tides beaten smooth by wind.
Past the deep grass of the inlet, a light-
House in exile, adorned in a pastoral
Frock of arctic white, presides over the
Long altar of tumbled stone while a few
Gulls circle lazily above, like wisps of
Incense rising high into summer air.
Remembering, too, how the sky at dusk
Seemed to take on the look of land –
Say, an orchard just come into bloom –
With stars, palest rose and gold glistening,
Set adrift like tiny blossoms upon the wind.   

John Muro‘s first volume of poems, In the Lilac Hour, was published last fall by Antrim House, and it is available on Amazon. He is a life-long resident of Connecticut, and a graduate of Trinity College, Wesleyan University and the University of Connecticut. John’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous literary journals, including Moria, Euphony, River Heron, Clementine Unbound, Freshwater and the French Literary Review.

Then a man pours outward – a poem by Riley Mulhern

Then a man pours outward
            
And may be measured by his glories: 
the sudden stillnesses that solder 
 
blood and spirit and unbroken space
when we know, or think we know, heaven’s
 
secret ripplings from that hill-top 
Transfiguration, where proud men flung 
 
their faces in the dirt. Importance, 
but also hope: the sleepless longing
 
and the quick glory that exceeds us
as in love’s unforeseen opening
 
to our unsolved past, ready to bear
the pain that does not belong to us,
 
ongoing loss reaching out behind 
like a thread. The earth must first receive
 
the plow’s blade: then a man pours outward
bared and blinking, yet not diminished. 

Riley Mulhern is an engineer and a research scientist. He writes poetry because it makes him more alive.

Encounter – a poem by Yvonne Baker

Encounter 

I’m there when the young man  
says there’s nothing to fear.
The point when the day turns and is restored,

when Mary of Magdala reaches towards Christ, 
who drifts between earth and air, 
the nail marks on his feet like flowers.
But even as she clings to this moment of safety,
she hears Do not hold on to me. 

And the feeling of relief  
slipping like prayer beads through my fingers,   
snag on the words that follow — 
We’ll need more tests. 
 	
I leave you in the oncology ward 
to walk into an uncertain afternoon 
that leans towards hope.  

Yvonne Baker has been published widely in magazines. Her work has been included in Second Light, Paper Swans, Emma Press and Poetry Space anthologies. 

Gifts – a poem by Jane Angué

Gifts
 
A book of leaves 
                            from ’63 filled with blades of fescue,
sedge and brome, its tired cover soft green two days mown.
 
Now faded fields 
                             wave back, thigh-high banks of fronds;
a fountain of stripped seeds spray from an opened hand.
 
How in tune. 
                      Leaves had not blown in to colour shreds of talk
or clutter listening to thoughts we folded shut 
in concrete shade standing enclosed against metal heat.
 
but rustled 
                  in a letter to one far enough away to tell, near
enough to understand and peel this palimpsest’s thin skin.
 
She has written 
                          leaves in rain that unfurled like buds
in the ears of keen young city kids.
A tawny mother, sage unbound, wrapping forest-born boys
 
in copper petals 
                          by the creek; rocking words among the herbs,
her lullabies hummed across an ocean, borne on a sunlit page.
                                                              
In return, 
                a song of ourselves, growing out of this stony track,
muted among the thyme and flax, a torn leaf underfoot
 
with a pencilled wish. Beyond 
                                                  the enduring sting of scythes, 
stretch leas of gifted leaves imprinted with scents of hay.

Jane Angué teaches English Language and Literature in France. She contributes in French and English to print and online journals such asLe Capital des MotsAmethyst, Ink, Sweat and TearsAcumen, Erbacce, Poésie/première, Traversées, Mille-feuille. A pamphlet, des fleurs pour Bach, was published in 2019 (Editions Encres Vives).

Pneuma – a poem by Kathryn Muensterman

Pneuma


Breath and spirit are one. This I know
with my ear pressed to the phone,

smiling at a crackle on the line – your slow
exhale – 

while my parents sleep across the hall.
It’s a song without words,

the heavy unspoken, like
I had another dream where

we just sat and talked and Did you
have the same one? You say

Remind me to tell you something in a long time.
I don’t know what a long time means, but

I want you there when I find out – 
want like the prophet denied

the promised land – to sit by you
in the grass outside your house,

a squirming cat
between us, heads bent together 

laughing in the dark.
Only a picture 

of Zion and a blessing.
Couldn’t even get you to hold my hand

that night from the passenger side,
and trust me, I tried. So for now we talk

in riddles, and when I prod for answers,
you only breathe a laugh

that trickles down my head like cool anointing oil. 
I say your name in a benediction

to my empty room,
grinning when I realize

This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever done,
but didn’t God in all his wisdom, in a word

become one of us. We say goodnight
and wander long around the truth,

but I can hear you breathe,
and who could tell the difference.
 

Kathryn Muensterman is a native of Indiana and is currently pursuing a BA in English Literature at Washington and Lee University. She is the winner of a 2020 Academy of American Poets University Prize for her poem “Eschatology” (https://poets.org/2020-eschatology), and her poetry also appears in Washington and Lee’s literary magazine, Ampersand.

Writing and Spirituality – a reflection by Jane Angué

Writing and Spirituality

Ceasing to write was a conscious necessary decision: there was no time for thinking about a life that just had to be got on with. Reflection would only lead to unhappiness.

Life changes and one learns to make time and space for what may seem superfluous but is vital to our equilibrium. One cannot permanently suppress one’s need for spirituality and some form of expression.

As someone who works with and between two languages, words, writing and communication are part of professional and daily life; but coming back to writing myself, accepting that need, although it does not make life any easier, has added another plane, that lifts life above contingencies.

Words nourish us and we feed off them, yet in a symbiotic way we nourish them, we give them substance. Our search for the word, le mot juste, drives us deep into our past, our experience, our exchanges with others, our perception, our environment and all the inherent interactions. Everything that has forged our sensibility and our choices when we write, transforms that experience as we endeavour to convey its essence. 

Of course, the words will betray us. They inevitably escape what we are trying to distil, as if we could in some way fix a volatile perfume; they will never be received as we had defined them. They defy us in the minds of others. At the same time those words are the fabric of our environment. They enable us to touch and be touched by the intangible; to give corporeity to the immanence of our world.

Sometimes the absence of expression is desirable. Being in tune, absorbing what is, with no intermediary, is perhaps the ideal state of mind. But the incredible frustrations and joys that come of trying to communicate, the need to share and exchange, to build bridges to reach the inaccessible consciousness of others, to know that we are not alone, to meet others through their writing, to experience the stories, the visions, the wonder of what we have not known ourselves, are as vital as bread and rain.

Jane Angué teaches English Language and Literature in France. She contributes in French and English to print and online journals such asLe Capital des MotsAmethyst, Ink, Sweat and TearsAcumen, Erbacce, Poésie/première, Traversées, Mille-feuille. A pamphlet, des fleurs pour Bach, was published in 2019 (Editions Encres Vives).

Ode To My Wrists – a poem by Lisa Molina

Ode To My Wrists

My wrists
tiny glass brittle bones broken,
shattered when I slipped and fell.

My wrists
hung on a Chinese finger trap with
weights pulling them to realign in the ER.

My wrists
“Will I be able to play piano again?” 
I ask the doctor, even though my wrist’s fingers hadn’t touched the dusty keys in over a year, 

My wrists 
repaired with metal plates by a surgeon three days later, held together with pins and plates forever.

My wrists 
trapped in their bandaged wrapped cocoons, 
waiting for the fluttering wing fingers to emerge.

My wrists
unable to turn pages of a book or 
write a poem or text a friend or
caress the fluffy fur of my cat..

My wrists 
finally released, spreading their fingers
outside their cocoons, covered in scars
of remembrance and gratitude.

My wrists  
lay their fingers on the piano keys and begin to play the notes through my whole body as I joyfully weep in prayer of swollen pain.

My wrists caress/console/carry/captivate/pen/pages/poems/
play/piano/pray/fingers/feeling/fluttering/

Finally

Flying.

Holding a BFA from the University of Texas, Lisa Molina has taught high school English and theatre, and served as Associate Publisher of Austin Family Magazine. Molina now works with students with special needs. Her poetry can be found in Trouvaille Review, Beyond Words Magazine, Ancient Paths Literary Magazine, and The Ekphrastic Review with poems soon to be featured in The Peeking Cat and Silver Birch Press. She lives in Austin, Texas.

Sometimes We Must be Swallowed – a poem by Alfred Fournier

Sometimes We Must be Swallowed




“I will not be swallowed,”
I believe were Jonah’s exact words 
before the gaping fish maw folded darkness 
like a tomb shroud around him. 

He was stubborn, like his God, clinging 
to a skeletal certainty he’d hammered 
into place around him, calling it home. 
His faith in clockwork sun so fast, 
only darkness could save him. 

He brooded in that echoey ribbed cathedral 
until a storm savaged the sea. He marveled 
to feel the hurtling vessel of the fish slacken 
on the untold will of the waves.			

Wrenching fear like a dagger 
from his stone of his heart, 
he laughed—to his surprise—
and stood amid the pitching waves
and cried the song of all his joy to God. 

Alfred Fournier is a writer and community volunteer living in Phoenix, Arizona. His poems have appeared in Plainsongs, The Main Street Rag, Third Wednesday, Kind Writers, Ocotillo Review and elsewhere.

in place of an answer – a poem by Whitney Rio-Ross

in place of an answer

after Cy Twombly


he asked me what i meant 
by god, as if some wisp
of my soul could carry
his abandon, solid enough 
to shoulder a self.

if i stay still for long
i can watch my colors lose
themselves to the gaps between
my footprints. i ask for
a darker shade, some form
of permanence, but am sent 
smeared fingers to stretch 
my frame without 
asking for directions.

understanding is the greatest 
pretense we’ve found 
for erasure. our eyes
are too weak to watch it
disappear, arms too small
to wrestle a blessing.  

i want to carry him 
an outline to hold, say 
this body is given for you,
broken, open to embrace.

Whitney Rio-Ross is the author of the chapbook Birthmarks (Wipf & Stock) and poetry editor of Fare Forward. Her poetry has appeared in or is forthcoming in New South, America Magazine, So to Speak, Rock & Sling, The Windhover, 3Elements Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Nashville, TN, with her husband and practically perfect pup.