The Green Glass Swan – a poem by Robin Turner

The Green Glass Swan

I find her forgotten
on an old thrift shop shelf, lit

like a lantern in the late Texas sun—
a small swan of green glass, etched

in elegance, baptized in dust.
The cool bowl of her body

is made for my palm. The curved cup
of my hand her safe harbor. Her green

is my green, my longing, my undying,
her hollowed out center my own.

She lives with me now in these woods
in this new town, is shy with my husband,

speaks only to me. Come spring I will fill her
with pine forest & wild aster, wood rose & thistle,

buds gathered at dusk, rainwater brimming 
green sorrow, green song.

Robin Turner has recent work in The Fourth River, Bracken Magazine, One Art, and Ethel, and in the Haunted anthology (Porkbelly Press). A longtime community teaching artist in Dallas, she is now living in the Pineywoods of rural East Texas for a spell. She works with teen writers online.

Writing and the Sacred – a reflection by Patricia Furstenberg

Writing and the Sacred

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ~ Maya Angelou

I think that all writers are artists, the way painters, woodworks, and stonemasons are artists carving visible, palpable artworks. For a writer, and by the same token as it is for an artist, the desire, the urge to create, to write, comes from within, from the heart and the mind. Or is there a different, higher source?

Writing, as a word, originates in the Proto-Indo-European to tear, to rip, that further evolved into carving, then engraving, and finally, it became writing. No wonder writing feels like pouring out our soul, our heart, on paper. We spill ourselves; we tear bits of ourselves, of our life, and build something else that further lays out in the open. 

But writing is also energising and enriching, it is giving and receiving (like any other form of art), and maybe through writing wordsmiths do accomplish both because through this kind of carving we do connect ourselves with a higher power. 

When I write, I look for this inspiration in the silence within me, and the silence around me. That is the place, the moment when, for me, the cacophony of noises fades away and I find my inspiration, I hear that hum of ideas, like distant echoes. I try to harvest them, to catch them the way one would grab at the string of a kite, and I begin a creative dialog that will later pour onto paper. Yet I listen to these echoes and, at the same time, I contemplate the images forming in my mind. What starts it all for me, the writing process, it is an echo as much as it is an impulse, a tingling in my fingertips as much as an impulse. 

Yet what could its source be?

Inspiration, the muse, the idea (call it as you wish) – it comes to us, I think, through a ray of energy, or a simple thought, that was born, formed, at a higher (atmospheric) level before it reached us. If you wish, the way water circulates in nature, rivers evaporating in mist, forming serene clouds, then raining and snowing, thoughts could follow a similar pattern. What we imagine, what we dream, is escaping us as we exhale, as we wish; but the energy of that thought is never lost, yet it floats until it reaches the pen (and mind) of an artist.

In this way, I believe, writing and the sacred are connected. Like the trunk of a tree connects its roots with its branches and leaves. None could live without the other. None could survive if the other is not sound. In the same way, “What you think you create. What you feel you attract. What you imagine you become” – and writing connects our souls with the energy surrounding us, with the same energy that fuels us. We are, and become, this energy and soon we discover ourselves in everything that surrounds us. Now, looking past the religious perspective, connecting ourselves with a higher power does offer a drop of hope, that after bad some good will come, that life is worth fighting for, and that after each storm the sun will shine again.  

Writing is looking for the sunshine at the end of each sentence that feels complete; at the end of each chapter carved after the thought and the feeling that ignited it; at the end of each poem or book.

Writing, as a creation, must be that invisible thread that connects us with the sacred. Creating with words is as much an intellectual venture as a physical one. It is taking the life, labouring on it with our hands, pouring our heart into it, setting it alight with our minds, but the result would still be nothing without this sacred thread that came to us through a thought, or a pocket of silence. And I am grateful for it.

With a medical degree behind her, writer and poet Patricia Furstenberg authored 18 books imbued with history, folklore, legends. The recurrent motives in her writing are unconditional love and war. Her essays and poetry appeared in various online literary magazines. Romanian born, she resides with her family in South Africa.

Misty Fjord, Alaska – a poem by Valerie Bacharach

Misty Fjord, Alaska							

We’re in a boat watching a cormorant skim
aquamarine water. It circles and circles,
flies close to sheer granite cliffs,
where its nest hides among green plants.
Do eggs wait for warmth or nestlings for food?
No one speaks, the boat bobs quietly,
but this lone bird continues to fly in ever-widening loops
with its long neck and tiring wings.
Perhaps it sees we are danger, some unknown barrier,
yet doesn’t give up, flies off, returns,

and I think this must be devotion, love
in its simplest form, a willingness to try again and again
to reach its nest, to overcome exhaustion,
find its way home.

Valerie Bacharach’s writing has appeared or will appear in:Vox Populi, Blue Mountain Review, EcoTheo Review, Ilanot Review, Minyon Magazine, and One Art, among others. Her chapbook Fireweed was published by Main Street Rag. Her chapbook Ghost-Mother was published by Finishing Line Press. She has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize.

Jerusalem – a poem by Robert Donohue


It was Good Friday; I was at the bar
(Although it’s not a drinking holiday),
And there I met a real Centurion.
Real in the sense that cosplay is for real,
He made his arms and armor for himself:
(But you can find them on the Internet).
His pilum and his shield, his segmentata,
His pugio and gladius, all made,
He said, the Roman way, from wood and iron.
I wondered if it was against the law
To have a sword and carry it around,
But no one called the cops or kicked him out
So if they didn’t care, then why should I?
I wouldn’t want to spoil someone’s fun.
And it was fun; it was like Halloween,
Or Christmas, even, what with Santa-con,
With him in costume, and us getting drunk.
We lived it up, my Roman friend and I,
To drink away that solemn afternoon
Like we had seen the light only to find
We were the bad guys in a passion play,
And if that day was like its precedence
Then we, the soldiery and rabblement,
Would do as we had done; time’s miracle,
From then to now, was changing wine to beer.

I’m not religious, but this hasn’t stopped
Religious things from happening to me
And as our talking gradually progressed
He would admit to penance of a kind:
While he was still in uniform he swept
The parking lot of a convenience store
And he performed this ritual each year
When evening came, after his early binge.
As he confessed to this strange deed to me
I felt, from my poor stock of sacred power,
What I would lay upon him was a curse,
And sweeping up a crummy parking lot
As he was costumed like a Roman solider,
For all eternity, seemed justice done,
And what we had been up to at the bar
Was like the backhand of a holiday,
Where outrage can be made a commonplace
With nothing but the hope of small rewards;
Where should he be but in a parking lot
Of a convenience store, a broom in hand,
And sweeping up until the crack of doom?
A curse on him, but Good Lord, not on me!

Robert Donohue‘s poetry has appeared in Better Than Starbucks, Freeze Ray Poetry, Pulsebeat, among others. He lives on Long Island, NY.

Viśvakarmān – a poem by Tim Miller


Who was there when Viśvakarmān
whittled out the landscape, laid
out the earth and took the one tree
and carved the rounded sky from it?
Who watched him sweating and sawing
as he hewed words and rituals
and molded time, thought, sacrifice?
Covered in mouths, eyes, feet and arms,
father to the sun, that great eye,
who saw him separate the sky
and the earth, churning names and shapes?
What piety or pretension
can reach back to that pristine forge,
to that bench and smoky bellows
where questions, syllables and flesh,
where elements, worlds and wet soil
were not separate accomplishments
but one god, one affinity?

Tim Miller‘s books include the poetry collection Bone Antler Stone (High Window Press), and the long narrative poem, To the House of the Sun (S4N Books). He is online at, and can be heard on the poetry and mythology podcast Human Voices Wake Us.

Memento Mori – a poem by Jeffrey Essmann

Memento Mori

We must have talked about an hour or so.
I hadn’t heard from him in several weeks,
And something in his voice at times would creak,
Would falter, stop, not quite sure where to go.
He talked about his body now as though
It were no longer his, a thing oblique
Determined only by its pains and bleak
Forebodings based on what the doctors know.
Then suddenly my own death hovered near
(Appalling, how it seems to lie in wait
And pounces at the faintest whiff of fear…).
My dead in memory did congregate
To point my halting soul toward that austere
Horizon I’m so loath to contemplate.

Jeffrey Essmann is an essayist and poet living in New York. His poetry has appeared in numerous magazines and literary journals, among them Dappled Things, the St. Austin ReviewAmerica MagazineU.S. CatholicPensiveGrand Little ThingsHeart of Flesh Literary Journal, and various venues of the Benedictine monastery with which he is an oblate. He is editor of the Catholic Poetry Room page on the Integrated Catholic Life website.

Making Grits on a Sunday – a poem by Robin Dake

Making Grits on a Sunday

Two cups of water
One and a quarter cup of milk.
Add the grits slowly, stirring.
Feel the liquid begin to thicken,
Individual grains absorbing the water and milk.

Pre-pandemic, I cooked to eat.
Now I seem to cook to cook.
Recreating the ordinary comfort food 
I have been soothed by.
I follow an urge to give it
To the sleeping people in my home.

Add the butter.
Watch it seem to sigh as it leans into the warmth,
Contributing its own good to the concoction.
Next the cheese that then assimilates like the butter,
Melting in the melting pot.

I too sigh as I lean over the hot pot,
Slowly stirring, comforting myself
With an offering that feels holy.

Robin Dake is a mother, daughter, friend, writer, and photographer. She has spent her career working as a journalist or non-profit manager while writing essays and poems on the side. Her work has appeared in This I Believe radio program and in Trailway News magazine She lives in N.E. Georgia with two hoodlum cats and one patient dog.  

Calls from the Edge – a poem by Simon Maddrell

Calls from the Edge

Simon Maddrell is a queer Manx man, thriving with HIV. He’s published in fifteen anthologies and publications including AMBITButcher’s DogThe MothThe Rialto, Poetry Wales, Stand and Under the Radar. In 2020, Simon’s debut, Throatbone, was published (UnCollected Press) and Queerfella jointly-won The Rialto Open Pamphlet Competition.

Joy – a poem by Jenna Wysong Filbrun

          In the upstairs room, the resurrected Christ
          is recognized by the wounds
          on his new-old body,
          still bearing the marks of pain.
                    (John 20:19-31)
God, of course, does not protect you
from anything, any more
than anyone else.
And atrocities abound everywhere.
It is spring.
The house down the road
blooms out in its purple
crocus daffodil carpet.
God is a slight heaviness
around your ears
in the quiet.
That is all.
In the early light,
the singing bloom,
is the long dark
and the frozen silence.
Having suffered
the kind of pain
that made you
wish for death,
you are always afraid
of the kind of pain
that made you
wish for death.
Joy knows this
and never pretends
it isn’t true.
You look around
at suffering –
An impossible question.
A deep cavern.
You go in because love goes in.
Someone is asking for a prayer.
The asking is the most beautiful prayer
you have ever heard.
Well below any low
you have ever been
lies pain like a seed
buried in the ground.
Deep down
where there is no light.
Where few seem to know
it exists.
But joy knows –
thanks to the long,
hard practice
of not pretending.
You go by the house
with the flowers
and marvel.
It is a gift
you can only accept
from deep
in the bare ground
of what also is.

Jenna Wysong Filbrun’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in publications such as Blue Heron Review, Crosswinds Poetry Journal, The Dewdrop, Snapdragon Journal, and Wild Roof Journal.  Her first full length collection of poems, Away, will release with Finishing Line Press in 2023. She is married to Mike, and they have two dogs, Oliver and Lewis.  Find her on Twitter @Jenna_W_Filbrun.

Beyond – a poem by Johanna Caton, O.S.B.


...power came out of him that cured them all (Luke 6:19).

distant, she watches Jesus moving in the raw 
crowd— he sees the sick: stiff flesh and pith, 

he touches all, strong in his long hands—air 
vivid, quick as fingers of flame. she looks 

away.  her sickness? hid.  how can he restore 
a soul?  lost.  her life?  forfeited.  so marred, 

dead.  tell him of her spirit-wound? no word- 
spin can spell it, nor hands plumb rude space.  

too late;  hope’s gone               yet linger—
yet look at him curing by mere command—

and she hears him bless.            she yearns.  
that man—his life burns beyond the rim of loss—

not easy, her giving over to hope
misery has its own perverse claims
the first healing must be remote—
long-distance breach of a shut, shamed

mind: but blind, lame, deaf: see, leap, 
hear: a mute boy’s chatter, his laugh low
Ephphthata—she hears the order breathe,
unlock. She’ll try—she’ll go to him. Go!

she heard
he’d gone to Simon’s house to dine

she sped
dazed—a brook to sea—beyond all fear

she sought—
her self? her life? her blighted life.

she flew 
through moonlight’s maze, shadows heaved

her hair 
came loose, swung long—later remarked

by the host and his dinner guests, 

but she,
beyond their grasp, tight-clasped her jar 

of nard, 
and, panting, clutched it to her breast.  

At last, 
at Simon’s house, creep inside.

He’s there at table—waits

for me.  
weep: mercy—the near sight 

of him: 
drop to his feet, kiss, embrace

beyond this world, in his eyes

I drench 
his feet in nard—beyond paradise

Johanna Caton, O.S.B., is a Benedictine nun.  She was born in the United States and lived there until adulthood, when her monastic vocation took her to England, where she now resides.  Her poems have appeared in The Christian Century, The Windhover, The Ekphrastic Review, Green Hills Literary Lantern, The Catholic Poetry Room, and other venues, both online and print.