Random Reflections – a poem by Gopal Lahiri

Random Reflections


Light drifts, changes,
day rolls into furnace, all fires are fire.

Then there is the blank space
The wall clock stops at quarter to nine.

A dust storm blows the tiny bird’s nest
The flowers fade, I don’t speak of it.

The afternoon shifts to the evening
with crumbly sigh, dimness sinks the needle in.

The voice of the winds like any old
memory, strays in the winnowed sand-yard.

My diary pages are open all night inside
the dark drawer.

And I learn to burrow in the dark yet
I shudder from where the Universe begins.


©gopallahiri


Gopal Lahiri is a bilingual poet, critic, editor, writer and translator with 24 books published, including five jointly edited books. His poetry is published across various anthologies globally. Recent credits: Ink Pantry, Verse-Virtual, Madrigal, The Best Asian Poetry, and elsewhere. He has been nominated for Pushcart Prize for poetry in 2021

Walking Through a Mixed Conifer Forest on a Summer’s Day – a poem by Elizabeth Domenech

Walking Through a Mixed Conifer Forest on a Summer’s Day 


O earth, 
let us forever know
the smell of the forest floor
that embraces first heat of day 

where sap 
like honey crystallizes 
entombing citrus scent

and moss unfurls to water
and aspens wave their greeting
and pine trees whisper stories to the wind

and huckleberries seduce bears
and thimbleberries surely shelter fairies
as cottonwood twirls and tumbles on the breeze

and we inhabit our bodies
and our feet carry us forward
and we walk at the pace of the forest
and our minds lilt and drift with the butterfly
and our spirits bubble and gurgle with the creek

and firs and pines exhale wisdom
and being nearby we inhale wisdom 

and it’s May
and fires are a distant thing
and the Swainson’s thrush sings
and the chipmunk plays hide and seek 
and the golden mantled squirrel chatters
and the deer watches silently at the edge
and the fir trees drop their protective caps
and the new growth is soft, and ever green
and the spider web glints in the morning light 

and the ants delight in decay
and decay smells rich and inviting
and the next layer builds on this one 
as life begins and ends on the forest floor

Elizabeth Domenech is a writer, naturalist, and advocate for conservation and wildness. Her writing can be found published in Montana Naturalist, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, and Pivot and Pause: A Poetry Anthology of Resilience, Remembrance and Compassion (2020). She lives in Bozeman, Montana. 

That Patch of Perennials – a poem by Emalisa Rose

That patch of perennials


The warped picnic table
engraved with the paint
stains and barbecues.

The critters, a medley of
mourning doves, deer and
opossum, plus the countless
stray cats I have fed.

Those six standing sycamores
greening with leaves, birds
on the branches, corralling
and cawing from morning
to midnight.

And that patch of perennials
we’d planted two decades ago
reminding of where we had
been and where we are going.

When not writing poetry, Emalisa Rose enjoys crafting. She walks with a birding group each month through the neighborhood trails. She volunteers in animal rescue. Her work has appeared in Amethyst Review, Mad Swirl, Writing in a Woman’s Voice and other wonderful places. Her latest collection is This water paint life, published by Origami Poems Project. 

The Wake – a poem by Scott Elder

The Wake

It’s not clear
where the river begins 
     where her body ends
watery thoughts     phantoms  
meeting only to part 

a looseness expanding
as stars might deepen—
     one empty breath at a time—
to fill a winter’s sky
ave     ave

it’s not clear     
is it she or the river 
     that pulls me so?

I dip my fingers into her hair
stare into lidded eyes

a dragon lies in the depth of each
it seems to be sleeping
     dormez-vous?    dormez-vous?

a bell is ringing 
dormez-vous?    

Scott Elder lives in France. His work has mostly appeared in the UK and Ireland. A debut pamphlet, Breaking Away, was published by Poetry Salzburg in 2015, his first collection, Part of the Dark, by Dempsey&Windle 2017 (UK), and the second, My Hotel, is forthcoming in Salmon Poetry 2023 (Ireland).   Website: https://www.scottelder.co.uk/

Nocturne – a poem by Shakiba Hashemi

Nocturne


In the beginning there was darkness,

            there was no ray 

and no prism,

           no rainbow

to arch above the clouds,

           there was no water

to veil the earth,

           no splendid sun to blaze,

and no gentle breeze

           to murmur.

In the beginning there was no pain,

           no mother to wail

for her dead son,

           there was no sin

no spirit,

           no father.

There was no apple

           to want,

no tongue

           to lick the nectar,

no desire.

           There was no star

to pierce the night,

           no heaven for angels

to descend from,

                      there was no cross,

no candle,

           no altar.

There was no blue sky,

           no wing to unfurl

and no wind beneath,

           or above.

In the beginning

           there was darkness,

there was silence,

           and love.

 

Shakiba Hashemi is an Iranian-American poet, painter and teacher living in Southern California.  She is a bilingual poet, and writes in English and Farsi. She holds a BFA in Drawing and Painting from Laguna College of Art and Design. Her work is forthcoming or has appeared in Atlanta Review, Tipton Poetry Journal, Ibbetson Street Magazine, The Indianapolis Review, I-70 Review, Cream City Review, The Summerset Review, Roanoke Review, Collateral and the New York Quarterly Anthology Without a Doubt: poems illuminating faith.

Space Made of Breath – a poem by Maija Haavisto

Space Made of Breath


I emptied the cup and then
poured out the emptiness
but then I looked in and
there was still more

what was your original face
before you were born
and what was the original
face of this cup when it was
still just the dust of the earth?
what was the "i" before it
grew into a self-important capital?
lost its dot into a glazing
that wanted to shine even
though it was just earth
cradled between someone's hands
a container for emptiness
and you can never pour it out
it's too full of itself like I'm
too full of "I" and dust

I am Earth that wants to be
cradled but my bones are
too full of emptiness
and when you look at my breath
it disappears, it was never there
you can't add air into air
and make it separate
why do we try so hard to
draw our diaphragms into
space made of breath?

Maija Haavisto has had two poetry collections published in Finland: Raskas vesi (Aviador 2018) and Hopeatee (Oppian 2020). In English her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in e.g. Moist, Capsule Stories, Soul-Lit, ShabdAaweg Review, The North, Streetcake, ANMLY, Eye to the Telescope, Shoreline of Infinity and Kaleidoscope. Follow her on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/DiamonDie 

Bartimaeus – a poem by Ann Power

 
Bartimaeus  
    
 
Clasp…that holds the darkness…
and it is noon,
and he is fastened beyond his wish
as if wrapped in some morbid shroud without
bindings.
 
He, the blind beggar, the petitioner at Jericho’s gate,
who can never look outward on a vista,
never see a star tumbling from heaven, whose sight,
confined to sightless patterns bleeding into umber-red,
knows by feel, by taste, by touch, but more by intuition,
the world’s activities.
 
He hears the palm fronds that rustle in the morning air,
the sound of sandals on flagstone,
the bells of camels carrying their tired cargo,
the grappling, the laughing of little boys wrestling in the dusty plaza.
 
He smells the scent of lemons and melons exaggerated in the heat,
and the figs and dates on their way to market packed carefully
in their baskets.
 
He feels the tunic of a merchant, busy with the cares of morning,
whisper past his outstretched hand,
feels the warm sand filtered between his toes in his sandal and
the small lizard that unexpectedly slithers over his thigh.
 
Today there is the jostling of a crowd
There is a special excitement…a different crowd…not the one
that gathers for the market busy with the occupations of day,
with the gossip of each passing hour;
not the one that follows a thief, shrill in its cries of pursuit;
nor the one that prepares in hushed voices for the passing of
a dignitary.
 
Something other.  
 
Suddenly a brighter darkness.
It is a fire with warmth, without heat,
and he is drawn like the flower he cannot see to the sun he can
only feel in a
magnetism of divine coercion. 
 
He finds his voice rising from his throat,
uttering the Messianic secret,
discovers himself on his feet stumbling forward
toward a depth he cannot fathom
knowing only the draw and need, seeing
without seeing.
 
Caught by the force that impels him,
he leaves his cloak.
Frightened, without the conceit
of imagined appearances,
he is aware of hands pushing him backwards.
His supplication, his syllables have a sharpness
that surprises.
 
Then a question.
Encouraged by the Prophet’s invitation,
he finds himself in the presence of Him who elicits love.
His knowledge no longer reliant upon lateral effect,
he plumbs the depth of certain understanding, the hidden,
now unobscured.
He comprehends as clearly as if sight were his, and it matters
only little that the circumference of his universe is darkness.
Still, in answer to the question,
he names desire.
 
Then the miracle everyone sees.  It is not
the miracle he feels within, the unexplainable expansion, the
question which no longer needs to be asked but is
answered.
 
Delineation and line and depth and color and 
overwhelming beauty in a breathtaking instant
are his.
 
He sees the sun and understands the shadow.
 

Ann Power is a retired faculty member from The University of Alabama.  She enjoys writing historical sketches as well as poems based in the kingdoms of magical realism. Her work has appeared in: Limestone, Spillway, Gargoyle Magazine, The Birmingham Poetry Review, The American Poetry Journal, Dappled Things, Caveat Lector, The Copperfield Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Amethyst Review, The Loch Raven Review, and other journals. In addition, Ann’s poem, “Ice Palace” (The Copperfield Review) was nominated for Best of the Net in Poetry last year.  

What Right Do Meanings Have To Hide Behind the Things We See – a poem by Rich Boucher

What Right Do Meanings Have
To Hide Behind The Things We See



I saw the alchemy symbol for 
the first breath we breathe
on a bumper sticker
that was on an ambulance 
that was on a busy street
last week

and in that moment 
I knew I’d never get smart enough
to define the one and only meaning
behind what I saw
which, I mean, honestly

is exactly the sort of predicament
that could make you 
start a religion 
without even realizing
that all you had to do
was maybe tell just one other person
to get the whole ball of waxing Moons rolling

and so I guess I’ll tell you
that lately my work days 
get me up before the Sun 
can come through my window,
and this morning
when the gold light shined in
and began to give me some shadows to see
the sunlight through the lace of the window curtain
made this pattern on the wall
that looked precisely and frighteningly 
like the alchemy symbol for honey, 
two fish kissing each other in profile,
the one on the left frowning,
the one on the right smiling,
and I debated on whether to mention it to anyone
until now and so since you are technically anyone
what do you think it all means
or maybe at least can you tell me
what some of it might mean

Rich Boucher resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Rich’s poems have appeared in Bending Genres, Menacing Hedgeand Stink Eye, among others, and he has work forthcoming in Boats Against The Current. Rich is BOMBFIRE Magazine’s Associate Editor, and he is the author of All Of This Candy Belongs To Me.

Mirabai – a poem by John Copley Alter

Mirabai


Your fragrant devotion—charcoal
fire—sandalwood incense burning—

through a long winter inspires me—
each moment tossed into the flame—

each moment a note from the flute
player—handwritten—you find strewn

like flowers when the bridegroom
comes—how—when sunset comes—
			your heart

restlessly begins to hum hymns
of desire—it is becoming

clear—a clearing—your tent pitched—fire
wood gathered—each moment kindling

you offer—prasad—beloved
you sing—come now

John Copley Alter is an elderly foreigner.

Silence – a poem by Janet Krauss

Silence

“...make a poem that does not disturb the silence from which it came.”
Wendell Berry


Silence creates a wide berth
for a poem to be born
and for a poem to leave
 a silence behind
ringing with meaning
and a choir of images,
a silence housed
in a temple or a church,
a silence bedded
in still waters
or reflected
in a child’s eyes
the first time she gazes
at  the  wavering flare
of a lit candle.

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.