We Think We Step Alone – a poem by Marjorie Moorhead

We Think We Step Alone

We think we step on solid ground,
but shifting sands are all I’ve found.
Shadows and mist,
transforming cloud formations…

We gather together as a particular form
but nothing stays solid.
Nothing remains untroubled.
Not the body. Not thought. 

We ought to have wings or at least carry, 
at all times, one of those life preserver rings.
For flight; for buoyancy, something to cling to
in the storms of uncertainty.

Side by side, or across the globe,
you and I are droplets of the same foggy mist.
Hold hands with me, link arms.
Let us pool together awhile,

I’ll splash in your puddle, and you in mine.
We’ll soak heavy so all will sink, a heavy mix
running from us as rivulets, soaking
into common ground.

Marjorie Moorhead writes from the New England river valley border of NH/VT. She is the author of Survival: Trees, Tides, Song (Finishing Line Press 2019), Survival Part 2: Trees, Birds, Ocean, Bees (Duck Lake Books 2020), and has poems in many anthologies and literary journals. Marjorie’s first full collection, Every Small Breeze, is forthcoming, as well as a third chapbook, In My Locket

Morning Yoga in the Tuscan Countryside – a poem by Sara Letourneau

Morning Yoga in the Tuscan Countryside

This is your studio:
the blue-sky ceiling, a floor of dew-drenched grass,
the mid-May sun for your lighting and heat.
Walls don’t exist here; everywhere you look, 

cypress trees stand as still as Buddha statues,
rosebushes burst into red, pink, and white stars, and—
straight ahead, over the green sea of hills—
the towers of San Gimignano rise,

proud sentries of this town for a thousand years.
You unroll your mat in this spot for that very reason
and face not the front but sideways,
so you can take in the view as you begin with gentle stretches.

Seated twists give you other glimpses:
the terra-cotta roofs of farmhouses and villas, 
rows upon rows of vineyards and olive trees, 
the placid pond near the agriturismo’s fence.

Soon, you flow into cat-cows, low lunges, high lunges,
reaching tall each time you salute the sun, 
murmuring your thanks as you fold down, 
and pausing a few seconds longer than intended 

whenever your eyes meet the towers in the distance.
And even though you’ve been breathing this whole time, 
this is when you b r e a t h e—
above and below, into and beyond, 

as if your bones have taught themselves
how to inhale and exhale, absorbing
the ancient centro storico and the verdant landscape
the way chlorophyll absorbs light.

And just when you think the countryside
has little else to feed you, you settle into savasana,
and as you lie on your back, the land gifts you 
the perfume of roses, jasmine, and lemon trees, 

and the music of birds chattering, roosters boasting,
cows greeting the morning, bees and flies humming, 
and you swear you are still moving, 
because how can you remain motionless

when this world is beckoning you to awaken?

Sara Letourneau is a poet as well as the book coach, editor, and writing workshop instructor at Heart of the Story Editorial & Coaching Services. Her poetry has received first place in the Blue Institute’s Words on Water contest and has appeared in Full Mood MagLiving CrueArlington Literary Journal, Mass Poetry’s Poem of the Moment and Hard Work of HopeMuddy River Poetry ReviewSoul-LitAmethyst Review, and Constellations, among others. Her manuscript for her first full-length poetry collection is on submission. You can learn more about working with Sara and read more of her work at https://heartofthestoryeditorial.com/.

Eight Things the Buddha Said While Reading My Poetry – a poem by Carolyn Martin

Eight Things the Buddha Said While Reading My Poetry

When you know yourself, you know everyone. 
Shed embarrassment for living a human life
and let your true Self out. Let it out! 

Remind yourself that each moment is completely new. 
Although you’ve read a thousand poems, 
yours belong only to you. 

Learn this from water: the brook splashes loud
but the ocean’s depths are calm. Swim deeper
between the lines. Wisdom dives and waits.

Even as a solid rock is unshaken by the wind, 
so are the wise unshaken by praise or blame.
Be wise: rejections and acceptances make no difference.

If you are quiet enough, you will hear the flow 
of the universe and feel the meter of discerning winds.
Invite them to blow through your images.  

Every poem has a beginning and an ending 
somewhere. Make peace with that and wait.
Someday the poem will tell you what it wants to say.

When you realize how perfect everything is,
you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.
That line deserves a poem! Tilt. Laugh. Write.

There are only two mistakes one can make along
the road to truth: not going all the way and not starting.
You’ve started. Now go the miles to go.

Blissfully retired in Clackamas, OR, Carolyn Martin is a lover of gardening and snorkeling, feral cats and backyard birds, writing and photography. Her poems have appeared in more than 175 journals throughout North America, Australia, and the UK. For more: www.carolynmartinpoet.com.

The Gods of the Ways – a poem by Neile Graham

The Gods of the Ways

Say there's a trail and the walking
is easy. Say there's not and the way 
full of blocking deadfalls,  peaty 
puddles gnawing your boots, blackberry 
thickets insisting on tolls. A trail

and no trail. Five steps of pelting rain. 
Or of wonder. There's something you know 
and it matters. You don't and it doesn't. 
Couldn't. Never would. You, child, are 
what you are, and what you are
is becoming. So thread your way

through the dripping forest or saunter 
your passage. Drench yourself in all 
of its ways. Smell the dark cedar, 
the sodden leaf-mold, the sharp ache 
of your sweat. It's what will shape 

you, make you whatever being of 
hope or death you become. Laugh
 if you will. Choosing your way 
chooses you. Each step is what 
you will become. If you choose it.

Neile Graham is Canadian by birth and inclination but currently lives in Seattle, Washington. Her publications include: four full-length collections, most recently The Walk She Takes (2019) and a spoken word CD, She Says: Poems Selected & New. She has also published poems in various physical and online magazines, including Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Mad Swirl, and Polar Starlight.

What Rises – a poem by Katie Kalisz

What Rises

The sun, ever earlier
and earlier, a bluebird’s 
orange belly to the feeder,
a robin beak with a worm,
spikes of iris, 
a heron from the mist
off the river.
Flags on mailboxes
up and down the street,
steam from our pot of oatmeal,
the May wood pile with ash
and cottonwood.
Welt of poison ivy 
on my ankle, Muscari 
in the lawn, and dandelions, 
rhubarb stalks, purple heads of asparagus.
A second chicken coop 
the neighbors erect and paint blue.
Theodore, the chipmunk, to the 
deck railing, for orange peels
and apple cores, the dog’s rear end
in a yoga pose, my rear end
in a yoga pose, my son
into a Norway spruce,
the river to meet the bank, 
masks to overtake faces, 
the death toll.
And at last, 
the white moon, 

Katie Kalisz is a Professor in the English Department at Grand Rapids Community College, where she teaches composition and creative writing. She holds degrees from the University of Michigan, Loyola University of Chicago, and Queens University of Charlotte. Quiet Woman, her first book, was a finalist for the 2018 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award. She is the recipient of a 2023 Elizabeth George Foundation Grant, and her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. She lives in Michigan with her husband and their three children. 

Lauds – a poem by Nancy K. Jentsch

(Sisters of Loretto Motherhouse, Nerinx, Kentucky, May 23, 2021) 
sky’s red foil coin 
bedded in taffeta- 
ridged satin pink 
bestows day’s value 
trades hem of chill 
mist for mantle’s 
blue lumens, buttons 
morning’s deal with disk 
of buttercup chintz 

Nancy K. Jentsch’s poetry has appeared recently in The Pine Cone ReviewScissortail Quarterly, and Verse-Virtual. Her chapbook, Authorized Visitors, was published in 2017 (Cherry Grove Collections) and Between the Rows, her first poetry collection, con be purchased from Shanti Arts. More information is available on her website: https://jentsch8.wixsite.com/my-site. 

Runwell – a poem by Jonathan Evens



Passing graves - carefully tended, loaded with memories - 
and shrubbery - sculpted and shaped -
on the path leading to this medieval church. 
Approach the rickety wooden porch 
with flecks of paint remaining 
from its earlier medieval-lite decoration.
Open the heavy wooden door inwards
to reveal, among the gloom,
a brightly painted, though faded, interior - screen and murals -
mimicking medieval origins.
Let the silence seep into your soul, 
as the cold into your bones.
Explore and tour the minor marvels
of this hidden place, 
packed within the smallness 
of its tardis-like space.
Tales of heritage and folklore
layered in stone and art,
worship and time, artefact and ritual.
Travel in time and through tales
in a place and space
where God is our beginning 
and our end is God,
where the inside can be spied
from the outside, and the outside in,
where the devil may have left
his mark on the exit door,
where the local Bobby regularly waited 
on all Hallows Eve to prevent disruption, 
where a last prioress,
from the nunnery by the well,
was reputedly laid to rest 
in a tomb that is now empty;
yet which retains 
a unique carved cross -
the Runwell cross -
four circles in a square; 
the instrument of our redemption 
set within a sign 
of the perfection of God.
God is our beginning 
And our end is God.
Spring of living water welling up,
run well through life and time,
run well in this place and space,
its layers and its mystery,
its tales and its history.


Time, there has been time, aeons of time.
Time to run well through life, 
time to tell tales and accrue tales,
time for pilgrims, nuns and congregants to gather and disperse, 
time for marks, murals, memorials marking the passage of time,
time for interments and burials,
and for exhumations, 
time to begin and end projects -  orphanages and schools,
time to build and sell vicarages and rectories,
time to decorate and time to strip back,
time to carve altars, crosses and stations,
time for the devil to make his mark,
time for prayers to seep into the walls, windows and stones,
time to sit still in silence and know
God is our beginning 
and our end is God


Water rises from the ground,
a never-failing spring,
well water, life-giving, wellbeing,
running water, running well
through life and time and ages.
Settlers build homes and a church, a village rises nearby.
Pilgrims pass by, praying with nuns,
as they receive and bless.
Farmers work the land fruitfully 
using the well's water. 
Boxing Day walkers, led by Mr De’ath,
visit for relaxation, exercise and inspiration. 
See them come as one, 
see them come layered in time, 
see them come
to the same source, the same well,
the same water, each receiving
differing meaning, still
each receiving well. Run well
in Runwell continuing source
of wellbeing, running still,
still running, ever flowing,
beginning in God, 
ending in God, flowing continually
through time and eternity. 
Run well, water of life, run well.

Jonathan Evens is Team Rector for Wickford and Runwell. Previously Associate Vicar for HeartEdge at St Martin-in-the-Fields, he was involved in developing HeartEdge as an international and ecumenical network of churches engaging congregations with culture, compassion and commerce. He is co-author of The Secret Chord, an impassioned study of the role of music in cultural life written through the prism of Christian belief, and writes regularly on the visual arts for national arts and church media including ArtlystArtWay and Church Times. He blogs at joninbetween.blogspot.com.

The Seagull’s Ninetieth, Ninety-Fifth and Ninety-Sixth Seguidilla – poetry by Jake Sheff

The Seagull’s Ninetieth Seguidilla
That seagull’s fire won’t ascend.
It’s wrapped in paper. 
It ignites designs within
A bird’s skyscraper.
Mother of hoopoes
And father of kiwis; our
Wings make sky-tipis. 

The Seagull’s Ninety-Fifth Seguidilla
Gone to rack and ruin, I 
The ancient sound of new growth 
Reaching reaches through. 
It stretches, stretches 
Infinitely from the place
Where history etches. 

The Seagull’s Ninety-Sixth Seguidilla
Silvery sorority 
Above, very still;
Like each falling snowflake, you
Ring a little bell.
The winter sky’s blank
Page is marked by gulls made of
Invisible ink.

Jake Sheff is a pediatrician and veteran of the US Air Force. He’s married with a daughter and crazy bulldog. Poems and short stories of Jake’s have been published widely. A full-length collection of formal poetry, A Kiss to Betray the Universe, is available from White Violet Press. He also has two chapbooks: Looting Versailles (Alabaster Leaves Publishing) and The Rites of Tires (SurVision).

Lararium – a poem by Michael Gessner


Of the gods,

the panoply of them,
there is one, a companion
to all others, a sense within,
the presence of the good,

in those I have known, 
gratitude itself, the murmuring
innocence of wonder
in the naming of the dead,

the list I’ve made and read
before sleep, the tutelary gods
of the house of my body, those
who have done for me some sound good,

making their best moments mine,
a kindness in the service
of that companion presence
now before me before sleep—

     The colonel who saved me from butchery,
     the teacher who clothed me in dignity
     for dignity’s sake, the cousin who left 
     his kindness, the acceptance of all things, 
     the writer-mentor who was herself
     every inspiration, a friend wronged 
     by birth and tormented by the acts
     of those he rose above.

                       * * *
Longing is everywhere,
it is itself on its knees,
it is here tonight in the arms
of an armless body, an unknown lover.

I dream of them, the others, they never part,
a living vivarium, Apollo’s heart.

Michael Gessner has authored 14 books of poetry and prose. His most recent is Nightshades, (2022). His poems have been included in, or are forthcoming from, Arlington Literary Journal, The French Literary Review, La Citta Immaginaria, North American Review, (finalist for the James Hearst Poetry Award,) and The Wallace Stevens Journal. A voting member of the National Book Critics Circle, his reviews may be found in NAR, Jacket2, The Edgar Allan Poe Review, and The Kenyon Review. For additional information: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/michael-gessner

Pity for a Birdless World – a poem by Daniel Cowper

Pity for a Birdless World

I detoured along the shore at sundown,
avoiding the short route home 
to consider what you, my love, had told me:
our true souls are as mortal as foam

fizzing above the tideline. I sat on a log. 
Watched crows hop and sanderlings 
chase waves back and forth,
snatch amphipods from popping 

suds. Black dots appeared above the setting sun.
Rungs of flickering dark spots spawned
at their peak a visible globe… then all 
the piper peeped and crows cawed:

           Beware! The birdless world 
           that lurks behind the sun
           is showing through! 
           Twin Earth, where automata run 

           without birds inside 
           for songs to bell,
           where flesh lives unpaired with souls
           to smear with taste or smell!

Exposed, enlarged by some celestial mirage,
I saw the turning image of our twin planet loom,
faintly showing landscapes like our own
until, on its horizon, leaves like sickle moons

pierced that globe’s blue envelope of air.
A single tree grew there: vast branches
reared buds and leaves so high 
that waves of cosmic birds could brush 

against and perforate their skins, slaking 
the need that shivers in all cells. And all 
the crows and sanderlings and I pleaded
with the force who fuses flesh to soul:

           Bless this tree, this witness to being’s thirst 
           for birds! Bless each fungus woven 
           in its rhizome, the sowbugs and slugs
           sheltering within its scalds. Spare them the curse

           of soulless melusines and mermaids, perishing 
           when essences incapable of death 
           replace all mortal atoms. Let this tree 
           be honey-combed with hatchlings 

           in foramina and crotches. Let bark 
           be maculate where beaks chip holes 
           for sap. Let rainbow flocks cacophony 
           on every bough. In its chartreuse dark 

           let raptors snatch up wailing rats — let its snakes
           glut the crops of storks.
		                                          The sun sank.
The birdless planet blinked from sight. 
Shorebirds whisked to wing. Ranks

of crows coalesced on the wooded bight. 
I sat alone, pitying a planet of atoms 
simpliciter and longing for your touch, 
your look. I thought of you at home, 

my love: sipping tea, or sucking 
chocolate chips, full of life and hives of words.
In you repose both flesh and soul: 
a braid of clockwork and living birds. 

Daniel Cowper is a poet from a small island off the west coast of Canada. His poems and criticism have appeared in reviews in Canada, the United States, Ireland, and the UK. He is the author of a book of poems entitled Grotesque Tenderness (MQUP), and The God of Doors, which was published as winner of Frog Hollow Press’ chapbook contest.