This Room, This Chair
If I come to this room, this chair
each evening post dinner and light the way
for words to appear, there is no guarantee,
no change of the night’s direction
but still it is the only way I can pray.
Like a clockwork spring
the key in the crown is just a part
of a larger mechanism.
If I knew what my life was for or
if there was a grid to guide my hand
then maybe these lines are for what
draws the mind out of its hiding place
and that alone aligns with a faith
worth puzzling over.
Elisabeth Weiss teaches writing at Salem State University, in Salem, Massachusetts. She’s published poems in London’s Poetry Review, Crazyhorse, the Birmingham Poetry Review, the Paterson Literary Review and many other journals. Lis won the Talking Writing Hybrid Poetry Prize for 2016. Her chapbook, The Caretaker’s Lament, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2016.
In the language of
lilting on fern-bellied leaves
a jacaranda is conversing with the sea
filigree branches weave words into mist
& blossom into questions, lost
in translation by the tides. Answers come not
by way of the clouds,
but in threading the filaments of rain
in this ancient art of seeking & weaving,
we are wrought & weathered
ready to brace the weight
of a thundering sky
Jenevieve Carlyn Hughes teaches humanities for university students. Her poetry has recently appeared in Northern New England Review’s Front/Lines: Pandemic Perspectives, Braided Way Magazine, and the Connecticut River Review, among other places. She enjoys birdwatching, rarely with binoculars. Follow her on Instagram @sea_thistle.
Rilke Phone Case
I guess this is my version
Of the way you felt you held Louise Labé, like
You had to translate her
Poems into the “universal” language of
Martyrdom, working from that big
Volume of her Oeuvres
Published in 1887 Paris by——lol——Charles
Boy, a category maybe we both have
Relationship with. People call your
Versions “overtranslated” now, like death
Entered their country of love
But they were important enough
To be notified——
& look at how Messiaen scored his birdsong,
Scanner imperfections like tape hiss but still
Plenty of information for us to hear
Their myriad colors, the songs imbued
Wetly with them like 10,000 embarrassing tears
Or the water of which just a little
Was needed to render you in watercolor
Little Modernist aberration your eye
Looking a bruised yellow green
Blue reddish-brown (I had to ask
Kristi to be sure, colorblind as
I am, just
Like I’d ask her for some music words about
To make me sound like a smarter bird
About it. Intervals, yes, & the bizarre
Instrumentation fueled by carceral scarcity
Like it was screaming No one would do this
If they didn’t have to the cello telling
These difficult truths in its almost-human
Voice are there any recordings of you
I wonder——a quick google makes it appear
Not, even though you lived
Until 1926 you were never a song
On a cylinder of wax
Outsang you in the flat background)
Like a complicated dress that goes
With basically nothing,
Stands almost only on its own
But of course you have to be in it
Dictates through lipstick
& the kind of makeup routine
You’d manage if you were brave enough
To act, less camera & more
Commedia with its multitude
Of histrionic colors
Pouncing all Brakhage on the frame
(O how you would’ve understood each other)
There are no angels in Labé. The whites of
Their countless eyes could not suffice to
Contain the debate between
As it lives on in the play of color,
Leaning toward or away from the moon
Like a giant gray (Kristi’s asleep
So I had to google “what color is the moon”)
Beaming down on Labé’s
Or the light between buildings
In Sonnet 24 (go ahead go read it)
Shakespeare paints this light between
Two people, an angelology
Of distance——where your true image
pictured lies——& god
Can’t you just imagine a
On the head of a pin totally stacked
With beautiful clothes Rilke your white collars
To lead the angels out of the paintings
Louise’s jodhpurs her riding boots &
Rope Arlecchino’s many-colored tights &
The simple outfit Messiaen
Wore to the church organ each Sunday
I don’t think you ever translated William
The way you liturgized our Lionnoize rider
People like to say you & he had an
To the human, him using it to figure
The non- & you preferring the other
To share the notes every other thing
On god’s great supervenience ladder
Would give us in our many scenes
& does give us, whether we take them
Or can even read them or hear them or not,
A bird scrawling on the Angelic Doctor’s script
Try it with a little more wind here
A little more blue in the eye
Kristi’s still sleeping but not even she
Can help me as I google “what color were
Rilke’s eyes” no one thought to write it out &
The b&w photographs are no help
Paula Moderson-Becker’s portrait (I mistyped
“poetrait” first, ha) is all I have to go on
But we already learned two stanzas ago
How painters lie
They are not like birds they have
Ugly motives sometimes
Hearts that scar
& paints that, though they could mix to get
Your eye color right, might not on purpose
Full flower five the ivy climbs
Five stories not a single overlapping
Plot line node petiole axillary bud
buriest thy content I didn’t know
Those little Koch snowflake spikes
On the leaves were called teeth
They chew through landlords’ mortar
Admirably & the birds eat the bugs
Spider mites aphids scale and mealy
Feeding on the leaves pretend we
Needed any more than soap & water
To rinse off the mites a certainty
I think you would’ve loved baptism
Of lighter underside & stomata
& clean bird feet from which to pitch
Loriod’s XIV. Regard des anges
From the Vingt regards
New stars falling like hammers
Trombone flames of angels ripped through
Not having been trusted with love
The greatest eccentricities of which
Are a letting-be
Of the music in your bird head
Your bird head
d. 17 May 2010
Tom Snarsky teaches mathematics at Malden High School in Malden, Massachusetts, USA. His collection Light-Up Swan will be published in 2021 by Ornithopter Press
in silence, I walked
from farm to shore,
through eucalyptus and chaparral,
the chaos of my mind
in wooden temple,
thick with incense,
I listened to a monk,
not much older than I,
speak of compassion,
and for all sentient beings
a freedom from suffering
now, in the not quite sunset
and with it—
down my back
as I drive home,
cross the Richmond bridge
grey metal triangles
faded blue water
and jagged edged earth.
small islands dot the bay,
beckoning birds and sailors
with false promises of
respite or refuge
every few yards—
of one long breath—
a bird dead
lies north of all lanes.
the speed of each flight,
the shock of each impact
evident in blood and splay
I feel shame
for their slow extinction
three, four, five—
who collects the bodies and
tallies their numbers?
who gives dignity to the lives lost?
and who will grant us ours
when we smash ourselves unwittingly
against the gates of progress?
Heather Bourbeau’s fiction and poetry have been published in 100 Word Story, Alaska Quarterly Review, Cleaver, Francis Ford Coppola Winery, and The Stockholm Review of Literature. She is the winner of La Piccioletta Barca’s inaugural competition and the Chapman University Flash Fiction winner. She is finishing her latest collection, Monarch, a poetic memoir of overlooked histories from her American West (CA, NV, OR, and WA).
What lies below affects the surface
Who am I without the land?—the rivers, mountains,
valleys, trees, forests—even the stones
are alive and moving gayly.
Our moments here, in company, or alone,
all continual movement hones
the very atmosphere, daily.
I need to be near the skin of the earth—on my own,
by myself with the land—gnawing the bone
that flows, that knows my human frailty.
The red in my blood is shown
and repeated through nature’s stone.
I am amazed that I actually thrive/ survive.
The stone is blood red because of the loan
of iron content—that special energy blown
into and coming from the red color—life’s fluid drive.
Balance, symmetry, consistency are touchstones.
When the wind speaks, I am taken to the zone
of pattern, movement and loveliness of the land,
beauty that is transient, yet with healing undertones;
a visual entrance into life which ebbs and flows
with the red color—its energy flowing through all the land.
*Inspired by Andy Goldsworthy, Rivers and Tides
Annette Gagliardi has poetry published in the Southwest Journal, Dreamers Creative Writing Online, Down in the Dirt Online Magazine, Trouble Among the Stars, Poetry Quarterly, Poetic Bond and others. She has work in three State’s poetry anthologies and her poem “Gourmand of Orange” has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.
consider the paradoxes
like lilies of the field
salt that flavors
and seed that grows
were the good news of His kingdom
now consider some of the parables of an earthy realm:
the metal that pours
the iceberg the mountain that floats
then there is water
shapeshifter into liquid, solid or gas
the smallest of parables
yet clothed, seasoned
and growing into thirty, sixty, or a hundredfold
Sister Lou Ella Hickman’s poems and articles have appeared in numerous magazines and journals as well as four anthologies. She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2017 and in 2020. Her first book of poetry entitled she: robed and wordless was published in 2015. (Press 53)
HAIBUN: OF HUNGER & FIRE
A chorus of chick-a-dee-dee-dee greets late winter dawn and spring-hungry us, who clutch mugs of hot coffee against the chill. A flock of chickadees cluster in the barberry bush now doused with snow, their black caps barely visible within the weave of pencil-thin branches. But their bobbing dark heads give them away among last summer’s shrivelled red berries and a few clinging leaves. In groups of five or six, they wing to the feeder and back again, a circus lilting through air, sunflower seeds clasped in their toes. Blue jays, nesting in the evergreens across the way, also wake hungry. They screech a slurring jaay, jaay – whether to intimidate or pre-emptive to mob – I don’t know. The tiny chickadees keep a distance from the raucous bully-blues. You stoke the fire; sparks rise; woodsmoke scents the air.
Snow blankets barberry
Birds jostle for sunflower seeds
Sparks quickly settle
Kathryn MacDonald’s poetry has been published in literary journals in Canada, the U.S., England, and Ireland. Her poem “Seduction” was short-listed for the 2019 Freefall Poetry Contest. She is the author of A Breeze You Whisper (poems, 2011) and Calla & Édourd (fiction, 2009). Website: https://KathrynMacDonald.com.
There is not one bright star she can name
but more than a billion burning her eyes
fat dizzy to the void.
Shrewd orbits spinning in galaxy dust.
Sailing comets glisten gone fiery tales
burning in fictive beauty.
Her disorder - explosions of imagination.
The voices within her universal cluster.
She thinks the skies are laughing at her.
Ya know, I say, they probably are.
There is no moon tonight. Skies crowded
by chubby clouds. Our bed will be cold.
In her zodiac zones light years away
her horror- scope keeps our love peeking
into corners of her endless angled cosmos.
Somewhere I must be there to fall - a star
to make her odd universe- a wish come true.
Oh heavens - all things we do not know of each
other. Our hearts orbit this love as comets collide.
Ya know, I say, they probably are.
David Bowman is the founding member of the Clemson Writer’s group. His poems have appeared in The Atlanta Review, Badlands, Wayne State Review, Mid-West Review, Pea River Journal and others. He is currently working on a collection of short stories set in Wyoming.
Four Poems from Reaching Heights
Before the Sangha
Before the sangha,
Buddha sits, holds a lotus
readiness is all
ripening blackberries yield
with ease to seeking fingers
Mud Holds Fast
Mud holds fast her toes
lotus reaches upward
in the sun
wet wings dry
yellow moth flies
Clouds encircle the mountain
axis of our valley world
like Ganesh orbiting his mother
or my head fly-surrounded
as I sit in the garden—
flickering cloud shapes
misting the heights
from clear sight
lake, and misted trees
as morning coalesces
I swim jeweled waters
in breath and body
Poets Victoria Crawford and George R. Ross became writing partners meeting in Thailand while retired. Their poems are so closely written by two hands that who can tell who wrote which line or word was written by whom. Some of their joint work has been published in Braided Way, Cold Noon, Active Muse, and others. George lives in Boston currently with family while Victoria still calls Chiang Mai home.
We called it ‘bilge’, biology,
amoebic start, then tadpole, flea,
cork cambium and xylem, phloem,
and soon the phototropic turn.
Before unknown, except the frogs,
beware the dog or catch the itch,
bark furrowed tree trunk running rings,
fed stem of sunflower, smiley face.
I now know what and how perhaps,
and always where and when as child,
but never understood the why
until one day, moped heavy blue,
and saw so much determined life,
black wriggle tail, draught drinking tree,
the brightest yellow facing sun
and knew the son still shone on me.
Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church, has had over 180 pieces published by on-line poetry sites, including Amethyst Review, printed journals and anthologies. https://poetrykingsnorth.wordpress.com/