Prepare the Way – a poem by Rachel Mallalieu


Prepare the Way


No, I’m not afraid
I’ve been expecting this
since the day I pointed my finger and
spit brood of vipers into the desiccated air
They’re lavish with their silk raiments
and unworked hands
They’re why I flagellate 
with camel hair and rope a leather belt
against my need
This is the costume Elijah wore—
his eyes sparking 
above a fearsome beard
People require their prophets to 
eat locusts and scoop handfuls of 
honey with dirty fingernails

They came when I cried to them
from the edge of a sand filled sea
Followed me right to the Jordan River,
I stood thigh deep, 
my legs gleaming like the fish 
who caressed my feet
I baptized them to purity,
the way my mother taught me 
when she said it was time and
reminded me of the way I’d leapt 
within her womb 
when He came near
She smoothed my spine and
strained my ears toward heaven—
so certain was she that I would 
discern the whispers
What could I do but shout my truth?
The city blazed with wickedness and 
writhed with sin on scented sheets

So here I am—
slumped against a wall
beneath Herod’s palace
The guards laugh to 
feed me meat and milk
and poke their fingers into the softening
glut of my flesh
There was a moment when 
fear devoured my faith and I
sent Him a letter, asked
if He was the One

And He answered—told me
The blind are regaining sight,
The lame are walking


They’ve unchained my hands and 
lead me to the banquet hall 
where Salome sways a hypnosis
I should look away, 
but the solidity of my stench
cleaves clouds of incense 
and I hold her childish gaze
She hoists a platter 
that winks with rubies and
then I’m on my knees
Metal bites my neck

The dead are being raised 

He’d said
The dead are being raised


Rachel Mallalieu is an emergency physician and mother of five. She is the author of A History of Resurrection (Alien Buddha Press 2022). Some of her recent work is featured or forthcoming in Nelle, A Gathering of the Tribes, Dialogist, Rattle and elsewhere. More of her poetry can be found at rachel-mallalieu.com

Noontime – a poem by Yuan Changming

Noontime  

    Michael says he likes the noontime best
Not because the sun is the brightest then
But because all the shadows and shades
Are shrunk or retreated to the smallest
Spaces around human shapes, artifacts
Or other natural presences, when even 
The soul becomes a shadowless angel 
That can fly without leaving a single
Fragment of darkness on its long journey 
Towards Heaven, but in the morning or
Evening, our shadows would grow longer
Colder and darker than our selfhoods, like
The leftovers of last night, even if we dwell
In an earthly paradise, or a paradisiacal earth

Yuan Changming hails with Allen Yuan from poetrypacific.blogspot.ca. Credits include 12 Pushcart nominations & chapbooks (most recently ALL MY CROWS) besides appearances in Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17), BestNewPoemsOnline & Poetry Daily, among 1929 others. Yuan both served on the jury and was nominated for Canada’s National Magazine (poetry category). 

High Commission – a poem by Barbara Lydecker Crane

High Commission
       Christ of the Deesis, mosaic by an unknown artist,
	  Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, c. 1260

My workers toil for their daily pay;
they chisel glass and stone, mix grout, and set in	
this vast design, perhaps an inch each day.
Bits of beveled, golden glass let in
the glory of daylight to the gleaming background.
When set atilt, these tiny bits reflect
a mystic flicker that, by lamplit night,
evokes the realm where faithful souls expect
He dwells. Here He looms, with one hand lifted
to judge how worthy every life has been.  
Artistic bent does not mean I am gifted,
but art is what I give to God and men.
Earthly emperor, this work is now complete;
heavenly emperor, judge kindly when we meet.

Barbara Lydecker Crane, twice a Rattle Poetry Prize finalist, has received several awards for her sonnets. Her poems have appeared in Ekphrastic Review, First Things, Light, Measure, THINK, and many others.  Her fourth collection, You Will Remember Me, sonnets about artists and portrait paintings, will be published by Able Muse Press. 

Five Haiku from a Pandemic – poetry by Deborah A. Bennett 

Five Haiku  from a Pandemic


as if all
were right with the world -
magnolia blooms


***


protecting each other's 
solitude -
path through the bamboo 


***


all day rain -
i add more flour
to the kneaded dough


***


fresh spring breeze -
the wildflower field between 
our morning greeting 


***


shortest day -
does the lark too
grasp the great truth?

Deborah A. Bennett began writing Haiku as a mindfulness exercise at the beginning of the pandemic; now she writes it as a form of self expression,  and as the poet Mary Ruefle said, “in incantation, in spells that must at once invoke and protect, tell the secret and keep it.”

–Roots of Mist Between– – a poem by Fern Golden

--Roots of Mist Between--



     Grasping? Should it fade
what was half-remembered, now
     through a veil      unseen


          What is there to say?
     Precip ice, before progress…
          --roots of mist between--

 
           gambling memory.
 Of words to 
                    recompose-what?
                    re-embrace whom? 
          Swallowtail saltwinds.


     & should I rewrite
          story & self direction
     is it all a game. 

          Q'udi qeyagha--
     "something new"
          --wove of kinship.
               ...I repeat myself…

Fern Golden (they/them or she/hers) is a Dena’ina Athabaskan artist from Alaska. Their writing navigates the confluences of culture and language, ecology and belonging, chronic illness, and healing.  

The Shaman Said – a poem by Kevin Zepper

The Shaman Said 

First, you must float, 
losing the fear of falling 
to the muddy bottom. 

Spread yourself on the water.
Let it carry you with cool arms 
after catching you from a fall. 

The water is your friend, 
a friend supporting, lifting, carrying. 

A best friend.  

You might be tempted 
to tug at the covers of the water
and curl up into a fetal creature, 
sinking in the encompassing comfort, 
dreaming till you drown. 

Resist. 

You are resting on the water, 
a silky membrane covering your back. 

Relax until you forget the water. 

Soon the water will forget you. 

Drift, 
drift, 
let liquid fingertips 
brush against 
your open palms, 
touching until a thin veil 
of molecules 
separate you. 

You are safe, 
you are weightless, 
you are harmonious 
with the water.   

Be present to the water, 
knowing this water 
will hold you, 
never harming you, 
never letting you down. 

Focus on these things, this path. 

In time, this will come naturally, 
anytime you choose, without 
a buoy. 

In time, you shall walk here.


Kevin Zepper teaches at a small midwest university. He writes, photographs, and acts. 

Blueberries – a poem by Carole Greenfield

Blueberries

This morning I ate blueberries, tart and sweet
slight grit, soft explosions in my mouth.

I thought of my nephew, recently introduced
to the pleasures of eating, now able to feed himself in fistfuls

with those long fingers he folded beneath his chin 
the day he was born; I saw the Buddha in his hands.

He seems to hold the secret of contentment in the world 
he inhabits; almost everything is cause for smiling,

is reason to reach, point, look, explore with face 
and mouth and skin.

When he eats blueberries, it is enough to fill his sweet body 
with such satisfaction his whole being radiates delight.

He stretches a finger in my direction and I bend closer 
to receive his benediction, the blessing of his sticky touch.

Carole Greenfield grew up in Colombia and lives in Massachusetts.  Her work has appeared in Red Dancefloor, Gulfstream, Women’s Words, Beltway Quarterly Review, and is forthcoming in Eunoia Review and Dodging the Rain.

Wind Shaking Leaves – a poem by Michael T. Young

Wind Shaking Leaves
 
 
The wood we burn is not the wood we own.
None of it was ever ours. Not the cabin,
not the key to unlock a life of wonder.
Smoke from our fire threads branches
in a needlework that fades at the first breath.
 
It thins into a sky inhaling the warming air,
and the finch song of a spring catching its hem
in the early buds. Everything is loosed
toward a light that sizzles, even as night
closes the distances to stars and dreams.
 
While we snuggle into sleep, and each other,
a siren warns of something lost or taken.
But the ash keeps rising and the one voice
I follow through the dark is yours.

Michael T. Young’s third full-length collection is The Infinite Doctrine of Water. He received a Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous journals including BreakwaterFRiGGThe Inflectionist Review, and Talking River Review.

The Lichen and the Rock – poetry and art by Jackie Henshall



The Lichen and the Rock

I took a thousand pictures of
lichen growing on rocks
wondering how they managed to
know to put that mint green next to 
the gold
so enthralled I was by their art 
I asked if I might join their tribe
being used to collaboration 
they agreed to give it a try
(taking a peek no doubt at some
of the rocks in my mind)

It feels like joining a movement
being taught how to lichenise
this dissolving of certainties
seems never to come to an end
it is a surprise to find new
colours appearing in my mind
improvising 
searching for the spaces between
alive and not alive carrying
strange bacteria as start ups

Lately I take gifts of coloured
glass to place amongst them to see
if they might do something they have
never done before to bring it
alive or sometimes I leave one 
just to surprise as thanks for the
blessed living soil




Jackie Henshall is an established artist working mainly in glass out from an old woollen mill in West Wales www.jackiehenshall.co.uk . She is in the process of writing a book of poems with drawings which she plans to publish early next year, with the working title Shapes I live Inside. She takes her inspiration from natural forms as well as geometric and archetypal forms exploring her own spiritual life and creativity in relation to them. 

Benediction – a poem by Paula Colangelo

Benediction 				 


You may not share the belief 
	of a half-starved scribe, but 

when the panic of insomnia won’t be 
	quelled, enter the raw night; look up.
		 
Although you can’t see inside the moon, 
	it pulls pliant water within you.

Its unavailable light summons.
	Be the angry drunk and rail against 

the stuttering wind, but still bet the pot 
	on such a thing as grace.

Paula Colangelo’s poems are published in SWWIM Every Day, Lily Poetry Review, Connotation Press: An Online Artifactand forthcoming in Sugar House Review and Canary Literary Magazine. Her book reviews appear in Pleiades and Rain Taxi. She has taught poetry in healing focused rehabilitation programs.