After Advent – a poem by John Muro

After Advent
 
It’s as if the world has gradually 
Succumbed and fallen asleep, 
Comforted by the still-tongued 
Psalms of falling snow. Each flake 
Ushered in perfect pitch in dusk-soft 
Diminuendo and settling upon the 
Garden bench like a corporal cloth. 
Lean cypresses, adorned in chasubles 
Of crusted ice, stand in cold comportment, 
Dispersing soot-white mists between 
Their overlapping boughs like incense
While we wait for antiphonal winds to 
Raise, in easeful bearing, our poor offertory 
Of moon towards a monochromatic heaven.

A life-long resident of Connecticut, John Muro is a graduate of Trinity College. He has also earned advanced degrees from Wesleyan University and the University of Connecticut. His professional career has been dedicated to environmental stewardship and conservation, and he has held several executive and volunteer positions in those fields. Over the past year, John has had the good fortune to dedicate more time to his life-long passion for poetry. His first volume of poems, In the Lilac Hour, was published by Antrim House in October of 2020 and is available on Amazon. His work has also recently appeared or will soon appear in Amethyst ReviewFirst Literary Review-East, Plum Tree Tavern, Freshwater Clementine UnboundThe Trouvaille Review and elsewhere. 

no matter how much rain may fall – a poem by Antoni Ooto

no matter how much rain may fall
 
you will get through this
leaning forward recalling spring
 
nudging a belief in growth and change —
favoring a fairness
 
like a monk who seasons a waiting field—
 
where all his hopes faithfully soak;
dropping seeds, while keeping that final vow.
 

Antoni Ooto is an internationally published poet and flash fiction writer.
Well-known for his abstract expressionist art, Antoni now adds his voice to poetry. Reading and studying the works of many poets has opened another means of self-expression. His recent poems have been published in Amethyst Review, The BeZine, Green Ink Poetry, The Poet Magazine, Brown Bag Online, The Wild Word, and many journals and anthologies.
He lives and works in upstate New York with his wife poet/storyteller, Judy DeCroce.

Spring Day in West Texas – a poem by Susan C. Waters

Spring Day in West Texas
 
The painted horses, persistent eagerness,
tug at new grass as trees, so few of them here, lift
new green toward heaven.
All of the landscape is like an apostle
in his first glimpse of Christ
in the desert crowd,
reaching toward.
 
A storm the size of Rhode Island
whirls the distance red.  A pecan grove,
twenty years tall, is shaken
to its roots and neglected houses are pried apart.
As noon turns into red dusk, I am like a song bird
in a storm, without shelter.  Oh, the troubles of this world.
 
The whole day is allegory.

Susan C. Waters has an advanced degree from George Mason University. Ms. Waters started out as a journalist covering hard news in upstate New York, and for 13 years was a magazine editor and writer at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary. She has won 10 prizes in poetry and has been nominated twice for the Push Cart Prize in Poetry. Her chapbook Heat Lightning was published in 2017 by Orchard Street Press. Her publishing credits are extensive, ranging from the Washington Post and the Baltimore Sun, to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and the U.S. House of Representatives.  Currently, she is Professor Emeritus at New Mexico Junior College. 

The Cardinal – a poem by Roberto Christiano

THE CARDINAL
 
It is early spring
and a cardinal is singing. 
She darts inside 
the house of my feeder.                                        
 
From my lawn chair
I watch, motionless,
the deft act of deseeding,
her unconscious art.
 
She does not see 
the approaching squirrel, 
hear the garble of his discontent
the soft flick of his tail.
 
When he brazens
up the pole to claim 
the seeds as his,
she raises her beak,
 
blinks her eyes, 
and lifts into the sky,
wings open to the blue—
soaring until I lose sight.

Roberto Christiano won the 2010 Fiction Prize from The Northern Virginia Review for his story, “The Care of Roses.” He received a Pushcart nomination from Prairie Schooner for his poetry and was anthologized in The Gávea-Brown Book of Portuguese-American Poetry. His chapbook, Port of Leaving, is currently available through Finishing Line Press. Other work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Sow’s Ear, New Verse News, and Delmarva.

Twilight Hunting – a poem by David Hanlon

Twilight Hunting

As night unrolls its indigo tongue,
licking away the last rays of sunlight,
the air cools and cleanses itself,
Daubenton's bats, fresh
from tree-roosting, swoop down, 
fly low across overgrown riverbanks, 
catch midges that hover
above rippling water.
They feast, on the wing,
until the moon surfaces,
full 
and polished.


David Hanlon is a welsh poet living in Cardiff. He is a Best of the Net nominee. You can find his work online in over 40 magazines, including Rust & Moth, Icefloe Press & Mineral Lit Mag. His first chapbook Spectrum of Flight is available for purchase now at Animal Heart Press.

Strays and Mongrels – a poem by Rupert M Loydell

STRAYS AND MONGRELS

© Rupert M Loydell  

Rupert Loydell is a writer, editor and abstract artist. His many books of poetry include Dear Mary (Shearsman, 2017) and The Return of the Man Who Has Everything(Shearsman 2015); and he has edited anthologies such as Yesterday’s Music Today (co-edited with Mike Ferguson, Knives Forks and Spoons Press 2014), and Troubles Swapped for Something Fresh: manifestos and unmanifestos (Salt, 2010)

Rachel – a poem by Julie L. Moore

Rachel
A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more. ~Matthew 2:18


My cries climb out of my grave
like Abel’s blood shouted from the ground.  
My sons are no more, their innocent skin 
 
pierced by soldiers’ swords, their hearts 
run through by Herod. I will not 
be silenced. There is no grief like mine. 
 
I was a shepherd once. 
I know what it’s like to keep watch,
to chase after one who wanders astray, 
 
lift it from a ravine while all my muscles
scream. I wanted to save them all.
I know my flock’s thirst, how the arid heat 
 
thickens on the tongue and strips 
air from the lungs. In a moment like that, 
I met my beloved. He rolled the stone away
 
from the mouth of the well. He kissed me 
and I wept the first of many times. 
You know how the story goes.
 
I sobbed again when my scions passed 
my tomb on the road to Babylon. 
Do not wipe my tears away now.
 
Let them come violent as a peg
driving through an enemy’s head.  
Let them keen over YHWH’s fierce will,
 
for I cannot raise the dead. 
My own bones merge with earth.
This otherworldly bosom cages me in. 
 
I am every mother in Bethlehem
who knows what these men don’t. 
Hear me howl. 

A Best of the Net and six-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Julie L. Moore is the author of four poetry collections, including, most recently, Full Worm Moon, which won a 2018 Woodrow Hall Top Shelf Award and received honorable mention for the Conference on Christianity and Literature’s 2018 Book of the Year Award. She has also had poetry appear in African American ReviewAlaska Quarterly Review, Image, New Ohio Review, Prairie Schooner, and The Southern Review. Moore is the Writing Center Director at Taylor University in Indiana, where she is the poetry editor for Relief Journal. Learn more about her work at julielmoore.com.

Do we have guardian angels? – a poem by Halim Madi

Do we have guardian angels?

Michael is 83, half Caucasian, half Native American. “There’s graffiti in Zion” he says. “There was never graffiti in Zion”. And he pronounces never ne-VE-r the way you’d imagine a teenage girl would. He explains how it took Americans a single summer to wreck the national park. 3 months during which European and Asian tourists couldn’t visit, given the pandemic. America left to its people. Zion unguarded. “Jesus loves you” scratched onto the Zion Canyon Narrows walls.

As a teen, I went to Jesuit school. Was taught to turn the other cheek. Kiss the toes of my enemies. Love their gentle crimes. A paper cut. A gun. Shoot people but with love in your heart. I let my pencils blister my middle finger as jesus – one word, all lowercase – broke into my life. The lord our father my first idea of success, a tap on the shoulder loud like a millennium, his palm on my skullcap places a white zucchetto, his lips against my earlobe whisper my mission: Redeem the world with the gums of your mouth. And I sink in grace like a small animal falling in a trap.

Like jesus, my dad died at 33. And I wake up the morning of my 32nd birthday, pinch the fat inside my bloated belly, squeeze the marbles away from my navel, onto the yoga mat, facing the sunrise, my nostrils gulping the smell of nearby basil. The young man volunteering at the experimental co-living city we’re Airbnb-ing at films the garden plants. As my triceps turn me into the prophetic cobra, I hope the camera captures this pose too. “The money shot” I think.

But all we do is hope is comb the dreading knots out of our hair, drive the ghosts of time away, shush them to the door so the downstairs neighbor doesn’t leave a note tomorrow. But all we do is laundry is witness the drying electric softness of white towels the promise of happiness, cleanliness the possibility of an island. But all these dishes, smooth and glossy clear ceramic, a silent cry for help. Help. I have lined the chapters of my life like the white pickets of a fence, I have ingested Optimism, my daily bread, my prized oppressor. But I have seen rosemary grow in the folds of the foreheads of the Mount Rushmore presidents – one word, all lowercase. And this was never meant to save the world.


Halim Madi is a queer Lebanese poet with work published in Quiet Lightening, The Racket and Lunate. The author of “Flight of the Jaguar” and “In the Name of Scandal”, they write about queerness, plants that make you see colors and the immigrant experience. He currently lives in San Francisco. You can find more of his work on www.halimmadi.com.

Mootness – a poem by Sanjeev Sethi

Mootness
 
Apotheosis is one thing: 
preferences tracked 
may be of another ilk. 
Scapegoatism is the province 
of successful communicators 
not those in throes 
of an interior monologue. 
 
I see myself in a supernumerary role 
in the film of my fantasy. 
In meatspace 
I’m the protagonist 
and antagonist. 
When vocabulary fails 
whillikers fill in. 
 
During agon 
His frame lights me up.

Sanjeev Sethi is published in over thirty countries. His poems have found a home in more than 350 journals or online literary venues. Recent credits: Kairos Literary Magazine, NOON | journal of the short poem, The Big Windows Review, Life and Legends, Pomona Valley Review, Dreich Magazine, and elsewhere. He lives in Mumbai, India.

Momentary Light – a poem by Tim Dwyer

MOMENTARY LIGHT                                                                           
Stamford
 
Nearing sixty years,
as afternoon light
shines through the alleys
of the city buildings,
I cheer the ten-year-old boy
who races the bus 
to the corner of Hope Street
and wins.
 
 

Tim Dwyer’s chapbook is entitled Smithy Of Our Longings (Lapwing). His poems have recently appeared in Cyphers and the anthology of the Irish Poetry Chair, Hold Open The Door, and forthcoming in Atrium. He recently moved from the United States and now lives in Bangor, Northern Ireland.