A Rock Displays – a poem by Don Brandis

                A Rock Displays

“For the error bred in the bone
 of each woman and each man
 craves what it cannot have...”
         - Auden, ‘9/1/1939’

A rock displays its ardor and release
it shrinks and swells, we climb or pocket it
its truth becoming ours in each of these

it keeps its counsel, not a moody beast
it sheds the uses we had thought would fit
a rock displays its ardor and release

our climbing codifies what we would keep
we pocket pestles, arrowheads and flints           
its truth becoming ours in each of these

a crocodile will swallow stones to knead
apart its dinner’s features: heads limbs hips
a rock displays its ardor and release

we want these stones to still us when we bleed
to make us steady, heal our rages, rifts
its truth becoming ours in each of these

we would become steadfast but cannot be
our rascals blind us, still our light persists
a rock displays our ardor and release
our truth becoming its in each of these

Don Brandis is a retired healthcare worker living quietly outside Seattle writing poems.  His latest book of poems is Paper Birds (Unsolicited Press 2021).

Sonnet on Otherness – a poem by David Leo Sirois

Sonnet on Otherness

My bones my breath my thoughts my wants
my I my me my mine ~ 
I throw into the bright white fire 
of light that sways my spine.

With power to reveal the real ~
even darkness can be kind.
The night that will conceal & seal,
the shade in which all things can shine.

Our air that birthed both you & me,
& helped our hearts begin to beat,
is everywhere it needs to be,
gives & yet remains complete.

If I didn’t have the sense of ‘other,’ 
would I ever suffer?

David Leo Sirois is a Canadian-American poet published 137 times, in 21 countries, in 12 languages (such as Hindi, German, & Spanish). He hosts the Zoom continuation of SpokenWord Paris. First collection: Humbledoves (poems to pigeons & plants). He won Third Prize in Winning Writers’ Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest, & his poetry has appeared in journals such as The Bombay Review, Paris Lit Up, & One Hand Clapping.

The Numinous – a poem by Chelsea Lynn LaBate

The Numinous

I’m on a wave. 
Foam crinkles at my back. 
Salt water drips from my face. 
I dig my hand into the jade green wall 
and ride North into the direction of hard truths. 

I now feel worthy of knowing 
the power of my own light. 
No more hiring crooked archers
to take me out. 

A band of pelicans moves in,
in perfect formation - 
their wings almost kiss the sea. 

I am supported by the seen and the unseen. 
The entire galaxy has my back. 
When I move my body I am in prayer
for those suffering and lost in transition. 
When I gain speed the Light of the One 
builds inside of me and I send it out 
over the Earth - 
this Earth - whole in its vision,
this Earth - ripe with ancient secrets,
this Earth - strong in its determination to 
shake off this infection of fear, 
greed and delusion and return to the Original Balance. 

I get out. My feet make prints in the sand. 
The sky above me stretches up forever. 
Crabs choose their direction. 

How will you come to know the totality 
of your being when you are in fact, limitless? 
How will you understand everything you 
hope to become, you already are?
I’ve shed my titles. 
I’ve dimmed my ego. 
I make my home in the numinous. 

Chelsea Lynn LaBate is an award winning poet, songwriter, painter, book binder, runner, surfer and yogi. She has played thousands of shows for the global community, including performances for children and elders. She has released several albums, animated music videos, and a podcast for songwriters called Songcrafter, which aired on the radio as an hourly Saturday morning special. She has a collection of short love poems, Sugah, which she handbound into miniature wearable books. She also has a collection of long format poems called Free Roses, inspired by the pandemic, which is set to be printed in winter of 2023. She lives a simple life by the sea, helping others with her words and making her art.

Mundane – a poem by Dylan Webster

The table groans like a grandfather, 
my weight upon it. 
The wood cheaply slapped together, 
purchased and chosen by frugal necessity,
dutifully serving us for half a decade.
My skin brushes over the ridges and indents,
valleys and chasms – etchings 
created by cups, plates, utensils of family,
of time spent here, talking, 
voices echoing in the valleys below –
Child’s choral chanting, 
Songs of the river maker.
I am no cartographer,
I don’t wish to map over this geography,
this patchwork island of reminders,
it bears our name, a new image.
Once, a cup toppled over, tower like, spilling;
the water pooled in vast lakes, manmade,
Child-made, rather, and in these same ridges
I saw rivers raging,
carving out new chasms, canyons, 
birthing other small streams, spider legs of water.
I expected to see trees sprout anew, 
to see parched birds gulping from the riverlets –
Drinking unrestrained and winging into edenic heaven. 

Dylan Webster lives and writes in the sweltering heat of Phoenix, AZ. He is the author of the poetry collection Dislocated (Quillkeepers Press, 2022), and his poetry and fiction have appeared in anthologies by Quillkeepers Press and Neon Sunrise Publishing; as well as the journals The Dillydoun Review, Last Leaves, and The Cannons Mouth by Cannon Poets Quarterly. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. 

Beyond the Body: Evidence for the Soul – a poem by Estan Rodriguez

Beyond the Body: Evidence for the Soul

They will try to explain it away. Living is
firm and grasped in neurons—an airtight
terrarium’s fist—elliptical and meaningless
in its many rebirths. Here, you can watch
all the phases: green leaves, the town’s
many children; old roots, the traditions
that ground them; mushrooms, the same
across all metaphors—sheets on deathbeds.
Soil sinks to the bottom, leaves rise
against the glass. They say living is a habit,
triclinic, its crystals growing into the same 
oblique framework: bones, roots, and
everything else. We live in its music,
they tell you, so choose a key. Major or minor.
Make sure to end on the same note. Close
the loop, let the leaf become leaf again.
Life is a thing to be repackaged and resold.
But listen to the hauntings in the jar
flash in the sunlight. There is a fluorescence
you can’t flush out: it’s in the moment
before it’s gone. See how the luster shifts
when you squint your eyes and slant your head?

Estan Rodriguez is a young poet living in the United States. His work is published or forthcoming in Eunoia Review, Beaver Mag., and elsewhere. You can try to find him birdwatching on Saturday mornings, but he walks quietly and doesn’t leave a trace.

God’s iPad – a poem by Lauren Meir

God’s iPad

It is dark in the room when my son,
newly six, asks me to cuddle. I am

holding him, smelling his curls when he says,
(carefully and clearly, as though he understands
things I can't possibly, but needs me to hear)

God has an iPad
He watches us, all the people in the world
Billions of people
Seeing us in every moment, all the time
He can visit anyone he likes
He can replay a memory from anyone's life
He can see what we do, who we love, who we hurt
the mistakes
we make, all the bad and all the good
all he has to do is touch the screen
on a person's face to see the story
of their life play out
like a tv show that never ends.

I am quiet.
I don't know if I believe in God,
but I believe in something.
I believe in my son, who has lost his third
tooth and speaks with a lisp.

Does it make you feel comforted
I ask,
that he is always watching?
(I myself am unnerved, the unknown
shadows menacing darkly on the wall).

I am his mother
so I do what comes naturally, pull
him tighter, listening to the rapid thump
thump thump thump of his now six year old heart

he answers with absolute certainty
his voice calm,
Even in the times when I feel sad
he sees I am sad, it feels like
there is a creature inside me,
it's a small thing,
but heavy
it sits in my chest
God knows it's there
God understands it
It makes me feel better
knowing he is watching, listening
And then the creature will go away
And I'm not sad anymore

I hug my son tighter. He is
just six, loves easily, has faith
in a way I might not ever know
something he found inside
himself, maybe the creature
has it, maybe it can teach us
to hug a little tighter, imagine that
all of us, on God's iPad

Lauren Meir is a writer and communications professional who works out of Detroit. She has lived in both Europe and the Middle East, writing her way through countries and cultures. Her work has appeared in the Huffington Post and the Detroit Jewish News, and she is currently submitting poetry and creative nonfiction to lit magazines while working on her book. You can find her at laurenmeir.com or on twitter at @LaurenMeir.

Bathing – a poem by Catherine Arra


in lavender-fragrant froth
broth-soothing warmth
the spigot a fountain
of water-to-water solace
a patient percussion
slowing the heart drum
reminding me

Float the day

broken stove
ruined quiche
forgotten bills
soured milk
leaf-littered garage
season shifts and endings.

Float the day

before sleep
in purple meditation
water-cocooned massage
my tub, an ocean
my body a raft, buoyant and brave
toes pointing out to sea 
and the next day.

Catherine Arra is the author of four full-length collections and three chapbooks. Her newest work Solitude, Tarot & the Corona Blues is forthcoming from Kelsay Books in 2023. Arra is a native of the Hudson Valley in upstate New York, where she teaches part-time and facilitates local writing groups. Find her at www.catherinearra.com

Undergoing – a poem by Elli Samuels


In a moment still as air that holds smoke in one place
you wish to hitch to the likeness of prayer
—for an appointed god or goddess to register with.

But the twirl of the blood in the puzzle you are
brings pause—trying to figure which cathedral 
within you provides the best sound.

It’s like you want to prove the Lord never stops 
—bare maples to self-replenish
—an acrobat to lift daylight with every, almost-false, move.

Elli Samuels is a poet whose work has been anthologized and published in numerous literary journals such as Maudlin HousePif Magazine, and Tulsa Review. A cookbook author and yogi, Samuels lives in Texas.

God, Capital She – a poem by Annabelle Smith

God, Capital She

Sometimes, an author or a theologist will speak of God 
as She. God has always been something masculine, 

or fatherly, or so far from me that He cannot possibly be human. 
But when someone says She -- a single added letter, 

a softening of that harsh “h” -- She draws closer to this world. 
She could look like my mother, curls sprouting from Her head 

like dandelions. Like V, the only female minister I’ve ever known. 
She could look like me. I see God in my grandmother’s hands, 

thin fingers whispering over pages of her Bible. I see Her
in the women of my church, preaching from passion 

rather than pulpit. I see Her in the female cardinals, pinked 
with pale feathers, the irises blooming violet, the hens 

warming their nests. God is abundant in what is soft, 
what is gentle. Maybe She is not so different from He after all. 

But I cannot help but feel that rush every time I hear She, a glimpse 
of my own femininity in the divine. I cannot help my desire

(however human it is) to see a sliver of my reflection in God. 
If God really is She, then maybe She is more like Her creations 

than I thought. It makes sense; who else can give birth
to the universe, the oceans lapping at white swaths of sand,

the verdant woods teeming with life, 
                                                                but She?

Annabelle Smith studies creative writing at Barbara Ingram School For the Arts. Her work can be read on Every Day Fiction and in a forthcoming publication by TRNSFR.

Absolution – a poem by John Short



In the obscure district where we live,
my friends have been playing dice
for days, now they’re broke, repentant.
One is Serbian and the other Greek;
both desiring to expunge transgressions.

This morning, with map and water, 
they ride a train some miles up north 
and there locate the path that winds
upwards through dry hills to the church
of the saint who faced a martyr’s death.

Lips and fingers will smudge icons,
prayers rising like candlelit incense.
Later they’ll return with sparkling souls
and consciences pure as fresh bread
then next month do it all over again.

John Short lives near Liverpool again after a previous life in southern Europe. He's appeared most recently in Pennine Platform, Flights e-Journal, Foxglove Journal, Culture Matters and The Bosporus Review. His fourth collection In Search of a Subject is due from Cerasus Press in 2023.