Unbroken – a poem by Melissa Chappell

Unbroken
after “Dark Night” by St. John of the Cross
 
My love is caged by zeal,
a woman-warrior whose passions 
steal the vigor of men.
Yet my love is a tender thing,
a blossom of little note,
hidden beneath the rocky crag,
her hand easily bruised,
the “Hallelujah” shattered
a thousand times--
too many for her to be uncaged
into seduction’s wilderness.
Yet she seeks the face of her Beloved,
the one who will not bruise her heel.
By night she flees the walls of wire
to find her Beloved.
O Love! O magnum mysterium!
His light has guided her 
to this place.
Its flame burns, a guide deep in her breast,
as does a fire burn brightly 
on the hearthstone.
He is there in the meadow,
sleeping among the lavender,
the lavender so fair.
Beneath the fanning cypress they lay,
where she bore the wound of grace,
and the once shattered Hallelujah 
escaped her lips,
unbidden,
unbroken.

Melissa Chappell is a native South Carolinian who, along with her affinity for writing, also loves music. She plays the piano, the lute, the guitar, and is a classically trained vocalist. She is a contralto who has performed in numerous choirs. Her latest book is Doors Carelessly Left Ajar, published by Alien Buddha Press, 2020. 

As Close as a Call – a poem by Judy DeCroce

As Close as a Call
 
I, on this side,
watch a calendar change,
remembering your leaving,
and keep hope for an answer.
 
Where are you?
 
You were always close as a call—
from another room or on the phone.
 
Who do you appear to when I call?
Are you telling stories 
in that place of no pain?
 
Understand…
life is different on this side—
angst and worry.
 
You are in the short place—simple.
 
When will you come easing through
with softened voice?
 
There are times I send for your memory…
with no answer at all.
 
Is it wrong to 
force you into my dreams?
 
(There is much I wonder about.)
 
So, I’ll stand here, 
patiently leaning against sleep
and wait for you to turn the corner.
 

Judy DeCroce is an internationally published poet, flash fiction writer, educator, and avid reader whose recent works have been published by The BeZine, Brown Bag Online, North of Oxford, The Poet Magazine, Amethyst Review, The Wild Word, OPEN:Journal of Arts & Letters, and many journals and anthologies. As a professional storyteller and teacher of that genre, she also offers, workshops for all ages in flash fiction. 
Judy lives and works in upstate New York with her husband poet/artist, Antoni Ooto.

Temple – a poem by Barbara Parchim

Temple
 
The last word he said was “temple”
it was startling because the word was so clear
and he hadn’t spoken in days – 
I wondered what temple?
Shinto?  Buddhist?  Mayan?
 
This word, from my father, who lived his last years
in the sordid squalor of a chronic hoarder – 
new clothes stacked in piles on the floor
still in their plastic wrappers
“but you never know when you might need them”
and 15 years' worth of unopened junk mail
in heaps that spilled over every surface
mixed in amongst the “important stuff”,
and a narrow path to the bathroom
between towers of unopened CDs and DVDs
and books piled on half of the bed
because “who needs a whole bed to sleep, anyway?”
 
I wanted to say “what temple?”
but I would have had to shout
and disrupt the night quiet of the nursing home 
because the hearing aids that didn’t work
had been taken out weeks ago
and I didn’t want to wake him from this sleep
just hours from death
his breathing already so shallow
 
he’d been dreaming a lot lately
and I marveled that this last dream
was something so simple,
wondered if the temple brought solace – 
I wanted to see it with him
some last thing we could share together
and wonder at or joke about
because we had talked about sending some signal
to prove there was something on the other side,
was this it?
except he wasn’t on the other side yet,
so, I just held his hand, closed my eyes
and imagined the singing of the quetzals
at some Mayan ruin
and waited

Barbara Parchim lives on a small farm in southwest Oregon.  Retired from social work, she volunteered for several years at a wildlife rehabilitation facility.   She enjoys gardening and wilderness hiking.   Her poems have appeared (or are forthcoming) in Ariel Chart, Isacoustic, the Jefferson Journal, Turtle Island Quarterly, Windfall and Trouvaille Review.   Her first chapbook has been selected by Flowstone Press to appear in 2021.

Dust to Dust – a poem by Sheila Wellehan

Dust to Dust
 
 
A tiny brown feather clings to my window.
It belonged to a barred owl
who flew into the glass two years ago.
I heard such a loud smash, 
I expected broken glass and a tree limb,
not feathers
and a dead bird in my yard.
 
The ghost owl thrived
on my window for three seasons –
a perfect white imprint of plumage, wings, and beak
conjured by the bird’s feather dust.
The image was startling in its detail and precision.
It kept me safe – my own sacred
Jesus in Veronica’s cloth.
 
As the ghost faded, 
its protective powers failed me.
Those I loved the most died or disappeared.
Then a storm drowned
what remained of my ghost owl – 
every hint of avian anatomy vanished.
Just one feather was spared.
 
Now every morning, I check the window
for that tiny brown feather.
I fear what will happen when it finally falls.

Sheila Wellehan‘s poetry is featured in Psaltery & LyreRust + MothThimble Literary MagazineTinderbox Poetry Journal, and many other journals and anthologies. She lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Visit her online at www.sheilawellehan.com .

Pure White Tints – a poem by Susie Gharib

Pure White Tints
 
The taper that towers above my sorrows,
illuminating the essence of grief,
has bled its tears of opal,
recasting a string of beads
on which my lips would breathe
its fragrant creed.
 
The pew that had cherished my hymn-book
has been languishing for my weight.
A dialogue with an inscrutable power
has estranged me from our ancient seat
for I could not prevaricate,
or even explicate
my notions without stirring up an upheaval of debate.
 
I dip my bread in milk
and contemplate in my bowl
the New Jerusalem the Book of Revelation depicts
in pure white tints.

Susie Gharib is a graduate of the University of Strathclyde with
a Ph.D. on the work of D.H. Lawrence. Her poetry and fiction have
appeared in multiple venues including Down in the Dirt, Impspired
Magazine, Mad Swirl, A New Ulster, Adelaide Literary Magazine, The Ink
Pantry, and the Pennsylvania Literary Journal

Vanillaesque Enunciation – a poem by Fatima Ijaz

Vanillaesque Enunciation

Some strange city is in the Passing,
melted white flowers, like candle wax,
leave their trails on the vanilla scent.

I’ll begin somewhere here, Grand-dad.
You were a pirate in those days,
I used to read songs backwards,
you gave up on palm-trees,
the shadows drifted elsewhere.

I counted home towards you
backward and forward, Grand-dad.
Sifting through sips of water
your words – the brightest rubies
lost in those November streets of red wine.

I was a lost child, family
spelt me backward, I, born
to run, faltered –
missed that fatal heart-race.
Got delivered back home to the primal trauma
of your absence.

Now we are almost two different birds, Grand-dad
you, a seeming, me

a passing.
You, a dreamer,
I, the dreamt.

How was I to know
you were dead.
Really, Grand-dad

I paused for infinite seconds –
and something of that pause has rubbed
itself against my cheeks,

white-washed the city walls
of your silence, my
retreats.

I ran to the golden bridge, I
came back empty-handed.

The soul on my back,
an imprint of your missing eyes,
your missing hands.

Grand-dad,
the subterranean
sea is pedaling
towards shells,

and your memories here, are
non-existent.

Non-existent in that pile of
scents at my door.

I walk home like
an eagle without its
brightest black feather.
You are not there, as usual.

The highest falls make
the sturdiest athletes.

She risks herself at the heights,
That jumper towards the nocturnal,
autumnal, wintry twilights.

Grandfather, I have become a blue star
absent in your Absence
rich and fertile,
I have reached the heights.

I kept the horizon breaking, ready to sink in
a little more, into those blue-black Beyazid nights.

Thinking, perhaps --

perhaps Grand-dad, you lived in those long ago,
And it is your scent after all, that has awakened me.

Fatima Ijaz is based in Karachi, Pakistan and teaches English Composition and Speech Communication at IBA. She is a contributing editor at a literary publication – Pandemonium Journal. She graduated in English from Hartwick College, NY and York University, TO. She holds an MA in English Linguistics from Eastern Michigan University, MI. She won first prize at the Mclaughlin Poetry Contest in Toronto (2007). She has participated in poetry and art collaborations which were featured at Music Mela 2019, Art Baithak 2019 and Taseer Art Gallery 2020. Her poetry and prose have been published in or are forthcoming in isacoustic, New Asian Writing, Kitaab, Rigorous, Zau, Praxis, The Write Launch, Red Fez, Whirlwind, Naya Daur, Poetica Review, Aerogramme, Bombay Review and Aleph Review amongst others.
Website: Fatimaijazz.wordpress.com

Insta: Fatima.ijaz6

Vesper Bluets at Marsh Creek Lake – a poem by Susan Charkes

Vesper Bluets at Marsh Creek Lake
 
evening thickens, the dark shore flashes with scores of them;
  lamp-yellow glints rise from green water, broadcast by the descending sun.
 
four wings sculling low with the current;
 no swifter than the water, no slower than the air.
 
landing on lake-drift, they do nothing, let the rippling light reflect upwards;
  in their golden gloss the traveler takes a honeyed pause.
 
some with blue-tip tail curving to nape of yellow head, coupling as they drift; 
 a parenthesis, the audience made complicit in their intimacy.
 
the earth and the sun upon its waters created for them;
 the earth and the sun upon its waters created for us.

 

Susan Charkes, writer and poet, lives in southeastern Pennsylvania. Her poetry chapbook, sp. was published in 2017. She is a member of Montco Wordshop and Tenth Sky Poets. More at susancharkes.com.

Between Realms – a poem by Jenevieve Carlyn Hughes

Between Realms 
 
In this place of skylarks & kestrels,
            where earth & sea meet the sky
 
Campanula grows in a crag, awaiting
            silver-winged blue butterflies.
 
Wingbeats pause in devotion,
            soft-bowing beacons of the sea-salt air
 
Basalt cliffs become altars, geological psalters
            for every hymn & storm-beaten prayer.
 
Did the ancients know of bellflower blue,
            when they wrote of their sapphire skies?
 
Of silver-winged cerulean, akin to the artist’s hue
            yet more a quality of being (earthly & divine)?
                        
A collective luminosity, where meets both
            mortal & immortal eye—
 
The Heart glow, 
            Earth’s ultramarine mind.
 
 
 
 

Jenevieve Carlyn Hughes teaches humanities for university students. Her poetry has recently appeared in Northern New England Review’s special edition, Front/Lines: Pandemic Perspectives, as well as Braided Way MagazineAutumn Sky Poetry, and the Connecticut River Review. She enjoys birdwatching, rarely with binoculars. Follow her on Instagram @sea_thistle.

A Desert Winter Suite – poetry by David Chorlton

A  Desert Winter Suite

I
It’s warm in the winter sun that touches
down on the dry
grass in the park, growing quietly
through whatever comes, whoever
walks or sits there while the mountain
watches with nothing else to fill
its time but being still and bearing
the weight of light that passes
over it. Sunday, Sunday, Sunday;
the week holds its breath
but it’s still a working day
for the sky. So much for it to do, and
the night to come, when
it hangs from a star: canvas
with a black silk lining.
 
II
A hawk sways back and forth
in a cradle of wind, his tail
above houses, while his eye
already sees the desert with its thirst.
A grey light showers
from the sky today, catches
in the needles on saguaro,
and scraps of it are carried away
in a Rock Wren’s beak. The air
is the color of rain, but
none falls. Cloud for cloud
the hours cross the mountain
in shades of dry, until the longest
night begins with Jupiter
and Saturn embedded
in the velvet sky.
 
III
A scene remembered floats
through starlight;
it’s midnight past and present
with the owl’s dark calls
woven into woodsmoke.
 
IV
The city’s lights reflecting
from the far
side of South Mountain
are the late night hum from distant
traffic turning orange in the dark
and the air is dragon’s breath. Bees
are sleeping in a hollowed space
in a wall in the wash
where a sandy trail runs
between rocks and rocks
and javelina rumble down
the slopes, bristle-backed in moonlight,
into streets that lie
at rest. Coyotes make
their nightly rounds from park
to pond and cul-de-sac,
while above them, stars
are loose change in the sky.
 
V
The street’s a secret passage
here to there, and never ends;
it runs in its own time guided
by the streetlamps
and doesn’t stop to ask the way.
The owl knows where it leads,
brushes some dust from the dark
with a wing
and its two repeated notes
buff against the bone-light
from the moon.

David Chorlton lives in Phoenix, close to a large desert mountain city park from which various creatures visit after sundown! He has published several books and performed poetry on occasion with his recently deceased wife, a violinist who brought out extra dimensions in the work with her music. 

The Lesser God Pan – a poem by Daniel Hinds

The Lesser God Pan
 
Non-stick coating
Tangled in the earth.
 
The snare holds your handle
Your handle levers the earth.
 
Blackening.
 
You have outlived ancients. 
 
With a prang
A hoof steps onto the black plate.

Daniel Hinds won the Poetry Society’s Timothy Corsellis Young Critics Prize and he was one of the winners of the Shortlist Book Review Competition, held in celebration of the Dylan Thomas Prize. His poetry has been published or is forthcoming in The London MagazineThe New EuropeanWild CourtStandBlackbox ManifoldThe Honest UlstermanFinished Creatures, and elsewhere. Twitter: @DanielGHinds