A Broken Stone – a poem by Thomas R. Smith

A Broken Stone


…..The stone has several walls, at least eight or nine depending on how you count certain angled declivities. To further confuse matters, some are dark and some are light, as if a shell or veneer of a rusty tan color has been shucked or shocked from the stone’s exterior to reveal a thoroughgoing darkness.
…..On closer examination it’s evident that the stone’s interior gloom isn’t unrelieved. Tiny glittering particles like sawdust or brown snow swirl the night sky of the stone. At this point the eye asks what exactly it’s seeing: primordial organisms swimming in the first dark ocean? intimations of galaxies beyond counting in the farthest range of our best telescopes?
…..Ask instead which vision best suits the human scale. The answer: something in-between, light flecks lying upon the face of the darkness as grass seed lies scattered on black soil. As if some greenness is waiting to grow there.
…..Held between the thumb and fingers, the stone undergoes a miraculous transformation, as though a premonition of an entirely different existence it may know after being broken down, the ultimate end of all stone, reduced to the life-giving grains of mineral nourishment a grass-root can absorb.
…..To those who despair of the hardness of certain hearts and fates in the present moment, I say: One day even this stone will become a nurturer of grass.


Thomas R. Smith lives in Wisconsin, USA, and have seven published collections so far, and was included in DIAMOND CUTTERS, edited by Jay Ramsay and Andrew Harvey. He has also edited several books, most recently AIRMAIL, the correspondence of Robert Bly and Tomas Tranströmer, published in the UK by Bloodaxe. WINDY DAY AT KABEKONA: NEW AND SELECTED PROSE POEMS is forthcoming in the Autumn.

angel and sage – a poem by Wayne-Daniel Berard

angel and sage

“because I’m crushed
in this!” she said. “I
have to get out.”
“but I’m so happy,” he
said. “how can
this be?” The angel
of om heard, and with
a brush of only one
of his uncountable
wings opened them
………both up.
skulls fell like
berlin walls, minds
moved through
hearts unchambered,
and feelings rushed
between, unarrested.
she was his joy and
he her
horizonless leadenness,
both infinite both
all. thank god
the angel’d left him
the soles of his
keds or he would
have plummeted
to gehena and
she (capless)
would have never left
the top of the
christmas tree.
“enough!” sniped
the sage of samsara
and pushed them
apart like reddening
seas; their separateness
passed through
“you’d have
had to kill me”
she caught her
own breath.
“and then who would
have been my
dealer?” he

Wayne-Daniel Berard teaches English and Humanities at Nichols College in Dudley, MA. Wayne-Daniel is a Peace Chaplain, an interfaith clergy person, and a member of B’nai Or of Boston. He has published widely in both poetry and prose, and is the co-founding editor of Soul-Lit, an online journal of spiritual poetry. His latest chapbook is Christine Day, Love Poems. He lives in Mansfield, MA with his wife, The Lovely Christine.

Not Finally Separate – a poem by Mark S. Burrows

Not Finally Separate


The plants and grasses don’t seem to care
if I gaze upon them or pass indifferently by,

too hurried to pause long enough to see
the slender shadows they cast in their

swaying forms; neither do the beetles
who scratch about in the dirt and scuttle

across the worn rocks, bathing their hard-
shelled selves in the warm mid-day sun.

With them we wander as best we can
beneath shadows of drifting clouds, and

it could be though while their innocence
is deeper than ours it’s not finally separate.

Perhaps they’re gathered by dreams as
singular as those that shape us, too,

shifting like the winds at play with
the shining flock of clouds above.


Mark S. Burrows is a theologian, poet, and translator. A longtime resident of New England, he currently teaches religion and literature at the Protestant University of Applied Sciences in Bochum (Germany). His recent publications include Meister Eckhart’s Book of the Heart. Meditations for the Restless Soul, with Jon M. Sweeney (2017); a new book of his poems, The Chance of Home, will be published in March, 2018. http://www.msburrows.com

Shadow Puppet – a poem by John Maurer

Shadow Puppet

You have tampered with my marrow again
Sealed me in the vial of your shadow
Labeled me: rare specimen
Dividing me down to my decimals
I am so far away from the point
I am so far away from the answer
Because I don’t even know what to ask

A puppet flaunting his strings like suspenders
A miracle hidden as a mistake
A wraith of me follows my phantom
My phantom follows my shadow
My shadow is nowhere to be found

Somewhere in an apple orchard at dusk
Sweet and secret as knowledge untasted
I face away, I want to be faceless
Faithful that I will be faithless when I fade away

John Maurer is a 23-year-old writer who writes fiction, poetry, and everything in-between, things that aren’t boring to read, hopefully. He has been previously published at: Claudius Speaks, Quail Bell, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Thought Catalog, The Scarlet Leaf Review, and The Foliate Oak.  @JohnPMaurer

Tarot – a poem by Jay Ramsay


(for Caroline)

I have been driven
into the earth. How did I manage
all these years to escape ?
How have we escaped ?

Sadness, grief stands behind us
in a wasted landscape
that past, present. Black figure,
blue planet.

The present is all this matter
that matters, or we do not matter.
The Knight of Wands rides strong.
The Page of Pentacles sits on the ground,
eight discs surround him.
The sword above pierces the crown.

The cards glow on your winter carpet. What now ?

Magic—as above, so below
out of the bowels of the ground !
The Hanged Man thinks with his gut,
the world is upside down.
And there’s a dancer holding
a lemnescate between his hands—
a joyous man, a fool turned wise.

Eternity lies all around,
he knows true life is out of time.

The knight of knowledge stands,
wisdom in his eyes. He scans
the far horizon; turns his horse, and rides.

And up above, in a dream
a lost cup is returned
to a man beneath a tree,
by grace alone, the time redeemed. I do not see
how else it can be done.

Our destiny rises clear
out of the mud. This love. One for all,
and one and one is one.

Dec. 9th 2017

Jay Ramsay, who co-founded Angels of Fire in London in 1983 with its Festivals of New Poetry, is the author of 30 + books of poetry, non-fiction, and classic Chinese translation (with Martin Palmer) including Psychic Poetry—a manifesto, The White PoemAlchemy, Crucible of Love–the alchemy of passionate relationships, Tao Te Ching, I Ching—the shamanic oracle of change, Shu Jing—the Book of History, The Poet in You (his correspondence course, since 1990), Kingdom of the Edge—Selected Poems 1980-1998, Out of Time—1998-2008, Places of Truth, Monuments, and Agistri Notebook (both 2014). In 2012 he recorded his poetry-music album, Strange Sun. In addition, he’s edited 6 anthologies of New Poetry—most recently Diamond Cutters—Visionary Poets in America, Britain & Oceania (with Andrew Harvey: www.tayenlane.com), as well as many collections for other poets, also under his own pamphlet imprint Chrysalis Poetry. He’s also poetry editor of Caduceus magazine, working in private practice as a UKCP accredited psychotherapist and healer, and running workshops worldwide (www.jayramsay.co.uk).

From Requiem for an Agnostic – poems by A C Clarke

From Requiem for an Agnostic



Have mercy on us flowers we sowed and severed
small creatures we sprayed into silence

Have mercy on us trees that we embittered
grass that we stamped into obedience

Have mercy on us air we poisoned
water we filled with alien forms

Have mercy on us every living thing



Glory to the sun’s bright blade swiping the eye
of a winter morning, glory to rain
that tops up overflowing burns
like a generous barmaid

Glory to rooks who see out winter
following the plough, grubbing worms,
glory to hens whose children are seized in the egg
Glory to the cheerful malice of foxes

Glory to buzzards that lord thermals
on effortless wings, to the small, quick lives
that rustle through growing fields, to spade-handed moles
Glory to tadpoles bubbling in a spring ditch

Glory to everything that has ever lived
to everything that has never lived
but is the cause of life in others
Glory to whatever sparked Creation

Glory to however it ends



What kind of God needs praises?
If praise comes it must well from a spirit

that feels the splendour of the variations
creation plays on a single string.

Holy holy holy caw the rooks
from the high trees

Holy holy holy sings the river
among the reeds

Holy holy holy shouts the rose
as it strips for winter

new buds already tingling its tips

A C Clarke‘s fifth collection A Troubling Woman (Oversteps), centred on the medieval visionary Margery Kempe, was published in 2017.  Her pamphlet War Baby, one of the joint winners of the 2017 Cinnamon Poetry Pamphlet Competition, is due out from Cinnamon Press early next year. She lives in Glasgow.


Trees Feral for Light – from a sequence by Peter Larkin

Trees Feral for Light


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Peter Larkin’s poetry explores the idea of scarcity in its phenomenological aspects. Previous collections include Lessways Least Scarce Among (2012), and Give Forest Its Next Portent (2014). He contributed to The Ground Aslant: an Anthology of Radical Landscape Poetry, ed. Harriet Tarlo (2011). City Trappings (Housing Heath or Wood) was published in 2016 and Introgression Latewood is due out later this year.

A Pebble for my Father – a poem by Carolyn Oulton

A Pebble for my Father

New Year’s Day, and I’d forgotten
to bring my own pebble to a sandy beach.
In the car park, the road twisting round
the bulge of a Victorian pavilion,
I’d have dug up the tarmac to get one,
dug out grit from under car tyres.
Rain daubed lightly on the ground
was no good at all, it would have crumpled
into my hands when I tried to throw it.

I didn’t expect that one perfect pebble
on the ground. Casual as a shoplifter
I bent and put it in my pocket.
Then the wind and my feet were sagging
into the lugubrious sand. Whether it’s
hello or goodbye again, I never quite know.
But what I will say is, that by the sea edge,
wet as if they had swum out of God’s hand,
A hundred thousand pebbles were thrown back.


Carolyn Oulton‘s poetry has been published in magazines including Orbis, The Frogmore Papers, iota, Seventh Quarry, Ariadne’s Thread, Envoi, New Walk, Upstreet, Acumen and Ink, Sweat and Tears. Her most recent collection Accidental Fruit is published by Worple Press. Her website is at carolynoulton.co.uk


Shadow Bobbing – a poem by Michelle Diaz

Shadow Bobbing
See how time moves bones
then buries them
how thought is apple –hard
Let those cider tears
release us
may we never down hearts
with a petty crunch
Let life peel us
the sad, everyday air
brown us
to the core


Michelle Diaz is a poet who currently lives in the colourful town of Glastonbury. She enjoys playing games with her ten year old son who suffers from Tourettes Syndrome and reading poetry like her life depended on it. She has been published by Prole, Amaryllis and was included in the Please Hear What I Am Not Saying anthology. Last year she was awarded 3rd place in the Mere Poetry Competition.

Homo Ludens – a poem by Tony Lucas

Homo Ludens

The sun’s full disc lifts clear of hills,
whitens, and chases purple shadows
from the land.   He was up before it,
has recited thirty psalms and bared
his conscience in the face of God.

A lizard living in a cleft beside
the cave’s dry mouth – his closest neighbour –
moves into sunlight, patient for
warming of its blood. The hermit, moistening
his tongue with brackish water, breaks
his fast – with one dry biscuit and
three dates kept by from yesterday.

Soon pilgrims and the penitents
will come. They camp at the oasis,
out of sound and sight, now pick
their way across the warming sand.
Many have come bare-foot. Each waits
their turn to tell the saint of cheap
adulteries and tedious deceits,
complain about unfaithful husbands,
shiftless sons. Many ask counsel;
few will follow what is given.

Some gawp into his cell, devoid
of all possessions. Only a water jar,
a codex of the scriptures, occupy
the space.   They will not guess he holds
sometimes, a dozen rounded pebbles,
a palm-fibre ball, inside the folds
of his rough threadbare robe.

After the final visitor recedes
across the hill and he has said
the vesper office, final psalms,
he may take up these trifles and
beguile the last light, concentrated
on some game that he had played
from childhood, letting the demands
of daytime fall away, the demons
of the night all stand aside and kick
their heels, excluded from the circle,
from the charmed arena of his play.


Tony Lucas lives in London, south of the river.  Stride published some of his early work, and he was a regular contributor to Ambit for a good number of years, among other magazines.  His latest collection, Unsettled Accounts, was published by Stairwell Books, two years ago.