Burned – a poem by Larry Pike

Burned

after Anne Ross Bruce

Then Abraham returned to his servants,

         and they set off together. . . . —Genesis 22:19 (NIV)

Young Isaac had seen enough sacrifices to know
something was off  ̶  the long journey to a far mountain,
the confusing absence of a lamb. “God will provide, my son,”
Abraham said, an incomplete truth Isaac didn’t recognize
until ropes were knotted and he was trembling on the wood.

Years later Isaac may have wondered why he couldn’t protest
when Abraham bound him, why he looked up when Abraham
raised the knife, squinted against a beam bright as the image
of the Lord mirrored in the blade, and simply whispered, “Father?”
Everyone knows Abraham didn’t open his son’s throat

or burn his tender frame on the bitter altar. Everyone knows
an angel interceded, a ram appeared, trapped in a thicket.
Isaac survived. But say the angel had been delayed in traffic,
the ram had wriggled free, and Abraham, receiving no reprieve,
had plunged the knife and lit the flame. Back home,

what account could have satisfied Sarah? Everyone knows
crazy people say God made me do it. Sure,
God tested Abraham, and Abraham solved for x instead of y,
gambled on obedience rather than love. Maybe
God didn’t mean to see if Abraham would give up

his treasure, but whether Abraham could stand up and say,
“Lord, no, You know this is wrong. Everyone knows.”
After, Abraham loved Isaac, of course, likely with some guilt,
as fathers often do. He gave Isaac everything. Yet
at the end of his long life perhaps Abraham,

instead of never doubting his devotion, suffered some shame
that he hadn’t raised a question instead of a knife;
recalled in his waning hours the complicated conversation
with Isaac as they watched the ram’s charred bones cool;
regretted with his final breath descending the mountain alone

while Isaac remained, determined to have his own talk with God.

 

Larry Pike‘s poetry and fiction has appeared in Aethlon: The Journal of Sport Literature, The Louisville Review, Hospital Drive, Seminary Ridge Review, the chapbook Absent Photographer, and other publications. In June 2017, he won the George Scarbrough Prize for Poetry.

Rookery – a poem by Julie Sampson

Rookery

 

I know it’s dark
and hard
in there
beneath
the rook canopy.

Usually, when I visit,
lay flowers,
I weep for your
unfulfilled lives
snuffed in earth,

this time,
singing yellow
in Zephyrus’ wind,
daffodils
tell their own story

and above,
in the tall firs
your son planted
fifty years ago
missing those from our first home
just crow miles
back up the road

rooks
….swoop
……….and dive,
caw-choruses
fractalling deep
into graves.

Listening,
you must be taken back
to those mornings,
spring-filled, post-war years –
when, in the kitchen, you’re stirring spoons of rennet
into warmed milk in pans,
and outside,
shooshing heifers from the shippen
out to cud, you’re looking forward
to the afternoon
when, hand-in-hand,
you’ll leave through the lych-gate frame
under your canopy of rooks,
stroll away from the wild ridge
down Bourchier’s Hill
to the lure of the folk chatting below
by the submarine trees,
in the depths of your Lyonnesse town.

Note: ‘Lyonnesse town’ is North Tawton, named as such by Ted Hughes, in ‘Error’ in Birthday Letters.

 

Julie Sampson‘s poetry is widely published, most recently, or forthcoming, in ShearsmanMolly Bloom, Allegro, Dawntreader, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Journal, Noon , Poetry Space Algebra of Owls and The Lake. Her poetry collection Tessitura was published in 2014 (Shearsman).See https://www.juliesampson.com/

Tea Water – a poem by R.W. Jagodnik

Tea Water

While enjoying a blessing,
the tea water boiled,
churning faster on the stove,
calling my devotion away
from Ryokan’s poem before
I reached the end; however,
I finished it just the same
and found my water just
as mossy, but never as quiet
as his was.  And no mountain,
either.

R.W. Jagodnik has had poems published in The Cortland Review, M Review, The Poeming Pidgeon, Borrowed Solace and The Mantle. Currently, they care for developmentally-disabled adults in Milwaukie, OR.

Hagiography – a poem by Ray Ball

Hagiography

Like Saint Onophrius she kneeled the hair off her legs.
Unlike him she did not live in a hermitage

somewhere close to Constantinople or maybe Cyprus.
Who can remember all their saints except for the nuns?

The evergreens were her cathedral. They
taught morality differently than the stained glass.

She walked through the nearly silent woods.
Sun filtered into shadows by boughs.

Closer to the water now, the babbling of brooks —
singers of praises, readers of the hagiographies of nature.

She thought in fragments of light and sight,
In mystic sherds the shape of trodden leaves.

They had the textures of a thousand kinds of bark
and moss and grasses: All of creation,

but Eden it was not. Only the patterns of a gossamer
web woven from unoriginal sin to make up her habit.

 

Ray Ball is a writer and history professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage. When not in the classroom or the archives of Europe and Latin America, she enjoys running marathons, reading, and spending time with her spouse Mark and beagle Bailey. Her poems have appeared in journals such as Alaska Women Speak, Foliate Oak, and NatureWriting. She tweets @ProfessorBall

Meditation With Winter Coming and Determining All – a poem by R.W. Jagodnik

Meditation With Winter Coming and Determining All 

Sometimes the distance between is
deeper than salmon can swim, oceanwise.
These limits only lead “out there,”
a direct current beyond, a dark panther
snarling and pouncing into morning,
devouring.  Musts awaken this feeling —
the willed so bound, so unheeded
by the very breath that feeds them.
That beast, like spores in a powder,
closes pieces together into power.

*

Blue jay, tweeting under the elm,
freezing out before this winter’s end,
(a cruelly impotent entropic blend)
bewildered into the hulk of it —
no seized-on mood to thaw its
blue flesh, melting into ice.
There, the dark belly lifts,
an animus of pieta, the Christ
ascending on top the abyss
of Buddha.  Here, monks wander
without wit of arriving, their
minds clung to staffs. Here, cures
for luck grow slow like moss
under a bell-jar glass, eponymous.

R.W. Jagodnik has had poems published in The Cortland Review, M Review, The Poeming Pidgeon, Borrowed Solace and The Mantle. Currently, they care for developmentally-disabled adults in Milwaukie, OR.

 

 

Tomcat’s Sermon – a poem by Tamara Miles

Tomcat’s Sermon

Thus spake the prophet Tomcat, who had come to warn the people but got caught up in the sound of a whippoorwill whom he found to be quite lovely. He gave up prophecy for evangelism.

“And so it shall be that the Exodus will come to pass if the people fail to change. They must fall in love with the earth immediately. They must praise her all the day long. They must build temples in her honor.”

At one time, the Nile was worshiped as a god, and the poets glorified her.

Langston Hughes: “I’ve known rivers.”

Melissa Steffy: “The Choptank River is a living river,
thousands swim, fish and crab in her depths.”

The sun was adored, as well, and written and sung about.
Andrew Park: “A glorious orb is the sun. Who shall describe his flame?”

“I shall describe his flame,” said Tomcat the evangelist and true poet, (a fellow with a sketchy past in which he might have referred to a woman as “some dame” and promptly forgotten her name, but now there is this whippoorwill, and he can’t get the song out of his head but he must preach anyway.)

The flame of the sun starts in a distant green country. It never bows to anything or anyone.

The flame of the sun erupts in fertile lava as a result of his lovemaking.

The flame of the sun catapults energy southward and inward, and falls on altars and burns them up.

The flame of the sun is a supreme priest and a pharaoh bent on making history.

The flame of the sun says, “She is smoke and ash, fire and brimstone, and I love her.”

The flame of the sun kisses the feet of the earth and unbinds them, and bids them walk.

The flame of the sun illuminates Tutankhamun’s tomb, and unwraps him so that his gold face gleams and he becomes a god.

The flame of the sun puts everyone in the Middle Kingdom, with lion, crocodile, and hippopotamus.

The flame of the sun enlightens a culture, and impregnates poems.

The flame of the sun survives in art and architecture, and makes every day holy.

The flame of the sun is rekindled in community, with the candle-keepers, in monasteries and bars and creativity salons.

The flame of the sun is cyclical and harmonious and perfectly in tune every time.

Thus said Tomcat, also known as ka and ba, a person’s double, a spiritual ram, a spiritual entity, to his Whipporwill, who grew silent to enjoy the reading.

Tamara Miles teaches English and Humanities at Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College in South Carolina. Her poetry has appeared in a variety of publications including Fall Lines; Pantheon; Tishman Review; Animal; Obra/Artifact; Rush; Apricity; Snapdragon; Cenacle; RiverSedge; and Oyster River Pages. She was a 2016 contributor at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and a resident at Rivendell Writers Colony in August, 2017. She hosts an audio poetry journal/radio show at SpiritPlantsRadio.com called “Where the Most Light Falls.”

The Blaze – a poem by Seth Jani

The Blaze

I built my temple in the place
Where the biologists claim
“Dead Matter,” “Bits of vanished tissue,”
“Evolution’s failed lot.”
In-breath, out-breath,
And the reception changes.
I become myself
Despite the verdict of obsoletion,
Of mechanical absolutes.
The spirit is not lodged
Here or there. It can be missed
But not dissected.
There’s no getting out of the world,
Even in death.
You vanish almost completely
But arise again.
It takes a little rain
Falling in other centuries,
A roll of the die.
That troubled spot you can’t move past
Is where you built something holy once before.
You don’t remember, but the fire was dear to you.
It helped you love your losses.
It taught you to rebuild.

Seth Jani currently resides in Seattle, WA and is the founder of Seven CirclePress (www.sevencirclepress.com). His own work has been published widely in such places as The Chiron ReviewPretty Owl Poetry, Psaltery & LyreThe Hamilton Stone ReviewVAYAVYA, Gingerbread HouseGravel and Zetetic: A Record of Unusual Inquiry. Visit him at www.sethjani.com.

On the Creation of the World – a poem by Steve Broidy

On the Creation of the World

Today, on the radio, I heard a man tell of a time
he had lived without testosterone. Some freakish
siphon of circumstance had all but drained
that hormone from his loins.

He said: I changed, became alive without feeling;
an observer, attentive and cold. The facts were clear:
that is a window, and here a chair; across the room sits
a man with no hair on his head.

He said: I looked at all and saw that it was
beautiful. And beauty was a sentient thing:
I did not judge, but, all dispassionate, came to know.
God would see it so.

Steve Broidy is Emeritus Professor of Education at Wittenberg University. He is editor and contributor to From the Tower: Poetry in Honor of Conrad Balliet (Main Street Rag Publishing Co. 2016), and has published in The Midwest Quarterly, Dark Matter, The Resurrectionist, and Allegro Poetry Magazine.

Interrupted View – a poem by Jane R Rogers

Interrupted View

She is crouched,
elegant, in the tulip flowerbed.
From the silk edges
of wide kimono sleeves
her small ink-drawn fingers point,
invite me to gaze
along her rows of tulips.

As she interrogates
a scarlet bud, could it be
that something in her sketched eyes
is alive. Do her pupils dilate.
Does something of the world
slide away inside her.

Maybe she feels it, that
song of a flower,
that supernatural bend
of a bird note,
that sensation
of lava dancing in the universe.

But in complicity, her silence, it blinks
on my curious eye.
Things she could have meant
are impenetrable –
her language, her landscape
seem hooked
to her stillness. And I admit

I have used up
my feelings here,
I must move on to another image and
aah! my mouth opens like a
guppy choking for air.

Jane R Rogers has been writing poetry for seven years and is a member of the Greenwich Poetry Workshop. Jane’s poems have been published in print and online – appearing in Atrium, Prole, Ink Sweat & Tears, Long Exposure Magazine, Obsessed with Pipework, and in the Tate Gallery Website poetry anthology 2012. Jane lives in London but misses the West Country.

Fillmore Sutra – a poem by Mark J. Mitchell

Fillmore Sutra

Buddha is black and laughing.
From my fire escape
I overhear her fire sermon.
This wanting nothing,
it says,
wants practice.

Buddha is black and crying
for bass mantras
that boom from cars,
for children bound
in vests and ties,
for a poet on a fire escape.

Buddha is black and laughing:
On the street
she chooses to see me
and asks for change.

Mark J. Mitchell’s latest novel, The Magic War just appeared from Loose Leaves Publishing. He studied writing at UC Santa Cruz under Raymond Carver and George Hitchcock. His work has appeared in the several anthologies and hundreds of periodicals. Three of his chapbooks— Three Visitors;  Lent, 1999, and Artifacts and Relics—and the novel, Knight Prisoner are available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. He lives with his wife Joan Juster and makes a living pointing out pretty things in San Francisco.