IN MY UNKNOWING -a cento by Kathleen Gunton

                                                               

IN MY UNKNOWING
-Carolyn Kizer: Cento*

In the fragile cup of silence
My heart quivers with apprehension
Now is the instant when wheat is harvested
Truth rolls back the boulder from your tomb
Suddenly, color invades the void
The heaven-light of memory blends
Into harmony, silence and renewal
Autumn in the heart, as the links are broken
And, in the path of the Beloved
Miraculous water—God’s emissary
In a moment of light forever
O God, I ripen toward you in my unknowing
Which ends always with the note of eternal beginning
I can hear the angels breathing
And rejoice at the inner voice, so lofty and pure
Losing myself in joy
And everything, forever, everything is changed

*Each line is drawn from a different poem in Carolyn
Kizer’s collection, Cool, Calm, & Collected (Poems 1960-2000)

 

Kathleen Gunton is a poet/photgrapher who believes one art
feeds another. Often her words and images appear in the same
publication. Over 45 of her cento poems have appeared in literary and
faith-based publications such as Anomaly, Commonweal, Cura,
First Things, Rhino, North Dakota Review and Studio One.
She lives in Southern California.

By Goetschel Pond – a poem by Andrea E. Johnson





By Goetschel Pond
                                                                           
The sun, like a slender silver coin, 
     slips in and out of gray wool pockets. 


          A drenched black branch with peridot moss
               lies across a patch of coarsegrain snow


          next to tufts of orangespotted feathers.
     Silky gossamer seeds of milkweed
 

spill from follicles shaped like teardrops
     tethered to a single hollow stem. 


          A pale face glissandos out of clouds   
               and plates the tall prairie grass gold


          while the pond’s slush glows like bone china 
     placed on a doily for tea and scones.


I climb a hill through ancestral trees,
     oak, birch, cherries, basswood, and aspen.


          Dullish leaves shine like lamé mittens
               fastened to odd umbrella clotheslines.


          Halfway up, I pause for a moment, 
     embrace a hoary quercus alba,


and think back to autumn in moonlight,
     how a chorus of Canada geese 


          honked, winged, and descended in concert 
               to the silent, satin, inkblue pond.




Focusing now on poetry and textile art, Andrea E. Johnson is retired from a public health career in St. Paul/Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her work has appeared in BoomerLit and is forthcoming in an anthology to be published by St. Paul Almanac in 2021. She lives in Lake Elmo, Minnesota.

For Dylan Thomas on His Hundredth Birthday – a poem by Ruth Holzer

For Dylan Thomas on His Hundredth Birthday

In old Carmarthenshire a boy ran wild
beneath the lamb-white clouds and larking sky,
not knowing that his paradise would end,
that he would lose those sheltering green hills,
the bay and every green transparent wave,
that innocence would vanish, and all love.

The first enchanted world had promised love.
Hawk and heron blessed the fields, their wild
wings lifting free, as wave on wave
of burnished grass bent to October sky.
He cherished visions of abiding hills,
unchanged within his heart until the end.

In the beginning, who can tell the end?
Intoxicated by the elixirs of love,
he staggered toward his doom. The hills
reminded him of women: round and wild,
they spread their secrets open to the sky,
then drew him close to drink the breathless wave.

His genius burning low, he rode a wave
of fame and whiskey to the sorry end.
He had forgotten how a starry sky
would welcome Christmas in with newborn love.
Black sheep came home, together with his wild
blind bards and sailors, roaring in the hills.

He followed dreams of fame and left the hills
for clapping crowds, a girl’s uncaring wave
goodbye, a cocktail kiss. His thoughts rushed wild.
He howled through city deserts in the end,
denying what he owed to early love.
Death liquified his brain and drowned the sky.

The body turns to earth, the book to sky.
A humble cross stands lonely in the hills,
his muse departed. Children born of love
have scattered in the spindrift-brilliant wave
that roils us down to darkness in the end,
however virtuous we were, or wild.

A hundred autumns fill the sky. Still coursing wild,
his words are foxes in the hills. They never end,
his psalms of love, his praise of star and wave.  

Ruth Holzer’s poems have appeared in Southern Poetry Review, Connecticut River Review, Slant, Blue Unicorn and THEMA, and in other journals and anthologies the U.S. and abroad. A multiple Pushcart Prize nominee, she is the author of five chapbooks, most recently A Face in the Crowd (Kelsay Books, 2019) and Why We’re Here (Presa Press, 2019).

Looking for God – a poem by Gail Thomas

Looking for God

I looked for the eyes of god in an oil slick,
in bathwater swirling the drain,
buckled ceiling above my bed.

I looked for the sex of god on the Internet,
in bars, shiny boutiques
and under my sheets.

I waited for the breath of god in a hurricane,
in a storm cellar, on a roof
as flood water rose.

I searched for the mouth of god in prison,
under a bridge, in a cage
at the border.

I searched for the feet of god in scorched fields,
on a clear-cut mountain
and melting iceberg.

I called for god from a heap
of blasted rubble and beneath
a wagon of corpses.

I thirsted for
an exhausted wave
to fill my cracked cup.

.

Gail Thomas’ books are Odd Mercy, Waving Back, No Simple Wilderness, and Finding the Bear. Her poems have been widely published in journals, and her awards include the Charlotte Mew Prize from Headmistress Press,  the Narrative Poetry Prize from Naugatuck River Review, and the Massachusetts Center for the Book’s “Must Read.” http://www.gailthomaspoet.com/

The Triptych and I – a poem by Sara Letourneau

The Triptych and I

When you look at a landscape photograph,
what do you see? Most likely the scene itself,
all wildlife and weather and time of day—
and certainly not the soul’s terrain.
That was what I had believed before
the triptych caught my eye and bade me stop
at the gallery’s front door,
its panorama of a Cape Cod sunset
bathing clouds and beach in pastel violet-blue
and tugging at an anchor under my ribs.

Before I knew it,
I had drifted across the threshold
like a dinghy whose moorings had come loose.
Maybe I still would have noticed the triptych
if it had been a single, larger whole.
But at that moment, those three acrylic panels
hanging side by side displayed
not just sand and twilight, but an evening
that I swore was my self-portrait.

I was the setting sun, radiating light
that was all my own yet hiding from view.
I was the ocean tides, reaching for land
despite the moon’s backward pull.
I was the beachcomber roaming the shore,
gathering seashells yet knowing I had already found
what I was looking for.
I was silver and emberglow, cerulean and rose,
horizon and cosmos, all the things I wished
I had seen in myself sooner.

I didn’t take the triptych home with me.
Nor did I ask for its title or the photographer’s name.
Instead, I carried the memory out the door
like a tangling in the throat
when you feel understood even though
you haven’t spoken a single word.

.

Sara Letourneau is a poet, freelance book editor, and writing coach. Her poems are forthcoming in or have appeared in Constellations, Mass Poetry’s Poem of the Moment, Boston Small Press and Poetry Scene, The Aurorean, and Soul-Lit, among others. You can learn more about working with Sara at https://heartofthestoryeditorial.com/ and read more of her poetry at https://saraletourneauwriter.com.

Maxed My Bedroom: Mourning Aubade – a poem by Koss

Maxed My Bedroom: Mourning Aubade

This morning as I roused from sleep—
I felt your gentle sweetness enter

as you blossomed
through the lucent doorway—

filling my lavender disheveled bedroom
with your incandescent joy.

I lay there still and listening—
my clutched ribs rising rhythmic—

inhaling deeply—mixing you in me
with each breath—your essence felting

cellbound—and me inside these longing cells—
my heart summoning your sound—your scent—

your shimmer in your lovely skin.
Yet how could you—sweet abundance—

have ever fit your earthen
wounded tired frame

from which you willfully slipped?
I gazed at you—subtle—yet immense

surround—my mind’s eye awake—
thanking you again for enfolding me

in love and hope with which to flounder
through another day or week.

It’s okay—everything—you whispered,
now take this day and live it.

And me to you—
You were always this.

.

Koss is the queer author of One for Sorrow, a hybrid book published by Negative Capability Press, to be released in 2020/2021. One for Sorrow is an exploration of grief and is both an elegy and a poetic critique of the limits and failures of Western bereavement practices. Through images, words, and erasures, Koss traces the erratic path of unimaginable trauma and loss.

She has also been published in Cincinnati Review, Hobart, Spillway, North Dakota Quarterly, Spoon River Review, and many other journals. She also has work forthcoming in Best Small Fictions 2020. Find her on Twitter @Koss51209969, Instagram @koss_singular, or her website at http://koss-works.com.

What Becomes, the Hawk – a poem by Koss

What Becomes, the Hawk

a pause and shift in the air
.                                           its weight and lull

pulls us, our past, into my inner ether
.          as I walk these roads without you

I’ve walked them from childhood
                                         now they are changed

though you were never here
.                                          not here in these woods,

not on my tamped earth or marshlands,
.             your absence insists on its scope,

its filling of space, of sound,
.   .           pigeon-holed plans, tomorrows amiss

dark star, my Max, my once-light
.                                          how should I navigate

without you? I ask the sky
.                             a hawk stirs and launches

from a branch in the marsh
.                           just grazing my head

I bow, freeze, and gawk
.                             as her motion / body answers
.                             with its graceful weaving

becoming smaller as she fades
.                             into infinite silva

.

Koss is the queer author of One for Sorrow, a hybrid book published by Negative Capability Press, to be released in 2020/2021. One for Sorrow is an exploration of grief and is both an elegy and a poetic critique of the limits and failures of Western bereavement practices. Through images, words, and erasures, Koss traces the erratic path of unimaginable trauma and loss.

She has also been published in Cincinnati Review, Hobart, Spillway, North Dakota Quarterly, Spoon River Review, and many other journals. She also has work forthcoming in Best Small Fictions 2020. Find her on Twitter @Koss51209969, Instagram @koss_singular, or her website at http://koss-works.com.

St. Ia – a poem by Susie Gharib

St. Ia

Distraught,
Ia viewed the empty shore
with somber sorrow.
They had left her behind
fearing the inclemency of the clime
would claim her tendril-life.

Enthralled by an audacious leaf
that solely floated on the Irish Sea,
she pressed it with a rod to test its buoyancy,
but instead of descent
the leaf grew in size proportionately
to accommodate the saint-to-be.

Embarking upon the miraculous leaf,
Ia would make it to Cornwall
before St. Gwinear and his company
to establish her oratory.

.
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.

 

Uncle Ken – a poem by Colin Bancroft

Uncle Ken

I never spent enough time with you
To know you, properly, except that one
Blazing summer when I was, what, twelve?
And we stayed for two weeks at the house
In Mossley.
.                    What has stuck with me since
Was that afternoon down on the canal
Tow path when you showed me how to kneel
In the long grass and catch crickets with my hands,
How if you dived in they would get away,
That it took slowness and precision
In the way that you cup your hands softly
Over them until they were enveloped
By darkness
.                  the feeling on my fingers,
My palms, as they threw themselves against
The walls of their unexplainable tomb
Desperate for escape.
.                                  It is a lesson
I have learned well these succeeding years
When my own blackness has descended.
How the fight for release, however powerless
I am to affect an outcome, is the mark
Of being alive
.                  And I understand
Why, when reconditioned to the sudden
Brightness of an opened-up world those insects
Paused for a moment, drinking in the light,
As though seeing everything for the first time,
Before launching themselves unflinchingly
                                    back into it all.

.

Colin Bancroft is currently in exile in the North Pennines where he  is finishing off a PhD on the Ecopoetics of Robert Frost. His pamphlet ‘Impermanence’ is released in October with Maytree Press. He also currently runs www.poetsdirectory.co.uk

The Rental – a poem by Dan Campion

The Rental

The backyard was a cup formed by low hills
where fireflies would glint and swirl like snow
and snow like galaxies. Such light distills
a place, lets you forget what you don’t know:
the first inhabitants, if they had time
to watch the spectacles or even cared,
who built the house, who lived there in its prime,
what banister came loose but got repaired,
how many rafters, studs, and laths kept things
together, what fasteners it took,
how many vibrant particles or strings
made up the pale blue beadboard kitchen nook.
From seven years’ familiarity
we took our leave immersed in mystery.

.

Dan Campion is the author of Peter De Vries and Surrealism and co-editor of Walt Whitman: The Measure of His Song, a third edition of which was issued in 2019. His poetry has appeared in Poetry, Rolling Stone, and many other magazines. A selection of his poems titled The Mirror Test will be published by MadHat Press in February 2022. He lives in Iowa City, Iowa.