The sleepy sadness of things ending – a poem by Lisa Creech Bledsoe

The sleepy sadness of things ending

Will it be a relief to evaporate
and become everything else?
to stop twisting in the dark sheets of night
wings frozen to my sides, the moon
a lemon rind filling my mouth
with the sleepy sadness of things ending

Does the river think: I will let go
my song and one day leave
the bright trout who fan my heart—
rise, give up rivering and become
instead the hard sparks of stars

What struggle to shake the clay
from the new liturgy of our being:
……..the flight path of a hawk moth
……..winter trees cracking like gunshots—
you and I not even adding up
to a single violet, a secret
keeping itself, the business of eons
wishing to be nothing else

.

Watched by crows and friend to salamanders, Lisa Creech Bledsoe is a writer living in the mountains of North Carolina. She has two books, “Appalachian Ground” (2019) and “Wolf Laundry” (2020) out, and new poems in American Writers Review, The Main Street Rag, and Jam & Sand, among others.

The Cosmos in My Coffee – a poem by T. S. Davis

The Cosmos in My Coffee

I cradle my coffee cup in the nest of my hands
and stare at spiraling drops of curdling cream
like tiny galaxies of stars that demand
their own universe, or so it seems.
Or so it seems, but only to the mind that’s me.
No one else spies the cosmos in my daily rituals.
In fact, most people look, but never see.
Like the difference between religious, and spiritual.
I don’t mean to say I’m more evolved or smart.
The reverse is true: if anything, I’m dense.
In the race for money, career, or fame, I’m a slow start.
The virtue of staring out a window – my only defense.
But when tiny flames of words flicker on my tongue,
I swallow the waxing moon to sing what’s never been sung.

.

T. S. Davis is author of Sun + Moon Rendezvous and former producer of the Seattle Poetry Slam. His  poems, essays, and nonfiction have appeared in Rattle, The Lyric, Bellingham Review, 14 X 14, Blue Collar Review, Henhouse, and Point No Point, among others. Mr. Davis is a retired Registered Nurse who lives in rural Arizona and writes Shakespearian sonnets.

 

Whaler’s Journal: Christina – a poem by Kyle Laws

Whaler’s Journal: Christina

Christina & I would meet
in a whaler’s shack after the season.
She would walk up from Cape May Town
gathering shells & carvings of bone,
her carryall full with the leavings of tide
that she took home & hung from walls
as though she was determined
to live under the surface of sea.

She would stand in the doorway,
the mid-afternoon sun illuminating
her outline, as if she knew
how she looked with the sun
dancing around her,
then heave her carryall
up on the old table,
slide out of her cape,
take out shells & polished stones
& broken pieces of harpoon,
place them on the perimeter
of the scarred table
& lie down among the debris,
her fingers curved
around a conch shell
she always held to her ear.

.

Kyle Laws is based out of Steel City Art Works in Pueblo, CO where she directs Line/Circle: Women Poets in Performance. Her collections include Ride the Pink Horse (Stubborn Mule Press, 2019), Faces of Fishing Creek (Middle Creek Publishing, 2018), This Town: Poems of Correspondence with Jared Smith (Liquid Light Press, 2017), So Bright to Blind (Five Oaks Press, 2015), and Wildwood (Lummox Press, 2014). With eight nominations for a Pushcart Prize, her poems and essays have appeared in magazines and anthologies in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Germany. She is editor and publisher of Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press.

Garden – a story by Wayne-Daniel Berard

Garden

It wasn’t much of a house, really. More like a country cottage, but not in the country. Or exactly the suburbs either. One of those locales that’s almost one but not quite the other. A bit disappointing, to be honest. Especially for the great Abramovich.

We’d been invited for shabbat dinner, the first since pesach. A group of us, four or five. I was the wife of his publisher. Or ex-wife. Quite awhile now. I was surprised by the invitation. I didn’t really know the others. Some older, some younger. Colleagues? Not peers, surely, not by the set of their eyes. (Did Abramovich have peers?) And students? Most probably. By the setlessness of their eyes. Taking in everything. Radars made of sponge.

Not that there was much to take in. The house was distinctively ordinary, even a little shabby. White shingles, looked like they’d been installed by the WPA. White dormers on each side, like the place was squat with its elbows out. A covered porch hugged round its middle, its top sloping like a washed-out poster of a Tolkien roofscape. Almost rickety outdoor stairs leading God knew where.

Inside was better. Again, lots of white. Woodwork. Hutch. Tightly stuffed white couches one would never call sofas. Natural oak chairs set around the table; natural top set on a white base and legs. White ceramic pitcher and plate set in its center. Fireplace, ash-sprayed bricks over the grate, like a fanfare.

We expected, at least I expected, something unusual at this shabbat. Considering. The closest we came was the blessing, sung by some little, accented girl with a voice too big for her nose, which she sang through, nonetheless, like an angel filling a shofar:

………………………………….Thy name is my healing, O my God,
………………………………….And remembrance of thee
………………………………….Is my remedy,
………………………………….Nearness to thee is my hope
………………………………….And love for thee is my Companion.
………………………………….Thy mercy to me
………………………………….is my healing and my succor
………………………………….in both this world
………………………………….and the world to come . . .

That, and the orange peels and pits that suddenly seemed to appear around the white pitcher in the white plate.

After dinner (at which I cannot remember Abramovich saying anything expect “Is that so?”), he leaned back in his chair, surveyed all around like a compass, and said, “Would you like to see the garden?” I was sitting next to him. He placed his hand in the underside of my elbow.

Of course, it was dark already. But the night stars were clear. Went out the back door; the porch floor was unfinished, unstained. Down uneven slate steps that seemed to my feet backwardly familiar, as if I’d climbed them before, but not descended. Not back.

The garden was a stone’s throw from the house, or better, a seed’s throw. I could imagine Abramovich, sitting on his porch, evening after starry evening, munching on one fruit or another, throwing the seeds through the open door, and planting.

There seemed a short, thick hedgerow before the actual garden, with a break about a couple’s width apart. To its left side stood a diminutive but solid linden, just above the height of a man. Below its crown, only one lone branch extended toward the opening, its bright yellow undercurls of leaves hanging like cherubim feathers. Adjacent, a swath of red-winged blackbirds spread their fire at our coming, but then folded it in again. As if they knew him, us.

Did the linden point the way to the entrance, an after you gesture, bowing as it swayed?

A few steps and we had come to a tree — huge beyond any I’d seen. My in-laws had had a copper beech on their summer property in . . . where was that? But this was taller by far, and more . . . outreached. In the white star light, its bark and leaves seemed like paper, marked with lined shadows of themselves.

Abramovich stopped and turned, his back against the tree. Lowered his hands beneath his beltline. Uh-oh. What was this? Should I need my husband?
Then he stooped a little, interlacing his fingers into a sort of step.
“Alley-oop?” he smiled, anything but wickedly. Almost.

And me, I said just the opposite of what I always say. “Why not?” And found myself sitting from a silvery branch, feet dangling. In a moment, he was beside me, or his feet and ankles, anyway. He kept climbing further. “Up and in,” he said, and disappeared altogether into the star shadows.

I followed. Not easily. But surely. It was dark, but the light always seemed to be where I next placed my hand.

Then there he was, sitting — cross-legged? — on a branch, swaying, humming. Humming and singing? It was the same tune we had heard at blessing.

Thou verily are the all bountiful,
The all knowing, the all wise . . .

There were others. The guests? But how had they gotten here before us?

I raised my eyes. North, south, east, west. The tree was filled with people. In the evening, details and distinctions I could not see, but shapes I could make out against the star shade. Suit jackets and throbes. Gowns and housecoats. Kaftans and coveralls. Fur-lined, wide brims and draped burnooses. Flares and spats swung in the branch spaces.

They peeled away sheets of bark, and I could see them holding their scrolled surfaces and shadowed lines close to their faces. I did the same.

Abramovich was beside me then.

“How can I read in just this light?” I asked.

“Don’t read it,” he replied. Most distinctly. “Eat of it.”

“Really?” I said.

“Genesis 3: 6 — ‘the tree was good for eating.’ Not the fruit. The tree.”

I ate. And my eyes were open.

I looked down the core of the great tree. I saw something like an information super highway. Channels and lines of light — red, orange, yellow; green, blue, indigo, violet. They were streaming and flowing up into the limbs, the leaves, the pages, the words.

I looked further. Below the trunk, where the roots just entered the garden earth. There was a deep, rumbling hum, and just beneath the tree a space was turning, turning, filled with the hardnesses and definites, the unmovables and the stonings, all being slowly, inevitable softened and smoothed into gems. The hum was the blessing.

And below this space lay the most naturally beautiful woman I had ever seen, naked and unashamed. She was pregnant, and from her belly rose a cord, providing smoothness and ease, kiss not conflict, in the turning and meeting and parting of the stones. And it was this sustenance, energized by the deep motion, that channeled up the tree to its every tip.

And I saw even more deeply, at the first of it all, a great sea of red fire, basic and primal, upon which floated the woman and the stones, the roots and the tree, and which was a swath of red-wing blackbirds, spread at the entrance to the garden.

I looked up. Sprays of prismed light seemed to leap from the top of the tree, arc in uncountable comet trails of color, song waves become visible, near. If I stared, they seemed almost solid, like flying buttresses for a firmament, supporting the covering; when I blinked, they returned to rising and falling, reaching and returning. Each comet, each trail, each arching solidity and its dissolution had a sound, a note, a name splashing down into the great basin below. Remembrance. Remedy. Healing. Succor.

And the red sun had begun to rise over that shabbat morning.

Up came the early breeze, surging the limbs in the garden, flouncing the white curtains by Abramovich’s table. At which we all sat, trying to look ordinary, trying not to notice our each holding tight the arms of our natural chairs.

“So,” said Abramovich, voice a queen’s gate hinge, opening. Mine.

“Companions. Nearness. Hope.”

.

Wayne-Daniel Berard, PhD, teaches Humanities at Nichols College, Dudley, MA. He publishes broadly in poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. His novella, Everything We Want, was published in 2018 by Bloodstone Press. A poetry collection, The Realm of Blessing, will be published in 2020 by Unsolicited Press

The Beat of Wings – a poem by Ken Gierke

The Beat of Wings

Hot in the sun, as I lower my kayak to the pad of the boat ramp. Far behind yesterday, but still 83 at mid-morning. No cooler in my vest, as I ready to step into the kayak, leave behind machinery and concrete.

But sliding into that seat, sitting on the water? A slight breeze, and it’s a different world.

There’s nothing special about this river, just a narrow band of water lined with trees, an occasional small bluff turning it here, there. Staying with the bank with slow, easy strokes, taking the offered shade as a gift, I paddle upstream, watch a distant heron take wing at the sight of this intruder.

Rounding a bend, I paddle due west, the sun at my back and no advantage from the trees on the bank shading each other, but not the water I cross.

Always away, that heron. Startled by my appearance, it takes flight, again. Leaving shore, it turns before me, heads upriver, its wings offering the breeze that cools me. And what is that breeze, if not a way to carry my troubles to another place?

water and wind
a tonic given freely
the beat of wings

.

Ken Gierke started writing poetry in his forties, but found new focus when he retired. It also gave him new perspectives, which come out in his poetry, primarily free verse and haiku. He has been published at Amethyst Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Vita Brevis, Tuck Magazine, Eunoia Review and formidable woman sanctuary. His website: https://rivrvlogr.com/

Newman at Edgbaston – a poem by Martin Potter

Newman at Edgbaston

The rays descending into
A high ceiling room
Revealed the motes rising

And heavy clopping must
Have made itself heard
A thoroughfare right outside

The new oratory house
Romanly dominating
Athwart the town-bound traffic

Collegiate calm fostered
On manufacture’s fringes
And tall windows commune

The two as John Henry
Sits at letter-writing

.

Martin Potter (https://martinpotterpoet.home.blog) is a poet and academic, and his poems have appeared in Acumen, The French Literary Review, Eborakon, Scintilla, and other journals. His pamphlet In the Particular was published by Eyewear in December, 2017.

Field Workings 4 – East Ogwell Tithes – a poem by Julie Sampson

Screenshot 2020-06-16 at 10.25.39

A widely published poet, Julie Sampson edited Lady Mary Chudleigh’s Selected Poems, 2009 (Shearsman). Her two poetry collections are Tessitura (Shearsman, 2014) and It Was When It Was When It Was (Dempsey and Windle), 2018. She was highly commended in the Geoff Stevens Memorial Poetry Prize, 2019.

The Discipleship of Trees – a poem by Philip C. Kolin

The Discipleship of Trees

They are God’s most faithful disciples,
their rings symbolizing vows of stability

like monks pledging forever
to the earth’s monastery.

They stand firm in their sturdy
wooden sandals and

habits of glossy green announce
they belong to the confraternity of hope.

They provide cathedrals: choir lofts
for brown thrashers and redwings,

storied windows to welcome the sun
on his diurnal journey,

a canopied sanctuary to hold clouds of incense,
and towering arches where stars genuflect.

God sends these disciples out and up
to the cobalt blue of infinity.

Soaring firs and sequoias hear
archangels singing the Psalms

and breathe heaven’s closet breath,
absolving coal-dusted earth for sinful pollution.

Some disciples have cause to be canonized–
those captured and cut down

for crucifixions or those rigged
for lynchings.

.

Philip C. Kolin, Distinguished Prof. of English (Emeritus) at the Univ. of Southern Mississippi has published nine collections of poems, the most recent being Emmett Till in Different States: Poems (Third World Press, 2015) and Reaching Forever: Poems (Cascade Books, Poiema Series, 2019). He has published more than 350 poems in such journals as Spiritus, Christian Century, America, The Cresset, Theology Today, US Catholic, Sojourners, St. Austin Review, Christianity and Literature, Michigan Quarterly Review, Louisiana Literature, Presence: A Journal of Catholic Poetry,
Emmanuel, and Vocations and Prayer

Field Workings 3 – Mardon in Christow – a poem by Julie Sampson

Screenshot 2020-06-16 at 10.25.12

A widely published poet, Julie Sampson edited Lady Mary Chudleigh’s Selected Poems, 2009 (Shearsman). Her two poetry collections are Tessitura (Shearsman, 2014) and It Was When It Was When It Was (Dempsey and Windle), 2018. She was highly commended in the Geoff Stevens Memorial Poetry Prize, 2019.

Communing with the Owl – a poem by Joel Moskowitz

Communing with the Owl, May, 2020

Perhaps the owl who lives in Brues woods is my spirit animal,
as Janet says.
I know she’s teasing but I take it as a compliment:
to have a spiritual connection
means I’m sensitive.

From home, I walk to the trailhead,
enter the woods, which feels full of ghosts––
why not believe in them?

When I see the owl in a tree,
I only say “Who”, not “Who cooks for you”––
though it is a barred owl–– I don’t want to insult
with a cartoonish sound.

The owl starts preening its great brown and white chest
as if I’m not there, and indeed I feel hard-to-see.

Small feathers like wisps of candle smoke
fluff away from its body and fall
through the forest-filtered light,
and I reach out my hand and catch one.

I feel its beautiful uselessness in my cupped palm.
Then, I raise the feather to my chest, and hold it there,
wanting the owl to notice me.

I feel like a long dead but still standing tree.
Part of me wants the owl to glide down,
drape its wings on my back.

I want the feather to multiply in a soft breastplate.

Meanwhile Janet is probably in our back yard
watering the keyhole garden.
I pray for her health, our children’s, everybody’s.
I don’t know if I’m praying to god, owl, or air.

.

Joel Moskowitz is an artist and retired picture framer who lives with his wife and cat in Sudbury, Massachusetts. His poems have appeared in J Journal, Midstream,Naugatuck River Review, The Healing Muse, MuddyRiverPoetryReview.com, BostonPoetryMagazine.com and Soul-Lit.com. He is a First Prize winner of the Poetry Society of New Hampshire National Contest.