Prayers at Sea-level – a poem by Cassy Dorff

Prayers at Sea-level

 
The fourth season
swallows leaves,
glooms inner rooms
and tugs at the
corners of daylight.
 
Yet come renewal,	
grief’s work cannot bloom
without love and
we cannot love
without the hot
magic of wakefulness.
 
Let hooded mergansers
send sizzling
bliss into your flesh and ease
winter off clenched
shoulders.
 
Watch a kingfisher
grip crayfish,
see the pond
expand: life 
spotlights beneath
the sun.
 
We learned to fish creeks
with bamboo poles,
caught grasshoppers
and knocked rocks into a roil
of moccasins.
 
A cry for help can be joyful too.
 
You might not know
the rituals
of your ancestors
or how morning can shade
itself into evening blue.
 
But you can kneel on the banks
in celebration and
knead devotion into the earth.

Cassy Dorff lives in Nashville, Tennessee and teaches courses about politics, data science and writing as an assistant professor of Political Science. Cassy’s poetry is published at Terrain.org and Rust + Moth; academic research publications can be found at the Journal of PoliticsJournal of Peace Research and other outlets.

New Prospects – a story by Elizabeth Morse

New Prospects

Kelsey lost her job as soon as the pandemic started. She was secretly glad because she could wear brightly colored skirts and blouses with embroidery that weren’t business appropriate. One of them showed off her only tattoo, a tiny rose, in her decolletage. Her curly hair grew long. 

Grace, her sister, stopped by from time to time. She looked Kelsey up and down, taking in the vivid shades. “It’s different, but it’s cheerful,” she said, flicking up an eyebrow.

Kelsey began to read poetry at night, savoring the cadence, the hard and soft sounds. The words were so beautiful she wanted to put them away for safekeeping. She had read poems in college, though her mother disapproved. “Study accounting. It’s safer,” she said. Kelsey put the book away. Her mother must be right. 

Armed with a CPA, Kelsey established a career. Working long hours, she felt serious and accomplished wearing her black suits. Now, during the pandemic, this was the longest she’d ever been out of a job. Her sense of pride was gone. What she wanted was poetry. 

As summer ended, she started gardening in window boxes. When the weather got cold, she pulled them inside letting them soak up sun from behind glass. “What are you going to do with those?” Grace said. “Are they going to grow anything?”

Always the commentator, Kelsey thought. Always their mother’s spokesperson. Grace, too, worked in accounting. 

Kelsey didn’t miss the spreadsheets at work. She wanted to keep her new life and resisted sending her resume to recruiters. It had taken her weeks to even prepare an update. She wanted to write a completely new one but couldn’t imagine what it would say. 

She and Grace began to hike in in the park. It was exhilarating to walk the trails, to climb the rocky paths. Kelsey had on her teal green coat while Grace wore a black parka. Despite the chilly weather, moving gave Kelsey an energy she’d never had before.

Kelsey began to have trouble sleeping. Each night, at 3 AM, her eyes opened and she couldn’t fall back to sleep. Her life was losing its sharp edges. The snowed-in silence outside told her so. 

One evening, when she was walking home from the supermarket, a woman crossing Prospect Avenue got hit by a car. The notion of getting entangled made her stomach tighten, so she began to walk faster. Then she stopped, skirt swishing behind her. No one else was there to help. It could happen to anyone. 

The woman was on her back, shouting and crying. Kelsey punched 911. 

Kelsey was grateful that the woman could stand up and walk. She sat on the curb near her, though not too close. Both were masked, at least. 

For a moment, Kelsey thought of getting up and walking away. She was not comfortable with this. The paramedics might have questions. Maybe they would assume that she was the responsible party. When they actually arrived, she spoke calmly, deliberately. 

When the woman was loaded onto a stretcher, she murmured, “Thanks for staying.”

Kelsey had never thought of herself as kind. Maybe she’d just never known.

Her job search took a different direction: homeless shelter, COVID contact tracing, soup kitchen. When she was in college, she’d disdained the helping professions. They were soft, irrational. Now, they seemed exciting. She’d felt worthy helping the woman who had the car accident. So maybe she could sign on for a social work or education degree. Maybe psychology. The state university had lots of courses. If that didn’t work out, there was always online. 

While she was looking at catalogs on her laptop, Grace brought her a cup of tea, touching her shoulder gently. “Remember that woman you helped?”

Kelsey nodded.

“Wherever you’re going, you’re going to get there.”

Kelsey looked up in disbelief. “That means a lot,” she said. 

The next day, Kelsey and Grace went to the park and began walking. Their footfalls shook bits of snow from the trees, and they just kept going. Kelsey’s green coat blended into the bareness of the snow. Miniature icicles dropped to the ground. The sky dimmed until the dark was thick and wondrous. Finally, they came to a clearing where three pines towered over them, and over all the other trees, which stood in shadow by the woods. Branches shimmered with snow, whiteness muffling sound. The Milky Way stretched overhead, like a boundless path. Kelsey had never seen anything so beautiful or so terrifying. 

Elizabeth Morse is a writer who lives in New York’s East Village. Her work has been published in literary magazines such as The Raven’s Perch, Visible, and CafeLit, as well as anthologies such as Crimes of the Beats. She has her MFA from Brooklyn College and supports her writing with a job in information technology. 

The Horses of San Marco – a poem by Daniel A. Rabuzzi

The Horses of San Marco


(Inspired by Canaletto’s Capriccio: The Horses of San Marco in the Piazzetta, 1743)



Know us, you who gaze upon us.

We were Greek once.
Always the quadriga domini.

Our eyed wings are gone—
Eyed like the peacock’s—
A peacock who spouts fire.

Our chariot is gone—
Yoked we were to
A griffin’s head,
Who, living,
Had wings to carry 
His throne
(Ezekiel knew its shape and color).

Had we just our wings,
We would lift the
Basilica
Up
Up 
To
God,
Where it perhaps
Has not been before.

We are the cherubim--
Not the fat children you like in paintings--
Who know the facets of His 
Knowledge,
Tear wisdom from the air
With the ripping of our hooves
(Jerome knew our shape and color).

Behold us, small visitors—
Not as we are in these still shapes,
But as we are,
As we will be again.



Daniel A. Rabuzzi has had two novels, five short stories and ten poems published since 2006 (see www.danielarabuzzi.com). He lived eight years in Norway, Germany and France. He has degrees in the study of folklore and mythology, international relations, and early modern European history. He lives in New York City with his artistic partner & spouse, the woodcarver Deborah A. Mills (http://www.deborahmillswoodcarving.com), and the requisite cat.

Oh – a poem by Wayne-Daniel Berard

Oh


After all, we are made of words.
At the Big Slam, the Spoken Poet
rounded the verses (multi multi multi!)
villanelling “let there be” until Round
Six, the Great Verb Shift to
“let us make”

we are that “us”
we make it all from words 
enjambed between zen 
emptiness and universal thisness
zoom in:
that quantum void is really
the triangle in the letter A
the desirous space in ל‎
the oval in Oh



Note: Hebrew letter, lamed.


Wayne-Daniel Berard, PhD, teaches Humanities at Nichols College, Dudley, MA. He publishes broadly in poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. His poetry chapbook, The Man Who Remembered Heaven, received the New Eden Award in 2003. His non-fiction When Christians Were Jews (That Is, Now), subtitled Recovering the Lost Jewishness of Christianity with the Gospel of Mark, was published in 2006 by Cowley Publications. A novel The Retreatants, was published in 2012 (Smashwords). A chapbook, Christine Day, Love Poems, was published in 2016 (Kittatuck Press). His novella, Everything We Want, was published in 2018 by Bloodstone Press. A poetry collection, The Realm of Blessing, was published in 2020 by Unsolicited Press. 

Kenosis – a poem by James Owens

Kenosis


Blown slantings of snow thicken 
on the ground and on the sides of trees.

When the wind shudders and buffets,
fence lines and brown volumes of cows

blur. At the river, the flakes, singular
as fingerprints, vanish into the fluent, 

downward rush of a beginning winter.
At last we understand: brief forms

dissolving in the formless, words given 
back to the air, intricate and breakable.

James Owens‘s newest book is Family Portrait with Scythe (Bottom Dog Press, 2020). His poems and translations appear widely in literary journals, including recent or upcoming publications in Grain, Dalhousie Review, Presence, Queen’s Quarterly, and Honest Ulsterman. He earned an MFA at the University of Alabama and lives in a small town in northern Ontario, Canada.

Inferno – a poem by Rose Knapp

Inferno


Infinity on infinity of perpetual circumambulating 
Torrents of Turin torment 

Our consolation is that we are the interesting souls
Pain can be a paradise

Rose Knapp (she/they) is a poet and electronic producer. She has publications in Lotus-Eater, Bombay Gin, BlazeVOX, Hotel Amerika, Fence Books, Obsidian, Gargoyle, and others. She has poetry collections published with Beir Bua Press, Hesterglock Press, and Dostoyevsky Wannabe. She lives in Minneapolis. Find her at roseknapp.net and on Twitter @Rose_Siyaniye

Random Reflections – a poem by Gopal Lahiri

Random Reflections


Light drifts, changes,
day rolls into furnace, all fires are fire.

Then there is the blank space
The wall clock stops at quarter to nine.

A dust storm blows the tiny bird’s nest
The flowers fade, I don’t speak of it.

The afternoon shifts to the evening
with crumbly sigh, dimness sinks the needle in.

The voice of the winds like any old
memory, strays in the winnowed sand-yard.

My diary pages are open all night inside
the dark drawer.

And I learn to burrow in the dark yet
I shudder from where the Universe begins.


©gopallahiri


Gopal Lahiri is a bilingual poet, critic, editor, writer and translator with 24 books published, including five jointly edited books. His poetry is published across various anthologies globally. Recent credits: Ink Pantry, Verse-Virtual, Madrigal, The Best Asian Poetry, and elsewhere. He has been nominated for Pushcart Prize for poetry in 2021

Walking Through a Mixed Conifer Forest on a Summer’s Day – a poem by Elizabeth Domenech

Walking Through a Mixed Conifer Forest on a Summer’s Day 


O earth, 
let us forever know
the smell of the forest floor
that embraces first heat of day 

where sap 
like honey crystallizes 
entombing citrus scent

and moss unfurls to water
and aspens wave their greeting
and pine trees whisper stories to the wind

and huckleberries seduce bears
and thimbleberries surely shelter fairies
as cottonwood twirls and tumbles on the breeze

and we inhabit our bodies
and our feet carry us forward
and we walk at the pace of the forest
and our minds lilt and drift with the butterfly
and our spirits bubble and gurgle with the creek

and firs and pines exhale wisdom
and being nearby we inhale wisdom 

and it’s May
and fires are a distant thing
and the Swainson’s thrush sings
and the chipmunk plays hide and seek 
and the golden mantled squirrel chatters
and the deer watches silently at the edge
and the fir trees drop their protective caps
and the new growth is soft, and ever green
and the spider web glints in the morning light 

and the ants delight in decay
and decay smells rich and inviting
and the next layer builds on this one 
as life begins and ends on the forest floor

Elizabeth Domenech is a writer, naturalist, and advocate for conservation and wildness. Her writing can be found published in Montana Naturalist, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, and Pivot and Pause: A Poetry Anthology of Resilience, Remembrance and Compassion (2020). She lives in Bozeman, Montana. 

That Patch of Perennials – a poem by Emalisa Rose

That patch of perennials


The warped picnic table
engraved with the paint
stains and barbecues.

The critters, a medley of
mourning doves, deer and
opossum, plus the countless
stray cats I have fed.

Those six standing sycamores
greening with leaves, birds
on the branches, corralling
and cawing from morning
to midnight.

And that patch of perennials
we’d planted two decades ago
reminding of where we had
been and where we are going.

When not writing poetry, Emalisa Rose enjoys crafting. She walks with a birding group each month through the neighborhood trails. She volunteers in animal rescue. Her work has appeared in Amethyst Review, Mad Swirl, Writing in a Woman’s Voice and other wonderful places. Her latest collection is This water paint life, published by Origami Poems Project. 

The Wake – a poem by Scott Elder

The Wake

It’s not clear
where the river begins 
     where her body ends
watery thoughts     phantoms  
meeting only to part 

a looseness expanding
as stars might deepen—
     one empty breath at a time—
to fill a winter’s sky
ave     ave

it’s not clear     
is it she or the river 
     that pulls me so?

I dip my fingers into her hair
stare into lidded eyes

a dragon lies in the depth of each
it seems to be sleeping
     dormez-vous?    dormez-vous?

a bell is ringing 
dormez-vous?    

Scott Elder lives in France. His work has mostly appeared in the UK and Ireland. A debut pamphlet, Breaking Away, was published by Poetry Salzburg in 2015, his first collection, Part of the Dark, by Dempsey&Windle 2017 (UK), and the second, My Hotel, is forthcoming in Salmon Poetry 2023 (Ireland).   Website: https://www.scottelder.co.uk/