Laughing Buddha – a poem by Margaret Coombs

Laughing Buddha

In a stranger’s yard, an obese squirrel in a maple tree 
nibbles a peanut. From an icy sidewalk I count 
thirteen shells, pale figure-eights someone placed 
on a platform before him. It’s Thanksgiving. Soon 

I will fete and feast, sating myself as easily as Fat Buddha 
here. I plan to bypass the arugula salad 
with cranberries and pecans I made, pile my plate 
with gouda and peanut-butter pie. I read that Fat Buddha 

was a wandering monk who carried candy in a sack. 
He forecasted the weather, credited as a small miracle. 
According to the soft batting in the sky, we may soon 
have snow and if we do, my prize should be a small statue 

of this squirrel to remind me of his blissful disregard 
of Body Mass Index. I remember a boyfriend who told me, 
your belly looks like the Buddha at the Chinese diner. 
I breathe through the sting still festering after five years, 

tuck feelings away one by one into a quilt-covered bassinet. 
Let them rest. It was a blessing! says the gem 
I sometimes see at the bottom of my muddy moods. Fat Buddha,  
Laughing Buddha, was one much loved and welcomed 

everywhere. Who loves this squirrel? Who loves me? 
The quilted sky dissolves into weightless flakes, closes in. 
Who tames us with such abundance? I am embraced.  

Margaret Coombs is a poet and retired librarian from Manitowoc, Wisconsin, USA, the city of her birth, located on the western shore of Lake Michigan. Her first chapbook, The Joy of Their Holiness, was published in 2020 by Kelsay Press under the name Peggy Turnbull. She now uses her birth name as her pen name. Recent poems have appeared in Silver Birch Press, Bramble, Three Line Poetry, and Verse-Virtual.  She occasionally blogs at

Hummingbird with Monarda Blossom – a poem by John Backman

Hummingbird with Monarda Blossom

Hover, flick then flick, in taut midair, 
Inhaling nectar from each blossom tube, 
A pearly string of moments here and now.
You’re motionless above Monarda and
(despite the widespread rumors you have wings)
I see two blurs of gossamer. Nothing moves 
And everything hovers, for just a beat, 
The whole world too, which holds its ragged breath 
And stops to look. You can count on one hand 
The moments like that, but when they occur
There’s no question what must be done and felt:
Drop everything. Pay homage. Watch in awe. 

A spiritual director, bigender person, and quasi-hermit, John Backman has had personal essays published in CatapultAmethyst Review, Typehouse Literary Magazine, Tiferet Journal, and Sufi Journal, among other places. For the past two years John has been named a top 10 creative nonfiction finalist in the Wild Atlantic Writing Awards.  

Sacred Secret – a poem by Jennifer Rodrigues

Sacred Secret

There are secrets hidden in
my body,
ancient secrets
of movement, of letting go
the secret web that holds
me together.

I know how to feel it,
to release restrictions
and invite fluidity.
I can teach you
this visceral language,
how to breathe into your pelvis
the ways of knowing your
ancestor’s grief,
held tight into the body
and letting her go on her way.

You and I are done
living someone else’s life.
It doesn’t mean we forget them,
their fight to survive,
it means we can separate
who lived whom
in this body cradling our souls.

Jennifer Rodrigues currently lives on the sacred Powhatan land of Fairfax, VA. She works as a certified yoga therapist, is a Reiki healer, military spouse, mother to a creative daughter and a black cat named Miss Yvonne. She has been published in The Muleskinner Journal, tiny frights.

Garret Girl – a poem by Phil Wood

Garret Girl

This attic broods Dickensian cold,
the spiders moan about the frost.
Her little voice wants to be loud,
be heard above the creeping gloom.
Like a soprano in chapel air
rising to hush the cobweb doubt.

A hostess flees from her abode,
the ballroom of a Danube tune,
that weightless waltz of gowns. Her prayer
in flame warming the garret ghost.
A little voice soars to the clouds.
Joy whispers in shivers of spiders.

Phil Wood was born in Wales. He studied English Literature at Aberystwyth University. He has worked in statistics, education, shipping, and a biscuit factory. He enjoys watercolour painting, bird watching, and chess. His writing can be found in various places, including: Ink Sweat and Tears,The Dirigible Balloon, The Wild Word.

Chapel on the Porch – a poem by Angela Hoffman

Chapel on the Porch 

Strangers gathered late afternoon on the porch
under pines, overlooking a lake. 
A divorcee, one on the brink of, another happily married
one whose job it was to marry, a nun once married
one who never married. We were different. We were the same.
Wine was poured, bread broken
stories of great love, great suffering were passed. 
We placed the doses of wisdom on our tongues
chewed, swallowed hope.

I’m gluttonous. Pocket every crumb falling 
for the days that I’m starving.
I look around, see the splendor in this unlikely mix.
There are days when the world holds your hand
looks you in the eye, nods and says, I see you. 
I am you.

Angela Hoffman lives in Wisconsin. Her poetry has appeared in Solitary Plover, Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets’ Museletter and Calendar, Agape Review, Verse-Virtual, Visual Verse, Your Daily Poem, and Writing In A Woman’s Voice. Her first chapbook (Resurrection Lily, Kelsay Books) is scheduled for release in 2022. 

Calligraphy – a poem by Dan Campion


So many layers of silence wrap this dark
it’s hard imagining a sound inside
could work its way through them in just one night.
Such quiet clears the mind, down to the stark
and bell-shaped cavern where old phantoms hide
no longer fit to frighten or take flight.
Such clarity can’t last. Yet while it does
it echoes with its silent ancestors
in memory of brisk streams that cut through rock
the flocks above on hillsides never heard.
A summons to a world that never was
can’t be resisted. Lush or barren shores,
dense wood or desert, each confers that shock
from outside saying something has occurred.
We cannot do without the dark, the hush,
the uncreated world, the undipped brush.

Dan Campion‘s poems have appeared previously in Amethyst Review and in Light, Poetry, Rolling Stone, and many other journals. He is the author of Peter De Vries and Surrealism (Bucknell University Press) and coeditor of Walt Whitman: The Measure of His Song (Holy Cow! Press). A selection of his poems was issued by the Ice Cube Press in July 2022:

Covering (Fig)ures – a poem by Danielle Page

Covering (Fig)ures 

I plastered leaf with spit to 
My bare breast, it fell to 
The earth, drenched in 
My feeble attempt. 
Desperately, I drew silt – 
Still, it did not stay. 

Stuck in a thickening crust 
He handed me piercing 
Bone and stiff vine
Together, we wove – 
Hoping for bird feathers, 
Hidden, shivering.

Danielle Page is a truth-teller, writer, and educator. When she’s not reading up on composition theory, she’s scribbling in her moleskine journal or hiking a mountainous trail. Her work has appeared in the Whale Road Review, Calla Press, Poetry Pacific, and elsewhere.  

Firepit – a poem by Dominic Palmer


Gathered in
the womb of light, 
under the stars 
we gaze at fire.

In the circle
words crackle:
how a forest
speaks to itself,
leaf to root to
synapse shoot –
the magic of it,
the many,
the one.

Over embers we toast
marshmallows, toast 
life in the afterglow.

And then we go
as fire fades
into the night –
born into a 
different, brighter
darkness than 
the one from
which we came.

Dominic Palmer grew up near Oxford and studied at the University of Cambridge, which means he never fails to vicariously win (or lose) the annual Boat Race. He now lives in Manchester with his wife, teaches English in a secondary school, and enjoys cycling, gardening, and playing music.

The Spirit Sky – a poem by David Chorlton

The Spirit Sky
The dark half falls off a hummingbird’s wing;
the light half shines through its eye.
A hawk flies out
from its nest in the sun
and the weather sends a shower
of mourning doves.
                               Every bird’s
a piece of sky come down to Earth
and morning opens wide
the window. The mountain tumbles through,
pulling moods behind it
from the gleam of optimism at
a cloud’s golden edge
to the doubt in a rumor of storms.
There’s a blue desert
beyond vision’s reach.
Fiery first light
burns in the east: a quiet prelude
whose fanfare is glitter
rising from the far
            Over city, over
wooded lands and shining cottonwoods
and where the hills
cannot rise any higher
clouds begin building
their layers of shadow and rain
above the Gray Hawk’s cry
that pierces the air
with a monsoon breeze combing
his feathers and an itch
in the claw that holds
to a bough.
building. Cymbals flash
light and sound together
for as long as the universe
grants rain to the land.
                                    Along the road
across open country
that offers itself to heat and
infinity, the view takes flight
and goes on and on to sunset
when history rises from the canyon
red as the rock of its walls
and for minutes every day
the dusk transmits the signal
No surrender!
                  Afternoon’s last lizard
climbs the backyard wall
up and ever closer to the clouds
that mass above the rooftops
as continents of steam and light
with foothold enough
                                  to grip
when the tail turns into lightning.
A thirsty mountain
rolls over in its sleep
and the animals who live there
begin their nighttime wanderings
flash by flash
                     with the bones
inside them shining. Even on
a quiet street there’s drama in the moment
a lonely heart knocks twice
at evening’s door
in hopes of finding solace there
when the spirit’s glow holds on
to the ridgeline as long as it can
before the great horned call
speaks soul to soul
and night has a wingspread as wide
as the world.
in the tame world: no borders
in the mind. Instructions arrive
from a storehouse of dreams
and when
                the storm begins to gallop
word comes from above
that thunder is the sky praying.

David Chorlton is a transplanted European, who has lived in Phoenix since 1978. His poems often reflect his affection for the natural world, as well as occasional bewilderment at aspects of human behavior. His newest collection of poems is Poetry Mountain from Cholla Needles Arts and Literary Library in southern California.

The Virgin Martyr – a poem by Andrew Frisardi

The Virgin Martyr

It wasn’t just that she refused to doff
Her honor to a lie so she might live.
What really pissed her persecutors off
Was that her love did nothing positive
For the economy. Why not do what
Her father said? He wanted her to be
A dowry not some flitting spirit’s slut.
Instead, her lap and torso formed a C
Around the unknown life that entered her
When she was praying all alone one day
Beside a lily. When she felt it stir,
To get it out they burned the C away,
But only saw a mote. Nobody knew
It was the seed of charity that grew.

Andrew Frisardi is a Bostonian living in central Italy. His most recent books are Ancient Salt: Essays on Poets, Poetry, and the Modern World (Wipf & Stock) and The Harvest and the Lamp (Franciscan UP). His annotated translation of Dante’s Convivio was recently reissued in paperback by Cambridge UP.