Selah – a poem by James Crews


Selah

After black clouds swirled in the sky,
and rain made a lake of the driveway,
the early evening turned so quiet
I could hear suds dissolving in the sink
from the sponge I just squeezed out,
bubbles popping, draining away.
And I dropped so easily into myself
like a rock sinking through clear water,
the scribe writing the story of my life 
must have decided to insert the word,
selah, that appears over and over
in the Psalms, and which we can only
guess is an invitation to the reader:
Pause here in the text and leave room
between this breath and the next
for the sound of that still, small voice
rising up in you.

James Crews is the author of four collections of poetry, The Book of What Stays, Telling My Father, Bluebird, and Every Waking Moment. He is also the editor of two anthologies: Healing the Divide: Poems of Kindness and Connection and How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope. jamescrews.net

sanctus – a poem by Nicole Lee

sanctus
 
the air flows over us
the dogs flow between us
criss-crossing the path
 
suspended above us
an awning of light
in green and pearl
 
glittering motes
floating blessing

Nicole Lee was born in Kuala Lumpur and educated at Malvern and Oxford. She has worked as a banker in Hong Kong and London and now lives in Wandsworth, works in Kew and writes poetry. She has been published in various online journals and long-listed in the National Poetry Competition.

Waking – a poem by Melissa Chappell

Waking

Light beckons—new eyes open—unhardened,
motes of light float in tremulous air.
It is my waking, and I am cresting with thanksgiving
as the Enoree crests her banks
when she is too full, too full, as joy is cresting
throughout these vining-most words, because
I—I am alive, if only a mote in the sea of 
God’s eye, even in these days of fermenting fear,
I am full of gladness.
And while fear and trembling may come with 
the coyote’s death howls,
hope never flees,
for in the morning, in the fire-green swaying
of trees, in the umbrous empty sparrow’s nest
--a jealous tomb--
Light beckons...

Melissa Chappell is a native South Carolinian. She has a BA in Music Theory and a Master of Divinity. Her latest publications are Doors Carelessly Left Ajar (Alien Buddha Press, 2020) and For the Next Earth (Wipf and Stock, publication pending). She shares her life with her family and two miniature schnauzers.
nativenoise.livehttps://www.patreon.com/nativenoise

A branch, a branch, a plum, a fig – a poem by Lorelei Bacht

A branch, a branch, a plum, a fig 
 
Intended as a counterpoint to anticipation: 
life as a narrative a thousand times reconfigured,
reconstructed. The page count an impossible 
arithmetic of days, months, years. The genre
undetermined until the midnight hour 
at the hospital or elsewhere. 
 
Afterwards, still, a grand fabrication: 
my grandmother replayed, reminisced, coloured in 
with wild imaginings - turned nearly mythical, 
the surplus of fiction having now overcome 
the obstacle of her presence, the stubborn 
denial of my claims to shape. 
 
The shape, then: overlays of lines and cycles, 
in long and slow - it all depends on the yardstick, 
which is never granted. False starts and curves 
that circle back onto themselves, the role 
of particular characters nebulous, inter-
changeable, a tangle of misappropriations. 
 
The thick of it: impossible to see the space 
between events and people, the distance
between intention and receipt. An interweave
of echoes, feedbacks, accidents of loops, 
Larsen. It would take a lifetime, another still,
yet another, to attempt to delineate its sense
 
and choose the correct title. In such
implacable circumstances, what purpose hope 
or hope for premeditation? Why favour
one partial plan, deck of imaginings 
over others, infinite in number. A branch,
a branch, a plum, a fig - all equal,
 
their value: undetermined. 

Lorelei Bacht is a European poet living in Asia with her family, which includes two young children and a lot of chaos. Her current work is primarily concerned with motherhood, marriage, and aging as a woman. This year, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in such publications as OpenDoor Poetry Magazine, Litehouse, Global Poemic, Visual Verse, Visitant and Quail Bell. She can be found on instagram: @lorelei.bacht.writer

Little Victories – a poem by Dan Campion

Little Victories
 
Invidious comparison is all
that makes a little victory small. Don’t make
me laugh, you’re bound to counter. Small is small.
To which I’ll say: But you’re forgetting Blake.
You know, his universal grain of sand,
his endless hour. He knew, you’ll say, for us
to see the spirit flea, it must expand.
A tiny ghost would look ridiculous.
Then I’d insist a victory’s not a flea,
and naturally our talk would fall apart;
but you’d applaud me on my victory.
The sound of one hand clapping is grand art.
Once more I’ve pierced the needle with a thread
I moistened with a lick mere fancy bred.

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.

Lights Out – a poem by Reagan Upshaw

Lights Out
 
 
The float engages as the toilet’s tank
is filled.  The sound of running water dies.
All noise of human bustle gone, the house
relaxes into weary creaks and sighs.
 
The trees outside are silent, with no wind
stirring their leaves.  A sparrow in its nest,
I settle into sleep beneath the distant
rumble of a red-eye heading west.
 
The smoke detector’s indicator light
winks faintly overhead, its tiny sun
the only glow except the bedside clock
displaying unwatched minutes one by one.
 
My breathing scarcely stirs the coverlet.
With no external sound distracting me,
I listen to my nervous system play
its steady note – F above middle C.
 
O let my end be gentle as this night
as silent and enfolding.  No more dawn -- 
let darkness rock me in its arms until
my heartbeat slows, then stutters, then is gone.


Reagan Upshaw lives in a town on the Hudson River 60 miles north of New York City and makes a living as an art appraiser, while gardening and keeping bees.

Stained Glass – a poem by Elizabeth L. Merrick

Stained Glass
 
Brightening sky ignites
the cross, sheds jeweled light  
on suffering skin and bone
in this dank church.  
Light pours upon 
our humble heads,
cobalt, blood
red, deep orange of a dying day,
or new day. Trapped
inside our dark
separate spaces
we merely stand and blink,
craving more than sunshine.

Elizabeth L. Merrick lives with her husband in Somerville, Massachusetts. Her poetry has appeared in journals including Green Hills Literary Lantern, Muddy River Poetry Review, and Front Porch Review.  She has also authored publications in the field of mental health and addiction research, as well as a guidebook on Boston’s historic house museums.

Namaste – a poem by Nancy Knowles

Namaste
            for Carly Sachs
 
In my heart, there is a tree 
called Chora, and when I visit 
my heart--so rarely--the tree 
stands up, unfurling her 
branches like long whips 
and the leaves rustling 
open. I have to lean away 
at first because she is massive 
and tall, but then I come in 
under her branches. She is rooted 
in the earth’s molten core. 
Her branches go everywhere, 
connect to everything, caress 
the sky. I feel shame 
in denying her, not even knocking 
at the door of my heart to see 
if she is home. No one can take her
lightly, and I have not had time 
to be serious. When I gave 
birth to my daughter, my hips 
clenched like a fist, and in the necessity 
of life, my whole body 
has been clenched. But that 
is Chora, too, the strength 
of the hour again and again 
and always. Now, I want 
to unclench, to rebalance, to welcome
the strong inner self it takes
bravery to recognize,
dedicated not to daily cares 
but to the distance, that reaches 
happiness and into and beyond death. 

 

Nancy Knowles teaches English and Writing at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, OR. Her ghazal “Be Still” earned an honorable mention in the Oregon Poetry Association’s 2019 Spring Contest. She has published poetry in ToyonEastern Oregon Anthology: A Sense of PlaceTorches n’ Pitchforks; War, Literature, & the ArtsOregon East; and Willawaw Journal. Her poem “Sixth-Grade Homework” is available at  http://wlajournal.com/wlaarchive/29/knowles.pdf and “The Only Eternal” at http://willawawjournal.com/category/journal/willawaw-journal-winter-2018-issue-5/page/5/

On the Brink of Tomorrow – a poem by M.J. Iuppa

On the Brink of Tomorrow
                                        Howden Pond, Hamlin NY
 
Leaning on my cherry-switch walking stick, looking
beyond yellow reeds and pearly everlastings, the pond’s
 
depth has shrunk, revealing its puckered banks where
belly tracks of beavers have worn a path to their estate
 
of young poplars that satisfy their hunger, reducing 
trunks to pointed stakes; and at the water’s edge,
 
floating among the reeds, a few stripped branches
wait to be towed to the old den’s interior. Yet today,
 
construction isn’t anything more than the wind’s 
ruffling of yellow leaves and the pond’s inky surface.
 
I am not a reflection here— not a striking shadow,
ready to prove this morning’s geometry— only
 
a set of eyes, wanting to travel without leaving
home— wanting to be standing here, tomorrow.

M.J. Iuppa’s fourth poetry collection is This Thirst (Kelsay Books, 2017). For the past 32 years, she has lived on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. Check out her blog: mjiuppa.blogspot.com for her musings on writing, sustainability & life’s stew.

Backyard High Wire Act – a poem by Linda Vigen Phillips

Backyard High Wire Act
 
Ringling Brothers flying trapeze,
Circe de Soleil,
a granddaughter showing off gymnastic feats—
all rhythms of life captured between held breaths.
 
A performance this morning
outside my kitchen window
gave me pause: 
bare, slender branches,
black, spindly outlines backed by
December dawn light
immersed in blue violet.
 
First one squirrel
racing with abandon
up the tallest maple, past the nest
distinguishable in silhouette
against the burgeoning sky, and soon
another close behind, and a third
following the leader in agile leaps
from fragile limb to limb, death-defying
connections mysteriously maneuvered
in spite of bobbing, bushy-tail weight.
 
Once on a tour a guard shouted "silencio"
nudging us on like cattle 
in the overcrowded Sistine Chapel
where I craned my neck
hungry to see a spark, 
to imagine the electric air
Michelangelo left there
between God's finger and Adam's.  
 
Now, as the day quickens and long after
the squirrels disperse, 
gossamer limbs dance in the breeze,
maple twigs reach to oak
and somewhere, a sacred
synaptic transaction. 
 

Linda Vigen Phillips‘ poems have appeared in The Texas Review, The California Quarterly, NC Poetry Society Award Winning Poems 2001, Wellspring, Main Street Rag, Independence Boulevard, and Windhover.  She has two published YA novels in verse, Crazy and Behind These Hands. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband.