Rachel – a poem by Julie L. Moore

Rachel
A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more. ~Matthew 2:18


My cries climb out of my grave
like Abel’s blood shouted from the ground.  
My sons are no more, their innocent skin 
 
pierced by soldiers’ swords, their hearts 
run through by Herod. I will not 
be silenced. There is no grief like mine. 
 
I was a shepherd once. 
I know what it’s like to keep watch,
to chase after one who wanders astray, 
 
lift it from a ravine while all my muscles
scream. I wanted to save them all.
I know my flock’s thirst, how the arid heat 
 
thickens on the tongue and strips 
air from the lungs. In a moment like that, 
I met my beloved. He rolled the stone away
 
from the mouth of the well. He kissed me 
and I wept the first of many times. 
You know how the story goes.
 
I sobbed again when my scions passed 
my tomb on the road to Babylon. 
Do not wipe my tears away now.
 
Let them come violent as a peg
driving through an enemy’s head.  
Let them keen over YHWH’s fierce will,
 
for I cannot raise the dead. 
My own bones merge with earth.
This otherworldly bosom cages me in. 
 
I am every mother in Bethlehem
who knows what these men don’t. 
Hear me howl. 

A Best of the Net and six-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Julie L. Moore is the author of four poetry collections, including, most recently, Full Worm Moon, which won a 2018 Woodrow Hall Top Shelf Award and received honorable mention for the Conference on Christianity and Literature’s 2018 Book of the Year Award. She has also had poetry appear in African American ReviewAlaska Quarterly Review, Image, New Ohio Review, Prairie Schooner, and The Southern Review. Moore is the Writing Center Director at Taylor University in Indiana, where she is the poetry editor for Relief Journal. Learn more about her work at julielmoore.com.

Do we have guardian angels? – a poem by Halim Madi

Do we have guardian angels?

Michael is 83, half Caucasian, half Native American. “There’s graffiti in Zion” he says. “There was never graffiti in Zion”. And he pronounces never ne-VE-r the way you’d imagine a teenage girl would. He explains how it took Americans a single summer to wreck the national park. 3 months during which European and Asian tourists couldn’t visit, given the pandemic. America left to its people. Zion unguarded. “Jesus loves you” scratched onto the Zion Canyon Narrows walls.

As a teen, I went to Jesuit school. Was taught to turn the other cheek. Kiss the toes of my enemies. Love their gentle crimes. A paper cut. A gun. Shoot people but with love in your heart. I let my pencils blister my middle finger as jesus – one word, all lowercase – broke into my life. The lord our father my first idea of success, a tap on the shoulder loud like a millennium, his palm on my skullcap places a white zucchetto, his lips against my earlobe whisper my mission: Redeem the world with the gums of your mouth. And I sink in grace like a small animal falling in a trap.

Like jesus, my dad died at 33. And I wake up the morning of my 32nd birthday, pinch the fat inside my bloated belly, squeeze the marbles away from my navel, onto the yoga mat, facing the sunrise, my nostrils gulping the smell of nearby basil. The young man volunteering at the experimental co-living city we’re Airbnb-ing at films the garden plants. As my triceps turn me into the prophetic cobra, I hope the camera captures this pose too. “The money shot” I think.

But all we do is hope is comb the dreading knots out of our hair, drive the ghosts of time away, shush them to the door so the downstairs neighbor doesn’t leave a note tomorrow. But all we do is laundry is witness the drying electric softness of white towels the promise of happiness, cleanliness the possibility of an island. But all these dishes, smooth and glossy clear ceramic, a silent cry for help. Help. I have lined the chapters of my life like the white pickets of a fence, I have ingested Optimism, my daily bread, my prized oppressor. But I have seen rosemary grow in the folds of the foreheads of the Mount Rushmore presidents – one word, all lowercase. And this was never meant to save the world.


Halim Madi is a queer Lebanese poet with work published in Quiet Lightening, The Racket and Lunate. The author of “Flight of the Jaguar” and “In the Name of Scandal”, they write about queerness, plants that make you see colors and the immigrant experience. He currently lives in San Francisco. You can find more of his work on www.halimmadi.com.

Mootness – a poem by Sanjeev Sethi

Mootness
 
Apotheosis is one thing: 
preferences tracked 
may be of another ilk. 
Scapegoatism is the province 
of successful communicators 
not those in throes 
of an interior monologue. 
 
I see myself in a supernumerary role 
in the film of my fantasy. 
In meatspace 
I’m the protagonist 
and antagonist. 
When vocabulary fails 
whillikers fill in. 
 
During agon 
His frame lights me up.

Sanjeev Sethi is published in over thirty countries. His poems have found a home in more than 350 journals or online literary venues. Recent credits: Kairos Literary Magazine, NOON | journal of the short poem, The Big Windows Review, Life and Legends, Pomona Valley Review, Dreich Magazine, and elsewhere. He lives in Mumbai, India.

Momentary Light – a poem by Tim Dwyer

MOMENTARY LIGHT                                                                           
Stamford
 
Nearing sixty years,
as afternoon light
shines through the alleys
of the city buildings,
I cheer the ten-year-old boy
who races the bus 
to the corner of Hope Street
and wins.
 
 

Tim Dwyer’s chapbook is entitled Smithy Of Our Longings (Lapwing). His poems have recently appeared in Cyphers and the anthology of the Irish Poetry Chair, Hold Open The Door, and forthcoming in Atrium. He recently moved from the United States and now lives in Bangor, Northern Ireland.

Unbroken – a poem by Melissa Chappell

Unbroken
after “Dark Night” by St. John of the Cross
 
My love is caged by zeal,
a woman-warrior whose passions 
steal the vigor of men.
Yet my love is a tender thing,
a blossom of little note,
hidden beneath the rocky crag,
her hand easily bruised,
the “Hallelujah” shattered
a thousand times--
too many for her to be uncaged
into seduction’s wilderness.
Yet she seeks the face of her Beloved,
the one who will not bruise her heel.
By night she flees the walls of wire
to find her Beloved.
O Love! O magnum mysterium!
His light has guided her 
to this place.
Its flame burns, a guide deep in her breast,
as does a fire burn brightly 
on the hearthstone.
He is there in the meadow,
sleeping among the lavender,
the lavender so fair.
Beneath the fanning cypress they lay,
where she bore the wound of grace,
and the once shattered Hallelujah 
escaped her lips,
unbidden,
unbroken.

Melissa Chappell is a native South Carolinian who, along with her affinity for writing, also loves music. She plays the piano, the lute, the guitar, and is a classically trained vocalist. She is a contralto who has performed in numerous choirs. Her latest book is Doors Carelessly Left Ajar, published by Alien Buddha Press, 2020. 

As Close as a Call – a poem by Judy DeCroce

As Close as a Call
 
I, on this side,
watch a calendar change,
remembering your leaving,
and keep hope for an answer.
 
Where are you?
 
You were always close as a call—
from another room or on the phone.
 
Who do you appear to when I call?
Are you telling stories 
in that place of no pain?
 
Understand…
life is different on this side—
angst and worry.
 
You are in the short place—simple.
 
When will you come easing through
with softened voice?
 
There are times I send for your memory…
with no answer at all.
 
Is it wrong to 
force you into my dreams?
 
(There is much I wonder about.)
 
So, I’ll stand here, 
patiently leaning against sleep
and wait for you to turn the corner.
 

Judy DeCroce is an internationally published poet, flash fiction writer, educator, and avid reader whose recent works have been published by The BeZine, Brown Bag Online, North of Oxford, The Poet Magazine, Amethyst Review, The Wild Word, OPEN:Journal of Arts & Letters, and many journals and anthologies. As a professional storyteller and teacher of that genre, she also offers, workshops for all ages in flash fiction. 
Judy lives and works in upstate New York with her husband poet/artist, Antoni Ooto.

Temple – a poem by Barbara Parchim

Temple
 
The last word he said was “temple”
it was startling because the word was so clear
and he hadn’t spoken in days – 
I wondered what temple?
Shinto?  Buddhist?  Mayan?
 
This word, from my father, who lived his last years
in the sordid squalor of a chronic hoarder – 
new clothes stacked in piles on the floor
still in their plastic wrappers
“but you never know when you might need them”
and 15 years' worth of unopened junk mail
in heaps that spilled over every surface
mixed in amongst the “important stuff”,
and a narrow path to the bathroom
between towers of unopened CDs and DVDs
and books piled on half of the bed
because “who needs a whole bed to sleep, anyway?”
 
I wanted to say “what temple?”
but I would have had to shout
and disrupt the night quiet of the nursing home 
because the hearing aids that didn’t work
had been taken out weeks ago
and I didn’t want to wake him from this sleep
just hours from death
his breathing already so shallow
 
he’d been dreaming a lot lately
and I marveled that this last dream
was something so simple,
wondered if the temple brought solace – 
I wanted to see it with him
some last thing we could share together
and wonder at or joke about
because we had talked about sending some signal
to prove there was something on the other side,
was this it?
except he wasn’t on the other side yet,
so, I just held his hand, closed my eyes
and imagined the singing of the quetzals
at some Mayan ruin
and waited

Barbara Parchim lives on a small farm in southwest Oregon.  Retired from social work, she volunteered for several years at a wildlife rehabilitation facility.   She enjoys gardening and wilderness hiking.   Her poems have appeared (or are forthcoming) in Ariel Chart, Isacoustic, the Jefferson Journal, Turtle Island Quarterly, Windfall and Trouvaille Review.   Her first chapbook has been selected by Flowstone Press to appear in 2021.

Dust to Dust – a poem by Sheila Wellehan

Dust to Dust
 
 
A tiny brown feather clings to my window.
It belonged to a barred owl
who flew into the glass two years ago.
I heard such a loud smash, 
I expected broken glass and a tree limb,
not feathers
and a dead bird in my yard.
 
The ghost owl thrived
on my window for three seasons –
a perfect white imprint of plumage, wings, and beak
conjured by the bird’s feather dust.
The image was startling in its detail and precision.
It kept me safe – my own sacred
Jesus in Veronica’s cloth.
 
As the ghost faded, 
its protective powers failed me.
Those I loved the most died or disappeared.
Then a storm drowned
what remained of my ghost owl – 
every hint of avian anatomy vanished.
Just one feather was spared.
 
Now every morning, I check the window
for that tiny brown feather.
I fear what will happen when it finally falls.

Sheila Wellehan‘s poetry is featured in Psaltery & LyreRust + MothThimble Literary MagazineTinderbox Poetry Journal, and many other journals and anthologies. She lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Visit her online at www.sheilawellehan.com .

Pure White Tints – a poem by Susie Gharib

Pure White Tints
 
The taper that towers above my sorrows,
illuminating the essence of grief,
has bled its tears of opal,
recasting a string of beads
on which my lips would breathe
its fragrant creed.
 
The pew that had cherished my hymn-book
has been languishing for my weight.
A dialogue with an inscrutable power
has estranged me from our ancient seat
for I could not prevaricate,
or even explicate
my notions without stirring up an upheaval of debate.
 
I dip my bread in milk
and contemplate in my bowl
the New Jerusalem the Book of Revelation depicts
in pure white tints.

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

Vanillaesque Enunciation – a poem by Fatima Ijaz

Vanillaesque Enunciation

Some strange city is in the Passing,
melted white flowers, like candle wax,
leave their trails on the vanilla scent.

I’ll begin somewhere here, Grand-dad.
You were a pirate in those days,
I used to read songs backwards,
you gave up on palm-trees,
the shadows drifted elsewhere.

I counted home towards you
backward and forward, Grand-dad.
Sifting through sips of water
your words – the brightest rubies
lost in those November streets of red wine.

I was a lost child, family
spelt me backward, I, born
to run, faltered –
missed that fatal heart-race.
Got delivered back home to the primal trauma
of your absence.

Now we are almost two different birds, Grand-dad
you, a seeming, me

a passing.
You, a dreamer,
I, the dreamt.

How was I to know
you were dead.
Really, Grand-dad

I paused for infinite seconds –
and something of that pause has rubbed
itself against my cheeks,

white-washed the city walls
of your silence, my
retreats.

I ran to the golden bridge, I
came back empty-handed.

The soul on my back,
an imprint of your missing eyes,
your missing hands.

Grand-dad,
the subterranean
sea is pedaling
towards shells,

and your memories here, are
non-existent.

Non-existent in that pile of
scents at my door.

I walk home like
an eagle without its
brightest black feather.
You are not there, as usual.

The highest falls make
the sturdiest athletes.

She risks herself at the heights,
That jumper towards the nocturnal,
autumnal, wintry twilights.

Grandfather, I have become a blue star
absent in your Absence
rich and fertile,
I have reached the heights.

I kept the horizon breaking, ready to sink in
a little more, into those blue-black Beyazid nights.

Thinking, perhaps --

perhaps Grand-dad, you lived in those long ago,
And it is your scent after all, that has awakened me.

Fatima Ijaz is based in Karachi, Pakistan and teaches English Composition and Speech Communication at IBA. She is a contributing editor at a literary publication – Pandemonium Journal. She graduated in English from Hartwick College, NY and York University, TO. She holds an MA in English Linguistics from Eastern Michigan University, MI. She won first prize at the Mclaughlin Poetry Contest in Toronto (2007). She has participated in poetry and art collaborations which were featured at Music Mela 2019, Art Baithak 2019 and Taseer Art Gallery 2020. Her poetry and prose have been published in or are forthcoming in isacoustic, New Asian Writing, Kitaab, Rigorous, Zau, Praxis, The Write Launch, Red Fez, Whirlwind, Naya Daur, Poetica Review, Aerogramme, Bombay Review and Aleph Review amongst others.
Website: Fatimaijazz.wordpress.com

Insta: Fatima.ijaz6