Bifocal – a poem by Ralph La Rosa

Bifocal
 
When fresh and clear,
his lenses missed
little, near
or far, and focused
in his youthful days
on friends who would
behave in ways
he saw were good.
But those more distant,
who seemed so raw,
looked more content.
With age, he saw
both near and far
are what we are.

Ralph La Rosa, retired from professing American Literature, has published critical prose on major American writers and has also placed fiction, poetry, and film scripts. These days, he mostly writes poetry, appearing widely on the Internet, in print journals, and in the chapbook Sonnet Stanzas and the full-length collections Ghost Treesand My Miscellaneous Muse: Poem Pastiches & Whimsical Words.

About Nothing – a poem by Carolyn Martin

About Nothing


This morning nothing’s on my mind but feeding
backyard birds and tracking the light frost lounging
on the neighbors’ roofs. The sun is on tour  
through Douglas firs and I’m curious about melting time. 

Then it occurred I should pencil in slogging 
through the grass to chide the moss winter didn’t kill
and praise bleeding hearts’ return. And what a mistake
to miss the star magnolia tree. Its pussy willows
bloom before they turn to leaves.

I should contemplate the confused cactus 
in the family room announcing Christmas
in early spring. Followed by closets needing breathing space
and bookshelves begging for relief from never-reads.
Of course, I could catalog every wall
and re-evaluate excessive steel-cut art, 
photographs, ceramic plaques designed to motivate.
A favorite? What can you afford to live without? 

I’d love to grab a pen and explore
Buddha’s claim contentment is the greatest wealth,
but a sparrow is peeking through the sliding door.
Her hungry eyes complain I forgot 
what I woke this morning for. Nothing
isn’t nourishing, she bobs her head. Agreed.

Carolyn Martin is a lover of gardening and snorkeling, feral cats and backyard birds, writing and photography. Her poems have appeared in more than 130 journals throughout North America, Australia, and the UK. She is the poetry editor of Kosmos Quarterlyjournal for global transformation. Find out more at www.carolynmartinpoet.com.

Passionato – a poem by Bryan Edward Helton

Passionato 


when weather in eyes
		   	or word of others
begins dreary
		how glad
			    bone and breath
rebel				how blood
		how body says
					today
		today

come to a point - 		- lay the self

lengthwise & wise amid galaxies of grass

some green face     grins     shapes    remakes
the violent pulse		goes into the good

in a paradise of movement
			married to stillness

the smallest thrush
			sings
				passionato 

and weather in eyes 	clears 

leaves earth-brown	or your blue

insurgent 	burning into life

Bryan Edward Helton is a poet and fiction writer from Georgia. His work has been published or is forthcoming in South Florida Poetry Journal, Oracle Bone, and The Collidescope. He was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2019. He earns a living by driving a forklift for a logistics corporation.

Convocation – a poem by Susan Cossette

Convocation
Breck School, 2019
 
Carillon bells summon silence as sun streams
through the wood-beamed windows,
illuminating small children in fresh-pressed plaid,
sat straight in freshly oiled oak pews.
 
The altar mosaic speaks
Greek, Spanish, English, Chinese, Arabic.
 
God is love.
 
We gather in this sacred place,
each of us precious and unique,
a delicate lace cell in the ecosystem
anticipating new beginnings.
 
We are safe in traditions.
We are equal parts of the whole.
 
We know we can always start over,
to welcome the world as a child and realize
there are many paths to God, 
many names for God.
 
And infinite hopes for redemption.



Susan Cossette lives and writes in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Author of Peggy Sue Messed Up (2017), she is a two-time recipient of the University of Connecticut’s Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rust and Moth, Vita Brevis, Adelaide, Clockwise Cat, Anti-Heroin Chic, Amethyst Review, Ariel Chart, Poetica Review, Crow & Cross Keys, Loch Raven Review, and in the anthologies Tuesdays at Curley’s and After the Equinox.

On Childhood – a poem by Cole Hartin

On Childhood

To my sons, the broken beer bottle
splayed across the trail 
has the same allure as luminous sea glass.
They pick up the shards and marvel at their translucence 
as if each piece were some heavenly artifact.
They easily overlook the jagged edges 
and the malicious intent of whoever
polluted this green pathway to the sea.

I wonder at their wonder,
their (in)ability to appreciate 
what the ocean has (not)
transfigured.
Have they some wisdom that I have lost
or is it only a matter of time before 
trash loses its lustre?

The Rev. Dr. Cole Hartin is an Anglican priest serving in Saint John, New Brunswick Canada. His poetry has been published in Montreal Writes and The Nashwaak Review.

Will the afterlife be sweeter than jubilant pomegranates? – a poem by Ray Ball

Will the afterlife be sweeter than jubilant pomegranates?

            I turned
into my father’s 
            ashes—

A pillar— 
bright light
            faithlessly 
glinted off its surface.

My father could 
not abide a woman 
            who spoke 
above a whisper.

Lupine grew 
in the cracks
of what was. 

Ray Ball is a history professor, an editor at Coffin Bell and Juke Joint, and the author of Tithe of Salt (Louisiana Literature, 2019) and Lararium (Variant Lit, 2020). Her poems have been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net. She has recent work in descant, Glass, and Waccamaw.

My Zafu is Collecting Dust – a poem by Timothy Tarkelly

My Zafu is Collecting Dust

I brought a few prayers
and let them sit on the hardwood floor,
blew, lightly, tried to get the kindling to catch.

They say, “if you breathe,
your heartbeat will relax
to the proper cadence,
the rhythm of god,
her own gently paced breath.”

I don’t know if it works that way,
but I sleep easier
when I invite death, it comes,
takes my plans
to some ridiculous grave,
a cold hole where self-importance
will hopefully shrivel in peace.

I rarely make the time,
and I hope it’s a one-way street,
that there’s not a heart somewhere,
waiting for our breath
to set a calmer beat.

Timothy Tarkelly‘s work has appeared in Cauldron Anthology, Jupiter Review, Unstamatic, Rhodora Magazine, and others. His third book of poems, On Slip Rigs and Spiritual Growth, was published by OAC Books in July 2021. He is also the founder and EIC of Roaring Junior Press. When he’s not writing and publishing, he teaches in Southeast Kansas.

Psalm 1 – a poem by Cynthia R. Wallace

Psalm 1

“a tree replanted in Eden"


The ripping of
roots from 
soil, clods
clinging, stones
trembling, beetles
burying themselves
back in the earth's
fallen dirt.

The nakedness of limbs,
roots, dangling in the light,
in the open air,
in the elements. 
The rush of rainwater
against exposed bark,
tendrils damp and then
waterlogged in the
terrifying freedom. 

The shock of new-yet-
not-new place,
its almost-familiar
birdsong, its almost-
familiar soil. The 
strange freedom 
in the fresh-tilled spot,
for roots to sink down and
spread out and drink up.
The burgeoning urge to
send out new green shoots,
to bolster up the courage
to bud, to blossom, to await
the bees and sun and dew,
and to swell and flourish
into fruit.

Cynthia R. Wallace is Associate Professor of literature at St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan, where she works at the intersections of gender, race, politics, ethics, and religion in contemporary women’s writing. She has published in Geez, Relief, Bearings Online, Radical Discipleship, the Ploughshares blog,and Sojourners, as well as scholarly journals. Her book Of Women Borne: A Literary Ethics of Sufferingwas published in 2016 by Columbia University Press. 

Failed Sail – a poem by Cordelia Hanemann

Failed Sail   

You moan of your spiritual dryness.

You have polished the gunwales,
adjusted the rudder, tightened the halyards,
trimmed out new sails. You are ready
for your adventure; but, alas, no wind:
God has not shown up.

You must now, in your frustrated
prayer moment, grit it out alone,
sit, fists furled in your lap;
or, you pace the unsteady hull,
wiggle the dagger board, yank
the tiller, pivot the boom. Nothing.
You’ve been stood up by an uppity God,
putting you in your place.

Did you expect God
to light on your bow,
bluster into your sails?
Don’t you know that God IS
(always showing up), that it is 
you, who have not shown up?

Perhaps, God-who-IS is waiting 
for you to let go 
the tiller, haul up the anchor,
risk a drift with the current. 

Cordelia Hanemann is writer and artist in Raleigh, NC. She has published in  journals: Atlanta Review,  Southwestern Review, and Laurel Review; anthologies, The Poet Magazine’s Friends and FriendshipHeron Clan and Kakalakand in a chapbook. Her poems have won awards and been nominated for prizes. Recently the featured poet for Negative Capability Press and The Alexandria Quarterly, she is now working on a first novel, about her roots in Cajun Louisiana. 

With the Tenderness of the Rain Forest – a poem by Andre F. Peltier

With the Tenderness of the Rain Forest


I read the world in a glance. 
All the back-alleys, 
all the lost continents 
and secret haunts. 
Treasure trove of the Caribbean, 
buried by pirates 
distant and forgotten. 
Blackbeard’s ghost, Mary Poppins 
in the campground of yesteryear,
Main Street USA,
and I think of my future 
and God. 
Seven years old 
and my road-trip summer 
overflows with melting crayons. 
I feel the wax 
between my fingers 
and write love letters to tomorrow. 
The Carousel of Tomorrow 
spun and there was a great 
big beautiful tomorrow 
when I looked at the AAA 
roadmaps. 
And there’s a great big beautiful 
tomorrow 
when I see the atlas 
in the eyes of God,
the contours of the 
farthest reaches,
the four corners of the globe.
Strong Sahara shoulders 
upon which rest the weight 
of our weary word.
The paths of Alexander
From beautiful Asia Minor 
to the twelve altars on the Hyphasis
the deep lines on His cheeks.
From mighty Mount Whitney 
down the long grey beard.
The sailing stones of
Death Valley: each vertebra.
The joy of His laugh, 
the joy of continents: 
West Africa and Western Australia. 
His piercing stare, 
like the sheer slopes of 
the Matterhorn. 
An atlas in every breath.
Amazon heart pumping 
love and grace
from backwater swamp 
and the headwaters 
of ancient Machu Picchu. 
A watershed 
to the lifeblood of oceans.
“Cast down your bucket,” 
the captain called in the mouth 
of the mighty river.  
“Cast down your bucket where 
you are,” he repeated. 
So wide they couldn’t 
see the shore. 
So wide God’s Amazonian 
tenderness. 
So wide the carousel 
of this very moment.

Andre F. Peltier is a Lecturer III at Eastern Michigan University where teaches literature and freshman composition. He lives in Ypsilanti, MI, with his family. His poetry has appeared in or is forthcoming in numerous journals In his free time, he obsesses about soccer and comic books.
Twitter: @aandrefpeltier