Flogholeth – a poem by Helena Marie

Modrep Wenna guides blade to board, chops  
onions, sets aside tetti shredded into silos. Mesmerised  
by her elbows, I watch her firm back, hard- 
earned arms, the jeans too young for an aunt  
to wear; sewn-on patch says Country Music.  
The room is silent save the sound of knife  
on wood. Go, she says, play outside, calls  
for my cousin, who buries bodies of animals that thwart  
her care, ribs the earth with hollowed bones,  
beneath the skyward steep back garden. We leave  
the quiet behind, shield our pale faces from  
summer, climb steps, always steps – 94 to lane from dreksel – 
until the ceaseless crickets fill the air. Here our socks  
are swallowed by grass, skirts hemmed in wild flowers. The world  
is high now, level with the Downs and Chapel Ground. Beneath  
us neighbourly ships and ferries smack against the quay, the mordros  
silenced. I follow her clever finger across Fore Street, stepped  
terraces and lanes, houses thrown down like brewyon left  
for gulls. See over there? Our gorhengeugh built those nans yw pell.  
Stolid, proud, crowning the hill’s prow, a mariner’s homestead,  
hugged by cottages on each side. For his myrghes, she says,  
though I’m sure I hadn’t asked. Behind us, the sun drips  
to the island’s morrep where our parents’ cousins  
courted, took borrowed boats across the porth. Past  
the seven-spanned bridge, train tracks are shadowed, leading  
nowhere now. Above, the arch our hendas – a boy who once  
pilfered apples – dared to dance across, placed his faith 
in hobnail boots. I am unaware of this yet; I know it drekkli,  
when I’m grown. For now, it’s nearly teatime. We turn, our ancestors  
around us, voices caught in sails and nets, singing off  
the whaling house, and kerdhes the field back home. 

Helena Marie is drawn to loss, place and the beauty of the everyday. She is of part-Cornish descent and lives in Berkshire, UK. Currently studying for a Masters in Creative Writing, her work as found homes in several anthologies and online. 

Glossary of Cornish words: Flogholeth: childhood / Modrep: Aunt/Auntie / Wenna: old Cornish girl‘s name / tetti: potato / dreksel: doorway or threshold / mordros: the sound of the sea / gorhengeugh: great, great, great grandfather / nans yw pell: a long time ago / brewyon: crumbs / myrghes: daughters / morrep: beach or shore / porth: harbour /hendas: grandfather or ancestor / drekkli: later (an unspecified amount of time) / kerdhes: walk. 

Moving Day – a poem by Allison Xu

Moving Day 

the pickup truck rumbles away with the last few 
        moving boxes. the room is a bare island 
depleted of vegetation of memories. a freezing 
     emptiness hefts itself off its hinges and licks 
your skin. silence blends with soft sunlight easing  
     through the curtainless windows. you scan 
the room one more time, tears teetering
     on the edge of your eyelashes.  
in a forgotten corner of a windowsill, you spot 
     the tiny jar of layered sand with glimmers 
of color. it reminds you of the ocean that used to live 
      in you. its waves fizz into your fingertips and crash 
with your thumping heartbeats. you tuck the jar 
     into your canvas bag emblazoned with “courage” 
and make the last farewell, your steps 
      joining the hum of the road.

Allison Xu is a young writer from Rockville, Maryland. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Blue Marble Review, Unbroken, Paper Lanterns, The Daphne Review, Bourgeon Magazine, and elsewhere. She is currently serving as a senior editor for Polyphony Lit. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, baking, and playing with her beagle.  

To See the Shining Here – a poem by Brian Palmer

To See the Shining Here

I see their shining auras wild
In yellow fields where snow had been,
New flower heads on tender stems,
All moving in the sun and wind
Just after rain from ground that seems 
Infertile on this rocky stretch,
The rising belly of the West.

Yet I have heard that from thin air 
The earth was formed and tilled at dawn,
Its fields sown with what beauty is;
The yield desired is not absent—
Time and wind and heaving earth
Can make deserted places bloom
That we might see the shining here.

Brian Palmer is intrigued with and often writes about the vital and undeniable intersections of our physical, mental, and spiritual lives. His poetry has appeared in various journals including Expansive Poetry Online, BristleconeThe Society of Classical Poets, and The Lyric.

Markers on the Trees – a reflection by Miriam Riad

Markers on the Trees

My fingers floated just above the keyboard, ready to prove myself. Waiting with anticipation for brilliance to tumble out of my words. This is how I used to write: looking always to prove my creativity, my way-with-words, the worth of my thoughts. I wrote looking for the most impressive language, clever metaphors, hoping to stumble onto truth no one had yet uncovered—and I would be the one to gift it to the world. 

These days, writing is much simpler and somehow still just as difficult. Somehow more demanding. I’m not sure what I’m looking for when I write, most times. Now, it mostly feels like trying to remember important things and people and places and times. It feels like walking in circles around honesty and contradiction and then falling into both, tired of resisting. Sometimes I find myself writing only to savor the round-as-apples cheeks of my baby niece. The pressure to prove myself in some way—that I am a deep thinker, some mystical creative being—lurks in the background, watching.

Lately, my need to remember what is good and real has begun to outweigh my need to demonstrate the depth of my mind or how original I can be. Originality is not keeping me together. Philosophical takes don’t ground me anymore. It’s the moments with my green-eyed niece. It’s the backyard reunion with friends I’ve known since before I could walk, holding each other’s babies, sitting around a table full of crunchy fruity summer salad and grilled chicken and corn and paper bowls piled high with three kinds of ice cream. Staying up late even though we are all yawning and sleepy because we can’t get enough of each other. 

This is what I’m trying to remember, when I write. I’m still reaching. Not for brilliance or ingenuity. I no longer sit around, waiting for inspiration to sweep me off my feet. I don’t have time, in a world like ours, to wait for such lofty moments. I need what’s real; the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. I reach for the palm-full of herbs that bless my senses. The slurp of a ripe watermelon in July. I’m trying to just sit and rest awhile, inside these words. Here is renewal. 

I reach for the days I realized I was not alone—when my friend dropped everything she was doing because I wasn’t doing well, drove with me to the grocery store. She filled a cart with everything good for you and wouldn’t let me pay a cent. When I laughed so hard with my mom about something ridiculous I did at the doctor’s office that tears streamed down our faces, and the time my dad and I tried to rewire the house on our own and failed epically, but had the time of our lives. These memories are my trail through the woods, my markers on the trees—reflecting light when I can’t see my own hand in front of me because it’s so dark, reminding me where I’ve been, what is real. Here is my pathway to honesty. Here is hope for this weary imagination. 

Miriam Riad is a public school teacher, writer, and former book editor. She has been published in Ekstasis Magazine, Ruminate Magazine, and elsewhere. She is the author of 28 by 29: A Year of Writing, a short collection of essays and poetry.

The Plunge – a poem by Sam Ligeti

The Plunge

Sink into the unsaid
Because sometimes
The words ready
On your tongue
Are too easy.

Swim through your mind
Beneath the sparkling surface—
Wade past the frothy shoreline,
That bubbling, meatless foam,
And take the plunge.

Where whale songs once echoed,
Where anchors disintegrate slowly.

The sound of nothing
Can be so full
And exquisite.

Why do we forget?

The clearest of fish glisten
Like the glass you keep your heart in,

Shielded from what’s really here,
So heavy and unknowable. 

But if you trust yourself enough
To let go
And spend time
In this deep space,
The relief comes
Like a touch of piano keys
Transmitted through 
Still ocean,

Like sunlight filtering through
Pounds and pounds of
Water turned weightless.

Find your voice
In sanctified silence
And float upwards
Towards an eggshell sky,
Breaking open
Like a poem
Falling into a wind-swept page,
Writer huddled onshore and squinting
Into ocean spray and trick of light,
A mermaid rising above the rocks.

Sam Ligeti (She/Her) has always known that she’s a writer, but is only just starting to believe it. Connect with her on Instagram: @samligeti, or at www.samligeti.com.

wanting – a poem by Melanie Green

yeah you want calm
sit still    nubbly peace encampment
‘round the campfire
       minaret and mint tea,
to heed the call,
   before   original green,
moss, fern, tree.
and yeah    you want
pogo stick
and downhill ski,
cowboy boot   swagger shimmy
sassafras root,
           and motorcycle throttle
you be   the wanting?
or you be
    the field
where wanting
say   hello
   say goodbye
the redeliver
   come    and go.

Melanie Green‘s most recent poetry collection, A Long, Wide Stretch of Calm was published by The Poetry Box of Beaverton, Oregon. The titles of her earlier collections are: Continuing Bridge and Determining Sky. She is a resident of Portland, Oregon. 

A Dartmoor Cross – a poem by Tony Lucas

A Dartmoor Cross

Knee-deep in wild flowers 
and fresh bracken, twisted
as if the weather of twelve 
centuries could finally 
warp granite - the stone cross 

leans on its high hillside,
but will not fall, socketed 
by four mossed boulders 
sunk in deep, locked with 
conviction of significance. 

Did they come here to pray
stand in the sun or rain
in view of forty other hills
ranged out like ripples
from this one dropped stone?

The valley folds round those who
sing their matins wondering 
who’ll repair the leaking roof.  
Here, scabbed with old lichen 
arms cut back to stumps -

a tree-stump petrified -
this elemental sign may 
stand for centuries yet.
witness both of change 
and changelessness.

Tony Lucas is retired from parish ministry but continues work of editing and spiritual direction.  His poetry has appeared widely, on both sides of the Atlantic, and past collections Rufus At Ocean Beach (Stride/Carmelyon) and Unsettled Accounts (Stairwell Books) remain available.

Carer Complex – a poem by David Hanlon

Carer Complex
Sometimes I want my existence
to have no impact,
but my bedroom door creak-squeaks
every time I open it.
How much support is right?
Is enough?
Is never enough?
The sun does not discriminate
in its light-giving,
yet some of us can’t receive it;
& every day the withering flat fills
with cigarette smoke
as the sun blazes outside.
How much of an open window can I be
to air it out for you to breathe?
Is the trick of this life
to hold the black tar of it
in cupped hands and shout “Sticky!”
with full-throated welcome?
Ironically, I’m stuck
pretending my hands are still smooth
as it thickens,
now pooling at my feet.
How long
before my knees are muddied too?

David Hanlon is a Welsh poet living in Cardiff. He is a Best of the Net nominee. You can find his work online in over 50 magazines, including Rust & Moth, Icefloe Press & Amethyst Review His first chapbook Spectrum of Flight is available for purchase now at Animal Heart Press. You can follow him on twitter @davidhanlon13 and Instagram @welshpoetd

Nachshon, Who Led the Way – a poem by Jacqueline Jules

Nachshon, Who Led the Way

Trapped between the Red Sea
and Pharaoh’s army
Nachshon listened while others
bickered over who would go first. 

He watched Moses cry and pray.

Then he stepped into the water. 

I close my eyes 
and imagine Nachshon,
moving forward with faith, despite
being drenched to the chin.

Did he know the sea would split
before it covered his head?

That Adonai would admonish Moses
for offering prayer when action was needed?

When my moment on the shore has passed,
will it be said I stepped into the water 
instead of standing back, waiting
for someone else to go first?

Jacqueline Jules is the author of Manna in the Morning (Kelsay Books, 2021) and Itzhak Perlman’s Broken String, winner of the 2016 Helen Kay Chapbook Prize from Evening Street Press. Her poetry has appeared in over 100 publications including Amethyst ReviewThe Sunlight Press, Gyroscope Review, and One Art. Visit  www.jacquelinejules.com

The Gardener – a poem by Mary Durocher

The Gardener

Her name was Rose. She sewed dresses for the girls
who stepped up to the altar and made their First Communion.
My mother scorned the gaudy options in the shopping mall,
she swore to me I wouldn’t be a little bride. So, one Sunday,
she tapped on Rose’s shoulder and asked for a favor.
I was obliged to one fitting. She offered a plate of Pizzelles
as my mother tried church gossip. Rose’s father sat mum,
hunched in his La-Z-Boy armchair. Before we left,
he broke his silence and offered a tour of the garden.
An oasis grew out of a city plot’s malnourished soil.
He gifted us bunches of lettuce, handfuls of zucchini, 
and pints of cherry tomatoes. I didn’t want to go.
My communion dress ended up plain and dove white
against a mirage of cream-colored ruffles and frills.
Weeks after, my mother told me the old man was dead. 
Rose had risen from her sewing machine and found
her father in the garden. His cheek was pressed to the earth,
his fingernails were full of dirt and his blue eyes rolled back.
The pear trees and grapevines slumped in grief. I was a child,
but I too wanted to lay down on the earth, reaching out
for fresh seedlings as my soul was let loose.

Mary Durocher is a poet from Schenectady, New York. She also writes fiction, non-fiction, and cultural criticism. She’s a graduate of Marymount Manhattan College, where she studied English & World Literature and Creative Writing. Her work has recently appeared in The Carson ReviewLaid Off NYC, and KGB Bar Lit. She lives in Queens, New York.