Tahira – a poem by Wayne-Daniel Berard

Tahira

Allah said
“If we allow her
this pain, she will
only make poetry
out of it” and one
angel after another
answered “So?”
“Now do you see
why I created them?”
spoke the Beneficent,
the Merciful.

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Wayne-Daniel Berard, PhD, teaches Humanities at Nichols College, Dudley, MA. He publishes broadly in poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. His novella, Everything We Want, was published in 2018 by Bloodstone Press. A poetry collection, The Realm of Blessing, will be published in 2020 by Unsolicited Press.

Butterfly years – a poem by Taher Adel

Butterfly years

He said “How many years did you stay on earth?” – 23:112

A butterfly waits an entire afternoon
for another pair of wings to fly with
that’s like waiting two human years
stone still, pheromones firing
for a chance to dance

These years seem wasted
until you see
them dart and hang in symmetry
light travelling through one
ensnared by the other
like two church windows tripping
trapping enough light to stop time
until butterfly years become
a dance with eternity

They said: “We stayed a day or part of a day, ask those who account.” – 21:113

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Taher Adel is a British-Bahraini poet and spoken word artist. He is currently completing his MA in Creative Writing and Poetry at the University of East Anglia. His poetry has also been published in Ambit, SMOKE Magazine, The New European and Poetry Salzburg Review.

New View of Neptune – a poem by Jill Buckley

New View of Neptune

Here in this azure outpost
Of the once-known universe,
There will be no more crying or pain.
I wiped away my final tear
When I came down
This Neptune morning.

It is so BLUE!
Blue like the skies of midsummer,
Like the way the oceans
Should have looked on Earth.
I race like a strong, cleansing wind across the surface
Of this wondrous sphere.

Moons there are a-plenty
A multitude of beings
Could ill-meet by moonlight.

The sun is a distant dot
An inflamed sore on the face of the deep.
All is serene and languid here.
The Earth, my tragic dream, has passed.
I wish I could say good riddance…

But I am the Spirit
And now I hover
Over life-giving waters.

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Jill Buckley is a member of the Stirling – based Cowane Street Writers, a group of writers in central Scotland with a broadly Christian focus. She is also a secondary school English teacher. The above poem, which imagines a divine creator with a new project on another planet, is both theologically unsound and scientifically impossible – purely speculative!

 

A Plea – a poem by Dennis Daly

A Plea

Star-maker, master of luster,
I oppose the unprincipled
Of which this world is so peopled,
Some wicked folk prone to fester.

If deterred, they bite and pester,
The righteous first mute, then frightened,
Star-maker, master of luster.

Villains may blubber or bluster,
Unashamed, even emboldened.
Here virtue devolves, diminished.
Let discernment never be finished,
Star-maker, master of luster.

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Dennis Daly has published seven books of poetry and poetic translations. He writes reviews regularly for The Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene and on occasion for the Notre Dame Review, Ibbetson Street, Wilderness House, and the Somerville Times. He occasionally reads his poetry at various venues. Please see his blog at dennisfdaly.blogspot.com.

In the time of lockdown – a poem by Marian Christie

In the time of lockdown

Each morning she kneels on the pavement
beside the cathedral’s locked gate.
Her floral skirt is bright against the concrete.

Sunbirds glint in jacaranda trees. The air
is winter-sharp. There are no passers-by
to observe the thin slant of her shadow,

her grace in solitude, hands clasped,
head bowed, her face hidden
by the floppy contours of her hat.

On the other side of the gate Christ, nailed
to a cross, awaits death and resurrection.
The light is unforgiving. It exposes

cracks in paving stones, hardens
the edges of things, etches
beneath Christ’s wreath of thorns, His pain.

Each morning she is there on the pavement
and Christ is there on His cross.
The gate between them, locked.

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Marian Christie was born in Zimbabwe and has lived in Africa, Europe and the Middle East before settling in her current home in southeast England. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in a number of journals, including Allegro Poetry,Amethyst Review, The Beach Hut, Black Bough Poetry and The Ekphrastic Review, and in the anthologies The Stony Thursday Book 2018 and The Bridges 2020 Poetry Anthology.

When not writing or reading poetry, she looks at the stars, puzzles over the laws of physics, listens to birdsong and crochets gifts for her grandchildren. She blogs at www.marianchristiepoetry.net and can be found on Twitter: https://twitter.com/marian_v_o.

 

Wilderness – a poem by Bernard Pearson

Wilderness

Bone white, dead land,
Under the dark corona’d sun,
Where horn-tailed scorpions sand-swim
Between his feet.
The clamouring wind scowls around his head,
Then to a high table he (by his father we say)
Is led into temptation.
There the world laid out before him
Chess-board flat,
Here kings and queens genuflect
Unsteadily from beneath their gowns
But such pieces are neither
Black or white, and in this game
The squares are merely windowless cells
Where doubt squats in the corner.

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Bernard Pearson’s work  appears in many publications, including; Aesthetica Magazine , The Edinburgh Review, Crossways, Patchwork, FourxFour, The Gentian  In 2017 a selection of his poetry ‘In Free Fall’ was published by Leaf by Leaf  Press. In 2019  he won second prize in The Aurora Prize for Writing for his poem Manor Farm

The sleepy sadness of things ending – a poem by Lisa Creech Bledsoe

The sleepy sadness of things ending

Will it be a relief to evaporate
and become everything else?
to stop twisting in the dark sheets of night
wings frozen to my sides, the moon
a lemon rind filling my mouth
with the sleepy sadness of things ending

Does the river think: I will let go
my song and one day leave
the bright trout who fan my heart—
rise, give up rivering and become
instead the hard sparks of stars

What struggle to shake the clay
from the new liturgy of our being:
……..the flight path of a hawk moth
……..winter trees cracking like gunshots—
you and I not even adding up
to a single violet, a secret
keeping itself, the business of eons
wishing to be nothing else

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Watched by crows and friend to salamanders, Lisa Creech Bledsoe is a writer living in the mountains of North Carolina. She has two books, “Appalachian Ground” (2019) and “Wolf Laundry” (2020) out, and new poems in American Writers Review, The Main Street Rag, and Jam & Sand, among others.

The Cosmos in My Coffee – a poem by T. S. Davis

The Cosmos in My Coffee

I cradle my coffee cup in the nest of my hands
and stare at spiraling drops of curdling cream
like tiny galaxies of stars that demand
their own universe, or so it seems.
Or so it seems, but only to the mind that’s me.
No one else spies the cosmos in my daily rituals.
In fact, most people look, but never see.
Like the difference between religious, and spiritual.
I don’t mean to say I’m more evolved or smart.
The reverse is true: if anything, I’m dense.
In the race for money, career, or fame, I’m a slow start.
The virtue of staring out a window – my only defense.
But when tiny flames of words flicker on my tongue,
I swallow the waxing moon to sing what’s never been sung.

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T. S. Davis is author of Sun + Moon Rendezvous and former producer of the Seattle Poetry Slam. His  poems, essays, and nonfiction have appeared in Rattle, The Lyric, Bellingham Review, 14 X 14, Blue Collar Review, Henhouse, and Point No Point, among others. Mr. Davis is a retired Registered Nurse who lives in rural Arizona and writes Shakespearian sonnets.

 

Whaler’s Journal: Christina – a poem by Kyle Laws

Whaler’s Journal: Christina

Christina & I would meet
in a whaler’s shack after the season.
She would walk up from Cape May Town
gathering shells & carvings of bone,
her carryall full with the leavings of tide
that she took home & hung from walls
as though she was determined
to live under the surface of sea.

She would stand in the doorway,
the mid-afternoon sun illuminating
her outline, as if she knew
how she looked with the sun
dancing around her,
then heave her carryall
up on the old table,
slide out of her cape,
take out shells & polished stones
& broken pieces of harpoon,
place them on the perimeter
of the scarred table
& lie down among the debris,
her fingers curved
around a conch shell
she always held to her ear.

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Kyle Laws is based out of Steel City Art Works in Pueblo, CO where she directs Line/Circle: Women Poets in Performance. Her collections include Ride the Pink Horse (Stubborn Mule Press, 2019), Faces of Fishing Creek (Middle Creek Publishing, 2018), This Town: Poems of Correspondence with Jared Smith (Liquid Light Press, 2017), So Bright to Blind (Five Oaks Press, 2015), and Wildwood (Lummox Press, 2014). With eight nominations for a Pushcart Prize, her poems and essays have appeared in magazines and anthologies in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Germany. She is editor and publisher of Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press.

Garden – a story by Wayne-Daniel Berard

Garden

It wasn’t much of a house, really. More like a country cottage, but not in the country. Or exactly the suburbs either. One of those locales that’s almost one but not quite the other. A bit disappointing, to be honest. Especially for the great Abramovich.

We’d been invited for shabbat dinner, the first since pesach. A group of us, four or five. I was the wife of his publisher. Or ex-wife. Quite awhile now. I was surprised by the invitation. I didn’t really know the others. Some older, some younger. Colleagues? Not peers, surely, not by the set of their eyes. (Did Abramovich have peers?) And students? Most probably. By the setlessness of their eyes. Taking in everything. Radars made of sponge.

Not that there was much to take in. The house was distinctively ordinary, even a little shabby. White shingles, looked like they’d been installed by the WPA. White dormers on each side, like the place was squat with its elbows out. A covered porch hugged round its middle, its top sloping like a washed-out poster of a Tolkien roofscape. Almost rickety outdoor stairs leading God knew where.

Inside was better. Again, lots of white. Woodwork. Hutch. Tightly stuffed white couches one would never call sofas. Natural oak chairs set around the table; natural top set on a white base and legs. White ceramic pitcher and plate set in its center. Fireplace, ash-sprayed bricks over the grate, like a fanfare.

We expected, at least I expected, something unusual at this shabbat. Considering. The closest we came was the blessing, sung by some little, accented girl with a voice too big for her nose, which she sang through, nonetheless, like an angel filling a shofar:

………………………………….Thy name is my healing, O my God,
………………………………….And remembrance of thee
………………………………….Is my remedy,
………………………………….Nearness to thee is my hope
………………………………….And love for thee is my Companion.
………………………………….Thy mercy to me
………………………………….is my healing and my succor
………………………………….in both this world
………………………………….and the world to come . . .

That, and the orange peels and pits that suddenly seemed to appear around the white pitcher in the white plate.

After dinner (at which I cannot remember Abramovich saying anything expect “Is that so?”), he leaned back in his chair, surveyed all around like a compass, and said, “Would you like to see the garden?” I was sitting next to him. He placed his hand in the underside of my elbow.

Of course, it was dark already. But the night stars were clear. Went out the back door; the porch floor was unfinished, unstained. Down uneven slate steps that seemed to my feet backwardly familiar, as if I’d climbed them before, but not descended. Not back.

The garden was a stone’s throw from the house, or better, a seed’s throw. I could imagine Abramovich, sitting on his porch, evening after starry evening, munching on one fruit or another, throwing the seeds through the open door, and planting.

There seemed a short, thick hedgerow before the actual garden, with a break about a couple’s width apart. To its left side stood a diminutive but solid linden, just above the height of a man. Below its crown, only one lone branch extended toward the opening, its bright yellow undercurls of leaves hanging like cherubim feathers. Adjacent, a swath of red-winged blackbirds spread their fire at our coming, but then folded it in again. As if they knew him, us.

Did the linden point the way to the entrance, an after you gesture, bowing as it swayed?

A few steps and we had come to a tree — huge beyond any I’d seen. My in-laws had had a copper beech on their summer property in . . . where was that? But this was taller by far, and more . . . outreached. In the white star light, its bark and leaves seemed like paper, marked with lined shadows of themselves.

Abramovich stopped and turned, his back against the tree. Lowered his hands beneath his beltline. Uh-oh. What was this? Should I need my husband?
Then he stooped a little, interlacing his fingers into a sort of step.
“Alley-oop?” he smiled, anything but wickedly. Almost.

And me, I said just the opposite of what I always say. “Why not?” And found myself sitting from a silvery branch, feet dangling. In a moment, he was beside me, or his feet and ankles, anyway. He kept climbing further. “Up and in,” he said, and disappeared altogether into the star shadows.

I followed. Not easily. But surely. It was dark, but the light always seemed to be where I next placed my hand.

Then there he was, sitting — cross-legged? — on a branch, swaying, humming. Humming and singing? It was the same tune we had heard at blessing.

Thou verily are the all bountiful,
The all knowing, the all wise . . .

There were others. The guests? But how had they gotten here before us?

I raised my eyes. North, south, east, west. The tree was filled with people. In the evening, details and distinctions I could not see, but shapes I could make out against the star shade. Suit jackets and throbes. Gowns and housecoats. Kaftans and coveralls. Fur-lined, wide brims and draped burnooses. Flares and spats swung in the branch spaces.

They peeled away sheets of bark, and I could see them holding their scrolled surfaces and shadowed lines close to their faces. I did the same.

Abramovich was beside me then.

“How can I read in just this light?” I asked.

“Don’t read it,” he replied. Most distinctly. “Eat of it.”

“Really?” I said.

“Genesis 3: 6 — ‘the tree was good for eating.’ Not the fruit. The tree.”

I ate. And my eyes were open.

I looked down the core of the great tree. I saw something like an information super highway. Channels and lines of light — red, orange, yellow; green, blue, indigo, violet. They were streaming and flowing up into the limbs, the leaves, the pages, the words.

I looked further. Below the trunk, where the roots just entered the garden earth. There was a deep, rumbling hum, and just beneath the tree a space was turning, turning, filled with the hardnesses and definites, the unmovables and the stonings, all being slowly, inevitable softened and smoothed into gems. The hum was the blessing.

And below this space lay the most naturally beautiful woman I had ever seen, naked and unashamed. She was pregnant, and from her belly rose a cord, providing smoothness and ease, kiss not conflict, in the turning and meeting and parting of the stones. And it was this sustenance, energized by the deep motion, that channeled up the tree to its every tip.

And I saw even more deeply, at the first of it all, a great sea of red fire, basic and primal, upon which floated the woman and the stones, the roots and the tree, and which was a swath of red-wing blackbirds, spread at the entrance to the garden.

I looked up. Sprays of prismed light seemed to leap from the top of the tree, arc in uncountable comet trails of color, song waves become visible, near. If I stared, they seemed almost solid, like flying buttresses for a firmament, supporting the covering; when I blinked, they returned to rising and falling, reaching and returning. Each comet, each trail, each arching solidity and its dissolution had a sound, a note, a name splashing down into the great basin below. Remembrance. Remedy. Healing. Succor.

And the red sun had begun to rise over that shabbat morning.

Up came the early breeze, surging the limbs in the garden, flouncing the white curtains by Abramovich’s table. At which we all sat, trying to look ordinary, trying not to notice our each holding tight the arms of our natural chairs.

“So,” said Abramovich, voice a queen’s gate hinge, opening. Mine.

“Companions. Nearness. Hope.”

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Wayne-Daniel Berard, PhD, teaches Humanities at Nichols College, Dudley, MA. He publishes broadly in poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. His novella, Everything We Want, was published in 2018 by Bloodstone Press. A poetry collection, The Realm of Blessing, will be published in 2020 by Unsolicited Press