Saturday, 18 November 2017

Labyrinth

by Jane Yolen


Dance the maze,
They tell me.
Trace the goddess steps.

Yet there seems
no pattern, no floor.
All is chaos:

A tangle of webs,
twists of threads,
history’s clots.

Stone beneath,
Stone above,
I sink into the grey.

But as I dance,
unspooled life winds
about my spindle.

Now I see the path.
One foot after another,
Till labyrinth reveals.

Then I dance home
to the center of self
and out again.                             


* * * * *


Jane Yolen is the author of 360+ books (actual number) including 8 books of adult poetry. Much of her work is for young readers, but she has a number of novels, essay collections, and pedagogical books for adult as well. www.janeyolen.com

Friday, 17 November 2017

Old House

by Karen Friedland


Nothing ever comes out as planned—
the projects, the objects
never look quite as promised
and the old house is irrevocably altered,
thrown off its axis.

And we, the inhabitants
are in flux,
flustered by these new developments,
feeling the house injured
offended, yet again.

Someone whacked at it
with a hammer
and truly, I feel bad
because sometimes it’s best
to just leave a poor, old house
alone.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Dust Bowl on t.v.

by Karen Friedland


Look what you did,
fools!

You ripped up my protective coat—
15 inches of Buffalo grass—
and killed all the buffalo, too,
while you were at it.
You left my bare body exposed
to the wind and drought
which blew it away.

You killed the coyote
that kept the jack rabbits in check,
and then you killed them too, with sticks,
when, famished,
they ate the only green things left.

You killed your own cattle
when all you had to feed them was tumbleweed.
And then came the grasshopper plague
which you treated with poison, of course
and then the dead and dying children—
truly, it was biblical.

Proving once again
that every little thing
affects every single thing,
and you can truly count on humans
to destroy that chain,
over and over again.


Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Words to prey by

by Eve Dobbins


Words of prey
A snail crawls by
Caddy corner to my feet
Like a verbal tit-for-tat
He encroaches upon my territory
Slapping and then slipping along the muddy bank.
The black geese on the deck
Preen their necks gracefully celebrating the day
Darting slitty eyes like
A consumer eyeing the latest I-phone.
I pause for posterity
But in a flash
The landscape changes
Like the moving cloud
Released from idle
Only the snail retains
Its stand
Inch by inch
Like us…
We are creatures of habit
The more we try to change
The more we slug behind.


* * * * *

Eve Dobbins was born in New York City and raised in a small town located in the Catskill Mountains where everyone knew your name. After graduating from Stony Brook University with an English degree, she spent several years working in Manhattan in the garment industry; as a real estate property appraiser with the city of New York and a girl Friday for local radio talk show host, Barry Farber, as well as a stint in the United States Navy. Her favorite authors are Lee Child, Lisa Unger, and Ann Rule.  Her favorite quote for inspiration is “Everyone has two eyes but no one has the same view” (Wael Harakeh). Her husband is her co-conspirator in writing and baking which paved the way for Cupcake Cache, a gourmet cupcakerie which closed in 2015. Mrs. Dobbins has a MA in TESOL and has lived and worked in Asia and the Middle East. Presently, she makes a living as an English teacher. She was named in August 2017 “Poet of the Month” by “The Horror Zine.”  One of her most most recent published poem is: https://anapestjournal.wixsite.com/anapestjournal/single-post/2017/07/22/Wishing-on-Cotton


Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Human Vortex

by Eve Dobbins


Wild winds shriek through the trees
As the world continues its deluge upon our senses
No longer on microfiche but instead blaring out the images
We stand like the Immaculate Conception listening to proclamations
With judgment and sharp rhetoric drawn like slingshots aimed at the heart
Hungry looks defy the strength of the wild winds shrieking through the trees
We wish for the natural
We assume they are like us but like the wild winds, the torrential rain, sharp diamond hail stones striking windows and concrete
We cannot predict our future by prayers or superstitions
  Sometimes
A prayer and a whisper of the sun shining through after the violent storm
 Is a stronger sign then words of double entendre melting into shapes and babble.
As the skilled orator manipulates the audience
 We are not just like them
But we are more like the gentle brook flowing along
Sometimes in time with the current and
Sometimes raging against the elements and
Overflowing the bank while bystanders pack the banks
Watching us drown and struggle with the current
   Sometimes even lending us a hand to pull us further into the mire.
…As the river and the elements continue their travesty
The world continues its claims
 preying upon the listening ears as we
   Bow our heads silently in prayer.


* * * * *

Eve Dobbins was born in New York City and raised in a small town located in the Catskill Mountains where everyone knew your name. After graduating from Stony Brook University with an English degree, she spent several years working in Manhattan in the garment industry; as a real estate property appraiser with the city of New York and a girl Friday for local radio talk show host, Barry Farber, as well as a stint in the United States Navy. Her favorite authors are Lee Child, Lisa Unger, and Ann Rule.  Her favorite quote for inspiration is “Everyone has two eyes but no one has the same view” (Wael Harakeh). Her husband is her co-conspirator in writing and baking which paved the way for Cupcake Cache, a gourmet cupcakerie which closed in 2015. Mrs. Dobbins has a MA in TESOL and has lived and worked in Asia and the Middle East. Presently, she makes a living as an English teacher. She was named in August 2017 “Poet of the Month” by “The Horror Zine.”  One of her most most recent published poem is:


Monday, 13 November 2017

The Window

by E J Randolph


“When did you say your wife would be back?”
“I didn't.”
“But-”
“Don't worry so much. Come here. Let me kiss you. Hey, stop pulling away. You love me don't you?”
“Yes, but I don't like this.”
“What's that?”
“Stop pulling on my arm.”
“I want to hold you. Stand still.”
“I don't want to make love in your wife's bed.”
“But, it's my bed too.”
“That's worse. It's like I can see the two of you together.”
“Come on now. I don't love her any more. Let me kiss you.”
“Oh, alright.”
“Come on, sit on the bed.”
“We're not sitting. We're lying down.”
“Even better. You're beautiful, you know. Here, let me help you get that off. You feel so nice.”
“Mmm, keep doing that.”
“Sure, Baby.”
“Kiss me again.”
“I'm going to kiss you all over.”
“You're tickling me.”
“How about this?”
“Oh. Oh. Wow! Yes. YES! You're the best!”
“That's what I keep telling you. Stick with me Baby, and I'll take you to the moon.
“All guys promise that.”
“But, I can deliver.
“Look! There’s a shadow on the blinds. Someone's there. At the window.”
CRACK!
“That's a stone. Someone threw a stone in here! Almost hit the bed. What's happening?”
“HENRY! I know you're in there.”
“Hush! Hurry, get into that closet over there.”
“Why?”
“That's my wife.”
“Oh, alright. But, I thought you didn't love her anymore.”
“Just get in the closet. It'll just be a minute.”
“Henry! I'm coming in.”
“Sweetie, I've been waiting for you.”
“On the bed?”
“Where else would I be? I missed you all day. I was here dreaming of your return.”
“Are you alone?”
“What else would I be?
“I thought I heard voices.”
“Just me calling out for you, my sweetie.”
“You really were missing me?”
“Sure. Come here and I'll show you.”
“Well, alright.”
“I love your sweet kisses. Makes me want so much more.”
“I'm sorry I doubted you.”
“Let me prove to you how much I love you.”
“Oh, Henry.”
“I've been dreaming all day of holding you and making love to you. Here, let me help you get that off.”
“Henry, oh, Henry! That's so good! More! More! Ah!”
“I'm still the best, Sweetie.”
“Oh, you are.”
“One more kiss.”
“Yes, yes, yes.”
“And, another?”
“Yes.”
“But, what do I do about the window?”
“Get it fixed.”
“I'll get my phone and call the repair person.”
“Good idea. I'll be there in a minute... Hush! You can come out of the closet now.”
“I got dressed. But, now, how do I get out of here?
“See that broken window?”
“I'll get cut.”
“Wait. I'll clean the edges with this stone.”
“But, the blinds.”
“I’ll pull them off. Now, you can climb out. The window is big enough.”
“I don't like any of this. Can you imagine how I felt listening to the two of you?”
“About dinner tomorrow night –”
SLAP!
“Why did you do that?”
“You said you didn't love your wife.”
“But, I had to make love to her.”
“Have fun. You can spend the rest of your life making love to her. But, never to me. And, that's final.”
“But, but, but, don't you see?”
“I see all too well. Good! Bye!”
“Baby, baby, come back.”
“Henry! What are you doing?”
 “Oh, hi, Sweetie. I was calling to that brown dog over there. You see it?”
“No, I don't. All I see is one cheap trollop walking up the street. You were calling to her, weren't you? I knew I heard voices. Well, that's it. We're through.”
“Sweetie, no. You must believe me.”
“I'm done believing you.”
“Look, come here. I'll prove my love to you just like I did a few minutes ago.”
“I'm through with that as well.”
“You'll miss me. I'm the one that can make you laugh and cry with passion.”
“I'm laughing and crying with anger right now.”
“Come on, Sweetie, one little kiss. Look at me. I want you.”
“Oh, alright, one little kiss, a good-bye kiss.”
“Mmm. That was so good, I need another.”
“You are a bad boy, but I gotta admit that was good.”
“See, I told you. Come on, let me prove my love to you.”
“I need to call the repair person for the window. Look, even the blind was ripped off. Anyone can see us or hear us.”
“Let them. I'm proud of my love for you. Besides, who's going to look?”
“But, we’re standing right in front of the open window.”
“Stop worrying. We're good together, Sweetie. I never want to lose you. No one else matters. Look down here, you can see how much I want you.”
Public indecency! You're under arrest.”

Sunday, 12 November 2017

The Swing

by Elise Stuart


We sit on the swing on the back porch.
It is night—always night with my mother.
We have matching sun dresses this summer:
thin, red, see-through material with tiny white polka dots.
The red—kind of scratchy against my chest,
the skirt sticking out like a weary tutu when I walk.

Tired, leaning against my mother,
my legs dangling off the front of the swing.
She's singing to herself,
her voice is low, smoky, a little off-key.
I love it because she's giving me attention,
and I'll take anything she gives.

She leans over to brush a strand of hair
away from my face and keeps singing.
The screen porch is in shadow,
but light shines softly
from inside the house.
My mother is like that too.

In the twilight world of almost-asleep,
she rocks us, pushing her foot
against the floor every now and then.
Holding her song inside me
reminds me to listen―
for music in the darkness.


* * * * *

"The Swing" is from Elise Stuart's 2017 memoir My Mother and I We Talk Cat.

Elise Stuart moved to Silver City in 2005, and her heart opened to the desert. She found the creative current to be strong in this southwest corner of New Mexico, and she found beauty in the land and rivers and sky and in the people who live here. In 2014, when she was chosen Poet Laureate of Silver City, she envisioned young people expressing themselves through poetry so during the next three years she gave over a hundred workshops to youth. She continues with this work. In the spring of 2017 her first collection of poems was published, Another Door Calls.


Saturday, 11 November 2017

Burnt

by Elise Stuart


My grandma likes to burn food.
She burns toast on a regular basis,
teaching me to love the slightly black triangles
she serves for breakfast.
Some mornings she scrapes the black
from the pieces with a butter knife.
Other times she just tosses the toast out the back
window onto a little patch of grass
where the pine tree stands―for the birds, she says.
Later in the morning, I go outside, make sure no one is looking,
pick up the burnt toast and eat it.
It makes me feel wild, eating off the grass, breaking the rules,
something my grandma would never allow.
She burns pot roasts on Sundays too.
Potatoes and onions are always singed,
the strips of carrots, black along their thin sides.
She never burns cakes or cookies, sweet things she loves.
Is it her way of rebelling?
Does her anger move up through her body
and torch the bottom of pans?
Does she long to be free of her assigned domain, the kitchen,
where red cardinals stand still on ivy-covered bricks?
Nights, she stays up late,
sewing on her black featherweight Singer.
She makes dresses, invents new patterns,
the soft fabric moving quickly beneath her fingers.
Sometimes she lets me sleep downstairs in her room,
snuggled under the heavy wool blanket,
the sound of the sewing machine―
a lullaby that covers me
sets her free.


* * * * *

"Burnt" is from Elise Stuart's 2017 memoir My Mother and I We Talk Cat.


Elise Stuart moved to Silver City in 2005, and her heart opened to the desert. She found the creative current to be strong in this southwest corner of New Mexico, and she found beauty in the land and rivers and sky and in the people who live here. In 2014, when she was chosen Poet Laureate of Silver City, she envisioned young people expressing themselves through poetry so during the next three years, so she gave over a hundred workshops to youth. She continues with this work. In the spring of 2017 her first collection of poems was published, Another Door Calls.

Friday, 10 November 2017

SUNDAY NYC

by Lorri Jackson


The small park garbagemen
have come and gone, sullenly hard
without good warnings; it is to be
expected. They are used to trash
Cops with faces as unmoving as metal
swing their sticks and clock the refuse
of Saturday night. They don’t go
for the good morning either.
Is it time to bail out
or what?
I am desperate now, not with
out luck or missing yellow trains
deserted not by lack
of money, a hungry belly, sleeping
in hard random places
                 desperate
with the sight of ungainly lovers
one fat, one too thin, faces
pockmarked with small dreams
grown together, We should all be
so not alone, bound
as mirrors, happy
to settle for less than the epic

WANTED: to pass numbly
until this hour is rung again
Bells call good souls to comfort
to such a steadfast, unwrathful pair
of arms, so reliable
The 100th dog pisses by
and by the next tolling
the breakfast specials will be missed

Will I write you?
Always.


* * * * *

"Sunday NYC" is from So What If It's True: From the Notebooks of Lorri Jackson, edited by RW Spryszak, published by Thrice Publishing in 2017, and available on Amazon.com.

Lorri Jackson died in 1990 at the age of 28. She suffocated after injecting heroin. Some of her powerful work survives and tells her gritty truth without obvious complaint but with merciless accuracy.



Thursday, 9 November 2017

MYTHMAKING: I AM ALL
(for Lydia Lunch)

by Lorri Jackson


and none
of these things: a woman
a stone, a low keen moan
roaming the mother load, diva
on the receiving edge, a privilege
privy to piles of pathetic pilgrims
praying for the sigh that will lay them
down dead. alabaster babble with a luster
of luscious lust. the rust of a million
useless mouths; I am the prelude
to smooth rudeness, a new spoor
clinging to the door of whoredom
where you jerk to the sameness
of the fixed pout
I sing glass
missing throat, flight of cairo
o ye bride of the dead forgotten
saved in tombs
dancing tattooed thighs
in a rotting world
I am the fetid word, here and herbaceous
fertile as the fall from your flailing feet
polyethylene has nothing on me
the grand harpooness, a spark waiting
to mouth off in tongues the hurry up come
I am not a missive of submissiveness
but a weapon of torrential possibilities
So when you kiss my darkening face
o you lover of leavened needs
you with your warped visions of sameness
your fists of material drivel
don’t say my name for fear
don’t say you know it
for behind the navel is a veil
and once danced with
will leave your vain clutchings with nothing


* * * * *

"Mythmaking: I Am All" is from So What If It's True: From the Notebooks of Lorri Jackson, edited by RW Spryszak and published by Thrice Publishing 2017.

Lorri Jackson died in 1990 at the age of 28. She suffocated after injecting heroin. Some of her powerful work survives and tells her grimy truth without obvious complaint but with merciless accuracy.



Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Automatic Bill Pay

by Laura Tarasoff


Woman Found Dead
Six years after she died
Proof she was right
There was no one

Surrounded by people
Never seen by anyone
Existing, not living, in life
Too sad to go on

Watch the news with sadness
For her who we never knew
While quietly hoping
That won’t be us

Monday, 6 November 2017

Walking the West-Creek Conservancy

by Carole Mertz


Today I learned to distinguish between the Black Locusts, the Cottonwoods, and the white-trunked Sycamores. It was not only their names I was eager for, but to see how they differed along the path, and to be able to recognize them on another day in another setting. Such was my wish until I came to the grove of Cottonwoods, there in the glen where the path turns. They chittered to each other, perhaps more in movement than in sound. Flecks of leaves flittering in the breeze and soon to fall to the ground. I thought I heard their conversation, but I was becoming confused by what was aural and what visual.

Dizzying dialogue with myself blew in and out of my brain, till the park bench brought me down, centered me, and made me—among the moving individual branches, beneath the huge and joyful white clouds, within that tree-induced stupor in mid-September—made me still.

There on the bench my husband joined me. We two, stroked by sunlight, may have spoken, or not. Surely we thought of other Septembers vanished now, into the history of our long, shared life. We likely remembered things, most long-forgotten, a feature of this seventh stage of life.

So I rose and, walking along, remained in the moment. Even while enjoying this time in nature, I was aware that somewhere across the world some tired medic was making ethical decisions under conditions of pandemonium. Could he save this one migrant, sick with fever and plucked from the sea?

I walked along. The Black Locusts stood sedate, their leaves a darker shade of green; there the Sycamores, stripped of most of their outer bark; and there the Cottonwoods, still chittering.


* * * * *


Carole Mertz lives with her pastor husband in Parma, Ohio where she teaches piano to young children. Music and poetry have lived in her veins for years, but she began publishing her work only since 2008. Stories, essays, and reviews are included in various journals, including Mom Egg Review, World Literature Today, WOW! Women on Writing, 1888 center, and in the volume: Writing After Retirement, Eds.,Smallwood & Redman-Waldeyer. (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014). Her most recent poems are in Voices de la Luna, at WPWT, and The Society of Classical Poets.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Considering Two Paths in the Wilderness

by Eve West Bessier


One path travels through the lowland meadows
where larks dart and swallows dip.
Here the creek meanders like a daydream
and glints in sun like an afterthought.
Here the oaks shelter and the willows sweep
the amber grasses with their long tendrils of green.
The sky is lightly clouded, the sun hazy.
The meadow edges are lined with conifers
that flute quietly in an autumn wind as if
recalling lost loves in distant lands.

The other path leads up the side of a mountain
over granite rocks, along ledges exposed
to a view of the world, expansive and breathtaking.
This way is winding and always upward
under the fleeting shadows of hawk wings
and a sky filling with cumulous clouds,
the promise of thunder, lightning, rain.
There are puzzle-barked Ponderosa and quaking aspen.
The air smells like imagination, bright, vigorous.
There are waterfalls and icy lakes of onyx water.
At the summit, there will be a glimpse of heaven
in the height and freedom of seeing eye to eye with eagles.

Both paths are worth the travel, both feed the soul.

To travel exclusively the meadow path
is to gain insight through tranquility and repose,
to commune with the contemplative aspects of nature,
your own and those of the landscape, but never to know
the thrill of stepping beyond your bounds,
of discovering that you are far larger than you dreamed.

To travel exclusively the mountain path
is to build fortitude and perseverance through courage,
to commune with the fiercer aspects of nature,
your own and those of the landscape, but always to grasp
challenge too readily and rest infrequently in whimsy.
It is to strive always higher than your current reach,
and when achieving the heavenly summit, the eagle’s view,
to find no repose in success or beauty, all too quickly seeking
another, even loftier goal for an appetite unquenched.

To travel both paths well
with conscious intention,
with neither lust nor lethargy,
allows the beauty and meaning of each to resonate,
and the heart to find the journeying joyous,
both patience and diligence rewarded
with equal measure of satisfaction.


* * * * *


"Considering Two Paths in the Wilderness" was first published in Physik Room, Poetry Garden. 

Saturday, 4 November 2017

HEART WISE

by Susan P. Blevins


Long ago I

cast off my skin like a snake
trampled in faded grass
dust heavy in my nostrils

shed the expectations of others
left them to take care of themselves
came untethered from the herd

lost my innocence and inhibitions
so carefully nurtured
in the stifling England of my youth

Now

at last I fly unhampered
in the pure air of
love, passion and acceptance

Spirit youthful,
heart wise and
ancient


* * * * *


"Heart Wise" was first published in Mused BellaOnline Literary Review. 

Friday, 3 November 2017

The fourteenth Moon Prize* goes to Lisa Marguerite Mora's poem "Learning How to Pray" —backdating to the full moon of October 5, 2017. This poem evokes such tenderness.



Learning How to Pray

by Lisa Marguerite Mora


She hands me a china cup, steaming with black tea, sweetened
with condensed milk. At age four, it’s the best thing I have ever tasted.

She is my mother and we have been apart a long time. Outside the rain, 
tiny horse hooves move across a gray sky. The world is good and clean. 

Wet pavement, salt air breath of the ocean close by.  
Its giant sigh does not disturb me.

Living here with my mother brings everything to life.
She’s magic.

She places a round stone into an earthen pot, soon a yellow star flower
lives there, open mouthed as I am at my mother’s abilities.

I will learn more of how the world gives such gifts.
If I wait and watch, soon I will know a lot.

I should have been more specific with God. But no one taught me how to pray properly,
to give thanks for what I had. The earth and God will take their due.

I can’t remember if I prayed for her the day she died. I can’t remember
if I prayed for myself. The rain clattered outside like horse hooves.

There wasn’t much else between me and the life pressing upon me.
But still, I can’t tell you what I’ve learned.

Listen, I will tell you what I do know.

There is a trap door leading to the worn floors of heaven. Once in awhile I catch 
an angel there and its wings brush against the throb of my temple.

It folds its wings and arms and waits for me to either recognize it
or let it go.

So patient. So unrelenting.
So willing to forgive.


* * * * *

"Learning How to Pray" was published previously in a different form by ONTHEBUS Literary Journal.

Lisa Marguerite Mora has had work published in Rattle, ONTHEBUS, Rebelle Society, The Urban Howl, Cultural Weekly, Public Poetry Series, Literary Mama, and California Quarterly, among many others including a Blue Mountain Arts Poetry Prize. Recently she has finished a first novel and is at work on second. Lisa studied with author Carolyn See at UCLA where she received a Bachelors in English with a Creative Writing Emphasis. A story editor and consultant, she also conducts creative writing workshops in the Los Angeles area.


* The Moon Prize ($91) is awarded once a month on the full moon for a story or poem posted in Writing In A Woman's Voice during the moon cycle period preceding that full moon. I don't want this to be competition. I simply want to share your voices. And then I want to pick one voice during a moon cycle for the prize. I fund this with 10% of my personal modest income. I wish I could pay for each and every poem or story, but I am not that rich. (Yet.) For the time being I still run a month behind with this prize—I expect to catch up to the current month soon.

Why 91? 91 is a mystical number for me. It is 7 times 13. 13 is my favorite number. (7 isn't half bad either.) There are 13 moons in a year. I call 13 my feminist number, reasoning that anything that was declared unlucky in a patriarchal world has to be mystically excellent. Then there are 4 times 91 days in a year (plus one day, or two days in leap years), so approximately 91 days each season. In some Mayan temples there are or were 91 steps on each of four sides. Anyway, that's where the number 91 comes from, not to mention that it's in the approximate neighborhood of 100.