Friday, 24 January 2020


The Vocation that has Chosen Me

by Holly Day


There will never be enough time to catalog
all of the dreams of the things in my yard
in my house: the fat squirrels that roost in the trees outside
the sparrows that peck at insects in the air conditioner
the mice that live behind my stove, the spider curled in wait
in the corner of my room.

They whisper their stories in Morse code raps
clicking mandibles and tiny, clawed feet, demanding
I stay up just one more hour, one more hour to trap
their thoughts with my pen, in words I can remember.

When I dream, it’s of dust mites and fleas
bits of cheese left out on the counter, the warmth
of the summer sun, an explosion of flowers
the songs of the stars and a terror
of vacuums. There will never be enough time

to transcribe my cat’s demands, the hopes and dreams
of the blind voles in my basement
all of these things I need to write.


* * * * *

Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Grain, and The Tampa Review. Her newest poetry collections are In This Place, She Is Her Own (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press), A Wall to Protect Your Eyes (Pski’s Porch Publishing), Folios of Dried Flowers and Pressed Birds (Cyberwit.net), Where We Went Wrong (Clare Songbirds Publishing), Into the Cracks (Golden Antelope Press), and Cross Referencing a Book of Summer (Silver Bow Publishing), while her newest nonfiction books are Music Theory for Dummies and Tattoo FAQ.


Thursday, 23 January 2020


AND THEN THE SKY
by Katherine West

Ground level, nothing
enters the wilderness, except feet—
horse feet, human feet.  We start
at the river and work our way up
and through how many worlds?
From yellow willows through pink mini-canyons
through tawny and scarlet grasslands made by
fire and decorated with skeletons
to foot-tingling vertigo cliffs dropping
from white heights straight down to
vertical death straight out to horizontal
eye-flight—180 degrees of mountain waves
lapping at the sky.

And just like being lost at sea, I can feel
the lack of humanity.  My human
radar finds nothing to ping against, no
roofs glinting in the sun, no
distant roar of traffic, or guns,
just the last of the falling leaves ticking
against each other like light rain on the roof,
catching the late sun like a flock of distant
birds at five o'clock.

Behind me, the pale half-moon rises silently
in the afternoon east—and I remember
how she rose with Venus on Halloween
when the first cold came and
made them very  bright—still brighter
than the new, too-fast moving, human
Stars that surround them—and I remember
that there is no wilderness in the sky
as the F16s detonate their weekly flight.


* * * * *

"And Then The Sky" was first published in New Verse News which nominated it for a Pushcart Prize.

Katherine West lives in Southwest New Mexico, near the Gila Wilderness, where she writes poetry about the soul-importance of wilderness and performs it with her musician husband, Yaakov. She has written three collections of poetry: The Bone TrainScimitar Dreams, and Riddle, as well as one novel, Lion Tamer. Her poetry has appeared in journals such as LalitambaBombay Gin, and New Verse News.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020


WILDERNESS WITHIN

An Ode to the Gila River/Wilderness

by Katherine West


I have heard that one cannot recognize a soulmate until the soul inhabits the body.  I have heard that ancient shamans practiced "soul retrieval."  I have heard desalmado  in Spanish, to be unsouled.  We don't seem to have this verb in English, and yet we have the disease. 

I have lived in wild places, but I have not been wild.  I have lived in the jungle where there is no sky.  I have lived in mountains where sky speaks in spectrums of color and mackerel textures.  I have lived in dim canyons waiting for sun and avalanche.  My body lived there, waiting for its soul, its soulmate. 

I have heard there's a gene for belief.  I have heard it's a matter of neurotransmitters.  But God is not my problem, not my equation to balance.  I am the telegraph operator, the receiver and sender of messages, of codes, of SOS.

I have spent years, no, decades tuned to the wrong frequency, to static, to a litany of commercials for Self.  I spent one week with the Gila River, one week with uninterrupted rippling over stones and pooling into eddies, into the empty wells of my life, filling them day and night until they overflowed and drowned everything that was not soul.  Soul.  Savage.  Wild.  Wilderness.  Soul.  Soulmate.


* * * * *

Katherine West lives in Southwest New Mexico, near the Gila Wilderness, where she writes poetry about the soul-importance of wilderness and performs it with her musician husband, Yaakov. She has written three collections of poetry: The Bone TrainScimitar Dreams, and Riddle, as well as one novel, Lion Tamer. Her poetry has appeared in journals such as LalitambaBombay Gin, and New Verse News, which recently nominated her poem, And Then the Sky for a Pushcart Prize.

Tuesday, 21 January 2020


Palpitations

by Samantha Flaherty


My heart likes to beat to things
in manners it should not

or, so it seems.

Her senses heighten to the aroma
of cologne,
reminding her of sensations
not felt in years.

Her fingertips trace every bump,
edge and curve,
envisioning hands of another;
crevices withholding an appetite
for a single touch.

She sits up abruptly, wondering
if these thoughts are filled with malice

If these thoughts are infected with betrayal
and lies.

If her heart would
be worth
breaking.


* * * * *

Samantha Flaherty is a third-year college student from Salem, Massachusetts who vehemently loves cats, the horror genre, and influencing people to think through her writing. She loves spending time studying Screenwriting and Psychology, and when she is not crafting something eerie and odd, she is usually brewing a big cup of peppermint tea.

Monday, 20 January 2020


SILENCE

by Marguerite Guzmán Bouvard


brings us the radiance of that vast
invisible world that is pulsating
within us and around us, the fire

of becoming, the many dimensions
of being, the understanding
that the true and boundless power

is love. We need silence and solitude
for our souls to flourish, to move past
the noise, the chatter, the desire

to be more important than another
person. As we walk through
life’s journey, humility opens the doors

that separate us from the marginalized,
and the misunderstood, helping us to see
the beauty within them, to know

that we are all connected to every living being;
flowers, bees, a bird’s wing,
to know that we are in the hospital

with a child who has been wounded
in a war, that we are made of light,
not only of flesh and bone.


* * * * *

"Silence" is part of Marguerite Guzmán Bouvard 's forthcoming poetry chapbook Shades of Meaning.

Marguerite Guzmán Bouvard (www.MargueriteGBouvard.com) is the author of ten poetry books, two of which have won awards, including the MassBook Award for Poetry. She has also written many non-fiction books on women's rights, social justice, grief, illness, and "The Invisible Wounds of War: Coming Home from Iraq and Afghanistan". She is a former professor of Political Science and Poetry, a former Resident scholar at Women's Studies Research Center and Environmental Studies at Brandeis University.

Sunday, 19 January 2020


HONORING THE HIDDEN WORK

by Marguerite Guzmán Bouvard


Praise the spider's work
of weaving, the monarch butterflies
criss-crossing the frigid air
over continents and the rock worm
laying foundations for the cathedrals
of coral reefs. Praise the loom
that is never stilled
the persistence
and strength of fragility.


* * * * *

"Honoring the Hidden Work" is part of Marguerite Guzmán Bouvard's forthcoming poetry chapbook Shades of Meaning.

Marguerite Guzmán Bouvard (www.MargueriteGBouvard.com) is the author of ten poetry books, two of which have won awards, including the MassBook Award for Poetry. She has also written many non-fiction books on women's rights, social justice, grief, illness, and "The Invisible Wounds of War: Coming Home from Iraq and Afghanistan". She is a former professor of Political Science and Poetry, a former Resident scholar at Women's Studies Research Center and Environmental Studies at Brandeis University.

Saturday, 18 January 2020


I was texting
after Coffee Break by Kwame Dawes

by Betsy Mars


After your breakfast and a shave,
bathed and massaged, you relaxed.

The intake person had come –
you hadn’t been in hospice
more than 18 hours.
The dietician stopped by
to find out your favorite foods –
no holds barred now that death was near.
The social worker came to offer whatever
other comforts she could bring.

I muted my phone. After all of these visits
and messages from friends and family,
I focused on you at last.
Your eyes were closed
but you were awake, I could tell.

The thing to do was to read you a story,
just as you had so often done.

I don’t recall the book,
but as I told you the backstory
and resumed on the page where I had left off,
that damned prescription came to mind.
I said I’ll be right back, and picked up my phone.
By the time I finished, you had gone home.


* * * * *

"I Was Texting" was first published in Redshift.

Betsy Mars is a poet, photographer, educator, and recently founded a press, publishing Unsheathed: 24 Contemporary Poets Take Up the Knife (Kingly Street Press) in October 2019. Her work has been published in The California Quarterly, RATTLE (photo), The Ekphrastic Review, and Verse-Virtual, among others, as well as in a number of anthologies. Betsy's first chapbook, Alinea (Picture Show Press), was released in January 2019. She is an enthusiastic traveller as well as animal lover which creates a lot of ambivalence when she is away from home.