Friday, 20 May 2022

 

Future Feminist Sister

by Abena Ntoso


I’ve been fully awake for decades,
insomniac really, and I am so relieved
to read this letter from you,
my feminist sister.
Let me get comfortable.
I’m going to sleep now as I read it.

You’ve written in cursive, a beautiful
style that reads like love and knowing,
though some of the words are blurred
by your tear drops or the tears
from a sweating glass of water.

You tell me what happened:
how everyone was assassinating one another
and the talented rain fell steadily against
palm trees and monuments,
how you escaped from a crowded aviary
thanks to your mastery of
jujutsu and dancing.

You admit the future is unprecedented
(as they used to say in 2020),
scripting in remembrance, in celebration,
in defiance, indefinitely wrapped
in woven wisdom and grace
gleaned from observations,
meditations, movements.

You explain that many wear critical masks
and dictate to you silently their devastating orders
which you inscribe as a tattoo
on the inside of their chests—
exhale—leaves a vacant memory
of how we could have been destroyed
had it not been for—inhale—our unique gifts.

I can finally rest now.
Reading your unsent message,
I’ve circled my favorite words,
those filled with freedom
and the perfume scent
from your handwoven scarves.


* * * * *

Abena Ntoso is a full-time high school English teacher and mother of two, originally from New York City, and currently based in Houston, Texas. She returned to writing after a 20-year hiatus, during which she worked as an educational technologist at Columbia University and later served as a dentist in the U.S. Army. Her writing has been published in The Wrath-Bearing Tree and Adelaide Literary Magazine.


Thursday, 19 May 2022

Wide Open Spaces

by Jocelyn Olum


We climb up the mountain outside town
In the late afternoon.

Just the two of us
Watching the sunset paint the town red for a few moments,
And then settle imperceptibly into darkness behind the opposite hill.

“Beautiful,” you say, laughing, your eyes on mine.
I smile and duck my head, like I’m supposed to.

It is beautiful. There’s no denying that, the hills spotted liberally with cattle
The fog rolling over the undulating green landscape
The gentle ache in my legs from climbing and my old tennis shoes covered in fine brown dust

And then there’s you.
Sweaty, triumphant, and utterly familiar;
You’re standing on the peak beside me 
The echoes of your presence cascading down into the valleys and resounding
Back into the sky above us
Thick and beautiful and so all-encompassing it claims even the dirt under my feet for its very own. 


* * * * *

Jocelyn Olum is a student and a writer from Boston, Massachusetts. Her poetry has been featured in Red Eft Review and is forthcoming in Eunoia Review and Blue Marble Review.


Wednesday, 18 May 2022

 

Street View

by Jocelyn Olum


city of origin
never changes. does it?
we’re young, still. fresh black tattoo memories
only just now fading into navy—
nothing real is ever more than semi-permanent.

and yet there are worn-out paper maps in the glovebox
—here and there are fixed locations—
nothing but outdated overlays of our childhood vision
history folded and folded and finally crinkled smooth.


* * * * *

Jocelyn Olum is a student and a writer from Boston, Massachusetts. Her poetry has been featured in Red Eft Review and is forthcoming in Eunoia Review and Blue Marble Review.

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

THE REFUGEE

by Leonore Hildebrandt


The refugee’s face is ashen,
turned one last time toward home.
The bed you slept in. The apricot tree.

My people once invaded your country––
World War II––your wheat fields
turned to mud––my father kept silent about it.

He bore his wounds. War is a disorder
caught between tremors and rigidity.
Shattered windows, blackened houses.

Your hands tremble when you hear
the invaders speak––intercepted messages,
spasms that emanate from your town as well.

At night the palpitations travel underground
like body waves. Emerging from smoke,
from hate and rubble––may we find one another.

May we rebuild our countries as one refuge.
May your hands be calm again.


* * * * *

Leonore Hildebrandt is the author of the poetry collections Where You Happen to Be, The Work at Hand, and The Next Unknown. Her poems and translations have appeared in the Cimarron Review, Harpur Palate, Poetry Daily, RHINO, and the Sugar House Review, among other journals. Wordrunner eChapbooks published two of her poems in its 2017 Pushing Boundaries anthology. She was nominated several times for a Pushcart Prize. A native of Germany, Leonore lives “off the grid” in Harrington, Maine, and spends the winter in Silver City, New Mexico. LeonoreHildebrandt.com

Monday, 16 May 2022

 

This month, an additional Moon Prize, the 95th, goes to Victoria Twomey's poem "White Dress on a Clothesline."  



White Dress on a Clothesline

by Victoria Twomey


who has left this delicate cotton cloth
handsewn with care
to fit a young girl’s shape
with its small white buttons
its white lace collar
pinned at the shoulders
on this worn clothesline
behind this empty farmhouse?

the cloth is thin
and made for dense summer days
when this tree above
would have been fertile green
when there would have been
birds singing
a song for rising
a song for resting
a song by which to wander
a song to call the children home

more empty than the broken chairs
on the collapsing porch
this abandoned house
will soon be embraced by wild
come to claim, consume, console -
one day, it will call this cotton dress
with its blue satin ribbon about the waist
to rejoin the brown earth

this empty white dress
uplifted and released
ascending and descending
in the chilly breeze


* * * * *

Victoria Twomey is a poet and an artist. Her work is written in a direct style, reflecting both a deep emotional well and an intellectual exploration of time, death, and their spiritual connections. She has appeared as a featured poet at various venues around Long Island, NY, including the Hecksher Museum of Art, The Poetry Barn, Barnes & Noble, The Pisces Cafe, Borders Books, and local radio. Her poems have been published in several anthologies and on the web, including Sanctuary Magazine, BigCityLit, PoetryBay and Autumn Sky Poetry Daily. Her poem "Pieta" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

 

This month, the 94th Moon Prize goes to Sam Barbee's story "Conceiving."



Conceiving

by Sam Barbee


1954

There's no wrong side of the track in Appalachia, just the side called the homeplace.
The Ararat River ties everybody and everything together one way or another. 
No reason to dwell on Big City dreams. It all boils down to the way things leave you.

Recalling that cool October evening, those sweet night clouds hid everything but moonglow. I escaped laundry that night, chores next morning. Grabbed that flicker of neon in his handsome stories. By trade, he was a carpenter. Not broke down fretting over bad yields, or bad weather. Chestnut hair. Blue eyes. With him, never again would I scour ditches for pop bottles. No counting green stamps for sugar or salt. No more sitting with young 'ns while the rest went to socials, or to church. For that one moment, I stepped away.

No sister ever told me nothin about the way things was, worldly things that is. Just cooking . . . and then it was add salt, or too much salt. Could've learned that on my own, too. When mama died, I'd just turned eight: she would've told me what was what. And if he was living, Daddy would have got his Winchester and prodded that boy all the way to the Baptist Church, right through the town . . . probably right at Christmas time. That would've been beautiful, candles flickering behind stained glass, church-bells sounding across the snowy clearings.

For June, it's a gray morning. The air in this room is dead-still. There's a bush outside my window, a holly with some green berries. A thundershower made the berries glisten. The prickly leaves shed the rain, drop at a time. Up home, the same kind of bush speckles the meadow, like family gathering in July for the reunion. A picnic with checkered table cloths over barrels. Each aunt brings her specialty. Cousins, and children of cousins, all running into the sun.

My sister, Virginia, says I gotta get past this. Time will help me forget. The secret will heal. Mama told me once: I'd just as soon see my girls cold in the ground than cast shame on this family. Well, that's fine. I ain't ashamed. Not sure what I am, but have seen some of the Big City. I wish I could've seen my baby. Smelled my baby.



1972

There. Different and brighter than all the rest. There is my wishing star. The first I see each evening, the last one gone by day. Long as that star shines, I know you're okay. Little one: you're eighteen today. Makes you an adult by hill code. Younger than your daddy was. He was twenty-one when he swooned me, and twenty-one when he slipped out of town. Eighteen is a good age. Can be a strong age. I was eighteen when we had our minutes together. 

My motherness tells me you're a girl. Oh, could we share stories. But those years was stole from us by a thief in the night. One that slips away with a piece of you when the lamp burns low.
 
You'd think, four youngins later, I'd feel less for you, but no way!  I want to give you your blood: bring you here where they lay, tell you their stories, stone by stone. By God, I do. Hold your hand, lace fingers, comb curls into your hair.

It's your birthday. So, I visit these graves. Seems a bit strange, don't it. But it soothes me to see these fifty, sixty kin. There's Mama, Daddy, the others, too. Now, my Daddy, he would've taken you to raise. In a heartbeat. Bought you butterscotch. Told you stories. Made sure you had a fine Easter dress, white and pink, and a pretty bonnet to match. Nothin' like that brother of mine: Gotta give it away, give it away, away, away, all he’d say. I could've taken good care of you.

I try forgettin' my birthdays, but never yours. Each year, I make it here to this meadow, and just sit between the long shadows of our stones. Night is flying in, and the trees in the heights are crying down in their roots. But, one year, I hope I see you come a-traipsing out from those red oaks and ironwoods. I'll pluck the burrs from your chiffon. Smooth out tangles in your hair. And we can stroll down the road, just a ways, to the homeplace. That day will be my proud day.
The dust will settle itself while we walk.



1994

So many autumns ago, a seer told me my child would find a way right back to me. So much to do, now. How can I tell my others? Do I tell? Tell my first he's my second, my only boy has a brother?

I read this letter, over and over. I didn't know the child was a boy – must tell him that. Of course, how could I have done any different? I gave him up. He wasn't mine no more to fuss over. Can it be? Lord, somebody pinch me. My deep secret is out in the sunshine. How did he find me? Now my husband always told me if he was the child, he'd have to find his mama.

Forty years. Forty years, I've wondered, and, I guess, waited. Oh, me, I'm an old woman now. I'm silly and . . . I don't know what. How could he feel any good towards me? He has to. He has to. I'll tell him everything. No . . . I can't tell him everything. Oh . . .  I'm addled. I'm going to him. He said to when he sent that picture. I wonder if his wife knows? I do not want to make trouble for this boy.
  
For now, I've got to sleep. I see that moon and that moon sees me. Each ripple in this old pane had heard my midnight talk, time and time again. There's a night's-worth in every inch of glass in this house. Tonight, I'm opening the sash, and fillin this house with the mountain's peace, and the bite of the bright leaf, and fillin the holler with my pleasure. I'll count every star, dance with every bluet, count all I got down to the spider in the cupboard. The seer told me. Yes, she did. One day I could rest easy, complete in this life. I like this night air sifting over me. Mama's comforter keeping off the chill.


* * * * *

Sam Barbee has a new collection, Uncommon Book of Prayer (2021, Main Street Rag). His poems recently appeared in Poetry SouthLiterary Yard. His collection, That Rain We Needed (2016, Press 53), was nominated for Roanoke-Chowan Award as one of North Carolina’s best 2016 poetry collections; a two-time Pushcart nominee. 


Saturday, 14 May 2022

Lighthouse 

by Elaine Sorrentino

 
On the other side 
of the bathroom door 
my mother whimpers 
 
forgetting I exist
the moment 

the latch catches, 
 
God, help me 
I don't know what to do 
I don't know what to do 
 
she prays.  Outside, 
I touch the wood lovingly
resting my head
 
 
wondering 
how can I be her lighthouse 
when I am underwater myself. 

 
* * * * *

Elaine Sorrentino, Communications Director at South Shore Conservatory in Hingham, MA, has been published in Minerva RisingWillawaw Journal, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Ekphrastic Review, Writing in a Women’s Voice, Global Poemic, ONE ART: a journal of poetry, The Door is a Jar, Agape ReviewHaiku Universe, Sparks of CalliopeMuddy River Poetry ReviewLibrary Love Letter, and at wildamorris.blogspot.com


Friday, 13 May 2022

Stillborn

by Frances Lynch

 
In a room at the end of the maternity ward,
I find my puffy-eyed sister in bed.
She tells me she must wait until the "baby" is "ready."
The doctors have outlined how a C-section is too risky. 
The OB/GYN claims this method allows the parents to get their minds around the situation,
to process what is happening,
as though there were some circumstance in which
giving birth to a corpse would be acceptable.
They knock you out for wisdom teeth removal, but not for this.
This is barbaric.
 
There is nowhere to sit so
I perch quietly on the built-in metal cooling unit at the base of the window.
It is an uncomfortable seat, but how can I complain?
Nurses enter carrying various birthing items.
One pushes medical instruments on a tray, another pushes a baby incubator/bassinet combo.
They speak softly. They do not rush.
They have done this before.
 
The doctor arrives.
She places my sister’s feet in stirrups which had been hiding inside the hospital bed.
My sister wears the fuzzy pink socks I gave her for Valentine’s Day last year.
My brother-in-law holds my sister’s hand.
She is instructed to push.
She is crying, from pain or grief, or maybe both.
 
Horrified in my makeshift ringside seat, I want the air vents to suck me in, carry me away.
Yet, I am riveted to the scene before me. 
With such preparations, part of me expects the child to be alive.
Instead, I watch them pull him out like a piece of rubber.
He does not move.
 
He is a mouth-open tiny corpse with closed eyes,
miniature hands, half-open, as if grasping something.
The doctor wipes off the gook, and wraps him gently.
“How does he look?” My sister peers at the bundle.
“Like he is sleeping,” a nurse says.
Except he isn’t, I want to scream.
“Is he all there?” my sister whispers.
“Yes. Everything has formed. Perfectly,” the doctor tells her.
Perfectly? What medical school teaches that dead babies are perfect?
Somehow I stay silent, frozen to my air conditioning unit.
My sister cries and gently touches her dead child’s hand.
Her husband starts to sob. It is more like a howl.
 
“Why? Why is he dead?”
 
There is no answer, only the desperate sound of my brother-in-law’s choking howls,
and the hum of the motor on the air conditioning unit beneath me.
I feel the uncontrollable banging of my heart.
Even the doctors have no idea how to heal a soul.


* * * * *
 
Frances Lynch is an attorney and writer in Tucson, Arizona.

Thursday, 12 May 2022

 

Seeing

by Sandra Kohler


Nightmare recedes, flushed out of my body
by morning's walk, moving on streets where
mist is not falling but present, fine thickening,
medium we breathe as if it were simply air.

A neighbor is trying to start his van, opening
the hood. A car rushes down Tonawanda,
going the wrong way. The man fussing with
a car talks to the man I hadn't seen, who's out

on the porch at 83. He's managed to get his
van started, he'll drive off soon. A trio of
birds flies down the street; they too are flying
the wrong way. What was the nightmare that

chilled me? Living again in a different state,
the past turned ugly, difficult, in ways it was
not – or was it?  What I cannot remember
exists inside my consciousness as strongly

as what I can. I hear and don't see a plane.
I feel and don't see my past.


* * * * *

Sandra Kohler’s third collection of poems, Improbable Music, (Word Press) appeared in May, 2011. Earlier collections are The Country of Women (Calyx, 1995) and The Ceremonies of Longing, (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003). Her poems have appeared in journals, including The New Republic, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Prairie Schooner, and many others over the past 45 years. In 2018, a poem of hers was chosen to be part of Jenny Holzer’s permanent installation at the new Comcast Technology Center in Philadelphia.

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Her Voice 

by Kelly Sargent


I was born an identical twin in Luxembourg.
My miniature mirror followed me after I stretched our pungent means out
into a land perched on cliffs.
It’s another girl, the makeshift midwife from next door must have announced 
in French to a perspiring woman I would never call
Mom.

My three-pound twin arrived unexpectedly
with a cry that she would never hear
— she was deaf. 

It wouldn’t matter, though, that French words declared her 
    a second 
and an adoption agency asked nine months later if a couple wanted to 
trade her in.
One day, she would hear
with the nut-brown eyes, then lidded shut,
and speak a language that was already foreign to them;

foreign because they had four ears that weren’t broken,
or because

they had four ears 
that were broken. 

I have one broken and one not,

but I didn’t know which one was which
until 23 minutes ago
              when I considered it. 

The ten tiny fingers she must have clenched 
that would one day be 
          her voice
differed from the vibrations in her throat that assuredly joined in chorus with mine 
to fill that stuffy, damp and narrow room.

I wonder if the sweaty stranger or her neighbor counted them.


* * * * *


"Her Voice" first appeared in Cerasus Magazine and will also appear in Kelly Sargent's forthcoming poetry chapbook, Seeing Voices: Poetry in Motion (Kelsay Books, Summer 2022).

Kelly Sargent is a hard of hearing author and artist whose works have appeared in more than forty literary publications. She is a Best of the Net nominee, and her newest poetry chapbook entitled Seeing Voices: Poetry in Motion is forthcoming from Kelsay Books. She wrote for a national newspaper for the Deaf, and currently serves as the creative nonfiction editor and an assistant nonfiction editor for two literary journals, as well as a reviewer for an organization dedicated to making visible the artistic expression of sexual violence survivors.



Tuesday, 10 May 2022

 

Fruits of Labor

by Kelly Sargent


I wrap your tiny hand around my throat,
            size identical to your own,
for you to feel the sounds vibrating within:

            blue-ber-ry

            ba-nan-a

            straw-ber-ry

You wrap your tiny hand around your throat,
           size identical to my own,
for you to mimic the vibrations 
           that form the consonants and the vowels that you cannot hear. 

Your index finger with the Snoopy band-aid searches for the “r-r-r”…

            blue-ber-ry?

I shake my head. Look at my lips, I sign.

            blue-ber-ry 

I watch the cherry Chapstick crack on your lips 
            as “blueberry” makes them pucker. 

Next,
            ba-nan-a ?

Umm, say it slower, I say. See my tongue?

You mimic and mash “n-n-n” against the roof of your mouth
            with a tentative nod and raised, hopeful eyebrows. 

Then,
            straw-ber-ry?

Hand on my hip. Hmm, remember Dr. Lane with her popsicle stick? Ahhh …

            But you open too wide.

We cover our mouths momentarily to stifle girlish giggles —
            We are, after all, hard at work. 

            blue-ber-ry

            ba-nan-a

            straw-ber-ry

                                           and repeat
            blue-ber-ry

            ba-nan-a

            straw-ber-ry

                                            and adjust 
            blue-ber-ry

            ba-nan-a

            straw-ber-ry

                                           and tweak
            blue-ber-ry

            ba-nan-a

            straw-ber-ry

                                           again 
                                           and again 
                                           and again 

            and once more
 
until —

         fruit never tasted
              so sweet
           in our mouths.


* * * * *

"Fruits of Labor" about the author working with her deaf twin sister first appeared in Cerasus Magazine and will also appear in Kelly Sargent's forthcoming poetry chapbook, Seeing Voices: Poetry in Motion (Kelsay Books, Summer 2022).

Kelly Sargent is a hard of hearing author and artist whose works have appeared in more than forty literary publications. She is a Best of the Net nominee, and her newest poetry chapbook entitled Seeing Voices: Poetry in Motion is forthcoming from Kelsay Books. She wrote for a national newspaper for the Deaf, and currently serves as the creative nonfiction editor and an assistant nonfiction editor for two literary journals, as well as a reviewer for an organization dedicated to making visible the artistic expression of sexual violence survivors.


Monday, 9 May 2022

A BOSTONIAN

by Lorri Ventura


His home is a rag-filled refrigerator box
Propped crookedly on broken sidewalk
Alongside the Boston Common

When I ask his name
He says, “Just call me
‘Least of Your Brothers,’”
Then winks conspiratorially

He tugs off mismatched gloves
To jab his raw fingers
Into his tepid cup of Dunkin’
Before gulping its dregs
Coffee trickles through his beard
As he offers a sip to a passerby
Who squawks in protest
Before bolting to the other side of Tremont Street

The gold-gilded State House dome
Shines down on him
As his gnarled fingers weave gently
Through the yarn hair
Of the grimy, one-eyed Raggedy Ann
Propped in his lap
Every so often
He leans forward and kisses the top of the doll’s head
With a sweetness that brings tears to my eyes

Seeing people turn their faces away
As they rush past him
Pretending they don’t see them
He waves
And grins lopsidedly
Pushing his tongue through three wobbly teeth and chortling,
“Smile! I won’t hurt you! Have a good day!”

I squint through the sunlight
As I watch him from the nearest corner
And I think I see
A halo encircling his head

* * * * *

Lorri Ventura is a retired special education administrator living in Massachusetts. She is new to poetry-writing. Her poems have been featured in several anthologies, in Red Eft Journal, and in Quabbin Quills.



Sunday, 8 May 2022

HEART OF HAITI

by Lorri Ventura


His machete bobs lazily against his hip
As the old man shuffles up the mission house driveway
Hugging the armful of ungainly sticks he extends
As an offering to the woman who squats on the ground
By the fire
Dreamily stirring a pot brimming with rice and crushed peanuts
Drenched in tabasco sauce

The man’s dusty pants are held up by a belt
Made from yellowed banana leaves
On his feet he wears tire treads duct-taped to mismatched socks
He bows as he accepts a bowl of food
In exchange for the spindly firewood

We offer him a bedroll, a steaming mug of Re-Bo coffee
And a place to sit
But he just smiles and shakes his head
Tapping the raggedy pillowcase slung over his shoulder
It holds all of his possessions

He waves an arm toward the sky
Telling us that he has everything
He needs in the world
Before he bows and takes his leave

Predictable as ocean tide
The gentleman’s silent appearance every day
As dinner is being served
Makes us smile
And wish that we could give him more

Deep down, though, we know
That already he has what makes him happy
Because he chooses to be happy
With what he has


* * * * *

Lorri Ventura is a retired special education administrator living in Massachusetts. She is new to poetry-writing. Her poems have been featured in several anthologies, in Red Eft Journal, and in Quabbin Quills.

Saturday, 7 May 2022

Writing Beyond

by Julie Bolt


I’m writing beyond the patriarchy
Beyond Capitalism
Beyond Bitcoin
Beyond dystopia
I am writing beyond limitations
I am writing beyond war and crumbling societies
I am writing to survive
I am writing because love is in short supply
I am writing beyond supply and demand
I am writing because love is imperfect and defective
I am writing because words are often empty
I am writing to try and make them full
I am writing because after silence comes expression
I am writing in the cracks and through the layers
I am writing because life rushes toward death
I am writing because time has been wasted
I am writing because I have lived too much
I am writing because I want to live more
I am writing because I am not yet defeated
I am writing because I am angry
I am writing because I am scared
I am writing to find today’s power

I write pasts into future
I write to revolutionize love
I write for animals, water, our planet
I write between the real and the imagined
I write to honor instruments, canvass, the body, the pen
I write as a woman
I write as I age with desire
I write my rage and my passion
For moments beyond this moment
I write to rattle the cage
To float in the ether of me


* * * * *

Julie Bolt is an associate professor of literature and writing at Bronx Community College of the City University of New York. Her poems have appeared in Thieves Jargon, Slow Trains, The Red River Review, Poetic Diversity, Syntax, Shot Glass Journal, New Verse News and Home Planet News, amongst others.

Friday, 6 May 2022

Pay Attention

by Chelsie Kreitzman


I sit on the patio in early summer,
hand on my swollen belly,
feeling baby’s subaqueous movements, worrying
about all the heavy things:
The baby, the money, the future,
the husband and father who just walked out on us.

Two-year-old Emmett, all blonde curls,
picks up a pinecone from the sunny yard 
behind our apartment building.
“See pinecone,” he says with delight, 
shoving his treasure into my lap.  “So cute!”
His fat toddler finger jabs into the scales,
eyes so full of blue wonder that I want to cry.
Thank God he’s here, helping me pay attention.


* * * * *

Chelsie Kreitzman lives in Kentucky with her husband, two young sons, and a tuxedo cat named Cookie. Along with all things literary, she enjoys camping, hiking, working with horses, and spending time with her family. Her poetry has been published in a variety of literary journals, including Poetic SunThe Purpled NailStick Figure Poetry, and MockingOwl Roost.


Thursday, 5 May 2022

Flying in the Face of God

by Chelsie Kreitzman


Jeni’s mom takes us to see Titanic 
on a Sunday afternoon, still in church clothes,
patent leather shoes splashing
in parking lot puddles outside the theatre.
My parents cluck about sabbath-keeping—
Sundays were not for moviegoing
when they were young—about how the film 
is rated PG-13, but I am only eleven.
I find myself here anyway, riveted 
to a dingy seat stained with popcorn butter,
beholding the Ship of Dreams.

Jeni is enamored with Leo, of course,
handsome heart-stealing ragamuffin,
but he’s not what pulls me in—
I am not yet boy-crazy. I’m the sort of kid 
who claims I never want to get married.
No, I am fascinated by the shipwreck,
the aftermath of all that icy water 
pouring into the shining black boat,
flooding the theatre with an eerie blue light 
as we watch its villainous rise.
It drags that once-precious vessel down,
down into irretrievable darkness
then goes about chilling the bodies,
silencing so many screaming lungs.
The love story is just pretend, 
but the tragedy is real.

Later, back at Jeni’s house, my head pounds; 
I’m nauseated, maybe seasick,
can’t stomach a snack when she offers me one.
Instead, I apply and reapply cherry lip balm—
the medicated kind that makes my lips tingle,
the kind that makes me think of ice.

I read that a passenger had a premonition 
about Titanic sinking. I wonder if it’s true.  
Did she feel some type of physical warning?
A particular headache, shiver up her spine?  
Why did she ignore it?

Twenty years later, the husband I married after all
walks out on me. I nearly drown 
swimming in a sea of hindsight, 
an ocean of ignored warning signs.  
I pluck artifacts from the wreckage, 
thinking about the iceberg lurking silent all along, 
about how I never should have boarded the ship.
The love story is just pretend, 
but the tragedy is real.


* * * * *

Chelsie Kreitzman lives in Kentucky with her husband, two young sons, and a tuxedo cat named Cookie. Along with all things literary, she enjoys camping, hiking, working with horses, and spending time with her family. Her poetry has been published in a variety of literary journals, including Poetic SunThe Purpled NailStick Figure Poetry, and MockingOwl Roost.

Wednesday, 4 May 2022

House of My Youth

by Anne Myles


Because the living room was a glassed-in porch I wanted vision.

Because the windowpanes were wavy I learned how to see through tears.

Because the plank floor creaked with every step I wanted to know where I was going.

The ceilings were dark and low so it felt right to burrow.

A line of lamps hung down the middle so I wanted to find illumination again and again.

Because my aunt had sewed the curtains I knew craft, and because she chose wild fuchsia flowers I believed in imagination.

Because my bed swayed in its old wooden frame I sensed there was a journey.

Bats chittered between the thin walls beside my head so I could tell the invisible world was never far.

Because the house was full of rooms I dreamed there was a secret room I had yet to discover.

Because the clapboard was white I wanted distance and memory and impossible longing.

Because the trim was red I believed that longing was the same as passion.

At times the wind would fling itself fiercely up from the lake so I felt called to endure.

Because the trees rustled through the long summer night I wanted to say what it was like.

But my parents filled the house with their voices so I could not hear my own.

Until the house and the lake and the voices were gone, and only the wanting left.


* * * * *

Anne Myles’s work has appeared in the North American Review, Split Rock Review, Whale Road Review, Lavender Review, Ekphrastic Review, and other journals. She is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Northern Iowa and received her MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is a Pushcart nominee and a recent transplant to Greensboro, NC.

Tuesday, 3 May 2022

 

Where Affection Speaks in Breezy Whispers       

by Jeannie E. Roberts


I

She found belief
during her daily rendezvous
the one where swallowtails glide
beside the soft burst of milkweed
and thistles greet the attention
of monarchs as light filters and renewal
rises like the vital dedication to faith

II

She found confidence
during her daily rendezvous
the one where field grass grows
in green agreement and goldenrod
waves in joyful communion
as bees bustle and dragonflies dart
like the eager equivalence of hope

III

She found devotion
during her daily rendezvous
the one where affection speaks
in breezy whispers and alignment
unfolds with gentle ease
as time stops and the soul opens
like the honeyed euphoria of love

IV

She found harmony
during her daily rendezvous
the one where grasshoppers gather
in busy alliance and the meadow
responds with quiet rapport
as elegance lifts and nature mends
like the subtle immersion of peace

V

She found resolution
during her daily rendezvous with God


* * * * *

Jeannie E. Roberts lives in Wisconsin, where she writes, draws and paints, and often photographs her natural surroundings. She’s authored seven books, five poetry collections and two illustrated children's books. Her most recent collection, As If Labyrinth - Pandemic Inspired Poems, was released in 2021 by Kelsay Books. Her poems appear in PanoplySky Island JournalVerse-VirtualVisual Verse, Writing In A Woman’s Voice, and elsewhere. She’s an animal lover, a nature enthusiast, and an equal rights advocate. She's also a Best of the Net award nominee and poetry editor of the online literary magazine Halfway Down the Stairs. 

Monday, 2 May 2022

A Seawall of Light   

by Jeannie E. Roberts            


an unseen benevolence
lessened the rigors
of teenage loss
amassed courage
for the path
of unknowns
persevered
when brutality
took aim
an unseen benevolence
held comfort
when the inky essence
of human predation
earmarked its prey
as if providence
an unseen benevolence
blocked the darkness
of deviation
stopped the sting
of inclination
forbade the pathology
of infringement
an unseen benevolence
forestalled the aberrance
of intent
bestowed the buoyancy
of second sight
to tread through squalls
within a seawall of light


* * * * *

Jeannie E. Roberts lives in Wisconsin, where she writes, draws and paints, and often photographs her natural surroundings. She’s authored seven books, five poetry collections and two illustrated children's books. Her most recent collection, As If Labyrinth - Pandemic Inspired Poemswas released in 2021 by Kelsay Books. Her poems appear in PanoplySky Island JournalVerse-VirtualVisual Verse, Writing In A Woman’s Voice, and elsewhere. She’s an animal lover, a nature enthusiast, and an equal rights advocate. She's also a Best of the Net award nominee and poetry editor of the online literary magazine Halfway Down the Stairs. 


Sunday, 1 May 2022

 

I Will Take You In

by Victoria Twomey


the heavens cover me like a sleeping baby
with a star-dappled blanket,
the color of night

the sun worships me as a wildflower goddess
spreading its golden dress in a shimmering curtsy at dawn
and bowing its head with respect at dusk

with my two loving open palms,
my acres of gently waving fingers,
I accept all the land might send for me to gather in

I am a joyful child
with yellow butterflies and shining dragonflies about my face
with industrious burrowers beneath my feet

when startled, I shudder with a burst of flapping crows
but I am reassured by the meadowlarks,
the soft brush of breeze, and singing bees

I am the Purple Poppy Mallow
I am the Pearly Everlasting
I am the Yellow Evening Primrose

go out beyond your fence, your gate,
past the ramshackle barn,
the silent plow

look for the end to the path, and go farther
look for the vole, the shrew, the spittlebug,
the winding garter snake, the leaping orange fox

look for the place where rabbits hide and wild begins
let go of all in you that has been tamed
and I will take you in



* * * * *

Victoria Twomey is a poet and an artist. Her work is written in a direct style, reflecting both a deep emotional well and an intellectual exploration of time, death, and their spiritual connections. She has appeared as a featured poet at various venues around Long Island, NY, including the Hecksher Museum of Art, The Poetry Barn, Barnes & Noble, The Pisces Cafe, Borders Books, and local radio. Her poems have been published in several anthologies and on the web, including Sanctuary Magazine, BigCityLit, PoetryBay and Autumn Sky Poetry Daily. Her poem "Pieta" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Saturday, 30 April 2022

White Dress on a Clothesline

by Victoria Twomey


who has left this delicate cotton cloth
handsewn with care
to fit a young girl’s shape
with its small white buttons
its white lace collar
pinned at the shoulders
on this worn clothesline
behind this empty farmhouse?

the cloth is thin
and made for dense summer days
when this tree above
would have been fertile green
when there would have been
birds singing
a song for rising
a song for resting
a song by which to wander
a song to call the children home

more empty than the broken chairs
on the collapsing porch
this abandoned house
will soon be embraced by wild
come to claim, consume, console -
one day, it will call this cotton dress
with its blue satin ribbon about the waist
to rejoin the brown earth

this empty white dress
uplifted and released
ascending and descending
in the chilly breeze


* * * * *

Victoria Twomey is a poet and an artist. Her work is written in a direct style, reflecting both a deep emotional well and an intellectual exploration of time, death, and their spiritual connections. She has appeared as a featured poet at various venues around Long Island, NY, including the Hecksher Museum of Art, The Poetry Barn, Barnes & Noble, The Pisces Cafe, Borders Books, and local radio. Her poems have been published in several anthologies and on the web, including Sanctuary Magazine, BigCityLit, PoetryBay and Autumn Sky Poetry Daily. Her poem "Pieta" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Friday, 29 April 2022

 

Emergency Preparedness

by Jennifer Mills Kerr


take a toothbrush
take a flashlight 
take your child’s hand
take your passport
take your prayers 
take your wedding band 
take comfort in 
your sheltered heart
the love you carry within
take comfort in passing time 
your contact list, your breath
take comfort in your packed bag
your ability to plan
though the night is hot and 
you have far to go
you will arrive-- 
time makes it so--
now breathe
now pray 
now take your child’s hand
though the night is hot and 
you have far to go
take comfort in
your sheltered heart
the love you carry within


* * * * *


Jennifer Mills Kerr is a writer and poet living in Lake County, California. An East Coast native, she loves mild winters, anything Jane Austen, and the raucous coast of Northern California.