Sharp edges of fire waved in front of her.
A long reed-like arm reached through the smoke and grabbed the small of her arm.
It pulled her.
She held close to the wall,
steadying herself with one hand.
The smoke fingered her hair,
filled her lungs.
“Where am I?” she asked,
The smoke rose.
The color of an egg-yoke,
peered back, parting the smoke.
“Welcome,” it said,
“To the kingdom of ashes,”
And began to laugh.
I have parable-like dreams of a better world.
Cougars and foxes dance with Billy-goats and wild geese, but
I can’t see myself,
Only my footsteps--
For a moment I am there--
Then washed away
By the wind
And the water,
Marking a time that does not pass.
I can feel the warmth
Of horses running past me.
I smell their skin.
And I know,
I know that I’m loved.
A thin red string
Mingles with dust and dead skin,
Like a snake slithering in grass,
While dry silverfish and German roaches
Curl up into a nest,
Entombed in the corner,
Where they’re never seen.
Across the way,
Strands of loose carpet reach over the wall which separates,
Inside from outside,
Civilization from jungle.
The old linoleum lifts,
As if the the earth were yawning
And pulling us in.
I look in the mirror.
A strand of hair
Forms an “S” in the middle of my reflection;
Milky white spots dance on my forehead,
Where age and worry rest.
And I’m getting old.
I put the brushes and the cleaners away;
I turn off the lights,
And let nature take its course.
( Maryam El-Shall teaches writing and lives in Florida. Her work explores a spectrum of themes from solitude to war and empire. This is her first published poem.)
The Small Dance
The day has come at last,
the day for hope and answered prayers.
Joy to the toiler! Joy to the sturdy trees!
The little lost wind
wanders through the meadow,
finding little to fear.
Disillusionment disperses over the sky,
enabling frogs to sing their truth in forgotten fens.
It’s high time to reject analogies!
There are too many of one sort,
too few of those that matter.
Philosophy, what of it?
Psychology, too obvious!
The absorption of energy persists
to make electrons positive
so they may behave like normal electrons.
It’s called the small dance,
whether it’s big or small.
And it’s my job
to make sure every girl has a partner
but no one partner for too long.
It’s the quiet of a loving eye
that pines for what is not.
It’s the danger that disappears
because you have turned a corner
and can no longer sense it.
(Paul Brucker, a marketing communications writer, lives in Mt. Prospect, IL, “Where "Friendliness is a Way of Life." Active in the early 1980s Washington, D.C, poetry scene, he put a lid on poetry writing when he went to the Northwestern University grad ad school to learn how to think like a businessman and secure a decent income. Nevertheless, he has succumbed to writing poetry again. He has been published somewhat recently in "Crack the Spine," "The New Plains Review," "The Poydras Review,""The Taj Mahal Review," "Inkwell" and the anthology, "The Pagan's Muse: Words of Ritual, Invocation and Inspiration.")
Up with the Larks
When roused from one’s demonic dreams –
the world in waiting freezing outside,
you hardly remember your own name,
let alone, any personal history, other that that
you were cheated in love, cheated in life
by madness and an inability to follow the rules.
Always an outsider, never a rider,
given to melancholy, for as young as you can
remember, the world frozen with grief.
How would it be, not yet remembered,
if your time on Earth wasn’t worth
a footnote, or even a song for old times?
Hard to imagine your poems saved anyone,
more so, to think you deserved
anything more than a nod from the top.
So rise early with the larks, as if your identity
depended upon it, your whole life
being no more than the sum of your dreams.
Two Men Treading Water
Now we are two, variously thrashing around,
up to our necks
in this viscous soup we call the ocean.
The life boats have moved out of harm’s way
and our buoyancy aides
hardly suffice against the freezing waves.
We must drink the salty soup
until we burst, shuffle off, or worse still,
we are the last to be rescued alive.
Pity about the trip of a lifetime.
Pity how much time has been wasted.
Pity how we are loved and not loved.
Most Things are Never Meant Paradox
After all the years of forgetting and pain
he thought he would never forget
the image of her face in his mind’s eye.
Yet at the end of days and the decades
that lay between them, time had transformed
both perception and reality, as if to
render memory incapable of capturing
any informed picture of her countenance.
Sure enough, beauty had its place
at the heart of it, but only the idea
without detail or form, latent in his brain.
Not much to show for a lifetime in verse.
Nonetheless, how could he forget
her hand-written letter of admiration –
her nineteen years, the sense
that wonder could still be had
in the holding of someone else’s hand?
Regret, the only word for it now,
but regret tempered with the cynic’s eye.
Trapped by the inertia of loneliness
he speaks her name out loud: Sandrine!
Sandrine! Sandrine! Three times out loud
for luck, for a connection never to be
lived, and finally for love.
(Mark A. Murphy is the editor of the online journal, POETiCA REViEW. His poetry collections include Tin Cat Alley (1996), Our Little Bit of Immortality (2011), Night-watch Man & Muse (2013) and his next full length collection, Night Wanderer’s Plea is pending from Waterloo Press in the UK.)
When you grow up and tell me
things, grown-up things, in the language
and thoughts of grown-ups.
When you won’t speak
for the fun of it and act
your then age.
How will I feel?
How much shall I miss
the little you my child!
I actually stop typing,
as I’ve heard you playing
and babbling joyfully
in the other room.
I must first play
with you, long,
long before you
don’t want to play
with your old father
The flying cage
I saw a flying iron cage, yes, the bars
were round as I saw the silhouette and there was an iron
desk in it and a chair of iron to sit on.
All the things were patterned as grills, so
I could see through them from my terrace as the cage flew
high in the sky. The night was dark around
the cage and I had no time to check whether any moon
gave its light anywhere. I had no time,
as I was busy calling my children from downstairs
to come watch that quaint thing with me. No, it was not
magic, the orange glow that showed the cage
to me below came from the fire from under
the balloon that lifted it. No, my children did not
join me to witness the spectacle and to make it complete as,
the man that sat at the desk just opened the door
of the cage
It’s not easy to write.
First, there’s that light,
piercing pain somewhere between my right
ear and eye. It goes away for some time but
returns stubbornly. Then, there’s that doubt,
rather, there are two of them. My wife was not
well this morning. Was it just
common cold, or there’s something to worry about?
I need some documents to start
a process, and have applied for the same. Will I get it?
Shall my will be done? Yet I make myself sit to write,
happy that I’m free for the moment
and no one needs me for some time. I write
because I can. I write
for my dream. I write
as I hope. I live, so I write.
(Rajnish Mishra is a poet, writer, translator and blogger born and brought up in Varanasi, India and now in exile from his city. His work originates at the point of intersection between his psyche and his city. He edits PPP Ezine.)
ON MY RETURN
Through other lives lived
I find myself again here
Where the mad roam
In worlds designed by
My dignity is robbed
And I am divested of all my passions
Like an animal caged
I roar and smash
But it is too late for anger
Know not to believe
Thoughts telling me
I can do anything
Been here too long now
Not to trust my addled mind
As it betrays me
Time and again
RAGE AND FURY
Loose in my soul
To come back
Gathering all around
Enclosing me inside
Like a ruined walled castle garden
With no castle left to protect
Where am I ?
What am I ?
Are there others here ?
No, I am alone
Nobody to come out and play
Can saoirse come out to play ?
Where did the all go ?
I see hundreds of faces
Turning into one
I'm all that I'm here with
A child ?
An adult ?
In the darkness
Dark, dark days and nights
Becomming so small
I hardly recognise myself
A shrivelled wreck
Bursting through the calm
No moments to gather self
A full rush wave of
An outpouring of VIOLENCE
This one is the biggest curse
At the begining
And once it starts
Can stop it
Until I burn out
And then floods of tears
But then it is always
BY SAOIRSE LOVE
as children we expect our mothers and
our fathers to live forever
we envision them as immortal and
challenge their ways
then death comes and
picks off one grandparent at a time
an uncle suicides
a divorce is finalized
and the puddles we once jumped in
remain stagnant and lonesome
the bogeyman we once feared
becomes credit card debt
rent or a mortgage
a hospital bill
the electric bill
the gas bill
it is endless and it has always been
but as children
our parents shielded us from
somedays there is a harmony
like old chimes blowing in the wind
though no chimes are outside
and no wind is present
i do not know what this means
but it continues on
and this harmony
brings about a forgotten peace
that was once found in those
now stagnant puddles.
(Tohm Bakelas is a published poet from New Jersey)
I remember my grandparent’s enclosed porch,
their Boston Terriers nipping at my heels
as I entered the yard.
I enjoyed the reminiscences,
repeated at each visit.
I reveled in the laughter that ensued
after each anecdote about my childhood was concluded.
The story I remember most today
is the one about my lone field trip,
at the age of three,
to the neighborhood railroad tracks.
Little me, found by frantic people
and returned home safely.
In later years, my grandmother,
was found wandering
those same railroad tracks
by equally frantic people.
I’ve wondered since
if we were looking for the same thing.
(Linda Imbler’s poetry collections include “Big Questions, Little Sleep,” “Lost and Found,” “The Sea’s Secret Song,” and “Pairings,” a hybrid ebook of short fiction and poetry. She is a Kansas-based Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net Nominee. Linda’s poetry and a listing of publications can be found at lindaspoetryblog.blogspot.com.)
"You love me as I am, and for that grace
I must be thankful - yet I can't forgive.
The tenderness of you, and all you give
like salt upon the wound of my disgrace.
Healed without, festers an inner scar
- so bitterly I mourn a truer me
and fear you would not love me, were I he -
the rescuer, the helper that you are."
"The ugliness you show is only doubt;
past failure cut deep, pain is its crust.
My kindness is no trap - but the way out....
Happiness is ours - if you will trust!
I love you as you are, for what I see -
is all the inner man was meant to be."
With the Trees
Tree, weaving a net to catch the sun
more years than I have walked --
Can you hold that burning glory?
Can you keep the shining one?
We bathe at sunset,
dusty halos of desire...
Tree, filtering the thieving wind
through bared and jaded teeth.
Who does it give your leaves to?
Why does it steal your bloom?
The scent surrounds us,
rain lashes through...
If we could
bask in the wind, swallow the sun:
a storm would heal us;
the air; be full of golden krill.
Sky has thought: "I should be Earth";
burdened itself with mountains:
sullen peaks, foundering in blueness -
Earth has dreamed of being heaven;
sucks in its motley shores,
frothing to expand like a pure sky
the oceans seven.
Element's exchange allowed,
we should live in one green twilight,
(Ruth Asch is a poet and creative prose writer, whose work is to be found printed in several anthologies, literary journals, websites, and in her early book Reflections. She is also a part-time teacher and mother of five, living in Preston, England.)
It's not so much butterflies
fluttering, but corrosive bats flitting
with barbed wire wings,
venomous teeth gnawing at me,
acid laced claws tearing at my flesh,
puncturing my lungs
so that the oxygen won't stick,
the air claustrophobic in my throat.
It's a rabid fever I can't sweat out,
percolating and putrid,
and its fangs won't release me.
The world drowns in inky gloom,
stars blotted out by the weight.
The Midas touch in reverse,
watch as I turn everything to shit.
Every nerve numbed and dead,
my wrists beg for the blade
but settle for the cyanide smell of the pen.
Pain bleeds onto the snowy page.
A scribbled out story, a biro biopic;
a life both over-lived and under-lived.
(Kirsty A. Niven lives in Dundee, Scotland. Her writing has appeared in anthologies such as Landfall, A Prince Tribute and Of Burgers and Barrooms.She has also featured in several journals and magazines, including The Dawntreader, Cicada Magazine, Dundee Writes and Word Fountain. Kirsty's work can also be found online on sites such as Cultured Vultures, Atrium Poetry and Nine Muses Poetry.)
Without the need to label
mind’s endless conversation
is a flower
and feelings rest on leaves
scattered by wind
to settle near hyacinths
and water lilies.
A bowl turned up in smile
holds the motion
in an unruffled pond.
No need for misgivings
or even for dream.
just as it is.
Fear of the Marketplace
Each night she prayed to a different god
or goddess.-----------This night the moon
heard her devotions......then cast a spell
with bells of silver,-----Selene’s radiance.
Her plea was always-------------the same.
Let me step outside----------------the door
with no hesitation,-------------free of terror.
She was a petrified oak-------------rooted
to hardwood floors----------------branches
reaching only--------------------------to wall.
No skyness------------------no earth touch
only window light-------------and the hum
of lamps.------------------------A small, self-
enclosed sanctuary-------------like prison.
Each morning-------------------she waited
for the slap--------------------of daily news
on the doorstep------------------paper boy
riding off-------------------neighbor leaving
for work.-------------------Hardly breathing
she would inch--------------open the door
bend down--------------with curled fingers
reach around----------------------the frame
to nab her prize.------------------The relief
of door shut--------------against the world
followed by-------the sour taste of failure.
There were chestnuts in my soup
and my heart opened wide as the Nile
in summer. I was a pyramid longing,
yearning crop of corn and cabbages,
bored by the drama of ordinary things.
I excavated bones and planets,
bore children on an upturned
heron wing through tumult and roar
yet still I feared those soot-dark,
unexamined corners within.
Through tangles of twisted logic,
I followed uncertainty in doubtful colors.
Anxiety moldered beneath a thin veneer
of calm though I stopped short of looking
directly at my night terrors,
avoided that deepest well of unceasing
dread. An amber cloud of not knowing,
no control. Until I had no choice. Until
Persephone threw me into Hades'
realm and took my shoes.
I circled my own heart, drawn into
a vortex of apparitions, archetypes
and ebony snakes with searching
tongues–sinking in terror's quicksand
Thoughts frozen in the seething
black were freed once owned,
foreboding eased as dawn’s light
illuminated my mind. I heard
the laughter of surrender.
(Carol Alena Aronoff’s work has appeared in numerous journals/anthologies, won several prizes. She was twice nominated for a Pushcart, published a chapbook (Cornsilk) and 5 books of her poems: The Nature of Music, Cornsilk, Her Soup Made the Moon Weep, Blessings From an Unseen World and Dreaming Earth’s Body.)
The Beautiful Space-