Blossom and leaf know change and turn,
earth days see constant beginning and end;
hold the spark of eternal fire in hand,
smile at vanishing years,
ignore the tick of the clock,
take the staff and continue to walk
the road, the steep winding stairs.
Peoples scattered like leaves swept by storm.
World fire blazes, death reaps on earth.
Preserve this flame of mysterious birth,
which knows no decay, only lasting desire,
whose agony is lost in blissful devotion.
From a flowering exuberant explosion
incense clouds of sweetness expire.
Time dissolves easily, so full of sun,
drink from the scarlet chalice of this day.
Gently, the linden tree hangs an array
over us: its subtle green filigree veils.
Chimes, in the distance, sound,
hours like fluttering leaves fall to ground
slowly in the counting weighing scales.
Darkish and solemn under bitter air
leaves rustle on the narrow path,
announcing early autumn days.
Sweetly suffused by ripe apples’ scent,
trees stretch their bronze-golden branches.
Wine winds purple chains round walls,
so rich and ripe, so full, this summer's end.
Shining like last bouquets of flowers
embraces summer selves in final love,
whispers goodbye; the cooing of a dove,
the heavy perfume of saved hay,
silage, straw, cabbage and apples,
of pumpkins and grapes;
sustenance for long cold winter days.
Like sweet woodlark’s song,
flows quickly on soft wings
sunshine spreads on undulating hills,
dew-wind unites with winding rills.
Wafts from the sirens’ songs,
oscillate like sounds of sea,
deep subconscious longing,
gives us time to think.
Crickets fiddle in the grass,
a creek runs through rough stones,
the rose glows in the garden,
gorse blooms along the fields.
Far the scream of jackdaws;
then a long and heavy sigh.
As if the mountain takes a breath,
gusts are falling from the high.
Buzzing through the treetops
a swarm of rushing birds
and from the beech slope
short wing beats of a dove.
Shepherd and flock seek rest,
near fields of corn abundance,
and on orchard’s fruited vines
still rests the summer silence.
On sylvan peaceful scene
the sun is shining brightly,
and stripes of light lightly
move along like hands.
The late summer’s sun
rests on bare rock’s face
to grant to moss and ivy
a last warm favour’s grace.
Waiting for the reaping hook,
rich meadows’ golden gift,
soon yet the austere, rough
threshers’ work comes to an end.
Harvest celebrations fade away
around the rich filled barns,
around the farmhouse’s threshing floor
summer night drapes veils galore.
The opulent harvest time
is gone, the green pollen waves
and dust of rye and wheat fields
are blown and flown away.
Scurrying through fences’ laths,
from the stable to the shed
slipped a marten’s fleeting shadow,
swiftly up the birch tree’s trunk.
From deep forests soothing silence,
when the silent star balls glow,
distant the monotone night’s song
of steady falling waterfalls.
Final strokes of nine
peal from a village tower,
whining of a mandolin
over the dreaming hover.
Hay moon’s morn and eve
Mellow are the July nights
when the sunset’s reddish fading
and the early morning lights
dawning blur and blend together.
When summer with red roses
bleeds to death so rapidly,
cawing ravens mourn the dead,
the blackbird has not sung
its last song yet.
Warm rays from the sunset
make distant peaks glow red,
the scream of the wild eagle
sounds over the forest silhouette,
while pale-cold falls the mist
into the closing day.
Under lime trees, under elms,
under thatched roof’s hanging wings
overgrown with moss and weeds,
stretching wide and shielding.
I want to put into a song
what on moonlit village green
I heard the fairies lisping.
What grey stone’s mossy green
inscription said to me.
Fog pictures rise in twilight,
from the dark days ‘past.
I hear faint voices whisp’ring,
sounds of pleasure, lament, anger.
A last farewell, so distant.
Silent night in the deep forest
around the birches’ black white bark;
around the alder’s trunks so dark,
flows the moonlight soft and mild.
(Eduard Schmidt-Zorner is an artist and a translator and writer of poetry, crime novels and short stories. He is writing haibun, tanka, haiku and poetry in four languages: English, French, Spanish and German and holds workshops on Japanese and Chinese style poetry and prose. He is a member of four writer groups in Ireland and lives in County Kerry, Ireland, for more than 25 years and is a proud Irish citizen, born in Germany. He was published in 59 anthologies, literary journals and broadsheets in UK, Ireland, Canada and USA. Writes also under his pen name: Eadbhard McGowan)
THE BEDSIDE BOOK OF NATURAL MAGIC
I need a thought like clean,
I need to dissolve into the whole
rather than solve
a sheet of equations for x.
I don’t want to think about those little
paperbacks that teach
teenagers to hex each other.
The little chills
that can’t help
but fill a moment.
I don’t want to think about how weeds
grow and skin freckles.
Hell is a heck
of a lot less scary
when published in paperback.
It can’t be helped.
The enamel wears thin.
The drain grows
its rusty beard.
Ajax crystals gather
near large underpants.
Singing naked I know
what the most blessed
of hobos knows:
The telephone rings.
The world squirrels
bits of itself away
under our fingernails.
It has to do with renewal
and settling down
to think about a journey
once believed dirty,
once believed endless.
VISITORS FROM BEYOND
I sleep to the sound of waves
defining the shore.
I dream of maintenance snakes need
a thousand holes.
Who is Ruby Stone?
And why is she so smooth
and in my bed?
I have always been open
I used to sleep with the radio on.
The radio waves at night
seemed to rejuvenate
the entire world.
(Glen Armstrong holds an MFA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and teaches writing at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. He edits a poetry journal called Cruel Garters and has two new chapbooks: Simpler Times and Staring Down Miracles. His work has appeared in Poetry Northwest, Conduit, and Cream City Review.)
The Truth About Ageing
sun dapples woods
trillium titillates shady patches
cedar perfumes air
crisp clear calm
we knew we’d have to sell our place
on the lake one day
but somehow never
thought that day would come
our future currency of loss
desire yearning despair
The Truth About Happy
This grey that stares
Lies not, stark skin and bone.
Happy, at this age, comes
with many qualifiers.
I was less stiff when
I got out of bed this morning.
I’m happy about that.
Sara’s cancer is confined
to her gall bladder, lymph
nodes and liver are clear.
That makes me happy.
Only five people from my
high school class are dead
and I’m not one of them.
That’s something to celebrate.
Every now and then my left
ankle doesn’t work, but
that’s only every now and then;
mostly it works and I walk
my little dog Mugsi and
watch her tushie wiggle
down Maple Avenue,
and that makes me happy.
I only allow myself half a
grapefruit in the morning but,
after I eat the sections I’ve
carefully carved from the fruit,
I squeeze the juice into my bowl.
Those sips of fresh grapefruit
juice produce a pleasure beyond
joy. And when my wife, Judy,
takes a moment to pat my arm
when I’m cooking our dinner
or kisses me on the cheek
when I put her plate before her,
the happy I feel makes
saints hit their knees.
Of course, there’s the nitwit in Washington,
the constant lies, hypocrisies that cause
mirrors to blush, the idea that empathy
is a national security risk. Yet with us
humans there’s always the possibility
that kindness will be reborn, that
compassion will make a comeback,
that happy will be happy again.
The Truth About Night
Why is the night so craven?
Everything possible during the day
seems impossible at night. I’m
not referring to the raucous bacchanalia
of night clubs and dance halls,
the blockbusters at movie houses,
or poker nights with the guys.
I’m talking about the sweat-soaked
heart pounding 3 AM maelstrom
when you’re sure you have terminal
cancer, an infection no antibiotic will cure,
and that all your arteries will close at once.
This is when your disgraces, every time
you measured your mouth for your foot size,
reappear in technicolor and surround sound,
when the eyes of the world are focused
solely on you and people with names like
Wolf, Anderson, and Rachel smirk and
intone your sins over and over
on their 24-hour news programs.
You rise from bed, an anvil of shame
on your back, pee, sip some water,
crawl under the covers and wait
for light’s subtle shade, that lambent
curtain of forgiveness called dawn.
(Charlie Brice is the author of Flashcuts Out of Chaos (2016), Mnemosyne’s Hand (2018), and An Accident of Blood (2019), all from WordTech Editions. His poetry has been nominated for the Best of Net anthology and twice for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in over ninety publications.)
The Inlay Work on the Left Side of the Brain
A nest of the woman’s hair
in all directions
like a map of the town.
The poet never stirred
for four days and nights.
A swarm of black flies
quivering up the walls.
Little children with vague
standing over her bed.
linen pale as snow.
(Winston Plowes shares his floating home in Calderdale UK with his seventeen-year-old cat, Sausage. He teaches creative writing in schools, universities and to local groups while she dreams of Mouseland. His latest collection, Tales from the Tachograph was published jointly with Gaia Holmes in 2018 by Calder Valley Poetry. www.winstonplowes.co.uk)
A Minor Distraction
You, who are about to be eaten.
You, trapped among the intangible,
sinking deeper the harder you struggle,
remarkably adept at suffering,
dogged by false intuition,
an icy finger running along your spine,
a premonition gnawing on blood and bone,
your ‘gift’ the curse of seeing
that which lies beyond the senses.
You, somewhat like the rest of us,
inhabited by an innate instability,
temporarily maintaining equilibrium,
keeping the illusion alive, momentarily,
before quietly slipping over the edge.
(Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician currently residing on Salt Spring Island BC, is a multiple Pushcart nominee with over 1,500 poems published internationally in magazines such as Poetry, Rattle and the North American Review. His books are ‘The So-Called Sonnets (Silenced Press); ‘An Unbecoming Fit Of Frenzy; (Cawing Crow Press) and ‘Like As If” (Pski’s Porch), Hearsay (The Poet’s Haven).
Between the rust and bone of seasons
And tattering metal teeth born of clinical instruments
My grandmother surrendered her pugnacious spirit
And saw, from her hospital bed, the great plains
On which her husband waited all those absent years.
Between thick blood and burnt swollen flesh
My aunt finally nodded subtly to a bleak forecast
Accepting the towers rising from her breasts
To be the final announcement of her fading beauty,
Tearing her away from two children still in grade school.
I embrace the quiet places that their voices once filled
There is always reminisce - the aftermath of greatness leaves an echo
That time will never lay to rest.
(Johann grew up in the Free State on the border of Lesotho and South Africa. He studied communication and industrial psychology at the northwest university in Potchefstroom and currently works in television and as freelance writer in Johannesburg. He has also written two international children’s books – Frankie Learns to Fly & Bhubesi. He has published poetry both locally and internationally, in journals such as The Kalahari Review, The Rye Whiskey Review and Down In The Dirt. He is a finalist in the esteemed Ingrid Jonker A la poetic competition and some of his work will appear in the Sea Glass Hearts American Poets Anthology published in the United States later this year. Currently, Johann is working on his debut individual poetry collection in Afrikaans. His first individual English collection has been picked up and will be published in the States in early 2020).
7 days after my sister’s death
this morning i peeled and sliced
a potato into flat triangles and
heated cooking oil
dropped the off-white pieces
onto the hot pan
they fried until crispy brown
then i cracked 3 eggs
cooked over easy
the thick orange-yellow
yolks were intact
as they awaited the fork’s
puncture that would
create the slow luxurious
release of the thick liquid
over the slightly salted
i warmed a flour tortilla
on the stove’s open flame
flipping it over by hand
feeling the fire nip at
the tips of my fingers
and suddenly it comes to me:
if this were to be my last breakfast
i would die a happy man
dear sister, i hope it was like this
(no stanza break)
for you on the day you ate your last meal
i hope you smiled and thought to yourself
“damn, this is good”
(Vargas received his MFA from the University of New Mexico, 2010. He was recipient of the 2011 Taos Summer Writers’ Conference’s Hispanic Writer Award. Currently, he resides in Beloit, WI. His three books of poetry are McLife, American Jesus, and Guernica, revisited. He edited/published The Mas Tequila Review from 2010-2015.)
at five o’clock
is not a giant star
into a tiny space,
in its center.
I can still be seen
without a telescope.
If I keep my eyes
For a little
What Did Not Happen Today
A deer through the windshield
A tree smashing the roof
A snake in the toilet
Not one. Not today.
And you did not fall down the stairs
or vomit blood.
You did not.
Your heart should be floating,
buoyant as a beach ball
on the river that did not rise
and spoil your evening cocoa
before snuggling into bed.
(Jacqueline Jules is the author of three chapbooks, Field Trip to the Museum (Finishing Line Press), Stronger Than Cleopatra (ELJ Publications), and Itzhak Perlman’s Broken String, winner of the 2016 Helen Kay Chapbook Prize from Evening Street Press. Her work has appeared in over 100 publications including Poetica, Beltway Poetry News, Cider Press Review, Potomac Review, Inkwell, Hospital Drive, and Imitation Fruit. She is also the author of 40 books for young readers. Visit www.jacquelinejules.com )
Thinking Outside [BOXES]
You say you’re still single because
nobody has ticked all the boxes.
Advice: discard empty [ ]es,
do war dance as you flatten
coffins that housed nothing
but bubbles, barren imagining.
Who knows, somebody lovable
might glimpse your mad moves
along Not-So-Great [ ] Wall,
do an engaging mating dance
in your unblocked direction.
(Originally from Saskatchewan, Allan Lake has lived in Vancouver, Cape Breton Island, Ibiza, Tasmania, and, for now, Melbourne. Two collections published: Tasmanian Tiger Breaks Silence (1988) ; Sand in the Sole (2014). Lake won Elwood(Aus) Poetry Prize 2016, Lost Tower Publications(UK) Poetry Comp 2017 and Melbourne Spoken Word Poetry Festival/The Dan Competition 2018. Besides Australia he has been published in Canada, UK, USA, Mauritius, India, West Indies and Italy.)
i memorize you.
your dreams and your aspirations
your favorite restaurant order and the way you take your coffee, or don’t.
your favorite songs - the lyrics are engrained in my mind.
the shampoo you use and the way you roll your toothpaste tube
your birth date is on a loop.
the sound of your voice - I can always remind myself how you sound.
and how you feel - and how you kiss.
your pet peeves and fears - all things I’m too aware of.
your scars - both emotional and physical - it’s like they’re mine too.
your phone number - those 10 numbers won’t leave.
and you memorize me.
my triggers and med dosages.
my license plate number, which I don’t even know.
my birth mark - the scars on my right wrist.
the way my right eye scrunches a little more than most when I smile.
my coffee order - decaf, soy, and all.
my favorite flower and the snacks I want stocked at your place.
the makeup wipes I use and my brand of face lotion.
the perfume you love - the one you searched for hours for.
so what do we do now?
how can you forget something you’ve memorized?
and what if I really do forget?
your voice is already harder to recall.
your touch has been absent for so long.
what if you really do fade?
or what if every time I see patterned socks my heart breaks again?
or every time I hear “bloom” the pain is brand new?
I’m not sure which is worse.
memorizing you for the rest of my life, or forgetting who you were.
there is nothing more to say
They are all gone away,
The house is shut and still,
There is nothing more to say.
It is not like yesterday,
The day is meant to kill,
They are all gone away.
All the morning can do is delay,
Fate has it's own will,
There is nothing more to say.
Our bodies only betray,
Our skin begins to chill,
They are all gone away.
I wish they were here today,
They had many dreams to fulfill,
There is nothing more to say.
But alas, life only lasts a day,
Love itself becomes ill,
They are all gone away,
And there is nothing more to say.
(Serafina Valenzuela is a college writer and poet. She is studying to become a trauma therapist and intends to use her experiences to aid others in finding ways to heal. Her writings center around her own traumas, in which she reveals the realities of her pain while instilling hope into her works.)
The Beautiful Space-