Ascending from Vilenica Cavern – Glen Sorestad

 

One hundred thirty-four stone steps

drag us into the somber underground.

It is so novel an act, we have no thought

of what lies ahead when the time

comes to return to the comfort of earth.

 

Here in Slovenia’s Karst region

this huge limestone cave awes the breath

from us as, step by step, we descend

from sunlit warmth to eight degrees —

a constant, day or night, year in or out.

 

In this well-used cavern at a location

that is not its lowest depth at all,

but a spacious room where music

is played and prayers are uttered,

we listen to a brass ensemble blow

bats right-side-up, with notes flying

into every rock niche, sliding up

and down stalactites and stalagmites,

reaching out and up, shivering

a thousand candles with delight.

 

Over flicker and sputter of tapers

poets declaim poems and bring

evening to a close. Now we must

ascend to dark Slovenian night.

One hundred thirty-four steps: the test.

 

Up from the underground we climb,

single file, a stream of souls spiralling

to an imagined heaven. Our first steps

identical to those of the descent,

but now steps enlarge and each leg

must somehow be lifted higher.

A cruel joke? Has someone altered

the step size while we were below?

At one hundred steps we huff

and wheeze, wanting to stop

and rest, but there is no stop,

no looking back on this ascent

from the underworld, just keep

our eyes on the climber ahead

and hope that person doesn’t stop

or falter because these steps

will not suffice for two. If one

person stops, then we all must.

 

The only sounds are footfall

on stone, the puff and gasp,

and the rustle of clothing.

Just when we think our hearts

will burst and our leaden legs

will not budge another step,

we are returned to earth.

Night is cool, a lighted path

leads us to food and wine.

 

Sorestad 5x7Glen Sorestad is a Canadian poet whose work has appeared in publication in various parts of the world, has appeared in over 60 anthologies and textbooks, and has been translated into eight languages. Sorestad lives with his wife Sonia in Saskatoon on the northern plains.

The Emerald Tide – Robert Pelgrift

 

How can I hold on to this leafy scene

of emerald lights that, numberless, do glint

in glistening points at times more gold than green –

a scene that shimmers with each shade and tint?

 

Mirroring these leaves, the emerald tide

seems motionless, a glassy pool at rest,

till it meets a sharply riffled divide

whose race freezes in a curled, crystal crest.

 

How to possess these fleeting greens and golds,

that shimmer in and out of leafy heights?

Would that their beauty could ever abide

in verse, just as the crystal cascade holds

its crest, and, mirroring the green gold lights,

the watery leaves rest in the glassy tide.

 

RYP JR picRobert Youngs Pelgrift, Jr. practiced law in New York City for many years and is now an editor for a legal publisher, working in New York City.  His poems have been published in various anthologies and in The Lyric, The Rotary Dial and The Galway Review.

The Bedside Book of Renewal – Glen Armstrong

 

This is the story of joy and color.

_

The mystery girl’s heart

where shines a strange

history,

where tears stain latex.

The blurb on the back promises:

so real that you’ll feel

it on your skin.

It tells the truth more often

than you’d think.

She is completely eyes and hands.

While others speak in tongues

at the riverfront,

their divine proclamations

peppered with otherworldly

curses,

she looks at the moon

and we all forget

the seemingly endless moons

leading up to this moment.

Armstrong

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 three recent chapbooks: Set List (Bitchin Kitsch,) In Stone and The Most Awkward Silence of All (both Cruel Garters Press.) His work has appeared in Poetry Northwest, Picaroon Poetry and Cream City Review.

The Trawl – Robert Pelgrift

 

We stand on this sandy point in the bay,

where the channel races into squally seas,

knee deep in riffles that mirror the gray

of iron clouds rushed by the gusting breeze.

 

Partly clothed by the sea, I scarcely heed

the raw, bitter rain.  Balanced here, I stand,

and see schooling, swerving silversides lead

quick unseen hunters past our ledge of sand.

 

In their path, we stretch, then draw, our small seine,

and the wet, the chill, the gray, the chop recall

the old village ships, struck by gusts and spray

as they ploughed these waves.  And now once again,

we net our catch, as those ships dragged their trawl

of silver to the beach across the bay.

 

RYP JR picRobert Youngs Pelgrift, Jr. practiced law in New York City for many years and is now an editor for a legal publisher, working in New York City.  His poems have been published in various anthologies and in The Lyric, The Rotary Dial and The Galway Review.

Spanish lace – Ann Christine Tabaka

 

Bare tree branches

Intricately intertwined

Giving the illusion of black Spanish lace

Reaching out

Across an angry sky

The fiery glow of sunset

Darkened by purple clouds

Accentuating the effect

Seductively drawing me in

Capturing me

In a mysterious web of imagination

Filling me

With awe

 

13221756_10206392177779458_3188055745494222119_nAnn Christine Tabaka is better known by her middle name, Chris. She has been writing poems and rhymes since she was fourteen. She was an artist, a chemist, and a personal trainer. Her poems are in the Contemporary Group’s anthology “Dandelion in a Vase of Roses,” and the poetry journals “Whispers,” “The Society of Classical Poets,” “Indiana Voice Journal,” “Halcyon Days Magazine,” and “Scarlet Leaf Review.”

The Painter – Robert Pelgrift

 

What woodland shall my vision paint today?

Like Millais, I’ll mold each leaf of this oak,

Scribe each twig, score its trunk with a fine stroke,

With sunlit drops trim lines of green and gray.

Or perhaps like Monet, I will essay

An inward sight; the folds of a green cloak,

Heedlessly strewn, in memory evoke

Wooded foothills in mists of green and gray.

 

My visions like my poem, seek the real,

Beyond the real, this wood as it should be;

As in my poem’s words, I read in my Millais

From image to image toward this ideal,

Or I glimpse wood or poem in memory,

The remembrance painted in my Monet.

 

RYP JR picRobert Youngs Pelgrift, Jr. practiced law in New York City for many years and is now an editor for a legal publisher, working in New York City.  His poems have been published in various anthologies and in The Lyric, The Rotary Dial and The Galway Review.

Dragonfly – Lynn White

 

It was so beautiful,

gleaming huge and iridescent

gold and green and blue and black.

With wings that should have been clear,

filled with shining rainbows

not like this, twisted at strange angles

and dulled with sticky silk.

Not stuck there waiting

to be prepared for some spider’s supper.

 

I held it gently

and took it from the web.

I carefully removed the sticky silk

and saw the rainbows sparkle as they should,

saw its eyes brighten and gleam

with the prospect of freedom.

It took a while, this disentanglement,

a delicate task to free this fragile creature.

 

And when it was ready,

I opened my fingers and

let it fly away.

It bit me then.

No parting kiss,

but a bite that

left a bruise.

Such gratitude!

 

Lynn...Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. Her poem ‘A Rose For Gaza’ was shortlisted for the Theatre Cloud ‘War Poetry for Today’ competition 2014. This and many other poems have been widely published on line and in print publications. Find her at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lynn-White-Poetry/1603675983213077 and lynnwhitepoetry.blogspot.com.

Imagination – Ann Christine Tabaka

 

The fog closes in

It surrounds me

It dampens my senses

It impairs my vision

But at the same time it enlivens me

I feel a tingle of excitement

I am transported to another time

To a distant shore

Into a story I once read

Where ships transverse dangerous waters

While lighthouses atop craggy rocks guide them

Back to a time of sea monsters and damsels in distress

A time of mystery and wonder

But then the fog begins to lift

And I must come back to earth

But just for one moment

Time stood still and the fantasy was real

 

13221756_10206392177779458_3188055745494222119_nAnn Christine Tabaka is better known by her middle name, Chris. She has been writing poems and rhymes since she was fourteen. She was an artist, a chemist, and a personal trainer. Her poems are in the Contemporary Group’s anthology “Dandelion in a Vase of Roses,” and the poetry journals “Whispers,” “The Society of Classical Poets,” “Indiana Voice Journal,” “Halcyon Days Magazine,” and “Scarlet Leaf Review.”

New Haven – Michael A. Griffith

 

I miss the flowers of our old garden,

roses, foxglove, bleeding hearts, lilacs and lilies.

 

We had a garden that,

when tended well,

looked like part of Eden.

 

I have a new “our.”

You have a new “we.”

 

Both will start new gardens

and grow new things

as well as plant familiar flowers:

roses, bleeding hearts, lilies.

But enough new will grow

to make our own new paths to Eden.

 

Same sun, different rays, different light.

Different rainbows from opposite arcs.

Stars set in different ways in the same sky,

yours night while I see day.

 

Our own clouds upon which

to build new castles,

each its own

new haven for two.

 

14203237_10154314920188046_3424560890240457416_n-1Michael Griffith turned to poetry during a long stay in a nursing-care facilty to keep his mind healthy as his body grew healthier. So far poetry is doing the trick. He resides in Somerset County, NJ.

Tickling Heaven – Fabrice B. Poussin

 

What will he do, the sequoia living in the city,

to belong in the geometric skyline above the sea?

 

Can he compete, layer by layer, for a life deserved

against the structure made brick by brick, of blood?

 

Does he often cry, dislodged as his old friends

have been for so long, homeless among millions?

 

Is survival an option, for the giant without years,

who faces clones of metal and molten rock?

 

Attempting to breathe, bleeding a sweet thick sap,

how can Earth guarantee his daily meals!

 

Far from mile-long roots, unable to move,

shackled in rebar, concrete, and ill will.

 

Far above his cheap imitation of a false brother,

a single tear begins a journey to shake new grounds.

 

Me-BWFabrice Poussin teaches French and English at Shorter University. Author of novels and poetry, his work has appeared in Kestrel, Symposium, The Chimes, and dozens of other magazines. His photography has been published in The Front Porch Review, the San Pedro River Review and more than 200 other publications.

Respite – Ken Allan Dronsfield

 

face, a wrinkled rustic tan

eyes, clouded faded blue

tattered, old yellow raincoat

stands, watching the sea

dog, spying hungry gulls

his boat, sits needing care

ocean, claims yet another

clouds, billow and race east

waves, crest and roll to land

memories, fade upon twilight

inhales, now more shallow

life, in respite rises higher.

 

Ken Allan Dronsfield, Bio PictureKen Allan Dronsfield is a published poet from New Hampshire, now residing in Oklahoma. He loves thunderstorms and hiking. His published work can be found in reviews, journals, magazines and anthologies throughout the web and in print venues. His poetry has been nominated for two Pushcart Prize Awards and the Best of the Net for 2016.

The searchers – John Grey

 

When I claimed to have seen the boy,

the others shouted “where?”

But he was already gone.

I was in a bunch of weary men and women

who were more than ready to pack it in,

cold and damp, and aching for their warm beds.

As the others retreated, I stayed behind,

in woods so silent and empty,

nothing rivaled my heartbeat for sound.

The trees felt like the dark walls

of an abandoned church,

the rocks, altars stained with rain.

And I was the preacher without flock.

Or was that the flock without preacher?.

Was the boy really out there?

Every square inch of forest had been trudged through

by his would-be rescuers.

The wind was bitter, clouds low and gray.

It wasn’t winter but not through lack of trying

on the weather’s part.

Maybe he’d found a secret place

out of reach of red-eyed shivering saviors.

When I ran away and hid, I wanted people to find me.

But that was a long time ago.

When I claimed to have seen the boy,

maybe that was me skirting between the trunks,

through the brush, terrified, miserable,

but enacting part of a plan to be retrieved, taken back,

squeezed even deeper into the family fold.

I stopped. I listened to the shouts.

I longed to cry out in return.

But that wasn’t how it was supposed to work.

I had to lead them on that weary chase longer,

until the anger was fully drained from my pursuers

and only the compassion remained behind.

Forty years later, I wait and watch.

The boy is probably home and safe with his mother

tor all I know.

Most likely, only I am out here now.

So do I keep searching?

Or do I go home to bed?

Wait a minute. What was that?

I thought I saw… or felt penetrate.

Small but bright. The boy. But which one?

 

unnamed-bioJohn Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. His work has recently been published in New Plains Review, Stillwater Review and Big Muddy Review, and is upcoming in Louisiana Review, Columbia College Literary Review and Spoon River Poetry Review.

Spider – Natalie Crick

 

The whisper

Wicks from her lips.

A soothing salve.

 

She bends, twists,

Feet touching the walls

In eight different places.

 

Her laurels always rove.

Search.

Hold.

 

Gagging the dawn chorus

Until

The hunger moon thins.

 

Dissecting a house fly,

She commits

Murder on the brightest window,

 

At first frost

Opens the door

Without a guest to feast.

 

Natalie Crick PhotoNatalie Crick, from the UK, has poetry published or forthcoming in a range of journals and magazines including Interpreters House, Ink In Thirds, The Penwood Review, The Chiron Review and Rust and Moth. Her work also features or is forthcoming in a number of anthologies, including Lehigh Valley Vanguard Collections 13. This year her poem ‘Sunday School’ was nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Rondeau Beginning With a Line From the Gospel of Judas – Mark J. Mitchell

 

I laugh at the errors of the stars,

Dazzled by the impossible dance of cars

And headlights. They didn’t foresee our streets,

Our cities. They only circle and repeat

Their timeless dance and are held out too far

 

Away. They don’t remember how men are—

How they breathe, sleep, forget, love, how they eat

What they shouldn’t. How they scatter and meet

To ponder the errors of the stars.

 

Of course, their mistakes are different from ours,

With deeper punishments, strange rewards.

They vanish into the hollow lands of grief

While we make up games and find relief

Laughing at the errors of the stars.

 

bio pic 1Mark J. Mitchell studied writing at UC Santa Cruz under Raymond Carver, George Hitchcock and Barbara Hull. His work has appeared in various periodicals over the last thirty five years, as well as the anthologies Good Poems, American Places, Hunger Enough, Retail Woes and Line Drives. It has also been nominated for both Pushcart Prizes and The Best of the Net. He is the author of two full-length collections, Lent 1999 (Leaf Garden Press) and Soren Kierkegaard Witnesses an Execution (Local Gems) as well as two chapbooks, Three Visitors (Negative Capability Press) and Artifacts and Relics, (Folded Word). His novel, Knight Prisoner, is available from Vagabondage Press and a new novel is forthcoming: The Magic War (Loose Leaves Publishing). He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the documentarian and activist Joan Juster where he makes a living showing people pretty things in his city.

keep your pomegranates – Linda M. Crate

 

i have no respect

for you

because you are a man

who shirks duty

and pretends love is a game,

running from his problems

as if mere demands that i be a stranger

will make it so;

a part of me will always love you

but i don’t want or need you—

you were the wolf that turned on me,

snarling and yowling like the wind you ripped

out my vital organs

leaving me to bleed in the snow beneath the pines;

i had to die to who i was to survive

acquire new feathers as i rose from the ashes

of your chaos

a white raven whose flames will never die—

i will not be defeated so easily

as that

will come back to haunt you like a ghost

since you have done this to me for many moons now

four years is enough time to torment me

especially since you’ve already moved on

i need not these memories of you because they’re more

bitter than sweet and i have never acquired the need

for pomegranates in my life.

 

2007Linda M. Crate’s works have shown up in numerous magazines and anthologies both online and in print. She has four published poetry chapbooks the latest of which is If Tomorrow Never Comes (Scars Publications, August 2016). She is also the author of the Magic Series and the forthcoming Phoenix Tears.