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.

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.”

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.

Looking at your pictures… – Francesca Leone

 

Still feels like stepping on a grenade.

Will it ever stop,

I ask myself.

Piazza Trilussa in the morning is at its most beautiful:

the air crisp, cold like a knife,

the silence of a city who’s still in bed,

quietly stretching out in the dark.

But that night when we said goodbye,

it was truly something else.

A beauty from God’s grace.

What a blessing it was to

get my heart broken on a night

like that. I felt so alive with pain.

Will it ever stop,

I ask myself.

Let’s hope it never does.

 

fl-picFrancesca Leone is a 24-year-old living in Rome, Italy. She writes in English at https://frellification.wordpress.com. She is currently writing a fantasy novel, but poetry remains her first love.

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 Ebb and Flow – Ken Allan Dronsfield

 

From atop the great redwood trees

dragonflies fantasize of summertime;

of warmer mornings, balmy winds

dodging flycatchers and bullfrogs.

The grasses are green along a pond

baby goslings enjoy the new sunrise;

barn owls love a midnight stellar show

wolves howl and worship the full moon.

Beating hearts prevail in creeks or marshes

deep rivers and great bays ebb and flow

large animals enjoy the salty sweet grass

beautiful wild flowers grace rolling hills.

As the sun now rises in the eastern skies,

from within that great awakening forest

a lone cicada sings his mating sonnet

within the ebb and flow of life’s circle.

 

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.

Prophetess in the Wrong Time – Mark J. Mitchell

 

“Horrendas canit ambages.”

“She chants her dread enigmas.”

—Virgil

Aeneid VI, 99

 

Salt monks chant—as quiet as time—

Stone voices inhabit old stones.

She stares through waxed smoke at a bowl

of small words from lost tongues. Tears bind

them into riddles that define

the rite. She knows she must not eat

them. Her hands ripple. She repeats

the chant. Words melt like smoke, like fire.

Stirring in sheets her high school choir

breaks her to wake. The dream’s complete.

 

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.

The Moon’s Call – Natalie Crick

 

Hush now,

The sound of the moon

Budding on the float of her own white voice,

 

Her call, like

Spider silk strung from the darkest

Branches, swaying woozily.

 

Moon turns her ripe eye

To the ground, making

Music that melts,

 

The whole wood

Lit with alarm,

Dawn like a black knife.

 

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.

Another Thing – Danielle Dix

 

It is something to understand

you share the space between the sky

and the land

the time that falls from jumping

to standing

the beat of breathing

the peak and plunge of the sun

But as stone to grain,

from mist to rain,

It’s another thing to change

 

2016-11-13 07.13.17Danielle Dix is a poet with a tendency to focus on the challenges that people create within themselves. She is ruled by her impulsive nature, drools for travel, and is compiling a set of poems that she hopes will not fall prey to abandonment in a cardboard box. She tweets at @DanielleNoelDix.

Weekend – Jonathan Butcher

 

Hapless at weekends, yet still with that

contrived joy; in the beer gardens and car

parks, where perfume and aftershave still

smell fresh against fake fur and denim.

 

The hiss of music from the outside speakers,

that threaten to fall, but never damage conversation.

The bottles strewn across badly mounted tables

and tree torn, cracked pavements.

 

The warmth of this room blocks out winter, yet

its shell remains fragile, like rusted gates that

no longer retain the strength to block out the

weakest of imposters.

 

And again we glide without protest, our voices

placed only where needed, our feet as nimble

as ever; tripping over curbs now an art form,

that at last we have finally mastered.

 

Foxglove submissionJonathan Butcher is a poet based in Sheffield, England. He has had poetry appear in various print and online journals including Ink, Sweat and Tears, Elbow Room, Your One Phone Call, Mad Swirl, The Transnational and others. His second chapbook ‘Broken Slates’ was published by Flutter Press.

Child Unconceived – Allison Grayhurst

 
Tomorrow may bring you nearer
            to me, but then it may cause
                        grief that no instinct nor love could
                                    rectify.
If I cannot form the dustgrain of your life
            in my womb, cannot carry
                        your limbs within my belly proud
                                    and drench my veins
with our combined blood –
(you and I merged for a time, guiltless,
            expressing the earthy essence of God
                        with each our individual heartbeats),
                                    then be damned my entrails
and this longing
                        that drives my impatient summer.
 
            When I see your face for the first time,
                        and your father and I behold your
                                    living smile, be sure
there will be a depth of welcome
            that no hardship could turn cold
                        nor ever diminish.

 

allison-grayhurst-profile-picture-2016Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Three times nominated for Sundress Publications “Best of the Net” 2015, she has over 950 poems published in over 400 international journals. She has twelve published books of poetry, seven collections, nine chapbooks, and a chapbook pending publication. She lives in Toronto with her family. She is a vegan. She also sculpts, working with clay. Learn more at www.allisongrayhurst.com.
 

Right About Now – Peycho Kanev

 

Right about now all is lost in the currents

of time. The sun is rising just to become a contradiction

of the candle which was lit by a shaky hand

last night, and now it’s no longer needed.

 

Slow music starts. The begonias snuggle together.

They slowly lower the body in the ground.

 

021Peycho Kanev is the author of 4 poetry collections and two chapbooks, published in the USA and Europe. He has won several European awards for his poetry and his poems have appeared in many literary magazines, such as Poetry Quarterly, Evergreen Review, Front Porch Review, Hawaii Review, Barrow Street, Sheepshead Review, Off the Coast, The Adirondack Review, Sierra Nevada Review, The Cleveland Review and many others.

Hand-me-downs – Kate Garrett

 

The bricks housed phantoms;

the anachronistic soda counter

 

I now recall in a haze of decades

and miles as solid, yet of its time

 

and the man running the shop still

slicked his grey hair Brylcreem smooth.

 

Some villages never catch up.

The drugstore was plastic and rounded

 

and faded and chrome, Americana buried

just for me, so I could uncover

 

its message one morning—

the new kid with bony shoulders grandma

 

folded into floral sundresses I wanted to love,

relics of a childhood that wasn’t mine.

 

But I know we each spent our time huddled

and waiting for progress, or nuclear winter,

 

nursing fears we couldn’t name, hiding

in cellars from the first sign of a black sky.

 

kate-newKate Garrett is a writer, mother, editor, wife, history buff, and amateur folklorist. Her work is published here and there online and in print, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her most recent books are The Density of Salt (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2016) – which was longlisted for best pamphlet in the 2016 Saboteur Awards – and Deadly, Delicate (Picaroon Poetry, 2016). Her next pamphlet, You’ve never seen a doomsday like it, will be published in 2017 by Indigo Dreams. Kate lives in Sheffield with her husband, four children, and a cat named Mimi.

The Time that Land Forgot – Ryan Quinn Flanagan

 

walking down by the plaza

the time that land forgot

walking in shoes and socks

and in a hurry

because everything closes:

the door, the laundromat,

the mind…

and everyone forgets

so I could hardly blame the land

for thinking itself an Olympic sized swimming pool

and no longer land

which made it very hard

to walk.

 

ottawa

Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his other half and mounds of snow. His work can be found both in print and online in such places as Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, Word Riot, In Between Hangovers, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.

My first letter to you – Bronya Evans

I wanted to write you a letter

That you would read all teary eyed and sorrowful

And I would write just the same

Pen half smudged, half blurred

Because I thought a half and a half could equal a whole

Which, for the most part is true

And has been for my whole life.

In theory it was wrong

At least just this once

We wanted to complete each other

Without completing ourselves first

Be a half to each other

Without being whole

So as you read that letter

And time continues on for us both

I hope you realise the truth in my words

That lead you to find your other half within yourself.

be-picBronya Evans is a 17-year-old aspiring poet and author currently living in Wales. At the present she is studying English Literature and hopes to continue this in the future. Some of her many inspirations include Sylvia Plath, Rupi Kaur, Savannah Brown and Lang Leav.