Starlings – John Muro

 

Dispatched from dusk, an iridescent stubble

breaks over everything and lacquers the lawn,

and each inch of terrain becomes a mangle

of brunette sheen. Sodden acres are now

blanketed beneath a chattering with numbers

too vast for counting. In precipitous precision,

they rise, like a head-wind suddenly made

visible, quickly extinguishing any creases

of light as each bird binds itself to the whole,

keeping tightly to form as if something

foreign and intent on anarchy might displace

it and lead the murmuration astray, none

daring to pull opposite of their dark destiny

and fretful portage between earth and heaven.

 


A resident of Connecticut, John is a graduate of Trinity College, Wesleyan University and the University of Connecticut. In the Lilac Hour, his first volume of poems, was published in 2020 by Antrim House, and it is available on Amazon. His poems have been published, or are forthcoming, in journals including Euphony, Moria, Penumbra, River Heron, Sheepshead, Third WednesdayAmethyst Review, High WindowPoetica Review and the French Literary Review. John is also a two-time 2021 Pushcart Prize nominee.

Song – John Muro

 

Last night I fell to dream

of Castle Combe,

 

Its shambling mists and tawny stream,

the holy pathos of its homes.

 

Wind-washed clouds, the lunar gleam

of cream-colored stone.

 

And there, somewhere between

drowsy dusk and day, I stood alone

 

In fevered dream,

in Cotswold cold,

 

Woke to air, moon-tide dimmed,

and the lulled hush of wool-

 

Soft hymns

with all hope gone.

 


A resident of Connecticut, John is a graduate of Trinity College, Wesleyan University and the University of Connecticut. In the Lilac Hour, his first volume of poems, was published in 2020 by Antrim House, and it is available on Amazon. His poems have been published, or are forthcoming, in journals including Euphony, Moria, Penumbra, River Heron, Sheepshead, Third WednesdayAmethyst Review, High WindowPoetica Review and the French Literary Review. John is also a two-time 2021 Pushcart Prize nominee.

Swallows – John Muro

 

Easy to envy

their erratic

exuberance

ascending with

scythe-like wings

in fevered flight,

rounding rooftops

and the crowns

of trees before

returning like

blind oracles

with a divine

purpose and

grim prophecies

to share. Their

delirious arrivals

and farewells

blend then blur

into fleur-de-lis

pivots and pirouettes,

chevron tails split

apart like lengthy

shears slicing through

charmed circles of

air moments before

their tiny throats

of glossy indigo

morph into embers

as daylight falls

upon the tongues

of tides just catching

the last wink of sun.

 


A resident of Connecticut, John is a graduate of Trinity College, Wesleyan University and the University of Connecticut. In the Lilac Hour, his first volume of poems, was published in 2020 by Antrim House, and it is available on Amazon. His poems have been published, or are forthcoming, in journals including Euphony, Moria, Penumbra, River Heron, Sheepshead, Third WednesdayAmethyst Review, High WindowPoetica Review and the French Literary Review. John is also a two-time 2021 Pushcart Prize nominee.

The tender pines – Robert Beveridge

 

It is not far, not far at all beyond

the city limits where the road ends,

even the tire tracks peter out amidst

the wild-grown grass surrounded

by trees, invisible from buildings.

Just enough room to park, lay out

a blanket, pitch a tent.

 

Off to one edge, a ring. I thought

at first of mushrooms. But no—

of snails, their variegated shells

ablaze in the afternoon light.

I read to them awhile, until the sun

was low enough that it was time

to gather wood. Whether they

enjoyed it I’ve no idea.

 

A fire just long enough to warm

ramps, mushrooms, beans, a chunk

of bread torn to pieces, then to bed

and dreams of snails who aspire

to write their first poems.

 


Robert Beveridge (he/him) makes noise (xterminal.bandcamp.com) and writes poetry in Akron, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in Blood and Bourbon, The Stratford Quarterly, and Stonecoast Review, among others.

Hush – Don Thompson

 

The night, this night anyway,

has requested quiet—

using an older, quieter word.

 

The owl complies, sounds one note

pianissimo on a marimba

with a soft mallet.

 

No crickets fidget.

 

No feral tom cats talk trash.

 

Even the hound over on the next farm

howls for only a few minutes

and then, whatever had been bothering him,

lets it drop

and drifts off to sleep.

 


Don Thompson has been writing about the San Joaquin Valley for over fifty years, including a dozen or so books and chapbooks. A San Joaquin Almanac won the Eric Hoffer Award for 2021 in the chapbook category. For more info and links to publishers, visit his website at www.don-e-thompson.com.

Bogquilt – Jacob Riyeff

 

blue goose road at night

cuts thru bog country

streams of leaves

flow the road

and moats dogs 

aflight, all 

of them. gray 

light purpling 

the air. vertigo 

round cedar-lined 

curves. watching 

for deer –

there – the moon

shines over acid

water, pitcher-plant

relics, my brow.

 


jacob riyeff is a translator, poet, and scholar of medieval literature. his work focuses on the western contemplative tradition and the natural world. jacob teaches in the english department at marquette university and lives in milwaukee’s east village.

I Have Walked This Path Before – James G. Piatt

 

I am peering through raindrops, which are

washing away my memories watching the past

fade as I walk along an old path I have walked on

many times before.

 

I have walked this path before, in the springtime

when cheery trees were pink with blossoms,

giant maple trees were showing their pink buds,

and young animals in their new born freedom

loped along the river, carefree, and filled with the

excitement of new birth.

 

I have walked this path before when the summer

heat silently placed its warmth upon my

shoulders as I sat on a beach chair near a placed

pond thinking about the beauty of nature, and

listening to the sweet warbling of tiny songbirds.

 

I have walked this path before when autumn’s

slowly increasing winds started their polished

journey into winter with whispered hints of

fading time, and the sun was covered with dark

moisture filled clouds.

 

I have walked this path before when the chill of

winter blurred my footsteps, tiny birds took

refuge in bushes and I, bundled up in wools and

layered cotton, pondered on the coldness of the

season, and what I should etch onto the marble

face of my tombstone.

 


James is an internationally published poet, a Best of Web nominee and three time Pushcart nominee. He has had four poetry books; Solace Between the Lines, Light, Ancient Rhythms, and The Silent Pond, 1500 poems, five novels, and 35 short stories published worldwide. He earned his doctorate from BYU, and his BS and MA from California State Polytechnic University, SLO. He writes poetry to maintain his sanity, and sometimes succeeds.

Baskett Slough III – Marc Janssen

 

The milk sun combs uncombed fields

While

An atonal chorus of geese concert invisibly directly overhead.

 

All around

The illusion of softness

In the graceful curving hill-scapes,

Rust carpets of oak leaves,

Before it is broken by an insincere tittering of human voices.

 


Marc Janssen lives in a house with a wife who likes him and a cat who loathes him. Regardless of that turmoil, his poetry can be found scattered around the world in places like Penumbra, Slant, Cirque Journal, Off the Coast and Poetry Salzburg. Janssen also coordinates the Salem Poetry Project, a weekly reading, the annual Salem Poetry Festival, and was a 2020 nominee for Oregon Poet Laureate.

A Chapel of Sunflowers – Marc Janssen

 

Driving out west of town

There is a field, maybe part of an abandoned farm,

Filled with sunflowers.

There should be a name for a group of sunflowers,

Rank on jumble they stand

Lion-faced their ragged yellow manes roar in a June rain shower.

Their faces a cloud confusion.

 

This field of flowers could be called a landscape of sunflowers

A beauty of sunflowers

A Saint Francis of sunflowers

A van Gogh of sunflowers

A peal

A heart

A tender

A good grove of sunflowers.

 

Then it was gone

Somewhere behind me,

And the next thing comes into view

Between rain drops

Green and colorful and new.

 


Marc Janssen lives in a house with a wife who likes him and a cat who loathes him. Regardless of that turmoil, his poetry can be found scattered around the world in places like Penumbra, Slant, Cirque Journal, Off the Coast and Poetry Salzburg. Janssen also coordinates the Salem Poetry Project, a weekly reading, the annual Salem Poetry Festival, and was a 2020 nominee for Oregon Poet Laureate.

A short lecture On the female body, and Other beautiful Things – Ann Pedone

 

Yes, you can call me a nymph. How else to explain that

my mouth is a river that never meets

the sea. Don’t be afraid. I understand how this thing

how the body

works. I know everything, all the names

of all of the places inside

of me. Watch. I’ll show you how to make it

more than a metaphor.

I know full

well that sex isn’t some

thing to play at, my valentine. You see this thing here

this immensity

between my legs. This is what turns day in

to night

light into dark. This is flesh of the

same silence.

I know you want to wrap your

self around it.  I see the desire dripping down

your back. Do it now, before it is too

late. Do it before you turn into a poem

inside of me.

 


Ann Pedone graduated from Bard College with a degree in English and has a Master’s degree in Chinese Language and Literature from UC Berkeley. Ann is the author of the chapbook The Bird Happened, and the chapbook perhaps there is a sky we don’t know about: a re-imagining of sappho is forthcoming in December. Her work has recently appeared in Riggwelter, Main Street Rag, Poet head, Cathexis Northwest, The Wax Paper, and The Phare, among others.

Bewildered – Ann Pedone

 

What is the body in the eyes of the body

is it nothing more than a translation

of water salt and air

an alchemy of blood and sand and lust

bones fragile anxious within

muddy flesh the nervous

desire of hips

bewildered

that you are still not here every

 

day I put my feet down one in

front of the other a child would

say that this should be enough

but the heavy box of the body asks

 always for more.

 


Ann Pedone graduated from Bard College with a degree in English and has a Master’s degree in Chinese Language and Literature from UC Berkeley. Ann is the author of the chapbook The Bird Happened, and the chapbook perhaps there is a sky we don’t know about: a re-imagining of sappho is forthcoming in December. Her work has recently appeared in Riggwelter, Main Street Rag, Poet head, Cathexis Northwest, The Wax Paper, and The Phare, among others.

Her Love Has Faded Away – James G. Piatt

 

My love is not here again today

Her image only lives in slumber,

Her essence has faded away.

 

My memory’s road is now a dull gray

My sad reminiscences do encumber:

My love is not here again today.

 

In the midst of another gloomy day

Silent footsteps increase in number:

Her essence has faded away.

 

Woeful visions are those that stay

Wretched hours the days do cumber,

My love is not here again today.

 

I no longer smell the roses’ sweet bouquet

Lonely visions then outnumber:

My love is not here again today,

Her essence has faded away.

 


James lives with his wife Sandy, a cat called Barny, and a pup named Scout, in a replica 1800s eastern farmhouse in the foothills of Santa Ynez, California. He was nominated for a Best of Web award, and three times for a Pushcart award. He has had four collections of poetry, The Silent Pond (2012), Ancient Rhythms (2014), Light (2016), and Solace Between the Lines (2019), over 1,485 poems, five novels, and 35 short stories published worldwide. He earned his BS and MA from California State Polytechnic University, and his doctorate from BYU.

A Few Very Speculative Ideas About Language – Ann Pedone

 

sometimes it’s hard to remember/the names of things /those trees

along the side of the freeway/ I used to know what they are called

and  then there are words  I’ve never known /is there a word for

the lust bees feel for a flower /or the way his neck tastes /that moony

combination/ something like cyprus and salt and bone.

 


Ann Pedone graduated from Bard College with a degree in English and has a Master’s degree in Chinese Language and Literature from UC Berkeley. Ann is the author of the chapbook The Bird Happened, and the chapbook perhaps there is a sky we don’t know about: a re-imagining of sappho is forthcoming in December. Her work has recently appeared in Riggwelter, Main Street Rag, Poet head, Cathexis Northwest, The Wax Paper, and The Phare, among others.

When Summer Comes – Holly Day

 

I bury their heads in peat and think of the day when

the sun warms the soil and the clouds bring the rain and the white

snowy fields that once seemed to stretch endless will

be a fuzzy memory of a cold and irrelevant past.

the seeds so carefully planted before the first frost will

unfold like origami and send thin furry roots tunneling

through the chilly dirt to find footholds in the earth.

I’ll wake to find a thin coat of green covering

the warmed soil surrounding the base of the old birch tree

in the back yard.

 

eventually, the thin frost of green will grow into a thick carpet, obscuring

the domed hills marking the entrance and exit of traveling worms,

the triangular footprints of excavating seasonal birds, even the

occasional fox footpad, preserved in wet mud. but

today, snow falls in soft clumps outside my kitchen window, barely

heard or felt by the tiny cocooned bodies of insects and plants

lying dormant beneath the soil. I stare past the snow

dream bright, grand dreams of far-off

summer days, imagining the crackle

of night crawlers moving beneath decomposing leaves, the way

the stars look so fuzzy in the sky on

hazy, summer nights.

 

 

Holly Day bioHolly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Tampa Review, SLAB, and Gargoyle, and her published books include Walking Twin Cities, Music Theory for Dummies, and Ugly Girl.

My Final Walk in the Woods – James G. Piatt

 

Strolling along a bark filled path in the woods the breath of summer gusts into my mind and the warbling of tiny birds enters my ears. Tiny colorful wildflowers, pink, yellow, and blue paint the face of the meadow across the way, and waft their honeyed scents into the breeze. I hear the whispering sounds of the tiny brook alongside the path, and watch small rabbits with blades of grass in their mouths hopping quietly across the field. Maple trees with their white and gray skin, and oak trees with their gnarled limbs reaching for ground and sky shade my path. A red-shouldered hawk soars to the heavens with a screech as I disturb its tranquility sitting in a tall pine tree. I hear murmuring voices of tiny animals under fallen leaves and twigs in the distance, as the soft balmy breeze hurries over the ground with its euphonious voice. My memories awaken, and I remember my happy treks to the woods when I was a young lad. I exhale my breath with a nostalgic sigh as I realize my walks in the woods will be ending soon. My mind is still young, but my body has turned old.

 

 

Bio pic 2James is the author of four collections of poetry, Solace Between the Lines (2019), Light (2016), Ancient Rhythms (2014), and The Silent Pond (2012). He has had over 1,440 poems (four of which were nominated for Pushcart and Best of Web Awards), five novels, eight essays, and thirty-five short stories published. He earned his BS and MA from California State Polytechnic University, and his doctorate from BYU.