One branch of the laden fruit tree bows
so low a rabbit reaches
to nibble the yellow peaches
by standing in a manlike pose,
as if evolving from the brute.
He stretches skyward, intent.
You’d think the peach tree meant
to tantalize him with its fruit,
offering something juicy and sweet
until a wind gust lifts
the branch, retracts the gifts,
and leaves him without a morsel to eat.
Richard Wakefield’s publications include East of Early Winters (winner of the Richard Wilbur Award) and A Vertical Mile (short-listed for the Poets’ Prize). His new collection, Terminal Park, is due for publication this year.
A Walk at Night
That fellow up ahead
approaching, is a tree,
that cat who quickly fled
a flutter of debris.
Each object that appears
in darkness tells us lies,
enlivening our fears
by duping our poor eyes.
The message here is strong:
each step along the way,
we learn that we’ve been wrong
each step along the way.
Our comic blunders show
night’s far from where we dwell;
in daylight, what we know
takes longer to dispel.
Max Gutmann has contributed to dozens of publications including New Statesman, Able Muse, and Cricket. His plays have appeared throughout the US and have been well-reviewed (see maxgutmann.com). His book There Was a Young Girl from Verona sold several copies.
He went expecting to find solitude
But quickly realized that a hallowed place
Is just another business keeping pace
And graves are open. This new multitude
Made him believe his visit could include
A fresher grief, a grief we now must face
While kept apart by that same span of space
Those six feet under keep by habitude.
He’s said his piece, and any doubt it stirs
He puts aside, convinced he will be blessed,
But I have seen, if hoping for the best,
We are prepared no matter what occurs,
With booties for our shoes, thermometers,
And with six feet of ground to take our rest.
Robert Donohue’s poetry has appeared in The Raintown Review, The Ekphrastic Review, and others. The Red Harlem Readers gave his verse play, In One Piece, a staged reading in 2016. He lives on Long Island, New York, where he is an essential worker.
A Night of Rain
You left on a night of thunder, a night of rain,
the howl of the wind through the dark like a jackal’s cry.
Did the call of the wild entice you? You didn’t explain,
you left as a jackal leaves, without saying goodbye.
Did a sudden desire for freedom drive you to go,
the howl of the wind through the dark like a jackal’s cry
or was it my clinging love? Had you watched it grow –
a creeper entangling you deep in the here and the now?
Did a sudden desire for freedom drive you to go
or did you plan it through nights? Did you dream of how
with one sharp slash you would sever the ties that bound you,
creepers entangling you deep in the here and the now,
before I could stretch out my arms to re-surround you?
And I even now, years since, find it hard to believe
with one sharp slash you would sever the ties that bound you.
One thing I am sure of — for memories often deceive —
you left on a night of thunder, a night of rain
and I even now, years since, find it hard to believe:
did the call of the wild entice you? You didn’t explain.
Judy Koren’s poems have appeared in Israeli literary magazines and anthologies, Better Than Starbucks, Lighten Up Online, Taj Mahal Review, and The Road Not Taken. She is President of the Israeli English-language poetry society, Voices Israel.
The Sounds of Owls
The sounds of owls and wrens dispute who owns
this sunlit house. Though we assert the right,
they claim the deed was fashioned in their bones,
their songs, the music formed by feathered tones
in wheeling turns and climbs of strutting flight.
The sounds of owls and wrens dispute who owns
the spume of sea, the light of land, the stones;
who guards the wilderness and stems the blight.
They claim the deed was fashioned in their bones.
They chatter when they feel our human moans,
our narcissistic plans, our lust to fight.
The sounds of owls and wrens dispute who owns
the heritage of earth, and who atones
for harm to skies, to soil, to our birthright.
They claim those deeds were fashioned in our bones.
This hectic crowded house abounds with groans
of loss, decay, and sullied rageful spite.
The mournful sounds of owls and wrens are known
to claim these deeds were fashioned in our bones.
Richard Lorr practiced law, singing, painting, sculpting, and poetry, for quite a while. The Sligo Journal and the Writer’s Center have published his poetry. The Community Colleges Humanities Association awarded him a first prize for poetry in 2017.
with Vera Ignatowitsch
Hoop of Time
Imagine an old-fashioned man whose words
Obey his strong desire for poetry,
A man who wears a funny, floppy hat
With fur-lined robes against the winter’s cold,
And how he catches just a glimpse of bloom,
(Some stainless Laura or some Beatrice
With clouds of hair and heaven in her eyes),
One glance that carries him beyond desire.
Imagine me, quick centuries away,
A girl who wished to make words learn to sing,
A woman who’s no longer some glimpsed bloom,
But bending now to write of long ago
And glad to hold a stem that’s flowering,
Its blossoms in the realms beyond desire.
Poetry by Marly Youmans: The Book of the Red King (Phoenicia, 2019), The Foliate Head (Stanza, 2012), Thaliad (Phoenicia, 2012), The Throne of Psyche (Mercer, 2011), and Claire (LSU, 2003), Her latest novel is Charis in the World of Wonders (Ignatius, 2020).
We saw a thousand wheel against the sky,
Their grating music bringing in the night.
They dropped in swift contention onto wires
And fought for footing in the thinning light.
Marveling how they looked like dominoes,
Silhouetted like a massive saw,
We forgot the tango taps of dominance
That bent the weakest to an avian law.
Or did the hand that turned the wheel as one
Oversee as well that ragged run?
Tad Tuleja is a folklorist who, in his 70s, returned to his youthful passion, lyrical verse. Widely published on American subjects, he received a Puffin Foundation grant for his war song cycle “Skein of Arms.”
Dear God who made the earthquake shake
And hurricanes that rage,
Made tidal waves and floods that sweep
Us early from life’s stage,
Creator of all life on earth
Of germs and parasites,
Malaria — Ebola — AIDS,
So many other blights,
Let’s not forget the man-made plagues
Like climate change and war,
If we can’t hurt and kill each other
What’s a free will for?
Dear Lord, this world you made for us
Is just a little scary.
If you won’t be benevolent
Please be imaginary.
Bruce McGuffin’s poetry has appeared in Light, Lighten Up Online, and other journals. He divides his time between Lexington, Massachusetts, where he has a job, and Antrim, New Hampshire, where he fritters away his time writing poetry and admiring the view.
Utterly lacking in symbolism,
your body is reading a book in bed.
Another, mine, watches from the prism
of the doorway, your brown hair turning red
in this light. Through some illusion of line
your body moves over, makes room for mine.
My painted body bends across your floor,
rearranged by the open window light.
Your body, dripping, seems a bit unsure
over what’s happened and what only might.
My hand traces blue and yellow tile
across your shoulder blades and down your back.
The orange of the evening blends with black,
and your lips, wherever they are, smile.
Neil Kennedy holds a BA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing. His poetry often explores natural imagery and environmentalist themes. His work has been published in Origami Poems Project, The Road Not Taken, and The Orchards Poetry Journal.
Confronting Churches and the Void
A man-like god creates the universe?
Two hundred billion galaxies? Each holding
a hundred billion stars? And each star moulding
its planets into life, teeming, diverse!
All this from some bearded old angry face
who says “Build me a temple, pray, and pay
the priests who’ll guide you onto Heaven’s way,
erase your sins . . . or you’ll go in disgrace
to torment underground — eternally.”
No way your life gains from such small belief,
passed on by some royal or holy thief
who says “God wants your money, send it me —
my palace honours Him . . .” The human lurches
fearful, confused, through wastes of wasteful churches.
As social animals, we find our place
by walling others out, putting them down:
these walls, my family; those walls, my town.
Even more walls: tribe, country, faith or race.
This atavism’s bad for mental health,
supports no sense of personal strengths or meaning,
allows no purpose, individual leaning,
denies achievement to your inner self.
Identity’s reduced to football fan,
or something uniformed, or some group prayer;
without those — alcohol, drugs or despair,
not knowing how to move past Nowhere Man.
Know yourself, human, to confront the Void:
your proper study’s all that’s anthropoid.
Robin Helweg-Larsen’s poems have appeared frequently in Better Than Starbucks. He is Series Editor for Sampson Low’s “Potcake Chapbooks — Form in Formless Times.”
When day unfurls quite softly
and windows sleep in white,
we take our time with pleasure
in sending off the night,
employing whispered laughter
and trust that with our pair
of amber arms entangled
we’ve evermore to care.
Kiersta Recktenwald was born in Maine, grew up in west and east Asia, and attended Colby College and the University of Maine. Her special interests are poetry, philosophy, psychology, and spirituality. Kiri mostly writes poems by the hundreds, helpful aphorisms by the thousands.
The Upset Victory
Thousands of fans
Rushed onto the court,
Thrilled by the victory
No one expected.
Then they went home
To the rest of their lives,
Which had been totally
Russell G. Winick recently began writing poetry after concluding a long legal career. His poems have appeared in or been selected by The Road Not Taken, Blue Unicorn, Westward Quarterly, Snakeskin, Lighten Up Online, Rat’s Ass Review, Sparks of Calliope, and others.
I thrust my hand beneath the faucet head
And wait for water, fighting growing dread.
What if the sensor won’t acknowledge me?
I wave my hands; it doesn’t see my plea!
The soap won’t squirt; the water will not run;
Where are the valves, the levers? There are none!
Have you, dear reader, faced this menace too
— the menace of the automated loo?
Drew Nathaniel Keane is a Lecturer in the Department of Writing and Linguistics at Georgia Southern University and an English PhD candidate at the University of St. Andrews. To read more of his work visit drewkeane.com.
Postcard from Paradise
A quick hello
to let you know
I’m doing grand.
I’m in the pink.
blue sea, white sand,
soft breeze, hot sun,
this beach crowd’s fun!
I’ve met someone.
We’ve gotten close.
It’s perfect bliss.
I’d send a kiss,
but do not miss
the hunk next door,
it’s signed Lenore.
I don’t think twice.
A nice Bordeaux,
tonight I’ll show
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