Formal Poetry

Aspiration

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.

Holy Rood

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 YoumansThe 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).

Grackles

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.”

Prayer

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.

Cubism

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.”

untitled

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.

Lighthearted Verse

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

Unaffected.

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.

untitled

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

from Mexico

to let you know

I’m doing grand.

 

I’m in the pink.

Umbrella drink,

come-hither wink,

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

you. Adios.

 

Intended for

the hunk next door,

it’s signed Lenore.

I don’t think twice.

 

A nice Bordeaux,

some mistletoe,

tonight I’ll show

him paradise.

An internationally published poet since 2005, Mary Kipps is also the author of three humorous paranormal Kindle books: All in VeinA Sucker for Heels, and Bitten: A Practical Guide to Dating a Vampire.

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