To A Persian New Year
by Carol Sadtler

Twelve days after the equinox, Sara
puts a match to the sacred rue, sets out
sprouting seeds for new life, apples
for beauty and health, olives
for love, an egg, coins, sumac, vinegar:
seven small bowls to bless the guests.

There are no deficits here, 27 stories
above Manhattan as the windowed walls
diffuse a gray day into light that softens
our faces.

The tea comes in tall glasses, curved to fit
our empty hands;
Persian script curls gracefully across the spines
of leather-bound poems on the shelves;
We sink into plump cushions, soothed
by rosewater and hyacinth—three thousand years
of gracious ritual.

Slough off past adversities and laugh;
Meats and vegetables simmer and
Mosen is pouring wine;
Let us toast Hafez, and ourselves.

Carol Sadtler is a writer and editor living in Bucks County, PA. After earning degrees in English and comparative literature, she created and directed marketing communications for nationally known organizations and higher education institutions. Her poetry will appear in Rhino in the coming year.


Have a Knife Day!
by Ryan Buynak

Limb to limb
and mouth to mouth,
I awake Monday.

This knife is made out of an old
railroad spike.
And this knife is made of an old

My knees are made of bone, and sinew.

Today’s sharp,
and you are like a candle

Got a local haircut,
went to drown in Midtown;
ate lunch in the middle
of a thousand sad sandwiches.

Hustle here and swamp there,
while the epidermis whiles away.
I sweat at the temple,
cutting twice as nice.

Collar bones be pretty
and equal headaches,
cut my boredom with loud life.
He’s thirty plus one:
They say
about me.

A girl sits in the sun,
her body seems to melt
onto the ledge like a Hershey’s kiss.
I watch this.
Another gal had the bottom half of her
jet-black hair dipped in hot pink.
Another had a thick layer of makeup
covering her beautiful ugly face.

The myriad microscopic day
runs away with my muse minutes.
Cut me ten by thee.

Ryan Buynak is a terrible person who happens to be the future of American poetics. He lives and leaks in New York City.


Vows: Two Becoming One
by John C. Mannone

Hers                                                                          His

The tympani inside your heart                           I feel, just as the stardust in my eyes
echoes in your clear-as-a-bell blue eyes           whenever I cradle your smiles in my
that vow to hear                                                      a lullaby, hazel as sunlight shining
every touch, every sign                                         through morning mist—
I leave for you                                                         a promise to cherish
and a promise to let you keep all the stars        your soul poured out
even the ones sifted from my hair                       into my hands: my heart for you
that are wishes; and prayers                                will overflow always


John C. Mannone has work in Split Rock Review, Agave, BlazeVOX, Tupelo Press, Raven Chronicles, Poetica Magazine, Synaesthesia, 3Elements Review, The Baltimore Review, Rose Red Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Tipton Poetry Journal, Prairie Wolf Press Review, The Pedestal and others. He’s the poetry editor for Silver Blade and Abyss & Apex, and an adjunct professor of physics in east TN. His work has been nominated three times for the Pushcart. Visit John’s blog, The Art of Poetry here.


In Praise of Sins of the Tongue
by Liz Dolan

Because St. Blaise talked a wolf
into releasing a pig gripped in his teeth,
on his feast day, throats are blessed
with two crossed candles to dislodge
stuck fish-bones, to stave off flu.
And to eschew the sins of calumny,
backbiting, boasting and rash judgment.

Oh the burden of the blessing from that
roasted martyr! How can we stop
our willful tongues from weaving stories
that keep us quick in this blighted bog.
                                      ‘Tis manna in the desert.

What harm if it’s at a blackguard’s expense?
Sure no man upright believes half our palaver;
we merely strive to trump the other
with the most fantastical tale we can conjure
like the grand one I fabricated yester-week
about your shrew of a wife sobbing
before the aurora borealis thinking it was a vision
of the Virgin Mary herself on a Whit-sun’s eve.

Liz Dolan’s poetry manuscript, A Secret of Long Life, nominated for the Robert McGovern Prize, will soon be published by Cave Moon Press. Her first poetry collection, They Abide, was published by March Street. A six-time Pushcart nominee and winner of Best of the Web, she was a finalist for Best of the Net 2014. She has received fellowships from the Delaware Division of the Arts, The Atlantic Center for the Arts and Martha’s Vineyard. Liz serves on the poetry board of Philadelphia Stories. She is most grateful for her ten grandchildren who pepper her life.

GARDEN ODE, Mary Carroll-Hackett

Garden Ode
by Mary Carroll-Hackett

Every garden, it seems, leads again
to Eden, to the first tugged root, first seed,
first greening reach. Not toward that sin
that men invented, but instead toward need
for sustenance, protection, and comfort–
for that which feeds us all, even now
in the sweet snap of the pea, the laced
cool season of greens, the sun-warm dirt,
curled embrace of bean vines, the slow
drift of rain, as subtle and certain as grace.

Mary Carroll-Hackett earned an MFA from Bennington College and is the author of The Real Politics of Lipstick, Animal Soul, and If We Could Know Our Bones,from A-Minor Press. She teaches at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. Mary is currently at work on a memoir.


We Sat In Grandma’s Kitchen
by Irene Toh

When body was presence, mind
distilled whispers out of sight.
On weekdays, we ran up the steps
gathering leaflets, first
treasure hunters–and on Sundays,
grandmother bowed mauve
in a kind of halo.
We sat in the kitchen–
grandma’s chicken cooked in wine,
fried meatballs a slow feast–
made a psalm of a bowl.
Only the end shall quiet
brief tirade riffling grass
in enigma of faded sun.

Irene Toh graduated from the National University of Singapore. She is co-author of an online collaborative poetry collection, Duet (Red Wolf, 2014). She thinks poetry is a practice, and what better way to write poems synchronously, even obsessively, than to play to weekly web-based prompts. She thanks the Internet for facilitating an international gathering of poets. She is co-administrator of Red Wolf Poems, a poetry prompt site. She was co-editor of the inaugural Red Wolf Journal’s Spring 2014 issue. Her poems are word paintings. She really likes soulfulness and surreality in poems. Mostly she’s inspired by the moon and the stars. She blogs at Orange Is A Fruit.


church ritual
by Carl Palmer

warm unmoving august air
miserable mid-morning mass
penalty penance punishment
for drinking sneaked rectory wine
entire summer every Saturday
every Sunday sitting kneeling
same front left pew hands folded
holding plastic rosary pocket bible
wearing only owned suit blue wool
white cotton shirt starched scratchy
itchy sweaty too tight too hot
topped with one of dad’s clip-on ties
perpetual smell of faded dying flowers
overly perfumed blue haired women
acrid smoky yellow odorous incense
unfocused eyes daydreaming downward
alerted as I feel mother’s close inspection
hear her familiar forced tsk tsking sigh
unsnapping the red leatherette handbag
releasing familiar aroma mix cloves
menthol cigarettes smelling salts
Black Jack caffeine chewing gum
pink dust of cracked compact powder
rattle of keys coins cellophane
as she locates the least wadded tissue
wets a clean corner with nicotine spit
tries to wipe that newest brown freckle
from my blushing sunburned cheek

Carl “Papa” Palmer, retired Army, retired FAA, now just plain retired, lives in University Place, WA. He has seven chapbooks and a contest winning poem riding buses somewhere in Seattle. Carl has been nominated for the Micro Award and Pushcart Prize. MOTTO: Long Weekends Forever

MODEH ANI, Wayne-Daniel Berard

modeh ani
by Wayne-Daniel Berard

g*d is reborn
in me each morning
I gasp a little
for the breath
h* tosses to me
I catch the
tidal wave of
the day looms
breaks over me
and g*d sputters
splashes and says
“*’m back! *’m here!
it wasn’t a dream!
oh thank you thank
you whoever you are!”
“let’s talk abo*t th*t”
I whisper

Note: “modeh ani” is titled for the Jewish prayer upon awakening, in which G*d is thanked for returning one’s soul to one’s body that morning.

Wayne-Daniel Berard teaches English and Humanities at Nichols College in Dudley, MA. He is co-founder and co-editor of Soul-Lit, and on-line journal of spiritual poetry. He lives in Mansfield, MA with his wife, The Lovely Christine.

CARTOGRAPHY, Jonathan Travelstead

by Jonathan Travelstead

Weeks in the Chattahoochee and Nantahala Forest,
all you have is this shadowbox of mountains,
balds, and gaps:

Hawk, and Springer. Blood Mountain–
where you watched from the shelter as a black bear
solved your trucker’s hitch, snuffled your food,
taking nothing. Gooch, Tray,
Cowrock, and Blue.

Coming up for air, you summit
the few bare places, then survey the panorama
of nameless places lost in the sea of green.

Siler, Wayah, and Wesser Balds. Swim, and Cheoh.

Flat points where the base of mountains meet,
pauses between notes.

Hightower, Horsebone, and Flatrock Gap.
Hogspen. Unicoi, Mooney, Glassmine, and Tesnatee.
Winding Stair, and Swinging Lick.
Panther. Licklog, Burningtown, and Tellico.
Simp, Stecoah, and Sweetwater.
Cable, and Black Gum.

Their naming is its own sweet music–
the scribbled crossings, summits, and roundabouts
of a wannabe musician who doesn’t know his instrument,
but hopes one day he will be lost in it,
able to take a bearing by the spoken sound
of landmark alone.

Jonathan Travelstead served in the Air Force National Guard for six years as a firefighter and currently works as a full-time firefighter for the city of Murphysboro. Having finished his MFA at Southern Illinois University of Carbondale, he now works on an old dirt-bike he hopes will one day get him to the salt flats of Bolivia.

RITE OF PASSAGE, Vivienne Blake

Rite Of Passage —
To the accompaniment of Saint-Saëns’ Organ Symphony

by Vivienne Blake

cold day
hot tears
seething crowds
what to say?
how encapsulate a life
that ends in the squalor of disease?
mind gone,
thank God.

Insistent rhythm overlays
the shuffling feet
creeping out of the stark chapel,
so much black cloth
conforming to conformity

A surge of sound
of trite remarks
of tearful hugs.
Music says more
of our cherished friend
than any words could do.

Vivienne’s process notes: This poem was written at the very start of my poeming, about the funeral of a very dear friend. The rhythm of the first stanza follows the rhythm of the opening of the Symphony.

Vivienne Blake, who is elderly and decrepit, living in rural Normandy. Her life has been a busy one, so the tranquillity of retirement suits the habits of a poet.