Tenaya Moods Shared, by Robert Walton

Tenaya Moods Shared
by Robert Walton

Does freeze in dawn’s light,
Backlit, poised to leap away
Should sunlight strike
Amber shards
From lions’ eyes.

Jade eddies bow
Above obsidian deeps
As noontime wavelets
Roll across hot sands
Like children’s laughter

Owls drift above pines at dusk,
Their wings silent as moonlight;
Sweet sage burns yellow,
Lifting slender arms of smoke
To stars just risen.

Robert Walton is a retired middle school teacher, rock climber and mountaineer with ascents in the Sierras, Yosemite and Pinnacles National Parks. His published works include science fiction, fantasy and poetry. Walton’s novel, Dawn Drumswon, the 2014 New Mexico Book Awards Tony Hillerman Prize for best fiction. His “Sockdologizer” won the Saturday Writers 2020 Everything Children contest.
http://chaosgatebook.wordpress.com/

Unheard, by John L. Stanizzi

Unheard
by John L. Stanizzi

Those were the days when I could run
along the stone fence toward the house
that looked so much like corduroy.

So many lives come and gone
with their stories,
leaving the old place like new, in a way
that allowed me a clean palette upon which
I might compose my own gauzy stories,
tales that would remain for only a moment.

Almost instantly the themes of my stories will be gone,
though their thoughts will fill the air with possibilities,
potentials that, whether they are used or not,
most of us will never be privy to;
they are there but unheard.

Even the familiar words will be as mysterious as
bats that flap into view
hauling shards of sky
across the firmament
before they vanish back to where
they were awakened from
their silent slumber,
their echolocution bursting with stories
we will never hear.

John L. Stanizzi is author of the collections Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide – Ebb Tide, Four Bits, Chants, Sundowning, and POND. John’s poems have been widely published and have appeared in Praxis, Prairie Schooner, The Cortland Review, American Life in Poetry, The New York Quarterly, Paterson Literary Review, Potomac Review, The Caribbean Writer, Blue Mountain Review, Rust + Moth, Tar River, Poetlore, Rattle, Hawk & Handsaw, and many others. His work has been translated into Italian and has appeared widely in Italy, including the journals El Ghibli, The Journal of Italian Translations Bonafini, Poetarium, and others. His nonfiction has been published in Stone Coast Review, Ovunque Siamo, Adelaide, Scarlet Leaf, Literature and Belief, Evening Street, Praxis, and others. A former New England Poet of the Year, John is the Flash Fiction Editor of Abstract Magazine TV, and he has read at venues all over New England, including the Mystic Arts Café, the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, Hartford Stage, and many others. For many years, John coordinated the Fresh Voices Poetry Competition for Young Poets at Hill-Stead Museum, Farmington, CT. He is also a teaching artist for the national recitation contest, Poetry Out Loud. A former Wesleyan University Etherington Scholar, and New England Poet of the Year, John teaches literature at Manchester Community College in Manchester, CT and he lives with his wife, Carol, in Coventry. https://www.johnlstanizzi.com.

Red in Tooth and Stamen, by Debi Swim

Red in Tooth and Stamen
by Debi Swim

Consider the lily of the field
which neither toils nor spins
Consider the Giant Hogweed
family of Queen Anne’s Lace

Consider the giant water-bug
of ponds, marshes and streams
Consider the small house cat
domesticated, purring feline
Consider nature and her splendor
and remember her hazards
Consider that there is beauty
yet jeopardy dwelling in each
benign and treacherous
So, tread charily upon earth
for even into Eden crept peril
amidst the splendor and glory.

Process Notes: Annie Dillard’s book, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, gave me a new perception on nature and the nature of creation. As I’ve gotten older, I have been able (somewhat) to come to terms with life and its inconsistencies and its treacheries. I have a friend who wrings her hands and demands of God to fix this and fix that. I’m not against prayer but I’m beginning to think God just might know better than me. Whether He made a perfect world and we screwed it up or whether He made the world so that we would have to tread softly, I don’t know. The reality is we don’t have a perfect world and so, we tread charily and with respect.

Debi Swim lives in beautiful southern West Virginia where she persistently writes to great prompts from around the web.

Hanging Up the Sickle, by Debi Swim

Hanging Up the Sickle
by Debi Swim

I sowed my youth
in naïve dreams
crystal castles in the air
came crashing down
to rebound
and live a life
I’m satisfied with
and yet
I think of the times
I held back
played it safe
conformed
out of fear, duty, religion
And maybe I didn’t
square bale the moon
preserve the stars
pickle a rainbow
from my garden
when I could
… and
the field lies fallow now
I’ll not plant again
but live on the bounty
of star dust and rainbows
caught and clutched
close to my heart
from those green years.

Process note: “The true harvest of my life is intangible – a little star dust caught, a portion of the rainbow I have clutched.” Henry David Thoreau

Debi Swim lives in beautiful southern West Virginia where she persistently writes to great prompts from around the web.

We’re Parked in Cupboards, by Misky Braendeholm

We’re Parked in Cupboards
by Misky Braendeholm

I took a chair to the window,
listened to the silence. It was
sharp and thin as mountain air.
The world has nowhere to go.

Our cars parked up in cupboards,
the trains are off their tracks,
planes downed by something
in the air. We’re all parked up.

I watched the middle tree of
three bending long in the wind.
Next spring, I think I’ll crowd
the window boxes with colour.

Process notes: As Covid numbers increase and we’re all threatened with another lock-down, I look toward Spring and make plans for the garden.

Misky Braendeholm’s work is regularly published in monthly issues of Waterways in the Mainstream – Ten Penny Players, Visual Verse, and Right Hand Pointing.

A Plain Grey Life, by Misky Braendeholm

A Plain Grey Life
by Misky Braendeholm

We watched, prayed time’s chants
as damp crimson leaves blew into
his eternal six foot deep.

I was wrapped in mourning clothes,
comforted by a plain grey life,

held my sorrow within my sorrows,
within my creased and carded fleece,
within my heart’s brow.

A palmed rose tumbled on to his coffin,
his memory kept with the skulls of saints.

Misky Braendeholm’s work is regularly published in monthly issues of Waterways in the Mainstream – Ten Penny Players, Visual Verse, and Right Hand Pointing.

This Time, by Misky Braendeholm

This Time
by Misky Braendeholm

The light through the window
is spun in the beech tree.
In the mirror.
Across the floor.
Breathes in curves along white walls.
Cleaves to each cold-ash hour
of my grandmother’s clock.
Its hands stopped.
Ten past five. And it was
never rewound again.
Its brassy age-cured chime
as noisy as clashing colours.

Misky Braendeholm’s work is regularly published in monthly issues of Waterways in the Mainstream – Ten Penny Players, Visual Verse, and Right Hand Pointing.

Release, by Martin Willitts Jr

Release
by Martin Willitts Jr

Every day, she tilled the soil,
the sun would arise, tatters of birds
unsteadied air, bumping against
the invisible horizon,
uneasy flay and release, buckle
wings, sprinting endlessly towards
whatever was out there she couldn’t see.

The birds had overwhelming news,
and she kept her own counsel
on what the news might mean.
Maintaining prayer helped control her urge
to join, to bird-release, wing-whispering,
if only, if only.

The bird thrashed into the sky,
Join us now, molt, shed what is human
that’s holding you back.

The right direction was where the sky
was azure, so she believed harder, stretched out,
sprouted her own magnificent wings.

Martin Willitts Jr has 21 full-length collections including the Blue Light Award 2019, The Temporary World. His forthcoming books include, Harvest Time (Deerbrook Press, 2021) Leaving Nothing Behind (Fernwood Press, 2021), Meditations on Thomas Cole’s Paintings (Aldrich Press, 2021,) Not Only the Extraordinary are Exiting the Dream World (Flowstone Press, 2021,) All Wars Are the Same War (FutureCycle Press, 2021).

Inwood in October Light, by by Andrea L. Fry

Inwood in October Light
by Andrea L. Fry

They say the trade was made in May—
though it’s against a sky like today’s October light

that I imagine the Lenape in 1626 holding
out their palms to receive twenty-four dollars’

worth of beads and trinkets for what they
thought was to share Manhattan island.

I see the Lenape, studying Peter Minuit’s
moving lips, trying to make sense of the sounds,

wanting to trust his glittery gifts when,
in a second they witness behind

Minuit’s fawning head, the change—as light
does in October—a rectangle of dazzling

red and gold shifts then throws everything
into sheer splendor—like a king

might transform an ordinary room, recast
the moribund into brilliance. And everyone—

Minuit, the Lenape—see the sudden illumination
as a blessing of themselves and what they’ve done.

With it comes another change—as shadow does
in October—a band of grey—runs

underneath and parallel, an alternate world
of silhouette that travels just below the glorified.

Andrea L. Fry’s Poisons & Antidotes is scheduled for publication in spring 2021 (Deerbrook Editions). The Bottle Diggers was published in 2017 (Turning Point Press). Her poems have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Barrow Street, Cimarron Review, Graham House Review, Plainsongs, Sequoia, Stanford Literary Review, Writers Resist and others. She is a nurse practitioner at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

The Myth of the Word, by Emil Sinclair

The Myth of the Word
by Emil Sinclair

Every word I write
is a lie—
even “and” and “the.”
Fiction is my drug,
poetry my
delivery system.
Words are nothing but
two-bit actors;
shabby clowns,
miming for a pence
and a pocketful
of sand,
stolen
from a beach
on a windy day.
You remember.

I live in the Afterlife
(the time after you),
where all judgments
have been made,
all records sealed,
and no appeals
of sentencing
may be heard.
It’s so busy
down here
in liars hell—
or writers paradise—
so many tales
to be spun,
and verses
to be written.
I see, from here,
you’re doing well;
I send you
my kindest regards.

I can’t recall now
how young I was,
when I fell in love
with myth:
the Dream
that dreams us.
The word is not
the thing;
yet all things
are just words,
pregnant
with Gods.
I am Hermes,
their midwife;
son of Zeus,
cheater
of cheats,
guide of souls.

Process notes:
1.) It was novelist Mary McCarthy who once said of playwright Lillian Hellman that “every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the.’”
2.) “The word is not the thing,” is a quote from Science and Sanity (1933) by the Polish-American philosopher-semanticist, Alfred Korzybski.

Emil Sinclair is the pseudonym of a sometime poet and longtime philosophy professor in New York City.