A Final Request
Lay me down in the dark, Marian.
Lay me down to finally rest.
Let these waters lullaby my smile, let them
caress my hair. Do not let them wake me
as I float down the stream. Do not let
my end, be the end of my sparkle and gleam.
Paint me with flowers, Marian. I ask
you only this much. Through cosmic time
your wilderness name shone and I at once rushed.
I chose you for this task. I chose you and your brush.
Weave my watery lungs with a smile
for eternity, no matter the indifference of clouds.
No matter the vulture’s hunger,
do not dare paint me in a shroud.
Zoé Robles was born in Puerto Rico. She has published in Adobe Walls, Malpais, Third Wednesday, Oddball Magazine and elsewhere. She currently lives in New Mexico.
Secret moments floated
Each becoming a white chrysanthemum in still water.
The sky reclined enduring infinite and lying under, as in meditation,
I imagined being a bird looking back at myself.
Retrieving the past, lying bare, feeling the earth, chills creeping up.
Pulling at the ropes in turns, the brother and us sisters,
Of the giant cloth for fan descending down the ceiling, the two ends tied
Like the incapacitated wings.
Contemplating freedom in pendulum movement, frills of scraps at its bottom
Bouncing in shades of jubilance, seducing minds, enticing us to ride
Into the wild until the fall of dusk.
The burning youth of the afternoon unrelenting.
Crossing the khal, a stream, the water looked a peaceful green.
Coming down the bridge, bowing at the deity as did all irrespective of religion.
Walking through the lanes, narrow and winding, pitchers zigzagged near the taps
Waiting, women at doorsteps, men under tin sheds, their ambitions in hiding.
Fallen through the time once, hesitating now in return to temple chants and
Flickering of the earthen lamps. To prevailing of calm and stillness reigning.
Abha Das Sarma
"An engineer and management consultant by profession, I enjoy writing the most. Besides having a blog of over 200 poems (http://dassarmafamily.blogspot.com), my poems have appeared in Muddy River Poetry Review, Spillwords, Verse-Virtual, Sparks of Calliope, Trouvaille Review, here and elsewhere. Having spent my growing up years in small towns of northern India, I currently live in Bengaluru.
Drifting, birds soaring,
immersing in calm waters,
lifting her essence.
Lisa M. Scuderi-Burkimsher
Lisa M. Scuderi-Burkimsher has been writing since 2010 and has had many micro-flash fiction stories published. In 2018 her book Shorts for the Short Story Enthusiasts, was published and The Importance of Being Short, in 2019. She currently resides on Long Island, New York with her husband Richard and dogs Lucy and Breanna.
a deep dark pond
right near the forest path
she chose for today
was it the jackdaw, the deep green
what did make her decide to
drift along, despite
her waryness, uneasyness
for under the whistling petals
the comfortable shade swiftly
stops her rustle, more,
an unknown wave threatens
her solitary sense, this freedom
under trees turns
sudden into loch imprisonment
in a blink of a swish
cheeks flushed for the wind
or for worries,
the pond deepens and she sees, seems,
becomes the one she was before
a power outside her chest,
the outer brain sensing
this spirit with water, crowns
her consciousness now winged,
about to fade, feeble, losing her veer
without knowing the ways to fly
Kate Copeland started absorbing stories ever since a little lass. Her love for words led her to teaching and translating some silvery languages. Her love for art, water and writing led her to poetry...with some publications sealed already! She was born in Rotterdam some 51 ages ago and adores housesitting in the UK, America and Spain.
A daisy caplet
by the dead maiden's body
Burial at sea
Toshiji Kawagoe, Ph.D. is a professor at Future University Hakodate. He lives in Hokkaido, Japan. His poems in ancient Chinese have been published in the anthologies of Chinese poetry and his science fiction short stories in S-F Magazine and Anotherealm. His academic works in economics are also published in many books and academic journals.
Get Thee to an Aviary!
Ophelia feels the whiteness of her dress unfurl into feathers,
the wet become wind. Her mouth becomes beak.
It takes her two wingbeats to think of this weightlessness
Ophelia gathers her courage and looks down at her own corpse.
Lily white in the river. Floating, eyes closed. Hair like kelp
caught in the current.
When she was six, Laertes took her to creek and speared
a fish in front of her. Her skin looks like the iron sheen of
death on its scales.
Did her grief drown, or did it just grow feathers?
The life of a caged dove ne’er suited her —
but the crooked flight of a black swan might.
Sanjana Ramanathan is an English student at Drexel University. She enjoys playing video games, cracking open a new book, and daydreaming. Her work has been published in The Front Porch Review, clandestine lit, and elsewhere. You can find her on Twitter @sanjubilees.
Questions to Other Women
Did I wash to here, to this dark
ocean, with Leda loose in my bones
and a shadow of her monstrous bird above,
calling to a past, a future then? Do you hear
the old stories, the myths that line horizons,
all starting with a silence or a song
that is only ever to ourselves? Didn’t they
gather me in, crown me with flowers
for the holiness they craved?
The gifts I chose, that mattered,
float dismembered out of reach and now
only my fire hair has voice.
Will that be what remains in this grey silence -
Christ’s own hue, curled against the tides?
Amanda Ferguson lives, works and writes in south west Oxfordshire. She has recently had work published by Visual Verse.
Flat white flowers wind-plucked from
neighboring trees ride too lightly on the
water to let me grasp them
to pull myself out
and so I rest now, pale
from lack of life,
eyes closed against the world
Like my predecessors of romantic age
who floated in lakes of water lilies,
I’m waiting for angels to come for me.
I did not expect what I see through
my third eye, a black-winged avian
cross between a heron, a rooster,
and a scythe with three sets of claws
swooping in to scoop me out of this world
carry me into the next.
What kind of world
Would send such a fowl
of an escort?
No, not what I expected.
Joan Leotta of Calabash, NC has been playing with words on page and stage since childhood. Her poems, articles, essays, and short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in dozens of journals around the world including: Ekphrastic Review, The Lake, Pine Song, A-3 Review, When Women Write, Verse Visual, and Verse Virtual, Mystery Tribune, two Guppy Anthologies, Saturday Writers, Saddlebag Dispatch, overmydeadbody.com, Red Eft, Red Wolf Journal, anti-heroin chic, Drunk Monkeys, Sasee, and others. She has been a Tupelo Press 30/30 author, and a Gilbert Chappell Fellow. Her chapbook, Languid Lusciousness with Lemon, is out from Finishing Line Press. Her free chapbooks are Nature’s Giftsfrom Stanzaic Stylings and Dancing Under the Moon and Morning by Morning, mini-chapbooks through Origami Press. As a performer, she tells folk and personal tales featuring food, family, nature, and strong women. When not on stage or at her computer, she’s curled up with a book or walking the beach.Joan can be reached on her facebook page, Joan Leotta or her author page, Joan Leotta Story Performer and Author. Twitter: @joanleottawrite
albatross of peace-
you are free again,
in wings slick, pristine,
a sheen of renewal
surrounds them, as
you hover no longer
hitched to the noose
of belligerent love
en burgeoning route
to a distant empyrean
devoid of earthly pain,
you, for a moment, had
mulled over your past self, a
whiter shade of dead and pale
barely breaching the surface
of a thickened black marine,
your old auburn hair an
enduring beacon in abyss,
your wreath of daisies
a lovely shambles
you point down your beak
as if to lend belated help
to a shackled soma,
a quill to a memoir still
glistening with fresh ink, or
as if drawn to drink it
all in for one last look,
like an involuntary and
ephemeral motion device,
before your pursuit of peace
would lead you away
to your particular salvation.
Brian (@brahvocado) is a Puerto-Haitian Bronxite writer and occasional opera singer. His work is featured and/or forthcoming in Thimble, Squawk Back, Trouvaille, and Cajun Mutt, among others. He holds a BA in Creative Writing from Susquehanna University. https://brianalvarado.com/writing
I Will Talk Peace
Peace is not a dove carrying a freshly-plucked olive leaf,
but I know love flies at first sight in a soup kitchen.
I leave my mark in New York
as the Lady Bountiful of the Bowery.
I am no angel. It helps to dispense food and medicine.
I shed pounds of fear off people.
The war influences. The depressed mix.
The crudely beautiful. I will keep this place
until everyone has plenty. Everyone has pieces
of need including the plants.
People that cannot see will have spectacles.
People that cannot walk will have wheelchairs.
Mother sends me images to sketch on scraps of paper.
A bird watches hypnotically.
White flower petals floating in dark water cool me.
Waves fleck in foam. My mystic passage.
I know the bird shadow orders my eyes closed for travel
behind the veil. To not see any more planes and burning
buildings. The bird drinks in my hair steeped
in orange tea. Beyond the veil, I dream of white-blotched
clouds without smoke. The bird will whisper my soul
to heaven if I’ve done enough. War is when never enough is,
and isn’t peace a letting go? I mist away
from black and white brushwork.
Peace is love on chapped lips, a calm current.
Talons and beaks of the world will come for
my flesh. Dear departure for the ever after.
John Milkereit lives in Houston and his poems have appeared in various literary journals including San Pedro River Review, The Orchard Street Press, and The Ekphrastic Review. His last collection of poems is entitled Drive the World in a Taxicab. He is a 2021 Pushcart nominee.
"I have never excluded the possibility of supernatural intervention from my belief...Spore has something beautiful and is conveying it to her fellow men." Harry Houdini, New York Sun, 1924
"Mystic voices led her to romance, fame and wealth..." New York Evening Graphic, April 26, 1939
The paint in the sea is so thick it's created a bed where a woman has fallen asleep,
floating -- in a trance -- a seance at sea -- young again, her mother's ghost
guiding her to a wind-blown garden of small, white flowers scattered on the ocean.
It is the artist's conception of earth and petals changing the dark water to a mystical place
for her to rest; and look! There, in the clouds round as clock faces, the sleeping sea's
immobile impasto erases measurements of time and the gray sky hovers, empty of light
above the girl so there is no way to date a flying shape -- a blackened, stylized cormorant --
a premonition of war resembling a prehistoric pteradactyl. Behind her closed eyes
there are remnants of nature we cannot see -- surrealistic predictions of the future
in the movement of the sea and the colors of palm trees -- the voices of artists
suspended, with her, between worlds inspiring the primitive mysticism
that guides her paint brush through passageways with the poor
who called her "Lady Bountiful" an Angel bringing food and clothes
to the Bowery as she painted pictures her mother sent her from the afterlife,
her hair a cap of flame & passion when she falls asleep to the singing sounds of dolphins.
Poems in her recent book, When Dreams Were Poems, 2020, have received recognition from The Houston Poetry Fest, The Ekphrastic Challenge, and The Ekphrastic Review. She received a Master's Degree in Creative Writing, Poetry, from The University of Houston, and her thesis included information on William Butler Yeats, a poet who was influenced by extrasensory perception. Like Flora Marian Spore, Yeats communicated with supernatural voices, calling them "Instructors" and "Frustrators" in his book of esoteric philosophy, A Vision. Flora's art, called "primitively mystic" by the New York Times, included tropical foliage and colour from Guam, where she visited her brother, an officer in the military. Other work included huge, "mysterious" black and white canvases that she said had been suggested by otherworldly voices.
No Peace: A Double Etheree Sequence
through the haze
of fluid dreams,
a distant yearning
in my heart and loins,
with so many great promises
that you never intend to keep,
luring me with skillfully told lies,
luring me with a masterful false tongue.
Perhaps it is fate, maybe destiny
that I should be hurt again once more.
Perhaps these powers continue
to lure my stardust-made self
to still more misery
like I tried to put
far behind me
I locked myself
away from it all,
away from everyone,
only to find you still haunt
both my waking and unconscious,
the anger that you seeded in me
growing stronger with every passing day.
It is impossible to know just how
all of my fury will manifest,
precisely what my rage will do,
just how it will all play out.
In my mind it ends with
blood and violence,
as all the while
all my pain
all my anger
and all of my fear -
fear my dreams will come true,
that you will come back to me
with your lovely, lying promises,
bringing your friend misery in tow.
I fear, fear your outrage, fear your raised hand,
and I fear the promises you will not keep.
But most of all I fear my damn self
and just what I will do next time.
Sometimes in dream I strike you
so hard that you fall down.
I awake still mad,
so angry that
your ghost haunts
does not stop
at my pillow.
No, it carries me
through morning rituals,
through emails and returned calls,
through unforgiving midday sun,
through bland dinners I force feed myself,
and through bedtime routines, back to the sheets,
where the haunting cycle of hate and rage
starts afresh with vicious avengence.
So, I lie wide awake at night,
afraid of falling asleep,
this vile prophecy,
afraid of what
I would do
Rose Menyon Heflin
Rose Menyon Heflin is a poet and artist from Wisconsin who enjoys nature and travel. Although currently busy cyanotyping, screenprinting, and photographing plants and cranes, she also enjoys mixed media collage, watercolour painting, and papermaking. Among other venues, her poetry has recently been published or is forthcoming in 50 Haikus, Ariel Chart, Asahi Haikuist Network, Bramble, The Closed Eye Open, The Daily Drunk, Deep South Magazine, Dreich Magazine, Eastern Structures, The Ekphrastic Review, Haikuniverse, The Light Ekphrastic, Littoral Magazine, Please See Me, Plum Tree Tavern, THE POET, Poetry and Covid, Red Alder Review, Red Eft Review, Sparked Literary Magazine, The Texas Poetry Calendar, Three Line Poetry, Trouvaille Review, Visual Verse, The Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar, The Writers Club, and various anthologies. Her poetry recently won a Merit Award from Arts for All Wisconsin.
a slender sleekness
The beak has borne the brunt of it,
evolution visible in the diversity of shapes —
that one stout and stunted, this one
sleek and slender — it seems
improbably long, slanted, splitting
lengthwise like a grass whistle when she calls
for help, but help
never comes, it’s always up to her — so
she bends that supple neck, pierces
a mouth unbreathing and slides that
slender sleekness down the trachea,
forces air into unwilling lungs.
And it makes no sense, of course, because
beaks don’t work that way, only hers, only hers
holds the power of life over death.
But when you come to,
retching water, you feel like you see feathers
as white as seafoam, or dark as the wave
that upended you — and you
think angels, for she
is long gone, preening in the shallows,
keeping one steady eye on you.
As feeling returns to limbs and you
stagger to the shore,
your throat is raw, and you
do not think beyond the water until
you spy a man writing and
catch a glimpse of sketches.
One page holds a slender sleekness and you
swallow. He sees you looking, and lingers
there — some things
change when you measure them, some things
should not be observed — he says.
And there is such regret that you want to
apologize, but he
tears out the page, tosses it to the waves,
and you watch
in silence as the sketch of slender sleekness
slips into unbeing.
Sarah Bricault has a PhD in neurobiology and currently works as a postdoc in that field. Her fascination with the mind and how it processes information often finds itself in her poetry, as do themes related to mental health. Sarah's work can be found in Brown Bag Online, High Shelf Press, The Poeming Pigeon, Beyond Words, Wingless Dreamer, and elsewhere. For more information on Sarah, check out SarahBricault.com.
Dreams my Mother Sends me from the Grave
Summer, I dream mother once,
her body in a lidless coffin.
Grass stalks, wild blueberries
silent violet clay beetles.
She says: It’s all an error
giddily sits up straight
she shakes herself awake
a young woman again
yellow full moon in my night window
casket. Satin silk pillow. Ah, fresh air!
Crumpled cotton dress with tiny pleats,
sturdy stack heel leather shoes.
Mother climbs out of the coffin
wriggles herself free of flies and worms,
black crow’s dry wing bones
swallowed up in blue-white fescue.
She walks uphill to a green sunny hillock.
Turns her back to me. Disappears.
Ilona Martonfi is a poet, editor, literary curator, and activist; she is the author of four poetry books, Blue Poppy (Coracle Press, 2009), Black Grass (Broken Rules Press, 2012), The Snow Kimono (Inanna Publications, 2015) and Salt Bride (Inanna Publications, 2019). Forthcoming, The Tempest (Inanna Publications, 2022). Her work has published in seven chapbooks, journals across North America and abroad. Recently, her poem "My Brother's Ashes" was nominated by The Ekphrastic Review for the Best Microfiction Awards Anthology, 2021. She is the curator of Visual Arts Centre and Argo Bookshop Reading Series. She is also the recipient of the Quebec Writers’ Federation 2010 Community Award.
Repetition of the everlasting waves
begin to lull my thoughts away
and the sudden loss of my thoughts convey
a feeling lapping over my brain,
breeze blows the last of my reverie away
And I feel something slipping, slipping
The albatross that hung around my mind
It was dripping, dripping
Away. The great bird
Sleek and black
It flowed from my mind and to the open air
And finally I could feel not
But peace lapping, lapping over mind and body bare.
Frances Sherman, a fifteen year old poet, was born in Birmingham, Alabama. Throughout her life she was moved a total of three times and continually finds sanctuary in writing. Now living in Houston, Texas she is currently attending Jewish high school, Emery/Weiner.
Seeing in the Dark
Floating in a sea of onyx dreams,
I rest my head on cresting waves.
With wings as black as theater curtains,
a bird hovers above, ever present.
She casts a blanketing shadow,
whispers stark words,
reminders of what awaits me
in the waking life--
a sturdy walker with rubber stoppers
and handlebars on walls,
jutting out like antlers.
I flex my eyelids shut,
block out the shape of gargantuan wings.
The water gently rocks me back and forth.
Suspended in harmony
with the water’s lilt,
I find freedom.
Breathing in the stars,
my moon face wholeness
reflects all that glows
from galaxies beyond.
In this parallel sleep universe,
I am climbing mountains
with my mind,
plucking stars from the midnight sky,
tucking them behind my ears,
in case I need to see in the dark--
find my way home.
Cristina M. R. Norcross
Cristina M. R. Norcross of Wisconsin, is the author of 8 poetry collections, founding editor of Blue Heron Review, and is a Pushcart nominee. Her latest book is Beauty in the Broken Places (Kelsay Books, 2019). Her forthcoming chapbook, The Sound of a Collective Pulse, will be released Fall 2021 (Kelsay Books). Cristina’s work appears in: Visual Verse, Your Daily Poem, Verse-Virtual, The Ekphrastic Review, and Pirene’s Fountain, among others, as well as numerous anthologies. She has led community poetry projects, workshops, and has hosted many readings. Cristina is the co-founder of Random Acts of Poetry & Art Day. www.cristinanorcross.com.
After your mama died, you chucked your healing profession,
And took up painting yourself out of the blues.
It must have been a shock!
To lose your mother’s living pride in you.
Losing one’s mother is never easy,
Whether she was as saintly as Theresa of Calcutta
Or even if she had a heart as stony, cold, and black
As the celluloid monster mother in Mommie Dearest.
Whether she sports a halo or warts, mom is the magician
Who conjures warm watery canal for her fleshy charge
To slide from nine short months of peaceful darkness
Into blinding dissonant chaos that could last seven, or more, decades.
You said spirits spoke to you from beyond the veil,
Murmuring art lessons in psychic ciphers for you to decrypt.
Ghostly stork voices guiding you to thickly layer and layer and layer paint
To birth surreal life right before the viewer’s eyes.
Jude Bradley’s prose has aired on National Public Radio and has been published in Teaching in the Two-Year College journal and in Momentum magazine. Her poetry has been published by literary journals including Tupelo Press, Thimble, and Ekphrastic Review. Her poetry and flash fiction re-envision classical literature and art and reflect on urban life in an ever-shrinking, ever-expanding world. Her poem “Argos” was nominated for the 2019 Pushcart Prize. She is lifelong writing teacher who loves to sing, dance, and garden. She is the Reverend Al Green’s biggest fan.
As I gaze upon your peaceful face
I wonder if I should ferry you
To a place where you
Might find even more solace
But the tides of time and spirit
Have requested, no…
Demanded your presence.
So, it is with trepidation
and definite deliberation
That I must retrieve you and
Send you to your next
My beautiful one,
You have at last arrived.
Your journey is but a pause
In eternity, a moment of reflection.
Bask in your radiance and seek no more.
Ellie Klaus was born and raised in Montreal. She has lived different selves over several decades: daughter, wildlife biology graduate, vision quest traveler, family life educator, president (of her son's school committee), friend, confidante, lover, wife, mother, caregiver and now caregivee, if there is such a word. Each has contributed to a different perspective of living, of life. The pieces of the puzzle are evident and coming together, although the final image is yet to be revealed. So, writing has re-emerged as a creative endeavor to release some of the angst that arises from living a confined life, or any life for that matter. She has a poem entitled "Bones" that appears on NationalPoetryMonth.ca April 9, 2020 and poems appearing in The Ekphrastic Review and Pocket Lint.
Covetous of redemption,
release from earthly misery,
the Soul Scavenger hovers close,
laying claim to the faithless
who choose to loose the chains
of their mortal bindings -
an irreversible solution
for momentary pain -
as Ophelia in her watery grave.
Thus, the Soul Scavenger
ranges back and forth,
awaiting her final breath
to seize her soul as it parts -
mind from body, spirit from heart -
and raven it before its ascension
while she drifts in peaceful resolution,
believing her misfortune concluded,
unaware it is the beginning of eternal suffering.
Antoinette F. Winstead
Antoinette F. Winstead, a poet, playwright, director, and actor, is a professor at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas. Her poetry has appeared in several publications, including Jerry Jazz Musician, Voices de la Luna, Langdon Review, Texas Poetry Assignment, The Women's Inc., and The Poet Magazine. Most recently, her poem “JAZZ” received first place for the 2020 Persimmon Prize. She is currently president of the Alamo Area Poets of Texas and vice-president of the San Antonio Poets’ Association.
If I could only believe
lie in sweet flower scented water
and dream ever sweeter dreams
If I could only believe
I would lie there
Whether fish or fowl,
dove or eagle
fly above me
it wouldn’t matter
if I could only believe
that peace lies within.
If I could only believe.
Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. She was shortlisted in the Theatre Cloud 'War Poetry for Today' competition and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Rhysling Award. Her poetry has appeared in many publications including: Apogee, Firewords, Vagabond Press, Gyroscope Review and So It Goes Journal. Find Lynn at: https://lynnwhitepoetry.blogspot.com and https://www.facebook.com///www.facebook.com/Lynn-White-Poetry-1603675983213077/