As If Doves
Love lifts with bright destination
its clarity rises in strokes.
It lilts in luminous whispers
its radiance navigates north.
It shines in the optics of lions
glows in the lens of intent
honors a peaceful coexistence
a sustainable union with Earth.
It flows in the garden phlox nectar
where hummingbirds stop for a sip
as daylilies bloom give honeybees room
to move pollen from anther to stigma.
It slips into canopied forests
where sunlight dances about
it serves to imbue
keeps flora anew
supports life where shadows trap growth.
It beams in the soul of an artist
renders a visionary course
where symmetry seeks
inspires a painter’s true north.
It shines in the optics of humans
glows in the lens of intent
where brides treasure grooms
illuminate rooms as wedding
bands glisten with faith.
It gathers over the oceans
in waters where vibrancy lives
as whooping cranes flock
and honeybees talk to the pollen
on daylily blooms.
It stirs in the murmur of breezes
hums as if chorus of doves
swirls in the ripples of rivers
beats like the cadence of drums.
Unity vibrates in balance
with reciprocal offerings of love.
Jeannie E. Roberts
Jeannie E. Roberts lives in Wisconsin, where she writes, draws and paints, and often photographs her natural surroundings. She’s authored seven books, five poetry collections and two illustrated children's books. Her newest collection, As If Labyrinth - Pandemic Inspired Poems, was released by Kelsay Books in April of 2021. Her poems appear in Anti-Heroin Chic, Blue Heron Review, Sky Island Journal, The Ekphrastic Review, and elsewhere. She’s an animal lover, a nature enthusiast, Best of the Net award nominee, and a poetry editor of the online literary magazine Halfway Down the Stairs.
Dorothy Embacher is a visual artist from Meaford, Ontario. Her creations are influenced by the waters of Georgian Bay and the woodlands of the Niagara Escarpment. Dorothy works in a variety of media, including painting, printmaking and collage. Her process is intuitive, shaped by poetry, personal experience, and collaboration, inspiring art from poetry, poetry from art, with a deeply environmental perspective. She has exhibited at Meaford Arts and Cultural Hall, Owen Sound Banner Project, and the 2020 International Telephone Game. Her latest work will be featured in the 608 Exhibition, to bring attention to 608 trees that may be destroyed by developers.
There is an architecture to this room
the Virgin’s in – its grey walls and red floor
are laid out, not as blueprints are, but in
perspective. Through the open door, a scene
of land- and cityscape. There is a ship
in what must be an estuary, and
a single tree beyond the patterned garden.
The Virgin sees the angel Gabriel,
in pink and gold and gauze. His folded wings
are grey and green. In his left hand, a lily.
His right performs a blessing. As he kneels,
the Virgin makes a modest sign to him.
She has a holy pallor, as the Spring
or Venus of this painter don’t; she is
secure in blue and red or fuchsia,
and a gold band trims her blue robe. Around
her feet, her gown shades to a pink that’s quite
identical to Gabriel’s. Could she
not stay in red and blue? Or had the painter
grown weary of those colours? Gabriel
delights the eye. And why should angels not?
There is a joy to this art that you might
look for in vain before it. It is still,
and Mary’s flesh has a metallic sheen –
and yet, its pink and blue and red and gold
trace a new world. As if a rusty door
swung open onto Venus, we alight
where sunshine plays and hope is not a poor
ersatz for living – where each might-have-been
comes true, and all the world does what they will.
We dream. We do whatever fits the bill.
John Claiborne Isbell
Since 2016, various MSS of John’s have placed as finalist or semifinalist for The Washington Prize (three times), The Brittingham & Felix Pollak Prizes (twice), the Elixir Press 19th Annual Poetry Award, The Gival Press Poetry Award, the 2020 Able Muse Book Award (twice) and the 2020 and 2021 Richard Snyder Publication Prizes. John published his first book of poetry, Allegro, in 2018, and has published in Poetry Durham, threecandles.org, the Jewish Post & Opinion, Snakeskin, The HyperTexts, and The Ekphrastic Review. He has published books with Oxford and with Cambridge University Press and appeared in Who’s Who in the World. He also once represented France in the European Ultimate Frisbee Championships. He retired this summer from The University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley, where he taught French and German and coached men’s and women’s ultimate. His wife continues to teach languages there.
A single woman with an abundance
to share chose to adopt
a newborn from a foreign land,
A seedling wrapped in pink baby clothes
traveled to the United States --
her arrival created a family,
a baby girl transplanted into adoring soil
began a life where she would
never know of daily challenges in
the location of her original roots,
never know a life with disadvantages,
food insecurity or violence.
This mother learned from each cry,
facial expression, and first steps while
teaching kindness, connection, and tradition.
The child unfolded — beautiful, smart, healthy,
a mane of dark hair parted in the center,
a smile on her face, a loyal friend.
I have witnessed the warmth in her eyes when
she meets her mother’s gaze, overwhelming
my heart to see such devotion.
Lois Perch Villemaire
Lois Perch Villemaire resides in Annapolis, MD. Her stories, memoir flash, and poetry have been published in such places as One Art: A Journal of Poetry, The Ekphrastic Review, The RavensPerch, Trouvaille Review, FewerThan500, The Drabble, Pen In Hand, and Flora Fiction. Her poems have been included in anthologies including those published by Truth Serum Press, Quintessence - Coming of Age by Soul Poet Society, American Writers Review 2021, and Love & the Pandemic by Moonstone Arts Center. She was a finalist in the 2021 Prime Number Magazine Award for Poetry.
I was ten the first time I visited London, England. My mother and I had come down on the train from Dundee. One afternoon, she took me to Foyle’s Bookstore, which was huge even by the standards of the late 1950s. It occupied a large city block and much of the store was set up the way you’d expect — fiction section, children’s section, best sellers on a table at the front. But there were “rooms,” quadrants at the back of the store devoted to a single publisher.
I now suspect those publishers paid for those spaces, but what drew my attention was their uniformity because, in those days, their respective covers were all the same.
One room was Faber & Faber with pale blue and white covers, black trim and lettering to highlight the author and title of each book. It exuded cool in both temperature and style. Faber & Faber, the pinnacle of literary class, the promoters of modernism.
The other room was filled with Penguin books, solid orange, bold and hot. Penguin was the publisher who brought high-quality writing to ordinary people, influencing British culture, politics and art, science and discourse of every kind.
On the cover, their authors and titles were also in black lettering on a white background, outlined in black. A few books faced front, the white patch for the author and title providing relief for the eyes, but most of the books were spine out. At the bottom of each spine was the little penguin logo.
When I walked into the room, I was engulfed by orange punctuated by rows of little penguins an inch above each shelf. My mother browsed the shelves, then wandered into other parts of the store. I remained mesmerized. When she was ready to leave, she found me still there and still staring.
“Someday, I’m going to have an orange spine,” I said.
“That’s nice, dear.”
She didn’t know how much I meant it.
Aline Soules' work has appeared in Kenyon Review, Houston Literary Review, Poetry Midwest, and The Galway Review. Her books include Meditation on Woman and Evening Sun: A Widow’s Journey. Find her online at http://alinesoules.com, @aline_elisabeth, and https://www.linkedin.com/in/alinesoules/
i brought white roses for your mother
jack. you can call me jill. rainbow black
electric valentine slow baby, dance me
crazy, pull me up that hill. i lost my shoes.
muscled-up hues, coal-fired blues. rescue
me ravish me kiss me right. no sorrows.
no tomorrows. no begs. no borrows. kiss
me right, my slick slick slick groom--
wait wait wait
tick tick boom!
them’s my boxers, them’s your briefs.
never forget, i brought white roses
for your mother. never regret. jack.
you can call me. always. call me. jill.
Vicki Whicker, poet and photographer, is a member of Los Angeles Poets and Writers Collective and Bright Hill Press’s Seeing Things Workshop. Writing credits— Entropy Magazine, Pigeon Review, The Nonconformist, La Presa, Movable Type, Spillwords, and more. Her poetry and photography appear in the anthology Seeing Things (Woodland Arts Editions, 2020). A poetry collection, Caught Before Flight (Woodland Arts Editions) was published in 2020. Bucolia, a photography show, debuted at The Word and Image Gallery, Bright Hill Press, 2020. Her photography appears in Orion Magazine’s 2021 Autumn issue.
Out of Choice
This poem was inspired by a photograph by Jorge Rueda (Spain). Click here to view.
The realisation that I needed to wear a violent red, that I had put it on
me, out there, against a peaceful blue
all's hidden underneath my skin, and I thought, knew, that once
the disconnection waved in, the unsafety,
the red escaped and in an instant, alien became less distant, fluid
in my daily countenance. How I have always
assumed you were the rock and I the water, how it turned out
to be all the same. And me fully capable
of standing on stones in this fluidity of waves, in this distractive life. So once
I left the cliff edge, I felt the wind in my face,
felt the depth & distance again - and I know the cracks of then and
the hills of now, will become a passage
a progress, through the fragments I breathe, for the joy I choose.
You went along with a trust to my inner world
while you wouldn’t anyway. So I decided to wend my place, to dream up
some furnishing and survive nonetheless. Once your heart
has jumped out of your body, the rivers & tides bound to smooth over
and a structured daydreaming will bring out
the bright, fresh dawning I need to scare off the ghosts of my lost night,
a subverted realism to coast through
a clear consciousness over the guilt and some uneasy providence. What is
done, is done. True. One can only choose the waves so well.
Kate Copeland started absorbing stories ever since a little lass. Her love for words led her to teaching and translating some sweet languages, her love for art, lyrics and water led her to poetry ... with some readings and publications sealed already! She was born in Rotterdam some 52 ages ago and adores housesitting in the UK, US and Spain.
The Long Marriage
I wonder some days whether you’re planning a getaway, and in those moments, what rises is, you know, the way we’ve looked beyond the dark—shadow and shot—to uncover the latitude of instigation or manipulation or immolation that combusted us. The way it saved us—in the clatter of dirty dishes, the musty undershirts, the chopped Bermuda onions when you wanted plain yellow.
Well, that’s what I’m talking about.
Disappointment gnaws at the fringes until it leaks open a wound, and, damn, honey, we both know it’s a short life. We’ve balanced so many times over so many years, uncertain that we could make one more step in the same direction, and yet the breath of possibility we’d known from the moment we met would rise again. The ladder rungs eased us forward, greasy with desire.
Come on now, jump on my back, take the ride. In this dark kettle of time, you are still my everything: silk against my knees, spring battuto on my tongue, endless rivers of untainted water, light and light, more light, brilliant blinding light.
Annaliese Jakimides is a writer and mixed media artist who grew up in inner-city Boston and raised a family on 40+ acres on a dirt road in northern Maine, growing almost all their food and pumping water by hand. She currently lives in an apartment in a small city next to a library. In addition to working with inner-city environmental justice organizations and international arts groups, she has developed humanities programs for schools and discussed life through the lens of children’s literature in a variety of settings including prisons, community centers, and libraries. Cited in national competitions, her poetry and prose have been included in many journals and anthologies, including Utne and GQ, and broadcast on Maine Public and NPR. Her most recent publication is in the anthology Breaking Bread (Beacon Press, 2022). annaliesejakimides.com
The poet-laureate remained surprisingly stymied on the subject of wild raspberries. At his desk for the better part of an hour and a half tangled images appeared, but the words weren’t coming. A change of scene and fresh air was needed. He filled his suit pocket with jotting book, pencil, wallet and house key. He scribbled a note to his absent wife and left it under the sugar bowl, their spot for such missives. On the front porch he paused, which cobbled streets of Cambridge called today? Go right, old man, go right.
Bits of white cloud evaporated into the blue and his thoughts turned to the newly opened Marimekko store on Brattle. He moved at a steady pace as the bright sun warmed his back and the air felt full of promise. He noticed flowering forsythia and smiled with pleasure at the seasonal turn deciduous trees would soon take.
Quickening, the very word energetic, the sheen of pale-pink green along young branches and newly budded leaves. The confines of his study behind him, his step took on a decided jauntiness.
Marimekko, wondrous coloors, he’d heard. A Scandinavian Finnish astonishment. Full of movement, modern, bright fabrics, clothes for young women, and house-hold accessories, all very costly. He was keen to see its splendid offerings.
He paused near Bickford’s Cafeteria to tie his shoe lace. Finished, he looked up and saw a slender, leggy girl with a long braid over one shoulder coming towards him. Otherwise the sidewalk was empty. She reminded him of someone or something. What was it?
“Hello,” said the girl as she came upon him. He noticed her blue eyes, the irises edged in black. Pretty. Decidedly, he thought.
“How are you today?” he said, straightening up from his shoe-lace tying.
“I’m fine. Thank you. And I’m very happy.”
“Oh, why is that?”
“Because. Well, two reasons really. One is I’m headed to ballet class. The second is because I just bought special earrings. In the little shop back there.” The girl pointed behind her and to the left.
“Ah, huh,” he said.
“I’m getting my ears pierced in two weeks when I turn fifteen. I saved money for the earrings and the doctor who said he’ll pierce my ears. I’ve had to wait a very long time. But every day is one day closer. Would you like to see them? The earrings I mean?” The man momentarily forgot Marimekko and nodded kindly.
“Yes,” he said. “I’d be delighted to see your newly acquired treasure.” The girl opened her dance bag and took out a small paper bag that contained a white box. She lifted the lid for the smiling man to see. “Lovely,” he said.
“They remind me of gold coins from long ago,” said the girl.
“Yes, they do. Only in miniature.”
“Exactly.” She beamed at him. “And they’ve clasped European backings so they won’t fall out and be lost. I’ve very small earlobes,” she added as she put the lid back on the box and tucked it away. “Well, this has been really nice. I mean talking with you.”
“It has indeed. But, now I needs be off.”
“Me, too. I mustn’t be late for class. Good-bye!”
“Good-bye, young lady. Have a good dance class. And enjoy those earrings.”
“Oh, thank you. I will.” He watched as she looked both ways, zig-zagged across Brattle and disappeared down a narrow alleyway.
“Of course,” he said out loud. “Degas’ Little Dancer!” Raspberries begone. Marimekko could wait. Smitten with the real thing she leapt into his imagination. Words and images came flooding as a poem choreographed itself in his head.
She would jump and twirl and take the page with those black-edged blue eyes, long legs, and soon-to-be pierced ears. He entered Bickford’s, found an empty table and sat down. With pocket notebook and pencil in hand, he began to write.
Note: At age 14 and three quarters, the author spontaneously conversed with Robert Frost on Brattle Street minutes after she’d purchased small gold earrings with her own money, and was headed to ballet class at The Cambridge School of Ballet.
Deborah writes short stories, flash fiction and creative non-fiction in northwestern Montana. Her work has been published in Thin Air Magazine Online, and Common Ground Review among others. Her short story, "Hardened Road," was long listed in CRAFT's 2019 Short Fiction Contest. Her flash fiction,"Dancing Shoes," went live July 8th 2021 at potatosoupjournal.com
Hark! The Lark!
Three young women standing on a hillside,
no doubt fisher girls at a break in their daily tasks,
spellbound and transfixed by the call of a skylark,
strain and ethereal sound that descends
from its hovering flight.
Fascinated and worried, they certainly think
on people’s ancient beliefs that some bird’s songs
foreshadow a bad omen, or at least, warn us
for dangers in the future.
Painted scene by Homer, in his summer season
at the fishing community in Cullercoats, England.
But now we know that these well-shown concerns
did not materialize.
Winter and tempests which followed did not weaken
the vigor and healthy yearnings of so industrious
and happy that community.
An example for all of us, not worry on winters
and tempests, that will, undoubtedly, be frightening us,
by upcoming days and scenes of our lives.
Edilson Afonso Ferreira
Mr. Ferreira, 78 years, is a Brazilian poet who writes in English rather than in Portuguese. Widely published in selected international literary journals in print and online, he began writing at age 67, after his retirement from a bank. Has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize, and his first Poetry Collection, Lonely Sailor - One Hundred Poems - was launched in London, in 2018. He is always updating his works at www.edilsonmeloferreira.com.
Wild Man of the Mountain, by Tony Howarth
Broadstone Books 2021, 43 pages
Reviewed by H.E. Fisher
I am of the age and stage in which I am deciding what to keep, what to throw away, give away, or pass on to my children. What has value? Tony Howarth, a playwright, director, and poet, has crafted a lyric that is both a poem and a play. Howarth looks at what beauty can be found in our attics and in our rubble. The titular character is Dag, whose name, Howarth tells us in a Note, is a word that means both someone extraordinary or admirable and is slang for a person who is inept or awkward.
Howarth approaches Dag with tenderness, an outsider artist who creates a “dreamland garden” crafted from everyday objects he manifests into beauty; perhaps Dag sees beauty in things to begin with. Dag explains his method to Molly, a waitress he meets in a local coffee shop, who becomes a willing listener and eventual friend. In many ways, Wild Man of the Mountain is a celebration of connections—between the two characters as well the associative nature of a creative mind. Dag understands the connectiveness of stuff; his imagination allows him to repurpose objects. He explains a bit of his process to Molly:
oh, oh, oh tear this picture
out of this newspaper
and I put it
put it in the ashtray
see how the ashtray
now it’s a frame
a picture frame
that’s what I do
I turn ashtrays
into picture frames
“MOLLY: (don’t call it junk)” [P. 4]
Howarth aptly experiments with form throughout the book, playing with space on the page much as Dag so lovingly builds his sculptures from bits and pieces of objects.
leaks through the roof
pummels the window
sit here my back to the glass
listen to trees
“DAG: as the tower takes shape” [p.14]
Dag shares his perspective in dialog/poetry. Howarth allows his character to speak idiosyncratically, lyrically, as in Dag’s monologue when he addresses his beloved sculpture he calls “Angel”:
…go down to the pond
kneel at the edge of the water
early ancient time
reach with my bare hand
to scatter the tadpoles
and I did it
in the immortal stillness of the water
my moment of looking at who I am…
It is here that Dag declares himself the “wild man of the mountain,” which felt to me when I read it as a kind of Joyceian declaration of self. Dag knows who he is, regardless of labels and other people’s opinions.
Molly, with all best intentions, wants Dag to find success, or perhaps how many people might define “success,” by commodifying Dag’s artwork. An art dealer Dag describes as [a] “guy got snakeskin slippers”—a capital A Artworld insider who sees monetary value in Dag’s art—refers to it as “primitive.” Molly says:
“…like it’s from a different world
where life isn’t so complicated.” [p.26]
But life is. And with success comes people, true outsiders. Dag is afraid his work will be treated like junk, fearful that visitors will dismantle and destroy it. “If they tear it apart,” Dag intones, “they tear apart me.” Near the end of the book, Dag’s sculpture, Angel, speaks to his maker, “Most things break, say it.”
most things break.
and when they do, you fix ‘em
(“DAG: (as if Angel can talk”) [p. 33 ]
Howarth’s Wild Man of the Mountain looks at what breaks, what can be fixed, and what cannot, what is worth saving, or repurposed, and how whatever holds us together is often each other, a kind of super glue.
View the book on Amazon.
H.E. Fisher’s first collection, STERILE FIELD (Free Lines Press) and chapbook, JANE ALMOST ALWAYS SMILES (Moonstone Press), are forthcoming in 2022. H.E.’s poetry appears or is forthcoming in Whale Road Review, Indianapolis Review, The Hopper, Miracle Monocle, and Canary, among other publications. H.E. was awarded the 2019 Stark Poetry Prize in Memory of Raymond Patterson at City College of New York and was a finalist in the 2020-21 Comstock Review Chapbook Contest. H.E. is the editor of (Re) An Ideas Journal, and lives in the Hudson River Valley.
The Ekphrastic Review
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