Riparian devotees recite verses,
emptying pockets of lint and sins,
casting away transgressions
into the fresh autumnal current
of watercourses the world over.
These are the Days of Awe,
a calendric bridge spanning
Judgment Day and the Sabbath
of Sabbaths upon which
the Book of Life is annually resealed.
Will former trespasses be effaced
and the evil decree averted?
Penitent spirits gape into the river’s
deeps and shallows, lost in thought,
pondering a delta of potentials,
contemplating past deeds
while hoping whispered pleas
reach an audient deity.
But the mallards, gulls, and trout
aren’t overly concerned with pieties;
they are perfectly content to constellate
in rafts, flocks, and schools,
jostling to snatch kosher breadcrumbs
doffed and spattered,
twelve grain and whole wheat,
blissfully oblivious to weighty symbolism.Brandon MarlonBrandon Marlon is a writer from Ottawa, Canada. He received his B.A. (Hon.) in Drama and English from the University of Toronto and his M.A. in English from the University of Victoria. His poetry has been published variously in Canada, the U.S., England, Israel, and India. www.brandonmarlon.com.
We weave around each other
in choreographed chaos
to the music of impatience.
In and out, left to right,
never touching lest
Sometimes whirlwind fast,
others snail crawl slow...
always moving forward,
to a place we have to go.
Rie Sheridan Rose is the author of five chapbooks of poetry. Her poems have been published in Mythic Circle, Dreams of Decadence, Abandoned Towers, and online in Electric Wine, Abyss & Apex, and Penumbra. She won the National Space Society of North Texas Poetry Contest in 2011, and made Honorable Mention in the 2012 contest. She has also been published in the Boundless and Di-Verse-City Anthologies.
Lincoln Highway Day
The parade crawls down Main, past
children with slushy-stained lips,
tiny outstretched palms, Dora and iCarly
and Sponge Bob Velcro shoes, past
passive teenagers in plum, thin-legged jeans
and neon wool-knit beanies, past
bedroom-town 40-somethings baring office-white
legs, past the oldies, the originals, bona fide
townsfolk, born and raised, who lived
here all their level lives, who watched
the lines on their cheeks and gullets
deepen with the cracks in the sidewalks,
the splits in the plywood windows
of lonely, long-ghosted stores, past
pyramids of bleachers, empty, too hot for use, past
the bank turned carwash turned junior high
smokers’ lounge, past sweat-stained traffic
cops and orange cones corking empty
side streets, barring my Civic from crossing,
as if I could somehow make it all stop.
Nate Pillman’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in PANK, North American Review, New Ohio Review, Mid-American Review, and others. He is originally from rural Iowa, but now resides in Tucson, Arizona.
My Father's Basement in the Night
My father says, Why not show your friends my basement?
Although I have never been there, I think it is large, old.
I reply, Why should I? He does not answer me. I think
he is lonely, and this time he is shorter than I remember.
My mother wanders in this house I do not remember.
I think she is sick but I do not know, yet I am worried
she may try to go outside, so I call out twice, Mother,
where are you? She answers, In here, and from a hallway
I see her legs stretched out on a bed in a room I cannot
enter, while my father is in the basement, waiting for us.
Ronald Moran lives in Simpsonville, South Carolina. His poems have been published in Commonweal, Connecticut Poetry Review, Emrys Journal, Evening Street Review, Kentucky Poetry Review, Louisiana Review, Maryland Poetry Review, North American Review, Northwest Review, South Carolina Review, Southern Poetry Review, Southern Review, Tar River Poetry, and in twelve books/chapbooks of poetry. His poetry has received a number of awards. His most recent book is "The Tree in the Mind," published by Clemson University Press (2014).
For The Ignominious
Tombstones would cast long shadows
in this slanting, searing sun
Carved granite names and dates
would be sharply illuminated
But there are only acres of fields planted
with flat metal plates bearing patient numbers
This is their anonymous resting place
a cemetery no one ever visits
The dirt beneath my feet
crawls with twisted earthworms
and uncontainable madness.
Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois’ poems and fiction have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He is a regular contributor to The Prague Revue, and has been thrice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His novel, "Two-Headed Dog," based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available as an e-book or in print.
Epiphany Plus One
Did a donkey sing across the creek
in frozen twilight a complaint
about its place in archetypal catalogues?
Did the strip of green above the heating
pipes hold twenty robins gathered
on the rumor of thaw?
And did those hands feel good?
The Christmas special satisfy?
And are we having fun enough
to last the week, the year, the life?
Hope is a thing with bandages, love
is daubed with something sticky from
the tree hauled out for salamander habitat.
Would you kiss a dog you’d just met?
Baby pictures on the windowsill say you
can’t fix the past, just write another book about it.
Margaret Young grew up in Oberlin, Ohio, and studied at Yale and University of California, Davis. She has worked as an artist in residence in Pennsylvania and Ohio, earned a 2005 Individual Artist Grant from the Ohio Arts Council, and has published two poetry collections, Willow from the Willow (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2002) and Almond Town (Bright Hill Press, 2011). She teaches at Endicott College and lives in Beverly, Massachusetts.
The original Americans stood here
their children played
their horses grazed
the moon and the sun made their circles
around the last of the pure innocent
I stand here one hundred years later
I see their tipi rings
I see where the snow fed rocky creek
meanders behind the trees in the distance
just as they would have seen
I see the bountiful prairie grass all around me
enough to feed their horses for many seasons
I see the high pine ridge
from where their sentry’s could see a two day ride
along all the points of the compass
to where the buffalo were
from where their enemies came
I stand here one hundred years removed
I see their tipi rings
now silent circles of rock
slowly being covered by the shifting earth
moved by the prairie wind
in the wind I hear the sound of the laughter
of America’s original children -
Lane Lutrell has been writing poetry since 1974. His work has been published in Wyoming Lifestyle Magazine, Wyoming Magazine, and Cowboy Poetry.
Libris Summa Brevis
All this opening and closing,
blossoms and bedrooms.
This river of faces and flowers,
blooming then falling to rot.
This library of people
and places, better forgot,
our children inherit
and theirs and theirs…
Just a loan, a catalogue
of books to be read,
opened and closed,
forgotten in days.
Bradley R. Strahan
Bradley R. Strahan taught poetry at Georgetown Univiversity for 12 years. Recently he was Fulbright Professor of Poetry & American Culture in the Balkans. For over 34 years he has been editor/publisher of Visions-International. He has five books of poetry & over 600 poems published in: America, Seattle Review, Confrontation, First Things, Christian Century, The Hollins Critic, Soundings East, Passages North, Sundog, Wisconsin Review, & anthologies: 2003 Struga Festival anthology, Blood to Remember, just to name a very few. His latest book (5th), This Art of Losing, was recently published to considerable critical praise and has been translated into French.
Passing Through A Ruined Graveyard
God blew hard on these marble dice
and so each fell face down,
tombstones with all their names hidden
as if they were handcuffed suspects,
faces pushed into the dirt,
or perhaps prostrate sinners
praying to a lost Mecca.
The demiurge of this lopsided creation
was not a vandal but a hurricane,
so He is the ultimate culprit.
All graveyards are ruined in time,
as forgotten as those buried in them.
The tombstones are not just fallen rocks;
they shout their stone-chiseled names
down to the buried bones below,
so when the trumpet finally blows
and the flesh-clad skeletons arise,
they’ll not have forgotten who they are.
Richard Fein was a finalist in The 2004 New York Center for Book Arts Chapbook Competition. A Chapbook of his poems was published by Parallel Press, University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has been published in many web and print journals, such as Cordite, Cortland Review, Reed, Southern Review, Roanoke Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Mississippi Review, Paris/atlantic, Canadian Dimension, Black Swan Review, Exquisite Corpse, Foliate Oak, Morpo Review, Ken*Again Oregon East, Southern Humanities Review, Morpo, Skyline, Touchstone, Windsor Review, Maverick, Parnassus Literary Review, Small Pond, Kansas Quarterly, Blue Unicorn, Exquisite Corpse, Terrain Aroostook Review, Compass Rose, Whiskey Island Review, Oregon East, Bad Penny Review, Constellations, The Kentucky Review, and many others.
Ballad of the Jersey Devil
Night came creeping, the wildlife sleeping
Beneath the quiet laurel;
Bird and squirrel, young boy, young girl
Lay down without a quarrel.
No thunder clattered, it was utter still
By Batsto stream, by needled loam;
The wind swept chill through my window sill
In my dry Pine Barrens home.
Who knows what flood the Devil stirs in your blood,
Or what the Devil might bleed out?
“Pray,” father said, “to be good, be good,
With prayers most devout.”
“Clasp hands together in sacred prayer,”
He’d clamber to his knees;
“You hold unawares your holy soul there,
Do the Devil what he please.”
“Sing your prayers soon, my son, my son,
Sing them fast and loud and strong;
To Kingdom Come your words must run,
We tarry here not long.”
Then a shadow strange on the window panes
Fell as I fell to my knees;
A ragged coat flapped from the silent lane
And stopped up the evening breeze.
I raced to greet with naked feet
The apparition in the breeze;
Once through the door, no more, no more
Of the stranger did I see.
I slid through the brake where the snakes do glide;
The moon was new and shy,
Sharp pines brushed on my shirtless side
And the stars had deserted the sky.
I did not want to meet that man, that man;
I could not let him go;
That man in the black coat turning, turning,
His shadow following low.
Through midnight sweat and swamp we went,
And heard no bell grieve but the leaves--
In our swift descent, with heads down-bent,
Running past green graves of trees.
O, father dead, my head was hurting!
I prayed but no one came;
And the dark stranger kept on running,
Running just the same.
I’ll see if he crosses the tossing waters,
The waters of Batsto stream;
That’s a devil-test that will cause him arrest,
Or so my father deemed.
He passed the mark so lightly, lightly,
I began to doubt my heart;
With his crooked step so unsightly
Did he but play a devil’s part?
Like a July rocket, my lead step he mocked;
He ran like bolt of lightning;
He ran to the roar of the Jersey Shore,
The waves rising black, the sky tightening.
Then the man in the black coat turned back once more,
Leaping hill and hollow in stride;
His strange face glowed like a shadow’s hole,
And he turned his head to one side.
I stood forlorn on the moonless shore,
The windy pines sensing evil;
The wanton moon waned, her face turned once more
By the magic of the Devil.
“For you I have a place prepared.”
Old hoof-prints circled the fire;
Burnt logs arranged with symbols none shared,
And strange birds sang in choir.
My knees in the Devil’s sand-pit came down hard,
But prayers and thoughts I had none;
Just these few words that my two numb ears heard,
Spoken afar by someone:
“Man spends his little life running and running,
He tarries here not very long;
Midnight soon comes, and then Death comes with cunning,
And comes then an end to Life’s song.
Gregg G. Brown
Gregg G. Brown has devoted his life to poetry since happening across a certain haiku by Moritake. He runs the micro-publishing house Blast Press, which has published over two dozen authors in the past 25 years. Named in honor of the wild Vorticist venture by Ezra Pound and Wyndham Lewis, Blast Press is forward-looking and very opinionated.
Gregg still composes poems on his departed father’s clipboard, which he’s had since high school.