The Pangolin Review — Issue 18, 30 April 2021

Part 2: D to J (first alphabet of first name of poet)

D

Invention Of A New Meaning

Humans are in the wrong place

We don’t belong here

this is not our home. We must

disengage from gravity.

We’ve been tricked into believing

otherwise.

We don’t belong here: disengage.

We are in the wrong place.

Recharge your imagination: let go.

The truth has been lying to us

take comfort in knowing this.

If we stay here

we’ll lose our sense of logic.

The truth has lied.

We don’t belong here. This is

not our home.

We need a new truth: use your

imagination.

We need to silence language

––use your imagination:

the truth is lying.

 

DAH is a multiple Pushcart Prize and Best Of The Net nominee, and the author of nine books of poetry. DAH lives in Berkeley, California, where he is working on his tenth poetry collection, while simultaneously working on his first collection of short fiction.

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

Struck Early

i’m struck empty

like foil for skin

wind where the floor should be

coolant in my veins

a magic 8 ball for a thermostat

i radiate unstillness

dispersion within tight bounds

where did most of me go

images almost connecting

tapping an irregular cadence of time

my body drawn accurately with 7 strokes

i lift my feet and the rest of me rises

no matter how i turn it’s always in front of me

would check my balance but forgot the password

not authorized to know my location

water flowing from my mouth to the glass

when i sit down the light goes off

my shirt is waiting for an answer

hands changing size, fingers trading positions

been recharging for an hour but barely 10%

maybe if i think in Celsius i’ll feel warmer

if my lungs and feet trade functions where will i go

my stomach now orders its own deliveries

the interest rate at the time bank dipped below zero

so much ambient corrosion my pH is nearly fractional

every day i check my pockets for cash, messages, another chamber

the coefficient of friction keeps me here, not inertia

dan raphael is very grateful to have had two poetry collections published in 2020--Moving with Every came out in June from Flowstone Press, and Starting Small was published by Alien Buddha Press in October. Most Wednesdays dan writes and records a current events poem for The KBOO Evening News.

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

Alarmed

but not by how

morning found us:

split personalities shaping the mind

into gray, exotic fruit

easily shared by two.

It was more the way

muddy boots

trimmed the tree’s weakest fork

as branches went asystole

across the sky’s blue screen.

Apology taught humiliation

a gentler way

to use the rope.

One without a tree.

Daniel Edward Moore lives in Washington on Whidbey Island. His poems are forthcoming in Nixes Mate Review, Lullwater Review, El Portal, Emrys Journal, The Meadow, West Trade Review, Toho Journal, Muddy River Poetry Review, The Lindenwood Review and Sheila-Na-Gig Pandemic Anthology. He is the author of Boys (Duck Lake Books) and Waxing the Dents (Brick Road Poetry Press)

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

The Weatherman

Constantino says to Maxencio:

Time is divided into centuries, years, months

Days, hours, minutes and seconds.

-What’s the weather been like? You ask me

And I answer you by sucking my index finger

Right hand

Taking it out of the window now:

-Today we have a good time.

-What’s the weather going to be tomorrow?

-Tomorrow is going to be rainy.

There is a time that we have to endure:

The succession of times and state

They are tough and difficult

And even more when the towns are tough

And impossible to govern.

-You know something, Maxencio?

“What thing, Constantino?”

-That things in good time

And turnips for advent.

Daniel de Culla is a poet from Spain.

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

Love’s Interest

Dim and distant are the days

Yet through the haze her smile lives on

I loved her then, I love her still but more

And here’s the score

No plain addition tells the story

Of the years

Like savings treasured in a bank

Each year of love adds extra worth

As memory remembered on

And gains in turn to multiply

And grow the pile. And so we smile

At love’s compounded interest

But heed a warning too my friend

The same compounding shows its power

When love’s denied or love’s betrayed

Regrets recalled and days of sadness

Remembered on compound the grief

And turn to burn a life with acid sour.

Compounding’s engine works both ways

Across the years with smiles or tears

There’s no reverse to ease a curse

Its turning churns the earth we till

The seeds we sow will ever grow.

So guide the hand which casts them.

David Brancher, 92, is from Wales. His only submitted poetry, a long prose-poem, was published decades ago by New Welsh Review.

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

Two-poem Dialogue

(from novel-in-progress The Real Paul Makinen)

My Mommy Questions

Mommy,

Deep inside

You put one and one together

And made me.

How did you know

When those two

Got to be me?

Was it hard

To get everything right

So my nose wasn’t

On my elbow?

How did you make my eyes

Match my brown hair?

Did you love me before

I was me?

 

My Daughter Answers

Bonnie,

Something wise

In between my heart and brain

Knew exactly how to make you

From two little bits of love

Daddy and I put together.

The smart thing didn’t tell me

What to do or how,

But went about its job

Making you wonderful

Until one day it said, “Push!”

And out you zoomed.

I loved the idea of you.

But I loved you even more

The moment you came

Howling into this world,

Months before your first smile.

 

David R. Yale has had stories published in Midstream, Response, and Newtown Literary. His novel, Becoming JiJi won First Place in the 6th Annual (2018) Writer’s Digest Self-Published eBook Awards Contemporary Fiction category. He has read from his work at the University of Minnesota, Union College, Mendota Jazz Emporium, San Francisco Jewish Community Center, and the University of California Los Angeles.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

March–Worm Moon

Wheeling

winged cardinals startle

away artic air. Shadows

Of

crouching crocus & curved wand

snowdrops are first in “the know.”

Really,

as well as unseen conduits recharging

forsythias’ wild star lanterns, ablaze.

Magically

pied piper’s pipe summons worms out

from defrosting underground labyrinths.

 

Diane Sahms has four poetry collections, most recently The Handheld Mirror of the Mind (2018). Published in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Sequestrum Journal of Literature & Arts, Chiron Review, among others, with poems forthcoming from the North American Review, Brushfire Literature & Arts Journal, & The Stray Branch. She currently teleworks full-time for the government and is poetry editor at North of Oxford.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Hole

 

Hole here; hole there.

Which hole is mine?

I have a job to get to,

a friend’s wedding this weekend.

Tacos for dinner?

Or is it chicken noodle soup?

On such points do lives turn.

Hole here, hole there?

I have to decide by nightfall.

David Flynn was born in the textile mill company town of Bemis, TN. His jobs have included newspaper reporter, magazine editor and university teacher. He has five degrees and is both a Fulbright Senior Scholar and a Fulbright Senior Specialist with a recent grant in Indonesia. His literary publications total more than 220. Among the eight writing residencies he has been awarded are five at the Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, NM, and stays in Ireland and Israel. He spent a year in Japan as a member of the Japan Exchange and Teaching program. He currently lives in Nashville, TN.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

The Earth Beckons

 

When I reflect upon the oceans,

teeming with life more abundant and resplendent

than the most vivid beauty in my dreams;

 

When I refresh my lungs in forests of

towering cedar and voluptuous pine,

bursting with air more pristine than their fragrance;

 

When I gaze upon comets blazing blue ion tails

across black sky of mountains

purer than their streams;

 

When I behold the glow of glaciers

compressing sky in hues of blue

more dazzling than the firmament they capture;

 

The earth beckons me to an enchanted world

of stunning intricacy, vibrance and interdependence,

featuring vast ecosystems of flora and fauna,

desperate and imperiled,

pleading to my spirit

to proclaim its splendor

as worthy of our most thoughtful and

courageous efforts to come together

to humbly steward and respect

the plants, animals and topography that,

together with the human race,

rotate each day, orbit each year and continuously spin

on an ocean-blue, tree-green planet

dotted with clouds of white

through the wondrous interstices of our galaxy.

 

A General Counsel of a small business by day and a featured and award-winning poet by night, since 2020 Doug Lanzo’s poetry has been featured in 25 literary publications across the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia and The Caribbean. Doug resides in Chevy Chase, Maryland with his wife and 11-year-old identical twin sons, fellow published poets who likewise enjoy nature, biking, tennis and chess.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

The Glass Separates the Water from the Hand

 

Touch the glass.

It separates the water

from the hand

so that only

the water touches the

lips and mouth

quenching one’s thirst

as it flows down the throat.

Cup one hand

and let the water flow

to the hand so

the glass does not

separate the hand

from the water.

Touch the water.

 

Duane Anderson currently lives in La Vista, NE, and volunteers with a non-profit organization as a Donor Ambassador on their blood drives. He has had poems published in The Pangolin Review, Fine Lines, The Sea Letter, Cholla Needles, Tipton Poetry Journal, Poesis Literary Journal and several other publications.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

E

Night’s Quiet Light

… how can writing make it known?–Li Bo

 

Moonlight on our bed—I lift my head

to watch the spreading light caress

your moon-shining hair—faint breeze through

our open window ruffling cheek-fallen strands.

My hand reaches to stroke your

glowing hair—grateful for all the gift

of you here beside me—beyond

what any writing of it can tell.

Love being enough—more than even

this Venus-moon’s approving blessing:

Holding you here before me in the night’s quiet light.

 

Ed Higgins’ poems and short fiction have appeared in various print and online journals including: Danse Macabre, Ekphrastic Review, Wales Haiku Journal, and Triggerfish Critical Review, among others. Ed is Asst. Editor for Brilliant Flash Fiction. He has a small farm in Yamhill, OR, raising a menagerie of animals—including a rooster named StarTrek.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

the karma of big pharma

 

there’s those first ones with tea,

then the two for the dizzy spells,

a vintage blue capsule, and i’m

popping some C; the red for

rapunzel hair; and later at lunch

time, the white one for bone strength

cause i wanna jump hoops again.

Then the aperitif orange before the

big horse pill at five, to kick in the

good cholesterol and kick out the

bad one, and the beige one at

bedtime, to make me remember to

take all my vitamins.

 

as i ponder the money spent,

the repetitive swallowing, the

clutter on cabinets. Do they

truly do anything, besides

make pharma bigger?

 

When not writing poetry, Emalisa Rose enjoys crafting with macrame and doll making. She volunteers in animal rescue. She lives by the beach, which provides much of the inspiration for her work. Her poems have appeared in Ariel Chart, Literary Nest, Cholla Needles and other journals.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Dreaming

 

Trees have a calmness in their silence

But they whisper, talk among themselves in another realm –

the place where fairies live, I am told

The vibration of the undulating leaves,

the voices of the feathered echoing in the chambers of their majesty

A symphony of the skies if one listens closely

It is only when we are silent do we hear them,

with our soul’s ears; our mind’s eye

 

Elizabeth Torphy is a women’s fiction writer and poet who wants to create beauty for the mind. She has written three novels, a collection of poems, and her work has been featured in Lost Coast Review & PennWriters. She was a regular contributor to the WFWA Industry Newsletter, and had her own column in OCWriters.com called Girl On Writing, before she launched a writing journal, WriterFairys, to help inspire writers get through the writing process.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

winter

in the only way I know I sing guttural off key I never learned melody time

flat sharp so sharp this pain phasing in out wax wane

rain falls into ice coating each needle and twig we grow old in accumulation

here at year’s birth the wait for summer longer than life

longer than memory’s tale of heat there is no other way to open

the heart in songsick despair the key lost in the turnings of the notes off or on

listening to a passion not my own Pärt Piazolla providence for the whole and half-whole hear here in this room fractured with lost while out in the world rain drips from trees hoary with frost a rime sodden and cold drips down glazed eyes there is no way to bring this together my hands don’t know what to do

 

Eve Rifkah was co-founder of Poetry Oasis, Inc. (1998-2012), a non-profit poetry association dedicated to education and promoting local poets. Founder and editor of DINER, a literary magazine with a 7-year run. MFA Vermont College. She is author of Dear Suzanne (WordTech Communications, 2010) and Outcasts the Penikese Leper Hospital 1905-1921 (Little Pear Press, 2010). Chapbook Scar Tissue, (Finishing Line Press, 2017), At the Leprosarium 2003 winner of the Revelever Chapbook Contest. Single poems, flash fiction stories and essays have appeared in many journals.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Another World

 

I disappear with each new moon,

when the disk is there but invisible

 

a black absence outlined in a faint

white rim, silent as it passes over

 

street lights, stray cats, sleeping

drunks, nurses still awake. I fade

 

into white shadows, stiff

in the chill air after midnight

 

obscure, anonymous, lost and loose

without a name, eyes downcast

 

no answers. I refuse to hear anything

but crickets, soughing branches

 

late drizzle, I remain like the moon,

dark, impenetrable in a tiny orbit

 

of bed, kitchen, mailbox. I gain

complete silence, my tides pull

 

waves curl, surf now still, beach

empty of gulls, I sit on cold

 

sand under the dark sky, fade into

the cliff face, cease to breathe.

 

It’s almost natural when the moon

fails to appear, when someone refuses

 

to speak in the face of distress and loss,

when I lie motionless on the floor

 

of another world staring up at an alien

sky, one not so contentious, with stars

 

that remain fixed and a moon always

shining over a calm empty land.

 

Emily Strauss has an M.A. in English, but is self-taught in poetry, which she has written since college. Over 500 of her poems appear in a wide variety of online venues and in anthologies.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

F

 

Sunday Fog

 

Too early on a foggy Sunday

Again he sits on the curb

 

Lights risk a shine upon the convenience store

It is still soon to call it alive.

 

Surrounded by the cold aroma of a wet cigarette

His shaky hand attempts to light another.

 

The breath of a late night in the strip club

Is like a glow in the November air.

 

He grins as he caresses the wide bandage

To keep the rainbow butterfly from an escape.

 

Yesterday yet he thought of a cubicle

Making up stories for the weary callers

 

Now he pondered as so many times before

The numbers to choose for a glorious end.

 

Alone for the hundredth time I spy a tear

Too shy to risk being called his.

 

A colorful coat has turned gray

From a distance I can guess his desire.

 

There is nothing left to purchase behind the gate

But stale beer and cheap cigarettes.

 

He recalls the days his father showed him

His voice failing deep within a cancerous abyss.

 

Henry he thinks but barely remembers his name

No one knows him anymore so “hon” will do.

 

Another tear and I see him shiver

Today as every day for a thousand years.

 

The man sits on the curb by the convenience store

The grave he carefully digs with every sigh.

 

Fabrice Poussin teaches French and English at Shorter University. Novelist and poet, his work has appeared in Kestrel, Symposium, The Chimes, and many other magazines. His photography has been published in The Front Porch Review, the San Pedro River Review as well as other publications.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Solitude

 

You are only you,

And there’s nothing anyone can do

To make you feel less submerged

In the depths of infinite solipsism.

 

A sense of unreality attacks me every night

(The one Borges felt),

And I don’t know if I’m awake or dreaming,

Just that I’m living a nightmare.

 

You are only you,

And you can feel alone

Even in a crowd,

Especially in a crowd.

 

Your loved ones can be right next to you,

At arm’s length,

And you can still feel

The claws of loneliness

Piercing your soul.

 

You can even be hugging the love of your life

And feel a deep void in your heart

That no one,

Not a single soul,

Will ever,

Ever,

Fill.

 

You are only you,

And you’re broken:

Something’s missing,

And it’s wearing you down.

Some say it’s God,

Some say it’s lithium.

But no one really has the answer,

So you have to prepare mentally to admit

That you’re more of a mystery to them

Than to yourself.

 

I miss sharing a room,

A bed,

A thought,

A hobby.

I miss being with someone,

Even though I’d probably,

Surely,

Feel alone just the same.

 

Felipe Rodolfo Hendriksen studies Literature at Pontificia Universidad Católica Argentina. He currently lives in Quilmes.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Noxious Vapors

 

In death the world endures, but we

do not. In Corona, we live

in a world of sad memory

that serves as grave alternative.

“Where there is life there is no death,

and where there’s death there is no life,”

Seneca wrote. But there’s slow death

when, conscious of relentless strife,

we know what dead people are spared.

For in a tomb built upon fear,

we entertain a world that’s pared

of everything that we held dear.

Till, we’ve become the filled-with-gall

pall bearers of our own recall.

 

Thus, I have died a thousand times

and all of it for love and loss.

I’ve put a tomb on paradigms

of bliss, that long since lost its gloss.

And now, Corona’s put a shroud

of inaccessibility

in restaurants, schools and buoyant crowd.

It’s curtailed our ability

to venture out beyond the walls

that turned our home into a morgue

embalming malls and concert halls.

The sky’s a funereal fog.

And our bedsides serve as nave

we pray in, waiting for the grave.

Frank De Canio, born and bred in New Jersey, worked for many years in New York City. He loves music from Bach to Amy Winehouse. Shakespeare is his consolation, writing his hobby. As poets, he likes Dylan Thomas, Allen Ginsberg, and Sylvia Plath. He also attends a Café Philo in Lower Manhattan every other week.

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

G

Loss of Purpose

 

Disturbing the peace

takes many forms,

juvenile delinquents,

felons, terrorists, warmongers.

In some cases

we get over it quickly.

In others, effects linger,

devastating a land

no longer blessed with wisdom,

so the problems magnify

poverty, crime, drugs, violence,

torment the people

deprival of opportunity

for a better life.

 

Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director and worked as an art dealer when he couldn't earn a living in the theater. He has also been a tennis pro, a ditch digger and a salvage diver. His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway. His poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and his published books include 30 poetry collections, 12 novels, 3 short story collections, 1 collection of essays and 3 books of plays. Forthcoming: Collected Plays of Gary Beck Volume II). Gary lives in New York.

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Penniless Porch

 

The mayfly hovers in Needle’s Eye

when a bell sounds for time

as long as the plough turns bones,

restless in the fecund ground.

The cathedral choir is seen

floating in the hills.

History falls where it will.

Consider the saintly ones.

Under the cedars they find

leaves scattered in the rain.

A breaking branch reveals

their trials not yet ending.

 

So many prayers have passed

in the irreverent air.

Pastures are green again

when frost is burned in the sun.

A fox trail in the levels drove,

fresh imprints disappearing.

Lichen on the churchyard tombs.

In a lifetime are many lives.

Here lie the carnival queens

forever attended by elemental earth.

And further out the horses run

the long finger stretching westerly.

 

Geoffrey Heptonstall appeared in the November 2019 issue. He is the author of a novel [Heaven’s Invention 2016, Black Wolf Editions] and two poetry collections [The Rites of Paradise 2020 and Sappho's Moon 2021, Cyberwit].

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

A Sense of Humor

 

You don’t start out

with a sense of humor

 

It’s noticing things

that happen to you

 

And don’t happen

even when well deserved

 

George Ryan was born in Ireland and graduated from University College Dublin. He is a ghostwriter in New York City. Elkhound published his Finding Americas in October 2019. His poems are nearly all about incidents that involve real people in real places and use little heightened language.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

The Poet

 

In rain or wind

sunlight or storm

 

day after day

he lifts the anchor

 

and throws out as net

his words

 

in the hope

to find at the bottom

 

the first verse

of a new poem.

 

Germain Droogenbroodt is a Belgian poet, translator, publisher and promoter of international poetry. He received many international poetry awards and is yearly invited at the most prestigious international poetry festivals, nominated in 2017 for the Nobel Prize of Literature. He wrote 14 books of poetry published so far in 19 countries. The Indian poet-publisher Thachom Poyil Rajeevan compared his philosophical poetry to the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore whereas in Spain his poetry has been compared with Juan Ramón Jimenez. According to Chinese critics his poetry is TAO and ZEN.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

“… When We Talk About Love”

 

Before developers coopt what’s left of wild,

I trace the predawn desert dead-end past Corte Dios,

Grace Village A & B, then shoot up to my balcony, feed,

water, jay, crow, wait for dawn’s Boomer-Biddy frumps

beneath cruising the complex, mask, face-shield,

sanitized blue gloves, opaque, wraparound black shades,

leashed to small pets, or cradling them, voices intimate

with quiet, patient, soothing small-talk, as if to past partner,

unruly child, rising up to meet me, air of last rites confessional,

schoolgirl sibilance, shushed secrets—to Lexi, Pancho, Tuck

Nelson, Toots, Daisy and Bella, Poppy—tacky, I admit,

but lately, just afterward, even now, pent-up daily, I’m sometimes

oddly moved, find me quarantined on an alien patch of dreamy blue

where talk is hush, where even my words seem to whisper.

 

Gordon’s most recent book, Dream Wind, was published December 2020 (Spirit-of-the-Ram P/Amazon). Everything Speaking Chinese received Riverstone P Poetry Book Prize (AZ). I divide professional and personal lives between Asia and the Desert Southwest.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

The Brave Ones

 

They went to Vietnam drafted or enlisted

a few bought the bill of goods that all wars

require, the lies and false provocations.

The Washington mendacity.

 

They went Down South to help a

long suffering race reclaim its rights

and sovereignty.

 

They stood at Tian’anmen and hid Anne Frank

and said “The crack o’me ass to yer” to

Quantrill. They made last stands

at Kent State and Pine Ridge.

 

The biker T-shirt says “Live Free or Die”

but only John Brown and some true

valientes should wear it.

 

Guinotte Wise writes and welds steel sculpture on a farm in Resume Speed, Kansas. His short story collection (Night Train, Cold Beer) won publication by a university press and enough money to fix the soffits. Six more books since. A 5- time Pushcart nominee, his fiction, essays and poetry have been published in numerous literary journals including Atticus, The MacGuffin, Southern Humanities Review, Rattle and The American Journal of Poetry. His wife has an honest job in the city and drives 100 miles a day to keep it. Some work is at http://www.wisesculpture.com

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

J

 

Something Lost

 

Sitting at the same table in an

outside cafe in Paris, where

I, just a young soldier

first felt the subtle nuances of love

Brought about by forces

That floated inside dreams,

I sensed a melancholy feeling

entering my mind, emanating

from some far, far away place

Into this place, this place where

I last saw her.

 

The feeling seemed to be

Reflected down from a dark cloud

In the sky, a sky where the scent

Of sugared coffee once wafted

Into the air merging with the

Perfumed fragrance of a beautiful girl:

The scent carried me back to images

of our first meeting, The meeting,

which aroused the feelings tucked inside

My forgotten memories,

Memories encased in naivety and

Faded years, lost in the veil of time.

 

The feelings in my mind, filled the

Ambiance with a summery aroma,

An aroma that found its way into

The soft breeze, which wrapped around

All that was seen, and unseen,

And known, and unknown, and

My eyes wandered to each table

Hoping to see that beautiful

Young French girl I fell in love with

Once again, but alas it was not to be.

 

James is an internationally published poet, a Best of Web nominee and three-time Pushcart nominee. He has had four poetry books; Solace Between the Lines, Light, Ancient Rhythms, and The Silent Pond, 1500 poems, five novels, and 35 short stories published worldwide. He writes poetry to maintain his sanity, and sometimes succeeds.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Off Season Market

(published in Mediterranean Review)

 

Today is the off-season market

in our June village-no pink peaches

bursting with the sunshine

of the South of France, nothing

succulent like cherries, just crunchy

apples, dirty cepes, and hard garlic:

portents of a cold winter ahead.

 

We approach the flower-seller,

no one at her usually crowded

stand on this windy, rainy October

Sunday. I touch the gerber, pink

and yellow roses and bend down

to sniff the star-gazer lilies but

she seems to stiffen like

a temperamental cat as I do.

 

I glance at our French friends

to see if I’m doing something

inappropriate but they are

chatting quietly, unaware of

my flower-sniffing behavior.

Finally, I decide: I indicate

I’d like to buy the red-tinged

gladiolas with their sessile buds

that we like to watch open-and

hand madame a bunch of fragrant

star-gazer lilies as well.

 

Suddenly, the pouting proprietor

smiles sweetly, wraps the flowers,

as tenderly as clothing a newborn,

and places them in the crook of

my arm gently after I give her

enough euros saying, “Bonne

Journey”. Our friends say to me

in English, “The sales are low.

You made her happy.”

 

Jan Ball has had over 315 poems published or accepted in journals in the U.S., Australia, Great Britain, Canada, Czech Republic, India and Ireland in journals like: Atlanta Review, Chiron, Main Street Rag, Phoebe and The Pangolin Review. Her three chapbooks and first full length poetry book, I Wanted To Dance With My Father, were published by Finishing Line Press. Her poem, Not Sharing at Yoshu, has just been nominated for the Pushcart by Orbis, Great Britain, 2020. Jan and her husband travel a lot but like to cook for friends when they are home in Chicago.

 

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Alzheimer’s Evening

 

My mother-in-law tells me

I’m a nice girl, favorite daughter.

It’s her 91st birthday,

but this is one more date

she can’t remember.

Her son explains what we’re celebrating,

repeats it at least a dozen times

in less than an hour.

 

When she isn’t asking

about my dead mother,

if my husband ever met

his grandparents, father,

she lapses into silence,

scowls, hangs her head.

 

Each week, she eats less

at Sunday dinner,

wants to go home sooner,

seems more befuddled.

Any phone call after 9 p.m.

from the memory care center

makes us jump, fear the worst.

 

Despite a mind erased

every few minutes

like a shaken etch-a-sketch,

her obstinate body keeps soldiering on.

 

Jennifer Lagier has published eighteen books and in a variety of anthologies and literary magazines, taught with California Poets in the Schools, edits the Monterey Review, helps coordinate Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Recent publications: Harbinger Asylum, The Rockford Review, Syndic Literary Journal, From Everywhere A Little: A Migration Anthology, Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California, Missing Persons: Reflections on Dementia, Silent Screams: Poetic Journeys Through Addiction and Recovery. Newest books: Camille Mobilizes (FutureCycle Press), Trumped Up Election (Xi Draconis Books), Dystopia Playlist (CyberWit), and Camille Comes Unglued (CyberWit). Forthcoming title: Meditations on Seascapes and Cypress (Blue Light Press).

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

More Questions Than Answers

 

Are we really that social?

Says who?

Social about what?

Over what?

About what?

To whom- what?

 

Then, again- to what extent?

With whom?

Or, maybe, more so,

just with the immediate he or she?

 

Were we “social”

to stay alive- but were we really?

 

Did we “learn” to be

“unsocial”

to stay ahead-

 

but,

was it so to be together or alone?

 

Don’t you have to wonder?

 

Are we just?

Or are we just punitive?

Is justice just another business?

 

Are we social because we’re peaceful?

Or are we peaceful because we’re social?

 

Is there injustice in being just?

Is punishment just?

If it is, what makes it so?

 

Are we just fooling ourselves?

Lying to ourselves?

Deceiving ourselves?

 

Who decides social?

Who decides just?

 

How do we all agree on what is just?

And what does “agreement” mean?

 

How many of us does it take to agree?

What about those who don’t “agree”?

Maybe have a slightly different definition?

Or even a radically different definition?

 

What do we do with them?

 

Does just change over time?

 

Just or unjust?

 

On and on?

 

Just more questions than answers?

 

J. H. Johns grew up and came of age while living in East Tennessee and Middle Georgia. Specifically, the two places “responsible” for the writer that he has become are Knoxville, Tennessee and Milledgeville, Georgia. J. H. is widely published, and a 2018 Pushcart nominee.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Everyone’s Welcome

 

The Catholic Church got rid of our ancestors.

Sent them off to Heaven or the other place.

We will meet our loved ones again, they say

when we too cross over.

 

No ancestors hanging around, close by and aware.

Not owed anything by anybody except

perhaps our prayers

to help them if they’ve got stuck somewhere.

 

Because, if you’re bound for Heaven,

there are a number of places you might have

to spend time in, on the way.

 

If you’re bound for Hell though, you can go straight there, no problem.

They won’t even check your passport.

Now, in Heaven you might find there’s less questions

if you were a bishop than if you were, say, a prostitute.

In Hell, there’s none of that: bishops, prostitutes,

all the little, mean people and the spectacular criminals.

Everyone’s welcome.

 

But don’t think your achievements will

get you any special favours or privilege.

It’s a very egalitarian place.

Jim Conwell’s parents were economic migrants from the rural west of Ireland and he was born, and has lived most of this life, in various parts of London. He currently has had poems published in various magazines including The Ofi Press, Orbis, Poetry and Audience, Poetry Cornwall, Poetry Pacific and Pushing Out the Boat, He has had two poems shortlisted in the Bridport Poetry Prize and has work in two anthologies.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Portraits

 

In our first photo, head to head, we’re beautiful. He’s got

a scrawny mustache and the sparkle I fell in love with

still shines. On diet pills, he shows a quick wit that makes me

laugh. I overlook his disdain for books, focus on our

discovered passion that makes me come and come.

Immaterial is his love of George Wallace the year I’m

 

too young to vote. Politics have nothing to do with me

or the life we plan together. We save money to buy a home

in the country, camp on weekends in New York State

Parks. We feel safe in a tent with his loaded rifle near.

I’m not alarmed when he drinks beer with whiskey, grows

ashen, overweight, decrees what I can wear, more

 

critical than my father, my original wet blanket.

 

Still, I shrug off his notions as quirks. When he pastes

the Time’s cover portrait of Robert F. Kennedy

on the inside of our toilet seat lid, I say nothing

until that June day of Bobby’s assassination

when I rip it down. In our portraits, long after

he’s stopped smiling, I’m still grinning. I don’t

 

protest when he asks me to snap a Polaroid of him

posed with a pistol on his hip, rifle and Confederate

flag crossed upon his chest, beside the framed

portrait of Robert E. Lee. Call me loving, gentle,

and forgiving. Portray me as a bound enabler.

Paint me shallow, hollow, oblivious, green.

 

Joan Mazza worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, and taught workshops nationally with a focus on understanding dreams and nightmares. She is the author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Penguin/Putnam), and her work has appeared in Italian Americana, Crab Orchard Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Poet Lore, Prairie Schooner, and The Nation. She lives in rural central Virginia. More at www.JoanMazza.com

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

The Prophet

 

She thought she was a prophet

And very very wise.

Every day she prayed

To something in the sky.

 

Alas, when she turned 60

She had to realize

That Jesus didn’t answer,

And even prophets die.

Joe Hart has a BA. He has poems published in small magazines and was twice nominated for a Pushcart. His favorite poet is Keats.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Journey

 

A shadow hides all night, patient

for dawn, waiting to stretch its long legs.

You will step through it and over it

but cannot find the camouflage

among berries and leaves. The shadow

grooms the green stems and winds

that have made the morning heroic.

 

Maybe an owl has hollowed out

this grove. Hold out your hand for a gift.

It makes no difference what you are

thinking. The forest passes through

what had been you and now you have

found a new home among the earth

that hides in little banks of moss.

 

John Davis is the author of two collections, Gigs and The Reservist. His work has appeared recently in DMQ Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, One and Terrain.org. He moonlights in blues and rock and roll bands.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

The Lesson

 

Clear day by the sea,

arc of beach stretching for a mile below.

Fisherman gone

until dusk.

 

Few came to this river’s mouth:

Too hard to find; too far

up the lone dirt road.

 

Ascending through light breeze,

I paused on a promontory

above our camp.

 

Deciding to descend, chose a steep path; lost

my footing. Slid faster, closer

to a cliff’s edge.

 

Caught my fall! Dread; drained.

 

Spotted a way out, crawling

on all fours.

 

Finally, a short leap.

 

The sweet sound of breakers. Salt water

splashed on chest, arms, face:

over and over.

 

Cold, enlivening.

 

Better to stagger at 21— be shocked

by the scant of a foothold; the swiftness

of loss.

 

Joseph Murphy has been published in a wide range of print and online journals. He is the author of four poetry collections, The Shaman Speaks, Shoreline of the Heart, Having Lived and Crafting Wings. His next collection, Another Language, is forthcoming from Shanti Arts Publishing.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

To What End?

 

What was college for?

It’s where I learned to live.

A dynamo of education?

No. the first room of my own.

 

The purpose of those four years

was to share with someone called Eric.

Where else could I have met him?

Not in my usual haunts. I guarantee.

 

Remembering that time

has me dialing a wrong number,

quenching the ghost of a thirst,

threatening to ride my bicycle.

 

The past is a fire I intermittently stoke.

I have a degree in scattering the ashes.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Orbis, Dalhousie Review and Connecticut River Review. Latest book, Leaves On Pages is available through Amazon.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Galloping Angel

 

Galloping angel

Glides over darkness,

Skims the treetops,

Leaps the mountain

Like a throbbing superman.

 

Swimming angel

Sloping the waves,

Riding the currents,

Diving with dolphins

Only to be found stretched out on the sand.

 

Flying angel

Manipulating the clouds into shapes,

Body contorted against the moon,

Pale blue in the purple moonlight,

Coming through my window into desirous arms.

 

Sleeping angel.

Resting angel.

Eyes shut tight, wings folded over.

Dormant angel with fragrance and reticent touch,

Gone when I open my own eyes in the morning.

 

John Tustin is currently suffering in exile on the island of Elba but hopes to return to you soon. fritzware.com/johntustinpoetry contains links to his published poetry online.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

The One That I Let Go

 

Five years now have passed since first I met thee on that morn,

In the corridor we spoke for just a little while,

Few words of deep meaning did our idle chat adorn,

But it mattered not to me; nay, naught except thy smile,

O’er the weeks we frequently did talk of this and that,

Nothing much: we hardly got to know each other well,

So that when we parted ways it all seemed rather flat,

If aught more there could have been, I guess now none can tell,

Many months have passed since then, yet thou art with me still

A favorite fleeting memory from my more recent past,

I do not wish for it to fade (although I fear it will),

And hope beyond all hope that we may meet again at last,

But I wonder, dost thou e’er in passing think of me,

As often as on sunny days I do so think of thee?

 

The previous publications of J. S. Allen include a couple of short works in various local and online venues (including Issues 3.2 and 13 of The Pangolin Review), as well as a debut novel entitled Sauragia.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Carpe diem

 

The day passes like a cloud in the sky

Now bright now, cloudy rain

Between hectic hours of scandal

Walk the voice that strikes noisy

At the heart cries for contentment

Of the life that runs uneasily

And go to the matrix of enchantment

To know if it is a happy light of love

Amidst scarce pities

Measure the minutes by patience

From those who already see the deities in the distance

Fleshy and milky give in thrill.

 

Januário Esteves was born in Coruche (1960) and was raised near Costa da Caparica, Portugal. He graduated in electromechanical installations, uses the pseudonym Januanto and writes poetry since the age of 16. In 1987, he published poems in the Jornal de Letras, and participated over the years in some collective publications.