Sunday, January 31, 2021

Feathered calligraphy by Richard Weaver

I raise my arms and motion
towards the water of the gulf
when a V of pelicans approach
from the west. Invariably
they veer towards me
and rise higher with the heat
reflecting off my tin roof.
Their liquid shadows
wash over me in wonder.

Richard Weaver volunteers with the Maryland Book Bank, CityLit, the Baltimore Book Festival, and is the writer-in-residence at the James Joyce Pub. Other pubs: FRIGG, Mad Swirl, Spank the Carp, Adelaide, Free State Review, and Magnolia Review. He’s the author of The Stars Undone (Duende Press, 1992), and provided the libretto for a symphony, Of Sea and Stars (2005), performed 4 times to date. More recently, his 100th prose poem was published. More than 100 of his prose poems have been published since 2016.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

The Time of Day by Ed Ahern

A widow walks by my house each day
in syncopation with the mailman.
She had also lost a daughter,
but what is gone is carried deep,
for she always smiles and stops to chat.
We exchange perhaps two hundred words
about weather and children and neighbors,
but never about the death and absence
so twined into our daily living,
and the knitting we do to cope.
We sense with tacit understanding
that our inanities give unsaid comfort
to our silenced fears and grief.

Ed Ahern resumed writing after forty odd years in foreign intelligence and international sales. He’s had over three hundred stories and poems published so far, and six books. Ed works the other side of writing at Bewildering Stories, where he sits on the review board and manages a posse of six review editors.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Invasive Species by Patricia Davis-Muffett

This fall, the deer herd
chews languid on the ruined branches
of the trees of spring.
City friends visit
adore the baby deer
as we mutter to ourselves
enemy, vandal, rat.
The bellow of our pup
keeps them at yard’s edge for now
a smidge less bold than before she came.

I would not miss them if they left,
though I can hardly deny them
what keeps their children growing.
The fox, though, I would miss--
last year, two, playing so near the windows,
chasing, wrestling, gekkering their joy--
our older dog, rarely bothered,
becoming the hunter he thinks he might have been
as they taunted, so close, peered in,
retreated to their burrow,
the one they took over from the groundhogs,
renovated, upscaled, a place to raise their pups.
I wonder if he succeeded--
his hunt so different from the puppy’s howl,
he, catching sight of movement in the brush,
exits silent, his fur like moonless night,
he bolts and glides, gone before we even see
the target he has locked.

Just as I am sure
the fox has gone, hoping it has moved,
I see one, bushy tail magnificent,
red coat like the paintbox
the maple trees are reaching for.
She locks her eyes on me,
as I turn into the drive,
then darts off into woods.
Did my hunter kill her mate?
Am I the enemy she sees?

Five a.m., I step out
into chilly yard, pitch dark,
my predators in tow.
Through the darkness,
I can hear her screech,
and my invasive self
inclines to howl back,
but stifles back the sound--
a trick I’ve learned
in an effort to survive.

Patricia Davis-Muffett (she/her) holds an MFA from the University of Minnesota. She was recently a finalist for the Julia Darling Poetry Prize and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in several journals and anthologies, including Limestone, Coal City Review, Neologism, The Orchards Poetry Journal, Pretty Owl Poetry, di-verse-city (anthology of the Austin International Poetry Festival), The Blue Nib and Amethyst Review. She lives in Rockville, Maryland, with her husband and three children and makes her living in technology marketing.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

A Blessing by Joseph Mills

At our wedding reception, my wife’s father,
who was past sixty, twice as heavy as when
he played rugby, a former pack-a-day smoker
and still a drinker, dropped to the ground,
then he popped back up and spun around
before anyone could react. It took a moment
to realize he had done the splits, deliberately,
fantastically, as if this night of celebration
with family from four different nations
had moved him to a kind of ecstasy. We joked
about what alcohol’s effects could be, but,
over time, even as we forgot so much of who
gave us what, we came to recognize the gift
it had been, an offering of joy and benediction.

A faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Joseph Mills has published six collections of poetry with Press 53. His book This Miraculous Turning was awarded the North Carolina Roanoke-Chowan Award for Poetry for its exploration of race and family.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Young Girl Up an Old Tree by Russell Rowland

The stricken pine was caught and held
on its way down, by a good neighbor.

At that angle it was more a staircase
for the child to climb, than a ladder.

She would go home needles and sap,
with Gram’s photo from ground level.

In my childhood girls didn’t climb trees.
Branches were full of boys, brave ones.

The timid got jeered off, told to go play
with dolls. So yes, we’ve made progress.

From such an elevation, Gram appeared
foreshortened, belittled, and earthbound.

The girl could see way out to her father,
dot of color on Squam Lake’s early ice—

trying its solidity a half-mile offshore,
the way he did once, a boy, on a dare.

Seven-time Pushcart Prize nominee Russell Rowland writes from New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, where he has judged high-school Poetry Out Loud competitions. His latest poetry book, Wooden Nutmegs, is available from Encircle Publications.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Sunday Brunch (2008) by Carolynn Kingyens

Justin called himself
a feminist,
and promised me
he’d do the laundry
and I’d drink the beer;
said he made a mean lasagna -
a recipe he'd learned
from his dying mother.

She had a partner
named Sonya,
and they were still
blissfully in love
after 25 years of raising
a fatherless boy
into a young man;
instilling in him compassion
for both sexes,
not just his own.

I was curious
when the invitation came
written on a napkin
from feminist-Justin,
asking me to join
the three of them
for Sunday brunch
in a sunroom
built off the kitchen,
an addition
a year before
his mother’s diagnosis.

They welcomed me
into their intimate tribe,
of books, lilacs,
earthy accents,
of A Prairie Home Companion
trailing off
in the background
amongst warm conversation
and acceptance.

I’d watch their gentle exchanges,
between a mother
and her woman,
between these women
to Justin and to me.

And the whole, sun-filled room
was palpable
in these moments
of laughter
and cancer,
of Far East travels
and trinkets –
in stories about coming home
and being home.

Carolynn Kingyens’ debut book of poetry, Before the Big Bang Makes a Sound (Kelsay Books), can be ordered through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Greenlight, Book Culture, and Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Shop. In addition to poetry, Carolynn writes narrative essays, book reviews, micro/flash fiction, and short stories. Her latest flash fiction, "Sunglasses at Night," can be read here: She resides in New York with her husband and two amazing daughters.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

From the Hill by Richard Martin

Half way between where I sat near the hilltop
and a lonely copper beech in a square green field
stood a group of dark trees huddled together.
For no particular reason, I began to count them –

there were seven, that magic, meaningful number;
had someone deliberately planted seven trees?
Or had they accidentally echoed human concerns
about fortune and meaning? I asked myself

why we are so fascinated by seven rather than six –
I guess it all began when someone added the four
corners of the earth to the notion of the Trinity,
or simply thought of the days of the week.

Whatever, there are seven trees bent slightly
towards each other by pure chance in a dull clump
at the edge of a rough unploughed field half way
between me and that lonely beech in its green square.

Richard Martin is an English writer who lives in the Netherlands close to the point where Belgium, Germany and Holland meet. After retiring as a university teacher in Germany, he turned his attention to writing, and has published three collections of poetry and numerous poems in magazines in England, the US, and Austria.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

A Moment Before Leaving by John L. Stanizzi

          Forever -- composed of nows –
                                        --Emily Dickinson

There must be more time
for you to allow me to reflect
on all that I beheld in dreams

and in waking.

It may take more time than you have
or are willing to bestow.
But please.

I’m going to leave with nothing anyway,
so why not concede this one

foolish, irresponsible, earnest wish?

John L. Stanizzi’s books include; Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide – Ebb Tide, Four Bits, Chants, Sundowning, and POND. Besides Red Eft Review, John's poems have been in Prairie Schooner, Cortland Review, American Life in Poetry, others. His nonfiction has appeared in Stone Coast Review, Ovunque Siamo, Literature and Belief, others. 

Monday, January 4, 2021

Of the Ones Not Afraid by Sarah Elkins

There’s nothing to do now
but get right with the land.

I’ve started with the hemlocks,
sawing off the low branches
choking in the understory,
bound in poison ivy.

My neighbor comes over
to talk. He won’t listen
when I say keep some space.
I’ve been sick,

a fever and cough.

He steps nearer, tells me how the forest
used to be lawn.
His paper arms sweep the air
moving between us.

Grass needing mowing all the way back.
See the daffodils, he points. 
They used to be everywhere.

Sarah Elkins lives and writes in Lewisburg, WV. Her poetry has appeared in Sanskrit Literary Arts Magazine, Northridge Review, Summer Stock Journal, and Rust + Moth; her critical analysis in Kestrel. Sarah is a student in the MFA program at Pacific University.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Antique Cabin by Sarah Elkins

You bring home the unsalvageable,
one oaken length at a time—
pegged mortise, treenail and tenon,
to fuel our fire. We have by now
burnt an entire home,
sweeping the hand-smithed nails
from the hearth with the ashes
to strew beneath the hemlock.

When we are gone,
they will surmise a great fire
destroyed a cabin here.

Sarah Elkins lives and writes in Lewisburg, WV. Her poetry has appeared in Sanskrit Literary Arts Magazine, Northridge Review, Summer Stock Journal, and Rust + Moth; her critical analysis in Kestrel. Sarah is a student in the MFA program at Pacific University.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Bow Season by Sarah Elkins

The deer carcass
in the rough beside the trail
reduced to a row
of slender white ribs
reaching out from the ruin
of wet leaves
like too many fingers.

The flowers of her body—
bloom of intestine,
broad red-leaf of liver,
great elephant-ear lungs,
and rosebud heart—
didn’t last one good night.

Sarah Elkins lives and writes in Lewisburg, WV. Her poetry has appeared in Sanskrit Literary Arts Magazine, Northridge Review, Summer Stock Journal, and Rust + Moth; her critical analysis in Kestrel. Sarah is a student in the MFA program at Pacific University.