“Sinfonia in G Minor” by Michelle DeRose

Every time I play this piece,
memories merge with the stringed voices
and follow the music like brain waves.
It’s 1984. Ruth is afraid to touch
me; I’m hesitant to touch the keys.
Both of us sit stiff as ivory.

Her sleeplessness reflects in the ivory
of her face as she searches for a piece
to begin my lesson. “Play the Bach, the key
of G minor.” I note how drawn her voice.
The piano feels alien to my touch,
but she dismisses my errors with a wave.

I start again and let the opening phrases wave
me beneath the surface of the ivory.
The notes of the first two measures almost touch
in the descending arpeggio that begins the piece
until proximity repels them, and the third voice
enters to emphasize the minor key.

I recall Bernice rushing with the key
to the practice room. I offered a weak wave
but no greeting. Jealousy stifled my voice.
She hurried to her lonely cage of ivory,
where I assumed she found her daily peace
crafting art from her perfect touches.

The piano sang with precision beneath her touch,
but profound talent was not friendship’s key,
friendship that might have kept her from the precipice.
The lament in her music never wavered,
and she announced to her only companion, the ivory,
her plan to reduce the Sinfonia by one voice.

The soprano’s song twines around my voicebox
with the picture of her feet not touching
the ground while her fingers fade to ivory.
The dignified cry of the tenor descends the keyboard
like the steady retreat of ocean waves,
and I wonder where Ruth will find peace.

When I finish the piece, I know it has given voice
to sorrow and waves of guilt. Ruth touches
my hand on the keys of glistening ivory.

Michelle DeRose teaches creative writing and African-American, Irish, and world literature at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her most recent poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Sparks of Calliope, Dunes Review, Making Waves, The Journal of Poetry Therapy, and Healing Muse.

“When I Must Take You Home” by Victoria Hunter

I look past the people
who look in our bus window.
I look beyond the bus driver,
to the small red speck of light
that develops like blood as it grows.

I hear loose iron crank, ready to fall apart
like the legs of an old person,
and then a screech, as they are restrained
against the over-salted road.

I smell old grease from fried chicken
and the faint foul blends of sweat
in poor labor work
and sheds of old homeless skin.

I feel a touch of spring, not yet entirely grown
I turn to you, shake you just a little,
like the fall morning,
when you first open the front door
and I say, “Wake up, wake up, we’re home,
this is where we get off,
and you stagger to your feet,
like a baby after falling,
grasping at bars and arms,
that aren’t there.

“When I Must Take You Home” first appeared in Writers and Readers




Victoria Hunter is from Pennsylvania and loves to write, read, and travel. She was a nominee for the 2020 Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. She has received awards from online writing communities and has completed various writing courses. Her poem above, “When I Must Take You Home,” placed in the 2020 Poetry Super Highway Contest. Her work has appeared in Better Than Starbucks, Sparks of Calliope, The Stray Branch, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, Black Telephone, and Down in the Dirt, among others.

Two Poems by Arthur Dick

Gone Away

The stiff fingers of winter’s cold
are warming by the fire,
where heat like waves of molten gold
reflect of my desire
to fill the dark and lengthy night
descending on this land
with memories of pure delight
that night I held your hand;
but as the embers now grow dim
the vision starts to fade—
you dedicate your life to him,
and I’m here in the shade.
Even though you’ve gone away,
I feel your fire every day.


Warbler Song

Shining pink, the clouds at dawn
inspire warblers into song,
and walking through the frosted lawn
I wonder if I would belong
if I could sing that joyous tune,
and fill the air like sweet perfume
so all the town would bend and swoon
and dance and sing in golden plume.




Arthur Dick was born in 1983 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Music filled his life from the day he was born, which led to his passion for poetry. Freedom, Peace, and Unity, his first self-published book of poetry, is available on Amazon.com.

“The Missing Piece” by Lisa Flanagan

A river runs on a muddy note
and I bring along my husband’s fisherman‘s hat
along
with black grapes I had for lunch.
They grumble and are not confident about this journey as I am.
All is well now.

My sister, Bea, answers her phone and cries deeply.
The autopsy is in.
She remembers our heads snuggling in
laughing over misplaced puzzle pieces over ruby red glasses of wine
and salt and vinegar potato chips.
We could never find the piece that showed the blue sky.
With Bea, her complexion was of a creamy white buttermilk hue
and icy blue eyes.
Her waif-like structure was prominent amongst the men.

I was so they said the smart one
hands numb from a thyroid condition
The stutterer who liked to collect stamps.

But the river runs between my toes
warm like chocolate syrup
I think this is what it must feel like to be a mother
delightfully sweet, hard and terrifying

I take my husband’s fisherman’s hat and place it on my head
even now I don’t want the sunlight to catch my hair dye
and turn it a stringy yellow
That is the gift I can share
the gift of hair, my legacy
Wavy, full, and sleek
not too hot, not too cold
says the Mamma bear
of a canine
I worry about Jake
how he will be without me
But, just maybe he’ll find the sky blue puzzle piece and
Drooly, drop it to my husband’s feet.




Lisa Flanagan lives with her husband, Lee, and their magical canine, Sam.  Her poems have been published in various New Jersey newspapers on the 9/11 and Sandy Hook tragedies.  If her poems are able to connect with someone in some way, then she has succeeded.

Two Poems by Marcello Giovanelli

January

You can feel him,
here, close, now,

in the early scent
of wintersweet,

your fingers pinch
memory’s pale skin,

probe its faint creases,
its hardened edges,

bedtime stories,
and traces in the snow.

And together you sing
as twin birds, limbs

outstretched, flightless,
to the point of breaking,

and all unwarmed
in the January sun.


Sun Grazes

I waited on the corner
of Coniston Avenue,
as you slowly walked

towards me, all newly
satchelled, wedged hair,
red jumper, coral eyes,

and those sun grazes
gently touching
the side of your head.

I can still feel those low
November clouds
hurrying you away,

the loss of colour,
a fine soot of
memories overlaid.

But now, slowly,
small and bird-like,
cradled between

warmed finger-tips
you’re here,
and those sun grazes,

brilliant once more,
gently touch you still.




Marcello Giovanelli teaches English in the West Midlands, UK. He has previously published poems in various online magazines such as The Poetry Village and Poetry Plus. Find him on Twitter at @mmgiovanelli.

Two Poems by Lee Evans

Quaker Blossoms

I

A Friend was Richard Galloway,
But Samuel, his great grandson,
Built Tulip Hill on the slave trade—
Estate so proudly Georgian.

Nearby, upon the burial ground,
George Fox proclaimed the Inner Light
To those whose shriveled corpses now
Lie vacant where his words took flight.

II

Ten thousand years or more ago,
The first Algonquin settled here
Beside the sprawling Bay we know,
With glaciers melting on their heels.

They signed a pact with colonists,
Beneath a spreading Tulip Tree—
Today where Saint John’s College lists
The World’s Great Books for us to read.

III

In childhood I explored the hill
My father built our home upon;
Where Tulip Poplars’ flowers filled
Their boughs and dropped across the lawn.
How sweet it was to contemplate
Their petals cupped and yellow-green,
With red and orange glowing faint,
Like passions fading from past scenes!

IV

Employed to search out, sort and track
Old records at your next request,
I browsed an Archives’ moldered stacks
Of rags and wood to pages pressed.

Without direction, like sere leaves
That tumble through autumnal fields,
I turned life’s pages uselessly—
What harvest could such idling yield?

V

From what I read between the lines
Of Quaker Records, I will quote
The whispers of the wind that winds
Its circuits through old Poplar groves:

What does it mean? A child squats low,
And lifts one fallen flower to view
Its pigments in the dew drops’ glow,
Reflecting vistas strange and new.


Corruption

The Undertaker’s face,
A mask of bloodless pain,
Conceals within its space
A crematory flame

Predestined for a corpse.
How can he not, alas,
But measure up the morgue
Of mourners who file past?

Each body he prepares,
To lovingly display
For open viewing, where
The eulogies are made.

No doubt his karma-seeds
Matured to this career.
Is it himself he sees,
Embalmed and coffined there?




Lee Evans lives with his wife in Bath, Maine, and works for the local YMCA. His work has been published in The Christendom Review, Mused: The Bella Online Literary Review, The Poetry Porch, and other places. Lee has self-published several books of poetry, all of which are available on Lulu.com.

Two Poems by Donald Wheelock

For My Sake

The barn I love to write about
sinks into earth, if just this time of year.
Illusion being what it is,
the gable end has grown a trifle stout;
the windows have now disappeared—
the foliage is responsible for this.

The sumac that was hacked away—
was it just four years ago?—has grown
to match the metal roof in height.
The antique aspect of the barn’s display—
the weathered boards, their care postponed—
the vegetation has now masked from sight.

But this old barn will rise again,
if only by illusion. The heat will break.
Fall will clear the view of leaves,
turn brown the hills and fields of grain,
and as a favor for my sake,
revive its dignity from sills to eaves.


First Solo Drive at Night

I’ll watch you leave the house, your maiden trip
an inspiration by the winter fire;
I’ll stand watch by the kitchen door, admire
your firm resolve, your mock stiff upper lip,
the poise with which you stock your purse
with tissues, find your keys, your charging phone,
and walk the short way to the car alone.
These and other details I rehearse,
if only to myself: nighttime driving
is, for the first time, challenging enough,
without the fear of post-surgical stuff,
the unrelenting thought of just arriving.
A daughter you could be, your stage in life
youth’s next threshold—but no, you are my wife.




Donald Wheelock has published many poems in journals that welcome formal poetry. His chapbook In the Sea of Dreams is available at Gallery of Readers Press, Northampton, MA. His first full-length book of poetry, It’s Hard Enough to Fly, will be issued in the fall of 2022 by Kelsay Books.

Two Poems by Michelle DeRose

Syzygy

for Parker

Before your name was known,
I crept down creaking stairs at three
to satisfy our craving for Cheerios.
You spoke with sonar,
squirmed to float your needs,
unformed lips and absent teeth
two fewer tools for symbols
I could misconstrue.

When we were separated, you cried
to speak again in the language of fluid,
to lament the severed syncromesh.
And the sunlight hurt your eyes.

You see beauty I no longer recognize
in the dry leaf latched onto the dog’s tail
deposited in the corner,
and in the copper flashing of a penny
as it skates across the floor.
Only if I squeeze my eyes hard enough
can I still see silver.

Rooted in the inefficiency of words,
I am suspended beyond recollection
of the worlds that merged in me
and spend my life unlearning the perfect language.


Letting Go

One day you drop your mother’s hand,
a sudden chill in sweaty creases,
and cross the street alone. She releases
your bike seat. You jolt and wobble
without the weight. You hang
your school jacket in your sister’s closet.
It’s her room now, anyway.
You bag up slacks with narrow waistlines
for Goodwill, return the office keys
to HR. Life is learning when
to let go, hoping the red
balloon has lofted you to safety
and will fly far beyond
the volley of deflating stones.




Michelle DeRose teaches creative writing and African-American, Irish, and world literature at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her most recent poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Dunes Review, Making Waves, The Journal of Poetry Therapy, and Healing Muse.

“Upwelling” by Carole Greenfield

Last hour, last day before break, alone in an empty classroom, is when
I hear them, sleigh bells, silver jangling in the air, then steady thudding.
Before I can leave my chair, a line of children gallop by, shaking
handbells. By the time I reach the doorway, they are past me, heading down
the corridor. No one sees me watching, not even the child at the
end, my Alejandro. Alejandro, who tries to speak English, gets
embarrassed, says, “Forget it,” folds his arms and closes up his face.
Alejandro, whose sudden smiles I can count on one hand and still have
a finger or two left to hope on. Alejandro, a skeptic at
seven, if not yet a confirmed cynic. This same person brandishes
his bell on high, proclaims to the world, “I like!” and leaps twice in the air,
rounds the corner, vanishes from view. I stare at the space that held him,
bells, echoes of clear joy resounding, reminding me of secret hearts
that try to reach the surface no matter how much weight we make them bear.


upwelling: the rising of deep, cold waters to shallower depths in response to reduced surface pressures




Carole Greenfield was raised in Colombia and now lives in New England. Her work has appeared in Red Dancefloor, Gulfstream, The Sow’s Ear, Women’s Words: Resolution, Arc, and is forthcoming in The Eunoia Review.

Two Poems by Kashvi Dikshit

Letters to My Younger Self: A Brief Evolution in Time

Some nights were hard
Cheeks wet with perennial tears
A sickening test of my ability to face my fears
Chest tight, lungs constricted
As if strangling my throat
Till each last drop of breath ran out
And I was left trembling
Shivering
Shaking
Swimming in pools of sweat
Head racing with incoherent thoughts
Each one fiercely competing for my attention
Out of touch with the world around me
An unsettling feeling of being untethered from reality
Pleading forgiveness for whatever sin I may have committed
For surely I wasn’t being punished for the mere sake of it
Screaming without a sound, till my whispers turned hoarse
Begging for the ghost of a chance that someone might just hear
And free me from the prison that was my mind
A thought that I visualized as immediate relief
Though calling it impossible would be gracious to its attainability.
(For a man in pain knows nothing of rationality nor cares for it,
Rationality is but trivial in the face of a suffering man)

At last, the aftereffects would seep in
While I lay benumbed as bare whitewashed walls,
Mind devoid of thought or emotion,
Whispering the same few words under my breath
Like a simple truth spoken in echoic repetition:
“I’m sorry to my younger self’
“I’m sorry to my younger self”
“I’m sorry to my younger self.”
Filled with shame and guilt and sorrow
That I failed to be the version of myself she had in her head
That each day I strayed further
And further away.

Today I am older.
Some nights are still hard
But I truly believe with all my heart
That my younger self would be proud than ashamed of me
For the smallest victories that add feathers to my cap,
For waking up not entirely dreading what is to come,
For staying clean for the longest I ever have,
For choosing to survive every single day,
For making it through every single day.
Perhaps what I failed to realise back then
Was that each time I swung further,

I swung back a little closer than before
Today I am older
Some nights are still hard
I whisper the same few words under my breath
Like a simple truth spoken in echoic repetition:
“I forgive you”
“I forgive you”
“I forgive you.”


Here Lies

Your memories stain the walls of my mind
That I built on the grave of your demise.
What stands in place is the ghost of a man;
A stranger whose heart from gold turned ice.

How does one grieve the death of a man still living
When in sight it is but the shell of the man I once knew?
The dearth of your presence like an ever-present void;
An imprint of light from a life snatched too soon.

Your eyes seem devoid of even a mere flicker of recognition
And that pains me,
For I would accept even coldness, contempt, disdain
Than a lack thereof, shrouded in bare nothingness.
For if hollowness was what I was truly after,
I’d simply listen to the haunt of your lingering laughter.

Bits of your past live on as plaguing remnants
As do the reminders of all those departed.
The tormenting nature of ghosts is not unheard of,
But I often wonder if those left behind too haunt the dead,

If in afterlife my reminders harrow you just the same,
Or if you have severed the last of your mortal ties.
How am I to keep you anchored to hallowed ground
When your memorial was built upon infernal lies?

For a man who swears he does not know my name,
It is only fitting
To leave his tombstone unnamed.




Kashvi Dikshit is a poet and writer based out of Bangalore, India. Her work has been featured in various literary journals and anthologies around the world. Outside of the publishing world, Kashvi likes to perform spoken word at local fundraisers to support social causes. As a professionally trained singer and dancer, Kashvi adds a unique flair to her poetry through lyrical flow and rhythm that deeply reflects the traditional roots of poetry.