“Spit And Polish” by Stephen Kingsnorth

I love sheen, floribunda leaves,
bright red-green cushion, perfume, bloom,
but gardener forked, spread dung beneath,
under the rosebush, scattered muck.

When dust seems layered everywhere
and all needs polish, drawing out,
I start, patina, table top,
to reach the waxing moon at last.

So every grey, sad tattered thing,
needs riches drawn – from horse or bee –
that donkey outlaw, label worn,
cut palm fronds, coronation ride.

This fleshy husk needs burnish too,
obese fat folds that ripple still,
just as in cradle cot, pink buff,
a foot, note gloss of baby oil.

And there’s the rub – rejected, old,
as lamp from which the Jinn arose –
for truth is not glazed, varnished dream,
but where rejected meets our need.

Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church, has had over 250 pieces published by on-line poetry sites, including Sparks of Calliope, printed journals and anthologies. https://poetrykingsnorth.wordpress.com/

“The Ocean of the Mind” by Sandi Christie

In the place where “I” arises, in the ocean of the mind,
Where the ego’s dark disguises for a moment fall behind,
And the wisdom that we cherish, is wrapped up and pushed across
On the waters of awareness to a river where it’s tossed
Like an anchor, gently sinking, on a chain that has been cut,
Now perceived, a distant twinkling, where a ladder does abut—

In the ocean of the mind, there’s a ladder you can find.

In the silence, like a diamond, shining brightly in the heart,
Where the spirit knows no crime and all illusions fall apart,
And the meaning of a minute is dissolving like the hands
Of the paint upon a portrait in a Dali-painted land.
Past and future have no meaning, only timelessness abides,
Here the spirits are convening, in His glory, they collide—

In the ocean of the mind, where the body’s left behind.

In arpeggios ascending towards a symphony of one,
There’s a melody extending as all borders come undone.
An ancient song remembered from a long-forgotten place,
Every sorrow unremembered in a perfect state of grace.
A gentle Voice, susurrant, in a language ears can’t hear
Is now flowing on Love’s current, every fear now disappears—

In the ocean of the mind, where all spirit is aligned.

Now the current lifts you higher and the veil falls away
And the feelings that transpire, there is not a word to say.
The door is finally open, the forgotten son is home,
The mind no longer broken knows it never walks alone.
All that misery engenders has now finally been released.
The guilty mind surrenders in acceptance of His peace—

In the ocean of the mind, it’s His peace that you will find.

Sandi Christie has published two collections of poetry: Miracles Fall Like Drops of Rain and Lilies of Forgiveness.  She lives with her husband in Florida.

Two Poems by Matthew King

On the Time We Found a Three-Legged Blanding’s Turtle

Remember the time we found that turtle gallumping
across the road on three legs – the only three Blanding’s
turtle legs we’ve ever seen – and we wondered how much
of its human-length life it’d been going without
the other, how much longer it might go on like that–
maybe it’d been hiding out somewhere, healing up
since someone bit off its leg, just now ventured back out
into the open, still smiling but missing a step,
having been barely quick enough before to make it
across the road unaided, unobserved and unknown–
like decomposing sea-monsters risen from the depths,
like secrets of our viscera held tight to ourselves,
there are things first visible in the last fatal light.

A Certain Bird

I went out looking for a certain bird
who called to me in her exacting way.
She’d always known the perfect thing to say;
she’d always found it just the perfect word.
But not this time. Unnerved by what I’d heard
and fearing she’d already flown away
I sought her out in case she’d thought to stay,
in case she’d care if I was reassured.
I found what I was looking for, if not
exactly what I thought I’d meant to find:
I found a bird who’d surely made her mind
up not to speak just one syllable more,
so sure she was she’d strictly named her thought –
that certain bird I went out looking for.

Matthew King used to teach philosophy at York University in Toronto. He now lives in what Al Purdy called “the country north of Belleville”, where he tries to grow things, takes pictures of flowers with bugs on them, counts birds, canoes around Wollaston Lake on calm summer mornings, and walks a rope bridge between the neighboring mountaintops of philosophy and poetry. His poems have appeared in The New QuarterlyJuniperJam & SandThe Ekphrastic ReviewThe Daily DrunkAnti-Heroin ChicCypress, and Talking About Strawberries All of the Time. He can be found on Twitter: @cincinnatus_c_.

“Deus Ex Machina” by Brian Yapko

God – out of Your machine, I implore
You to grrr and clang, to hum, to emit
And bless. Out from Your well-oiled rotor
Into my hurting, rusting core!
Redeem and renew me with holy writ;
Motivate this brain, these limbs, this motor
To work, to run, to think, to hope, to fit.

Almighty Craftsman, Master Creator…
How desperately I seek You
My search frustrated by Your eternal “Later.”
I look for You now, I hope for something greater…
To see a vapor, hear a hum, to see You come through
From the tomb, from the fire! O Great Innovator,
Let my soul not corrode into a useless, rusting brew!

I ache looking for You. Will You not come,
Master of all that is designed and built?
But I see only spare parts, leftover bolts, an oil drum,
Your servants’ fingers raw and numb,
So careful that there be no waste, no blood spilt.
Yet I know You are here. In each mansion, every slum,
Powering my love, my hate, my hurt, my guilt.

Shaper-Of-Machines, of all that carries mass
Collector of emotions, tears and thought!
I confess — I am lost and hurting. Short on gas.
Unuseful. Rusted and fragile. Opaque as glass.
Ex machina! Save me, for I am caught –
Stuck in a dead end from which I cannot pass
Recalling nothing of value that I’ve been taught.

God, come to me as the One-Who-Will- Repair,
Garbed in the boiling orange of molten steal
Emitting steam, hanging tools, filtering the air…!
Don’t let me break from the grind, the despair.
Come to me for You alone know what I feel!
Fix me. Make me useful. Make me care.
Oh my Creator, make me real.

Brian Yapko is a lawyer whose poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Prometheus Dreaming, Cagibi, Marathon Lit. ReviewGrand Little Things, Society of Classical Poets, Poetica, Chained Muse, Garfield Lake Review, Tempered Runes Press, The Abstract Elephant and Sparks of Calliope among others. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

“Opening My Fist” by David James


the life and death of me
sleeps upstairs

in his crib, a towel for a blanket.
Henry, my youngest grandchild,
about pieces of toast the size of cars
           swimming in a sea

of lemon rice soup.
my heart falls out
when he smiles at me

or says, “Wow, oh, wow.”

we spent an hour this morning
climbing up the stairs,
climbing back down.


there are no words pure enough
for the love
of my three grandchildren.

they are my personal gold mines,
my new stars, oceans yet undiscovered,

glorious miracles.


I turn 60 next week
and already find myself calculating

how much time I have left
           to see them graduate, marry, have kids of their own,

struggle to lift the weight
of the future

off my tired back


which they will not be able to do,
of course.


life is an opening of your fist
and a letting go.

you give away pieces of yourself here,
lose small pieces there and hope
someone sees them,

picks them up, maybe even keeps them,
tucked away
in a dresser, a glove compartment,

a hole in the back yard.

borges was right—a man dies for real
when the last person
in the world

who remembers him



I have eighteen years left,
if the lousy actuaries            know what they’re doing.

maybe I can prove them wrong.



David James’ two most recent books are NAIL YOURSELF INTO BLISS  (Kelsay Books, 2019) and A GEM OF TRUTH (Main Street Rag, 2019). More than thirty of his one-act plays have been produced in the U.S. and Ireland. James teaches writing at Oakland Community College in Michigan.