Two Poems by John Whitney Steele


In memory of B.K.S. Iyengar (12/14/1918-8/20/2014)

You’ve limbered up in backbends, lifted
into Upward Bow. You stand,
arc your spine, prepare to drop
back to the floor, land on your hands.

You stop. The ground is there, but you can’t see
quite where, and though you have been gifted
with strength and flexibility, you freeze,
afraid you’ll sprain your wrist, crack your skull.

Once BKS did Headstand on the edge
of the Grand Canyon. Not a show of courage
but steady mind, exuberance, a way
to wake up every cell, a celebration.

Standing on the edge you never know.
Something says it’s now or never. Go.


She placed her palm on torchlit stone,
spit red ochre at her hand,
left her mark, her stenciled clone,
a work of art, Neanderthal,
a language we still understand.

The permafrost is melting now,
releasing long held secrets:
fifty-thousand-year-old wolf pups
perfectly preserved, reindeer
killed by anthrax, disinterred.

When human beings are no more
what will we have left behind?
What hope have I to leave a mark
some future race will find?

John Whitney Steele is a psychologist, yoga teacher, assistant editor of Think: A Journal of Poetry, Fiction and Essays, and graduate of the MFA Poetry Program at Western Colorado University, where he studied with Julie Kane, David Rothman, and Ernest Hilbert. His chapbook, The Stones Keep Watch, is to be published by Kelsay Books in 2021. His poetry has appeared in numerous journals including Blue Unicorn, The Lyric, The Orchards, and Road Not Taken. Born and raised in Toronto and Foot’s Bay, Ontario. John lives in Boulder, Colorado, and enjoys hiking in the mountains. Website:

Two Poems by Felicia Nimue Ackerman

The Waist Is Larger than the Belt

The waist is larger than the belt–
For put them side by side–
The one the other will exceed
With ease–it cannot hide–

The foot is wider than the shoe–
For try them inch by inch–
The one the other won’t fit in–
Without a mighty pinch–

The mouth is greater than the will–
For test them both with cake–
The one the other will subdue–
As anodyne quells ache–

A Narrow Fellow in the Glass 

A narrow fellow in the glass
Is what I yearn to see–
But much I must forgo, alas
To make a slimmer me. 

No cookies, brownies, cake, or pie–
I may become unstrung.
The pleasure healthful foods supply
Is zero at the tongue.

Both poems originally appeared in The Emily Dickinson International Society Bulletin

Felicia Nimue Ackerman is a professor of philosophy at Brown University and has had about 200 poems published in a wide range of places.

“The Blue Chair Laments” by Mary Beth Hines

Jack Mullen left
alone against
the posted rules
he could not read
despite their bold
dark lettering and glasses
pressed onto his nose
he pushed himself
from contoured space
from cushions concave
with his weight
he set out on
his own two feet
in full belief
across the water
ridged mountains rose
tipped streaming sky
lost king’s thin crown
and sweeping gyre
of grey osprey
the knife-edged flash
the salt-stung prey
still Jack moved out
at steady pace
into the sun’s
sea-blinding light
not a Peter
more a Paul
he turned and beckoned
before he fell

Mary Beth Hines writes poetry, short fiction and non-fiction from her home in Massachusetts. Her recent work appears, or will soon appear, in journals including Amethyst Review, Blue Unicorn, Crab Orchard Review, I-70 Review, Orchards Poetry Journal, and The Road Not Taken among others. She is looking for a home for her first poetry collection. Find her on Facebook at

“The End of His Reign at the Coffee House” by Noreen Hennessy

Circles beneath his eyes,
slanted lines, the color of ash,
Steam curling in the air, his head
soaking in a hot cascade of water,
A quick dash downstairs
a bowl of oatmeal made by his father
every morning, moving him toward
his destiny.

Down the road, the coffee house awaits him
dishes, bees swarming on
cinnamon buns, women in aprons
engaged in warfare over
paychecks, designations of disinfected
tables, whispers, tears,
jeers, scenes of occasional shouting.
as they dash out the door
to breathe in smoke
or to spit out a quick “I quit”
only to return the next day.

All this buzzes behind him, as he quietly
opens the door moves through the kitchen, knowing
the smoke, fury of these battles will
rise up against him by noon. His hands rough,
reddened by endless table wiping, his nerves shot
from the women’s constant prodding for
him “to step up” go faster, faster, faster.

Hours pass as
his bite of lunch is left wasted, forgotten
in his frenzy, their panic, and his head becomes light
with minuscule stars shimmering in his sight
under fierce, fluorescent beams.
Geese cackle, the sun cracks through the
front window pours over the counter, as bread is
ushered out of an oven to be eaten by the chosen ones–
royalty of genes and good luck from parts near and far:
Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, The Dorset Country Club…

They arrive here in Vermont in a flood of pink pants,
crowned with masks dangling from one ear, to condemn the harried
women who rush to serve them their paninis, who frantically wipe,
scribble out checks, grab chips, desserts, bagels as being
“too brusque.” And to command him, that their coffee be
served swirled with caramel, that they will soon swoon
over, coo to him, standing idly by a little too closely,
sighing “oh that’s love” as he pours golden
syrup into their bitter cups, making in the foam that
floats on top, the perfect image of a leaf as only he can,
for each one. And for a few seconds, he grows
taller as he stirs the cups then places them
gently on silver trays.

He can hear the blare of trumpets
at days end, as the last steaming brew is bestowed on a royal waiting,
feel a plumed hat settle on his 19 year old head, velvet britches arrive
on his thighs, watch his hands grow more graceful as a
lute begins to play.
The smudged darkness
beneath his eyes
for a moment, only to quickly reappear
as he locks the door
turns the sign to CLOSED,
feels the rush of his
young life passing him by,
the brush of feathers,
the crush of velvet,
falling to the floor
like him
who will pick himself up,
sweep the floor clean,
and call to give NOTICE

Noreen Hennessy is new to poetry. She has given readings of her writing at Beyond Baroque Literary Foundation and at the 92nd St Y. Recently, one of her poems has been published online by Literary North.  She has been studying poetry in community workshops this past year at UVM and Dartmouth College. She lives in southern Vermont with her husband and son.

“Letter to a Haggard Young Doctor” by Sven Kretzschmar

And you my sister,
there in the dark shadows you rest
crouched, sleepless, empty of tears
for those you didn’t rescue
in the doubts of every winter.

Did you face the courage of the bewildered
when, for the first time, you had to sew up
the dead’s pockets,
so they couldn’t take with them the bad
luck they had in their lifetimes?

Have you ever dreamt
of taking a gander on the world
outside these cold long corridors,
ill-lit and strange,
and yet of so direful familiarness?

Get off your bench where you never find sleep!
The ambulanceman says there’s yet another one
and you’ll have to lie again saying
‘All will be fine.’,
when the least you could do for them
is nothing at all.

Sven Kretzschmar hails from County Saarland, Germany, his place of birth and residency. His poetry has been published widely in Europe and overseas, including with Poetry Jukebox in Belfast, in Writing Home. The ‘New Irish’ Poets (Dedalus Press, 2019), Poets Meet Politics (Hungry Hill Writing, 2020) Hold Open the Door (UCD Press, 2020), Voices 2020 (Cold River Press, 2020) and 100 Words of Solitude (Rare Swan Press, 2021), in The Irish TimesLive EncountersSkylight 47, Das Gedicht, Loch Raven ReviewWordpeace2 Meter Review and Selcouth Station. He was awarded 1st prize in the ‘Creating a Buzz in Strokestown’ competition in 2018 and was shortlisted for several other awards. See more at: and Instagram: @sven_saar_poetry

“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.

“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.