“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.

“The Long Journey Home” by Lisa Creech Bledsoe

“The two eight-legged ‘arachnidnauts’—which the station crew calls Gladys and Esmerelda—are settling in nicely aboard the orbiting lab, already weaving webs in their weightless new home.” —Mike Wall, Space.com senior writer, May 28, 2011

It was a turbulent ride, the liftoff,
but it was spring, the omens good and
the smell of Columbia’s burning long gone—
the fear redundant but still necessary.

They look weightless, faint pencil scribbles high
in the corners of my bathroom, rarely rearranging
even a single delicate leg. Whispers
uncoupled from gravity and a bellyful of
patience, knowing sometimes things go sideways.

We call them all Charlotte and hope for messages.

What started as guidelines, signal lines,
x-and-o-mark-the-spot became every day spinning,
every night dismantling the old. This is how
the chapel is made: no praise, no blame—
a language of presence and absence.

They flew to space again years ago,
spellcast beyond a fretful sky where
they spun their filigreed greetings, frozen
and drowning amid stars. I think of them

levitating, breathless, Nephila clavipes
refusing to come down for air. Everyone
had been left or taken unimaginably far away
where there’s no phone service, where we’d
lost the compass or ballast or some damn thing.

One day we’ll forget our acquaintance with gravity
and revolutions. What time is like, this day,
this night and another—the windows of our world
boarded over but light streaming out nonetheless.

Have you ever found old photos of family
you never knew existed? They have gone to the stars
over my house, where it’s impossibly black and filled
with beauty. They have not returned. Or
maybe they have, but it’s hard to see them, hovering
over our heads, the sky, the next outer
thing we never dreamed of, shining and holding us
in their golden arms.

Lisa Creech Bledsoe is a hiker, beekeeper, and writer, watched by crows and friend to salamanders, living in the mountains of Western North Carolina. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of two full-length books of poetry, Appalachian Ground (2019) and Wolf Laundry (2020). She has new poems out or forthcoming in The Blue Mountain Review, American Writers Review, Sky Island Journal, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, Red Fez, and River Heron Review, among others. Website: https://appalachianground.com/

Two Poems by Felicia Nimue Ackerman

You Are Old, Father William

(originally appeared in The Los Angeles Times)

“You are old, Father William,” the young man said,
“And the money’s become very tight;
And yet you’ll spend anything not to be dead–
Do you think, at your age, it is right?”

“In my youth,” Father William replied to his son,
“I figured that old folks should die;
But, now that I’m perfectly sure that I’m one,
I do not see a good reason why.”

“You are old,” said the son, “as I mentioned before.
So consider your grandson’s position,
Since the money that keeps you away from death’s door
Could be used for his college tuition.”

“I am old,” Father William replied in a yell,
“But I’ve not taken leave of my wits!
I should croak so young Willie can go to Cornell?
Be off, or I’ll blow you to bits!”

Envying My Cat

(originally appeared in The Providence Journal)

When Lili seeks affection,
She only has to purr.
She never meets rejection.
Why can’t I be like her?

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

“Peregrine” by John Muro

You have forged a habitat from our own,
Reclaiming the deformed spaces carved
Into air; canyon walls of steel and concrete
And clouds drifting past in blue panels of glass.
All captured in the cold precision of your eyes,
Round and dark as rifle barrels, straddling
A lethal beak and talons of caution-yellow.
Everything about you shouts assassin, and so
The Egyptians fittingly named a deity after
You – Horus, god of vengeance – with
Gold flesh and plumage of flint blue and
Graywacke. And now, wandering falcon,
Urban sentinel, I watch you scale heights
In terrible torque becoming little more than
A pinprick; awaiting the hunting stoop when
You become an instrument of carnage folding
Back a tail as large as your body, and wings
Tucked using tears to shield divining eyes
From wind shear. Tercel diving in dominion
Like a trident blistering air and consuming
Space faster than sound to where death itself
Is dazed and abducted in a theater of raw conquest.

John Muro is a graduate of Trinity College, Wesleyan University, and the University of Connecticut. His professional career has been dedicated to environmental stewardship and conservation, and he has held several executive and volunteer positions in those fields. His first volume of poems, In the Lilac Hour, was published last fall by Antrim House and is available on Amazon. His poems have been published or will soon be published in Euphony, Clementine Unbound, Freshwater, Amethyst Review and elsewhere. John is a life-long resident of Connecticut.

“Learning Grace” by Dan Overgaard

I. His Energy

Pushed up like wheat by prairie energy,
he came uprooted in a holy wind
and tumbled west, blacktop to ministry
unrolling, congregations without end.
Then fragrant oceans called. Their spicy breath,
along with urgent verses, interrupted sleep
to pull them both—through sickness and in health—
by boat and ox-cart, elephant and Jeep.
Lord in the morning lit him with the Word,
with eloquent translations in the sun.
Small kids were wide-eyed at the white they heard,
and villagers would murmur in refrain.
      Blessed with assurance, restless after prayer,
      he plowed from dawn to grace, through foreign air.

II. Her Diagnosis

She couldn’t match a color with its word
or call our names whenever we would meet,
but she could hum a chorus to the Lord
and end that chorus on the proper beat.
She couldn’t write or read. If she had known,
these losses would have been a heavy cross.
She couldn’t pray. But drifting in her own
sweet way, she’d often pause to touch those she would pass.
She hiked around and round the cottage yard.
The gate was locked for safety. That same sun,
as all those years in Thailand, landed hard.
Ironically, it’s here she’s much more tan.
      Reading these indications on her face,
      we learned her diagnosis: Late Stage Grace.

Dan Overgaard was born and raised in Thailand. He attended Westmont College, dropped out, moved to Seattle, became a transit operator, then managed transit technology projects and programs. He’s now retired and catching up on reading. His poems have appeared in The Galway Review, Shark Reef, Willawaw Journal, As It Ought To Be Magazine, Glass Poetry: Poets Resist, The High Window, Canary Lit Mag, Shot Glass Journal, Allegro Poetry, Triggerfish Critical Review and other journals. Read more at: danovergaard.com.

“Overhead from Longing” by Judith Alexander Brice

To Charlie, April 19, 2017

Sometimes, your voice catches me
from beyond and overhead, from your longing
love—I think of your timbre,
the tremolo and cords it strikes, reminiscent
always of starlings, their cantabile speech,
as they learned to sing— no, talk, to Mozart.

Was it he who heard
and copied their joyful trance or they
who conveyed back his sweet noise
to wrap him in a swoon of song
so sonorous that he composed concertos,
so plangent that when he wrote his resplendent

masses, he was able to catch an audience
in rapt and full attention, swoop
his listeners into an evanescent murmuration 1
as dense and wide as the starlings,
when swiftly they disappear
into their wild and mysterious flight?

1. A “murmuration” refers to the phenomenon that results when hundreds, even thousands of starlings fly in swooping, intricately coordinated patterns through the sky.
first published by VerseWrights Journal (defunct)

Judith Alexander Brice is a retired Pittsburgh psychiatrist whose love of nature and acquaintance with illness inform much of her work. She has had over 80 poems published in journals and anthologies, including The Golden Streetcar, Voxpopulisphere, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Magnolia Review, and The Annals of Internal Medicine. Judy has received both Editor’s Choice and Honorable Mention Awards in The Allen Ginsberg Poetry Prize, sponsored by The Paterson Literary Review. She has authored four poetry books: Renditions in a PaletteOverhead From Longing, Imbibe the Air, as well as (a chapbook) Shards of Shadows: A Covid Diary. The last two books were published in early 2021. One poem, “Mourning Calls,” set to music by Tony Manfredonia, can be heard on his web-site: https://www.manfredoniamusic.com/mourning-calls. The attached published poem was the title poem of Overhead From Longing.