Two Poems by John Whitney Steele

Warrior III: The Arrow

Lunge forward, extend your torso over your knee.
Lift your back leg and balance on your front leg.
Parallel your body to the ground.
Gaze along your arms to the horizon,
a well-aimed arrow, sharp, steady, poised.
If you’ve ever dreamed of levitation,
try it. Hover there, on one leg.
Become the celestial arrow, Anjélica.

Launched from Árjuna’s bow, feel Krishna’s hand
guiding you through the wind, in through a chink
in Karna’s armor, through his skin, the flesh
between his ribs, and straight into his heart.
Had Árjuna known that Karna was his brother,
he never would have pulled you from his quiver.


Hánuman’s Leap

O Hánuman, son of wind god, Váyu,
warrior monkey, smaller than a speck
of dust, more massive than a mountain, skin
like harvest moon, face blood red, bedecked
with flowers flowing from your mane, why must
you tear your ribcage open? Ram and Sita
already see themselves reflected
in your throbbing heart. Why don’t you kneel
down on the ground, press your palms to lift
your hips, take one leg forward, one leg back,
stretch them till your buttocks touch the earth,
then bring your palms together overhead,
and take one giant leap across the sea?
Go. Seek beloved Sita, set her free.




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 previously in Sparks of Calliope and numerous journals including 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. Visit his website @ http://johnwhitneysteelepoet.com.

“Fruits from My Hand” by Emily Patterson

On the wood floor you play
with a set of wooden fruits:

wedge of watermelon, pear
perfectly sized to your palm,

and your favorite, the bright
lemon that rolls in a spiral.

You screech as it curls
just beyond your reach,

and I delight in how simply
I can offer what you seek.

Taking the fruits from my hand,
you fling them to the floor again

and again—purposefully
not looking at me, until

I begin to see: It’s you
who will choose how

to move through this
world, into yourself.




Emily Patterson is a curriculum designer, poet, and mother in Columbus, Ohio. She holds a B.A. in English from Ohio Wesleyan University, where she was awarded the Marie Drennan Prize for Poetry and F.L. Hunt Prize for Most Promising Creative Writer. She received her MA in Education from Ohio State University. Emily’s work has been published or is forthcoming in Literary Mama, Mothers Always Write, Thimble Literary Magazine, Quillkeepers Press, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Sunlight Press, The Magnolia Review, and elsewhere.

Two Poems by Lorraine Caputo

Mountain Odyssey 

These thin, ragged roads, 
pocked, torturously scraped ‘cross
mountains, deep valley

villages awaiting
our plunge into those folds &
don Chato’s ribald song,

our swaying through their
hamlets, their pueblos, along
that bouldered river.


The Eastern Cordillera 

I.

Dawn reveals thick streams serpentining through the páramo.
Light-grey clouds move with the land.
Solitary homes sink into the barren-brown scape gouged by
dried quebradas & caves, brightened by fields of onion.

Two men in heavy wool ponchos talk at a roadside stand.
A girl with a wind-burnt face waits, schoolbooks in hand.
Her thin blond hair flies in the slight breeze.

Wind-eroded stone juts from the leached earth streaked
with pale-blood soil. Herbage finds tenuous hold.


II.

An olive-fatigue soldier brushes his teeth at a hose.
On the porch of a store, another, rifle over shoulder,
speaks with a young, coquettish woman.

By the cloud-entombed road that wends across these
heaven-raking mountains, buzzards hunt along the ground
near a sand-bagged post hidden beneath a drab tarp.




Lorraine Caputo is a wandering troubadour whose poetry appear in over 250 journals on six continents, and 18 collections – including On Galápagos Shores (dancing girl press, 2019) and Escape to the Sea (Origami Poems Project, 2021). She also authors travel narratives, articles and guidebooks. In 2011, the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada honored her verse. Caputo has done literary readings from Alaska to the Patagonia. She journeys through Latin America with her faithful knapsack Rocinante, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth. Follow her adventures at www.facebook.com/lorrainecaputo.wanderer or http://latinamericawanderer.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Chattahoochee: Songs I Never Heard till Now” by Catherine Hamrick

The rush of I-285 sweeps me awake,
like the interior call of a conch shell

with a dry ocean trapped in its pink chamber,
and I retreat to the Chattahoochee,

hidden from Atlanta traffic lurching forward,
groan by groan in the idling afternoon—

beyond rooms stacked like rabbit warrens
and the blue glow of bars where the nameless

hunch over phones, emotion-conned, hearts afire
for mint-laced mojitos sugar-muddling the day.

On Powers Island, a fisherman, with name
and number Sharpie-scrawled on his life vest,

launches a rowboat in the downstream pull;
I dabble my feet by the ripped-out roots

of a lichen-trimmed log heard by Canada geese
on its bank-hollowing fall; the sun slaps eddies,

and brown-gray plumage runs in short currents
on a gander that hooks his beak in a ripple,

stabbing and nibbling, stabbing and nibbling,
and then arching his neck and shooting up,

mate alert—his white cheek patches, like arrows,
sharply paint his ebony head and crown.

I draw a quick breath, rocked by the common grace
of a small flock, heads erect, paddling sideways

and honking, tugged southward as the fisherman casts
slow-motion lines, ambitionless to net a mess

of sun-flashed rainbow trout, lost in the songs
of bankside gurgles and rapids gushing in midstream.




Catherine Hamrick is the copywriter for a liberal arts college in North Georgia. She previously held editorial positions at Better Homes and GardensCooking LightSouthern Accents, and Meredith Books. Her poems have appeared in The Blue Mountain ReviewstorySouthTiny Seed JournalBraided WayThe Ekphrastic ReviewArt Ascent, and elsewhere.

“Swamp Frogs, August 1965” by M. Brooke Wiese

A jelly jar of polliwogs perched
on the canted, rotting, swamp stump
of a silver birch, held there by the fringy lip
where a chainsaw’s teeth once bit.
Its tin lid glinted in the late summer sun
like the gilded dome of a belle époque hippodrome;
and the thin-skinned, black-stitched tadpoles
stirred up the murky silt and flashed
against the glass like minnows.

Or was the day more rainy and more grey?
Perhaps it was a yellow birch or a white oak –
I can’t recall – only the smell of leaf litter and decay;
only the peeling rolls from the paper birch
scattered on the peaty ground like papyrus scrolls,
on which, with quill pens fashioned
from seagulls’ dropped feathers, we wrote
with great curlicues and grand flourishes, our dreams –
exalted proclamations and treasure maps.

Sometimes the jar’s lid was screwed on tight
and held the polliwogs safe and snug inside
until at last all had succumbed;
but once or twice, if the lid wasn’t tightened well,
the jar slipped and fell off the mossy log
and tossed the tadpoles back into the antediluvian bog,
sending them thrashing through the muck
like a pack of snarling dogs, and then,
well, you know the ending… swamp frogs.




M. Brooke Wiese’s work has appeared in numerous publications, most recently in The Raintown Review and in Poem. Her poems have also been published in Atlanta ReviewBarrow Street, and Grand Street, and her chapbook, At the Edge of The World, was published by The Ledge Press in 1998. After a very long hiatus, she has again been writing furiously. She has worked in education and nonprofit social services.

“Sonnet on a Shore” by David Gosselin

Cling to your shores timorous denizens!
Brave divers hunt for pearls, but tempered souls
Prefer the quiet shores and shallow shoals
To darkened depths and krakens’ midnight dens.
The diver takes one breath then disappears;
He seeks for treasures lost and found,
And lost again amid the coral-bound
Currents and briny waves and rotten piers.
Oh how I wish I crossed these seas and swam
Before I knew what now I can’t unknow:
But now I dread to swim in depths so dim;
I curse the magic reefs where life began;
I listen to the siren’s song, yet know
I’m safe: I cannot drown—nor can I swim.




David Gosselin is a poet, translator, and linguist based in Montreal. He is the founder of The Chained Muse poetry website and the founder of the New Lyre Podcast. His first collection of poems is entitled Modern Dreams.

“Gone Fishing” by Shelby Stephenson

I think I cleaned fish before I could walk.
I always knew how, seeing my father
go empty the guano sack full of bream
and bass and eel and pumpkinseed, catfish
(the channel and bullhead too) and so on:
the whistle dick, horse fish, carp, minnow, gar,
you name it, fish from our world, Middle Creek.
And we ate them, the littler, the better:
we fished to eat and ate to fish our catch.
I’d scale the little ones; then going up
with the knife at the tooter-hole, I’d pull
the entrails down through and into the gills,
saving every single bite not attached.
And little or big, I would always gap
the fish’s hole with my sharp pocket knife
to reveal how I feel about bowels,
still wondering about the earth’s rare place,
the seam and stream of eyes, of things global,
my mind losing presences in the found
comfort of measures sitting on burlap
on the bank of the creek, my lead line taut
for a bottom-feeder, my red bobber
a round and slight little boat in water,
my legs a dangle over the greenish
water where my string of growing fins fan
the fabric the water cleanses with ease
of slender waste and flourish of greater
practice without any new-healed passage
where the swell of fox or wolf I hear in
the distance, my walk out of the growth of
gravity and gravy, my mother at
our home sweeping the yard with her broom made
of dogwood (I must remember to cut
down a new one, as I hate to do, on
my way home) – a home in the face and hair
of wishing the fish would bite, for my walk
out to be more than a fisherman’s luck,
a wet tail and a hungry gut, angel
over my shoulder not so ill as to tell
me I shall go home with a few boney
fish I shall see and smell in the popping
oil and pan, my mother frying the catch
for what it’s worth without malice of age
or worry to follow through on matters
of fishing and not get caught up in it
to lose even a dram of scruple fish
always lugged sacredly as toes Jesus
keeps loafing as fish’s great majesty,
plus the charm of hoping the world might bathe
downstream below the Rock Hole where Thread Tom
almost drowned me when I was a little
boy too young to fight the bad bullying
the bigger boys brag about, the fishes
themselves not hurting after the fishhook’s
removed and they flitter their lives along
on a string and loiter while the water
snakes nibble to nudge into lethargy
free of hunger that the wild contention
a horse fish’s head, lips, might really look
like Silver of Lone Ranger fame in a
stratagem to bow down now to say grace




Shelby Stephenson was poet laureate of North Carolina from 2015-2018.  For 32 years he was editor of the international literary journal Pembroke Magazine. His recent book is Shelby’s Lady: The Hog Poems.

“A Trap” by Peter Austin

Graham was at his best
Behind a camera and, best of all,
Roaming around the countryside, in quest
Of bare trees, say, their limbs an inky scrawl
Against the crimsoned west.

His mother cooked and sighed
For him, to her the sorriest of strays,
Who either feared or couldn’t find a bride,
Till, stricken by a terminal malaise,
She, of a sudden, died.

Now he ate cheese and bread,
Searched the garden for death to photograph –
A ravaged rose, the skin a snake had shed,
A fallen fledgling, glad on its behalf,
Being beyond all dread.

How casually they met
(In line at a drugstore), how quickly wed.
Now, he ate okra stew or veal blanquette,
While she was unintendedly misled
That the house was his, free and clear of debt,

Until she learned, by hap,
Of older sibs, each of whom owned a share
And, mad at having strayed into a trap,
Stalked away from the supposititious heir
With, ‘God, you piece of crap!’





Peter Austin‘s poems have appeared in the USA (The Atlanta ReviewAble Muse, Blue Unicorn, Barefoot Muse, The Raintown Review, The New Formalist, Fourteen by FourteenThe Hypertexts, etc.) as well as in Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Israel. Of his second collection, X J Kennedy (winner of the Robert Frost award for lifetime contribution to poetry) said, “I Am Janus is a controlled explosion of strong and colorful stuff, and it’s a joy to read a book in which every poem is splendidly well-made and worth reading.” Peter is a Professor of English (retired) from Seneca College, Toronto, Ontario, CANADA.

“How I Wish….” by Douglas Young

Oh so many scenes rewind in my mind,
Ones I could have stolen, but didn’t try;
Boat loads of chances get gone for good–
Blow them and enter the Land of Should.

All the sweet relatives who showed me only kindness,
I should have told I loved but didn’t due to shyness;
I ponder the gifts of time and love they gave
As I recall memories at each one’s grave.

A parade of pretty faces haunts me still
Of gals I should have asked out but lacked the will;
I wonder if we could have become lovers
And realize several are now grandmothers.

I recall bullies I should have defied,
But looked the other way and sadly sighed;
Yet who struck me then as truly hairy
Strike me now as not nearly so scary.

Such exciting concerts did I forgo
Since they cost “way too much” for just one show
Some of those singers have each become a legend;
They were stupendous performers now long since dead.

How many novels I should have written,
Stories of suspense or lovers smitten,
Literary dreams put on pages,
Not lost hopes from my younger ages.

Shyness is a zealous thief stealing chances,
A cancer of the will halting advances;
On guard to prevent any leap,
Dreams die hard on its large ash heap.

But if you let key moments pass,
And don’t leap through that looking glass,
How regret will throb at what could have been,
For a missed chance is the most lasting sin.




Dr. Douglas Young was reared a faculty brat in Athens, Georgia, before becoming a full-time professional nerd himself. He taught political science and history at Gordon College in Barnesville, Georgia, from 1987 to 1999. He then taught at Gainesville State College in Gainesville, Georgia, from 1999 to 2013, and he taught at the University of North Georgia-Gainesville from 2013 to the end of 2020, where he also advised UNG’s multiple award-winning Politically Incorrect and Chess Clubs. His essays and poems have appeared in a variety of publications, and his first novel, Deep in the Forest, is set to be published in 2021. 

 

 

Two Poems by Peter J. King

1914

“In September 1914, a man had to stand five feet eight to get into the army. A month later, so great was the need for recruits, the minimum height requirement was lowered to five foot five; in November, after the losses sustained in the First Battle of Ypres, it was lowered again, to five foot three.” (Catherine Bailey, The Secret Rooms, p.248)

August
When war broke out I was too short;
they shook their heads
showed me the door.
I sat at home and fretted that
I wasn’t five foot eight.

October
As thousands died, they changed their minds;
I tried again —
but still too short
I cycled home and fretted that
I wasn’t five foot five.

November
But things were bad along the Front;
third time’s a charm,
they shook my hand,
and I embarked in khaki drab,
a manly five foot three.

December
I fell for good at Plugstreet Wood1
our guns or theirs,
I wasn’t sure;
my legs were shattered by a shell,
and struggling for one last breath
amid the sounds and smells of hell
I fretted that I’d meet my death
too short once more.

1. Ploegsteert Wood was part of the Ypres salient; it later became a rest and recuperation centre.

first published in Oxford Magazine 374, 2016



1917: Zero Sum

(In the latter stages of WWI, across Europe governments ordered the melting down of church bells and organ pipes for munitions.)

To keep the chill cacophony of Ragnarok
reverberating in the frigid moonlight
riming dugouts, trenches, sentries,
and the troops who twitch in cold, uneasy bunks,
across the fields and forests, villages and towns,
the homes of which the sleeping soldiers dream,
the bells fall silent.




Peter J. King was born and brought up in Boston, Lincolnshire. He was active on the London poetry scene in the 1970s, returning to poetry in 2013. Since then his work (including translations from modern Greek [with Andrea Christofidou] and German poetry, short fiction, and paintings) has been widely published in magazines and anthologies. His currently available collections are Adding Colours to the Chameleon (Wisdom’s Bottom Press) and All What Larkin (Albion Beatnik Press). https://wisdomsbottompress.wordpress.com/