“The Keeping” by Philip A. Lisi

On the third floor,
The air is particled with old life—
When children drew
Broad-whiskered cats
And wrote leaden cursive
On lines of yellow tablet paper
The color of yarrow.

She keeps these things,
Carefully pressed together
In files labeled with our names,
Preserving what we might have been.

Sometimes I imagine
They whisper together,
These fragile parchments of the past,
Like papery wasps
Inside a dusty lampshade:
“Do you remember
When they were young
And belonged to her?”

In winter, she ascends
To visit us in our youth,
Reminding herself of a time
When keeping and filing
Labored to fill a space
That would always be hollow.

After she is gone,
I must enter there,
And I find it hard to breathe.
Bound to sort through
What is left of us,
I am held between lives
Captured in time on fading pages
And want to burn them—

If only to martyr those memories
That once sustained
Something like love
And stifle the regret
That comes so quickly to me now.




Philip A. Lisi lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he teaches English at his high school alma mater by day and writes poetry and flash fiction by night alongside his family and the ghost of their cantankerous Wichienmaat cat, Sela. His work has appeared in Litbreak MagazineRosette Maleficarum, and the Serious Flash Fiction anthology.

Two Poems by Diane Elayne Dees

The Last Cat

The last cat left this world today;
his tender Siamese heart gave out,
his blue eyes shut one final time,
just months after his brother died.

His tender Siamese heart gave out;
he really hadn’t been the same
the months after his brother died.
We knew the end had finally come.

I really haven’t been the same
since both of them moved out the day
we knew the end had finally come.
A marriage ends, cats are divided—

both of them moved out that day
while the sisters stayed and lived with me.
A marriage ends, cats are divided—
and things would never be the same.

The sisters stayed. They lived with me,
we learned to master new routines.
Though things would never be the same,
we made a peaceful, cozy home.

I learned to master a new routine
when cancer came for both of them.
It was still a peaceful, cozy home,
but they were always symbiotic—

so when cancer came for both of them,
they died, as they had lived—together.
They were always symbiotic,
but I had to manage twice the grief.

The brothers died—almost together;
those blue eyes shut one final time.
And I gave up on the math of grieving
when the last cat left this world today.


Free-Fall

Lying still on my mat,
I hear the soothing voice
of my yoga teacher,
telling me that there’s nothing
I have to hold, nothing
I have to carry. For a moment,
I feel as though my body
has released a heavy load—
that some mysterious force
has burned through a cord
that I didn’t realize was wrapped
around me. The cord snaps,
and suitcases filled with memories,
worries, regrets, obsessions—
my impressive collection
of cerebral junk—slide onto the floor.

Yet a moment later, I’m thinking
about what just happened,
wondering if it’s a delusion—
filling another suitcase with junk.
I am attached to the junk.
Like Willy Loman, hunched
over and defeated, I am afraid
to let go of the handle.
And like Willy, I believe
that I am too old to drop
this collection of a lifetime.

I hear my teacher’s voice again,
telling me to wiggle my fingers
and toes, to make circles
with my wrists and ankles;
in a few moments, I’ll be rolling
my mat, putting away my props,
putting on my shoes, and leaving
the studio. I know that I will hear
her voice again in my head,
reminding me that there’s nothing
I have to hold, nothing I have to carry.

It will haunt me, this voice, as I cling
to a burden that feels like part of my body—
afraid to allow the mystery that burns
the cord, yet wondering what it would feel
like to be standing, empty-handed,
holding nothing—not even my breath.




Diane Elayne Dees is the author of the chapbook, Coronary Truth (Kelsay Books) and the forthcoming chapbook, The Last Time I Saw You (Finishing Line Press). She is also the author of three Origami Poems Project micro chapbooks, and her poetry, short fiction, and creative nonfiction have been published in many journals and anthologies. Diane, who lives in Covington, Louisiana—just across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans—also publishes Women Who Serve, a blog that delivers news and commentary on women’s professional tennis throughout the world. Her author blog is Diane Elayne Dees: Poet and Writer-at-Large.

“The Fisherman in His Dory” by Gregory E. Lucas

(Inspired by Winslow Homer’s painting, The Fog Warning, 1885, USA.)

Toward the distant ship, the fogbank rolls.
Fraught, wearied and alone, on darkened waves,
with no time to lose, the fisherman rows.

Get back, or else he’s lost at sea, he knows.
He’s strayed so far, too far to be seen or saved,
and faster, toward the ship, the fogbank rolls.

Above the ship, clouds brighten, purple and rose,
but the fogbank thickens, and the masts are vague.
No time to lose. Onward, the fisherman rows,

then, for a moment, stops. He turns and holds
both oars quite still, insults the sky and prays.
Closer to the ship, the fogbank rolls,

and soon it’s sure to cut him off. His sole
hope is to find more strength. Ignoring pains,
with now less time to lose, again he rows.

His two big halibut he won’t unload;
he’ll carry the catch no matter what it weighs.
Toward the distant ship, the fogbank rolls.
With no time to lose, the fisherman rows.




Gregory E. Lucas writes fiction and poetry.  His short stories and poems have appeared in The Horror Zine, Blue Unicorn, The Ekphrastic Review, and many other magazines.  He lives on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.

“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.

Two Poems by William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats, 1903 by Alice Boughton

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was an Irish poet whose work is quoted and regarded fondly by poets throughout the English-speaking world. Yeats was heavily inspired by Percy Shelley and Edmund Spenser in his early career, and his early works especially often contained elements of mysticism and spiritualism and sometimes of astrology and the occult. A recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature, his later work tended more toward the political and realistic; Yeats himself served two terms as a Senator in the short-lived Irish Free State. Below are two of his more famous poems, “The Second Coming” and “Sailing to Byzantium,” both of which contain lines still familiar to many due to frequent quotation.


The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?


Sailing to Byzantium

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
—Those dying generations—at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

“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.