I liked how she reminded me of plastic tablecloths, yellow stained ceilings, and all-purpose flour. She was smiling, romantic. In the moonlight with me, resting on the land. Drinking in the shine distilled illegally. The path of darkness ended and turned into the heat. Her warmth gave me hope, because secretly I saw the bloodstains. Heard her bleat. There were no footsteps leading to the wood. I hope. Unlike others before her time. Wedding bells soon chimed. “I could wear pastel pink.” I wanted it to be mine, but such a hue was lost to all of those years. Memory beckons, even when I blink away the tears.
Patrick Key started writing seriously later in life, thanks to the help of a poetry class during his undergraduate years. His works have appeared in Wine Cellar Press, The Daily Drunk, The Amethyst Review, among others. He is also the founding editor of Grand Little Things. More can be found at https://patrickkeywriter.com/
The morning’s hatch? A meager price to pay. I earn my catch, drone my noon-songs, pray To all the lares and penates on my back. I lift my eyelids open but a crack And pile my daily duties in a stack. These I perform with duly reasoned thought. (Once I saw a hawk and sparrow caught And kept until each met its time to die) I leave the cluttered desk, I float. I fly Enraptured with the spirit of the sky. But whose voice calls me back? What altar burns? What pressing work awaits? Whose planet turns? And the dial, the dial crosses me. Aflight I dread the day should e’er be spread with night.
Annunciation of the dark. My flight Is done. I disconnect the yellow light And leave for home to force my evening meal. I toll and chant each vesper as I kneel Before the lares. Why don’t they hear and feel What I am suffering? Am I? Am I alone? Is there time to live? Can a person turn to stone In just a day, a month, a year? I read. I pray the night consume my thoughts of human need. (And if… if I fly… is that not also greed?) I am being called back. No altars burn. But my work awaits as darkening planets turn. And still that damned dial crosses me. Tonight I dread that I should e’er again take flight.
Brian Yapko practices law and writes poetry. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Grand Little Things, Society of Classical Poets, Poetica, Chained Muse, Garfield Lake Review, Tempered Runes Press and as a first-prize contest winner in The Abstract Elephant. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
A challenge of dividing time between two homes arises in the middle of the night. One wakes up questioning the scene of somnolence. Is there a fan above the bed? How heavy are the covers on the body? Answers indicate the floor plan one must walk to reach the nearest john while not relying on night vision more than absolutely necessary. (Eyes once open rarely want to close again for hours.) With luck, one’s better half just sighs, turns over, goes right back to sleep. A win comes when one’s self succumbs to slumber and some sprightly man begins to sprinkle sand.
Jane Blanchard lives and writes in Georgia (USA). Her work has recently appeared in The Asses of Parnassus, The Ekphrastic Review, The North American Anglican, and The Spectator. Her latest collection with Kelsay Books is In or Out of Season (2020).
Clement Clark Moore (1779-1863) was a poet and academic who is best remembered for the following poem which he claimed to have written for his children. Although he was acknowledged throughout his lifetime as the undisputed author of the poem, which was originally published anonymously in 1823, some modern scholars have suggested a different author actually wrote the poem. What is indisputable is that the poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” is one of the most well-known poems ever written by an American poet, and has been singularly responsible for many current conceptions of Santa Claus and Christmas gift-giving in secular American culture.
Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there; The children were nestled all snug in their beds; While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads; And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap, Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap, When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash. The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow, Gave a lustre of midday to objects below, When what to my wondering eyes did appear, But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer, With a little old driver so lively and quick, I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick. More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name: “Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen! To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall! Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!” As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky; So up to the housetop the coursers they flew With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too— And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof The prancing and pawing of each little hoof. As I drew in my head, and was turning around, Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound. He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot; A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack. His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow; The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath; He had a broad face and a little round belly That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly. He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself; A wink of his eye and a twist of his head Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread; He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk, And laying his finger aside of his nose, And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose; He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, And away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight— “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”
You come from where our stark beginnings find their birth and blow through truth and storm to where the roots of cold dig deep and make us blind with tears that freeze on faces wild with care and make escape from you such great relief that other burdens seem so light to bear when we are left with only human grief to gather up within some sheltered lair while you go on to taunt the naked trees And howl your lonely dirges through the air where sere fates toss about like brittle leaves that sweep both nerve and landscape into prayer. For it’s your careless power we resist and challenged, find the courage to persist.
Carol Casey lives in Blyth, Ontario, Canada. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has appeared in The Prairie Journal, BluePepper, Back Channels, Front Porch Review and others, including a number of anthologies, most recently, i am what becomes of broken branch and We Are One: Poems From the Pandemic. Facebook: @ccaseypoetry; Twitter: @ccasey_carol; Webpage: https://learnforlifepotential.com/home-2/poetry/
Transported in your caravan was fun — adventures far removed from zoo to zoo, remembering the grasslands I had run, a cub when my captivity was new. Within the center ring that filled the tent, encircled by the nightly roaring crowd, I saw the iron bars the strongman bent and clowns whose frolics made them laugh so loud. You trained me with a chair and snaking whip to snarl and shake my Samson-tangled mane, and placed a cigarette upon your lip, so calm it drove the audience insane. They gave a gasp when you spread wide my paws and placed your head between my ready jaws.
Royal Rhodes is a retired professor who taught classes in global religions, the Classics, religion & the arts, and death & dying. His poetry has appeared online and in a series of art/poetry collaborations for The Catbird [on the Yadkin] Press in North Carolina. His current project is a poetry/photography collaboration on sacred sites in Italy.
Were I to alter what has been amending days of life wherein the years were stolen, love was lost I’d follow him through icy frost
through verdant covered mountain tops soft-kissed with snow on coral drops of flowers swaying left to right beneath each noble starlit night,
reclaim the path where rivers met when shadows found each silhouette together ambling hand in hand the two of us throughout the land
with days we’d christen under stars belonging to eternal hours. Were I to alter Heaven’s clocks as easily as changing frocks
I’d search the rolling countryside where daffodils and love abide then pick the blooms along the way– and save them for our wedding day.
Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas is currently enrolled in the Vermont College of Fine Arts, MFA in Writing program. She is a ten-time Pushcart Prize nominee and a seven-time Best of the Net nominee. In 2012, she won the Red Ochre Chapbook Contest, with her manuscript, Before I Go to Sleep. In 2018, her book, In the Making of Goodbyes, was nominated for The CLMP Firecracker award in Poetry and her poem “A Mall in California” took 2nd place for the Jack Kerouac Poetry Prize. In 2019, her chapbook An Ode to Hope in the Midst of Pandemonium, was a finalist in the Eric Hoffer Book Awards. Her new book, Alice in Ruby Slippers, is forthcoming from Aldrich Press. Her work has most recently been published on Mezzo Cammin and Verse Daily. She is the former Co-Editor-in-Chief for the Tule Review the former Editor-in-Chief of The Orchards Poetry Journal. She is a recent member of the Sacramento Poetry Center Board of Directors.
As when in summer fauns will peel acanthus leaves and juniper for food or crush new eucalyptus under heel that earthward from each tender shoot
drop balms to scent the fleshy air, so will the footfalls of the meadow bride, compressing sage and jasmine, maidenhair and sparrowgrass, the countryside
exhaling censers down the slope when she arrives. And so will her advance express a must of memory and hope from us, as from the meadow plants,
like sacks of orient spices full to bursting, cracking open as she comes, no usury so ravenous but will be glutted to delirium
when she appears, whose loveliness itself the gentle liquor of the lands delivers here in us as austere Pentheus was ushered to the hilltop dance.
Still when she nears again we feel what we already know: the world abides forever, though corruption dance its reel, there is a garden place inside
whose only holy canon tells there is no law but love, whose ancient wells and woodland paths obscure reveal the ways that we are made of promises and days.
Greg Sendi is a Chicago writer and former fiction editor at Chicago Review. His stories and poetry have been published in a number of literary magazines and online outlets, including recent appearances in Apricity, CONSEQUENCE, Plume, Pulp Literature, upstreet, and in the ’emerging writers’ collection of The Masters Review.
“Mad, bad and dangerous” Thy silvery tongue smooth, His angelic countenance Has now entered the room.
The ladies in waiting, they Drop to the floor all whilst The gentlemen are debating On whom you’ve loved more.
A poet pristine, a catapulted Commoner to aristocracy. An overnight sensation, and Sparkler amongst mediocrity.
An intensely passionate life Without limits or constraints, Tho rumors of depravity swirl Amid insanity and complaints.
“Mad, bad and dangerous” Thy silvery tongue smooth, His angelic countenance Has now exited the room.
Kenneth Vincent Walker is a “New Formalist” poet, spoken word artist, performer, and author of Borderline Absurd (An Exercise in Rhyme and Reason), published by Poem Sugar Press 2015. Kenneth also has two new books that are being published by Poem Sugar Press and Concrete Mist Press respectively, and are slated to be released by the end of the year.
When I was young, my neighbors thought Most politicians could be bought. The few exceptions to these rules Were simply seen as naive fools.
So long as we had safe, clean streets And lots of cops to walk our beats, A little larceny was fine And purging graft seemed asinine.
At least it seemed that way each fall So long as we held City Hall. But once those others won the votes Our leaders sounded different notes.
Their politicians were all crooks, Embezzling funds and cooking books, A shocking lack of rectitude (Especially to the new born prude).
Morality is flexible— What’s right and wrong and ethical— But tribal loyalty endures Protecting me and mine from yours.
Maurice O’Sullivan, a former teamster, jail guard and pub owner, is an award-winning teacher, editor, columnist, and film maker who lives in Orlando, Florida. His most recent book, Have You Not Hard of Floryda, is a survey of 300 years of Florida’s colonial literature.