A Poem by Elaine Reardon

Primavera Forest / Bosque La Primavera

 

This forest holds my heart

Este bosque sostiene mi corazón

 

Rio Caliente shimmers below us

a waterfall tumble with clouds of heat

 

we climb and and scramble carefully

over rocks as we cross the heated mist

 

sharp scent of pine and mesquite crackle

under our feet as the sun warms the hillside

 

below us the convent is tucked into a curve

of river where women come to heal

they are washed by the river

 

it arrives in their innermost places as the nun

muy vieja  brings vegetables herbs and prayer

 

 

The nun will look into your eyes to consider

your chances and her resources

 

Este bosque sostiene mi corazón

This river flows through my heart

 

 

 

Muy Vieja -very old

Rio Caliente— Hot River

 

 

 

Elaine is a poet, herbalist, educator, and member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. Her chapbook,The Heart is a Nursery For Hope, published September 2016, recently won first honors from Flutter Press as the top seller of 2016. Most recently Elaine’s poetry has been published by Three Drops from a Cauldron Journal, MA Poet of the Moment, http://www.naturewriting.com and poetrysuperhighway.com. Elaine lives tucked into the forest in Central Massachusetts and maintains a blog at elainereardon.wordpress.com

A Poem by Joan Leotta

Lilies of the Valley

 

Lilies of the Valley–

small white bells

whose fragrance ascends

to God with puff and huff

of spring’s new breath.

They grew abundantly in

Grandma’s rock garden

among her hosta

on the shady side of her porch.

That very first spring day

when grandma brought

her glider out of winter storage

I would stand on the cushions,

climb over the iron

railing , carefully

lower myself and crouch among

those tiny nodding bells to

fill my lungs and soul with their

aroma of hope.

 

 

 

This poem first appeared in the Peacock Journal.

 

Joan Leotta has been playing with words on page and stage since childhood. She is a writer and story performer. Her poetry, short stories, and essays appear or are forthcoming in Gnarled Oak, the North Carolina Literary Review, the A-3 Review, Kai-Xin (award winner), Spelk Fiction, Hobart Literary Review, North Carolina Literary Review, Fourth River, Silver Birch, and Postcard Poems and Prose, among others. Her first chapbook, Languid Lusciousness with Lemon came out in 2017 from Finishing Line Press.When not hunched over a computer she is walking, shell hunting and daydreaming at the nearest beach.

A Poem by Jim Bourey

Setting the Price

 

In high-summer evening-light four barefoot Amish

kids bend, pulling weeds from their garden.

My mother looks at them from the car window, smiles

at the young woman on the porch who holds a baby close.

 

I lean on my car and talk to the man of the house.

I want him to build our garage. He notices Mother,

walks to her open window. She pulls back in her seat,

afraid. He speaks softly to her, calls his children,

 

lifts each one; introduces–

Sarah,

Esther

Malachi

and Ruth.

He calls his wife. She comes, and her husband says–

 

This is Johanna and our new son David

 

Mother reaches out, strokes the infant’s silken

skin. She hasn’t said a word in months.

 

Baby. Baby. soft, yet clear.

 

The father and I set a price.

 

As we leave, Mother raises her hand and waves.

Soon the family will be inside praying,

turning down kerosene lamps,

quenching candles.

 

 

 

Jim Bourey is an old poet now living on the northern edge of the Adirondack Mountains in New York State. He lived in Delaware for thirty years before this recent move. His chapbook Silence, Interrupted was published in 2015 by the Broadkill River Press, and it was selected as best book of poetry by the Delaware Press Association, and also received third place in the same category from the National Association of Press Women. His work has appeared in Gargoyle, Broadkill Review, Double Dealer and other journals and anthologies. He was first runner up in the Faulkner-Wisdom Poetry Competition in 2012 and 2016. Jim is active in promoting poetry at readings and events throughout his home area. In Delaware, he belonged to two poetry groups and was a state adjudicator for the Poetry Out Loud competition for two years. He is currently working on a collection of poems about people and places of the North Country.

A Poem by Jamie Lynn Heller

An Entire Life

 

There’s nothing like

 

going through Great Aunt Priscilla’s house

after hospice has removed its equipment

and you’ve donated the wheel chair,

found the walker, flushed the pills,

debated what to do with an opened package

of adult diapers and her prosthetic breasts,

opened the blinds and windows to let in light and air,

found her old set of dentures,

her package of hearing aid batteries,

her crazy beaded chain attached to her reading glasses,

 

and

 

discovering a

lacy red nightgown,

stuffed in the back of a drawer,

in a style a couple of decades old,

a couple of sizes too small,

 

to remind you of

her life

before

 

 

 

“An Entire Life” first appeared in Kansas City Voices: A Periodical of Writing and Art.

 

 

 

Jamie Lynn Heller uses poetry as her caffeine.  She is a Pushcart Prize nominee (Little Balkans Review 2014) and Best of the Net nominee (805 Lit + Art 2016). Her chapbook Domesticated was published in 2015 (Finishing Line Press). She received honorable mention awards in Whispering Prairie Press Writing Contest 2012, and Kansas Voices Contest 2017, 2011. For a complete list of publications see jamielynnheller.blogspot.com.

A Poem by Vincent Francone

Mud

 

Last night we painted our faces

with mud

to tighten the skin and remove dirt from pores.

We sat the required ten minutes

you with the dog

me with a drink

then washed our faces, looked over the results:

My god, the years are erased!

We never met, we never ate pizza, drank wine

in Lisbon,

ate oysters in Mexico and in New Orleans

before beignets,

got lost on our bicycles, played rummy in a bus station,

played hooky from work,

caught a midday movie, snuck into another,

walked San Francisco,

walked the

Champs-Élysées,

cried for days on end, got caught in the rain,

overslept and lied our way out of obligation,

watched so much TV we fell back asleep

and forgot to feed the cat,

ate take out food, made a snack at 2:00 AM

got drunk in the afternoon

you on wine

me on scotch

and walked until we sweat alcohol;

we never burned food because we forgot

it was cooking

or wasted all our money or gave away our clothes

or watched your nephew grow up

or drove through Chicago for hours

because

we couldn’t stand the apartment,

and we never kissed, laughed, never teased each other,

you never told me I steal the covers,

we never said the three words

much less the two,

we never broke a promise or bought flowers

or wrote poems or replaced the shabby coats

and shoes; we never tolerated the other’s

bad breath or prostrated at the feet

of our odd bodies, we never

subsisited off peanut butter sandwiches

and fretted over back accounts

or asked the other to read an email

before we sent it, or to borrow

money until payday

or trust each other

with each other.

None of it! We got the years back.

Lucky us.

 

 

“Mud” first appeared in The Penn Review.

 

 

 

Vincent Francone is a writer from Chicago whose memoir, Like a Dog, was published in the fall of 2015. He won first place in the 2009 Illinois Emerging Writers Competition (Gwendolyn Brooks Award) and is at work on a collection of poems and stories. Visit www.vincentfrancone.com to read his work or say hi.

A Poem by Bryan D. Dietrich

THE RIFT

July 2011, Kennedy Space Center

 

Our final craft arises from one blue

and sinks into another we call true.

Deep calls unto deep, the Psalmist states,

suggesting that our blood is like the straits

we nod beside when sounding out our souls

from here, the edge of space, these restless shoals

where ships have launched toward the blackest sea,

where mothers, husbands, wives upon this lea

have watched the ones they love let go of Earth,

trajected into something too like birth,

that airless ocean where we once accreted

from waves of dust and absence, superheated,

molded, brought to being out of flood,

like Love herself from salt and foam and blood.

 

We’ve shuttled past this garden, spent our spoor

outward, always outward, always more

to fight that feeling that we may be less,

to find a balm for Gilead’s unrest.

We do not want to be here in the dark,

alone, without the hope of other ark.

We sow the upper air with lenses, mirrors,

reflecting on our existential terrors.

No, this is not the first, the last Atlantis.

We stand upon the strand like Marinatos

who stumbled on the ruins of that city.

Plato wrote about it, wrote with pity.

He also wrote of love, its rift, its scars,

of all we seek when we seek out the stars.

 

 

 

 

Bryan D. Dietrich is the author of six books of poems and co-editor of a recent poetry anthology.  He has published poems in The New Yorker, The Nation, Poetry, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, The Paris Review, Harvard Review, Yale Review, and many other journals. He has won The Paris Review Prize, a “Discovery”/The Nation Award, a Writers at Work Fellowship, and others.

A Poem by Theresa Hamman

Driving the Desert with Zep

 

We were bees once, in May

before the lilac blooms blew

away, before we were itchy,

always scratching and eating

prickly pears while our skin peeled

and twisted inside out.  We kissed

 

before our chapped lips cracked

from all that thirsty August heat,

before we rolled naked into cactus

water and wrapped ourselves in snake

skin, before we laughed

 

while the yellow desert ate us,

and its hornet’s nest erupted

into “Kashmir” and all that floating

dust, all those lilting tongues—

 

found us.

 

Do you remember?

 

We knew how to buzz once,

how to light up

before we became dead jackets,

before we became sulfured honey.

 

 

 

 

Theresa Hamman is a poet from La Grande, OR. Her poems can be found in the following literary journals and magazines: Red Savina Review, The Tower Journal, Oregon East, basalt, and Nailed. She also teaches undergraduate composition and creative writing courses at Eastern Oregon University and Southern New Hampshire University. She earned her MFA in 2016 from Eastern Oregon University, where she was also the editor of the student literary journal Oregon East. Although she enjoys writing in all creative genres, her first love is poetry. She gets lost in the musicality of it and how it bends language to create new objects.

Theresa is the mother of two grown daughters and adoring grandma to two grandchildren. When not writing, she enjoys reading, teaching, the occasional Netflix binge, and spending time with her family.

A Poem by Rosalie Sanara Petrouske

Burnt

 

Everything withered, the pear flowers

shriveled like onion leaves.

The grass beneath my bare heels

crackles as if I were stepping

on sheaves of dried corn.

My prize lily, blooming madly in June,

when the fireflies dipped

into its abundant petals

has wilted to a few crumpled leaves,

an emaciated stalk.

Rain, rain,

the blue jay screeches.

Rain whispers

the willow,

even the river is too low

to paddle.

I am grateful for the moths

thumping at the midnight pane,

for the night-flying bat.

I almost hear the earth

absorbing darkness,

the distant whistle as the train

clatters over the bridge,

trusses creaking and swaying

beneath its weight.

No breath of wind stirs a leaf.

Dry, so dry,

my mouth

thirsts for a drink,

my lips

hurt,

sore and waiting

for the kiss of water,

and my heart beats

fast and hard.

I feel it sear

with all the longing,

all the want

of a lifetime.

 

 

 

 

Rosalie Sanara Petrouske received her M.A. in English and Writing from Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan.  She is an Adjunct Professor in the English Department at Lansing Community College, where she currently teaches Freshman Composition and Creative writing classes.  Finishing Line Press published her second book of poems What We Keep in 2016.  She wrote the poem “Burnt” about an unusual long and hot Michigan summer, but it’s also about want, and about the things you might want, and never have.

A Poem by Barbara Knott

LUNA MOTHS

 

I stand at my front door waving goodbye to you.
It is still morning, the light above the door
still on, and as you drive away

my one foot follows the other down three steps
as if I might catch you
until I catch myself and turn and see

there on the door frame
two Luna Moths side by side in a green glide
wing tips touching when they stop to rest

and to arrest my eye
and say
in their lovely soundless way:

Hasten slowly through your life.
Lose no part of this miraculous
luna green morning.

 

 

 

In 2009 Barbara Knott’s poem “Boxwood” was selected by Judge Nikki Giovanni as first-prize winner of the New Millennium Writings Awards 28 prize for poetry. In 2010 Francois Camoin chose her short story “Song of the Goatman” as third-prize winner in the Writers at Work fiction competition. Barbara’s chapbook of poems Soul Mining was published in 2011 by Finishing Line Press. Another chapbook, MANTA Poems, came out in March 2015, also published by Finishing Line Press. Her short story “The Legend of Abigail Jones” received first prize in the wild card category of Atlanta Writers Club’s Spring 2014 competitions. Barbara was selected with a group of poets to represent FLP as readers at the Abroad Writers’ Conference in Dublin, December 2015.

She has a Ph.D from New York University’s drama therapy program. While in New York, she studied acting with William Hickey at the Herbert Berghof Studio in Greenwich Village and did extensive work in theater and in Montessori education for pre-schoolers. On her return to Atlanta, she became co-director of the Center for Archetypal Studies and served terms as program chair and then president of the C. G. Jung Society while practicing therapy for five years before entering a fulltime teaching career in English and humanities. Now retired, she gives full attention to writing and collaborative arts performances and to editing and publishing The Grapevine Art and Soul Salon, online literary/art journal at http://www.grapevineartandsoulsalon.com.

A Poem by Annette Langlois Grunseth

When Your Child Comes Out

 

I often think of the day you were born when
I held my sweet boy for the first time,
marveling where did you come from?
It’s a lot to take in, when your child comes out.

As I go upstairs to bed I stare at old photos in the hall,
your short-cropped hair, striped shirt, toddler jeans,
that little-boy smile. I walk past you in a suit and tie for
graduation. At Christmas tears still well up as
my fingers trace the “old” name on the stocking.
It’s a lot to take in, when your child comes out.

But now you walk with confidence,
meet new people with ease,
get together with women friends.
Your skin is soft like pink on a peach,
your blue eyes sparkle, your child-like humor has returned
and your familiar expressions are back.

You are the same person
only now that doubting discord is gone.
You live through yourself, instead of beside yourself.

You are the daughter I always wanted.

 

 

 

 

Annette Langlois Grunseth has a BA in Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is a lifetime member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. Her poems have appeared in Wisconsin Academy Review, Midwest Prairie Review, SOUNDINGS: Door County in Poetry, The Poetry Box/Poeming Pigeons, The Ariel Anthology and other publications. Several of her nature poems were set to original music and performed at Acadia University in Nova Scotia. She is retired from a career in Marketing and Public Relations and lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin, with her husband John, where they both advocate for equal rights. She is the author of Becoming Trans-Parent, One Family’s Journey of Gender Transition (Finishing Line Press).

After the surprise of learning about their oldest child’s transition, Annette and her husband, John, offered immediate and unconditional love which has taken their family on an amazing journey of understanding, empathy and acceptance. Annette shares her poetry as a way to increase awareness, one audience at a time. To know someone first hand dealing with gender transition is to dispel myths and stereotypes about gender identity. John, a retired human resources professional, stays on top of employment, healthcare and human rights law. Together they tackle the issues essential to their daughter and other LBGTQIA citizens. Annette is also an avid outdoors woman who enjoys kayaking, bicycling, camping and exploring our national parks.