Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Two Poems by Dana Trick


Song of Two Songbirds


In the beginning of life,

Before the Beings of the Beyond Above

Began their divine duties over the Below-Earth,

The early humans were born not with emotions

But with total logic and reason of the world.

The logic and reason gave them enough skills to survive—

To build shelter, to build clothing, to build tools, to build food, to build weapons.

They had all the things essential for surviving, for living,

But they were missing something crucial for so many centuries and eras.

Each generation’s hearts containing logic and reason as the previous,

Each generation surviving the world but never able to get what they needed,

Then one day, in two opposite places, a strange pair of humans were born

With something other than logic and reason in their hearts.


In a land full of rainclouds, mists, waters, greens, and peace,

An odd girl with a breathtaking voice

Would often escape her village’s existence of logic and reason

By singing beautiful songs—

Melodies of love, happiness, kindness, humor, mercy, wonder, hope, innocence, beauty.

As she didn’t contribute anything productive to the village,

As her actions didn’t follow the logic of humanity,

Her village exiled the young girl to the wilderness.


In a land full of sun, metals, winds, mountains, and war,

A young boy with a powerful voice

Would often escape his village’s existence of logic and reason

By singing heart breaking songs—

Harmonies of sorrow, hatred, anger, vice, regret, agony, horror, despair, ugliness.

As he didn’t contribute anything productive to his village,

As his action didn’t follow the logic of humanity,

His village exiled him to the wilderness.


For decades and ages,

Together in strangeness and hearts

Yet never seeing each other,

Barely surviving with their lesser logic and reason,

With nobody and nothing understanding their beauties,

The girl and boy spent their lives wandering the Below-Earth,

Singing their songs to everyone and everything about everyone and everything

Even as the only reaction they get is simple indifference,

Even as the only applause was thrown stones, flying fists, splattered mud.


While they knew that their singing and strangeness

Is what kept them ostracized and alone,

While they knew that their songs and otherness

Is not going to give them mercy

The two singers continued to sing everyday,

Spending every day, every month, every year of their lives

With their throats and travels, their melodies and mouths, their voices and verses

Until their last day of voice,

Until their last day of breath,

Until their last day of life,

Was spent singing their very last lovely strange song that was full of everything.


When the last verse and note had escaped their lips,

When their heartbeats faded into nothingness,

When their bodies let loose their soul-lights,

Humanity’s logic believed their song would fade into silence,

Humanity’s reason rationalized their song would be forgotten,

But their final harmony was so great, their flying light-souls

Broke through the sky, broke through the heavens,

Shattered the Forever-Border between the Below-Earth and the Beyond-Above.


The shards of the Forever Border fell upon the Below-Earth

As raindrops of many colors

Drenching every living presence of the world,

Filling every beating heart of the world

With so many things, so many emotions

That everyone of Below-Earth began to shed their first tears

Out of sadness, happiness, anger, wonder, hatred, love.


The Beings of the Beyond-Above,

Who were just as ignorant of the Below-Earth,

Who were once existing undisturbed by the humans below, 

Who were effortlessly enchanted and ensnared

By the majestic melody and splendid soul-lights,

Questioned the Being of Unknown, crooned the Being of Death,

Inspired the Being of Faith, begged the Being of Miracle,

Concerned the Being of Order, motivated the Being of Justice,

Overwhelmed the Being of Passion, Seduced the Being of Power,

Called the Being of Fortune, intrigued the Being of Thought.  


Curious to seek their origin of the haunting harmony,

The Beings followed the echoes of the song to the crumbling of the Forever-Border

Where they saw the still-weeping humans in Below-Earth—

Their hearts, their minds, and their souls

So full of so much burning emotions and freezing logic

That left them in chaos and confusion.

Pitying them and their torment,

All the Beings went to the Below-Earth

And made themselves known to the humans,

Blessing them with guidance, with salvation, with wisdom

In exchange for creating beauties and glories that only humanity can create.


Ever since then,

For eternity forevermore,

Humans—hearts full of logic and emotion—

Have created music, paintings, sculpture, textiles, crafts, pottery, poetry

For themselves and for the Beings of the Beyond-Above,

Making the Below-Earth wonderful and beautiful.


Broken Fairy Tale


Once upon a time,

You were a beautiful princess

Whose traits were blessed by righteous fairy godmothers.

It was supposed to be a happy life filled with harmony,

But you couldn’t stop gazing out the keyhole of your room

And wanting something real.


Chained to this facade,

You don’t know

Who you are,

Why you are here,

But you just follow the tale’s dance

To become the person the court demanded you to be.


One day while you look through the keyhole of your monotone cage,

An evil witch flies to the opening and asks you “why are you so empty?”

When you can’t answer anything worthy of a clever lie,

She holds out her scarred hand and asks “Do you wanna to get out?”


Before your hesitation could realize what was happening,

You fling your chained hand out of the keyhole, unlocking it,

And later whisked away by the evil witch to the unknown outside.


Years of traveling had led both you and the witch

To meet beautiful monsters of kindness and innocence,

To see hidden worlds of wonder and amazement,

To feel your heartbeats and souls singing with joy.


It wasn’t long until

The two of you fell into the petals of love,

Each day together was the happily ever after

You never knew you dreamed of,

Full of smiles, laughter, and adventures.


One day while visiting in a lush forest,

You searched for the sweetest berries for your beloved witch

But suddenly, a handsome prince laden with perfection,

Accompanied by your former fairy god-mothers

Stumbled upon you.


Holding out a hand full of needles and knives,

He says, “Fair maiden, I have long searched for you!

I am here to save you from the evil witch that had taken you prisoner!”

He and the fairy god-mothers try to grab you,

But you run with all your might to your beloved witch.


She holds you tightly and glares at the approaching villains.

Within an instant, she flings hexes and spells at them

But the fairy god-mothers repeal each of them,

A chance allowing them to fling a curse that petrified your witch to stone.


You fall to the ground crying, still holding your beloved witch

Only to be immediately seized and dragged away

By the evil prince and cruel fairy god-mothers.

“Don’t cry, dear princess!” the fairy godmothers sneered as they flew over you,

“Your tormentor is deceased. Come, you are free now!

Come with us for we must celebrate your rescue

With a joyous wedding between you and this handsome prince!”


You could feel your overflowing sad tears boiling into angry tears,

And you scream at them with all the rage and rebellion inside,

“My life with her was better than that sweet poison of a fairy tale!”


The defiance in your voice turned your tears into dragons of typhons and terror,

Who quickly attacked the villains with vengeance and might.

The prince and fairy godmothers attempted to fight back

But they were too evil and weak, and they drowned in the water of your tears.


Once they were dead, you rushed back to your beloved witch

And cry over her stony corpse, heart breaking more and more,

But when your tears fell and drenched her, she turned back to living flesh.


You both embrace,

And you fly to dreams and happiness,

Resuming your happily ever after.

Born a first-generation Mexican-Canadian-American autistic with ADHD, Dana Trick lives in Southern California where it is clearly foolish to wear black any day but she does it anyway.

She spends her days writing emotional poems and weird stories, and drawing crappy art and comic strips. She enjoys learning about the history and the various mythologies of Latin America and Asia as well as the history and culture of disabilities.

Her work has been published in the Art of Autism, the Lothlorien Poetry Journal, The Quiver Review, and The Ugly Writers. She wishes the reader a nice day. 



Four Poems by John Drudge




I love the way

The light

From the bedroom window

Just falls

On the stone floor

And the way your hair

Frames your head

On the pillow

As you stir

With a deep heavy breath

Sinking back

Into uncertainty

With some kind

Of vague pleasure


And without


Harbour Island


A light fog rolls in

On the harbour

Over the sail boats


In the sweet hours

Of morning

With the moon and sun

In a brief dance

Of passing discovery

The rustling of palms

Keeping rhythm

To a warm island breeze

And the faint drumming

Of cold endings

Beating quietly

In the closing distance

Of tomorrow



Time waits

In the slow

Minutes of morning

And ticks deliberately down

The slopes

Of hidden mysteries

A gentle lull

Into the trappings

Of a deeper sorrow

Lost in the moments

That were missed

And now too far gone

Into the times

I thought I’d get to


The Painter



The changing nature

Of light


The environment

Of time’s frailties

Colour cascading

Over vibrant impressions

The essence of nature


Through changing seasons

And the charged


Of a subjective sun

Chasing the effects

Of illuminated tears

And the fading ripples

Of desire

John Drudge is a social worker working in the field of disability management and holds degrees in social work, rehabilitation services, and psychology.  He is the author of four books of poetry: “March” (2019), “The Seasons of Us” (2019), New Days (2020), and Fragments (2021). His work has appeared widely in numerous literary journals, magazines, and anthologies internationally. John is also a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee and lives in Caledon Ontario, Canada with his wife and two children.


Tree People - Short Story by Ursula O'Reilly



By Ursula O’Reilly


“Grandad, tell me about the Tree People,” I implored. My grandfather turned towards me, the open fire cast flickering shadows across his face.

 “Pour me a cup of tea, George, and put a drop of the hard stuff in it!  I’ll tell you about them.” He winked. I picked up the teapot and did as I was instructed, adding a dram of whiskey to Grandad’s steaming cup.

As a child I delighted in my grandfather’s tales of mystery and adventure. I would sit beside him spellbound; never doubting his words were true.  Now in my late twenties, I eagerly looked forward to my visits to his small cottage, at the edge of Drumgool Woods.

Grandad took a sip of tea, sat back in his armchair and began to talk.

“George,” he said. “This tale is true, although many would doubt it When I was twelve years old; I lived on a farm with my parents and little sisters, Joan and Clara. People didn’t have much then, but were happy nonetheless.

The farm was small and isolated. I had to walk two miles to school, and home again through the fields.  My sisters were several years younger than me. I spent much of my time playing alone or helping my parents on the farm.

Our back garden was a wondrous place. Vast and wild, filled with old gnarled trees, bushes and shrubbery. A place you could lose yourself in. I would play there for hours each day, until I heard my mother’s voice calling.  ‘Edgar, Come in for your tea!’

It was a place to read adventure stories, throw a ball for my dog, Rex; or just escape for a time into a daydream. That’s what I was doing the day I saw the Tree People.”

I watched my grandfather with a sense of expectancy. I was a small child again, mesmerised by his words. “Where did you see them?” I asked.

“One day in early summer, I was sitting at the bottom of the garden under an ancient oak tree I looked up from the book I was reading and witnessed a curious sight. A band of elfin creatures. Ambling in and out of a small hollow in the tree, just above my eye line.

I jumped to my feet, shook my head and rubbed my eyes. When I looked again the creatures were still there. They were as real as you and I, George!  About three inches high, they were. I couldn’t’ believe what I was seeing. The dog at my side whined and backed away. ” 

“What were they like?” I asked.

“I called them Tree People because that’s how they looked. Their skin was brown as a nut, and weathered looking. Their hair and eyes shone bright green and they had twig-like arms and legs. The clothes they wore were also green, a myriad of different shades.”

“Like little men, Grandad?”

“Some looked like men and were dressed in jackets and breeches. Others looked like tiny women, with flowing green locks and little dresses. I stood transfixed, unsure of what to do.”

“How many were there, Grandad?”

“There must have been a dozen of them. Abruptly, they all turned towards me, like they had noticed me for the first time. Then each one let out an ear piercing screech and ran straight into the tree-hollow, where they crouched in the shadows. I could see their green eyes gleaming in the darkness.”

Grandad released a long sigh, and leaned back in his armchair. He drank from his teacup and continued.

“I felt as startled as they did, George. I looked around to see Rex bounding up the garden and into the house. He was smart, that dog. He knew something was amiss, and he wasn’t waiting to find out what.

I had always been too inquisitive for my own good. I went back to the hollow in the tree and peered inside. I could no longer see the glinting eyes. The hollow was dark and empty. There was no sign of the tree folk. I waited by the tree for hours. There was no movement, no sound. Rex didn’t venture back out of the house that day, so I held my vigil alone. I was forced to leave when I heard my Mam calling me inside for the evening.

That night I found it hard to sleep for thinking about the little folk. I felt bewildered. Had I been dreaming? I had no answer, but in my heart I knew it had happened. I longed to tell my parents, but something told me to keep it to myself. So that’s what I did”

“Why didn’t you tell them, Grandad?”  I asked.

A smile played on the old man’s face. “As I have often told you, lad, I would see some peculiar things from time to time. I had learned to keep these occurrences to myself, for fear of being laughed at or not believed.”

“Did you see the tree folk again?”

“For a long time I didn’t see them, even though I was in the garden every day. It was only when I forgot about the incident, and began playing with Rex and loosing myself in adventure stories, that it happened again.”

“The Tree People came back?”

“Yes,” said Grandad with a grin. “One day in late August I was throwing a ball for Rex, while my two sisters sat nearby on the grass, picking daisies to make chains. They were about four and six years old at the time.

Suddenly I noticed something moving nearby them. I moved closer. The Tree People had gathered in a circle around the girls as they picked the flowers. I could hear them laughing and whispering, pointing to my sisters. 

Joan and Clara continued to chatter together, unaware. After a few moments the creatures turned in unison and stared at me. Again they let out a series of high-pitched shrieks. Then, swift as a lightning bolt, they were gone!”

Grandad’s blue eyes stared into mine. “Where did they go?” I asked.

“They disappeared, lad. The girls were still picking daisies and chatting. I turned to call Rex, but he was nowhere to be seen. He had scurried back to the safety of the house!” I gazed at my grandfather and suppressed a laugh. He carried on talking.

“That night I slept soundly for the first time in weeks. Happy now I knew for certain the little folk were real.”

“Did you see them after that, Grandad?”

“Several weeks later I was sitting near the oak tree. I looked up and there they were. Walking over the tree branches near the hollow. I didn’t spring to my feet this time, determined not to alarm them. My strategy worked. They didn’t notice me at all. I sat watching them for about an hour.”

“What were they doing?”

“Gathering small twigs and branches and taking their bundles into the hollow. They giggled and sang as they went. A merry bunch!  It was beginning to get dark when I left them, still busy at their work.”

Grandad’s eyes glistened as he stared into the red flames of the fire. I knew he was reliving memories. He continued. 

“After that day I would glimpse the Tree People from time to time. They worked, frolicked, sang and played; always together in a group.

I noticed they would appear before a happy occurrence in my life. An unexpected present, good news in a letter, a birthday, holidays. Whenever they appeared I knew it would be a good day.”

“Did they ever speak to you, Grandad?”  

“Yes, George. Just once, but it wasn’t in the garden, It was in my bedroom. One night I woke with a start. The moon was shining through the curtains of my window. I sat up and rubbed my eyes.

I was astounded to see one of the Tree People sitting on top of my bedspread. He was wearing tiny breeches, and a jacket. A little peaked hat sat on his unruly green hair.  He began talking to me, as natural as if it happened every day.

‘You are blessed and privileged to be able to see the small folk.’ he said. ‘We know you watch us, and it makes us happy. It is a rare occurrence,’

I was so overwhelmed I couldn’t speak. I had never been so close to one of his kind.  His emerald eyes glinted in the moonlit room. At last I found my tongue. ‘What is your name?’ I asked.

The fellow laughed. ‘My name is Mohab.’ 

‘Pleased to make your acquaintance, Mohab,’ I said. ‘I am Edgar. People call me Eddie.’

We continued to chat and he told me about himself. The Tree People in our garden were part of his large extended family; they lived in the old oak tree.

It was an entrancing conversation. I don’t remember it coming to an end. I drifted off to sleep and when I woke up again, the creature was gone.”  The old man put his cup down on the table and sighed.

“We never talked again after that night, George.  But I continued to see the little creatures from time to time. Mostly around the oak tree. It was always a cause of joy for me. I never told a soul about them, until I told this story to you, George.”  Grandad looked at me and nodded, a reflective expression on his craggy face.

“As I grew older, these astonishing events became less frequent. I became concerned with the normal trials of teenage life, school, exams and my friends. I had less time to spend in the garden.

When I was sixteen, my parents sold the farm. We moved closer to the town, and I had to say goodbye to the Tree People for good.

I paid a last visit to my beloved garden on the day we left. I spotted the little folk all lined up on a branch of the oak tree. For the first time they all looked straight at me. I could see Mohab in front of the group.  I was awestruck when he smiled at me and they all began to wave.

How did they know I was leaving? I smiled and waved back. Then my father called for me and it was time to go. That was the last time I saw the Tree People.

Grandad was silent for several minutes. His features took on a wistful expression. I fancied I saw a tear glistening in his eye, but I couldn’t be sure.

I reached for his cup and poured another cup of tea, not forgetting the dram of whiskey.

Ursula O’Reilly lives in County Cavan, Ireland, and writes poetry and short stories. Her other interests include painting and walking in nature.  Ursula has had poems and fiction published in several magazines including:  ‘Poetry Plus magazine’, ‘Woman’s Way magazine’, ‘Drumlin magazine’ (Ireland), and By‘Earlyworks Press’                                                              










Three Poems by Scott Thomas Outlar

Return of the Fission 


Prometheus tasted the fire

on the tip of my tongue,

too explosive to steal,

and he wept like a broken god

hanging on the galactic cross

as the sky lost all light,

dimming under the weight of darkness,

waiting for the next eruption

while space folded inward upon itself

into a state of entropy.


I only exhale

when the goddess begs for warmth,

and my breath is nuclear

in a field of salted earth…

planning to erect pillars in her honor

as the heavens roar

and the blanket of oblivion

stretches out to cover us in kisses of absolution.


Two fish swim through the ocean above us,

pissing wine from the barrel of Aquarius,

and Dionysus dances in maddened revelry,

cackling along with the chaos

of our orgasmic frenzied fervor

as the focus of my two eyes is shattered…

the blinded orbs roll back in my head

to touch a zero-point ascension –

a crescendo, a climax, a cancer,

a new wave cometh to burn. 

Deep Infatuation 


Distance makes the heart grow fonder,

so it’s no surprise

why I’ve forever been

completely head over heels

for a source that cannot be seen.


My spirit yearns with a fervent passion

after that ineffable mystery of creation

which has no tangible touch

but can always be felt

at the innermost core of intuition

where the soul of the matter

is guided ever-closer to truth.


Subjectively, I dance across

the woven web of synchronicity,

laughing at the materialists

who scoff with objective displeasure

at all concerns they cannot fathom.


What need have I

for atomistic eyes

when the most beautiful visions

are found deep inside?


Answers arrive in waves

when least expected

from a plane of existence

beyond this world of time and form,

and space is just a place

where I can roam freely

in magnetic dreams

which align my electric pulse

to a frequency most divine. 

Saucy Salvation 


Jesus preached

to turn the other cheek,

but he also had a thing for whips.


All I know

is that these mixed messages

are awfully kinky,

and so I’m not quite sure

whether we should hit the sack

or start slashing

every banker’s bag of silver.

Scott Thomas Outlar lives and writes in the suburbs outside of Atlanta, Georgia. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. He guest-edited the Hope Anthology of Poetry from CultureCult Press as well as the 2019, 2020, and 2021 Western Voices editions of Setu Mag. He has been a weekly contributor at Dissident Voice for the past seven years. Selections of his poetry have been translated into Afrikaans, Albanian, Azerbaijani, Bengali, Dutch, French, Italian, Kurdish, Malayalam, Persian, Serbian, and Spanish. He spent the past two years working on a collaborative book, Evermore, along with coauthor Mihaela Melnic (their poetry/fiction hybrid collection was released in September 2021 as the flagship title of 17Numa Press). His podcast, Songs of Selah, airs weekly on 17Numa Radio and features interviews with poets, artists, musicians, and health advocates. More about Outlar's work can be found at 17Numa.com



Monday, 18 October 2021

Five Poems by Christine Tabaka


Dribs & Drabs of This & That


I have seen all life pass before me.

I have seen the crowning of the jewels.

Time walks on tortured tiptoes, through

dessert sands. Ego / a peacock strut.

Open your book and turn the page.

Words are always changing. Grab a handful

of crumbs, before the story ends. We cannot

answer a question if it has not been asked.

Gossip floats above a cornsilk sky, as we

grapple for signs of truth. Always wandering,

always seeking.

Knock knock, who’s there?





Seeking safety / seeking promise,

I walked a thousand miles. Deserts,

rivers, forests, compelled to impede

me. Towering edifices stare me down.

Geoglyphs point the way. Pain / a

constant companion. I plant my flag

in barren soil, while digging deep for

the well of hope. A small bird sings

her sweet tune. A foreboding black

shadow swoops down upon her.

Darkness pulls me in. You are no

longer here with me. I search for

substance & for love. There is a thesis

here, buried in the sand. Come walk

with me & hold my hand. I am the

mother who lost her child. I am the

last survivor, pleading for sanctuary. 



My Brother’s Keeper


You sit on the roof at night asking questions,

trying to solve mysteries of the universe.

But my brain doesn’t work like that.

I watch you with rapt curiosity while shaking my head.

The heavens sing you a song I cannot hear,

it is only for you.

Staring deeply into the dark void,

you know things no one else will ever understand.

You build a picket fence

around the moon with your mind,

and arrange the planets in your garden,

burying them deep in a primordial soup.

e= mc2 is etched upon your soul. 

Savant or saint, I know not which,

but you see truths beyond the ages.

I am too afraid to reach out and touch you

for fear that some strange energy

will render me immobile.

I cannot save myself.

I cannot save you.

The chill of the winter night fills your lungs

and exhales a dream.

Frozen mist forms a halo around your raven hair.

What is it that you seek?

You in your solitary wonderment,

not letting anyone else in,

not even me.


*   Published by The Scribe Magazine, January 2021 



My Garden


It is easy to forget you,

the way you stand there

looking lost among the daisies.

Blossoms sprouting from every pore.

Your black eyes, now as empty seeds.

You never really tried to grow

outside the trellised wall.

You clung like some lost vision of

green lizards and snakes. 

But who am I to blame,

when blaming is on call?

I knew better than to

plant you deep within my heart.

Now as autumn is at hand

and butterflies take wing,

your dying petals disperse

to the four winds.


*   Received 1st Honorable Mention in the Gideon Review Poetry Prize, December 2019 



A Father Who Never Was


Born of war and hunger -

            a stolen youth

ripped from earth.


Lost within a vanquished spring

            as winter counted days.


Black eyes      -           a raven’s call

follow what cannot be seen,

            vagrant visions, dark to light.


Tortured flesh, his inheritance

            passed on to each of us, in turn.


A buried past      -        sunken deep,

                        the depths of which

are unknown.


We played with death

as little toy soldiers marched.


In fear

we hid ourselves from him.


Asking for more than he could give,

a pathway to the sun.


His childhood               our childhood,

repeating the mantra

              never love.


Not knowing how to be a father, husband, son, brother …

              he only knew how to die.


He was war and hunger,

writing his own epilog.



*   Published by POETiCA Review, April 2021

Ann Christine Tabaka was nominated for the 2017 Pushcart Prize in Poetry. She is the winner of Spillwords Press 2020 Publication of the Year, her bio is featured in the “Who’s Who of Emerging Writers 2020 and 2021,” published by Sweetycat Press. She is the author of 14 poetry books. lives in Delaware, USA. She loves gardening and cooking.  Chris lives with her husband and four cats. Her most recent credits are: Sparks of Calliope; The Closed Eye Open, Poetic Sun, Tangled Locks Journal, Wild Roof Journal, The American Writers Review, The Scribe Magazine, The Phoenix, Burningword Literary Journal, Muddy River Poetry Review, The Silver Blade, Pomona Valley Review, West Texas Literary Review, The Hungry Chimera, Sheila-Na-Gig, Fourth & Sycamore.


Two Poems by Dana Trick

  Song of Two Songbirds   In the beginning of life, Before the Beings of the Beyond Above Began their divine duties over the Below-E...