Sunday 30 July 2023

Three Poems by elliot m. rubin

 




moon dreams



the moon circles around the earth

it watches its birthplace

nightly every rotation no days missed

since it was sliced away into space



the romantic moon is my heart

alone yearning to belong again

it floats out there with no place to land

since you cut me off from your love

 

 

my newest son

 

you’re not my son

but you’re flesh and blood

i was there for your arrival

raised you for eight years

our bonds grew strong

through mom’s rights

and too many wrongs

my love never wavered;

more than a grandson 

to me, you’re my son

 

for twenty-one years

i’ve loved deeply

saw you off to college;

was there for crises or two

you are not my son

but to me

you are my son

forever

 

 

oxford

 

he is unclear, 
confused and obtuse, 
because he is not sure, 
clear, or certain, 
he wanted, 
needed, or is required, 
to use the oxford comma
when he writes a haiku,
sonnet, or limerick


elliot m. rubin is a New Jersey poet who has published over thirty books of poetry, facilitates two Zoom poetry critique groups, posts daily on Instagram and has over 10,200 poets following him. He also won first place in the Poets Corner Poetry Contest and has had poems published in assorted anthologies.

 


Five Poems by Bridget Houlihan

 



Spring (I)


have you heard the sound

the bud opening in spring

has anyone known that noise

thousands of eruptions

it must be a cacophony

or a symphony

of the trees

too soft for the human ear

the noise of flesh

rips open

so that cells gasping and grabbing

for the sunlight can emerge

do they kick, cry, or scream?

perhaps, ask the chickadee what it sees

when no one else is around

 


Last Moments

 

Grinding inside, struggling to be free

slipping through blood and fleshy networks

through the dark space between organs

where bone dwells among fibres and tissues

now torn, 

now shattered.

 

There’s no path, just a final release

when body gives up its clenched grasp--

energy metamorphoses.

 

Gasps of lungs and flicker of fading eyes,

glazing            clouding         

 

slowly disconnecting

 

to space beyond. 

 

No       Time.

 

The colour between skin and the space inside,

is it not red?

No, it is black like the pavement, 

            not the void,

but transformation.

 

Gears are turning and circuits changing ad finis

quietly preparing an escape 

 

Limbs lifeless and senses subdued,

silence ad infinitum descends.

 

painless           motionless


Terminatus.

 

But unbound.


 

Corks

 

The sun whispers warm murmurs to the surface of the sea,

Much like a lover will in between cool sheets.

Patches of sunlight blind us as it bounces off of the white buildings 

winding down to the sandy beach.

 

Our dreams bob in our minds in this sunny place, 

like the cork pieces that float in our wine. 

It can’t be so bad in that glass, 

where you can only go up to the top

and float.

We want to be there, to skim over the depths below.

 

We can’t fail, but we do.

We don’t see that all the pieces of the cork 

get swallowed up whole,

or are left to linger at the bottom of the glass.

Fallen.

Empty.

Swollen.


 

Spring (II)


Spring rain

cold rain

drops on the dogwood flower

springs back like

space between heartbeats

silence waiting for sound

 


Shower of Leaves


the trees of the grove start their yearly dance

I can hear them rustle and see them twitch

with

anticipation

like a case of nerves that settles in, while waiting in the wings

an unknown metronome clicks

and

their performance starts

the first act you may miss, if not in your seat

as colours peep through the green

red, orange, yellow, brown

autumnal hues slide and mingle their way through the bushy boughs

more each day

the second act is quicker, an allegro pace

the rain and the wind accelerando the pace

quite a show

bravo

the ash leaves trickle down from their lofty heights

the dogwood's leaves pierce their shower de côté

flashes of crimson mixed with marigold

the maples bring their performers spinning and swaying perfectly

adding texture and stateliness to the dance

the torrent of leaves is brief, before the final movement

quiet, slow, lento

the leaves fall with

almost

not a sound

no encore





Bridget Houlihan - Bridget is a writer of short stories and poetry, who likes to dabble in photography and sketching. She is currently a content creator and editor.

 

 


One Poem by Sandeep Sharma

 



Rhymeopause, Baldness and all that stuff

 

‘The moon, thinks in primordial Indian accent, is the Hindu’s first Uncle… there 

are n-ception human senses and emotions yet unknown to us,’ answers my 

dad’s photo, the crown of dangling wig glued on his head, which stands in the 

middle of the family collage, and fakes metaphors of confessions—-abstract.

 

I never wanted to be as bald as rock, rhythm, the “Nuncle Moon”

or the only photo of courageous Shakespeare

 

I envy courage, competition, the five c’s of effective communication

when I start typing @ snail’s pace I think of

the gift of male baldness

like I often think of EMI-fied hips and skulls inside those graves of poets at Westminster

 

Opposite of orgy is not always throbbing, mercy, froth, rhythm —-Mother Father, soul

 

But I did with my soul what Tyson did to Holyfield in1997

Black clock, rock

Dear rhythm, are you no more?

 

Collectively, I’m the Brahmin

Call it DNA-ism

Even hydroxychloroquine won’t kill all the -isms and pains

Pain is my pet!

I’m the baldness of Veda-Vyāsaḥ, Pāṇini, tsyāyana, Chanakya, the Śramaṇa

The skin of my forehead rising/falling,

like the phonetic tones of Mandarin,

on my skull, the kapala—-

the bowl in which the Aghoris will drink urine—-

like destiny, old tree, old friend, orgy.


Sandeep Sharma is an Asst Prof of Comparative Literature at Government College, Diggal (HP), India. He is Associate Editor of the journals In Translation (Université Badji Moktar de Annaba) and Traduction et Langues, University of Oran 2. He received the Award of Academic Excellence (2022) by the Arab Translators’ Association for his contribution to research and linguistics. He has published his works with Impspired (UK); SIL International (US);The Yellow Medicine Review (Southwest Minnesota State University); PoetryXHunger (Maryland State Arts Council, US); Southwest Word Fiesta (Silver City, New Mexico); The Anguillian (Anguilla); In Translation (Algeria), HP University (India) and so on. His academic profile remains at the top 1% (with 274k views) on academia.edu. His works can be accessed at:  

https://hp-in.academia.edu/SsandeepSharma


Three Poems by Gail White

 



I Can Imagine

 

That Jason and Medea settled down

together in old age. That they hung pictures

of their dead children on the Christmas tree.

The murder was so long ago, it must

have seemed like something that they did together.

Best to forgive all round, remember only

their early love and travels, and forget

betrayals once committed in hot blood.

 

I can imagine Adam telling Eve

he wished that they’d had girls – so much less trouble,

as they retired to their respective beds.

 

I can imagine Mary Magdalene

wondering why His mother never liked her,

even as tongues of fire danced on their heads.

 

 

The Innocent

 

We’ve taken refuge here, half underground,

hoping our breath and heartbeats make no sound

to trace us by. I can’t afford to care

what happens to the other ones out there,

what roll of rape and murder. I will die

for you if need be; meanwhile, please don’t cry;

your life’s at stake. Neither of us is old,

but we’re a story that’s already told

a thousand times. I’ve sheltered here before,

hiding you in a shawl. And there are more

like you and me. I don’t foresee the day

when Caesar’s world dries up and blows away.

Such an old story: Mothers, children, fear.

They sound so close behind us. Please, not here.

 

 

The Old Dame Looks Ahead

 

My mad computer’s gone berserk again,

spewing out incoherent words, and I,

having no grandkids, now must borrow one

from someone else. Because the old no longer

guard the collected wisdom of the tribe;

now it’s the young, siphoning lore from iphones,

who fend disaster off, who fight the gods

and demons for us. My day is done, I know.

The polar ice cap’s melting, so I can’t

be shifted to an iceberg to drift toward death

(one point for being childless). Soon enough

I’ll pack a suitcase, leave behind for good

a world whose music I no longer hear,

machines that I can’t use, and end my days

parking at random, living in my car,

dispensing wisdom from a jelly jar.


Gail White is a contributing editor to Light Poetry Magazine. Her own poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Nasty Women Poets, Love Poems at the Villa Nelle, and Killer Verse. Her latest chapbook, Paper Cuts, is just out from Kelsay Books. She lives in he Louisiana bayou country with her husband and cats.


Four Poems by Michael Lee Johnson

 



Summer is Dying


 

Outside, summer is dying into fall,

and blue daddy petunias sprout ears

hear the beginning of night chills.

In their yellow window box,

they cuddle up and fear death together.

The balcony sliding door

is poorly insulated, and a cold draft

creeps into all the spare rooms.

 

 

Bowl of Black Petunias


 

If you must leave me, please

leave me for something special,

like a beautiful bowl of black petunias

for when the memories leak

and cracks appear

and old memories fade,

flowers rebuff bloom,

sidewalks fester weeds

and we both lie down

separately from each other 

for the very last time.


 

Memories Past

 

(Hillbilly Daddy)

 

 

I settle into my thoughts

zigzagging between tears

my fathers’ grave

Tippecanoe River 

Indiana 1982.

Over now,

a hillbilly country

like the flow 

catfish memories 

raccoons in trees

coon dogs tracking

on the river bank,

the hunt.

Snapping turtles

in the boat

offline

river flakes

to ice

now covered

thick snow.


 

Now That I Desire


 

Now that I desire to be close to you
like two occupants sharing a twin bed
sensing the warmth of sweating shoulders,
hungering for your flesh like a wild wolf
leaning over an empty carcass,
you’re off searching unexplored cliffs,
climbing dangerous mountain tops,
capturing bumblebees in broken beer bottles for biology class,
pleasing plants, parachuting from clouds for fun.
In shadows, you’re closer to life, nonsense,
a princess of absurdity, a collector
of dreams and silent sounds.
In clouds, you build your own fantasy.
Share it with select celebrities.
But till this captive discovers a cure for caring,
a way of rescuing insatiable insanity,
or lives long enough to be patient in longing for you—
you must be vigilant,
for with time, snow will surely
blanket this warm desire.







Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era. Today he is a poet in the greater Chicagoland area, IL.  He has 293 YouTube poetry videos. Michael Lee Johnson is an internationally published poet in 44 countries, a song lyricist, has several published poetry books, has been nominated for 6 Pushcart Prize awards, and 6 Best of the Net nominations. He is editor-in-chief of 3 poetry anthologies, all available on Amazon, and has several poetry books and chapbooks. He has over 473 published poems. Michael is the administrator of 6 Facebook Poetry groups. Member Illinois State Poetry Society: http://www.illinoispoets.org/.


Poughkeepsie - Short Story by Tina Hudak

 



Poughkeepsie

Short Story

by Tina Hudak


This wet, cold November morning in Philadelphia found Grace standing on the dirty platform at the train station at 11:05 waiting for the inbound 11:20 from Baltimore.  Phyllida, a friend from her Vassar days, was visiting, and if Grace was honest, she was nervous.  Despite their friendship in Poughkeepsie, they had not kept in touch the year after graduation in 1915.  “It’s the war,” she told herself, to assuage her guilt.  Phyllida had been a brick during the times Grace thought she would not make it through Vassar.  Enrolled she found that she was smart enough, but not from the proper background – teas, evenings in formal dress, and wearing gloves, always gloves.  It showed in every possible way, especially in the early underclassmen years.  But with her friend’s support and impromptu lessons in decorum, by graduation no one would have ever guessed that her mother was a maid, and her father a drunk. Standing in the fog, grinding in the platform dirt under her heels, she pulled down on her favorite hat as far as it would go for warmth or perhaps, security. This birthday gift from Phyllida was purchased at the famous Gimbel’s Department Store in New York.  Wrapping her worn, woolen coat tightly about herself, she let her thoughts drift to the past.  Thinking kept her from feeling; it kept the damp weather at bay. From a wealthy Main Line family, Phyllida McGhuire was the most practical and optimistic person she had ever met.  Her insistence on becoming a concert pianist had put her at great odds with her family.  Status through marriage is what they had wanted for their only daughter.  Grace, always ready with a smile and offer to help, was shy and insecure. Grace had taken to this remarkable girl immediately, her opposite in every way. With their lives as roommates, their fondness of one another had deepened into a true friendship. For the first time, Grace found herself confiding in someone about her home life. Now, Grace was only too happy to stand and wait; Phyllida had spent the past year abroad studying music from Vienna to Rome, while Grace moved to Philadelphia for training as a nurse in the Children’s Hospital. Recently Grace was approached by an administrator at Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania about enrolling in the medical school. Her name had come to the attention of the college through her steadfast work with the wounded soldiers at the Pennsylvania Hospital. At first glance, the staff thought she lacked the stamina for the physical hard work.  Despite her slight frame and pale skin, she possessed a fierce determination when confronted with any challenge – physical or otherwise.  Pulling upon every ounce of self-possession she learned at Vassar, and looking at her detractors with those coal-black eyes, she was immediately reassessed by the staff and accepted.  And hard it was – she was tired, all the time.  There was little sleep and less food along with the constant needs of the patients… always needing her touch, her voice, or just her presence.  Now it was she who needed help, to hear Phyllida’s good sense, as childhood self-doubts began to resurface.  These war years had changed everyone. While she was never a child with a light step or quick smile, she had kept hope. Showing little emotion had been the façade that kept her safe: from her father’s physical anger, from his verbal abuse, from her mother’s embrace of her suffering. But, neither had killed hope. It was the open window in her tiny room that kindled this. The birds cooing on the windowsill, nests, tucked under the broken-wood moldings and brick, offered the solace of angels’ voices. She was never one for self-pity; she worked hard, instead. She knew life was unfair. She held no grudges. The children who lost their fathers, the wounded who came to visit their children, the ones who would never recover, were now a daily part of her life at hospital. She did what she could, but she knew it was never enough. Not at home; not here. She continued to work. As her thoughts floated back to the boyish face of Cronan Molony, a tentative smile slowly spread across her face.  It was the hair. Despite his dark, sallow looks, the unruly shocks of chestnut hair sticking out in every direction had almost made her laugh, until her eyes looked beyond this.  A body lying there as still as stone, wrapped in crisp, sterile sheets on the white iron bed had jolted her back into reality. Her quiet gasp was enough of a sound to stir the body to life.  When his eyes opened gently, she found herself starring into pools of liquid ice.  It was then she realized her own ignorance.  She knew nothing about how much pain a soul can hold.  He was her first “assignment” on her first night working at the hospital.  Even now, standing at the station, she shivered not from the cold drizzle, but because of her own arrogance. Because of the reality in those penetrating eyes, she had met hopelessness. She had thought so well of herself – highly educated, especially in the newer field of psychology.  Despite the ridicule by the traditional male-dominated psychology circles, she latched onto the theories of Helen Thompson Woolley not only with her mind, but with her gut.  Approaching this injured soldier with his one arm, should be done with empathy and realism.  After all, they were made up of the same emotional components regardless of sex.  Even she would want this approach, she thought assuredly.  Walking down the dimly lit corridors with a clipped gait, she felt confident.  She softly stepped into the soldiers' ward armed with her theories, ready to release this man from his terrors. What a fool she had been!  Standing amidst the platform's bustle with eyes looking into her recent past, the smile disappeared as she withdrew into herself.

Oblivious to the commotion of the crowds and the porters’ jostles, Grace continued to live her waiting minutes within this reverie. At first Cpl. Molony was reluctant to speak to her.  There were times when he murmured little more than the common formalities of “thank you” and “please.”  Never with a smile, or nod to her. Gradually, over the days and months his story unfolded.  She never asked. She waited. It was the day she put down her clipboard on his bedside table, and pulled a chair within a foot of the bed itself, that she knew they had crossed his defensive barrier.  He looked at her with a fierceness she had never seen in a man, not even during her father’s drunken rage. She was rooted to her seat.  Back erect. With hands folded, her intellect for protection, she waited. She was afraid.  He spoke directly to her, without blinking, “I have something to tell you.”  The intensity of his bearing did not match the gentleness of his voice, and she found herself breathing again.  He, the patient – her patient – took her hand delicately, as if they were dancing, and led her through a series of events.  He told his story with a constant measured rhythm, distancing himself from her and his experience. His face relaxed as he eyes focused beyond her – some place she had no right to enter. He spoke as if it had happened to someone else.  As if he had not acted, only observed. She knew when he had finished. His eyes closed and his facial muscles echoed his pain. He let her hand slip from his.  Grace rose gingerly and with deliberate reverence, carefully taking the inside of his palm and placing in its center a blessing from her lips.  His eyelids never fluttered; his body lay still as she pulled the soft white blankets protectively around him. He was broken. He was beyond repair – her repair. She crept away, guilty for her ineptness, for her understanding. Only empathy for his pain lingered, and she latched onto that to keep her moving. That evening Grace scurried along the cobblestones, passing Independence Hall without a glance, on her way to church.  While she had been raised in the Catholic tradition as many European immigrants, her anger about the War, the city’s poor, and her own home life, was aimed directly at God.  Tonight, she did not know where else to go.  She needed the familiar comfort of her childhood sanctuary, St. Joseph’s.  It was Father Scully who looked in on her mother to make sure she had enough money to meet the rent, or enough food in her pantry for the cold winter months.  He counseled forgiveness in all things even with his knowledge that as of now, young Grace could not forgive.  Despite conflicting feelings, her footsteps quickened as memories flooded through her veins, until she found herself standing at the street corner of Fourth and Walnut. The following morning Grace returned with her heart open.  She would understand this man. He was her patient, after all. The sun was shining and although it was colder, the crisp air felt invigorating rather than threatening.  Her talk, and late-night dinner of cabbage and potatoes, with Fr. Scully was a homecoming.  After years of working hard in school and in the rarefied, socially stratified milieu of Vassar, she had lost herself.  Sitting in the rectory’s dining room across from the one man who knew her family and their struggles, she could let go of all those defences. Cronon’s words had left her exposed and humbled.  She saw herself – her haughtiness with the eyes of the other. It was not the pride of the gloved hand and lowered eyes; she heard her own false voice – yes, it was her tone. Cronon’s eyes, so direct and unflinching, had laid her bones bare. She had sat in judgement.  Grace slept deeply, and today, she could breathe. No assured staccato steps down the hospital hallways on this day, but ones flying with lightness, almost skipping, to meet her day with him. To help him move beyond his actions, and her, beyond her viewed narrowed by the personal. She caught herself just at the doorway to his ward and forced herself to stop and take a cleansing breath.  “It is a new day,” she reminded herself.  With the sun’s rays blinding her entry, Grace could not find him immediately and felt a panic rising in her chest.  Moving to the side, she again stopped and carefully looked down the row of injured soldiers for his bed.  It was empty.  Fresh sheets showed no indication that anyone had ever been there.  She slowly walked toward it, barely able to acknowledge the "hello" of other patients – their voices sounding so far away.  She stood motionless, looking down.  She asked herself in a whisper, “Was he real? Did I imagine him?”   She turned trance-like and walked back down the hallway.  This time there was no joy in her step, just a series of stumbles with hands outstretched, reaching for the cool tiled walls.  All these years she had kept the secret of Cronon Moloney.  All these many years.




Tina Hudak is an artist and writer living in the Washington, D.C. metro area since 1975. Her three recent books, a series of poems and flash fiction written during the pandemic years, were inspired by interactions with others, but especially with nature. She lives with her husband and two cats in an old farmhouse.



Two Poems by Prithvijeet Sinha

 



GO INTO THE CREVICE

 

Go into the crevice

and find the friend who 

comes out with his

last words

and rotten tracks

through time.

He has the last portion

of his birthday cake

left for you 

and his mother carries

an eternal side-eye 

& calls your home- 'small'.

 

Where do you go to

or look back from

if he

is a darkling

who calls

for your invisibility

on the forums?

He,

with the beast of hauteur

and his mother's fallacious pride,

as spots around his body.

 

You only look at your own spot

as a starling

on an abandoned nest. 

 

****

 

Real dispossession

is to know

that he could question your

place

& make amity's natural affections

grievances.

It was easy

for him to dethrone

his privileges

for affected weekends

& refuse to offer you

a seat of trust.

 

***

 

Hello Mother,

you have read through

the years

the obligatory side-eyes

you had given out

like societal circulars

when I failed to obtain

a seat at the table.

No,

it was yours.

Your son

refrained

from bringing

a dreamer and survivor's

flowers for your golden vases

there.

 

So

he gave me a farewell

through an obligatory invitation

at the cinema

and I finally said 'no'

to the arrangement,

bowdlerizing

a grand estimation

for both your places

in the city.

 

***

 

We were children

and I was the youngest

of all. 

 

How do you meet

my gaze now?

To make your son's

disappearance

graver

than it was

for all those years past. 

 

***

 

Go into the crevice,

mother,

maybe he's

hiding there

with the flakes

of ants' storehouses,

keen to pick one cover

of naivete

or innocence

to make me an

overcoat with.

 

He awaits

to meet me

at the school auditorium

where we once beheld

the sun of our youth

through

greater terrains

than this future

or your disapproval(s)

 

*****

 

Go into the crevice.

Go into the crevices.

You may find us there.

 

  

DYING BREED

 

Words can come from oracles,

like sirens ringing out of wooden floors

while mother waits patiently over the threshold,

eager for the plane ticket in his palms.

 

Words come from motormouths,

gaping wide at the valley

till the altar of adulthood reveals 

a mountain peak

and the same sirens 

produce squirts of anxiety about the future.

Words left over 

as the final call on the summit.

 

He picks up tatters left as clothes,

chopped blocks of wood 

as dying sacraments of the migrant's pursuit

and puts curved stones

on the nape of his neck

to ensure tunnels

don't enter the wound there.

 

To go away,

leave at the earliest,

is the command.

But he holds himself vigorously,

stubborn as a mule

and sacrosanct as a child,

by the scruff of a green soul,

veins blue as those embroidered

suits kept away,

their soft departures unbecoming

for those strange climes

he's banished to.

An eventual exile affronting his constituency back home. 

 

The words are cruel stipends to him,

repaid with mere confrontations

and a yellowed, soured disposition,

like a drowning body 

recovered from deep down the lakes

where alligators await their fodder.

 

Say anything.

Only don't cry out,

'He's one from a dying breed'

 

'He's one from a dying breed'

now rings like sirens

from oracles passed down

as the family tree. 

 



 

Prithvijeet SinhaThe writer's name is Prithvijeet Sinha from Lucknow, India. He is a post graduate in MPhil from the University of Lucknow, having launched his prolific writing career by self publishing on the worldwide community Wattpad since 2015 and on his WordPress blog An Awadh Boy's Panorama

(https://anawadhboyspanorama.wordpress.com/)  

Besides that, his works have been published in several varied publications as FemAsia Magazine, Hudson Valley Writers Guild, Inklette Magazine, Piker Press Online, anthology Pixie Dust and All Things Magical published by Authors Press( January, 2022), Cafe Dissensus, The Medley, Screen Queens, Confluence- South Asian Perspectives, Reader's Digest, Borderless Journal, Lothlorien Poetry, Live Wire, Rhetorica Quarterly, Ekphrastic Review, The Kolkata Arts, Aze Journal, Dreich Magazine, Visual Verse, In Plainspeak and in the children's anthology Nursery Rhymes and Children's Poems From Around The World ( AuthorsPress, February 2021) as well as Soul Spaces( AuthorsPress, 2023)among others. 


Five Poems by Maria Downs

  A WHISTLE UPON THE AIR So to hear the soft – throated,   bird sing, from its note form those words,   like flowers of spring flowing...