Friday 31 May 2024

Four Poems by Patricia Nelson

A Harpy Warns the Heedless Celebrants

I flap down at the gods' behest
to eye your dance. Raveling beasts
who wheel into visibility
like wet leaves in a gale.

You stomp and feast and sing!
With the wind in your thin and
broken clothes, you tip and bell.
How much you want! And want!

You tug at everything and
ape the revels of the gods.
You’re moths about to blacken
on a hot, white lamp!

Oh, the joy that little creatures take
in longings larger than themselves!

With New Knowledge, Hamlet Sees his Mother

I walk slowly in this enigmatic season
where the cold expands and light is halved.
This horizon holding both belief and disbelief.

I now see monsters with a nearer eye.
The mother that I loved begins to speak
and doubt divides me like a shadow.

There is an airless well in me,
in which she falls and falls
and goes out like a star.

I see a barnyard world, filled with
silly creatures moved to murder
by a heat both wild and sincere.

A space where any fool can whirl and cackle.
Where chickens the colour of devils run
and some with soft and livid feathers.

A Seer Describes the Gods’ Speech

There are gods who shriek
and eddy when they think.

Who spit the truth as mist
from hot and hissing rock.

Stones hold the heaviness
of truth, the noise.

The wish within it floats, as though
to know the worst were light.

A Seer Asks Who Owns the Vision

The image is always the same:

a deep slot for the dead
cascading shapes and noise.
It whirls like water and is gone.

Once I thought the visions meant
to drag me to some consequential act.
That a better outcome lay within me.

But warnings graze us vaguely,
brighten and then dissipate:
an inkling only, like a breath on skin.

Perhaps the visions are a garment,
a white gleam full of dark. And my pleas
leave lovely shadows on a listener.

Or perhaps a vision whispers to
the future—to those who know
they cannot change it

and are far enough away
to find it beautiful.

Patricia Nelson lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she works with the "Activist" group of poets. Her newest book, Monster Monologues, is due out from Fernwood Press in December 2024.

Thursday 30 May 2024

Five Poems by Grant Shimmin


Holiday insomnia makes me think of a friend in chronic pain

Not a wink of sleep on the lake shore

after a six-hour drive

With the wind, it seems, trying to rip

our tent open and let in the turbulent sky

I find myself praying you would find sleep

in your tiny apartment, excruciating pain

and the somnolent cat your only company

My sleepless night seems long from here

But there is an end to it, or to the wind

Where is the end to the pain

that is your uninvited companion

through the dark and light hours?

I would gladly forfeit my night’s rest

if cat snores could be your only disturbance

Your first thought (Sonnet I)

Tell me dear kingfisher what you think of

When you rise to the dawning of day

Do you contemplate war, the bombs going off

In far-flung locations, smoke billowing grey

And invading the lungs of the populace?

Where terror and fear are the daily bread

Of those caught in a conflict malicious?

Where all they can fathom on waking is dread,

destruction and death? Or do you look

At the morning with hunger renewed and

Your eye on the waters; lake, river, brook,

For sweet morsels that life will extend

With no worries that evening won’t come?

Is the present the place you call home?

When? (Sonnet II)

What does it feel like, knowing, if you wake

That death will come today, or if not, soon?

Its stench is all around; you cannot fake

a certainty you’ll live till afternoon

When will the next wave come, the bombardment

that may steal your life away in the suck

of an explosion, that brutal moment

that arrives with little warning, come to pluck

breath from your lungs, like picking bloody

berries from a bush of red abundance

Leaving silence; those remaining broody

for the presence blasted into absence

But comforted that you no longer wonder

When death will rain down its savage thunder


        After Rilke

And if you should find yourself where the soft grass

growing by the slow stream bids you pause

do not spurn the invitation to sit

If the questions you are living weigh heavy

lay them down beside you

Perhaps fashion them into a pillow

to cushion your head while you luxuriate

in the lush softness, and listen

to whatever accompanies the silence

And if, while you are pausing, eyes,

ears open, there should be

a heron in the shallows, watch it, or a

kingfisher on an overhead wire.

Taking care not to intrude, observe

their shared practice of patience, how

the answers to their days ’few questions

may arrive as its reward. Then, when you

are ready, test the weight of your load

Mind the gap

The gap is 20-odd metres of love and deep concern. I’ve seen the woman I’ll pass when the green figures appear on our respective lights. But my emotions are for the happy black Labrador strutting, tail whipping the morning air, around a square patch of tarmac beside the yellow light pole. There’s no leash in sight, and my waiting mind wanders to imaginations of motorised mayhem on the crossing. She calls the dog closer. It sits, adoring canine smile on the face watching hers. And reassurance finds me. But at green, the black bundle of barely contained joy is on a collision course with me, two lanes of moving traffic a metre to my right looming noisily. Gap closing, she taps her leg, speaks a soft command that draws her faithful sidekick closer, and we pass, pristinely untroubled. I should have had more trust in their relationship, the unquestioning kind they share. There’s a lesson in every ordinary moment.

Grant Shimmin is a South African-born poet who has lived in New Zealand for 23 years and has a passion for humanity, the natural world and their intersection. He is an editor/reader for Does it Have Pockets?, where he was also previously published, and has work published/forthcoming at Roi Faineant Press, The Hooghly Review, Bull, Dreich, Querencia Press, Amethyst Review and elsewhere.

Five Poems by Ann Huang


Self Portrait  


Pampered by our moon, or your light, 

like monkeys, believers of our world.  

Or settle in a wooden cottage as you wish, 

in a life like the one we’ve had.  

I will need to ask you for more 

if you allow our love to survive life, 

or allow our stories to survive death, 

or if I will be able to live through it all again.  

My monkey, like the believer of everyone’s world, 

to be pampered by everyone’s moonlight 

In our world, we 

dwell in a space near your ash— 

like the novelty of any moment, 

fine and bright.  



Love Evolution 


Who sees the wonders in your voice? 
Who sees the smile on my face when you break ice? 

Who knows your unblemished love? 
What made me a woman of joy with burned stoves? 

Someone has to deploy all; 
Someone has lost his (/blue) kale. 

Who wants to take me to the orifice? 
Why need my name for the sacrifice? 


Ann— the ‘grace’ spill of a girl withstanding the altar 
Who keeps your light in her dark swirls. 



Witchy and Wonderful 


The plants that converge to your vegetable garden 

are showing all things yours are forsaken. 

It is erroneous you and I are connected by flesh, tight 

by hurricanes and lulling waves, evenings brightened 

with no ecstasy. My words have kept you alive 

the ways you imagined. Or now you’ve  

become the Space-Oddity Man. The tastes on my tongue delved 

in your skin’s flavour. The many kings before you favoured 

dust like diamonds in their headrests, and more love 

gets sold to whom knife-pleat by the mundane. 

Twelve-year-old Frenchie snore-slept in her queen bed, 

outside my prison ward, asphalt-black ravens and yellow eyeballs 

attacking. This is what’s left of us. You, up in my ceiling, 

pages turned, commanding all but generalizing. 



Last Debacle (June 1st, 2023) 

                       After A.E. Stallings “Frist Miracle” 


His soul is like a garnet stone 

Shining, indelibly bound to who has made it reborn— 


The discovery of a foreign hardness so marvellous  

Wandering lust beyond the pig-feet calluses 


Melting into the Popocatepetl or juxtaposing his fate 

With the procession, many decades are preceding his mate.  


His liver shrunk his heart and painted his bed sheets 

Whereas he received her love in million beats; 


He meant to renew his cosmic ordinance; however 

He forfeited his candour with fleeting anger.  



All the Love 


All the love there is in you 

Till your words begin to fly 


Against my blank page; 


All the love you’ve given to me 

Till your new world  

Begins to separate 

Our archaic life; 


All your love and cry for time-being before _______  

Till your words begin to feel  

Real:  ____________  

A world that is undivided and divine. 


Ann Huang is a multilingual Chinese American poet, filmmaker and visual artist based in Newport Beach, CA. Her poetry has been featured in Denver Quarterly, Alexandria Quarterly, Ruth Stone, FENCE, CONFRONTATION, Poets Choice, Adelaide Lit Mag, Contemporary Verse 2, Rue Scribe, The Blue Mountain Review, The Elevation Review, Helen Lit Mag, The Florida Review, The Bare Life Review, The Bookends Review, Tiny Seed Journal, The Write Launch and Verse Wrights. She's Ephemera's June 2023 Poet. Her latest manuscript Garden by The Glass Door is the Wisconsin Poetry Series' 2024 Semi-Finalist.  





Three Poems by Steve Klepetar

Changing So many women turned into trees  or reeds or weeping stones. There was a man bent over a pond  who became a flower. Another died  b...