poem29 Jun 2020 08:00 pm
Saint Matthias parish church ( 1870 ) – Nativity scenes: Baking Bread.

Beth Cato

this pie crust
is not made with mere
flour, salt, sugar, butter
it's formed of words
a magic spell
echoed in blue ink
on paper warped and stained
I have the recipe memorized
yet each time I prepare a pie
I pull out the sheet
each time, I read aloud

to join a chorus of women
some voices I cannot identify
though my grandmother's 
cigarette-tinged rasp stands out
together they scold me
to trickle cold water
into the dry mixture
to press pebbles of butter
flat between my fingertips
to mix everything together
but not to overwork it

when people wonder
why my pies taste much better
than the ones from the store
I only say 'it's homemade'
I must refrain
from telling the truth
that they eat the artistry
of a hundred years of ghosts
that my spirit, too
will gain immortality
through pastry
poem22 Jun 2020 08:00 am
The Sacred Hawk of the Land of the Gods appears as a good omen (cropped), Utagawa Kunimasa V

Jennifer Crow

for Anne
At first glance, the two don’t have much in common:
the places cast into darkness, and the objects,
rituals, locations which bring the divine close. Yet hope
grows in the interstices where fact hasn’t crowded it
out of sight, the liminal moments that drift
like a feather from the clouds, perhaps an angel
or maybe a hawk striking the killing blow.
This juxtaposition sometimes jars, the sharp edges
of the world ground to smoothness over a lifetime
of doubt—yet we take comfort even in the hawk’s
fierce triumph, the bloodied talon clenched tight
on its morsel of flesh, our own hunger sated
for a moment when we recall the fragile and broken.
We too have crouched, shattered, in the shadows
and waited to catch the eyes of gods.
poem15 Jun 2020 08:38 am
The Long Room of the Old Library at Trinity College, Dublin

Daniel Ausema

The architecture in the library of whispers
holds onto every breath half spoken,
records them in its own flourishes and whimsies.
The shelves hum with sighs and insinuations,
and innuendos flutter among the rafters

On lonely days patrons
follow the wafting memory of a loved one’s words
among the stacks, tracking its position
by a decimal system built on scent.
Once found, the whisper expands, surrounds
the patron, the shelves, the world,
granting the aural bones for life to flesh out.

On tense days, officials come to track down
scarcely-spoken sedition
and clues to ancient crimes.
Only by luck do they find either

The gothic waterspouts outside
spill their secrets only when it rains
but are said to hold the oldest
and least understood of the library’s mysteries.
poem07 Jun 2020 04:41 pm
The Digger by Jean-François Millet, 1902

Robin Wyatt Dunn

Come with, Come with, down into Faerie,
Under the slip and sides of the glade;
Be showered with gifts.

"She bled from her mouth," the digger said,

"and we all stopped along the ditch,
and lay down our spades.

"Her skin was white as death,
and we stood and followed her into the trees.

"The barks of the elms curled under the sun,
whose rays turned blue,
and her teeth, into black chunks.

"Eamon said we would not return,
But I knew we would,
Because there was blood under her feet:
She had been weakened,
And needed our help to slip back into Faerie.

"We stood under a secret eye
and slid her limbs under the earth.
She shuddered like a crone
under her maiden sky.

"Afterwards, we could not find our spades.
I was out of work for three weeks,
& my hands they stayed cold all Spring.

"Eamon got a look in his eye then.
And I told him
'Go South, to the sea;
go into it;
and away from here.'
She still wanted him, you see.

"But he would not go.
One midnight I saw him by the well,
circling like a wounded crow.
I cried out,
But my mouth could make no sound.

"In the morning he was dead;
drowned. But not in the well.
His lungs was full of her bright blood.

"In digging, some times we bestir the edges
of their earths;
And sometimes I have told a tale I knew not to be true,
So that they would not return before winter."
poem31 May 2020 05:19 pm
Pablo Picasso, 1902-03, Femme accroupie, Crouching Woman (Woman Sitting, with Hood)

Jennifer Crow

I still had hope, in the brief bright nights
before the faery mound opened
and spat you out. It is possible to be patient
with a memory, to sit quietly
with that empty place in the room. Alone,
I painted your image on my days,
until the damned coughed you up again,
blinking, into the world’s shining eye.
What can I do now, with the tattered remnants
of you? What can I do with a love that flutters
like a broken-winged bird in a cage, unfit
even for sacrifice? 
                                  And for all that, I find
I cannot release your empty shell,
cannot leave it on a beach for someone else
to find and cherish. I cover the mirror
and sweep the wreckage of my old life
to the door, but the crooked shadow
you’ve become stretches a little longer
every evening, and my own heart shrinks,
a once healthy organ collapsing
under the weight. If I could hold you,
soul and body—if I could pull you
from this living death . . . But you are no longer mine,
even as you grind the last shreds of my hope
beneath your heel, unthinking, your gaze
fixed on a distant hill.

poem18 May 2020 08:00 am
Die_Meerestille by Arnold Böcklin

Eva Papasoulioti

The spirits of the lake warned you of her.
East wind blows from the northern side of the shore,
croons a secret in the veins of the leaves, a path
shaping the undercurrents
                                  directly to your mouth.

They say you can protect yourself.
Burn the woodstove all night, boil
eucalyptus bark until you can’t smell
your own sweat, and roast fresh chestnuts.
Sink them in the water, picture the morning.
Think of why she should spare you.
Drink them.
                        Think of why she’s after you.

She comes after moonrise,
steals your teeth,
burns the tips of your hair,
leaves bite marks in your pillow.
The whispers of old blood on your hands
echo in your head; reverberations of a time past.
                                   They’re all in your head.

Come morning you take the summer sun in
but the warmth slips from your boney fingers
lake water under your feet, in your lungs.
                                       The spirits welcome you.

Uncategorized11 May 2020 11:42 am
Cover detail, Daredevil Comics #5 (Nov. 1941), art by Charles Biro. (Lev Gleason Pubs., defunct co.)

F. J. Bergmann

We fall into time as a dead leaf into a river.

—Don Paterson

Chrono-Man invented time travel
by accident, trying to fit too much
into one day. He stretched time so far
that when he let go it flung him
like a stupendous slingshot
across the millennia. Now he can access
any temporal continuum
just by judicious over-commitment.
Chrono-Man wears LED knitwear
that ripples where it shouldn’t.
Balding, jowly and anxious,
he has a small potbelly and a heart condition.
He is the champion of last-minute saves,
last-ditch efforts, and lost causes.
His heraldic totem is a rubber band
twisted into a figure-eight couchant—
the symbol of infinity. His motto is
I can make time for that.

Quicksand is Chrono-Man’s arch-enemy.
As fast as Chrono-Man can stretch time
like a Spandex Speedo, Quicksand
can spend it: urge it on faster and faster;
use it up. Quicksand wears a red suit
with a spinning hourglass lapel pin and has
red—scarlet—hair and eyes, to match his suit.
He is a lively date. He can make time
speed up, but not slow down. He likes to drive
the ambitious, and those who volunteer
for more than their share, to destruction.
Quicksand is the god of second thoughts
and abandoned efforts and stressing out.
His catchphrase: It is later than you think.

Speed time up as it stretches, and the elastic
of that substance will snap, as Quicksand
and Chrono-Man chase each other
up and down the time-stream. You yourself
may experience this chronological effluvium
as having some resemblance to an actual river:
sometimes the current is slow and stately,
each shore so far away that it fades
to a dark fog of treeline on the horizon;
sometimes a rapid current tumbles you
down titanic falls. You are only a marker
by which that current can be measured
when those rivals meet at the end of time
and total up their scores.

poem04 May 2020 06:14 am
painting by Waraguru Waithira

Solomon Uhiara

Her eyes were looking up carrying 
yellow salt and brown water

Her Ankara gown was shredded 
by the sticks that pointed to another country
And as the red flowers were growing on her body
the daisies pursued her, springing out of the ground like
underground angels in disguise, under white capes
brandishing invisible political weapons

A door swung open, not by force, just slowly,
quietly, as if it was a living thing
A long light tip-toed in. It wasn’t too bright
for inside it stood a man, his face having different sides,
different colors and proportions
He was wearing two long beads around his neck, almost naked
As if inside of him lived a higher power, 
a superior manufacturer of dreams

When he walked out, his face started to change
The trees around started to reduce, their dead leaves started 
going up and becoming alive
The earth started singing, as the air was dancing,
the forest was vanishing small, small

She saw his face turn into an Okonko spirit,Then into an Egungun mask, into a faceless man,
then into a man she used to know, her first husband, 
his green beards, his long ancient staff that was dabbed in
sacred diabolic rituals

She called out his name: 
Bintu !
And butterflies came out of her mouth
She cried and a storm overflowed the streams
the salt in her eyes folded her tears. When she fell silent, darkness 
came out from the ground and suddenly shrouded her face

When next she spoke, her misty voice pushed back the darkness
Invisible fingers started touching her body, his face started glowing,
an apparition, invisible hands started working the talking drums
Shinning eyes started growing out of the bushes,
revealing their hiding places. Silence could now speak
The voices that were speaking started to clap,
waiting for the scent of new marriage,
a new ceremony that will emancipate our kingdom
before we are all lost 
upside down inside this labyrinth.
poem27 Apr 2020 08:14 am
NASA, ESA, N. Smith (University of California, Berkeley), and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA); credit for CTIO Image: N. Smith (University of California, Berkeley) and NOAO/AURA/NSF – http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2007/16/image/a/

Katherine Inskip

The sounds, the lights, the circles on the plinth,
the holographic sparkles in the pause
between destructive read-out's start and send?
They're there for no-one's benefit but yours.
A sleight-of-mind that draws the eye away --
like oxygen on tap to calm the doomed --
they do their work efficiently and well,
and no-one thinks to question what I do.

Coordinates are programmed in advance.
The airlock doors are tested on the hour,
and climate, pressure, atmospheric mix,
the vents and drains, the maser-beam array.
You trust the databanks that store your soul,
that lase you through the mazed and empty dark,
then from those exabytes of vacuum, weave
your new and unadulterated self.

Behind my screen, I wave you on and in
and reassure the rookies as I can.
It’s safe, well tried and tested. Then, the lie:
you shall not feel the moment when you die.

The sounds, the lights, the circles on the plinth,
my hollow-hearted witness through the cams,
between constructive write-out's start and end:
the souls that wear your bodies are not yours....

I make the call, unleash the lethal flames
that cleanse abhorrent spirits from our realm.
They do my work efficiently and well
and no one asks what happens in their death.
Redundancy is programmed at the core.
Another airlock test is scheduled in.
The vents are flushed, the atmosphere restored,
and once it’s all reset we'll try again.

Across the frothing turbulence of space
you trust your soul to ride coherent light
and hope the quantum noise of all your dreams
will be enough to bring you back to life.

Behind the scenes, we plausibly deny
our tech-speak claiming 'normal, small delays'.
Though all's scoured clean where corpses used to lie,
I can't un-see the moments when you die.
poem14 Apr 2020 02:55 pm
Apple Tree with Red Fruit by Paul Ranson

Colleen Anderson

 A bulimic knows
 there are two ways to consume
 one is not to eat at all
 the other, take the world 
 into yourself sins, joys, pains
 the full sensory experience
 not grow fat on it but purge again 
 and again... for balance, feel despair 
 so that joy is all the richer
 when devoured guiltlessly again
 Starved for love or a word of praise
 Snow White sought out something to fulfill
 took the path of runaways, of precocity
 of survivors from broken homes
 not all girls who run endure or find peace
 she managed lodgings with men of splintery mien
 striving to be gentlemen all the same
 but good intentions and preordained destinies 
 can still go astray
 In hunger to fill a need, hide her shame
 Snow White was tempted by an apple
 the oldest crop seeded in memory 
 a blush of thought on the tree of life 
 or abundant knowledge of good and evil
 she saw in the mirror, the roseate lie
 herself a hybrid queen filled with envy
 who tried to join the halves together
 obliterate the exposed bruised side
 Those apples had special weight
 ever since time began
 the first fruit a sweet tease leaving
 the bitter aftertaste from the core
 a weighty illicit craving, a dark desire
 for savoring a beginning neverending
 for going beyond safe borders
 How could she resist
 in the end her wish bloomed true
 the desire of all who seek eternity
 an apple poisoned with all of time
 Snow White bit and chewed and choked
 then fell into a suspended world
 that her predecessor had long known
 a goddess once, who may have dropped
 just as windfall apples do 
 from the wind's lecherous touch
 Idunn of the golden apples won hard
 harvester’s knowledge and full of power
 she never punished, only rewarded the gift
 that kept on giving, endless life, youth, beauty
 Gods grow bored when millennia pass
 Idunn and the Norse sailed onto other realms
 leaving a distillation, an elixir
 a breath of remembering in the apples of Midgard
 Fairy tales are the memories of gods long gone
 wishes of mortals for what can never be
 Snow White frozen in her world of in-between 
 received the eternal gift but not as it once had been
 She was stuck between the realms
 neither dead nor alive, preserved for all time
 until the day some random prince
 heimliched her back to life
 She has spent an eternity sandwiched
 into film and print, but wanting neither
 immortalized yet seeking always seeking
 an apple that will give her a taste 
 of a love that’s not foreseen
 that destiny cannot touch, something natural
 that happens on a whim
 like apples falling from a tree 

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