"Grace in Full Bloom" by Claire Perkins; http://claireperkins.com
Editor's Note: I had first glimpsed "Grace in Full Bloom" in its earliest incarnations on Facebook while we were running the Roots Challenge. I had written to the artist to encourage her to send the image in as an entry. The image had its own 'graceful' evolution as things in both art and nature do, so rather than be rushed for the Challenge, "Grace" was shared with me just as we were about to release the winter-spring issue in February, slotting it for the following issue.
I knew that the image was finding its right place at the right time, because I knew from the materials I was gathering for the anniversary, including an interview whose subject had just released a novel centering around the symbolism of trees, that growth and transformation would be amongst our themes. This artwork is one of the enchanting seeds from which the spring-summer anniversary has grown. As we got to witness its various stages and learn how it came to be named, we invite you to also share in the understanding of its process by watching the video below where the artist acts a gracious guide to the germination of her creation.
Father Ocean, Mother Land
by Katie O'Sullivan
I am a water creature created by a capricious ocean which by temper, caresses or rapes the curving body of the land’s seductive shore. I am a water creature whose father once becalmed, placed upon my mother’s smooth bosom, a necklace entwined of sun- sparkled foam and the blue sapphire of waves. My playground lies deep within the water’s swells where dolphins and nymphs play hide and seek between ancient columns and crabs scramble to weave floppy strands of seaweed nets to anchor all the long- forgotten ships. But when I rest, it is with my mother who plies me with turtle eggs and spiny starfish and places a seashell against my ear to hear my father’s voice. She braids a crown of kelp for my head, and puts a flowering sea urchin behind my ear. And when I lie within her sheltering dunes, she covers me with a sandy cloak until at last, I fall asleep.
Bio- After leaving UCLA and getting married, Katie O'Sullivan followed her husband's career to the Middle East where she lived for 15 years. There she graduated from the American University of Beirut while raising her seven children. Back in the U.S. her family moved between California and Texas several times before her husband retired. Following several previous attempts, Katie began her creative writing career at the age of 75. Her plan was to write a memoir, but it was pushed aside for the publication of her poetry, flash fiction, essays and the staging of one play. Some of the publications that have included her work are: The Knoxville Writers Guild, the Adams Media Corp., Silver Boomer Books, Writers Abroad, The Texas Poetry Calendar (5 editions), Cell2Soul and The Write Place at the Write Time among others. She published her memoir last year on her 90th birthday.
One Summer Day on the Number One Train by Anne Whitehouse
When the doors of the express opened at 72 Street, the local was waiting. She entered with me, tall and angular as a crane, her expression alert, violin poised against her clavicle like a wing.
The train was half-empty, the passengers dozing or absorbed in their smartphones. She stood at one end of the car, her gaze swiftly appraising us, while the doors slid shut.
Closing her eyes, she lifted her bow and dipped her chin, and into that pause went all the years of preparation that had brought her to this moment.
The train accelerated in a rush of cacophony, her music welled up, and I recognized a Bach concerto blossoming to fullness like an ever-opening rose. Suddenly
I was crying for no reason and every reason, in front of strangers. I thought of the courtroom where, an hour ago, I’d sat listening to testimony with fellow jurors, charged to determine the facts
and follow the law. But no matter how we tried, we couldn’t reverse damage or undo wrong. The music was contrast and balm, like sunlight in subterranean air. The tears wet on my cheeks,
I broke into applause, joined by fellow passengers. We’d become an audience, her audience, just before the doors opened and we scattered. Making my offering, I exited, too shy to catch her eye.
But she’d seen the effect her music had wrought. Its echo resounded in my memory, following me into the glory of the summer afternoon. It is with me still.
Bio- Anne Whitehouse is pleased to appear in The Write Place at the Write Time once again. She received the 2015 Nazim Hikmet poetry award and the 2016 Songs of Eretz poetry prize. Her sixth poetry collection, Meteor Shower, is forthcoming from Dos Madres Press, and her novel Fall Love will be appearing in Spanish translation as Amigos y amantes from Mundi Books.
Wind, a Revolution
by Tim Gavin
“Even as Haiti struggled, the ramifications of its revolution reshaped the world around it.” —Laurent Dubois from Avengers of the New World
The shapeless mouth of it opened And breath swept through the river valley Like rebels on horseback, swinging swift swords Cutting away the shackles that held them captive Until their cry rose to God. Thirteen years, It scurried from one Mountain to another waging danger, with Shout and shriek. It was a lethal weapon, neither Wearied nor worn out. Its shapelessness Spooned through the river and swooned The banks of the Artibonite where, Among reeds and trees, captors sought refuge From bloodshed, but the wind, feeding itself With each whirl and tilt, advanced As its shapeless body hung among Clouds and brought escape to slaves.
by Tim Gavin
The moon is rotting in the limbs of the banana tree And Daphne howls into the night, which covers the deep Bruise of her soul as she wrings her hands in the dirty bucket To wash herself from the dirt of the day and the dirt of her lover And the dirt of the horse she walked behind, coming up The mountain from the market and the dirt of her children Who suck her milk till it’s gone and the dirt of the foreign Missionaries who believe because they say Jesus as Jezi, then they are somehow soul mates to Daphne and her kin. She lifts the rag to the sky and sees the many holes which have Filtered the dirt from her body to the air and into the river Of her mother country where one mountain Rises up after another ranging into infinity.
Bio- Tim Gavin is an Episcopal priest, serving as chaplain at The Episcopal Academy, located in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. He oversees the school’s partnership program with St. Marc’s School in the Central Plateau of Haiti, which he visits three to four times a year. He is working on a full-length manuscript of poems entitled, Lyrics from the Central Plateau. His poems have appeared in many journals and most recently in The Anglican Theological Review, About Place Journal, Digital Papercut, Screech Owl Review, HEArt On-Line Journal, and Blue Heron Review. He lives with his wife and sons in Havertown, Pennsylvania.
The Never-ending Now by Len Kuntz I suppose you are thinking this would be a good time to blame the moon or raise a glass slice a finger make confessions do anything but live here in the never-ending now but there is a flock of starlings writing names in the aquamarine a baby smelling of homemade bread cooing and pawing air some girl somewhere is getting her first kiss from a boy she’s been writing poems about a mother has kicked cancer’s ass refugees have found a home Nina Simone is crooning on a phonograph in an old folks home while a couple dances please stop and ask yourself if you really want to miss so much beauty
Home by Len Kuntz Today I am grateful for the fallow fields Where as a child I’d fly kites Imagining them angels sent to save me From my war room home The wind was a good friend then Soil smelling of chaff and barley The ghosts at bay for once Returning here after all these years Feels a bit like victory Or forgiveness And when my wife asks why I’m smiling I tell her I’m ready to go home
Bio- Len Kuntz is an editor for the online magazine Literary Orphans and the author of the story collection I'm Not Supposed to Be Here and Neither Are You released this March from Unknown Books. You can also find him at lenkuntz.blogspot.com
A Hard Man
by Ion Corcos
A sculpture cracks like clay in a dry river,
stands skewed in a gallery, where life is exhibited.
A woman notes tears in its eyes; he is alive, she proclaims,
followed by reporters looking to find the right angle, quickly.
A scientist arrives, assesses the sculpture,
decides there are no tears; merely moisture
reacting with the minerals of the stone.
Not everyone believes this; some believe it could cry,
that behind the façade, it was human, all human.
Bio- Ion Corcos has been published in Axolotl, Bitterzoet, Every Writer and Ishaan Literary Review. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee. He is currently travelling indefinitely with his partner, Lisa. He is also working on his first poetry collection, Like Clouds, and a chapbook inspired by Greece.
The stamping of feet, hands slapping together and shouts
of bravo or brava
seem a barbaric custom. Rather, stunned silence barely daring
to breathe, not moving
a muscle would be a more fitting tribute, absolute quiet until the spell is broken
when a chair squeaks as someone shifts
in his seat a cough or two
a few whispers a purse falls to the floor,
someone stands up and then, yes, then let the applause begin.
The Sea-like Longing
by Sarah Brown Weitzman
Is there ever a moment as the tide turns when the drag of the moon checks completely the pull of the sun and earth, a moment of equipoise?
Or is the sea like longing ponderous and deep endlessly rocking from shore to opposite shore claiming, then releasing holding but never keeping.
by Sarah Brown Weitzman
In the mimicry of the sound of sounds, some scholars think
language began, that early lexicographers once culled grunts
and shrieks, hissed to name the wind and conjugated
with universal moans. To put the cant of animals
in a looser tongue they later conversed as birds
whistling before they formed a word but after doing that
they needed more to say of, say, their fear
of darkness before the fire was discovered
until they had a grammar that could denote position
at a feast, recount a tense hunt or give a meaning
to dying. I would not wish to go back to that
excellent vocabulary yet what a hearing
that first must have been for them crouched
cross-legged in some dim cave staccato pits of rain
upon dry leaf beyond when those elements combined
to thunder suddenly out of the mouth of a man.
by Sarah Brown Weitzman
Whether in music or words or what is viewed beauty brings an ache familiar to women an emptiness we cannot explain exactly except that we yearn away the years wanting something we may never find. While men express what beauty does to them quite differently—oh, how I’d like to take that home— still they have moments of epiphany when they see the way a branch strays down to make a pattern of shade on the surface of a pond in a painting or note a strain of melancholy in a phrase of music or glimpse beauty of bone and cartilage turn the corner of their possibility then they too may long for something they cannot even name.
Bio- Sarah Brown Weitzman has had work in hundreds of journals and anthologies including The North American Review, New Ohio Review, Thema, Rattle, Mid-American Review, Poet Lore, The Bellingham Review, Ekphrasis, Spillway, etc. Sarah received a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. A departure from poetry, her fourth book Herman and the Ice Witch, is a children’s novel published by Main Street Rag.
The Knight and the Lady of the Well
by Beate Sigriddaughter
Like a proverbial house cat never forgets that she was once worshipped in Egypt, a goddess never forgets.
An ancient story tells of a knight (with long dark hair, of course) who rides by a well, and a lady offers him water in a chalice, and later some wine. Soon they are married and live in long and loving partnership. She is a goddess it turns out.
One day the knight gets restless, asks for leave to travel and find new adventure and she says: Go. (What else could she say?) So he rides off into enchanting distractions and after some time he forgets.
Imagine being married to a lady, a goddess, and you forget.
I will confess in my life I have forgotten you at times while out in the vast mesmerizing world. I understand these things.
But my heart is mostly with her, as she perhaps places a damp cloth on the forehead of a feverish child, or the trees around her grow tall, unknown and unnoticed.
When will you remember? The well has changed since you last saw it. The wind tugs at its walls. A goddess never forgets.
by Beate Sigriddaughter
Dawn is again, somehow that is significant.
Dawn is again, perhaps it always is.
Dawn is again, and I still hear you.
Dawn is the hour of children grown too old to sleep through a peace like this.
I say: Your shadow is exquisite. You say: But in this shadow is no face. What would you want with a face at this hour?
All enemies are unconvincing and strangers live only by daylight.
But this is dawn, and I know you still.
Bio- Beate Sigriddaughter lives and writes in New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment. Her work has received four Pushcart Prize nominations and won four poetry awards. In 2015 ELJ Publications published her novel, Audrey: A Book of Love.
Seclusion draws crowds. Sandstone cliffs extend picturesque as do yellow poplars through hemlock branches. The vista reveals goldenrods, violets and pink asters. Sunset fingers its signature unique to each evening, tracing shadows around lucky pebbles.
The barred owl waits on high perch toward dusk. He drifts toward stringed summer light and entreats, “Hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hooooo-ah!” Foragers near the plateau feed the campfires; the owl too looks westward.
Before We Are Fully Aware
by Lew Caccia
Over the falls ribbons of water torrent after spring rain. Vernal pools fill with salamanders. We wade up creek on compressed sediment. The seasonal mood exposes stone layers, yellow-brown looming over deep red. Even fossils revealed further into the slippery walk.
Into the gorge we are drawn wandering, quiet and unassuming is the vibe forgotten by time. Treacherous become the careful yet solitary steps. A light snow shower sprinkles over the still-green woods.
Bio- Lew Caccia serves as a professor at Kent State University at Stark, where he teaches courses in composition, rhetoric, professional writing, and literacy. His poetry has appeared in The Storyteller, The Shepherd, hedgerow, The Write Place at the Write Time, The Penwood Review, and most recently, Praxis. He enjoys writing poems about the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio. "Secluded Vista" is based on the park's Ritchie Ledges Overlook. "Before We Are Fully Aware" is inspired by Brandywine Falls. When asked if 'lucky pebbles' refers to some particular pebbles, Lew explains that he calls them lucky in the sense that they happen to be in the right spot to receive the twilight; he also thinks of them as lucky in the sense of the positive feelings that onlookers often take away.
Forget everything I have told you. I can repeat it, more or less, if I am required to, or I can forget it myself, because others may have said it before me. Who can be that novel, except when one has to be? If we can figure out how to be. Human experience has been repeated with different stage settings that may alter the meaning, or maybe not. Who writes the script and to what end?
by Howard Winn
Staring down through the stream’s surface, I see the slick rocks, the green waving water plants, and the occasional blue-gill searching for food or another sun fish. The sun glints along the countertop of the slowly moving creek and I strain against the glare to see what lies at the bottom Water bugs skate along, disturbing the flatness and my vision as I seek these images in the deep, and find them distorted by the rushing water, the trails of darting insects, the angle of the sun. I give up the search for accuracy and acknowledge the bends and twists of what I perceive. We may pretend we can see clearly into the depths but all we can do is accept the break-up of surface tension as we both look into these distortions and find they are confused with the reflections that mirror from the surface.
Bio- Howard Winn’s fiction and poetry, has been published by such journals as The Long Story, The Write Place at the Write Time, Galway Review (Ireland), Antigonish Review, Chaffin Review, Main Street Rag, The Wisconsin Review, and Tule Review. His B.A. is from Vassar College, his M.A. from the creative writing program of Stanford University. His doctoral work was done at NYU. He is a SUNY faculty member as Professor of English.
What the Gun Eats #62
by Darren C. Demaree
We always admire the first engineer, the mind
& the hands that can build some- thing new,
but almost never do they construct anything
they live beside. These new guns, almost none of them
have been pressed into the kidneys of their maker.
That feels like a story to me with no good ending.
Bio- Darren C. Demaree is the author of five poetry collections, most recently The Nineteen Steps Between Us (2016, After the Pause). He is the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology. Currently, he is living in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children.
Under My Nails
by Laura A. Lord
I get uncomfortable around the glass-domed rotisserie section of the deli, as if the contents of that case were going to sprout feathers back on those wings and beat around in my hair for a while.
As if the lady behind the counter were going to grab my hand as I reach for the cellophane-wrapped carcass and examine my nails to see the leftover bits of skin and grease stuck under the cuticles,
grown long from mismanagement and neglect. I want to hide my fingers in my fists— ball them up and stuff the knuckle between my teeth so when I scream out his name it sounds like, “I’m sorry.”
I want to trade in the memory of chicken grease and the feel of hot meat pressed, hidden against my chest, the cold air making a bark in my lungs and you waiting, salivating,
hungry. I want to give up poverty and bring back the wealth of your laugh, the richness of your hand in mine. But I was out stealing dinner when the call came. I wasn’t there when you died.
by Laura A. Lord
I was twenty-three when the fertile valley of my womb opened, blossomed and unfolded like the soft petals of an Easter Lily, and spit out life like some fragile ornament to decorate my arms.
You had a tendency to exaggerate and the truth turned from a petrous, stead-fast thing to something fluid. It ran like madness through our home and dripped as fat drops of paint quickly smeared across that spot on the wall
where your fist shoved through the drywall and the bottle against your lips spilled dark amber waves that made a scornful ocean in your ears. And still I listened to the crowing of my heart. I let your steady dose of white noise
drip drop into my veins, a needle on tap. I held a baby to my chest felt his lips pull at my body while you raved about the ugliness of this world. I looked down at the crinoline eyelashes, stiff with sleep and the soft
cheeks and pursed lips and thought, the only thing ugly in this world was you.
Bio- Laura A. Lord is the author of numerous collections of vignettes and poetry and one awesome children’s book about a T-Rex screwing up her entire day. It’s absolutely a true story. Laura’s work has been featured in The Beacon, Mirrored Voices, The Collegian, Precipice, Massacre Magazine, Tipsy Lit, The Reverie Journal, and Whirl with Words. She is one of the founding members of The Reverie Journal and Book Genesis, a book editing and marketing company. Laura is also an editor for Birth Without Fear. Laura lives with her husband and three children on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
by Cheryl Sommese
It eerily unfolded like never before— your tongue flailing struggling to revive a drowning relationship yet grasping at some measurable level the rhythm and strokes necessary to make it happen simply weren’t there.
Liquid oozed aside your crinkled brow as the whole discomforting scene played out: words chillingly transforming from forced reticence to earnest desperation to manifest rage.
I was perplexed why this particular time seemed especially poignant, perhaps my stare revealed a lasting burial plot had been found.
Bio- Cheryl Sommese penned her first poem in her early teens. Since then, many more have followed. One beloved writing project she has undertaken is a human interest screenplay based on the lives of her spirited, immigrant grandparents. The longtime animal lover hopes to one day see the script come to life. She enjoys French and Italian wines and periodically partakes in one of the ruby treasures while savoring a well-prepared vegetarian meal. Ms. Sommese lives in New Hampshire with her husband and two dogs.
by Robert Joe Stout
Awakening from this same bed I heard water running and imagined it was my wife in the next room washing her hair. But it was rain; the wind bringing it against the window shredded her presence and I sat with my hopes in my hands like a cobweb brushed away from a mirror.
by Robert Joe Stout
Crack! Abruptly I awakened. All was silent except echoes then the wispy rustling of the wind and I stepped through
the dormer window onto shingles twinkling mica-like reflections as the cottonwood’s huge limb
swayed back and forth refracting light from a round full laughing moon
then slipped into a haze of merging bison covered by the dust they hooved behind them
as sleep and dream dissolved and I was who I was alone, standing by a window
hand upraised, the moon a murky dwindling through leaves that fluttered shards of dreams I groped but couldn’t grasp.
Phone Call to My Ex-Wife
by Robert Joe Stout
Thanks! A lilt of laughter like old times and I laughed too and then a silence each of us with our own thoughts, remembrances, concerns, connections not like what they were but something new, a seedling sprouting near the old abandoned trunk, fresh yet formed from what had been, familiar yet so far removed from then—she laughs again, more quietly, assures me she’s okay and asks about my weight and I reply as though to any friend I might have called, the who she is a shadow somewhat like a dream.
Bio- Robert Joe Stout is a freelance writer. His work has appeared in America, Eclectica, Conscience, Notre Dame Magazine and many other magazines and journals. His most recent novel is Where Gringos Don’t Belong from Anaphora Literary Press. A new book of poetry, Monkey Screams, was released in 2015 by FutureCycle Press. A career journalist, he now makes his home in Oaxaca, Mexico.
by D. G. Geis
“And that was the whole show.” —Charles Simic
Busboy by day, Philosopher by night;
This strange world of Disappearing tablecloths
And naked tables Flashing leg.
A little cheesecake For the diners
Or maybe a fork Out of thin air.
A brief demonstration In four parts
And the metaphysician Struts his Stuff.
The cosmology of tableware, The ontology of napkins:
There’ll be no applause When he makes
Nothing from Something And hardly a glance
When the diners levitate On a cloud of atoms.
Prix fixe, the last course Is a mystery.
This sleight of hand, This aproned magician,
Bending over a table Reshuffling the universe
One spoon at a time.
by D. G. Geis
Modern dance is like this. It is real, but not.
The dancers move unnaturally, the gifted ones the most.
Whatever they are saying is lost. In fact, is lost together.
They only appear to leap.
They crown dead air with vigilante limbs
and chiropractic fervor— tight skin stretched
over tighter bodies, war drums beaten
to ambush ecstasy. The final footfall,
a footnote folded into an airplane
loosed cheerfully on the void.
Bio- D. G. Geis lives in Houston, Texas. He has an undergraduate degree in English Literature from the University of Houston and a graduate degree in philosophy from California State University. His poetry has appeared in 491 Magazine, Lost Coast, Blue Bonnet Review, The Broadkill Review, A Quiet Courage, SoftBlow International Poetry Journal, Blinders, Burningword Literary Journal, Poetry Scotland (Open Mouse), Crosswinds, Scarlet Leaf, Sweet Tree, Atrocity Exhibition, Driftwood Press, Tamsen, Rat's Ass, Bad Acid, and Crack the Spine. He will be featured in a forthcoming Tupelo Press chapbook anthologizing nine new poets and is a winner of Blue Bonnet Review's Fall 2015 Poetry Contest.
by Fiona Sinclair
No pillow talk, rather he dozes tight-lipped as a spy. So she must catch what he lets slip in daily life, ELO on the radio whilst they decorate I saw them at the Albert Hall… She repaints the same skirting, fighting her need for who with? when? settling for What was the band like? After Jeff Lynne is reviewed, Do you think we should paint the ceiling? cueing that’s enough to her firmly as putting the lid back on his chocolates.
Occasionally his history ambushes him; a road in Liverpool recognized after 30 years, she holds her breath as his dramatic monologue unfolds, route to his mate’s funeral, a TT race casualty, roll call of other biker mourners Ogy, Tex, Spider a few thumbnails sketched; Noddy, he was a nutter… no biker chicks mentioned but then brothers, bikes, birds, the natural order, she gathers.
When I was married to: When I was inside… sometimes sudden revelations slap shock her, yet he is adamant as a lying child I told you this… Nevertheless brief Q and A session permitted, her questions answered as if she was the prying press, then time up, back to work on his laptop. But questions persist in her like weeds, however much she tries to smother them.
by Fiona Sinclair
At the ice cream counter you reject With Malvolio priggishness my attempts to tempt, Turn your back on burlesque photos of Peach Melba, Broadstairs Surprise, Banana split… 'I just want a proper frothy coffee,' strut off to examine the juke box. My diet’s resolve this Easter has already capitulated into a full blown bender so I order Knickerbocker Glory.
At melamine table in Lloyd loom chair, I scoff the sundae’s whipped cream head; ogle pink lit Liberace shell encrusted fountain, cornet cast door handles, 99 shaped wall lamps. Melted droplets splatter my dress, I dab with serviette too sugar high to care that my occasional eating incontinence makes you look away.
At home, your child sized meals, make my adult plate seem free buffet greed. Eating, I try to match your dissection pace but soon revert to my Labrador gulp. Shuffle my knife and fork around an empty plate until you have caught me up. Shame that our shared sexual appetite does not extend to similar desire for food.
Bio- Fiona Sinclair is the editor of the online poetry magazine Message in a Bottle. Her first full collection, Ladies Who Lunch was published in 2015 by Lapwing Press, Belfast.
The Lessons in Arguing
by John Grey
An argument drags up other, older arguments— fighting knows the past better than memory. We blow off on tangents. We find the connection between this hurt and its long dormant grandfather. We're overwhelmed like children with too many toys at Christmas. Only we break our toys. We'd even break Christmas if we could.
An argument needs to be this way. It can't be centered. It must never be linear. A rational argument on either side and there'd be no hope for us. Irrational is the only hope. A viewpoint must, for the good of all, eventually sound crazy to the person saying it.
So I can't play cards with the guys because the iron's cord is frayed. Your mother won't visit with us as long as there's a nasty noise in the Volvo's engine.
You're calm. I'm feeling better now. We kiss and make up. I'd like to see logic try.
Bio- John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Perceptions and the anthology, No Achilles with work upcoming in Big Muddy Review, Gargoyle, Coal City Review and Nebo.