One Poem by Darrell Petska

Stargazing

When she appears at my door—
the sister gone 60 years
to no place I could imagine—
she'll have come on business.
We'll join hands and go,
no one knowing where we're off to,
kind of like old times.

             She left so suddenly.
Days on end I grieved at the loss
of a blue cats-eye marble I'd loaned her—
then found, blocking the hole that claimed her.
No one helped me roll it away—
until she did, pushing from the other side.

             Before time soured,
August jumping straight to winter's cold shoulder,
we sucked ambrosia from fat honeycombs,
sun wreathing our heads,
life spreading like vast clover fields
from which the bees mined their gold.
How like honeycombs we believed the world—
there, just for the taking.

             But the dead never leave home.
Returning from the wars, I find her
still belle of her paper doll galas,
the perfect hostess at tea.
She offers a dainty cup, asking
“So how have you been?"
Always the gallant soldier, I reply
"Oh, splendid. And you?"
"I'm fine," she says, "but look at you,
all wrinkled!"

             If I could find a peddler of years,
I'd buy 60 of the retroactive kind,
climb the downward hill I'm on
and cash them in, the afternoon
of that night she left to swim—
instead pitching our blanket
to wait for the star I'd point to, saying
"For what seemed an eternity,
that one was you." Then home we'd stroll,
our parents happy in their dreams,
the stars like years we'd number to their end.

 

Darrell Petska’s poetry has appeared in Muddy River Poetry Review, Chiron Review, Star 82 Review, Verse-Virtual and widely elsewhere (see conservancies.wordpress.com). Darrell has tallied a third of a century as communications editor for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, 40 years as a father (seven years as a grandfather), and almost a half century as a husband.

One Poem by Randal A Burd, Jr.

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

The Air Grows Cold

The air grows cold. The leaves, once green,
Turn yellow, orange, and gold between
Brief moments spent outdoors. The call
Of birds of prey make forests crawl
With anxious creatures seldom seen.

Close by, as in some magazine,
A brook completes the perfect scene.
As humid summer yields to fall,
The air grows cold.

Soon winter comes: first Halloween,
Then heaters run on kerosene,
A knitted scarf and hat, a shawl,
But well before the snow and all,
The air grows cold.

 

Randal A. Burd, Jr. is a married father of two and an educator who works with the disadvantaged in rural Missouri. He holds a master’s degree in English Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Missouri. Randal is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Sparks of Calliope magazine. His latest collection of poems, Memoirs of a Witness Tree, is forthcoming from Kelsay Books in Summer 2020.

One Poem by Felix Purat

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Awaiting Autumnal Melancholia

In an austere blue shawl
She tranquilly embraces what
Large hosts of spirits import
En masse from their Samhain domain,
Part and parcel of the season
As the sun, serotinal, keeps
Setting so far out of reach

We learned about Sol as modern beings:
Today it is still out of reach
Alongside everything else;
The Greek womans’ joyful thoughts
My kochanas’ dimpled bliss
The thirsty orange tree is too far from the creek
And Helios still weeps for his dead, foolish son

From afar I hear whispers of the
Santa Ana demon engulfed in infinite rage:
I hear morbid words in English and palpable palabras
But silence in every other wagging język
The grass is still green, at least for now
Our shawls will all turn blue soon enough
For now we await autumnal melancholia

 

Felix hails from Berkeley, CA but lives in the Czech Republic and travels frequently. In addition to three micro-chapbooks (all published by the Origami Poems Project), Felix has been published in numerous outlets and magazines and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His webpage is: beyondnorcal.wordpress.com

One Poem by Shruthi Shivkumar

conflation of space & velvet

my lips could feel soft
constellations on yours,

tracing celestial matter like a
stargazer in a gray-faded basement.

in you, if temporarily,
i found pinpricks of light

against navy silk
stretched over the skies,

midnight settling in as
dark as our melanin secrets-

just two brown girls
sharing heaven’s closet, &

with eyes shut, we soared through
the stratosphere, an aurora borealis

erupting in hearts cloaked by
by the city’s striped indigo dusk.

 

Shruthi Shivkumar is an avid writer of poetry. She is an undergraduate at the University of Pittsburgh, double majoring in English Writing and Biology, and loves blending perspectives in her writing. At any given moment, you can find her creating, singing, or spending time with friends and family.

One Poem by Alun Robert

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

We Cry Together

Standing
Melancholy
Portent
      Erect by the stream
      watching life pass me by.

Day after day
Wind strafing my torso
Sun caressing my skin
      white as pristine snow.

Near a maiden standing
Close to my trunk
Melancholy
Pondering
      Alone by the stream
      feeling life pass her by.

Minute after minute
Human mimicking nature
As the sun slips towards the horizon
      we cry together.

 

Alun Robert is a prolific creator of lyrical verse. Of late, he has achieved success in poetry competitions and featured in international literary magazines, anthologies and on the web. He particularly enjoys ekphrastic challenges. In September 2019, he was Featured Writer of the Federation of Writers Scotland.

Two Poems by John Short

The Sin

Catalonia 2015

Poverty sent you far from home
and the sin accompanies us always.
Today we’re down from hill forests,
shedding leaves on hotel carpets.
I sense the energy of coming rain.

In narrow streets the heavens open,
we dive inside a tiny seafood place
and later, tapping to a disco beat,
chill out with studded girls in leather,
all party mode and San Miguel.

I guessed they would have liked
your lovely company all night
though that was never on the cards.
In my country, you told them,
they could cut your throat for that.

But when you’re sleeping soundly
I watch fireworks across the bay:
arcs of light from unknown places,
drink the complimentary fizz, think
how they didn’t want to let you in.


Island Candles

I had to sail here for a while,
to distance you, find equanimity.
Some time to spend alone.

Your crazy path lies elsewhere;
our plans were nothing more
than dream songs for winter nights.

Chance leads me to a cliff church
where amber candles reach up
like saplings from two bowls of sand

that edge a gold iconostasis
and a tiny window seems to frame
the sea of summer’s questions.

Then as if some resident saint
had whispered in my ear
I slide a candle from the metal tin,

gently trace its slender length;
take out a lighter and add another
glowing tear to the forest.

An unexpected prayer for you,
surprising me from hidden depths.
Be safe on roads as yet unknown.

 

John Short, from near Liverpool, first appeared in The Pterodactyl’s Wing Welsh anthology (Parthian). Recently published or forthcoming in Prole, Dream Catcher, Stepaway, Blue Nib, Envoi, Picaroon, The High Window, Sarasvati, and Poetry Salzburg. He’s a member of Liver Bards and reads at venues around Liverpool and beyond.

One Poem by Joan Leotta

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Leaves in a Stream in the Time of Letting Go

River birch stand tall, shielding me from autumn’s first gray sky,
complementing the efforts of my warm wool cloak
their green, cloak’s blue celebrating the last of summer.
Wind has scattered a few yellow leaves into the stream.
Wrapped in cloak and thoughts of loss
I will my fears out upon these floating skiffs
released willingly from the birch
hoping these will bear my anxieties far from here
so that when winter finally comes with its
colder winds and empty branches scratch
even grayer skies, fears gone,
I will face a frozen stream
wrapped warmly in even brighter colors
with skates strapped upon my feet.
Released from fears I will glide
along the ice, laughing at the anxiety,
fears, I felt in the time of letting go.

 

Joan Leotta plays with words on page and stage. Her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Ekphrastic Review, Vita Brevis, Anti_heroin Chic and others. She also writes essays, articles, plays, short stories, and novels. As a story performer she appears often at festivals, fairs, schools and libraries telling tales of food, family, and strong women. She has a fondness for Romantic art and for walking on the beach.

One Poem by Cameron Morse

A Monster Calls (2017)

My notebook splits in half. I draw strip
after strip of packing tape just to keep it together.
There’s a utility lighter on the loveseat,
Happy Father’s Day from Theo, presumably,
by way of the bathroom drawer. I borrow
without asking my little brother’s Bosch
electric and screw the blue handle onto the leg
of the swing set. I feel manly.
Lili’s got on her new straw hat, black hair
hanging long over her ears in June sun. I marvel
at the woman and child who are my woman
and my child on the old platform, going down
the new blue slide, how broad my wife’s back is,
how it broadens. I marvel at the weight
she bears, wipe the hot water on her cheeks
with bare fingers, then turn a knuckle to my own
drippy socket as the credits drop like silver
rain over the dark screen.

 

Cameron Morse lives with his wife Lili and son Theodore in Blue Springs, Missouri. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. Subsequent collections are Father Me Again (Spartan Press, 2018), Coming Home with Cancer (Blue Lyra Press, 2019) and Terminal Destination (Spartan Press, 2019).

One Poem by Eva Silver

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Secret Solitude

Autumn leaves beneath my bare feet,
A moment of solitude before the family
Awakes, in my nightdress, I close my eyes,
I breathe, the steady stream carries shades
Of fire from the trees, I catch my reflection
Amongst the floating leaves, I imagine what
It must feel like to swim through the icy water,
To feel the rapid flow of energy spike through
Every inch of my body, shackled by the chains
Of society, I am what they want me to be,
But I yearn for freedom, a caged bird
Can only dream.

 

Eva Silver – was inspired to start writing after studying English Literature at school. Her writing is influenced by her travels, relationships and spirituality.

One Poem by Jan Harris

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Because Endings Can Be Beautiful

(after Autumn Thoughts, Arnold Böcklin, 1886)

Others call it scrying,
but she prefers hydromancy,
with its echoes of romance,
because endings can be beautiful, she says,
as she stares through her reflection
into the river’s depths.

Wrapped in blue by the artist’s brush,
her words and thoughts are speculation,
yet, somewhere, as October shows its age,
a woman, buttoned up against the cold,
is led by her shrapnel heart
to the water’s edge,
                              where a silver birch
scatters winged seeds on the still surface,
before it un-leaves to bear winter’s freeze.

She casts a pebble in,
and sees, in the ripples it makes:
warm breath on a frosted window,
a wedding band, never exchanged,
the secret rings in heartwood,
                revealed by the hewer’s saw.

 

Jan Harris lives in Nottinghamshire and writes poetry, flash fiction and short stories. Her work has appeared in places such as Litro Magazine, Mslexia, Envoi and Acumen.