One Poem by Kathryn Sadakierski

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Coin Toss

Two faces,
Two ways of life,
Of Janus, poised between beginnings
And endings,
Sides
Of stories, new years
And old,
Past and future,
Two myths of who you are,
On a path to self-discovery
The present
Stationed neatly between,
Janus’ sides
Complete,
In the center
A heart that still beats,
Clock faces and calendars,
Pages torn
To accommodate a new month,
A new time,
Reckoning with the earthly and the sublime,
Frozen in this life
As youth and age compete,
Experience cuts its teeth
And wisdom reigns supreme,
A flower, still fresh with scent and petals unfallen,
Just a memory from a dream,
Leaves in the wind
The only remnant
Of before,
Pages unturned,
Before change wracks the earth,
And time moves forward,
Though Janus still remembers,
Never fully prepared
To go forth,
Looking both ways
To see your fate;
Heads or tails,
Whatever the halves of the coin
Should say.

 

Kathryn Sadakierski’s writing has appeared in The Bangor Literary JournalThe Ekphrastic Review, the 2019 Zimbell House anthology The Marshal, and elsewhere. She graduated summa cum laude from Bay Path University in Longmeadow, Massachusetts with her Bachelor of Arts degree, and is currently pursuing her Master of Science degree.

One Poem by Nigel Ferrier Collins

Abandoned Garden

One shrivelled apple clings to a scabby branch.
Nettles all but cover a perished hose coiled round the trunk.
Moor and orchard have merged to smother metal so rusted
That sword and harrow will soon be indistinguishable.

A young man swings, flamboyantly, from a rickety pergola.
A cramped girl watches a wolf spider sidle
Into the crack across a fractured stone trough.

For a moment,
In this place of lost paths and rotten fences,
All is still.
Then buzz and fluttering resumes as creatures fossick and flirt.

Vainly the youth flaunts his thews to titillate the girl
He sees as an extension of himself:
Whereas she, shunning his shadow,
Feels the chill of the haunted,
Weighs her choices,
Is daunted by possibilities.

Nearby a gate swings to
And fro
In the first hot breaths of a storm rolling slowly
Towards a garden devoid of shelter.

 

Nigel Ferrier Collins is a writer and visual artist. His poems have appeared in various magazines including Poetry Review and Dream Catcher. He has been a detached youthworker, actor, business consultant, Principal Education Adviser, and manager of a group of British international schools.

One Poem by Raquel Morris

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Reflections

He stares with two faces
looking out
one marked with beauty and youth
the other a face of wisdom and age.

Who have we been
who will we become
our present moment
is always fleeting
minute by miraculous minute
smashed between
the unrelenting past
and the unyielding future.

January is a time
we reflect on both
We’ve both been children
who have played
and dreamed
and wept.

Our past pains haunt us
through our lives
Some of us become
unafraid
we find those shadows
are our friends.

Burdens of who we were
melt away
to reveal our power
which will be used
in the battles ahead
we still fear
our unknown fate
as we hope for the best
and we bravely leap
into the present
moment.

 

Raquel Morris is a poet, writer, Master of Social Work (MSW), and Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Writing is her passion, she enjoys expressing her experience as a woman of color/mother/social worker and using it as a means of political activism.

One Poem by Fabrice Poussin

Ghost

It was the season for loving
winter yet aiming its huge arrows
at the heart of those in warm mittens.

Icy powder on the steps to the altar
one may slip on her way to intimate vows
entangled in the white fabric of her innocence.

Holding vigil, a corpse in his dark shroud
awaits, vulture on an abandoned carcass
his fortune to be made on the pain of the pillars.

Soon the gates will gape their arrogant throat
ready to regurgitate the dreams of an instant
onto the smoking pavement of a melting earth.

The ghost will not hesitate to pounce
for he knows the glee is about to uncover a cruel light
he too must make survive even if hearts must die.

 

Fabrice Poussin teaches French and English at Shorter University. Author of novels and poetry, his work has appeared in Kestrel, Symposium, The Chimes, and many other magazines. His photography has been published in The Front Porch Review, the San Pedro River Review as well as other publications.

One Poem by Felix Purat

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Generational Divide Rumination

So much changes with
Each drifting leaf
Organic plant matter
A page of reassembled factoids
All it really takes to switch
              the power on
And electrify a generation

The old timers look away
Unbridgeable is their experience
The ultimate social divide is set in stone
Where otherwise organic matter rules
As we see with the leaf in the garden
So innocent and caught in the wind

 

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 Alun Robert

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Last Day July in Summer Garden

sixth day July
strolling Panteleymonovsky
lanterns casting subtle shadows
Fontanka gurgling just below
with last shards of sun dipping
as we enter Summer Garden
leaving everything far behind
transitioning to tomorrow
for we shall re-bond together
forget what has happened
never ask awkward questions
ignore sweet stench of suspicion
to dwell close by Janus
looking backwards, looking forwards
for just minute or shorter
holding hands, caressing
while romancing eternal twilight
under cascading deciduous bows
creaking in gentle breeze
in crepuscular of our lives
like lovers we once were
like spirits we now are
whirling like dervish
our last day July

 

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 2019, he was a Featured Writer of the Federation of Writers Scotland.

One Poem by MJ Iuppa

Morning, Listening to that Faint Thunder

This distance appears scripted. How terribly
strange, lying here, counting on what is
expected to echo resistance—wheeling
its weight against woods struck by a silver
light that glows within those ghostly ash.

Gone— as predicted, quick & insidious, like
the sudden blister of chanterelles begging
to be plucked from the base of forgotten oaks,
before something else steals them, without
realizing what delicacies they are.

A revelation, the master chef says, with her
eyes closed, and I believe her, sensing
the tug of hunger, or is it the rumble of
faint thunder, rising high in the clouds,
breaking open, over my head.

 

M.J. Iuppa’s fourth poetry collection is This Thirst (Kelsay Books, 2017). For the past 30 years, she has lived on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. Check out her blog: mjiuppa.blogspot.com for her musings on writing, sustainability & life’s stew.

One Poem by Andrew Howdle

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Portents

Hail, to the Kalends of Janus,
When the world opens once again
To the smooth and glissading year.

Peace and goodwill to all that set
Dark wars behind them and turn as
Heralds towards the forward light.

Night sparkles, saffron fizzles, sun
Flares on golden, temple roofs as
The day fills with scintillant talk.

There is no need for a flamen
To attend, for all who live must
Serve order and life’s double god.

*      *      *

But all is not well by the Nones
This year, for airwaves are strident
With the morning calls of blackbirds.

The sub-song of winter and its
Chattering bushes has thawed too
Early into amorous cries.

Already, the crocus has thrust
Its phallus and opened the earth’s
Doors with a sharp, amber warning.

The forests are aflame, drones buzz
Out of season, and gateways spring
Open to greet two-faced Chaos.

 

Andrew Howdle is a retired teacher and educational consultant. He lives in Leeds, England. His poems have appeared in Ekphrastic Review, Impossible Archetype, Singapore Unbound, and Lovejets (2019), an anthology of poems for Walt Whitman.

Two Poems by Lorette C Luzajic

Requiem for a Dream

Vienna, in winter. It will swallow you, Amadeus, and your darkest and most sublime notes will be lodged in its throat. You left nothing, and everything, behind. The mist of limestone will float in the faded light, dust mote ghosts dissolving into morning. The keening of ladies will wane, too, but the emphatic triumph of those who envied you will turn bitter. They will weep for your waltzes like women. There is a river somewhere in the story. Your pristine clarinets, your aching violins, still whisper from her deep.


Witness

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.”  C.S. Lewis

I know what was done to you, I know how hard it is to find your way with these zigzag scars. We were all skewered, scattered, skinned alive, and the worst of it was yours. There are no witnesses that remain, no guardians of that lineage outside of our story. When you flounder, spaceless, faceless in the vineyards and all those orchards of rotted apples and pears, I am standing there like a pylon ghost, marking the ways in which you were erased, the ways you were taken down. None of the letters I wrote on our behalf made a difference to those who had their own version of events, but I was there. I know. I know how you were small and defenseless and just wanted to show her the buried treasure you excavated by trowel and brush. I know how you were born and blamed, because you were made in his image. I know how you wanted to forgive what she could not resolve or keep.

 

Lorette C. Luzajic is an artist and writer in Toronto, Canada. She is the author of four independently published poetry books, including Aspartame and The Lords of George Street. Her poems have also appeared in hundreds of print and online journals, recently Wild Word, Heart of Flesh, L.A. Cultural Weekly, KYSO Flash, and Indelible. Her artwork and poetry have both appeared in numerous anthologies like Unsheathed (Kingly Street Press, ed. Betsy Mars) and Group of Seven Reimagined (Heritage Books, ed. Karen Schauber). Lorette has been nominated twice each for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. She is the editor of The Ekphrastic Review, an online journal devoted entirely to writing inspired by art. Visit her at www.mixedupmedia.ca.

One Poem by Kate Young

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Forbidden Love

Eyes in the back of my head
I am condemned to stare out
at a world without you,
the separate, the conjoined,

forbidden to stroke your glorious face
or tease your tousled hair,
my breath easing over your chest
tracing veins to a constrained heart.

I long to break free of this cast
to explore the chill of moulded skin,
my whispered words melting rules
in a fever, prejudice thawing.

I sense a subtle shift of atom, grain,
attitudes carved on marble plinth
crumbling like archaic parchment,
a whisper of change escaping.

Nearby a butterfly flirts in air,
patterns matching wind-shift,
its dance, a flutter of colour
in a world confined to black and white.

Too cool it basks on stone or rock,
adjusts, spreads its paper-lace wings
and absorbs the warmth in its form,
content in its evolution.

 

Kate Young lives in Kent with her husband and has been passionate about poetry and literature since childhood. Over the last few years she has returned to writing and has had success with poems published in webzines in Britain and internationally. She particularly enjoys responding to Ekphrastic challenges. Kate is presently editing her work and setting up her website.