The mysterious eyes of rain had concentrated,
purple and distant in the high branches like plums.
Not one drop, but a multitude. Not a grace note,
but a symphony where none of the musicians
have the same sheet music. Not an ending
spread out like a tablecloth,
but the disappointment of a supper
cold and forgotten when someone is late.
But it rained, nonetheless,
a temperamental child kicking and screaming.
Martin Willitts Jr has 24 chapbooks including the winner of the Turtle Island Quarterly Editor’s Choice Award, The Wire Fence Holding Back the World (Flowstone Press, 2017), plus 11 full-length collections including The Uncertain Lover (Dos Madres Press, 2018) and Home Coming Celebration (FutureCycle Press, 2019).
Painting by Guillaume Vogels.
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what Frost tasted of desire
He held with those who favor fire.
But added if it must end twice,
His understanding of man’s hate
Informed him for destruction ice
Is also great and would suffice.
But in my present case I note
The first becomes my final vote.
What’s been started from a flicker
Gets it done a whole lot quicker.
Ed Coletti is a poet, widely published internationally. He also is a painter and middling chess player. Most recent poetry collections were Germs, Viruses & Catechisms (2013 Civil Defense Press, SF) and The Problem With Breathing (Edwin Smith Publishing –Little Rock- 2015). A few sample journals include ZYSSYVA, Volt, and North American Review. Ed also curates the popular ten-year-old blog, No Money In Poetry. Coletti writes, ″There was a time when I almost completely gave up writing. This was during the years 1973-1987. Then I reclaimed my soul and have written and published regularly again from 1987 to the present.” Ed and Joyce Coletti were among those who lost their homes and all their possessions to the 2017 Sonoma County, California wildfire. Ed recently has published a chapbook titled Fire Storm through Round Barn Press.
Photograph courtesy of the National Guard.
the light her spirit cast was never
bright enough for even one
to read by, let alone two
in the gathering gloom, peace, uneasy
unfolding her face into smiles
again and again from its package
of wrinkles: one’s flesh is doomed
to forget it was ever smooth
how to contain so much mystery?
time is the shield
so that our worlds
are safe from implosion
if only it were merely
a matter of money spate
of calamities; paroxysms of insufficiency
the truth dulls, flickers
everyone’s life is in pieces
waiting in the shadow
of the Fates, especially Atropos
who carries the scissors
Annie Stenzel was born in Illinois, but has lived on both coasts and a couple of other continents at various times in her life. Her book-length collection, The First Home Air After Absence, was published late last year by Big Table. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in a wide range of print and online journals in the U.S. and the U.K., from Ambit to Rat’s Ass Review to Whale Road with stops at Catamaran Literary Reader, Eclectica, Gargoyle, Kestrel, Quiddity, Riddled with arrows, and The Lake, among others. She lives within sight of the San Francisco Bay. For more, visit http://www.anniestenzel.com.
Painting, Átropos o Las Parcas, by Francisco Goya.
Adorned with a headdress
made from bottlecaps,
wearing a white nylon slip
to match the mountains,
I dance in the heat
that I have always shrunk from.
A younger, bare-chested version
of a man in a black t-shirt
stomps to the sound
of empty half-gallon jugs
and cafeteria drums.
In this world,
I ride on the back
of his motorcycle.
Wind chimes gather around,
First published in Ramingo’s Porch, Issue #4.
In the late 1980s, Marianne Szlyk lived in Eugene, Oregon. She wonders every so often what her life would have been like had she stayed out west. She also edits a blog-zine, The Song Is…, for poetry and prose inspired by music (especially jazz), and she publishes poetry here and there. Her latest book, On the Other Side of the Window, is available through Amazon.
Photograph by Scott Sporleder.
Some say the world will end in fire;
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
Robert Frost, 1874-1963.
Photograph by Terry Lovejoy.
My inheritance of prunes:
one and a half bags, unfinished.
Eaten ritualistically daily
to avoid constipation.
Also dates. Two tubs, Medjool.
Minerals and fiber-rich.
Five prunes and three dates
to start each morning
sweetly, with expectation:
this is how the day will go,
movingly. Dried fruits almost
primal, handed down
with his last possessions.
The things he touched:
now I eat them daily,
tasting only sweetness.
First published in Illya’s Honey.
Betsy Mars is a Connecticut-born, mostly California-raised poet and educator. Her parents gave her an early appreciation for language and social justice, which her childhood years in Brazil reinforced. She has a bachelor’s and master’s degree from USC which she puts to no obvious use. A mother, avid traveler, and animal lover, her work has recently appeared in Tuck Magazine, Writing in A Woman’s Voice, and The Ekphrastic Review, as well as in a number of anthologies and the California Quarterly.
Painting: Plums, Still Life, artist unknown.
Last night I sank
into the earth
until compressed into its embrace.
A singular dark smudge
etched in the fossil ledger.
In millions of years
you wake me.
The drills strike my veins;
my oily black blood
gushes into the sand.
You whisper sweet crude nothings.
I dribble into your lamps,
your lathers your perfumes,
the gap between your joints click-clack.
Why so angry–you cry
in the space of my exhalation.
It’s just supply and demand.
Black smoke, dark words.
I shake my head with blazing light,
freed through the slits between your fingers.
I am terra firma
rendered fire and air,
phoenix and ash,
linked only by ghost weight
of a sarcophagal memory.
One day the rain will rejoin me,
halves unblurring into a whole.
You will curse me again as we
devour the sweet, sweet earth together.
Hal Y. Zhang is an immigrant who picked her second name from a hat. She writes at halyzhang.com.
Photograph by Eric Kounce.