#Mountains: Women Are Mountains Scattered by Wren Tuatha

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Red pill/green pocket/squire, asks then takes anyway,
can you see me or the planet from a crag in Arkansas?
Gynic peaks pull the moon in you by a string.

What do you orbit? How do you know when to alight if land
and women are mountains scattered, grounded but shifting
unfinished? You and Mohammed, playing pipes at mountains.

Two peaks, one in Africa, the other Appalachia, pour
water that makes the moonbow, marrying light and vapor.
Only two places on Earth does the moon lay this lyric.

Mountains in Nepal listen to gunfire. In Kentucky they
lay down for clean coal, rebranded. Lung forests in Sierras
truck downhill. Peaks in Switzerland take the breath away,

rare oxygen. Do you see me on the planet from Alps, Everest
or Kilimanjaro? Rice terraces and the perfect elevation
for quinoa. Who are you feeding? Who comes to the table?

Not women. When restless we erupt, rebranding, renewing.
We sway slow on our plates. My skin has regrown after lavas.
Sit down. Your babbling is corrosive, a tune in smoke while women

chisel, turn spokes. Narcissus drowning and other irrelevant kings.
No matter your heights, a king convinced of his wings and his view
brought us to this ledge.

 

First published in Thistle and Brilliant, Finishing Line Press. 

 

 

Califragile founding editor Wren Tuatha’s poetry has appeared in The Cafe Review, Canary, Peacock Journal, Coachella Review, Baltimore Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Loch Raven Review, Clover, Lavender Review and others. She’s pursuing her MFA at Goddard College.  Her chapbooks, Thistle and Brilliant and the forthcoming Skeptical Goats, are from Finishing Line Press. Wren and her partner, author/activist C.T. Butler, herd rescue goats in the Camp Fire burn zone of California.

A Flamingo Always Has One Leg Up, Ready to Fly If It Needs To by Martin Willitts Jr

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the weight of life is trembling down the night
shaking curtains made out of rocks

a blink will un-do this world
fumbling with the way-it-used-to-be

overhead near-perfect rain breaks the heat

it is quiet without you
rain is writing this down

 

 

Martin Willitts Jr has twenty-four chapbooks including the winner of the Turtle Island Quarterly Editor’s Choice Award, The Wire Fence Holding Back the World (Flowstone Press, 2017), plus 16 full-length collections, The Uncertain Lover and Coming Home Celebration. Forthcoming books include Harvest Time (Deerbrook Press) and the Blue Light Award winner The Temporary World. He is an editor for Comstock Review.

 

Painting by Jenn Zed.

When We Glint by George Cassidy Payne

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When we glint
we are back in time,
and the road groans
like an oncoming
British squadron.

Wounded. We feel
witnessed by time-
by 200 years of war,

a theater of bitter
clouds and the noon
day sun conniving.

When we glint we
sail through the carnage-

hurtling outward toward
an uncertain future. A
breeze rippling the surface.

 

 

George Cassidy Payne is an independent writer, domestic violence social worker, adjunct professor of philosophy at Finger Lakes Community College, and a student of religion. He has degrees in the subject from St. John Fisher College, Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, and Emory University. He lives and works in Rochester, NY.

 

Painting by Jenn Zed.

#Mountains: The Path by Stella Pierides

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At the top of the stairway snaking up the hill, a white-washed chapel and an olive tree. Blinding sunlight. Some way to go yet. The stony stairs are narrow, a couple of hands-width before the cliff falls steeply into the sea.

Slow down, there’s no hurry. Take a deep breath. Feel the rough warmth of the rock. The wind beating against it raises the fragrance of sage, of thyme and marjoram to the skies, erases the silence.

marble wings—
in the distance
windmill ruins

Feel the salt on your lips, the urgent wind tussling your hair.
This history book under your arm, so well-thumbed, leave it here, against that rock, someone coming after you might linger, take a look.

pillars of salt—
propping her foot
on a stone

And the pebble from Amorgos you kept in your pocket all those years, add it to the cairn over there, where the path widens. Let it go. The trail is moments like this, following the light, teetering on the edge of your desires, of your sorrows.
That bench at the top, see it now, under the olive tree? This is your goal. You can rest there. Wise, gentle Persephone will hold your hand.

embalming my tongue
I rest in the shadow
of the silver-leaved olive

 

 

Stella Pierides is a poet and writer born in Athens, Greece, now living in Neusaess, Germany and London, UK. She is the author of three poetry books: Of This World (Red Moon Press, 2017) and In the Garden of Absence (Fruit Dove Press, 2012), both of which received a Haiku Society of America merit award; Feeding the Doves (Fruit Dove Press, 2013). Her work has also appeared in numerous print and online journals and anthologies. Currently she manages the Per Diem: Daily Haiku feature for the Haiku Foundation.

 

Painting by Jenn Zed.

Father by Michael H. Brownstein

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I always thought you would outlive me
Lifting heavy boxes past the age of seventy,
Carrying them fifty feet without rest
As if you were white water riding a crest
Of a wave digging talons into sand—
You were always the one I could count on to stand
As my corner man in the boxing ring
Or tell me a lie when I was asked to sing
At this function or that, knowing my throat
Was stale bread, textured oat.
Yet now I find you tied to machines
Calculating strokes of your heart on reams
Cascading past the nurse’s station in intensive care.
I left work early wondering if I dare
Peek in to see you beyond the open door.
You smile, plant heavy white stocking feet to the floor:
I’m OK, you tell me, my heart was racing,
And you move your finger to your chest as if tracing
A child’s picture shaded with red
An intricate design with a loose thread.

 

 

Michael H. Brownstein’s latest poetry volume, A Slipknot Into Somewhere Else: A Poet’s Journey To The Borderlands Of Dementia, was recently published by Cholla Needles Press (2018).

 

Art by Jenn Zed

Older Than Dirt by Tricia Knoll

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Mother, Father, whatever name,
Earth is tired too.

Not from make-young-again magma,
grinding tectonic plates that might
yawn in ennui, star-dust meteors,
off-center tilts, or hot sea vents.

Weary of extraction.
Extinction – weightless shadows
on the steps of nuclear death,
war zones, mass graves.
Fracture – refugees
crawling under desert fences.

Under the weight of all words
for home, dom, nyumbani, বাড়ি ,
the universe’s common hum
most resembles womb when home is
more than the dirt we are born to
or are buried in, common ground.

 

 

Tricia Knoll moved from Oregon to Vermont in 2018 – two places that underscore the importance of eco-poetry holding up beautiful places in transition due to climate crisis. Website: triciaknoll.com

 

Art by Jenn Zed.

A Wave of Absolute Zero by George Cassidy Payne

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Eating nuts, roots,
crawdads, and turtles, and
speaking in symbols
smelling of shaggy, oily skin
on the underside of fallen-off
fish gills. Just nuclei colliding.

I am human.

Walking upright with massive
jaws made thick with layered enamel.

I am human.

I float through the fence- less edens
spilling my creativity messily like
a leaking hot pink rolling ball pen.

A wave of absolute zero.

I am human.

 

 

George Cassidy Payne is an independent writer, domestic violence social worker, adjunct professor of philosophy at Finger Lakes Community College, and a student of religion. He has degrees in the subject from St. John Fisher College, Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, and Emory University. He lives and works in Rochester, NY.

 

Art by Jenn Zed.