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Contributors to the Fall 2020 Edition

C. B. Anderson
Marie Arnett
Laura Bonazzoli
Michael Bourgo
John Brugaletta
Selma Calnan
Kristen Clark
Kevin Cook
Michael T. Corrigan
Rob Crisell
Dave Crocco
Marc Darnell
Ann B. Day
Kate Deimling
E. P. Fisher
Robin Helweg-Larsen
Mary Kipps
Dorrith Leipziger
Stephen Madsen
Mike McNamara
Pat Monteleone
Joseph Nial 
Brandon Otto
Nina Parmenter
A. M. Payne
Sandra Sowers Platt
Deborah Bachels Schmidt
Amy Jo Schoonover
David Stephenson
Susan St. Martin
B. R. Strahan
Iain Thomas
Pat Underwood
Christian Weaver
Audrey Wells
Gail White
Lionel Willis
Russel Winick

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SAMPLE POEMS FROM FALL 2020 ISSUE

THE POET, by Gail White

     For Rhina P. Espaillat
She’ll mildly tell you she has no religion,
but reading her John of the Cross translations
makes you know your soul is a dry field, waiting
either for rain to heal it, or fire
to burn it down to the roots and start over,
just so it lives.  She can make George Herbert
as real as if he was at your bedside,
discoursing on prayer with the powers of a mystic
or reminding you of the peasant saying,
“He that would pray, let him go to sea.”
Saints tell us we’ll find many in heaven
that we never knew belonged to the kingdom
until that moment, and some who didn’t
know it themselves.  It wouldn’t surprise me
if John and George come to meet her, saying
“We can always bend the rules for a poet.”

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NIGHT SHIFT, by Iain Thomas

If I were half as eloquent
As I would have you think I am,
I’d lie.  I’d claim last night I went
Outside not just to walk my beat,
But paused to watch how fresh snow swam
Through spotlights down your darkened street.

I’d tell you, oh!  How while you slept
A troupe of ballerinas leapt
And swirled until their skirts unfurled
Like lotus pods in bloom uncurl.
I’d say I heard a hissing hush,
As if the sleeves of space had brushed
The shelves where porcelain stars are kept
And sent them spinning while you slept.

And it would be a metaphor—
Some pretty, end-rhymed way to say
The things that day makes obvious bores:
“I thought of you.  I longed for you,”
But much like snow that fails to lay
The blanket dreaming night is due,

You woke to find just shapeless melt
Of castles where my longing dwelt.

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WIDOW’S WALK, by Kate Deimling

It’s been two months since he’s been gone.
The steeple, the road, the sea – all is still.
Patches of fog are roaming free until
dispersed by the reddening dawn.

Down there, the others carry on,
cleaning the ship they’re going to fill.
It’s been two months since he’s been gone.
The steeple, the road, the sea—all is still.

Today the sea lies smooth as a lawn.
Below ragged clouds, a seagull’s bill
snatches its prey in the morning chill.
The sea creeps shoreward timid as a fawn.

It’s been two months since he’s been gone.

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STILL FALLS THE RAIN, by C. B. Anderson

     with a nod to Dame Edith Sitwell

When the vast sky at last begins to darken
Over the gently undulating plain,
The farmers, done with work, are wont to hearken
To distant rumbling auguries of rain

While resting underneath the roofs of porches.
And so they contemplate the labor spent
On wresting sustenance from soil.  Like torches
That flicker from some far-off regiment,

The stars appear and slowing march across
The heavens.  Gentle sadness moves the hearts
That weigh the counterpoint of gain and loss,
Of love and fear, of triumphs and false starts,

Bringing about a sudden keen desire
To face again the stern demands of morning:
The tasks of which worn bodies quickly tire,
And acute pains that come without a warning.

Though life is good when lived close to the land,
And generations prosper all in all,
It’s sometimes difficult to understand
The way of things, till rain begins to fall.

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PROPHET, by John Brugaletta

You’re not complacent till you’ve lain
in bed till ten without a pain,
but merely said to wife and neighbor,
“To hell with work and toil and labor,”
then settled in to munch your waffle
and demonstrate life’s not too awful.

The rain taps lightly on my roof,
but since my house is weatherproof,
I hear the drops but need not fret
that I’ll get toes and bald spot wet.
So smug, so comfy, so secure,
and mindful of my conscience pure,

I give prescriptions to the peons
as if I were the sage of eons:
“Lend not to others what is thine;
Be steadfast—fortify thy spine;
Preserve thy cheeks from weepers’ brine;
At banquets, let thy brilliance shine;
And watch the welkin for a sign.”

Thus do I make the rabble wise,
though hearing precious few replies.

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PRELUDE IN C MAJOR, by Deborah Bachels Schmidt

(BWV 846, J. S. Bach)

The first four measures of lf this little prelude
are a microcosm of all that is to come,
a nearly perfect, self-sufficient etude,
a journey to the dominant and home.
Already Bach has set his constant texture
of sixteenths rising in arpeggios.
The chords reveal and fold into each other,
always hinging on their common tones
(perhaps just one, but sometimes even three)
and never dancing far on a single breath,
yet somehow compassing the space between
this earth and heaven, or from birth to death,
for so this prelude, in its compact grace,
does hold a world entire in its embrace.

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CIRRUS SISTER, by Nina Parmenter

A web of apprehension framed the sky
and worry shaped my outline in the grass.
The wind felt like the future roaring by,
the ground was chilled by footprints of the past.
I folded all the world into a cry . .
A cloud above me said, “It will not last!”
I looked up to that whisper from the blue
and asked my cirrus sister what she knew.

She said, “We are the light that feeds the tree,
the euphony with which the meadow sings,
the energy that courses through the sea,
the echo of the Earth’s imaginings.
But we are only moments, you and me –
the very briefest keepers of those things.”
And then, with not a shiver or a scream,
she melted into remnants of a dream.

I paused.  I felt the autumn in my hair,
the frailty of the soil on which I laid
and knew I was a facet of the air,
my pain the merest instant cast in shade.
I told the past, “Walk home, and linger there,”
I told the future, “Come, I’m not afraid.”
And then I ran, my sister at my call,

for we two are each other, after all.

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