Painting: Carole Rodrigue
Poem by: ALYSSA LONG
I looked at you
like a memory.
I bit your skin
and peeled away
your bitter rind.
Spitting out seeds,
you were just as sour
as I expected.
Painting: Julien Chaves — “Figures Peintes”
Poem by: XAVIER JONES
You wake up.
As i start falling.
As i start crying.
You are happy.
As I’m in pain.
Yet you feel nothing.
As i feel lots.
But one day.
I will come for you.
Because i am you.
When the paint peeled you saw into the soul. We hauled a tent to the woods and set up a dome of constellations. The voices in our heads whispered maps, and we floated into the galaxy. The inside smelled used as a church. You understand that our essence is dust? I remember a road in Wyoming that lifted me into the air. A high mountain lake poured silver water and radiated like a star. I died there and later I died in Idaho, I have died in the river more than once but I lived high as the angels in Iceland. I have died in love and in anger and lived in both as well, and it is not enough—it is never enough. We need to keep going.
Artwork: © Pierre Gable
Poem by: JOHN DE HERRERA
To behold her standing there:
her long dark hair wet, the random ringlets;
the daunting past rising from deep;
the erotic, love, and death, like butterflies;
emotions at the moment before pouring forth.
The ocean puddled at her feet,
the damp linen cleaved about her body;
another night in the old, abandoned hotel;
the trail of water out the door and to the cliffs,
while she said she knew why you were there.
The enchantment of the beauty,
always arriving time and again,
she will change, but never die.
John De Herrera is a writer/artist/activist who lives and works in Santa Barbara, California.
Art: © Douglas Klauba — Davinci’s Dream
Poem by: SUSAN ANDERSON
looking out at you
not you at me
what do I see
a man of brilliant artistry
and conflicting perceptions
his evolving brush strokes
fighting at times
an unfolding inner child
my vesper faces
belong to you
my synchronous smiles
Painting is silent poetry
painting that speaks.
Plutarch, 1000 A.D.
“As an artist who paints with oils and words, the above covers my being whether I’m using a brush or a pen.” — Susan Anderson
I was a skull once—
But like Iron I cracked from bones
And became a musician.
I laundered streets with tunes
Like a woman’s stilettos.
Now, I cover my head
And walk when it’s rainy—
When Beverly Hills turns into a mush of working moms
And a six million dollar dinner to an ex-wife
Or a penny check signed to a Billionaire
…who hugs his pen like a Father,
Like a father’s pen to a Dollar Tree piece of paper
Near my Canvas,
Next to my Wallet,
Beside this Bible which was Mom’s— dusty.
To me this skull represents life.
Anna Stafford is a touring violinist – and poet – who has recently been playing with Yanni and Kelly Clarkson.
GARY M. POWELL
Who will portray the self tonight
When sky coalesces Malaysian green?
Before my jewels are dashed in fire
Absorbed on a lame divan by rain
At the dripping window, I am
As self-aware as dumb wet streaks
Grasping for the wayward clouds
Groaningly asking sky about me
Handpicked faces, powdered guise
Perfumed in jade. Enwrapped in my
……..Own stray eyes
Eye will portray my self tonight
When sky coalesces Malaysian green
Gary M. Powell is Madison, Wisconsin’s GlobalDadPoet because he says so.
He teaches Psychology, Global Issues and China to students thirsting for knowledge, like in a Greek drama, in a public high school. He uses moonlight to guide his nightly swims under the ice of Lake Monona searching for openings. He’s exactly half way through his life.
Art: Samiamidi — “Biscuita”
Poem by: PAULA SCHULZ
I am the Mona Lisa of Peru
and I am thinking again. I sit before Munch’s swirling background,
but in my mind no scream, no premonition of calamity, no raucous color.
Through a dark background vapor moves, which is to say memories
swirl, and I thread together bead-bright moments of my life.
I am a child, now a woman, and I see my daughter too,
so like me, but for the eyes. I am quiet, a sort of Vermeer
spotlight makes me seem lit from the inside. And about it all, something
of the old masters: a rare quality of light, a clarity I hold in my body.
My earrings cascade possibilities. About the wrist I wear the golden circle
of infinity, while many pale hands hold the white work of my mind.
I extend to you the copper light (sunrise, sunset) of a fourth hand.
Rest your head on it, let all around you go dark as Peruvian night.
Pull up your own shooting star memories. Re-member this dark
with the double helix of your own life, with the lives you touch,
with the enduring light you are.
Paula Schulz now lives in Wisconsin and has contributed to several ekphrastic collaborations. She has published in Verse Wisconsin, Echoes, Beauty/Truth and many other publications.
Art: © Pierre Gable
Poem by: ANGELA VORAS-HILLS
Each year I lose myself
…to a girl I imagine I was:
……my eyes another hue, the soft curves
…of my chin… Back then, I’d play
blind and feel my way
…through empty rooms in the dark.
……I would remember myself
…even younger: a faded girl, all
ideas and pinched cheeks, a child
…playing in the dirt
……among other creatures, taken
…by the kitten’s purr inside her palm,
the crunch of a beetle
…in the gravel beneath her shoe.
……When I think of her, my fingertips
…hardly recognize me:
the skin beneath my chin
…begins to stretch and wrinkle.
……My smile tightens and shrinks…
…Some days, I reach into a space
……after I’ve passed through it
…and feel my presence
holding that space. Other days, I reach out
…and feel nothing.
Angela Voras-Hills earned her MFA at UMass-Boston and was a fellow at the Writers’ Room of Boston. Her work has appeared in Kenyon Review Online, Best New Poets, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and Linebreak, among others. She was recently awarded the Sustainable Arts Foundation’s Spring Promise Award and lives with her husband and two kids in Madison, WI.
Art: Jonathan Charpentier — “Escape”
Poem by: EVELYN CONLEY
Younger then, but more aware,
… she allowed herself lost when looking at pines
the row of trees beyond the yard
… the fence of needles.
She expected a message
… though faintly spelled,
to appear with brilliance
… where the light looked out to her.
An image where branches crossed
… or maybe where the pines lost needles
a gap or even one place
… where the light was exposed to endless space.
She knelt before subtracted light, a white sky
… strained out its codex of letters, or faces perhaps
of indeterminate pareidolias
… shifting: angry, sweet, broken,
when a breeze curved east to south
… when a door blew open, then closed.
She wanted nature’s truth,
… the hidden importance in the stars between the limbs
between the night sky and the pines.
… She beckoned mystery from cosmos
listened to lost light
… when long dead celebrities in the dark sky
parted their burning Greek lips, to whisper
… we are precisely as big as what we love.
Evelyn Conley teaches English, Art History, and Creative Writing at the secondary level, while pursuing her Master’s Degree at Murray State University in Kentucky. She also writes freelance movie reviews online.
Art: © Sandra Vandelli | “Nostalgia”
Poem by: SHLOKA SHANKAR
She bares her soul
to no one —
a façade for each mood
that infests her thoughts
like the plague;
reticence stalks her
every now and then,
as she tries shying away
from her darkest
secrets ripe as cherries
hanging from the bough…
a charade of whims
on her sealed lips.
Shloka Shankar is a freelance writer from India. Her work appears in over two dozen international anthologies, and has recently appeared in Visual Verse, Jaggery, Literary Orphans, Vine Leaves, Unbroken Journal, Otoliths, Calliope Magazine, Five 2 One Magazine, Inky Needles, Straight Forward Poetry, The Gambler Mag, and so on. She is also the founding editor of the literary and arts journal, Sonic Boom.
Artwork: © David Caspar — “The Sacred”
Poem by: BRAD RUNDBLADE
Sometimes I forget to breathe
Convinced I’m killing myself slowly
Sometimes I look where things aren’t meant to be
Sometimes I dig deep
When I should pay more attention to the surfacing
Sometimes I try to think
Sometimes I eat when I’m not hungry
And think of all the starving
And feel sorry
Sometimes I try caring
Sometimes what I write
Doesn’t even make sense to me
Sometimes I rhyme when I speak
Because it sounds aesthetically pleasing
Sometimes I wonder where this is going
And if anyone is even reading
Sometimes doesn’t even make sense to me
Sometimes I try believing
Sometimes I draw in ink and wished it’d been in blood
Or been erased or never been thought of
Sometimes I try to change the world
But find I can’t remember to change the laundry
Sometimes I look at the ceiling
And try seeing it differently
But at the end of the day it stays the same
But it’s good to try something new
Even if it gets thrown away
Bradley Rundblade is now 24. He lives in North Hollywood and enjoys writing and creating. Most of his time is split between screenwriting, guitar, acting and spending as much time as he can with family. He’s been living in California since he was 10 and was born in Greece. You can hear Bradley’s music at www.emeraldportalmusic.com
Art: Dale Collins — “Summation”
Poem by: JUNE SYLVESTER SARACENO
I coined my face for past and future purchase.
Was it wrong to materialize in such a way
the spirit that parted the veil for me,
the hand drawing aside the green curtain of being?
The gold wrapping of gesture,
the gaze of generations,
the secret smile came to me easily as breath,
as if already existing before embodied.
What else was I to do with my waiting here?
My hand is always poised to bless
but also ringed with gold.
June Sylvester Saraceno is author of the poetry collection “of Dirt and Tar” released March 2014 from Cherry Grove Collections, as well as “Altars of Ordinary Light” and a chapbook of prose poems, “Mean Girl Trips.” Her work has appeared in various journals including American Journal of Nursing, California Quarterly, Common Ground, Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, The Pedestal, Silk Road, Smartish Pace, Southwestern American Literature, Tar River Poetry and more; and in anthologies including A Bird as Black as the Sun, Cradle Songs, Tahoe Blues and others. June is now a professor and English Program Chair at Sierra Nevada College, Lake Tahoe, and founding editor of the Sierra Nevada Review.
Artwork: Jaeda Dewalt Artography — “Reflection”
Poem by: FAITH KEARNS
Dear-, I hope you find me in this missive
as well as I hope my letter finds you.
Is there much paper in America?
We correspond so little anymore
and yet I imagine your new country
a dolls house— Nora fled back to my salon
where I dress her, keep her free in her own sphere.
I fear you must no longer speak our romance
languages but have adopted rough English;
has your skin turned a savage shade of rouge?
Here too, days are bright yet everyone grows dark;
your old friends tease my new, truly tanned face,
“Smile Comtesse! You are a French girl yet, no?”
French or Greek, I see me a perverse iris—
a goddess who unfolds, contrarily,
for the moon. I’ve made my life in regular
revelations— and with each great reveal
it seems I’ve lost something of my last face.
Those flakes of my visage that lingered on yours
from kisses, besos, bise after bise
I wonder nightly if they haven’t fallen
off in the Atlantic. Alone, I dream
they’ve planted themselves in the twilight sea—
never day, never fading, and never dying—
Forgive me. I am grateful to you. Believe me—
Faith Kearns is currently studying English with a concentration in creative writing in poetry at UCLA. She was awarded first place May Merrill Miller Prize for a collection of her poetry and The Falling Leaves Creative Writing Prize at UCLA. She was also a featured reader at the 100 Thousand Poets for Change event in late September at the dA Center for the Arts in downtown Pomona.
Three black crows
…open up the sky
for humans to see
shake the stillness of stagnant air
Summer is here
passing right through us
bodies become dead branches
We do not sit long enough to absorb light
To let moss grow
Maggie is kicking a pile of dust bunnies in the corner
The Girl with the Pearl Earring knows something we don’t
She sits in the ﬁrst car so she can see the tunnels illuminated, blue
When the train reaches the end her heart begins to push
Like insects in the dark
Katherine wakes hearing fog horns
Simon Says two short highs one long low underwater
Her teeth hold a gold cross between them
She takes the metal from her tongue
Places it on the nightstand gently
that was my dad’s
let’s go where water meets land
where toes sink sand
where freckles blossom on skin
Old train tracks peek into graves and sky hole caves
green glass waves under our feet
celebrate the dead and white underbellies molt
Our teeth sharper
Our nails longer
Super moon nears and
Green salt residue
We have to be better versions of ourselves
better versions of old stories
we need to study
the skins we shed
the folds the wrinkles
engraved mistakes and regrets
so in our new skin we know not to repeat
in our new skins we can engrave
new tragedies new folds new wrinkles
Sarah Bushman lives in Oakland, CA and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from California College of the Arts. Her work has appeared in Samizdat Online Literary Journal, the Facepainters.org (an online art collective), Writing Without Walls (print), and in the California College of the Arts Graduate book for 2013. She has also been published by the National Gallery of Congress (at age 15). “Summer 13” is a prose poem divided into seven small sections. It was written so that the reader would view the poem’s world from a large, zoomed out lens. As the crows pass through the air and dive closer to humanity, we get a quick glimpse into a summer that is “passing right through us.” There are quick portrait stanzas of three characters that combine themes of existentialism, nature, and human growth.
Poem by: MARITONI ALDEA
Today I feel small but my brain feels big
I tried to fit my whole being inside of this box
but she wouldn’t fit
She’s in that awkward stage
Where nothing’s the right size
And it won’t be for a while.
Today I feel small but my brain feels big
I tend to over think a lot
To the point where my brain doesn’t fit
It’s in this awkward stage
Where it thinks so much
That all it wants to do is sleep
And it’ll be like that for a while
Today I feel small but my brain feels big
And I like it today
Today I feel alright with feeling small
I make it a date; just me and me
With the grass between my toes
And I pretend to be invisible for a while
Today I feel small but my brain is big
It’s a good thing this time
Because you can’t fit wooly mammoths into a casket
And you can’t fit the universe into a speck.
Because it’s okay to be different; variety is a spice of life
I happen to be a cayenne pepper
And I decide to stay spicy for a while
Today I feel really relaxed and at peace
My body’s not too small and my brains not too big
I’m just right; I’m whole
I step outside my head and say hello
To the world and everything in it
And I think I might stay for a while.
As I sit in my study, stuck with a half written poem
Jony the carpenter is humming a song. It’s unclear.
Except the You stands out distinctly in my ears.
It reminds me of the song I once heard, on a night bus,
on my way to Kakarbhita. It was an April night, a half-moon
hewn clear in a cloudless sky – almost like a lantern.
The gangway was stuffed with sacks of rice
and people’s eyes drooped with sleep. I had a window view –
the tinted glass pane opened wide. And as the bus
moved into the night, I rested my head
on the back of the seat, felt the wind lift the roots of my hair,
listened to the song and watched the moon
follow our bus all night.
Nabin Kumar Chhetri reads for an M.St in creative writing at the University of Oxford. He is a member of Scottish PEN, graduated with a degree of M.Litt in Novel from the University of Aberdeen, and has been awarded from Italy, Israel and Nepal for his poems. In 2011, He won an award for his poem ‘Memory’ from Nosside International Poetry prize (UNESCO heritage Award) Italy and prior to that, won honorary mention from the same organization. His poem has also been awarded by Miriam Felicia Lindberg Memorial Foundation, Israel. Another poem was awarded a Diploma from Edizioni Universum, Italy. His anthology ‘ Zero Passion ‘ (ISBN No. 8186056238) published by writers Forum, India has been catalogued in the National Library, Minister of Culture, India.
Nabin’s works have appeared in Lamp Journal( Canada), Ink Sweat and Tears( UK), Gutter( Scotland), Poetry Scotland ( UK), Irish Literary review( Ireland), S.N Review (US), Apple Valley Review(Canada), The London Grip(UK), Forge Journal (UK), Wayfarers(UK), Shot Glass Journal(US), Ricepaper Magazine(Canada), Penny Dreadful(USA), The Sun(India), Nosside Poetry Anthology 2010(Italy), Quest(India), Spinny Babbler(Nepal), Mawaheb(Canada), Poetry Quarterly(China), Fade Poetry Journal(UK), Cynic magazine(US), Tower Journal(US), Poetic Justice – Amnesty International Anthology (Scotland), Featured Poet of the week in Poetry Super Highway(US), Taj Mahal Review (India), Revival(Ireland), Reverie Poetry Journal(US), Sixers Review(US), The Essence(UK), The Kathmandu Post(Nepal), Red Ochre Lit Journal (US), Nosside Poetry Anthology 2011(Italy), Birds Eye Review(US), The Dupage Valley Review, Benedictine University’s Press (US) and Verse Wisconsin (US). Two more poems are due to appear in Fade Annual anthology (UK) and Canon’s Mouth Poetry Journal (UK). Two of his poems are now due to appear in The Istanbul Review and Voices Israel.
By: JOHANNA “Joey” WAGNER
Writer of all kinds of things. Admirer of beauty. Wanderer.
O you who have sound intellects,
Consider the teaching that is hidden
behind the veil of these strange
Inferno, Canto IX, verses 61-63
Before Dante began The Divine Comedy (1308-1321), his magnum opus, he was hard at work on a sprawling philosophical treatise called The Banquet. Begun in 1303 and left unfinished, it is a probing work of commentary in prose punctuated by poetic insertions that introduce matters ranging from politics to linguistics.
At some point during the writing of this treatise Dante decided to ditch prose altogether and focus on verse. Poetic space became the nursery for formidable offspring like philosophy, theology and science. It also opened up avenues to showcase dialect, humor and realism. It became for Dante, as scholar John Scott suggests, “the supreme medium for the expression of the totality of human experience and knowledge” (141). Thus, in the Comedy, Dante the poet is free to ponder great thinkers from Aristotle to Aquinas, as well as address his readers with intimate asides, and even stage bawdy comedies, all fitting neatly within his terza rima.
Dante still inspires high and low culture alike,* but I wonder if his true legacy should instead be a call for poetry to usurp prose—to take its rightful place once again at the center of human expression—one that makes readers from all walks of life laugh equally while deeply contemplating the unknowns of our own age.
Alighieri, Dante. The Inferno. Trans. Robert and Jean Hollander. New York: Doubleday, 2000.
Scott, John A. Understanding Dante. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2004.
*For Dante’s influence today see: Joseph Luzzi’s “I found myself in a dark wood” NYTonline.com, 2013; Dan Brown’s novel Dante’s Inferno, 2013; James Sewell Ballet Inferno, 2014; Sean Meredith’s film Dante’s Inferno, 2007.