A Thread of Winter
sun sends frost into the grass and soil
wind is waiting for the dog to drop the ball
those late night moments when a stretch of freeway
is empty and resents the next vehicle that comes through
but the road can’t change fast enough to assert its will
other times the freeway is so full and heavy
nothing moves and the earth beneath it
dreams of being a river and swimming inside itself
as the river knows without dreaming that
for much of winter, several threads of frozen water
tangle through it, unable to cohere or slow anything
yes heat rises, but in winter cold starts at the top
walking to and from high school in winter, i could
generate heat in the center of my chest and have it
flow outwards, never spent enough time in heat
to generate cold, or a wind that trickles out my pores
not breath, a snack I can walk through
legless walking, how this body could fly
and land safely
what if our solar system was too hot
and we needed the opposite of the sun
to make earth cool enough to live on
what if the only places to live on this planet
were at the equator, what new ways
would we divide time, how would we
vary our wardrobes, what would be
peak vacation times, our birthdays
would be our personal new years
what if the only places to live on this planet
were at the equator, would I get adventurous
or systematically imaginative
About the Author: dan raphael’s poetry collection In the Wordshed will published by Last Word Press this November. More recent poems appear in Fireweed, Trampoline, Rasputin, Haight Ashbury Literary Journal and Unlikely Stories. Most Wednesdays dan writes and records a current events poet for The KBOO Evening News.
Image Credit: Ferdynand Ruszczyc “Winter Tale” (1904) Public domain image courtesy of Artvee
About the Author: Christian Paulisich is an undergraduate poet at Johns Hopkins University. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland, but is originally from the Bay Area, California. His poems have appeared in Neologism Poetry Journal, Orchards Poetry Journal, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, and Monterey Poetry Review. He enjoys nature walks, drinking Yerba mate, and spending time with loved ones.
Image Credit: Original image from Icones rerum naturalium. Copenhague,Chez E.A.H. Möller, etc.,1805-1806. Courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library
NIGHT CONVERSATIONS (After Mei Yao Chen)
I watch a chilly night arrive.
Leaves die on the trees,
unable to survive.
Will I be afraid when
it’s my turn to die?
I tell myself words
that are probably lies.
Clouds solid as mountains
disappear from the sky.
Death is as mysterious
as is life to me.
I talk to my cat. He’s
concerned with a worm.
He’s incredibly wise.
He pays no attention
when I tell him my lies.
About the Author: George Freek’s poetry has appeared in numerous Journals and Reviews. His poem “Written At Blue Lake” was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
The powdery mildew killed my eyes
but I’d climb it anyhow
an ancient Gravenstein
with a pine tar patch
in the vee of two trunks
My dad’s friend was a jazz guitarist
and a tree surgeon
to my kid ears ‘tree surgeon’
was as good as Dr.
he did the patch
and later died of vodka poisoning
in his mobile home
I picked up the guitar myself
and wondered what dad thought about it
My dad and the tree
look worse each year
sooty blotch and flyspeck
liver spots and basal carcinomas
but big, sweet Gravensteins
as if the tree knows
these are the last
they’ll ever have.
About the Author: Jon Bennett writes and plays music in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. You can find his work on most music streaming sites as well as here. His new chapbook, Leisure Town, is available on Amazon here.
the gentle hours
a felt bluebird perches on the purple
orchid on my kitchen table
a broken heat wave
elixir for the skin
these are the gentle hours
at 6 am I’m up and around the place
shedding the shortened sleep
I haven’t yet grown into my windows,
the few flat bottomed clouds have
nested under my eyes, dawn is an
obsessive safecracker vault of blue
sky wide open dreams wide open morning
broken like an egg and opened no one at
this hour seems shocked at the sounds of life.
I think of my friends present and long gone
as interstellar rainbows, sun-kissed
children of beauty no one but everyone
ends up a stranger, they are my muses
my runes my river. When I think of them
I think every star inhabits the soul of a
desert flower, every soul a signal fire.
First news of the day will rattle some
empty cages, no doubt, it’ll take more
than imagining the contents of Thoreau’s
haversack to gentle the earth. At my age I
become something I’m not all over again
and it fits me like a glove. Fate is a direction
that won’t let me lose my way.
About the Author: John Macker grew up in Colorado and has lived in northern New Mexico for 25 years. He has published 13 full-length books and chapbooks of poetry, 2 audio recordings, an anthology of fiction and essays, and several broadsides over 30 years. His most recent are Atlas of Wolves, The Blues Drink Your Dreams Away, Selected Poems 1983-2018, (a 2019 Arizona/New Mexico Book Awards finalist), Desert Threnody, essays and short fiction (winner of the 2021 Arizona/New Mexico Book Awards fiction anthology prize), El Rialto, a short prose memoir and Chaco Sojourn, short stories, (both illustrated by Leon Loughridge and published in limited edition by Dry Creek Art Press.) In 2019, his poem “Happiness” won a Fischer Poetry Prize finalist citation, sponsored by the Telluride Institute.
The hot winds blow northwards.
Laboring hearts adapt to a slow-burning rhythm.
Nights find you breathing harder,
dreaming languid dreams dipped in Saharan orange.
Snow melts into puddles, makes
little rapids in the gullies.
Shy bright green unfolds on hitherto
barren winter stalks, like young girls
succumbing to the whispered promise
of swelter, not heeding either calendar
or caution. Cars covered in red sand
use the roads like go-cart runs. An early
tulip pushes through heavy slush,
a sense of unseemliness in the air.
On a park bench two grey heads,
woolen scarves undone daringly,
galoshes protecting warm shoes.
Old hands stripped of thick gloves,
he holds hers and bends over them as far
as his stiff back gives him leave.
The Sirocco will hold a few days.
About the Author: Rose Mary Boehm is a German-born British national living and writing in Lima, Peru. Her poetry has been published widely in mostly US poetry reviews (online and print). She was twice nominated for a Pushcart. Her fifth poetry collection, DO OCEANS HAVE UNDERWATER BORDERS, will be published by Kelsay Books in July 2022. https://www.rose-mary-boehm-poet.com/
Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Dead Leaves and Landscape” (2021)
Stay a Spell
The cicadas kissed the curves of my ears,
pale fingers fighting nothing but air and the thinness of wings.
Chop, shift, I split the wood again
chop, shift, the butterscotch chips catching in the frays
of an old knitted coat.
Skillet fried dinner blends to skillet fried dessert—
What was that?
A rustle of leaves yields sunny-sides filled with shell
and the squirrel chuckles up his chestnuts.
He picks his shells with ease.
The warm fire deepens the orange of my hair
and blushes the apples of my cheeks.
Oxygen and black smoke trickle through my lungs—
carbon dioxide bleaching the fumes clear.
We need more tinder.
My eyes meet a doe dancing behind the flame.
Thin ankles locked straight to the left and chin whiskers
quirked to the right; she stood firm.
Who was I to stay a spell in her living room?
I didn’t even take off my shoes.
About the Author: Hannah Bagley lives and attends the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega, Georgia. An English literature major and German minor, she has also been published in The Chestatee Review. Hannah draws inspiration from her upbringing in Southern Appalachia and its rich history. She plans to continue poetry in the pursuit of nature, life, and expression of the human experience.
Image Credit: Winslow Homer “Campfire” (1880) Public domain image courtesy of Artvee
I’ve started to think in weather,
to measure time that way.
I don’t know what you’re saying
if you don’t tell me
or there’s snow coming,
or give me the percentage
of sunshine to expect.
My friends tell me
the frost is gone in Galway.
is moving through.
These and other forecasts,
all the news I need.
Snow has softened
in Santa Fe.
in from the wilderness.
Gusts roll in the Cascades,
transient clouds obscure
the summit of Mt. Hood.
Rain is expected in Borneo.
A heat wave in Sydney.
Extremes mark every hour.
Hello and goodbye
are steeped in tempests.
About the Author: Carolyn Adams’ poetry and art have appeared in Steam Ticket, Cimarron Review, Dissident Voice, and Blueline Magazine, among others. Having authored four chapbooks, her full-length volume is forthcoming from Fernwood Press. She has been twice nominated for both Best of the Net and a Pushcart prize.
About the Author: Troy Schoultz is a lifelong Wisconsin resident. His poems, stories, and reviews have appeared in Seattle Review, Rattle, Slipstream, Chiron Review, Fish Drum, Santa Monica Review, Steel Toe Review, Midwestern Gothic, Palooka and many others in the U.S. and U.K. since 1997. He is the author of two chapbooks and three full-length collections. His interests and influences include rock and roll, vinyl LPs, found objects, the paranormal, abandoned places, folklore, old cemeteries, and the number five. He hosts and produces S’kosh: The Oshkosh Podcast. For more information check out https://troyschoultz.wixsite.com/website
Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Crow on a Fence” (2021)