Ruth Bavetta: “Stargazers”

Stargazers 

Lilies strain from the mouth 
of the vase by the window, open 

their throats to the sky, stretching
toward the accumulation of clouds,

furred stamens powdered red
as starling’s blood. The shadows

of the room, the scent of 
perfume heavy as tomorrow’s end

held in stasis for seven steady 
days as stems collapse in secret

and leaves transmute to slime. 
In this world of sorrow and of loss 

all things must fail, must come to moss
and murder, must disintegrate

in damp and dust. And we must 
open our throats, and swallow.

About the Author: Ruth Bavetta’s poems have appeared in North American Review, Nimrod, Rattle, Slant, American Journal of Poetry, and many other journals and anthologies. She likes the light on November afternoons, the music of Stravinsky, the smell of the ocean. She hates pretense, fundamentalism and sauerkraut.

Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Fire Lily” (2022)

Candice Kelsey: “We Didn’t Bother with the Rose Garden”

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We Didn’t Bother with the Rose Garden



at the Huntington Library
we trekked toward
the tussled little squares
of horehound
licorice lavender mignonette
and heliotrope
waiting impatiently
like overgrown graves
with bamboo souls
hovering mid-trellis dance
for people like us
who strolled on occasion
when the weather was just right
past the tearoom
into the Herb Garden sustenance
of thumb and forefinger
rubbing like grasshoppers’ legs
to release the scent
of garlic chive and lemongrass
even lovage borage
or sometimes marjoram
such funny words
that seem to rub together
now and release the memory
of a time when my children
had no interest
in the predictability of roses
preferring again and again
the chaotic clusters
of sweet alyssum
which I’ve come to learn means
worth beyond beauty

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About the Author: Candice Kelsey teaches writing in the South. Her poetry appears in Poets Reading the News and Poet Lore among other journals, and her first collection, Still I am Pushing, explores mother-daughter relationships as well as toxic body messages. She won the 2019 Two Sisters Writing’s Contest and was recently nominated for both a Best of the Net and a Pushcart. Find her at www.candicemkelseypoet.com

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Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Faded Rose” (2021)

Jo Angela Edwins: “Housewarming Party”

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Housewarming Party

The host asks about a tree
in his new yard,
and quickly I answer,
Saucer magnolia.

The pink blooms are just now
unfolding themselves,
shy hands giving up
on a prayer.

I tell my mother’s story,
how she called them tulip trees
until my sister bought a tulip tree
to plant in our yard,

its yellow blooms nothing
like these lush pinks and violets,
its leaves dancing, opened wide
as shaken kerchiefs.

My mother wasn’t thrilled
with being corrected.
It’s what we were taught,
was all she said.

But she wasn’t cruel, merely hurt,
like so many times in her life,
like the time we corrected her spelling
of forty, laughing at the unexpected “u.”

Then my teachers were wrong!
And we chuckled and agreed.
We were her children. We were tipsy
on our young wisdom.

I leave out the sadness
when I tell the story.
But it’s there. It tastes bitter,
like the black coffee

she made instant and drank
in chipped but dainty tea cups
as she stared out our kitchen windows
at the inscrutable forest.

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About the Author: Jo Angela Edwins has published poems in various venues, recently including Amethyst ReviewBreakwater ReviewFeral, and Thimble Literary Magazine. Her chapbook Play was published in 2016. She has received awards from Winning Writers, Poetry Super Highway, and the SC Academy of Authors and is a Pushcart Prize, Forward Prize, and Bettering American Poetry nominee. She lives in Florence, SC, where she serves as the poet laureate of the Pee Dee region of the state.

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Image Credit: Image from Illustrations of Himalayan plants: London : L. Reeve,1855. Courtesy of The Biodiversity Heritage Library

Brian Rihlmann: “Heart Leaves Whispering”

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Heart Leaves Whispering 

I could stare
straight at the sun
this morning
a harmless pink disc
in the sky
half as bright
as a full moon
the smoke smelled
sweet as apocalypse
the mountains fled coughing
over the horizon to hide
as the rose of Sharon
bloomed laughing
and the heart leaves
of the redbud
wilted weeping
whispering to me
in a language I wish
I didn’t understand

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About the Author: Brian Rihlmann lives in Reno, Nevada. His work has appeared in many magazines, including Chiron Review, The Main Street Rag, The American Journal Of Poetry, and New York Quarterly. He has authored three collections of poetry, most recently “A Screaming Place,” (2021) by Cajun Mutt Press.

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More By Brian Rihlmann:

The Whole Point of the Game

Unknown Soldiers

Certainty

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Image Credit: Jan Stanislawski “Sun” 1905 Public Domain