Kathleen Hellen: “veiled fatale”

About the Author: Kathleen Hellen’s collection Meet Me at the Bottom is forthcoming from Main Street Rag. Her credits include The Only Country Was the Color of My Skin, her award-winning collection Umberto’s Night, published by Washington Writers’ Publishing House, and two chapbooks, The Girl Who Loved Mothra and Pentimento. Featured on Poetry Daily and Verse Daily, her work has appeared in Arts & Letters, The Carolina QuarterlyCimarron ReviewColorado Review, Massachusetts ReviewNew LettersNimrodNorth American Review, Prairie SchoonerSalamander, The Sewanee ReviewSouthern Humanities Review, SubtropicsThe Sycamore ReviewTampa Review OnlineWest Branch, and Witness, among others. Hellen’s awards include the Thomas Merton poetry prize and prizes from the H.O.W. Journal and Washington Square Review, as well as individual artist awards from the Maryland State Arts Council and the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts.

Image Credit: Pierre Amédée Marcel-Beronneau “Salomé, L’oiseau De Proie” Public domain image courtesy of Artvee.

“And on the Seventh Day” By Agnes Vojta



And on the Seventh Day

God had finished his work and thought
a rest day would be a nice change.
But he didn’t have anybody to play golf with,
because Satan was busy.
After the thrill of creating,
He wondered
what to do to amuse Himself.

So He figured,
let’s give those humans free will
and see what they do with it. Perhaps
watching them will be
a fun pastime.

And He settled down to watch
civilizations rise and fall
and humans slaughter each other,
and when the same stories played out
over and over again,
He became bored and
wandered off to
create another universe.

This time, He thought,
I’ll make one
without people.


About the Author: Agnes Vojta grew up in Germany and now lives in Rolla, Missouri where she teaches physics at Missouri S&T. She is the author of Porous Land (Spartan Press, 2019). Her poems recently appeared in Gasconade Review, Thimble Literary MagazineTrailer Park QuarterlyPoetry Quarterly, and elsewhere.


More By Agnes Vojta:



Image Credit: William Blake “Ancient of Days” (1794)

“Remembering the Great Flood in the Frozen Food Aisle” By Ronnie Sirmans



0 g. Zero grams: No trans fats, according
to the big numeral and letter on the label.
As I rolled my cart past the frozen foods,
I’d first read zero grams as a word: Og.
The giant who died in the Great Flood.
Or did he?  Some say this freakish ruler
accompanied the ark. His anaconda-fingers
holding tight, his oxen-calves wrapped around
any wood that would not break, his walrus-torso
pressed firmly, resisting the rough breakers.
This supercenter — tools, groceries, sundries,
scented candles and oils of deserts and tropics,
live fish for pets, frozen-boxed fish for eating —
could serve as a modern sepulcher to the king.
Did Og relate to the pachyderms? Did Noah’s
daughters swoon? Can sea elephants blow kisses?
Or did this king’s domain and lineage conclude,
not like the dinosaurs in ash, but in a deluge?

I navigate toward an open aisle
in the archipelago of checkouts,
lighted numerals above cashiers
are north stars guiding my passage.
As I wait, I think Og shows: How little
we know about some very big things.
I get lost in some sermons’ sameness.
In church this Sunday morning,
they might even talk about Noah
or the other fantastic seafarer Jonah,
but I am instead listening to the beep
as an infrared scanner says this
is the price I must pay for a case
of bottled water, so much water.


About the Author: Ronnie Sirmans is a digital editor for a print newspaper in Atlanta, and his poems have appeared in Gargoyle, The South Carolina Review, Tar River Poetry, BlazeVOX, The American Journal of Poetry, Deep South Magazine, and elsewhere.


Image Credit: Digital photo collage by Chase Dimock


“The First Mourning” By William-Adolphe Bougereau (1888)



By Sister Lou Ella Hickman



was the original survivor story
evicted from her plush garden palace
which meant she had to start over
this time she would discover
how much life isn’t fair
when she lost both her sons
and she started over
another son
then her long shadow of silence
cast under a sun that had blistered
begin again or despair


About the Author: Sister Lou Ella is a former teacher and librarian. She is a certified spiritual director as well as a poet and writer. Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines such as America, First Things, Emmanuel, Third Wednesday, and New Verse News as well as in anthologies including The Night’s Magician: Poems About the Moon, edited by Philip Kolin and Sue Brannnan Walker, Down to the Dark River edited by Philip Kolin, Secrets edited by Sue Brannan Walker and After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events edited by Tom Lombardo. Last year she was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her first book of poetry entitled she: robed and wordless was published in 2015. (Press 53.)

What Would Jesus Say?

Pieter Brueghel the Younger “Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery” (circa 1600s)


What Would Jesus Say?

By Robert Boucheron 


There is a gap of thirty years or more from the death of Jesus in about 30 A. D. to the writing of Mark, the earliest gospel, after 60 A. D. During this period of time, Jesus’s teaching—the parables, prayers, healings, and other words and deeds—was passed down by word of mouth, scholars believe. The Greek word for this oral material is logia, translated as “sayings.”

Evidence for an oral tradition comes from three passages. The best known is the beginning of the gospel of Luke. Luke 1:1-3 reads:

Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account . . .

Two other passages are quotations in Eusebius from Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord, a lost book by bishop Papias of Hierapolis, who wrote about 100 A. D:

Mark in his capacity as Peter’s interpreter, wrote down accurately as many things as he recalled from memory, though not in an ordered form, of the things either said or done by the Lord. For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied him, but later, as I said, Peter, who used to give his teachings in the form of anecdotes . . .

Matthew put the sayings in in an ordered arrangement in the Hebrew [Aramaic] language.

The name at the head of each gospel has kata, or “according to” in Greek, and by custom we refer to the names as their authors. In fact, we do not know how the gospels were composed, by whom, where, or for what audience. A standard view is that Matthew and Luke used Mark as a source, added material, and aimed for gentile readers. John wrote last, at the end of the century and independently, with another eyewitness source, “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”

Regarding the second passage from Papias, some scholars think that the gospel of Matthew was composed in Greek, based on its style, and not translated from a Semitic language. But Papias might still be correct, and what we have is a paraphrase or loose translation. Luke wrote better Greek than Mark or Matthew, and he altered the sayings. John reworked the sayings in the way that Plato used the words of Socrates to compose his dialogues, and John added his own theological ideas about Jesus. Some of the speeches in this gospel, then, are unlikely to be things that Jesus actually said.

As quoted, the words of Jesus have a literary quality. They are not spur-of-the moment improvisations or off-the-cuff remarks. After two thousand years and translation to English, they still sound fresh. In addition to the visionary “kingdom of God” and the ambiguous “son of man,” as well as many striking phrases, the sayings have rhetorical style, a gift for metaphor, and the story-telling appeal of the parables. They also sound consistent, the product of a single mind. Continue reading “What Would Jesus Say?”