Stand by Sharon Denmark

Stand

Someone put a deer stand on the clear cut’s
edge, facing a field of rutted red mud
and torn, bent saplings. In the winter distance
another purple-gray line of forest
is left standing. Cloven hooves make their way
through this new game of pick up sticks. “The hunting
of deer or bear with a gun, firearm, or other weapon
with the aid or assistance of dogs
on Sunday is prohibited,” as though
there’s enough bloodshed bound on onion skin pages
to sustain us through that day.

*

Sharon Denmark is an artist and writer from Virginia. Most recently, her work has appeared in FERAL. During the day she can be found sorting through life’s leftovers.

Love Warrior by Alison Luterman

Love Warrior

In the hard months after I’d split from my first husband
there were times when I could not bear
to listen to music at all and especially not
to Tuck & Patti
and my favorite album of theirs, Love Warrior,
with its refrain: “We give up on Love
so easily…” because Patti Cathcart’s voice always sounded
like it had been soaked in the dark rum
of requited passion for a thousand years,
whereas I’d been stripped down to the bones
of myself, and they were bare, honey,
they were dry as unbuttered toast,
so whenever I heard that song
I’d find myself in a sodden heap on the floor.
Patti’s voice was an infusion,
almost unbearable in its potency, a womanly call to rise
and face life’s entwined and ever-shifting harmonies,
syncopation of the sublime against a backbeat
of the real; the tune I needed to hear
with my whole shattered heart.
You can’t put that kind of art
on a staff with notes and a treble clef.
Who knows where it came from, what battlefield
she had to stagger through to sing it
with that kind of conviction, blood-streaked,
smoke haloing her curls,
yet clothed in a faith I let enter me
through osmosis, praying that someday its sweet echo
might find me on my feet again.

*

Alison Luterman’s books of poems include The Largest Possible Life (Cleveland State University press), See How We Almost Fly (Pearl Editions), Desire Zoo (Tia Chucha Press), and In the Time of Great Fires (Catamaran Press). She has published poems in The New York Times Magazine, The Sun Magazine, Prairie Schooner, Nimrod, Rattle, The Atlanta Review, and many other journals and anthologies. Two of her poems are included in Billy Collins Poetry 180 project at the Library of Congress. Five of her personal essays have been collected in the e-book Feral City, published at http://www.shebooks.net. She has also written half a dozen plays, including several musicals. She has taught and/or been poet-in-residence at California Poets in the Schools, New College in San Francisco, Holy Names College in Oakland, The Writing Salon in Berkeley, at Esalen and Omega Institutes, at the Great Mother Conference, and at various writing retreats all over the country. Check out her website http://www.alisonluterman.net for more information.

In Late Summer of the Northern Hemisphere, Preparing Cherry Tomatoes by Audrey Hackett

In Late Summer of the Northern Hemisphere, Preparing Cherry Tomatoes

Little red planets
cool to touch.

Or Jupiter’s spot—
a sink of perfect storms.

Pop off stems.
The birth of
green stars.

*

Audrey Hackett is a poet and editor living in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She received an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award for 2022 and is a graduate of Vermont College of Fine Arts. Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Alba, ONE ART, Green Ink, Right Hand Pointing, and Twelve Mile Review.

Mother’s Ready by Tina Barry

Mother’s Ready

I wish for my mother’s death,
as she does, if only for her to be reborn
lucky. The take for granted kind of luck–

Pretty face.
An aptitude for math.
Adored.

I go to a tarot reader.
After a few flips, the death card.
I imagine the drawing

on its face is a knight on horseback,
some sign that my mother will exit
life in a romantic stampede.

But it isn’t shining armor, just a hood
draping death’s face.
Is it wrong to wish for her end to be as glorious

as the watercolors she painted?
Café scenes and seascapes.
A coral reef–

red and its shadow–so real,
she could hold it in her palm
like a tiny hand.

*

Tina Barry is the author of Beautiful Raft (Big Table Publishing, 2019) and Mall Flower (Big Table Publishing, 2016). Her poems and fiction have appeared in numerous literary publications such as The Best Small Fictions 2020 (spotlighted story) and 2016, The American Poetry Journal, Sky Island Journal, Nixes Mate, Lascaux Review, Harbor Review (book review), Nasty Women Poets, A Constellation of Kisses and upcoming in Rattle. Tina is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and has several Best of the Net nods. She is a teaching artist at The Poetry Barn and Writers.com.

Postcard from Paris by Julia Caroline Knowlton

Postcard from Paris

Paris is a paintbox of love’s dark mystery and light.
Its bridges and lanterns, its wrought iron balconies
and pale rose moon on the Seine—all of it communicates
a feeling that transcends time but not place, like a desire
for someone you have never met. No wonder artists
flock here like birds instinctively finding their way home.
I was lovesick for Paris even before I ever came here.
Like any grand amour this city will seduce you, charm you,
challenge and bewilder you. Don’t worry about wearing or saying
the right thing here. You do belong. We all belong.
Walk along the river, look at art, sit for a while in cafés and parks.
Breathe in the scent of this city, a mixture of expensive perfume,
butter, cigarette smoke and soot. Watch the sun sink pink and low,
listen to creaking wooden shutters concealing lives you cannot know.

*

Julia Caroline Knowlton MFA PhD is Professor of French at Agnes Scott College, where she also teaches creative writing. The author of five books, she is the recipient of an Academy of American Poets College Prize and a 2018 Georgia Author of the Year award. She regularly publishes her poems in journals such as thimble, One Art and Rust & Moth. One of her poems will be publicly installed outdoors in 2022 as a part of the GA Poetry in the Parks project.

Two Poems by Donna Hilbert

I Do 100 Flying Cloud Hands While the Coffee Drips

In a copper-bottomed pot, my mother perked coffee,
adding a pinch of salt to bring out the flavor.
I was a kid and I thought it was good
with lots of milk and a little sugar.

Later, she adopted Coffee Mate: You can’t tell the difference!
Then Cool Whip: Just as good as Whipped Cream!
Some new margarine: As yummy as butter, maybe better!

When I eschewed meat, she declared I couldn’t possibly taste
the chicken broth base in the casserole, or the bacon fat
seasoning green beans. Oh, how she wished me to swallow
what gagged me, then open my mouth and drip praise.

*

Anthurium in August

Anthuriums abloom
in a bayside yard,

take me back to Christmas
in the old house,

that year we abandoned
tree and tinsel

to cheer ourselves instead

with bouquets
of crimson bracts:

golden-tongued
open mouths of joy.

*

Donna Hilbert’s latest book is Threnody, from Moon Tide Press. Earlier books include Gravity: New & Selected Poems, Tebot Bach, 2018. She is a monthly contributing writer to the on-line journal Verse-Virtual. Work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Braided Way, Chiron Review, Sheila-Na-Gig, Rattle, Zocalo Public Square, One Art, and numerous anthologies. Poems have been featured on The Writer’s Almanac and on Lyric Life. She writes and leads private workshops in Southern California, where she makes her home, and during residencies at Write On Door County. Learn more at www.donnahilbert.com

He Brings Me Figs by Margaret Dornaus

He Brings Me Figs

He’s worried I don’t like them, though
I’ve told him that I did. The truth is
I haven’t had the nerve to try them
yet . . . But when he handed me his
preserves, it seemed more than a little
unkind not to take them. I suppose
I could have told him I was just
waiting for the right moment. For
that special occasion when I’d break
the jar’s seal wide open to ladle fig
after fig free of the sweet syrupy
tidal wave of sugar contained within
a small aquarium of riches, spoon
them over plain vanilla ice cream
I’ll serve guests I’m not expecting.
So when he asks again whether
I enjoyed the fruits of his labor,
I answer, Yes. I’d forgotten
what it’s like to hold a universe
of hope in my hands. To let a heady
bouquet of summer flowers ripen
without worrying what may or
may not pass. To be free
from all but the sure, exquisite
knowledge that even small
gifts require savoring.

*

Margaret Dornaus holds an MFA in the translation of poetry from the University of Arkansas. A semifinalist in Naugatuck River Review’s 13th annual Narrative Poetry Contest, she had the privilege of editing and publishing a pandemic-themed anthology—behind the mask: haiku in the time of Covid-19—through her small literary press Singing Moon in 2020. Her first book of poetry, Prayer for the Dead: Collected Haibun & Tanka Prose, won a 2017 Merit Book Award from the Haiku Society of America. Recent poems appear or are forthcoming in I-70 Review, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Minyan Magazine, MockingHeart Review, ONE ART, Silver Birch Press, and The Ekphrastic Review.

ONE ART’s nominations for Best Spiritual Literature

~ ONE ART’s nominations for Orison Book’s Best Spiritual Literature (formerly The Orison Anthology) ~ 

Amit Majmudar – Constancy
Bracha K. Sharp – After The Questions
Jennifer Abod – At the Indian Ocean
Pauli Dutton – While Teaching Line Dancing at a Senior Center, Someone Accuses Me of Always Being Happy
Donna Spruijt-Metz – Day 0: Shekhinah
Robin Turner – The Unfolding

Into a Salt Mine by Marc Vincenz

Into a Salt Mine

A crack of waves on a bench above the ocean.

Words fall hard. Which story is yours?

Every culprit swallowed in Abyssinia,
Where the secretaries move at half-past

Six, where the only spoil is the numbers
On the fabric—set the currency to your clock.

Whose confession is this? Become a vapor,
An id in space-time, that you may tread

The awkward and sinful under the lion’s gaze.

Cast those kernels to the breeze.

*

Marc Vincenz is an Anglo-Swiss-American poet, fiction writer, translator, editor and artist. He has published over 30 books of poetry, fiction and translation. His work has been published in The Nation, Ploughshares, Raritan, Colorado Review, World Literature Today and The Los Angeles Review of Books. He is publisher and editor of MadHat Press and publisher of New American Writing.

Walking Around the House During Quarantine by Bethany Chez

Walking Around the House During Quarantine

Did everyone notice we have a new family member,
my mom announces, referring to the sourdough starter
that she’s plopped on the buffet neighboring my dust-collecting
alligator keychain ornament. They recommend giving it a name…
Which I am sure the wooden pig with glass eyes upon the mantle
feels smug about, given he has no name and will never be eaten.
His tail and left hind leg were glued on long ago: a shattering
no one remembers anymore, so he relaxes high above us.
Less relaxed are the two finches in the stained glass in the window.
As long as I can remember I have heard these birds speaking
to each other about the bird house they’re sitting in front of.
They face each other: Is this it? We’re living here? I’m not sure.
And the other finch says: Yes, trust me, this is good.
The house is not exactly proportional to fit the finches
so their concerns are fair. Perhaps the confident finch
has spent too much time speaking with the Russian Nesting Doll
on the book shelf, who is not at all interested in space
or socializing: keep inside, keep close, keep safe, she repeats,
over and over again as her love materializes
in all seventeen babies each one insulated and accounted for,
their ornate paint as fresh and bright as the day they were made.

*

Bethany Chez is a poet living near Philadelphia. She received her M.S.Ed from the University of Pennsylvania and studied creative writing at Allegheny College.