On this page: poems by Don Schaeffer, Duane L. Herrmann, Edgar Allan Philpott, Edna Gorney, Eira Needham, Elizabeth Claverie, Elizabeth Schultz, Eva Eliav, Eva Shaltiel, Fern G. Z. Carr, Frances J. Pearce, Frank H. Coons, Gayle Lauradunn, Gregory L. Candela, Gretti Izak, Hannah Amit, Helen Yeoman, Ina G. Perlmuter, Irene Mitchell, Iris Dan, James K. Zimmerman, Jan FitzGerald, Jeanie Greensfelder, Jennifer Lagier, Jenny Robertson, Joan Digby
The following works are copyright © 2013. All rights reserved. No distribution or reprinting in any form whatsoever without written permission from the authors.
Don Schaeffer is a phenomenological poet, devoted to exact description of experience. At the age of 70, he has experienced the institutionalization of his spouse and the re-development of a new life out of the ashes of the old one. His poems reflect the transitions in his life. He currently lives in New York after spending half his adult life in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada.
Don has published a dozen volumes of poetry. His poetry has appeared in numerous periodicals and has been translated into Chinese for distribution abroad. Don is a habitue of the poetry forum network and has received first prize in the Interboard competition.
The message in the bacterium
was written almost
at the beginning of time.
The bacterium is language.
It moves through passageways
in the words that constitute an ant,
supplanting ant words with phrases of itself.
It manufactures urges,
The bacterium rephrases
the paragraphs of the ant
into a perverse instruction to climb
a rock and call
a bird with its sweet body.
Inside the energetic belly of a bird
the bacterium copies itself.
Aurora: Mistress of the Stage
In the crisp evening
the bits of light
gather to form living things
that dance in the sky.
She is in the midst of her flight
floating on waves
of eye glow and laughter.
She can feel the living waves
like a bird feels the
hardness of the air under her wing.
Duane L. Herrmann
Duane L. Herrmann lives in the rolling prairie near Topeka, Kansas. His work can be found in: American Poets of the 1990's, BAFA, The Blue Pen, Inscape, Little Balkans Review, Midwest Quarterly, Orison, Phoenix Sound, Planet Kansas, Potpourri, World Order, the Kansas Poets Trail in downtown Wichita, Kansas and the Map of Kansas Literature (website). Awards include the Robert Hayden Poetry Fellowship, Writers Matrix and the Ferguson Kansas History Book Award for 2007.
Evening darkness shrouded
and cloaked the land,
Trees went black against
the faint gray sky.
The whippoorwill called
from far away, then nearer:
calling each time closer,
then the tree before me.
Suddenly, in flight
it saw me, unusual there.
Shimmering white form hovered,
wings and tail whirring
suspended in the air
examining this creature, me,
and I it.
Two curious beings
intent on the other,
time stood still.
Here was the form of angels
of popular belief,
but tiny – bird sized,
in the air above.
Now I understood:
the form, the source;
but nearly apparition.
Birdwatching At Sunrise
I asked a bird I did not know
if he knew
he was a bird.
He did not know, but said,
“If I see another fly like me,
I will know -
and that is all I need to know.”
but from whence comes wisdom?
find such wisdom too?
other humans as human,
one of us, all people,
when we meet another,
knowing all of us
are less different
than we are the same.
Edgar Allan Philpott (a.k.a Wanda Sue Parrott)
Wanda Sue Parrott, 78, retired journalist of Monterey and founder of the Amy Kitchener's Angels Without Wings Foundation California, administers the National Senior Poets Laureate Competition for American poets. She uses 18 pen names. As Diogenes Rosenberg she invented the Pissonnet; as Edgar Allan Philpott she was Hawaii Senior Poet Laureate; as Prairie Flower she uses Native American voice. www.amykitchenerfdn.org
She is past president of Springfield Writers' Guild, honorary life member of Missouri State Poetry Society, and founder of the Springfield Writers Workshop which has been meeting weekly at branches of Springfield-Greene County Library since 1992.
She is a former investigative reporter and feature writer with the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, and syndicated feature writer with Ozarks Senior Living newspapers.
Ned made me glad. He said he had
an antique Cad
in his garage. We ate fromage
on a voyage
from here to France. We’d met by chance
through song and dance
while on that cruise. We had to choose
waltzes or blues.
Ned chose to croon about the moon
near the saloon
on the poop deck. He said, ”Aw heck,
Nan. Crane your neck!”
I trained my eye up toward the sky
where, soaring high,
a passing bird let loose a turd.
My scream was heard
from ship to shore; and furthermore-
with bullseye score-
gull poop did plop with flip and flop
that caused a stop
to cataract’s sight-stealing acts,
Blind eye was healed as sea bird reeled.
New sight revealed
Ned was a jock quite like the cock
on a wind sock.
With scars dissolved, near-blindness solved,
I was resolved
I’d like to dance-enjoy romance—
Pull Old Ned’s pants
Down to the floor so we could score
hot love galore.
And so I said, “Ned, go ahead.
We’re not yet dead!
Show me that Cad you said you had.”
Ned’s pants were plaid.
I pulled; Ned tugged and, clearly bugged,
he simply shrugged.
His pants fell off. I cleared a cough.
Ned cried, “Don’t scoff!”
Ttwo little sticks stood like toothpicks.
“They’re double dicks,”
Old Ned began. “I’m half the man
You thought I am.”
“No,” I cried. “Whee! You’re twice the he
I thought you’d be.”
What makes me sad and downright mad
Is I’m the cad.
Ned calls me Nan. My real name’s Dan.
I am a man!
Edna Gorney teaches at the Gender and Women Studies Program at Haifa University, Israel. Her research interests include inter-relations of culture, society and environment, ecocriticism, ecofeminism and environmental justice. She writes and publishes on these topics as well as short stories and poems.
Willow Warblers just arrived from Africa,
sprouting in my garden like festive lanterns
exploding puffs of yellow pollen
as they land on the flowering clusters
of the oak tree.
This playfulness does not sit comfortably
with the urgency of their hunger,
the gravity of the feat just completed:
finding the way in darkness, navigating by
different constellations over savannahs,
the conviction required to flap forward
thirty six thousand wing beats each night
the faith, night after night,
in ten grams of feathers, muscles, bones,
appearing in my garden, disappearing again,
a mirage riddled with fateful decisions.
I am not sure
the questions I ask
are the right ones
so I use long words
support my story
I court order
I hear the passion
there is more to that passion
in a small body
in a flash of black wings
I see flight
there is more to it
than lift and drag
Eira Needham began life in a small mining village in South Wales, but has spent most of her life in Birmingham UK, where she now lives with her husband and Dalmatian, Max. She is a retired teacher and began writing in 2002. Her poetry is eclectic and has been published in print and online. Recent publications are in The Linnet's Wings, Green Silk and Westward Quarterly where she was Featured Writer in the Spring Edition.
Reeds sway; a crane plunges,
snaps a carp in his nib,
gulps its struggling body,
then soars toward the trees.
Nests rock in poplar arms;
nearby, the crane circles.
Sudden shrieks startle him
as crows flap in rapid pursuit.
He rests on a spruce bough,
but crows attack again:
a craze of beaks,
He surrenders, dazed;
feathered drapes unfurl
against sun’s glare.
Arching into the blue,
clouds devour him.
crows strut across the lawn;
fish glide freely among the lily-pads.
In meadow grass, a robin serenades
on ivied stones. Beside this stage his hen
investigates some boulders, then invades
a crevice moulding lichen for a den
to lay her brood. Nearby a cuckoo’s call
evokes the bubbling chuckles of his mate,
who spies the nest ensconced within the wall
and parks her eggs inside to incubate.
The unrelated chicks emerge and prise
the rightful babies from their cradle, feign
instinctively, their empty-bellied cries.
Dim surrogate is hoodwinked to sustain
those parasitic tricksters, picking ants
and worms from farmer’s fertile shovelled earth.
Departing from their host the fledglings chant
cu coo, perceptibly now thrice her girth.
When sun diminishes, freeloaders crowd
to far-flung lands enticed by warmer climes,
returning when the ground is freshly ploughed
as redbreasts gather moss at nesting times.
Elizabeth teaches middle schoolers near San Francisco the fine craft of writing, among other language arts subjects. She keeps chickens and occasionally plays the cello. An avid fan of the outdoors, she has hiked across Spain twice. Her work has appeared in America Magazine, Echoes Literary Journal and Sugar Mule.
diamonds in the glint of sun
rose up on my back
underneath a lisle cotton shirt
as I lay eye to eye
with a blade of grass.
on a warm thermal
she, her splayed
undulations in the pole green
I heard her cry
right before her swoop
then she and I were
eye to eye.
I was sitting at home
on my pillows
just glad that my oven wasn’t working,
when I heard wings.
a goddamned bird had flown
into my house and
perched itself up on my rafters.
so I read Sylvia to it.
Following retirement from the English Department of the University of Kansas, Elizabeth Schultz remains committed to writing about the people and the places she loves in academic essays, nature essays, and poems. She has published several books, and her scholarly and creative work appears in numerous journals and reviews.
Telling the Trees From the Forest
In the summer woods,
distinctions of seed
and bark dissolve.
Leaves of oak, maple,
pine, hickory mingle
with shade, melt into
a green crucible overhead.
In the summer woods,
bird song is one melody,
all sweet happenstance.
Each year I try to learn
to tell the birds apart,
to listen to their songs
as precise instruments
in symphonic harmony.
Only the hermit thrush’s
notes dispel congestion.
I know his song—flute
followed by harpsichord.
Like the sight of some
dear person, suddenly
singled out and haloed
in a station, it resonates
in the summer woods.
So love seems best,
one on one.
close along the shore, in the canoe,
the mist rising, the lake glassine,
the stones displayed beneath the water,
topaz and onyx, striped and ruby,
the pine boughs drooping and dangling,
my paddle dipping and swinging,
and on the bank the tall yellow mullein
standing with the small lavender flowers,
harebell, bee balm, and stick-tights
among the ferns and bracken, and I am
encountering it all, with a flock
of ducklings bobbing, cheeping
for their mother, who returns, skidding
across the surface into their midst,
organizing them into a V, while
in and out, one glistening kingfisher
and then another, fasten it all together.
Eva Eliav grew up in Toronto, Canada and now lives in Israel. Her poetry and short fiction have been published in a number of literary magazines, including Room of One’s Own, Natural Bridge, The St. Ann’s Review, Jewish Fiction.net, Horizon Review, Constellations, Cyclamens and Swords and ARC Israel. Her work also appears in the anthologies “Tel Aviv Stories” and “Love in Israel”.
the word you meant
slips out of its noose
like something wild
you can’t capture
the wild memory
the wild word
one pigeon walking
king and queen
on a chessboard
a small army of sparrows
squat as pawns
gusts of emotion
I was born in Berlin, Germany in 1924. When I was almost ten the Nazi period started. First I was expelled from my German neighborhood school, later they also closed my Jewish school. But I was Zionistic and took advantage of the offer by Recha Fryer to go on Youth Aliya. My little sister was taken to Australia. We could not save my other sister, she was too young for Youth Aliya and too old for any children's transport. The rest of my family were all murdered by the Nazies. But after a long period of mourning I now have a large Family with grand children and great grandchildren, and can be happy again.
Bird's View, Jerusalem
is the center
of our world.
come as pilgrims
once in a lifetime.
But the birds
come in season
on their long flight
It's just a resting place,
to sit on roofs
and rungs and poles
pull our gaze up
and to fill our hearts
with carefree joy.
The clouds still drive
the birds have come again.
Royalty today are drab
or even soiled by scandals,
and in ceremonies they
The grace and poise
and majesty repose
with those their fate
has chosen to carry
goodness in their works.
Nature though has kept
its royals and their
Walking through shrubs
of juniper on Swedish
cliffs we came out
over the expanse
of the northern sea
And towards us
a flock of swans
their wide realm
the steel blue sea.
And shouts of joy
and the wind's song
made the music to their
stately, slow progress.
Fern G. Z. Carr
Fern G. Z. Carr is a member of The League of Canadian Poets, lawyer and teacher. She composes poetry in five languages and has been published extensively world-wide from Finland to Mayotte Island (Mozambique Channel). Carr's poetry has been chosen by the Parliamentary Poet Laureate as Poem of the Month for Canada. www.ferngzcarr.com
A Murder of Crows
A murder, how sinister.
Sinister, sinistra – left.
Left; nothing left
by a band of scavengers
whose beady eyes twinkle
all that glitters
and a lust for
all that is offal.
They caw at carrion,
this flock of jet-black
known as a murder;
murder, murders, murderers,
maligned yet again –
you, the birds of witches,
the black arts.
An Owl in Paris
Looming over cobbled streets,
haughty stone buildings
look askance at pedestrians
forced to walk
along narrow sidewalks;
masonry on either side
boasts antiquaires, fleuristes
and a consignment store,
its windows brimming with
vintage treasures long
by their owners.
on a ledge, a cloisonné owl
peers out the window,
waiting for someone
to notice his teal feathers;
fumbling with my change purse,
I decided to give him a home.
My little avian charge
was puzzlement though –
whenever I picked him up
as though he had swallowed
stones that rattled
inside his hollow body;
jostled in transit,
he probably splintered
a few copper ribs,
but I think otherwise.
During the war
spies facing capture
stashed loose diamonds
inside his enamel interior –
a safe cache for their loot.
Although they never returned,
the raptor came home to roost
with a secret
concealed inside his belly,
a secret never to be discovered
because no one would ever dare
harm such a delicate piece of art –
a prized find in an obscure shop
tucked away in a Parisian alley.
Frances J. Pearce
Frances J. Pearce lives in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Her work has been published in the Poetry Society of South Carolina’s Yearbook, My South anthology (Rutledge Hill Press), and Survivor's Review, and is forthcoming in KAKALAK 2013. She served as a featured poet for Charleston’s Piccolo Spoleto Sundown Poetry series in 2011. Her fiction has been shortlisted for the Faulkner-Wisdom Novel-in-Progress and Short Fiction literary awards.
On an updraft the red-tailed hawk glides,
watching and waiting, above my backyard,
reminding me of years ago, when I stared
and gasped as a raptor carried off
my ginger cat, swooping and grasping
that ball of fur in its talons, then rising
while I prayed for a rough tumble.
Now, in my backyard, a goldfinch feeds
on a thistle tube that dangles from a branch.
It does not see the shadow.
A trio of mockingbirds rises in the air
after munching in my sprawling fig tree.
A fair exchange, I think, birdsong for fruit.
They perch on twigs and they perch on posts,
preen long tail feathers of white and gray.
A trio of mockingbirds rises in the air.
In spring and on summer’s eve they sing
aubades. Now they whistle a jaunty tune.
A fair exchange, I think, birdsong for fruit.
They settle back down and peck, peck, peck,
until a crow barges in to gobble sweets.
A trio of mockingbirds rises in the air.
They chase the crow, chirp “Get lost, jerk!”
Watching through the window, I chortle.
A fair exchange, I think, birdsong for fruit.
I grab a basket and head outside.
The screen door opens; the screen door slams.
A trio of mockingbirds rises in the air.
A fair exchange, I think, birdsong for fruit.
Frank H. Coons
Frank H. Coons lives in Western Colorado and has been a practicing veterinarian for over 35 years. He has also had a long standing interest in poetry and has had work published in El Malpais, The Eleventh Muse, Willow Creek Journal, The Santa Fe Literary Review and others. Frank is an avid birder and active in the local Audubon.
Missing a South-Bound Ship
We see them windshield killed,
tom cat felled, tricked
by the low feeder,
others flown pell-mell into clear windows.
But each year, after summer
slides cat-paw quiet into autumn,
a few are left calling
having missed their south-bound ship
of similar feathers.
In these I find, saddest of all, a poverty,
too late now in the first fall of snow
they die of loneliness
before exposure, warblers, tanagers
their discordant soliloquies left
The wishbone of a well-cooked chicken,
a hand on each hook of a clavicle,
pulling for love, for peace, for rent money.
As if this breast bone anchor, the larger half,
at least, could channel luck or make bad luck
disappear. As if the near miss, the short staff
of the “Y” would bring less, when in fact,
it’s the chicken who needs both halves intact
and one more wish to fly.
Gayle Lauradunn’s poems have appeared in Puerto del Sol, Zone 3, Tsunami, Connecticut River Review, Adobe Walls, Blueline, Black Box and numerous anthologies including Queen of Swords, Sierra Books, 200 New Mexico Poems, Encore, and giving Voice to Image. Her haikus have appeared in Lifting the Sky and Small Canyons. Several poems have been adapted and performed for the stage.
Booby No. 2
I was wearing my blue bra
when I wrote the poem
about the blue-footed booby.
You know the one
with the blue lace trim,
the flowery pattern
the one with straps
you liked to snap
against my back
until I snapped back at you.
Maybe I was competing
with that booby or
maybe I was missing you.
Missing the long walks
on Crane’s Beach at dawn,
missing the hikes up
on trails less used
finding ourselves, lost again.
That booby knows
what he’s about. He stays
on his island. Getting lost
is not a problem. He knows
his mate will return,
drawn by his certainty of place,
his exquisite feet, that depth
of blue she can plunge into.
In the kitchen at night
the child and her mother
hold eggs up to the single
bulb, the small brother
asleep in the next room.
Her parents came to this place
to grow turkeys.
Fat black ones
with red bumpy heads.
Carefully, she turns the egg,
almost as big as her hand,
looks through the thin
grainy shell for babies
that should not be there.
Sometimes she walks along
the fence following their
singing with them
As the eggs become fewer
she watches the turkeys
stumble about until they
fall and do not rise.
She watches the furrows
on her father’s forehead deepen.
She looks at the five feathers
in the box by her bed.
Long, with narrow tips.
If she slants them
just right in the sun
she can see green and gold
dancing in the black silk.
Gregory L. Candela
Gregory L. Candela has resided in New Mexico since 1972. He holds a doctorate in American and African American literature and is professor emeritus at the University of New Mexico. Candela has written a volume of poetry (Surfing New Mexico—2001), six produced plays and edited 6 volumes of poetry and prose. Recent publications include poems in the Harwood Anthology, Poetry from the Other Side Anthology, Malpaís Review, Adobe Walls, Sin Fronteras, and Italian Americana (forthcoming in Fall/Winter 2014).
Chaco Canyon III
Let the canyon tell her story
carved by Chaco Wash over
the sixty-six million years since
the Upper Cretaceous.
Let the storied pueblo walls
of Pueblo Bonito, sing .
Let the frog petroglyph
pecked high on
Cliff House Sandstone
crawl farther up on its talons
croak at the sea.
Let calcite limestone chalk
squeezed into a few feet, call
to Britain’s 350 foot Dover Cliffs.
I cannot tell you, my friend.
I have ears. I listen
for the ringing buzz of the
Rock Wren as he bounces
on and around cracked off
He calls among the
jumble, a fishing-reel
drag fluted out fast as the
black bass takes a lure
the two mating Canyon Towhees’
buzzy zeeees before they
collide and tumble end over
end, then in seconds break free
the usually harsh scolding of
the solitary Loggerhead Shrike
quiet behind its dark mask.
My friend, I cannot tell
you nor show you:
you must go to Chaco
ears and eyes.
Gretti Izak was born in Bulgaria. After graduating from London University, she studied History of Art in Italy and in England. She has worked as teacher, painter, head of a multi-language translation program and editor. She has published five books of poetry and a collection of short stories. Gretti lives in Jerusalem.
Pigeons make love cooing
in the rain, in the cold, all year long.
Not saying a word though she wants to
but finds she can't
even when she polishes them to shine
like priceless artefacts
the words escape
and circle high in the air like birds
unresolved from other encounters
where to land and deepen
the water-like transparency of love.
And as the white birds of the Polynesian islands
that fly backwards in rites of courtship,
they fulfil their birth-right as messengers,
commuting between worlds.
Remember how it was at the beginning?
When all was dance movement
of white-winged birds in the sky,
sun-touched by liquid gold and silver,
when there was no need to speak -
to blister the mind to madness with
verbiage like flesh on barbed wire.
She will keep still.
The light changes to drain the mind
of ghostly constructions and finds
a soft cushioned landing appropriate
for communion. See high in the air
a bright surge of birds fly the words
in need of gentle handling
and hear the wind falling silent
overcome by love.
Hannah Amit has lived in Israel since 1974. She has authored several collections of poetry, a novel and is published in anthologies in Israel and abroad. She presently works as an educator and as a writer for a humanitarian aid organization based in Jerusalem. She is the mother of five children.
Blue electricity in flight
That hummed along the
Portico last night,
I would not grasp you in
My arms today,
Nor make of these thoughts
To which you came
From arcane regions of lost kites
Whirling and trilling
Round the grizzled wood.
No, let this morning
Be this morning.
I will embrace
Slight frost upon the face,
Gray smudge above the awning,
Lest freedom not be freedom –
Else, from clasped hands escaped
You feared to come again
Bringing gratitude, relief and vision
I've taken to feeding the birds of late,
Place seeds by moon,
Or early morn
Outside the window gate.
They leave no tips for the service
Pay no bills,
Never knowingly perform for gain,
Or chirp with any thought
Of gratitude for grain.
They are, in fact, convinced
I am the foe.
When I creep close - they flee.
When they approach, it's always
On the look-out
Yet I delight in them
Simply because they come,
Bring mates - have faith.
Did not the Father promise
The same for you and me,
Perhaps wish we would stop
Spinning and whirling?
Helen Yeoman is a Los Angeles based poet and a member of Writers at Work. She gets paid to help publish a very popular magazine. Her cubicle’s walls are adorned with Game of Thrones references, photos of well-dressed men, quotes from people named Thomas and homemade cards from her sticker-obsessed three year-old niece.
My Weekend with Friends
I spent the weekend with friends.
Friday night, I sipped a fruity merlot
with Barret-Browning, thanked her
for understanding my dreams
how easily they shift into nightmares
and how they, like black grapes
leave permanent stains.
Saturday, it rained. I walked
with Plath through the grey
day, neither of us expecting
miracles. But upon seeing
the way water, cloaking the wings
glistens off the back
of an ink-black rook
we rushed home, transformed
That evening, I drew close
to Merwin. With needle and thread
we stitched our separate losses together.
Sunday, sunlight shattered clouds
cracked them open like eggs.
Heavy-lidded, I pressed through
the sparkling, blue-infused morning.
Rimbaud expected me for breakfast
our new tradition. I choked back
the rich cologne of lilies and lavender
the swollen odors of spring
as they lifted through his apartment window.
The lice had returned, and Artie’s cheeks
were still warm with salt. I longed
to smooth his scalp, console him
with kisses and the crackle
of white shells, split his humiliation
share his shame, but I just wept.
After Noon, I visited Shakespeare
who was exploring metaphors
for death with branches and birds.
I asked him if he considered himself
a thinker like Hamlet or a doer
like Ophelia. He admitted
it was futile to love either one
which, of course
made me love them more.
At night, I met Whitman by the shore
where we sat under his sagging
half moon. I told him about the nightmares
the rook, the stitches, the clouds
the lice and the metaphors. He
spoke to me of the sea
and the solitary bird
he heard sobbing for its mate.
I rested my head on his shoulder
weary but revived from my weekend’s
encounters, and together, listening
for the song.
Ina G. Perlmuter
Ina G. Perlmuter, born nineteen thirty eight, a dyslexic child who found school a struggle, describes herself an artist who paints emotions of life with words. She holds no formal degrees, save wife and mother, feels poetry need not be obscure but must creep into the mind of individuals as a gift.
And The Child Was Silent
A Hoopoe bird chatted with a child
I’m Jewish he said
I was born in this garden
on this kibbutz
and work its rich soil every day
then proudly ruffled his feathers
and dug up a plump luscious worm
The child addressed the bird
dear Hoopoe bird
you can not possibly be Jewish
why not cawed the flamboyant bird
with its rust colored Mohawk crown
because to be a Jew
your Mother must be Jewish
that’s why, the child chided
A Jewish mother, repeated the bird
how would I know if my Mother was Jewish
the child gave that some thought
with the authority of an eleven year old stated
Jewish mothers tell you not to push your siblings
to eat what you are served, not to talk back
don’t contradict or be a bully
The bird felt unsettled as he sat
on the limb of an ancient olive tree
his garden exploding with color
listening to nature’s magical music
because, his Mother had taught him
that he must love G-d with all his heart
with all his soul and with all his might
He is the creator of all living things
the beautiful garden they were sitting in
the celestial diamonds of night
and the dew of morning
so the Hoopoe bird asked the child,
what did your Mother say about God
and the child was silent.
Irene Mitchell, a long-time teacher of writing, is the author of A Study of Extremes in Six Suites (Cherry Grove Collections, 2012), and Sea Wind on the White Pillow (Axes Mundi Press, 2009). Formerly poetry editor of Hudson River Art Journal, Mitchell serves as poetry contest juror, and facilitator of poetry workshops.
Anywhere is the center of the world.
In the beginning
all was under water until
we took up our positions
upon the place of emergence,
the seeded earth,
making different noises for the same reason,
nourished on cloud pollen
and flower dew.
Arctic birds flew ahead and came back.
Their feathers began to sing.
The fulmar flew over ice floes
with a flattering song
just as the people with much to carry in their sleds,
bows strung and thrummed,
were about to set out on a hunting journey
for sea mammals and reindeer.
However, they had no luck in their hunting
because Universe was sleeping,
not looking after his children.
Universe, and his wife Rain Woman,
had been busy billing the Northern Lights
as the flashings of spirits in combat.
The sky was so heavy in the morning
it stole light from heaven so birds could find their way.
Universe and his wife remained in bed.
This posed a delicate problem,
yet I understood more than I saw.
I called to my steersman
who rose and pulled up the anchor
awash in the sea,
believing only in my own mind.
Iris Dan was born in Bukowina, Romania, in a family of Holocaust survivors. She grew up bilingual (German and Romanian), then studied Romance languages at the University of Bucharest, graduating with an M.A. in linguistics. She has been living in Israel since 1980. She is married, has a grown daughter, and works (quite happily) as a translator from and into a number of languages. From her (existential and professional) Babel Tower she sees the Mediterranean. She has written poetry for as long as she can remember, never publishing any, in the last 15 or 20 years, in English only. Recently she has begun to send her poems on their own way and has been published or is forthcoming in the Voices Israel Anthology, Magnapoets, Poetic Portal, Subtletea, and Poetic Diversity.
Waiting for the train
I observe three sparrows
scavenging between the rails.
What is there be to be found
except evil-smelling dust
and danger of death?
They fly away noisily
when the train approaches
(do they feel like the drivers
in the "Wages of Fear"?)
but always return, so it seems
an existence can be eked out there
Do they know that there are
pampered Dolce Vita sparrows
taking their meals on café terraces?
Only the other day quite a few of them
shared our brunch. The rustic bread
enjoyed particular favor. Perhaps
they all have in their genes
a blurry memory of green fields
innocent of railways and cafés
where grass was lush and food was plenty
where day after day cows provided them
with fresh, warm, grain-studded cakes
Where Are the Swallows?
They used to be everywhere
scissoring the air
- which was as crisp
and tangible as paper –
with swishing cuts
back and forth
up and down
until it turned into lace
we cut clumsy doilies
out of paper napkins
The nests they built -
as curved and cupped in
as their movements
were straight and daring
the fledglings they raised
we built secret houses
dreamt of mates and families
Where have they gone?
I disappear too
James K. Zimmerman
James K. Zimmerman, a Pushcart Prize nominee, is the winner of the Daniel Varoujan Award from the New England Poetry Society, the Hart Crane Memorial Poetry Award (twice), and the Cloudbank Poetry Prize. His work appears in the Atlanta Review, Hawai’i Pacific Review, Rosebud, Nimrod, Passager, and Vallum, among others.
“the falcon cannot hear the falconer” – W. B. Yeats
and suddenly there you are
ruddy arrow in the silken blue
kite without a tether
graceful measure of the wind
hatchet blade in a spiral gyre
uniformed in classic brown and white
each feather in its place
watch me now you seem to say
as you soar even higher still
fire dancing on the tree tops
no thought of a net below
one eye to the ground and the
stuttering shiver a mouse makes
each day on its way to work
and you know I have no hood
to shield your blade-sharp eyes
no rope to bind you to my
supplicant outstretched arm
no glove to keep your talons
from flensing my featherless flesh
so I know when I ask do you see
the sulfurous stench that slouches in
with oil-slicked hair to rot the earth
from the center to the rim and I ask you
has it darkened the horizon yet
tell me is it nearly here
I know you have no need to hear me
you have no need to answer
as you spiral ever closer to the sun
I want to know how to die
how to pry my frozen fingers
off the crumbling pages of all
I took to heart with blazing
heat so many years ago
how to feel the dusky loam
of darkness as it spreads
over the shadowed moon
of my forgotten eyes
I want to see the face
of each desiccating leaf
as it lets go and falls
into the wizened hands
of the snowbound earth below
and yes to inhale the sweetly
fetid fading dreams that swirl
beneath the surface of prayer
and breathe the curling smoke
of the last red embers of faith
I need to hear the searing blue
pain of a last breath as it
echoes through the charred
cave walls of eternity
and yes I want to tether myself
over and again yes in the time
after time has come and gone
to the wavering flight of the phoenix
the long migration of coal to flame
and the spinning circle from ashes
to restless burning seed
Jan FitzGerald (nee Coad), has been published in mainstream NZ literary journals since the 1970s and in The London Magazine, Acumen (UK), Orbis (UK), and others. Her latest poetry book is entitled On a day like this (Steele Roberts, Wgtn.) Jan works in Napier, NZ, as a full-time artist.
Duck puddle in May
Strange it seemed,
two ducks hunched at the side of a puddle
by a petrol station -
the canal just a short flight away.
Cars going in and out
gobbled glances ...
Each day they sat,
the drake and his lady,
as if this scoop of water,
broken off from some larger lake,
still carried the reflection of willows
and slow-drinking clouds.
Settled in the patch of sunshine
they had somehow made their own,
they preened in the light spray
from the car wash,
cocked an occasional head
And then one morning
the puddle was just a puddle,
a muddy hole in buckshot gravel
that men, in camouflage jackets and waders,
with skyward eyes
Author of Biting the Apple, Jeanie Greensfelder lives in San Luis Obispo, CA. Her poems have been published in Askew, Orbis, Echoes, Grand, Kaleidoscope, Porter Gulch Review, Poetic Medicine Journal, Riptide, If and When, and Vine Leaves.
She writes Genie’s Pocket at slocoastjournal.com
A February Night
Two owls converse in my yard
and I give up on sleep.
These are no ordinary hoots.
Owls mate in February.
Nuptial vows flow,
promises of fidelity, and because
they've chosen my guava tree
for their honeymoon,
I’m invited to the wedding.
Guilin, China, 1994
I slip into a Chinese scroll
on the Li River. It ribbons
between misted mountains
that disappear to reappear.
Water buffalo bathe in the river
and on the banks, women wash clothes.
Standing on a narrow boat, a man poles
his way through the water, his company
a cormorant, collared and tethered.
The dark seabird dives, returns,
and gives the fish in his beak
for a minnow he can swallow.
Easy to feel for the cormorant,
see its collar and tether.
Hard to feel for the man,
see his collar, his tether.
Jennifer Lagier’s work has recently appeared in Word Riot, Nerve Cowboy, Backstreet, Clark Street Review, Rockford Review, Sugar Mule, Snail Mail Review, Steam Ticket. Her six books are: Coyote Dream Cantos Where We Grew Up, Second-Class Citizen, The Mangia Syndrome, Fishing for Portents, and Agent Provocateur .
They rise, unfurl ragged wings,
entire squadrons in formation,
above raging, recoiling surf.
Wind-blown pterodactyls scan the shallows
for morning smorgasbord, splash-attack
hidden fish in clumsy choreography.
With prehistoric grins, they diligently patrol
the Cambria shore along Moonstone Beach,
dive, plunge, gulp and repeat.
I watch wetland geese
waddle across two lanes of traffic
as they follow their leader.
He is aggressive, the largest of the flock,
loudly squawks his opinions,
attacks anyone who crosses his path,
unless they come bearing bread bribes.
During rush hour, he pushes
his trusting congregation
onto the wide asphalt
in front of bumper-to-bumper cars.
Not a single one questions.
Jenny Robertson's poems and stories have appeared in Dunes Review, Dislocate, Greatest Lakes Review, and Bite: An Anthology of Flash Fiction. Her chapbook "Hard Winter, First Thaw" was published in 2009. Jenny is currently studying fiction at Pacific University's MFA in Creative Writing Program.
Woodcock likes the night. His peent reverberates
off houses, rouses ladies from their beds to search
him out. Clear nights, cold ones. Stars in bright points
make him look good. Smooth talker, spotted wonder,
man with long beak, long patience—waits, wonders—
when will this night be over. But this is the time of his life,
this preparing a bed for a beloved he has not met,
this bravery—calling—when no bride is promised.
What does it take, fellow woodland birds,
to shake your stuff without moving, stake
a claim and not doubt it, move closer
and closer when it seems right, sure
that love awaits, moves to meet you.
Joan Digby is Professor of English and Director of the Poetry Center at Long Island University’s Post Campus, where she is also caretaker of cats, low-flying birds and school horses. Her collection of prose poems about birds, A Sound of Feathers (illustrated by John Digby), was published by Red Osier Press. She is also the author several booklets of animals poems, including A Clowder of Cats and Camels and Other Mammals. Her academic background is in eighteenth-century animal fables.
It was not pornography
that heated male
emerging like an arrow
from the bush
dangling like rubber
from his beak.
surely was aroused
by his display
tasting the prey
that would be hers
after they mated
in full view
not three feet
from the bench
where I sat
frozen in astonishment.
He mounted her
dangling the candy
the roses the ring
in his tight beak
as she fluffed
and bore his weight.
a long time
the quiet rhythm
of the fertile dance
and then a flick
and the gift was hers.
she to a bush
he toward me
to drink water
from the shallow trough
where I caught his eye