Cyclamens and Swords Publishing
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Poetry August 2013-3
On this page: poems by Joan Gerstein, John B. Lee, John Digby, John J. Brugaletta, Juliet Wilson, Kaila Shabat, Kari Wergeland, Kate Rogers, Kathamann, Katharyn Howd Machan, Katherine L. Gordon, Kenneth P. Gurney, Kristina Jensen, Laura Dennis, Laurel Feigenbaum, Leah Angstman, Leah L.J. Gottesman, Lerna, Leslie B. Neustadt, Lilian Cohen, Linda M. Crate, Lisa Aigen, Lylanne Musselman, Lytton Bell, M.J. Iuppa

The following works are copyright © 2013. All rights reserved. No distribution or reprinting in any form whatsoever without written permission from the authors.

Joan Gerstein

Joan Gerstein began writing poetry in elementary school, but it has only been since she retired as an educator and psychotherapist that she has had time to hone her craft. Born in NY, Joni has lived in California since 1969 and brings her experiences from both coasts to her writing. In addition to writing Joan creates one of a kind mosaic and fabric art.

Domesticated Dinosaur

I clipped his wings, so Rasta, my cockatiel,
wiggles up rungs of a steep wooden ladder
that extends from carpet to an ebony
metal cage. In a world of you peck my back,
I’ll peck yours, he lost lengthy flight but gained
privileges: a well-stocked seed dish,
warm shelter, door usually open.

Like high-heeled housewives of the fifties,
Rasta’s been sweet-talked into acquiescence
with millet seeds, mirrors, multiple treats.
He cuddles beneath my chin, bows his crown
of plumes for a scratch, perches on shoulders
like a silky feathered epaulet.

Yet under that gray, white, yellow panache
reside vestiges of his ancestors.
There in a thick lizard tongue, hooked beak,
in beady black eyes and hollow bones,
in scaly claws with three toes fore, one back
are Rasta’s Jurassic origins.

An Acrostic Poem

Just like the bird
On my shoulder
Nothing feels
But for the moment,
Every evening, when
Time for sleep
Hastens our parting.

Get in your cage.
Enough already! I must
Rest. Naughty bird
Soars away. I chase, catch,
Tumble in her cage,
Eventually cover, and
I am alone.
Nothing is sadder than night in a cage.

John B. Lee

John B. Lee's work has appeared internationally in over 500 publications. He has over 60 prestigious awards to his credit including being the only two-time winner of the People's Poetry Award and winner of the prestigious $10,000 Canadian Literary Award for poetry (CBC Radio/Saturday Night Magazine). He has over 40 books in print. A recipient of letters of praise from both Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, he was made Poet Laureate of Brantford in perpetuity in 2005.

Watching Two Cormorants floating on ice in the lake in late January

it is mid-winter
and I am standing
on a high clay overlook
watching two night-black
riding the mealy rhythms
of lake waves
in the rise and fall
of a wet grey world
arriving and re-arriving
at the white rot
of an ice edge
this being
the cold transmutation
of a coming in and a
going away
of a well-soaked measure
a stowing of solids
and a pouring off
from one sharp describe
of fatal shards
shattered at the muscled arc
of a splash
this glassy place where the dive seems
most brave
these cormorants
locked in the gelid up-slosh
of that slow design
what holds them there
at heaven’s hunger
with the will of themselves
to be themselves
for as long as the weather lasts


the geese fly low
above my head
so low
I hear the creak of wings
and breath
of feathers in the wind
the same late afternoon
four bluebirds
feeding on the cliff
their red breasts
swell the winter world
like fire
living in the ash
where otherwise
the world is grey
and weeds are dead
and burdock burdened
with its burrs
awaits a wandering of furs
to seed a patch
of barley clay
or welcome summer ditches
to a big-leafed green
my heaven
in the evening
includes the beauty
of my wife
familiar though we are
I lie
beside her where
she warms the bed
and tell her
of my day

John Digby

John Digby is a native of London and in his youth was a bird keeper at the London Zoo. His passion for birds has informed both his poetry and his unique black and white collages integrating bird and animals shapes with pastoral landscapes. The loss of rural habitats and the dangers of extinction are abiding themes in his work. Anvil Press Poetry (London) published three volumes of his illustrated poems, and over decades he has been widely published and translated. His collages have been exhibited in the US, England, France, Korea and Japan.

Lines to a Dodo

Didus ineptus
the Portuguese
named you aptly
simpleton silly stupid
and pausing
to look
at your heavy
comic figure
I understand only too well
for you give
the impression
of a doleful
Mother Goose
from a Christmas pantomime
an object of derision
having an excuse
for a tail
and two apologies
for a pair of wings

The Dutch called you
a nauseous bird
as no amount of cooking
could make
your flesh palatable
yet they still
butchered you
attempting to sweeten

I stroll
through the gallery
echoing with
childrens’ voices
and watch them
press round
the display cases
in which extinct birds
are mounted
behind plate glass
smeared and smudged with
sticky finger prints

Beside your cabinet
I read the list
of vanishing
and endangered species
that grows depressingly
longer every year
Casually looking
down into
your dead glassy eye
I pause
and consider
how we
year by year
inch ourselves
nearer to our
own extinction

John J. Brugaletta

John J. Brugaletta was the editor of South Coast Poetry Journal for nine years and has two volumes of poetry out, The Tongue Angles, and Tilling the Land. He lives near the coast in Northern California.


You there, turkey buzzard circling,
goitered mortician in a black suit
and naked of necktie, head rotating
to spy or sniff out the dead or dying
in your daily quest to cleanse
this pasture and the world of corpses.

Unbeautiful neatener,
throat a vacuum hose ingesting
the flesh of lives spent or cut off,
then depositing it where it
will nourish both locoweed
and buttercups, I canonize you
Saint Charon of the birds.

Juliet Wilson

Juliet Wilson is a writer, adult education tutor and conservation volunteer based in Edinburgh, UK. Her poetry pamphlet Unthinkable Skies was published in 2010. She blogs at Crafty Green poet (


A bird of two songs is the robin -
this song of ice and frost
the sole sign of life
in a bare December.

But today is still August
the brambles not yet even ripe -
and the robin's crazy mis-timed song

is the saddest music in the world.

Dream Birds

Snow buntings on the garden lawn
rather than twenty pigeons
and a crow.

In dreams, birds are rarer
their markings clearer
I get nearer.

And sometimes dream flocks
of extinct birds
darken the sky

waking me
to a sense of loss.

Kaila Shabat

Kaila Shabat, nee Katherine Rubin, born in London. Her first book of poetry, 'Back from Beyond,' was published in 2008.  The first in a series of books, based on a twelve year chronicle, will be published shortly as an e-book. Her greatest joy is to sing and record inspirational songs.

The Harpist and the Hoopoe

National Bird of Israel,
sacred in ancient Egypt,
symbol of virtue in Persia,
war harbinger in Scandinavia,
King of the Birds in the Greek play
by Aristophanes - the hoopoe
is a bird of distinction.

Body grey, striped with black,
the King sports a crown of feathers,
and a long thin tapering bill
that probes for insects in the soil.

A joyful glissando from my harp
piques the interest of the hoopoe.
Swooping over the lush garden
it alights on the patio.

Hesitantly, I pluck the strings;
imperiously, the hoopoe raps
on the partition between us
demanding entrance..

I slide back the glass door
and invite the hoopoe in.
Preening, it hops inside,
a welcome feathered guest.

Kari Wergeland

Kari Wergeland is the author of Voice Break, as well as The Ballad of the New Carissa and Other Poems. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific University. Wergeland works as a librarian in El Cajon, CA, and lives part-time on the Oregon Coast. Check out her website:


As in all national parks, do not feed,
collect, disturb, or harm park wildlife,
plant life, or other natural and cultural features.

-Channel Islands National Park: The Island Guide

What I will not take away:

Spiky shell of the purple sea urchin
alone on the pier
looking like a hat for an old lady.

A white quill.

Pumice and sandstone. Petrified wood.

One vertebrae washed clean by the sea, the sand—
dried out by the sun.

Bits of shell and rock. Driftwood.
A California poppy.
Bark of the Eucalyptus. Acorns.

A dead seagull, wings
wide and open, unbroken,
but no innards. No head.


The marbled godwits
look like herons
next to the sanderlings masquerading as foam.
The smaller birds move with spent waves
the way bubbles do.
Except instead of floating
on top of the water,
their fast-moving legs
propel them across the sand,
shifting their round bodies this way and that,
to flit with the surf.
And if one single bird becomes alarmed,
the entire flock explodes
into a cloud of flapping wings, dark and light,
shifting in unison—then turning again.

Kate Rogers

Kate’s most recent poetry collection City of Stairs debuted in Hong Kong in March 2012 and Toronto in July 2012. She is co-editor of the women’s poetry anthology Not A Muse, which launched in four cities in 2009-2010: the Hong Kong Literary Festival, Toronto, the Ubud Literary Festival in Bali and the American Writers and Writing Programs conference in Denver.

Bird Man
   for Michael Parasiuk               

Old man, where are you?
Are you with us in this room?
Do you feel the starched itch of hospital sheets,
the cradle in the mattress hollowed by hundreds?  

That last meteor in your brain
dug a deep hole. Have you fallen in?
Or do you float in a white membrane
where our voices, the scraping of a chair dragged close
are familiar but random as the twittering sparrows
on your window ledge?
Behind the lining of your lids do you bob, a golden yolk,
sense the three o’clock sun warm and runny on your blanket?

Last week, on the porch, barefoot at 20 below,
you waved as we walked, all the way down the street-
a goodbye pantomime for the neighbours. 

The bungalow you framed after the war
has been dissolving block by block
for years even with water in the vodka
you hid in the garage.

You wanted a trip back to Alberta,
the farm that never became yours,
but there was no getting there.
Bird man—brittle, pinioned—so thin light
shines through your skin—
from here I can see to High Prairie.
Hair drifts a dark wing across your raptor face.
You cluck to your Clydesdales,
then plow a rib from the soil with an iron tongue.

Birding the Mountain

A friend wants to know
what to call those little birds in olive drab-
the ones with the white eye ring
of constant surprise?

It’s nice to be asked for advice,
though I feel foolish,
being so easily flattered.
Birding for me is an art—not a science.
Yes, Hong Kong has Blue magpies
which burst from the treetops,
splash the sky indigo, trailing tails too opulent
for this copy watch town.
Their bills and feet blush red as they clutch
the railing round the parking garage.
They know they are too beautiful
to be real.


I have been involved in painting and sculpture in the Santa Fe arts community for thirty years. I am a retired Peace Corps Volunteer/Afghanistan and registered nurse. I have been published in Waving; Not Drowning, Sage Trail, The Rag, Lunarosity, Beatlick News, When Red Becomes an Apple, The House Where Numbers Slept, Small Canyons II, III, IV, V and VII Anthology, Chest, Official Publication of the American College of Chest Physicians, Echoes Issues 11 and 13, Malpais, The Enigmatist, Adobe Walls II, III, and IV, Generations, Fixed and Free, Santa Fe One Heart, Odes & Offerings, La Llarona, Elegant Rage, a Poetic Tribute to Woody Guthrie, On the Dark Path, An Anthology of Fairy Tale Poetry, and others.

Bird of Paradise

Yardbird blows cool blues.
Flying High with the flock:  Diz, Monk, Coltrane.
Punctuates the skies with Bop and Bepop.
Bird’s Eyes of Cool Blues.

Nested in jazz, blues and gospel.
Celebrate mating calls and dances.
Instrumental harmony floats on thermals.
Preen alto notes in Mojo and Symbols. 
Sing tunes of flying swatches of color.
Jumpin at the Roost.

            Thanksgiving Turkey

Cardinal fingers move faster than an eagle can fly.
4 chord changes in a single melodic pattern.
Owls of pain in a breakdown in Birdland.

Migrates to Super Horns and Hootie Blues
Dance of the Infidels in Street tree Beats.
Confessing the Blues birds through improv.
The Birdman, the Saxman, Charlie Parker.

Katharyn Howd Machan

Katharyn Howd Machan, Professor of Writing at Ithaca College, is the author of 30 published collections, and her poems have appeared in numerous magazines, anthologies, and textbooks, including The Bedford Introduction to Literature and Sound and Sense. In 2012 she edited Adrienne Rich: A Tribute Anthology (Split Oak Press).

Secret Garden: Key West

     for Nancy Forrester

Parrots grab you, scarlet
feathers redefining red
as beauty tinged with danger.
Loud, persistent, irrefutable,
they swear to you the moment
matters: mangoes
you balance in firm fingers,
claws curved around your wrist.
Above, warm winds push sky
at tough-barked palms; below
ferns curl and curve and spike.
Orchids open intricate mouths
to share the tongue of a sharp
beaked kiss, and tiny spiders
like fallen stars spin strands
from vine to petal to leaf.   
When you walk circling paths
soft with cedar, firm with bone
you find green and fuller green
and a woman working, always
working: her silver hair
a drift of light, her sun-turned
hands like lifted wings,
her voice the core of this
hard island   
where what fiercely
shrieks for love
survives beyond a throat
that sweetly sings.

One Free-School Lane

She tells me now
of taking in bright wounded birds
others have harmed with hand or voice
and then abandoned to her care
in the garden she's made of palms and ferns,
Key West's last undeveloped acre.
At night they sleep in her dark kitchen,
covered metal cages clean
and spacious for their dreams of trees
further south in a great green wild
of sky and mates and nests and eggs.
"They bond with me," she softly says,
stroking one on her lifted arm
and feeding him ripe mango chunks
cut perfect for his curving beak.
"And they'll outlive us both, you see,
and wherever will that be?" She knows
people are after her house and land
to build pink apartments, a swimming pool,
no peaceful place for damaged parrots.
"Who will hold them when I'm gone?"
she asks me though I have no answer,
not enough money to change the world
that looks at living beauty and wants
to pluck its precious feathers out,
silence its music to stone.

Katherine L. Gordon

Katherine L. Gordon is a rural Ontario poet enjoying an international connection to contemporary poetry through her books, anthologies and reviews.  Her latest work can be found in Quern, Serengeti Press, 2013, and Telling Lies, Cyclamens and Swords Publishing, 2013.

Bird Words

They asked for poems of birds -
what can any human say
of flight or feather
the nest sequestered
the song from small breasts
that fill the late spring ambrosiate air
with untethered free speech
finding notes we dare not contemplate
of between-world echoing bell
even when our artillery breaks the sky
their mating plans of rapturous purpose
following an order ancient and divine
a script we never knew
and cannot follow.

The Swallows of Pharaoh

The swallow flies between the worlds
a messenger carrying petitions
from the earth-bound to the free.
In his elliptic course
wing-beat heart-beat
the curvature of light we long to follow,
the secrets of shadows sequestered.
He nests in the deepness of barns,
high-raftered transmuted trees
nests glued with elf-spit, blessed and quiet.
The owl, his dark brother, accepted.
I leave a high window ajar each season
to call the heat of his presence
after winter desolation
..return of sky-glad spring.
I shred my questions for his small nest
incubating dreams of spring eternal...
sun-spattered illusory armour
against the silent deadly dark.

Kenneth P. Gurney

Kenneth P. Gurney lives in Albuquerque, NM, USA with his beloved Dianne.  His latest collection of poems is Curvature of a Fluid Spine.  To learn more visit

Melts into the Blue

Part of the crow went into the world
and another part went into the spirit world.

I constantly see the crow searching,
making a flap about the missing piece
and so I offer pieces from a jigsaw puzzle
where black wing and blue sky reside together.

But, no, that is not it.  The crow feels a tug
to get onward to the next world
and to bring something along:
a door prize, a gift, a house warming.

Nothing is done quietly.  Not in this world
or the next or the worlds off to
any of twelve twelve sides.

A small length of red ribbon
is torn from an old dress on the clothes line,
not long before a black dot in the sky
melts into the blue.

Kristina Jensen

Kristina is a ‘poet afloat’, freelance writer, musician and home school parent living a life of voluntary simplicity on a boat in New Zealand. She is an enthusiastic advocate of spending as much time in nature as possible. Her poems, articles, essays and stories have been published in New Zealand, Australia and the UK.

I thought you were a duck like me

In the beginning when we got together
There was plenty of sun and stormy weather
I could have sworn we were birds of a feather
Just different kinds of duck

But as the ducks fly on, I begin to notice
The weather gets better, everything’s in focus
There isn’t any need for that hocus pocus
And it’s nothing to do with luck

It’s you and me baby I’m beginning to see
In the essence of each other we gotta believe
Be eternally grateful for what we receive
And work hard not to get stuck


quick as quick, terns turning,
taking liberty with the air,
ripple shake to feather tip
searching for the silver streak
beneath the surface

tern turn again, aerial acrobat
dives under my vision
challenging the surface tension

Laura Dennis

Laura Dennis lives in Edmonton Alberta Canada.  She has been published in two anthologies, Home and Away by House of Blue Skies and Love Notes by Vagabond Press.  She has two self-published chap books, Wheels on the Bus and The Bookshelf.  She will also soon be published in Of Sun and Sand Anthology by Kind of a Hurricane Press.

First Impressions

I saw you
there by the fence,
flapping your wings,
using what little strength
you had
to escape the clutches
of your manmade trap

I approached cautiously
so as not to frighten you,
to free you to the skies
my heart beating,
hoping you weren't

and then I laughed
as you finally broke free
and the wind blew you,
tumbling, tumbling
across the field
to join the other
garbage-bag birds

Laurel Feigenbaum

Along with family and careers in education and business, I credit my love of poetry to the University of California, Berkeley, Wordsworth and to my father. I am a member of the Marin Center Poetry Board,
a yoga enthusiast and birder. My most recent work appears in Pudding House, Talking River and Nimrod. I live with my husband of 63 years just north of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Weekends, Sea Ranch

Early morning, late afternoon walks
through damp meadows or along the bluff,
the Pacific crashing a rocky shore
exploding through the blowhole
only to settle back quietly into white foam caps
before repeating.

Pillowed by cushions of carpet grass,
our backs against the berm
we watch osprey dive,
their catch between strong talons
carried on thermals to the ridge above.
On shell beach, a silver white arabesque of sanderlings
chase the tide twisting left then right at water’s edge,
a mud quest for mollusks interrupted by
boisterous children.

At low tide we pry mussels from rocks,
to mix with garlic, wine, hot pots of pasta, laughter and talk,
the sunset framed in picture windows.
Later, on the perch you built, a million stars overhead,
the moon shining on the water,
wind swirling round us,
we listen for the rhythm of waves against shore,
cry of the oystercatcher, restless cormorants settling in.

Migration Stop-Over

You had to be at the old brickyard
early morning or at dusk
to catch sight of thousands of Vaux’s Swifts
emerge from an abandoned chimney kiln,
scatter in all directions with anxious cries,
their snub-nose bodies, sickle-shaped wings
in rapid flight
aerial foragers refueling
for the journey south; or hours later see them
return to roost, first in small numbers
wheeling and banking in non-stop flybys
over the towering kiln only to fly off again
then back in greater numbers
each time the volume of  shrill cheeps  increasing
until their loose circling forms a thick black funnel
that quickly disappears down the chimney.

Leah Angstman

Leah Angstman has served as editor-in-chief of the press company, Alternating Current, for two decades, bringing over two hundred books by independent authors and poets into the small press (  She writes historical fiction, poetry, and plays; has had twenty chapbooks published; and has earned two Pushcart Prize nominations.  Recently, she won the 2013 Nantucket Directory Poetry Contest and took Honorable Mention in the 2013 Bevel Summers Prize for Short Fiction.  She can be found at

Not every bird can be a songbird

The Western Island Scrub Jay
thrusts up his pretty blue
to caw and haw and hack and hem
and grated cackle spew.

From lusty beak, to tear the sky
with wincing, ugly flair,
without a song, he clatters on,
to let me know he’s there.

I do not mind his hissing.
I do not mind his call;
for if it weren’t for grated ear,
I’d not hear him at all.

Like perfume that must leave the nose
—Scent maddens that lingers long!—,
not every bird can be a songbird,
or we’d never hear the song.

Leah L.J. Gosttesman

Leah L.J. Gottesman: Since ’77, when my husband, I and three children came to Israel from New York State, my career has extended from education to tourism, hi-tech marketing, journalism and fundraising. Having recently completed an MA in poetry at the Bar Ilan Shaindy Rudoff Creative Writing Program, I’m determined to validate others’ self-images through life narratives. Evenings, I teach proficiency English to taxi and bus driver candidates at Egged’s Driver School in Jerusalem.

My Fair Feather Friend

It starts with the closure
of bumbling lips
that release a brief burst
as the “bi” ventures first.

Your tongue retroflexes
(one might say it bunches)
while your mouth stays ajar
to proceed with an “rr.”

Then pop goes the weasel
from orifice depths
as the “dd” condemns “bird”
to resemble a “nurd!”

You’re my friend - all the same,
whether singing shrill or sweet;
…for a bird by any other name
flies just as fleet.


Lerna is a writer as well as a musician and artist. She has been published in several nature magazines. Her book, Dreaming of Ireland, features her watercolors of birds, flowers, and landscapes. Lerna plays the hammered dulcimer, has been a music therapist for hospices, and lives in Brattleboro, Vermont.


I wake up
in a soft warm place
with three scrawny beings nearby.
I wonder -
Do I look like that too?

Our mother
is larger – I feel safe,
but now she has left us alone.
We wait –
Will she return?

I am hungry,
so are my nest-mates.
We open our beaks and chirp.
We hope-
Can she hear us calling?

Oh mother,
I know you are near.
I open my beak and taste worm.
I savor-
Can life get any better?     

Mother Earth’s Gifts

Rainbows, bright feathers
Birds’ eggs, a nest
A heron in stillness
Waiting her quest.

A mountain, its rock ledge
Its trees lush and green
A carpet of moss
A lake so serene.

A meadow of flowers
Wave in the breeze
In exquisite designs
A haven for bees.

The moon at its fullest
A clear starry night
Sunbeams on dewdrops
At dawn’s pristine light.

Waves guard the ocean
Grass holds the sand
The gnarly old tree
Looks out on the land.

So many treasures
More than I can conceive
All precious gifts
Pause – and receive.

Leslie B. Neustadt

Leslie B. Neustadt is a former Assistant Attorney General for the state of New York.  She began writing with womenwords, a local peer writing group. Her poetry and essays have been published in a number of magazines and journals, including Akros Review, Awareness Magazine, Cure Magazine (on-line edition), Lies, Boasts and Feelings, Mused: BellaOnline Literary Review, Poetica Magazine, Prick of the Spindle Journal of Literary Arts, r.kv.ry.Magazine,  Sacred Journey, Workers Write Literary Journal, and several anthologies.

A Murmuration of Starlings: A Cautionary Tale of Shakespearean Proportions

Sturnis Vulgaris,
you vulgar bird,
you steal songs.
Mimicry, your only prize.
You drove a king mad.
Centuries later,
a Bardist brought
you to Central Park
for a love tryst. Now
Two Hundred Million
Starlings sunder our land.

Lilian Cohen

Lilian Cohen came to Israel from Melbourne, Australia, with her husband in 1968 and since then has spent most of her time in this country with sojourns in London, Boston and Melbourne. Until her retirement she worked as an English teacher at the Leo Baeck Senior High School in Haifa. She is a member of the ‘Voices’ poetry association and recently completed a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing in Australia. Her poetry and short stories have been published in journals in Australia, England, Israel and the U.S.

Crows In My Garden

Raucous sounds invade my study, crows I think
and go back to work, but their cawing doesn’t stop.
More join in, forcing me to pause once more
annoyed by their harsh insistence, yet puzzled.
Why are they in the back instead of in the front
scavenging for bits of meat the cats have left behind?

I walk into the garden. Flowers beckon
bright in afternoon sun, but no blackbirds
sing and twitter from shrubs and trees
no warning calls accompany my steps
no young squawk their hunger from the nest:
I hear only frantic cawing along the fence
answered from somewhere in the flowerbed.

I spy it. Almost covered by nasturtiums
it hops a little and lurches to a halt
feathers dark grey, no adult markings,
the beak, already sharp and strong
beneath the shining eye
tears at me with each pathetic cry.
A cat slinks out from spider-plants nearby
it eyes the crippled crow in passing
eyes my impotence with wily scorn.

Next morning blackbirds sing again
from the pines outside my window
their young chirp in secluded warmth,
the cats wander through my garden as before.

Linda M. Crate

Linda M. Crate is a Pennsylvanian native born in Pittsburgh yet raised in the rural town of Conneautville. Her poetry, short stories, articles, and reviews have been published in many magazines both online and in print. She has a penchant for reading  books, also manga, and she adores watching many different animes. Preferably with her boyfriend.

winging her way
through the skies a raven
ventured to meet the
wolf whose kind words
melted rivers of bitterness away
they said maine was beautiful,
but not as pretty as you —
you stained my black feathers
white and grey, eating away at all
those things that made me ugly
until only a broken prayer remained;
once we were stars shining in
heaven, our union kiss should have
told you we were meant to venture there
again beneath a halo of heaven's song —
perhaps, because i fly it's easier for
me to imagine ascension just take hold
of my dreams, wolf, and trust my
wings to carry us through the turbulence of
stars for i won't ever let you down
i'm not like everyone else
ravens are clever creatures we always
find a way; so don't give up on me because i
know together we were meant to shine
forever as one.

phoenix fury

feathers of flame
carry me to the sun for i
am a summer phoenix
burning so bright;
passion floods my veins and
singes lies to oblivion for
truth has laid buried
long enough in her grave beneath
the deepest roots of trees,
always rising from my ashes did
you think you could keep me
quashed beneath your heel?
my wings will be your undoing you
will feel the fury i feel for you still burning
straight through your core,
i wonder if you miss me now that you've
shattered all my magnolias of may
and stolen away slivers of my heart for your jar
the collection of stars you've stole away;
one of these days you're going to realize just whom
you've thrown away —
but it's too late, i've already found another to
take your place, his love restores my clipped wings
to full health and if i don't get you with beak
and talons first he'll tear you apart with
only one glance.

Lisa Aigen

Been writing poetry. Plan to write more. Kids are more or less raised, off in their six different directions. They don’t mind that I am finally going in mine. I love my work as an art therapist, enjoy a quiet coffee with Steven, my spouse, my friend, every once in a read him what I write. 

The Feather

my grandfather
holds his plume
delicately arched
in long
elegant fingers.
It pecks the glass bottle
drinking black ink,
and then the
faintly audible scratch
scratch scratch
in his quiet room.

winds rustle
birdsong echoes,
flutters from the trees
I pick it up,
hold it
just like his.

Lylanne Musselman

Lylanne Musselman is an award winning poet and artist, who lives in Toledo, Ohio, with her three cats, Graham, Tink, and Fiyero. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Tipton Poetry Journal, Pank, New Verse News, Literary Brushstrokes, Bird’s Eye reView, and The Rusty Nail among others, and many anthologies. She is the author of three chapbooks: Prickly Beer and Purple Panties (Bacon Tree Press, 2007), A Charm Bracelet For Cruising (Winged City Press, 2009) and Winged Graffiti (Finishing Line Press, 2011), and a co-author of the book: Company of Women: New & Selected Poems (Chatter House Press, 2013). Presently, she teaches writing of all stripes at Terra State and Ivy Tech Community Colleges, and is diligently working on a full length poetry memoir. For reading and book information:

Bossy Blues

Blue Jays
are louder
than any other
winged congregation
in spring fresh trees.

They boss their
at all birds
within their
caw perimeters.

The trill of cardinals,
and polite po-tweets,
the sweet cheeps,
innocent chirps of
others in flight
only magnify
the jazzy, bold
sounds of those

Turkey Vultures of Thorntown

En masse they gather at the top
of the complex grain elevator,
as if waiting for a lodge meeting
to convene to learn ways to segregate
themselves from the lower, meeker masses -
those lesser in their beady eyes.

High in the air they look majestic
as they soar, dip, and land with grace.
Their ominous numbers capture
our attention inside the art gallery,
where their flocks outnumber patrons
observing stunning pottery and paintings.

Instead we’re looking outside, captivated
by the turkey vultures invading Thorntown –
their beauty in their utter ugliness – winged
freaks of nature – wrinkled, baldish, red heads
with thick feathers ruffled from neck to tail,
spreading omens across the sky.

Lytton Bell

Lytton Bell has published five books, won six poetry contests and has been the featured reader at many California literary venues.  Her work has appeared in over three dozen publications.  As a teenager, Lytton won a scholarship to the Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts, where she studied with Deb Burnham and the late Len Roberts.  Lytton graduated magna cum laude from Bryn Mawr College. 


They bug me
While others sigh over them
writing flowery poems
I think of how their white, chunky, gloppy shit
coats everything: newspapers
caked into the bottom of golden cages
my windshield; my long, freshly shampooed hair
that used to smell of strawberries and limes

A little kid once died of West Nile virus
simply from touching one of their molted feathers
he found on a path in the park
Dirty, disgusting, hollow-boned, mean spirited little fuckers!
No wonder they are angry

My daughter, enraptured
on spying a river gull soaring through the air
whispered: “Wouldn’t it be amazing to be a bird?”
So I told her about Icarus and his painful fall
Better to be anything, even a lowly plankton
than to spend your days hovering in a blank sky

Why am I not jealous of flight?
Birds are beautiful, right?
They whoosh, zoom, dive, and swoop
They sip sugar from feeders with their pointy beaks
From their perch among the branches, they sing and sing
weaving silvery ribbons into the twigs of their nests
swiping a tender wing over their clutch of bright blue eggs

When they see me coming, they hunch like vultures
blocky in the winter trees; stark reminders
of all the risks I could not or would not take
Their wistful tweets turn into accusing caws

I saw a dead baby bird once when I was eight
limp and rotting just beneath our mulberry tree
It tried to fly too soon, my mother warned

So today I amble along the cliff’s edge
my shoulders itching, staring
down the sheer rock face into the sea
The birds are walking now, not flying
But I see their wings
And they see mine


When in my soul I feel a flapping bird
I look around, alarmed
by the loud rustling, the squawks of
trapped frustration
But no one else seems disturbed

I walk down stairs, across streets
the trapped bird beating always against
my rib cage
wanting out, out
No one sees

Fistfuls of feathers drop from my mouth
Birdseed leaks from my tear ducts
No one notices

In my hair, a spiraled nest of twigs
full of bluish eggs
Worms and bugs writhe at my shoe soles
Only the trees bend to meet me
their branches closing like arms
Yet I am invisible in a human crowd

The bird grows louder than thunder
louder than sirens
desperate cawing
flail of constrained wings

Then I see you on the sidewalk, scanning the skyline
You stop when you catch sight of me, eyes wide, mouth ajar
tilt your head when you hear the bird again

And when you move to embrace me
the lion in your chest starts to roar

M.J. Iuppa

M.J.Iuppa lives on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. Her most recent publication is a prose chapbook, Between Worlds, Foothills Publishing, 2013. She is Writer-in-Residence and Director of the Visual and Performing Arts Minor at St. John Fisher College, Rochester. NY. Her blog is

Dry Summer

Late July, early morning, the robin calls
and calls from a high branch.

For every measure of its heartbeat,
a passionate trill from a lesser known

wakes me from wrinkled sleep– what is it?
I cannot tell if this urgency is a moment’s

whim or a spell for making rain.
I listen harder, wishing for

the sound of hooves galloping– boiling
over into thunderclap– the wild scent

of lavender rinsing stilled air.


sitting alone
on a bench, watching leaves
spiral in gusts— lemony gold-