Category Archives: Poetry

Ami Maxine Irmen

October 8, 1871

Peshtigo, WI


We hid in the pond the night that fire fell

from the sky like rain. The smoke

that hung over the water was so thick

the foghorns had been blowing

for three days straight, trying to help

the ships guiding themselves,

even in daylight, by compass and hope.

They claimed it was draught, it spread fast.

It was Father that had the idea

to dunk ourselves into the pond,

knowing we couldn’t outrun it,

that if we walked in

as deep as we could, heads bobbing

above the water, we would be okay.

He told me to put my soaked shawl

over my face to keep my skin from burning,

allowing me to stay above the surface

to breathe. He removed his shirt.

The fire kept falling. It crackled

with the scent of burning leaves

and flesh. I’m not sure

how long we stayed in the pond.

I had waded over to Father

and leaned my head on his shoulder,

drifting in and out of sleep,

shivering all the while.



Ashes on Window Sills

Oswiecim, Poland, September 1941


Mama is cleaning again.

Tata can’t sleep

with the windows closed,

and since the factory

opened, Mama cleans

every day. She plunges

the rag into greying water;

the sound as she wrings

it out reminds me

of a hard rain.

It’s her eyes

I can’t pull myself

from, like mornings

when it is still dark,

when there’s mist,

but it’s difficult to tell

if it hangs in the air

or falls to the Earth

ever so slowly.

When I offer to help,

she swats my hand

away with more force

than she used to.

I never ask Mama

about the factory

because though I am

too young to know,

I am old enough

to know not to ask.

It will be years

before Mama, that same lost

look hanging in her eyes,

will finally sit

me down to explain:

the factory fires

burned so brightly

because they were fueled

by souls.

The ashes of bodies left

behind took to the air

as a last chance of escape,

only to gather

in the corners

of our window sills,

just out of reach

of Mama’s insistent rag.


Ami Maxine Irmen is an introvert, writer, photographer, and teacher. She uses all mediums necessary to explore what it means to be human, to make connections, and to seek truth. She prefers her books to be paper, her music to be vinyl, and her trees to be weeping willows.

Thanks for sharing!
Posted in Poetry | Tagged , | Comments Off on Ami Maxine Irmen

Kate Falvey

On the Hawthorne Road: A Study

“Stand back, my Lord, and let the coffin pass,”

declaims the young Nathaniel on a day over-thick

with lake mist and the thaw from winter’s more

ominous tales. Like that of Samuel Tarbox

and his wife, who froze in a drift by their own

front door, the food for their brood hefted in a block

into a straining gust of hemlock,

Mrs. Sam’s spent, frantic shawl

braced across the outcrop of her

husband’s shoulder blades,

driving up through the massy snow

in brittle black sticks of fringe.


The eldest from the huddle of five children

blew and blew a horn, a bone-thin wail needling inside

the wail of the bony winds. Heeded, the children

were scraped like candle wax from their family hearth

and flung this way and that –

near-sheer flakes of malleable shivers —

re-shaped and rekindled in the arms

of morose and kindly strangers.

Nathaniel’s Uncle Richard took

the famished toddler, Betsy,

and Aunt Sue made sure

that springtime rose again.


Nathaniel roams the Dingley Brook

to Thomas Pond and sites along the sunrise to the misty

hint of Rattlesnake Mountain. His fowling piece

is more a loaded prop than any sort of tool, something

picturesque to heft, and manly to regard – a memento

from his sea-claimed father, held in trust by Uncle Richard

and provided when the thicker woods of Maine made

weaponry essential. There was still a lurking slink of

panthers peering from the brake

where the brookies clustered in a cove at Panther Pond

and rattlers denning in the crags he liked to hail and climb.

Primeval though the region was, there was a road

that sliced up Quaker Ridge where the new-built meeting house

took clear and reverent stock

of the distant mountains of New Hampshire.



The Hathornes, distant mountains of his past,

would not have wished godspeed to Quaker neighbors

with any hint of grace or sufferance.

The ancient unmapped woods

could never have been big enough

for peaceful coexistence

and the Quakers would have needs been

shunned, reviled, and rousted.

He could almost hear the rustling

grave clothes of his fathers

in the soughing of the winds

and sense their wizened scorn

in the eye-like chinks of Pulpit Rock

as he swapped his pocket knife

with young Rob Cooke, his comrade

and a Quaker.


And the home that Uncle Richard built

with all his wealth and whimsy,

dragging glass from Belgium on a dray

through rutted staging roads

and a clock of rich mahogany, elegant and gilded,

chiming the long tale of its survival through the parlor

every hour. The wall paper from England, the hewn pumpkin pine,

the rays of the iron sun embedded in an arching window,

welcoming the light above the door.

And a library with Shakespeare and with Sydney,

Illyria and Arcadia in the wilds of Raymondtown,

the words illumined by the fir fire crackling

scented shadows through the gloom, poems,

more than just medicinal or diverting,

flung like prayers

to the stilly miles of thick black ash and pine.


Uncle Richard takes pains to duplicate the stately

hip-roofed lines of his own unlikely dwelling

when building his sister’s home

on a rise nearby his own. He knows this is a place

where Turkey rugs and silver candelabra

can lend an air of civilized proportion

but not define the limits of a mind,

where wildness stirs and meets its howling match

in children, even girls, and this incandescent boy

who roam and dream unchecked.


Nathaniel and his sisters scrabble still

for huckleberries that cluster in shrubs amidst

aged white pine that may have even been mature

when Hawthorne was a boy.

I see them through the misted morning chill,

chasing along the boulders of Sebago’s eastern shore,

Louisa slipping once and clutching her brother’s steadying

hand, and Ebe, the eldest, watching the woods with

a preternatural concentration as if charging the air forever

with her own fleet, unbridled girlhood.


Kate Falvey’s work has been widely published in an eclectic array of journals and anthologies.  The Language of Little Girls, her first full-length collection, was published in summer 2016 by David Robert Books. She also has published two chapbooks. She edits the 2 Bridges Review, published through City Tech/CUNY, where she teaches, and is on the board of the Bellevue Literary Review.

Thanks for sharing!
Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Kate Falvey

Ann Taylor



Inheriting kingdoms too young, ruling unready

most of Europe, American and Asian colonies,

enduring decades of armor, steeds, banners,

helmets, thrones, victories,

and obsequiousness all around,


Charles withdrew to Yuste’s cloister

deep among almond and olive groves,

to a tiny cell with an altar view,

and an orthopedic chair for his exhaustion

and his gout.


Someday, when I have leisure, he said, I’m

going to spend time with my clocks.

And so he did – tall clocks, small clocks,

ship-shaped clocks, clocks that measured

the timing of the moon and sun,

traced the wanderings of the planets.


His aim was to tinker with toys and tools

and best, to make two clocks strike the same hour

at the same time. They never did.


His own time running out,

unable to pace the cloister,

even to stand up, he built a catafalque,

had himself placed in his casket

to witness his own funeral.


Well after, death arrived.



                        Beyond all things is the sea.


So his army could pace on obedient waves,

Xerxes strung across the Hellespont

mile-long rope bridges.

But when the sea ripped the ropes to tatters,

the king beheaded the builders,

ordered scourgers to whip, insult

the muddy salty river!

The sea calmed as he lined up

six hundred oared ships and triremes

side by side, a trail of cut timber,

layered it with soil for his floating parade,

then turned his rage on Athens, burned it to ash.

Enthroned on a hilltop to witness

his Salamis triumph, he watched his seamen,

who could not swim, swallowed

by water’s rage, all, again, untethered.


At the Moesgard Museum 

Only chapel silence in the bog-dimness,

foot-shuffles, a polite cough.

We crowd on benches ringing

the Grauballe Man’s glass enclosure.

Gently spotlit, he lies stretched out,

off balance, propped on an elbow,

while his smooth hands

and the envelope of his leathery skin

deliver hints of the man he was . . .

Here encased, a victim with plenty of time

to make his case with every witness,

his remains testify to an ancient grievance.

Though he’s two thousand years buried,

it’s all too easy to trace the cruel slice

across his throat, the purposeful gash

from ear-to-ear, suicide impossible.

I feel a contemporary sympathy

as brow ridged, mouth agape, he seems

to mourn his youth cut short, to beg a hearing.

I imagine he’d toss back his thick shock

of red hair, breathe deep. He’d open wide

his encrusted eyes, look about the room,

then swing an elegant finger, like the point

of a compass needle, until it stopped

at his knife-wielding murderer.

He’d force his frozen lips into a smile maybe,

justice so long denied.


Ann Taylor is a Professor of English at Salem State University in Salem, Mass. where she teaches both literature and writing courses. She has written two books on college composition, academic and free-lance essays, and a collection of personal essays, Watching Birds: Reflections on the Wing (Ragged Mountain/McGraw Hill). Her first poetry book, The River Within, won first prize in the 2011 Cathlamet Poetry competition at Ravenna Press. Her recent collection, Bound Each to Each, was published by  Finishing Line Press in 2013.

Thanks for sharing!
Posted in Poetry | Tagged , | Comments Off on Ann Taylor

Randy Koch

The Garrote

—Diego de Almagro; 8 July 1538; Cuzco, Peru; in the presence of Hernando Pizarro, soldiers, a priest, and the executioner


Yes, Hernando, I’m through 

begging. I only regret that trusting you 

and Gonzalo—out of respect for Francisco—

saved you from this. You should live so 

long and come to so sure an end.  


The cordillera, too, was long, fatal. 

I saw men die, and even in death they were not still—

collapsing in the cold, drawing into themselves, stiffening, or

swelling in the heat, stomachs, hands, and legs blistering and 

bursting like putrid flowers. How can we rest if 

our bodies cannot keep still?  


Take mine to Our Lady of Mercy. Bury me 

whole. Show me that bit of kindness, a last 

sign of respect for one so old as me. Don’t leave 

my head in the sun. I’ll have some peace then. 


I thought you were a brother as your 

brother was to me. But I suppose it’s better 

to die in the presence of enemies, of friends

become enemies, than to die alone, where 

words would be the thin babbling 

of the mad, for what good are words 

if they fall on no ears? Better 

they should fall on deaf ears. 

At least then they have a place 


to settle until years later they can speak 

for themselves and are finally, 

faintly heard, like a whisper in 

the desert or the wind playing 

the holes of a skull 

like a flute. 


I might go on, but no, I’ll be 

still. Now bring the rope.

Diego de Almagro (1475-1538) came to the New World in 1514 and settled in Panama in 1519. He formed a partnership with Francisco Pizarro to explore and conquer the country south of Panama along the Pacific Ocean. During the first two expeditions, they learned of the great wealth of the Inca Empire, and in 1529 Charles V gave Pizarro permission to conquer Peru. By 1533 Almagro and Pizarro completed the conquest of the country, and in 1535 Almagro was named governor of New Toledo, the land south of Pizarro’s grant. 

During 1535-36 he conquered the northern part of what is present-day Chile and then claimed the Incan capital of Cuzco as part of his grant. Pizarro, however, also claimed Cuzco, and when Almagro invaded the city, civil war broke out between the followers of Almagro and those of Francisco Pizarro and his brothers Hernando, Gonzalo, and Juan. In 1538, Almagro’s forces were defeated at the battle of Las Salinas; he was then captured, tried, and sentenced to death. He begged for his life, but when Hernando Pizarro refused to appeal the sentence, Almagro was garroted in prison and publicly beheaded in Cuzco’s square.


We Have Said This to You

—Fray Vicente de Valverde; 1541; the island of Puná, off the coast of Ecuador; to the local Indians


I am come to account for your ignorance

and to impress on you our sacred doctrine

by the authority of which we go here now 


and abroad. We are descended of Adam,

and by the power granted by Christ our 

Lord to Saint Peter, to the Popes, and to 


our majesties, you shall vow allegiance 

to them and to the One True Faith. If you 

fail to submit to that which is required, you


shall be wholly converted with righteousness 

and sword and fury, the likes of which you

know not but which shall be rained down on


you three-fold, unto the end of your days.

Christians, for that which you are about 

to do, I release you! Sant Iago, and on them!

Fray Vicente de Valverde (ca. 1490-1541) was part of the Pizarro expedition that marched into the Andes to the Inca city of Catamarca. He was present when 168 Spaniards took the Emperor Atahualpa captive on 16 November 1532, and eight months later when they executed him (MacQuarrie 133-34). In 1535 the crown appointed Fray Vicente bishop of Peru though it was not made official by Pope Paul III until 1537, and he was considered an enemy of the Almagrists during the civil war. In 1541 he fled Lima and on his way to the Guayaquil estuary was killed by the Indians of the island of Puná (Prescott 1100-01). 


Upon the Charge

—Doña Inés de Suárez; ca. 1578; Santiago, Chile; in the presence of her husband Rodrigo de Quiroga


You who know all time, who light today with yesterday, 

pity me, and pardon me and those led astray by my iniquities.  


Be merciful to the spirit of Don Pedro de Valdivia, who tried

to do that with which he was charged but fell into infidelity

and marauding, to which I was complicit. Consecrate the soul 

of my husband Don Rodrigo de Quiroga, who will follow me

to the grave but will alone be washed in the light of Your Glory. 


You who forge all tongues and call us to steel resolve, 

impart Your love on all those bearing arms—both Spaniard and

Indian—who departed during the conquest of this land, all 

for the splendor of Your name and to spread the radiance 

of Your Word across the dark expanses of this primitive place. 


Have mercy on me, and forgive my desires—the call

of flesh, the sigh of the sword, the horse’s shudder and

stamp running through me before the charge, the volley of

curses and the heady barrage raining down on the 

standing dead. You know my true feelings, and I can 


no more hide them from You than from myself behind 

Sant Iago and Father Marmolejo and from you, Don Rodrigo. 

How can you love me or tend me when you know 

I am lost, heaven barricaded and hurling my past down

on me from the battlements? Though I know what awaits,


I can do nothing now, for where it ends it also began—

with the cross and a prayer and charge upon charge.

Inés de Suárez (1507-ca. 1578), the first European woman in Chile, arrived in Peru when she was in her twenties, became the mistress of the conquistador Pedro de Valdivia, and joined him on the expedition to Chile in 1540. In September 1541, natives attacked the settlement at Santiago while Valdivia was absent. When the small Spanish force seemed in imminent danger of being overrun by the attackers, Inés de Suárez proposed and assisted with killing the seven caciques the Spaniards held hostage, flinging their heads at the natives, and making one last charge with their horses, which drove the natives off. 

In 1549 Valdivia faced a variety of charges in a trial in Peru, and while he was cleared of the majority of them and named Governor and Captain General of Chile, he was also ordered to end his relationship with Inés de Suárez and send for his wife from Spain (Nauman 92). In late 1549, Doña Inés married Valdivia’s good friend Rodrigo de Quiroga, who was named Governor General of Chile by Philip II in 1573; Inés, consequently, had the title gobernadora and lived in Santiago until her death.


Randy Koch grew up in Minnesota; lived on the border in Laredo, Texas, for ten years; and earned an MFA at the University of Wyoming. His poems, essays, and book reviews have appeared in Passages NorthTexas Observer, LareDos, The Raven ChroniclesRevista InteramericanaJ JournalThe Caribbean Writer, and many others. His chapbook, This Splintered Horse, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2011, and his collection of sonnets, Composing Ourselves, was published by Fithian Press in 2002. He currently lives and works in northeast Pennsylvania.

Thanks for sharing!
Posted in Poetry | Tagged , | Comments Off on Randy Koch

Lillian King

The Ghosts of Paris

There is a line drawn across the throat

of the boy who walks the streets of Paris,

feet padding jagged stone and packed soil,

his soles caked black with dirt.

If I reached out I could pull on the strands of his voice

and topple his head,

so deep that gash goes.


He roams past cracked barrels of spirits

and piles of hay so strong the fumes

overpower the onions and the carrots

laid out in rows to the street.


He walks through the Tuileries in the night,

through broken teacups and shattered china,

and the overthrown memories

of a dead king and queen

who wore smiles on their necks

the way the boy does.


He holds a roll dangling loose in his hand,

his skinned fingers pound against anything in reach,

wilded by the days trapped without speech

and nothing but burnt lace and tattered shades,

with no one but me for company

and that only when I am in the mood.


The trees are soft around him,

trickling gray the way they only do

after a rain that gentles the leaves

and brings the sewer water

rushing around my ankles.


Rose petals litter the brown water

that laps at his bruised knees.

I cannot help but remember

the delicate swirls and intimate pink loveseats

arranged under portraits

with frowns and stiff backs to conceal

cramped bloodlines and dead descendants.


His gaze is like melted glass,

glazing him to every sight

as dark water rushes

up the peeling wallpaper

of a broken palace,

his eyes seeing none of it.


I stand in refuse that laps at my chest,

his carnation hair, matted and tangled,

a horse’s mane,

flowing in the water,

making no move to stop it.


The crowds screamed for the blood of the king,

and they had it, for it creates rivulets

in our quick-filling pond.

They wanted the flesh of the Widow Capet,

and it’s here, obscuring the frames on the wall,

draped over the pictures of triumphs in battle.

They tore out the crystal heart of the little prince,

and it pumps this water streaming over us,

a heartbeat felt deep in my chest.


The Incorruptible’s guts,

the Marquis’s finger bones,

the Mayor’s throat,

the necks of the rest,

all lusted for by the crowd;

they are around us,

dishonored ghosts,

cherished remnants.


The boy finally trembles,

no longer alone.


My blue-veined hands

ache to brush his hair, to bring back

the cacophony of childrens’ voice

I knew before the Revolution

but instead a different music swells

and the water rises,

hiding him from view.



Recipe for a Beloved Spy—

dedicated to John André


-a convincing smile      – a rich upbringing       – talent with a quill       -a noose

  1. Be born in London. Make sure to be cradled in silk. Make sure to love your parents dearly, especially your mother. It is essential for you to see the countryside from the saddle of a horse, your thin legs poking out comically from the sides as your wide eyes take in the long rows of rural farms and elegant mansions. It is recommended that you go to school in the long shadow of Buckingham Palace; this can be anywhere in the country, if the right people run the institution.
  1. Go to America when you have finished schooling; you will help end their ill-planned Revolution. Find joy in everything you do. Write letters in a confident hand, ready to send back across the sea when you take your first step onto The New World. Never consider that the letters might not make it; never consider anyone less capable than yourself. Look at the vast stretches of land and feel nothing but the sharp sting of mosquitoes. Be too dignified to slap them away.
  1. Cheerily carry out your duties to the British, even though this means sitting in the cold air of the Hudson, carrying out secret meetings with men you do not think your equal. Make sure not to feel the rocking of the boat or the way it makes sickness rise in your throat. Close your eyes and think of your maid’s stained apron, or maybe the look on your sisters’ faces when you come back a hero. Imagine their soft embraces against your crisp uniform.
  1. Be mesmerized by the rocking of the boat. When you are captured, mesmerize them in turn.
  1. Sit in an inn with dry clothes and warm food. Let your shoulders sag. This will be the only weakness you show as long as you do not remember that you are only just thirty. Arnold will get away, but everyone likes you better, and that will matter for something in the history books. Realize that you did not know you want to be in history books. Remember that you did not always want to be a spy. Forget it just as quickly, as it helps little now.
  1. Be witty. Make the Americans laugh. Be artistic. Draw a self-portrait for them to remember you by. Be so charming that they beg anyone who will listen not to kill you. Ignore the rush in your blood whenever this comes up. Ignore the hard eyes of the few who do not give into your skills. Teach a young Frenchman how to stand straighter than he did in the courts of his queen. Teach whatever you can. Learn nothing, for it will not matter. Watch the Americans fail to save you. Smile so much they seem to care more than you do.
  1. Walk proudly to the gallows. Refuse the blindfold. Hang the noose around your own fingers; do not flinch. These are the only honors afforded to men who are killed for sneaking in the night, and you will be known as one of the few to accept them freely, no matter how your insides tremble. Listen to the sobs of the proud military men around you. Let it comfort you, in the same way that the fleet of King George does. At least they will remember. Focus on the Frenchman crying into his epaulets. One of your sisters has hair that color.
  1. I pray you to bear me witness that I meet my fate like a brave man.



The man with a bird’s name

goes inside

and doesn’t turn on the lights.

If he did he’d have to look

at every crumpled shirt,

every stain and crack and cobweb.

He leaves the cracked bulb alone.


(every night he dreams of the Marquis)

(Lafayette, general at nineteen)

(what was he doing at that age?)


The man with a bird’s name

unbuttons his shirt

with shaking fingers.

His heaving chest is drenched

with sweat that seeps through

a stained undershirt.

You’re hot, he tells himself.

You’re a catch.


(the Marquis dirtied his hands for two countries)

(gasping for air above a sea of dissonance)

(how can he possibly compare to a man like that?)


He knows he’s not a catch.


(the Marquis spent over five years in prison)

(scratching letters into paper with a toothpick)

(did the noise wake the rats?)


The man with a bird’s name

ignores every call on his phone.

Replacing the Marks on the caller ID

with Ambers,

the Philips

with Brittanys.

In that world

he might do the laundry more.


(the Marquis loved General Washington)

(like a father, he cried out at his grave)

(but he doesn’t love men like a father, does he?)


The man with a bird’s name

doesn’t need to see

to find what he wants.

Shadows shift like fabric as

thick fingers fumble.

Sliding past history books

to find the long smooth neck

of a bottle.


Soon it is hanging in his hand

swinging between loose digits.

His shoulders untense.


(sometimes he can’t remember if the Marquis was real)

(despite all his books saying otherwise)

(but then is anything but the Marquis real?)


The man with a bird’s name

always forgets to put the blinds down.

The sun sears his eyelids while he sleeps.

He wakes to dancing spots,

his head pounding a steady drum.

He wants someone to stay in bed with him.

He wants someone to stay with him.

He doesn’t know how to ask.


(the Marquis died holding a photo of his wife)

(clutching it until the very end)

(is that what he wants?)


Lillian King is a student at Bowling Green State University. She will be published in The Sucarnochee Review and the Packingtown Review, and she recently won third place in the SCCC Creative Writing Award contest. She doubts it will be a surprise to learn that she is studying creative writing and history.

Thanks for sharing!
Posted in Poetry | Tagged , | Comments Off on Lillian King

A. S. Ford


Carbon-dust, smeared body paint
small, skeletal bodies; pale,
leaning on the pony carts,
            hunched over.
Earth crumbles under metal claws
as they listen to the canary’s song
and prepare for the stampede  
if the tune ends. 
Wide pupils shrivel to pinpoints
wind stings their throats
as they clamber from the tunnels
into clean, cold air.
In 1842 they are allowed to leave
but the damage is done
lungs gnawed, scratched,
            drowned in blood.  
The Unknown Woman of the Seine
You were found in the river …
an immortal, sleeping beauty 
who paid a small price.
Now, your plaster cast eyes are shut
beneath a smooth, pale forehead
and sculpted eyebrows.
You were pulled from the river …
            and the case pleads murder
or some other wrong-doing
but the smile on your
child-like face says:
don’t worry, I was happy.
You were missed by the river …
Resusci Anne, the most kissed
face in the world, and yet,
breathless you remain.  

A.S. Ford grew up in a small village within the countryside of Buckinghamshire. Since moving to Cirencester three years ago she has completed a Creative Writing degree at the University of Gloucestershire with two poems published in The Dawntreader and one in the online magazine: I Am Not A Silent Poet. She lives with her fiancé, their pack of dogs, and pet rat.

Thanks for sharing!
Posted in Poetry | Tagged , | Comments Off on A. S. Ford

Beatriz F. Fernandez

Genesis, 1880

On March 31, 1880, Wabash, Indiana became the first electrically lit city in the world.


Over to Wabash from Anderson we come

to witness the night to end all nights.

The courthouse tower bell strikes eight—

and over the sound of the band playing,

a buzz as if from a blizzard of bees rises

in the evening air—the breeze crackles

and night bursts into a strange new day.


Fierce pride dawns, but fear beckons

as grown men moan down to their knees

and lovers flee to newly shrunken shadows.


Like a cornered fox whose secret lair’s

sniffed out by hounds, my eyes ricochet

from one sharp angle to another

of this unfamiliar luminous cage.

I break and run—far from the false suns’ glare

down to the river,  only to find

that traitorous serpentine band

capturing traces of the ensorcelled light.


In my girlhood days, before the soil began to erode,

that river glowed like molten silver in sunlight—

the Miami people named it Wah-bah-shik-ki, or “white”

and fought our fathers for the riches of its pure bright waters.


Some measure of peace returns as I watch its endless flow—

a hundred years from now, others will come to these banks

for the comfort only a river can bestow, and I know

they will praise us for giving chase to the dark forever.


And someday, because of tonight,

folk like us will venture between the stars

where only darkness speaks,

their frail, persistent faces shining like beacons

in the sharper shadows cast by alien suns.



The Lost Colony

Virginia Dare was the first child born to English parents in the Roanoke colony.


Lost before I was weaned,

my fate a mystery before I was grown,

I was christened Virginia—

a new name for a child born in a world

new to our blood.


Salt sang in my veins,

the motion of the ocean

pulsed in my infant heart,

the August sun of a green world

met my newly opened eyes,

and already in my flute-like throat

a softer accent was being tuned

by this sand, these trees, this wind.


From fretful dreams in my carved cradle

I woke to sounds of battle behind flimsy palisade walls.

Bloodtides sprang, receded, but never died,

I tell you, my kind survived.


Spread like fire my blood rooted a forest,

birthed a mystery deeper

than any of us could have dreamed—


Grandfather, after three years of desperate waiting

you came back for us

to find only a muddy footprint,

one torn word gashed in wood: Croatoan,

code for salvation or accusation,

no way to know, no trail to follow.


Search for me no more, my mother’s father,

for I linger here, in the rock beneath the captive soil,

in the mandrake root twisted at the foot of the oak,

in the gaze of the green forest,

the eyes that blink at you through the coming night.



Maid Joan’s Gethsemane

I never questioned the summoning

when the saints came to me

in my father’s garden—

why else would the good Lord

give me, a maid, this soul

forged in shape of a sword?


When I was a girl in Domrémy

dancing around the midsummer’s bonfire,

I once saw a spiderweb catch a spark,

silken threads shriveling in the flames,

the spider paying out her escape line,

but in the end trapped in her own fiery lair—

Something stayed my hand from rescue then,

it seemed a thing meant—

the spark sent, perhaps by You.


My God, my country, my king—

to me they were all one thing.

For their sake, I abandoned

my childhood home and hearth

for the fickle shelter of army banners

and took up a standard crowned

with golden angel wings.


At the stake, when I looked upon

Your nailed hands curled on the cross,

all I could see were my mother’s pale fingers

at her spinning wheel—churned flax

transfigured into fine linen floss

twisted onto a spindle,

which to my child’s gaze

spun on and on without end.


I will never again don a daughter’s gown—

in its stead, a martyr’s skirt of flames

brands my face on the fabric of heaven

forever, and from this night on,

whenever my name is spoken,

the stars will taste of my ashes.


Beatriz F. Fernandez is the author of Shining from a Different Firmament (Finishing Line Press, 2015) which she presented at the Miami Book Fair International last year. She’s a former grand prize winner of the Writer’s Digest Poetry Award and has read her poetry on WLRN, South Florida’s NPR news station. Her poems have appeared in Boston Literary MagazineFalling Star Magazine (2014 Pushcart Nomination), Minerva RisingVerse Wisconsin, and Writer’s Digest, among many others. Contact her at or @nebula61.

Thanks for sharing!
Posted in Poetry | Tagged , | Comments Off on Beatriz F. Fernandez

Gary Beck

Achilles, On Modern Warfare

I met my enemies

on the battlefield

face to face

and won renown

with my strong spear.

I was brought down

by an arrow

I couldn’t evade.

There is no honor

fighting a foe

who kills you

from far away,

so you never look

into his eyes.


Unknown Union Soldier

 The cowardly rebs

won’t stand up and fight

like real men.

They hide behind stone walls

and won’t face us,

shooting us down like dogs

while we’re lined up

in formation

the way real soldiers should.

It’s good we outnumber them,

or else they’d wipe us out

with shots from ambush.


Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director, and as an art dealer when he couldn’t make a living in theater. He has 11 published chapbooks. His poetry collections include: Days of Destruction (Skive Press), Expectations (Rogue Scholars Press). Dawn in Cities, Assault on Nature, Songs of a Clerk, Civilized Ways, Displays (Winter Goose Publishing). Fault Lines, Perceptions, Tremors and Perturbations will be published by Winter Goose Publishing. Conditioned Response (Nazar Look). Resonance (Dreaming Big Publications). His novels include: Extreme Change (Cogwheel Press) Acts of Defiance (Artema Press). Flawed Connections (Black Rose Writing). Call to Valor will be published by Gnome on Pigs Productions. His short story collection, A Glimpse of Youth (Sweatshoppe Publications). Now I Accuse and other stories will be published by Winter Goose Publishing. His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway. His poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines. He currently lives in New York City.



Thanks for sharing!
Posted in Poetry | Tagged , | Comments Off on Gary Beck

Sultana Raza

The Silent One

He stares

more silent than the sand

slithering and sliding

around him

through centuries

of polishing particles

from the dawn

of the Desertic Times

gazing steadfast

at the same unique point

on the horizon

even as the universe

dances around him;

but he waits,

with infinitive patience

for the galactic dance

to come full circle,

before he’ll be allowed

to blink just the once or

to give even the hint

of a secret smile.

First published in Beyond Imagination in July 2015


Remains of a Princess 

Filled with admiration and fascination

were those that

disturbed the ambitious princess

who was obliged to partake of poison;

refused to divulge her

race’s secrets, giving access to

other dimensions to Roman predators

walking in beauty

does not always lead to resting in peace

for more than a few centuries at a time

as those once under the Romans

came awe-struck to

unearth and remove

the bundle that remained

new, academic warriors

in service to humanity

whose pride made them dig deep

for the corporeal remains

hiding inviolable secrets inside

happy and proud

in the knowledge that

the ancient beauty

lies suspended on a glass plate

blissful in their ignorance

of the real identity of bones

wrapped in mists of

forgery, subterfuge,

hoodwinking all who pass before her

even with unbowed heads,

for mummies do not speak.

A different version first published in Ancient Heart Magazine in 2006.


Sun Among Women

History is chock-full of despots male,

That paid writers praised; it’s become stale.


Only kings were acclaimed; she chose to defy.

Determined, decisive, she wasn’t shy.

She showed the empire, a woman could rule,

While creating rare pearls in poetry’s pool.

Strategic policies could easily devise,

Sifted hard truth from diplomatic lies.

Her name stamped on coins, phenomena rare,

Her new ideas, emperor would share.

Governing country, played main role,

Built many monuments, gardens for the soul.


Ruthless, scheming, ambitious, perchance.

To no one’s tunes, she had to dance.

Hunted and rode, invented perfumes,

Broke tradition, fashioned costumes.


Juggled hundred spices, new dishes unrolled,

Sensitive to arts, co-ruler broke the mould.


Though hemmed in by decorum, to new heights could rise,

Combined left and right brain, for solutions wise.

Emotional intelligence went a long way,

Empire was stronger, kept enemies at bay.

Faced king’s justice, with equanimity,

Wrote many verses, sad or witty.


Architectural gem, for progenitor made,

Emotional foundations of Taj Mahal laid.

Personified excellence metaphorically,

She has no parallel, literally.


Defended borders, ‘light of the world,’

In history, though veiled, her voice has been heard.

First published in Ecriture Feminine issue of Muse India in Nov. 2015.


Of Indian origin, Sultana Raza has an M.A. in English Literature. Her articles have appeared in Flick Feast (UK), Sound on Sight(USA), the Peter Roe Series (Tolkien Society UK), Gnarled OakLe Jeudi, the Wort and paperjam in English and French. 

Sultana Raza’s poems have appeared in Ancient Heart Magazine (Australia), India Currents (USA), London Grip (UK), Literary Gazette(USA), Caduceus (Ed. Yale University, USA), Beyond Bree, (an American MENSA newsletter), the Peter Roe Series, (Tolkien Society UK), The Whirlwind Review (USA), Silver Leaves Journal #5 (Canada), Muse India, and The New Verse News. Recently, more have been published in Catch and Release (Columbia’s online Journal),
 Allegro, and Indiana Voices Journal

Thanks for sharing!
Posted in Poetry | Tagged , | Comments Off on Sultana Raza

Janet Hatherley



Marcus, from his cradle, haul,

wrap arms around and run

on stone that shakes in enmity.

All I knew as solid, no more sure

than jelly made from quince,

as heaving ground moves sideways 

fitful from my sandaled feet.


Waves leap and slosh in mosaic pool

as if in rhythm with the sea

beyond the distant harbour wall.


Through yawning seats, then outwards, 

to the ampitheatre’s open space, 

where I, with others, stop – to gape –

at temples I have helped to raise,

soothe my crying son, as columns

crack in clouds of dust and fall,

witness solid Telmessos fall.


And in my ears, the roar of gods,

an anger, terrible to hear.

How little we men are.



After Suleyman the Magnificent:  letter to his wife


 My solitude, my one in a palace of many, I rest from life’s demands in your arms

your face, a calm moon soothing stars as it shepherds night skies, you restore me. 


My existence, elixir of wisdom, wines deep diffusing, divine drifting heavenwards 

awakening faint stirrings, a new born Spring, rose’s lingering scent, you delight me. 


My joy, sweeping my cares away, out with the lamplight, candle igniting the dark

bitter tang of an orange, pomegranate sip, torch to illuminate, you relight me.


My life, green rising plant, far beyond wealth, unspoilt and untouched, I reach for you

you’re my saint, my Joseph, sold as a slave to the Khan of old Egypt, you resolve me.


My friend, my everything, you are Stambul, Karaman, red dust of Anatolia

Baghdad and Horasan, gold flecked map of my world unfolded, you reframe me.


My sunshine, hair copper flames, arch of your eyebrow, when your eye’s full of sorrow

my life’s in your hands, my blood on yours if I die a martyr, non-Muslim, you renew me.


My beloved, at your door I will wait, impart on my ships to four corners your praises

my heart aches, it aches, eyes fill with tears, I am Muhibbi, I am happy, you define me.


Janet Hatherley is a teacher from London, England who has recently come back to poetry.  She has attended Clare Pollard’s ‘Ways into Poetry’ class, is now attending Roddy Lumsden’s poetry group and has published in The Lake

Thanks for sharing!
Posted in Poetry | Tagged , | Comments Off on Janet Hatherley