Saturday, April 30, 2016

Special Feature: "Lost and Found" by Adrienne R. Gordon

Lost and Found
Adrienne R. Gordon
I've been remembering things:
April 23, 2004,
the day that I overrode Daddy's DNR
and insisted that the medical team
place him on life support;
that they provide indisputable,
unequivocal evidence
that he could not recover.
I truly believed
there would be a miracle...
one so great
it would be known
far and wide.

Here's the prequel:
You may remember that he was
admitted to the hospital on April 2nd
and that Pesach was April 5th - 13th that year.
Here's that part of our Passover journey:
I had accompanied his gurney
to radiology for a CAT scan.
There were chairs lining the walls of the hallway,
so I sat down to get some rest
by leaning my head on my cane.
I heard a man's voice say,
"Can I help you?"
When I looked up,
I saw a young man and a young woman sitting next to him,
with an infant on her lap.
They were about 25 feet away.
I thanked him for asking
and told them I was just resting
while waiting for my husband
to return from a test.
Thinking they might need to talk,
I continued the conversation.
When I asked him the name of the child,
he told me it was Elijah.
What are the odds?
I couldn't wait to tell your father
that two angels came during his test--
and Elijah was with them.
Now everything was going to be all right.
When I told Daddy,
he kind of smiled that little smile I knew so well ... 
indulging me for one of my
wacky booga-booga interpretations, yet again!

But --
He did improve
and by the fifteenth,
he was up walking to the window,
drinking coffee that Uncle Jim bought from Dunkin' Donuts
and making plans to go fishing with him.
Then, a day or two later --
the infection.
The bitter cup that I never imagined.
I believed that there would always be
more time;
that our Redemption would be on
the last day...
the two of us...
hand in hand.
But not to be.
He was gathered to wait
with other family souls.
I've accepted that
it was meant to be.
Always pray
for your father
as he prays
for you.

Editor’s Note:  This year, Passover ends tonight at nightfall. My father died at the age of seventy-one two weeks after the end of Passover twelve years ago; may his memory be a blessing.  I believe that the angels came for him on the day that they spoke to my mother, but were moved by my mother’s kindness even when she was sad, tired, and afraid for my father’s sake.   As a reward for her selflessness, I believe the angels prayed to God and asked Him to allow my father to live just a little longer as a special gift for my mother, and that God granted their request. 

I discovered this “found” poem in an email that my mother sent me a few days ago.  I arranged my mother’s words in verses, but not a single word, word order, punctuation mark, or even paragraphing was changed.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Two of the Editor's Poems Are Anthologized

The Editor is pleased to announce that two of his previously published poems, “The Legend of the Moruadh” & “Snow White,” have been anthologized in Les Cabinets des Polytheistes: An Anthology of Pagan Fairy Tales, Folktales, and Nursery Rhymes edited by Rebecca Buchanan.  The collection is available now through CreateSpace &, and will migrate over the next few weeks to Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Poem of the Day: “dead lines” by John Reinhart, Frequent Contributor

dead lines
John Reinhart

like waiting to check out at the grocery store in August
when you’re preparing for a five-year-old’s birthday
party and the ice cream cake is melting
while the teenage employee lost in obscure leafy greens
dreads the return of school, another place
to punch in codes for obscurities that all taste
like spinach anyway – and the older lady
whose basket brims over with industrial size
tubes of ground beef, cartons of cigarettes,
and frozen grated potatoes on sale three weeks running
looks set to derail progress indefinitely

no other lines are open: purgatory
ought to be a breeze after these
hours? with no distraction beyond
aliens in the white house
celebrity love children diets
twenty-four varieties of soda
thirty-eight sweets to rot teeth
and glaring fluorescents that make everyone
look lightly queasy even against summer
tans that scream against tomorrow
today, another sign that this line
is one sad, flat preview of a future
where ice cream cake dribbles
uncontrollably onto the floor

Poet's Notes:  Born of a title, born of a passing thought unrelated to verse, born of obligations to small children, situated in the thrills and frustrations of everyday, where what happens in the wings to call forth the flashing lights on stage is far more important and difficult to execute than the light play, but the show is worth dragging a shopping basket across sun scorched and desolate grocery aisles for a hundred years because the result is a spark plug.

I enjoyed living into these images. Kurt Vonnegut in Like Shaking Hands With God said, "I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around." I appreciate his sentiment and when I'm seventy I hope I still have the opportunity to stand around post office lines and chat with imperfect strangers. At this moment, I, against all better judgment and character, often appreciate self-checkout lines and online retailers.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Poem of the Day: “We Are Still Alone” by James Frederick William Rowe, Frequent Contributor

We Are Still Alone
James Frederick William Rowe

I tread upon a dead world
Seeing but dust and rust
Sand and stone
A-crumble with the withering years
Of erosion wrought of time and folly
Sparked cataclysm
Ruining all that remains
Of life once abundant
Now dead to the last

It is cruel to visit this place
So long after life
To recognize in broken stalks
In half-collapsed mounds
And the scattered remains
Of dust-coated artifacts
Inscribed with voiceless words
The proof of ancient habitation
The mark of age-old deeds

To search for so long
In hopes of finding life
Another civilization, another community
To find its proof only
Millennia after it has perished
This is a joke
And the cold, mirthless laughter
Echoes in the wastes
And rings in my soul

I shall take the desolation as my God
And heap with unhewn stones
An altar of solitude
To be crowned with an offering
Of a golden disk carried since antiquity
By all voyagers
A token of friendship, of brotherhood
Now become a supplication to extinction
Lord over all I see

When I return to my ship
I will make no record of this place
I shall bear the miserable knowledge
Of this broken world
As lonesomely as the world itself
No one shall be burdened but I
With the knowledge of this desolation
Of the shattered hope of fraternity
Made false in death

Poet’s Notes:  A few weeks ago, I was feeling fairly somber and I was reading the 1989 Thor annual. In the backup feature of the comic, Thor visits a ruined earth some thousand years in the future as the only living creature present except the silent, God-like Uatu the Watcher. I was struck with the horrible misery of this moving story and was inspired to write a poem on a similar theme.

Instead of Earth, this poem takes place on some unnamed planet. The narrator, a space explorer, comes to explore a planet that had once hosted a civilization. Mankind has apparently had no contact with sapient alien life at this time, and in a cruel turn of fate the explorer finds proof of an alien civilization only after it had long ago passed away by some (self-caused?) cataclysm. Made miserable by the sight of the devastation, the man mourns the death of the planet through erecting an "altar of solitude" and placing his golden disk "carried from antiquity / by all voyagers" (a play on the Voyager spacecraft) as an offering to the "deity" of extinction.            

The poem is also partially inspired by the Fermi Paradox, which hypothesizes that any sapient life of sufficient sophistication might well end up destroying itself, leading to a high likelihood that we will never meet another civilization.

I didn't need to work too hard on this poem. I wrote most of it in one sitting, returning only to give its ending at a later date. Structurally, the stanzas of nine verses each were hardly in need of a touch up. Here and there I added and subtracted, reworking wording and such, but it was an easy poem to compose, and one with I am happy. Though I wrote it in a somber mood, and it has its genesis in that mindset, my normal thoughts on such things are gloomy enough as is that I do not think the inspiration was solely due to a melancholic spell on my part, but rather simply enhanced by it. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Poem of the Day: “The Martian Merman’s Ghost” by Ross Balcom, Frequent Contributor

The Martian Merman's Ghost
Ross Balcom

The ghost
of a Martian
merman speaks to the red
planet, as a sad child to its

me in your dry
seabed, let me recall
the joys I knew in oceans lost
in time."

Poet's Notes: A Martian, a merman, and a ghost, all rolled into one. You're welcome.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Poem of the Day: “Fault” by Mary Soon Lee, Frequent Contributor

Mary Soon Lee

Seventy-eight men--

     King Xau lay still,
     eyes closed.

Seventy-eight men.
Seventy-six of them farmers
or farmhands. Two soldiers.

     Xau lay still,
     trying not to disturb Khyert,
     once his stableboy,
     now valet, aide, groom,
     sleeping on a mat by the door.

Seventy-eight men.
Burnt. Stabbed. Mutilated.
To provoke Xau to war.
Seventy-eight deaths to start a war
that might kill tens of thousands.

     Xau's throat dry.
     He lay still.
     Forced himself to relax his muscles.

No good options.
To go to war in the bitter heart of winter,
try to maintain a supply line
despite snow and ice.
Or to stay put
as if nothing had happened,
perhaps persuade the other farmers to evacuate,
to follow their children to the towns.
Or to retaliate in kind:
to raid Donal's farms,
order his soldiers to burn Donal's farmers--

     Xau sat up.
     Reached for the water. Drank.

     Khyert stood, came over.
     "Can I get you anything?"
     "No. Thank you.
     Get some rest if you can."

No good options,
but he'd chosen anyhow.
Tomorrow he would lead his army
to the Muir river to take out the bridges--

     "It's not your fault."
     Khyert's voice quiet, diffident,
     worried about him,
     but all this was, in the end,
     Xau's fault.

Believing he could stop a war
that had continued,
overtly or surreptitiously,
for the past three hundred years--

     Khyert still standing there,
     watching him.
     "Try to rest," said Xau, again.

     But Khyert sat,
     cross-legged, by Xau's bed.
     Looked down at the floor.
     Sang, very soft,
     too quiet for the guards
     stationed outside the door to hear,
     a shepherd's song about the greening trees,
     the lambing ewes.

     Xau closed his eyes.

Poet's Notes:  This is part of The Sign of the Dragon, my epic fantasy in verse. It is one of several poems about the friendship between King Xau and Khyert, a friendship that began when Khyert was a stable boy and Xau was the youngest and least important of four princes. More poems from The Sign of the Dragon may be read at

Monday, April 25, 2016

Poem of the Day: "barnacles" by Lauren McBride, Frequent Contributor

solidly cemented
against changing tides

--Lauren McBride

Poet's Notes: I enjoy minimalist poetry, and in particular the hay(na)ku where a thought is expressed in only six words. Many of my poems are inspired by nature's beauty and especially the ocean.  Anyone who has ever scraped bare skin across a barnacle-encrusted rock knows that barnacles are "solidly cemented" and the skin will suffer.

Friday, April 22, 2016

A Crossover Passover Poem by FC John C. Mannone

Preparation Day
John C. Mannone

The thirteen prepared a feast in the upper room.
A long wooden table, set as if for a wedding
rehearsal for the bridegroom and his beloved,

has olive bowls placed amid stacks of barley cakes
made from last fall’s harvest, and dried dates
& figs with their sweet syrup to drizzle on them.

A pot—of barley, peas and lentils,
and a few broad beans from the early spring crop
—dangled in the hearth; steamed over coals.

One disciple brought tilapia fresh from the lake;
fire-roasted the fish golden brown before laying them
on earthen trays next to clay pitchers of goat’s milk.

Bitter greens laced a ceramic appetizer dish
by the olive oil—infused with oregano & thyme,
as well as laurel, sumac and hyssop—to be sopped up

with a piece of matzoh He had given his friend,
the one who couldn’t stay for the rest of the meal
and would miss the breaking of unleavened bread

and grasp its meaning, but he had already seen
the miracles of the loaves & fishes years earlier
on the grassy fields of Capernaum.

Nor would he drink the fine wine
transformed, not unlike the water poured out
at the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee.

…But there would be no lamb,
no lamb to be served at the table, for he went
to sell the Lamb to the priests

whom they would slaughter on the morrow.

Poet’s Notes: When I first wrote this poem in March 2013, it was right at Passover. I imagined what the meal was like on the day before the Passover meal—preparation day. I had some ideas and since I knew where this poem was going immediately (not a usual thing for me) I felt comfortable doing research (comfortable that it wouldn’t suppress my creativity) before completing the first draft on paper).

I was careful to include the symbols for Israel: figs, grapes (wine), olives. Also, I specifically mention tilapia, which is not an anachronism, but known as “Peter's fish.” It is available in fish markets all over the Holy Land and was likely one of the fish ubiquitous in the Sea of Galilee and what the fishermen-disciples often caught.

Editor's Note:  I have always appreciated the melding of the sister religions, Judaism and Christianity, that occurs on Pesach or Passover.  Jesus was a Jew, and the Last Supper was a traditional Passover seder.  The wine and the matzoh took on different meanings for the proto-Christians at that seder, but the essentials in both major religions are all there.

As the firstborn son of a firstborn son of a firstborn son of firstborn son who is the father of yet another firstborn son, I take the Fast of the Firstborn seriously.  So, sadly, I will not be able to enjoy any food today--preparation day--but happily I at least can enjoy the meal vicariously through John's beautiful poem.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Poem of the Day: “That Place” by Sierra July, Frequent Contributor

That Place
Sierra July

It’s the place where the barber
Gets his haircut
The place the dentist regrets
Gorging candy

The place where the dog earns
The bone and the steak
And has to walk you
At the end of the day

Where desires and dreams
Converge, all the same
Found at the bottom
Of a wishing well

Poet’s Note: This poem is based on crazy dreams and plays with the term “dream.” Something you aspire to do or be and the dreamy (or not so dreamy) places you visit in your sleep.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Poem of Day: “Roasted Chicken” by Mary Soon Lee, Frequent Contributor

Roasted Chicken
Mary Soon Lee

The first recipe in the book
my daughter gave me:
one chicken, roasted.

I buy my chickens precooked--
hot, mouth-watering,
legs pinioned with string.

String that the recipe book
called "butcher's twine,"
which I did not have.

As I did not have 
rosemary (fresh) or thyme (fresh),
nor kosher salt, nor peanut oil.

One shopping trip later,
armed with supplies,
we confronted the chicken.

Tenderly, Lucy placed
rosemary and thyme
inside the raw beast.

She watched, patient,
as I trussed a chicken
for the first time.

She watched, undismayed,
as the chicken untrussed itself
in the skillet.

Before us it danced, sizzled --
browning, fragrant. Her eyes
followed it into the oven.

Before we even ate,
she filled me up.

Poet's Notes: I am neither a willing nor an able cook, but when my daughter was seven years old, she gave me a cookery book and we attempted several recipes together. Her company changed a chore into a privilege.