Sunday, October 17, 2021





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Front Cover: "Heavenly Gull" | Ink on Paper | J. Artemus Gordon

TOC:  "Charaacter Builder" | Ink & Watercolor on Paper | J. Artemus Gordon

Back Cover: "Visions" | Oil on Canvas | Vincent Heselwood

Unless otherwise indicated, all illustrations are the work of our Art Editor or taken from "royalty-free" open Internet sources.


Steven Wittenberg Gordon

Art Editor

Jason Artemus Gordon

Associate Editor

Terri Lynn Cummings

Featured Frequent Contributors

Tyson West

John C. Mannone

Additional Frequent Contributors

Karla Linn Merrifield, Vivian Finley Nida, & Howard F. Stein


Biographies of our editorial staff & frequent contributors may be found on the "Our Staff" page.

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Table of Contents

A Letter From the Lead Editor

A Letter From the Editor in Chief

A Letter From the Art Editor

Featured Poets

The Poetry of Tyson West

The Poetry of John C. Mannone

Frequent Contributors

Art Gallery

Guest Poets

Anushka Nagarmath

“The Woods are a Religion in Themselves”

Goddfrey Hammit

“Baptizing Anne Frank”

Pinny Bulman



Louis Girón

“Fra Timoteo”

Lorraine Jeffery

 “The Taste”

  Carla Sarett

   “The Subway Searchers” 

John Delaney

“Walking the Beach in Winter” 

Mark Tulin

“Disguise of Goodwill” 

Linda McCauley Freeman

“What I Learned In Catholic School”  

Anita Jawary

“Calling Your Name”

Marc Janssen

"Angels Are Good At Excuses"

Frequent Contributor News


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A Letter from the Lead Editor

Language carries a dutiful burden. When thoughts and beliefs misinform or are misunderstood, confusion may seed unforeseen problems, unfortunate encounters among families, friends, or strangers. 


Yet when well informed and well described, the easier a connection opens between the speaker and reader. A step is taken toward the common ground where new ideas breed. And when actions follow, hearts lead the way. 


The theme of religion is a first for Songs of Eretz Poetry Review. Here, connections form within the frame of poetry where religion mirrors the minds, the times, the peoples. Poems in this issue dissent, mend, portray, transport. They connect, divide, challenge, reveal. 


Some relate to political or social issues such as abuse. Others explore loss, fear, or absolution. From the universe to a mailbox, this issue delivers an array of messages for you to consider.


Terri Lynn Cummings

Associate Editor


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A Letter from the Editor-in-Chief

We usually publish toward the beginning of or just before the coming season.  This time, a perfect storm of illness within the editorial staff (we have all recovered, thank God), unusually high demands of our day jobs, and an unforeseen necessity to travel overseas resulted in the publication of this issue a bit later.  Fortunately, I had the foresight to offer our quarterly e-zine by the season rather than by the month, so I was not bombarded by queries, except from Howard, may his beard grow ever longer!


The tail end of summer and beginning of the fall season brought with them the Jewish High Holidays, and the later than usual publication of our fall issue allowed me the opportunity of enjoying some of my editor-in-chiefing outdoors in my sukkah and near the grave of Lana the Poetry Dog, whose howling during my blasts of the shofar and steady companionship I still (and always will) dearly miss.  The timing of this religion-themed issue is now also nicely sandwiched between the contemplative Jewish holidays and the coming of Christmas, which I find somehow fitting.


Steven Wittenberg Gordon, MD



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A Letter from the Art Editor


No matter your religious background, I trust that you will be impressed by the poems in this issue, as was I. There is a diverse array of perspectives and interpretations of this theme, and I felt honored to make artwork for some of these. I only wish I had time to make artwork for even more!  I am hoping to make one of the pieces in this issue, “Slumbering City”, one of the first of many pieces in a series.


I am also revamping my social media.  At present, I am sorry to say that I have no website or anything for you to check out, other than my neglected Instagram site @JasonArtGo. By our next issue, I hope to have those up and running!


My artwork in this issue (and past issues!) is for sale! The purchase prices are in my notes for each piece. If you are interested in making a purchase, please contact me directly at I can offer you prints, the original piece itself, or even the piece framed with or without the poem that it accompanies. You may also talk to me about commissions!


Jason Artemus Gordon

Art Editor


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Featured Frequent Contributors




The Poetry of Tyson West


The Syndics of the Drapers Guild

(As Below So Above)

Tyson West



I first met the old boys at the corner bodega

where I bought nana bread,

Uncle Jimmy Chesterfields and Charleston Chews for me.

Unsmiling on the cigar box lid Heer Janz 

in the act of rising broke

their horizontal plane of silent serenity.

Since I burned no cigars nor yet worried Protestant gods

I chronicled not their gaze save noting

the careful composition and universal veracity

of grey men in black and white.

Fathers Keating, Ciola, and Vinca too modeled

black cassocks and white collars at St. Mickey's on the hill

though deity demands his men and boys at times

pose in vestments periwinkle, crimson hats or dress blues just

to keep up the magic of Oz.

When I noticed Cynthia, muse of my sweven, made manifest

in curves as subtle as Satan

we already felt the ecstasy of debate

spiced of Plato, Parnassus, and images on which our fathers frowned.

As above, so below.

Our innocence ground

in arrogant red and yellow grit of Velasquez

too real portrait of his pope

we marveled Titian's glorious corrupt collage  

Pope Paul III with his grandsons.

But Cynthia's organics bloomed of bible fables Rembrandt illustrated.

While I admired "The Abduction of Europa" and "Andromeda Chained to the Rocks"

she averted my eyes to "The Supper at Emmaus", “The Return of the Prodigal Son" culminating in "The Baptism of the Eunuch".

Ticks and tocks and trips for treasure forked our future

eyes time blurred more sharply see

beyond the veil to text with Lazarus to

truth in triangulation on canvas.

My perspective point, frown of Pope Julius relic of Rafael's fingers

he kept warm kneading flesh folds of La Fornarina counter reformed

to the singularity of Cynthia's rose wreathed tombstone

quoting her grey boy Saul of Tarsus' rap to his Roman Posse.

As below, so above.

Black and white syndics with Bel, their skullcapped servant, forever

seated silently against the taupe wooden wainscot,

her Protestant gods ruled by committee.

Five greying masters opening their swatch book

weigh the hand and color of each soul's weave then

press leaden seals to judge levels of perfection.

Deity by democracy far duller than

the pope's infallible freedom 

to petulate, procreate, and make war

but also commission those sinners with vision

to fresco perfect imperfection

for our generation to love.

As behind, so ahead as above, so below.



Poet’s Notes: This ekphrastic poem is based on Rembrandt’s “Syndics of the Draper's Guild”. As a child, I absorbed this image of six aliens in black and white from the lid of a Dutch Master’s cigar box. Southern Catholic painters lived not only in different climates than the northern painters, but their secular works present two different versions of Christianity. The Protestant version is an oligarchy where senior males gather to craft dull dogma as a committee. The Catholic Church, on the other hand, functions as an aristocracy, with the pope on top of a pyramid of sometimes corrupt bishops and priests. Artists paint each society’s idea of deity in portraits of powerful males.


Editor’s Notes:  Almost always, I walk away from West’s work with a line stuck in my head. This one is /eyes time blurred more sharply see/. TLC


Editor’s Notes:  There is a brilliant weaving of the ekphrastic into this one, with an undercurrent of teen love and the powerful, often corrupt, sway of organized religion.  The poem works with and without direct viewing of the well-known fine art pieces.  SWG


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When Saucers Land

Tyson West


"What You Want to See" | Ink & Watercolor on Paper | J. Artemus Gordon

Each night I watchtower for the wedge of light

foretold among soundless stars and machine roaring floods

crisscrossing grey blocks of flats afloat

above tidal flats of mud masticated

as so many toadstools trivet in a forest of some

mad architect's monochrome hallucination.

Sumerian seerlike I seek among the static

my special flash of metal ellipse shiner

grailing my predestined oblique of order.

I long for faces gestalting in ovals like mine but

with messianic smiles, sloughs of tempered teeth,

and ears that point and preen

eyes wheedling sacrificial scars.

Sharing tones and modulations

whose love will absorb my enigmatic isolation

words transcribed of hands who prayed

broke bread and masturbated are lost no longer in a monastic maze.

Someday my truth will come

though I lose my midnight slipper

metal doors will unmaterialized then blossom

for beams of light to choose me in elongating love.

I raise my anchor to

caress the muted metal ramp.

These ancient friends will carry me from the grime

and gravel of this grit ball gravitationally bound

where I wilt doomed for decay long

before our star swells to swallow

this landfill of ancient stumbles at truth.

Against the filth of change I watch, wonder,

wait for the sword smear on my shoulders

blessing me of alien oils

superiority of sight

fearlessness of faith.



Poet’s Notes: As human males compete over absolutely anything, another trait in our species is that anyone can formulate a religion out of any story. I ran into believers back during the New Age Era of the 1980s who were convinced that flying saucers would land godlike beings that would reform the human race and bring a golden age to the earth. Many of the believers I met at the new age bus stop seemed to have issues dealing with economic reality and life and were quick with a divine explanation and solution for their relationship and financial difficulties.


Editor’s Notes:  West hits on a timely topic here. TLC


Editor’s Notes:  Tyson dares to compare cults and Scientology and astrology to the accepted great faiths.  His borderline sacrilege really makes one think!  SWG

Art Editor’s Notes: It’s a fairly well known theory that Michelangelo, when painting “The Creation of Adam”, purposefully drew God in a brain-like object to imply that God is made up. Quite the bold move to paint that in the church with which he already had a poor relationship!


I took some inspiration from that in this piece, though I think I failed a little in my execution. I meant for the alien creature to be a bit more within the subject’s head. However, as it turned out the alien is more coming out of the subject’s head, which gets the point across just fine.


This piece is 15" x 11" and is available for purchase for $125 + shipping, or as a print for $10 + shipping. Email if interested. JAG

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"St. Stephen" | Ink on Paper | J. Artemus Gordon

My Favorite Saints

Tyson West


bear beautiful names

Paul Ibaraki, Felicity, Serena, Aphrodesius...

with the sketchiest hagiographies

lots of death details, sides pierced, crucified and flames

smooth breasts one longed to caress

ripped raw blood blotches

over the chiggers soaking into sand.

Dull edged iron blades even duller cops

raised to bust bones

into a progression of pain opening 

for maggots to do their magic

recycling flesh as flies so bones be

polished into first class

shards for first class relics.

Foolish kids sentimental guards

hung over from last night’s honky tonk

would let slip away in silence pain free

kids mixed up kids

so surfeited with time, beaming bodies they squander to belong

to the high of newfangled faith.

Even the toga clad capi of the warders and their block brained butchers

would wish most of the Bobby socksers and Jesus boys

shimmy away to the crowd standing to senate bright banners and anthems 

leaving but a few to the myth their flesh will

float up eternally young

to a city celestial with no plagues or

offal covered mud ways arace with rats.

The old man and grey haired wife

lounging on the divan crowning their dais

cuddle their privilege close and weep.

A few fools must meet the lions to preserve position

ordained of deities du jour.

The teen mother lingers

before passing her daughter’s milk dribbled chin

off to lanky Aunt Lucy confused at the babe's sudden sobbing.

Hair coiffed in ringlets and

eyes colored in the trendiest pattern of kohl

step before the jeering mob washing down coarse sausage with cheap wine.

Smooth skin never grasps the power of wrinkling quietly for truth

flashes brighter than dying dramatically

for the dream of today’s young team.



Poet’s Notes: I read Father James Martin's book about his life and his favorite saints. The act of martyrdom can be a dismal way to die. Early martyrs, in many cases, could have easily escaped, as their executioners were not interested in putting young fools to death on the order of Roman officials, who were trying to maintain political and social order.


Teenaged Christians acted as foolishly as teenagers do today just to be part of the gang. Human adolescents will form tight groups as soldiers to fight for their country or some cause, or as gang bangers battling over turf. This behavior and martyrdom can have little to do with God and truth and everything to do with youth and hormones, which in turn are gifts from God.


Editor’s Notes:  West packed a lot of thought into this one. Here is the line that stayed with me:   /Smooth skin never grasps the power of wrinkling quietly for truth/. TLC


Editor’s Notes:  The parallels between the martyrs of today and of yesteryear do give one pause.  SWG

Art Editor’s Notes: This piece is 9" x 9" and is available for purchase for $15 + shipping, or as a print for $10 + shipping. Email if interested. JAG


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Last Supper at Endor

Tyson West



It comes off weird really 

a soap opera saga of a third string gang

of sheep herders and money changers who always fielded a team 

mostly a sucker's bet to not get their asses kicked

straining for Coach Yahweh’s jealous baritone among

bellows of mute golden statues.

The flash fable of the Endor séance has got to be

bizzarro’s master meme.

Our handsome captain gets ghosted by God himself.

As usual, the Old Man is pissed, so…

you'd think they would slap around a pep talk

in cold wind on mount something or other

then Saul would come down chasten but fired up

to upset the big game against the tough Philistine line

but no

Yahweh don't text or call or send flowers.

So after Saul follows 98% of big boss man's edgy orders

and OG Samuel checks out,

Saul has his homeys find some fake ass fortune teller

whose schtick includes shootin' the shit with dead prophets.

Since our quarterback kicked the carnival card readers from the hood,

as if they weren't providing valuable service,

the old lady at first shivered  too scared to put on a show.

Still her gut held some stone of faith to hang deep

and deep she reached

into some dark alley of her soul she never dreamed lay open

even when she realized the trick whining in front of her

was hiz honor himself.

If Saul had not the faith to feel this shimmering image

was telling him truth

then I wouldn't be rappin' to you today

and Martin Luther and gaggles of theologians and artists

wouldn’t have worried why

their one true capo di tutti capi used a wrinkled bleach blonde fraud

in a shabby shop to kiss both cheeks of the king boy

he once had smeared with sacred oil.

This spirit’s rising shot generated lots of memes

still no one dresses like Saul or Sammy or the old lady for Halloween, 

but what happens next rocks it real.

She begs our boy to let her feed him and his posse

who all knew their fine tatted skin

was gonna be chopped and ripped in tomorrow’s rumble

and their blood would mud the dust of Sheol.

She slit the throat of the fatted calf to barbeque

kneaded and baked bread and all the fixin’s

to set a spread before them.

So maybe they weren’t rocking or rapping but she at least gave

the spirit and strength

to believe they could die like men in the morning.

They split that night

not even leaving 

two dollars on the dresser.


Poet’s Notes: My favorite bible story is the “Witch of Endor” in 1 Samuel, Chapter 28. When I run into a sincere Christian who is confident he or she has resolved all the inconsistencies in the Bible, bringing up this story produces some tortured explanations. Here a low level gangsta, one of the unreliable narrators hanging in my posse of characters, takes a stab at its religious significance.


Editor’s Notes:  Nice take on the saga, and West’s ‘gangsta’ voice is spot on. TLC

Art Editor’s Notes: I had to try not to think about Fry’s dog from “Futurama” while making this one.


This piece is available for purchase for $25 + shipping, or as a print for $10 + shipping. Email if interested. JAG


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A Plague of Funerals in COVID Time

Tyson West



I. Prologue

Wordsworth and Keats may have cozied in eye of

skylark or nightingale flight over mossy remains

of Tintern Abby zamani

but never popped pixels of drone digital camera

soaring over Eastern State Hospital.

Do wraiths of Mike and Eric,

cherubinic souls now sailing free from flesh,

swallow virtual vistas of us mourners near these two shallow lakes

glacial scratches in long cooled lava flow

frosted with cheat grass and bull pine

locked into semi desert loess

gift of katabatic wind?


II. Atheist Architect

Even as he assailed our Chinook winds

and infrequent waterings with houses built of straw

I felt his soul housed symmetric dreams

of earth domed with geodesic certainty amid chaos.

He hand cupped and compressed his dream in foothills north among

stump farm constitutionalists, redneck ranchers of carmine spotted kine

and sheersman of fine Colville bud

under sativa shadings of aurora borealis.

We gathered at his brother’s house stick built grey

on the northeast corner of Medical

ducks dodging kayaks of barbless fisherman

his flipflopped friends and Peace and Justice Action Leaguers milled

all Hawaiian shirted for their first post pandemic party.

White beards and long grey hair sipped chardonnay as Mike’s daughter teared her eulogy

echoes from her iPhone’s loudspeaker app bouncing back from basalt cliffs

across water uncut of internal combustion engine.

Ex wife memories swirled their coparenting cooperation

around trays full of Jack Daniels thimbles

toasted back to his brother’s salute

one ladyfinger pop off the end of the dock.

Mike mourned often the role of US Marines

pulling over dictators for driving dark skinned and

not honoring property rights of our power men’s political donors.

Monica, league president during Mike’s decade long interim treasurer stint,

casually appendixed her recollection

our flesh absent guest of honor spoke hospiced that

human body weight

after the moment of death is infinitesimally lighter

as if a butterfly lifted away.

Palms raised to the sky we swim through so freely

she prophesized as truly as any Bible imbibing elder:

Each butterfly must find fresh flesh

to flex its wings anew.


III. Staff Sergeant 

US Marine drafteehappiest I had heard him recollect

his service decades ago

when he glowed Trump himself bestowed full disability

for cancer claimed from water at Camp Lejuene

on his stint stateside during the Tet Offensive.

Often I watched his left hand cradle Coors as

his right clawed the Marlboro smoke he exhaled

on top of each plot the powers we slaved for laid

to carry us darkly.

His alcohol never abandoned him

nor did Carolyn enduring drams of drama for

swirling barroom skirts all fell away in time.

Once treads of enough beer breached

his rationality’s pill box he admitted

he served only because his father’s silver beaver would’ve decreed

him less a man

his quest for Eagle Scout pubescented dead

to smoke and drink and pursuit of female flesh.

Our last phone call ice cubes tinkled no retreat

he wasn’t going to get no god damn Democratic COVID vaccine.

Fuck ‘em

China virus carried his steel grey casket

to a three gun salute popped of frumpy VFW drinking buddies

while two crisp young dress blues white gloved

folded old glory on a heat domed July morning.

Prerecorded taps from the fake bugle

echoed across standing uniform stones

north of West Medical outboards

of good ol’ boy anglers.

He would’ve loved the crisp salutes and

90° pivots awarding Carolyn her red white and blue triangle.

His little sister’s husband haytruck driver called by the Lord

recited his notebook eulogy

grinned our sergeant was never shy about his politics

before dweebling off in a blockchain of Bible numbers

chapter and verse

assuring us afterlife while a cliché called Jesus

reflected on bald headed echoes of testamentary drone.


IV. Soaring

Nitrogen, carbon, calcium, and trace elements of both these boys’ last breaths

pulse in water and soil of this globe

souls soon to soar with those of hatchery stocked trout

coyote, deer, and ringed bill gull

leaving bones beneath numbered stones of the mental hospital cemetery

as caregivers bury or burn

flesh that encased altruism, alcoholism, and odd mind out spectrums

far away families struggle

to select some prophet’s rant

to unseal the stones of graves 

for those sasha kinship commands us: “Love!”



Poet’s Notes: In late June and early July 2021, I attended two funerals about ten days apart. One was for a friend who died of ALS, and the other for an associate who died of COVID-19 who stubbornly believed in not getting vaccinated. Both outdoor funerals took place within less than a mile of each other by two parallel lakes in Medical Lake, Washington where Eastern Washington Mental Hospital is located.


Although these two dead could not have been more different in life, a similar phenomenon occurred in both services. At most funerals I have attended, someone speaks of afterlife. Science, politics, and economics have nothing to say about an afterlife that any of us want to believe.


Personal and societal eschatology remains firmly rooted in the realm of religion. I have incorporated the terms, “sasha” and “zamani” in this poem. These are African concepts of time based on memory for the dead. Sasha are souls that someone living remembers knowing personally. Zamani are those souls no one living recalls knowing their flesh in life. As we herd of humans turns over, sasha fade into zamani.


Editor’s Notes:  West’s incorporation of Sasha and Zamani raised this poem to a higher level. Excellent imagery and sharp observations throughout. TLC


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All Saints' Day 1950 Sun Dance

Tyson West


"Distant Miracle" | Ink & Watercolor on Paper | J. Artemus Gordon

My first year finished that Sunday

fattened on condensed milk and karo syrup into

a bloated wingless cherub crib crying

out crisp New England All Hallow’s dawn.

Mother large with brother David and the terrible truths of Catholic church

spun too busy to obligate mass that Wednesday.

Dad sipped black coffee hot

twixt his mattins in grey shadow scrying x-rays of cancers at Boston City Hospital.

We reposed far from Korea

where charging Chinese quilted uniforms

posed with 30-06 full metal jackets of the 8th Cav

the commie infantry in turn

punctured our boys’ olive drab uniforms woven

of cotton black hand plucked under blue Mississippi sun.

Dan Peek, one third with Dewey and Gerry of 1970's America

cried in harmonies with the sun's solo.

Eugenio after his black morning espresso

cloistered in the Vatican garden raised

his eyes to sol's boogaloo choreographed as

the Fatamia trio vowed.

Too bad Mary chose Francisco and Jacinta to channel her motivational speech

after a gig like that all these kids could encore was to die young.

Grandpa Pete, hung over in his toolbelt, missed the miracle of the sun

as did mom lunching on macaroni and milk,

changing my didie then

feeding me baby cereal, condensed milk

and strained peas.

Robert B. Laughlin sucked in his first lung full

of California air pollution predestined

to the 1988 Nobel Physics Prize

way too young to formula the sun’s dance.

Two Puerto Rican commies suicided their way into Blair house hoping

to free their island’s legend by whacking Harry.

Griselio shot good cop Leslie who quickly capped him

both souls assumed to heaven that day.

Oscar failed to rack his Luger, God thus

spared him for the miracle of Jimmy Carter's pardon.

Eugenio, meanwhile, passioned away from the year's last flowers

tiaraed up and slapped on pancake and rouge into Pius XII

to dogma Mary's perfect body and singular soul

soaring to her son framed in putti while

radioactive fallout wringed the blue sky.

That Indiana evening, Chuck Cooper dribbled

his warmup worries for the Celtics loss at Fort Wayne

first time black hands in the NBA

would rubber the rim to a chorus of white jeers.

Another envelope of light was licked and

sealed to mail off to the miracle of the future.

Believe it or not.



Poet’s Notes: Although the doctrine of papal infallibility was articulated in the 1850s at the first Vatican Council, it has been invoked only once. When I was a little over one year old, the Miracle of the Sun supposedly occurred on November 1, 1950 as the three children at Fatima in 1917 had foretold. Pope Pius XII, whose given name was Eugenio, saw the sun's odd movements and decided to invoke infallibility for the first and only time, declaring that the Virgin Mary's body was assumed into heaven uncorrupted. Meanwhile, the rest of us who were too busy to witness this miracle went on with our lives.


Editor’s Notes:  I had to look up some of the narrative references but loved doing so. This poem would challenge just about any reader, but it is worth the read. TLC


Editor’s Notes:  Tyson is irreverent in his reverence in this riveting poem about an obscure phenomenon.  His characteristic tone and style always hold my attention.  At times, it is difficult to follow the narrative here, but I enjoy the challenge.  SWG

Art Editor’s Notes: This piece is 12" x 9" and is available for purchase for $125 + shipping, or as a print for $10 + shipping. Email if interested. JAG


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The Poetry of John C. Mannone




John C. Mannone

            The night is shattered, and the blue stars shiver in the distance

            —Pablo Neruda

Whenever the night is quiet, not loud 

with city glare or moaning from light

intrusion, I look into its eyes, see myriads,


sparkles of Milky Way swathing

southern skies—an arc of nebulous

glitter giving peace to the emptiness.


Longfellow spoke of the light of stars

being a psalm of life. Not just a hymn

I say, but a praise of the creator


of the universe, an evening prayer,

a vesper whispered inside my heart—

that’s what this poet does. When I read

            the sacred words, I swear


"Slumbering City" | Ink & Watercolor on Paper |  J. Artemus Gordon

each verse is a star, a halo

through desperate darkness,

an angel with a message for me.


Wherever the galaxy blooms

thick with stars, I sense promises

spoken by the One 


who fashioned me—a poem

from stardust.

                        I ask the stars


burning with all their glory the same

questions as Robert Frost did, listen

to the same answers


about elements and temperature.

But I’m not frustrated; they’re not

as taciturn as supposed, I read

                        between the lines


of a spectroscope—so many

secrets revealed in ripples of starlight.

I hear that still small voice.  



Poet’s Notes:  Science and religion come bundled together in many of my poems. And in those poems, like this one, I wax metaphysical.


The poems by Frost and Longfellow that provided me with inspiration may be found here: and here


Editor's Notes:  I enjoyed reading the poems by Frost and Longfellow and appreciate the nice blend in "Celestial". In particular, I appreciate the beautiful imagery. Manonne knows how to set the scene in all of his work. TLC

Art Editor’s Notes: This piece is 11" x 15" and is available for purchase for $300 + shipping, or as a print for $10 + shipping. Email if interested. JAG


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Final Approach

John C. Mannone

            Putnam County Regional Airport, 1998



I fell asleep as autumn-cold rain

turned from drizzle to heavy

drops with relentless clamor.

"Surviving the Ice" | Ink & Watercolor on Paper | J. Artemus Gordon


They say that rain on tin

sings a lullaby but in my dream

its thunder rattled windows


of my heart, rain guttered in

my fears. The aluminum roof

of my plane pinged with frigid


hard rain. Indiana air waved

its winter spell enshrouding

my plane in ice. Soon I’d fall


through clouds stacked deep.

Avionics, my only umbilical,

should mother me to a safe


approach, to solid ground.

But I grew weary and heavy

with rime. Clouds hid the runway


until the very last moment, 

before the missed approach,

before ice would swallow me.


In my dream, prayers would not

melt the frost or spread open clouds.

Lightning flashed through


windows, in and out of sleep

and nightmares that I didn’t want

to relive. The pilot in my dream


could not fly as well as I had

and perhaps did not believe

in a God who saves.



Poet’s Notes: In November 1998, about one year after I surrendered my life to Christ, I learned the power of prayer. I was piloting my private airplane when I encountered un-forecasted icing conditions.  Unfortunately, my plane was not certified to fly in icing conditions.  I uttered a prayer as I was forced to make an emergency instrument approach into the nearest airport.  While still in clouds at around 550 feet, and rapidly closing in on my Missed Approach Point, I squeezed in another prayer. At the last instant, the clouds cleared, allowing me to land safely--nothing short of a miracle!


Editor's Note:  Nice use of figurative language in this narrative poem. I appreciate the 'twist of faith' in the final stanza. TLC

Art Editor’s Notes: This piece is 12" x 9" and is available for purchase for $95 + shipping, or as a print for $10 + shipping. Email if interested. JAG


* * * * * * * * * *



John C. Mannone



The vessel tears loose from its moorings,

Angry anvil clouds wedge sky, spit hail.

Zigzag-lightning flares before the thunder

And the ship slips through green waves

With no gyroscope to keep her steady,

To not founder. Flat bottom boat designs

Only safe for quiet rivers, a real gamble

In severe thunderstorms and heavy seas

Curled with breaking crests, foam sliding

          like spent hope.


When the sky cracked open, a star fell


Into the sea; swells transformed into tidal

Walls of water—tsunami—supersonic

Punch to port, the roll, timbers creaking.

Fish had already dived below the rogue

Weather. Wind-howl drowning the cries

Inside the ship: high-pitched primate calls,

Bird-squawk and macaws’ laments, timid

Roars of cowering lions, elephant thumps

On wet planks, and the muffled plaintive

          prayers of Noah.   



Poet’s Notes:  I wonder about the first Passover, even the ones before the time it was instituted by Moses. It is interesting that specific days of the Hebrew calendar are mentioned in an era before their inception—during the time of the Great Flood as narrated in Genesis (chapters 6-8). From that data, I quickly deduced that the flooding rains could have been during what would be called Passover. That’s the genesis (pun intended) of this poem. The block symmetry probably has something to do with the Ark, but I am not certain, for it evolved subconsciously.


Editor's Notes:  Manonne tells an old story with refreshing imagery and similes, such as "foam sliding like spent hope". And since I am a land-locked individual, I particularly liked the imaginative idea of a star falling into the sea to create a tsunami. Great image. TLC


* * * * * * * * * *


Come Fly With Me

John C. Mannone


We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another.

—Luciano De Crescenzo


"Lily" | Ink on Paper | J. Artemus Gordon

 This solemn place, this grave is now

for the lilies of the field and the white

clover with its promise of happiness

but this bouquet that I bring sweetens

the air with the magnificent incense

of all your prayers when you lived.


Come fly with me, I’ll leave this stone

as sentinel to watch over your bones.

Our Creator waits, it is a day to rejoice.


Poet’s Notes: The Etowah Arts Commission & Gallery had posted artwork and invited the public to write poetry inspired by that artwork. The image of a cemetery angel intrigued me. I wrote “Come Fly With Me” in the voice of an angel. In researching angels as gravestone markers, I found that Luciano De Crescenzo (August 18, 1928 – July 18, 2019), an Italian writer, actor, and director, would have liked his grave marker to read as noted in the epigraph, which fit the image perfectly


Editor's Notes:  Mannone's ekphrastic poem is relatable without the artwork. The epigraph and first stanza capture the mood and set the scene, which I particularly enjoyed. TLC


Editor’s Notes:  John captures a magical moment here.  I enjoy his treatment of angels.  The flower motif is nicely done, moving from wild, renewable nature, to the ephemerality of cut flowers and living memory renewed by visiting the grave and perhaps made eternal by the angels.  SWG

Art Editor’s Notes: This piece is 9" x 12" and is available for purchase for $50 + shipping, or as a print for $10 + shipping. Email if interested. JAG


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Frequent Contributors



“And the people bowed and prayed”

                            --Simon & Garfunkel, “The Sound of Silence”

  By Shlomo ben Moshe HaLevi


It was Neil Gaiman who first noticed

How worship has shifted from tradition

In favor of new gods of metal and plastic

Of radio waves and screens.  Why Fi-

ght it or say otherwise?  Siri-us the Wise

Has replaced God the Father, 5-

G-sus the Son, and Sprint Sanyo

The Spiritu Sancto, and so we say


Amen into our handheld devices

Divert our minds and souls from the crisis

Of faith. Five hours per day we spend

Away from family and friend


Wrapped and warped with rapt attention

Into the new religious dimension.


"D1stant L0vers" | Ink on Paper | J. Artemus Gordon

Poet’s Notes:  Simon & Garfunkel (“The Sound of Silence”), who anticipated Neil Gaiman (American Gods), inspired this poem.  Our tech devices have become like unto gods to us, objects of worship, sources of “truth” for us, pillars of iCloud by day, and firewalls by night.


Editor's Notes: Our Editor-in-Chief picked a timely topic for this issue. I enjoy the enjambment on the word "Fight". Nice use of the modern sonnet form with the overall metaphor and a strong couplet finish. TLC

Art Editor’s Notes: Technology is a double-edged sword. It can connect us like never before in human history, but it has also enabled people to be more isolated than ever. Not only that, but insidious companies and our governments use technology to spy on us and sell our data to the highest bidders. Discussions about the benefits and detriments of technology are  important ones to have. Like most things in life, the solution will likely require balance.


This piece is 12" x 9" and is available for purchase for $45 + shipping, or as a print for $10 + shipping. Email if interested. JAG


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Ritual Illuminated

Karla Linn Merrifield


Rimming Casa Rinconada,

fifty gathered


totally New Age dude, bearlike,

thick-bearded, thick way hair to his butt

in road-worn jeans, chatting up

a Navajo bro of like do


the nouveau riche duo gone hippie

in their idle years, his pony tail

knotted as he blankets his squeeze

in his grungy serape


two little girls with their mother

and a grandfather with his knee-high

granddaughter out for a morning 

stretch and history lesson


the long-distance old girlfriend,

Atlanta-Santa Fe, treehuggers both,

still crunchy in peasant wear

after all those years since grade school


among many long-married pairs, a Latvian

couple alongside the New Yorkers, seniors

obviously lovers, cuddled in fleecies

to their chins and each other


and Ranger Cornucopia,

priest in shades of green wool

and cotton, straw-hatted,

officiates the moment


we watch Sky God shed

His solstice light through the eastern 

window and march that glowing golden square  

into its proper kiva niche


the honorary Chacoans

in a grand circle

honor their Anasazi ancestors

and are dusted by the ancients


Editor's Notes:  Brava! Nicely crafted beat poem with excellent imagery and use of language. TLC


Editor’s Notes:  My rarely seen hippie side delights in this Kerouacian trip Karla has sewn together here.  The nod to the Pueblo Indians is a nice touch.  SWG


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Karla Linn Merrifield

For Andrea Watson and Joan Ryan


Among young Reina’s oldest heirlooms, I catalogued

bulto of St. Jerome, its skull hollowed out

with a crude tool; and where the figure’s cerebellum

would be a mezuzah was embedded.


With latex gloves, I fingered gingerly

the girl’s ancestral talisman of rough wood, filigreed

silver housing fragile sheepskin scroll in Hebrew,

all painted over with the blood of the Conversos.


Here before me was the singular artifact to be

the centerpiece of my exhibit interpreting the short-lived

Jewess who died of breast cancer and was buried 

in the Catholic habit of a novice.


Deo!  Elohim!  Here is the virgin’s living proof:

The Inquisition has been survived. Amen. Amain.


Editor's Notes:  Merrifield weaves religions into her own poetic artifact. TLC


Editor’s Notes:  What a poem!  Love the twists and turns.  The image of a Catholic totem as a secret mezuzah is breathtaking.  SWG


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Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus

Roman Senator (317-359 AD)

Vivian Finley Nida



The oldest Christian-themed sarcophagus

embraces Testaments, both Old and New

First Adam, Eve with serpent, treasonous

Next lions’ den, where faith sees Daniel through

Poor Job, in pain, all lost, keeps faith sublime

Then angel halts the knife of Abraham

preventing Isaac’s sacrifice in time

which leads to Jesus, sacrificial lamb

whose miracle of loaves and fish is shown

To Peter, Paul, Christ hands a Gospel scroll   

Triumphant, He stands trial.  His fate is known

No crucifixion’s carved.  That’s not the goal

These scenes light path to heaven all can trod

Salvation’s crown attained by faith in God



 Poet's Notes:  I chose the sonnet, a traditional form, to match the traditional carving on this 4th-century marble sarcophagus.  It is one of the oldest and most ornately carved sarcophagi with Christian scenes from both old and new testaments.  Its message of Christian salvation makes it different from sarcophagi in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, which note conquests and military power.  


Roman Emperor Constantine (280-337 AD) accepted Christianity, converting Rome’s elite by the middle of the 4th century, including Junius Bassus, who was from one of the most elite families.  He was a senator in charge of the administration of Rome, and his sarcophagus records that he became a new convert shortly before his death. Originally placed in or under the old St. Peter’s Basilica, it was rediscovered in 1597 and can be seen today in the Museum of St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican.


Editor's Notes:  Vivian shows her skill when she blends ekphrastic with a sonnet form that opens eyes and mind to the scene. Well done! TLC


Editor’s Notes:  I had never seen the sarcophagus, but this poem really brings a picture of it to life. After reading the poem, I looked up images of the sarcophagus and found that the poem helped me understand what I was seeing.  This is a well-done ekphrastic piece in that it can stand alone without the image.  SWG


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Longing for a City, a City Not Made by Hands

Charles A. Swanson


There is a river whose streams make glad

            the city of God,

                        the holy habitation of the Most High.

                                    Psalm 46:4, RSV



“A train they call the City of New Orleans,”

            Arlo Guthrie, James Dean dreaming,

                        my cousin with a pool stick,

                                    and his green felt juke-joint basement.


It was much tamer,

            and transient, (do you remember that song?)

                        but let me get on the train

                                    and go to the city, that gospel train, that glorious city.


Maybe some young guy today

            entertains his cousin with Tim McGraw

                        cycling endlessly “Drugs or Jesus”

                                    on his CD, playing a computer game of dim destinations.


We build earthly cities

            longing for the city foursquare

                        jasper, topaz, carnelian, chrysolite,

                                    imagination gleaming because we’ve seen the sun’s reflections.


Will we enter that city

            with tambourines shaking, alleluia,

                        or settle beneath towering skyscrapers

                                    lost in our James Dean time, or just stay on the train and ride?



Poet’s Notes:  The teenage years were full of angst—or so I interpret them, based not just on my own experiences, but also on my years as a high school teacher. Two guys getting together, or four or five guys, can find common ground over a game, over a song, over an endless number of juvenile jokes and hyperbolic stories. They thinly veil a longing that is stretching toward a destination, something that resembles adulthood, but feels more like an ephemeral macho posture. I testify that heaven is also in their view, somehow bound in the music, somehow bound in the longing, somehow bound in the change in their bodies. The teenage years are a time of angst and also a time of dreaming. 


Editor's Notes:  This poem shakes, rattles, and rolls its way into many of today's religious services. TLC


Editor’s Notes:  Yeah!  And those whippersnappers with their rap music could use a bit more religion, I reckon!  Love this poem!  It captures the conflicted relationship many teens have with religion.  SWG


* * * * * * * * * *



Charles A. Swanson

For Alyssa


He heals the brokenhearted,

and binds up their wounds.

He determines the number of the stars,

he gives to all of them their names.

            Psalm 147: 3-4, RSV


The mailbox is more a threat

the more I age. Once the mail moved.

My wife, thinking bee, took a twig,

pried up the corner of the stack


to see a copperhead. No buzz,

no rattles, no telltale danger sign.

Just intuition and a small sti

that said, things are not the same,


move with caution. Why would a snake

be waiting in our rural box?

We crossed out the friendly mailman,

believed we had no enemy.


The mailbox’s lid did not quite close.

A careless push left a gap,

so we thought the evil nothing more

than malicious circumstance.


Christmas brings mail upon mail,

laploads full of circulars, cards.

Each day is like Christmas morning

or Pandora’s box.


Newsy form letters from old friends

are like jousting matches—

what have they accomplished, what

laurel leaves, brass rings,


and their children!—what prestigious

governor’s schools, scholarships,

graduate programs. What exotic 

educational trips


or honeymoons. (White sands,

waters of tourmaline, 

sapphire, natives brown as

coconut shells.)


Our own Christmas circular

competes, boasts as a fellow

crowing rooster—the sun is up

on yet another glorious day!


Russell, my high school buddy,

sent letters the way he testified—

an outspoken athlete, a driven,

proclaiming Christian.


He was not what I am, moody,

testy. He didn’t see mountains.

Mountains were for climbing,

miles for running.


Last Christmas, he said little

about what they felt,

his daughter fighting cancer,

his wife had left the workplace


to give the child continuous care.

In their family picture

the girl looked thin and pale,

a teenager.


This year, Russell’s card 

at the drive’s end, coiled to strike

in the winter mailbox, didn’t

appear venomous.


When my wife gathered it,

it bit her hand, right through

the envelope—one nondescript

letter in a nondescript pile.


Its bland exterior innocence

opened to more innocence—

a grade-school girl 

in blue-garlanded halo


with blue-garlanded wings—

an angel from a Christmas play

holding a large star sign,

“God is with us.”


The caption boasted God’s grace,

and I don’t know whether

her death or Russell’s faith

struck through the winter air.



Poet’s Notes:  This poem was written close to the time of Alyssa’s death.  Since that date, I have experienced the loss of a dear granddaughter, Addi.  My good friend, Russell, wrote recently of the Alyssa Community Walk. Those who wished to participate met at the Alyssa Smelley Memorial Park in Las Barrancas, California, and after the walk, everyone was invited to the Smelley home for refreshments and fellowship. Meanwhile, in Virginia, we celebrated little Addi Austin’s life on the day of her birthday. Her parents released balloons in her memory with messages of hope and grace tied to the balloon strings. Alyssa, Russell’s daughter, died when she was a teenager. Addi, my granddaughter, died at the age of seven.


Russell has been a long-time friend. We went to the same high school, worked together in tobacco pullings, and played softball on the same field. The friendship has spanned years and a continent, as he moved west after college to take a position as a track and field coach.  Recently, Russell emailed me with the words, “I wish we did not share in the loss of a child.” Yet, there is strength in the fellowship of mutual grief. We are drawn closer to each other and drawn closer to the suffering of our Lord and Savior, whose death on the cross becomes more immediate through our personal struggles with sorrow and redemption.


Editor's Notes:  Swanson crafted a heartfelt elegy.  TLC


Editor’s Notes:  This poem is rich and gorgeous, from the (a bit obvious, admittedly) snake metaphor, through the venomous description of the fortunate "blessed" braggarts, to the heartbreaking elegy for the lost daughter of a dear friend.  The poem is all the more powerful knowing that its author shares such a loss.


I believe that Satan tried to break the faith of the two families by flaunting the deaths of their girls, as though the Lord does not grieve with them, as though the Lord does not know what it means and how it feels to lose a child (as the Christians believe He does).  But the Lord now has two more angels, the Christians believe his son sits beside Him, and the faith of the survivors is all the stronger.  Take that, Satan!  SWG



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    Riot of Roses    

 Howard F. Stein   

Is this riot of roses
A sign of G-d’s repentance
For last October’s ice storm
That paralyzed the city,
Split trees like celery stalks,
Snapped branches from ice’s weight;
Followed in February
By a Siberian siege
Of bitter cold and more ice
That wrecked an entire region’s
Electrical grid, with death
And dread chaos in its wake?
Punishment? Meaninglessness?

What kind of sense can I make  
Of miles of disfigured trees,
That bled their pain into earth?
A Darwinian struggle?
How many times have I asked:
“Where was G-d when . . .?”, and waited
In silence and despair for 
An answer that never came?

Is my riot of roses
A paltry consolation
From somewhere or from someone
To persuade me that beauty
And horror are some cosmic
Balancing act that takes turns
In inflicting grief and then
Offering salve for its wounds?
Or is this island of grace
A joke without a joker?

My endless stream of questions
Offers no relief to my
Frightened, erratic heartbeat.
Questions have become my trap.
Solutions are now problems.
Spring is when all roses bloom.
No mystery about this.

Seeing my unhappiness,
My roses try to speak now . . . .
“Sit with us, and breathe with us;
Look closely at our petals – 
Try to see far into them.
Go where they wish to take you – 
It is a place behind us
No one can see, only sense.
You speak the wrong language here.

Here you will not find answers;
Here you will not find logic.
But here you will find our G-d – 
And you will find gratitude,
Not only that we exist
And have bloomed again after
So much peril, but also
That your eyes can recognize
New life after so much death.”


Editor's Notes:  Stein beautifully personifies the roses. TLC


Editor’s Notes:  The questions asked by the speaker are universal.  Howard’s use of personification of the rose is nicely done and quite refreshingly original.  Best, he actually answer the questions posed by the speaker, rather than leaving the reader to do that--bravely done!  The metaphor "bloomed again" in the final stanza is simply marvelous.  SWG


* * * * * * * * * *


Blessings of the Torah Reading      

Howard F. Stein



Jacob attended Sabbath and holiday services regularly for the past fifty years but now, frail and unsteady, he found everything to be effortful. Sensing his life was close to its end, he asked the rabbi if he could chant the Torah blessing one more time.        


His request granted, he struggled to climb the carpeted steps from the sanctuary floor to the Bimah. Several congregants sprang to their feet, gently but firmly grabbed Jacob’s shoulders and arms, then steadied him as he haltingly walked to the ornate wooden table cradling the opened Torah scroll.

Standing securely, he stretched out his arm and touched the Tzitzit of the prayer shawl at the place where the master reader would chant the sacred text after the blessing, then kissed the end of the fringes. 

Jacob’s once resonant baritone voice was now barely audible. The first words, Borchu es haShem haM’vorach scratched out from his throat. The congregation responded with its own brief chant. Jacob stood motionless. He forgot the next words and the music he knew by heart. The reader, the rabbi, and the cantor encouraged him, softly prompted the next few words with their melody. Jacob brightened, sang into the microphone. Then stopped again – each word, each phrase, insuperable.  

A few congregants joined the liturgical leaders, then a few more, until a groundswell of faint voices spread throughout the congregation. Their unison wrapped Jacob in a giant prayer shawl, restored his memory. Then together, as a single voice, they completed the Torah blessing.


When the prayer ended, everyone stayed standing, but in silence, in wonder, and in awe, to bless G-d Who had given them such a precious gift.



Poet’s Notes:  I am deeply grateful for Frequent Contributor John C. Mannone’s generous help with transforming my original poem into a prose poem.  


Editor's Notes:  Stein's prose poem shares a touching story and metaphor. TLC


Editor’s Notes:  This piece was first presented to me in traditional verses with explanatory footnotes and parenthetical translations of the Hebrew, all of which I felt disrupted the flow of the narrative.  For further consideration, and with no promise for eventual acceptance, I asked that Howard reconstruct the piece as a prose poem, leave out the explanatory notes, and look to John Mannone if necessary for some pointers.


The result is this beautiful and memorable poem.  I was verklempt upon reading this final version.  The story is inspirational and universal, suitable for members of any religion and even for atheists. 


I would also like to thank John for helping Howard here.  Sadly, we poets can often be petty, territorial, and closed minded concerning editorial suggestions.  Howard and John have shown us what a little collegiality, congeniality, and cooperation can do.  SWG


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In the Garden

Terri Lynn Cummings

Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: 

for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

—Matthew 19:14




and I hear your ribs hum

happy in their work

Though I strum beside you

you lie next to River Styx


that surges down cracks

to earth’s hungry mouth

Child, your eyes know

the unspeakable

like a tree cracked by ice


Yet spring thrives

outside this room

and new leaves cup

tomorrow in their palms

Lungs fill


your light thins

Soon you open to soil

and birds’ sacred hymns

debut in the

slow waltz of fall


So this garden

oh this garden

nourished with ash

and the wisdom of life

brings you back to me



Poet’s Notes:  After thirteen years, I still feel the presence of our son.


Editor’s Notes:  Terri shares a lovely poem with us here.  I especially like the ice-tree metaphor. The garden conceit, while hardly new, works well in a poem recalling The GardenSWG


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Art Gallery



"Contemplation" | Photography | Michele Ivy Davis

About the Artist: Michele Ivy Davis is a freelance writer and photographer whose stories and articles have appeared in various magazines, anthologies, and newspapers. Her young adult novel, Evangeline Brown and the Cadillac Motel (Penguin Random House), has won national and international awards. Visit her website at


Artist's Notes: While in Hualtulco, Mexico, I stopped by a old church.  As I was leaving, I turned around and saw this man through the open side door.  He seemed to personify what religion is all about.


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About the Back Cover Artist - Vincent Heselwood 

Vincent Heselwood is a writer, poet, and visual artist from Manchester, England. His visual work, mostly in pencil or pen and ink, usually incorporates a high level of detail and dramatic use of shadow. A teacher of English Language and Literature for over a decade, Vincent is currently signed with a small publisher to produce three volumes of short stories "In the Style of" famous horror authors. The first collection, Nightmares and Nevermores, in the style of Edgar Allan Poe, is available now. 



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"Devotion" | Ink & Watercolor on Paper | J. Artemus Gordon

Art Editor’s Notes: I don't think that any creature is more devoted than penguins while they are huddled for warmth during the entire Antarctic

winter to protect their young. The way they stand together in that frigid cold, it's almost like they're praying.


This piece is 12" x 9" and is available for purchase for $35 + shipping, or as a print for $10 + shipping. Email if interested.  JAG


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"Pagoda" | Ink & Watercolor on Paper | J. Artemus Gordon


Art Editor’s Notes: This piece is 15" x 11" and is available for purchase for $95 + shipping, or as a print for $10 + shipping. Email if interested.  JAG


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Guest Poets



the woods are a religion in themselves   

Anushka Nagarmath

look  —

brave leaves spread themselves open

their soft, green bodies curved

like hands clasped together

in a hopeful plea

revealing dew-damp flowers

blooming with grief

still greeting the dawn eagerly  —

petaled pilgrims surviving the long night

just to meet the sunrise of faith

one more time


when the angels pick up fragile twigs

to play their lullabies on

the violin strings of the breeze

each note is caught within

the first cry of the rooster

the cock-a-doodle-doo of a hymn

making its way towards the sky

echoing in the surrounding melodies

as other birds awaken with

wings furled into the shape of harps

creatures of feathers and hollow bones

uniting in prayer


heaven does not ask the trees

to endure endless drought and rain

just to deserve its grace

here, devotion begins with just

a single wooden soul longing for

the gentle redemption of daybreak —

its infinite bright hands digging into

every filthy crevice of the soil

only to carefully pull out

the tender buds of new beginnings


because god lives inside the humming of the bees

the flutter around the golden combs

and the tiny lullabies of each insect

scaling mountains of pebbles

with its brittle legs

god dances with the splinters of grass

waving their flimsy torsos

to the tune of the wind

god sits under the sweet shade of the pine

dropping cones over weeping faces

just to hear throats bubble with laughter

making a home inside it too


some temples are built

with just sticks and stones and skin

where there are no doors

just earthen roads welcoming all feet

leading towards endless room for growth

where you can climb down the ladder of branches

breaking every single one along the way

and still kiss the palm of mercy

where sinking to your knees

is also worship

and touching the light is enough

to become holy



Poet’s Notes:  I wrote this poem for an assignment just before my final year of college in 2020. With the whirlwind that the last year and half has been, I hope these words will carry a steady sense of warmth and safety for anyone who stumbles across them--a reminder to breathe and be gentle with ourselves. 


Editor’s Note:  Nagarmath fills her poem with imagery, metaphor, and simile as a tree fills its shape with leaves. Many beautiful lines here. TLC


About the Poet:  Anushka Nagarmath is a poet and writer from India. Words have been the one constant for her through all the changes of growing up. She has had the honor of being published in Wingword Poetry Prize 2019's Winners' Anthology as well as in Liminality: A Magazine of Speculative Poetry. You can follow her @anu_writes_dreams on Instagram.


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Baptizing Anne Frank

Goddfrey Hammit
After the headline “Anne Frank baptized by Mormons after Death."


Most of us would have assumed that even God, 

capital-B bureaucrat though he is,

capital-S stickler,

would have made certain exceptions and

let the Girl into heaven anyway,

or let her wander freely between the multiple heavens

that are surely necessary to keep the peace,

flashing a passport as she moved between 

Jewish heaven and Mormon heaven and

whatever heaven the good but unaffiliated are

filed away to--those regions of the afterlife,

which is not a borderless place but, evidently,

as closely watched as any border we know.

Though she was probably used to the feeling

of being tugged from one place to another, 

and out of the arms of her mother and father,

still, what a shock, to be sitting on the safe side

of the finish line and feel, suddenly, cold water wash over you,

like the cooler upturned over the coach after a winning game--

and then to squeeze the water from your eyes and find

an equally confused George Washington and some old pope

(who had been enjoying his Catholic heaven)

blinking at the faces of these unasked-for samaritans.

Could it be heaven if, on arrival, one has to ask,

Where am I now? And could it be heaven 

if one has to then ask,

Can I go back, back to the other heaven, 

the less real heaven that was heaven enough? 



Editor’s Note:  Hammit uses irony to good effect in his response to the headline. TLC 


About the Poet:  Goddfrey Hammit was born and raised in Utah and lives in Utah still in a small town outside of Salt Lake City. Hammit has most recently contributed work to Neologism Poetry Journal, The Loch Raven Review, and Riddled with Arrows, and is the author of the novel Nimrod, UT. Website:


* * * * * * * * * *



Pinny Bulman



listen closely

in this landscape birth or death can sound like laughter



it is said that the night cackling of the striped hyenas

is absorbed in this rocky ground

evaporating each morning in the desert sun’s sear

blurring the horizon’s edge


as a girl i swam with the crocodiles

nile drenched

in a god’s blue


here the blue has been desiccated

pulled tight against the sky like a tent flap tied taut

like the skin of a clenched fist


my son

there will be no ram foolish enough to venture here,

as you lay beneath this bush do not stay silent

wail loudly to the fiery god of this place


but not to me


i can no longer     listen


i am already walking the distance to where the past 

can no longer be heard

a distance that can be measured only in bowshots


so train well my son

and i will await the day your arrow comes

to enter me like water

and i will laugh.


Editor’s Note:  Bulman’s use of space on the page is spot on. His powerful imagery and metaphors draw the reader into the scene. TLC


* * * * * * * * * *



Pinny Bulman



the fire escapes here were all painted copper green

a reminder

that liberty’s surface can change

corrode, like the old pennies

once thrown at me

in an insult i didn’t

yet understand


but my grandparents knew

about always looking to find the nearest window to exit

about the way time could turn loss

into patina, a hardened shell

whose hollow interior i once climbed in grade school

to the crown where i stood looking east

from where we fled


on the ferry ride back i held tight

to my kippah shaking furiously

in the salty harbor wind.



Poet’s Notes:  This poem is dedicated to my grandparents, all Holocaust survivors who immigrated to America to rebuild their lives. They lost so much, yet never stopped giving.


Editor’s Note:  Bulman’s subtle imagery, metaphor, and simile engages the reader. He surprises and touches the heart throughout. TLC


About the Poet:  Pinny Bulman is a Bronx Council on the Arts BRIO award-winning poet. He has been winner of the Poets of NYC Contest, recipient of several ADR Poetry Awards, and a finalist for the Raynes Poetry Prize. His poems appeared in the 2020 anthologies Undeniable (Alternating Current Press) and Escape Wheel (great weather for MEDIA) and were published in Korean translation for Bridging the Waters III (Korean Expatriate Literature & Cross-Cultural Communications). Pinny’s poetry has also appeared in a variety of other literary publications, including Muddy River Poetry Review, Artemis, Pressenza International, Red Paint Hill, and Poetry Quarterly.


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Fra Timoteo

Louis Girón



The Oneness and Its visions once ignited me.

Like the falling sickness, my storms of ecstasies

followed days of contemplation, fasting, and prayer.

I have been no less diligent now than before,

yet seasons have passed barren of that rapture.

My supplications and devotions, once sovereign,

lie like bent coppers in the lint, griming green and black,

idle in the pouch of myself, unspent.



I recall that exaltation. By my soul, I can do no other,

but memory fades, as if it were a passing dream,

or yesterday’s soured confection of curdled froth and fancy.

My memories to that transport as are the soiled

threads of beggars’ rags to the gold of papal robes.

Must it be, like fortunes and worldly vanities, —or worse,

like the bodies of those fallen from the plague and their clothes,

thrown into the bonfire, consumed,

scattered by winds or ground into the muck?


Let the birds speak. Let the rocks sing.

I would see you again, Sister Moon.

And — I would be touched again by Thee.


In fevered meditation, I have knelt from night to night and to night again in my cell.

As I know each verse of the Word and the face and name and wont of every brother of my order,

I know the shape, place, texture, damp, and impress of its every cold, unsinging stone.


I have fasted two weeks and a day. I was shriven.

Just after, my confessor was stricken by palsy and fell mute

            —whether from anger, envy, awe, or fear of my intent I cannot say.

The hairshirt has become my second skin.

The scourging and the festering sores have gained me naught,

Not a candle lightens my melancholy. No respite tempers my longing.  

Sweet chords bring no sleep. And I have neither flagons nor apples.

I love and would be loved. I rage to love and to know love beyond that of mortals’ love.


Thus, have I taken counsel of the Kabbalah, consorted with the Roma,

during nights bereft of stars, supped with the alchemists,

bargained with the Saracens, and, yes, trafficked with the forbidden magickers,

and, by that last, damned my eternal soul for that same starved soul’s sake.


Which path can I take? To be in that Oneness again, I risk loss of paradise.

Solomon’s scales cannot call this balance; my tares are mad, inconstant in virtue.

The bar between the baskets swings like penitents’ whips in this damning holy wager.

Certès, damnation awaits me not on one, but on both sides of this reckoning.


By my transgress, I have pushed the balm of Gilead beyond my reach.  

In truth, I have set my sails before this hour.

But now the tide goes out. The stars nod.

For I would know that rapture again,

even if I have chanted my last Compline on these shores.


I have just poured the Moor’s elixir

through muslin into the wine. Smoke

escapes from the unstoppered vial.

The husk of a scorpion falls on the cloth.

The wine burns my tongue, inflames my nose.

This vintage had been noble and sweet before.


I must be persuaded too that these cards

of telling hold the power to open

the closed path to that communion I seek.

I lift them in shaking hands, bring them to my lips,

breathe and sign on them, and shuffle.


My fingertips dark and tingle with each tremor,

with each pulse, and with each toss and pass of the cards.

My breath quickens, my heart hammers.

My throat is dry. My mouth, sand.

I am borne down by my cassock, a millstone of sweat.

The sweat is sour.


Tene!  What does this first upturned card portend?

It bears the glowing image of the Hanged Man.

It hails —I hear trumpets, drums—not death,

that my faith tells me is a Satanic illusion,

—but always change of fortune.

A sign I take that Providence blesses this my soul’s quest.


…Look! As it did before, the moon shimmers where it was not.

It shines within a growing halo, a jagged, gold-hued rainbow. Glorious.

I smell rank incense burning though the thurible has not been lit. Odious.

I taste sulfur, demon’s droppings, carrion, and iron. Foul. Most foul.

A cataract roars about me. My shaking grows constant, more violent.


Jésu!  I am come.


The world I left cannot know, nor could it ever withstand

Your Light, this Light that I see through closed and bleeding eyes

                    and then only in reflection.

In compare, the sun of noon in the Sinai is a cold, powdered, and sickly moon.  

And the powers and the terrors of the wells of hell

in weight like gosling’s feathers to the mountains of Lebanon.


I turn. I spin. I fly.

Clouds drift beneath my feet. Stars beckon.

Hello again, Sister Moon.  Greetings, Father Sun.  

I would commune with the saints.  The music, angelic, draws me.

Yes! Yes! I am the canticle of the Little Rose.  


Birds speak in praise, the obdurate stones now soar in song,

and I—and the world entire are in chorus.


This rapture is of my flesh, and of the flowering and tearing of the flesh,

                        and beyond that that mortal flesh can bear.

Take me, my God. I am both the fire and that that is consumed by fire.

I am the vessel and the blood and the very wounds of laud.


I am pierced, rendered, empty, …





Poet’s Notes:  This dramatic monologue emerged from my fascination with the mystical experience, with whom may have that experience, and from an imaging of medieval monastic life at the beginning of the Italian Renaissance. I stole shamelessly from St. Francis and from Dante.  I wanted to show obsession, conviction, and conflict, as well as what could happen at the extremities of those experiences.


I hoped to show a believable tortured believer. Paradox and irony confound: at the end of his journey, the speaker sustains as much curse as blessing. Lastly, from a neurological point of view, he could just as well have been experiencing a focal seizure with impaired awareness. 


Editor’s Note:  Girón maximizes first person POV to dive into the speaker’s character and draw the reader into his poem. TLC


About the Poet:  Louis is a neurologist/clinical pharmacologist. He grew up in San Antonio before coming to Asheville, North Carolina. After a completed poem dropped without warning into a budget for a research proposal, null hypotheses morphed into villanelles; dose-response curves into sonnets; and action potentials into palindromes. What began as a curiosity continues as necessity.


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The Taste

Lorraine Jeffery


Sitting on wooden benches, 

in Buckwheat Church 

we heard the thud of walnuts

on the shake roof as we listened

to traveling preachers or 

retired farmers, who had taken

up the cross; speak about a 

God who cared about harvests, 

mortgage payments, sick 

people and kids playing 

down by the creek.

Our churches, 

next to unpaved roads,

had names—

St. Mary’s of the Seven Sorrows, 

Wellsprings, Sweeten’s Cove,

Mother of Good Counsel, 

Road Run.


The black walnut trees with their

fern-like foliage and hammer-hard

nuts were there before the churches—

or people. Early settlers crushed

husks under boots, used hammers

and pliers to wrest out the nuts. 

For them, it was worth the effort.   


Now driving back roads, I see 

abandoned churches—

Blue Springs, Our Lady 

of the Pine, Old Judy, 

bereft of bells. 


Congregants died off

or walked off, left the shell

of the buildings for mice, birds

and snakes—God’s creatures all. 


The taste of the nut

no longer worth

the effort?



Editor’s Note:  Jeffery’s walnuts and trees make an excellent overall metaphor and pose mankind’s question of faith. TLC


About the Poet:  Lorraine Jeffery delights in her close-up view of the Utah mountains after spending years managing public libraries. She has won poetry prizes in state and national contests and published over one hundred poems in various journals and anthologies, including Clockhouse, Kindred, Calliope, Canary, Ibbetson Street, Rockhurst Review, Naugatuck River Review, Orchard Press, Two Hawks, Halcyon, Healing Muse, Regal Publishing and Bacopa Press


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The Subway Searchers

Carla Sarett



My mother called them fanatics, 

wearing beards, wigs, and long black coats

in late summer's heat. Searching under-

ground for all the Unbelievers,


even Kafka's mournful ghost. One 

marsh-skinned young woman 

hovers close above me in 

the squalor of our secular rush.  

Her wig smells like a Bronx funeral,  

like the local death camps I feel

buried deep beneath these tracks.  

I'm not one of you, I almost cry.


Her Golem gaze finds mine.  

Light a candle tonight, she whispers.

It turns dark between stations,

then no thing divides us.   



Editor’s Note:  Sarett’s strong opening leads the reader “underground” in this search for “Unbelievers”. TLC


About the Poet:  Carla Sarett's recent poetry appears in Naugatuck River Review, Blue Unicorn, and San Pedro River Review.  She awaits publication of her debut novel, A Closet Feminist (Unsolicited) and her first poetry collection, She Has Visions (Main Street Rag) in 2022. Carla lives in San Francisco.  


* * * * * * * * * *


Walking the Beach in Winter

 John Delaney



I walked some miles on the beach today.

The tide was easing out but would crawl back.

The sky was almost cloudless. Though the sun

was shining brightly, what little warmth

there was the wind kept whisking it away.

They say that stars outnumber grains of sand

on all the beaches of the world. My mind

can barely comprehend the mind, never

mind the volume of an infinite space.

Sandy beaches, though, my feet can understand,


and how the ceaseless washing of the waves,

that will remove all traces of my walks,

keeps refreshing the shore, for more staging

of shells and stones, and other soles’ impressions.

But a world without end, life that faith saves? —


if you believe the reason (sometimes rant)

from pulpits and philosophers, who vow

they sell a term-less kind of life insurance.

But for the life of me, I can’t, I can’t.

The thought of spring will have to do for now.



Poet’s Notes:  Port Townsend has typical northwest rocky beaches. I try to walk on one every day at low tide when expanses of sand are available. Estimating the number of grains of sand is, I’ve learned, futile.


Editor’s Note:  Delaney deftly uses macro and microcosms as he ponders the unfathomable. TLC


About the Poet:  In 2016, John moved to Port Townsend, Washington, after retiring as curator of historic maps at Princeton University. He’s traveled widely, preferring remote, natural settings, and is addicted to kayaking and hiking. In 2017, he published Waypoints, a collection of place poems. “Twenty Questions”, a chapbook, appeared in 2019, and Delicate Arch, poems and photographs of national parks and monuments, is forthcoming in 2022.


* * * * * * * * * *


Disguise of Goodwill

Mark Tulin



Was it because of my religion, 

a stranger punched me in the belly? 

I dropped to my knees and muttered

damn gentile!

It was my christening of sorts,

introducing me to hate,  

a reminder that persecution still exists

How a nameless man with an angry face

could take out his rage 

on a small boy

throwing a ball against a step


After I caught my breath and dried my eyes, 

I wanted to run in the house 

and tell my mother,

please take me in your arms

and assure me people aren’t like this


Instead, I kept the pain to myself,

concealed it from others,

wrapped it in a disguise of goodwill

and made believe

the world was different.



Poet’s Notes:  This childhood memory only became clear to me at age sixty-six. It takes a long time for trauma to take root in a poem.


Editor’s Note: Tulin’s language is immediate yet keeps the reader at bay. TLC


About the Poet: Mark Tulin is a former family therapist who lives with his wife in Palm Springs, California. Brian Geiger of Vita Brevis Press wrote that Mark Tulin does not just write of deprivations but of its acceptance in the way that Edward Hopper once put on canvas.


Mark’s books include Magical Yogis, Awkward Grace, The Asthmatic Kid and Other Stories, Junkyard Souls, and Rain on Cabrillo. Amethyst Review, Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, Disquiet Arts, The Literary Hatchet, The Mindful Word, Scrittura, and others have accepted his poems. Follow Mark at


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What I Learned In Catholic School

Linda McCauley Freeman



Fold each finger over the other, 

like your uniform pleats and sing out: 

Good morning, Sister Mary of the Rosary, 

when the principal appeared.


Never touch the host, but peel it 

from the roof of your mouth with your tongue

while covering your face, pretending to pray.


Hold it in or pee in your panties  

rather than risk raising your hand.


Receive a gold star on your paper: you’re smart.

(None means you aren’t.)


Make up sins to tell the priest

during confession to have something to say.


Drink spoiled milk when Sister Joan

makes you, even after you told her.


Be a good girl at home 

and quiet when Grandpa comes 

downstairs and touches you, 

down there.



Editor’s Note:  Freeman’s use of conversational language serves well in this piece. TLC

Art Editor’s Notes: I believe that this poem is more powerful with no image to accompany it. I do not want to force the viewer to evoke any image in particular for this one. JAG  


About the Poet:  Linda McCauley Freeman has been widely published in international literary journals and anthologies, including a Chinese translation of her work. Most recently, she appeared in Poet Magazine, Amsterdam Quarterly, won Grand Prize in StoriArts poetry contest honoring Maya Angelou, and was selected by the Arts MidHudson for their Poets Respond to Art 2020 and 2021 shows. She was a three-time winner in the Talespinners Short Story contest judged by Michael Korda. 


Linda has an MFA in Writing and Literature from Bennington College and is the former poet-in-residence of the Putnam Arts Council. She lives in the Hudson Valley of New York. You can follow her at


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Calling Your Name

Anita Jawary



Air is unavailable for some tonight and blessings have turned to curse.

A digger drills and detonates dust on the road, 

and I cannot distinguish 

heaven from earth. 


Forgotten cattle cars still carry your Name. Dare I step inside to hear its whispers reverberate and wheeze

between the cracks of the floorboards 

and along their rusty door jambs? 

Geographically speaking, what do fire or virus or earthquake 

have to do with You?

Heavy is my house when it tumbles onto my chest 

and cement dust invades my lungs. 


O my Love! Our bricks were once made of confetti. 

I remember.

Don’t You?

But now, Jews! they cry. Blacks! they cry.

KKK kneeling, kneeling, kneeling!

Leave us alone. 

Leave us alone.


Maybe that’s the problem.

Non-persons are always alone. 


Don’t dare to stand as tall as the tinsel tree in the shopping mall 

lest you be felled. 



Question the peace in our time. 

Rumbling and roaring tanks rolled across a flock of tardy pigeons 

pecking for worms in their path. 

They scored and razed the earth where once we tangoed under the stars,

vowed our love,

gave thanks 

but no.


Xanadu lasts not forever, and air is unavailable for some tonight. 

You too wear a mask now,  

keep your distance in the foul foul air, 

while down below you, 

pious men and women, and even those who hardly know you, turn toward you in 

the darkness 

to utter your Name.



Editor’s Note:  Jaway’s passion speaks within her framework of figurative language, metaphor, and repetition. TLC


About the Poet:  Anita Jawary lives in Melbourne, Australia. She has enjoyed many careers, from teacher to journalist to artist.  See more of Anita's work at


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Angels Are Good At Excuses 

Marc Janssen



Was Job right- 

Spitting his anger at a stinging whirlwind 

Shaking his fist at a howling blast 

Or Bildad- 

With the world’s wisdom  

And forearms bloody with sacred atonement?


Are you still friends? 

When you pass on the street, do your eyes meet? 


A life will follow you 

Like the back of the bus  

Follows the front. 


Do you talk to your new wife 

About your old wife? 

Compare these kids to the dead ones? 


Every word of that dust devil 

Drips with arrogance. 

Everything in the settlement  

Says, “I’m sorry.”


Editor’s Note:  Janssen’s poem appeals through the use of conversational language and the questions posed. Harsh, yet compelling. TLC


About the Poet:  Marc Janssen’s poetry can be found in Pinyon, Slant, Cirque Journal, Off the Coast, and Poetry Salzburg. Cirque Press published his book, November Reconsidered. Janssen also coordinates the Salem Poetry Project, a weekly reading, the annual Salem Poetry Festival, and was a 2020 nominee for Oregon Poet Laureate. 




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Frequent Contributor News


Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to announce the following publication credits among current and former Frequent Contributors and staff.



Former FC Mary Soon Lee

Her poems "Missing Measures" and "The Line" both appeared in I-70 Review, Summer/Fall 2021. 


Her poem "Western Retrospective" appeared in American Diversity Report, August 2021,


Her poem "How to Overlook Differences" appeared in Uppagus #47, August 2021,


Her poem "Train Algebra" appeared in the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics


Her poem "What Cacti Read" appeared in Strange Horizons, July 2021,


Her poem "Menagerie" appeared in Silver Blade, Issue 50, Summer 2021,


Her poem "Not for Sale, Used Asteroid, One Owner" appeared in The Future Fire, Issue 2021.58, July 2021,


Her short story 'Preface to "Monster Hunter"' appeared in Daily Science Fiction


Her poem "How to Mourn Kepler's Supernova" appeared in Penumbric, Volume V, Issue 1, June 2021:


Her short story "In My Tower" appeared in Daily Science Fiction



Former FC John Reinhart 

Reinhart announces the publication of his expanded version of Horrific Punctuation - a quirky chapbook that showcases the intersection of his teaching and fascination with the dark underbelly of life. “Horrific Punctuation” was originally released as part of Tiger's Eye Press's eight-poem chapbook Infinities Series in 2017. Tiger’s Eye Press has since shuttered its doors, so he re-released and expanded the collection into thirty-two pages of poetry, including eighteen unpublished poems.  Available in hardcopy for $3.99, or Kindle for $0.99 at



Featured FC Tyson West

He had three form poems published in Shot Glass Journal, including a sonnet, a curtal sonnet, and a bref double with one line added.


He had two sets of twin fibs published in the Fib Review.


"Elegy for Fay", was published in Artemis Journal Vol. XVII-2021.


Featured FC John C. Mannone

John took first place in the July 2021 Wilda Morris Poetry Challenge.


Former FC Alessio Zanelli

The longest poem he ever wrote, "The Trip", was published in the Fall 2021 issue of San Pedro River Review (Torrance, CA)


His recent chapbook, “Amalgam”, was published by Cyberwit (India) a few weeks after “Ghiaccielo/Skyce” &


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Lana the Poetree Fall 2021


Our forthcoming winter 2021/2022 issue will have the theme of “place”, and, for the first time in our history, poems will be chosen by our editorial team rather than by a lead editor.  We will open our narrow window for submissions on November 1 and close it promptly on November 15; so, as always, we encourage those who want to submit to be as proactive as possible.   


“Place” is a deceptively challenging theme.  While reading a good “place” poem, the reader should experience the terroir of the locale described, be transported into the thick of it, and feel as though one is actually there or has been there. Our editors look forward to reading your best.


Beginning with this issue, Charles A. Swanson will be leaving the Frequent Contributor ranks to join the editorial ranks as our newest Assistant Editor.  Charles will be bringing his well-honed skills to the task, as even a cursory read of his biography will attest.


Sadly, James Frederick William Rowe, one of only two of our remaining charter members of the Frequent Contributor club (the other being John C. Mannone), has left Songs of Eretz in favor pursuing other projects.  James was with Songs of Eretz since before its beginning and will be sorely missed.  His unique blend of fantasy and philosophy brought a certain sophistication and gravitas to the e-zine.  The void of his loss will be difficult to fill.  Our winter issue will contain a farewell retrospective featuring of a small collection of James’ previously published poems hand-picked by the poet with updated notes.


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