How does the rooster know when to crow by Rae Marie Taylor

and the fly to start buzzing
right now
How do they and
all the birdsongs know to stop
and wait

while the sun
climbs up the other side of
Kitchen Mesa sending rose glints
into the sky
but not yet, not quite touching
the soft red earth
where I stand
two ravens know to swoon
past with a soft, throaty greeting
quickening trills and twitters
there in the gulch
below

the sun’s glowing
right now
the purest white
down the Dakota Sandstone
caressing
purple mudstone
where fossils still lie.

Rae Marie Taylor performs on Spoken Word stages in Quebec and the American Southwest. Author of the poetry CD Black Grace, Rae’s The Land: Our Gift and Wild Hope also won the 2014 Colorado Independent Publishers’ Merit Award and was Finalist in the 2013 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards (environment).

Sleeping with the Squirrels by Tracy Mishkin

Leaf-fall reveals their fat nests
cluttering branches, silhouetted
against the pale sky like hornet hives.
Still, I am a guest. I climb.

Thirty feet up, where two limbs meet,
the fox squirrel sits in the shadow
of her tail, invites me into the hollow
sphere perched on a platform of twigs,
lined with grass and moss.

She sets acorns before me, this solitary
forager, bustling and clucking until
I take one. We talk of kits and children
until we can scarcely see each other.
Her eyes brighten when I accept
her invitation to spend the night.

Sleeping with a squirrel is like curling
up in a hammock. I am warmed
by the embrace of her luxurious tail
under a blanket of leaves.

Tracy Mishkin is a call center veteran with a PhD and an MFA student in Creative Writing at Butler University. Her chapbook, I Almost Didn’t Make It to McDonald’s, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2014.

Walking an Old Dog by Lisa Chavez

we rest more
often. His eyes clouded
with cataracts,
hearing dulled
so he startles
sometimes.  His hips sway
with ache, but he
whiffles his way
through a scent rich world.

Walks are shorter, slower
and even I see
more–the caterpillar’s
circuitous journeys,
the pinon cones
opening like fists
dropping their treasure.
We pause
to look or sniff.
Then head home,
the sun behind us
like the span of his years
and our shadows
thinning to fade,

lengthening
toward the end
of the day.

Lisa D. Chavez has published two books of poetry, Destruction Bay and In An Angry Season. Her essays have appeared in Arts and Letters, The Fourth Genre and other magazines, and in anthologies including The Other Latin@: Writing Against a Singular Identity, and An Angle of Vision:  Women Writers on their Poor and Working Class Roots.  She grew up in Alaska and currently lives in New Mexico, and has a keen interest in Japanese dogs and in perfume. Find her online at lisadchavez.com

A Wild Hair by K.L. Frank

A few errant fibers bristle
from the fallow field
below my chin, waving goodbye
to more subtle golden fuzz,
that once hummed in spring’s
soft hormonal breezes.
In blatant disregard
of harsh depilatories,
bleaching creams, and tweezers,
these outlaw strands fly free,
battle banners
raised above years ripened
past their summer prime.
For now is the autumn
of more brutish shoots –
stiff dark hairs that defy
any downward drag
and thrust outward, splayed fingers
reaching toward dreams
muscles fatigued in the fight
against gravity can no longer grasp.
These hairs mark my last attempt
to step up to the edge of etiquette
and shout a challenge,
my final foray into impudence.

Karin L. Frank is an award-winning author from the Kansas City area. Her poems, including haiku, and prose have been published in both literary journals and genre magazines in the U.S. and abroad.

Take the Apple by Michelle Holland

Drag out books with dog-eared pages, find thatIMG_0924
quote to make some sense of Adam and Eve,
the doctrine of apple trees and the real
story of knowledge. Take the apple not
just to eat, but cast the seeds and make sure
to spread them wide along the paths. Seek out
that birdsong found on an ipod matching
the birdsong from the lush cottonwood down
by the ditch, to know a Bullock’s Oriole.
Notice the canary-yellow bottom
of a brilliant white sego lily
balanced on its slender stalk. Truth rises
in spits and starts, our own bird call, a trill
of thought where the hummingbirds whirr and dive.

Michelle Holland has two collections of poetry, “Event Horizon,” included in The Sound a Raven Makes, (Tres Chicas Press) \ New Mexico Book Award winner 2009, and Chaos Theory, (Sin Fronteras Press).  She is co-poetry editor of the Sin Fronteras Journal, and treasurer of the New Mexico Literary Arts Board.

The Road to Heaven by D.G. Geis

Unlike the Road to Hell,IMG_0907
The Road to Heaven is paved
With many things.

Consider sparrows. They
Make excellent base material
And are seldom missed.

And what about the Rabbis of
Treblinka? Their prayers ascend
Like incense. And ash packs well.

Throw in a few starving children
(Africans of course) and while you’re
At it, an aid worker or two.

And dogs beaten especially
For television. Show the dogs
With large eyes pleading

For humanity, praying for the Dog
Of Dogs to show his growling face,
And from you, for ten dollars a month.

Show the living room of the Good Shepherd
Counting sheep on his 70 inch wafer-thin TV,
Reclining in a Lazy Boy, kicking back with a

Cold one, doing what Good Shepherds
Always do. Taking a well deserved break
From deciding who gets sheared

and who gets slaughtered.

D.G. Geis lives in Houston, Texas. He has degrees from the University of Houston (B.A. English) and California State University (M.A. Philosophy).  He will be featured in a forthcoming Tupelo Press chapbook anthologizing  9 New Poets and is winner of Blue Bonnet Review‘s Fall 2015 Poetry Contest.

Nightscape by Sharon Scholl

When you reflect on darkness,
that it doesn’t thrust forward
but shrinks to secret corners,

when you see how birds
fold languidly into it, cheeping
softly in their feathers,

the way cats’ eyes expand, yellow
pupils taking furry draughts
of its enticing blackness,

how it spreads its viscous skirts
over jeweled windows and ruinous
gutters, over kisses and slaps,

washing over feasts and graves,
leaving every absence filled,
every sorrow lost to dreams,

it is oddly understandable
why the weary old, the damaged
do so calmly come to death.

Sharon Scholl is professor emerita from Jacksonville University where she taught the western  humanities courses and non-western studies (Africa, Japan).  Her chapbook, Summer’s Child, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.  Single poems appear currently in Adanna, Caesura, and Kalyna Language Press.  A musician/composer, she maintains a website that gives away free music to small choirs. She lives in Atlantic beach Fl.