Guardian by Penelope Scambly Schott

A veiled woman stands tall
among stars. Every night
she rotates the shining sky.
Some of her stars are old,
others are not yet visible.
She’s been busy tending to stars
since before the beginning of counting.

On earth she has four children
and each child is beloved:
water for spilling through channels,
air for hugging shapes,
loose dirt for its grit,
and fire for lighting the sky.
Her name is Do not despair.

In her netted veil she watches
as a mama skunk drinks
from a stream that ripples over rocks,
the kits safe in their burrow
under the luster of stars.
The skunk’s white stripe
might be the Milky Way.


Penelope Scambly Schott’s most recent book is HOW I BECAME AN HISTORIAN.  She lives in Portland and Dufur, Oregon where she teaches an annual poetry workshop.

Jetman by Jonathan Travelstead

I rebuffer the YouTube video of Swiss ex-fighter pilot Yves Rossi
& watch this man-cum-black wing let go the rails & bail out of the helicopter
like a Navy SEAL, whirligig in a tailspun freefall until his aelerons
& helmet’s rudder lock in, tilting into clean air.

I think of birds’ aerobatics. How the swift hatchling- plummeting
from the nest for the first time, remembers flight just in time. I see his manouevers
named in the comments. Falling leaf. Chandelle. Afterburners quilled
with kerosene for feathers, I watch him jockey in high definition

a wide, blue field & wish it were me barrel rolling the Alps with a ballerina’s
easy pirouette over shards of coal-dusted ice. I can’t see it enough,
the dream every generations’ boy dreams- whether Iron Man, or an eagle,
all of us wishing to attempt the split s. On replay I consider

his skull’s declension from the slab of black wing,
& the moment’s precipice where he submits to some higher plane of physics
that to the rest of us is only dark art. Shoulders camber forward then
he dives, puncturing cirrus, then cumulous cloud, contrails twisting

at a moment past the last believable one when he cranes his head & body
in a half pitch skyward once more, a cough of flame as he cuts power,
pulls the ripcord on a ballooned parachute which lowers him
to the ground in a landing he- incredibly, survives.


Jonathan Travelstead served in the Air Force National Guard for six years as a firefighter and currently works as a full-time firefighter for the city of Murphysboro, and also as co-editor for Cobalt Review. Having finished his MFA at Southern Illinois University of Carbondale, he now works on an old dirt-bike he hopes will one day get him to the salt flats of Bolivia. He has published work in The Iowa Review, on Poetrydaily.com, and has work forthcoming in The Crab Orchard Review, among others. His first collection “How We Bury Our Dead” by Cobalt Press was released in March, 2015, and his “Conflict Tours” is forthcoming in Spring of 2017.

In Memoriam by Sharon Scholl

I feel the sigh of thinking
about you, breath
carving out a riverbed of memory.

Cool in the shadow
of my passing through,
scenes flicker – you standing

in a door three summers
tall. I’m trying to find
your form, assemble love
from the labyrinth of places
that contained us, the web
of words that passed for truth.

Your pulse is made of ashes.
Your being is a whirlpool
in the ripples of my brain.


Sharon Scholl is professor emerita from Jacksonville University (Fl)  where she taught humanities and non-western studies.  Her chapbook, Summer’s Child, is new from Finishing Line Press.  Individual poems are current in Adanna, Caesura and, Rat’s Ass Review.

Paint On Pasteboard by Peter Goodwin

I was about to chuck it, in a push to clear space
but the image, painted on pasteboard, looked vaguely
familiar, a winding river, wandering through lush woods,
triggering a memory of a long ago summer,
of picnics on a bluff, smiling women flirting,
the slow gentle current taking us, like driftwood,
floating along its curving meandering path, while
he set up his easel to capture the Ukrainian light.

So much seemed possible, bathed in summer days
when Perestroika loosened the cold grip of communism,
who could have imagined that the regime would collapse,
Ukraine become independent and fritter its freedom,
imperial Russia return and that pristine river valley,
so close to Donetsk would become a battlefield,
the river washing away blood and pleasure, beauty lost
and almost forgotten, but for paint on pasteboard.


 

Releasing the Dark Landscape by Martin Willitts Jr

The last sunlight falls behind the vanishing trees,
where it hesitates before leaving completely.
Some decisions are measured by regret.
Some of us, when we find ourselves old, notice this.

Out on the prairie, someone tries to hold the land
together with barbed wire stapled to aging wood posts.
however I am the kind of person who brings cutters
and snip each sharp wire, and let the fields open.

I am the kind who encourages yellow-throated meadowlarks.
When cut, the dark will be released; the air will be set free.
Doors on distanced houses ripple like muscles after working.
Some wonder why I do this, question idleness as the cause,

suggest I had nothing better to do. I am the kind laws
are made to discourage people like me from acting impulsively.
I cannot obey, and sharpen the blades like a raptor’s talons.
I am the kind that knows outcrops sweeten with silence.

I go to the wire to test it. It glints in moonlight and speaks.
It knows the quiet patterns of flight, the tactical for listening.
I should have brought the cutter, it slender purpose of justice,
the rusting wind caught on it should be freed. I touch barehanded.

It slices like eyes. It whispers, be careful. The fields, spare me.
Yearning and ceasing are shadows lengthening, in stillness,
in the final ambient light, then, the meadowlark stopped —
only the robin’s sleepy-time sound is in this field, and it is held here.

I experience the necessary absence. I also lose blood to its danger.
They say actions speak for you and what you stand for.
I have been listening to the suffering. Something had to be done.
When I cut, the earth flies away, like wings or leaves or regret.
___

Martin Willitts Jr. has 11 full-length collections including “How to Be Silent” (FutureCycle Press, 2016). His forthcoming include “Dylan Thomas and the Writing Shed” (FutureCycle Press); “Three Ages of Women” (Deerbrook Press); and the winner of the Editor’s Choice Award, “The Wire Fence Holding Back the World” (Turtle Island Press).

the erotic mind by Diana Raab

the erotic mindis not one born from dirt
but is one born from love—
only if you allow it to be
as you sit upon life’s teeter totterz-venus
pregnant with the possibilities
of all the joys which propel your happiness and peace
erasing the sin from lust
while embracing its beauty
and how it makes the heart pump
and come alive when it’s
just landed upon its deathbed.

Reach out and touch someone
who will move you into the lust you deeply need,
the lust you crave every day,
Just allow lust to bring together your yin and the yang
leading to your everlasting ecstasy.


Diana Raab, Ph.D. is an award-winning poet, memoirist, blogger, essayist and speaker.  Her book, “Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life” is forthcoming in 2017.  Raab is a regular blogger for Psychology Today, Huff50 (The Huffington Post), and PsychAlive. More at dianaraab.com.

a frog does not have a tail by Michael Coolen

I watched an old man finishing his evening prayers
when a boy squatted next to him and said
I hope you are at peace, grandfather
peace only the old man responded
and you, boy, are you at peace
no, grandfather, I have questions
keeping peace away
what questions asked the old man
my little brother just died for no reason
he just died grandfather
why did Ebrima die so young
why can’t my mother stop crying
why does Allah let bad things happen to good people
the old man sat quietly for a minute
domanding, domanding, domanding boy
he replied
le ka nowulu
little, little, little comes the understanding of Allah
even for me some things make no sense
you may as well ask a frog why it does not have a tail


Michael Coolen is a pianist, composer, actor, performance artist, and writer. His works have been published widely, including the Oregon Poetry Association and Creative Non-fiction. He is also a published composer, with works performed around the world, including at Carnegie Hall, MoMA, and the Christie Gallery in New York.