The Broad Shouldered Metal / Justin Patrick Moore

The best poems are the ones you have to wake up and dream
catch like lightning before the tree is scorched.
We lift ourselves up to meet the fire,
we crawl through caves, sewers, and drainpipes
in a search for ancient gold.

The gold is there, sometimes covered
in blankets of filth
the remorse of unremembered things,
the deliberately rejected.
Sometimes this broad shouldered metal
was absent mindedly dropped
a fragment forgotten, covered by debris.

In the middle of the night
when the heart leaps like a stag into Other Worlds
and the poetry of sleep is causing such a commotion
you must rise up and take on the mantle
given to you by gods and beasts
cried to you by children who haven't forgotten how to see,
the worlds most playful things.

Carry these poems into the world
parcel them up with great care
package them for your friends,
gifts to be unwrapped
meanings to be tapped
soul to be strengthened.

No narrow shoulders on these country lanes
even if the road is only dirt and gravel
a poem is a traveler bridging two horizons
a poem unravels expectations of the possible.

An untouchable street urchin
marries high above his station
by reaching into a magic hat
to pull out rabbits, scrimshaws,
goose feather quills and bottles of ink.

He knows the power of association
he combines letters to make spells of quantum entanglement
making the entire world his mistress
every flower his lover
every pigeon his child.
And words are his garden nurtured by sunlight
drawn up under moonlight
to sing songs of passion
at the soup kitchen potlatch
and songs of compassion
in the high kings hall.

new poem / michelle red elk

my own boat has been shouldered years
now it sails out
old branches scrape the bottom
but I glide seamlessly through
the water’s edge glitters gold
leaves, on the surface
big power day
my eyes catch hands of spirits and backs of turtles
the turtles clear my path
and push forth their medicine
which they owe me
their own old hearts know my name
and watch over my vision
they have come along, from way back
from the original dream
from the winding roads of Adams County
where I ferried them over the road
where hill slides brought me
face to face
with their powerful medicine
the turtle has given me enough each time
has brought the power back to my hands
has sheltered me
stronger than straight arrows
our hearts collide
my boat moves on, moves past, moves into
the shadowed turtle dips for cover into me

The Great Divorce / Michelle Castleberry

“We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing. Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord…” –Ezra 10, vs. 2, 3

It was the twelfth day of the ninth month,
A day of rain upon rain,
When we gathered to hear Ezra
Talk about foreign wives as if we were not there.
Then the sons of priests made confessions
Of what had been our vows,
And planned to send us away.

Now, a month later,
After their small offered mercy
Of waiting until the rains stopped,
It has taken two days’ travel
To lose sight of Jerusalem.

Adara, seven months heavy, claims
To smell their incense fires still,
To taste the rank smoke of burnt ram.
Hana spits so often at the mention of Ezra
That she squats panting in the dust
Like a heat-struck ewe, her eyes
Locked on a face no one can see.

That first night some of us
Buried our idols in fear in shame.
Others pillaged the camp,
Seeking out Astarte dolls
And fertility stones, late
To please the Nameless One.

“Fools,” Hana said,
“As if that will bring him back.”
No one is certain if she meant
A husband or a god.

I sit with the old ones,
With jaws like potshards,
Set against some loss too bitter to speak.
One remembers her young bride-self
Shaking ankle chains at her Levite and
How his eyes glowed at the dances
She learned for the goddess.

At nightfall it is my turn for watch,
And I settle near the edge of camp and listen.
On one side the penitent ones
Have gathered for worship, keening
And clumsy at their sacrifices, having
Never been taught by their priest-husbands
What happens behind the temple curtains.

On the other side, some women have started
To dance and chant, and make cakes for
The Queen of Heaven.

On both sides, the crying of children.

As for me, I will hide here on this rise,
Wrap myself against the night air,
With my back to Jerusalem,
Watching the women’s camp for
Any movement, any sign of
A god that sees.

The Best of It / Kay Ryan

However carved up
or pared down we get,
we keep on making
the best of it as though
it doesn't matter that
our acre's down to
a square foot. As
though our garden
could be one bean
and we'd rejoice if
it flourishes, as
though one bean
could nourish us.

To Heal the World - Mat Meditation I (for Charlotte Johnson) / Bob Ambrose

The world is more than we perceive,
in hidden ways, beyond our sight.
Relax now, let it go, just breathe.

Though oceans weep and biomes grieve
and groan beneath our growing might,
this world’s much more than we perceive.

We stretch our bodies to conceive
and kindle minds that yearn for right.
Relax now, let thought go, just breathe.

The sharpened mind is best ensheathed
in harmony, deflecting fight.
Such mind is more than we perceive.

Our healthy minds and bodies weave
a gracious soul that seeks pure light.
Release love, let it grow, just breathe.

This soul transcends what we believe,
to heal the world – its wild delight.
You are much more than you perceive:
Rejoice! Now let it go, just breathe.

Villanelle / Donald Harris

My softness falls so hard upon
I cannot fathom out the deep
It's hard to imagine what has gone

In your company I am most alone
What I have I cannot keep
My softness falls so hard upon

What matters if I feel ill at ease
Like Lear I will refuse to weep
It's hard to imagine what has gone

I grope through darkness toward the light
Discouraged by a way too steep
My softness falls so hard upon

I have some understanding of your pain
What I have sowed I now must reap
It's hard to imagine what has gone

Life is a chocolate ice cream cone
That I have dropped upon the street
My softness falls so hard upon
It's hard to imagine what has gone.