Ryan Warren lives with his family in the Pacific Northwest. He is a 2016 Best of the Net and Pushcart nominee, and his poetry has previously appeared in numerous journals including California Quarterly, Poetry Daily, Amaryllis, The Scarlet Leaf Review, Wilderness House Literary Review and Firefly Magazine. Check out more facebook.com/RyanWarrenPoetry.
In The Land of Medicine Buddha
—where the dog and I sometimes walk
among the prayer flags flapping
through exhaling redwood groves,
past the stupa rising from thirsty grass,
around tiny stone cairns laden with coin and acorn,
perhaps to turn the prayer wheels that wait
to float merit and wishes
for the peace and enlightenment of all sentient beings
up through the salted light of the Santa Cruz Mountains,
out to the entire universe--
we are asked to please avoid killing any living being,
including mosquitos, while we are here.
What an unexpected relief it is
to be freed of the need to swat at every fly,
and instead be able to simply sit,
watch them circling above the meadow,
aglow in the low evening sun,
from atop a rough stone bench
under the shadowy spread of the black oaks,
in receipt of the warm and mild wind
blowing through me the tattered prayers
of red and green and yellow and blue and white.
Great Breakfasts of My Childhood
My grandfather liked to fry potatoes on Sundays,
peppery and thick with soft onions,
though he knew I did not care for onions,
people didn't seem to ask much then
children's opinion on food preparation.
My grandfather, who lived to pull crisp waffles
from the electric iron, though always soggy
by the time you ate them. Who loved a big stack
of Krusteze pancakes, cooked a little too black,
adorned by cold chunks of margarine and Log Cabin Syrup.
On weekdays, though, it was oatmeal,
thick from the pot, clumps of hardening raisins
softening as they were stirred in
with milk, with little rocks of brown sugar.
Occasionally, Cream of Wheat instead.
My mother rose later, with my brothers,
and breakfast from her was always a surprise--
though she loved toast the best. Cheese toast,
melted cheddar sprinkled with sugar, cinnamon toast,
toast with peanut butter, with honey, with butter and jam,
with a soft boiled egg quivering atop, sprinkled
with salt and pepper. Eggs, eggs so many ways.
Scrambled with hot dogs, with cheese. Poached. Fried,
yolk unbroken, toast to sop up that sunny puddle of delight.
We were a breakfast family, no "Just a cup of coffee for me."
Breakfast—to fortify your day, arm you for school, work,
occasionally, and for feverish stretches at a time, for church.
Different churches, different times. We moved in strange
cycles of devotion. But from breakfast we never wavered.
I've never understood those for whom food is merely fuel.
And I'm sure they've never understood me. How even a bowl
of sugar cereal, dug deep into a cartooned Saturday morning,
Lucky Charms or Captain Crunch or Frosted Flakes
or whatever had been on sale that week, could be a kind of devotion,
a ritual, richer than any of the churches we wove in and out of.
Or sometimes we just had it for dessert.
Don't even get me started on dessert.
Earth Touching Buddha
If I were a Buddhist
it would be sacred, that scene
of seeking Gautama, seated
under the bodhi tree, right hand
draped down over knee,
fingers grazing the awaiting
Earth. But I am not, I merely love
that, the Buddha's answer to the challenge
of Mara, crafty old demon
of distraction, discord, doubt:
"Who gives you the right
to seek peace, to be free
of suffering?" And his answer
is in the fingers, in the union
of skin and Earth. We are turf,
he seemed to say, we are dust
and because of it, our rights
rise from the rooted
soil. The stillness of the earth
can be ours, the Buddha's fingers
said. Or not, there is always a choice.
Which is also why I'm not a Buddhist
because the mind's voice of madness,
every artist's passion play, gives greatness,
too, to the world. Suffering ain't all
bad. Stillness, madness, each
can crack the Earth equally open,
can swallow our doubts, or us, whole.
Or maybe I am a Buddhist.
Maybe I am a Buddha. I could be
so long as I could keep
to the creed of those believers
that I admire most:
Don't worry too much about magic,
about the sacred,
about zero-sum games.
Love stillness or madness
equally. Take which you need,
what makes you better,
what rings true at the time of each test.
And then press the rest,
like small black seeds,
into the uncertain soil.
And then give everything else, too,
back to the permissioning Earth.
There is a small island rock
thrusting up like an angry brown tooth
from the licking Pacific
shadowing the little highway
through which we wind our daily course.
The rock, ever-folding, angled
striations of limestone and basalt
jagged and whitecapped in magnificent guano
obliquely collapsing, by degree back
to the rock-eating sea.
Not far from there
along that same winding of road
and cloudlocked late-summer sky
overlooking the wavewashed shore
a man hung himself this morning.
I did not see him, who returned to fill
his eyes with seawater, at the last
beside the high, roadside gate.
I saw only the police, lingering to take
a statement from the witnessing sea.
It's not always simple to be a lyric poet
on days like this
to trade in two-by-fours of wonder
the rock-eating sea to be the carbon in your bones
the quality of light, your air
when your mood is blackened
by senseless death
cities of suffering
people careening toward
high gates of despair.
You have to find your own path through
or perhaps you cannot see its ending
your own path, no path. Perhaps that's OK.
Or maybe you just drop to your knees
thank the skies, make an offering
or maybe, at least, there's something for you
in a rock, taken apart by waves
molecule by molecule, ever changing
ever folding into the universe.
Each day we all return, a bit more, to the sea.
A Short List of Ten Things I Am Currently Wrong About (Based on Historical Precedent)
How I should part my hair
The trustworthiness of my body
How much technology I require
What I require it for
The death penalty
How much sleep I need
How much quiet
The length of this list
New York City
My importance to the world
How much is enough
That I am now out of ideas
Gary Beck spent most of his life as a theater director. He has 12 published chapbooks and 3 accepted, 11published poetry collections, 5 accepted for publication. He has 3 novels and 2 accepted for publication. 1 short story collection and 1 accepted for publication. He lives in NYC.
When the mind begins to go
fear of forgetting,
loss of function,
possesses our thoughts,
fogs our reason,
the inevitable hulk
the aging body becomes
without a guidance system.
There was little transition
from summer to fall.
One day we were wearing
shorts and t-shirts
and it never really got hot.
Then we brought out
the down jackets
and left them open
to show that we were tough,
but chills and shivers
forced the rush to zippers
and though winter
was still far away,
we already knew
the cold was coming.
Give and Take
serve food for the needy,
then rush to get on line
for the two day wait
to buy the latest smart phone.
More and more children
are beaten, stabbed, shot, killed,
by fathers, brothers, uncles,
Mom’s latest boyfriend,
in Santa Claus,
the tooth fairy.
Revels Will Be Ended
in New York City.
course Manhattan streets,
while the pillars of the hegamon
unnoticed by the shoppers
who cannot see
signs of decay.
Jim Zola has worked in a warehouse, as a security guard, in a bookstore, as a teacher for Deaf children, as a toy designer for Fisher Price, and currently as a children's librarian. Published in many journals through the years, his publications include a chapbook -- The One Hundred Bones of Weather (Blue Pitcher Press) -- and a full length poetry collection -- What Glorious Possibilities (Aldrich Press). He currently lives in Greensboro, NC
Mungo Park Finds a Tuft of Green Moss
in the African Desert
I should have been a farmer,
instead I plant bribes for passage –
an umbrella furled and unfurled,
my prize blue coat with silver buttons.
I marvel at the curiosity
of Moorish women, their corpulent
beauty, feet and fingertips stained
dark saffron. They explore
my shining whiteness, offer
bowls of milk and water.
I should have been a farmer,
instead I harvest the hate
of arrows in Bussa
where they call us Tanakast,
wild beasts, and say the river
starts at the world's end,
then show us the way.
In the back of her uncle’s black continental,
they listen as Ozzie steals home.
Goldfish at the Botanical Gardens
muddy the pond. She moves her hand over
the water. They feed on what isn’t there.
Losing his hearing, he watches mouths as if
words might come out like smoke signals. He nods
and picks an expression. Later he hears the ocean.
One day she forgets the names of her children.
One morning he walks into the empty hall
and finds them standing there in shadows.
That’s when Ozzie breaks for home.
Before the Old Craig Hotel Sank Into the Mohawk
On River Road just before the bridge
crossing water we were afraid to touch
because of General Electric,
because of the factories that made god
knows what, because of the stories we heard.
It was never a functional hotel
in my lifetime. Ruin resurrected,
if a dingy bar is considered restored.
The attraction was they seldom carded.
Legal, we went there just because. Foosball
and quarter beer nights were our hosannas,
faces morphed beautiful in dim light.
Stepping outside into the gravel
parking lot, we were aware of the river
creeping beyond our drunkenness. Some
winter nights, zaftig flakes coated cars
with a crystalline skin. I can still smell
that air now a million years later
after the river has forgotten it all.
A Somewhat Inexact History of Flowers
I could write how I’m amazed
at the yellow of spring’s first
daffodil. But that would be
too exact, untrue. In fact,
it’s just the first I notice,
looking up. It catches my eye,
the bud not yet fully open,
poking through a layer of dead
leaves. And I’m not amazed by it,
but more by the consistency
of things, the plodding
renewals of crabgrass.
Of a yellow flower.
Younger, I might have stomped it,
angry at everything then.
But it would take sixteen steps
to reach the garden’s edge,
and sixteen back again.
My anger’s burrowed
deeper than a seed. Besides,
a neighbor now is out walking
his overweight dog
as he does every day,
and will continue to do
until one of them gives up.
We wave without speaking.
Muscles and brain, as if saying
- I see you, I don’t see you.
Nothing disturbs the berm
as it aspires towards
a grassy knoll, the path
to your misgivings. I pocket them,
touch my freckled hollow, my whiffet.
Here, take a digit, an ounce.
I practice the reverse of no,
of knowing. My cock
points towards the moon.
Things fall off. I pick up
stones from wet morning grass,
wash them in my cheeks.
I speak of love and poetry,
rigmarole and poppycock.
Who is the you of this?
Not the wife I left,
the wide windows
of another man¹s life. I know
you are out there too.
I save my broken teeth
for when we meet,
your dress, bone-buttoned,
scrunched about your hips.
There¹s not much left.
I sit in the grass and count
the birds. I could name them
if it mattered. Sulky whiff,
cat bait, breath of my dark. I wait.
Nothing creeps closer.
Lois Greene Stone, writer and poet, has been syndicated worldwide. Poetry and personal essays have been included in hard & softcover book anthologies. Collections of her personal items/ photos/ memorabilia are in major museums including twelve different divisions of The Smithsonian.
for pretend worms.
Warning: don’t put
anything smaller than
a fist in one’s ears.
altered the significance
of these words.
winter in a glass
Looking at a rectangular table
with donated items to purchase,
I lifted a snow-globe.
Tumbling it, a strange
sensation moved through
my fingers as if a visitation
from my deceased parents
was happening. They’d given
me one with the very same scene.
It had been offered to charity.
I searched the base expecting my
childhood markings to actually
be etched on the wood.
Hongri Yuan, born in China in 1962, is a poet and philosopher interested particularly in creation. Representative works include Platinum City, Gold City, Golden Paradise , Gold Sun and Golden Giant. His poetry has been published in the UK, USA ,India ,New Zealand, Canada and Nigeria.
Returned From The Heaven
When the stone spouted the flames
Divine sword of remote antiquity flew to the vault of heaven
That castle surrounded by dark clouds
Beelzebub of thousand years
Heard the call of death
The dawn is sprouting in the earth
Vengeful gods of justice
Wearing the golden armor
Returned from the heaven riding the dragon float
Future people will no longer romance
Future people body will shine wearing the halo on their head
Future people will come and go by spaceship in space
They will speak a magical language
Creating completely a new world like God
The Era of Diamonds
I am not willing to describe this times
The words will be dyed black
Those who died demons revived again in the earth
Just put on a new mask
Maybe I'm the only one who knows the truth
So I shall not be angry about it
Patiently waiting for the golden horn of gods
Wake the giants of earth up again
I know that the millions of golden sword will write a new epopee, the Era of diamonds
Donal Mahoney, a native of Chicago, lives in St. Louis, Missouri. He has worked as an editor for The Chicago Sun-Times, Loyola University Press and Washington University in St. Louis. His fiction and poetry have appeared in various publications, including The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, The Christian Science Monitor, Commonweal, Guwahatian Magazine (India), The Galway Review (Ireland), Public Republic (Bulgaria), The Osprey Review (Wales), The Istanbul Literary Review (Turkey) and other magazines. Some of his work can be found at http://eyeonlifemag.com/the-poetry-locksmith/donal-mahoney-poet.html#sthash.OSYzpgmQ.dpbs
Alice Bent Over
A gathering of elders
from the local rest home
is out for a walk after dusk
on canes and walkers
admiring roses and lilies
and a pond of rainbow koi
except for Alice trailing
without cane or walker
whose head is bent over
at the neck so she sees
nothing but ants
scurrying around her.
Alice is the letter “L”
upside down forever.
She will never see the sun
light up the sky or the stars
glow in the night or the halo
of moonlight falling around her.
A Widow a Year Now
She’s been a widow
a year now and at times
she still misses him
when she drives past
the steak house where he
would take her to eat
and the theatre where he
would take her to see
plays on opening night
and the jewelry store
where he would buy her
bracelets and earrings
she recently had to sell.
Sam was broke when
he died, nothing in the will
except the house he had
mortgaged again but now
after her frozen TV dinner
she can turn up the volume
on her big-screen TV
loud as she wants without
wearing the hearing aids
she always had to put in
when Sam was alive.
Every night she is happy
the old bastard is dead.
That son of bitch
didn’t leave her a cent.
A Relocation Problem
my wife and I from home
to the last place
we’ll ever live and she
wants to know why
I’m sitting around
not helping to unpack.
So I tell her the problem
which is her problem too
but she keeps unpacking.
I’m not at home, I tell her,
but I’m not here either.
Not to worry, I say.
I’ll let both of us in
when we arrive.
Advice from His Cardiologist
His cardiologist says
Fred's doing well
for a man of 80.
It won't be his heart
that kills him.
But he needs to
Fred goes home
and tells his wife
he needs to exercise more.
She reminds Fred
he can't get out of bed
without her help.
And her back she says
is a wolf howling.
So Fred sits down
and wiggles his toes
n his old recliner
and waits for the day
the hearse pulls up
and takes him away.
They're getting older,
five brothers and sisters,
all with degrees, jobs, families,
nice homes, good lives, happier
than most except when they must
fly to the home of their childhood
and settle their mother's estate.
They gather in the old stucco
none of them is willing to sell.
They drink bourbon and scotch
and tell each other everything again
that happened when they were young,
what made them take planes anywhere
trying to escape and forget.
A few more drinks and they see the bees
swarming the day Mom knocked the hive
out of the willow with her clothesline pole.
They were young, not yet in school,
happy and laughing, clapping but not
understanding why Father was gone,
why he would call but never come home.
All summer they rode tricycles
into each other, yelling and screaming,
ringing the bells on the handlebars,
trying to figure out what had happened.
Another few drinks and they agree
it's time to go out in the yard and look up
in the tree where the hive used to be.
Once again they hear children
yelling and screaming,
riding into each other, ringing bells,
looking everywhere for answers,
not knowing the questions.
In minutes they realize the reunion's over
and there may never be another.
It's time to pack, get on planes, escape
before someone puts a match to the stucco.
The hive's on the ground bouncing
and they're all bees, swarming again.
Keith Burkholder has been published in Creative Juices, Sol Magazine, Trellis Magazine, Foliate Oak Literary Journal, New Delta Review, Poetry Quarterly and Scarlet Leaf Review. He has a bachelor's degree in statistics with a minor in mathematics from SUNY at Buffalo (UB).
Images In A Dream
The thought of his nose bleeding profusely,
Being on the flame over a stove,
These thoughts linger in his mind as he sleeps,
Where do they come from?
He is still asleep,
His mind can't stand these thoughts anymore,
He awakens from the deep sleep,
His forehead is covered in sweat,
He decides to go to the bathroom,
To get a cup for cold water,
He needs to clear his mind,
He gets up and does this task,
The water comes out of the faucet into his cup,
He then drinks the water,
His mind gets cleared now,
The dream he had really wore him out,
He decides to sit at the kitchen table to clear his mind further,
He will try to analyze this dream he had,
He is seated at the kitchen table now,
He goes over the dream in his mind,
They are just a figment of his creative mind,
He finishes drinking the water,
He will go back to bed to rest,
He feels energized after drinking the water,
Will he even experience such a dream again?
Only time will tell,
The mind is a unique mechanism,
This is how it is for him,
Only the future holds an answer about dreams,
In this case, it was unique and only time will tell if any more should happen again,
That is the mystique in life and of the mind as we know it.
Society Obsesses too much about children
Think about this a little,
Children exist too much in society,
Half of all couples are divorced,
Bullying exists in schools,
Suicides have increased due to bullying,
Yet people keep being ignorant about such happenings,
We have too many people in the world,
Natural resources being wasted as well,
Why should people keep reproducing at alarming rates?
Think of the many people being saved,
Having no children at all,
Lack of reproducing for the next one hundred years,
Overpopulation is scary,
Think before having a family,
In the long run you will be saving money and abuse to natural resources,
Take care and be good to others around you,
For goodness is rare and its benefits are everlasting.
If God exists, what does he look like?
Think about this title,
The title of this poem, that is,
What does God look like?
Does he care about us on planet Earth?
I have never seen or spoken to God,
How about you?
We as humans live on planet Earth,
Not an imaginary kingdom in the sky,
Why do we have war and destruction?
Or poverty and crime,
Where is God to rid us of these problems?
Believe what you want,
It is a free world,
Goodness is what counts,
We need more good people,
No religious ones,
Think about it,
Anyone can be religious,
Yet, goodness in our world is lacking greatly,
Tomorrow is a new day,
Think of a better tomorrow,
Stress goodness in our lives,
It is great and it can make the world a better place,
Let the journey for your life continue and try your hand at goodness,
It feels great and it can make someone better,
Take care and carpe diem.
The Sounds around him at night while he sleeps
He is fast asleep,
The voices are around him,
He sleeps and can hear them,
Where are they coming from?
There is no one around him in his bedroom,
He is sleeping alone now,
It is dark outside with a full moon present,
He feels anxious inside,
Will he wake up?
Within in minutes he does,
Sweat pours off of his forehead,
He is up and awake,
There is no one in his bedroom,
Where could the voices have come from?
He takes a few deep breaths,
Then he goes to the kitchen sink,
To get a drink of water,
He needs to clear his mind,
He is now at the kitchen sink,
He gets a glass of water,
He goes to the cabinet to get a glass,
He turns on the faucet,
The water comes out,
He fills his glass with water,
He will then sit down at the kitchen table,
He thinks to himself,
He should be able to sleep again,
This was quite the experience,
He had quite the dream,
He drinks his water,
He will then go back to bed,
Rest is what he needs,
He feels confident again,
What will his future be like?
There is no clear answer to this question,
For the mind is unique,
There is nothing more to think about,
Dreams are dreams and this man will get over it and let his future continue with an open mind,
There is nothing else to add,
Take care, my good man for the mind you have is unique and powerful,
A creative mind is what you have and tomorrow is a new day,
A new day to think and a period of time that will bring a new sense of life as the days come and go, too.
Daginne Aignend is a pseudonym for the Dutch poetess Inge Wesdijk.
She likes hard rock music, photography and fantasy books. She is a vegetarian and spends a lot of time with her animals.
Daginne started to write English poetry five years ago and posted some of her poems on her Facebook page and on her fun project website www.daginne.com
She has been published in some online Poetry Review Magazines with a pending publication at the Contemporary Poet's Group anthology 'Dandelion in a Vase of Roses'.
Just like that
So young and so depressed
Apparently without a reason
A loving family,
a kind, good looking boyfriend
Good grades at school
Beauty and brains
And there is where the problem lies
you can grasp beauty,
Just like that
When something intimate
forcibly is stolen,
the brain can't comprehend
and starts to fool around
into the dark depths of depression
Just like that
let me drown in your eyes
Let me drown
in these dark mysterious pools
a journey through legends,
Your eyes, Ann
that Ireland is
You adorned your soul
with beautiful lies
A sugar coated venom
etching a caustic tattoo
in my wounded heart
Your disdainful derisive smile,
while observing my lacerated agony,
opened my clouded eyes
My scarlet tears blackened
Inking the colors
of your tainted aura
Nancy May has haiku published on Haiku Journal, Three Line Poetry, Poetry Quarterly, Inclement Poetry, Twisted Dreams Magazine, Vox Poetica, Eskimo Pie, Icebox, Dark Pens, Daily Love, Leaves of Ink, The Blue Hour Magazine, Kernels, Mused – The BellaOnline Literary Review, Danse Macabre – An online literary Magazine, High Coupe, A Handful of Stones, Lyrical Passion Poetry E-Zine, UFO Gigolo, 50 Haikus, The Germ, Boston Literary Review, Be Happy Zone, Every Day Poets, Cattails, Ppigpenn, Creatrix Journal, Dead Snakes, M58, The Camel Saloon, SevenbyTwenty, Poems and Poetry, Poet Community, the Plum Tree Tavern, Failed Haiku and VerseWrights. She has reached The Heron’s Nest consideration stage twice and the Chrysanthemum consideration stage once.
at the chapel of rest
of old stories
waits for the train
on the epitaph
of a tsunami
on the hospital ward
for soft kisses
at the shopping mall
I am lucky enough to be able to write and in a way that I truly enjoy and hope that other people get something from it.
After all a writer has to write.
I want to build something
not anything you can own or have
nothing you can eat your dinner off
nothing you can wear and say
How fancy that is.
No I want to build something else
something you can feel
even a blind man will be able to touch it.
So I sit down and I search
I still don't know what it is
or even what it will be
but still I look
and one day I really hope to find it.