As Above So Below - Issue 8

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Spring 2022 Photo by Wren Miller


Foreword Welcome to Issue 8, The Importance of Words. And it does feel like we live in a time where words and how we use them have never been more important. I feel that poetry is a great antidote to the media’s melodrama and divisions, soothing and inspiring us with beauty and truth. As ever, it has been a joy to read all your work, and I have loved curating this collection. I hope you enjoy reading it. As always, As Above So Below plays out in the formatting and ordering of the poems. If you have more than one poem published, they will be scattered throughout the collection, equidistant from the central poem 13 Ways. Many thanks to everyone who submitted and to all the contributors and also to Wren Miller for the cover photo. Submissions for Issue 9, Finding the Sacred in the Ordinary will open on 21 st March. In the meantime, I hope you stay safe, well and creative! Bethany Rivers


Contents Poem Author Two Poems What we learn in time of pestilence A journal of longing In Profile Two Letters Women’s Poetry Workshop, 610 BCE On Worlds & Words Death by Staff Meeting Ode to my ballpoint pen Acquisitions Hiking, Formerly Known as Hill Walking Path no longer in use Amortize New Words Amusia Forever “Let him speak now...” Voices from the Past Writing shed 13 Ways On selling our dining-table John Macoubrie Nightwalk Words Unhelpful Captions Unheard Taking Names, Giving Numbers Smooth operation Phonaesthetics Pet Name branches loose in the wind of our beds Strong Voice Hegira An Artist’s Death Manuscript Melody The wall I will return to Words I don’t know the how, nor the when


Nina Bogin Wendy Vardaman Sarah L. Dixon Jennie E. Owen Kristin Camitta Zimet Anne Harding Woodworth Issabella Orlando Kersten Christianson Jean Fineberg Michele Mekel Carolyn Martin Rona Fitzgerald Gene Goldfarb Roberta Gould Emma Lee Nikki Fine Kristin Camitta Zimet Peter Mladinic Sarah L. Dixon Nicky Thompson Sarah L. Dixon Peter Mladinic Kristin Camitta Zimet Elizabeth Spencer Spragins Emma Lee Roberta Gould Gene Goldfarb Rona Fitzgerald Carolyn Martin Michele Mekel Bethany Rivers Kersten Christianson Olivia Brookfield Phyliss Merion Shanken Kristin Camitta Zimet Mark J, Mitchell Sarah L. Dixon Steve Griffiths Carme Fuster BIOGRAPHIES

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Two Poems

by Nina Bogin

(Published: The Winter Orchards, Anvil Press)

(For my father) A rock cleaved open. Inside the rock, more rock. And an untouchable darkness. No shadows, no delineations. A refusal of content. Only a logic – black, unquizzical. As sure of itself as a an exclamation point. It needed neither air not light. It simply was. And it didn’t have to announce itself. Everyone recognised it. So no one moved or tried to shape a word. Words with their longing for warmth... We sat still, listening to the soundlessness. Trying to get used to it. To find a name for it. Where did the words go? They slipped inside this green, the green of all presences. Apple trees grow and pear trees, knotting their branches around their secret light. Golden, consoling light! That moves onward... Who will care for us? Who will listen? We stand under the branches where dew forms in the clover. We hold each other’s hands. Each of us separate. Saying together the ritual words. The lullabies.


what we learn in time of pestilence the blackberries mould again before they’re half-eaten everyone needs toilet paper and diapers dirt cheap new washing machines are hard to come by we/she/they have no words assisted living dragged through the dirt my mother struggles toward the bathroom on camera behind her walker, soils herself she can’t help it, but she’s still ashamed

don’t talk dirty eat dirt

I wiped her bottom in January & said I’d be back in March I am no fortune teller hit the dirt she grew up in dust storms, stuffing rags under doors hurry-scurry, dirt-poor, and that’s shameful too don’t air your dirty laundry in public she wants to eat chocolate all day she wants to send hose to her grandmother dirtbag she wants to know why we stole her baby she wants to know when the kids are coming she wants to know where my father is treated like dirt she wants to know the time/the day/the month/the year my family doesn’t know how to communicate dig up dirt when my mother said dirty she meant

Wendy Vardama

(Previously published by poem-a-day) 5

A journal of longing I found this leather book. A4 and penned as neatly as the first line of a new diary. Each word, considered and laid down with ink care against creamy pages soft, as only imagined cheeks can be. At least a dozen pages like this. No name. And this person may not have existed. But the not-me hair, the not-me smile and not-me, care-free child-free plans. She is spontaneity and laughter where I am routine and rotas. She is unexpected kisses and frission where I am homemade baking and bath-times. She owned you in these pages and in the hours you spent with the shape of the script of her and the day-dreaming you did between, whether she existed beyond the pages did not matter. Naming her would have made her real and she would have lost some power. There is no date, and, as I say, no name. This longing is timeless and can be tied to anyone you fall for, at a tram-stop, in a supermarket, at work. Maybe the important thing for you is that she is not-me.

Sarah L. Dixon


In Profile Separated by glass, I measured You against your profile photo your height, your age. It was hard to tell much through the distortion, just wide steps and a book tucked under your arm. I watched you heading up the street, run a hand through your hair conscious of my out of date head shot, my lies about smoking, my infant son asleep at home in his bed. Wasn’t I too old for such nonsense? Over drinks, you told me you liked my strap line I smiled, didn’t tell you it was typed on a whim, for lack of anything more interesting to say to potential lovers. ‘‘Bring me Sunshine” but you still do.

Jennie E. Owen


Two Letters Two letters from the girl who loved him first I cherish, in a way he never would, though giving them, he said ironically here was the part of him I’d never have. But reading them again, I know I am within his first love, like a Russian doll, and that her womb, grown wooden, split to bring me to him, vision not so vast as are first visions, but more fragile still and still more gently to be looked upon. And in the way that she and I are one, if one day I break too, another love, more delicate and deep, I know he’ll find growing inside his memory of me, and loving her, my love will love us three.

Kristin Camitta Zimet


Women’s Poetry Workshop, 610 BCE Every eve of a full moon, the women met upstairs in the gynaikon of famous poet Desma. One night, young lovely Sappho arrived. Her poetry had caught the attention of Malamati, whose own poetry was only tolerated among the group. Each woman recited a poem, and there followed high encomium, perhaps slightly less for Malamati. And then it was Sappho’s turn. When she’d finished, the group remained soundless, until Zephyra pointed out faulty logic and non-sequiturs, phrases that went nowhere. “Mere fragments,” she ventured. The poem needed “fleshing out,” Nyx muttered under her dark breath, and several laughed knowingly because Nyx usually insisted on “tightening up” and deleting the first stanza. Desma turned to Sappho, and in a sugary voice vowed to the young poet that she had a lot of work to do or she would never be as widely recited as, say, Anthousa the Lily, Nyx, or even Malamati. “Your meter works, perhaps, but you must finish your lines, your thoughts, find the perfect closure.” And Sappho wept right there in front of all the famous women.

Anne Harding Woodworth


On Worlds and Words I think if you pulled back the first layer of my skin, the one before the raw pinky newness, you would find that I am filled with words. Not an even blanket of them cloaking my outsides from in, my insides from out but a fluctuating mantle of distilled characters and verbs that swells and recedes like waves in the tide. I feel them coming before I know what they are. The words like feathers that itch beneath the skin until a moment like a pinprick comes along, one that doesn’t necessarily hurt, but punctures. And through that tiny aperture something can emerge: some bile from beneath my brain where thoughts collected but never spilled; the blood I sometimes feel moving through every channel and artery, through every carved up wound; the build up of some substance inside that I can’t quite name. Or maybe I am wrong. Maybe not the self-generated substance I think it is so much as the residue of the outside world that enters my orifices, my skin (the thinnest membrane), through my porous heart. Maybe being a writer just means expelling in words the world which enters without your permission: subtly shaped by its time living inside you, wrapped in stray strands of DNA, tinged with the tint of subjective experience. I don’t know how plausible this theory is. I do know this process of taking in in in and reeling to let it out out out is necessary to my survival: primal and primary; monstrous and marvellous; so violent, so vital, so violating.

Issabella Orlando


Death by Staff Meeting The tea mug is empty, cold dregs line the rim, my unfocused eye attempts to read words in lingering leaves, not the acronyms circling my headspace, plunking into the metal walls of an empty kettle. As per, no agenda. A rambling list of talking points better conveyed electronically than in the dark of morning before young people fill classrooms, divine the goodness of the day.

Kersten Christianson


Ode to my ballpoint pen You willingly accept my loving grip by hand or mouth or perched behind an ear, or pocketed with your convenient clip. Why must you, though, so often disappear? There have been many others, I’ll admit – a piece of chalk, a felt-tipped pen or pencil. Though you and I are such a perfect fit, I wish your spring were not so temperamental. Your plastic skin, resistant to abuse, an object d’art for such a lowly price. Compliantly, you offer of your juice, although it’s leaked or stuttered once or twice. I’ll mourn you when your lifeblood starts to thin but find my consolation with your twin.

Jean Fineberg


Acquisitions Barefoot, I pad down the hall, careful to avoid floorboards that complain in their dotage. I stand, unnoticed, to the side of your office door, shielded by ornate woodwork painted white— time and again. You lean into the computer, thick fingers typing sporadically— half-rimmed glasses slid down the bridge of your nose, beads of sweat poised above your lip. Strewn with books and papers, that wooden desk, old as the house, swallows your stout frame. “A statement piece,” you said when I’d asked about it months ago. The furniture and I have much in common.

Michele Mekel


Path no longer in use (Gartnavel Hospital 1 June 2021) I was pleased the sign didn’t say forbidden – the slant was just right for my pavement burnt feet. The wood, splintered after neglect and rain, can be avoided. Life is still here, finding new ways to bloom. On the edge of bruised rocks, garrulous green shoots, soft primroses. So, I’m not transgressing, just testing possibilities. It feels right in this time, this year, to wander on a fractured slant mapping a pattern of uncertainty into my brain.

Rona Fitzgerald


Hiking, Formerly Known as Hill Walking (Tilden Park, California) Walking hills is leisure. Poppies spill through lupine and your eyes pleasure in Shar-pei wrinkles lying golden thick. A coddiwomple deserving a walking stick. But slip off one syllable like a heel-holed sock and the trek becomes misery: backpacks, boots, supplies to stretch for miles, an ending with the blistered boast you hiked.

Carolyn Martin (First published in Word Fountain)


Amortize Why do I never see this word used in a poem? Banned it seems to the exactitude of finance like the Norman French and Latin of lawyers threading their way through the courts and conference rooms. But why does this most educated sector of society insist on using language 500 years old? I am asked. Oh, that I can answer: Because we lawyers can’t see around corners, and the rest is commentary. So let me amortize my frustration over a few hours of sleep, then wake and my mouth now round and loving pour forth flowers and birdsong.

Gene Goldfarb


New Words A new word is hard to bear though it simply is the name of a stone unknown food from another country or part of town This resistance is the start of war and begins with Yes-No Love-hate The dialog truncated in debate A new word! Whether it crouches by the wall where the current war ended and is clouded in repeat or robust enough it begin again paradise sought blossoming trees and every animal with an undisputed name

Roberta Gould


Amusia Next door’s radio, she sings along loudly. Absence of resonance means she's out of tune. I don’t know how to modify her pitch. An X-Factor contestant is called tone deaf, but the cause more likely to be lack of training, nerves, poor pitch memory, picking a favourite song in the wrong key, lack of discipline, breathing too quickly. I answer the phone, my ear transmits the voice to my brain's audio store. It will never make a match. I listen for a word choice, catchphrase, that identifies the speaker. If my husband ever changed the rhythm when he'd said "It's me," I wouldn’t know him.

Emma Lee


Forever Different people mean different things when they say ‘forever’. ‘I’ve been going there forever’ might mean since birth or it might mean since last year. So when you find someone with whom you can see yourself spending your forever, make sure their forever will last at least until stars burn out, laws of physics end and atoms are freed into the vastness of eternity.

Nikki Fine


“Let him speak now . . .” Any impediments? See those rings that sink into the cutwork lace pillow the best man brings, nursing them down the aisle, premature twins whose suck we count by teaspoons? They will hug one finger each. She is already wed to the white ring of her own horizon, he to his, though now he parts the gauze, leans forward, and his image leaps in her eyes’ circle, flame struck tall by gust; even I, chilled taper, feel the stiff wax swim clear. Before them the steep altar steps; behind, a palisade of bodies pressing them, lilies and roses mashed in one bouquet. But there’s a lonely threshold, over which he cannot carry her; nor will flesh join, although his body reaches a little way into her darkness, though she draws him in far as she can. Look at him, belly squeezed in rented cummerbund: shadows creep and prickle on his lately shaven cheek. Look at her, corseted and sheathed: nagging and moodiness begin to crimp her powdered brow. In both, the mystery that transubstantiates hot flesh to dust sounds the recessional. So soon. I rise, saluting, and my eyes run wet as anyone’s. But no one wants to hear the only promise is impermanence. I will forever hold it, my unpeace, while the attendants lunge for the bouquet.

Kristin Camitta Zimet


Voices from the past. Close your eyes and listen. When I leave this house My time isn’t my own, says the bald man. We were going to go to Florida, says the woman in the shade. You can move to Russia, rasps a third voice. I’ve only had three beers, says another, long distance. And from her nursing home corner bed, Proud of you. Their words, now mine, as you have your bits of truth, like black beads, each bead a year, an occasion, the many occasions a necklace. You wear a circle of truth, these voices at odd moments and moments not odd. New Year’s Eve, the living room couch, midnight, hands over my eyes, I hear them, my parents who died last year.

Peter Mladinic


Writing shed For my 40th I wanted to travel until you told me ‘It depends where it is!’ We had been to Relate. You wouldn’t talk outside that room. So, I decided I would make myself a getaway in our garden. You complained about how much space it would take up. I ditched my idea of leaded doors propped open by shoes, bird song and a breeze on summer days. A heater and fairy-lights in winter. A plush craft corner of silks, fabric, Patches covered in practice stitches improving each time. This would have been a place of focus. A place where I could bring myself back from work, childcare, funding bids. You doubted how much I would use it. Flinched at the price. Instead, two weeks before my 40th I told you I had had enough. Now I have a house of my own. Well, with the negotiation of space taken from my ten-year old son. Oh and I built a book fort. A temporary place where the books hem me happily in. Moon lamp and fairy-light lit. The walls talk to me in fonts and colours about what I could read, write, imagine.

Sarah L. Dixon


13 Ways I am voiceless. You are ventriloquist. I learned to speak behind the hand clamped over my mouth. Silence always waits at the edge of sound. I bite your tongue just to hear you scream. If you untangle spaces they hold every word. I shout nothing so loudly my throat bleeds. A monotone pierces skin. I breathe your name into the dark, can you hear? If we listen a feather falls louder than a pin. There is you and me and the silence between. Our voices collide like bubbles. When they pop we hear the unspoken.


A blackbird’s echo shapes this awful distance. Just hush.

Nicky Thompson


On selling our dining-table The surface was etched with shopping-list writing practice, charcoal rubbing gave up secrets: bred, chcen, joooce. The top was marked by PVA, gouged by eagerly wielded 'safety' scissors, sellotape on every corner, as if it was that and not screws that held the table together. Stained by poster paints labelled 'washable'. This wood tells of paper painted turquoise, orange, green. Our experiments with primary colours are recorded in its grain. When we flip the table over there are clearer messages. In purple felt-pen: 1, 4, Backwards 7,8 (3 times) You share my love of that eternal loop. In pink chalk: My lov mum! A black wax shadow where you tried to draw away your fear of the hooded-monster, an entity you still believe reached out a claw from under your bed when you were three and touched you. The fading arches of a hopeful four band rainbow. Red and yellow Blue and green.

Sarah L. Dixon


John Macoubrie We waited for the light to turn green. Somebody walked by with a Chow, and he said as a child he was very frightened by a Chow. We were part of the summer night crowd, on one corner a drugstore, across the street on another an ice cream parlor. In its big lit window patrons at a counter, sundaes and floats. He mentioned Washington state, a train, the dog. “I was very frightened.” I didn’t ask “scared shitless?” He didn’t slang or swear. He was distinguished and looked it in his wine-red turtleneck and olive sport coat (even in summer). I recall his dark horn-rimmed glasses, comb-over, long-stemmed pipe hanging from the corner of his mouth. He took it out to recite Valery, and Homer. He was distinguished but, being a dishwasher, didn’t have the paycheck to go with distinguished. He liked meter, end-rhyme, poems by professors on sabbaticals about Greek statues. He knew his stuff, and sounded crochety, looked it too, with his sunken cheeks, thin mouth, the pipe’s bowl in hand as he recited, “It is I, O azure one!” He liked Wilbur, Hecht, the classics. Long ago at a train station a car backfired. A dog leapt and almost bit his face. We were walking away from a bridge, someone was walking a Chow on a leash. I recall the drugstore, the ice cream parlor, John Macoubre, his comb-over and turtleneck, a slim volume of poetry in his hand. I never saw him washing dishes, but I knew that’s what he did.

Peter Mladinic


Nightwalk What I meant to say, what I still mean, slinks behind me, slouches at curbs, pees against walls, noses the alley. Dragged in gutters, catching cracks, those claws click. Wet-jowled, hangbelly, it gnaws on my ankles, chews my heels. In my chest a crate door bangs on hinges. Does it hear? Beat it, go home. I growl, I wheedle. Well into dark we limp, tied together, stoop for fool’s gold, paws stung by galaxies caught in cement. I have only to say the word. Whatever it is.

Kristin Camitta Zimet


Words fingers of a breeze caress the tattered pages— paperbark birches whisper stories rooted deep in letters not yet written

Elizabeth Spencer Spragins


Unhelpful Captions I think of the sea inhaling before the sighed exhale and waves skittering on the beach. The ebb and flow of routine, day slipping into night. A life that needs an event a disruption to his pattern. You circle your hands close together as if warming an imaginary ball of dough and I think, not of the advertised perfume, but of cookies and sharing.

Emma Lee


Unheard The unheard sentence half said phrase fades on tufts of air not frozen on the screen that probe incursion into emptiness but gone to blossom with the dead children caught in yearly wars the victims of our auto wrecks those fallen down a flight of stairs

Roberta Gould


Taking Names, Giving Numbers I was reading a book and fell down a hole surrounded by high weeds, distracted finding myself in an etiquette class, all of us being taught to recite its myriad rules each of us from different starts carousel fashion having joined at odd times, when a thought pulled itself up in my face that all names offend and should be replaced by numbers mother’d be one, father three, liar five, using primes for basic concepts, earth would be seven, food would be four, violating the prime number rule, tax return would be 347A for individual, 347B for partnership and 347C for corporate, death would be 0.

Gene Goldfarb


Smooth operation A routine operation said the surgeon, man. Not for me I should have said- it’s my womb, when did you have a hysterectomy? At 3.a.m. I’m delirious, shouting for help. The sacred heart’s spinning around my room pursued by wild horses. I sit up, alert as a hawk, afraid to sleep. All the fear of my lifetime, in only one night. No more morphine for me. The losses stacked up, leaving Dublin, my spaces and places, my family and friends. My hinterland. I already knew this city would not become home. Initially all went well as the slow inebriation of anaesthetic calmed my fears. ‘You kicked up a bit’, said the surgeon later, ‘resisted’. ‘It went well, I stopped counting after thirty fibroids.’ As he walked away, he added, we took it all nothing could be salvaged.

Rona Fitzgerald


Phonaesthetics* I read somewhere that language experts claim when sense is pushed aside, the most ear-pleasing English sounds slide through the words cellar door. Not through the charm of velvet/epiphany/ lithe/purple/serendipity/ cinnamon/soliloquy, but through the scraped-up entry to the stale dark space where my mother scrubbed our clothes and I escaped up-stair storms. Cellar door, celadore, seladore – chant these words out loud and I’m strolling on Assisi cobblestones while Cimabue’s frescoes peel. Or flying to the Vegas strip where gondoliers row arias beneath a painted sky. Or settling down in Vinnie’s Bar with friends and pizza pie. So much for sense when sounds annihilate cinder blocks, concrete floors, dank memories. Three notes – smooth and pure – soar like kisses from my fingertips toward the cobbled sky. Cellar door. Ché bella, cellar door.

Carolyn Martin (First published in Cross Review)

*The study of the euphony and cacophony of words without regard for semantics.


Pet Name A word with the power of kryptonite: a combination of letters able to cripple the will, melt the soul, stop the heart. Harmlessly, it is uttered by all. But he chose it carefully for its purity, commonality, banality. He brandishes it: his secret weapon. Only he knows the power of intention, intonation, invocation. He wields it like a fist. In the forge of ardor, he cast it— honing, hardening, hammering. Calibrating the hilt for his grip alone, he commands the cognomen as he does his opponent, his victim, his lover. Shattering my heart, shackling my soul, stealing my power, he calls me: Angel

Michele Mekel


branches loose in the wind of our beds (After Naomi Shahib Nye) internal gales blast your arms wide splay your legs uneven memories like twigs snap and fall from your fingers your spirit tossed and turned like broken eggshells plastic bags caught in the branches of your mind thoughts trapped in spinning suffocation your body is hawthorn wired and twisted wind-struck in child-time as if this is forever your adult self is lost the one who knows dawn comes that storms blow out hold on – to the edge of the bed the crumpled sheets fingers grasp for Big Ted’s silky paw of childhood from the time before the rift


bring to mind a homeful voice to talk you down deeply timbred rooted tones: dear one, I am here

Bethany Rivers


Strong Voice Raven in bold oils: Verdigris, eggplant staged against a skydrop shimmering gold of autumn birch leaves, of earlier resting sun. In boldness, shadow, the bird's eye flickers curiosity and I hear its krockkraw roll across my tongue, fashion words.

Kersten Christianson


Hegira* I can answer words that wound like knives, filling the air with ice; even if stung, I need only lie low, hug the walls, muster my replies. Compared to yours, my slights are small. You were exiled from home; the world watched as you trekked through deserts of shale, and black mountains glowered; your futures unknown, carrying your lives in sacks, running from tyranny with no way back. I was drenched in sun, and roses were dressed in velvet pink, a last fling at Summer's end; I laughed, ate plenty and drank, not fearing to wear what I chose, or say what I think. You had no voice, no words, yet I was blessed You had no words.

Olivia Brookfield *Hegira – Arabic word meaning exodus from persecution - pronounced 'Hujra'.


An Artist’s Death Sometimes I want to make babies so badly I write poems and drive my car at the same time. The light turns green and I’m still writing, afraid I might forget before the next traffic stop. Is there any better way to die? With each birth, a little bit of me dies.

Phyliss Merion Shanken


Manuscript Writing GET WELL, my son bends over his crayon like a monk, scribing his way of praying. This sacred text must carry no erasure, if his hope is to be living truth. These red-blue letters go to bear witness in a far hospital that is a tent, where they won’t blow out, not birthday candle words, dark in the breath of wishing. His W stands guard; it stretches arms warding in two directions, while his G, with S and O in SOON, must slide back from the top of rocks someone might slip from, smashed for keeps. E presses straight ahead, right to the point. Ls of WELL stand stiff in parallel, a fence with footers, letting nobody under or between. For a final sign he does his name. Amen. His father in the desert will unfold it, like a pass to a forgotten life, will feel love dance in pictures round the capitals, keeping him whole, illuminated, bound.

Kristin Camitta Zimet


Melody My dream is cluttered with scraps of language— Small, strangely baited traps that seduce me with gaps Between vowels and accents, playing games that train the ear to pray as sleep melts into day.

Mark J. Mitchell


The wall I will return to is overhung by beeches, knee-high with hulls when the valley is wild and they wash up as part of a tidal forest floor. The space for the stone is tip-toe high and I don’t want it to be found. It is a message for my future self from this place of restriction. Words from a library book I borrowed 20 years ago. I have forgotten the title and the author but remember the orange hardback cover. Three words remain. Written on stone, by stone. ‘Countless adventures follow.’

Sarah L. Dixon


Words Don’t get me wrong, some of my best friends are words, especially my own. There are more of them about than there used to be: they stick to your face and drop to the ground with odd numbers of legs protesting at the air. They don’t string together on the page and stay there: like birds on the wire they abandon you, autumn can come any time. There’s no knowing whither they’ll be bound: perhaps to the forgotten crossroads where an adult’s words manhandled you aside as you tried to describe the thunder. There’s no ceiling to belief in their power: what they say goes before they wither. There is so much hurt in words, there are not enough eyes in the world to flinch from it, those eyes lit up that are looking hungrily for words to do justice to them. The words are greater in number than the maggot or the starling, than the sum of meaning. Friends tell me, sit and listen to what’s there where none penetrate, but they do, 43

through cracks and keyholes and channelled down the wind in the grass where I lie. It’s a wise man who can turn away from them. Even as I look up the clouds are heavy with little ones.

Steve Griffiths (Previously published in Updrafts, from Fair Acre Press)


I don't know the how, nor the when.

by Carme Fuster

It looks like it's empty. Hollow. A place where the emotions have been blocked by a strange external force that turned you into a being without a soul. And I, in the attempt to pretend the most similar indifference, I give myself away. I reveal my difference and my way to be. And then I become an object in which being and soul play no role. It's time to forget, right? Time to stop feeling. To stop feeling you. To stop to have you present. To stop trying to get your attention. It's time to face the truth: the undeniable truth of your heart. And of my place in it. This afternoon has no mean. I've been sucked into exhaustive consumerism and the stress of filling time with things that are, after all, void. It has to mean something. It had to mean something. I have impulsive moments when I would scream my feelings in front of everyone. The most sincere love. But the days of reality have come back. The doubtful feeling of what I really do in this life. Wanting to be useful and not knowing how. Dissatisfaction and fear go hand in hand in my head. I have so much to express. It's never enough. It never ends, and it never begins.


BIOGRAPHIES Nina Bogin: American by birth and French by marriage, lives in the east of France near the Vosges mountains. Her most recent poetry collection is Thousandfold, published by Carcanet in 2019. Her translation of Agota Kristof’s The Illiterate came out from CB editions in 2014.

Olivia Brookfield, in her retirement, finds writing becoming more important than ever for her outpourings in these troublesome times, whilst also realising that there now may be a finite amount of time in which to hone the craft.

Kersten Christianson is an Alaskan Poet, Moon Gazer, Raven Watcher, Northern Trekker, Teacher. Kersten Christianson derives inspiration from wild, wanderings, and road trips. Kersten is the poetry editor of Alaska Women Speak. She authored Curating the House of Nostalgia (Sheila-Na-Gig, 2020).

Sarah L Dixon is based in a Huddersfield (UK) valley. She has had recent acceptances for ‘Spelt’, ‘The Journal’,‘Prole’ and ‘Rialto’. Her books are ‘The sky is cracked’ (Half Moon Press, 2017), ‘Adding wax patterns to Wednesday’ (Three Drops Press, 2018) and ‘Aardvark Wisdom’ (Kazvina Press, 2021). Sarah’s inspiration comes from beer gardens, being by/in water and towpath and moor adventures with her son, Frank (11).

Nikki Fine used to be a teacher but now spends her time writing, singing and running. She has had work published in places such as The Interpreter’s House, Spilling Cocoa over Martin Amis, and Ink, Sweat and Tears. She has also selfpublished a collection of poetry and a novel, both available from Amazon.

Jean Fineberg a saxophonist/composer, with poems published Modern Poets Magazine, Soliloquies Anthology, Vita Brevis, Dove Tails, Uppagus, Literary Yard, The Flagler Review, Riza Press, High Shelf Press, The Fibonacci Review, The Creativity Webzine, Quillkeepers Press, Superpresent Magazine, Lucky Jefferson, Unlost Journal, Kerning, The Jewish Literary Journal , Parliament Literary Journal, Montana Mouthful and Shot Glass Journal. Her chapbook, A Mobius Path, from Finishing Line Press, and her octet JAZZphoria’s new album is at

Rona Fitzgerald ‘s poetry is published in UK, Scottish, Irish and US, in print and online. Highlights include The Stinging Fly, Oxford Poetry and the Blue Nib Magazine. Recent publications include Poetry and Covid, September 2020. Dreich Number 8, Season 2, April 2021, Wee Dreich April 21. Littoral Magazine Candlemas 46

edition, The Brown Envelope Book, 2021, The Arbroath Anthology 2021, Marble Broadsheet September 21, and Fixator press September 21.

Carme Fuster, was born in 1996 in Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain. She is a graduate in Law from the University of the Balearic Islands, and currently resides in Oxford studying a Master's Degree in Human Rights Law at Oxford Brookes University. From an early age, she was attracted to writing, which has become a way to help her express her feelings towards the world today and her day-to-day life.

Gene Goldfarb was born in Germany and later grew up in the USA. He now lives in New York City. He loves reading, writing, travel, and international cuisine. His writing in both poetry and prose has appeared in the very small press.

Roberta Gould Work published widely in journals and anthologies including. Mixed Voices, Green Mountain Review, A Slant of Light. My thirteen books include In Houses With Ladders, Not By Blood Alone, Talk When You Can, Tell the Truth. Web Site :

Steve Griffiths was born in Anglesey, spent his working life in London, and now lives in Ludlow. He has most recently published a pamphlet, Updrafts (Fair Acre Press, 2020), and Weathereye: Selected Poems (2019), self-published, gathered from seven previous collections, all but the first published by Seren and Cinnamon Press. His work has recently appeared in Stand, Planet, Poetry Salzburg, Orbis, and online in Ink Sweat and Tears. His website is

Emma Lee’s publications include “The Significance of a Dress” (Arachne, 2020) and "Ghosts in the Desert" (IDP, 2015). She co-edited “Over Land, Over Sea,” (Five Leaves, 2015), was Reviews Editor for The Blue Nib, reviews for magazines and blogs at FB: Twitter @Emma_Lee1. IG: @emmainleicester.

Carolyn Martin is a lover of gardening and snorkelling, feral cats and backyard birds, writing and photography. Her poems have appeared in more than 135 journals throughout North America, Australia, and the UK. She is the poetry editor of Kosmos Quarterly: journal for global transformation. Find out more at

Michele Mekel wears many hats: bioethicist, educator, poetess, cat herder, and woman. Her work appears in academic and creative publications, and has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac, nominated for Best of the Net, 47

and translated into Cherokee. She is co-principal investigator of Viral Imaginations: COVID-19 (

Peter Mladinic’s most recent book of poems, Knives on a Table, is published by Better Than Starbucks Publications. An animal rights advocate, he lives in Hobbs, New Mexico, in the United States.

Mark J. Mitchell’s latest full-length poetry collection is Roshi, San Francisco (Norfolk Press[MM1] .A novel, The Magic War is available from Loose Leaves Publishing. He studied at Santa Cruz under Raymond Carver and George Hitchcock. His work appeared in several anthologies and hundreds of periodicals. He lives with his wife, Joan Juster, where he made his living pointing out pretty things in San Francisco. Now, like many others, he’s unemployed.

Issabella Orlando is a writer and documentary filmmaker based in the UK, with roots in Canada and Italy. Inspired by the past and always searching to be near the sea, she travels often in search of inspiration bred from being in motion. She believes in creativity, connection, expression and diversity.

Jennie E. Owen’s writing as been widely published online, in literary journals and anthologies including Prole, The Rialto, Wasafiri, Agenda Poetry, Bare Fiction, Iota, Envoi, Tears in the Fence, and Under the Radar. She teaches Creative Writing for The Open University and lives in Lancashire with her husband and three children.

Bethany Rivers was shortlisted for: Overton Poetry Prize (2019); Snowdrop Poetry Competition (2019). Published pamphlets: ‘Off the wall’ from Indigo Dreams; ‘the sea refuses no river’ from Fly on the Wall Press. Victorina Press published ‘Fountain of Creativity: ways to nourish your writing’. She is founding editor of As Above So Below. She received a Pushcart Prize Nomination in 2016. She has been teaching and mentoring writers for over 15 years.

Phyliss Merion Shanken is a retired psychologist, playwright, and creative writing teacher, author of Conversation With Perfect Strangers, plus. two novels. She’s been published in many literary journals. “Eternal Elixir” was nominated for Best of the Net, 2021. Some produced plays: Wise Old Owls, A Trilogy, by Equity Library Theater of NY, Mister Peanut Rides Again! by SJP, Inc, Love N’ Zoom, A Video Chat Play by TTS Virtual Fringe Festival. FB: @phyliss.shanken

Elizabeth Spencer Spragins is a fiber artist, writer, and poet who taught in North Carolina community colleges for more than a decade before returning to her 48

home state of Virginia. Her work has appeared in more than 80 journals and anthologies in ten countries. She is the author of three original poetry collections: Waltzing with Water and With No Bridle for the Breeze (Shanti Arts Publishing) and The Language of Bones (Kelsay Books).

Nicky Thompson lives in Whitstable, near the beach, with her family including two dogs, a cat and a royal python. She loves the beach and the woods, and enjoys time spent in nature. She has been writing most of her life , and has been published in various journals and online.

Wendy Vardaman, is a poet and the author of three poetry collections, her creative practice has focused on editing, prose writing, illustration, printmaking, and design. With Sarah Sadie Busse, she published Verse Wisconsin, created a micropress, co-edited two anthologies, and served as Madison poets laureate from 2012 to 2015. She volunteers for arts and social justice causes as a designer, artist, and editor.

Anne Harding Woodworth’s seventh book of poetry, Trouble, appeared in 2020. She believes there’s no subject that can’t be written about in poetry. A passionate football (soccer) fan and mother of two former professional players, she has written a World Cup poem every four years since 1994. She serves on the Poetry Board of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., where she lives, and on the Board of Governors at the Emily Dickinson Museum, Amherst, Massachusetts.

Kristin Camitta Zimet is the author of Take in My Arms the Dark, a full length collection of poems. She is the long-time editor of The Sow's Ear Poetry Review. Her poetry is in journals and anthologies in five countries.


Articles inside

A journal of longing Sarah L. Dixon article cover image
A journal of longing Sarah L. Dixon
page 6
In Profile Jennie E. Owen article cover image
In Profile Jennie E. Owen
page 7
Two Letters Kristin Camitta Zimet article cover image
Two Letters Kristin Camitta Zimet
page 8
Women’s Poetry Workshop, 610 BCE Anne Harding Woodworth article cover image
Women’s Poetry Workshop, 610 BCE Anne Harding Woodworth
page 9
On Worlds & Words Issabella Orlando article cover image
On Worlds & Words Issabella Orlando
page 10
Ode to my ballpoint pen Jean Fineberg article cover image
Ode to my ballpoint pen Jean Fineberg
page 12
Acquisitions Michele Mekel article cover image
Acquisitions Michele Mekel
page 13
Hiking, Formerly Known as Hill Walking Carolyn Martin article cover image
Hiking, Formerly Known as Hill Walking Carolyn Martin
page 14
Path no longer in use Rona Fitzgerald article cover image
Path no longer in use Rona Fitzgerald
page 15
Amusia Emma Lee article cover image
Amusia Emma Lee
page 18
Forever Nikki Fine article cover image
Forever Nikki Fine
page 19
“Let him speak now...” Kristin Camitta Zimet article cover image
“Let him speak now...” Kristin Camitta Zimet
page 20
Voices from the Past Peter Mladinic article cover image
Voices from the Past Peter Mladinic
page 21
Writing shed Sarah L. Dixon article cover image
Writing shed Sarah L. Dixon
page 22
On sellingour dining-table Sarah L. Dixon article cover image
On sellingour dining-table Sarah L. Dixon
page 25
John Macoubrie Peter Mladinic article cover image
John Macoubrie Peter Mladinic
page 26
Taking Names, Giving Numbers Gene Goldfarb article cover image
Taking Names, Giving Numbers Gene Goldfarb
page 31
Smooth operation Rona Fitzgerald article cover image
Smooth operation Rona Fitzgerald
page 32
Phonaesthetics Carolyn Martin article cover image
Phonaesthetics Carolyn Martin
page 33
Pet Name Michele Mekel article cover image
Pet Name Michele Mekel
page 34
Strong Voice Kersten Christianson article cover image
Strong Voice Kersten Christianson
page 37
Hegira Olivia Brookfield article cover image
Hegira Olivia Brookfield
page 38
Manuscript Kristin Camitta Zimet article cover image
Manuscript Kristin Camitta Zimet
page 40
The wall I will return to Sarah L. Dixon article cover image
The wall I will return to Sarah L. Dixon
page 42
Words Steve Griffiths article cover image
Words Steve Griffiths
pages 43-44
I don’t know the how, nor the when Carme Fuster article cover image
I don’t know the how, nor the when Carme Fuster
page 45
BIOGRAPHIES article cover image
pages 46-49