Humana Obscura Issue #05 (Fall/Winter 2022)

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A TREE IN THE COLD, BONNIE MATTHEWS BROCK

POETRY Robert René Galván . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Magnolia 8 Melissa Hughes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bigger Than You Know 11 David Brehmer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Climate, Change 12 Gail Peck . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . From the Weeds of Hiroshima 13 Jennifer Harrison . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Seville 14 KB Ballentine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . End of Summer 19 Write Your Name in Water 88 Janis La Couvée . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Senescence 20 Jennifer Phillips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Osprey 23 Rachel Chamberlain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Listen 24 Sienna Taggart . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Finch in a Tree in Late Autumn 25 Winter on the Coast at Dawn 92 Subhaga Crystal Bacon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Guillemot 26 The Nature of Nature 40 Robyn Joy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Crows 29

Matt Rogers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Latitude 61 Erin Covey-Smith . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Coming Frost 62 Maria Berardi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Barometric Pressure Drop 65 Luke Levi . . . . . . . . Haiku 66 Meri Stiles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Autumn 69 Winter 84 Ramesh Dohan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Memory 70

Front Cover: Calm by Buffy Davis Back Cover: Reverie by Amy Aiken Founding Editor-in-Chief BRI BRUCE

FALL/WINTER 2022 ISSUE # 0 5 ISSN: 2693-5864 (Online) ISSN: 2693-5856 (Print)

3FALL/WINTER 2022 ISSUE 5 CONTENTS

Alan Toltzis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Matins 30 Matt Daly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Morning Walk 33 Jeff Burt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mirror III 34 Anna Barker . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Earthed 36 Karen Kilcup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . First Frost 37 Chelsee Morris. . . . . . . . . . The Reeds Gossip About Salmon Migration 39 Michelle Ortega . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Raindrop Becomes the River 43 Merril D. Smith . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Late September 44 Peter Taylor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Persimmon Moon 45 Joon Song . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Autumn Poem No. 3 51 Cheryl Hyde Lewis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Arboreal Elegy 52 Ivy Raff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Hurricane Season 57 Louise Cary Barden . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Under a Changing Sky 58

©2022 Humana Obscura, an imprint of Bri Bruce Productions. All Rights Reserved. All rights to all original artwork, photography, and written works belongs to the respective owners as stated in the attributions. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system or transmitted in any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and publisher.

Humana Obscura’s mission is to publish and promote the best nature-focused work of today’s voices and talents, seeking work that is unexpected, real, evocative, yet subtle, with strong imagery and sense of place.

Colette McHale Wisnewski . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Vernacular 71 Tiffany Liz Mackay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Haiku 72

ABOUT HUMANA OBSCURA Humana Obscura is an independent literary magazine that seeks to publish the best of new, emerging, and established writers and artists in what we like to call the “nature space.” As our name moderncreativerevivenothumanshorthuman”—wesuggests—”obscuredfocusonpoetry,prose,andartwheretheelementisconcealedbutentirelyabsent,aimingtothegenreofnature-centricworkintoday’sworld.

Jacqui Somen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . That Which You Desire 75 Eric Pankey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Misty Fjords 76 Robert Fanning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . jökull // glacier 77 Joshua St. Claire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Haiku 80 Carole Greenfield . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Daylight’s Savings 83 Leslie Kobylinski . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Blue Hour 87 John L. Smith . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ocean 91 Tiffany Tuchek . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Haiku 97 Kateri Kosek . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . How to Survive Winter 99 M. R. Defibaugh . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tan-Renga 101 Christina Chin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tan-Renga 101 Nicholas Olah . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Survival 102 Ellen Rowland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . What Branches Hold 105 Navila Nahid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Turning to Earth 106 PROSE Jolie Kaytes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Kindling 16 Katherine Harnisch. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Harvest Rumination 48 ART Buffy Davis Calm FRONT COVER Sandstorm 60 Bonnie Matthews Brock . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Tree in the Cold 2 Stepping Stones 38 Elizabeth Barlow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Vita’s Magnolia 9 Amy Aiken . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Emergence 10 Protection 15 Vitality 68 Reverie BACK COVER Margaret Lloyd . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Red Winter 17 These Earthly Valleys 85 Tea Gerbeza . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . What Was Left of the Sun / flowers VI 18 Danielle Petti . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Above the Anthropocene 21

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The publication’s intention is to inspire readers and enrich their lives while providing an inclusive space for elevating the voices and creative work of its contributors.

Founded in 2020, Humana Obscura is published online and in print twice yearly, and features work by artists and writers from around the world.

INQUIRIES

Lexy

81 David

Maureen Bennett . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Winds III 22 Fallen Cedar Snowstorm 86 Susanna Herrmann . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Water I 27 Sara Harley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Memories 28 Ripple Effect 42 David A. Goodrum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Please Hatch 31 Jess Cherofsky . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Feather Dance 32 SJ Hunt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dark Waters 35 Kimber DeVaney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Fragments 41 Jasmin Javon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Shadow Work 49 Intangible 94 Najib Joe Hakim . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Wayside 49 Yellow Gingko Leaves 67 Winter Moon Setting 100 Rose-Marie Keller-Flaig. . . . . . . . . . . . . Mr. Autumn Meets Ms. Spring 50 The Dream of Flying 63 Melanie Schoeniger . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . JILIN 53 MITAKA 103 Nkem Chukwumerije. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dancing Trees 54 Linda Briskin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Alta Verse II 56 Joelle Deyo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Autumn Cloudscape 59 Bryan Stewart . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Young’s Point Morning 64 Gulf of St. Lawrence 89 Alari . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . September Stars 73 Borchert . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mountains Hobson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (IX) Doyle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Breaking Through in Stasis Mosher . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Snow

Vian

Humana Obscura accepts poetry, prose and short fiction, and art. Submissions are considered on a rolling basis and can be sent through the publication’s online submission manager www.humanaobscura.com/submit.at For questions regarding submissions, or for general inquiries, please editor@humanaobscura.comcontact: CONNECT Twitter: Instagram:@humanaobscura@humanaobscura

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Fire and Water 82 Haris Malekos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Shores 90 Katie Mollon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sunset Over Lake Huron 93 Kerstin Voigt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (De)lightful Opportunity 96 Rick Bogacz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . First Snowfall, High Park 99 Jean Ayotte . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Winter Night in the Forest 104 Jill Boyles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Winter Prairie Sunbathing With Friends 107 SUBSCRIBE Subscribe to Humana Obscura online www.humanaobscura.comat

SUBMISSIONS

Whakaraupo

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FEATURED ARTIST AMY

Buffy Davis sees life through the lens of her camera. Davis explores the alternative photography processes from the historic process of cyanotype from 1842 where the developed photograph turns a cyan blue, intentional camera movement photography, where the image looks like an abstract painting, glitch/ deconstructing photography, and using interesting color hues to give her photography an other worldly look. Davis is drawn to landscapes and botanicals from her travels focusing on the contrast and imperfections that she views. Davis resides in the San Francisco East Bay with her husband and two dog children.

Sienna Taggart graduated with a BA in Creative Writing and English with the desire to dedicate her life to working with the written word. Her writing centers on the observations of nature and has appeared in Dundee University Review of the Arts (DURA), The Ekphrastic Review, Blue Bottle Journal, and Humana Obscura Taggart lives in the hot desert that is El Paso, Texas, with her family and animals.

featured contributors

AIKEN Amy Aiken works as a Research Economist and is a self-taught photographer. She especially loves finding beauty in ordinary places that often go unnoticed. The complexity and connectedness of life delights her, and her art is an attempt to explore and communicate some of that wonder. She was born and raised in Texas and now lives in South Carolina with her husband and daughter.

COVER ARTIST BUFFY DAVIS

FEATURED POET

SIENNA TAGGART

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BRI BRUCE (B. L. Bruce) is an award-winning poet and Pushcart Prize nominee living and writing along California’s Central Coast. Her work has appeared most recently in The Remnant Archive, Emerge Literary Journal, Le Merle, Visitant, Blood Moon, Feral, and The Lakeshore Review, with haiku in the American Haiku Society’s Frogpond Journal, Akitsu Quarterly, hedgerow, Wales Haiku Journal, Plum Tree Tavern, Cold Moon Journal, and others. Bruce is the author of four books, The Weight of Snow, 28 Days of Solitude, The Starling’s Song, and Measures. Connect with her on Instagram @thepoesis and on Twitter @the_poesis.

REVERIE, AMY

ON THE BACK COVER INSIDE THE FRONT COVER ABOUT THE EDITOR

BONNIE MATTHEWS BROCK is a Florida-based photographer, as well a school psychologist. She enjoys capturing raw, single-capture photos of a wide variety of subjects and learning and experimenting with shooting techniques such as long-exposure and intentional camera movement, as well as with editing methods. You can find her images on the covers of publications such as Ibbetson Street, Poesy Magazine, and Wild Roof Journal, and on the pages of Oddball Magazine, Beyond Words Literary Magazine, Ember Chasm Review, Beaver Magazine, and Unstamatic. Her works are archived at institutions such as Poets House NYC, Brown University, University of Buffalo, and Harvard University. Find more of her images at Instagram @bonniematthewsbrock. AIKEN A TREE IN THE COLD, BONNIE MATTHEWS BROCK

MAGNOLIA

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ROBERT RENÉ GALVÁN, born in San Antonio, resides in New York City where he works as a professional musician and poet. His previous collections of poems are Meteors, Undesirable: Race and Remembrance, The Shadow of Time, and Standing Stones. His work has been nominated for Best of Web 2020 and twice for the Pushcart Prize for 2020. His poem “Awakening” was featured in the author’s voice on NPR as part of National Poetry Month in the spring of 2021. A young woman uproots a sapling, binds its feet, carries it to a cottage by the becauseseashe could not bear to leave it behind, chanced its insurvivalthesandy soil. Now it sprawls above the house where she tends a greetitsgarden,blossomsthesame sun; lavender jewels will come and go even after we are gone.

ROBERT RENÉ GALVÁN Long before the bee, the stewardship of beetles drawn by the seductive scent of sepals like a wind-borne song, that the bulbous fruit wept red tears into the future, to the gardens of Asia, the Roman summit and the temperate streets of the New World; we know it was here eons ago, its andleftimpressioninfrozenclay,intopazresins.

Barlow’s technical prowess captures light and shadow by developing the richness, depth, subtlety, and luminosity of her subjects while revealing the spirit and underlying meaning in every object she represents. Residing with her husband in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, Barlow will be exhibiting her work at the Monterey Museum of Art from December 2022 to April 2023. Her work is represented by Andra Norris Gallery in Burlingame, California, and is held in important public and private collections.

ELIZABETH BARLOW is a contemporary still life artist who infuses her life-long love of portraiture into every work of art she creates. Her Flora Portraits series examines with reverence the meaning of flowers and their call for us to pause and deeply inhabit the present moment. As universal symbols of beauty, Barlow shows us that flowers are reminders to observe deeply, and that when we do so, we can see into the beautiful mystery that is life, death, and reemergence.

9FALL/WINTER 2022 ISSUE 5 VITA’S MAGNOLIA, ELIZABETH BARLOW Oil on Linen, 12’’ x 12’’

10 humana obscura EMERGENCE, AMY AIKEN

11FALL/WINTER 2022 ISSUE 5 BIGGER THAN YOU KNOW MELISSA HUGHES

Bite an apple—three generations in the mouth. Twenty thousand species of shrimp in the ocean, nine thousand birds in the sky. Flowers track our sun, gazing eyeless, all molecules no mind. Don’t talk to me about galaxies and space or colonizing Mars. We are walking on magic and microbes and we don’t understand any of it.

MELISSA HUGHES studies communication and social behavior in birds and crustaceans, with a particular love for song sparrows and snapping shrimp. She writes poetry to explore the more-than-human world in ways that science cannot.

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CLIMATE, CHANGE

DAVID BREHMER

The Earth is not gasping for our help. It is whispering for us to leave.

DAVID BREHMER was born and raised in Wanamingo, Minnesota, and currently lives in Richmond, California, with his wife Nissa, son Jack, and dog Oscar. He wrote and self-published This Has Happened: Words and Images After the Crash. His next collection, Life, Death, Love, and Babies, will be published by Finishing Line Press in 2023. His work has appeared in The MacGuffin, Ginosko Literary Journal, and the 2017 Richmond Poetry Anthology. He writes to prove how much he loves life, despite his words and thoughts.

The cracks in the street outside my house run green, scrub clover and grass emerging with the winter rains. Through gravel, sand, and asphalt all our diesel fuel and steel labor cannot outlast water and time.

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FROM THE WEEDS OF HIROSHIMA

GAIL PECK After photograms by João Penalva,that1997grewthrough asphalt at a factory and were placed on photographic paper exposed to light creating a negative image no eye of the camera no shutter They are ghostsnowyet they are lovely the sawtooth leaves

GAIL PECK holds an M.F.A. from The Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and is the author of nine books of poetry. Her poems have been published in Nimrod, Southern Review, Greensboro Review, Comstock, and elsewhere. Her work has been nominated for Best of the Net and a Pushcart.

14 humana obscura SEVILLE JENNIFER HARRISON

One day you asked if I remembered the oranges in Seville and I looked at you as though you hadn’t spoken for a long time as though we’d been tilling the same earth side by side but not really looking at the sun between us how it rose and fell splendidly— the oranges in Seville were small and round bright orange in the white-washed plazas the trees topiaried for the tourists but fecundbirds stirred in the manicure shaking themselves silver in the fountains returning for thenmoredrying their drenched feathers

JENNIFER HARRISON has published eight poetry collections, with her ninth, Sideshow History, appearing in Australia with Black Pepper Press in 2022.

15FALL/WINTER 2022 ISSUE 5 PROTECTION, AMY AIKEN

Early successional ecosystems are also known for and often perpetuated by “structural and biological legacies,” forms such as fallen logs or buried seeds that initiate or create habitat.

What new love might blossom?

KINDLING

I like to think of early successional ecosystems as holding zones for the yet to come, where the ground gets leeway to reimagine memory, time, and purpose. I like to think of them as places.

• • • Throughout the summer, I walked and carefully scanned these charred and liminal lands. I wallowed amid the exposed, trail-free, untamed tracts, where wafts of balsam, spice, and wood commingled with sugary blooms and crushed leaves. I reveled in the fire’s fertile afterlife, how the dense verdant growth held and released, dissolved and reassembled everything.

I once worked in the Sierra Nevada looking for rare plants. Up steep slopes, under sinewy shrubs, across feathery foliage, between blackened trunks, I trekked. By day’s end I donned the burned and emergent landscape, my clothes a collage of charcoal, dust, seeds, and greens. I searched for a species called Clarkia australis, a lanky forb whose small flashy flower bore pink speckled petals and a purple spray of stamens and anthers. Clarkia’s rare status was linked, in part, to sustained fire suppression; it flourished with the frequent low-grade flames that once swept through the forest. Finding the plant on the plots I surveyed supposedly would affect a forthcoming salvage logging operation. A viable population could mean the remaining snags would be left standing, becoming markers of the recent inferno and roosts for falcons, hawks, eagles, and ravens.

• • • Clarkia australis’s presence in the mountains signals the onset of steady heat, and indeed, the common name for the entire genus is “farewell to spring.” Like other short-lived spring annuals, Clarkias attract pollinators to an area. When the plants die their skeletons nourish the soil, priming it for what’s next, for possibilities. In the rush to remove the debris of disturbance, to hasten transitions, what else do we say farewell to?

• • • In ecology, the lush and flush post-disturbance environment is labelled an “early successional ecosystem.” Known to support intricate food webs and high biodiversity, these seemingly disheveled systems home the survivors, the opportunists, and those creatures that require the unique conditions brought on by disruption; they host the sun-seekers, like Clarkia, who are hampered by the damp and dim of shade.

• • • Akilandeshwari is the Goddess of Always Broken. Perennially fragmented, in flux, her brokenness becomes something other than an end point. What if we accepted brokenness, yielded to the landscape’s fissures and fractures? What if we kindled affection for the space between cracks and allowed the light to eke in?

JOLIE KAYTES

The blatant erasure of abundance upset me; the forest’s ongoing unfolding ignored and my careful work disregarded. The harvest also made me curious.

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• • •

On the freshly blazed terrain I traversed, Clarkia australis thrived, magenta gems stippling the hillsides. I counted, mapped, and flagged the delicate specimens. I listed all the other vegetation I could see. Daily, I made management recommendations to protect these plants.

• • • Months later, after the field season ended, I heard the timber harvest still happened, the earth scraped, cleared, re-planted; the Clarkia harmed, the forest simplified, commodified, and landscape interrupted.

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Ideas for this essay evolved during a residency at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest and were also informed by the article “The forgotten stage of forest succession: early-successional ecosystems on forest sites,” by Mark Swanson, Frederick Swanson, Jerry Franklin et al.

JOLIE KAYTES is a professor of landscape architecture at Washington State University. Her work explores how landscapes are represented and contemplates the importance of place. She is an NEH grant recipient and her writing has appeared in Terrain.org, Weber: the Contemporary West, Split Rock Review, and others. She lives in Moscow, Idaho.

MARGARET LLOYD is a poet and painter. She has held several art exhibitions for her watercolor paintings and works in slate and published painting/poem pairs in journals nationally and internationally. Presently she is focusing on painting in oil. She is motivated to create tension and energy through color contrast and the stroke of palette knife or brush. This results in paintings that, at times, dwell more in the realm of abstraction than realism—never before seen, yet as real and as palpable as anything else.

RED WINTER, MARGARET LLOYD

WHAT WAS LEFT OF THE SUN / FLOWERS VI, TEA GERBEZA

TEA GERBEZA (she/her) is a queer disabled poet and multimedia artist. Most recently, her scanograph, My Father Catches Me Confronting Memory, won an Honourable Mention in Room Magazine’s 2020 Cover Art Contest, and she was a finalist for Palette Poetry’s 2021 Emerging Poet Prize. Gerbeza’s new work appears or is forthcoming in the anthologies Nothing Without Us Too (Renaissance Press), 101 Portraits (SandCrab Books), the Literary Review of Canada, Contemporary Verse 2, and untethered magazine. She is a 2022 Zoeglossia Fellow. Find out more on teagerbeza.com.

’s seventh collection, Edge of the Echo, was released May 2021 with Iris Press. Her earlier books can be found with Blue Light Press, Middle Creek Publishing, and Celtic Cat Publishing. Published in Atlanta Review and Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, among others, her work also appears in anthologies including I Heard a Cardinal Sing (2022), The Strategic Poet (2021), and Pandemic Evolution (2021). Learn more at www.kbballentine.com.

KB BALLENTINE

19FALL/WINTER 2022 ISSUE 5 END OF SUMMER KB BALLENTINE

Rain and rain again, clouds shepherding us to the equinox in damp fashion. We can’t even enjoy the last full moon before autumn hustles in and pinches us with bits of wind. Instead of stardust, tonight lightning barbs the sky, summer tumbling into shadow.

The perfume of roses, hydrangeas, honeysuckleallgone— bee and hummingbird lures dried or drooping. And there’s a holein the evening’s sound without the crickets’ all-night blather.

SENESCENCE

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JANIS LA COUVÉE (she/her) is a writer and poet with a love of wild green spaces. She resides in Campbell River, Vancouver Island, British Columbia on the territory of the Wei Wai Kum, We Wai Kai and Kwiakah First Nations and is dedicated to conservation efforts and exploring the great outdoors. Her poems have been featured by the Van Isle Poetry Collective, pocket lint, WordSpring Society of the Arts, and Human Obscura. Find her at: janislacouvee.com Twitter: @lacouvee Facebook: JanisLaCouveeOnline

JANIS LA COUVÉE

All through the spring and summer vanilla leaf dances on slender stalks waving in the slightest breeze standing at attention along forest paths. Soft green sentinels. Fading now as winter looms, first delaminated by wind and rain until only the finest lacy tracery remains— a wisp of what was, ghost leaf— then suddenly disappearing, absorbed into the mud and muck: senescence.

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DANIELLE PETTI has a BFA from Toronto Metropolitan University and has worked as a freelance photographer for over 10 years. Recently relocated to Ontario after living abroad in Italy, she found a narrower focus and direction for her artwork. She forages for rocks in nature, grinds them down into a paint, and often uses handmade papers to depict concepts inspired by motherhood, human origins, and sustainability. Her work falls within categories of environmental and conceptual art, with some figurative pieces as well, blurring the line between the landscape and the human form. The process of making paint from found materials is important to the overall meaning of her pieces as they draw attention to the materiality of the paint and to how the earth pigments are interconnected to all bodies.

ABOVE THE ANTHROPOCENE, DANIELLE PETTI

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WINDS III, MAUREEN BENNETT

Nature is a constant source of peace and healing.

MAUREEN BENNETT explores the natural world where she lives, which is deeply personal and at the same time universal in the greater context of our global climate crisis. Bennett’s pastel drawings and paintings are inspired by her backyard and woodlands. Her intention is to create beauty and honor nature through light and movement.

JENNIFER PHILLIPS is an immigrant, a gardener, grower of Bonsai, priest, and painter, and has been writing poetry and prose since the age of seven. Phillips grew up in upstate New York and has lived in New England, New Mexico, St. Louis, Rhode Island, and is now back in Massachusetts having graduated from Wellesley College and Andover Newton Theological School. Phillips’ spiritual/metaphysical sense and writing life have always been rooted in landscapes and their infinite changeability.

What seemed a muddle of shadows spreads itself, in perfect form, on air onrisingthe stair of light toward what we cannot see.

23FALL/WINTER 2022 ISSUE 5 OSPREY JENNIFER PHILLIPS Lifting from its sticks the bright flame of the osprey’s body rides on wide, dark wings— and in me, praise, like the hand of a blind woman stretching out to know and to caress the unseen world, declare it good.

24 humana obscura LISTEN RACHEL CHAMBERLAIN

There is a bird that can call to you and you never see it you hear it, but do not recognize it, still, it is trying to tell you something

RACHEL CHAMBERLAIN grew up in the farm fields, the forests, and the rivers of the Midwest and spent a lifetime in Chicago before moving to Seattle. To Chamberlain, the line is both a preservation and freeing of memory—a chance to put simple language to a complex feeling. Chamberlain studied creative writing and poetry at the University of Illinois at Chicago and at Northwestern University. Today, she is with her family in the salty waters of the Pacific Northwest.

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A FINCH IN A TREE IN LATE AUTUMN SIENNA TAGGART sits silently, her feathered chest composed and white against the fire warmth of leaves. I hear the quiet of early morning and watch her grey-brown head tilt, little round eyes dark rubies as she listens to something delicate I cannot hear.

26 humana obscura GUILLEMOT

SUBHAGA CRYSTAL BACON Out on the bobbing waves of the Strait, a black and white guillemot has caught a shiny silver fish. He shakes and shakes it, and in a burst of joy splashes his wings and seems to dance on the water. Then, he skims, barely above the surface, until he’s lost in shadow, toward the island shore. Maybe there’s a nest, a mate, hungry open mouths awaiting just such a gift.

It’s like joy, how hard it is sometimes to catch it up, tiny nourishing thing, carry it with us someplace we can share.

SUBHAGA CRYSTAL BACON’s new book, Transitory, is forthcoming in the fall of 2023 from BOA Editions. She’s the author of two previous collections, Blue Hunger (Methow Press, 2020) and Elegy with a Glass of Whiskey (BOA Editions, 2004). A Queer Elder, she lives, writes, and teaches in rural north-central Washington on unceded Methow land. Her recent work appears or is forthcoming in 45th Parallel, Rogue Agent, The Indianapolis Review, Rise Up Review, ELJ Editions, and The Meadowlark Review

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SUSANNA HERRMANN is a designer and visual artist from Bloomington, Indiana. She studied philosophy at Georgetown University before doing some photography and curation work and pursuing an MFA in studio art at the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture, and Design at Indiana University. Herrmann’s work is based in theories of visual perception and is influenced by space and landscape. Her current work centers experiences of landscapes. Her work has been featured in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Big Bend Literary Magazine, and Sunspot Lit. Her photographs have been exhibited in galleries including at Marshall University, Indiana University, and at the Racecar Factory in Indianapolis. I, SUSANNA HERRMANN

WATER

SARA HARLEY is a photographic artist living on the South Shore of Nova Scotia, Canada. She makes painterly images using her camera, and also creates composited art using her photographic library. Her images range from dark and brooding to light and inspirational with a focus on nature. Harley’s work has been exhibited in many group exhibits, local and abroad, and has hosted many solo exhibits and artist talks. Her images have been published on book covers and in books and magazines.

MEMORIES, SARA HARLEY

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29FALL/WINTER 2022 ISSUE 5 CROWS ROBYN JOY

The first crow calls four times, sounding the alarm for the others. If you listen, the answers are layers deep, softer, then louder, until they return to the origin and float back out again, repeating an endless triangle in that place in the sky where we can’t go.

ROBYN JOY’s first chapbook, Tumbling Through, was published by Budget Press in early 2022. She is the author of the Best Intentions sobriety perzine series and a single-issue dream zine called About Last Night. Her work has been featured in various publications and anthologies. She resides in Vermont with her husband and their genius cat, Thomas. She enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, communing with the natural world and all of its fauna, and her before-sunrise rituals. She also regularly shares first drafts that are often deleted on Instagram: @the_comma_struggle.

ALAN TOLTZIS is the author of Mercy, Nature Lessons, 49 Aspects of Human Emotion, and The Last Commandment. A two-time Pushcart nominee, his poems have appeared in numerous print and online publications including, Hummingbird, Grey Sparrow, The Wax Paper, Black Bough, and Right Hand Pointing. Toltzis serves as an editor for Poetica. Find him online at AlanToltzis.com.

30 humana obscura MATINS ALAN TOLTZIS

With a mind as still as morning, I tolistenmourning doves distill prayer from air, unruffled refrains of likeevaporatingassentdewfrom brush.

PLEASE HATCH, DAVID A. GOODRUM

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DAVID A. GOODRUM is a photographer and writer living in Corvallis, Oregon. His photos are forthcoming or have been published in Cirque, Wild Roof Journal, Ilanot Review, Willows Wept Review, Blue Mesa Review, and other journals. He has showcased his photography at several regional juried art festivals in cities such as St. Louis, Missouri, Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Bloomington and Indianapolis, Indiana, and Madison, Wisconsin. Additional work (both photography and poetry) can be viewed at www.davidgoodrum.com.

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FEATHER DANCE, JESS CHEROFSKY

JESS CHEROFSKY recently graduated with an MS in environmental science. Her work focuses on Indigenous rights and supporting the healing of biocultural relationships. Cherofsky’s creative writing is rooted in ecological relationships, and she began practicing macrophotography after falling in love with mosses. These explorations at the scale of moss invite her into a deeper relationship with the tiny ones who sustain our world. Cherofsky is queer and Ashkenazi Jewish and lives on the ancestral and current homelands of the Onondaga Nation (known also as Central New York State). Join her explorations on Instagram: @mossy.wanders.

MATT DALY is the author of the book-length collection Between Here and Home (Unsolicited Press) and the chapbook Red State (Seven Kitchens Press). He is the recipient of a Neltje Blanchan Award for writing inspired by the natural world and a Creative Writing Fellowship in Poetry from the Wyoming Arts Council. His poems have appeared in various publications. Daly teaches reflective and creative writing in a variety of settings and with a range of audiences. He is the co-founder of WRITE TO THRIVE, a business that brings writing practices to individuals and professional groups to cultivate creativity and wellbeing.

33FALL/WINTER 2022 ISSUE 5 MORNING WALK

MATT DALY One great horned owl roosts on a cottonwood branch. From the ridge north, another owl hoots back. We make what we make: what fails. The thing about lasting is how close we have to come to falling apart. Bark, feather, dawnlight— all call out and answer back.

34 humana obscura MIRROR III JEFF BURT

Reflective water a glaring mirror I try to look into. By my side, your dabbling hands.

JEFF BURT lives in Santa Cruz County, California, with his wife and a July abundance of plums. He has also contributed to Heartwood, Williwaw Journal, Red Wolf Journal, and Rat’s Ass Review. He won the Cold Mountain Review 2017 Poetry Prize.

DARK WATERS, SJ HUNT

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SJ HUNT is an archaeologist, writer, photographer, and seasoned traveler based out of southeast Iowa. Her work focuses on her experiences in backwoods and her relationship with plants. When practicing photography, she uses mediums of both digital and film. Hunt has previously been published in Humana Obscura, and has upcoming publications in Wild Roof Journal and Lyrical Iowa. Connect with her on Instagram @ophelia_framed.

EARTHED

ANNA BARKER

Here, in the almost-dawn a stream murmurs between tall grasses. Here, if you listen, something frail comes to rest— owl flight, frost settling. Here, though weary, the oak eases into its first autumn mist. Here, endures, yet makes no show only asks that you stay, follow the stream’s voice to its end. Here, if you choose, you can be centuries old, the trout stitched to shallows, or the hare who, mist lifting, bolts across the field unafraid, as you once were, too young to feel this cold.

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ANNA BARKER is an award-winning novelist and short story writer. Writing as Anna Ralph, her first novel The Floating Island (Hutchinson, 2007) won a Betty Trask best debut award from the Society of Authors. Her second novel, Before I Knew Him (Hutchinson, 2008), was shortlisted for a Good Housekeeping Good Read award. In June 2022 Iron Press published Rain Hare, Barker’s debut collection of short stories. She holds a PhD from Huddersfield University in Creative Writing (Ecocriticism of the Contemporary Novel).

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FIRST KAREN KILCUP Usually happens here, the statisticians say, when September ends. Predictive models fail this year: the date’s over a month late, a pregnant period, a growing out of season. The garden still bears stout carrots nipped by mice, fat leeks, and rainbow chard, kale, and cabbage sweetened by cold. The nearby river still runs fast and deep, water rushing from sources no one knows.

FROST

KAREN KILCUP is a New Englander with old farming roots, an avid cook, runner, and rock climber who has difficulty resisting the urge for More Garden. A teacher and writer for over forty years, Kilcup is the Elizabeth Rosenthal Excellence Professor of American Literature, Environmental & Sustainability Studies, and Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies at UNC Greensboro. Kilcup’s poetry book The Art of Restoration was awarded the 2021 Winter Goose Poetry Prize.

38 humana obscura STEPPING STONES, BONNIE MATTHEWS BROCK

39FALL/WINTER 2022 ISSUE 5 THE REEDS GOSSIP ABOUT SALMON MIGRATION

they think we’re silent don’t they know there’s conversation in all things? every year, salmon throwing bodies into unyielding tides every year, we roil at them loud and unheard what’s so good about this place anyway? it’s just a stretch of water just a riverbed of broken shells if we could swim from our birthplace instead of living by those who rot at our roots we would never return they fall apart before they lay the young they’ll never meet this one, puckered by lamprey holes that one, scales peeling like silver coins home is where the start is, and the end an anchor, a hook in the jaw, a dying dance of triumph

CHELSEE MORRIS

CHELSEE MORRIS recently graduated from the State University of New York at Oswego with a Biology BA and Creative Writing minor and was the Head Fiction Editor at the Great Lake Review literary magazine for two years. Her writing is strongly influenced by love; for nature, identity, and community.

SUBHAGA CRYSTAL BACON

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Standing in the morning quiet, waves of birdsong rise an octave above the river rushing over its banks flush with snowmelt and recent rain. Everything is moving, it seems to say. Even my body, still here, in early sun spins imperceptibly through space, and equally toward whatever will follow once it seems to stop. But nothing stops. Not the heart, not the blood, eyes, mind— they move on in rot and maggot maw or in flame.

THE NATURE OF NATURE

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FRAGMENTS, KIMBER DEVANEY

KIMBER DEVANEY is a Brooklyn-based photographer and multidisciplinary artist inspired by nature, science, time, and memory; she is interested in the interaction of nature and urban environments and how that translates to our inner spaces. DeVaney’s most recent works are double exposures shot on 35mm film which layer light, texture, and pattern to express emotive spaces. Her work aims to push the limits of visual communication by creating cinematographic portals that interplay with different realms of reality. She enjoys the playful element of surprise and spontaneity that is present in film. Her influences include the artwork of Francesca Woodman, Vivian Maier, and Joseph Cornell, the music of Beach House, walking labyrinths, and the 1930s.

42 humana obscura RIPPLE EFFECT, SARA HARLEY

The river sculpts its bed, tumble-polishes stones, carries branch and leaf, spreads wide and shallow, cradles fish and eel and frog, catches fallen trees, wickedly breaches its bounds after the storm, repents and recedes, receives all it’s given, never questions the slant of the land or the raindrop as it falls.

MICHELLE ORTEGA’s writing has been published at Tweetspeak Poetry, Tiferet Journal, Exit 13, Shrew LitMag, Contemporary Haibun Online, Snapdragon: A Journal of Healing, The Platform Review, Shot Glass Journal, Paterson Literary Review, Rust + Moth, and elsewhere. Her limited edition chapbook, Don’t Ask Why (Seven Kitchens Press), was published in August 2020, and her microchapbook Tissue Memory (Porkbelly Press) was released in February 2022. Her work is featured at: www.michelleortegawrites.com

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A RAINDROP BECOMES THE RIVER MICHELLE ORTEGA

MERRIL D. SMITH

MERRIL D. SMITH writes from southern New Jersey near the Delaware River. Her first full-length collection, River Ghosts, was published by Nightingale and Sparrow Press. Her poetry has been published in Black Bough Poetry, AntiHeroin Chic, The Storms, and others.

44 humana obscura LATE SEPTEMBER

Now the sky is an azure sea where white ships sail to winter harbors, and late afternoon pours gold onto the fields until they glimmer— this light of in-between, it catches the trees who cast off their russet gowns to let their naked limbs glow. At night, the harvest moon floats just above the horizon, it seems almost incandescent, ready to burst. I smell fir and pine, hear only the susurration of the wind and the ghost-rustle of scattering leaves.

PETER TAYLOR attends to inner landscapes in people and in words. Deeply rooted in New York City and woodland, he and his husband now make their home on a Nova Scotia ridge overlooking the North Atlantic. His poems have been selected for publication by Stone Poetry Journal and Amethyst Review

45FALL/WINTER 2022 ISSUE 5 PERSIMMON MOON

PETER TAYLOR Persimmon moon-rise over the north Atlantic— it must mean something. Persimmon moon above this granite coast— it should mean something. But words are finished. Music is missing, empty of sweetness and breath. The moon hoists higher. Persimmon wavelets flicker, dulling to ocher, the cool, steady moon igniting surface waters: below stays dark. But why persimmon? Out west, forests are burning. The moon bears witness.

SHADOW WORK, JASMIN JAVON

JASMIN JAVON is an abstract artist and photographer from Southern California. Photography as a whole has been a love of hers for as long as she can remember. It has been the only thing in her life where she feels completely herself with no reservations. Using common household items like water, oil, food coloring, and dish soap she has been able to create various artistic images from things we use on a daily basis. Javon’s goal is to provoke the minds of those who view her work. She believes that it’s not about what you’re looking at, but what you see that makes art worthwhile. Her hope is to reach as many people as possible with her art, and to open the eyes and minds of anyone who can love and appreciate art for what it is: the essence of a person’s soul.

48 humana obscura RUMINATION HARNISCH

HARVEST

You’ll remember gazing out the open attic window when the sun had fled beneath the horizon, stars scattered across the sky. Watching the farmers in the sugar beet fields, the lights from their machines echoing the stars, keeping vigil under the inky night sky. The feeling of fragile content as you breathed in that crisp autumn air and the lullaby of crickets filled your heart. The moment when the harvest slowed and the earth began to freeze

KATHERINE

KATHERINE HARNISCH is an emerging writer who resides in Burke, Virginia. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from George Mason University in Creative Writing, and her work has appeared in memoryhouse magazine. A book editor by day, when she’s not reading or writing her hobbies include baking and ice skating. over, sugar beets abandoned in the field to the east. The smile on the face of the kind farmer, the way his eyes sparkled as he nodded to you and told you to take as many as you’d like. The way the earth clung to each beet, like it wasn’t yet ready to give up this part of itself.

Old enough to know that you had permission to take them, that those were not stolen beets, a soybean will slip into your mind unannounced.

There will come a time when you are far away from here, far away from these great plains of soybean and sugar beet. What will stay with you is the memory of wading into the soybean field or staring out into the great dark night. The delicate balance between you and the earth. The feelings of regret and sorrow will dissipate until they are nothing more than a ghost of a life once lived. There will come a time when you hear crickets sing outside your window as the night falls and you will visit these fields again, if only in your soul. Is this grief or is it peace?

You’ll remember all of these things, but what you will re member most is slipping into that field of your callous neighbor with the weather-beaten face and taking one of those withered, furry pods in your tiny hand, cracking it open to taste the three beans that lay nestled inside. The hardness of the seeds was a surprise; they tasted like Whatguilt.will stay with you years later is how you felt as you watched the combines raze down every stalk in that field, taming the waves of the once-golden ocean. Believ ing in your bones the one pod you stole will be missed.

You’ll look back, and you’ll remember how small you were when you felt the sun warm your skin as you wad ed out west into that great ocean of soybeans, the harsh song of the grasshoppers growing louder with each step until you were drowning in their notes. How the soybeans looked when they first sprouted, supple and green and full of potential life. Over the summer months they had stretched tall, reaching for the sky as they grew little fuzzy pods you’d once mistaken for caterpillars. How they stopped growing when the grasshoppers no longer sang, how their stalks turned brittle and sallow as if they had nothing left to live for.

There will come a time when you will be far away from here. Far from these fields that stretch over the earth in an endless reach for the horizon.

You’ll remember bringing the beets to your favorite hunt ing spot and scattering them in the grass with the hope that the deer would seek out their sweetness. Looking out over the field surrounded by pines, breathing in the sharp scent of tree and hardening earth, watching liv ing things freezing into place. Your gaze resting first on the boughs of green, then on each of those beets as the snow began to fall, fluttering down to rest on the earth.

Fear and guilt, sorrow and regret. Years after that day, the farmer that harvested the soybeans will abandon farming altogether, and the soybeans will whisper to you again: Remember us and the earth we came from.

WAYSIDE, NAJIB JOE HAKIM

NAJIB JOE HAKIM’s love of photography was congenital. How else would you explain photographing GI Joes at five years old? After running into Ansel Adams (literally!) many years later, he caught the nature photo bug. Like many fellows, Hakim took one photo class and was off to National Geographic with a portfolio but without an appointment. Alas, he never got past the receptionist. That encounter set his photo career back 15 years. Fortunately, he found his way back in 1990. He has since worked as a documentary photographer and a photo instructor. He has steadily gained recognition resulting in a long list of solo and group exhibitions from California to Europe. National Geographic missed its chance. He received the 2020 Rebuilding Alliance Storytellers Award. In 2019, Hakim was an Art Fellow at the Yerba-Buena-Center-for-the-Arts in San Francisco. He is also a past nominee for the US Artist Fellowship.

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MR. AUTUMN MEETS MS. SPRING, ROSE-MARIE KELLER-FLAIG

51FALL/WINTER 2022 ISSUE 5 AUTUMN POEM NO. 3

JOON SONG September suits you. The days are still long but the evenings are cold. All around us there are signs of change—it is in the air and the soil and your heart. The wind is unsettled. You whisper quietly to me and I shudder: I am the leaf holding on and you are the beautiful, deadly autumn.

JOON SONG lives in Los Angeles, where he is a practicing attorney. He has been published in The Berkeley Poetry Review, Softblow, Splinter Literary Journal, and samfiftyfour, and won the Academy of American Poets College Prize at UC Berkeley. He is working on a collection of poetry and on his first novel.

ROSE-MARIE KELLER-FLAIG lives surrounded by nature in southern Germany. While she spent her early life mostly between the covers of books, nature was always present as formative background noise. When she was doing her PhD in materials science, high-resolution images of the structural composition of metals reminded her of sacred glass windows. Back then, she realized that nothing she sees is just an object to her, but always triggers feelings and associations. Visualizing the emotions associated with looking at an object has been her goal ever since. Her particular focus is on the beauty of the ephemeral.

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CHERYL HYDE LEWIS Ghosts litter the land, apparitions of old growth gone, once rafters and roof to the forest floor. Everyday rituals are observed— fern fingers harvesting light one bright chloroplast at a time, their luminescent traces in reclaimed autumn bottomlands. How little summer allows lush riot before winter winds it down. Conflagration of huckleberry leaves in October, thickets of twisted laurel already crystallized frost white. This is the way we make our world the flute languid, its last notes trailing— an ancient pulse diminished.

CHERYL HYDE LEWIS is retired from Ohio University and lives in West Virginia with her dogs Zoe and Rio. Her poetry has appeared in Appalachian Heritage, Astropoetica, Now and Then: The Appalachian Magazine, The Healing Muse, Rock and Sling, Saw Palm, and Weber—The Contemporary West, among others.

ARBOREAL ELEGY

MELANIE SCHOENIGER is a visual artist from Germany. Traveling the world she fell even deeper in love with the beauty of nature fascinated by the abundance of rainforests and coral reefs. With her art she intends to shine a light on the wonder of life. Hoping, like Rachel Carson, that wonder and humility do not exist side by side with a lust for destruction. Schoeniger paints mostly with light and creates photo-based artworks in a wide range. She is a Photolucida Critical Mass 2022 finalist and her art has been awarded by Pollux, IPA, FAPA, Chromatic, JMCameron, and Minimalist, and selected by magazines like Fraction, Art Seen, and Spectaculum, and on view at the Curator’s Salon and at FotoNostrum in Barcelona. Her latest series, Layers of Perception, is a tribute to Joseph Campbell and his masks of god. Plants serve as objects of contemplation, as surface for reflection like in Indra’s net. Check out her work at www.ma-vida.com or on Instagram @_ma_vida.

JILIN, MELANIE SCHOENIGER

DANCING TREES, NKEM CHUKWUMERIJE

NKEM CHUKWUMERIJE lives a nomadic lifestyle as an artist, writer, writing teacher, and healing arts practitioner currently in Mexico. She works with writers from around the world through the wellnessthrough-writing platform she runs (www.wellspringwords.love), and through her writing coaching programs. More of her writing, art, programs, and features can be found on www.bynkem.co. Follow her on Instagram @nkemcam.

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LINDA BRISKIN is a writer and fine art photographer intrigued by the juxtaposition of objects and reflections, the permeability between the remembered and the imagined, and the ambiguities in what we choose to see. She is fascinated by the fluidity between the natural and the constructed, and the authentic and the fabricated. She has a passion for nature and seeks light, texture, lines, shadows, and reflections, images that may last only a breath. Her work is informed by the premise that landscape is invented through our gaze. She exhibits widely and her photographs have been published in many venues. Learn more at https://www.lindabriskinphotography.com.

ALTA VERSE II, LINDA BRISKIN

Heavy November rainfall Dark here save the burnished gray filtering through windows

57FALL/WINTER 2022 ISSUE 5 HURRICANE SEASON

Reflection: color described as what it isn’t, what it negatively is

IVY RAFF

IVY RAFF left a long career in technology and public policy to focus solely on writing. In the last year, several of Raff’s individual poems have been published in literary reviews, and have placed in literary contests. Raff won artist residencies with Atlantic Center for the Arts and Alaska State Parks, and is a current nominee for the Best of the Net Anthology.

LOUISE CARY BARDEN

58 humana obscura UNDER A CHANGING SKY

All winter, those dreary weeks at home, it seems no ray of sun can be allowed through endless days ceilinged with low clouds. Rain’s constant throb goes on against the ground until the summer’s last baked clay has drowned in slippery mud and rain-soaked leaves that crowd against black flowers autumn frost has bowed on stems bent into what seems a frown.

For

LOUISE CARY BARDEN is a lover of wilderness who moved to Oregon after 40 years in North Carolina. She lived in three national parks and taught English at three universities before becoming a marketing-advertising executive and writer. Her poems have appeared in multiple journals and won awards from Calyx, Oregon Poetry Association, the Harperprints Chapbook award, and others. Barden is also the Associate Editor of Timberline Review, Vol.11 Teresa

And yet on days dark enough to cause despair, a sudden break above, a shaft of light spills across the dreary sleeping land and turns it gold, as the once grey air glows incandescent, rainbow hues so bright they could be the reflection of a greater hand.

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AUTUMN CLOUDSCAPE, JOELLE DEYO Acrylic on Canvas

JOELLE DEYO is a professional artist and writer living and working in Los Angeles, California. She is an avid adventurer and has hiked all over the world, from the rainforests of the Caribbean to the Eastern Carpathians of Ukraine and beyond. Her work most often reflects her love of solitude and is deeply inspired by her lifelong affection for wild places and things.

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SANDSTORM, BUFFY DAVIS

Heading southwest, a sudden thunderstorm swallows the sun. A chilly aftershock rustles through the grass, though the earth lies dry and unmoving.

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Circling overhead, a kettle of turkey vultures tracks its next feast. They disappear from view moving east, where the gibbous moon waxes in endless blue sky.

MATT ROGERS is a poet and photographer from Long Beach, California, where he was born and currently resides after spending a few years in the Sacramento Valley. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Open Ceilings, Emerson Review, and Great Lakes Review

LATITUDE MATT ROGERS

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Mind elsewhere, and then only here—the dry straw laying down so quietly, waiting for spring.

And quietly, whispering to the roots beneath to bide their time.

An act of unwitting defiance, tucking in the trees and daring to think of spring.

Spindly apple, two-foot spruce, hydrangea with childish fists punching at the chill:

COMING FROST ERIN COVEY-SMITH

I bed down the young trees in heaps of straw, wool blankets to protect them against the coming frost.

A revelation, laying that straw, to realize that doing so means ensured passage into future blossom.

ERIN COVEY-SMITH holds an MFA in printmaking and book arts from Concordia University and has been pursuing a visual and written artistic practice throughout her career. Her work may be found in multiple anthologies, print, and online journals. Her debut book of poetry, Not-Yet Elegies, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2020. CoveySmith lives in Freeport, Maine.

63FALL/WINTER 2022 ISSUE 5 THE DREAM OF FLYING, ROSE-MARIE KELLER-FLAIG

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YOUNG’S POINT MORNING, BRYAN STEWART

BRYAN STEWART is an emerging artist based in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, whose practice is based on observation and transformation. Using both digital and film photography, Stewart’s wide-ranging subjects are tied together by an overarching curiosity to notice, experiment and share. In his latest work, impressionistic and abstract photography is used as a means of interpretation and expression of the natural world.

moodytheWhollyMelancholy.melancholy,viewoutthewindow:cloudsunfurlinga veil to shroud the hills. More snow. The firs and pines stir and pitch around and refresh themselves; the wind is picking up, a freedom, clear as the cold air moving in. No birds sing.

65FALL/WINTER 2022 ISSUE 5 BAROMETRIC PRESSURE DROP

MARIA BERARDI’s poems have appeared online, in print, in university literary journals, meditation magazines, newspapers, and art galleries. Her first book, Cassandra Gifts, was published in 2013 by Turkey Buzzard Press, and she is working on her second, Pagan, from which this poem is excerpted. She lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. Her process is one of listening for transmissions and trying to catch them on paper before they dissipate: the glimpse, the complicated knowledge. She can be reached at maria-berardi.com.

MARIA BERARDI

LUKE LEVI‘s poems can be found in Humana Obscura, Presence, Akitsu Quarterly, Wales Haiku Journal, Narrative Northeast, and elsewhere. He lives in the Texas Hill Country, and his recent poetry book is So Fragile Are the Beautiful Things. He likes to take macro photographs in his free time. You can find him on Instagram @lukelevipoet and Twitter @LukeLevi6.

66 humana obscura THREE HAIKU LUKE LEVI in cool waves the first winds of autumn passing through cedar hills like fragments of sun yellow leaves float down the green river

as if with love the peach tree lets fall a wrinkled leaf

YELLOW GINGKO LEAVES, NAJIB JOE HAKIM

VITALITY, AMY AIKEN

AUTUMN MERI STILES

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oh, sweet decay, the roaring hue reluctant, then willingly taken in tothatwindintoxicatingserenade—softwilddanceground.

MERI STILES is a professor of social work, a private practice psychotherapist, and self-trained artist. Her art reflects aspects of life and society—nature, impermanence, interdependence, and social justice are frequent foundational themes. Dr. Stiles is artivist and curator for the Social Justice Art Gallery at Daemen University.

70 humana obscura MEMORY

RAMESH DOHAN autumn was the slow undressing of the bytreesmid afternoon the leaves have fallen bare branches like his shoulders when I met him in spring

RAMESH DOHAN lives in the city of Toronto with his partner and an exceptionally perfect dog. When he is not writing in his favorite café, he spends his time reading, hiking and traveling the world. He has also seen his poetry published in several literary journals including Toronto Poetry Magazine, Trouvaille Review, Bosphorous Review of Books, Bengaluru Review, Pinecone Review, and Modern Literature.

COLETTE MCHALE WISNEWSKI lives in rural Illinois where long walks with her dog offer many reflective moments and inspire many poems. She began composing poems as a child in response to her encounters with nature before she learned to write, and writing poetry remains an important part of her spiritual practice. She has a BA in media communications and in pastoral ministry and an MA in theology.

71FALL/WINTER 2022 ISSUE 5 VERNACULAR

COLETTE MCHALE WISNEWSKI Place forms the vernacular of being, the soft swish of grass speaking in short haiku patterning our speech. Even as the bones of trees speak moving limbs as slant marks breaking moonlight into shadowed syllables we understand other beings punctuate our lives— the accent of a hawk wing tipping into the hunt, an exclamation point of white tail deer disappearing into the forest edge. The emerging animal within us insists we find our voice in the flesh of this place, keeping the story alive, speaking its truth here, now, in this particular language. Isn’t this what the Lord God Bird tried to tell us?

LEXY ALARI is a former aspiring opera singer turned photographer and poet. She was born in San Diego, California, and spent her childhood moving all across the southern United States. She studied music and vocal performance at Westmont College in Santa Barbara and Fresno State. She self-published her debut poetry collection Toska: The Ache on Amazon in 2020. When she isn’t living inside her headphones, she resides in California’s Central Valley with her husband and their two daughters, two fluffy black cats, and one golden dog. She also makes a second home on Instagram as @nightlifedeeprose.

tall longevergreens—shadowsstretch over morning frost againsttwilight—the darkening sky a sprinkle of stars

TIFFANY LIZ MACKAY is a haiku and micro poet based in Seattle, Washington. Her poems can be found in Cold Moon Journal, Plum Tree Tavern, Scarlet Dragonfly, Japan Society London Haiku Corner, and various other journals. Having spent her twenties traveling to over twenty countries and territories, she is passionate about sharing snippets from her journey across the globe. Follow her on Twitter @tlmpoetry and Instagram @ tiffanylizmackay.poetry.

72 humana obscura TWO HAIKU TIFFANY LIZ MACKAY

SEPTEMBER STARS, LEXY ALARI

VIAN BORCHERT is an established artist. Borchert has exhibited extensively in exhibitions within the US and internationally and is a graduate and “Notable Alumni” from the Corcoran George Washington University, Washington, DC. Borchert exhibits in museums and key galleries in major cities such as New York City, Los Angeles, and London. Borchert had her artwork exhibited in prestigious venues like Times Square - Broadway Plaza, The SAM Museum, United Nations Lobby Gallery in NYC, and Art Basel Miami Beach. Borchert’s art has been vastly featured in press like MOEVIR Paris Fashion Magazine, ARTPIL, and Vie Magazine. Borchert is an art educator in the DC area. Learn more at www.vianborchert.com on

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SNOW MOUNTAINS, VIAN BORCHERT Acrylic

Canvas

75FALL/WINTER 2022 ISSUE 5 THAT WHICH YOU DESIRE JACQUI SOMEN hovers above the next peak. The valley between is deep and dense, filled with wild things.

JACQUI SOMEN is a freelance writer, nature lover, and movement enthusiast from Boulder, Colorado. Her poetry is an intimate exploration of being human in a natural world.

76 humana obscura MISTY FJORDS ERIC PANKEY

Degrees of impermanence: transient clouds scud above slow geologic movement. Steep cliffs jut up from water. Recorded at intervals, time becomes the subject. The current would have us elsewhere, bivouacked as we are in the present tense.

ERIC PANKEY is the author of many collections of poetry, including The Future Perfect: A Fugue from Tupelo press in August 2022. He teaches in the MFA program at George Mason University where he is the Heritage Chair in writing.

ROBERT

You may not see me now, but when I’m gone, you’ll know me by my work. My icetongue etchings, my ancient face of ash and ages. In sleepless nights I’ve engraved you. Watched you from the bottomless, ice-eyed glass of mirrors. Carved craggy hurtpaths into your jagged rift of a heart. There’s a piece of work. You know my language. It’s a grind, how I move you. I know. How my slow blade whets your peak. What you fear—the thunderous groan and ache of my making—made you. I am ljóðskáld, nationmaker. Look around my country, stranger, as I melt. Stand inside the poem you are.

FANNING

ROBERT FANNING (he/him/his) is the author of four full-length collections, Severance, Our Sudden Museum, American Prophet, and The Seed Thieves, as well as two chapbooks, Sheet Music and Old Bright Wheel. His poems have been published by Poetry, Ploughshares, Shenandoah, Gulf Coast, Waxwing, THRUSH, and many other journals. A Professor of English/Creative Writing at Central Michigan University, he is the Founder/Director of PEN/INSULA, an online resource for Michigan poets, and the Founder/Facilitator of the Wellspring Literary Series, where he lives in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.

77FALL/WINTER 2022 ISSUE 5 JÖKULL // GLACIER

WHAKARAUPO

(IX), DARNIA HOBSON

DARNIA HOBSON is an always illustrator and sometimes graphic designer living near Christchurch, New Zealand. She has an obsessive interest in still life and street photography, preferring in-camera work to post production. She’s a sucker for black/white, loves drawing, the sea, art books, and a kitsch cloudy sunset. Currently (and diplomatically) loving film and digital equally. Presently studying printmaking and drawing, her recent photographic work has been an exploration of the boundaries of “drawing” in the broader sense and has grown to include photography as an integral part of her drawing practice, rather than as a separate entity.

JOSHUA ST. CLARE is an accountant who works as a financial controller in Pennsylvania, USA. He enjoys writing poetry on coffee breaks and after putting the kids to bed. His haiku have been published in tsuri-doro, Wales Haiku Journal, Whiptail, seashores, Akitsu Quarterly, The Heron’s Nest, and Frogpond, among others, and has received nominations for the Pushcart.

80 humana obscura TWO HAIKU JOSHUA ST. CLAIRE

hereinterglacialinmy hands a snowdrop solstice sky on a bare branch the scream of a blue jay

BREAKING THROUGH IN STASIS, CONNOR DOYLE

CONNOR DOYLE is a photographer and filmmaker based in the Chicagoland area. Using a number of analog film formats, Doyle’s work focuses on the idiosyncratic details of daily life in Northern Illinois, specifically his native Wheaton, Illinois. Though often trivial, his subjects capture the formal beauty and potency of these everyday sites, urging his viewers to reflect on the significance of their lived experiences. His work has been published in the High Shelf Press, Hole In The Head Review, Humana Obscura, Parliament Literary Journal, and Burningword Literary Journal. You can visit his website at https://connordoylephotographyfilmmaker.cargo.site/

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FIRE AND WATER, DAVID MOSHER

CAROLE GREENFIELD

DAYLIGHT’S SAVINGS

Light in the sky tinged with trees’ fast-fading gold, wearing off, rubbing thin, last gleams caught in the end of an afternoon, I stand by the window watching, knowing it is one hour later than the clocks say, knowing I will never see your eyes without recalling that first time they shone out at me, unguarded in the swift-edged twilight, the early darkness drawing down.

DAVID MOSHER actively practices his art and continues to hone his skills and vision by studying with professional artists at nationally known educational providers such as Santa Fe Workshops and Maine Media Workshops. He has displayed his work in numerous solo and group exhibits such as Praxis Photo Art Center, PhotoPlace Gallery, Glen Echo Photoworks, Rockville Visarts, and Maryland Federation of Art, Torpedo Art Center, and Kentland Photography Café. Learn more about his work at https://davidmosher1.myportfolio.com/about.

CAROLE GREENFIELD grew up in Colombia and lives in Massachusetts, where she teaches in a public elementary school. Her work can be seen in Sky Island Journal, Glacial Hills Review, Beltway Poetry Quarterly and Sparks of Calliope

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84 humana obscura WINTER MERI STILES

wind snow.starsmountainsingssongsdrop

85FALL/WINTER 2022 ISSUE 5 THESE EARTHLY VALLEYS, MARGARET LLOYD

FALLEN CEDAR SNOWSTORM, MAUREEN BENNETT

LESLIE (SŁAWKA) KOBYLINSKI is a theatre artist and apple pie enthusiast living in the D.C. metro area. She currently serves as artistic director for The Rose Theatre Co., a professional non-profit dedicated to creating vibrant audience experiences alongside new works for the stage. Leslie is owned by a four-year-old Labrador Retriever named LeRoy, who takes her for long walks, and regularly helps her discover where she left her keys.

no sound pierced winter’s bleak retreat cool fire marked the snowy steps erasing the bluetollinghour

87FALL/WINTER 2022 ISSUE 5 BLUE HOUR LESLIE KOBYLINSKI

88 humana obscura WRITE YOUR NAME IN WATER KB BALLENTINE

It was the last visit—now our old excuses will drift and shrivel like layers of snow. How could we know? Windsweep and wild waves echo my thoughts. I almost hear your voice, almost discover where you are then I wake to gray and dark. Rain-slicked asphalt, trees half-shelter, half-shower: silent sirens as we make our way to the graveyard. Magpie crouching on a limb—one for sorrow I need you to know you were on my mind, I need you to know. I need Regret,you.like vinegar, bites my soul. When these clouds creep through, will I notice the blue? And you? Can you still taste the rain on my skin, ocean blurring its salt with mine? Below the tide line, scattered shells and stones, sandpipers calling, searching.

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STEWART

GULF OF ST. LAWRENCE, BRYAN

THE SHORES, HARIS MALEKOS

HARIS MALEKOS is an emerging visual artist, working in Rotterdam. In his work, he often tries to capture a “cinematic” aesthetic, emulating scenes from movies in the forms of photographs. His latest work is more experimental, as he creates images that are more akin to abstract paintings, rather than clear photographs. You can find out more about him and his work at www.haris-malekos.com.

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For Mary Ellen Smith-Wright

JOHN LOUIS SMITH loves writing as much as playing video games. He has been featured in journals such as the North American Review, and has recently obtained a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing at Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

91FALL/WINTER 2022 ISSUE 5 OCEAN JOHN L. SMITH

It is the end of the world. Or, and, it is the beginning of the world.

When you emerge from the marsh at Sandbridge, see suddenly, abruptly, only water past the dunes, hear its steady rhythm smashing shells on the shore, feel the snowlike sand shift under your bare feet, smell and taste odd mixes of salt, wet decay, beach grass, stay a long while, watch tides reach and pull, the sun drop away, cloudless blue mirror turn never-ending black, phantom but for its rhythm, think of what old sailors thought after they crossed the waves and then looked back.

WINTER ON THE COAST AT DAWN SIENNA TAGGART

Wool light— silver streaks through the tree line and tawny spumes of frost spill over cracks and creases of empty tidepools.

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Snow builds as flecks of pale ash on the coast silt, bruising blue as it drifts in intervals over the squally spray only to be drawn under by the green light of the sea.

KATIE MOLLON is an analog enthusiast based in Michigan, USA. After earning a B.A. in photography, she has continued specializing in experimental photography over the last 15 years. Her work often incorporates the Great Lakes as a metaphor for the subconscious. She is passionate about sharing her love of lo-fi cameras, and ways to alter film.

SUNSET OVER LAKE HURON, KATIE MOLLON

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INTANGIBLE, JASMIN JAVON

(DE)LIGHTFUL OPPORTUNITY, KERSTIN VOIGT

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KERSTIN VOIGT grew up in East Germany (GDR) and now lives with her family in the Scottish Highlands, being the main carer at Corvid Isle, a sanctuary for wild rescue birds, mainly corvids. She has trained herself in the art of photography, which to her is a means to share the unlimited beauty of the natural world, no matter how small. Her photography work has been exhibited at Dimbola Lodge, Freshwater, Isle of Wight, the home of photography pioneer Julia Margaret Cameron.

97FALL/WINTER 2022 ISSUE 5 HAIKU TIFFANY TUCHEK frozen dew glistens in early morning darkness, the quiet greets me

TIFFANY TUCHEK is an emerging writer and animal lover. She is a former elementary teacher with a B.A. in Education from Michigan State University. She lives in Michigan with her husband and rescue pets—two dogs and five parrots. Her interests include yoga, watercolor, and walks with her family. She enjoys reflecting the powerful and fragile aspects of nature through micropoetry. Her haiku have appeared in Humana Obscura, Rockvale Review, and Tiny Seeds Literary Journal, and is forthcoming in Beyond Words Literary Magazine.

The snow moves over the ground not in flakes, but like fog, drifting over hills and barns that I know in the warm light of summer. Two robins fly across the road. Sun, edging through the snow, hits their rusty breasts. You are surprised, but I’ve known that they are here. They don’t sing now or glean worms from yards. They switch to berries, fluff their feathers, huddle together. I have discovered how the light is clearer in winter, how it seems to travel from far worlds to get here. Like the robins, I have tried to turn the snow crimson, refusing to wait for the warm side of the world.

KATERI KOSEK’s poetry and essays have appeared in such places as Orion, Terrain, Catamaran, Briar Cliff Review, and Creative Nonfiction, where, most recently, she was awarded for best essay. She teaches college English and mentors in the MFA program at Western CT State University, where she earned an MFA. Kosek has been a resident at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts and the Tallgrass Artist Residency in Kansas. She lives in the mountains of western Massachusetts. RICK BOGACZ was born and raised in Toronto, and has been adhering to an essentialist philosophy for most of his working life. As a journalist, he was focused on the editing process a daily basis, removing what was unnecessary and leaving what was an uncluttered and crucial experience for the audience so that they may gain a better understanding of the world around them. Combined with the Japanese philosophy of Ma—the celebration of the space between things—Bogacz’s goal with his photography is to evoke a calming esthetic that is both gentle and elegant. Negative space becomes as important to developing the image as the key subject matter itself. Minimalist artists such as Michael Kenna, Christopher Pratt, and Peter Dusek have all influenced his approach to the photographic medium.

98 humana obscura HOW TO SURVIVE WINTER KATERI KOSEK

FIRST SNOWFALL, HIGH PARK, RICK BOGACZ

100 humana obscura WINTER MOON SETTING, NAJIB JOE HAKIM

CHRISTINA CHIN is a painter and haiku poet from Malaysia. She is a four-time recipient of top 100 in the mDAC Summit Contests, exhibited at the Palo Alto Art Center, California. She is the sole haiku contributor for a MusArt book of Randall Vemer’s paintings (ArtReach Publications, Portland, Oregon), first prize winner of the 34th Annual Cherry Blossom Sakura Festival 2020 Haiku Contest, and the first prize winner in the 8th Setouchi Matsuyama 2019 Photohaiku Contest. She has been published in numerous journals, multilingual journals, and anthologies, including Japan’s prestigious monthly Haikukai Magazine

101FALL/WINTER 2022 ISSUE 5 TWO TAN-RENGA M. R. DEFIBAUGH / CHRISTINA CHIN standing tall in an icy field winter flowers infootprintsthesnow hazy moon my andfootstepsI thepacelength of many dreams

M. R. DEFIBAUGH is a Virginia-based poet and haiku enthusiast. He has degrees in mathematical sciences (BA, the University of Illinois at Springfield) and operations management (MS, University of Arkansas). Defibaugh’s latest chapbook, the cuckoo always mid-song: haiku & haiga (2021), was done in collaboration with artist Penney L. Mellen and is available from Barnes & Noble Press. His work has appeared in numerous journals, including Frogpond, Modern Haiku, Failed Haiku, Stardust Haiku, and Trash Panda

Isn’t everything about survival? The world has paper walls and in the hush of the morning I hear them

SURVIVAL NICHOLAS OLAH

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Thetear.jarring cold of thenintooozesJanuarytheskin,thebones.

NICHOLAS OLAH draws on his love of nature and photography as his main inspirations for writing. He loves walking around in his neighborhood in the Chicago suburbs and watching the colors change during each of the four distinct Midwest seasons. He has self-published three poetry collections, Where Light Separates from Dark, Which Way is North, and Seasons, the third of which also includes his photography. When he is not writing, Olah enjoys spending time with his family and friends, traveling, and rooting on his Chicago sports teams. Check out Olah’s work on Instagram at @nick.olah.poetry or visit his Etsy shop (nickolahpoetry).

103FALL/WINTER 2022 ISSUE 5 MITAKA, MELANIE SCHOENIGER

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WINTER NIGHT IN THE FOREST, JEAN AYOTTE

JEAN AYOTTE studied photography at college and literature at university. Associate in a studio, Ayotte has a career as a graphic designer and object designer. More than ever, he makes pictures. His artistic approach is currently made of long exposures, of crepuscular or nocturnal lighting, of painted light, of movement, perceivable or condensed in a paradoxical stillness.

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This is the hush you’ve been seeking isn’t it? Silence lush with listening. Yes, it’s cold, so cold and so? Haven’t you come dressed just for this? And so you pull the soft wool closer, push the fleeced collar higher, part the snow-laden branches and step in, knowing full well you will be baptized. Allow yourself to be called deeper and deeper into this dense huddle of gentle bark and quiet drape. Did you ever think you could be so lost and so found in the same visible breath?

WHAT BRANCHES HOLD ELLEN ROWLAND

ELLEN ROWLAND is the author of two collections of haiku/senryu: Light, Come Gather Me and Blue Seasons. Her writing has appeared in numerous literary journals and in several poetry anthologies, most recently The Path to Kindness: Poems of Connection and Joy edited by James Crews. Her debut collection of full-length poems will be published by Fernwood Press in the spring of 2023. She lives off the grid with her family on an island in Greece. Connect with her on Instagram @rowland.ellen.

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NAVILA NAHID is a writer and published poet, currently residing in Brooklyn, New York. Her need for writing began young when putting pen to paper seemed more natural than going outside. Now, she creates her pieces to pull solace from the world. Her published works can be found in Sky Island Journal, Olney Magazine, High Shelf Press, Allegory Ridge, FreeVerse Revolution, and The Dream Gods anthologies. She also has a social media presence on Instagram @seasalt.rose.

Change is generous like ButofforearforIasholdsortocomingmaplebacklife,howskyitsredrosewaittoolonggreen,togroundsighslifeIneverlistened

TURNING TO EARTH NAVILA NAHID

not really not with hands to thereearth;isno silence but the feel of hellosayinglife,touchingit’srootingtriggers,ofthehum,echoathousandlife

107FALL/WINTER 2022 ISSUE 5 JILL BOYLES’ photography has appeared in Cold Mountain Review, Literary Cargo, and Passporte Gallery, among others. Her website is jillboylesphotographer.com. WINTER PRAIRIE SUNBATHING WITH FRIENDS, JILL BOYLES