Red Blush
Alison L. Peoples

The snow of Moscow
relented to an April thaw:
A rose--
with a blush of red--
pushed its way out
and blossomed
without reserve.

Oh sweetness
of the Motherland
who wrote us
through the freedom
of her heart's desire.

Now you rest
in the womb of a
Tchaikovsky suite
And the flower you became
lay as a reminder
on your grave
for all that you gave.

Rachel J. Fenton

The edge of the foundry woods
scanned,  sold for the price of cheap goods to build the new estate.

The unmarked road,
asphalt and dirt trailing to the former brown belt site
was none of their business: 
planned by grey suited men,
not them.

Yet, like a cherry orchard,
a year on
the trees have gone;
you can see the woods.

A History of Conflict
Shelley Ontis

There, among books about The Civil and Spanish-American Wars, he slips his hand up her skirt. Smiling, she slides away, past thick, dusty tomes on the World Wars, but he follows and presses himself against her, momentum sliding her past Korea and shinier volumes on Vietnam and The Gulf. They gasp and giggle, her back against a wall of full shelves, one of his hands braced against a book on the Peloponnesian War, the other pressed against the spine of a thin volume about The Charge of the Light Brigade.

Last year, they'd made out in the "home" section. He'd been horrified to come face to face with Martha Stewart smiling at him from the spine of a cookbook—disapprovingly, he was sure—after he'd left a darkening bruise on the pale slope of Amy's neck.

The history section was better, symbolic after the last several months. She'd called it a mid-life crisis, but he only knew he felt old and wanted to recapture some of the spit and vinegar of his youth. It had been like a war at times, coming home to accusations and shouting, so much shouting. He wished she'd hit him sometimes because he was tired of the shouting.

He nibbles her ear, then notices the book just above her head is The Savage Wars of Peace, about the Ottoman Empire. He thinks it's a stupid name, though he can't really argue with it. He decides it's as good a sign as anything. The last several months were savage between them for a while, but they made peace and made it to another anniversary, one they'd both started to think they wouldn't see.

And we have an ottoman, he thinks, laughing against her shoulder.

After they part, she straightens his letter jacket, far too tight in the arms now with no hope of closing in front, probably ever again. He brushes down her faded skirt.

"Happy Anniversary," she says. "Can you believe it? Thirty years."

He kisses her, almost in disbelief that the first time they'd done this it had been in the teen section, and they'd ridden their bicycles to get there. He puts his arm around her shoulders and walks the way he used to, all cocky, spit and vinegar. He bobs his head to make the missing curl of bangs he was once so proud of, bangs that he'd outgrown before they'd even talked about marriage, bounce against his forehead. He escorts his best girl downstairs, smiles and nods at the staring librarian on the way out, and hopes the cease fire holds.

Rachel J. Fenton

 Procion on Cotton, 1998

A Toast
Lola Ridge

Not your martyrs anointed of heaven -
The ages are red where they trod -
But the Hunted - the world's bitter leaven -
Who smote at your imbecile God -

A being to pander and fawn to,
To propitiate, flatter and dread
As a thing that your souls are in pawn to,
A Dealer who traffics the dead;

A Trader with greed never sated,
Who barters the souls in his snares,
That were trapped in the lusts he created,
For incense and masses and prayers -

They are crushed in the coils of your halters;
'Twere well - by the creeds ye have nursed -
That ye send up a cry from your altars,
A mass for the Martyrs Accursed;

A passionate prayer from reprieval
For the Brotherhood not understood -
For the Heroes who died for the evil,
Believing the evil was good.

To the Breakers, the Bold, the Despoilers,
Who dreamed of a world over-thrown...
They who died for the millions of toilers -
Few - fronting the nations alone!

- To the Outlawed of men and the Branded,
Whether hated or hating they fell -
I pledge the devoted, red-handed,
Unfaltering Heroes of Hell!

Cage Of Prayers
Bobbi Sinha-Morey

Every last stolen
whisper reminds me
how death waits like
a light switch in all
of us, and I am not
ready to die. A silent
plea forms on my
lips and those I have
loved and lost reappear.
A cage of prayers sways
in the air. Echoes reach
out to me through the
years, voices like a full
moon in a rearview
mirror. A thin cloth
divides me from heaven,
and no one is here. A
cold wind numbs my
skin and I long for a
friend's touch. I weigh
my life against the
evening sky, a silk
handkerchief, and there
is no secret password
to life, no fleur-de-lis.
Wrapped in what little
warmth I have, I am
this space my body
believes in.

Breakfast at the Monastery San Fedele, Rada, Tuscany
Kate Rahimzadeh

Canticle Of The Babe
Josephine Preston Peabody


Over the broken world, the dark gone by,
Horror of outcast darkness torn with wars;
And timeless agony
Of the white fire, heaped high by blinded Stars,
Unfaltering, unaghast;--
Out of the midmost Fire
At last,--at last,--
Cry! ...
O darkness' one desire,--
O darkness, have you heard?--
Black Chaos, blindly striving towards the Word?
--The Cry!

Behold thy conqueror, Death!
Behold, behold from whom
It flutters forth, that triumph of First-Breath,
Victorious one that can but breathe and cling,--
This pulsing flower,--this weaker than a wing,
Halcyon thing!--
Cradled above unfathomable doom.


Under my feet, O Death,
Under my trembling feet!
Back, through the gates of hell, now give me way.
I come.--I bring new Breath!
Over the trampled shards of mine own clay,
That smoulder still, and burn,
Lo, I return!
Hail, singing Light that floats
Pulsing with chorused motes:--
Hail to thee, Sun, that lookest on all lands!
And take thou from my weak undying hands,
A precious thing, unblemished, undefiled:--
Here, on my heart uplift,
Behold the Gift,--
Thy glory and my glory, and my child!


(And our eyes were opened; eyes that had been holden.
And I saw the world, and the fruits thereof.
And I saw their glories, scarlet-stained and golden,
All a crumbled dust beneath the feet of Love.
And I saw their dreams, all of nothing worth;
But a path for Love, for Him to walk above,
And I saw new heaven, and new earth.


The grass is full of murmurs;
The sky is full of wings;
The earth is full of breath.
With voices, choir on choir
With tongues of fire,
They sing how Life out-sings--
Out-numbers Death.


Who are these that fly;
As doves, and as doves to the windows?
Doves, like hovering dreams round Love that slumbereth;
Silvering clouds blown by,
Doves and doves to the windows,--
Warm through the radiant sky their wings beat breath.
They are the world's new-born:
Doves, doves to the windows!
Lighting, as flakes of snow;
Lighting, as flakes of flame;
Some to the fair sown furrows;
Some to the huts and burrows
Choked of the mire and thorn,--
Deep in the city's shame.
Wind-scattered wreaths they go,
Doves, and doves, to the windows;
Some for worshipping arms, to shelter and fold, and shrine;
Some to be torn and trodden,
Withered and waste, and sodden;
Pitiful, sacred leaves from Life's dishonored vine.


O Vine of Life, that in these reaching fingers,
Urges a sunward way!
Hold here and climb, and halt not, that there lingers
So far outstripped, my halting, wistful clay.
Make here thy foothold of my rapturous heart,--
Yea, though the tendrils start
To hold and twine!
I am the heart that nursed
Thy sunward thirst.--
A little while, a little while, O Vine,
My own and never mine,
Feed thy sweet roots with me
O wonder-wildness of the pushing Bud
With hunger at the flood,
Climb on, and seek, and spurn.
Let my dull spirit learn
To follow with its longing, as it may,
While thou seek higher day.--
But thou, the reach of my own heart's desire,
Be free as fire!
Still climb and cling; and so

O Vine of Life, my own and not my own,
So far am I outgrown!
High as I may, I lift thee, Soul's Desire.
--Lift thou me higher.
And thou, Wayfaring Woman, whom I meet
On all the highways,--every brimming street,
Lady Demeter, is it thou, grown gaunt
With work and want?
At last, and with what shamed and stricken eyes,
I see through thy disguise
Of drudge and Exile,--even the holy boon
That silvers yonder in the Harvest-moon;--
That dimly under glows
The furrows of thy worn immortal face,
With mother-grace.

O Queen and Burden-bearer, what of those
To whom thou gavest the lily and the rose
Of thy far youth?... For whom,
Out of the wondrous loom
Of thine enduring body, thou didst make
Garments of beauty, cunningly adorned,
But only for Death's sake!
Largess of life, but to lie waste and scorned.--
Could not such cost of pain,
Nor daily utmost of thy toil prevail?--
But they must fade, and pale,
And wither from thy desolated throne?--
And still no Summer give thee back again
Thine own?

Lady of Sorrows,--Mother,--Drudge august.
Behold me in the dust.

Sandra Davies

Dark Times
Claudia Rey

I cherished
every speck of happiness
every atom of beauty
we lived, you and me,
as if I was storing them
for dark times.

Café Naval in Alonissos
clear sea in Croatia
Mozart in Guadalajara
sunset over Torcello
writing haikus in Orta.
And the domestic bliss
of reading in bed
on Sunday mornings.
And a glass of wine
while cooking together.

But in dark times
memories turn
into pinned butterflies:
as cruelly beautiful
as useless and dead.

Delicious Combinations
Carmen Rabil-Eichman

Evenings transition seamlessly
into soft, leisurely days,
as if driving beneath a bridge
during a heavy rain storm,
brief silence,
pebble fall of rain stops.
We are gently tucked away,
delicious combination ingredients
imagined for our next meal,
coupled with my imagination sliding about you,
the way you quietly unwind, slip off your wool scarf
at the end of a resplendent rainy day.

During these moments, meals are taken
at different times than the usual quotidian
quarter-time queues directing
the working days' structured hours.
I surmise time’s delightful stairwell,
lovely pots of red geraniums and yellow lilies lacing
each step, delicate lavender violets and brilliant blue
morning glory's winding their way
about this rail to which I eagerly cling.

No, these hours follow no mapped-out regimen
resonating even remote routines. Stress is brushed
from the tresses of our tired and taxed souls,
replaced by an iridescent shimmer of simple contentment,
its breath fresh with appreciation not for what was or what will be,
but for what is now, the present moment tasted
before it dissolves,

Jordyn Coats

Finishing. Completing.
Not leaving a lone thread
to unravel.
This I discover
only seconds
before the dawn
of a breaking day.

Edges Fray
A.J. Huffman

For Beth
Emma Eden Ramos

Your head is a star with a crown of prisms.
         dheghom mater.
You're Incandescent,
reflecting truth and goodness.
Your center is fueled by scarlet wick, nourished by heaps of lavender petals and oceans of honey.
You're kindness.
Your grandmother hands remind me of freckled violins and I am content when you open your office door to let me in.
Safety is your den with it's burgundy pillows and imperial tear erasers.
I'm under your doorway now;
you've put me there to weather the storm.
Me with my Julia Migenes-Johnson hair and you with your shapely violin arms.
You played beautiful music, I think it was Bizet.
"L'amour est loin, tu peux l'attendere; tu ne l'attend plus, il est la! Tout autor de toi Vite, Vite!"
We're like two cats, I'm a black Maine Coon and you're an Abyssinian.
You're the color of Hestia, Tuscany Orange and spicy.
I'm a black Carmen.
Nevertheless, we blend like pepper bean and cinnamon.

Eve's Flowers
Nancy Rebecca Campbell Glass

Eve must have wept to leave her flowers,
And plucked some roots to tell
Of Eden's happy, sinless bowers,
Where she in bliss did dwell.

Roses and lilies, pansies gay,
Violets with azure eyes,
Her favorites must have been, for they
Seem born in paradise.

And when they drooped, did she not sigh
And kiss their petals fair,
Thinking, "Alas, ye too must die
And in our sorrow share"?

And then perhaps unto her soul
This answer sweet was given,
"Like you we fade and perish here;
For you we'll bloom in heaven."

Roses and lilies are the type
Of him who from above,
The lamb of God, gave up his life,
A sacrifice of love.

He was her hope in those sad hours
Of blight and sure decay;
The sin that drove her from her flowers
His blood could wash away.

Providence Church
Margot Longreen

Lisa Zaran

I'm in love with the sky of course
and the way the moon seems to flirt
with each star, individually.
I love the sky over Germany.
It aches just knowing I'm here
where footsteps of yours passed through
what, centuries ago?  But, that's the magic
isn't it.  I love the soul of Germany.

Where do the women go, I wonder,
as I am the only female walking this road. 
This road would be impossible to paint,
the snow and the leaves keep moving, shifting positions
and I am such a lazy American, impossibly
smiling at a sky made of marble.  A divinity
of stars winking away as if to say:  our lives
are not dismal.  See how we shine.
I love the heart of Germany.

Night is the refuge, where Germany might
hold its breath and I beneath her calm, bright
sky might die a little.  I love every torment
of yours, little Germany.

Tatiana Ambrose

Plant grain mashed with rain,
extracts magic on my palm-
the painting of pastoral blossoms.

I Don't Know If You're Alive Or Dead
Anna Akhmatova

I don't know if you're alive or dead.
Can you on earth be sought,
Or only when the sunsets fade
Be mourned serenely in my thought?

All is for you: the daily prayer,
The sleepless heat at night,
And of my verses, the white
Flock, and of my eyes, the blue fire.

No-one was more cherished, no-one tortured
Me more, not
Even the one who betrayed me to torture,
Not even the one who caressed me and forgot.

From the Spanish Steps
Kate Rahimzadeh

Lace Curtains on Patrol
Carmen Taggart

Bats swoop low across the square, dusk settles on the village.
Porch swings creak, murmurs of parents conversing.
Children and birds sing good night songs, the day fades into darkness.
General Cats stretch and arch their backs preparing to patrol.
The day shifts from tasks of mundane and earthly endeavors,
The witching hour and the clandestine
Reign, the back stairs groan under the weight of teen-age lovers in search of the clandestine.
Old-Ladies peer out behind lace curtains collecting fodder for the morning meet-up in the village,
Thwarting all but the most ingenious endeavors.
Long after curfew bells have rung, gently tiptoeing over dogs that are sleeping,
General Cats come back with their prey after a successful nights patrol.
The dawns first rays cut across the village green dispelling the darkness.
Lovers settle into their beds as the last of the nights shadows linger in the darkness,
Believing that they have kept their meetings clandestine.
Old-Ladies put on their coffee pots as they prepare for the day time patrol,
They come together to share the news of the village.
Whisper, harp, and gossip all that went on while the others lay sleeping,
Shredding all hope for secrecy in their endeavors .
But don’t be too quick to judge them for there is no malice in their endeavors.
They cannot sleep in the darkness.
They walk through the memories of youth while the village was sleeping.
Remembered kisses stolen and hearts rendered in youthful meetings of clandestine
Nature.  The youth believe that the old-ladies forget and are the meddlers of the village,
But in truth they are grateful that the youth remind them of  their  own memories to patrol.
They watch, they remember, they peak from behind lace curtains while on patrol.
Aching legs deny their yearning to go on their own secret endeavors.
They have long stopped caring what other ladies say in the village.
If only they too could slip into the darkness,
A kiss, an embrace to sustain them until their next clandestine
meeting. The babies and the parents are sleeping
Exhausted from growing, from chasing after the day they welcome the peace of sleeping.
They rely on the old ladies and the General Cats to keep patrol.
Parents remember wanting to keep their youthful romances clandestine.
Grateful  that someone is watching over their teenager’s endeavors.
They hear the back steps groan in the darkness.
The ladies peer from behind their lace curtains throughout the village.
Memories of long ago clandestine kisses while parents are sleeping.
Lace curtains rustle as the old ladies keep patrol.
Thwarting all but the most ingenious endeavors to keep secrets in the darkness.

Lace Curtains
Carmen Taggart

My Mind
Sarah Anne Stinnet

Thoughts are locked away behind bars like inmates
Squeezed in squares to shriek out in longing for quick
Escape. Sounds no man who is sane is meant to
Hear. They are horrid

Beasts with claims of sanity. Should it happen,
These sinners let loose to be free and roaming
Berserk, truths I dare not accost would doom my
Mind the asylum.

Claudia Rey

Look at the family photos
rearranged on this shelf:
my beloved grandmother
my parents
my beautiful aunt
my sister when she was three
and of course my children.
No one can see
that empty space
but me.

Pinching Pennies
Sue Ellis

On a summer morning
we head out to the back yard.
I've got the scissors and comb,
he's carrying a plastic lawn chair.

In the shade of the lilacs, I sit down
as he does a warm-up with the scissors,
slicing air into ribbons while
a magpie tugs at my shoelaces.

He's learned to shape, not shingle,
with hands more suited to hammers.
We visit about everything and nothing,
easy and hard.
My scalp tingles at his touch.

When he's finished, I brush off my shirt
and say thank you.
The haircut will be good enough.

I notice, then, that the neighbor has
seen us from a vantage point
beyond the raspberry canes.

I wonder how he's interpreted our
geriatric still life, if he can fathom
chemical sensitivity--
how I can't visit hairdressers now.

I doubt he sees the patient man
who cuts my hair and
makes plain soap for me.
Or gets how water, lye, and oil
merging into something pure.
He probably thinks
we're pinching pennies.

Cannon Beach
M. Elaine Moore

San Juan de Chamula
Claudia Rey

We step down from the bus
in a dry, lunar landscape
under a pale sky.
Wooden crosses in the cemetery
carry different colours:
white for the very young
black for the old
blue for the in-between
and sometimes two crosses
one overlapping the other
for the lucky couples who died together.
Fading paper flowers
wave gently in the breeze
sheep graze the weed among the tombs
a white steeple looms in the distance.

When we enter the church
hundreds of flickering lights
tremble in the darkness.
Rows of candles burn on the floor
over a carpet of pine needles.
Ghostly figures, barely visible,
kneel around the flames.
Low voices chant mysterious prayers.

Then from the deep shadows
comes a flutter of wings
and a shriek – soon muffled
by a quick shining blade.
Someone has sacrificed a chicken
under the eyes of a stiff Madonna
holding an ugly Baby dressed in real silk.

The sudden silence is deafening.
Our stomachs clench
as we remain rooted to the floor
for long, uneasy minutes.
An old man walks up to us
muttering in his alien language.
Giving him a coin seems inappropriate.
We take his stretched hands instead -
one each – and I say “Que le vaya bien”.
It must be the right thing to do
because we earn a hug and a blessing.

The light is blinding in the square
when we come out in the cold afternoon.
Hearts still drumming
eyes adjusting to the day
we feel the need for reassuring normalcy:
postcards to buy
a chair to rest in
a cup of coffee.

Sooner Than Later
Sadie Harris

It is a quiet place.
Wind whistles
through the cracks
that cannot always
be seen to the naked eye.

You can lose your place,
like a book where the pages
are blown or closed without
a mark to keep you.

Out across the fields
beyond the red clay sift,
mesquite lines a destination,
if you care to follow.

I think I shall sleep in
that first day,

before I realize,
I am home, again.

Rachel J. Fenton

Latex and Procion on Paper, 1998

The Broken Era
Sarah Anne Stinnet

When feeling depressed I paint recklessly.
Iridescent havoc explodes upon
my canvas, a squinched orange or tomato
perhaps vermillion, I stab the fruit.
I break the fruit. Now perpetually
pungent I punish the fruit. It does not
struggle, my vexation overpowers.

At night in sleep the ocean beckons to
my tears, Come home. Come to rest my brothers.I do not protest, freely they paddle
journeying back, down my cheek to the sea.

Then I paint big buildings with the lights on.
Big and bright and square and the lights are on.
Cut in half, as sandwiches, are they plunge
not yet smashed or squelched, static in midair
before the boom and the lights are all on.
Obliterating a world I create
I play God with fusions of rouge and blue.

Inextricable struggles consume my
acrylic nightmares. Tomorrow I’ll paint
a ship, capsizing. The sea is it’s tears.
Next, a girl with her eyes closed. Seemingly
untainted I’ve painted myself with no damage.
For now I’ve realized, I am the broken.

The Carpenter Teaches His Daughter to Breathe
Lisa Zaran

Stardust. Flanked by steel blade. Bully-saw
and there goes the grain. Breeze buffered
by a closed garage door. My father's hands
drowned in sawdust pushes plank under teeth.
Whirrrr! And I'm stoned cupid again
watching him work. No one thing tends
to the sweet smell of freshly cut wood like
I do, young girl straddling a sawhorse.
His hands moving as birds do, swift
and steady as his fingers take flight carving
cross-hatch with the grain. One man's blade
is another man's hunger.

Like a child I lived above the twisted cork
of death. How a toe bone's connected to a hand
bone, a hand bone's connected to an arm bone.
The sweet scent of sawdust. The sunlight filtering
through the dusty window. My father's deep
Norwegian whistle ringing through the spaciousness
of tin roof, cement floor. You'd think I'd have
a consciousness for danger. No, but not even
a brushstroke of min-wax could warn me.

The wood chips lashed like solvent
in his lungs. Graceful though
they flew through the air before
finding his mouth
open with explanation as he leaned
down, showing me a singular artistic curve
of craftsmanship.
See this edge, he'd point, touching the bevel
with the tip of one finger.
And I would nod in delight,
kissing the very words he spoke.
The greater wisdom in him,
covering his mouth to cough.

The Cow Field
Kathy Boles-Turner

The Old West Riding
Rachel J. Fenton

Your eyes, you told me, as though I couldn't see,
sitting beside you on the bus
as we rattled and juddered and communally
polluted our way home from tarn,
were not merely hazel but were,
if I could take note, actually many colours.
And then you named them like the slices of a pie chart.

The bus was new, inside the seats recommissioned
from a vintage model, circa (date of significance here);
defurbished, like when you asked if I knew me
and said you had a crush on her,
only you changed your mind not long after,
chose that lunch time in the library to tell me;
gathered your friends around to confirm:
yes, she does have a moustache; no, she doesn't have tits.
A failure to my gender. Crush crushed
but for three weeks in between you'd given me white wings
and set them patting softly my secret shame.

My stop came first. I could remember what else you said
on the bus if I wanted, only all I remember of your eyes
is the green shrapnel either side of your pupils.
Gift of God to trees but easier to get out of than any forest.
Alighting, a blast of autumn sent a flurry of feathers
into the doorway, a rifle's broken back, and I feel nothing;
finally it has come to this, and I see only pigeons.

Summer Over Glass With Wisteria and House Background
Rachel Fenton

Devore on Cotton, 1998;

The Poet…for Bella Akhmadulina
Joan McNerney

It is the white hour
between deep night
soft dawn.

She found no sleep but
her eyes blazed back at
stars this night.

Walking by riverside
soft murmuring
    long poems
        intricate exquisite
            shaped themselves
                gliding across her mind.

Faint indistinct---like
a love known long ago.
Quiet passion, gentle smooth.
Feathery clouds in a blue sky.

Haze of hours, half-forgotten
melon moons amid sunflowers.
This is a kind of dream
in a way, enchanted.
Half in and out of this world.

Another sun will rise bringing
more golden memories.
She will stay waiting for
all the miracles of morning.

The Unpredictable Sea
Pat St. Pierre

The sea, an angry huntress,
thrusts itself upon the sea rover.
Wild winds hamper massive sails.
The ocean’s white foam
thunderous waves
against the bluff.
The sea is fearless
and wants to be in control
but the mariner is relentless.
He struggles to assert his authority.
As he shouts to the heavens.
the mariner’s scream is carried away.
His body crumbles;
the ocean once more defeats man
and again assumes command.

Tides of Souls
Carmen Rabil-Eichman

As the tide of souls rolls in and out,
tumbling along the shore of darkness
deep into the night,
I sometimes lay awake.
A time when I can cross a bridge
that leads me closer to myself,
where the trees trap day noise,
allow ideas to pass, leave behind
a trail of tattered clouds.
Where imagination and shadows develop
a brief, albeit mutual trust, as my cat moves silently
across the bed, the steady breathing of life and hope
and dreams a reassurance to confidence
at times confounded by day,
cultivated by night,
before the orange clip of dawn cuts softly
through frost and morning,
its felicitous figurehead filled
with the fidelity of promise.

On the road to Palagio, Tuscany
Kate Rahimzadeh

M. Elaine Moore

He felt something, *someone* watching him as he climbed the front steps. He reached for the front door. It opened before he could turn the knob. Who he saw standing before him couldn't be. Dark-haired and beautiful, she looked as if she had been expecting him. Was that possible?

"Hello," he said with a smile. "I'm Reade Andrews. I'm sorry to bother you, but…"

"You aren't. I'm Allison. Would you like to come in?"

A shocking invitation. Not at all what he'd expected. He smiled and walked inside, taking in the unfamiliar surroundings.

She watched him, a smile playing across her lips. "I don't usually have visitors. I prefer to be alone. People make me uncomfortable. I think I'm actually afraid of them."


"Social anxiety disorder, I guess. I feel unsettled with people."


She appeared to think about it for a moment. "No, just in the past few months. I used to be fine. I don't quite know what happened."

I do.

"I never leave."


"The house. It's the only place I feel safe, so I never leave."

Incredible. Reade Andrews had come across a lot of things, but nothing like her. It had all just been stories and speculation. Mystery and conjecture. Until now. He extended his hand, and incredibly, she took it. Her soft, warm hand grasped his.

"I don't scare you?" he asked.

"No. It's strange, isn't it?"

Not if you knew who I was. Or who you are.

"Well, I 8am* a nice guy." He smiled.

She laughed. "Would you like some tea?"

He cocked his head. Really? "Tea?"

"Yes, tea."

And that was the beginning.

Reade visited Allison nearly every day. She always greeted him with a glowing smile and a hug. They spent hours laughing, touching like two people truly connected while they discussed a million different things. All but one.

The house had been reported by concerned neighbors. Reade had been assigned to investigate. The reason he had come here in the first place. He had never imagined the outcome, would have never believed the connection. How was it possible to have emotions this strong? To feel this deeply?

Following an afternoon with Allison, Read entered his office. His partner approached him.

"Hey, how's the investigation coming on the Winterly place?"

He knew it would happen. Jake would eventually want a report.

"It's been weeks now, Reade. What's going on? Have you found anything?"

What could he say? He knew what the truth would mean. And he couldn't bear it.

"I have to tell you something, Jake. You won't believe it. I don't believe it." He hesitated, fear gnawing at his gut. "You know the girl I told you about? The one I've been seeing?"

Jake nodded. "Yeah, the one you're falling for. What about her? What's this got to do with the investigation?"

"She lives in the house."

"The house?"

"The Winterly house."

"Reade, no one lives there, the owner committed suicide months ago. That's the point. It's supposed to be haunted."

Reade stared blankly at Jake.


"She's there, Jake. Allison Winterly."

Jake shrugged. "Okay, we suspected that. What's the probem? Tell her it's time to go find the light or whatever it is they do."

"Jake, you don't understand. She's like nothing we've ever encountered. She's real. She's…"

Jake stared at him. "You can't be serious. Tell me you're screwing with me, Reade."

Reade stared, shaking his head. What could he say without sounding insane?

"She's beautiful. She's kind. She's…"

"An *apparition*. And you're supposed to get rid of her. She doesn't belong there anymore."

"I can't do it. I can't make her go. I…"

"Are you out of your mind? She's dead, Reade. A ghost. A ghost who freaks out the neighbors by turning the lights on at night, looking out the windows."

"She's more than that. She's…tangible. I see her. I feel her."

"My God. You've lost it. I know in our business we see things, see shadows, hear stuff. But Reade, we don't actually see ghosts. And we sure as hell don't fall in love with them. Get rid of her."

"She doesn't know she's dead. She thinks she's alive and well, and everything is normal. I can't tell her. I can't lose her, Jake. The connection is like nothing I've ever felt. It's real."

"We're in business to investigate the paranormal and help people get rid of spirits. That's our job. It's ridiculous to even consider this. We have a reputation, Reade. Now go back there and tell her she has to go, so her father can sell the house." He glared at Reade. "Or I will."

Reade knew he sounded insane. For years, he and Jake had gone into dwellings thought to be haunted, believed to be inhabited by earthbound spirits. They communicated by EVPs, EMFs, knocks, bangs, and odd noises in the dark. And they chased those spirits away. No one had ever spoken clearly to either of them, no one had appeared in a solid, human form, and no one had ever touched them lovingly with warm hands. It was impossible. Wasn't it?

Reade drove back to the Winterly house and watched it from the street as the curtains fluttered. He had held her. He had kissed her. And it was *real*.

Watching the lights come on, sadness and desperation washed over him. How could he possibly tell her she had to leave, to enter some strange, unknown realm awaiting her somewhere? She wouldn't understand. And he couldn't live without her.

Only one answer, one way they could be together. The same way *she* had come to be this way.

He pulled his car into the garage and closed the door, engine still idling, and breathed deeply. Allison appeared with the same beautiful, glowing smile as always, totally oblivious to his intentions, totally immune to the fumes. She climbed in beside him, and he took her hand.

"Allison, there's something I haven't told you…"

Tree Becomes Bird, Mid-Wales
Cath Barton

Sue Ellis

Lisa Zaran

The wind blows secrets up to my doorstep.
How quickly they come to reveal themselves.
Truths and half-truths of this world.
In what country am I living?
I separate each howling thread of air.
I toss the grey ones of indifference
out into the yard. I embrace the ugly ones.
In what country am I living?
My heart is heavy with homesickness.
My soul has tucked in on itself.
Four billion people on this earth
and each of us lonely. Each of us
trying to love while being hit with resistance.
In what country am I living?

I listen for a moment to the silence: for the value
of human life begins there.
The wind orders us to jump and we do.
I embrace wholly the sheer silence. The wind
tries to come and I shush it, shoo it away.
I close my eyes for a moment to the darkness:
for the seed of God lies inside.
The sunlight orders us to sit and we give it
the finger. Crimson floods the sky.

In what country am I living?
A country of roots, a country of stones.
People nourishing themselves on the bones
of her corpses.
Why has the breeze blown its secrets to my door?
Why has my right hand grown such a cynical glance?
In what country am I living?

We live in separate spheres
Cath Barton

What is their view of us,
The sky-creatures looking down
On the earth-bound gaggle of women
Who gather in this place
To walk the hills?

We marvel at their flight -
The nuthatch on the garden feeder
Swooping away to bury his bounty ;
The crows callously mobbing a buzzard;
The fan-tailed red kite sailing on the thermals.

We agree to quieten our talk
And lie back on the green supporting earth
For five precious minutes,
Listening to the supreme song
Of the vanishing skylark.

If these skies emptied
Through some apocalypse
We women would miss the birds,
But if the opposite were true
Would they feel any loss?

They soar as we only clamber,
Are free as we are weighted down,
And yet there is a connection
As we each, in our own sphere,
Embrace life.

Karen Ostrom

She wore her vanity like an obscene scar
 Receiving the looks which she expected
Admired for her beauty and grace
No one saw what lay beyond her face
A broken heart she kept to herself
A slight imperfection, a razors miscalculation
Misguided pride was her sorrowful undoing
Mirror, mirror leaning up against the wall
Why won’t you reflect the pain hidden in me?
Smile prettily; conceal the image that is false
Let nobody see the horror of forced reality
See me, standing before you, look what you have done
Remove your mask and reveal your own pathetic vanity

While the Dew Coughed
KJ Hannah Greenberg

While the dew coughed
Up many promises
Exhaling, until evaporation
Desires, droplet-sized,

His tractor tore swatches
Ripped neat rows of moisture,
Mowed, and otherwise raked,
Hope into piles,

In some boudoirs,
Lavender’s a weed
Thistle conjures no medicinal richness,
Boxwood’s unknown.

Those sites find marigold grace,
In municipal dividers, and
Welfare in yellowed wallpaper,
Whose printed roses affix even tiles.

Rachel J. Fenton

Latex and Procion on Cotton, 1998

Notes on the Selections

A Toast by Lola Ridge is in the public domain.

Canticle Of The Babe by Josephine Preston Peabody is in the public domain.

The text of Cross-hatched by Sandra Davies was originally published by PigeonBike.

Eve's Flowers by Nancy Rebecca Campbell Glass is in the public domain

I Don't Know If You're Alive Or Dead by Anna Akhmatova is in the public domain.

Pinching Pennies by Sue Ellis was originally published in Issue #9 of Callussed Hands, 2009.

The Carpenter Teaches His Daughter to Breathe by Lisa Zaran was originally published in The Peregrine Muse, 2007)

Visions by Lisa Zaran was originally published in Kritya, 2006.

While the Dew Coughed by KJ Hannah Greenberg was originally published in The Lesser Flamingo, March 2010.