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Pet Rat

An Ivory Netsuke of a Rat

An Ivory Netsuke of a Rat

In his pocket he keeps
a rat,
small to him
but monstrous
moving across your
spotless kitchen floor.

He calls his rat
Jack
and feeds it
crackers, cheese,
and apple pieces
from his many snacks.

In school he
strokes Jack’s
squirming back
when the teacher asks
for facts
he doesn’t know.

Later, a gift
of Gouda pinched
between two fingers,
he reaches in his pocket
but Jack
is gone.

He searches the house,
the school, the garbage
cans overflowing
in the alley,
but none of the rats
is Jack.

 

 

Author’s Bio:
Judith Laura is author of She Lives! The Return of Our Great Mother and Goddess Spirituality for the 21st Century, as well as two novels. Her poetry and short fiction have been published in a variety of journals including Pudding, Mid America Poetry Review, Pedestal, Poetica, Poemeleon, and Facets, and in anthologies including Prayers to Protest (Pudding House), Not What I Expected (Paycock) and A Pagan’s Muse (Kensington/Citadel). For more about her writing, visit judithlaura.com/books.html.

Endangered Family

Doe in the Monastery Garden, 1912

Doe in the Monastery Garden, 1912

Sun and shadow dapple
your sleek brown back
as you move gracefully across my lawn
down near the brook bordering the woods.

Munching vines, your young one looks up at you
but your eyes stray to your antlered mate
over in the next yard. He signals
so you turn to make sure
your dear offspring is still close by.

Do you know this is the first day of hunting season?
Neighborhood humans got fliers from the commissioner
encouraging us to hunt you, shoot you, due to
what he calls dangerous overpopulation. He fears
you will eat up our grass, shrubs, vines.

But after you munch
I’ve seen the grass grow back,
the shrubs emerge taller,
the vines reassert their meandering ways.

I watch as you three cross the brook,
then glide into the woods and I ask,
what is the higher purpose of this greenery,
to impress the neighbors or to nourish you?

 

 

Author’s Bio:
Judith Laura is author of She Lives! The Return of Our Great Mother and Goddess Spirituality for the 21st Century, as well as two novels. Her poetry and short fiction have been published in a variety of journals including Pudding, Mid America Poetry Review, Pedestal, Poetica, Poemeleon, and Facets, and in anthologies including Prayers to Protest (Pudding House), Not What I Expected (Paycock) and A Pagan’s Muse (Kensington/Citadel). For more about her writing, visit judithlaura.com/books.html.

The Deer at Dawn

Deer

Deer

First light and the deer come floating
Down from the ridge and across the yard.
Through mist that trails like smoke
Across the fields of snow.
 
Now and then their heads rise out of the fog
And look around.
They know there is food here somewhere
Beneath the mounds of worn down snow.
 
Here and there a paw will scratch and then
A head and neck bend down into the soft
Nothingness
Like swimmers timidly approaching the
Ocean
Their invisible lips disturb the snow
 
Where one has found food, the others
Gather.
And their bodies emerge from the shelter
Of mist
And they are lean with legs that tremble
 
A ghostly sun appears in the sky
Too weak to cast a shadow
 
In our kitchen the dogs are whimpering
It is the plan of their kind
To hunt, to savor the chasing
Their eyes reproach us
We have disturbed the laws of nature
 
Soon the crust of snow will soften
The animals will sink into the slush.
 
One by one the members
Of the small herd begin their ascent
Up the slope they follow the pale sunlight
Once among the trees they disappear.

 

 

Author’s Bio:
Marian Veverka’s poetry has appeared in A Prairie Journal, Up the Staircase, HB-4, Concise Delight, and Umbrella” (The Bumbershoot Issue). She is retired from working in a library, a widow, a mother of six now adult children, and a grandmother. She lives in the country and likes to write about nature.

Cardinal Musings

Northern Cardinal, New Braunfels, Hill Country, Texas, USA

Northern Cardinal, New Braunfels, Hill Country, Texas, USA

Your crimson vestment
can’t be camouflaged,
like sparrows,
by lush greenery,

my stubborn
and elusive muse.
At daily Matins,
I seek you out

beg your vermilion
sun to cross my path,
follow your
chant, more spiritual

than fire-and-
brimstone sermons of
mitered men, vents
for the Holy Ghost.

Only Your spirit
breathes inspiration,
confirms me,
enlightens my soul.

Fiery tongue –
you leave me breathless,
fitful stirrings
of a poem in reach.

Words orbit me like
vultures. I sing their
chorus, stop their flight.
Your holy scribe, I

transcribe them
first, verbatim, then
adorn the page
with one red bird.

 

 

Author’s Bio:
Linda Simone’s poetry has appeared in numerous anthologies and journals, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Recent publications include poems in Assisi, Cyclamens and Swords, and in the anthology Lavanderia; others are forthcoming in Assisi and in the anthology, Wait a Minute: I Have to Take Off my Bra. Her chapbook, Cow Tippers, won the Shadow Poetry Chapbook Competition.

Corvus Triolet

Crow Perching Against Stormy Sky

Crow Perching Against Stormy Sky

Today the yard is full of crows,
their voices ragged scraps of pain,
their blackness stark against the snow.
Today this yard that’s full of crows
reminds me still that grief is slow,
it comes again like a refrain.
Today’s backyard is full of crows,
their caws, their scratchy rasps of pain.

 

 

Author’s Bio:
Barbara Crooker’s books are Radiance, winner of the 2005 Word Press First Book Award and finalist for the 2006 Paterson Poetry Prize; Line Dance (Word Press, 2008), winner of the 2009 Paterson Award for Excellence in Literature; and More (C&R Press, 2010). Her poems appear in a variety of literary journals and many anthologies, including Good Poems for Hard Times (Garrison Keillor, editor)(Viking Penguin) and the Bedford Introduction to Literature.

For Amenhotep, Tiger Cat, Found Dead By The Roadside

Portrait of a Cat

Portrait of a Cat

The hit in the gut,
seeing your body, there,
by the road, stiff:
the grey & white fur,
the moustache mouth,
but the cat’s
gone out of you:
no arching curves,
no mid-air twists,
just angles now.
Paw stalker,
hunter of mice,
preserver of property lines,
cat of high howls,
of rumbling purrs,
gone
just this heavy weight,
this cat of stone
in my arms.

 

 

Author’s Bio:
Barbara Crooker’s books are Radiance, winner of the 2005 Word Press First Book Award and finalist for the 2006 Paterson Poetry Prize; Line Dance (Word Press, 2008), winner of the 2009 Paterson Award for Excellence in Literature; and More (C&R Press, 2010). Her poems appear in a variety of literary journals and many anthologies, including Good Poems for Hard Times (Garrison Keillor, editor)(Viking Penguin) and the Bedford Introduction to Literature.

Elegy For Sasha

White Cat on Cushion

White Cat on Cushion

You know, I loved you beyond reason,
for you were love in fur.
As a kitten, you were
more dog than cat,
chasing foil balls,
pouncing on your shadow
in the hallway.
You guarded my second baby
like a lion, licked my hand
with sand when the first one died.

Your eyes, blue marbles,
depthless as water;
your fur, white, immaculate.
You sat, china cat,
in the sun front window;
your purr was a motor
love set ticking.
You’d square yourself
in any box or corner.
No one has ever loved me more,
for less.

At the vet’s,
cage of cold steel,
smelling of dogs and dampness,
you laid your cheek
on my hand,
no longer summer’s clouds,
told me it was all right
to go,
and let your body sleep.

I still hear you
crunching in the kitchen,
still hear your pads
in the hallway,
little fog feet.

Love holds us up
for sacrifice;
I bare my veins
like a roadmap.
I have never been loved more,
for less,
for you were love in fur.

 

 

Author’s Bio:
Barbara Crooker’s books are Radiance, winner of the 2005 Word Press First Book Award and finalist for the 2006 Paterson Poetry Prize; Line Dance (Word Press, 2008), winner of the 2009 Paterson Award for Excellence in Literature; and More (C&R Press, 2010). Her poems appear in a variety of literary journals and many anthologies, including Good Poems for Hard Times (Garrison Keillor, editor)(Viking Penguin) and the Bedford Introduction to Literature.

Finding Sanctuary in Everyday Hours

Stone Path Through Woods Lined with Fallen Autumn Leaves, Vermont by James Forte

Stone Path Through Woods Lined with Fallen Autumn Leaves, Vermont by James Forte


Once you pass the threshold of this place, you are completely free of the demands of the outside world. Every thread is cut that binds you in time and place to the obligations, incessant voices, schedules and spiritual constrictions of your everyday life. While you are here, whether for a moment, or an hour, or years, no unwanted human-made sounds or lights disturb your solitude. Nothing exists in this place that does not nourish you or that you have not welcomed. You are in sanctuary.

Every day for the past year or so, I have dwelled in sanctuary during daily walks to work on quiet wooded trails. For that hour, I am incommunicado and my only responsibility is to put one foot in front of the other until I reach my office. I remember the same sense of safety and peace from the playtimes of my childhood. Back then, sanctuary was all around me everyday and, in its fertile peace, I flourished. Continue reading →

Come Back with Your Shield

Above All, Navy Fighter Jet

Above All, Navy Fighter Jet

In the time of Ancient Greece, Spartan women shouted to husbands and sons before they left for battle:
“Come back with your shield—or on it.”

“Ready?” I sit up in bed, watching my husband lace up his boots. He is all hero in his drab green flight suit, colorful squadron patches at his shoulders and chest.

“As ready as ever.” I feel the day’s urgency in his gentle squeeze of my shoulders as he kisses me goodbye. “See you at eleven?”

“We’ll be there.”
Continue reading →

The Temple of the Subway Goddess by Carolyn Lee Boyd

April Showers

April Showers

Why are clouds beautiful?

This is just one of the many metaphysical questions that wend their way through this delightful read by Carolyn Lee Boyd. The Temple of the Subway Goddess encourages the reader to pause and consider the underlying theme rather than rush headlong to decipher the ending. Continue reading →