No Trace by Jessica L. Walsh

No Trace

The body itself likely took flight
from a seaside cliff
and burst in the waves to sudden pieces
each turning into a deep water reef in the ever dark
where the rare beasts circle
led by the lantern fishes
in the funeral procession of the lost

I would have it this way

In my book the gone go undisturbed
. . . . . . . .safe from detectors maps revolutions

asleep among coelacanths
snakeheads and swallowers
among colossals goblins and megamouths
. . . . . . . .all the homely warted mermaids
. . . . . . . .who roam hairless and saggy
. . . . . . . .a mile below our garbage islands

The ocean’s deformed will welcome my wreck
. . . . . . . .the way the rejects take the new fat kid
. . . . . . . .to their table at the edge of the cafeteria

I will speak for missing
in spite of a cry for closure
. . .which is its own lost ship
sighted and gone
without a trace

Don’t worm your way
. . . . . . . .past these bad miracles
. . . . . . . .which are after all
. . . . . . . .the only miracles I have

Let me sleep the day away
. . . . . . . .knowing I can vanish
. . . . . . . .and join the ugly silent second line
. . . . . . . .at any hour

I do herein bequeath the unsolved

by Jessica L. Walsh

Editor’s Note: This poem reads like a prayer wherein the narrator asserts the right to be and pass away in truth instead of in falsehood. It is a statement about how we as a society treat our “deformed.”

From the archives – Already — R. Nemo Hill


“How old is my ghost? How old is my ghost?” — Peter Redgrove

I’m leaving here tomorrow—and already
(untroubled by this human weather passing)
I hear the garden growing on behind me;

the pond disturbed, but only by the eddy
of circling fish—a slight, bright splashing.
I’m leaving here tomorrow—and already

such casual music can’t help but remind me
how little of myself I leave that’s lasting
in this garden I feel growing on behind me.

An unseen wind is rising, growing steady,
while overhead dark, gentle clouds are massing.
I’m leaving here tomorrow. Look! Already

rain’s ready to erase (so none can find me)
all trace of tracks upon the ground. I’m asking:
in this garden I feel growing on behind me

how many times have rain and wind refined these
melting backward glances, this light grasping?
I’m leaving here tomorrow—and already
I hear this garden growing on behind me.

(Petulu, Bali—1997)

From Autumn Sky Poetry 16 — by R. Nemo Hill

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Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Vintage verse – Love Is Enough by William Morris

Love Is Enough

Love is enough: though the World be a-waning,
And the woods have no voice but the voice of complaining,
. . . . .Though the sky be too dark for dim eyes to discover
The gold-cups and daisies fair blooming thereunder,
Though the hills be held shadows, and the sea a dark wonder
. . . . .And this day draw a veil over all deeds pass’d over,
Yet their hands shall not tremble, their feet shall not falter;
The void shall not weary, the fear shall not alter
. . . . .These lips and these eyes of the loved and the lover.

by William Morris (1834-1896)

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Ruins by Peg Duthie


It was not the rain
that crushed each car
against the others
like petals.

It was not the rain
that peeled the paper
off the walls
of my living room

though yes, the rain sped up
the bloombursts and showers
of shattering glass

and yes, it hastened
the vine-trails of cracks
across my graying ceilings.

A teacher tells me
about a clumsy scribe.
nothing escaped
the slap of accidents.

To calm myself
in front of blank pages,
I count the wrinkles
that must have clouded
the brow of a silent wife.

It is not the rain
that scrambles the script
between your ambition
and where it has driven you.
It’s not the rain
that has smeared my lines
into half-erased games
haunting a sidewalk.

The rain is at once
both needle and eraser—

everything an accident
waiting to be watered.

by Peg Duthie

Editor’s Note: This poem uses allegory to describe the ruins of a relationship. Storms happen. So do accidents. The imagery and narrative explain how these things can be personal.

Angie, leaving by Sally Bliumis-Dunn

Angie, leaving

I watch her differently now,
frame her smiling

in the kitchen doorway,
blow drying her hair

in the mirror; I add
a random

image here, image
there to the invisible album

I keep of her inside me:
riding a two- wheeler,

gap of missing teeth.
Now, as she readies

herself for college,
it’s the ordinary I linger on –

her leaving, too large
for any one thing; it’s more

uniform, indiscriminate
something like fog; no

more like snow.
And I don’t see, but feel

the air, full of her
lovely falling.

Isn’t it always like this –
joy and sorrow calling

to each other
across an open field.

How strange the heart’s
equivalents –

she is leaving:
it is snowing.

by Sally Bliumis-Dunn

Editor’s Note: The relationship of disconnected images is one of the strengths of poetry as an art form. In this poem, an act of leaving becomes joy and sorrow, or perhaps snow (and possibly all three simultaneously).

Posers by Kim M. Baker


Inspired by the still life painting Lilacs, Oil on Canvas, by Ted Theodores

as if we could still their life
drop cuttings into a Jericho vessel
display their fragrance
their bunched selves
on the mantle
or the dining room table
after ignoring them the rest of the year

and when we turn our backs
or dim the lights
they stretch like yogis
in poses that might unvase them
might make them bigger
or at least peaceful with this existence

or maybe they entertain themselves this way
pretending to be happy
spraying their fragrance
into the black background
trying to look useful
look happy

until two fall on their sides laughing
exhausted at the absurdity
of trying to make someone happy
by being useful
by dying a slow death

by Kim M. Baker

Editor’s Note: Ekphrastic poetry can sometimes descend into mere description. This poem does not have that failing. Instead, personification imbues the lines with an imagined narrative and an emotional punch at the end.

My Mother Has My Heart by Lesléa Newman

My Mother Has My Heart

My mother has my heart and I have hers,
We traded on the day that she gave birth.
Each passing year the line between us blurs,
Until the day I lay her in the earth.
My heart in her now cracked and split in two,
Her heart in me now wound down like a clock,
As she and I turn into something new,
The love between us hardens into rock.
My heart in her a newborn mourning dove,
Still safely tucked inside its sheltered nest.
Her heart in me a letter signed with love,
A treasure I keep deep within my chest.
From this day forth, whatever else occurs,
My mother has my heart and I have hers.

by Lesléa Newman, from I Carry My Mother

Lesléa on Facebook

Twitter: @lesleanewman

Editor’s Note: This poem circles into itself, mirroring the emotional attachment of daughter and mother and the enduring love that surpasses death.

Waiting Rooms by Robert Wexelblatt

Waiting Rooms

Aren’t they all the same?
Everyone together, yet not;
everybody wanting in, or out?

Can to wait be an active verb
when it’s so crushingly passive?
Is it more like to be or to scream?

Some waiting to be taken, others for them
to be sprung so they can hightail it.
Anticipation’s braised to incarceration.

Televisions you can’t turn off.
Magazines you can’t read.
Germy toys in the Kiddie Korner.

At the vet’s the schnauzer whimpers,
getting a big whiff of euthanasia.
In the dentist’s you worry what they’ll find.

At the lawyer’s it’s the price of time
plus the sadness of settlements and her
joke sign: How Much Justice Can You Afford?

The DMV’s all waiting room, all the time.
In the Social Security Office nothing gets
cleared up and sugared children test limits.

Waiting for the principal, the loan officer,
the auto repairman, the HR hatchet,
the end of the endoscopy, the biopsy result.

After four hours of bearing witness even
the Emergency Room traumas turn routine.
Waiting for help, waiting for the bad news.

Walls with corporate art, models sprawled across
Harleys, misty landscapes that never soothe,
all the horrid, hard, but matching chairs,

the empty water coolers, coffeemakers
on the fritz, the impregnable receptionists,
the psychiatrists’ overthought décor

and the still air, thickened by anxiety,
rotting into rancid ennui where life feels
suspended but could be in the balance.

Dante thought up a vestibule neither in nor out
of Hell, a space set apart for those who
lose their intellect’s good, who take no sides,

earning no infamy and meriting no praise.
Beside these, eternally stranded in that infernal
salla d’attesa, even a sinner might feel proud.

by Robert Wexelblatt

Editor’s Note: Just when you think this poem can’t find another example of interminable waiting, it does. The form functions as a sort of waiting room, too—tercets of time, not quite stretching into Hell.

From the archives – On the Drive Back to Durango, I Wake Up in Taos — Leah Browning


On the Drive Back to Durango, I Wake Up in Taos

Immediately, the landscape is wrong,
all shades of brown, and you are sheepish,
sure that you must have missed a sign

or two. I am on my way back to college
after a break, and I am furious to find myself
still in New Mexico, off in the wrong direction,

when I should already be in Colorado,
sitting at my desk, studying for exams.
I want to go back to that moment now, to be

the girl I once was, in those months before we married.
I would tell you, “It was a harmless mistake.”
I would tell you, “It could have happened to anyone.”

We would leave the car and walk through the streets
holding hands. I want to superimpose this image,
obscuring the one where the girl takes the wheel

and turns them around, driving away from the unexpected
city with a mouth as sour as vinegar.

from Autumn Sky Poetry 5 — by Leah Browning

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim