Monday 25 March 2013

3 Poems by Basil P. Rouskas


"I leave my brush in the East and set forth on my journey.
I shall see the famous places in the Western Land.”

– Hiroshige Utagawa

I leave my poems 
on Black River's
southern bend

where winter sunlight
reflects into our 
bedroom window.

I am going east
to make peace 
with my brother –

We both grow old. 
He in our father’s village home,
I in my home by the river.


And I walk the path
along Black River
as I have most mornings
for twenty years.

In summer, the river feeds 
skunk cabbage in the marshlands. 
In winters fallen oaks and tulip trees 
slow the water through patches of ice
to soften the anger of  Pottersville Falls 
by the old Norwegian’s cabin.

And suddenly, unexpectedly,
in my walk I see father get up for work.
Half asleep, he splashes cold water  
on his face. My eyes are wet. 
I turn and gaze at the river bend.


The dress, a crudely colored green
on a black and white photograph.
The body at camera angle,
left side forward, hand on hip,
right forearm across the waist, relaxed.
Your eyes — still intense — look
at me square and call me to join you.
But I cannot do that, mother, until I
finish what you asked me to do.


Basil Rouskas has been writing poetry for over 30 years. His first poetry lines  in the Greek language were protests against the military Junta who took over Greece and ruled it until the mid 70's. He translated literature and theatre during his first years in the US and gradually his poetry became bilingual. He currently writes mainly in English. His first chapbook Redrawing Borders was published in 2010 by Finishing Line Press and drew favorable reviews in the Journal of Hellenic Diaspora in 2012. The book's main subject is the complex subject of transitions that take place as one leaves one country and builds roots in another. It is not the geographic borders, but the spiritual and psychological ones that establish the space of how the loss of the old weaves with the assimilation of the new and eventually becomes an integrated life: Past and present become seamless and borderless in their co-existence when the change has been completed! Basil's poetry has been featured in many poetry venues, including the New York Times, Princeton Public Library Podcast (2007 celebration of April as Poetry Month), Helix Magazine, Shot Glass Journal, and TIFERET: A Journal of Spiritual Literature. He has read his poetry in several libraries, bookstores, including venues such as Cornelia Street Cafe in NYC, Immigrant Festival Writing in NJ and the Tribute World Trade Center (Ground Zero Visitor Center) in 2009. Basil has worked in corporate and not-for-profit organizations in the roles of executive, entrepreneur, consultant and leadership coach. He has also taught at leading universities on leadership development, personal strength assessment and team effectiveness. His work is described partially in his firm's website

3 Poems by Jacob Silkstone

Bonfire Night: Self-portrait with potatoes

November: hunched above the peel-specked sink
he skims his fingers with the steady knife.
So many hours and still no time to think
and, in the bitter winter dark, his life
curls smaller, colder while the city blooms
with fire, expands itself beyond the night.
No call for bloated dreams in narrow rooms,
no cause, these frozen days, for stunted flight.
There’d been vague promises he meant to keep
or leaps of stubborn faith he’d planned on taking;
there’d been a hazy summer half-asleep,
he’d faked whole lives and hoped to go on faking.
Now, if he dreams, it’s only surface-deep
and always at the needle-point of waking.

‘Casi como un milagro’

Every morning begins with a cup of coffee,
and over time the rings have moved like ripples
across the faded surface of the kitchen table.
Each small mark is a sign of victory.

Every morning, he takes a book of poems and reads
for half an hour at his desk, stealing a few lines
for a notebook which has frayed with time.
The seven o’clock cold curls around his feet.

For years, mornings have begun this way
but now he feels a desperate need for order,
a rage to cling to details, to record the
swell of birds against the paling sky.

Each day becomes a requiem for all he cannot know;
still, in its minor way, a miracle, like bluebells in the snow.

Midlife morning

The middle comes nowhere near the middle –
one morning spent dragging a hangover
to a pinched spit of rock, I’d recover
a single word from the deep brown ribbon
of a rip current and then hurry on,
feeling the quick thrill of being alone,
noticing only that the sea seemed new:
a midsummer, kingfisher shade of blue. 


Jacob Silkstone lives in Bergen and has previously worked as a primary school teacher in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is a poetry editor for The Missing Slate and an assistant editor for Asymptote, and his work recently appeared in Sculpted: Poetry of the North West.

3 Photos by Zhijian Tao

3 Poems by Diana Smith Bolton


We might be sisters, she whispered.
The lines of our bodies were as empty
as the priest’s gesture, wiping
the chalice’s lip with white linen.

Whole Silences at Walden

Amish neighbors knew him as that strange English.
He wiped away cataracts of sweat with his hoe,
glaring at unborn vegetables in their hush.
The fence’s post-holes were rows of perfect Os.

He planted potatoes (Kranz and Frontier Russet)
and turnips, returning each week to the field
to startle some Rallus elegans from their nests
and pace the dark grids of his winter yield.

Mockingjay Triolet

May there be good among the harm
in every empty place you walk.
Remember, strongest foes come armed
with good. To stand with you, face harm—
my life was built for such alarm!
But that’s enough of empty talk;
your odds are good despite the harm,
though it’s near empty where you walk.


Diana Smith Bolton's poems have appeared in the Cartography anthology by Imagination and Place Press, as well as in 32 Poems, Magic Lantern Review, anderbo, The Jackson Hole Review, and elsewhere. She is the founding editor of District, a journal of writing and art.

Monday 18 March 2013

2 Poems by James B. Nicola

Frost Bites #3: Exhaustion

      I could do This, I think,
but then, I could do That; I know
on One path I’d speed but at a brink;
      the Other’s safe but slow.

      And then there's always There:
Is That a place that I should go?
Or is Here as good as Anywhere
      and High as fine as Low?

      The possibilities
are tiring as a life is long—
longer when I’m made ill-at-ease
      by choices proven wrong.
        Though what I think I need
is, wrong or right, to strive—
and exhaustion, since I don't succeed,
      to remind me I'm alive.

from the  Frost Bites sequence

potter putter putz

potter putter putz
fiddle faddle futz
mind’ll wander fumble CRASH
putz futz klutz


James B. Nicola has had 300 poems published in periodicals including Atlanta Review, Tar River, Texas Review, Lyric, and Nimrod. A Yale grad and stage director by profession, his book Playing the Audience won a Choice Award. As a poet, he also won the Dana Literary Award and a People's Choice award (from Storyteller); was nom­inated for a Pushcart Prize and a Rhysling Award; and was featured poet at New Formalist. His children’s musical Chimes: A Christmas Vaude­ville premiered in Fairbanks, Alaska—with Santa Claus in attendance opening night.

2 Poems by Joseph Farley

Angry Spring

The new grass grows green and high
Scampers in the wind, brushing
Against knees of oak and willow.
The blades shout their small cries,
“We are many and we are young.”

A beech shakes its branches.
The forest sighs, and sheds it leaves,
Knows the cold sun will shrink the noise,
If the summer bulls do not stop to feed
On all that grass so ready to bleed.

Unraveling the tapestry

An old photo shows who you were,
Young man naive and ripe with dreams.
You smile with a full head of hair,
Knowing the future will be bright.

Twenty plus years have rolled by
And that eager boy has become
A pot bellied curmudgeon,
Cynical and angry with all.

Happiness is a fading memory.
The golden years lie ahead,
minus the gold,
and the rich tapestry
you sought to weave
with your life

has proven to be just a smudge,
a bit of oil and dirt
stuck to the wall
in a wide and
ever darkening


Joseph Farley edited Axe Factory from 1986 to 2010. His books and chapbooks include Suckers, For the Birds, Longing for the Mother Tongue, Waltz of the Meatballs, and Her Eyes.

3 Poems by Doug Johnson

SONG 209
Han Shan

When water is so clear it sparkles
you can see the bottom without effort
when your mind doesn’t have a goal
no circumstance can distract you
once your mind doesn’t chase illusions
even kalpa holds no change
if you can be so aware
from such awareness nothing hides

Chanson 209
Quand eau chuchote verre
Elle-veut carpe diem
il-peut voir carpe doré

Quand votre qi chuchote verre
Villageois hurleront mirage
mais cadres ne inquiétez-vous pas

kalpa changent bébés
kalpa changent âgées
Si peut-il chuchote sans parler

Peuvent-ils entendre tout
Peut-il chuchote eau

SONG 209
When water whispers glass
She sees, seize the day
You can see the golden carp

When your chi whispers glass
Villagers will scream mirage
but surroundings don’t disquiet

kalpa changes babies
kalpa changes elders
If you whisper without speaking

You can hear all
You can whisper water


Ts’en Shen

If only I could climb somewhere
but no one sends me wine
my poor distant garden of mums
blooms by a battlefield now


Si seulement je pourvoyais monter Montaigne Froid−
mais pour quel raison.
Le gardien de ma femme plein de basilic
demande du Chemin,

pourquoi nous combattons les rosiers?


If only I could climb Cold Mountain−
but for what reason.
My wife’s garden, full of basil,
asks the Way

why do we war with the roses?

Han Shan

Live without making visits
die neither kind nor just
words include limbs and leaves
thoughts contain lies and betrayals
people who clear a small path
thereby give rise to great deceit
claiming to build a ladder to the clouds
they whittle it into splinters


Vous vit sans rendre visites á Stevie Wonder
Vous meurt ni gentil ni juste
mots cultivent branches et feuilles
réflexions fleurons mensonges et abuses de confiance.
Coupait les arbres construire escaliers au nuages
Stevie nie, fend et brise le Chemin


Live without visiting Stevie Wonder
die neither kind nor just
words grow branches and leaves
thoughts blossom lies and betrayal.
Cutting down the trees to build stairways to the clouds
Stevie nixes, splinters, and shatters the Way


Doug Johnson is the founding editor of Cave Moon Press. He holds a PhD in Psychology and is a member of Mensa.  His poems and photographs have appeared across the U.S. in literary journals.  His short stories have appeared in Audience and Skive out of New York and Australia.  His book of short fiction Frank’s Diary was nominated for the Pacific Northwest Bookseller’s Award.  A chapbook will be released by Red Ochre Press called Pedaling Blind. His debut novel appears in fall of 2013. Of the book, Home on the Range, Naomi Shihab Nye wrote: “Douglas P. Johnson, citizen of the world, visionary artist of words and visual images, responds deeply and generously to the mysteries and complexities we are living through.  He is a voice of witness and empathy, resonantly attentive to the voices and stories around him- poems as corrals, gathering places, or poems as sieves, filtering out the tiny glittering stones.”

Monday 11 March 2013

2 Poems by Kristin Roedell

Few things are quiet

as night snow:
there is the uninvited
past, sharp and 
certain as geometry
when geese fly;
there is age coming in slow
on a stinging tide;
there is sleep spinning
thin as blown glass.

All things snow remain
silent here;  cars slip
inaudibly to the shoulder,
children doze, bedded
in the back seat
like sled dogs.

Down at the lake,
power went out
days ago; behind curtains
candles are lit, flashlights
doubling in the downstairs
mirror. Belly to back,

your damp breath
lies on my feathered
nape; like night snow,
you fall everywhere,
mute, ubiquitous.
Few things are quiet
as your still regard.

What Jung Would Say

My knees always ache before a storm;
last night a barbed November wind
turned the madrona to the north,
branches bent horizontal
in a stiff Quaker’s broom.
Drowned birds clung
to the sagging phone lines.

This morning the dog killed a crow
flapping on the frosted steps,
its left eye socket empty.
I built a fire in a rusted barrel
and burned it; it was small
without the thirst for flight.
I thought this means
something, in the way that
dreams speak in pictures;
a key means come in,
and a shoe means go out.

I thought
if a fire with wings means
death is a ladder,
and a one eyed crow
means love is one sided,
this winter means endless.

Still, the key beneath a stone, 
the shoes behind my door
wait. There will come
the sound of ice cracking
in the birdbath.
The first black bird on the wire means

the soot of ravens will fly.


Kristin Roedell graduated from Whitman College (B.A. English 1984) and the University of Washington Law School (J.D. 1987). Her poetry has been published in over fifty journals and books including Switched on Gutenberg, Ginosko, JAMA, Damselflypress, Frost Writing, Tacoma City Arts, and Voice Catcher Anthology. She is the author of three chapbooks: Seeing in the Dark (2009, Tomato Can Press), Girls with Gardenias (2012, Flutter Press), and Night Circus (2013, Legal Studies Forum). She has been nominated for Best of the Web and the Pushcart Prize. Her website is at

2 Poems by Lisa Pellegrini

Blueberry Streams

Visions of streams soak up blood
that is no more,
turning it violet.
Did I say violent?
The violet weakens.
Now it is shy amethyst.
Memories of violence
I immerse myself in the stream
and disappear.


Trouble is cloaked in shades of pink.
Reckless colors create ruin.
Will she stay?
Will she ever return?
Pray for her.
Her body snaps
like a toothpick
after claiming her last victim.
She breaks too easily--
all but her heart.


Lisa Pellegrini graduated from Beaver College (now Arcadia University) in Glenside, PA, (U.S.A.) where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. Her poetry has been published in Zouch Magazine, Downer Magazine, The Rainbow Rose, Dark Matter, Bolts of Silk, and Misfits' Miscellany. She has forthcoming poetry that will appear in Eunoia Review, The Rusty Nail, The Lascaux Review, Jellyfish Whispers, The Alarmist, and L'Allure des Mots.

3 Poems by Kim Clark

This Is [1]

the impossibility
of cleansing
the palate
of sorrow

all the wetness
in the body/world
a mere moistening
of the ashen tongue

nothing sharp enough
to cut
the words
either. please.

Sign Off the Times

                                    something about time
                                       in the homecoming from Athens
                             watch-crystal lost in airspace
                                       over Paris or Keflavik
                                            exposed face
                       hands sensitive to my hectoring fingers
                           7:00. 12:50. 10:12. 10:00.
                                       then in Vancouver
                     dead car battery, dead dashboard, dead digits
                               can’t make the ferry boat by the stars
wall clock in this bathroom locked at 5:20
      watching it stopped for hours I can’t see
                                 even ghost numbers lose visibility
                   heroic in the untold


pluck and clutch
forsaken muscle

about whose Harley
****** **** *  loud in the drive *     say
sunny periods

fending off the dullness
of the day shift
overlapping skull plates

picked-over connections
clutch and rev
the rattle *
  of bones
oh          here
and      here.

if I had a title, it’d be Chrome Your Daydream, Baby


Kim Clark’s debut fiction (sexysickchiclit) collection, Attemptations (Caitlin Press), was launched in 2011 and one of its novellas has been optioned for a 90 minute feature film. Her chapbook, Dis ease ad De sire, the M anu S cript (Lipstick Press), came out in April, 2012 and her new poetry collection, Sit You Waiting, hit bookshelves in August, 2012 via Caitlin Press. She lives in Cedar on Vancouver Island.

Monday 4 March 2013

3 Poems by Robert Sheppard

Moby Dick

the human need for
from meaningless
Again,  She blows, She breaches!
                             must we float,
                                                     that we may live.
These depths bring not
but death.
Flotsam and jetsam,
the things
Of this world.

Zeno’s Paradox

Words have power
To arrest the flight of an arrow
And the arrival of death
Is deferred
In a word----
The delimiting case
Of the world.
The approach of
Hollows out
            Our present,
And the void
            From which we speak.
Life begins in silence,
Ends in silence,
Its obituary
Then told in a language--
But a further edition
Of silence on silence.

Ineffable Qualia

What is it like to be a bat?
In the dark dark to live,
Hanging upside down in caves,
Navigating blind---
By the sonar of our own shrieks
Echoing from a shrieking world?
It is like nothing.
It is like nothing----
Nothing but ourselves.

[Editors Note:  The above poems first appeared as part of the novel, Spiritus Mundi, by Robert Sheppard.]


Robert Sheppard is the author of the acclaimed dual novel Spiritus Mundi, in two parts, Spiritus Mundi the Novel, Book I and Spiritus Mundi the Romance, Book II. The acclaimed “global novel” features espionage-terror-political-religious thriller-action criss-crossing the globe involving MI6. the CIA and Chinese MSS Intelligence as well as a "People Power" campaign to establish a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly on the model of the European Parliament, with action moving from Beijing to London to Washington, Mexico City and Jerusalem while presenting a vast panorama of the contemporary international world, including compelling action and surreal adventures. It also contains the unfolding sexual, romantic and family relationships of many of its principal and secondary characters, and a significant dimension of spiritual searching through "The Varieties of Religious Experience."  It contains also significant discussions of World Literature, including Chinese, Indian, Western and American literature, and like Joyce's Ulysses, it incorporates a vast array of stylistic approaches as the story unfolds. Book II, Spiritus Mundi the Romance, dilates the setting, scope and continuing action as a Romance of fantasy adventure where the protagonists, still following the original action of Book I, embark on a quest to the realms of Middle Earth and its Crystal Bead Game in search of the Silmaril Missing Seed Crystal  and thence through a wormhole to a "Council of the Immortals" in an Amphitheater in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy to plead for the continuance of the human race in the face of threatened extinction from a nuclear World War III involving the confrontation and military showdown between NATO, China, Russia and Iran unfolded from the espionage events of Book I. The contemporary epic culminates with the first convening of the United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, a world-scale version of the European Parliament installed as a new organ of the United Nations.

Dr. Sheppard presently serves as a Professor of International Law and World Literature at Peking University, Northeastern University and the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) of China, and has previously served as a Professor of International Law and  MBA professor at Tsinghua University, Renmin People’s University, the China University of Politics and Law  and at the Law Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) in Beijing, China. Having studied Law, Comparative Literature and politics at the University of California, Berkeley (Ph. D.) Program in Comparative Literature), Northridge, Tübingen, Heidelberg, the People’s College and San Francisco, (BA, MA, JD), he additionally has been active as professor of International Trade, Private International Law, and Public International Law from 1993 to 1998 at Xiamen University, Beijing Foreign Studies University, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Graduate School (CASS), and the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing. Since 2000 he has served as a Senior Consultant to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in Beijing and has authored numerous papers on the democratic reform of the United Nations system.

3 Poems by Cher Bibler


When the first brick fell
we could’ve picked it up and put it back,
mortared it in place.
When the second, the third, fell
there was still time. It would’ve
been a simple task.
We saw them laying there, thought
it was no big deal.
We would take a day, a couple of days,
soon, and we would fix it.
Take the time to do it right,
only we never had the time.
More bricks fell, we pretended we
didn’t see them;
we no longer knew which went where.
I am not sure where the turning point was
but all of a sudden it was too much,
we couldn’t fix it anymore.
It was too big for us.
And everyone who looked at it shook
their heads sadly, could offer no
advice, could only remember the
days when it had stood solid and
Could only regret.

(no title)

I am breathing in your love;
it catches in my lungs. I have
to take it in careful doses.
I have to watch the
density of the air.
Sometimes when I’m alone
I cough it up in big drops.
It’s like oil and water;
your love means well, but
meaning well isn’t enough.

Airport in Columbus

People drinking scotches in one of the bars
Faces in computers buried in work
talking on phones you can’t see
gesturing as if to ghosts
while you pretend you can’t hear
pretend you’re not listening
that you don’t have an insatiable interest
in other peoples’ lives
you pretend to read your book


Cher Bibler is the author of one book of poetry, California, California. She has worked as editor of Amanda Blue, a poetry magazine, and co-editor of a literary magazine, the Wastelands Review. She was a fiction reader for the Mid American Review and worked as poetry editor for the Heartlands Review. She was a book reviewer for Literary Zoo. She was a founding member of the alternative band Tinfoil, as bass/rhythm guitarist, singer and songwriter. Over their career, they released 12 albums. One of their songs, People Don’t Know, will be featured in an indie film, Certainty, directed by Keith Mosher. Her short story, Not Waving But Drowning, was a winner in the annual NOBS competition, and her current novel, I am never sure when, was a finalist in this year’s (2012) Faulkner competition. Her poetry has appeared in such publications as This Side of Paradise, Blue Hour Magazine, Thirteen Myna Birds and The Evergreen ReviewShe resides in Merida, Mexico, is in the process of forming a new band, and serves as the content editor of In Other Words: Merida.

2 Poems by Niall O'Connor

Oh give me a house without straight lines,
without the rule and dictate of second level equations
without the tyranny of right  angles
and plumbed lines:
everything fixed, pinned, painted and placed
angled, measured, metred, mitered and moulded.

Give me a house without straight lines,
let the chimney breast be proud
and the roof tiles rise and fall like the sea
let the walls trace the travel of a drunken hand
and its timbers, the sun's arc and the winds' caress.

Yes, give me a house without straight lines,
never a predictable path to travel
every projection a product of chance
no calculations forging my bondage
no metre measuring my rhymes

Oh yes, give me a house without straight lines,
so I may rest my head there
and travel its lines forever new,
and when rounding its curves,
find at least one corner true.

Tea Leaves
A sunset fills the bottom of my porcelain cup,
born between thought filled hands,
transparent from the fierce breath of a kiln
whose sole purpose was to destroy or immortalise.

When they have settled,
and the evening sky is clouded,
the leaves gather gossiping
to tell their final tale.

So I tip the cup upside down,
and turn it once, twice, three times,
all the time chanting the tinker woman's chant,
willing one future to reveal.

But when I clutch the base one last time,
I am unwilling to see,
and quickly turn to the tap instead
and scatter runes like stars
to the sink below.

Each leaf in falling takes its own path,
all leaves spiral home.


Niall O'Connor is a published poet and blogger, in print and electronic, and reads regularly at the Writer's Centre and other popular Dublin venues. O'Connor's poems have been published in The Examiner and most recently in The Stoney Thursday Book, thefirstcut#, A handful of Stones, Carty’s Poetry Journal, Madrush, Outburst, Corvus, God’s and Monsters, A Blackbird Sings, Connotation Press, and others.  He was a featured poet at the inaugural Fermoy Poetry Festival 2012.  He blogs at the very popular 

3 Photos by Joneve McCormick


Photographer: Joneve McCormick, Isla Vista, California.  Joneve is a poet, writer, editor, translator and photographer.

Topic 3 for PP Chatroom: Is Poetry a Religion?

Editorial Note

As readers and browsers may well have noticed, our second chatroom topic about what poetry is in essence has received much more attention than the first one. We hope and encourage more poetry fans to stop a moment and participate in the discourse, by reading our observation/question, or even by making written comments. Indeed, we would be readily glad to publish any written comments we find informative, intriguing or inspiring, just as we did with Michael Dalvean's.

The Observation

Very few people would endorse Percy Shelley's claim about poets being 'legislators' nowadays; however, poets still seem to function as the engineers or care-takers of the human soul. Although more and more people tend to go to music, sports and all kinds of tv or online programs for sensual or intellectual entertainment, there are numerous individuals actively engaged in the reading, writing, editing and publishing of poetic works. The very fact that a new literary/poetry outlet comes into being almost on a daily basis pinpoints poetry as something still very much alive. While there have been countless sayings about the close interrelationship between poetry and the soul, the first poetry therapist began to practice officially in New York last year. To some people, poetry stands not only for a way of living, but also for a cause they could even die for. In other words, poetry may have more important religious functions than many people have realized, since it operates at the highest spiritual level in the human life.

The Question

If religion can be defined as a ritualized social practice of wisdom, is poetry a (personalized) religion?

Your written comments on or response to the topic are more than welcome in the box below or at

Call for Poetry Submissions


* Thus far, PP has been showcasing 3 selected poets and their artworks every Monday; however, beginning from May, PP is to change into a quarterly publication, with the four issues to be released respectively in May, August, November and February; 

* Submitters are welcome to send over up to 5 (rather than only 3) poems each time. 


* All poetic and photographic works are carefully considered year round on a rolling basis for PP's spring, summer, autumn or winter issue;  

* No author information except names and email addresses in your submissions please - we will ask you for a professional 3rd-person bionote upon acceptance;

* Multiple and simultaneous submissions, as well as previously published work,  are all equally welcome insofar as you hold the copy/publishing rights;

* From time to time, we solicit poems from both established and emerging poets;

* There is no money exchange involved, except a genuine shared love for words;

* Please paste up to 5 poems in the body of your email text and send them over to;

* Our response time is shorter than 3 weeks after receipt;

* Please note only those accepted will get a reply - Many thanks & Gooooodluuuuck!