by Laughing Waters

snake skin
weaved into the tall grass
field pea blooms

Nevada Mind

by Karla Linn Merrifield

I flick sere judgment on horned lizard tongue
wildness uncoils across great white basins.

I rattle a snake’s great desert tail
in the great ranges of sagebrush lines.

I, reptile, speak, coil the wild greatly.

Forest Light

by Suzanne Cottrell

Hiking Holly Point Trail
Sunlight streams through
Slippery Elm, Black Walnut,
Water Oak, Bitternut Hickory

Rio en Medio

by Ann Hunkins

Oak-tannic rooted stream
trout trap up under dark rock hang
turgid foam froth
towhee twit tangle thorn
chokecherry glutted bank

Anna DeStefano


by Carl Mayfield

Bark is the only
bite offered.
The pine sucks
the earth
into its trunk,
moment by moment
into the sky
where the
three needle
meet the wind.

The way back

by Samara Golabuk

Tannin stains the riverbed
with the waters' carmine flow.
Strings of weeds—
undine's pleistocene strands—
point the way forward
toward bends and narrows,
and later, toward a dock
with orange buoy floats
that mark off the danger.

there is a darkening, a bonfire,
then a casserole, and
for the morning,
coffee from the bean.
The bellow and rattle of the kettle
will wake us. The river, in our muscles now,
follows the long road to memory,
jeweled and dark.

Arjomand Rahimzadeh

Off Caldor Road

by Taylor Graham

Forest unravels the old logging spur
since the last load was hauled away.
Here’s hint of a trail to Clear Creek
where someone had a mining claim
and left a frying pan with no handle.
Now it draws wilderness about itself
as creek flows down through gorge
to flatlands as if forever. Yew trees
cling to morning light, their rustle
different but akin to ponderosa
and incense cedar. So many green
voices answering the river.

becoming your job

by C. Z. Heyward

it was time to leave

wings of the sparrow
loping through juniper berries
caress my lids into submission

she's nesting
as I've fed her soft grain
as an afterthought
one pint at a time

zoophilous screams of the quartet
wane on down the boulevard

I jump in a taxi
less I'm seduced back inside

He asks me
Where to my brother

In the moment
it was only cue I needed

I ask him
What brings you here

Bad dreams
his reply
About my children
orphans all them

I ask
civil war


How worse

Their mothers can't fight back
Because elephants can't shoot rifles

Orphans have nightmares
Crying well into the night
Then through the sunrise
And sunset

He tells me

He bedded with them
No more than straw
And a blanket

but the screams of infants
fell like mourning stars
in between the cackles of hyenas
Feasting on the flesh of their mothers

So he left
No longer able to soothe
innocence mutilated

he's trying to remember to forget
but he's like them now
nothing is forgotten

The Tunguska Non-event

by Todd Mercer

When on fire
the present’s paramount.
There may have been
a meteor to blame, a comet
crashed into the far taiga,
or an errant transatlantic
burst of current
from Nikola Tesla’s lab.
It wasn’t on my mind
the moment
I exploded into flames.
I mouthed a shorthand
stripped-down prayer,
uninformed of the square miles
of matchstick evergreens flattened,
croaked it out
without a thought to
creator or crater-maker:
“Water!” I cried
in my native language,
“Water!” again,
as if anyone could hear.
I wasn’t slightly curious.
about the comet,
gas plume, God’s hand,
the stray wireless transmission,
antimatter, whatever the cause.
is strictly present tense.

December Water
Larkin Stringer

Anonymous Papyrus Fragment, Ancient Messene, Date Unknown but Later Than You Think

by Vassilis Zambaras

Fields we had
[        ]
[        ]


[ now?]
[        ]
[        ]
[        ]

[shredded wheat]

Ely[sian?] with honey
[        ]
[        ]
[        ]
[        ]

Bees combing long
[        ] [flaxen?]   

Hair [       ]

[         ]
[         ]
[         ]

To your knees   

[the rest wholly eaten away by moths]

G. Tod Slone


by Jeff Burt

One fragile egret
a low, slow acetylene trace
against the blackboard of twilight

Just A Bird

by Don Thompson

The owl has flown infinite distances
and for eons to get here,
somewhere close by in the dark.

If you could see it, you’d recognize
your own fear caught in its eyes
like an insect in amber.

You’ve felt talons seize your wrist
in a bad dream;
waited all night for the beak;

and heard the owl call softly—
low notes like an angel of Apocalypse
warming up his shofar

"Brown feathers are gleaming"

by Margarita Serafimova

Brown feathers are gleaming,
the eagles are coming down over the forest,
purple forest, bare forest.

Standing forest, naked forest
in purple shadow, an autumnal slope.
The eagles are passing.

Harvest Moon
Maury Grimm

July heat

by Ed Higgins

Lithe in one another’s arms
beneath tall grey-green eucalyptus

their porcelain smooth trunks
shedding sun-peeled bark,

long cloth-like ribbons drifting
in afternoon July heat.

These fragrant windbreaks
against Santa Ana’s whispered

hot winds, leaves rattling slowly
within the canopy.

In summer-sweet desire
we too once swayed together

the soft deception
of seasons.

Climate Change

by Tricia Knoll

Hold my hand to the cold fire,
dream fire, though I wince, dance
or run to the ice creek.

Hold me to the cold fire
that feeds on flames of questions
ignored as ash and wind-blow.

Old frozen thoughts
melt, drip, seep
toward that cave fire.

Demanding attention
how they go to earth
soaking half-hearted shadows.

Pretend at your peril the cold fire
is not always burning,
crackling done and overdone.

Of Numerous Fires

by Carl Mayfield

The cars snared by the humans
sway in the smog
to a dubious octane waltz.
Driving from here to there
requires internal combustion,
explosions we can't hear
over the wail of Los Angeles.

A fire on the mountain
takes a while to get there,
traveling as the wind sees fit.
Trees go off like spilled
gunpowder, message still
not received, oblivious
to the earth punching back,
we lament ash and smoke
smudging the skies now moved
into abandoned kitchens.

A vague highway roar
hovers around the emptiness,
scorched hands holding keys
to a house no longer there,
soot being the only color alive,
the wind laying down to rest,
speechless and abiding.
Heartless in every gear,
cars roll between city
and ocean and all the veins
in between, always ready
for someone itching
to get back on the road,
to start the next fire.

Pepper Trail

Salute to a New Day's Dawn

by Tom Sheehan

Out of the edge of earth, out of choice darkness mixed with silt and angry acids that form of fire, out of secret caverns rocking in the deep, out of stone moving liquefied which is but a sea we float on, out of distance, out of death-wracking night, out of fear of child-hood, out of nightmares and terror shrieks, out of our ignorance, out of shame of thoughts sitting like pebbles on the soul, dark black pebbles, out of the songs of frenzied air, out of the mouths of monster birds cast from an angry god's hands, freed from moon at endless wait, escaping debtor's prison partly in rags and partly in pain, heaved upwards like a mason's block to the next tier of gray waiting, on the hilltop comes the sun at its widest broadcast.

Before it, pell-mell fleeing, scudding down alleyways, across corners, stoops, half granite walls where houses used to be, through windows and mirrors and the wiliest of laces where night collects itself in a host of aromas, the shadows go quickly before seven miracles hunting them down, at chase, at wild pursuit, leaping one wall to the next, one huge lunge across barriers, time, as if breath will expire too quickly again, the tightest lungs thrown into athletic surprises.

At Earth edge worms shudder, recoil, go gelatin. Earth shakes with a robin's sprint across a tympanic lawn, as if drummers' batons beat on. He spears the tubed, eyeless thing, soft telescopic escapee just now plowing into loam. The warning signs are warm where wonder makes its way across all the universe.

In the morning mountains, a sundae piled high with sweet textures, explode. I catch the mouthy shrapnel they throw into the battle dawn wages. It is one rare beauty on the fly, beams and sunshine flares and streams and colossal stripes of golden air coming through clouds hanging loose as line-hung blankets. Far out mountains are the first to get this sun, heaving upward whiter cones of snow as brilliant as stars, as sure and as steady as old men who know all the answers and give off such illumination in the phantom measure some gods themselves allow.

But you there, at the crossroads of this day, looking across the inviolate stretch of gray light we suddenly find between us yet joining us, must also find ignition as spectacle born in the rigors of yesterday's soul. You, too, know the upshot of this new coming, the bird, the fire, the breath deeper than stone. You, also, must linger where the sun warms first, the first warm spot of the day, the bay window broad as an ax sweep, a piece of porch tilted under a pine, a front door stoop as white as first thoughts, a path between corrupt oaks and sleek birches, a blanket where your hand falls to rest,  odd place in your eyes sudden starts have earned when you think all about your being is still dark and the nightmare is the bark of wild dogs crawling down the banners of your mind, spiders of light on the move.

When it all goes down, when the bet is paid off and all markers set straight, our sun comes with singular entry, warm shot, two fingers of life into the glass, just as every alley and each dark space we know wait out the mercies found in light.

Blue Ridge, North Carolina
Jim Freeman

Saturn on Steroids

by Eliza Mimski

(Scientists first announced in 2012 that a disk resembling Saturn's rings was found positioned around an object 420 light-years from Earth. They believed it may have been the first alien planet with rings actually found. They referred to it as the Winged Creature.)

Up there with the endearing stars and the black pool of the sky
Up there with gravity and mystery and the sun and the moon
Up there beyond the sighs of earth, the chokes of earth
Past the pockets of rain and the
Clouds that are slow white syllables
Is the winged creature

Light years away, it peers down on us
Its red face brought forward
To penetrate microscopes
Pumping away with the red blood of celestial force 
It defies our laboratories,
Astronomy, astrophysics 

We are waking up to it
It is waking up to us
We are looking up at it
It is looking down at us
We sum it up
It sums us down
We study it
It studies us

We call it the ringed object
Saturn on steroids
It thinks of us as the trash steroid of earth and
Cradles us in its warm red hands
Covers us with the red blanket of anti gravity
We are the warm pot of pollution
The fumes of money and wealth

We study its rings
It searches for our soul
We study its size, its retrograde spinning
A possible catastrophic collision
We are lost, it declares
Our banks like gleaming objects
Our freeways like kings and queens
White boys at the white table of economy

We try to understand it
It tries to understand us
Some scientists think
It is only our heart

Our disembodied heart
Spinning out of control

Grace Hawthorne

Urban Garden

by g emil reutter

Summer is slowly fading into autumn as October fluctuates from warmth to frost and yet the perennials continue on. A small flock of Orioles rest in the top of a sycamore, the garden welcomes swallow tales, sparrows and squirrels who feed upon the cone heads black eyed susans, daises, phlox bee balm, hydrangea and sage. Blue Jays linger, queen bees buzz about the plants, the sweet aroma of mums idles about the walkway, a rabbit flops on a bed of sedum. Day and tiger lilies, hosta have faded into the bed, iris blades stand tall, turtle heads sway in breeze, A lone flower hangs from a wild bleeding heart. Caterpillars pay a visit sliding down an electric line on brick wall, eat butterfly weed upon arrival in the garden. Cat birds are noisy as ravens fly above rooftops. The feeder and bath are fully occupied, roses still in bloom. Come November winter preparation will begin for this city garden full of color, full of life anticipating springs arrival here in this small slice of nature and the beauty it brings.

In Constantinople

by Margarita Serafimova

Allah is calling the parakeets
to pass over the grass,
and they are passing,
greener than light.

Ann Hunkins


by Jamie O’Connell


/ waves blued
by fire /

black pebble sun
splits sea /

/ how sun
feeds sea /

bones, flesh


by Gale Acuff

One day I’ll be dead and then I’ll show God
who’s King of the Jungle since He’s dead,
too, He’s old-dead but me, I’ll be new-dead
and meet Him face to face and give Him what-
for and maybe take a swing at Him for
being all-spirit but creating me
as a spirit trapped in  a body and
not a very nice one at that, body
I mean, for ten years old I poot a lot
and smell pretty bad considering I’ve
got no hair between my thighs or under
my armpits, none that you can see, I mean
hair, not armpits, no, all my hair’s on my
head and it refuses to be combed and
when it is there’s always a cowlick and
God saw that that was good? good and ugly
is more like it and if He tries to dis
-arm me by saying that He’s been human, too,
I’ll just say How convenient and ask Him

why is it when Jesus is around, not
that He ever is, at least not these days,
You vanish, like Clark Kent and Superman?
If I really wanted to go to Hell
I guess I’d hit God right between the eyes
with all of this righteous indignation
I'm not sure how much the Old Boy would take
before he booted me into Hell and

the Hell of it is I'd do the same thing
if the tables were turned, I don't blame God
but I sure as Hell don't blame myself, I
never asked to be born and I guess He
didn't, either, He's always been full-grown,
maybe He was born in a manger just
to get a taste of how we come about
down here, on Earth I mean, in poverty
to boot, which is good of Him but still He
lives like a king and better in Heaven
with Jesus--Who's really God as well--on
His left side, or is it His right, and then
there's the Holy Ghost, He's my favorite,
I know a lot less about Him but then
that's why I like Him, He's a mystery
and God and Jesus no matter how good
they are are like Eudora Welty, damn
fine authors but a bit of a snore so

one day when it's my day to justify
to God why I've lived the life I've lived I
think I'll tell them, just before or after
they condemn me to Hell, Walk a mile
in my sandals, Pal, just to see the look on
His face, Jesus's, too, if He's hard by
or even if He and the Father are
one and looking out through the same eyes and
even though the Holy Ghost adds up to
a Trinity, I bet I'll see Him roll

-ing His eyes inside Jesus's inside
God's, wheels within wheels, that's Ezekiel,
I know my Bible, I mean where it counts. 

Taos Sky
Susan Keiser