Sunday, August 28, 2016


by Lee Seese

in the driest season
anyone around here can remember

embers under fallen cedars
inch up needle-bedded rills

on the cusp of conflagration as
a chiggering itch in all of us

half-despairs half-hopes
to find release


by Diane Lee Moomey

You could, fed up
with red and blue flashing lights
and sickened by the siren howls
of human misery that never stop, could
slip through any window and follow
the thread back to Narnia.

You could
backtrack your own trail
and know that, had you turned north
in 1981 instead of west, she might
have said “yes” and you might now
be sitting in a different chair.

Or not.
Or you could, reflecting upon lawns
and empty lakes and on the vanishings
of certain birds, either slide into a glass
with ice, or, ranting, take to the streets
and by now, both those roads will lead
to the same place.

It’s been such a long drought. So many
things were never born.

The Summer of Heat

by Michael H. Brownstein

A shallot of cloud
silver gray
braised oyster

What happened
to the rain?
The liner notes
of cloud?
The hiding place
for wind and weather?

the moon onion shaped
the darkening sky
silverback and empty.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


by Stephen A. Rozwenc

through the open temple door
a jade Buddha glints
like an emerald jelly fish
swimming the ocean
of benign munificence

the intrepid rapscallion
peers down
down down
all the way down
to where foolish attachment
lets go
of its chattering monkey self


by Carl Mayfield

a line in the sand--
       whip snake
  easing under the gate

A Golden Thread

by Julie Ramon

Only the people that live on the outskirts
of town, down long roads littered with
shadows and cows understand when you’re
mid-recipe and need an egg, you can’t leave
to buy one. Instead, you walk through fields
and listen to the sound of drought crunch and notice
the way grasshoppers lead the way. And, neighbors
know the squeak of their gate opening at the end
of the drive. They meet you half way and ask
what you’re making, and you return home
egg in fist, following the step you made before,
the parts through grass. You, the thread
that weaves from one place to another
always headed home to finish what you started.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Dry Spell
(Northern Territory: Australia)

by Stefanie Bennett

Waiting on the inevitable...
The purple plain
Recycles its dust
Into the Sky Spirit’s
Blue-firestar starlight –and
The Summertime
Cut-out whirlwind.

There are no crop circles
Here. No stone-washed
Galaxy. Just
Gondwanaland’s nomadic
Electrons gathering
(I warn you!) The oldest
Of Old Souls.


by Joyce Lorenson

ending drought
rivulets running
between corn rows

The Drought Close to Home

by Marianne Szlyk

So close to the sea, the Scituate reservoir
contracts to shards of clouds and sky.
Smashed on thick mud, these shards
shrink from the tree trunks and stones
rising where water once flowed.
Humid air promises rain but does not
release it.  Blue sky persists
though towering clouds form.
No storms arise,
even rumors of thunder
off the coast.
Afternoon sun
grinds the shards to dust.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


by Joanna M. Weston

dry grass
in the river-bed
summer wind

In the clouds

by Martha Landman

See that woman, lying on her back
chin up, dressed in grey-white fluff.
Long slow strands of mist float upwards
from underneath her,
changes her shape,
arches her back.
Now she’s Freud,
looking in the opposite
direction, stone-faced.
A baby sitting on his forehead
softens his Hitler nose and moustache.
Now his arms drift away from his body.
The silver-blue halo looks out of place.
His laughter, thick and thundery,
drones through the sky.

Native Climate

by Karla Linn Merrifield

On Dominica rain proves
rainforest abundance.
Giant tree ferns bow with weight
of sheets of rainfall.
Fringe of moss gathers rain droplets to one by one
drop into rain rivulets running
leaf litter routes to rain-full streams
streaming into gullies through volcanic
valleys gorging on rain flowing
into the island’s rivers of rain,
one rain-swollen river for year’s each day.

Rain for farm fields. Rain for ships’ holds.
Rain.  Raining.  Rainbow. Rain again.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

August Journal: Monday, August 5, 2013

by Donald Mager

Afternoon pants uncontrollably.
Scummed over with mosquito larvae,
its water dish is low.  As okras’
spear-tipped fingers stiffly beckon to
monarchs and chameleons, heat hangs in
harsh layers.  The stream is almost dry.
Sluggish pools, shadowed below tree roots
dangling their thick calves over the bank,
swarm with black darts of frog spawn.  The heat
paw-pads around and around the dirt
radius of its ten foot rusty
chain.  It thirsts for shade and whimpers a
somnolent dirge.  Dirt’s baked adobe
wears thin cracks of fine heirloom china.

We Came Back

by Tammy Stone

A prior world of raucous sounds we
Made, riots of clanging bells but also

Hushed caress.  Where each tenderness
Melted like snow a river gone by, anger

Whipped loud, and everything that could,
Happened.  But it still wasn’t enough, so

Here we are, marking our cold re-entry in
Soundless, everlasting space, coursing

Through the warring bits, all of it a kind
Of alchemy we’re not here to understand.

We’re here to listen, though we don’t.
It can only start from here, the beating

Heart. The rhythm of palpation, how we
Wandered for years to get here.  Times

I rest in that pause, shivering, bone dry,
Waiting for an outstretched hand. This is

How I learned music can be touched. The
Sweet sounds that have made us and the

Ache of memories trailing through Time.
We are ruffled and ravaged. The world as

Sonorous Remembrance, reverberating in a
Thousand ways a feared, desired emptiness.

I try as hard as I can to listen to each note,
Devastating, beautiful, inchoate and true.

Gray Hope

by Tricia Knoll

I fold back our bed sheets this morning
to match the rolls of cloud billows
sliding like pillows into the naked hot sky.

My feet slip to the tuck at the mattress
to test the cool slickness that may be rain
on a horizon of gray hope

this drought might end.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Sangres Morning

by Maury Grimm

Sun, curling up from the Sangres, the red blood of morning

Nature Being Natural

by Patricia Williams
Sky, sallow yellow and ominous –
     a radio voice warns,
     sirens scream,
warm moist draft, cool dry gust –
     no sparrow chirps,
     the dog doesn’t bark,
     no leaves undulate –
          mortuary stillness

The Rain in Spain

by Terrence Sykes
The gracious yet unknowing Spanish rains
Carelessly lay across the barren parched landscape of my desolate secular soul
Fragile - fractured - faded clay earthen tiles peel - crack - roll
Bordering on the dusty receded river banks
From & Of a future by gone era - of today - the unknown present - tense unperfected
Liken to the thirsty desperate soil longing to be drenched
The thoughts of latent seeds - the seeds of laden thought
In a precious gift from a band of seemingly approving gods - above - while - below
Fear - Desire to be frantically - helplessly drowning
In my saline sea of tears - torment - despair
A solitary man shipwrecked on an enchanted isle
Yet without sweet water to quench the hungering thirst
Yet liken to a solitaire ecru flower in the arid scorched desert
I desire to bloom - blossom forth with grand - great expectations
Like a strutting peacock with his feathers aplomb
I held a glimmering - brief vision from the afar - but where
Multitude rainbow colored roses in the blinding snow
While scaling the craggy withering heights
of the Pyrenees - d’hiver - in winter
Lingering traces of the last breath (com)mingle and rise
Rise forth - forward - toward
The awaiting patient heavens on high - above
In simple - silent - sacred - sarcastic exaltation
But the brief yet acidic - sweet waters pass for the barren isolated desert island
Uncharted topography - unknown sands of time - my raspy skin
Too dry - faithless - barren - bitter to accept the rare - perhaps divine gift
To quench the thirst of desire - or perhaps even doubt
Migrating clouds disburse - dissipate - traveling without rhyme or reason
Unknown parallel latitude on the horizontal longitude
Aimlessly following the meandering wayward wind
The revealing harsh light of reality prevailingly returns
With it - my lot of misfortune - misery - daily burden
A gift - a curse - predestination - my oath
In the drudgery of my existence - scorched - rutted tracks I drown
The gracious yet unknowing Spanish rains

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Kanaka Valley

by Taylor Graham

A kink in the road, kind of a dog-leg
kicking east. A snag whose hanging tip
fell unheard in storm. The folks who
settled here would dive into rivers,
pick up nuggets – gold. Seems they
picked the place parched-dry. No well,
no cabin, no hearth. Corridors of oak
and pine. Clouds, a bit of breeze
to stir the hunger of this land, secrets
weightier than gold in the pan.

A Bite Out of September
Trout Lake, Washington

by Tricia Knoll

Last night gorge wind blustered down and shook the barn,
frantic wind to follow up weeks of droughted summer.

Crunchy hard fall pears, some call them winter pears, plunked
down into golden grass. We still hoped wind brought rain.

We got mist. Floaty fog, a sky-lifting mid-morning
curtain opening on foothills but not Mt. Adams. A gauziness

that did not water. The golden lab grabbed a knocked-down
tennis ball-green pear, tossed it as if it might bounce.

She took bites, one, then another and another,
one bite per fruit, the pears I’d hoped to poach.

Those pears with white, oxidizing-brown bites,
gouges the shape of fallen angels.

A Private Ceremony

by Tom Sheehan          

It was underfoot all the time,
under the sprawling pines, clutch
of alders in their secret weeping,
under bank and half scrutinies,
under an oft-remembered scum
of yellow residuals and blatant ash,
under booming barrage of business
and turmoil gone amuck inland,
this river coming back from the dead.

One strike of trout, silver in slashing,
its quick upstream knifing as if bowed
outward from a grand archer, a slight
speckling of oddly hurried hues
gathered loosely on bright scaling,
announced the comeback ceremony.

Twelve years since the other trout,
thick in the middle, hungry, hurried,
slammed into my hook in river’s gut;
twelve years’ surface garbage, underwater
death in the quick and quiet reign,
the dread reach for root and soft gill
too tender and slow to be refused;
twelve years of idle Saturdays,
dawns spent over lusterless bait
and the image of a river buried
in another time. By the golf course,
where the banks curved under grass
overhangs lush as ever, on April
Nineteenth for thirteen years,
I caught my limit less and hour of sun.

The drought came, the dozen years
between the two trout, the gangrenous
river sore all the way to its falls,
winter-tied flies bouncing hitless
and superficially off crested surface,
targetless, taking the low fly-by
for nothing, soft whiplash of flight
whirring into fast silence of dawn.
A river’s dying aches into Earth’s heart,
begins upstream, inland, begins with us
who envy its freedom, its plunge to seas,
its long passage feeding the mother of all,
we, upright and erect, we inheritors
of all we deposit on Earth, at sea.

And so this rite began, underfoot,
below my waders’ light green refraction
in the clearer waters, began the notion
of the comeback, the ritual dues paid
out over the lost years, the way clear
upstream for one lone trout at history,
the spawning germ buried behind his eyes,
a drum beating upon the silver scales,
the whole vast Atlantic pushing him home,
the clockwise spin of Earth driving inland
this new adventurer, this white water
daredevil banging at my boot, moving on.

I celebrated, hurling back into the dream
the capture of my hook, silver champion
of the return, ghost of the missing years
rushing under the soldered and pewtered
wrestling of waters becoming Atlantican,
this voyager on the prowl, this river mouth,
this wide-angled thrasher at work,
this ceremonial fact of coming clean
upriver, a new glistening gone at large
where my boots stumbled where they trod.

I vow now to free all my taking, to loose
any celebrator on this bright passage,
and if I should halt the harbinger
with the crook of my hook, its corruptible
barb buried in his mouth as deeply
as memory allows the undertaking,
I will loose my hand on the hallowed rod,
I will feed the river with itself.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Like Everything In Time

by Ed Hack

Dull day. The light's an afterthought, mere sheen,
not shine, a something left behind, a used-
to-be whose smoke has thinned, what's almost seen
like half-remembered dreams you cannot lose
because they linger in your bones. But just
like that a streak of sun and dullness lifts,
it vanishes like hopes you couldn't trust.
And then, like everything in Time, clouds shift
and light that seems a shadow of itself
returns, a mirror in an empty room
that waits to be fulfilled, an empty shell
upon a beach where mindless ocean booms.
And now, again, the sun, and all it brings--
the glow of things, as if the light was wings.

Bill Hook

by Peter Branson

Bill’s working hazel coppice, cropped
before the sap’s inspired to rise,
a five year cycle, each bald swathe
twin chains, the wood a furlong wide.

Hand grinding fines the whining edge
to razorblade, the ultimate
design, hooked like an eagle tooth
‘n’ claw, part sickle, hatchet, knife.

A slashing tool, one blow’s enough
for most, a kinder cut, the coup
de grace, held back for bolder staves.

No snarling power saw for him;
no goggles, helmet, gloves, gnarled fist
burl-oak, arm sculpted, leather-bound;
in shadow of his jaunty wide-
brimmed hat, face weathered-conker brown.

Shoots bolt, each season adding size,
like contour lines, man-made, contrived.

He bundles poles, above twelve foot
for hurdles, less for thatching pins;
trails brush on boles to shield new sprouts
from deer; relights old fires, that fresh
bread smell, a role for faggots in
his youth, the baker’s famished pyre.