Janet Ruth

Issue 16


—A cento in homage to Mary Oliver
using 45 lines from 45 of her poems in Devotions

The witchery of living
 ……. is my whole conversation with you, my darlings,
though time is draining from the clock.
The world has fallen out of reason.
These are the hours with the old wooden-god faces.

Be alive on this fresh morning in this broken world,
the sun rose up like a pot of blood.
Put your lips to the world. And live your life.
Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it,
standing around as though with your arms open.

There is only one question; how to love this world.
This is a poem about the world that is ours, or could be,
the perfect, stone-hard beauty of everything.
Nothing’s important except that the great and cruel mystery
 ……. of the world,  of which this is a part, not be denied.

Just pay attention, then patch a few words together.
You don’t ever know where a sentence will take you,
the pencil haltingly calling up the light of the world—
scalding, aortal light—in which we are washed
 ……. and washed out of our bones.

I don’t know exactly what prayer is.
Maybe such devotion, in which one holds the world in the clasp
 ……. of attention, isn’t the perfect prayer, but it must be close.
You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles
like a woman who is balancing a sword inside her body.

Sometimes I need only stand wherever I am and be blessed.
Holiness is visible, entirely.
Said the river: I am part of holiness.
I lay on the grass listening
 …….to his dog voice, crow voice, frog voice.

I tell you this to break your heart.
The world is full of leaves and feathers,
 ……. and comfort, and instruction,
All were shriven, as all the round world is.
It tastes like stone, leaves, fire.

I was made of leaves,
the reckless blossoms of weeds,
old twist of feathers and birch bark.
The glittering pandemonium leaned on me.
I had vanished at least a dozen times into something better.

Do you love this world?
Have you changed your life?
Who will chide you if you wander away
 ……. from wherever you are, to look for your soul,
when those white wings touch the shore?

Imagination is better than a sharp instrument,
looked at me with his gravel eyes,
He has a gift for you, but it has no name.
Joy is not made to be a crumb—
still ready, beyond all else, to dance for the world.

As long as you are dancing, you can break the rules.

Janet Ruth is an emeritus research ornithologist, living in New Mexico. Her writing focuses on connections to the natural world. Her first book, Feathered Dreams: Celebrating Birds in Poems, Stories & Images, is a finalist for the 2018 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards.

 Photo by Ahmad Odeh 

Kyla Matagi

Issue 16


What are clouds made of?
No responsibilities at all,
white when the rest of the sky is blue.
“It’s still raining,” she says.
“What’s a little rain?” I’d say.
Unaware that it’s been raining for days.
Bleak truth drenched me
with my own potential guilt.
“But I got wet too,” she’d reply.

Within moments, it was snowing
so hard we couldn’t build a fire.

I could embrace any preposterous delusion,
crawl on my hands and knees.
If I were someone else, it might be.
But I like to think I’m not sorry at all.
I take comfort in the fact
that from utter nothingness,
nothing ever changes.
The secret to happiness.
I suppose that’s one way to define it.

Source & Method: I crafted this found poem from “Yukon, Ho!” A Calvin and Hobbes Collection by Bill Watterson. I aimed to subvert the text from Calvin’s world of youthful adventures into a bleak and aching struggle of adulthood, pulling out the gloom of the setting to achieve this.

Kyla Matagi earned her Bachelor’s in English from Utah Valley University, during which time her art and writing appeared in the University’s literary journals. She currently lives in San Diego, though not for long. She is always seeking the next adventure.

Mike Ferguson

Issue 16


Caesar’s horse impressed by the surprise of such a film existing. Swingers meet by its light, apparently. Luna ‘n’ cortaderia selloana. In the metaphysics of a photograph, dark lines are drawn against the brightness of illumination. Animal motifs should not be drawn from strands and luminosity. Emblem of autumn and replanting. Cartoon versions present displays of singular leaves. Simon’s chainsaw another exercise in hacking away at metaphors. I could count the number of my moon pics on many hands. Beware of the pink, but not because of any sexual allure.

SOURCE & METHOD: These poems are more about process than content, but most lines are prompted by snippets of content found in Google search pages having typed in the theme/title. I mostly use only the extract appearing on a page, though I’ll sometimes go into an article. I take few words from any of this and use any further tangents this initiates.

Mike Ferguson is an American permanently resident in the UK and appears widely in print and online. A retired English teacher, he taught experimental writing to his students for 30 years.

image by Dale Wisely

Karen Greenbaum-Maya

Issue 16


when White Dog raises his hackles
refuses to sniff your hand
when White Dog refuses to know your voice
when White Dog howls for no reason
when White Dog howls at the open door for no reason
digs a hole in your garden
then these acts keep away your true family

when White Dog sleeps, paws curled, tail outstretched
digs a hole in your garden
then these acts do not signal a breakthrough
then White Dog foretells death

when White Dog howls outside at night.
when White Dog howls three times, then falls silent.
when White Dog howls once, then falls silent.
when White Dog howls in front of a house where someone is ill
sniffs out landmines and trapped people
then White Dog tells you, Die a symbolic death

perhaps White Dog empowers and enlivens you, like yeast
perhaps White Dog asks to become part of your lifestream
perhaps White Dog longs to meet other beings like you
but White Dog howls at the open door for no reason

perhaps White Dog admires you
perhaps White Dog believes you
perhaps White Dog is light and shadow
in vibrational affinity
perhaps White Dog consoles you
but will White Dog forgive you?

SOURCE: found passim, Internet, googling “White Dog”

METHOD:  It is mostly a sense of hearing something present but unintended, hearing words from a language I speak but that is not often spoken.

Karen Greenbaum-Maya is a retired clinical psychologist, German major, two-time Pushcart nominee and photographer. Kattywompus Press publishes Burrowing Song and Eggs Satori. Kelsay Books publishes The Book of Knots and Their Untying. She co-hosts Fourth Sundays, a poetry series in Claremont, California.

Photo by Angel Luciano