Rift in the Universe
by Lina Belar
First the dragons
rollicking through the cornfields
leaving scorch marks
on the back country roads
Then the guardians
clothed in soft white
descending over the blackened land
like seeds from milkweed pods.
Majestic in flight
but when they land
surprisingly ordinary
The girl next door
a teacher I liked in second grade
the simple man who runs errands
for the owner of the local clothing store.

Giving Thanks
by Lina Belar
Nothing is ever the way you expect.
The job doesn’t last a lifetime,
neither does the marriage.
Your children speak an unknown language.
People you love die too young
and you can’t even climb the stairs
without huffing. Yet, there’s something
about living that draws you in.
Yellow cushions on garden chairs,
bright flowers on the green lawn
Little blue stem grass that shoots up overnight
while geese gather overhead to discuss travel plans.
Today, even the weeds in the garden
seem thankful to be alive.
And so,
it must be admitted,
am I.

Because You Asked for Poems of Hope
by  Laura Hansen 
Because you asked for poems of hope, I have decided to write
the saddest words. Because writing is itself an act of hope.
Here is your hope, this spray of heron feathers below
the abandoned rookery. I stop on the path, give them
their moment of silence and then, as an act of defiance,
give them voice. I give them the hard word gun-metal
to name their particular shade of blue.
I give them the words stiff to describe the shorn
quills and loose to describe the way they still move.
Because you asked for poems of hope, I have decided
to tell you about my brother’s death, how he sang
until he couldn’t sing, then danced in his hospice bed –
emaciated arms and legs flailing under white sheets.
Because you asked, I speak. I testify for the losses
in this world, for the swamps drained dry
and the resident swans that circle looking for
their old northern home. I testify in the harshest
words, because in protest there is belief, belief
in change and change is life, is living, is re-
becoming, and hope is stiff grey feathers
lifted by wind.

by Michael McCormick
Let things fall apart
            just for a while
Take a walk
            on faded hopscotch roads
Remember when others touched your skin
            not just the sun
            your six feet
            of safe clean air

One Beautiful Thing
by Morgan Grayce Willow
Bald eagle flying low,
directly across my path.
Setting gibbous moon,
its filigree against winter blue,
behind clouds, light, airy,
pushed by arctic winds.
And in between, swathes of sumac
blazing up ditch banks.
Hills lolling dun, russet, tan and gold,
quiet as winter-dressed goldfinch.
Pine-green stands collar lakes,
their slate bellies bare
before ice takes them.
A single ancient oak,
its scrubby leaves potato brown,
still holding on dark-shadowed branches.
Field, textured and worked
as if by enormous embroidering hands.
Peanut shell hills with a prickle
of late-planted green shoots
punctuating roiled black soil.
Pooled waters in low places
where egrets rest before traveling south.
Kestrel on high pole, scanning
in low-angled light.
The sudden bright of sun
just emerged from dark walls of cloud.
One each day.
Just one.

by Steve Yasgur
When finally the question is presented
of whether we persist or pass away,
When in our minds
we can at last imagine
Some sunrise that our eyes
will not betray,
Denied at last our myriad distractions,
We’re left to face
the worry in our heart:
Not that our life
might very soon be over,
But that it might, at long last,
have to start.


Rural Score
Beneath the sagging canopy
of an abandoned gas station,
two dozen six foot hollyhocks
stand guard like weary sentries.
Camomile tucked in cracked cement
releases sweet fragrance with each step
Across the highway, seagulls follow
furrows left by a tractor that turns the earth
leaving black lines, dotted with white birds,
a kind of sheet music for the land.

Winter Roulette
Not just the first icy patch
but the second, the third and so on
an accident on every one
a pick-up truck spun out of control
hits the rock-hard snow of late winter
flips on its back like a surprised turtle
shaken bodies emerge
wave away their would-be rescuers
next, a yellow sports car overturned
in the median between east and west lanes
men form a silent circle around the wreckage
a police officer leads a woman away
face cupped in her hands
impossible to tell which way they were heading
now the only direction is back
to home, to hospital or to dust
it’s snowing again, by morning
the ditches will be unbroken white
ready for the next turn of the wheel.

Signs of Fall
Except for the bales of hay
the corn tall and tasseled
it might be summer’s start
and not its end.
In the green woods, the poplar leaves
have turned to yellow and gold
like anxious debutantes
trying on dresses
for the Harvest Ball.