Love in the Time of Catastrophe
By Wendy Schmidt
Love at the speed of first sight,
ignites midlife, latent libido.
Love in the afternoon,
poised on a thin limb of longing.
Stranger love there never was,
where and when is trivial.
Stranger love I've never known,
damned to carnal limbo.
Three times a week,
steals the show.
Does he see me through moonstruck eyes,
as I see him through wishful white lies?
Preludes are at a premium,
and my heart feels like a fifty pound ache,
pressed against my chest,
no safe spotter to lift this burden
We pass each other,
and sexual sparks fly,
but fall into silent spaces.
We glimpse each other,
and body language flows,
through pose and motion.
Fate will not yield as long as it stays locked,
in my fatal imagination.
We might meet on doomsday,
when the earth gushes lava,
food and water, scarce,
and he shares his last Coke.
We might meet on blackened streets,
when all power is zapped by hostile aliens.
Just two desperate people crouched in alleys,
as pods possess our lovesick bodies.
We might form a vigilant bond,
after drawing the short stick,
abandoned as bait for peckish zombies.
We might be the last survivors of a plane crash,
landing in the deep, dense jungle,
savage drums beating the dinner bell.
Or a hurricane and we share one broken umbrella,
as icy sheets pelt our tender flesh.
Or a cramped bathtub as the twister touches down,
leaving nothing but the two of us in tatters.
Love might bloom in the middle of misfortune,
in the center of catastrophe.
a blind date in bedlam,
a first kiss in chaos?
Stranger things have happened,
or, I could simply introduce myself.
By Wendy Schmidt
Covenant of my cat;
she will pounce,
at a moment's notice,
appearing on my lap,
like a furtive phantom.
She, assuring me,
in frank feline fashion,
of deep affection,
through vibrating purrs,
and kneading paws.
I saved her life, you see,
at death row's door,
marked for a certain fate.
And in her own way,
she saved mine.
Cat and I,
both casualties of wars,
we did not declare,
we could not defend,
fell victim to desertion.
We licked our wounds,
curled into tight balls,
of apprehension and doubt,
our paths forever turned,
in the twitch of a tail.
Now silently reflect,
on that first encounter,
she in a cold cage,
me in a cold rage,
alone and alert to pretense.
The cost of commitment,
left us both timid.
Trouble is a harsh teacher.
But hope crossed my path,
in the steady gaze,
of a green-eyed cat.
(Wendy Schmidt is a native of Wisconsin. She
has been writing short stories and poetry for
the last ten years. Pieces have been published
in Strange, Weird and Wonderful, Daily
Flash 2012, Three Line Poetry, Tainted Tea,
Fear and Trembling,Verse Wisconsin, One
Million Stories and Twisted Dreams, Taste
Like Pennies Anthology, Haunted Object
By Tim Wells
Cat limp on bench
Freshly polished moon
Autumn sunshine waning
Cat’s arched back
Buffets my leg
Coiling and recoiling
Sky’s gone dark
Peering into gray
Lonesome at peace
by caleb dyer
this deepening sorrow is slowly enveloping me, engulfed in darkness i struggle to see
being pulled under as i'm ripped apart, i should've known right from the start
falling, fading, breaking down, if this goes on i'll surely drown
i'm lost and scared and unprepared for what's about to come, the answers i can't find make me come undone
i can't take this anymore, the pain has finally reached my core
there is only one way out, and that thought alone is the fuel of my doubt
but either way i can't stay here, alone and forgotten consumed by fear
it's over and done, yet just begun
the very air i breathe suffocates me, i close my eyes and i foresee
everything coming to an end, now i start the long descend
the world goes dark and i start to sink, there's no time for me to rethink
it's over i'm gone forgotten it seems, lost in my endless unforgiving dreams
(Caleb says, "i'm a senior at a small
town school in northern wisconsin and
i write poetry because it's the best way
to express myself.")
By David Ramati
We stood alone alive yet spattered
With our comrades and taking
Blood from innocents.
Go still my enemy
Be still and die…lay
Quietly staring back at me…blank eye
To living memory.
One quiet morning, as the birds
Sang softly in the concertina wire we spent
Five meditative hours searching for
The torn fleshy fragments that once were Johnny Gray.
Ever see a transport plane
Packed six by six with human flesh
Fresh from oriental butcher shops waiting
For the packaging to come?
I stood beside the Irishman
He smiled at me I think…there
Wasn’t time to speculate…his smile
Fell toppling to the bloody ground.
I held his hand…I watched him
Watching me and felt his slowly draining
Body strain against the pull of earth
And death was only moments in the waiting.
I saw your eyes amid the rubbish
Of some ruined face searching mine
For meaning…and I only shook my head
And looked away…and tried to stop the bleeding.
Waiting for the death to drop in
Unexpectedly from the sky I hide and
Cringe; my life to live in purity if only
One more day were mine to see.
By David Ramati
Cigarette…watching her quietly
Wind swirling slowly through auburn hair.
Eyes, mated…blue green with river
Oh G-d, my G-d, my G-d…
In that moment
He knew he loved her…
Bitter, coffee taste
Unclean between thumb and forefinger
Spiraling now into green rivers.
She turned…she smiled
He exploded inside
Rivulets of red, blue and purple
Soaring, smashing…soaring smashing.
Remember when you first met me?
I love your eyes…
She led him from sky, cliff and river,
Oh G-d…my G-d.
Down the hillside
AND INTO THE VILLAGE
MAY THE ROAD RISE TO MEET YOU
MAY THE RAIN FALL GENTLY UPON YOUR FIELDS
MAY THE SUN BE ALWAYS AT YOUR BACK
AND, UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN,
MAY G-D HOLD YOU IN THE PALM OF HIS HAND
Downstream, floating sightlessly
He lay face up
To sky…and earth…and Laura.
(David Ramati who has worked as an investigative journalist, ship
fitter, welder, freelance writer, border patrol officer, US Marine
in Vietnam and Israeli Defense Forces Officer. He is also
weapons expert and ceramic armor engineer, who has learned
Kabbalah with the famous Rabbi Ashleg, one of the most
important Kabbalah Masters of our time. He is writing a new
book as a co-author with Physicist Dr. Marshall Onellion
tentatively called "The Chosen Few; Renaissance" which will
soon be finished and offered to publishers.)
Three O'Clock Still Raining
Sarah E. Peterson
The hallway was a dark and
predictable alleyway. it was
the usual route for her high
heeled clicks and tired sighs.
Every night after work and
studying and writing stress.
when the starlight creeped
in the windows and the rain
made sneaky puddles on the
slippery ground. she never
fell even in her pointy heels.
turned in the
lock like usual
but when she opened her door she saw
in the moonlight there was a man
with his soul spilled on the floor
in broken whiskey bottles
and his ancient eyes
closed to the world
so grateful he was
slumber. She knew him
by his classy coat
and his shaking hands
that held onto the
table so desperately.
her high heels lay softly on the floor
by the door
and her tired eyes blinked heavily
behind her glasses
her lipstick was old and pink
but her fingers were steady as she held up his head
as she mopped up the floor and washed
her hands were smooth against the mess of his shirt
he was still asleep when she heaved him
to her clean blue bed
and wrapped him gently in her clean blue sheets
her eyes were sad as she curled up on the couch
to sleep with the rain in her ears
that when he awoke
he would never
the kiss she placed
By Kaitlyn Dulfer
There’s beauty at dawn. Like a blank piece of paper or a brand new book or an empty back-road, the
possibilities are endless, the potential promising. Before the background chatter of the News or the first
swirl of coffee steam, there’s a stillness that only comes when everything is waking, just coming to life.
Then the buzz hits. The blinds open, the showers start, the coffee is poured, and people emerge as fresh,
if not new, versions of themselves. With each day passing comes life passing, aging, but something about
the morning feels new. It shifts into the daily grind, and suddenly the day has lost its shine until the sun’s
brief moments of beautiful death that quickly turn to night.
The darkness hits and brings along with it the wonder at why the morning seemed that way, why this day
seemed like it would be different. After all, coffee is just coffee, a shower is just water, and toast is just a
burnt piece of bread.
Yet when the sun comes up the next day and everything begins to stir, the feeling comes again.
(Katie Dulfer is a
sophomore at the University
of Illinois in Champaign.
She is studying biology but
harbors a passion for
reading, writing and words
By Lo Man
well-wishers have littered
the ponds with pennies
I drink jasmine tea
but think about wine
a line of tourists
to pose for pictures
the great house—
how humble beside
the great mountain
will a second one
alter my fate?
Anisotropia as Original Sin
By Steven Fortney
The myth of Siva as Sthanu insists that… Paradise… was
spoiled. The conflict between...the gods Sthanu and Daksha
…results in the self-mutilation of the god. Not only is
Paradise spoiled, but so is the divine ground out of which it
See David Shulman, "The Terror of Symbols," History of
Religions, Vol. 26 #2, pp 101-124
The red marks on the marble obelisk
Of my Japanese Inkan, whereby I seal
My authority, by some would be called
A flaw, but only by those who want
Stone devoid of color, save pure white.
The blood stone dyes one top corner and
Richly shades the bottom where my mark
Is, and streaks the square column here
And there. This relieves white to make it
What some call beautiful but I call whole.
As the marble is veined with its blood,
So the radiation of creation revealed
Tiny waves that were reasoned back to
The first increase. This permits waves
That allow galaxies and life to grow.
If Being, as it sped out of its singularity,
Had been smooth, flawless and white,
The universes would create only chaos,
Cold gas, there would be no iron,
No stars, no galaxies, no earth, no life.
God is veined. His singularity is whole
But, like my Inkan, is hot with strands
Of blood, and brown, white, and waves.
This is my seal. I dip it in red clay, press
It on paper, my signature, and it is whole.
We live because we are not smooth
And white; the cosmos grew waved,
Warmed and wrinkled, the blood marble
Makes ours a happy fall that some
Call sin, but the heavens see as whole.
If you kill my demons, you kill my angels:
They are inseparable. To remove
The birthmark from a beloved already
Perfect and beautiful is to kill her.
Living without veins and folds is death.
As I am blemished, so my tribe,
Family, my nation, my humanity is
Veined. My brain is folded, that is
Its power. The potter as he errs,
Uses flaws to craft new and finer arts.
Leaven makes wholesome loaves, directs
Time away from tragic humanity where
Fitness flowers, with effort, before we die.
Civilizations vanish, suns Nova to fire
Worlds subsumed, marginal, and flawed.
Gods and devils unite, they live not apart,
But veins of green and black and blood
Integrate to make marble, folded brains,
And wrinkled universes convene; we live,
Rest on this seventh day, and call it done.
Companion of Owls
By Steven Fortney
Against winter skies silver bones
of dead maple, a dozen owls:
the feet of one chopped off bleeds to death.
Dead trees full of starling, owls,
fly lush away; pigeons speed:
liquid-weeping, as pigeons, doves wing.
In my dreams, in the owls of dream,
through the hate and fright of my special
sleep, at the bottom, at the bottom
terror, a white cat turns, turning;
those eyes stare at me;
blue and cold, eyes stare at me
in the knives and
splinter of that gleaming
sleep (the storms and rages burning).
when I am sick, self-hurt,
of earth pain, that white dream
echoes, flying, softly moaning.
In the fog-shining dream,
someone calls; it calls
in a screaming voice
in a high urgent keening.
Who calls me? (and I love her,
love her); but I , lover, lover,
I will not answer.
If I answer that O my god bright
shrilling voice: who calls me
from silver pits of sleep, calls me;
and if I answer
I would (surely) die.
I would die.
To check Steven Fortney's books, go to:
By Steven Fortney
With thanks to Townes Van Zandt
He loves solitude and sorrow.
The Hermit can write his poems
No other way. At the Union Station
In Chicago, two engines stand side
By side. The one from Winnipeg
Still has flecks of snow attached,
The one from Gulfport, chunks
Of Spanish Moss, the propinquity,
A synthesis, synectic metaphors,
The blending of which makes pictures
Exciting feelings of the unity of cities,
Of a continent, of the world.
The Hermit is taught what he feels.
He sings for the sake of the song.
He has no solo voice. He cannot
Carry a tune when alone, but in his
Section in chorus, he is a chameleon
Who can mimic music exceeding well;
He lends his voice to the song his
Heart is committed to, even sacred
Music alien to him; he becomes
A Bhakti yogin that can separate
Imaginary divinities to stand outside
Him, and worship, worship, of a sort,
And sing O at Jeg kunde min Jesus prise
In perfect truth, and abandon his
Siddartha Gotama for ecstatic
Praise for the Jesus he left ages ago.
He sings for the sake of that song.
Essays and Novels
The Hermit writes these to know
How he thinks. He must reason
Clearly from the evidence that comes
To him from Gulfport and Winnipeg,
From Jerusalem, Athens, and Benares.
This synthesis a gift, that is not his,
But from an abyss of experience
And reading and a detached mind
That he does not own. He cannot
Claim proud possession, since he knows
That that Thing is vast and impersonal.
But with what he is allowed to see
He speaks with a world he once shunned:
Then he laughs out loud, and argues.
By Branden Aeling
I hear the bells going off in the distance
far far away from the school yard bench
i see old and young walk by alike
a bird chirps in the distance
and a flower grows near so bright red
yet all i can think about is my Annabel
I hear the sirens go off to a old woman's aid
while the cops hide behind the ally ways
the people young and old die alike
A bird falls out of its nest
and a flower dies in the distance
yet all i can think about is my Annabel
All i think about is my farewell
All i think about is my Annabel
By Charlie Tarjan
(FOR N. Z.)
In the Land of English, there are no clocks. The print is always there;
it doesn’t change. Only we change. There is no need to be punctual.
In the Land of English, there is only gray. Engineers seek the truth,
the right answer, but it’s not here. It’s in the heart, the soul. They
need to look inside for multiple answers. And that’s uncomfortable.
We don’t build bookshelves; we fill them.
Others fly to a destination; we drive. Not on an interstate. We take
the backroads. They never see Ten Sleep, Wyoming or Martin, South
Dakota. When others drive, we walk. The silent, crowded paths
through the downtown trails. When others walk, we sit and observe,
listen. Revising our words, our worlds, re-thinking our thoughts. We
have time. Invaluable time because we don’t hurry. Too much to see,
to read, to think, to feel.
In a class dominated by engineers, you were the English person. You
were their heart, their soul, their humanity. For that, we should all
By Charlie Tarjan
I remember most:
The pen with the
A $3.98 Walgreen’s special.
There have been more
Expensive gifts since.
But this was
Of my futile dream
To capture the fleeting words
That always arrive unannounced
In the twilight of half-sleep.
A true sign of love, or trust.
It’s now 2:34am. I must retire,
Searching for another dream.
(Charlie Tarjan is a recently retired high school English
teacher in the Chicagoland area. His poems have appeared in
The English Journal and The Rectangle. He is now
attempting to publish a collection of poems – one poem at a
What is Strength
By Jacob Stern
What is strength?
The sun-touched limb of
Perfect form, caressed
By leisure but time untried? Or
The weathered face
Of a sun-beaten soul
A forgotten façade
Hardened by time?
He may not seem like much at first
A man who’s lived his whole life
But hidden ‘neath those half-closed lids
A dangerous glint lingers, forbids
Perhaps. But if one might dare
Cast his gaze past shuttered glare
Past years of toil, years of care
He might discover something more
The silent strength of windswept shore.
By Charlie Tarjan
I had a hand fetish,
Longing after old lady hands
With long, tapered fingers, manicured nails, and roadmap veins.
There had to be a story.
Now, my very hands are old
Weathered and worn
Lines and veins scattered with no organization
Only a small, single scar
Just below the ring finger.
Ashes to Dust
By Thomas Ordway
The sky has purged its deep hue of sapphire
And bleached to grey the horizons of gold,
As torrents of ashes from summer’s fire
Fall where the coals and embers have grown cold.
And all around, winter’s veil coats the land
Its tapered iced fangs, an arctic bruin
Where the ashes dance with none to withstand
Save the harsh brisk wind that puppets ruin.
For who can escape renewing of life
And cheat the game that death has so long held?
It is through the frost a bare wood grows rife
After resting, to unfurl with limbs swelled.
And from these ashes, now milky and pearl,
Life arouses, a baby still womb-bound,
And surfaces, gasping for spring’s cool swirl
That scatters the dust across virgin ground.