BRIAR ROSE

In days of yore, a king and queen
grew sick at heart and longed for more
than wealth can bring.  “A girl or boy,”
they both prayed quietly—then rushing
past their joy, inside a witch’s hut,
let tarot cards decide their luck.
Skies grew dark then lightning struck
that aged oak beside the witch’s hut—
for fate falls hard on those who pluck
forbidden fruit.

Pan came without spring, his song a taunt—
Danced with dry leaves, on hoof, with lute—
That hateful tune of rose’s briar—
That dreadful tale in cloven strides—
Bushy limbs nimble to the lyre and gyre.
And the owl’s eyes grew wide with seeing,
weary with seeing, till the spell took root,
and forests conquered kingdom and castle,
and the old wings flapped off to the moon.

crumbing castle . . .
in a closet, in a shoebox,
glass slipper

Anna Cates

BRIAR ROSE

Missing

Oh he is cute enough he is, the way he stands over me like that. He knows the thing is shiny so I can’t see him. You know, that thing in the sky?

There’s stuff missing out of here, right here, all the time, and I’ve told them about it, you know, them out there, the ones in charge. They know.

He’s no business comin’ in here. The cheek of him, twice my age, he should know better a man like that, he doesn’t need it, just takes things. Where’s me newspaper? Jaysus! I was reading that.

And he’s forever using my toilet. Where’s his? Where’s his bloody toilet? I told him to go and piss in his own pot, the fucker.

bathroom mirror
that white-haired man,
– staring back at me

Sean O’Connor

Missing

NIGHT JOURNEY

Among the poppies we wandered far
till twilight hazed us all in dreams.
We reached the brambles at morning’s gleam
and stopped at forest’s edge to try the fruit—
The taste of sorrow, the tear of thorns—
And now that silver time has cast me all in tears
I long to know, who was that golden soul
I sojourned with?  Why came we here?
And did we set it all to right?  If not, am I to blame,
or was it fate, man’s wretched plight?

strange apparitions
forged from fog . . .
ruminations

Anna Cates

NIGHT JOURNEY

in progress

her body a ripple adrift with feathers as fingertip to fingertip they interlace now pull apart encircle until he spins away as she abandoned swirls herself in mists becomes eclipse of clay that spins upon a wheel of time

rimmed with snow
a rill
of birdsong

Diana Webb

in progress

(N.t.)

The soldier is the same age as my son. His camouflage from some other conflict. He says they were indoors the day before at the Capitol. They hadn’t dressed for tents at the fairgrounds in January. It was kind of cold. He says after he got it he felt like Superman. He has to ask me to unclench my fist three times.

the virus
I don’t feel the needle
either

Chris Gordon

(N.t.)