Valentine’s Gift: 2021 by W. F. Lantry

Some men want watches. Others, lingerie,
or subtle flirting in a restaurant,
a hint of tender skin someone might see,

quickly recovered, as she – coquette – smiles.
Some others ask for 18-year-old Scotch,
unblended peaty vapors rising up

from hand warmed tumblers while transparent scarves
unveil subtle hints of pirouettes
for his eyes only in a lamplit room,

light falling on bare shoulders and her limbs
outstretched, inclined, inviting his firm gaze
to focus, passionate, on her slim waist.

I’ve never asked for watches. I’m inclined,
here in this winter cavalcade of snow,
to orchids, water lilies, lotus blooms.

And so I asked her for two dozen koi,
knowing their silken motions in the pond
will be our shared delight when Spring arrives.


DayFeathers by Martin Porter


Birds storm the sunlight
before the breaking of the glass
sing the repeated coming
reincarnation of the late departed
birthing in the morning.

Dawn storms the seven heavens.
I kiss this time, I kiss this moment
she wears the air. I wear her colours,
she walks the chillness, she walks the air
of shaken, shimmering heat.

Where does the day begin? Is it before
That first sight, or in the waking chant?
Where do we start? Is it the shock of mouth,
Sharp nostril breath, ear ring,
Dark students of eyes?


birds miracle the maple
supping the sap ooze

heat haunts the hazels
starling seeks the shadow

waterline washing
spar rows on the lawn dry line

riverside revels
ducks whistle noontide nonsense

a dozen plus one
merles pearl dark along my path


Birds chorus the darkness
chaotic, collapse, silent
considering the end of
the end of the day.

As the moon rises
cicadas strike up a shriek
among the rattles of the reeds.
It will be the foolish,

the sojourner and the scryer, the dreamers,
the seers of the sky and seascape
who will float beyond the fires
suspended in the deep

architecture of the air
full of unseen alcoves and auroral drapes,
moth unseen, inevitable,
without whom there is no song.


On leaving the house
For the first time in four weeks
I breath the polluted air
Of outside

The fields are still there
Fertile in their fecundity
Birdsong is as loud
But more numerous

What is the creative impulse
Of this liminal chant?
Is it a new vision
Or a new way of seeing?

I sing the colours of this litany
I process through her anthem chorus
I hear the coloratura
I extol this day

And the light is brighter
The sun warmer
The rain softer
And the crows absent

image by M Elvy


Kilometres by Robyn Maree Pickens

island skin pomegranate interlock mouth
message mostly you look like four different women after this wave maybe we can hold I am trying to envisage the best tree to get

pressed against

light particles in quantum motion touch forgive air this efficiency
forensic in a tik tok you leap, explode into pieces & survive foldable still like sunlight left back facing a clouded mountain all of the scratching pressured obdurate where can seeds burrow?
match like computational threaded feedback we have passed fig season you absent fleet of soft now non-serrated with a pithy streak of middle we lick identical frequencies
etymology the dismissive excision of longitudinal curvature I am starting to forget the name of the source is in the fruit otherwise the likeness is strong despite exponential sky compression
proximity I moved deeper & deeper inward this year if anyone knows someone with AB blood type in Jeddah who recovered from COVID, let me know but my difficult wants — the warmest hydrant how might you hypnotise me? apply punctum points


My Mother’s Covid by Diana Raab

This morning the phone rings,
my mother’s rehab on the line.
It’s 5am on my coast, 8am on hers.

Confused and still in REM,
I pick up and abruptly mutter, ‘yeah.’
The physical therapist woman

in her hurried New York voice
calls to give a report—
‘Eva’s your mother, right?’

Yes, I respond in my stupor,
and drop the phone
to the floor beside my bed.
‘You know you’re calling the west coast.’
‘Oh,’ she replies. No remorse. No apologies.

I gather my composure
and ask how my mother’s doing.
‘Today was her best day,’ she says:

‘two steps, but still uses oxygen.’
Baby steps for her, who in a few months
celebrates 91 years on this planet.

Who knows if she’ll make it there
or even back

to the assisted living place
she’s been at for four years now
after crashing her car and umpteen
near-death falls off her horse, Impression.

What a name for an aloof
and challenging horse, her best
friend for decades. I sold him for a dollar
to her trainer who retired him to
Kentucky. Who knows what else to do
with an old horse, like an old woman
who just wants to die, but survives Covid.

One day at a time is my mantra.
Buddhists wisdom of mindfulness practice
is all we can with seniors during this
once in every 200-year pandemic.

Wait, I’m a senior myself
At 66 with compromised immunity,
I am also hunkered down and for protection
trying to detach from the drama
until of course ripped out of bed by a call.

I thank the woman, named Zen,
and wonder why
she is not her name—
something we need now
during this seemingly
never ending panic-stricken pandemic.

Off to my morning meditation
and prayer for all sentient beings.

image: commons/ Diana Raab


Space Between Us by Caitlin Thomson

My husband has not seen his
family all together in one room
in half a decade, but now we gather
in Vietnam, in Canada, in four different
states, on Zoom. Are we closer here?
All our faces in their designated
sections of the screen. My nephew
plays the guitar and the last time
I saw him, he couldn’t keep his hair
out of his mouth because it tasted
like pancakes. Our own children

are in bed but their cousins recite poems
and show off their baking skills,
the power of time zones and age.

My husband wonders when
we might see them again in person,
the if of it.

We saw my parents through the glass
that night, they were in their winter coats
in our driveway while we danced for
them in t-shirts through the window,
a filter for everything now.



W.F. Lantry ( spent many years gardening in his native San Diego and in the South of France. Currently he lives in the frozen North of DC. His full-length collections are The Structure of Desire (Little Red Tree), winner of a 2013 Nautilus Award, and The Terraced Mountain (Little Red Tree). Honors include: National Hackney Literary Award, Lindberg Foundation International Poetry for Peace Prize (Israel), CutBank Patricia Goedicke Prize, Crucible Editors’ Prize, Old Red Kimono Paris Lake Poetry Prize and Potomac Review Prize. He edits Peacock Journal.

Robyn Maree Pickens’ poetry has recently appeared in Landfall, the Brotherton Poetry Prize Anthology (Carcanet Press) and Fractured Ecologies (EyeCorner Press).

Martin Porter, born in Jersey, sojourned for a while in New Zealand, now lives a quieter life in the United Kingdom. He has been active in both the micro prose and poetry worlds and has had work published in the USA, New Zealand, Jersey and the UK and received nominations for the Pushcart and Best of the Net collections.

Diana Raab, MFA, PhD, is a poet, memoirist, blogger and award-winning author of ten books and 1000 articles/poems. She blogs for Psychology Today, The Wisdom Daily, Thrive Global and many others. She frequently speaks and writes on the subject of writing for healing transformation. Her latest poetry book is Writing for Bliss. For more information, visit:

Caitlin Thomson is the co-founder of The Poetry Marathon, an international writing event. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals, including The Adroit Journal, The Penn Review, Barrow Street and Radar Poetry. You can learn more about her writing at