3 poems from Merril D. Smith in Fevers of the Mind Poetry Press Presents the Poets of 2020

Thanksgiving, the Year of Covid-19

We passed the dish of memory,
transferring without hand-touching the squirrel-shaped mold–
its ceramic a bit care-worn, appearing empty,
though we knew it was full of recollections and dreams,
tart and sweet, like the cranberry sauce that once filled it,
and would do so again. Now these thoughts of past Thanksgivings,
filled it, dripping over to fall in tears.
It won’t be the same, we say, and do you remember?
Her laugh, our laughs together–
not together this year

Here and Hereafter

From misted dreams, the clouds blow back black
as sky-ships spray incandescent shimmer,
and with whispered wonder
sing, bring, ring-in the pink-rosed day.
This after disaster, hereafter and if–
the moon comes blue, and hums a riff
for the sad sea, and those you see, in-between drifts
of shadow and shine, the haunted souls
of those who played with diamond cool, embracing now
the darkest deep, finding that water breaks, and aches
without why and whenever, with roars, ripples, waves, and swell
from here into hereafter,

and if, and if, and if. . .

Shelter for Dreams

Dawn blush brightens the grey,
over the rippling river
heron poses in sunrise salutation.

In silvered blues,
beauty comes
through shadows to shimmer,

waves roll out and slide back in,
the moon waxes and wanes,
and time flows,

through tide pools,
reflecting clouds and light,
giving shelter to dreams.

Merril D. Smith writes from southern New Jersey. Her poetry and short fiction have been published recently in Black Bough Poetry, Anti-Heroin Chic, Nightingale and Sparrow, Twist in Time, and Wellington Street Review.

5 poems & sonnets from Theresa Rodriguez

Notes on poems & sonnets

Sonnet of the Hardened Heart: love theme: first appeared in my book Jesus and Eros
Annelid Sonnet: love theme: first appeared in the Society of Classical Poets
Fool: love theme: unpublished
Cut Sonnet: mental health theme: first appeared in Jesus and Eros
El Shaddai: “feminist” theme: first appeared in Jesus and Eros

Sonnet of the Hardened Heart

Care less, I warn myself; bother no more
With inner crevices: prying the shell
Like scabs (rough, oozing, sore), which crust, but tell
Of tumults against the psychic seabed floor;
It is in vain. Swollen and hard around
The meat (like newborn skin, or the vaginal flower),
The protection, obdurate, damns me. Damn the mound
Which buries my soul and suffocates what little power
My will may afford. That meat, that flower, that skin
(A pulsing pinkish mass) is thus entombed;
And yet, for her to exist at all, the wound
Must needs be sealed by this guardian within.

She lives within her shell; perhaps she dies
As well, because it makes and mutes her cries.

Annelid Sonnet
An annelid is a blood-sucking creature, like a leech

I thought I had forgotten you by now,
But I have not. Must I go again

Into this place of torment? Tell me how
To get rid of this leech that suckles when
I try to free it. How I can I walk on
When I am chained? I bury you inside,
Outside, within, withal, whereon, be gone!
Be dead! But in the casket you abide,
Alive but molded, withered; rotten worm
That will not die, though I had thought you dead!
I lunge forth and away, but you hold firm
With prongs embedded in my bones and head.

Oh, you have held a place within too long,
Too undeserved, too late to right the wrong.


Fool that I was, oh fool, I was a fool,
That I had ever opened up my heart
And let you, rogue, into it. Not a part
Of me escaped humiliation. Cruel
As cruelty can be, you were the tool
That sunk my spirit; you deigned to impart
That lasting blow to keep us both apart,
Exposing my full self to ridicule.

For if indeed I had had better sense
Than fall for such a piece of work as you,
When everything I did was an offense,
And your supposed false love was never true,
Oh, had I had the sense I do today,
I could have wisely sensed to run away!

Cut Sonnet

What will begin as thought will end in deed.
A striking of the skin of flesh and heart
And then the friction giving way to bleed
With red relief, like tears which know no part
Of reason or of sanity, but flow
Responsive to the need to rip and see
A mirror wounding from without. Although
One can touch, the other is not free—
Except in reciprocity, to splay
Itself, the earthly to the earth.
And then this ugly skin-ding will display
Until the salve of time will show its worth.

For memories can thus become unmade,
And pain can ease and even scars do fade.

The Supreme-Breasted One (El Shaddai)

The woman in my Father’s face
The ruach of my soul
Male images have hid the shad,
The breast, that El Shaddai has had
To comfort those, who wounded, have
Quite never been made whole.

Born anew? Yes; a birth it is—
But only from the pronoun “His”?
When earthly form so plainly shows
That woman is in what seed grows
And germinates, and procreates?
And she, whom Comfort has made flesh
To show His less, nay, more than “manliness”:
That He is really also “She”—
A femininity in Trinity?

Oh yes! Oh blind paternals! Who do you think your Mother is?
Or has it never bothered you
That God could be a Mother, too?
(You may think this idea is new,
But male and female, in the image “His,” Were long before theology, created.)
Is not our present view,
The image halved, unsolved, vastly untrue?

Can we deny our Author right
To words and views which may help light
This darkened, incompleted sight?
If God’s eternal Word could flesh partake,
(A flesh of only woman, too) can we
Deny to let that Word be free
To partake fleshly female nouns? Did “He”
Establish this dichotomy?
We shall soon see.

Oh Ruach, blessed Spirit, in Hebrew tongue
The praise of Elohim is sung,
A masculine noun in text.
But yours, against device, is feminine!
Shekinah, God’s glory; Torah, God’s guidance; and next
Is Chockmah, God’s wisdom: all feminine, too.
Can we shun
What God has begun
Long before the Patriarchs hung
Their bias before our eyes? Can a Son
Have only one parent, the masculine?

“But wait,” you may say, “you’re destroying the types. We know
That Christ will wed the Church; She
Is the very femininity
Of which you seek.”
True; but it perplexes me
How male and female form His bride,
But with God’s clearly female side
We choose to commit matricide.

The Spirit labors with child. Second birth, second womb;
Our self has died and left us vacancy
That Her First-Born may fill. Into the tomb,
Holy Seed, to quicken the human soul in urgency!

Now delivered, life from Life is come:
O feed me, fill me, Supreme-Breasted One.

Theresa Rodriguez is the author of three books of poetry: Jesus and Eros: Sonnets,
Poems and Songs (Bardsinger Books, 2015), Longer Thoughts (Shanti Arts, 2020), and Sonnets, a collection of sixty-five sonnets (Shanti Arts, 2020). Her work has appeared in
such journals as The Scarlet Leaf Review, The Wilderness House Literary Review,
Spindrift, Mezzo Cammin, The Wombwell Rainbow, Serotonin, The Road Not Taken,
and the Society of Classical Poets Journal. Her website is http://www.bardsinger.com,
where you can view videos of her performance poetry and find information about her
books. Follow Theresa on Instagram and Twitter @thesonnetqueen.

2 poems by Jennifer Roche :”in the City of X” “February Poem 2: The Calving”

In the City of X (on Barbara Guest’s “Photographs”)

We speak in photos now. What had been distance
may be memory but someone has taken the accident
and refracted it.

The sun lights the street lamp. The street lamp finds
the government building. The tree trees

until it closes. Memory is loss
whose fear of more loss releases the shutter.

A negative rises from whatever is stilled. A feather
can not play a violin

even in a walnut sitting room.

Emotions cycle in a clockwise manner.
Pause. Rewind. Play: In the city of X,
they pour genies into cameras.

Originally appeared online in Rain, Party, & Disaster Society, 2015

February Poem #2: The Calving

February calves
and turns the city
the color of ash. Every/
where is one glove. Every/
thing seeps. The pineapple chunk
picked from a Pyrex bowl in the fridge
tastes like a cold, thready sun
and the lone pulley of spring.

Originally appeared in Ghost Ocean Magazine, #14.

Now available: “20,” my chapbook of erasure poems from Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea out from Alternating Current Press.

feature photo by: Sven Scheuermeier (unsplash)

2 poems by Tova Beck-Friedman ” 5 Minutes to Death” “On Time”

5 minutes to death

the sun sets early
an afternoon of a wintery day
a dark night descends

it’s 5 minutes to death

clear the dinner table
wash the dishes
put them away
check my computer
for the latest reports

a wailing saxophone
seeps through shut windows

across the street
few lonely people sit around tables
scattered on sidewalk

faint memories
pain of recollections
like a phantom limb
like a mirage
i long for all that is no longer

it’s raining
pavements are wet.
streets are dark
another day
to remain within walls
hunker down in front
of my computer

it’s 5 minutes to death
i’m still here

On Time

perhaps it is an exaggeration
to say that time is my nemesis
but as I think about it
it’s definitely not my friend

at best it is self-sufficient
comes and goes
independent of me
never asks permission

wait a minute
I call it
wait a minute…

years ago
I scoffed at time
had it in abundance
now left
with scattered crumbs
of leftover moments
I crave it

wait a minute…
I call it
but time progresses

dates too, arrive
they always do
dates to celebrate
dates to remember
dates on my calendar
dates in my diary
always arrive
without consent
… autonomous

as time vanishes
and existence fade
I’m left with vestiges
of moments past

day in day out
time moves steadily
a minute in
a minute out
a whole life span

Tova Beck-Friedman is a visual artist, filmmaker, writer and poet,.
In recent work she fuses poetry and moving images to create cine-poems. Tova’s work has been shown internationally in film festivals, museums, galleries and on television.
Her cine-poems screened among others, at The Poet House, NYC; Ó Bhéal International Poetry-Film Competition, Ireland; International Video Poetry Festival / Athens, Greece and The Film and Video Poetry Symposium, Los Angeles.


2 new poems by Samantha Terrell including Avalanches in Poetry 2 entry

Earning Grace

Mulch-covered footpaths
Laid out through
Black-green woods,
Demanding a penance:

Feet pad heavily –
Left, right, left, right –
Pushing forward through space,
Setting a pace

Unmatched by the mind. The path – a tether, now – is
Anxiety wants a breeze,
But it won’t take it. Still, music is in the trees,

Waiting for you to earn your hallelujah.

Hide and Seek

Referred Pain Occurs at a site
Other than an injury

You dreamt I was
A tattoo artist,
Inflicting my painful craft on you.

I asked what type of tattoo it was.
You could only remember the pain.
But how will we find its source?

I dreamt I was following you
Through a crowd.
You kept hiding from me

No wonder –
I would hide from
My pain, too.

Bio: Samantha Terrell, author of Vision, and Other Things We Hide From (Potter’s Grove Press, 2021) is a widely published American poet whose work emphasizes self-awareness as a means to social awareness. Her poetry can be found in many fine publications, and her work has been featured on Sunny G Radio Glasgow, Dublin-based Eat the Storms podcast, and “The Open Collaboration” all-acoustics show (Bristol, U.K.).  She writes from her home in upstate New York, where she lives with her husband and their two sons.

feature photo by Casey Horner