Gravity Grateful by Mark Blickley

Carpe Diem Series

Taking a look at things from a new perspective, we have Mark Blickley! Much like standing on a table, his text-based art engages the viewer to see things from an unfamiliar angle!


Art by Mark Blickley
Photo by Robert Funaro

Artist:

Mark Blickley is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and PEN American Center. His latest book is the text-based art collaboration with fine arts photographer Amy Bassin, Dream Streams. https://www.claresongbirdspub.com/featured-authors/amy-bassin-mark-blickley/

My Wasted Ticket Sits Homeless in My Pocket by Melissa Sussens

Carpe Diem Series

As we continue to wade through these strange times, we embrace the importance of time with our loved ones. Melissa Sussens tenderly writes of this, and brings to life those micro moments with her family. She sweetly takes in the memories and holds on to them to carry her through with hope and appreciation.

My Favorite Line: “Phone calls and messages do not ring the same,
they cannot fill the emptiness that my longing
leaves in me.”


My Wasted Ticket Sits Homeless in My Pocket

A doctor, an engineer and a teacher
all failed at calculating time accurately –
we left when we should have arrived.
Arrived to a sealed gate of disappointment.
In that moment I considered leaving
my bags behind. The strength of my longing
enough to levitate me to another plane
where I do not need pyjamas, underwear or
self respect, if I can only have my mother.
Missing home stains the air with a melancholic taste.
My wasted ticket sits homeless in my pocket,
it rattles there in all the space
that separates me from those I love.
For five months I have been missing
my mother’s wild gesticulating hands,
my father’s excitement over whatever new succulent
he has added to his garden. I have imagined
the way he will drag me out to see it, still in my slippers.
I will not feel the stab of the uneven ground
through my wonder at this version of home,
my home. I am missing my mom’s lasagne
and the comfort of her almost spilling over
cups of Earl Grey tea. I am longing for
the hours of conversation on the couch,
our walks in the mountains turned breathless
by the hills and calendar days revisited together.
Phone calls and messages do not ring the same,
they cannot fill the emptiness that my longing
leaves in me. I cannot replace the scratch
of my father’s stubble as he kisses me on the cheek.
I cannot dream the solace of my mother’s bones
beside me in bed in the morning light.
I know I will never miss another flight again.


Artist:

Melissa Sussens is a queer veterinarian and poet from South Africa. Her work has appeared in Capsule StoriesAnti-Heroin ChicHorse Egg Literary and Germ Magazine, among others and she was runner up for the New Contrast National Poetry Prize. She lives in Cape Town with her partner and their two dogs and can be found on Instagram @melissasussens and on Twitter @girlstillwrites.

A Couple of Kids Grow Old & Other Poetry by Michael H. Brownstein

Carpe Diem Series

What a gift it is to ponder of love and existence surrounding us! Michael H. Brownstein is here to help us do just that. His poetry holds the perfect descriptions to draw our minds to these small luxuries, and encourages us to embrace them for all that they are.

My Favorite Line: ” A lust for love,
not a love of lust.”


A COUPLE OF KIDS GROW OLD

They were not a young couple
with a love of lust,
but elderly,
with a lust of love.
Do you know the difference?
I was there once,
young,
and I am older now,
much older,
and I can truthfully say I do not.

At what point did hand holding
become a tangling of tongues,
horizontal made more sense,
and then
somewhere personality exposed itself,
imagination, creativity, intellect–
two talking heads waking together,
snow raining outside,
the temperature falling from 50 to 6 below,
a wraparound wind,
neither one so uncomfortable they need to turn on the furnace.

Whew–that was a long line.

A lust for love,
not a love of lust.
Thirty years of marriage.
It does get better.


SPRING

All winter the lilies broke through earth,
an easy winter,
splashes of snow now and then,
a few mosaics of frost,
houseflies did not know to die,
ground hogs did not know to hibernate,
everywhere great bald eagles over the Missouri,
the early caw of crows,
a grand scheme of geese,
ponds did not freeze,
and today a worm surfaced,
a robin dropped from a tree
and the wonder of life began its renovations.


OVER EASY

This morning I entered
a world of orange rust,
no dreams of the living,
no keepsakes of the dead–
into the graying of snow.

You think this a poem of depression,
a storm of mold and disinterest–
but a songbird sings from her nest,
a cardinal flashes red.

Some mornings the world is a piss storm,
without sound and then a squirrel
runs one branch to another full of glee.


BRANDING THE SOUL

But what do you call the weather that comes off your skin?
The earnest glow of hard work? Soil that sews itself
Into your fingernails? Is there a name for the bent back,
The need to comprehend the inner workings of a garden,
An orange wall, stained glass, the reconfiguration of water,
The simple companionship of a dog resting on your lap?


Artist:

Michael H. Brownstein

The White Raven by Eduard Schmidt-Zorner

Carpe Diem Series

Get your week started with this enticing story by Eduard Schmidt-Zorner! I was immediately pulled into his writing and transported to his forest, intrigued for the events to transpire. Take a look at his fantastic short story, The White Raven!


The White Raven
A frosty December light at dusk over a lonely nest with scattered huts, a few abandoned barns. The cabins are old, made of logs and planks, once painted blue or red, they lie low on the edge of the forest. Not a soul to be seen. No tarred road leading to it.
Is that a dog barking or a fox?
In a remote corner, hidden by spruces, stands, almost invisible, Kowalski’s wooden hut. Crows and ravens flutter up. Great white flakes fall from the grey winter sky, which merges seamlessly with the bare hills on the horizon. In the dim light of the nearing night, the forest looks desolate. Its edge is lined by willows, elder bushes, young pines, and hazel bushes. Behind the forest stretch ploughed fields – bare winter fields.
One can hear, how, deep in the forest, now and then, a broken branch, brittle from the ice on it, falls. The wind probably tries to tidy things up. The constellation, the Great Bear, can be seen on the Northern night sky. He wonders: Is the bear about to break loose to appear here?
Crows and ravens gather around the carcass of a deer, dragged across the snow, probably by a wolf.
Kowalski claps his hands. The ravens and crows fly up into the trees. When he goes back, they, again, settle down for the meal. Wolves and lynxes have been at work. In autumn they bring their prey to this place, a piece of sheep or red deer. In winter you cannot find remains, but when the snow melts, the landscape reveals the bones.
There are snowdrifts which give the landscape something substantial. His small Lada is covered with snow, became part of the surrounding, and is no longer a foreign body that alarms the animals of the forest. The snow makes everything equal.
The warm yellow light from the window of his hut forms shadows that compete with the moon shadows but soon succumb to its stronger silver shine.
Kowalski steps outside the door of his wooden hut. He has heard a sound, a wailing, plaintive sound. The temperature is near minus ten. It becomes night soon, the moon hangs as a blank disc in the sky, three stars complete the nocturnal picture, laden with symbolism. Three, is the sacred number, he remembers.
He walks around his hut. The snow is ankle-deep. He has laid out fat for the birds from his frying pan in which he has braised pork earlier. He still has plenty of cabbage, a side of bacon hangs from the ceiling, sausages are in the larder. Goose fat.
He longs for spring and summer in Kashubia, for the mild lakes, the flat landscape, the nearby Baltic sea, where ships bob on the water, fishing for cod. He hopes to see Katarzyna again.
He loves Katarzyna, the warm embrace of her strong peasant arms, the soft body, the vanilla-scented black hair, her humming songs, the melodies of Kashubia.
Kowalski breathes in the pure crisp air. The cold is good for the thinking. In frost, when the landscape is still, the mind works better. He writes weekly short stories and reviews for the magazine Gazeta Wyborcza. To conceal his irregular, unpredictable way of life, and to pretend regularity, he writes his stories in stockpiles, in bright, productive moments, and then, elegantly, fanning out his stories with feigned regularity like game cards into the editor’s in-box.
He thrives on solitude, on seclusion. It keeps him sane, over water.
As a child, he had holed up and covered his ears when his father came home drunk and beat his mother. He escaped into a dream world with hidden little houses in secluded inaccessible forests. Or into favourite imaginings of sailing through the waves of the Northern sea, through wind, frost, and darkness in the warmth of his sleep. This feeling has never left him, but has opened for him a mental exile, an emotional asylum. He often erases reality from his daily events, wipes it out. Therefore, his successful stories are full of fantasies, fancies, and bizarre daydreams.
A train sounds from afar, is it the late train from Białystok to Kaliningrad?
The pines cast a symmetrical web of shadows. The crows and ravens have retreated. The glassy snow crunches under his boots and makes an unpleasant sound. The water froze in the bucket he had put out for the animals.
He sees a deer scurry by and hears the frozen snow crack under its hoofs. A nearby stream babbles modestly, restrained. The banks are overgrown with ice.
He sees a snow-white bird, it is a raven, bigger than the others.
This white raven sits on a branch, on a stunted birch. He has noticed it because the branch is still shaking. Its beak is light-yellow. The neck and throat feathers form a frayed ruff like the collar worn by a Lutheran pastor. With his head tilted, the raven eyes Kowalski.
Kowalski speaks to him and it is as if the raven answers. He pushes the hut door open and points invitingly into the room. “Come in, it’s too cold outside.”
The raven pauses, then makes a short jump, eyes him again, and hops into the hut, flaps its wings lightly and takes a position on a stool.
The fireplace, the tiled stove, stands in the corner, filled with logs, which give heat while the icy wind beats against the hut.
In the room stands a yellow sideboard with peeling paint, a pile of pots next to the stove, on it the black iron pan with the bacon. A dresser with plates and cups. A table covered with a flower pattern tablecloth.
Overflowing bookshelves dominate the room. Most of the books are about miracles and legends, there are also items about the Freemasons, the Mormons, and dream interpretation.
He often dreamt and thought it was reality, those thoughts occupied his day. Sometimes something occurred and he thought it was a dream.
The vodka bottle stands on the table. It shines, is the brightest spot in the room on this kitchen altar. He pours a glass and raises it solemnly to the saint on the icon on the wall. Then he pours some more and toasts to the raven. The red tongues of firelight lick the walls here and there, show places where the thin plaster has fallen off and wide beams are visible.
He breaks some bread off for the raven and gives the raven pieces of bacon cut into small pieces. The raven thanks him with a clear, deep sound.
He prepares Haluska: Bacon, cabbage, and onions sizzle in the pan, he adds some leftover noodles, a few cloves of garlic. The water in the pot with potatoes begins to steam and the water in the kettle whistles.
What did this raven’s visit mean? He remembers that his grandmother told him about ravens, that they were messengers of the Otherworld. There is a lot of superstition connected to ravens. Especially the black ravens are not popular, often associated with things obscure, dark, unknown, and sometimes bad and evil.
White ravens are rare in nature, so this must have a special significance.
He remembers that if you see a white raven, it means you are about to be born again, renewed, cleansed, and healed of all wounds and misfortunes.
“Do you bring me luck, raven?”
The raven makes: “Kraak.”
Kowalski considers this a good omen, takes a sheet of paper, and continues to write his story as the due date is nearing.
“My Katarzyna is an artist,” he says casually to the raven. The bird taps his beak on the wooden stool in affirmation and approval.
Kowalski lights a Popularne cigarette. The smoke hovers like incense upwards to the low ceiling.
“And I am a scribbler,” Kowalski says half to himself and turns to the raven.
“If you want to stay with me, you are welcome.”
“Tak,” says the raven and hops onto the bookshelf.
Bacon, potatoes, garlic, and vodka have their impact on Kowalski. The raven has put its head under its wing. Soon sleepy silence envelopes them both.
In the morning, Kowalski notices that the raven has spent the night next to a book written by Andrzej Stasiuk entitled “Biały Kruk” ‘The White Raven’.
The raven has left a trace on the shelf in form of a white dropping.


Artist:

Eduard Schmidt-Zorner is a translator and writer of poetry, haibun, haiku, and short stories.

He writes in four languages: English, French, Spanish, and German and holds workshops on Japanese and Chinese style poetry and prose and experimental poetry.

Member of four writer groups in Ireland. Lives in County Kerry, Ireland, for more than 25 years and is a proud Irish citizen, born in Germany.

Published in over 140 anthologies, literary journals, and broadsheets in USA, UK, Ireland, Japan, Sweden, Spain, Italy, Bangladesh, India, France, Mauritius, Nepal, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Canada.

Some of his poems, and haibun have been published in French (own translation), Romanian, and Russian language.

He writes also under his penname Eadbhard McGowan.

The Playing Field by Evie Groch, Ed.D.

Carpe Diem Series

It amazes me how much we can learn from the simple observation of animals. Dogs truly embody the idea of being present and seizing the day in the most healthy of senses. Evie Groch, Ed.D. has brought us a poem that delights in this topic and leaves us with all smiles and happy thoughts!

My Favorite Line: “their hanging tongues express
their panting joy. “


The Playing Field

Grover, yellow-white lab
sits at sidewalk’s edge
beside his four canine peers,
all awaiting signal to cross
the street, enter the year-long
vacant Little League field.

Once on its turf, they romp, dash,
roll in the grass;
their hanging tongues express
their panting joy.

The ball is lobbed,
they all take off with the confidence
they’ll be the one to catch and retrieve.

Soon they are joined by others – Shepherds,
Goldens, Spaniels, mixed breeds like apple
varietals on display.
Some horse-sized, others pony-like,
they sniff their greetings, accept with tail wags.
Thrice a day I’m witness to this
from my window on the hill.

It dawns on me that for these creatures
wherever they meet
the playing field is always level.


Artist:

Evie Groch, Ed.D. is a Field Supervisor/Mentor for new administrators in Graduate Schools of Education.  Her opinion pieces, humor, poems, short stories, recipes, word challenges, and other articles have been widely published in the New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Contra Costa Times, The Journal, Games Magazine, and many online venues. Many of her poems are in published anthologies. Her short stories, poems, and memoir pieces have won her recognition and awards. Her travelogues have been published online with Grand Circle Travel. The themes of travel, language, and immigration are special for her.

Return to the Yellow Phase & More Poetry by Adrian Slonaker

Carpe Diem Series

What joy and excitement Adrian Slonaker gifts us today with his poetry! He helps us focus on the continued healing of the world as well as cherishing relationships with loved ones.

My Favorite Line: “a heart healed by
a hand that understood every callus of my fingers.”


“Return to the Yellow Phase”

At the Witching Hour, all of New Brunswick crackled and flickered as it tore out of its
two-month red and orange dungeon and dived into yellow,
so we yelled a bilingual roar of relief like
children chasing freedom from fussy schoolhouse rules in June.
Fourteen hours later, the temperature fidgeted below the freezing point, yet
the frostiness fizzled against the sizzling satisfaction of
naked smiles and a hearty hello swapped with
the strangers sidestepping ice on the sidewalk – the marvellously maskless
couple clutching each other’s fingers while
a flirty sun stripped his own facial covering,
slinking out with his come-hither stare from behind clouds
as I relished a minty-fresh French kiss on
International Women’s Day
from his windy consort,
la plus grande dame du monde:
Mother Nature.


“The Feast”

Connie Francis fretted about “Blue Winter” on a turquoise transistor radio,
an overzealous blizzard blew blasts of snow,
and sneezes sneaked out of
nostrils stricken by nasmork (a funny Russian runny nose);
but coziness flooded a discreet dinner
in the vesper shadows past the vestibule
as the sepia tone Sunday dreariness disappeared in
a limaçon-shaped pesto pizza and
a heart healed by
a hand that understood every callus of my fingers.


Artist Statement:

“Return to the Yellow Phase” was inspired by the return of our province to the ‘yellow phase’ of COVID recovery (8th March), which meant we were finally, after a couple months, allowed to go outside in public without COVID face masks. It was liberating and wonderful to take a spontaneous walk and feel the breezy cold air against my face and see human faces outdoors again! 


“The Feast” is about how a dinner with someone special (seizing the day and taking a chance on friendship, love, romance, etc.) can brighten up one’s outlook on a dreary, chilly Sunday.     


Artist:

Fond of seasonal chocolate treats eaten way out of season, catchy rock ‘n roll records, springtime rain and cobblestone streets, language professional Adrian Slonaker lives in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada. Adrian’s work, which has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize, has appeared in WINK: Writers in the Know, Cajun Mutt Press, The Pangolin Review and others. 

Art Thoughts & Other Artwork by Carl Scharwath

Carpe Diem Series

Carl Scharwath’s photography can’t help but make you want to go out and explore the world! His magnificent artistry spots the color and intrigue of life around us. Take a look at his work below!



Peace

Art Thoughts – model Raktima Khanum

Elixor w Deborah Setiyawati

Vista – model Maraina Malhotra

Water Clouds

Wheel

Wagon

Courtyard

Chair

Artists:

Carl Scharwath, has appeared globally with 75+ journals selecting his art photography, His first photography book was published by Praxis. His photography was also exhibited in the Mount Dora Center For The Arts gallery and their exhibition “Be A Part Of It.” Recently his photography was accepted by The Leesburg Center For The Arts and their 3 month store front exhibition. Six global poets have also selected his photography to grace the covers of their published books.  Carl is the art editor for both Minute Magazine (USA,) A Too Powerful Word (Serbia,) a competitive runner and a  2nd degree black- belt in Taekwondo.

Models:

Art Thoughts-model Raktima Khanum and is a photo with a pencil drawing added.

Vista-model Maraina Malhotra-Singapore

Elixor-model Deborah Setiyawati-Indonesia

Carpe Diem & Other Poetry by Januário Esteves

Carpe Diem Series

Let the compelling work of Januário Esteves bring you that carpe diem mood! Sway to the rhythm of his appreciation of life and all that it holds.

My Favorite Line: ” Between hectic hours of scandal
Walk the voice that strikes noisy
At the heart cries for contentment
Of the life that runs uneasily”


Carpe diem

The day passes like a cloud in the sky
Now bright now, cloudy rain
Between hectic hours of scandal
Walk the voice that strikes noisy
At the heart cries for contentment
Of the life that runs uneasily
And go to the matrix of enchantment
To know if it is a happy light of love
Amidst scarce pities
Measure the minutes by patience
From those who already see the deities in the distance
Fleshy and milky give in thrill.


Deilirium

So that life is not just heartbreak
And don’t give in to capricious arbitrariness
It is vital to raise the spirit to the limit of the symbol
Bringing from this strength the hidden deities
And the cruel stupor that brings the disease
Advance without fear the song of praise
For the charm of the dream of modesty
Settle doubts that clamor with clamor
Everywhere share the experience
That translates the transfigured life dream
In the most intimate and painful experience
In chaos do not fall or be vilified
Bringing customs and signs very close
Disguises of others not wanting
Sweet and warm memories of my parents
Juxtaposing correctly in crescendo.


Pavane

Like a swollen peacock
I made the court around you
And quickly dazzled
For the sweet scream I felt

My head was spinning
My feet flowed in the air
And I didn’t know where I was anymore
Not solid ground to tread

So I support my steps
You struck me
On the verge of kisses and hugs
The two snatched up

We proposed to light life
For the future to generate
The happy seed no doubt
Pray to the splendor of heaven.


Artist:

Januário Esteves was born in Coruche and was raised near Costa da Caparica,Portugal. He graduated in electromechanical installations, uses the pseudonym Januantoand writes poetry since the age of 16.
Attachments area

Inappropriately Dressed & Other Poetry by Lynn White

Carpe Diem Series

Lynn White’s elegant poetry today reminds us to boldly be ourselves! Her work inspires that while the world challenges us, we can challenge the world right back.

My Favorite Line: ” Sometimes
you just
have to don
your dark glasses
and stride out to the sun,
regardless of snow, or clouds, or clothes. “


Inappropriately Dressed

I wasn’t dressed for snow,
or clouds,
or wind,
or for walking at all,
if I were honest.
But sometimes
you just have to give it a go
and trudge through the clouds,
kick up the snow in passing,
challenge the wind
with the size
of your hat.
It wouldn’t dare to blow
it away, would it?
Sometimes
you just
have to don
your dark glasses
and stride out to the sun,
regardless of snow, or clouds, or clothes.
Sometimes
you just have to go.

First published in Visual Verse, February 2018


Leaving Home

The van departed
fully loaded,
I stood there
empty handed
and took a last look round
the house
where I’d once been happy.
I felt empty now,
like the house,
empty rooms
and faded dreams.
I was on my own now,
going solo.
I walked briskly away.
I didn’t look back.


I Was Not Like Her

I was not like her,
the girl in the picture
looking out
scowling
defiant
rebellious.
No I was not like her
not me
not then.

I wore the gloves in summer
that my mother bought me
the classic cut clothes
that she had always
wanted to wear
even allowed my hair to curl
as it wanted to
as she wanted it to.
No I was not like her,
the one in the picture
not then.

But when I broke free
made myself up
wore minis
or long skirts
controlled my curls
with an iron in hand
yes
I think
I became her
then.

First published in Visual Verse, January 2020


Artist:

Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. She was shortlisted in the Theatre Cloud ‘War Poetry for Today’ competition and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Rhysling Award. Her poetry has appeared in many publications including: Apogee, Firewords, Capsule Stories, Light Journal and So It Goes.

Follow:

Find Lynn at: 

https://lynnwhitepoetry.blogspot.com 

and 

https://www.facebook.com/Lynn-White-Poetry-1603675983213077/

Carpe Diem: Days are Flowers by Amrita Valan

Carpe Diem Series

Enjoy the sweet and soothing sensation of reading the work of Amrita Valan! Her poetry sinks in to fill the heart with absolute loveliness.

My Favorite Line:

“A day is a sweet flower on the tree of life
‘Live like a flower’ the day replies.”


Carpe Diem:

Days are Flowers

My heart beats are numbered
And so is, each day of my life
Flow of progress ordained,
In the act of living the moment,
Promises of fruition, speculations rife.

Actionable thoughts, questionable intentions
Prophetic wishes, visionary dreams
But the ends determined only through action.

Each bud births one single day,
Aglow at sunrise, clouds sail away.

A day waves like sweet rose in sunny caress
Revel soft petals! In youth’s redolence.
A day won’t last a week, a month, or year
It fades at sunset, a shredded petal,
A forgotten tear.

A day is lifetime of a single flower.

‘Carpe diem’ whispered the flower
‘Live for this day, this moment, this hour.’
A day is a sweet flower on the tree of life
‘Live like a flower’ the day replies.

Bless this day, this sacred day
It is all we can have and hold
In its loving folds, we grow to know
Vineyards of verdant green and gold.

A day unsheathes, a prayer to find our way
The holiest prayer is to Seize the Day.

©Amrita Valan 2021


Artist:

Amrita Valan is a mother of two boys and a writer based in Bangalore India. She has a
master’s degree in English literature. She has worked in the hospitality industry, BPOs and as
content creator for deductive logic and reasoning in English. Her poems and stories have
been published in several anthologies, online journals and zines such as Café Dissensus, Café
Lit, Spillwords, ImpSpired, Potato Soup Journal, Portland Metro zine, Poetry and Places and Glomag.