Still Obedience

A poem
by John Grey
What about the black dress,
surely stripped right from the angel of death?
And the black roses,
their petals like melanomas
plucked from the skin of the corpse?
And the tombstone,
like a child crouched down,
abandoned in the graveyard
to the biting wind, the freeze?
What about? What about?
Questions feel like the last gasp of civilization
as the box is lowered into the earth,
the priest intones even deeper than the hole is dug,
mourners go the teary route
while calling out God under their breath.
It’s a young boy’s first funeral
and everything he knows about familiar people
is disappearing before his eyes.
Does his mother really love that red-faced man?
And what of his father?
He hasn’t looked that sour
since he placed those ill-conceived football bets.
What about his cousins,
unseen since a wedding in June?
And his uncle, the eldest of the brothers remaining,
surely next for the coffin and that unforgiving pit?
It’s his first exposure to something that isn’t entirely life.
He was told beforehand to stay perfectly still and not say a thing.
But it’s not just him.
Everyone here seems under orders.
Obeying instructions is nothing new.
But to be in the company of obedience itself.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Schuylkill Valley Journal, Cape Rock and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Poem and Spoon River Poetry Review.

Poet Interview #67: Karen O’Leary

Scott Thomas Outlar: First off, Karen, I want to thank you for taking some of your time to do this interview. Thank you, also, for all the work and dedication you put toward your Whispers online journal. You helped foster a wonderful community of poets there. Can you start off by talking a bit about your venue? What made you decide to become an editor/publisher?


Karen O’Leary: Whispers was born out of the international print book I published called Snippets and the desire to give back to that writing community that has been so good to me. I wanted a venue that would give new writers and award winning poets the same stage and a desire to help those that are just beginning to understand parts of the editing/submission process. I also wanted a publication free of charge and one that allowed for commenting as writers need support and encouragement. The Gmail format fit most of what I was striving for. It has surpassed any dreams I had. I’m so grateful for all those that have been a part of this journey.


STO: When did you first become attuned to poetry and literature? Has it been a lifelong relationship, or was there a certain moment in time where you suddenly discovered the deep connection?


KO: As a child I hated poetry–trying to understand Shakespeare at a young age made it seem so far beyond my comprehension. In 2002 and 2003, I published my first poems. I discovered small press publications with readable poetry. I was hooked!


STO: You’ve recently received an offer to release a new book of poetry. Can you tell us a bit about your publisher?


KO: My new book will be published by APF Publisher, Patricia Farnsworth-Simpson. The title is Another Side of Me, which will be a collection of my short stories and articles. Dealing with poetry these last few years, Publisher Farnsworth-Simpson’s offer gives me a chance to share what makes the writer in me more of a whole. She prints her books through Lulu press which allows the author to reach out to an international audience as books can be purchased online. She is a talented cover and page designer in addition to her publishing skills.


STO: What type of material do you envision including in this collection? Do you have a certain theme you are aiming for?


KO: If I had to give a theme that unifies the stories and articles I plan to share for this book it is love, not the kind shared in “dime store novels” but one that incorporates the gift of friendship, the everyday heroes in our lives and the bond of family which I have been so blessed to share in.


STO: What do you think the purpose of poetry is today in our modern society? What role does it play, if any, toward influencing culture at this point?


KO: Poetry is an artistic way of conveying thoughts. The opportunities are endless for those that study the markets and network with others. I recently had a poem of mine printed on bright pink paper hanging from a tree for the Bulgaria, Blooming Cherry Tree Exhibit. Our haiku group was invited to share some poetry. Although public posting sites allow writers to network, they often give writers an inflated view of their work. Then, when they submit writing to editors, they get mad and insult the editors that are trying to help them. No one knows everything and every editor has a right to choose what he or she wants to publish.


STO: What types of other hobbies do you enjoy outside of poetry? When I ask what the happiest moments of your life have been thus far, what immediately springs to mind?


KO: I love reading, card making, encouraging others and sharing time with family and friends. The happiest moment in my life was my wedding day, followed by the birth of my daughters. We are a simple family that loves each other.


STO: Is there a certain philosophy or code of conduct which you seek to live your life by? Is there good and evil in this world, and if so, how should we confront/contend with such forces?


KO: “Love without judgment”–Pope Francis’ message is a mantra that I strive for in my own life. This humble woman falls a bit short…I’m still a work in progress. Yes, there is good and evil in the world. Each of us are candles, born to be a light in the darkness. What we do with that light in our corners of the world matters.


STO: Thank you again, Karen, for agreeing to do this interview. On a personal note, I’d also like to thank you for the kindness you’ve shown me since we connected through poetry over the internet in recent years, especially during one particularly difficult period I went through. Simple acts of generosity go a long way sometimes. You are a wonderful human being, and I can’t emphasize it enough. If there are any other thoughts or subjects that my questions didn’t raise that you’d like to speak on, please do so here. The floor belongs to you.


KO: I thank you for your kindness, Scott, and am grateful for this privilege to share my words with your readers. Yes, simple gifts like a smile, a letter in the mail and other things often lift others up when they need it the most. Thank you for being a beacon in this world. Wishing you the best always.

Soothing Lights of September

Two poems
by Karen O’Leary
Silent sparklers twinkle;
Sisters carry my dreams.
Spotlighting the new moon,
September’s gentle beams
Showcase a fresh pathway
So new for this seeker.
Soothing lights…heaven’s hope.
*poetry form Pleiades
Grandma’s House
the loneliness,
lives forgotten,
speeding down
the road of life–
collecting dollars
instead of loving
the loneliness
in home once loved
left in decay…
Karen O’Leary is a writer and editor from West Fargo, ND.  She has published poetry, short stories, and articles in a variety of venues including, Frogpond, A Hundred Gourds, Haiku Pix, bear creek haiku, Now This: Contemporary Poems of Beginnings, Renewals and Firsts, Creative Inspirations, and cattails.  She currently edits an online poetry journal called Whispers.

Ghosts of the Past

Three poems
by Gary Beck
Blue Jays III
For a brief moment
I thought I saw a Jay
sitting on the trellis
where they perched for years,
before coming closer for food.
Then a moment later
he was gone.
An illusion?
A ghost?
Wishful thinking?
I do not know
where they have gone.
I think of the pleasure they gave us
and hope they’re still alive
and moved somewhere
to a nicer nest.
Homeless IV
I stand forlornly
at the entrance to the park
rattling my paper cup
in the hope that passersby
will help me out
with some spare change.
I don’t threaten anyone
and wait there patiently
expecting nothing,
most people in a hurry,
looking through me,
making me wonder
if I still exist.
The Lessons of Empire
The Roman Senate
didn’t have qualms
sending the legions
to conquer new lands,
crush rebellions
against their authority,
the only concern
domestic security.
The British empire
cruised the world
subduing unruly nations,
but cautious about
European competition,
yet never hesitated
to send the troops
to acquire new territory,
always with a moral pretext.
The American empire
started a little too late
to grab much more
then in its expanding neighborhood,
killing or robbing Indians,
Mexicans, French, Russians, Spanish,
and brought forth a great nation.
By the time we got to Europe
in World War I
the older dogs
had staked their claims
to Africa and Asia.
So after sour grapes
we chose self-righteousness
and became big brothers
to our underprivileged little brothers,
rather then land grabbers
and just ruled them
Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director, and as an art dealer when he couldn’t make a living in theater. He has 11 published chapbooks and 3 more accepted for publication. His poetry collections include: Days of Destruction (Skive Press), Expectations (Rogue Scholars Press). Dawn in Cities, Assault on Nature, Songs of a Clerk, Civilized Ways, Displays, Perceptions & Fault Lines (Winter Goose Publishing). Tremors, Perturbations, Rude Awakenings and The Remission of Order will be published by Winter Goose Publishing. Conditioned Response (Nazar Look). Resonance (Dreaming Big Publications). Virtual Living will be published by Thurston Howl Publications. His novels include: Extreme Change (Cogwheel Press), Flawed Connections (Black Rose Writing) and Call to Valor (Gnome on Pigs Productions). Sudden Conflicts will be published by Lillicat Publishers and State of Rage by Rainy Day Reads Publishing. His short story collection, A Glimpse of Youth (Sweatshoppe Publications). Now I Accuse and other stories will be published by Winter Goose Publishing. His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway. His poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines. He currently lives in New York City.

Between the Folds

Three poems
by Sneha Subramanian Kanta
The globe is compressed
like a bunch of unwanted pamphlets
crumpled together and sellotaped.
We are running, everywhere
to sounds of missed buses,
panting of trains,
and a forlorn landscape.
The harvest of rage
round the clock
from an unfertile womb
of earth broadcasted
on television, prints of newspapers,
the blur of radios,
the hurried frenzy of
the world wide web.
You cannot move beyond
the distance your eye takes you
it aims to watch a road full with fog.
The yellow sunbeam pinches
before it splits the story ahead of you
into disjointed columns.
The arms, legs and limbs of
countries are amputed
while their eyes remain static and watchful.
When it thundered
over the hilly expanse
nani told me
it was Vishnu.
Her hands cupped
in prayer
a lyric of Indra
playing upon her lips.
I stepped in
between the folds
of evening, as she
with open palms
raised her hands
toward the sky.
Everything is not algebra.
Make it known to the painters —
their wistful porches
lurking with scents
of women, seated in an armchair.
The anatomy of veins
crushed with language
and skin scars from childbirth
carried in the temples
on their head.
No body sees the matchstick
that has lit the corner bonfire
slowly charcoaling
heaps of wood.
Sneha Subramanian Kanta finds credence in non-linear forms of looking. Avant-garde art, untold stories and tales of refugees are matters close to her heart. Her work is forthcoming in Fallujah Magazine, ZOOPOETICS, Serendipity, Erstwhile Magazine and the first print anthology of Peacock Journal and elsewhere. She is a GREAT scholarship awardee, pursuing her second postgraduate degree in literature in the UK. She believes in forms of dissents and uprisings, renaissance, letters and the word et cetera.