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Issue 5: Phoenix

Bob Sward's Writer's Friendship Series

Book Reviews

Need to Know



A quick list to poets featured in this issue:

Bei Dao

Frank X. Gaspar

Carol Frith

Muriel Zeller

Dee Cohen

George Wallace

Tom Daley

James Lee Jobe

Mary Zeppa

Daniel A. Olivas

Hannah Stein

Lynne Knight

Walter Pavlich

Derick Burleson


Mary Zeppa

Mary Zeppa

The Begotten

In the dream, the fat baby, soft as our last wish,
powdery, warm in my arms. And solid, as real
as tomorrow, cradled and passed hand to hand.

It's the top of her head we keep kissing: fresh, sweet
and rich in the nose. We are millionaire misers,
a phalanx and tender. Our voices, at last,

reach to God. Yet, in the next scene, we are prisoners:
concentration camp: shuddering, naked. Terror
leaks out of our eyes. We all know

where we're going. Even the baby for whom
we would all leap through fire as we must for we see
the smoke (silver-white, plumy) rising up to the edge of our cliff.


Swimming Up, Out of Such Dreams

In the morning, I loft myself over my body

wishing for 20 more years
in the other direction: 45, 35, letting

the ovaries choose. In the belly
of any beast heavy with longing,

leaps the ghost of a ghost of a chance.


Bilateral Equation


If: levity lifts up my shoulders and gravity
settles my hips, the forces are equal
and balance. The mirror,
trajectory fits. As: the wings

I imagine on my back mirror the arcs
of old grief. And my spine
takes the brunt, that old willow.
Like a buoy in a storm, how I rock.


Levity, gravity's obverse.
Earthworms will tunnel and steal

Uncle Franz, Cousin Petunia,
Dear Dennis, Madame Gorbachev.

Gravitas, solemn and Latin,
taking on substance and weight.

Icarus, melting, defiant. My
shoulder blades twitching yet.


The wings I've painted on my back
unfold beneath my skin. Just

this once, Mother, take my hand,
just this time, in this dream:

a wanderjahr: West Africa.
The scenic route: Delphi, Lyons.

That's how I missed the kiss you blew
up Highway 99.


God's Messengers

When they come, let them carry me,
feet first and shining, into that radiant room
where the bodies of angels indulge me
with their iridescent white beams.

When they come, let their hands loft me
over their halos. Let me rise like Elijah's
white breath soaring over the stratosphere
into the aether, neon for What a Good Death.

When they come, let contraltos and meadowlarks,
let tenors and nightingales praise. Let them
harmonize from the beginning. And let
sunflowers tenderly rise. Let them

bloom out of season, as I did. Let my voice
ring out in your blood, toll and angelus,
echo and blessing: when they come,
when they come, when they come.