back to Five Willows Literary Review main site

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Marjorie Sadin -------- two poems

                           Without Fanfare

Without all the fanfare, I love you.
I hover over you like fog.
Don’t be afraid, the moon is descending.
And furthermore the mountains are turning
into witnesses.

Without further ado, I love you.
I don’t put on any airs.
The moon is descending
And you are making valleys
out of mountains, and mountains out of love.

I love you without thinking.
It’s like getting dressed in the morning.
The moon is descending
And the sound of love echoes in the valleys.

And I hover over you like a mother.
The moon is descending
and the mountains blush, the valleys are  breathless-- they witness
our love.

                         Holding the Sky

My anger bellows.
Showers pound the ground.

And then it ends.

Why on you?
Because you’re in reach.

You flash like lightning
after my rage.
My thunder may frighten.
Not you.

You bend,
take me in your arms

the way a rainbow holds the sky.

-- Marjorie Sadin

These poems had appeared in Bewildering Times.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Sandra Noel ----- five poems

Stone and Bone

I want to become a stone
in this meandering river
large enough
to hold my place through spring floods
small enough
for a returning salmon to consider
nose me gently before struggling
a little further upstream
where she will dig into lighter gravel
a nest for her bright orange eggs
attracting the blood-colored males
already on their way to death
until both together, open-mouthed
mix eggs and seed.
And after she covers each nest
no longer able to resist
the relentless downstream current
as it carries her spent body gently
back over hard won riffled river bottom
to be the last place she rests
stone and bone together
bleached white and worn
with weather, water and time
inanimate, un-noticed, dreaming.

One molten, born in a river of fire
cooled to stillness by a river of ice.
The other, a silver sea traveler
until natal desire compels her
into sinuous red light.

(First published, Elohi Gadugi Journal, Narratives for a New World, Volume 1, 2012-2013)

Winter song 

There was a song
whistled by the thrush
learned early
and passed on to me
as I stopped by the cattail cloister
thick matted with dead stalks and leaves
of this long, dry summer.

It is the last refuge in the pond.
Golden maple and willow leaves
cover the ground leaving skeletal branches
and no place to hide but deep in the muck
if you happen to have gills
or the cattails, if you don't
but fear the heron's sharp eye
or the hawk's overhead.

The song must be of winter
the coming cold and damp
the end of abundance
and time to fly south
if you happen to have wings
or hunker down, if you don't.

Hold a Stone

Feel the smooth dense weight
in the palm of your hand
listen to the stillness--
It was once a river of sand
It was once molten lava
hardened by time or temperature
made smooth by waves and tide
into this small shape of a human heart.

Listen to the stillness--
the tic tock of our hearts, our time
is not there.
If stone has a beat
it is timed to the rhythm of the earth
in sync with the universe
and music of the stars.

Hold a leaf.

(First published, chapbook intitled, "Into the Green", 2017 by Finishing Line Press)


Prehistoric vocalizations
in the giant fir next to my window
stuttering, shape shifting, lifting
silently soaring across the mirror-black bay
a perfect crescent moon
light on the horizon
first rose, now golden
as I sit on my cushion
with altar and bowl
the first of many habits
acquired with age
to replace the passions
of my youth–only you remain
I still wake up loving you
knowing you are impossible
(knowing you are impossible!)
I sit and wait for peace to descend
for hope to expire
or rest in a tree nearby
knowing (somehow)
I will never wake to an empty heart
but stagger with the weight of you
each morning
then soar silently into the light.

(First published, chapbook intitled, "The Gypsy in my kitchen", 2015 by Finishing Line Press)

The bells

One day you came
into my life
but left on a Sunday
I know it was Sunday
because there were bells
pealing and pealing
as if to announce
your departure
you may have said goodbye
but the bells were so loud
it was all I heard
the bells saying
goodbye, goodbye
Whenever I hear them
it is what I remember
you leaving
the bells.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

"Other" by Nathaniel Hutner (this is a repost)

Monday, March 23, 2015

"Other" ------ poem by Nathaniel Hutner


You will use my madness
To give me pain – you,
Who speak in the guise of truth
And wish me ill.
Have I not pain enough
For the ten of you, or twenty?
Can you really be invulnerable?
You have given the gift of my faults.
I have already lived with them,
They know me,
And I have made them my friends.
It is as if I lived with them
On a small island and we passed
Our time shifting places.

I am now all that I have been
And shall be,
History and potentiality.
My faults cannot destroy me.
Nor my madness.
Nor you.

Nathaniel C. Hutner

First published in Chrysanthemum, Spring/Summer 1992

Monday, April 3, 2017

Sherri Levine ---- two poems

Grammar Lessons

When my students ask me how to use the future tense,
I tell them that we use “will”
for a promise or a threat.
I will always love you, for example.
And to make a plan, we use the “present continuous,”
I am divorcing him.
And when they ask about the “simple past,”
He loved me a long time ago . . .
It’s not that simple, I tell them.
There’s certainly nothing perfect about the “present perfect,”
I have loved you since the day I met you.
By definition, I ask them,
Does this mean that he stopped loving me?
But loving is a “non-continuous verb,”
Loving, I tell them, is incorrect.
And for the modals?
(Though confused, I know I still have their interest)
I may, I might, I should, I could
keep going, but I won’t.
Instead, I tell them:
Love is full of tenses.

Orange Crush

I saw my man
put a dollar
in the soda machine
to buy a Coke
but the Coke didn’t come out
was an Orange Crush.
My man was banging that machine
so hard with his fists
Goddamn it!  Goddamn machine!
but when he got the Orange Crush
he drank it anyway.
Why?  I asked him.
Cause it’s here
and I’m thirsty
You get used to it—
You get used to a lot of things, he said.
I’ll never get used to losing you,
I told him.
But he went away, anyway.

"Grammar Lessons"  appeared in " Timberline Review Summer/Fall 2015

"Orange Crush" appeared in  Hartskill Review  Winter 2015

Poem translated and adapted from the Chinese by Hongjing Lu and Keith Holyoak

Poems I Found in My Father’s Journal

Adapted and translated into English by Hongjing Lu and Keith Holyoak.
Based on a poem in Chinese by Dong Fangyu as adapted by Li Jian.

1984—the crops are still not harvested.
Rocked in my arms at last my son’s asleep, looks so serene—
No chance tonight to go and watch the movie under stars,
My wife needs me to fix the pedal on the sewing machine.
Tomorrow I’ve got to catch my neighbor, try to borrow money—
The whole day long the kid was crying, begging for a cookie.
By day’s end sorrow bores through my cheap jacket to my heart—
Squatting beside the pond I want to rip the thing apart.

These are the words I found in my father’s journal,
Ink stains from his youth, like traces left by another.
Today I read these poems and blink my eyes—
Like a shadow at dusk, easy to miss my father.   

1994—the crops are finally harvested.
My mother left this world last year—so weary, always kind!
My son woke up, put on his new white shirt and ran to school—
He’s looking slim, but lately something’s weighing on his mind.
I’ll waft away like old banknotes smoldering in a pile,
But soon my son will stand a full-grown man, then in a while
A lovely girl will fall for him, they’ll start their family.
Just one wish, just one—let them be happier than me!

These are the words I found in my father’s journal,
Ink stains from his life, like traces left by another.
Today I read these poems and blink my eyes—
Like a shadow at dusk, easy to miss my father.   

These are the words I found in my father’s journal,
Ink stains from his life, like traces left by another.
Today I read these poems and blink my eyes—
Like a wind-tossed newspaper, easy to miss my father.               

These are the footprints left by a generation—
After the rains the traces disappear.
So many sorrows buried beneath this place!
We blink our eyes and miss who brought us here.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Three new poems by Julie A. Dickson

Touching Time


I’ve walked upon this earth for quite some time.

I don’t know peace nor have I tools to fight.

I have searched for words that strain to rhyme,

to ponder for a moment, seek what’s right


In the darkest corners, victims speak,

recall ancestral stories that were told.

Youngest seeking wisdom, future bleak,

advice from learn-ed past and not so bold.


To say they know all things, age will not lie.

Some mysteries of time we will not know.

I understand this truth and cease to cry

in anguish turn away and start to go.


A hand reached out in empathy draws mine;

I feel connection, wisdom touching time.



Julie A. Dickson

Exeter, NH


Lost at Sea

“We both know what memories can bring – they bring diamonds and rust” ~ Joan Baez



At the full moon, I still hear your voice

filling the room, you gave me no choice.


Shimmered, the brilliance – pressed prism of carbon

its beauty- resilience, a rose in my garden.


Burst on the scene, a vagabond singer

what did it mean, you neglected to linger.


On half shell, an oyster, the pearl set aside,

albeit in foister, merely used as a guide.


Rust covers metal, its coating mistrust -

coating shine, not quite subtle, illusion of dust.


Left behind, lost at sea – no diamond alliance,

With never a plea – floating lonely in silence.



Julie A. Dickson

Exeter, NH


This Path


I recognize this path, I’ve walked before

Song drifts on air, it’s sad; so like your voice

Along this path I sigh, recall once more

What might have been if I received a choice


No, I won’t cry, refuse the threat of tears

Once hand in hand with you I wandered then

Cannot re-live the pain, so many years

My broken heart reminds me who I’ve been


Now I remember you with honest eyes

My trust was broken, tossed like so much dirt

You plunged a blade of words wrapped in your lies

But I refuse to dwell upon the hurt


Alone now, and although I may complain

I might decide to walk this path again



Julie A. Dickson

Exeter, NH