Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Review of Deborah P. Kolodji's "Tug of a Black Hole"

shelter in place

the days when I feel 

like an astronaut

(from Tug of a Black Hole, Deborah P Kolodji)

     Deborah P. Kolodji’s new chapbook Tug of a Black Hole (© 2021, Title IX Press), is a chronicle of the author’s journey through the Covid 19 global pandemic. There are numerous other Covid 19 inspired poetry books being published, or coming out this year, but none that I’ve read, so far, contain the intimate and powerful verse Kolodji, a master haikuist, has crafted in the last 14 months.

   Tug of a Black Hole contains 20 scifiku, a form similar to haiku, but with science fiction as the theme, instead of nature. I would argue that most of these are still haiku, since many of the poems contain nature references, and space, while not considered a part of Mother Nature, is a part of nature. The 20 poems are composed in a tight and swiftly read sequence, with references to isolation, illness, and the frustration engendered from the feeling of not going anywhere, which are some of the obstacles many people encountered during the pandemic.

   The best thing about this, to me, as a poet, and lover of poetry, is that Kolodji takes these awkward muses, and employs them to her advantage. Each scifiku is crafted to perfection, with amazing visuals, which makes it easy to envision oneself as a passenger, on planet Earth, traveling the solar system. Tug of a Black Hole is both nostalgic and melancholy, as the farther the reader, as passenger, travels away from the center of ther origins, and themselves:

lace curtains 

in a spaceship window

things we can’t leave

ten years in space

the dish garden

in my cabin

    In the spaces between the scifiku, there’s much to ponder. Everyone will get something out of this little gem of an e-chapbook, but the wonder, and the inviting nature of Kolodji’s poems make this a book to go back to, if for no other reason than it’s excellent poetry.

Tug of a Black Hole, Deborah P Kolodji, © 2021 Title IX Press, Free to download, 16 pages

© 2021 marie c lecrivain


Monday, March 29, 2021

Women's History Month: Monday, March 29, 2021: Maria A. Arana's two poems "hungry fire" and "self terror"

                                                © 2021 marie c lecrivain

hungry fire…


hungry fire

quiet mist

dangerous goddess

come heave elaborate words

© 2021 Maria A. Arana






diamond is bitter juice

metallic bang

instead of

mechanical worship


machine before flesh

previous play


© 2021 Maria A. Arana

Maria A. Arana is a teacher, writer, poet, and proofreader. Her poetry has been published in various journals including Spectrum, Big Windows Review, The Kleksograph, and Cholla Needles Magazine. You can find her at https://twitter.com/m_a_Arana

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Women's History Month: Saturday, March 27, 2021: Deborah Edler Brown's "Testament"


I, being of sound mind and body, do hereby relinquish all hope of being other than who I am.

She put the pen down and looked at what she had written. It wasn’t her will she was writing, she realized, now that the words had hijacked her. It was her will. The cornerstone of will power and her much vaunted willfulness. Her will and testament: all she had to say about who she was and where she was going. And relinquish…that was the keeper. It sat well on the tongue.

I relinquish all right to opinions that are not mine, and all interest in opinions about me.

I relinquish any and all effort to make someone love me who does not, desire me who does not, or even like me. There is no perfume that will make me smell sweet to the wrong person, no shine that will make me his sunrise, not if he wants the moon. I surrender my need to be right, my need to be perfect, my need to be good.

I relinquish the knight in shining armor, the feeling that I’m owed something, the fear of failure and the fear of success.

I relinquish tomorrow, which will come on its own terms, and I relinquish yesterday, which is only shadow and scent. I empty my hands of all of my maybes and relax my fingers from perpetual grasping.

I relinquish the struggle, the blind cat fight I get into with everything I don’t understand. I surrender to the beauty of my soul’s own dream

This is my will and testament, and my will is thy will – the will of Spirit and my spirit – and I won’t let anything as small as my fearful personality fuck it up.

I sign here in faith and ink.


© 2021 Deborah Edler Brown



Deborah Edler Brown is an award-winning poet, writer, journalist, and author. Her work has appeared in such publications as Nimrod, So Luminous the Wildflowers, poeticdiversity, Altered Lanes, Blue Arc West, and Sisters Singing: Blessings, Prayers, Art, Songs, Poetry & Sacred Stories by Women. Her poem “Cubism” won Kalliope’s Sue Saniel Elkind Poetry Prize, and her fiction has been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Deborah was born in Brazil, raised in Pittsburgh, and earned her degree in Creative Writing from Brown University. She resides in Los Angeles, where she is busy building communities among her characters and readers.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Women's History Month: Thursday, March 25, 2021: Ann Tweedy's Poem "Night Strains"


                                              image from Shutterstock

Night Strains


last night, the nutria in the river interrupted 

my contemplation of the swooping little brown bat’s 

jagged ellipses and riffling wings. 

i wanted to stand on the bank and watch bat skim 

until night blended her completely in. 


but the nutria swam a little past me, then circled back, 

slapping her tail hard as she dove, then swam further off and back again 

to the small clearing i had climbed down to, repeating herself 

until i grasped my unwelcomeness and knew-- 

looking down at my smooth, bare legs-- 

i wanted no part of any battle. so i climbed back up the dike, 

dodging blackberry brambles. 


today, i learn of the campaign 

to trap and euthanize nutria and how aggressively 

they bite and scratch. in my mind, the guinea pig ears 

and upturned nose ride above the current, comical profile 

unaware of the danger i might pose or knowing 

that she has the better of me. 

© 2021 ann tweedy

Ann Tweedy's first full-length book, The Body's Alphabet, was published by Headmistress Press in 2016. It earned a Bisexual Book Award and was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award and a Golden Crown Literary Society Award. Ann also has published three chapbooks: Beleaguered Oases (2nd ed. Seven Kitchens Press 2020); A Registry of Survival (Last Word Press 2020); and White Out (Green Fuse Poetic Arts 2013). She currently serves as a law professor specializing in the laws relating to Native American Tribes. Read more about her at www.anntweedy.com.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Women's History Month: Wednesday, March 24, 2021: Nydia Rojas' poem "Until This Moment"

                                                   © 2021 marie c lecrivain

Until This Moment


Forget everything you’ve known

until this moment- the unblemished

apples- smooth and shiny-


the tempting oranges- their peel

bright and warm as if sunshine

had just discovered them-


the luscious strawberries, their deep

red, looking as if it had just come

from a farm located at the edge


of town, not from distances

involving days of traveling

through several highways.


Forget breathing is the task

that keeps you alive- what helps

you face each day-


your face exposed to rain, to snow,

to chilling winds, to a warm spring

carrying a kiss-


Forget that breathing used to be

what you did naturally, besides those

other busy tasks- going


to the grocery store for milk

and bread- always aplenty- until

this moment – or the drugstore


if you needed refills or beauty

products- or the hair dresser-

another way of buying beauty


or walking to the park without

having to worry about doing the math-

particularly measurements.


You walked- end of the story.

Summer had the added beaty

of wild sunflowers


in bloom- but now you must look back

and front, measure and keep your distance

and when you come to the sunflowers,


they seem to be the only ones around,

the only ones that will hear your voice-

and the wind swirls around the blossoms


as if gathering strength to echo your thoughts-

Thank God for blooming things

that do not mind our touch.

© 2021 Nydia Rojas

Nydia Rojas’ work has been published, among many other literary magazines, in the Wisconsin Academy Review, International Poetry Review, Revista/ Review Interamericana, and Palabra. Her work has also appeared on line in poeticdiversity, Your Daily Poem and Rigorous and in the anthologies Between the Heart and the Land: Latina Poets in the Midwest and I didn’t know there were Latinos in Wisconsin. She is the author of the chapbook Stealing Daylight.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Women's History Month: Tuesday, March 23, 2021: Ilari Pass' poem "Cloudy With a Chance of Cello"


Cloudy With a Chance of Cello


I sit in the living room with my mother to work out

my anxiety

the way it tastes and feels, I thought I wanted to be everything

all at once

my teacher brags that she’s found

that Golden Ticket

my peers listen in for rumors, launch them as a curse

when chocolates

not passed around It’s just for show, I explain to my mother,

explaining nothing

last night

I was out of my skin to try on my favorite dress 


I thought. I laugh when my mother stares at me

on stage

everything all at once: mise-en-scène behind me holy

I miss my cue

when the conductor breathes; her baton a semaphore;

a single note

struck upon my cello; my mother smiles, grateful that I wasn’t aware

was out of tune

of all the ways to enter, my mother

calls for

Cloudy with a Chance of Cello, and I am ready to go home.

© 2021 Ilari Pass

Ilari Pass holds a BA in English from Guilford College of Greensboro, NC, and an MA in English, with a concentration in literature, from Gardner-Webb University of Boiling Springs, NC. Her work appears or forthcoming in Rat's Ass Review, As It Ought To Be, Triggerfish Critical Review, Kissing Dynamite, The Daily Drunk, Unlikely Stories, Rigorous Magazine, The American Journal of Poetry, Common Ground Review, Free State Review, Rejection Letters, and others.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Women's History Month: Monday, March 22, 2021: Fay Loomis' poem "I Will Go Politely"

I Will Go Politely

I have clung to the earth’s surface for 80 odd years.

Congratulations, you are blessed, how lucky to be alive.

Meaningless number, vacuous words

run fluid through my brain.

To augured aches and pains

I sent no invitation.

With stealth

they crashed the party.


Lest I stiffen like old leather

I practice yoga;

walk a half mile to my mailbox;

ride my bike, even after toppling to the pavement.


Sleep, once blessed, is punctuated

by bathroom bladder patrols.

I no longer lie in the arms of Morpheus;

he has found another lover.


Pills and doctors’ visits irritate my life

like sand on a beach blanket.

Mental power outages surge

through thoughts, memories.


Nature is my plastic surgeon:

pendulous breasts, cellulite dimpled thighs.

Tattoos insult my resculptured body:

wrinkles, brown spots, varicose veins.


The artifice of heart stents, implants,

forestall entropy, a shrouded word for death.

Grumblings enumerated, I am packing my suitcase with gratitude.

Alone, not lonely, I will go politely.


© 2021 Fay Loomis

Fay L. Loomis was a nemophilist (haunter of the woods) until her hikes in upstate New York were abruptly ended by a stroke three years ago. With an additional nudge from the pandemic, she now lives a particularly quiet life. A member of the Stone Ridge Library Writers, her poems and prose recently appeared or are forthcoming in The Closed Eye Open, Love Me, Love My Belly, Rat’s Ass Review, Ruminate Magazine, HerStry, and Sanctuary Magazine.


Sunday, March 21, 2021

Women's History Month: Sunday, March 21, 2021: Lisa Marguerite Mora's "Balance of Discipline and Utter Abandonment"


                                                        photo by Nina Port

Balance of Discipline and Utter Abandonment

I take a book and notebook to the cafe, Intelligentsia several times

a week.  An industrial collage of wood beams; and steel; and light

through clear and opaque glass. High ceilings, gray floors, squares

of cement. Skeletal steel shelves bracketed to the walls. The rest of

the light from compact high functioning clear bulbs. Glass and steel,

accents of wood. Skylights. There is an expectation of copper, but

one searches to no avail. Blues, jazz, and electronica over the

sound system.

Baristas vary from un-maked-up jovial young women to stern men

in their late thirties. A determined ascetic, rather German, definitely

masculine vibe but the non-harsh light softens and fills space between

fine and various straight lines of wiring, pipes, and scaffolding. High

tech lightbulbs suspended on fine steel wires from the wood beamed

ceiling, slant of skylights, large aluminum funnels and pipes affirm

mysterious functions of their own, one thinks of trapeze artists, an

abundance of pattern like birds in formation above the espresso

drinkers who look as determined as the baristas over their Apple

laptops, lined up one after the other on the stainless steel counters.

Outside a beckon of green suggests you are not actually in a building,

though it is quietly and unobtrusively air-conditioned. Or is it? The

atmosphere is focused, not busy; the vibe human and intelligent. An

old structure, brick exterior, built in the late 19th century or at the

turn of the 20th century it was probably once a ware house for milk or

meat. Now people younger than myself stare into their computers,

all MacAir, from the look of them, one after the other, reminiscent

of an assembly line. Perhaps for screenplays. This is a different crowd

from what used to be Abbot's Habit down the street, which has sadly

lost its lease after thirty some years. Or if it's the same people, they

look different here.

Through the speakers some sort of driving dramatic drum beats

and synthesized strings. In the background grind of coffee beans.

Bells now punctuate the music, gives the sense a moment of

epiphany is imminent. Metallic pound of the espresso portafilter.

A dog barks. They allow dogs here? How enlightened. Russian s

poken next to me, the young woman who shares the little table a

nswers me in perfectly accented American. Wish I knew another

language. French. For some unnameable reason it makes me feel

as though I am home. I have never been. I will get there yet. Paris.

It will thrum in my breast bone the slow movement of ancient stone.

Everything is energy, particles move at varying rates. Even me—my

energy sometimes buoyant, sometimes pools in shadows. Now the

music hums and whines, a saxophone, a harmonica. A Parisian feel

again. There was a chance to go when we were in the U.K., but too

tired to cross the Channel that winter. (Now Creedence Clearwater

blasts.) Had to make due with Windsor Castle. Prince Albert's

opulent memorial; Victoria's love for him vastly, intricately, widely,

deeply evident—her heart a jewel on display for generations to come.

Who can measure love?

The less you talk about it and the more you move away from the subject,

those who know you, don't. The deeper that cave within you, encrusted

with a scintillating no one can capture. Protected treasure. Words hack.

Indeed there are those who have brought the pick axes deigning to

clarify and pigeon hole and articulate what your own heart cannot. If

all the jewels of the kingdom were at your disposal, they would not

be worthy of the quality that vibrates under your sternum, the pulse

no music can capture. So you remain silent with epiphany.

Most of the time I feel wordless. Occasionally or frequently something

takes hold of me and I'll write a poem. It's not me as I experience

myself, but some other part that rouses and seeks to share something,

some observation or feeling. Half the time I wonder who this person is.

When I set out to write an essay or a novel, there is a "plan" but even t

hen I will have to let go into what decides to reveal itself. It requires a

balance of discipline and utter abandonment. It is difficult to talk about,

harder yet, to "teach."

Fifteen years ago I visited a tiny seaside village in Cornwall which was

famous for buffeting incredible winds you could lean into and you

would not topple over. People liked to do this, while standing on the c

liffs that overlooked the sea. The winds dared you. And if you were the

daring type you answered the call. We walked along the pathway high

on the cliffs and next to the gray and gold spliced ocean. The light was

incredible. Painters flocked here to capture what they saw.

Sometimes I think I could give up this housing and shoveling of words

into print, this sense of wordlessness only to be taken over by this other

person who "speaks" and says things I only at times half understand.

Sometimes I think before I die I will lean into the wind some other

way and fight for my dual citizenship and find my way back to that

village, invest in watercolors and teach myself to capture on canvas

another way to render images and feelings and observations -- to stop

seeking to make sense of it all with these hieroglyphics I've devoted

my life to. Color and shape would be a respite, the gold spliced Atlantic

and standing on a steep cliff in a steeper wind would wipe out the

roving restless wordless state, the strange angst of gestation.

I tell myself this story. But in the end, you see, even such an experience

as that would seek to become a story. Would demand to become words

no matter how wordless I felt. And I would be used again, cramping my

fingers around a pen or over a keyboard, while the elements danced

more madly than they dance here in languid Los Angeles, its still blue

air, its pronounced sunshine, the Pacific calm and barely lapping. And

in that charming English village perched on the edge of daily capricious

forces, my paints would dry up untouched because these hieroglyphics

demand everything. And they promise it to me over and over again just

as waves and wind hurl and announce themselves unendingly against

the eroding gem of a rock that is England, they promise to me just as much.

© 2021 Lisa Marguerite Mora

BIO: Lisa Marguerite Mora has won prizes for poetry and fiction. She conducts workshops and offers literary services https://www.lisamargueritemora.com. Publications include Chiron Review, Rattle, Literary Mama, Public Poetry Series, California Quarterly, Cultural Weekly, Rebelle Society, Serving House Journal, among others, a Blue Mountain Arts Poetry Prize, First Place winner Micro Fiction for Dandelion Press as well as an Honorable Mention. Though she still seeks a home for her novel, it has caught the attention of top agents. Her prose and poetry have been nominated for Best of the Net as well as a Pushcart Prize.