Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Tuesday, June 28, 2022: Diana Rosen's poem "Attending an All-Female Shakespeare Play at a 99-seat Equity Theatre With No Budget and How it Was Better Than Broadway"

Rag-tag players fill the stage: five women

in black wear colorful aprons that become 

Duke’s capes that become old-lady shawls 

that become bridal gowns as the hapless 

Roderigo marries his Lady Love and Archer 

weds the Oldest Sister. Banal beige benches 

become church pews, tree stumps, fine silk 

upholstered chairs in the palace. Their voices, 

music; movements, ballet. We sit in stillness. 

No longer rag-tag, these players are magnificent 

pied pipers leading us into the Sherwood Forest 

to hide in a log cabin eluding monsters, stroll 

over the bridged moat into the castle where 

the King welcomes all to feast, join bejeweled 

dancers amongst lutes and flutes. Like twilight 

sealing the best winter’s day, the theatre darkens, 

then brightens like a clear sunny morn as we eke 

out, sad to leave, glad to be part of the dream.  

© 2022 Diana Rosen

Diana Rosen, an essayist, flash writer, and poet, has work in West Trade Review, poeticdiversity, Rattle, and As It Ought to be Magazine, among others in the U.S., the UK, India, Canada, and Australia. Her poetry has earned one Best of the Net and two Pushcart nominations and she released her first full-length poetry book, High Stakes & Expectations, in Spring, 2022. She writes content for websites on tea, spices, and coffee, and lives in Los Angeles. To read more of her work, please visit www.authory.com/dianarosen or www.thetinypublisher.com  An ARC of her poetry book is available to journal reviewers. 

Friday, June 24, 2022

Friday, June 24, 2022: Sarah Maclay's two poems: "Kairos at Night" and "—as, after Odysseus, her body wanted to be Ophelia"


Kairos at Night

It seems to be a hammer

until I pick it up—

on the asphalt, white on black: a broken racket,

at the rim, says Service.

You hurl it, in the dark,

across the field, over the net.

It bounces once. There are no strings.

We are not even.

In the darkness, clover is a constellation.

After this much wet grass,

my feet are so cold, they forget.

You lift me to the stars.

But I am heavy, like a lamb

in the water. The wool gathers

again its weight

in river.

The light does to the trees

what the leaves do

to the stars.

Your head is in my lap.

It is lighter than I thought.

Your eyes, the stars

are leaving.

Clover is a consolation.

Take what you’re given,

and give to whatever you take.

Don’t complain.

I know you by the way your eyes squint through the leaves.

All of them.

—for F.W.


© 2022 Sarah Maclay

as, after Odysseus, her body wanted to be Ophelia

The pistol came with its own music.

An echo slid from her throat:

Liquid, alive beyond common names for color.

How at night she could not swim.

Her song like a line of neon in wavering slices

across the crinoline dark

until the dogs began to bay

and men slipped into the skins of animals

to roll against the mud without the barrier of clothes.

How that bay was a living jewel—the sound, the topaz water—

the water had poured from her

and become alive.

She would wash up on the shore or float,

as white as the lizard who pulls the carriage

in a dream, all soggy finery

and hair and reeds.

Over and over

her body was painted

in darkness,

like a wine of skin. 

What was true: 

It was up to her to invent

her own music, 

as she began to hear it

in the growing stain of sky.


© 2022 Sarah Maclay

Nightfall Marginalia, Sarah Maclay’s newest collection, is due from What Books in 2023. A winner of the Tampa Review Prize for Poetry, recipient of a COLA Fellowship, Yaddo residency, and a Pushcart Special Mention, her writing appears in APR, FIELD, Ploughshares, The Best American Erotic Poems,  The Writer’s Chronicle, Tupelo Quarterly, Manoa, Hotel Amerika, and Poetry International, where she long served as Book Review Editor. She teaches poetry at LMU.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Tuesday, June 21, 2022: Review of Kaaren Kitchell's "Ariadne's Threads"


Mark Twain said, “Write what you know”. With Ariadne’s Threads (© 2021 Tebot Bach Press), Kaaren Kitchell has done exactly that by crafting one of the most successful poetic today.

      Ariadne’s Threads is divided into three parts: Losing, Finding, and Roots (Family). Kitchell employs the allegory of the Greek myth of Ariadne, a Cretan princess, who, deeply in love with Theseus (who slew the Minotaur), assisted her lover with a ball of magical thread to help Theseus escape the labyrinth. The first poem, “Ariadne in the Labyrinth”, begins with the poet in a white room (or, center of the labyrinth), “stripped of all/ that wasn’t essential, every expectation, /every rigid puzzle piece”, and from there, is able to trace her life’s journey, like Ariadne’s mythical thread, through the labyrinth of her fascinating life. 

    Readers are led through, by means of Kitchell’s poetic string, a maze of beautifully spare, narrative poems that examine moments of love, loss, and self-discovery. “Losing” covers friends and lovers who have touched the poet’s life in an unforgettable way, as either a tribute to that person’s unique story or as a memento mori. “Finding”, documents the profound moments of love and epiphanies shared during Kitchell’s marriage to Richard Beban (poet and photographer, now deceased), as well as the friends and people that populated their life during those years, and “Roots”, shares the story of Kitchell’s parents and siblings, their relationships, and the love that still binds them.

    There’s one more quality that makes Ariadne’s Threads unforgettable: poetry as promise/prophecy. Bear with me, for a moment, as I attempt to explain. This is something I have seen in poetry from those who live mythically, which is to consciously live one’s life within the archetypes that one chooses to invoke. To be able to do this requires being comfortable with a multilevel view of the universe, or simultaneously addressing past/present/future events.What is remarkable, here, is the “weapon of choice”, Kitchell utilized to make this happen: an equal mixture of love, longing, and gratitude, as in her poem, “Message to Jane” (Kitchell’s sister):

Where are you now, Jane?

Have you sailed to the Milky Way?

Do you dwell in the heart of our galaxy,

Winking at us from Sagitarrius?

Do you know what you are to me?
Can you feel my gratitude?

I see you walking in beauty still in

at home in the immensity,

visiting me in dreams.

Today is your birth day

but you are beyond measure,

pouring your light into the eternal flow.

12 December 2013

    It can be said, in the broadest sense, that all poetry is biography. But few collections make the case for this truth as well as Ariadne’s Threads. If you spend the rest of your life looking for answers, pick up Ariadne’s Threads, and open it to any page. You won’t be sorry.

Ariadne’s Threads, Kaaren Kitchell, © 2021 Tebot Bach Press (www.tebotbachpress.org), ISBN 978-1-939678-8-2, 122 pgs, $17.00 (US).

© 2022 marie c lecrivain

Friday, June 17, 2022

Friday, June 17, 2022: Three poems by Shauna Checkley

Domestic Dispute

His eyes open and shut like fists

Red eye and stiff rye

His cups runneth over

Her tongue like a snake

Poised to strike, hissing

Away in the dark

Her body slammed shut

After the door he’s dragged through

Neighbors stare that night

Through flashing blue and red lights.

© 2022 Shauna Checkly

Social Media Odyssey

Spend that whole day

like Leopold & Molly

Ulysses too,

Surf the net for naked statues

Swipe until you find a restaurant

View the cobble stoned streets

Stare into the crowds

Lose yourself in that traffic

Stumble into the park

Bumble along as you go

Feel everything around you

Then feel nothing at all

Hit Like and Follow

Hit Block and Delete

Smile, frown, at what you meet.

© 2022 Shauna Checkly

Days of the Spider King

Lover, hover

Like spider silk above

My head, thread

spinning from web

Of lies, intrigues

Circling, circling dread.

Lover, another

Has tangled, tearing

The filmy fabric of

Our love.

Lover, Crowned brother

Release the other

Fangs freeing such

From your death clutch.

Lover, cover

Me in your dark, silky shroud

Dress your Bride, now

Hanging from the rafters.

© 2022 Shauna Checkly

Bio: Shauna Checkley lives in Regina, Sk. Canada with her daughter, and cats. She works at her local public library, and self-identifies as disabled. This is her first appearance in Al-Khemia Poetica.

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Tuesday, June 7, 2022: Antonia Valaire's poem "Aint I yellow?"


Aint I yellow?

Knees tightly held together,

Bound by shivers and quivers

Rings formed around my Iris

Black and blue plaster

Know no better

Expect no better

Cutting wrist

Ready to quit.

Aint I yellow,

Cannot see the silver lining

Beneath cumulonimbus clouds,

Eyes bloodshot

Feeling worthless,

Have no hope

People are clueless to the struggles

Of a lost, broken and bruised woman.

They think he is awesome!

A stallion and savior to a Nubian Queen,

Many times wished upon a star

He would choke on a bone or have a stroke.

As he made me hopeless,

Almost no fight left

Only death awaits us

Can heaven open up and swallow me up?

Once had a dream,

Had visions

Was a woman of great worth and fortitude,

Now, was sold a dream that aint worth my life

Where can one go to rekindle the woman once was?

To be all can be which was told one could never be?

Why put your faith in man and chariots?

When it’s guaranteed failure

Why foolish women like me never learn?

Why do we become slaves to ideals?

Then it fails and we are still to be blamed

Tried to satisfy and be the flower that a bee will pollinate.

Instead I got baseball bats,

Hits upon hits like a classic record

But a tune despised,

A song never wants to listen again.

And they will think how yellow I was to stay

But they never understand a syndrome,

Plague in doubt and PTSD.

Controlled by a master manipulator,

Free me, free me I tell you is a distant and frail cry,

A cry so hidden, so screaming, so echoing that is silent

To only who can discern.

Will any anyone hear me?

Beneath my make up smile

My chilling laughter,

Stunning starlet dresses,

My servant attitude to assist at all times.

Do they know I am dying inside?

Screaming through my ears like a ringing doorbell

Can I fight back and live for me?

Is a question that ponders my heart, constantly.

My mind is weary and degenerates, perpetually,

But time and time again, it reboots and refresh

And feel a sense of belonging,

I was never yellow just broken.

© 2022 Antonia Valaire

Bio: Antonia Valaire is a Jamaican poet, Christian, and award-winning author of Pearls among Stones, Black Gold and Out from Babylon System: Liberation of Mind. As a spoken-word artist, she has been nominated for an International Reggae and World Music Award (IRAWMA). Her social media links can be accessed via: @Antoniavalaire | Linktree