Where There Is No Magic

Where There Is No Magic
Kristin Towe

There is no sparkle in the air
No glitter dusting branch or ground
The magic that once clung to us
Will never again be found.

And this is not the golden age
Where people dream and love and trust
This is the age of take-not-give
And shattered hopes and greed and lust.

For all we see is all we want
Deluded by this fast-paced world
In which no woman can recall
The light which warmed her as a girl.

This is modern society
And dare we hope for anything more?
Escape from pain, from feeling at all
And settle for safety by the shore.

Wet Mittens and Robert Frost

Wet Mittens and Robert Frost
Leah-Joy Smith

For the second year in a row, the South has been covered with a quilt of snow. Before, the occasional flurry created a mad dash to the local Food Lion. Apparently you must be able to make boiled eggs and milk sandwiches in order to survive some sleet.

I came home from my Tuesday evening class with more energy than a three year-old at a birthday party. Earlier that day while doing homework in the library (the place where you’re supposed to be quiet), three basketball players in the study room next-door starting throwing a New Years Eve Party. Class was cancelled for Wednesday.

The snow started slipping through the clouds around 3:00 on Wednesday afternoon. It piled up on top of my three-shades-of-red car turning it white while I churned out a paper under my Captain America blanket. No playing in the snow for this girl on Wednesday. Robert Frost would have advised I stop and watch the woods fill up with snow, but I didn’t. So Thursday morning I was determined to play, get cold, slide down a hill, build an Olaf, or go for a walk. I wanted to need a cup of hot chocolate.

Clad in layers and armed with my elf beanie, sister and I headed into the woods behind our house to find our favorite spot and see what snow had turned it into. The snow grunted underneath my Merrill’s and sister lead the way between the pines, ferns, and puppy tracks. We hopped the creek and made it to our favorite spot, the straight stretch in the creek with a bath-tub dip at the top. The moss was still climbing the bank and the melted snow fed the stream to create a trickle.

We decided to hike a little up the ridge to see the roots of a fallen tree covered in snow. Putting one foot in front of the other up hill was slow going. Our hands got sweaty and we wanted to take off our coats. The tree roots weren’t as cool as we thought they would be. More like just another pile of snow. Sister and I both turned our heads up at the same time and said,

“You wanna keep goin’?”

So we kept sliding our feet up hill, up the ridge.

Sister went up it like an Eskimo. Me, on the other snow shoe…

Feet looking at the sky, wet mittens, and dogs panicking. On repeat seven times. Then we headed back to the house…going down hill. And I came back to the house with a wet bum and a funny story.

Each time my knees got a little wetter, my beanie covered my eyes, and snow hugged my mittens, I had to get back up. Staying in that wet snow wasn’t going to get me to the top of that ridge.

When I felt my feet slipping and my jeans got a little damper, I had to get back up. And keep laughing, keep smiling about it because having a sour attitude wasn’t going to help me keep moving.

Climbing that ridge in the snow is something I would have said I couldn’t have done not too long ago. But I have decided to do things that intimidate me. Go on adventures, even if it’s just in my back yard with sister. I am capable of doing more than I think, and so are you. Go climb and don’t be afraid if you fall. The snow will dust off. Climb with someone who will help you up and take a victory-selfie with you at the top.

Things in Black and White

Things in black and white
Fabrice Poussin

It was an experiment in perception,
with the power given to the meek.

A robe was painted black against a white wall,
deep within a New Mexico desert abode.

She walked I believe, in her gossamer dress,
the sand of grains in amazement played along;

sweet light of sunset too joined in the game,
a veil of aromas only hers, mixed with a dewy shine.

Mountains stood to support her noble flight,
swirling to match the motion of a lonely Earth;

her head thrown back, she needed no direction;
she was, she is; her skin of a lightly reddened hue.

Yet to all others, no nuance, no fragrance, no sense,
without the imagination to make the image live.

She alone, fiber after fiber, filled with a burning flame,
can see a blue, feel a green, scent the gold of a heart;

fantasy it is to be admitted to the full self of her,
to enter twixt her every cell as it is whence she exists.

Electric, she replicates a Mona Lisa, perfect reflection
in a body, hers, a body, the size of a star, the size of the atom.

Every spark is a smile, an act of love deeply felt,
black, white, gray, what does it matter in the dark?

The fire needs no tone, no light, no color, for it lives
and she breathes in it from the alpha to the omega.

The Recorded Sorrows of Henry Turner

The Recorded Sorrows of Henry Turner *(spacing issues)*
Kristin Towe

27 April, 1850

The willow tree has begun to bloom again, and, when I see it, my heart pangs for Eloise. I miss her dearly, as does my Margaret, and we sit under the tree together every evening, talking about our little girl and how much we miss her. Perhaps it does not do to dwell on such sad things for so long a time, but she is gone, and we fear that if we do not think of her every day, our memories may begin to fade. Her photo is before us always, as we sit in the drawing room, in front of the fire. My wife cries herself into disarray knowing that she will never know how our girl would look grown.

2 May, 1850

It has been over a month now since we lost our little girl, and there is no comfort to be found, except for in my wife’s company. In my worst moments of grief, she rallies up and supports me, and, when she is brought to her lowest, I do all in my power to console her. We do not live always in a state of sorrow. When family visits, which is more often than we would wish, at the moment, our little nieces and nephews are a great joy. They sit on our laps and touch our faces with their chubby little hands and, for a moment, we forget our sorrows. The children give us a great deal of joy, but they also remind us of our loss. Eloise would not want us to be sad, but there is no help for it. She is gone and we do not know how to go on. 

15 May, 1850

A surprising event broke the monotony of grief today. My Margaret and I were sitting at the table, partaking of the little breakfast we were capable of, when we received a boisterous knock on the door. I removed myself from my chair and went to open it. Standing before me was a plump, little boy with downy, blonde hair and cherub-like cheeks.
“Hello, sir,” he said in a small, timid voice.
He had a platter of biscuits in his hands and I could see in the distance behind him a lady who appeared to be his mother, standing on the doorstep. I was struck with the recollection of a new family that had come to stay in the vacant house across the way and I smiled at him. The boy seemed to lose his timidity at that point, for he walked directly around me and into the house.
I saw my Margaret look up from her untouched oats with no small amount of surprise, but her countenance only betrayed her for a moment. Her face was glowing as she looked at the young child.

 “Hello, little sir. What have you brought us?”

The boy smiled an adorable, toothy grin at my Margaret and said, “Mum told me she was sure our new neighbors would appreciate a batch of her shortbread and told me to send it along as soon it was done. ‘S probably still hot, miss. Ehm, she wanted me to say something else, but I can’t remember what . . . something about welcome . . . and stop by any time. . .”

The little child stopped there, presumably for breath, and gave us another toothy grin.
My Margaret patted the boy on his head and said, “We are ever so obliged to you for the biscuits, sir. Thank you, and be sure to tell your mother the same. Please, sir, before you go, what is your name?”
“Jimmy Hopwood, miss. I hope to see you around more, miss!”                                                  With that sweetly worded farewell, the little sir ran through the kitchen and out the door.            My Margaret watched him go for some time and then looked back at me. There was a light in her eye that had been lacking for some time, and it warmed my heart to see it.                                 “Margaret, love?” I said, putting my hand on her soft cheek.                                                           “Yes, dearest?” She replied, slipping her arms around my neck.                                                            “I dare say we are going to be okay.”                                                                                             “Never the same, but all right, nonetheless.” she agreed, and together we sat down in the front room, hand in hand, and gazed out the window, at the rising and falling country hills, and at the little sir rambling home.

7 June, 1850

I am always amazed at the power of a child for warming a cold, sad heart. Whenever my Margaret and I see the little sir taking one of his rambles, we smile at one another or shake our heads and laugh over his incredible endurance. When we sit down to break our fast, we see him with his pup at his heels, and when my Margaret begins the afternoon tea, there he is still, among the hills, with his downy, blonde fuzz waving in the wind.

13 June, 1850

A friendship has begun between my Margaret, the little sir, and I. His many adventures always lead him to our doorstep where, plagued by thirst, he entreats us for a bit of tea. We always oblige, and his gratitude brings him back to us every day. Margaret teased him today and called him ‘the little hill gypsy’ and he gave her his toothiest grin in response before he departed. My Margaret and I love the little sir, and he us.

9 July, 1850

Today, the little sir, overcome with exhaustion, collapsed in our backyard. My Margaret brought him a cup of tea and we both sat with him on the grass, reveling in the cool of the day.

“That’s a pretty willow,” he reflected quietly. “I’ve never seen one so grand; what makes it so special?”

My Margaret, with a sad smile, looked at me for assurance, then returned her gaze to the boy and gave a soft sigh.                                                                                                                                “Little hill gypsy,” she said, “the answer to your question has been a source of great sadness for me and my Henry. Are you sure you would like to know?”                                                 The little sir, having regained full composure, conveyed his most hearty assurances that he would indeed like to know, and so, my Margaret, for the first time since our little girl’s death, told the story of Eloise and her tree.
“Well, little hill gypsy, you might be surprised to know that, not too many months ago, we had a little girl who was only a trifle younger than you, but much smaller. Her greatest joy in life was being outside, and she would sit in the grass and play in the dirt for entire afternoons. My Henry and I took our little girl to the park once, and seeing a great weeping willow, she was entranced. She played under the branches until we were required to return home. Our little girl asked if she could have a willow of her own, and my Henry and I were only too happy to oblige. We helped our Eloise plant the tree in that spot; my dear Henry dug the hole, and I taught Eloise how to care for it. The willow became Eloise’s greatest joy and she would tend to it every day. The moment we woke her, she would slip on her clothes and her little boots and grab her watering pot. She would water the willow and sing to it. It was her dearest friend. She was playing one day—”                                       My Margaret had to stop for the tears she had been holding back were beginning to choke her.
I continued the story in her place.                                                                                                  “She was playing one day, at the base of the tree, and my Margaret and I stepped inside for a moment to make refreshments. We heard our little girl scream, and when we came outside, she was lying face down in the grass, struggling for breath. There was a small bump on her arm that had not been there before, and on a branch of the willow, there was a wasp. We called for the doctor, but by the time he arrived there was nothing to be done for her. Our little girl breathed her last there, underneath her willow tree.”

17 April, 1851

The willow tree has begun to bloom again, and Margaret and I gaze fondly at it, in wonder of how much it has grown. This is where our Eloise was happiest, and we have learned to look on it with joy. I gaze at my Margaret, with her stomach pleasantly rounding, and I picture what the future will hold for us. We will tell our next child about Eloise at every opportunity, but we will never allow ourselves to go back to our grief. Our sorrows are behind us, but our memories of Eloise are ever present and cherished, as will be all the new memories we create with our next child.

The Kitchen Window

The Kitchen Window
Leah-Joy Smith

Push aside Mother Nature’s compost
Show me colored life again

Face the freezing frost fight, win
With red dirt in your roots

The oak will become a chapel
Worship lead by the whippoorwill

The heater’s hum and tick sleeps
The whir of the box fan blows the smell of green

Warm water, dirty dishes fill the sink
My fingers are pink prunes

Dripping Dawn sponge in my hand
Beauty and hummingbirds linger on the porch

Plant my flip-flops in front of the sink
The water is getting cold, I watch with hope

Through finger prints and soap splatters,
Sun soaks the linoleum floor

Flowers bloom outside
the ruby, sapphire, and emerald kitchen window
Lavender sprouts and daffodils yellow

The Cheerful Reflections of Winter

The Cheerful Reflections of Winter
Kristin Towe

The snow is whispering secrets
as it veils our lands and towns
and all who venture out in it
return with pleasures found

In front of my cottage is a friend
I fashioned out of snow
we while away the days together
we revel in the cold

What a wonder winter is
as we romp through merry valleys
what a joy to frolic in snow,
to dilly and to dally

From the peaks of highest mountains,
though frigid and sometimes frightful
I see the people down below
and all is so delightful.

And, oh, the magic of winter,
it sticks to gloves and scarves
and warmth pours from the fireplace
and spreads into our hearts.

This season seems to always live
its joys always tarry
and once the snow melts again
the magic still we carry.

Thank You

Thank You
Leah-Joy Smith

Proverbs 31:26-30
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Your biceps built from tending
Babies could out-last Captain America.
The crows-feet around your hazel eyes
Gather when Miah calls you “Gran-Merry.”
Burn scars on your forearms
Show how many times you made Buddy cinnamon rolls.
Your waist length, curly grey hair
Tickles my nose with every good night hug.

Stirring potato soup,
You ladle out love.
Pouring me a cup of Maxwell House,
You know I like two sugars.
Reading library books aloud,
You taught me to stay awake.

The work truck sounds like a hit-and-miss engine,
But you showed me how to drive a straight-shift.
I can taste Ivory soap when I smell it,
But now my words come out slower.
My strong will, stubborn tongue frustrated you,
But you never called the game
And threw your hands up like a referee.

Sweet Nairobi

Sweet Nairobi
Arnold Mutuse

Abortion is a crime

Everything in life takes its time Hilda
My close friend since grade one.
You were cool girl, smart, and well behaved.
Everyone was popping eyes up on you.
Winners will be winners,
And you were happy about it.
Your beauty never out-smarted you,
But spread all over Nairobi streets.
On front page of Kenya-standards,
There you were.
A rumor of your side-line smile,
And gorgeous dimples were the daily talk.
Everywhere you passed was all whispers.

Your beauty changed you.
As soon as you joined grade seven
Everyone treated you like a model.
You played cards with anyone you met.
You did what you wanted
And hated anyone who advised you.
I and your mom were there for you.
Hilda, you ignored us to enjoy life
You forgot our tradition.
But you were not lucky, you got ball,
Rushed everywhere to get rid of it.
Time is precious, but you became cheap.
We told you to chill and you said we were daydreaming.
To use protection, wasn’t real.
To start family planning, it’s hectic.
The last option I remember, t’was to get saved,
And you claimed it’s too early, maybe later.
We joined high school and remained the same.
You crushed with every guy you met,
Just like a dustbin of trash to rich and poor,
Yes… ATM machine, every card was welcome.

I even remember when you invited me to your wedding, Hilda.
You told me, you are grown up, and you got a husband.
Like your best friend, you insisted that I should show up.
You got a good job, salary, and it’d be a wonderful party.
Like a friend, I arrived early.
T’was a nice party full of joy, and presents.
Happy faces and sweet sideline smiles,
T’was your wedding day.
Now five years are over and you do not have a kid.
Every day quarrels from your husband,
and his relatives say, “we want a baby.”
No happiness anymore, you have gone to witch-doctors,
Church for prayers, and all in vain.
Doctor said your uterus is turned off,
And you got the virus.
You wish you knew,
But, don’t cry Hilda.
There is still a chance to live, Hilda.
Eat well, take pills daily, and do exercise.
The sweetness of marriage is a baby,
And if you start flashing, you will cry later.
“Abortion is a crime.”


Renee Emerson

Mostly I am trying to keep it all alive.
Moving the sprinklers strategically,
their arms arched over the yard,
artificial rain and rainbow, curling
water into withered patches.

Sod plunked down in a jigsaw
grid, grafted to our land,
new growth, beautiful and soft
for the kids to run on
this summer. Once we only had clover
flowers budding open,
their powdered heads
crowned with bees.

The yard was white with wings;
we never got stung. We ran
with abandon through
the lesser dangers of our lives.


after T.S. Eliot
Angie O’Neal


instead of ground

feel the stirring,

the turning away.


see a fox in the park dart into

a forest of ashes.


these days the things deepest

down are always disappearing

like spindrift—


acts of devotion,


as the angler waits on the shore,

apprentice to the slow dance of


its long withholding—

its sudden flourish.


follow and take the way of the river

through the city,

indeterminate on

tributaries of absence.


go missing and apostrophize

on ancient waters, cast a line

like a pair of gills, filaments

sifting the current for air.


watch the kayak upturned,

floating ahead like a promise,

breath shallow as a

bluegill out of water


wingbeats quickening in

a flight of tree swallows

approaching a silver sky.


let it slip away like time

between your fingers,

an epiphany breaking open on

the waves—oars like empty arms

reaching out to touch the sea.