Focusing exclusively on poetry, the editors of this privately supported journal offer readers a wide selection by such varied poets as Nicole Sprague, Marion Boyer, Richard Levine, Hal Sirowitz, Constance Norgren, Janice Fitzpatrick Simmons, Maria Terrone, Donald Lev, and Billy Collins. Indeed, there is something for everyone. For example, in “Guardrail,” Kathleen Flenniken captures an anxious thought to which many are prone, while in “Trash,” Ruth Bavetta meditates on how difficult it is to be rid of non-human and human garbage. Wendell Hawken’s “Trophy Buck” had me so drawn into the drama of the scene that I exclaimed aloud when I read the last line. Of course, being a writer who can panic at the blank computer screen, I found “Writer’s Block” by Matthew Spireng touching—and perhaps instructive. In it he depicts that bane of writers as a bat “hanging motionless in the light.”
... I thought to poke it with a broom,
but then thought better. Let it sleep, I thought, let it hibernate,
if that is its state. It will come out in its own good time.
The second section of the journal, set off with the subtitle “The Raw and the Cooked,” presents poems in which food is the subject. The showstopper here is “Mendel’s Garden Pea,” by Claudia Carlson, who portrays geneticist and monk Gregor Mendel through the viewpoint of the sweet pea:
I’d prefer sex with bee, beetle or breeze.
The monk’s stubby fingers clip my stamens, bruise
my petals; how would a man know the finesse of fertilization?
Petals are the blessed marriage bed!
Also worth a look is the journal’s web site, which is attractive, easy to navigate, and provides several sample poems from the current issue. Interestingly, a majority of the poems this issue are the work of women poets. [www.heliopoems.com]