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miller's pond

Fall 2016

Doug Bolling Jeff Burt Frank De Canio Richard Dinges
Deborah Doolittle Carol Hamilton Anita McKay James B. Nicola
Perry L. Powell Howard F. Stein Richard Carl Subber Simon Perchik

Howard F. Stein


Majestic as the crowns
of the Hapsburgs, the Hohenzollerns,
and the Romanovs;
splendid as the vaulted ceilings
of medieval cathedrals;
leaves on arching branches
of scrub oak
glow translucent gold
toward sunset in mid-autumn.
For a moment, the gleaming roof
seems to hover.
To think I could have missed this all
had I not leaned backwards
as far as I could,
and looked straight up
to discover this miracle
of transience and light.

Redemption from the Earth    

I have tasted
contempt for the earth.
It is bitter – better to wager
on incorporeal afterlife
after we have wasted our home.
The body we inhabit
already decomposes;
our open sores reek
of our self-inflicted wounds.
Nowhere to hide –
no Rome, no Jerusalem,
no Mecca, no petroglyphs,
no holy places will be left.
Wastewater oceans,
putrified skies.
We have taken our poison
and await its effects.
No one will be left
to mourn us
and the pearl that gave us life.
We don’t need G-d
to send us plagues.
We are the Angel of Death
we have sent to dwell among us
and bring us to ruin.
No blood on the doorpost
will save us now.

After Franz Schubert       

So thin a membrane

between lyricism
and its twin,
outbursts of terror and despair.
With the lovely miller’s daughter
comes the death of a maiden.
Melody cannot conquer death.
Winter journeys do not promise spring
My love, shall I pluck you a flower,
then dig you a grave?
Mine follows soon.
Joy on the meadow;
a volcano erupts from beneath,
spewing ash high into the sky.
Quiet meadows do not last.
How much darkness
can this light dispel?
Lyricism triumphs
only for the moment;
melody is miracle.
Courageous Franz, tell me:
How could you live your brief life
poised at the edge of a cliff?

Howard F. Stein, an applied, psychoanalytic, organizational, and medical anthropologist, is professor emeritus in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK, where he taught from 1978-2012. He is currently group process facilitator for the American Indian Diabetes Prevention Center in Oklahoma City. He is author of 32 books, of which 9 are books or chapbooks of poetry. His new book of poetry, Light and Shadow, has just been published by Doodle and Peck Publishing, Yukon, OK.

Doug Bolling


The times we returned to the shore,
all the blue songs of sea below a sun's
quiet watch.

Days, weeks of walking the sand, building
dreams among the dunes and wind-turned
grasses. The soundings of life everywhere
about us as though a holiness still
on patrol.

We came not to study the ways of mind
so much as to let go of that, let the
hum of being here fill us.
Strange music made of magic
and need.

Somewhere out beyond sails
and shrouds of the future we
couldn't see or record.
These moments a sufficiency,
a full chalice to be lifted
and consumed.


Here again so high in the clouds
earth becomes a quilted scene
of geometries made of fields and
vineyards, small villages and
rivers ancient enough to flow
in texts by Vergil and 0vid.

This age-old town where once
the Caesars strutted, where the
Abbey still stood pristine among
abiding monks and nuns, the
prayers of the faithful.

I come here over and over for
no measured reason, a sojourner
caught in web of the inexplicable
but necessary.

Life's blood I whisper to the
aged one always seated in the
crumbling plaza.
He stares my way, gives no reply.
Nor did I expect .

The nights come long and thick.
Inside the Blue Bistro I have my
full of the vino, the rich cheeses
and breads.

The guitarist warms up as the
people stomp and clap,
glad for the pale light,
the heat of bodies and
their souls at rest for awhile,
a little while, enough.

First Time

How  by chance we met.

Even now I marvel at a
door suddenly permitting.

0ur walks in a new world
imagined real.

0ur newfound faith that
darkness is no more than
hidden light.

0ur bodies passageways
we offered up.

0ur words that gathered
the silences
into flowers.

In our dying we saw only
life, time stopped,
holding us close.

Doug Bolling's poems have appeared in Water-Stone Review, Posit, Blueline, Folia, Hamilton Stone Review, Redactions, and Xanadu among others. He has received several Pushcart nominations and a Best of the Net nomination and is working on a collection for 2016 publication. He lives in the Greater Chicago area.

Frank De Canio


When we’re together all the flowers fade
before the brilliance of your noonday sun.
But when I walk alone I seem to wade
in blooms that carpet carnivals of fun.
Of course, the daffodils are always there,
along with tulip, buttercup and rose -
receding to the background when your air
of ripeness with its budding leaves dispose
me to the verdant arbor of your arms.
For all the shades and shapes of Nature pale
before the fresh effusions of your charms.
But when I tread a solitary trail,
the field is filled with fumbling bees
that mock me with their revelries.


Steering me past patrons to my table,
she sets my place. I mull the menu’s fare,
riveted by doubt, as though unable
to choose except for her insistent stare.
She beckons for my order as she serves
the bread, then deftly sets the silverware.
Impulsively she hustles husks of hair
round pithy ears as tempting as hors d’oevres.
Arrested, I adopt a thin veneer
of mock sophistication, less to shake
off  glares that galvanize her cavalier
demeanor, than to nurse a scrumptious ache
of cribbed volition. I parry for room
from the seductive scent of her perfume -
then realize I must learn to speak again;
not just because my diction isn’t clear,
but more so that my sibilants attend
the prodding inclinations of her ear.
Its winsome whorls conspire to cajole
my stunted manhood into waking dreams
predating any vestige of control.
Reduced to a stew of spewing phonemes,
I fancy that she gitchee-gitchee-goos
my coos to romper rooms of infancy,
and shushes restive sighs with peek-a-boos.
And then to consummate this reverie,
cavorting with the tresses of her hair,
I swoon beside her blossoming au pair.

Frank De Canio has been published in Writer’s Journal, The Lyric, Free Lunch, Art Times, Pearl, Hazmat,  Blue Unicorn, Ship of Fools, and miller’s pond, among others.

Anita McKay


I could photograph the linocut
my artist friend made three decades ago;
keep the photographs of my travels
in my mind, and in layers
of souvenir tee shirts I’d wear.

My tablet? If I wind up
in a place with WiFi
and electricity, I could download
the thousand books I’d have to leave.
But what about the cats?

Every day pictures of people fleeing,
sixty-two million of them,
at last count. Each one
a person. Some, even, with time
before they go to decide what to carry.


I have seen the deafness
to the silent people of the world
I believe in the need to speak
the need to be heard
the need to witness

I believe that if they
are not all us
we will become them

Don’t we all want
to be lucky, to be righteous
to be right

anyone who hasn’t stood naked
in the face of fear and hope --
must, to understand


How privileged I am
to be given time
in the garden of your mind
where you have planted
delphiniums and poetry.

The lens of your artist’s eye
reveals the line and vein
of each tender leaf,
the tree entire,
shape and shadow.

When star-time is lit
by candlelight, you open wide
the gate. With gentle step,
by feel we walk out
together into the forest.

Anita McKay writes poems, short stories, and travel essays.  Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including miller’s pond, Chronogram, Rose & Thorn Journal, and Bella Literary Magazine.  Anita is an avid traveler who enjoys seeing new places, learning the history firsthand, enjoying the food, and meeting people.  The most significant part of travel for her is the encounters with people, including herself. She divides her time between upstate New York and South Carolina.

Carol Hamilton

You Hand Me a Seashell 

            Like a Greek pastry,
            it has thin layers
            waving at the edges
            just as sea weed does,
            but stilled now,
            and inside,
            the silky white skin
            is thumb printed
            with a purple rainbow,
            perhaps a bed
            for the creature
            who once lived here,
            a halo for life
            in the wordless sea.

Relics and Other Miracles

Franco kept the holy hand
of St. Teresa of Avila
by his bedside until the day
he died, and a physician
held onto the skull
of the Seminole hero, Osceola,
set it on a post at the foot of the bed
to frighten grandchildren into obedience.
The house burned down
and the skull with it.
Left over body parts
are believed by some
to carry on the power
of those with strong souls.
Mostly we scorn such trust,
only value flesh when it is prime,
do not wonder at the grace
Jew Werfel found dwelling in Lourdes.
Of course, we do vest power in things,
see shining metal and chrome
changing us, well-labeled vestments,
too, giving us halos of worth
in a world where we trust
that body is cleaved from soul.
All our faith is passed
to fleeting things so in tune
with our sense of wonder,
which passes over like cloud shadows.


                                    Dark shadows bend,
                                    Curl dry fists of leaves,
                                    Ask why the fickle sun deceives
                                    And casts green off to the wind.

I have recent and upcoming publications in LOUISIANA REVIEW, PONTIAC REVIEW, SANSKRIT LITERARY-ARTS MAGAZINE, POET LORE, LIMESTONE, LOUISIANA LITERATURE, OFF THE COAST,  PALAVER, SAN PEDRO RIVER REVIEW,  U.S.1 WORKSHEET,  THE SAME,  TWO CITIES REVIEW, POEM, ALL ROADS LEAD YOU HOME, THE AUROREAN, THE 3228 REVIEW and others.  I have published 17 books: children's novels, legends and poetry, most recently, SUCH DEATHS from Vac Press Purple Flag Series. I am a former Poet Laureate of Oklahoma and have been nominated six times for a Pushcart Prize.

Richard Carl Subber


It has a name, this unknown bloom,
and rightly would I use it,
but that certain naming is for another day.
Today I mark the color,
and the tinsel lattice of the flower heads
on clustered new growth.
I see the stark pattern of the thrusting stems
and tiniest petals,
the keen exotic profile of this beauty,
this sparing fan of sprites that cannot dance.
I raptly gaze at the sway and swoon
of this bounty,
this grant of nature,
this innocence—
I dare to give it yet another name.

Rick Subber is a freelance editor, a writing coach and a historian. He lives with his family in Natick, MA. Rick is a proud grandpa who is teaching his granddaughter to read and write, in case there is poetry in her future. His poetry has been published in miller’s pond, The Australia Times Poetry Magazine, Northern Stars, Whispers, The RavensPerch, and elsewhere.

Jeff Burt


I could have forged ahead into subterranean travel
like a termite in the colony,
caught in the revolving dryer
of the crowd, fluff and flutter in the gales
of stairwells leading to light,
descending to fluorescence
of the street illuminati,
bumping doorknobs for knees
and elbows like scissors
in a cigar-shaped car
that’s never lit in a tube
that goes under the water of the bay,
everything inside another thing
like Russian nesting dolls,
bay inside mantle,
mantle inside atmosphere,
atmosphere inside solar system,
solar system inside galaxy,
on and on without an end to creation.
But I stopped where spokes of bikes
and fan-grids whirred,
the tang of electrical sparks
spicing the air that emissions confuse.
I came back to the platform
where you waited grim and shivering
to start again, to stack one day
inside the life of another.

My Wife Reads

to other mothers’ children,
her voice a thin filter that drains ions
and poisons from speech to make clear
a language  that climbs the stalks of children
and blooms in comprehension,
the exaggerated rise and fall of action,
comforting decrescendo delivering the tone of confidence
modulating the influence of fear,
the crescendo that puts imagination on alert
for the fable hidden behind every tree

It Astonished Me

It astonished me
what you meant
with a kiss,
with one hand
on your hip
and the other curled
behind my neck
pressing down
the collar,
as if surprise,
that sincerest form
of aggression,
lurked behind it.
I felt my fingertips
on your ribs,
as if they’d been missing,
my voice wavered,
which, by the kindling
brightness of your look
and the slender lines
of your smile,
had been, in the way
of love’s argument,
your intent.

Jeff Burt lives in Santa Cruz County, California. He has prose in Atticus Review, Per Contra and Amarillo Bay.

Deborah Doolittle

Winter Harmony

                After the painting by John Henry Twachtman
The songs of winter are far
from simple.  Each drip of snow
melt keeps its own rhythm.
The ripple of water,
the shimmer of slim shadows
rattling the creek, the sigh
and shiver of last year’s growth
left clinging to the mother
trunk.  Birds are almost unheard
of here.  What color remains—pine
needles, aspen leaves, bare wood,
and boulders—becomes reined in
amid the wash of snowfall,
numb to any other state of
being.  The scent of frost
and broken promises fills the air.
These are the days that sidle
up to night and ride the darkness
as if there were no tomorrow.

Deborah H. Doolittle has lived in lots of different places, but now calls North Carolina home.  She has two Master's degrees and teaches at Coastal Carolina Community College.  Two chapbooks, NO CRAZY NOTIONS and THAT ECHO, won the Mary Belle Campbell and Longleaf Press Awards, respectively.  Some of her poems have recently appeared or will soon appear in BLUE LINE, CLOUDBANK, COMMON GROUND, THE KERF, PINYON, POET'S ESPRESSO REVIEW, RCC MUSE,  and SEEMS.

Perry L. Powell

In the Pit

You and I, having cupped the last
parenthesis on a century,
stand on a jagged street corner
watching fog roll over daylight
while the dogs roam the back alleys
and locusts swarm over asphalt
and the salvation boys honk out
tune and song in a language for
angels, that we will never speak.
We cannot disavow what we
cannot believe nor daydream of
objects we cannot name or touch.
Raise your first-born overhead in
the mosh, crowd-surf the pale body
like a centipede as the sun
drools over red city walls.
While so we go from our hope to
the fear and from fear back to hope
ever endlessly unsatisfied
with each and with either,  amen.

The Last Word

I remember arguments with my father,
I remember shouting, a raised fist, threats…
I remember all this
but not how to feel that anger anymore.
All those words, all that temper,
faded like the morning mist
that gathers in autumn under the oak tree
above my father's grave.
My father spoke his last word years ago;
I watched him sigh his last sigh
in that hospital bed.
A gentle sigh it seemed−
not the familiar exasperated sigh at my
differences from him.
A poem might be a last word,
as a last word might be a poem.
But I am having none of it.
I am waiting for a different sort of word;
A simple prose word in raised gesture.
I am waiting to have a last word
of my own.

Perry L. Powell is a systems analyst who lives near Atlanta, Georgia. His literary endeavors have appeared in miller’s pond, as well as in a multitude of others that include 50 Haikus, A Handful of Stones,  Indigo Rising, The Journal of Social Change, Poetry Pacific, The Lyric, and vox poetica.

Richard Dinges


Distance and death
kidnapped my parents.
Faces in photos
fade in dusty
albums.  No ransom,
no prayer, no final
phone call, only
echoes in a sky
erased by sun's glare.
I still watch for them,
long parted,
in my children's
eyes, that glint
of disappointment
before they blink
and smile.


After dusk, held
captive in bed's
comfort, drapes open,
my window pane
a dark tableau,
pine silhouettes
against azure glow
sliced by moon's
pale sliver, I
shiver in warmth,
my myopic eyes
able to gather
in crescent's sharp
tip, so clear I
cannot be awake.

I have an MA in literary studies from University of Iowa and I manage business systems at an insurance company.  Abbey, Pulsar, Rio Grande Review, Studio One, and Common Ground Review most recently accepted my poems for their publications.

James B. Nicola

Over Reach

The sky is wild tonight.
The fog coils in the upper air,
Lit from below. Beyond the town the white
Sparks fizzle into evening. Patriots stand
Shivering, out from under the park's treetops.
Under the flaccid fireworks, faces glare.
Only, to the dead smoke that pops
From colored powders lately canned,
Bristle! Hear the damp's dampened roar
Of rockets, which the drizzle has killed off,
Go thud, while sultry fires expand,
Get doused and droop, not as a battle's planned
But bourdonish dulcet dull, in coughs
Proclaiming fallen hopes throughout the land.

Francis Key years ago
On the Chesapeake felt something that burst
Inside his blood to swell, inspire and grow
Into a victory song. We
Simulate bombs, the heightened worst
Of war, to drug our huddled massive sea.

Fourths of July
Were once enlisted to commemorate
The yoke of elder empires cast away.
Only now I grimace:
At drunken parties, unformed youth gyrate
A crude dance to the high
Of three days off for war now, none for peace,
With Veterans and Memorial Day.

You can remember when
One of the three called up an Armistice,
An end of bloody horrors, not the rise
Of celebrations, madcap joys, and then
False wars. What’s true? The undepicted sight
Of bare rooms where brothers no longer sleep,
Body bags over whom their mothers weep;
And rain gods fizzling fireworks to invite
A ruler-people to reflect on might.
                                                   after M Arnold

James B. Nicola has been published five times in miller’s pond and recently in the Antioch, Southwest and Atlanta Reviews, Rattle, and Poetry East. His nonfiction book Playing the Audience won a Choice award. His two poetry collections, published by Word Poetry, are Manhattan Plaza (2014) and Stage to Page: Poems from the Theater (2016).

Simon Perchik

You constantly need watering
--from pity and these leaves
thumping the ground your heart
remembers the sound for
though there's no dry twig
to pull apart where the wind
still forks, unaware
it changed direction
to close your eyes
--you are watered by leaves
clinging to the grass
that fell from this same tree
and never dries
--all that happens
is their shadows taking root
heated the way a bird
is sure each egg
has its fire inside, will fly
with the bone in its breast
pulling the Earth apart
while you hold between your hands
a small stone already dead
brought down from a great height
and left to open.

Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker and elsewhere. His most recent collection is Almost Rain, published by River Otter Press (2013).  For more information, including free e-books, his essay titled “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website at