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Poetry 5 Fall 2023



Braided River

          by Joan Mazza


Sheepshead Bay was the mouth of my river,

beginning a long meandering, branching

and crisscrossing in shallows. Giggly girlfriends,

pass-through men who didn’t last long enough

to add their names to long-term memory. Wanderings

took me from Brooklyn to Florida to tan on beaches

for hours, turned brown as a berry, people said,

while I passed for mixed: Polynesian, Puerto Rican,

Greek, Lebanese. My river diminished to a stream,

a trickle. Bed dry. Below the surface, the river flowed,

rose to light as one tributary to gush around rocks

with rapids and energy some called too much.

In deep water now, I drag its depths, fish

for the rare to discover color I know is there.


Bio: Joan Mazza worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, and taught workshops on understanding dreams and nightmares. She is the author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self. Her poetry has appeared in The Comstock Review, Prairie Schooner, Slant, Poet Lore, and The Nation. She lives in rural central Virginia.


Kneeling After A Thirst
    by Edward Wright Haile
My little cold and hidden spring,
that parts the sand and spangles loud
and makes the sneaking forest ring,
was late an angry, rushing cloud.
My little spring, too deep for frost,
and heavier than the rocks it wakes,
so recently the heavens tossed
until they sent it down in flakes.
Cloud and brook. Thunder and pool.
One lives. Meanwhile the other dies.
And here’s a blizzard in my soul:


What was I in the skies?
Bio: Edward Wright Haile — Author of Jamestown Narratives, the definitive collection of first-hand accounts of England’s colony in the first decade, and John Smith in the Chesapeake, an examination of the itinerary of the great explorer captain. Two historical maps: Virginia Discover’d and Discrib’d and England in America. In 2009 The Chesapeake Conservancy named him director of the Cross Project captainjohnsmith.orgFive volumes of verse—Open, Not Glass, Here on a Mission, odes and lyrics; Where None Before Hath Stood, called the Jamestown epic; and in 2016, Virginia Leaf, “odes, ballads, lyrics, stanzas, and lines” that put the Old Dominion in poetry. In 2022 appeared Collected Poems in three volumes, containing 24 books, both published and unpublished. His translation of the Oresteia, was pronounced “a work of energy and genius” (Classical Bulletin) in attempting to find the English equivalents in both style and meter of the ancient Greek of Aeschylus. He has been awarded the New Hampshire-Florida Writers’ war poet’s prize, and the Edgar Allan Poe, Sarah Lockwood, and Bess Gresham prizes. A native Virginian born in Washington, D.C., Ed has a bachelor’s in music (flute & composition) from the Catholic University of America. He lives with his wife Bess in Essex County, Va. in a house he built.  



    by Jeffrey Zable

The elderly woman behind the counter yells to the security guard,

“I don’t live here so how would I have an answer to that!”

She then looks at me, waiting for a response, as if we’ve known 

each other for many years. 


“Where do you live?” I ask as if very interested in finding out.


“I live in Richmond. I don’t live here so how would I have an answer 

to her question!?”


“Richmond!” I respond, as if it all makes perfect sense now.

“Must take you a good 40 minutes to get here!”


“Sure! if I had a car. Do you think I can afford a car working here!?

I have to take two buses and then walk to get here!”


“Must take you close to two hours!” I answer sympathetically.


“You better believe it!” she says with a forlorn expression,

and then puts her hand to her forehead.


As I can see that I’m holding up the line, I say to her,

“Good talking with you. I wish you the best!”

Then pick up my items, and before walking out the door

I nod to the security guard. . .


Bio: Jeffrey Zable is a teacher, conga/bongo drummer who plays Afro-Cuban folkloric music, Latin Jazz, and Salsa with groups around the San Francisco Bay Area, and a writer of poetry, flash fiction, and non-fiction. His writing has appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and anthologies; more recently in Once Upon a Crocodile, Third Wednesday, Ephemeral Literary Review, Recesses Zine, Cacti Fur, Defuncted, and many others.