Cadralor Issue 4

Gleam Issue 4

The following poems were selected by the editors
for Issue 4 of Gleam:

Viewpoint, by Louise Barden
Permission to Fail, by Rachel Barton
While He is Away, by Rachel Barton
Well, Now that You Mention It, Reinhard Heydrich
Really Was Kind of an Asshole
, by Robert Beveridge
Waffle House Index, by Susan Cole
Turn, by Kate Copeland
Birds, by Jane Dougherty
Blue, by Jane Dougherty
Thistledown, by Jane Dougherty
use a clean pen, by Scott Ferry
Enigma Variations, by Malcolm Glass
Near Totality, by Joanna Grisham
Geographies, by Georgia Hertz
Morning Communion, by Marie Marchand
Tripping, by Bob McAfee
Understanding, by Bob McAfee

Between Here and Sky, by Julia Paul
Distance Shrinks the Stars, by Julia Paul
Refolding the Map, by Julia Paul
At The Ready, by Charlotte Porter
Stippling, by Nick Reeves
the god of generation z, by Michelle Rochniak
Perhaps the Wind Has Eyes, by Anastasia Vassos
Grandmother Liar, I Forgive You, by Sherre Vernon
Sanctuary, by Sherre Vernon
Pointing at Rainbows, by Sterling Warner
Exceptional, by Ingrid Wilson
Prismatic, by Ingrid Wilson
Now I Know Why I’ve Always Hated the Tango,
yet Loved the Intimacy
by Jon Yungkans
There Is a Poetry in Mere Existence by Jon Yungkans


By Louise Barden


Breeze riffles the still water, pushes
white waterlilies tight against each other
like boats rafting together for a holiday.
Turtle hatchlings lift their heads above
the surface, like thin bubbles breaking.

By the red backdoor, a crate holds empty
bottles and a scribbled note requesting butter
with the day’s delivered milk. There was
so much we expected. We did not know
we had so much that we could one day lose.

July birches lean out as if to see their own
green whispers reflected in a mirror
or the glow of their October gold and yellow
shouts. In January snow, silent trunks reach,
white and black, for something in the sky.

The attic ceiling slopes almost to the floor, too
low, even at its center peak, for an adult to stand
at the top of the stairs. It guards the toy room
against inquisitive parents –a child-sized
folding table, tumbled dolls, a miniature train.

I am three, on a shady hill above a pond.
It is a new place. My father holds my hand.
Trees around us rustle in the soft wind
and a dog barks at a house down the road.
I can see my whole life in front of me.

Permission to Fail

By Rachel Barton


  1. Uncle Walt wears a bent straw hat to shelter
    his crown from noonday sun or evening’s mist.
    From the ferry’s railing his song for everyman.
  2. A woman paints her house an electric green, pale blue
    trim vibrating in concert. The racket wakes the neighbors
    from a long spell of neutrals. Homage to Joseph Albers.
  3. The man asks, What of the two apple saplings in the front yard—
    did they find each other? Do they bear fruit, offer shade?

    He doesn’t live here anymore; this isn’t his story.
  4. You can’t find a chair to sit in. You don’t have
    a leg to stand on though you know the heron
    owns the creek. You grow restive.
  5. Some of us shoot for a star and fail. Faint arcs
    of remembrance like trailing embers fall below the horizon–
    spark enough to distract an old donkey from his loneliness.

While He is Away

By Rachel Barton


1) Moss gathers in a scurry of small green rounds like
velvet, crowds to the edge of the roof, a few mounds still
tumbling down from the peak in a prolonged stop-action.
In their universe they may be moving quickly. I wonder
what they have come to show me, what they have come
to say? And is it wrong to take comfort in their shape
and color, in a texture that I long to touch?

2) The day begins with rain. I wear striped wool socks
with my waterproof Clarks, zip up my hoodie–
second skin until Spring comes again. This is habit. This
is resignation. The seasons will turn. The rains will set in.
The light will skew side-ways for a while. I have lived in snow
close to the North Pole and seen the beauty of the aurora
borealis. This place is not so extreme.

3) If you play enough games of solitaire, red on black, you’re
bound to win some. Shuffle the deck six times and chuck it twice
against the tabletop to bring the cards into line. Then begin:
seven in a row, first one up, next six down, then second one up,
next five down, and so forth until you have seven piles, each
with a card facing up. From the remainder in your hand, turn
three cards at a go. Red on black, you’ve got this.

4) Jays make their nest in the arbor vitae, lay claim to seed
and suet at the feeders, squawk at the flocks of finches and juncos
that dare to intrude—family first. One hour each week, my
sisters call me to the screen where we bridge the thousands
of miles between us to trade recipes and stories. Witnesses to our
shared suffering and joy, we lift one another. And while we talk,
a post on my door: ¡No me interrumpas!

5) Receipts accumulate, trace a journey from New Mexico to
Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California—he is driving–through rain,
snow, and a bit of black ice to get back home to me. I update
the dahlia diaries, record the yearning of the magnolia seedpod
on the counter–deep red seeds threatening to disperse. Dishes
linger at the sink, foodstuffs dwindle in the fridge. I scatter
poems across my desk, go to bed alone.

Well, Now that You Mention It, Reinhard Heydrich Really Was Kind of an Asshole

By Robert Beveridge


They always give you that “if you repeat any of this
I’ll have to kill you” spiel, even when the discussion
centers around the contents of the bottles the milkman
delivers each dawn, or the amount of chaff
that flew out of the farmyard yesterday afternoon.

Can you answer this for me in the form of an acrostic?
There are seventy men at a crossroad, each with a shovel,
and somewhere in the vicinity is a single body clad
in a long-rotted-away blue pinstripe suit whose voice
haunts travellers, the law, occasional sheep at night.

After the microphone went flat again and the echoes
of a list of sexual atrocities never before heard
by mortal ears had died down, the room was silent
save the coffee grinder. One audience member
clapped, a single time, but no one fell in line.

You called across to the other bank of the creek
to see if anyone over there had seen your dog.
You couldn’t tell if anyone had since you received no answer.
There was no phone to hang up, so you turned
and walked back down to the gravel parking lot.

How many dreams contain that dialogue comprised
of a language your mind invents as the scene unfolds?
As the sun rises, you struggle awake to the sound
of a dog’s voice that sings the blues
as a shovel digs a clandestine hole below you.

Waffle House Index

By Susan Cole


One – Eleanor Roosevelt

Today I chatted with Eleanor Roosevelt.
I wanted to know why she stayed with him.
We idly spoke of power, and women, when sex
is power and power is sex. I met her when I
was four. I told her she had big teeth and was
very old. Yes, I am very old she replied. I loved her.
I imagined lying with her and touching her
wrinkled face watching it get older and older

Two – Waffle House Index

The Waffle House Index measures disaster
Intensity. It’s a willingness to remain open
even when roofs blow off and you barely have
an inch of air to breathe before you drown.
I passed one before we grew apart, the sign
said “closed for renovations.” I took a photo.
If only a few pieces of sheetrock and new
plumbing could save a heartless marriage.

Three – Quilts

I am making a quilt and as I sew, I think
about making it for you, and sometimes strands
of my long hair get sewn into the pattern.
It is a secret signal from my DNA to yours –
A neanderthal coded message to enflame your
body. I think of you wrapping yourself in it
and then closing around me, the delicate fur
of your skin brushing the gentle nap of mine.

Four – Fevers

I awoke last night with a fever so intense
that I smelled my hair burning, my eyebrows
became pale white patches. I found myself
In the garden, the cool spring evening calming
chaotic fever dreams – I clawed into the earth
to be part of Spring, blend with the stirring of
new growth, but the ground was still frozen
and I wondered why the white ice bore drops of red.

Five – The Beast

There is a beast inside me that wants
pleasure and sex and more sex and beauty
and food, yes food, and the power to go
back in time to repair the damage I have done.
The beast purrs quietly in my lap as I coo
and gently adjust its position as my leg
grows numb from its weight. The beast is
mine alone to stroke and gaze at as I grow old.


By Kate Copeland


1. I like it the house had stairs, that the sand outside survived somewhere where the sea,
my longest night, where the lowest level was in silent leaves, and in the blink of a wish,
your face carved out in asphalt, your triumph tilted like the cycle of the sun, el sol, takin’
a shorter path rather than my turn. The breathing I fell in when I had you, it became this
infinite space, an arcane shore, for our love was accountable, but only for cynics, and then,
the lakes overturned, the hurt became resentful, and you forgot to mind I have this kind lee,
a skill to collect views and flowers, to let in the world for all moonlit fears, and so, the time
of immeasurable marbling surged, blue bedevilling my cinnamon mind, scintillating steps.

2. The every day winter turns into a winter’s winter, in the wake of that little lighter spring,
those slighter differences between thankless theories and sliding love, and just like that,
without resolve, a drink shows your unforgetfulness, though it told me you were kept alive.
But why not me? And so, I became a forward drifter and thought of the purpose of greed,
the idea of sin, for I like its vexation climbing, the fall the rise, the time and tragedy, time
and time again, no trace I lost of that first or last night, when the cold spread inside out,
a raw blaze on my wind-weather face, while the lights close at five, and I, I hammer away
at useless films, ignoring buried stars and reading Sylvia Plath for 24/7, time again.

3. Would you mind reminding me to neither relive nor recall, save the silence in past words,
to manoeuvre the terms on the table though I should not see to all this, now, with that echo
on the wall and an empty sheet in front of me, immortal as me, cleaned up and medicated,
say, I’m awkward in a friendly way, still and forever the slave of electric wires, mistaken
delicacies, and am I glad there is no one here to share the roof with. Are you really looking
after yourself, she said. She knows my name means warrior of the woods, believes I belong,
which meant a lot later, when I finally fitted in my West Coast underwear, that afternoon,
the wind died and I decided not to wear resentful roses or blue varnished toenails no more.

4. His corduroy couch set in my breech that happy-enough midday hour, leaving hurt as
a sun-left square. Insanely emotional material but I’ll be waiting in the unfinished TV-room.
Is he really planning his marriage in May? Thousands fires reflect the lanterns trembling in
the streets, some valley-lillies flow without limits, borders, shiny shorts between my sky
and the critters. Life fumbles for all facades in a row. A centre within this circle crescends
or – maybe: tears, at wakening-up-water. I’ll be getting the longest sentence I think, though
I’m too shaped to guess at angelic-ness, too old to freeze out your demo on how to cover ears
against a sky-high painted world, where less happens, save for a fortnight of questions.

5. And so, the former selves walk on, expectations built some steam in the voice, towards a
fascinating faith. Moistening the fringes of leaves. Once I thought I’d die of not letting go,
yet, I learned to skill the cold light and the frowned-upon pleasures, like a seajourney in an
Italian car. The last hurt of your betrayal still shines against the first rush of me, yet, there’s
an other, the corner of my desk, and I got everything I got, solo – say, have I got everything
that distant from before? Maybe no legacy like Stevie’s, but mind enough to skirt the streets,
taking down the fear of losing fear. I brew a scandalous amount of coffee, settling nowadays’
memories in their mirrors, a universe, where your shadows won’t disturb the stones in my sea.


By Jane Dougherty


A feather fell in the dark,
no moonlight pointed finger beams,
but in the dawn, I saw
the night had left a crow.

This sky drips,
sad as the shadow woman,
fluttering behind the man
she no longer loves.

Iron railings in the fog, and greasy puddles,
unreflecting. If this was a forest,
the rain would be a distant pattering,
a leafy lullaby, in pools of grey sky.

Take back all the tender things,
their claws hooked deep in the flesh,
though all the colour of the world
drains through the holes.

Watching the storm eat up
the sweet pink sunrise, I listen
to the earth’s core in the thrush’s song
of frail bone and feather, unbending.


By Jane Dougherty


There is always a ship in these dreams, a three-master
with white sails, and the cry of the gulls in the teeth of the wind,
filling my senses with salt and blue light.

It creeps from the forest depths, trailing a smell of decay,
rustling with dead leaves, nights of no moon and wolf-prowl.
I open the door, let it shelter with us from the falling shells.

You could say it was sordid, lying in the sweaty dark of damp
sheets, while outside the hot summer beat its cicada wings,
smelling of pines and ice cream, but I remember that too.

The concert hall filled so full of music and waves of voices,
a swell of song, it poured from my eyes. You glanced away,
embarrassed, spilling my illusions in an uncontainable flood.

The answer is to blend them all, earth, wind, water and fire,
in a crucible, make a new element, dress it in dream wings,
gallop it across new meadows, call it blue horse, and let it free.


By Jane Dougherty


The world is slipping away,
sand and water through open fingers,
and the blackbirds sing
to an empty house.

I lay awake in the dark for hours,
stomach and thoughts knotted,
content to listen to your even breath,
sleeping soft at last.

The cat cries often these days,
a pitter-patter sound, light as rain,
as if she feels the need
to fill the gaps of our silences.

On that last day, luminous Ostia
was lightless, all I remember now,
lashing grey waves over the breakwater
and clouds heavy as hearts.

After dark days of black branches,
the sun stirs richer meadow paints,
the baby picks her first dandelion clock,
smiles a golden smile and blows.

use a clean pen

By Scott Ferry


1. my signed name has been reduced
to a hoop in the sky / some spikes
along a shinbone / a final root into earth

2. scotty my dead father looks back at me in the dream
scotty goddamn it you forgot to wash off the nerves
i thought we could trust you

3. nasturtium heads open and carrot necks lift
into june’s fog-colored bed i am five and dig out
thin roots and then try to put them back into the soil

4. when my mother leaves i will have no more places
to plant old grievances i will take the rusted keys
and hide them in a sealed breath

5. the date is not important to the dead
they do not eat at this table the afternoon weeps
the nametags drip illegible and no one knows where to rest

Enigma Variations

— after Edward Elgar

By Malcolm Glass


A man’s hand grasps a woman’s hip
tightly, his spread fingers pressing lovely
hollows into her flesh. The sculptor rendered
perfectly in white marble their skin, muscle,
and bone, their breathless passion.

Horns called out three chords stolen
from Mahler’s “Titan.” An oboe wove
back and forth through a maze of harmonies,
searching for a final chord in a new key,
a closure neither composer ever found.

Peter flying by cables over the pirates,
the ghost of angry Petrouchka, falling
to his second death, Giselle saved from
the wilis, Odette lost to the lake, they live
still in the dance, in the echoes of applause.

Did she hear, in her dream, the songbirds
I wished for her? I whispered a tender
kiss on her cheek, the corner of her mouth,
and wakened her with a fluttering breath.
And now she has forgotten their singing.

In a small oak chest held closed
by purple ribbon: a woven bracelet
of chestnut hair, a dusty feather, a sepia
portrait in a tarnished locket, an amethyst
pendant, a love letter never opened.

Near Totality

By Joanna Grisham


Late afternoon sun sends streaks of light across
the floor. Particles of dancing-dust hover and twirl around
the room like glowing fairies. I plunge my hands into too-hot
dishwater, careful of the menacing knives, and watch my
toddler scribble in a notepad at her little round table
in the corner. She hums, smiles at her work, obviously
pleased with the chaotic nests on the page, joyous eruptions.
She stops to watch the yellow leaves fall outside the
kitchen window, waves her hands to say goodbye.

I often think of my brother’s face the day he wrecked
his dirt bike in the woods near our house. How he climbed
the hill, pushing the bike alongside him, his cheeks streaked
with syrupy blood, how he told me to shut up when I asked
what happened from the patch of dirt where I rolled cars
down a mound, how he cried when our mother cleaned his
wounds, tears slicing through the mud and blood, making
zigzag roads across his face, a map to some secret city,
a faraway place he’ll spend his whole life searching for.

The graveyard slants and dips along the hill beside an old
Baptist church, where we tiptoe around chipped headstones
and faded silk flowers in search of dirt for spells we will never
cast. We aren’t witches, though the moonlight makes us feel
powerful, bold enough to hold hands as we giggle like children,
scooping dirt into a plastic bottle we find in the trunk of your car.
We joke about the people we’ll curse, the old lovers we’ll ruin.
Sixteen years later, you’re my wife, and I keep that bottle
of dirt tucked away in a box in the top of our closet, just in case.

My father wants to go night fishing, so I meet him near
the river, where he climbs into my pickup truck and points
me toward his spot. We crouch on a muddy bank, catching
crappie. He talks about the water level and erosion and how
hot it has been all summer, worries about the fish and
the forest. I worry about him, puffing on his inhaler,
lighting up a cigarette. We ought to fry these up soon, he
says, and I say sure. I find the fish years later, waiting
in the back of his deep freeze on the afternoon of his funeral.

The blood moon rises above the bald cypress trees, standing
guard like ancient gods along the shore. I watch her reflection
ripple and shine, a glittering skeleton stretched across the lake,
extending her long arm as if to pull me in. A few hours from now,
I’ll be forty, and the moon will slide into Earth’s shadow, hide her
silver face, while I stand, arms stretched above my head, eyes
open and clear, listening to the water lick and lap with shiny white
tongues as if the shore were something to devour. I’ll remember
how the sign said the forest is underwater now, but it’s still there.


By Georgia Hertz


Listen: the eerie breath of wind on I-40 eastbound early March.
The mercury is pushing 80 and I’m just as fast. Racing
springtime home again. See? The dead rustle of barren
branches, Bermuda grass crisp as carpet on the golf courses.
Of course they don’t pay for full-time coverage, only when
it’s convenient. In Oak City spring happens not at all until it’s
all at once. The way a fledgling can’t fly until it can. Or a peach
is ripe and ripe then rancid.

Paint peeling. A whitewashing needed. The barn walls
caked in clay dust, cobwebs. Charleston summer never
smelled sweeter than a tack room: clean leather and dried
sweat and new hay wafting from the loft above. Horses
munch around the buttercup blooms. They aim for clover.
When it storms, they shelter under the trees. Easier for
them to get away from twisters when they’re not trapped
inside a solid wooden box.

Consider: the Pennsylvania coal miner. He fears closeness,
the damp dark of caves. He is my people. He did not toil
in southern fields, the sun red on his back. From Poland,
and he, pale Golem-like and clay in Appalachia. The earth
moved with him because pick-ax. Because blast. Because
every beautiful tunnel was not formed perfectly overnight.
His only avarice was claiming darkness as his own. For me
I claim my name. Means dirt. Same as Cain.

The tip of the Bruce Peninsula, the escarpment that runs
northwest from Niagara Falls and juts into Lake Huron.
A tiny Tobermory named after the Scottish fishing village.
They fish here, too. Lake trout, whitefish, the occasional
salmon. Town is a clear blue harbor, mouth opened east-
northeast. Apple trees grow on the southern hill. Two wooden
shipwrecks sit next to the lighthouse, one-hundred-thirty
years old but fresh in the water.

Wisteria must be trembling on the trellis, the columns.
Down from Jericho’s brick cafés, doe-eyed cows frolic
in Port Meadow. A pub there across the River Isis where
willows line the shore. Perhaps a cask-cooled pint of ale,
a seat in shade ancient and austere. Do they know the
longing? For cobblestone streets, tall garden gates, my
pond of swans? Past the orchard and its flood of tulips,
the butter-yellow stones that rise towards heaven?

Morning Communion

By Marie Marchand


My husband retreats into
his neon crypto cave
speaking in digital tongues,
commerce and community.

Streaks of wild light dance
across the morning in arabesques
of indigo and apricot, suffusing
the valley with holiness.

The moon’s lucid light
washes white shale soil
shivering sagebrush
in its lingering glow.

I weave through cirrus wisps
of frozen breaths, whispering
kindness at every juncture
of goodbye.

Connection is a survival trait
especially in quarantine.
The Earth, radiating, cries out for me.
Her tangerine bursts, my consolation.


By Bob McAfee


The hour when the dead remember. Memories lick themselves clean.
Bones resume their click-clicking. Desire wraps itself in its velvet tail.
I wear my blue apron and sensible shoes, blond hair cosseted by a black ribbon.
The wormhole opens in a minor key. Reggie is sunken in his bed, hunkered
on the side of the road, a night squatter. Nana is a puppy once more flouncing.
We play gin rummy, me and Huckleberry. He cheats openly but I forgive him.
Tomorrow the Mad Cow returns alas! Mister Bones is out of joint on the sofa.
My Reggie removes his shirt, nestles under the covers, entering with tail
wrapped in velvet, the wormhole closing.

My friend shops at the Gentlemen’s Warehouse: Ralph Lauren Classic Fit
blue worsted blazer, double breasted, naugahyde elbow patches,
yellow power tie with stick pin, gold tooth with star insert,
black dancing slippers, no socks, a new skin pullover, Doctor Death
playing a washboard vest, fresh shave with straight razor, rouged
cheeks, tinge of Boy George lipstick, hair combed to hide the cowlick,
one handsome dude, he doesn’t know you are out there, holding
his toothbrush and his robe, a dab of Grecian formula, a whiff of Old Spice,
horizontal with nary a hint of any erect dysfunction.

Galaxy travel on the head of a pin, getting from here to there in the tiniest
fraction of a second, why the hurry, Old Man with twisty knickers,
can you name the colors of a black hole? God’s hand on the crown of my head,
eight millimeter film broadcast on a bedsheet tied to a curtain rod in a vacant room
down the hall where ghosts in rocking chairs moan their pleasure into paper bags.
Veins pop under plastic tubing, all the better to bite you with, my dear.
Ventilators whirring, the great ship loads, embarking at zero dark zero,
suspension of all disbelief, journey of a lifetime, riding the worm through
to the other end.

He brings you the gift of silence, offers hope like a reincarnation, sits
uncomfortable, out of joint, on the sofa. You make small talk, your voice
scratching. At the appropriate time you rise as one, approach timid as a first date,
until you are conscious of his smell, like ozone before a spring rain
or a lightning strike. The visitor removes his tie, accentuating the length
of his beard. His hand touches your shoulder like an evangelical minister offering
baptism to a new convert. You taste the chrism from his sweating fingers.
You invite him into your bed, the tall body sliding under the covers; you feel
his warmth as the heat of an unfiltered sun.

I walk toward home, starshine evanescing over a purpled moor. Underfoot the heather
attacks my boots, the briars attach to my ankles, trying their best to bring me home to
earth, the moon taking cover behind a ghostful row of tamaracks. Reality is that the route
becomes longer every day, which is a way of saying my steps are becoming shorter,
less strideful, strangely lustless and galled. At home she waits, winter approaching and
supper haggling on the stove, an argument she cannot win, being torn between
anticipating and trepidating, like waking from a nightmare and realizing you might still
be in the nightmare and time is beginning to turn blue. The clock on the wall has stalled,
the teapot has whistled its way past attention, and the door lies inscrutable on its hinges.


By Bob McAfee


You stand near the train at the edge of a new half-life,
wear the hopeful dress of just-in-case, platform heels and Gucci bag,
melt into the shadows, sport Dolce and Gabbana shades
so as to travel incognito, not realizing you are already invisible to everyone
but the man who sits behind you, traveling only by coach.
Makes me wonder where you’re going, what questions do you ask,
and is this the time of year when the train keeps no secrets,
calling out the seasons until the final whistle turns cold, sliding until blindness?

Everything looks better in half-light, consider the face of an aging lover
reflected in memory, early morning after a night of rain, the sunlight
caressing dewy buds that open into warm tears.
Likewise all things spoken in half-truth have a sort of Cartesian honesty –
we love therefore we are – I bleed therefore I am,
if only for a moment in the aftermath. Is it logical to believe that pain follows
a law of half-lives from day to day reduced by half, the burden
of immeasurable grief assuaged across the solace of the years?

This was what we feared, our beautiful white bodies racing to the fire, early morning
raking our blood-shadowed skin. This was what we learned, a sip of wine
with that preview of our love, my knees against your knees – our tremble an earthquake.
We touched our mouths with our tremor’s heartbeat measured by Richter. After our fire
subsided, our words cooled into an oven. Within the kitchen of our love
there are two clueless lovers cooking an uneatable meal. This love is a fabric
we’ve stitched into rags. This is what we’ve burned: separate but matching garments.
This is what we cooked: a meal in the fire ending up as ash.

The moon is a small child playing in the forest, a midnight game of hide and seek.
I catch a glimpse of bare skin interleaved with branches – looking as I am
from an upstairs window of the deserted mansion in my dream. The child is being
scolded by the wind or by a long dead foster parent, reminding me that I once ran naked
through the green groves in those years. A pebble is tossed against the window.
I have the urge to press my nose against the glass and see my hot breath forming clouds
across the sky, the expanse between the summer warmth of childhood and the loneliness
of winter coming on.

You wake up in the field behind the house. Someone has anointed you with fire,
your nightgown rimmed in ash as you struggle to your knees, genuflecting.
You float above the earth, light snow haloing your blonde hair which
someone has cut with scissors in a bowl-shape. You are staring toward the back
of the house. The door is ajar but blowing in the wind. You can hear someone calling
your name. You raise your arms in a sign of a cross, revealing the razor cuts along both
wrists. On the wind you hear a voice, a song, something like a sigh, a benediction.
You paint your face with charcoal, struggle to your knees, resurrecting.

Between Here and Sky

By Julia Paul


Mr. Donnelly insisted, Geometry
will serve you well in the future.

He rocked on his heels whenever he lied.
I faked nausea to get out of the pop quiz.
Smoked a cigarette in the girl’s room.
Drew a parallelogram in lipstick on the mirror.

The mop swirls in drowsy arcs.
Broken things are swept away or rearranged.
Like memory, buried treasure, grief.
Tomorrow’s merely a point in the distance.
Follow the funeral’s straight line to infinity.
Follow the feather’s downward flight.

Discarded crutches and old pill bottles
are propped against the altar at random angles.
Suffering and hope intersect here.
The earth that forms the floor of the Sanctuario
is said to work miracles and is free for the taking.
How to measure the distance between here and sky?

Geo is earth; metron means measurement.
If all living people held hands, we would wrap
around the earth 345 times. In Latin, radius means
ray or spoke of a chariot wheel. If the right words
are spoken, beautiful things happen.
From my dictionary lips the words, arc, edge, vector.

From this ground, what we bury rises pulled by a star
millions of miles away. Buried in a drawer, the sympathy cards.
Shapes and shadows of shapes. Flowers in a garden
of grief. The earth is always waiting, isn’t it?
A kite broken by the wind returns in concentric circles.
How does the child learn to fly without wings?

Distance Shrinks the Stars

By Julia Paul


  1. Morning fog swallows the overburdened world.
    The monster’s gullet glitters with porchlight.
    I find myself lost on the edge of revelation.
  2. Equations on a blackboard an eraser turns to dust.
    Dust billows and vanishes when the student claps.
    The nun watches, still searching for the elusive X.
  3. Distance shrinks the buoys until they’re ping pong balls.
    Distance shrinks the stars. To whatever god is watching
    we are the dust it takes only breath to make fly away.
  4. When speaking of the dead, use the past tense.
    It’s a rule. Never say ghost. That’s rude as hell.
    Trust me, your words will always be lacking.
  5. Wrinkle is to face as river is to rimrock
    Lather is to ocean as ash is to clock
    Verge is to death as step is to memory

Refolding the Map

By Julia Paul


1. Confession

French kissed Kevin Dooley behind Dairy Queen
Swore at my mother, brother, neighbor’s kid
Stole Grape Yum Yum lipstick from WT Grant’s
Smoked mother’s Salem’s while she was out.

Penance: Three Hail Mary’s, Two Our Father’s. (Met Kevin Dooley after).

2. National Geographics

Behind the Headlines in Viet Nam
Alaska’s Mighty Rivers of Ice
The Bahamas: More of Sea than of Land
Japan’s “Sky People,” the Vanishing Ainu

Borders made of yellow spines. Blue eyes reaching across.

3. High School

Pretend you don’t care about war, poverty
Pretend you like football, coffee liquor and Mustangs
Pretend you like Neil Diamond
Pretend you don’t dream

Wishes, green with intent, awakening.

4. 1969

The Beatles final performance, Man on the moon, Stonewall
Riots, Summer of Love, Manson Murders, Woodstock,
Days of Rage, Zodiac Killer, Chicago Seven Trial,
Vietnam War protests, Sesame Street, My Lai, Altamont

Slipping toward the brink. Spilling, sinking, shifting.

5. Destination

Lesson: A map will not refold the same way twice.
Rule: Don’t confuse the line in the sand for the horizon.
Journey: Barbed wire, broken sandals, blistered feet, rusted shovel
Prediction: The darker shore holds the buried light.

Dangling watch making time, not an arrival, not a beginning.

At The Ready

By Charlotte Porter


1. For three days now,
                    I meet different snakes in the garden.
Blood gurgles. Whose? During nights,
          I hear sounds under the house.

2. March arrives in Florida
                    with lambkin skies and lion eyes.
Mushrooms rot like flesh white with maggots.
          Blue skinks lose brown tails.

3. In lime light, sparrows nest
                    behind storefront neon letters.
Rain settles purple petals—
          the magnolia, a gift. Whose?

4. COVID brings endless Lent—
                    fat-free side-step in clumsy dance.
Setting the clock ahead shifts chance—
          dawn, dusk, death—sprawl, shawl, pall.

5. Re: ray guns and gold glitter,
          help me please glean solar sheaves.
Alchemy should spare us scald,
                    spall, assassination. Whose?


By Nick Reeves


Haiku littering the high street
Paper lanterns blushing fruit trees
Favourite corduroy cowboy shirt

Five pale horses encircle her
flat stones stipple millpond surface
tomorrow bows her narrow back

Many years had passed since then
his echoes gathered like ghost crowds
Such language! She giggled and she sighed

The blood black around his grin
penny-eyed glued to the paving
Her calf her brow half shadowed

The wet magic of the well rope
the old world is now just memory
still the Spanish mountains sparkle.

the god of generation z

By Michelle Rochniak


1. Hades holds his hands over
Your head. Black-blue fire rages
Beyond the cracked cliff’s crevice
Where you wait for a sentence.
Scoop your heart out. Bow down to
The king of death. Only those
Who protect will see the fields.

2. The rings of Saturn do not
Compare to the gossamer
Tendrils circling this diamond
Globe. When you flourish your sleeve,
The planet melds to your dress.
Your frosted glove clasps on to
The tiniest star. Consume.

3. Billie Eilish fades to in
Vitro fertilization
Fades to Ogikubo fades
To John Logie Baird fades to
Bar Italia fades to
Pulp fades to folk music fades
To sex, and you absorb all.

4. You turned the blunt twigs you found
Behind the spruce tree into
A home. A thatched roof covers
Foraged flowers and roasted
Acorn squash and forever
Embraces. Blue lace will be
The last thing I’ll ever see.

5. When we are in the city
And rainbows surround us, I
Look at you and envision
All of the lives you have led,
All of the dreams you have held,
All of the people you’ve met,
And yet I am your lover.

Perhaps the Wind Has Eyes

By Anastasia Vassos


The quiet feet of wind press my neck.
I lie prostrate on the asphalt of the street.
Long enough I’ve hungered and lost
my appetite. Perhaps the wind has eyes
perhaps the tree’s arms are bare
tattooed to the elbow. And I
no, even all of nature is marked by signals
that prove we’re alive. The mourning
dove’s coos. The mockingbird’s harass.
The rumble of tires up the hill.

This morning I awoke with the vertigo
of a poet lost in bed, the sheets
tangled between my legs, round my torso
the room spinning. Yesterday has not happened,
I’ve been born into this day fully formed
like Athena who emerged from Zeus’ head.
My eyes, unlike her gray orbs, are brown.
My hair graying, not brown as it was, once.
My voice singing past my past.
My hands scarred with lifting.

How St. Demetrios defended Thessaloniki.
How he was struck through by the arrows
of the Balkan invaders from the North.
How he appears in dream as St. Sebastian.
How he’s depicted in the dusty icon
just like St. George slaying the dragon.
How his name holds his horse’s hoof prints.
How the sounds pound the earth.
How there is no need for mouthing glory.
How glory resides in sweat of brow.

October’s light derails itself off the sky’s track.
Uncontrollable collateral escaping
through time, her light the mirror of April
and cold as a blade. Unlike that October
in the twentieth century when Halloween night
was so sultry my hair curled underneath
the witch hat. Unlike the feasting of spring
lamb at Easter when sunglow repeated
and repeated blinding us to anything
but what sat behind our eyes.

In Kenya that morning the clouds lifted.
We could see snow-capped Kilimanjaro
that African sky luminous, clever, framing
the mountain. I ran to roust you so you
could catch the light. I pointed to the top
of the mountain — no, wait, it was the top
of the resort hut in the shape of the mountain.
You doubled over in laughter, the monkeys
scattered. And I, we — were amazed by
that mirror that turns itself inside out.

Grandmother Liar, I Forgive You

By Sherre Vernon


I don’t know the religion of bees, what prayers
can mend their windsoaked wings, roughed
to concrete in a storm. It struggled there, small
& dying. & I who have wrecked lesser creatures
for fear of their assault, stood honey-hearted,
wishing my hands capable of some mercy.

Students, true, of sacred texts & also
science, let us marvel over the myths
that we are given & take: the soul a drop
of water, come back to the source; the soul,
this current electrified in body; the soul,
these words. & nothing.

She answers from the edges. Each syllable
an omission, her laugh a ret-con. Call
her to a witness stand. Pause the film
& re-watch. What she let you believe
is not what she said. She never said
anything. Close your eyes & see.

Radio croons Dream a little dream of me.
& I almost believe. I’ve been waking nights,
my heart racing in the heat & falling. Not from
cliffs or into sleep. Not that fall that quicks to flight
in a dream where you can see the whole world
from the fingertips of the galaxy.

Let me be a liar. Tonight the caterwaul is my child,
wretched. Someone has told her the dead return
eventually to stars, that we all die & she cannot
lose me, ever. I take her to the kitchen, fire
a burner, ask her: are you flesh or flame?
& seeing us both solid, she agrees to sleep.


Derived from the Latin sanctuarium, which is…
a container for keeping something in –Wikipedia

By Sherre Vernon


I’m embarrassed by the jade junk
they’ve got lain up in glass, with
placards: BCE, CE, this one used
for ritual. Forgive me, I’m squinting
like I’ve never seen a dick before.
Holy fuck—that one has a handle.

They say when you’re fat (I’m fat)
it’s all a cover. Your body has grown
wide around some cemented grief.
A startle at every skin-shifting.
& what of my soul in all this
exegesis? Make way, make way.

Look, I know the jokes about women
frog-squatting over fallen shower-
heads. I’m so touched / out. By all
that’s holy, my guilt is fortified in
the tub with a freemium app that lets
me collect & feed baby dragons.

So yes, I shaved my head. I’m not
sick. Not taking up robes. I can
blame the grey or say this is a queer
rite, but I’ve wanted this stark bristle,
like pelted startlight, since before anyone
ever called me butch or pretty.

If you’ve got joy in your heart. If your body
is a temple for oats & fruit. If you have
shuddered at the mooring of your vows—Tell me,
sister, what is holier than the press of thumb
to skin? What is holier than your name
bursting up from your own throat?

Pointing at Rainbows

By Sterling Warner


I.      Defiance
Gathering of teenage tribes
marked by unified comradery
& hunger, ready to leave programmed
behavior at home, prepared to explore
slivers of light engulfed by shadows.

II.      Yuber City Nightlife
Glass windows light up
three story tattoo parlors
showcase naked bodies
receiving ink as voyeurs pile
outside Coyote Ugly in Yuber City.

III.      Tabla Raga
Knotted rawhide ankle bracelets
stain lower tibias with tanner’s dye
assume a decorative life of their own
as bare calloused feet strike solid earth
rhythmically, passionately, ritually.

IV.      Trivial Riches
Helicopter bennies, whistling rings,
wind-up toys that walk across tables,
radiant lava lamps that slowly morph
into lumpy designs—ancient treasures
now valued by millennials as garbage.

V.      Dada
Cyberspace speakeasies seethe
sacrilegious images, burlesque
holy scriptures, twist Petrarchan conceits,
champion quixotic adoration,
inform love that costs extra.


By Ingrid Wilson


Lemonade tang
fizz on my tongue
dancing bubbles

Rain rattles glass
or was it the wind’s
cold whispering?

A heart carved into
a wooden chair
denotes a Swiss hotel room

The sky’s on fire
2000m up
above Granada

Four out of five senses fail me
I breathe in the darkness
rich fragrances of you


By Ingrid Wilson


Tin soldiers march
across a field of felt
regimental red, not bleeding

Blue light blooms
a cross upon the crypt wall
grooved columns like some ancient dial

Iron wheels of heavy industry
draw your eye
between the spokes, a flash of orange

I love wallpaper patterned with dancing birds
You say ’s’gone thank goodness
not ’s’goan.’

I walk with my head in the clouds
yet it is you, with eyes close to the ground
who shows me heaven.

Now I Know Why I’ve Always Hated the Tango, yet Loved the Intimacy

for Lisa Glatt and David Hernandez

By Jon Yungkans


1  Veridis
Bougainvillea pushes through a window in a vacant upstairs room,
seeking a white walled, clear-glass sanctuary to call a greenhouse.
Thorns find a toehold on asphalt shingles as if climbing a rock face.
Bracts smile fuchsia anticipation. Maybe they know my childhood—
its purple bracts, thorns, green vines, all drawn against glass panes.

2  Gynophobia
Gorgon’s snakeskin’s rasp, not sexy, goes with serpentine coiffure.
The way men blather, Athena roiled more thundercloud than Zeus
for Medusa’s sex with Poseidon in Athena’s temple. C’mon, guys.
Goddess of wisdom sees torn robes, bruises, abrasions. She knows
who’s the snake, where it slithered, what prey was held in its coils.

3  Aurarius (Gu Guanyen Buddhist Temple, China)
Autumn, the Tree of Longevity carpets ground in twilight-soft gold.
Buddhist monks warmed gingko trees amid Himalayan snowstorms.
Grey-brown trunks thin as sticks share roots. Wind holds its tongue
to keep the air blank and pure as it passes. Silence hangs, the almost-
black plum-ripeness like eyes watching from inside the number zero.

4  Podophilia
Stiletto heels are sexy, painful. Foot binding in China was crippling
but said to be erotic. Is that why gorgons had brazen claws for feet—
to lend a desirable arch between ankle and ground, along with talons
for edge and scare? Like an evangelist who joked his wife’s toenails
could cut steel. Was she wearing Blood of Jesus nail polish that day?

5  Candidus
Green thorns draw me toward white wooden lattice, a porch swing.
Violet bougainvillea bracts poke through it, dangle, sometimes fall.
My great-grandmother smiles, rocks the swing. Doesn’t say a word.
No monster or demon’s red eyes glower or pale or green face scowl,
either inside or around me. Quiet extends its tendrils, shades us both.


Title from the poem “Homecoming” by John Ashbery, in his collection Wakefulness

There Is a Poetry in Mere Existence

By Jon Yungkans


1  Bali’s Abandoned Plane
A Boeing 737 airliner sits beached between limestone cliff and lush rain forest,
like a weathered beer can. Like any good metaphor, no one saw it touch down.
It’s like the plane has been there forever. White cliff wall taller than the plane
echoes macaque monkeys chattering in giant nutmeg trees. Ruddy rubber gum
and pink hibiscus close space between this aluminum monster flower and time.

2  Morning Coffee at My Desk
Fabric remnant of sky, bleaching. Sip trees from a mug. Contemplate a forest.
Darkness down throat consoles as warmth washes down windpipe. into lungs,
redolent with night’s fullness. Solace cracks to a watch-tick, ice which thaws.
Rivulets down the face of the wall clock as I glance into the next room. Clack
of the bathroom door, muffled though sharp as a jail lock. Water through a tap.

3  Fields, Breisgau, Germany (photos by Michael Schlegel)
One bare tree spreads its branches like veins and capillaries into a dense fog—
a fog which passes for the white inside an egg, the tree trunk an avian embryo.
Other bare trees form a horizontal line behind it. Behind this tree line, a road
runs straight as a question for which there is no answer. A matching tree line.
Black ground. And fog, stretching continuous and brittle—a calcium horizon.

4  Vargr
Old Norse for both wolf and exile. Come Ragnarök, Loki’s wolfen son Fenrir
will devour the sun. He will slay Odin, who feeds one wolf. becoming a meal
for another. As a wolf, would I burn crimson and sulfur yellow? Explode? My
brother stalked me, a good wolf, as we grew up and as adults, but it felt more
like I was prey. Why my 20-year exile from him. Do I dare howl at the moon?

5  Phone of the Wind, Port Moody, British Columbia
People hike their sorrow to a phone booth placed in the middle of a pine copse,
hope for evergreen conversations with departed loved ones. Wind grazes limbs
and words intermittent breezes, soft and hesitant, as if pine needles prick them.
Sooner or later, shaded air buzzes, filled with nearly-invisible carpenter bees—
bees which don’t sting, which nest in pairs, black and green as nouns and verbs.


Title taken from the poem “Dangerous Moonlight” by John Ashbery, from his collection Can You Hear, Bird

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Gleam is a journal wholly devoted to the new poetic form, the cadralor, created by Gleam’s founding co-editors, Lori Howe and Christopher Cadra. The cadralor consists of five short, unrelated, highly-visual stanzas.

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If you are interested in submitting your own cadralor poem or if you have questions, you can reach out to our Gleam email. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Meet the Editors

The cadralor was co-created by:
• Lori Howe, Editor in Chief
• Christopher Cadra, Senior Editor

Meet the Editors

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