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miller's pond

Winter 2018

John Grey Cleo Griffith Mark Senkus Margarita Serafimova James B. Nicola
Pratibha Kelapure Richard Carl Subber Daniel G. Snethen Gregory E. Lucas John Zedolik
Fariel Shafee Howard F. Stein

Howard F. Stein

View from a Spire, Ghost Ranch, NM

Tall spires preside over
a high desert valley –
witness fierce storms
rage their way through canyons,
stand watch over windless winter nights
in the glow of the Milky Way.
They observe seasons take their turn
as earth encircles the sun,
and embed millions of years
in their sandstone strata.
Topped by basalt capstone,
chiseled by erosion,
these spires will one day tell stories
of our time in their midst.
They will capture our tracks
in their solidified mud.
Spires may be made of rock,
but they are not mute.


The Gift, Ghost Ranch, NM    

Surrounded by the bowl
of mesas in the mountain valley
here below,
and the bowl of sun, moon,
planets, stars, and galaxies
far above,
my eyes join
Heaven and Earth
into a single sphere –
a gift that surpasses
anything I could think
to ask for.
Sometimes grace comes in
the most unexpected shapes.

Howard F. Stein is professor emeritus in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK, USA, where he taught for nearly 35 years. He is author of thirty books, of which nine are of poetry. The second edition of Listening Deeply was released in spring 2017. His most recent poetry book, Light and Shadow, was published in late 2016.

Mark Senkus


I am running late
but I pause on the slow road
by the cemetery
listen to the silence of
death to which all but a few
birds give respect
beyond the birdsong
the silence is tall
it waits in its days and years
it waits for us
our footprints grow lighter
upon the earth as
the earth grows heavier
gravestones converse amongst
a soundless language
the wind blows by like a finger
pointing the wrong way.


sky twisting to wring out
the clouds
their tears shimmying
like bells on a dark horizon
a lone gull flying head into the wind
wings like a woman’s tousled hair
trees whispering from the roots of
their leaves more
green treetops sweeping at
grey clouds as they pass
like lost words
on the tips of tongues
puddles having grown into long mirrors
falling flat against the mud
in them reflected the confusion
of a world.


our damp breath
slides off
like a blanket
falling from the bed
it slips away noticed
only in that moment
our eyes open slowly
like puddles
forming in rain
in the front yard
the darkness of
a ninebark shrub
deep at its center
hides a sparrow
like a pulse in
its chest
our hearts steadied
like brandied cherries
swimming through a jar
warm in the kitchen
in the sun at the window.

Mark Senkus lives in Michigan's Upper Peninsula in proximity to a forest known as the Delirium Wilderness.  He is slated to appear in Poetry Pacific, Ristau Journal, and Chiron Review.  Senkus holds a Master of Social Work degree and is employed as a psychotherapist with a Native American tribe.

Gregory E. Lucas

The Widow in the Manor

As an Adirondack evening nears its end,
behind the silhouetted Sentinel Range
a pastel sun sets in wintry October air,
and in Birch Knoll Manor sepulchral silence drifts
on currents colder than the Ausable’s depths.
Like autumn leaves they swirl on the stair’s curves,
announce her fears of constant loneliness
to the stark stillness that lingers in the den.
With trembling gnarled hands, she pats the urn
that holds her husband’s one-week-old remains.
The wind’s too weak to shake the window panes,
and the nearby brook has a flow too soft to hear.
Her world seems gathered into somber pools
of sustained silence spread throughout the room.
She sets her loved-one down onto the mantle,
shuffles through the foyer to the door
she left ajar, and in the leaden sky
two deer that graze in the meadow stand still
and stare at her with understanding eyes.
They blink, then dash into mysterious shades.
Unseen above the peaks some geese fly by,
their plaintive calls diminishing, then gone.
The twilight turns to night and the wind dies.
The only sound -- her husband’s whispered name,
uttered to the manor’s everlasting hush.

Gregory E. Lucas writes poetry and fiction.  His poems have appeared in The Lyric, Blueline, Literary Juice, and in other magazines.  His short stories have appeared in Bewildering Stories, Pif, Blueline, The New Press, The Horror Zine, and in other magazines.

Daniel G. Snethen

Bush Meat

Muddy lumber roads meander
through the Cameroon rain-forest.
Beneath the cloak of fog and night
poachers travel  twisted trails.
Listen to the gorilla when it cries.
Hear the grinding of gears,
the whining of engines,
see the blinding  halogen beams
as jeeps wind deeper into the night.
Listen to the gorilla when it cries.
Trespass on the land of the Baka,
Pygmy inhabitants since near Neolithic time.
Trespass on the land of the gorilla,
anthropoidal inhabitants since prehistoric time.
Listen to the gorilla when it cries.
Frightened and blinded by halogen lights,
Listen to the gorillas when they cry,
Listen to curses of the mighty poachers,
Listen to the roar of their mighty rifles.
Listen to the gorilla when it cries.
Listen to the buyers when they buy.
Listen to the logging companies when they lie.
Listen to the Yaounde diners when they dine.
Listen to the Baka Pygmies when they cry.
Listen to the gorillas when they die.

Bush Meat was published in Four Quarters to a Section as part of inclusion in a chapbook featuring 4 SD poets. It was also published in an issue of Dark Gothic Resurrected.

A Pigeon Died Today

The bag lady
sat on the park bench
feeding breadcrumbs
with her tobacco-stained fingers
to metropolitan rock-doves.
The President
made more empty promises
and Keystone continued crawling
across the Upper Midwest.
The drought worsened,
cattle starved
and hamburger, the poor man’s steak,
cost $4.47 a pound.
The water war
had yet to begin
but pollution
grew exponentially.
A colorless, odorless smog
descended upon the world
and humanity remained complacent,
each person consumed
with self-preservation.
All the warning signs as apparent
as a purloined letter,
yet no-one understood.
Except, perhaps, the homeless lady
with tobacco-stained fingers
who dried her tears
with a soiled, ragged sock.
A pigeon died today.

A Pigeon Died Today was published by Scurfpea Publishing and in Dark Gothic Resurrected.

Daniel is a naturalist, educator and poet from South Dakota. He serves as the Vice-President of the SD State Poetry Society and has had several poems published in both print and on-line journals.

Richard Carl Subber

Walk this way

The familiar path invites me, always in a new way.
I forget so much each time I turn for home.
Today this wood is a full mystery again,
full canopy shelters full magic for the wanderer,
warms an alchemy in me, my steps and pace precess,
becoming dance, my breath becoming breeze,
my sight becoming rays brightening all
that stretches for sun in the umbra moving with me, pausing with me.
The routine of life is a guise for the wonder of growth
and the resurging energy to sprout anew in mouldy places.
The small deaths are symbiotic in so many ways,
the round of living and dying is danse macabre for insect, bird and beast.
The gush of spring is a greening tarantella,
all speed, all blossom, all scented marvel—
the hush of autumn is danse minuet,
all languor, all afterlife of color, all bending toward earth.
I know my place, my purpose, my delight.
I am another life in this calm living forest.
I do not take root, I am not a caretaker, I do not give or take life,
I do not die and rise again in the turn of seasons.
I am a walker, a watcher, a singer of forest songs.
“Walk this way” was published in:
The Aurorean and The Four Elements: Effects and Influences

Rick Subber is a freelance copy editor, a writing mentor, and a historian. Rick’s first book of poetry, Writing Rainbows: Poems for Grown-Ups, is available on Amazon. His poetry has been published in the AuroreanThe Four Elements: Effects and Influences (anthology published by the Poets Collective, available on Amazon), The Australia Times Poetry, and elsewhere. His website is

Margarita Serafimova

A golden woman spoke to me,
and let me know clearly that I was desired.
It was a moment that lasted.
The beating sea.
A drum of the
Like golden leaves,
my thoughts of you stir and settle
in my mind.

The great mountains are standing
in blue and in snow,
and within me, there is a flaming heart.

Margarita Serafimova was shortlisted for the Montreal International Poetry Prize 2017. She has two collections in the Bulgarian: "Animals and Other Gods" (2016), "Demons and World" (2017). Her work is forthcoming in multiple journals including Agenda, Trafika EuropePoetic Diversity, and Outlaw Poetry. Some of her work:

Cleo Griffith

Here Where The Voices Are Silent

Here where the voices are silent,
when the hard time hand will drop,
we face a future of turmoil and trouble
still longing for yesterday’s calm.
Here in the face of sun’s garish disk
where the future is fretfully stashed,
we repeat the words of security,
requesting our past’s cool balm.
But today is only one incident,
only one phase of destruct.
We cannot escape our joint destiny,
so we stand up, laugh, against each shake and qualm.

When Did the Broken

When did the broken become your new normal,
how did the sad songs become uppermost?
Your words are all scattershot, no longer formal --
when did the broken become your new normal
your morning arias become something mournful,
youthful optimism only a ghost?
When did the broken become your new normal,
how did the sad songs become uppermost?

Cleo Griffith was Chair of the Editorial Board of Song of the San Joaquin for its first twelve years and remains on the Board. Widely published, she lives in Salida, CA with her husband Tom, and their tabby, Tank.

Pratibha Kelapure

The Night of Reprieve

The autumn sun has softened in the sky
A few orange leaves still hang on the bough
Crimson on the horizon lingers for a while
Teal gray of dusk slithers behind the tree
When spirits arrive sprinting on the street
The ghosts and ghouls giggle in delight
A sullen neighbor suddenly comes to life
Charms the kids and feigns a fright
With a sleight of the hand, he pushes a button
Screaming and moaning pierce the evening air
Ghostly shadows fly across the wall trying to scare
A little trick first before the treat, isn’t it fair?
Harshness of summer is left behind
The tyranny of daylight and adult duties
Seems a little less exacting in twilight
Quilt of autumn air wraps us in comfort
Donning an outlandish costume doesn't feel silly
Confronting evil and degenerate with smile
Does it rid the world of fear, perhaps?
Maybe it eases bearing one's own failings
Even if we roam the world like Jack
Carrying our lantern looking for reprieve

Pratibha Kelapure studied English Literature at SNDT University in Mumbai, India. Her poems appear in The Lake, One Sentence Poems, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine,  Letters to the World: Poems from the Wom-Po Listserv, and others.

John Zedolik

Secret Names of Snowfalls                  

Snows must have fallen when these woods
had been cleared for the stone fences
that once used to rise softly, grayly
from the floor of old leaves and cast-off
branches before they razed it for houses
and cul-de-sacs so alike as to be hardly
worthy of a name—and where my father
once killed and dragged out a buck
by himself in certainly an individual act
worth mentioning among the constructions
now and gone and the older unconstructions
of oak, sassafras, and pine. But I cannot name
the snows of hundreds, thousands of years ago
melted into the earth, evaporated into the air
that fell and rested upon the limbs, the whitetail,
the row of rough but neat stone let alone those
in my winters that will fall down on these repeating
roofs, casting a coating more notable than these cubes
collapsing in continuing anonymity through every precipitation
soaking the soil in singularity I wish to separate, designate
one by one by one by one.   

Prior to numerous poems forthcoming this year and next, John Zedolik has had poems published in such journals as The Alembic, Ascent Aspirations (CAN), The Chaffin Journal and others. His iPhone is now his primary poetry notebook, and  he hopes his use of technology in regard to this ancient art form continues to be fruitful.

Fariel Shafee

The Separation

In the frosty
eve of renewal, I glimpse astern at
that shallow creek by the
jungle veins,

the setting sun had

dithered, and where doubts had


through eons, so we

ceased to swim in lucid hope, and
North and South


disparate poles.

The author has degrees in science, but enjoys writing and art.  She has published prose and poetry in DecomP, SciFan, Ygdrasil, Half Way Down the Stairs and others.

James B. Nicola

The Tipping Point

The loving nip will flash into a bite,
the kneading to a disciplining scratch
as the sharpness of remonstrations turns
to coos and purrs—with mentors, acolytes,
siblings, spouses, imminent lovers,
kittens, puppies, God. What makes them turn?
If there’s a tipping point in the beautiful
that makes one fall down one slope or the other
does it occur in subject or in object,
in dog, cat, God, or in the adoration?
* * *
I see a difference now behind your eyes.
The rest seems just as pleasant, although grayer,
but I no longer recognize the soul.
Was I the one who tipped, or turned? and when?
Do I see clearer now? Or was it you?
A cloud can build up, readying to burst,
but blow away before a single tear.
Go now, if you’d avoid a scratch, a bite.
* * *
I passed the city pound this afternoon
and heard the orphans barking, said a prayer
for those without a home, went in,
got scratched. You're right, I must be rough.
On my way home, the sky was thickening,
fast, with a temper. I ran, got home safe,
and from my medicine chest took out a tube,
washed, dried and salved the scars, and laid on strips
to curb infection. I still feel a sting
but should feel better soon, at some point,
maybe with the rain, if it would rain.
James B. Nicola's poems have appeared in miller’s pond, the Antioch, Southwest and Atlanta Reviews, Rattle,and Poetry East. His nonfiction book, Playing the Audience, won a Choice award. His poetry collections are Manhattan Plaza, Stage to Page: Poems from the Theater, and Wind in the Cave.

John Grey


There are moments when we plainly do not understand each other.
Like when you press the butt of that Remington 700 rifle to your chest.
Then you are dark, impenetrable and far, far away.
But that trigger finger, the dead eye, accommodates your calling
as pen and paper, brush and canvas might have
if something within you had been forged differently.
But since I don’t understand why I’m who I am,
I can’t really point to any one place within me
that set me off on my path and not the one you’ve chosen.
So go on, hunt your buck, bring back its antlers.
I’ll compose something along much different lines.
We’re different people. Your kills are neither
aesthetic, nor rhythmic. This poem was written not shot.


Today, I’d shrink down in my seat
but, twenty years ago,
when the magician asked for a volunteer,
my hand was raised the highest.
I know now that conjuring is mere trickery.
But I was then at the peak
of my suspension in disbelief.
So I swatted the air
around his table
to make sure there were
no strings attached.
I peeked inside his hat.
No rabbits.
I ran my fingers up and down
the walls of the cabinet.
No secret doors.
But everyone older was a magician then,
my father most of all.
He could turn silk scarves into floral bouquets,
water into confetti.
I had no clue how it was done.
Today, I’d merely say,
sorry dad but you can’t fool me.
Like I can see the seams
in the magician’s supposed seamless performance.
I just have no wish
to pick a card, any card.
I know how it works.
I even keep a pack handy myself.


The male lion chills, his huge mane
bristling proudly in the savannah breeze,
while his females are off hunting.
Lesser males skirt the perimeter
of the lush spring grasses.
They can only dream.

A world where the few have much too much
and the rest are left to feed on the scraps
is not unknown to me.
I've seen the dominant male
in various clubs and fancy restaurants around town.
Of course, the females don't drag raw meat
onto his plate for his dining pleasure.
They're the raw meat.

I envy him without particularly wanting to be him.
One of everything is fine with me.
And I'd be happy if the graceful impala
were allowed to live.

But the mean is disparaged.
Inequality amounts to natural selection in these parts.
Try to be ordinary and the alpha
will rob you from afar
and the zeta with a gun in your gut.

Even that impala,
while wondering if it will be next
on the lion's menu
lives in a herd
with one dominant male
and a bunch of kowtowing females.

In the wild,
you are what you eat
and you are what eats you.
In the city,
you're the analogies you dwell on.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly