Autumn 2014 Showcase

snoek-rougarouTake it from a Buddhist: this is an odd bit of Zen. And only a few of these short poems adhere to anything like the traditional haiku form. But, as in meditation, sometimes we just need room to breathe, and these poems and images are wonderful reminders of the breath.

As the leaves begin to fall and the trees go bare — as the weather cools and the sky grays under a gauze of cloud — as the grasses dry and become brittle — these poems and photos begin to look inward, to draw the curtains and consider the coming of winter. And yet there is a bounty here, a harvest of emotion and intellect. The cornucopia is spare, but then so is Zen, and we find serenity in such starkness and silence.

So I hope you will enjoy these poems, and may the turning colors of your autumn lives signal bright moonlit nights and clean, crisp air.

Sam Snoek-Brown
guest editor
the zen space



Brianna Pike


Mortals Picking Apples Among the Wasps

Wasps feast along the cut path, a buzzing minefield gorging, smothering
trembling bodies in disintegrated fruit. The trees are on fire, branches

bending, fingers carelessly, grasp, twist to tear
stems from cracked limbs that shudder in separation.

The air stinks of hot vinegar and if apples fall, we leave them, crushing
wasp and fruit flesh into dirt, arrogant in our knowledge that both will return.

We pillage for Prometheus who stole flame, who taught us only to take
Fall’s bounty until the fire in the trees goes out.



A delicate map sprawls across
the underbelly of a mayfly wing.
This strange creature clings
to a stalk of grass, its translucent
body bearing elegant
lines, vessels full of air.

The Greeks named them first,
short lived, perhaps that is why
they choose to hover over
water, so that in death they would be cleansed,
blanketing the earth with silken wings.



My mother believes she can resurrect
the dead from beneath thick beds
of snow. She wanders among the deep drifts
her fingers caressing wet remains that slip
through, and sink deep beneath her feet.

Indoors, my mother leans, hip half cocked,
against our kitchen counter, leaking tears,
her own brand of holy water. Various
voices murmur from all sides, but she does
not hear them, just slow steady quiet falling.



Bill Roorbach



Japanese, invasive, but beautiful  That's my haiku.

Japanese, invasive, but beautiful That’s my haiku.


The compost pile in November

The compost pile in November





Jessica Plante


To the finches in Terminal D
I leave good aim. To the lightbulb
I leave the slats of the louvered door.
To the ocean I leave confession;
To the confessing man I leave the waves.


outside the window
the wren calls out her longing
a quiet embrace



Dena Rash Guzman


My Dentist Has Been to India 

“Isn’t nitrous the best thing? There are layers to this world, Dena. Layers. Like an onion. Like a fucking onion, Dena.”


Don’t Worry About Me 

I will be ok, I’m sure. That or I’ll die,
but probably eventually I’ll die,
so I mean what can you do
but try to make it up until that point.



Bill Yarrow



The tin roofs of the blue banks have been pockmarked by hail.
The squirrels will not stop peeing on the trees.
I’m still alive in the flatlands of Dixon.

The raw cost of loss.
The past recuses the sutures of the future.
I’m still alive in the flatlands of Dixon.

I saw a film composed entirely of jump cuts.
The fallow ballot has been cast.
I’m still alive in the flatlands of Dixon.


* “I’m still alive in the flatlands of Dixon” comes from an autobiographical entry in R. Crumb Sketchbook, by Robert Crumb. Volume 10 (June 1975 – Feb. 1977). Seattle: Fantagraphics Books, 2004. NP.



love weaves a perforated web
between the spikes
of longing

testy liquor goes to bed
next to a soft nest
of wasps

God in his infinite wisdom
rescinds the free will
of dogs



Wendy Ellis


There is just one thing
In the morning, rising light
Changing like the pitch

Of the crickets, grasshoppers
Their staccato call to arms
To love or to limit

And just so the way bird
Song stops and the calling
Crows are silenced and

Rise up startled alarm
All resistance and flight as
An eagle streams across fields

Intent, incautious, direct
To land as it always does with
An updraft, silently on the outstretched

Arm of the brittle, hilltop locust tree
Wreathed today in crimsoning vines
The crows circle back, return

Chide, deride, beggar the eagle
Which remains and is both
Impervious and imperious



Isabella Petty



Bella 1


Bella 2


Bella 3




Natalie Giarratano


Music thick with mud
and sweat: poultice for souls
at the bottom. Scrounge.
(Wait for the river.)


In order to find the language
of all things we must walk
down the street, not be so
busy eating our hearts out
in the marketplace.


Sometimes: funk in the blood-
stream or an ache that cracks
our plastic hearts; sometimes:
faces heavy with song after rain.


We must understand the soft
secret code tapped out like paper
cups clinking along cement. Share
memories of bombs in our bodies
waking and killing and creating
a cancer. (While the pines
whisper to Jesus.)


When there’s no god to make flesh,
how a woman can marquee a feeling
that is the last minute of earth.



Christian Anton Gerard


Defense Prayer
— After Adrienne Rich

Maker, I’ve been thinking of poems
as riddles. The voices you’ve made

whisper a geography. I pray for
a cartography through the silences,

through the question “How do I exist?”
If there’s a poetry where this could happen

let me listen in in all directions. If
there’s a poetry where this could happen

bring its writers to me, not as blank spaces,
or whispers, but words stretched like skin

over meanings, but as silence falls
at the end of a night through which two people

have talked till dawn, have said, Let verse be
verse. Let what’s said make sense, let

the Muse say fool look in thy heart and write,
let what’s said be our poetry’s defense.


christian 1


Sam Snoek-Brown, our Guest Editor for this showcase, lives in Portland, Oregon. Apart from being an author – his excellent novel Hagridden has recently been published – he teaches creative writing at Pacific Northwest College of Art and elsewhere. His web site is here.

Brianna Pike
lives and works as a professor in Indianapolis. She earned her MFA from Murray State University.

Jessica Plante
is former poetry editor of The Greensboro Review and a board member of Anhinga Press with work published or forthcoming in American Poetry journal, Crab Orchard Review, Salamander and others.

Bill Yarrow
, invisible outside of social media, lives a haiku life outside of Chicago.

Natalie Giarratano
’s first collection of poems, Leaving Clean, won the 2013 Liam Rector First Book Prize in Poetry (Briery Creek Press, 2013). Recent poems appear in Gulf Stream: Poems of the Gulf CoastTupelo QuarterlyTYPO, and Best New Poets, among others. She co-edits Pilot Light, an online journal of 21st century poetics and criticism, and she teaches writing at American University.

Christian Anton Gerard
’s first book of poems is Wilmot Here, Collect For Stella. He has received Pushcart Prize nominations, scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and an Academy of American Poets Prize. He lives in Fort Smith, AR, with his wife and son.



News in brief


the zen space has learned, with regret of the death of Martin Lucas, haijin and editor of the haiku journal Presence. Our sympathy to his family and friends.


The 12th issue of A Hundred Gourds is now available here.


Madhuri Maitra announces a new web site with an invitation to contribute to the Poetry Café.


Last but by no means least, issue 14 of Shot Glass Journal, the on-line journal of short poetry, is available here.



The next Showcase at the zen space will Winter 2015 which will be released, subject to karma, on 1st January 2015.

Please note that the copyright of all written work and images used in this Showcase and elsewhere in the zen space is held by the creating author/artist, even when not explicitly stated, and may not be used elsewhere without permission.


4 thoughts on “Autumn 2014 Showcase

  1. […] guest-edited the Autumn Showcase of the Zen Space, a zen- and haiku-themed poetry magazine […]

  2. My first visit… and richly pleasant indeed.

  3. […] and a trio of poems (this one, and these, if I remember right; I might also have shared one of these) by my friend Brianna Pike. My students loved the work — a few students interested in […]

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