Winter 2018 Showcase

We’re at the start of another year, and that seems like a good moment to review how things have been going. This is the twenty-sixth time that the zen space has been published. When I first donned the editor’s hat I had no idea whether it would last more then a handful of issues. It wasn’t my first editorial job, but it was the first time I had ever sat in the Big Chair; before then I had only been an assistant editor – hard enough work, but not the top job. I know I’ve said this before, but I’m amazed and very pleased that you have all hopped on board and stayed along for the ride.

We have attracted a cohort of regular contributors, and though as editor I wouldn’t like this to seem like an exclusive club, it is good to know that you ‘regulars’ have been encouraged to keep working at these short poetic forms. But also I’m always especially pleased to see new names coming along. Your presence attracts new readers, and in turn even more new contributors.

If you read the submission guidelines here, you’ll see that one way I encourage people to keep writing is the policy of never turning a submission down flat. Rather, I ‘bank’ any work I don’t immediately pick for the forthcoming Showcase. Now, it has been pointed out to me by a regular contributor (to whom I am very grateful) that this policy is not without its drawbacks. I can build up a large reservoir of material, and inevitably it will be largely composed of people who have established a presence at the zen space. I would be the first to admit that it might lie there untouched for quite some time, as I give precedent to first-timers. If I am holding on to anything of yours and you want to try to submit it 200 girlsomewhere else, or to withdraw it for any reason at all, please email me and let me know. Also, if you are making a submission and want to specify a ‘use by’ date, after which you don’t want me to keep something, let me know at the time of submission. And of course if you have any ideas at all for improving the system, or suggestions about future themes, or anything at all, again please let me know.

On to this Showcase. I have some interesting things to share with you. Some people have written on the green/yellow theme, others have not. Illustrations this time come from the amazing Millie Ho, and as often is the case here they have nothing to do with any supposed theme! They are here because they catch the eye and make you catch your breath.

Enough from me – on with the Showcase.

Marie Marshall, editor, the zen space.


Michael Kozubek


parachutes float
in the water
sea jellies

 in her whisper
a crack
of an eggshell

in from the cold
at the hot stove
……socks steam


despite the chill  trillium


at her bedside
the tight skein


despite the frost   forsythia


old hat
I misplace
my sense of wonder

*580 Cooking-For-Bae-Illustration-by-Millie-Ho

Sondra Byrnes


dharma talk—
cloud wisps glaze
the full moon


first snow
pigeons cakewalk
the park


deep wrinkles
in the face of an elder—
becoming dusk


quartz crystals
in the welcome mat
our glacial drift


evening prayer—
the interlaced fingers
of sunset


snow on the mountains—
we slip into one another’s

*580 Fear-of-Forgetting-Art-by-Millie-Ho

Ashish Narain


a bee
on the swaying leaf
some dew


half kissed
by the winter sun


long summer…
two yellow tulips
amidst the weed


he slowly
loses the battle…
new paddy


trees stir
……in the west wind
each their way


blazing today
outside my window
laburnum blooms


some sun–
a remainder of the rain
slips off a leaf

*580 I-Dont-Summon-You-Usually-Art-by-Millie-Ho

Rachel Sutcliffe


1 winter fields
the last blades
of green

2 towpath mist
emerging from it
a bright yellow barge

3 green fingers
hand in hand
love grows

4 high above
the fallen leaves
a child’s yellow kite

5 last journal
the yellowed pages
full of life

6 under a blanket
of soft green moss
the child’s headstone

*580 Purge-Surreal-Cat-Art-by-Millie-Ho

Gabriel Bates


shafts of sunlight   in my bedroom
the crescendo   of Chopin


red dirt road
what is and is not
in my blood


winding road
this trip
to inner peace


ancient cave wall   I write
our initials   next to a crude heart


another stick thrown
in the bonfire
our inner love life


new house
a train shakes the floor
I sleep on


David Somerset


Camera Obscura

day in fog and rain

low light colors bleach away

cloud blankets sunlight sleeping

this is my life, this very day

impermanent obscured gray

*580 Simple-Misunderstanding-Art-by-Millie-Ho

Michael Ball


Does the wind, wave or river

Also believe

It can choose

Force and direction


I wish!

The emptiness to be empty

So that I may fill it with my desires

That know not their outcomes

And therefore become the emptiness I seek to fill


The ego’s sorrow


It does not remember


And therefore worries about



The desert sun bakes, soaks

The skin with warmth, heat

That you cannot carry

To the cold


The ego says

“Better to keep the eyes shut and believe all is light,

than to open them and see vast emptiness”

The heart only knows

The emptiness is home

*580 Tried-So-Hard-To-Love-You-Illustration-by-Millie-Ho

Matthew Caretti



The emails still arrive. From some distant land. Solicitations. Celebrations. An invitation. A gathering before the home opener. Fallen leaves and old friends. All on the lawn of the new president. But the place and the season and that game nearly forgotten here in Africa’s warm heart. Yet some half-life of memory. The occasional reminder.

tattered shirt
below the orphan’s smile
my alma mater


Gone Beyond

It’s all part of the training. Finding a way to the Other Side. Fasting. A day. Then two. Instead of taking in I move out onto unknown paths. Break into a trot. Lose my self somewhere in a great forest. Find utter exhaustion. Just to test the body. Take it into some outer realm. See if the spirit will follow. Even the Buddha pressed up against his limits before teaching the Middle Way.

pine cone bed
the ragged edge
of my being



We are out for a drink after the concert. Ears still abuzz. Expecting some residual euphoria, I find instead deep musing. She wonders about the artist. About talent. Purpose. Meaning.

She asks me, How did he ever come to believe he had something worthwhile to offer? To know he could so inspire others?

I stare at my glass. Half empty. Half full. What can I say? Only some have the capacity to sing with the Muse. To conjure a note on the far side of full.

one hand clapping
sound of small prayers
stuck in the rafters

*580 Girlhood-Illustration-by-Millie-Ho

Lize Bard


for years I was blind
today I saw it clearly
love-light in your eyes


always something new
as we delve into the past
there is nothing new


breathing through phases
we wax and wane like the moon
in our affection


this companionship
caught in perfect silences
so easily shared


climbing this mountain
which is living in my mind
I will reach the top


sometimes in a dream
even though it’s not often
I dream myself free



Whenever you get in touch with any of the people or publications in the news, please mention that you were alerted to them by the zen space. Thank you.


Syllables of Rain by D.S. Lliteras is a story about two friends on a Zen Buddhist, spiritual journey as they also struggle to claim a future with the women they love. This is a poetic novel written in a literary style akin to the Japanese haibun. In each of the sixty-four chapters, a portion of the story is revealed through a heightened prose, which ends with a four-line capping verse. These skillfully linked chapters form a profound and eloquent book.

Syllables of Rain is available through, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, Independent Bookstores, numerous online websites, and at Public Libraries.


Amongst the fine publishers and publications that we get notification about, but which are out-of-phase with the publication dates of the zen space, are Haibun Today and Muse Pie Press. One of these days the editor here at the zen space will actually take a long tour – rather than a quick visit – at each place and report back at some detail. But for now, please do check them out.

580 Let-Me-Eat-Ramen-Ramen-Art-Illustration-by-Millie-Ho

The next Showcase at the zen space will be Spring 2018 which will be released, subject to karma, on 1st April 2018.

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.


One thought on “Winter 2018 Showcase

  1. […] she produces an e-zine called the zen space, which features haiku and other short forms of poetry. The Winter 2018 Showcase there has just been published, and is full of wordsmithery from all over the […]

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