Upon My Unconditional Surrender

Defiant no longer, I collapse
outside the huge hall of mirrors
in a chasm and listen for fiery
summer gardens to melt away.
I listen to what the water is biting.
It’s teaching me to sleep in a tree
while children rise through the clouds.
Now I feel like a ghost ripped
from the head of a dark horse.
I’m left to ponder, once again,
why the fence never ends
around a skeptic. A plausible
theory is that the gatekeeper
feasts on the dreams of the poor.
This isn’t about nostalgia, it’s about
firing on all sensory cylinders.
It’s about being lost in the moment
like a rabbit on the snow.
Who will be rescued? Who’s
watching a roof in the rain?
Feeling at a loss, I investigate
the dark days of January
where devastation lives
as some student who swipes
food from a psychiatrist.
I scan the islands in a frenzy
for hungry ravens but can’t escape
their ivy-covered walls. What now?
Should I grab a plum and dance
in the Black Forest? Yes or no?
I push a horizon a heartbeat away,
dreaming about fish woven
into every crevice of a church.
Sore neck and all, I belong
to the wilderness and the seductive
mythology of its brightest stars.

Cliff Saunders’ poems have appeared recently in Connecticut River Review, Five 2 One, Avatar Review, Smoky Blue Literary and Arts Magazine, and Whale Road Review. He lives in Myrtle Beach, where he works as a freelance writer.

Jennifer Matthews’ poetry has been published in Nepal by Pen Himalaya and locally by the Wilderness Retreat Writers Organization, Midway Journal, The Somerville Times, Ibbetson Street Press and Boston Girl Guide. Jennifer was nominated for a poetry award by the Cambridge Arts Council for her book of Poetry Fairy Tales and Misdemeanors. Her songs have been released nationally and internationally and her photography has been used as covers for a number of Ibbetson Street Press poetry books and has been exhibited at The Middle East Restaurant, 1369 Coffeehouses, Sound Bites Restaurant in Somerville and McLean Hospital.