Photography © Edward S. Gault


Burning Blue
          The flame of the setting sun cannot turn her distress
          Into smoke rising from the embers—Li Jinfa
          translated by Michelle Yeh

These are not droplets of sweet candied hearts
falling softly as red rose petals into spoonfuls
of brightly stirred coals of simmering love.
These are blood splatterings on brain’s coiled
walls from bullets of machine gun’s verbal
assaults. Slanderous, belittling, repeatedly
attacking his victim in drive-by shoutings:
rat-tat-tattering, gunning holes into perforated
paper thoughts. Black holes spiraling inward
as whirlpool implosions, as darkness. Hazardous
enclosure of a tortured soul chained to demonic
powers; & for no other reason than that her timing
was way off. She showed up too early to innocently
audition for a role, which casted her as a low self-
esteem woman seeking marital protection. Flirting
dangerously with Jekyll before evil Hyde showed
his murderous powers. Loops of rings on fire
she was forced to jump through, as part of an act,
an endless circus routine. Show after freaked-
out show. Omission of light. Master of Ceremony’s
evil tricks caging her creativity behind his insanity
within the locked vaults of his corrupt & deviant
mind. His tongue of hell-fire, full of flame thrower
words burned beneath his headstrong hate, ablaze.
Now she is free. Iced over traumatized caverns
remain deeply buried within. A blue woman’s
reaching fingertips cannot always touch prayers
inner lining of protection or climb out of memories’
pagan swamp. A few lingering embers will never
turn into smoke & her feet may not always
sidestep the remaining cerebral landmines
like syntax of words rearranged, disorderly, festering
that cross over synapses & an involuntary ignition
of an explosive thought might happen. Though now,
she is better at overstepping disasters. She has allowed
herself to die in a thousand explosive pieces,
to die to a past that no longer exists. She has learned
how to grow as a silver magnolia into new-found silence.
Even takes notice of an ancient multi-generational
graveyard sloped on a dying hillside, where his family’s
names on headstones have sunk, only scarring traces remain.


Morning Glory Blues

Mozart’s requiem could have been
playing through the cathedral of air
during a dream she once dreamt,
(married then).

Their eyes fixed upon naiveté,
as specters /spectators,
the two of them were the only
audience in attendance.

They unfolded,
folding chairs & sat
& watched what could have been
a time-lapsed morning-glory’s bloom:

          She, a lone performer
          long brown hair, unloosened
          glassy flowing folds of transparent
          gown softly blowing in tiers

Her dazed & weighted thoughts
heavier than a steamer trunk—
readying flight to leave?
And there was nothing
either one of them could do, but watch:

          Her younger dreamt-self
          steps off cliff’s edge
          into a graceful swan dive
          & sails lightly as snow falling
          beneath commuter tracks

not crashing, but free-falling
beneath dreamt vision—
we did not see death—
yet we knew, this, her
dream passage through.


Divorce Blues

Two hawks fought for decades,
squawking so loudly car’s windshield
shattered as if struck by an ax.
Words’ brutal beatings as if pecking
holes into each other’s breast.

Hearts’ time-bombs beating rapidly
yet refusing the possibility
of their own detonation. Then,
silenced by an inner unfolding,
her flight out silently averted death.

And almost miraculously
the attacks stopped
like the unpredictable end
of a thunder & lightning storm.
Neither one struck by a haywire bolt.

Beneath razor-sharp talons, each
of them finally sensing earth’s
titled rotation & the perception that
something seemingly deeper askew,
simply flew away from the other.



Diane Sahms is the author of a chapbook and five full-length poetry collections, most recently City of Shadow & Light (Philadelphia), Alien Buddha Press, 2022. Published in North American Review, Sequestrum Journal of Literature & Arts, Brushfire Literature & Arts Journal, The Northern Virginia Review, POEMS-FOR-ALL, The Philadelphia Inquirer, among others, with poems forthcoming from Valley Voices. Former high school English teacher, she teleworks full time as a buyer and is poetry editor at North of Oxford.

Edward S. Gault is a poet and fine art photographer. He lives at Mosaic Commons, a co-housing community in Berlin, Massachusetts.