poem and art by Julianza Shavin
For a breath of air,
I opened the back door
to see that a giant swan
had descended to our grounds,
a last winter together.
I got up later and saw it still there,
a dumb and beauteous thing,
my wishing for a gray day
so thick and congealed,
nothing could slice it,
except, perhaps, another swan
come to shelter the first with mighty wings,
shutting all down for the day.
I resumed my dark vigil,
pondering dubious futures
and great swans
still and blithely shimmering
beneath the brave and believing trees.
Raised in Georgia, and a graduate of UNC/Chapel Hill and Emory University, Julianza (Julie) Shavin is a writer and visual artist who adopted the Rocky Mountains as home in 1993. Pikes Peak Arts Council has conferred upon her its annual Performance Poet and Page Poet awards; she also has many honors through The National Federation of State Poetry Societies. Her fifth book, “Closet Optimist's Creed,” is scheduled for summer 2017. She serves as President of Poetry West (www.poetrywest.net) and her artwork has appeared most recently on The New England Review website.
by David Rodriguez
art by Clinton Van Inman
On the lake, downslope of the levee,
The old pin oaks shake
One needle, two, tinkling
At two kids barefoot in
Oil-sheen. They pause for the
Ankle-break bend of a sloop
Angling toward infinity
Through the purling water.
It’s another world
On board, Dom Perignon,
A kind of bikini soon abandoned,
LeRoux grooving from the radio.
A long wispy trail of sky
Denuded by this version of fun.
They skim to their home, to bed
Dropping oil and the lake
Until a sizzle, meat, the smell of a fry
Ghosting through the room
And argosies of potato splitting oil,
Rippling old gold, clasped in their mother’s
Wilt-white tongs like mermaids removed from the sea.
David Rodriguez is a writer and teacher based in New Orleans with
an MFA from Florida State University. He has previously been published
in The New Orleans Review, The Southeast Review, and The Double Dealer
Redux, among other places.
Clinton Van Inman grew up in North Carolina, graduated from San Diego State University in 1977, taught in South Carolina and is currently a high school teacher in Tampa Bay where he lives in Sun City Center, Florida with his wife, Elba.
by Sammy Parker
The wind had calmed, but
snow filled the morning
with a still, full-white density.
Nothing moved or dared move--
except his dad, who said
through slow steam off hot coffee,
Get the warm stuff on; we’ll go
to the lake.
Didn’t know what to think of that
on a bitter, cold Saturday,
nothing moving or daring to move.
its water was blue-green
in mountain summers
algae tinted on the back western edge
warm and clean and
just deep enough on the front eastern edge
crisscrossed wooden walkways
hot-sun cool perfect
he’d spent it seemed
most of his twelve summers there but
had never seen its winter sheen
it’s a July lake he thought
not a January lake but
here they stood staring
at its unmoving January blue-glass surface
a leafless stand of sparse small trees
he’d never really noticed before
in the water at the northern edge
thin bare outstretched limbs
beneath thin mantles of gathering white
Why’re we here? he said.
The man was quiet for a while, then
Your grandmother died long ago
on a day like this. I wasn’t there.
Where or why makes no difference.
Should’ve been there.
Should’ve been there, too,
on days without snow,
on a lot more days when
she wasn’t dying--
I ponder on that, especially
on days like this.
—and snow still fell, gently, quietly
in the windless, icy mountain air--
Wanted you with me when
I said that out loud.
The boy pushed that around
in each corner of his mind,
finding nothing beyond the obvious
but sensing more was there.
Pretty, isn’t it? his dad said,
old brown fedora and
thin suede coat white covered.
His eyes had never left the lake,
where a thousand-thousand flakes
with the wide and silent water.
Let’s go home,
make some snow cream.
He turned and walked
toward their snow-topped
old Chevy pickup,
the boy following
in the bigger footprints,
still trying to figure larger things--
but gave that up and turned and looked
one last time at the lake,
the lonely, lovely trees standing
just above the waterline—and realized
he knew for certain
just one new thing:
for all it had given him in July,
it surely was
a January lake, too--
but deep down
he knew one more thing
the mystery beyond his dad’s words
floated high and dark
on the winter water
now his to ponder
on days like this
Sammy Parker, born in western North Carolina and living in Georgia, taught English at Western Carolina University and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and had poems published in multiple editions of the literary journals at both. He’s a U. S. Air Force veteran and worked in technical publications at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. His poems have been published in multiple editions of Belle Rêve Literary Journal and in Red River Review, Appalachian Journal, and Muddy River Poetry Review.
by Dan Jacoby
passenger train hurried along
through cottonwood bosque
along the mississippi
trees etched seamless against winter sky
made a slow west turn
as it topped the high bluff ridge
early winter sun blinding
with its direct southern slant
snow storm brewing in northern plains
as we rattled on, creek bottoms on both sides
with deep and shallow frozen creeks
banks punctuated with willow, white oak, and maple
view jolts me out of urban thought
presses out my troubles, lifts my spirits
with an ancient primordial joy
viewed objectively it looks cold
barren, frozen, forbidding
but only by a materialistic eye
this country can be hard to control
but there is a promise of fertility
a promise of comfort
but it does put a man in his place
his existence almost meaningless
your eyes find patterns
ruins of old fence rows, collapsing farm houses
abandoned rail right of ways, picked grey crop rows
your ears hear stories and myths
in old graveyards and fading general stores
speak to us in whispers
in this crystalline air
to make us concentrate
gives us a list
of our own sacred places
as sure as cold spring rains
blur winter’s window dust
our need to focus so as
not to miss the old ghosts
joining in a moment of sensory deprivation
leaving the present
becoming the wilderness past
awestruck by simple incredible beauty
all the time
listening to the earth
locked in subdued starlight
able to hear blood
circulating in your eyes
watching mallards and canadian geese
wheeling patterns in the sky
spurring all ability
to appreciate all this beauty
the spirit, holiness of place
Dan Jacoby is a graduate of St. Louis University, Chicago State University, and Governors State University. He has published poetry in Anchor and Plume(Kindred), Arkansas Review, Belle Reve Literary Journal, Bombay Gin, Burningword Literary Review, Canary, Cowboy Poetry Press-Unbridled 2015, Chicago Literati, Indiana Voice Journal, Deep South Magazine, Lines and Stars, Wilderness House Literary Review, Steel Toe Review, The Opiate, and Red Fez to name a few. He is a former principal, teacher, coach, and army spook.. He is a member of the American Academy of Poets and the Carlinville Writers Guild . Nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2015. He is currently looking for a publisher for a collection of poetry.
Belle Rêve Literary Journal is a southern literary experience. Our mission is to capture everything that makes the South and its residents unique through the best contemporary literature we can find. We publish new works weekly.
Passionately Ran, Compassionately Fed.