Julie L. Moore

Contributor Biography

A Best of the Net and six-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Julie L. Moore is the author of four poetry collections, including, most recently, Full Worm Moon, which won a 2018 Woodrow Hall Top Shelf Award and received honorable mention for the Conference on Christianity and Literature's 2018 Book of the Year Award. Her poetry has appeared in African American Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Christian Century, Image, New Ohio Review, Poetry Daily, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, and Verse Daily. Moore is the Writing Center Director at Taylor University, where she likewise serves as the poetry editor for Relief Journal. Learn more about her work at julielmoore.com.

Recovery

Walking along my front porch, I rub my swollen 

     belly like I did, years ago, when I was expecting

 

a miracle. I am empty, gutted

     like the old farmhouse across the street,

every room pared down to the frame’s 

     bare bones. Even the floors have been removed.

 

All I want is a day when the pain 

     breaks. I’ve had seven surgeries now—

adhesions excised like splinters, 

     four rundown organs

pulled out like windows and walls.

     Here in mid-life, I’m nothing but pure

ruin. And part of me would like to give up,

     dissolve into dust like my neighbor’s brick.

But in the ash trees that line our road,

     in flawless iambs, the sparrows chant

preserve, preserve, preserve, preserve.

     And I step into our yard where bees,

 

persistent as repeated pleas, 

     poise themselves before the roses,

then bury their faces in the velvet

     breasts, suckling sugar, tasting 

 

grace as insistent as the tune they hum

Harnessing Infinity

My daughter wants me to harness infinity.

Her algebra teacher taught her formulas,

four in all, 

                    for bridling the immeasurable like horses.

I know why she wants me to do it. 

She needs me to take her father’s heart 

in my hands, heal it like Jesus 

moved muscles so tongues could flex, 

eyes could lift, and legs could stretch.

But I don’t have the power of God.

And the numbers in the math are 

imaginary. 

                   I sense the black mustang, 

wild with will, the wind like a whip at its back,

approaching. 

                       All I can do is gather

alfalfa in the fields, pour countless oats

into the pail. Ease the sting

of thirst in its throat with water

pulled from my well.

Particular Scandals

1.

A newlywed drives his bride to her death,

sliding on ice, slamming the passenger door 

into an oncoming car. By, as they say,

accident. 

                An only child is crushed,

the walls of his school

falling on his head. And hundreds

more like him. Killed,

as insurance records note, 

by an act of God. 

How we struggle with the particular face

of suffering. 

                    The avalanche

in the young father’s artery. 

The undertow of pain, pulling, 

not letting go of the wife

and mother. The slow drip 

of cancer in the preschooler. 

The young girl shackled to the shrine

of man’s need. A girl I do not know. 

A daughter who is every daughter in the world. 

 

2.

 

There are infinite ways 

to suffer. I’ve missed one.

Of course I have.

Or a million.

Let me not

count the ways.

 

3.

 

Why not disavow God, and say, once 

and for all, he does not exist,

or if he does, he is not good?

 

4.

 

Yet.

5.

Think: Tomorrow morning when I rise

with the sun to start another day,

will I notice the particular 

drops of dew glistening like stars?

Will I fall to my knees, see

the blades of grass sucking in 

light like breath? 

Will I hear the mist whispering

to the pines or follow the swallow

to her nest, watch her drop beetles

into the tiny beaks, hear the silence

of satisfaction that follows?

Will I feel the warmth of her wings 

as they cover her chicks’ downy heads?

 

6.

 

It depends, I suppose,

on what I’ll need that morning.

 

If my tea is hot, my juice sweet,

the jam on my toast tart,

 

if the paper is full of the same ruin

that happens every day, if I feel self-

 

sufficient, smart, even a tad proud,

if I’m in a hurry, maybe even late,

 

if I’m still half asleep,

if this same wretched headache lingers, 

 

if I just have things to do, 

it might slip

 

7.

 

past my attention, unnoticed

like a shy idea that stands mute

against the wall of the mind,

finding it difficult to express itself 

out loud.
 

8.

 

Oh, the other side 

of silence.

 

That death-inducing

roar.

 

9.

 

Blame is an easier game.

 

10.

 

Hyacinth and huckleberry.

Hopkins’ beloved bluebell.

Deepening. Blooming.

Like the intelligent

 

design of a newborn’s lungs. 

Isn’t it scandalous, I wonder, to praise 

nothing 

for creating beauty 

 

as particular as these?

Clifton Gorge

"There lives the dearest freshness deep down things..."

—Gerard Manley Hopkins

Balsam floods the woods,

     swathing our senses 

like moss swaddles roots and earth. 

     Ferns flutter in the shadow 

of the wind moving through,

     while we descend into the sanctuary

of the gorge like the sun lowers 

     its long beams through the green 

lattice of leaves above. We hope 

     to hit bottom as the thrush

 

throws its deep voice across the ravine

     where a woodpecker knocks on a door

of oak and a lip of limestone loosens,

     tumbles down, greets us at the stream,

which even now rips through rock, 

     then pools its energy along the banks 

where minnows animate 

     the ruin, stirring the cup 

brimming with revival, their small bodies,

     flashes of hallelujah.

Full Thunder Moon

"Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful, for I have taken refuge in you;

in the shadow of your wings will I take refuge until this time of trouble

has gone by..."

—Psalm 57:1

Sitting in the gazebo at St. Meinrad Archabbey,

     she hears the sky grumbling as one cloud swells,

          its lining stretched so thin,

               all she can see is the darkness within.

Dusk slinks in beneath it.

     The first few fireflies flicker.

          Lights go on in each eventual window

               as the monks ready for their simple beds.

At compline, their prayers prepared them for the keening

     that comes with loss, whether of light or life.

          Swatting the occasional mosquito here beneath

               the full thunder moon, she inhales air thick with solace,

the only breath possible with rain pending.

     As the first drops finally fall, she realizes how indifferent they are

          to whether her marriage lasted two years or twenty-seven.

               It’s all the same to them as they hurry down

their flights of stairs, every one of them determined

     to skip the last two steps, land hard,

          it doesn’t matter where. They are not picky.

               They have no scruples.

So of course, they alight on the bare arms

     of a wife who’s endured seven surgeries,

          whose husband left her, then told her,

               Your health problems have worn me out.

This storm doesn’t give a rip.

     It doesn’t even know it could be used for good,

          showering fields overflowing with barley

               & wheat & corn, as we all know it does,

or driving a woman to seek refuge

     in a place so vulnerable & open,

          a bird, say, a sparrow or finch, might glide in

               & roost right there, within an inch of her care.

Author's Note:

"Recovery" was first published as a Poem of the Week in the Missouri Review Online and received Honorable Mention in the 2010 poetry contest sponsored by Writecorner Press. "Harnessing Infinity" was featured in Dogwood: A Journal of Poetry & Prose as a finalist for its 2009 poetry prize. "Particular Scandals" first appeared in Poemeleon: A Journal of Poetry. "Clifton Gorge" was first published in American Poetry Journal, then featured on Verse Daily and Poetry Daily. All four poems appear in Particular Scandals, published in 2013 in the Poiema Poetry Series by Cascade Books, an imprint of Wipf & Stock Publishers.

"Full Thunder Moon" was first published in Image Journal. It appears in Full Worm Moon (Poiema Poetry Series, Cascade Books, 2018).

Lawin Bulatao

Contributor Biography

Lawin Bulatao is an advertising professional who has written poetry on and off.

An English Creative Writing Major from the University of the Philippines, he grew up in what can be described as a “liberally Catholic” household. While he does respect religion, he does not appreciate how people can use it as a convenient tool to promote and promulgate subjugation, authoritarianism, selfishness and greed.

SOMETIMES THE LORD PRAYS, TOO

Let my people go

Or there will be plagues

And locusts and rivers of blood

 

Let my people go

Or your crops will wither

Along with your firstborn

Under the scythe of my angel

Let my people go

They have built your tombs for too long

Let them build their lives instead

Let them cross the sea

As I part the waves for them

And etch stones with law

So they never lose their way again

 

Let them be unyoked from slavery

For they are my chosen

And having been chosen

Let them choose as well

The path away from death 

And into life

 

Let my people go

And let them leave their chains

That they may not be tempted

To inflict these on others

In the days to come

 

Let my people remember

That no empire lasts

Built and borne on enslaved backs

THE WORD ACCORDING TO

Once upon a time

There was The Word

And The Word was made flesh

And bone and blood and salt

And sea became you and me

The Word was a bridge not a wall

A bridge spanning divides to

Connect us all then there was The Fall

And in the rubble of Babel The Word

Changed from prophet to warden

Turned our songs and poems into 

Life sentences, judgments, labels,

Burdens, caveats, loopholes, escape

Clauses, stress, overtime overdrive

With no pauses or space or time to process

The Word drove nails into our wings 

And spears into our sides became the

Cross we bore and still bear 

On a mountain range of Calvaries

An endless horizon of agonies

But never forget that once upon a time

There was The Word

And as we weave and weld it

In the image of our dearest hopes

And deepest dreams as we cobble

It from the scabs and scraps and shrapnel

Of our days this I promise you:

Once upon a time

Will be upon us once again.