On the Sixth Day of Christmas we bring you Ralph Monday and Bethany W Pope



Holy Theotokos Save Us


In the cathedral empty of true feeling,

the icons are beautifully silent: blue and
green hues, golden halos, the choir in
perfect harmonies taking us across time,
space, to the beginning days when the
naming began, where we began that which
brought us here—

Why is it that we cannot remake

childhood myths into adult

Why are we broken and torn by stories

of the damned?

The Trinity intoned and like rote childhood

conditioning, I murmur most Holy Theotokos
save us—

from our own evil we are taught,

from the two that ate the forbidden,
the ban passed down from birth to death
like stars that never cease shining

so we are broken on the rack

signs everywhere: in malls or
bedrooms or social media or all
the flickering images passed by like
kaleidoscope snapshots which define
the words sung out in church hymnals

of that mythic time when we were never

given a chance—

but perhaps salvation is

loving those outcast, like us,
pardoning the unforgiveable,
accepting all that is broken by
broken words,

knowing that we are really plucked

as a wet body from
wet earth,

that if the words are cast off

they cease to matter.




Ralph Monday is an Associate Professor of English at Roane State Community College in Harriman, TN., where he teaches composition, literature, and creative writing courses. He has been published widely in over 50 journals including The New Plains Review, New Liberties Review, Fiction Week Literary Review and many others. His poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Houghton Mifflin’s “Best of” Anthologies, as well as other awards. A chapbook, All American Girl and Other Poems, was published in July 2014.



Self Portrait at 19; Christmas in Kansas

Pacing the hard-packed dirt floor of the basement,
my bare feet blackening, I’m desperate to block the
howling storms in my head. The house is silent
above me; my family asleep in their innocent beds, content
in their ignorance. I’m falling apart; unpicking my history.
Pacing the hard-packed dirt floor of the basement,
burning my body down to a gray wick — scented with sweat —
I use pain, as always, to prove my reality.
Howling storms rage in my head. The house is silent
as the manger — three days after Herod. Heaven sent
no bright angels to warn me.
Pacing the hard-packed dirt floor of the basement,
I can’t outrun the memory of the draughty barn I spent
my blood, died, and was reborn in when the rapist’s shovel struck me.
Howling storms in my head; the house is silent.
My father won’t talk about why he sent
me to the orphanage. He won’t speak the phrase to set me free.
Pacing the hard-packed dirt floor of the basement,
howling storms rage in my head. The house is silent.



Bethany W Pope is an award-winning writer. She has published several collections of poetry: A Radiance (Cultured Llama, 2012) Crown of Thorns, (Oneiros Books, 2013), and The Gospel of Flies (Writing Knights Press 2014), and Undisturbed Circles (Lapwing, 2014). The Rag and Boneyard has been accepted by Indigo Dreams for release in 2016. Her first novel, Masque, shall be published by Seren in 2016. Website: http://bethanywpope.com/



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