An Online Poetry Journal

Tom Tomshany, Editor

Szárnyas is the Hungarian word for "winged." It is pronounced "SARN-yash," with the "SARN" rhyming with the English "barn," and "yash" rhyming with English "gosh."  There is something akin to flying in poetry. A poem transports us to another place, another reality, another perspective, another feeling. And it is often as illusive as a bird in flight.

New poems continue to come in, unpredictably. Who can account for the genesis of a poem? It's like asking, How did Life start? Science can take us just so far . . . and then leave us on the doorstep of mystery . . .

Click here to go directly to the poetry table of contents:  poems. Or click on the poet you would like to read: Tara AndersonMiles Flansburg, Richard Higgs, Maggie Kelley, Michael Newman, Bronston Swindle, Kristal Tomshany, Bill Turley, Ann Zoller.

The High Calling of Poetry

A few words about poetry: The poet Jane Hirshfield says, "Poetry's work is the clarification and magnification of being. Each time we enter its word-woven and musical invocation, we give ourselves over to a different mode of knowing: to poetry's knowing, and to the increase of existence it brings, unlike any other."*

Poems seem to me to be like psychic seismic events, coming from someplace deep within us, where pressures of converging plates (impulses, forces, compulsions) collide and create an upwelling and outpouring of feelings. Poets seem to have the gift of transforming these outpourings into poems. 

*Jane Hirshfield, Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry (HarperCollins, 1997), p. vii.

Submissions & Inquiries

Submissions and inquiries should be sent via email to If your submission has been published before, or if it is being submitted simultaneously to another publication, you must provide this information.

Poetry Table of Contents

Simply click on the poet's name to see all of the poet's work included here, or click on the title of a poem to read it specifically.

Tara Anderson
October's Lesson
Cautionary Tale

Miles Flansburg
What I Have Not Done
Wheeling Within
The Silver Calling
The Ring of Trees

Richard Higgs
One Warm And Sunny Afternoon
Fear of Darkness

Maggie Kelley
The Fingers of my Eyes
First Spring Cool

Michael Newman
I Awoke

Bronston Swindle
[I Demand the World to Return to My Mouth]

Kristal Tomshany
Winter Buffalo Grass

Bill Turley
Letter to the Muse
They say . . .

Ann Zoller
So Simple
What Speaks
The Vision of Rain
Returning to the Sea

Tara Anderson

This poem showed up unannounced and will be introduced as such!


October's sky is brash and blue
       a lidless eye that tugs the lungs
with restive greed and
       thrumming arcs of fire

The autumn earth responds in silence,
       succumbs with wisdom's lush abandon
as she spreads her skirt at random
       to sink upon a bed of crushed tea
that smells of loam and warm apples

My blood is drawn to this crimson scent
       of abundance and lingering heat;
it teases out the sapling maps of youth
       beneath my skin,
ghostly synapses long forgotten

Their phantom blush is warm but sad;
       a rippled rush of memory
that shames me for the gifts I had
       but would not surrender

Then, I chose to coil against the sky,
       a tight, dry ball
that would not lend the smallest favor
       without a view to winter's cost

If such tender chances could ripen twice
       I would live autumn's lesson,
sink to my knees in streams of scarlet
       and proffer my treasures
in lavish disdain of pain or depletion

Wiser, I would give to the last
       while I still had such sweet gifts to cast
upon the winds of Eden

                              —Tara Anderson

* * * * * * *

Tara sent this poem to her sister, Kristal, the old fashioned way . . . in a letter through the United States Post Office. It was intended for sharing, not for publication. Fortunately, however, she consented to share it with the rest of us.


We were legion
loud and raucous
filled with the sly fat of youth

Stairwells echoed our warrior calls
as we thickened the air with animal smells
of woolen skirts and tumbling legs
the gamy scent of freedom

Laughing, loping
like young Dianas at the hunt
Our eyes hurled razors through the halls . . .

When did we become so small?

                                —Tara Anderson

* * * * * * *

Miles Flansburg

Miles offered the poem below without explanation. But the fact is, most poets, artists, and musicians believe that a work of art IS its own explanation. 

My heart is clothed in an electric skin of life.

    With each breath, life fills us
    Driving out and drowning the lifelessness from which we came;
    Pushing back the cold for one more moment.  

    Each of us will one day be rescued from this struggle,
    Returned to the peace of stillness;
    Reclaimed by the stones.

Till then, the fire of the conflict burns within my veins.

                                —Miles Flansburg

* * * * * * *

Got an email from Miles the other day, in which he said, "I had this poem create itself a few days ago, I thought you might like it—"
I walk to the river,
The river of peace,
The river of dreams,
Jordan, Niger, Tigris, Anduin,
That runs from the mountains to the sea,
That carries our hopes, our prayers, our dead, our souls,
That waters the roots of the world.

I sit by the tree,
The tree of strength,
The tree of protection,
The tree of inspiration,
Yggrasil, Oak, Ash,
Tent pole of the heavens,
Giver of gifts,
Rooted in the earth,
Home to the birds that carry our dreams to heaven.
The tree is the river.

I gaze at the mountain,
The mountain of majesty,
The mountain of power,
Olympus, Fuji, Golgotha,
Home of the gods,
Forge of the earth,
Axis Mundi,
Bed of the sleeping giant,
Doorway to the ancients.
The mountain is the tree.
    The tree is the river.

I dance in the circle,
The circle of drums,
The circle of life,
The circle of hands,
Where dance the ancestors and the animal powers,
And are sung the mysteries,
In strophe and antistrophe.
The circle is the mountain.
    The mountain is the tree.
        The tree is the river.

I kneel at the altar,
The altar of reverence,
The altar of sacrifice,
The chamber of relics,
Where flows the grace, the grain, the blood,
The sacrifice of Demeter's daughter,
The rebirth of heaven's son.
The altar is the circle.
    The circle is the mountain.
        The mountain is the tree.
            The tree is the river.

I furrow the earth,
The earth of our crops,
The soil of our future,
The cradle of our death,
Gaia, Earth, Geb, Demeter,
Foundation of the world,
Mother of all that lives,
Source of the harvest,
The dust from which we came and will return.
The earth is the altar.
    The altar is the circle.
        The circle is the mountain.
            The mountain is the tree.
                The tree is the river.

I look to the sky,
The sky of stars,
The sky of mysteries,
The vault of the heavens,
The firmament, the crystalline sphere,
Where is scattered the stars and the wandering planets,
That taught us of time,
Hours, years, and centuries,
And the movements of the worlds through the river of stars.
The sky is the earth.
    The earth is the altar.
        The altar is the circle.
            The circle is the mountain.
                The mountain is the tree.
                    The tree is the river.
                        The river is the sky.
                            The sky is the earth...

                                —Miles Flansburg

* * * * * * *

Miles says this poem (below) "grew out of late-night shopping trips and feeding horses after dark."


Argent Lady, gazing down on us with your quiet laughter—
Your silver gleams reveal the truths that light hides from us.
Our eyes strain in the night,
Mistaking explicit mysteries for shadowed facts,
Honest insubstantiality for obscured permanence.
You watch, bemused by our blindness,
And release your luminous flood
To wash the stain of certainty from the world,
And reveal its translucence.
Grasping for comfortable clarity,
We lose your visions.
What you reveal is not in the words you speak
Of light and shadow,
But in what we come to know
When we stop looking for what we expect to see.
The arc lights of the parking lot
Hide your children from us—
The strident light is harsher, crueler, falser,
Than moonlight can ever be.
You yourself seem faded, shriveled.
But still you smile,
untouched by our frantic scrambling.
Secure in your own harmony,
Changing only by you own stately cycles,
You watch, reveal, and wait for us to see.

                         —Miles Flansburg

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

According to Miles, this poem is "a continuation of the thoughts in my last one, 'Reveal,' from a slightly different direction, influenced by rereading Tolkien's remarkable essay 'On Fairy Stories'."

We have heard all our lives of the other place,
the perilous realm,
where the fair folk, the good neighbors, play their music.
But where is the border of their country?
How can it be anywhere,
now that we have explored the whole globe from poles to equator?
In the blazing light of the sun, with the blinding light of reason,
we have looked everywhere.
It is not to be found.
But in the crystalline darkness, we begin to know another truth.
The silver-gray gleams of the moon reveal to us,
in the unintended moment,
when we glance without seeking,
that the borders of the perilous realm are all about us.
All we need do is to trust, without understanding,
and follow the glimmers of what we know to be there.
(We must not frighten it by trying to decide if it is real or not. 
Such certainty is its antithesis).
The light of the silver lady calls us,
pulling us away from what we think we are
into what she knows we can become.
into what we unknowingly know is our true self.
Is this not always her call?
Whether she beckons in our dreams,
rides a silver chariot in the night sky,
walks hand in hand with us in the mall,
or sleeps softly beside us,
she is always calling.
Can you not hear her music,
the plucked strings and sweet voices calling from beyond the trees?

                                                —Miles Flansburg

*  *  *  *  *  *  * 

Miles sent this poem (below) without comment.



I follow the path that my teachers showed me,
but never too closely, always a bit to this side or that.
The pines whisper hints to me,
the birches offer subtle guidance.
I pass the trees and feel the clearing open before me.

If I open my eyes too wide
the branches close, the path tumbles,
and I am back at my doorstep.
Instead, I take a breath and another step.


I pass the trees and feel the clearing open before me.
How far to the other side?
It is beyond the reach of my outstretched hands;
that is all I can know.

The sun is warm.
I sit in the grass and let the boundaries of the world
be wherever they want to be.

                                        —Miles Flansburg

* * * * * * *

Richard Higgs

Richard sent this poem recently via email, and his only comment, besides thanking us for sharing a dinner with them, was "see attached." However, I will tell you this much: At that dinner mentioned earlier, Richard had told us a story about what happened "one warm and sunny afternoon" that was most unusual and surprising to him.  The poem below comes from that story.


Because he was a child
he understood the world
and then without warning
the tree in the ditch trembled
convulsed twisted danced
flung small dark birds
which had moments before
been singing like idiots
in the shade of its branches
to several points on the calm horizon
then returned to its

He ran down the road toward home
the blue and white sky bearing down
understanding nothing
it turned out
about the world.

                                —Richard Higgs, January 2008

* * * * * * *

One never knows where Richard Higgs will enter a poem. Indeed, it is always an adventure! At a small gathering of friends the other night, Richard asked us if could read a new poem he'd just finished. It was "Listen." After reading it twice to us, I immediately asked, "Can I include this in Szárnyú?" He gratiously consented. 


Three angels glide down
on their dihedral span
blackest silhouettes, even in this glaring sun

They set about their assignment
removing your flesh from the face of the earth
in the only way they can

They work in silence
listening to the insistent hissing
of the sand in the wind

Sensing reverence in the air
the crows in the shivering cottonwood
have ceased to jeer

As one angel grips your hand (in the only way they can)
and one pecks at your eye
and one tugs, gently, at your ear

                                —Richard Higgs, June 2008

* * * * * * *

See what reading history can do? The following poem comes from Richard's reading about the Aztecs, near the end of their civilization before Cortez came upon the scene in 1519. Keep reading, Richard! And keep writing about it!


From atop the redstained steps
in the imperial city of Tenochtitlan
uneasy priests eye the lowering
of the Mexica sun
unlulled by the hum
of a whirlpool of flies
suspended nearby
above the killing stone.

The casual insults of the pleasure girls
tossed to idling warriors as they step lightly over pools of blood
in the temple square below
sound more distant than ever before.

The sullen city smolders
like the mountain beyond
from fifty thousand hearths along the shore.

They have no words for Fear Of Darkness
They only have the fear.       

                            —Richard Higgs, August 2008

* * * * * * *

Maggie Kelley

This poem by Maggie Kelley reflects her feelings about driving away from Tulsa, her childhood hometown, and her relatives there, and returning to her home and immediate family in Ohio:

                THE FINGERS OF MY EYES

The Fingers of my Eyes
        Reach out to tremble feathers of grass at road's edge
                Reach out to travel tree-lined horizons
                       Reach out to trace white wisps of sky-breath.

The Fingers of my Eyes
       Reach back to touch the faces of those I love,
               Of those I left behind.

        Reach back,
                Stretch back
                        Five hundred miles,
                                Five hundred miles.

                                        —Maggie Kelley

* * * * * * * 

When Maggie Kelley sent this poem to me, she included this comment: "Our family is constantly undergoing changes—its like some larger organic form whose configuration has shifting edges—not always easy accept the new shape—the only way I can seem to deal with the pain of it is to try and make some kind of art."

A sweet night air
from high hill wood
rolls, spills softly
down fills meadow
with first spring cool
cool breath brushing, gliding
gathering whispers
of violets
and trillium
with old brown leaves
brown leaves rotting, melting
cradle-ing essence
of purpleness
and yellowness
with first spring cool
cool breath braiding, twisting
quickening pieces
of promises
and yesterday
with first spring cool
                                        —Maggie Kelley, April 1997

* * * * * * *

Michael E. Newman

Mike sent me these poems recently in an email, saying he was including "a little blurb I wrote for last month's theme: grace. Don't know whatever else it is about."


Yesterday I Awoke
Yesterday I awoke a fish, and craved the sea I could not see.
Today I awoke and saw the same sea
as that in which I live and move and have my being,
and I saw that it always was, and is, and evermore shall be.
I awoke to find that that which I crave and sometimes cannot see surrounds me always and forever,
even in my blindness and insanity.
Each creature of the sea is its child,
and though it sometimes feels abandoned,
it is nurtured by that which surrounds it.

Today I Awoke
Today I awoke to mid-day work and sun,
and could see nothing that was not a gift of grace.
Tomorrow I may wake in despair, for although it still remains,
I may not see its hidden face.
If so, then I shall sit in silence, and be still until I know
That it is there in every breath and nowhere did it not go.
Until the film lifts from my eyes, and I can see again,
I shall believe in an endless and eternal sea,
a sea of grace in which I swim

                                     —Michael E. Newman

* * * * * * *

Bronston Swindle

[I Demand the World Return to my Mouth]

I demand the world return to my mouth,
That this devil varnish be stripped  from things,
That objects cry out again to be touched and tasted.
I demand a language predicated on return from exile,
The release of tongues.
I demand a language unbroken and immediate,
That still resides in the objects it describes.
A language that still feels.
I demand my immediate release.

I demand that the records of my mind be unsealed.
And that each object be spoken for by a public voice.
That mere projections dissolve like a shroud of swamp mist at daybreak.
That each thing be reified.
The bed.  The lamp. The door. The cat. The book. The window.
Shall move out of the abandoned  corridors of  dead language.
And abandon themselves once more to the central pull,
Reel again in the inplacable dance of naked existence.
I demand  they tremble within this  fire-filled sheath of proteinate amory.

I demand that each thing become  encumbered with its age.
And I too am a thing. No more alive,  no less.
Filled with forceful voices.
Of  time, of age.
Thrown without asking among these islands of tissue and seas of crimson salt.
I demand that the world cry out

against its idealization and reclaim its thingness.
e a c h l e
t t e r b e c o m
e v i s i b l e a g a i n. .

I lay full upon this bed.

Heavy in every limb, the center of each nucleus
Rushing towards the center of the earth.                    
Splayed against woven fibers of tense linen.
Every small motion shedding a  storm of cells.
Heroic husks, their structure yet held...

I feel the tide of light rushing from the lamp, each calorie of the burning bulb,
Falling into the white undulousness of the comforter,

the golden heat.
That burns the folds of its definition.

The sepia and honey pools that lay among the folds.
I gather them around me, around the slight damp of my stretching feet.
And rise again into sleep.

                                        —Bronston Swindle

* * * * * * *

Kristal Tomshany

This poem by Kristal reflects the high plains of the Oklahoma Panhandle where she grew up and still returns to see her family . . . and reflects the landscape of love and the human spirit as well.


The weight of my being
is suspended between heaven and earth,
fully borne, held up impossibly by
thin, interlocking spirals of charcoal,
grey, gold and ochre. Oscillating tightly,
each curl clings to the memory of itself
in the midst of this endless, sweeping gale.

Rooted chords vibrate my depths
Currents of connection rush and hum
as I myself am nearly swept away
by the sudden beauty of your presence.
Again we find each other in this world!
Love simultaneously ascends and
descends, colliding in joy:


It is, after all, the expanse of your chest
that I delighted to walk upon as a child.

It is, after all, this spicy sweet grass I return to
in the pasture of your embrace.

It is, after all, full circles we navigate, and
utter grace we inhabit.

It is, after all, the exhalations of pure bliss
hissing out from every dormant blade.

                                   —Kristal Tomshany

* * * * * * *

The following poem by Kristal tells a story of two paths:


"This is modern manna," I wanted to say,
referring to the blue umbrella which you
had forgotten to bring to the worship service,
and which I had offered to pick up here,
in this quiet, clock-ticking living room we
had shared as childhood cousins.

"This umbrella is Jonah's whale," I wanted to say,
"spitting us out right here, into this present moment."

I sensed your unease, your awareness of how
alone we were, of how the clock spoke truth.
Miles from the safe borders of your monk's
vestments, you felt naked, standing there
before me in every-day pants and a shirt.

Frantically, the hinges of your fingers fumbled
with the umbrella's, searching for collapse,
groping for closure. The threatened animals
of your two moist hands fought wildly against
the stubborn splay of metal tips.

"This is the hair of the woman that dried Jesus feet,"
I wanted to say, "This is love that cannot be contained."

Having pity, I took the umbrella from you,
coaxing the tips slowly and gently back
into their round plastic handle. This being
done, you quickly took it from me, and began
binding the strap round and round the now
mummified cylinder, then velcroed it shut,
like Christ's tomb.

As you handed it back to me, in what
you hoped would be a last transaction,
the long, red vines of my heart emerged,
probing for an entrance to your soul.
How great was your need to stay focused
on the umbrella! How desperately you
tried to transfigure yourself into tight,
compact folds of blue nylon.

The trembling shields of your eyes confirmed the fact that
I now lived as someone who had chosen their own body and blood.

Embrace was now immanent, mandatory.
(It could be years before we saw each other again)
Your hug was perfunctory, pushing for separation
prematurely, as if my arms were pythons, and
delay spelled danger. The tendrils of my heart-vines
knew there would be no intertwining of souls today,
and, along with my arms, they retreated.

I spoke something in your language, bringing
a welcomed closure to the lost moment.
My comment about life's difficult journey
triggered a religious reflex, and out of you
came the liturgically metered response:
"We are all in darkness until Christ comes again."

These armoured words rode forth like crusaders, their bright,
resolute flags distracting our view of the present moment.

It became clear---your utter need for faith
beyond feeling, and my utter incapability of it.
What was this distant smoke-pillar of hope
by which you had so dutifully and carefully
mapped out the course of your life? Un-ownable,
it seemed the only thing you owned.

Comprehension gave way to compassion as I realized:
these words of promise could be your only gift to me.

Back in the car, I tossed the umbrella into
the passenger seat, thinking: The next time
I use this umbrella . . . the next time I loosen
its grave clothes to witness the expansive
stretch of resurrection's unfolding,
I will think of you, dear cousin.

And, in some wet instant of gale-force,
I will resist the impulse to tighten my grip
on the blue plastic handle. Instead, I will
let go, allowing the umbrella it's short-lived
moment of clumsy ascension. Rain will
run down my forehead in cool rivulets.

"This is baptism," I will say out loud, "This is salvation."
And this act of love can be my only gift to you.                    

                                       —Kristal Tomshany

* * * * * * *

Bill Turley

Bill says this poem is about the muse. Indeed it is, and much more . . .


After traveling this far from home, I ask,
Do you treat all exiles the same?
I strain so much to make you understand,
That I lose myself before first paragraphs.
In my landscapes, I confess, I was reaching for a silence.
I never knew this until I began to trust your wisdom.

I am not on an equal basis with you,
The voice we parented is still a stranger.
In hindsight, taking cues from old photographs
I lost our beginnings.
You lead me so close to the heart of things
Where the light is blinding,
And I realize I am being led
Regardless of my principles.

Many of these writings are born
trying to steal a dream from half-sleep.
Some remain in this room
Where I would like to sleep,
But there is always some beginning
Which lingers even when lines are spinning home.

                                                    —Bill Turley

* * * * * * *

Bill said the poem below was written upon the occasion of reading recent discoveries about the life of Jesus and potential archeological records of him and his family. It is as yet untitled, so I put a temporary title on it.

THEY SAY . . .

They say you had a family
At least a brother, maybe a sister.
Baptized by John in waters that called to the
Breath in you, making your back lean strong against
The Roman law of the land,
And still you refuse to be the adversary
Offering them your sinuous branch.
Covering your wounds wrapped in cloth of your knowing,
Taking the arrow from the stifling wind, bending it,
Fashioning it to a new covenant.
And Mary, who could doubt her countenance:
By far the strongest of the twelve.
She held the broken dove in her hand
When the blanket of their grief muffled
The sound of their horizon, when there was nothing left
But to take the yoke of your body into the streets to every heart.

                                                    —Bill Turley

* * * * * * * 

Ann Zoller

This poem and the following poem ("What Speaks") explore the experience of  love and matters of the spirit.


My primal need is to 
love and be loved,
to be kissed under the moon
and to let its light fill the room
while I feed berries to my lover.
I want to hear music while we  

feed our bodies.
I want to walk in light all night
as we sleep in a spoon of  dream,  

as our spirits sip from a cup
of desire.  So simple -
to let the spirit slide into this cloud  

of blue music, this halo of energy
from god who loves us
and speaks from the heart  

inside our soul, the soul
inside the universe,
inside the eyes of  every lover.

                                     —Ann Zoller
* * * * * * * 

The seed grew into a star
and the boat took them
into the cavity
where light shattered
their eyes.
Once two trees leaned close
to earth, their roots tight,
until the dress on the moon
split open and the train
circled the sky.
Out of the chest a bird
glided by to lead
the way home.
Only when we travel outside
trees soaked with leaves
do we ride the spirit and enter
the water.

                                     Ann Zoller

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

The following poem was previously published in Nimrod International Journal, Vol. 30, Number 1, Fall/Winter 1986, and is reprinted here with their permission.


My other self is a thin statue
I call Jenny.  She hovers
when my eyes squint before a storm,
her wings invisible, rattle silence
as she flies ahead of me,
coaxing with her black hair streaming
in the night wind.

Jenny is my inside part gone out
into the world, she gave
directions when I spied
on men castrating pigs with pocket knives.
Pigs screamed behind the shed
and farmers laughed too loud.
Jenny took my hand as I blessed
the bleeding pigs,
as I offered garlands of violets
to their foamy mouths.  Within the eyes
of pigs I learned the pain of survival.

Jenny is the other, my name
of grace who lives inside the black moon
and wears owl robes when the pond
shines with ghastly light.
I ask her what’s in store
as though she will tell me
how the red squirrel remembers
acorns hidden from other winters. 

She tells me to study the river,
feel the drop of rain before it falls,
she tells me I will be ready
when the apparitions sing lines
of the poem and bring me fish.

Under the weight of blankets
when fever gives me a second body
I enter an envelope above the bed,
a place where candles ignite
and wings thrum as harps.
There is no time there,
only softness like a fuzzy comet
that pauses in its journey
beyond this room.

Jenny is the self that moves
between the worlds, a being
that does not speak,
her sound quiet as green
inside the bud that hasn’t formed.

                                —Ann Zoller

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

The following poem was also previously published in Nimrod International Journal, in Vol. 38, No.1, Fall/Winter 1995, and is reprinted here with their permission.


If you know what happened to the shoes
beside the barn, would you tell the woman
shrouded in sealskin?  She went to the water’s edge,
sprawled in the wave and did not tell anyone

about eating blood sausage, the smell
of fried blood so sweet it hung like a prayer
outside the door, an odor that sneaked
in windows when all there was was gauze

and a faint shape like a child’s thin body
washed in the moon.  To survive
is not enough, to make it through the long
field where corn waved like maniacs

in green with straw hair.  Oh no, one needs
to heal, sew the heart together and paint
a pretty face over the picture smeared with crayons
and charcoal.  Perhaps the milk from the lonely

cows will not sour now and mother’s trick
of clabbering the cream high on a shelf
in the cupboard will work like magic?
And after healing scars and selling

all the family plates, will she finally
thrive, swim out to sea and wear a fine
new dress, made of silk with a madras design?
Did the soul take on a seal’s coat,

the slick skin falling through the sea
on a circular journey,
and did the boat come home,
sliding through the water of the night?

                                    —Ann Zoller

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