Music and discord, a wry and twisting provocative piece by Virginia Laurie. Try to keep up; it’ll be worth it!
on the Sabbath day:
he’s bonny and blithe
and full of grace
his steps made of sun,
he stands through the night
thoughts go unsaid
but twist in his smile
there’s no error, no rust,
no folds in the sleeve just paste
skies and free time, the boredom
God in his pocket but
air in his eyes which
turned red the first day
he sent men to die
he was pin cushioned, hand-holed
the prophet himself, fell graceless
and puppet, died chest-laughing
his name (light) was lost
through the fence in the orange
on the last stair to heaven
he fumbled his words
no angels stood waiting
no higher no hell just concrete
and vinegar, a Death
he named Self.
Virginia Laurie is an undergraduate student at Washington and Lee University whose work has been accepted and/or published in Tiny Seed Literary Journal, The Merrimack Review, LandLocked and Girls Right the World.
To view last week’s Editors’ Choice, please visit: but i am only fiercely dreaming – Perla Kantarjian
in my mind there are worlds where
roads overturn at the behest of my god.
there i run gentle
in spinal circles, the crux of emotion
falls upon me like lightning
dancing on her tiptoes
on the rims of my tongues.
i am a woman with madness a birthright;
my bidding returns from the celestials
ultrasonic. electricity cascades my flesh in
a cosmic flash of nerves yet all at once
i can become a girl
in his arms-
there the moon seeps herself onto me
and in her substance i silken my waist;
i become like wave, movement
my hair changes color and
i shed my skin like sea snake, siren
with legs. in her under-earth i stand barefeet,
moving the calcified air, dripping
cold salt from my fingertips,
bathing in her white light.
Perla Kantarjian is a Lebanese-Armenian writer, journalist, editor, and literature instructor from Beirut. Her writings have appeared on numerous platforms, both print and digital, including Rebelle Society, Rusted Radishes, The Armenian Weekly, Annahar Newspaper, Stripes, and Elephant Journal. She is currently working on her very first novel.
Artwork © Ryn Holmes, 2020
Wait, what? 2021?
Congratulations, you made it. But let’s not fool ourselves that a page-turning is alchemy …
No matter the date or circumstances, we love to bring you “a wide array of fine writing.” We do notice incidental motifs in our submissions. This time, it’s insects and long, winding sentences. Of course, there are plenty of other fine works of all types included!
As always, we thank our contributors for favoring us with their talents. (You’ll notice more than one debut writer this time!) And of course, we thank you, readers, for spending a little time here. We hope you continue to find this publication uplifting and enriching.
All our best for a fine year!
Andrea, Jeff, and Ryn, Editors
1997 – Tony Gloeggler
Aphrodite and Mars – Jakub Svanda
Argyle Forest – C.B. Crenshaw
Awakening – Stephanie L. Harper
but i am only fiercely dreaming – Perla Kantarjian
Celestial Navigation – Diana Dinverno
The Child Born – Virginia Laurie
climb, fall, sober-up – Kelli Allen
Creatures in the Last Hour – Julia Watson
The Depth of Water – Marsha Lewis
Every Dream Holds a Meaning – Sophie Aay
Fireflies – Moinak Dutta
First Artists – Kelly DuMar
First Flight – Nathan McMullen
For Me and For Greta Gerwig – Naomi Hurley
Heisenberg in the Suburbs – George Franklin
Her Face Streaked with Tears – Zvi Sesling
hesperides – Kolbe Riney
Himself – Stephen Ground
Homeless – Sekhar Banerjee
the hour before – Mike Jurkovic
I Am Not Writing About the Rose, I Am Making it Bloom in the Paper – John Milkereit
In His Dream – Ann Howells
Inventory – Stacie Kiner
Kulturaustausch – Sean Kelbley
‘Merica the Insidious – Mike L. Nichols
Pairing Mantids – Paul Jones
Paper – Hugh Anderson
Path of the Dragonfly – Marc Janssen
A Published Poet’s List – Rha Arayal
The Rabbit Looks Away – Issa M. Lewis
Rainbow Connection – Jaelyn Singleton
The Reception – Leonard Temme
Red Dress – Katie Mcilroy
River – Mallory Kellum
Ryou-Un Maru – Joseph E. Arechavala
The Simian Line – Joanne Clarkson
Sorrow – Bruce Meyer
Spider – Robert Okaji
Split – Francine Witte
Sweet Retreat – Emily Jacko
Table – Catherine Arra
Tea As Indicator for Weather – Lenny DellaRocca
Tragedy – Sheree LaPuma
Twilight – Makenna Dillon
Where To Find My Body – Cleo-Paulo Valentino
White Tulips – Carter Vance
The Writer – Kelsey Hontz
Year of Firsts – Joseph Kerschbaum
You Tell Me It’s the Worst Album Ever – Kate LaDew
You Must Share the Secret of Eternal Life With Someone You Love – Sandra Cimadori
Zen Shirt – Joseph Hardy
Do you have a chapbook that will be published between now and mid-June? If so, we may want to write a review! You can scroll down to see our previous reviews. Chapbooks poetry only, please, no full-length.
Your publisher must allow us to publish a review even if it precedes the publication date. (We aim for reviews 90 days on either side the (anticipate) publication date.) There are other basic conditions, including the right to publish the cover art, your headshot, etc.
If you’re interested, please respond here and/or on our Facebook page (Panoply). We’ll reach back to let you know the next steps.
We wish everyone the best of the holiday season and a fine ringing in of 2021!
Andrea, Jeff, and Ryn, Editors
“The greatest gift you ever give is your honest self.” – Fred Rogers
We hope you’ve been enjoying Panoply, all the gifted writers, and their fine work. We enjoy producing 3 issues, 3 chapbook reviews, our nominees for the Pushcart Prize, and Editors’ Choice videos with each issue. But as we say, “bandwidth ain’t cheap!” We donate our time and much of our treasure to Panoply and ask that you help us defray the cost of site hosting and submissions management. We do not charge reading or other fees except for contests which offer cash prizes.
Please consider donating whatever you can. Simply click the link in the right-hand margin to donate via PayPal. Thanks for reading Panoply and for any financial contribution you can make!
Enjoy the holiday season and stay healthy!
Andrea, Jeff, and Ryn, Editors
Ready or Not, by Robin Wright
Finishing Line Press
Reviewed by Ryn Holmes, November 2020
A reader must indeed be ready or not to follow Robin Wright into her sensitive, plain-speaking new chapbook, “Ready or Not.” Ms. Wright delivers as she promises, bringing brave readers along as she tackles the big issues of life: birth, love, death, loss. Her title is at once provocative and apt, giving a clue to the themes of the consequences when living the fullest of lives. Indeed, it would have been easy for the author to cluster the pieces into sections under those headings; however, she has been far too clever to resort to such an obvious approach although there is an ordered progression between one topic and the next of each poem. For our purposes here I shall unify and spotlight those themes.
I begin with the brief audacious attitude shown in the opening poem, “Fringe.” Although she speaks of others with envy, it is clear this young woman is her own person and fairly bold,
…I stood wrapped in a leather jacket,
raked my fingers across the fringe.
No one is going to outshine her. Next thing we know, she confirms that by boldly asserting her needs in “What This Woman Wants.”
…I want you to want me
like wind, blowing through you
not stopping, not slowing…
That resolve falls to betrayal and insecurity in “A Night at Charlie’s Place” where she has come to watch her lover and his paramour perform together in a band. Here, she masterfully paints a scene in a somewhat shady dance hall/club, bringing the writer along for the night out.
…Nothing to do but
stop, adjust, try again…
His fingers press and slide the strings…
the sounds ring through…I down the shot and wait.
Through “Sex and Margaritas” to “Renters” and then “Side Trip,” we have a variety of experiences from the sensual to a foreboding that all may not always be smooth. “Sex and Margaritas” begins in an obvious tropical setting as the protagonists
…stretch out on the porch like fat
gold cats, waiting
“Renters” shows hope inherent in the first home together along with the bonding of impending parenthood. They are disillusioned by an infusion of the realities of life when
…The apartment doesn’t look like
the model. Bare floors, vacant windows,
curtain rods left hanging
by loose screws….
A disturbing experience in “Side Trip” casts a note of gloom as the attendant reveals the hopelessness he feels and how stuck in his life without options, causing a young couple to ignore his desperation and quickly think of the escape for themselves in their upcoming vacation. Yet they can’t quite forget
…says his wife moved in with the sheriff.
He longs to get away from this station…
We’ll swim, laugh, sip drinks with umbrellas…
But on our minds,
the gas station, the man, his escape.
Focusing on “After You Left,” “Breaking Up,” “After the Funeral,” “Services at a Later Date,” “In Memory of Randy H,” “Trains in the Night,” and “Alzheimer’s” provide psychological insight into direct and implied loss, including those of love, life, body and cognitive functioning. We feel the acute longing for lost love in “After You Left” and “Breaking Up.”
…All around me birds cooed,
as if they knew
your leaving didn’t change
water, earth, or sky….
She carries on indignant that nature has remained unchanged and fails to acknowledge her loss.
The Madrid Fault opened
her earthen mouth…
…but you escaped
“After the Funeral,” “Services at a Later Date, and “In Memory of Randy H” bring us to the graveside, in reality or metaphorically when unable to attend the rite.
…Uncle Mike, past but no longer present,
locked in the minds of those who viewed
his silent ash….
the soil, bury what’s left
of the flowers, push
my palms together, pretend
I know how to pray.
…Forty years later the local paper
spun your obituary, weaving the fabric
of your life….
Most immediate and relatable to those of a certain age are the losses of body characteristics and cognitive functioning bringing confusion, disorganization and death, “Trains in the Night” and Alzheimer’s
…The train’s requiem slow, sorrowful;
a low moan cried through the bruised night.
As a side note, “Alzheimer’s” has multiple color references, including blue, black, gray, red, yellow. The subject is rightfully befuddled
You stand on the sidewalk, head down,
staring at your shirt….
You reach out your hand,
pull it back
from what you once knew.
The final three pieces are not readily categorized and are about different subjects.
“Runaway” is about random sexual encounters and paints a grim picture with an inference of having witnessed domestic violence.
since she watched her mother paint
lipstick over swollen lips….
She lights a Lucky
Strike as he jerks o pats, leaves
her slumped on the edge
of the bed, damp with sweat,
dirty with memories….
“Like This” was perplexing to parse as it contains many themes within its 18 lines including digital tracking/spying, mental illness/paranoia, parental concern for a child and duplicity by a parent. It isn’t a tight fit into the themes of the other pieces.
…He’s upset about a Wisconsin company
ready to implant microchips
in hands, to unlock doors,
make a purchase, track location…
A rice-sized pellet injected
into a hand …
like the one I’m using
to hold my phone.
Finally, I saved the ephemeral “Ghost Orchid” for last because I felt its erotic message of hope makes a lovely coda to the chapbook and, if in actuality had been the final piece, would have perfectly bookended the others.
Those few weeks of summer
after the sphinx moth strokes you with its tongue,
your slender white petals float from thin stems,
drifting in air, no leaves for a partner,
while your dark roots, barely visible, cling
to cypress, pop ash, or pond apple trees,
never touching ground, never appearing
connected to the earth.
Ms. Wright writes of profound topics with a light touch that manages to project safety. She kindly balances love with loss, life with death managing to trustfully deliver them. And finally, she is an admirable master of a definitive and tidy stanza closure.
For previous chapbook reviews, please visit: Previous Chapbook Reviews
Tomorrow I’m meeting a woman who posts naked photos of herself on Instagram
and then tells me in texts that she’s plain.
I googled the modern definition of the word plain
but my face came in well before hers.
And somewhere above the bats are flying overhead
Like some prehistoric hunger melted into their home
Which is this night,
Which is just another night
Where this person gets onto my tram.
I call it a person because I can’t tell if it’s a woman or a man
And she looks like she’s been living in her clothes for a week
They are too big and they are dirty
and her hair is a nest blown free from a broken tree
in a storm that overlooked me,
And with a slurpee in her hand she sits in my tram.
At Box hill he just stands on the stop.
So I ask her, do you know where you are, my love?
And she asks, are you heading back?
Yes, but only to the depot.
And she nods and then looks up to the night
Where the bats’ wings are horse whispering
and then she asks me, with her teeth all rotting,
Is there anywhere there where I can stay?
No. But I can drop you at maccas,
You can stay there for the night. I don’t think they’ll mind.
And so together we’re now heading back to Kew
And I just don’t know what to do.
If I bring her home my family will go crazy,
but If leave her here,
And I think she’s only about twenty,
What sort of crazy Christian soul action is that?
So I ask, do you have any money?
Yes, she says, and she says it politely and to the last of her drink.
Are you sure? I ask, because you don’t look like you have.
And I can stop at a bank and get you some cash.
And I’ve being privately wondering all the way to here
How much should I give her to placate my soul,
40 dollars? But then,
Because I’ve been having a good week, that sounds like chicken shit.
So my soul suggests, let’s give her one hundred.
And my brain replies, No! forty is plenty.
And as they fight for a consensus
My heart turns around and tells her,
Look, let me give you some money.
But she looks up to me and says, No, that’s fine.
Then she stands at the door and asks, is this stop mine?
And our Golden Arches Church is a candle in her eyes,
Thank you driver, she says after I say, yes.
Then she steps off into the bats’ night
And leaves me heading back home in an empty tram
To a date who sounds like she is empty too
And the knowledge that inside my secrets I now know,
That I’m never going to become my soul’s man.
Michael Gray Griffith is a Melbourne (Australia) writer. (He did not provide a photo or video.)
For more Editors’ Choices, please visit:
Photo courtesy of and copyright ©2020 Ryn Holmes.
Welcome to Issue 16! We hope you have remained hale and healthy through this crazy time of year. Loaded with verbal endorphins, this issue should help you maintain your artistic and spiritual health.
One thing we continue to learn is how permanent art is in our lives. Sometimes we overlook it; sometimes we misunderstand it; sometimes it moves us profoundly. With all the basic underpinnings of art and the human condition, expressions change, formats change, and so on. But what lies beneath the white spaces, the compositions, the rhythms and contours, is that eternal element of what it means to be alive.
So whether today finds you up or down, ecstatic or forlorn, attentive or distracted, remember that the world of art, of human expression and interpretation, with all its crazy mutations and side tracks, will be with you always.
Here’s a tiny utterance among the eternal voice, with thanks to our contributors, whose words breathe life into our days.
Make it a great day. Stay healthy!
Andrea, Jeff, and Ryn
#11 – Ann Pedone
After Crossing the International Date Line – K Roberts
As Kids Back Home – Mark Madigan
Barroom Dust – Ana M. Fores Tamayo
Bell the Cat – Emalee Long
Buckboard – Mary Anna Kruch
Calendar Pages Yellowing – Steve Gerson
Can You Download Whatsapp So We Can Text While I’m Here – Jimmy Fay
Cleaning Helga’s Grave – Kevin Ridgeway
Cream No Sugar – Michael Estabrook
Cyclic Convulsions – Casey Roland
Dawnlessness – Nancy K. Jentsch
Drama – Edward Kos
Eulogy – Joel Fishbane
Fall Dinner – Martina Reisz Newberry
Father’s Foreign Cars – Gabrielle Grilli
Fissure – Syd Shaw
Grandma’s Song – Irene Fick
The High Priestess – Sherre Vernon
His words are plump – Sabina Khan-Ibarra
The History of Emptiness – Jack Ritter
I love what you did with your eyeliner – Sambhranta Bashy
I Went West – Ben Mast
In the occasional contact with life – M. Ait Ali
Jerome – Sally Vogl
JiM “80” – Max Heinegg
Let My People Go – Mark Hammerschick
Letter to My Iranian Lover – Alicia Viguer-Espert
Marvelling Upon Your Rouge Halo – Andrew LaFleche
Melody in Shades of Blue – Sophie Foster
moonlit eve – Victor Pambuccian
My dead father visits me on my birthday every year – Scott Ferry
My Window (Champaign, Illinois) – Gerald Friedman
Network Opportunity – Tobi Alfier
No Escape – Elya Braden
Old Man Winter on the Marsh – Stephen Scott Whitaker
On Reading “Skeleton Keys” by Brian Switek – Roberta Schultz
One hundred dollars – Michael Griffith
Orpheus Calls Their Bluff – Julian George
Penitence – Brigidh Duffey
Porcupine – Dave Gregory
post newtonian – Alan Gann
Prowl Me Gently – Sarah Pobuda
Robot Factory – Patrick T. Reardon
Sack and Hammer – Kristin Fullerton
The Sermon: First Baptist, 1988 – James Miller
Solanaceae Battles – Frank Babcock
Soundtrack – Gena Killion
Stealing – Michele Randall
This Flag Is Not Waving – Jack Mackey
Tongues of Fire – Ann Howells
Unwilling/Vacillating/Waiting – Scott Wiggerman
We could use poems right now – Hari Bhajan Khalsa
What Are You Glittering About? – Marianne Lyon
What the Breeze Brings – Steven Deutsch
Writing Night – Robert Nisbet
The Winding Road of Sunshine and Snow – Daniel Paton
Welcome spring! And welcome to Issue 15. Our theme for this issue is “Paper.” We encountered some lovely, expansive interpretations which we hope you’ll enjoy. While the world is abuzz with constraint and restraint, we hope this respite rejuvenates your spirit and lessens any burden you bear.
Once again, we tout the artistry of Editor Ryn Holmes, whose original photography graces our masthead. Pretty inventive and quite original!
It’s been a strange spring. We do hope this finds you healthy and fit, in all senses of the words. Some of us are facing difficult circumstances. We send what we can: our deep love and support. Take your solace, faith, and hope where you can find it and make it. We look forward to seeing you again for Issue 16 and beyond.
As always, we thank our readers and contributors. Peace to you.
Andrea, Jeff, and Ryn, Editors
Anonymous – Pavle Radonic
Aphasia – Anna Winham
Armchair Tourist – Sandy Deutscher
Body Memory – Karen George
Censoring Letters Home – Jim Ross
Cleaning House for Mother and Me – Karen Mandell
Future Textbooks – Warren Woods
The Grey Heron – Mark Heathcote
A Heads-Up Dream for Peace – Mark Blickley
I am – Mandira Pattnaik
In the Wind – Hugh Anderson
Inheritance – Dorian Kotsiopoulos
A Lesson in Colors – Kimberly Williams
Making Books at Hull House – Cynthia Gallaher
Making Do – Michele Waering
My First Poem, Age 12, For Sharon – Steve Gerson
My Mother Reads the Obituaries Out Loud – Susan Barry-Schulz
Nakamura Lock – Rich Renner
Ode to the Tree – Deonte Osayande
On Reading the Sky Between Essays – Vivian Wagner
On transcience – (Rizla™) – Henry Bladon
Paper Skin – Alan C. Smith
A Poet Reads on Instagram – Aileen Bassis
The Poet’s Writing Shed – Robert Nisbet
Polish Dining Ring – A Msou
Précis – Betsy Mars
Prosthetics – Brian Rihlmann
Sharing My Canoe – William Doreski
Snail Girl – Chuka Susan Chesney
Spaghetti – Samn Stockwell
Thin Sheaf – Susan Tepper
Tit for Tat – Lindsey Heatherly
Uncharted Waters – Christine Rhein
Underneath Your Sleeve Sketches – Roz Weaver
Uproot the Hobbling Magic – Hibah Shabkhez
Venus Did What? – Karla Linn Merrifield
Weeks of Repetition – Sudanshu Chopra
Writing Space – Angela Weiser
Yellow Wallpaper* – Holly Van Hare