South American Quartet by Ward Kelley

South American Quartet by Ward Kelley

 South American Quartet by Ward Kelley

South American Quartet

Ward Kelley



It would be better if trees burned people,
instead of these great fires we use to cloud
our sinful souls from ghosts of our futures.

Yet if trees burned us, smoke would be blacker,
and the smell of those flames not maternal,
protecting, as the scent of smoldering
wood assuages us.

Your black skin smells like safety, a hearth fire;
I didn’t think it, expecting wild
or spice smells to your thighs, not guessing you
so custodial.
I first saw you across the bus, when you
turned to apprehend my admiring eyes,
for beautiful women always quickly
detect him when a man looks them over.

It’s an evolved sense, is it not? To see
the man quickly, before any possible
impact occurs? Yet now your ancient eyes
assented there within your youthful face,
and I uplifted
like smoke wafting through foreign lands, a ghost
who learns nothing from the forests we burn
and burn, never learning why your dark limbs
seek to protect love, as deftly as you
deliver salvation to a white man.


You see, I wandered into the dead ones here,
in barren jungles filled with these odd ghosts
who don’t yet know how to use the tropics;
I first saw dead ones when they cavorted
across your black thigh . . . my hand sleepily
slid over your dark, custodial skin,
kicking up the dead ones like tiny imps
of dust flickering in rays of sunlight
which will penetrate a musty jungle.

I can feel your soft, penetrating skin
as a receptor of souls, and perhaps
this is where I belonged, there within you . . .
ah, little wisps, dead souls, syncopated
to my own soul, they say, “we all struggle,
struggle to belong . . . once there, we
all struggle, struggle to escape again.”
But why would they pronounce such cruel words here
on the tropics of your childless flesh?

Your black skin whispers one final message,
how we all produce such contrary lives,
and even the dead ones who now kick up
the earthy dust of our own breathing pulse
cannot accept contrary impulses
driving us both, pulsing, living and dead . . .

so salvation comes,
but it comes repeatedly . . .
by touching someone new . . .



Help me, help me, I am never coming
back to these wearisome mountains, never
returning to your cleverly black skin . . .
for white men do not truly ever know
how to simply return to pure women
who waited, and endured, for centuries.
Save me, save me, I never left, for good,
your custodial skin, never wandered
off from the belief in what waits for me
at your thighs, at your lips: the dead wait there . . .
you never told me your skin acted so
clever as to provide maternity
for both dead and breathing, and I now see
you are the words, but your eyes danced again,
again with joy from such consummation.
You now sought to marry me with the dead.
Yet must I leave? It’s not you who sends me
away, and not the dead . . . who always flit . . .
then at the circumference I felt it,
how I cannot see the enormity
of the terrible problem the dead souls
must solve, while they, themselves, flitting by,
do not own solutions provided me
by touching skin.


Then in the end, I walk alone;
there are no dead ones with their
rather odd counsel . . . no darkened
sirens whose black skin redeems
even the white devils . . . no
country, foreign, sensual,
where I can blend into the mass
of jungle souls.

There walks my own soul, alone,
given the chore to make sense
of this: this through which we wade,
this of which we touch, this skin
in which I live . . .

the worst of the loneliness
comes when I miss part of me –
the consequential pieces –
left behind me

as the price for loving you,
here in the foreign country
in which we breathe . . .

we love this terrible trade:
knowledge for flesh.

Danger Poem by Ward Kelley

Flexed Against the Danger
Ward Kelley

Trust cannot ever be spoken,
for it is the aphrodisiac of faith

and, like perfume, it cannot be seen
or heard or even described; it can

only be sensed as an aroma by
the soul who is always flexed

against the danger of false lovers.
Trust cannot ever be spoken, and

the one who does speak it instead
kills it, for trust can only be earned,

quietly and steadily, always by the acts
of the lovers and never by their words.

History of the Ghost Poem by Ward Kelley

History of the Ghost
Ward Kelley

The ghost observes his daughter graduate
from college, receiving her degree in

history; to his view she appears entirely
too young to be accepting this diploma,

she still seems to be ten years old, with
eyes who could look upon the ghost and

see only good, see the man devoid of all
his flaws, and it was this flaw of her own

sight that made the ghost worship her, for
no one else had ever sustained this degree

of admiration for such a long time, indeed
time usually diminished such acceptance,

turning most others into eventual endorsement
of all his ghostly properties . . . and here she

goes, in awkward gown, walking forcefully
toward the podium, her eyes tilted to an odd

degree, as though she saw the ghost hovering
at her elbow, thanking her ever so reverently.

A Door In The Ocean by David McGlynn review by Edward Beshears

A Door in the Ocean- A Memoir- David McGlynn
A Door in the Ocean- A Memoir- David McGlynn

New book: A Door In The Ocean by David McGlynn. The new book A door In The Ocean is a fascinating story where David reflects on the unsolved murder of his closest friend and high school teammate. We thought this new book has a great story line and David does a wonderful job in the new book of dramatizing swims in open water.

New Book

A Door In The Ocean by David McGlynn relives an event that shattered peers and led the author into the radical world of evangelical Christianity. A second swimming-related tragedy and the prospect of fatherhood caused McGlynn to question his beliefs.

More information on the book can be found at: NPR, A Door In The Ocean.

New Book

Here is an excerpt from A Door In The Ocean by David McGlynn:

“In the ocean, I was not afraid, though I had plenty of reason to be. The water was dark and cold, the waves could swell to enormous heights, and no one knew where I was. I didn’t want anyone to know where I was. I wanted to edge away from myself. I’d left everything I owned on shore, and feeling the cold water work its way into the creases of skin beneath my arms and behind my knees, I was reduced to the raw dimensions of my anatomy, all body, no spirit, and so free from the burdens my spirit demanded.”

We hope you enjoy David’s new book!

Review by Edward Beshears

Fidelities Poem by Elisha Porat

My Old Fidelities

My old fidelities,
Oh, my old fidelities have abandoned me
Lately, as though they already observe
My impending fade, my nearing oblivion
Which comes sneaking toward me.
My old fidelities,
I revere them: a far off Mount Hermon,
The ash of oak trees, the smoke of bonfires,
Sweet Tea, a drink with old friends,
Forgotten notebooks whose leaves
Are badly torn, your arm that was
Stretched to me at the grove with the thin
Hair that wonders and waves
Within the wind, the silent movie of my
Old sights who always escape from me,
And that heartrending pursuit, to chase
All what was . . . and will never be again.

© 2004 Elisha Porat
translated from the Hebrew by the author and Ward Kelley

The Young Students Poem by Elisha Porat

The Young Students

“The young dead soldiers do not speak.

Nevertheless, they are heard in the still houses: who has not heard them?
They have a silence that speaks for them at night when the clock counts.”
— Archibald MacLeish.

On the morning of Memorial Day I walk into the class.
“The young dead soldiers do not speak.
Nevertheless, they are heard . . . ”
I read to my young students;
My voice echoes in the silent space of the class.
Their eyes are fastened to my lips,
Fear beats upon my face:

I’m the one who knows,
I’m the one who remembers;
I bite my lip, and begin to cry.

Abruptly I flee from the classroom,
As the eyes of my young students
Drill into the silent space in my brain.
Speak to me, dear children,
How I truly need to hear
Your voices now.

Translated from the Hebrew by Elisha Porat and Ward Kelley

Sexuality of the Dead Poem by Ward Kelley

Sexuality of the Dead
Ward Kelley

“Our sexuality,” the dead ones wish
to enter a topic that I usually avoid
at all costs, “is terribly difficult
to convey to those of you entrapped

in the breathing with all your
malfunctioning fleshy addendum.”
I shoo then away — wispy, giant
mosquitoes — but they always

flit right back in. “Now listen,
listen, you need the sex to catch
a hint of our own mortality,
but as communication from

breathing one to breathing one
it really is a faulty device.”
Who can argue? “But over
on this side of the soul, oozing

around without bodies, the sex
is purely one of communication,
dead one to dead one, and one
does it all the time, time,

all the time . . . until one yearns
too much for imperfect flesh:
so time must then become more
solid for one thus afflicted, so much

they find all the time to be born back.”

Credit list:


Two novels, “Divine Murder” and “Keenly Alive, Tony,”
are represented by The Sternig & Byrne Literary Agency


“comedy incarnate,” forthcoming on cd rom
by Kedco Studios (Las Vegas, NV)

“histories of souls” forthcoming as an ebook
by Word Wrangler Publishing, Inc.

Of the 608 published pieces, some have found their way into:


ACM, Another Chicago Magazine
The GSU Review
The Listening Eye
The Lucid Stone
Mad Poets Review
The Old Red Kimono
Porcupine Literary Magazine
River King
Sulphur River Review


Big Bridge
Lynx: poetry from Bath
Poetry Magazine.Com
The Rose & Thorn
San Francisco Salvo
2River View
Unlikely Stories


Betrayed by the Very Soul Poem by Ward Kelley

Betrayed by the Very Soul
Ward Kelley


pounce, it will pounce
and it will fall, it will sidle
and it will stall yet all the while

slide from side to sunny
side, slipping here to there,
out the back, then up the wall,

across the yard and through
the fence, down the alley,
down the gutter, up the sluice,

then rolling, rolling into
the pathways of your heart,
artery here, vein throb there,

pump, pump, breathe in,
breathe out, pump, pump,
then flop the substance

of it all from the dumptruck
that at last became your heart,
dumped into the coal bin of your

very soul, and that was what
the pounce was all about,
you know, the pounce, the little

pounce, it’s how you slipped
back inside the breathing,
never intending . . . perhaps

wanting, but never saying so,
perhaps considering, but never
taking a step, an actual step,

then betrayed, or fulfilled,
but mostly betrayed, by your very
soul who always thinks it knows

much more than you.