FOUR FEATHERS PRESS ONLINE EDITION: BODY PARTS Send up to three poems on the subject of or just using either the words body and/or part totaling up to 150 lines in length in the body of an email message or attached in a Word file to by 11:59 PM PST on January 19th. No PDF's please. Color artwork is also desired. Please send in JPG form. No late submissions accepted. Poets and artists published in Four Feathers Press Online Edition: Body Parts will be published online and will be invited to read at the Saturday Afternoon Poetry Zoom meeting on Saturday, January 20th between 3 and 5 pm PST.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Fee Thomas

The Miracle of love

I stand right here

My eyes fill with water

I hear your ship coming to dock

I stand right here

My hands catch the water

I cannot see you coming

I sense you’re near

You touch my shoulder

My whole body turns to water

One more time

Your love makes a miracle of me

I climbed a mountain

To see the whole world

I saw everything

It saw something, too

My feet became the ledge of the mountain

The ledge of the mountain became my feet

In rushing came the mountain air

Robustly, without hesitation

Out of my chest

A murder of black birds

Each carrying the ghost of my every tear

Exhausted, I lay there exhaling

Becoming the world

Radomir Vojtech Luza

Warrior in Black

His mind

A ripe peach of a part

He died so we could live

Spoke to awaken

Led to make us free

A complex man with a huge dream

Who made it flow like a stream

Martin Luther King Jr.

Was no better than us

He merely lived life with a vision and purpose

Bringing him a monument in DC

I do not know if he loved everyone he met as a reverend

But he risked his life in prisons and marches

Ghettoes and suburbs

With a non-violent protest movement

That inspired a generation

He saw the future before it happened

Past a dark dog

Now a black cow

He righted wrong

Sang a joyous song

Integrated not segregated

Taking a bullet to the head

For the millions dead


Streams flow

Mothers sew

Sisters grow

Fathers bellow

Body parts staying mellow

Before dying like an old fellow

Restlessly trying

I am not a mannequin

Fashioned of plastic and polyester

Silk and satin

A machine built of iron and steel

Homework and feel

Dolphins and a yellow eel

I am a rose

Made of petals and thorns

Scarlet rain and loud horns

Do not make my temperature rise

I am much too wise

Loving and hating

Sinning and navigating

Never taking a sip of gin

God forgiving my grin

Needing you to spot the fin

Showing empathy for Jeremy Lin

Helping me get along with my kin

Becoming a bigger star than Rin Tin Tin

Friday, January 19, 2024

gia civerolo

 cigarettes pomo haiku


Cigarettes taste like

regrets first thing to her lips

In the bright morning

my body is…

My body

My body is

My body is young

My body cartwheels across 

the park’s green grass

A WWI rusted, green cannon

 is where I stand like a winner’s podium

waving at cars, hoping they notice me


My body

My body is

My body is swimming in pools 

on my back to blue ribbons

My body still slices through

 borrowed pools,100 laps

Clouds stop to watch me


My body

My body is

My body is strong, flowing and diving

through ocean waves,

Racing dolphins who stop to perform just for me

They fly through the water, away

no matter how much I plead


My body

My body is

My body is able to create life

Labor is worse than running a marathon

The prize smiles 

Making your heart race, sing, and cry


My body

My body is

My body is getting old but still knows what to do

How to dance and move

Stretching across the past

Reaching on tippy-toe to the future


My body

My body is

My body is strong

My body is not wrong

My body is all I want it to be 

despite what mothers

and magazine covers 

might say to me


My body

My body is

My body is beautiful

My body is beautiful

My body is beautiful

her memory never smiles anymore


Her memory never smiles anymore

Fog does not disappear in the morning

like drops of dew on pink velvet petals

Her body is still strong, out pacing me up three

flights of stairs, despite being eighty,

despite being decades older than me


Her memory never smiles anymore

Her breath does not calm her like it used to

like ocean salt waves healing all wounds

Nothing will return the loss of her brain

Exacerbating the black fear that feeds the anger—

the only thing she remembers to eat most days


Her memory never smiles anymore

Sitting in a Zen lotus position in front of an altar

Crying for no apparent reason

Hoarding possessions, she doesn’t 

know why they mean so much

but they mean so much 

Hiding them away from invisible villains

Crying for days when she can’t find them


Her memory never smiles anymore

Incense wafting through the apartment 

Igniting my memory not hers 

Gift words she gave so full of intentions 

Sawing away at all of our generational trauma

always so soothing, Hawaiian waterfalls, falling

We were marathon runners finally, 

breaking ribbons at the finish lines, panting

hugging, thinking we were past the worst

Free, not realizing how bad it was yet to be


Her memory never smiles anymore

She lashes out at me again

Cutting my heart into mosaic pieces

Hanging it, art on her wall

I tell her it is the disease shouting, blaming me

She screams I don’t know anything 

Ferociously saying I never cared

I tell her she doesn’t mean it

She cuts me out of her will

Her memory never smiles anymore

Her compassionate nurse’s heart

Is now just a constant tongue lashing,

slashing me

She has no patience for her patient self


I try to make my memory smile for her

Remind myself of who she used to be

How much she meant to me

The burden of her behavior

tears the photo image of her past self

away from me, fading fast along with

the last of her memory


Sadly, my memory smiles

at the near future when

she will no longer remember who I am

Happy she’ll forget

how mad she is at me all of the time


My memory frowns sadly as I try to grapple

with the logic of what is happening

My emotions get the better of me

I can’t find the antidote to the poison

The memory as she stands 

In front of me no longer smiles

It is all so heartbreaking and exhausting

I am exhausted


Her memory never smiles anymore

I try to breath the heaviness

In my chest away where the brightness

of the moon has chosen to hide

Velvet darkness drapes all her days

The disease is a savage warrior

Eating the heart of its enemy

Delighting in the bitter taste

of me not being able to do anything

Forcing me to forget how she used to be


Her memory never smiles anymore

There is no knowing 

There is no remembering

until my child smiles at me

Reminding me 

how beautiful a memory can be

Lori Wall-Holloway


Turmoil bombards my thoughts

through fearful deception

that penetrates my eyes and ears

I must step back and choose to turn

from the distractions in order

to hear God’s still, small whisper

speak truth and encouragement

so that the chaos will not infiltrate

my heart


Rick Leddy


There is a place
A thin line
On your inner thigh
Where my lips butterfly
Touching, but not landing
You catch your breath
As I fly away
There is
A curve
A hint of destination
My tongue follows
As your head tilts back
Lips parting slowly
Revealing another journey
I want to take
There is a rendezvous
Behind your ear
Where I have revealed all my secrets
A summer breeze here then gone
Your answer an exhalation
There is a sigh
The shared heartbeat
Of becoming one
That I miss
As it whispers
In our twilight


R A Ruadh


I lie awake

your breathing soft on my neck

tangling with my hair

tracing my ear

Warm feet enfold

one another our arches and

toes commingling with  

tender care

You stir quietly

covering my hand in yours

twining our fingers one by one


Our skins instinctively seek  

ways to wrap and melt a little closer

touches inspiring sighing caresses

two as one

Talking Tattoos

The hummingbird graces

her calf from ankle to knee

ready to lift up in swift flight

with each step she takes

His snakes wind around

and around his arm and across

his back to shoulder and slithering down

embrace his wrist

She walks through the door of my shop

on the first spring day and

sweaterless reveals a

jungle of tropical flowers

The triskelion at the base of

her spine is only revealed

to one who can be trusted

to honour all of her

She has endured the sacredness

of days long ceremony

claiming her Samoan lineage

from limb to limb

He wears bracelets of

his children’s names

each one locked on his arm

with links of hearts

Her geckos peek over her

shoulder from behind her back

and around her neck I swear

one blinked at me

Patricia Murphy


I am blessed to have all my body parts.  

They work well for my body type.  

I am happy.  

My body is in great shape. 

I can walk. 

I can move, 

I can talk.  

I can hear. 

I can see. 

I can smell. 

I can breathe. 

I love my body.  

I take care of it. 

It's a wonderful piece of work. 


I see a lot of people 

With different parts. 

Some people have no legs. 

Others have no arms. 

Some have no fingers. 

Others have no feet. 

Some have no toes.  

It's great to have parts. 

Like parts of a car. 

The all work together. 

They all stick together. 

All the parts love and 

Adore each other.  

Deborah Edler Brown

He comes to her in dreams


Sometimes he comes as a foot

strong, high arched, well placed on the ground.

Toward her, away from her, doesn’t matter.

The foot is on her path.


Sometimes he is a heron.

She doesn’t know what a heron looks like,

how she knows he is one, but there it is:

a rustle of wings, feathers across her face, flight.


Once he was a mountain.

The long trek up his slope left her faint,

breathless, but the connection  – her feet,

his back – was home.


He comes to her in dreams.

No flash of recognition. No

there he is, the foot, the heron, the mountain again

She almost doesn’t realize.

She thinks she does not dream him.


But it is there – the subtle yes

the path, the wing, the climb

She knows him.

He lingers in first light

and she knows.



Mail Call


I am sending you this postcard as a promise.

I will send my face one day soon to follow.

I will come to you in parts.


First my face.

Then my mind.

My laughter will come alone.


Then my anger.


If you accept it – coming certified, you must sign.

If you accept it, I will send my sorrow, my smile, and

sweet kisses, one a week, three weeks running.


One morning, it will be a long leg

to wear like a belt -- or a holster -- in your dreams.

One day arms, a pair, to wrap like blankets.


Sit quietly for the last.


It will not come First Class.

It will not come by mail at all. It will come

on foot, walking from here to there.


Spirits travel slowly. The sound barrier

shatters them. High altitudes untune them,

like fine guitars.


One day, when the mail is assembled,

you will awaken, and I will be there,

cross-legged on your bed, rearranging


postcards on your chest. 

All you have to do is say

Good morning.




Still here falling


Fall here by me

   onto the still wet grass

      Let your body sink

         into the lap of earth

            Put your head in mine


Lay very still here

   Fall into easy sleep

      knowing I won't let you

         fall any further      knowing I

            will still be here when you awake 


Still as you fall here

   be still and hold my hand

      so I don't fall from this safety

         (this safety of your head in my lap)

            between the time your eyes shut and open again


Kiss me    here

   before you fall asleep

      and here    and I will fall gently

         into a breath that matches yours

                 and still will fall

               as you lie here in slumber

                       on the still wet grass 


Something here in these words

   lets me fall  pulls me down

      still deeper into thoughts

              like ripples falling    here

                 into the quiet wishing part of me


that falls in love with you

   when you are here with me

      (still for a moment)

         and still falls for you

            as you fall away from me



In this dream of falling words

   (words falling still)    I dream

      of still moments on the still wet grass

         when your head might fall    gently

            into my lap     and my heart might fall


safely    into your still warm hands

   and we might be here

      together        still

         still falling together

            and falling into each other



Dean Okamura

Tell me I'm not the only one

This quiet holds tense anticipation

somewhere between anxiety and hope

                                                       A pause

Uneasy silent waiting

head sinuses pressed by unknown hands

It's time to move but dread of taking

the wrong step checks my resolve


Beyond the safety of my room


Lies a world bent on destruction

Yet my challenge is small

to venture forth

With my body growing frail

and my mind running wild


You will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever … what-ever

January 1, (2024),
I'm lying in bed with my aging body,
Kind of tired,
Not sure if I want to get up or what to do.




It's been five minutes since I wrote that last line.


I'm still in bed.


     I guess I could wait another hour
     Before I find the power
     To get up and take a shower.
     This rhyme is getting sour.


I get it.


     Get up!
     Happy New Year!
     2024 will be wonderful,
     Happy, prosperous,
     Everything you ever wanted.
     You will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever … what-ever.


I feel like a baseball.
Somebody threw me really hard at the catcher.
I hit the ground,
Then I went astray.
I'm stuck in that wiry fence.
And someone needs to take me out,
So take me out, take me out, out …


     Out of this bed,
     Out of my silly head,
     Out …


Oh, not that again!


Marianne Szlyk

Effaced Amy Winehouse

Ms. Hawthorn thinks about the space
where the sticker’s line drawing used to be,
showing how the singer in her afterlife
had hardened into a gaunt carapace.

Amy’s hair extensions were bundled
up into a cross between a beret
and a turban.  Her face
sharpened.  She was silent.

A matching powder blue wool suit,
white high-necked blouse, and pearls
covered her tattooed body
smeared with blacks, reds, and greens.

All this is gone,
the body cremated,
the sticker peeled off.
Ms. Hawthorn supposes
the voice will soon follow.

Previously published in Setu.


Dancing in Watertown

Heat surrounds her, weighing her down.
Sweat on other people’s bodies pops
like the beat of this song.

She stands at the edge
of the dance floor, cut off
by funk from couples who touch.

A man slithers towards her,
reeling her in with ringless fingers,
far slower than this music.

Her back against the wall,
she pretends to dance.  He keeps
reeling her in until she

peels herself off the wall. 
Wary, in the small space
left to her, she circles him 

without touching
until he breaks off
before the song is over.

He circles the room
to dance with

the next girl who’s alone,

reeling her in
without touching,
then letting her go.

Originally published in Loch Raven Review.




Two Portraits of La Carmencita, Roma Dancer

After paintings by John Singer Sargent (1890)
and James Carroll Beckwith (1907)

Imagine the young girl,
a dancer since she was
five or six, stepping over
this heavy wood frame
to skip across bamboo,
stepping free from her world
of corsets and stiff cloth.
Thick gold paint that shimmers
and gleams does not weigh her down.

Imagine the woman, body
pale except for rouge, no
longer imperious.  This
time she holds a guitar,
smiles sweetly.  She remains
on the other side of
the gilt frame.  She stays in
the world of stiff corsets,
coal dust, and artists who
will paint her brown face as
white as their own.

Mary Mayer Shapiro


When will you learn

Hamas attacked Israel

Twelve hundred people


Arms, legs, Head, eyes

Burned, detached

Hostages taken

Hid in Gaga

Did you not see

Israel defended itself

Gaga is destroyed

Hamas used Palestinians

As human shields

Hospitals, schools, religious buildings

Place to hide weapons

Why do you let

Hezbollah shoot from

Your borders

Unite with Israel

Rid the world of terrorist

Or they will rid

The rest of the world

Goes Around, Comes Around

Palestine does not

Want peace

Let Hamas rule the land

When missiles fly into Israel

Palestinians become collaborators

Agree or do nothing

When Hamas

Attack twelve hundred people

Beheaded, torched, raped

Palestinians cheered

When people were abducted

Palestinians beat the hostages

Palestinians boys tormented

A six year old Israel boy

Palestinians cheered

When women were paraded nude

Palestinians cheered

When Israel fought back

Palestinians cried

Hamas hid weapons

In hospitals, schools, religious buildings

Used Palestinians as human shields

Took Red Cross aid

For themselves

What was the Palestinians thinking

Taught to hate the Jews

Eliminate all Jews

When Flyers went out

Where Israel would bomb

Palestinians were to leave

Palestine must take responsibility

For their actions

Now Palestinians know what terrorist are about

Do they still believe

Perhaps now they will

Make peace with Israel


Hamas committed an act

Of terrorism in Israel

Twelve hundred people

Beheaded, torched, rape

Israel fought back

And is winning

Now pro Palestinians

Want cease fire

So Hamas can regroup

Pro Palestinians rally

For Israel to stop

Are they American citizens

Then they should be for America

And the eight Americans held hostage

By Hamas

If not leave the life in America

And all it has to offer

Go back to Palestine and let Hamas

Terrorists take care of you

Use you as human shields, take your food

If that is the leader you believe in

Assassins For Hire

To eliminate

To get rid of

Without getting

Your hands dirty

Iran, Iran, Iran

Supporting all the terrorists

First the Jews

Then the Christians

Who will be next

Human life will

Have not meaning

Heads thrown here

Arms and legs cast about

We all cannot

Think alike

We need diversity

Of religion

Agree to disagree

We must come together

To rid the world of terrorism

PJ Swift

Old Time Selfies

They loved their childhood and had nothing but the fondest memories.   But when they looked back critically, years later, as parents themselves, some things did strike them as just plain wrong.  Their school teacher, Ms. Pines, for instance, was in hindsight a total mess.  She clearly prepared all her lessons with a primitive form of Chat AI, using it as well to write their school play which was a sentimental disaster. She also spent too much time in the teachers lounge, taking quick risque selfies of body parts that she would then crudely touch up and send to potential suitors.  And, she vaped a lot, while taking all sorts of antidepressant medication that was later banned as harmful.  What a funky messed up time their childhood was.  Not that they had all that much time for reminiscing, with all the crap they now had to deal with.

Harry's Hat

People felt uneasy in Harry's presence. This was instinctual. They couldn't quite put their finger on why that was -- though explicitly, just about everyone could single out him wearing that hat, an anachronistic bowler, as an act of pretension, the mark of the poser. 

But Harry's being a poser was just a ruse to protect himself with distraction. Harry didn't mind being derided as poser. What he feared was being despised for who he was. 

Harry disappeared for several years. When he returned, lumbering even taller than before, thanks to his high heels and his expression now relaxed and brushed with heavy doses of make-up, Harry was primped up as never before. But he was no longer a poser. Harry was free, self-glorious and unencumbered. And, he had lost the bowler hat. 

No need to lift a finger

When the regime outlawed dreaming no one took it seriously.  How could dreaming be prevented or monitored?  When the authorities demonstrated the dream machines on television, to prove that they could, the devices looked so ridiculous and inoperative that people found it laughable. But once a few people were singled out to be made an example of, the decree no longer felt so funny.  The dream-monitoring contraptions were ridiculously amateur. But the coercion and torture applied by the authorities was anything but.  It was ruthless and effective. Confessions sprouted forth rapidly, and fear reigned throughout.  People became too terrified to dream.  Many avoided sleeping all together.  Others, when slipping into accidental reverie, immediately turned themselves in.  And then there were the suicides, and family members, and sleeping partners, who informed on each other.  The act of dreaming became not an escape but a torturous activity: having one immediately launched an experience of pure terror.  Once this phenomenon had spread, the authorities no longer had a need to enforce any of their decrees. Their aims were being fully met without having to lift a finger.

Fee Thomas

The Miracle of love I stand right here My eyes fill with water I hear your ship coming to dock I stand right here My hands catch the water I...