Memento Mori by Dona Murphy

Voices speaking, I can barely hear them;
clouds shrouding the moon muffle and baffle.
But I heard and once I heard I had to listen
and once I listened I had to go. Go
out into the stone-dark night and the moon-white
there in the dark was a light in the dark
from the ground, all around
up rose the bones ash grey and dull silver.
Theirs were the voices that called
begging to be pulled from the dark, to be…
My hands dirt-smeared and damp, I draw them
out: long and slim, short and round
Thigh and shin, knee and skull-crown.
Gleaming clean, freed of flesh
they bear no scars.
They shine in the light of the stars.
They whisper thanks, they murmur their stories
they call softly to the ghosts who miss them
the spirits who seek them, who want only to be with them –
together, together again.
When? They ask, when?

About the Author: Dona Murphy

Dona Murphy is the owner of Destiny Tarot. She lives and works in Lake Bluff Illinois as a Tarot reader, Intuitive Counselor and Life Coach. Dona combines her metaphysical and spiritual studies, natural gifts and real-world experience to help her clients solve problems and live their best lives. As she says, “The cards don’t predict your future, they help you create it”.

Jukebox by Pat West


I spent my early years at Scotty’s Place,
in a rural area sixty miles outside Chicago.
Out in corn and dairy farm country
and I still recall the warm brush of angora wool
against my glass, as you leaned over
to read what I had to give, to discover
everything inside me. In 1968, things changed.

You kids left for college or to fight a war
you didn’t believe in.
The new owner packed me off
to storage. For years I stood disconnected
beside my old pal the pinball machine,
next to a refrigerator without a door,
a steering wheel leaning against my back.
Dust motes haze the air, windows thick with grime.

It’s true my needle is dull
and my tone arm sometimes slips
across the music, but my gut’s filled
with all your favorites. Remember
night after Friday night,
how you’d punch that red and white button
F6: It’s Now or Never
and my arm would reach up,
pick the 45, place it on the turntable
in that smoky room. You danced eyes closed,
head tilted back, swaying slow and easy.
When Elvis sang, It’s now or never, be mine tonight,
every girl thought that lanky Southern boy with gyrating hips
meant those words just for her.

Today you’ve hauled me to the cemetery
and placed me over Scotty’s grave
instead of a headstone.
Rather than flowers, you bring rolls of quarters.
I notice lines bracketing your mouth.
You insert ten dollars in even change.
Light-headed, feet pounding the grass, you dance
back those days of rock-and-crazy-roll. I watch
your hips sway and I’m back in that magical spot
once again, I put on my light show,
after all I’m a Wurlitzer peacock,
pulsing green, gold and yellow.

About the Author: Pat West

Pat Phillips West lives in Olympia, WA. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, her work has appeared in Haunted Waters Press, Persimmon Tree, VoiceCatcher, San Pedro River Review, Slipstream, Gold Man Review and elsewhere.

Instrumental: The Persistence of Memory – Retrogrades by Dona Murphy

We’ve been under the powerful influence of retrograde planets lately. We’ve just completed a Venus retrograde and right on its heels, a Mercury retrograde began. A long list of “re-”s accompany these retrogrades: regret, remorse, review, redo, revisit, revise, re-evaluate; sometimes the “re”turn of ghosts from the past. All of these can be gifts to us. They’re an invitation to look to the past for what’s “re”levant and use it to our best benefit in the present.

The Venus retrograde through Libra and Scorpio increased passion and sexual tension. This affected real-time interactions with current or former lovers and partners – or both. It also affected dreams and memories, with the past springing up at unexpected moments.

Did you feel a longing for the past? Did your memories of a relationship with a former lover make you feel uncomfortable? Sad? Aroused?

My own surfacing memories prompted me to meditate on the Six of Cups – the Minor Arcana Tarot card that keys to reminiscence, return and memories of past experiences and associations. In short, the card is symbolic of nostalgia. This card’s astrological correspondence is the Sun in Scorpio.

In the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot there is less emphasis on the sexual aspects of the Sun in Scorpio. Its general meanings are nostalgia, revisiting the past, recalling childhood memories, and also joy and pleasure. In reverse and under the influence of the Venus retrograde – we may have discovered that we were clinging to the past or trying to live in the past; dwelling on past hurts and disappointments; yearning for past relationships or people that were not healthy for us or that we’ve outgrown and no longer serve us.

Using the Crowley-Harris or Thoth Tarot, the general meaning of the card is more centrally focused on the most natural expression of the Sun in Scorpio. All forms of pleasure – including sexual fulfillment – are inherent in this card. There is both a depth and a natural transcendence here that goes beyond the momentary gratification of desire. In union with another, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This is our highest consciousness expressed through our emotions and feelings. If ill-dignified – as is possible under the influence of retrograde Venus transiting Scorpio – unhealthy sexual expression, jealousy and attracting the wrong partners may have been the outcome.

Our longing for the past – that sometimes inexplicable deep-dive into memories and feelings – all slightly tinged with melancholy, can take up a lot of emotional real estate.

I experienced a series of highly-detailed and vivid dreams about some of my past lovers. On many mornings I woke feeling almost hungover, thinking about the past and re-experiencing feelings I hadn’t examined for many years. I will confess to some quick Google searches (I plead human frailty). To my credit, I didn’t take any impulsive or potentially destructive actions.

But I did allow myself to reframe my feelings and put them into the context of my present life (pretty damn good) and my present relationship (damn good). I can’t claim to have learned something completely new but I was able to look at the present from a refreshed, positive and contented perspective. The gift of a retrograde indeed.

Then, just as Venus stationed direct on November 16th, Mercury went retrograde. Although it will spend a brief portion of this retrograde in Scorpio, most of this transit will be through Sagittarius. During 2018 all of the Mercury retrograde periods have been in Fire signs – Aries, Leo and now Sagittarius.

The energy of Mercury in Sagittarius can be difficult to manage. This planet and the sign have much in common such as communication, travel and education. But Mercury the Messenger is more concerned with the local, short-term and specific while Sagittarius the Archer has his arrow aimed at the higher, long-term and global aspects of these areas. Reconciling these as complementary energies or allowing them to cause conflict is the challenge.

The Minor Arcana Tarot Card corresponding to Mercury in Sagittarius is the Eight of Wands. Both the Rider-Waite-Smith and Crowley-Harris (Thoth) Tarot share the general meaning of this card: swiftness, action, ambition, travel and rapid transmission of information; dynamic events and communication.

When reversed or ill-dignified as they may be under the influence of Mercury retrograde – there may be communication breakdowns, misunderstandings, technological glitches or failures, anxiety, tension, delayed or canceled travel plans and a slow-down or stop to our activities.

In addition this retrograde shares with the Venus retrograde the tendency to dwell on former experiences, reminisce about the past, or unexpectedly meet up with people from your past.

See? True to retrograde form, we’ve returned to where we started. Catch you on the flip side.

About the Author: Dona Murphy

Dona Murphy is the owner of Destiny Tarot. She lives and works in Lake Bluff Illinois as a Tarot reader, Intuitive Counselor and Life Coach. Dona combines her metaphysical and spiritual studies, natural gifts and real-world experience to help her clients solve problems and live their best lives. As she says, “The cards don’t predict your future, they help you create it”.

Face Time by John Hulme

Facetime_01 by John Hulme

I was in Scotland this time last year…


…soaking up mountain rain.

…scribbling in margins.

So here I am, a year later, thinking about going again, while trying to grow my face back over this eerie blank thing that used to be John.

Actually, I had big plans for this year before my face faded.  I was really gonna break eggs with a big stick, Scotland-wise.

I was planning to do the full 96 miles of the West Highland Way.  I was planning to journal it.  I was planning to…

Oh, I dunno.  It’s all kinda hazy now.  But it was good stuff at the time.

Sitting here in the flat, tweaking closed curtains, closed options and the tail end of a period as an eccentric, shadowy recluse, I find myself drawn back inexorably to a guest house/pub in Oban.

Given my tendency to end up on shorelines, Oban was like a home from home, only with an extra flavouring of mountains.  It’s the place where the ferries set off for the Western isles.

I stayed there a couple of times during my wanders last year, and something about my last evening there proved particularly memorable.

I was enjoying a pint or four in the bar on what turned out to be a quiet night for local trade.  As tends to happen at such times, I found myself sharing more and more life stuff with the bartender.

This is always a hit-and-miss activity – especially when beer is involved.  But on that particular night, there seemed to be a sense of genuine connection in the air.

It was one of those evenings where the air feels rich enough to tease your face back out from behind its wounds.

Stunning mountain scenery can do this with breathless abandon.

Watching the tide roll in on island shores can do this.

But feeling your face begin to unfurl its textures in the presence of another human being…  that’s a whole other deal, no matter how many spectacular the mountain rains are.

Perhaps that’s why a couple of offhand comments about the West Highland Way, which I had discovered on my wanders, and explored a little, seemed to grow some extra gravitas.

We talked about what doing it would mean, what it would say about where my life has been in these past few difficult years…  and what it would say to others who are in such a place now.

It occurs to me that the main reason I have held on to the thought of doing that walk, the main reason it haunts me now, as I find myself hiding behind curtains…

Well, I guess it’s all about those moments in bars, where we suddenly feel shareable again in a world without faces.

About the author, John Hulme

John HulmeJohn Hulme is a British writer from the Wirral, a small peninsula near Liverpool in the North of England. Trained in journalism (in which he has a masters degree), John’s first love was storytelling, trying to make sense of the world around him using his offbeat imagination. Since the death of his mother in 2010, John’s work has grown increasingly personal, and has become heavily influenced by Christian mysticism. This has led to the publication of two poetry books, Fragments of the Awesome (2013) and The Wings of Reborn Eagles (2015). A mix of open mike performances, speaking engagements and local community radio appearances has opened up new avenues which John is now eager to pursue. He is hoping to go on a kind of busking road trip fairly soon, provisionally titled Writer seeks gig, being John.


A Rose Colored Sunday Evening by Bernie Brown

Nostalgia can be as comforting as Linus’s blanket. Don’t take my word for it, science has actually proven it. Idealized memories of one’s past improve self-esteem, enhance confidence, and even increase bodily warmth. It is a powerful positive force, beneficial to your health and well being.

A wistful view of the past triggers much of my writing, a longing to recreate the life I remember as a child in Iowa. Small independent businesses were the norm, music came to us over the radio, and television programs—from domestic comedies to crime shows—shared idealized characters and world views. Part of me knows that even then, there were horrors in the world, but the rosy glow of memory leaves those out.

Writing about that world appeals to me so much more than writing about contemporary times when most activities involve shiny, silver, cold, hard technological devices. Nostalgia allows me to write about the sound of the music on the radio, the smell of summer through an open window, and the taste of popcorn popped on the stove in a saucepan. And the clothes! How I love the clothes, and that they were made from fabrics that had names like seersucker and boucle.

Just to hear Frank Sinatra crooning “Fly Me to the Moon” transports me back to a winter Sunday evening on the farm watching the Ed Sullivan show on our black and white television. I sat on the floor playing with my dolls. My parents sat in their usual spots. Dad slouched on the couch in his undershirt, expertly peeling an apple with a paring knife and sharing the slices, while Mom sat in her chair flipping through a seed catalog. I believed that the romantic and glamorous world Frank Sinatra sang about would one day be mine.

While ole blue eyes had my attention, my brother talked on the phone in the kitchen, having stretched the lengthy, slinky-style cord around the corner from the dining room. We had only one phone in the house, and we kids all had our strategies for keeping conversations private.

Periodically, my brother’s laugh floated into the living room and Dad would turn to the spot where the phone should have been and say, “Get off now. That’s long enough.” After two or three such admonitions, Dad would set aside his apple and paring knife with the shake of his head and a sigh, go address my brother directly, and then resignedly return to the couch.

One of my older sisters waited for her date to pick her up, keeping her eyes on the outside lane, watching for the headlights of a ’52 Chevy or a ’57 Mustang to crest the hill and signal the arrival of her steady. Secretly, I looked forward to my sisters’ dates as much as they did. I had crushes as big as our barn on their boyfriends. My dearest hope was that when they knocked on the door and stepped inside, maybe—just maybe—the boy would look at me and say hi. And then my night would have been made, and I would be more than the invisible kid sister.

I loved the way my sisters dressed in their straight skirts and matching sweaters with detachable lace collars arranged at the neck. They wore makeup and used hairspray and were on their way to movies. To me, the kid on the floor living in the pretend world of my dolls, my sisters’ lives seemed almost as glamorous as the ones Frank sang about.

A few years later, a colored television sat where the black and white model once had, and Petula Clark was Ed Sullivan’s guest. A-line skirts replaced straight ones. My brother had his license, a car, and a steady girl, the same one from the phone conversation. And I was waiting for my date. The handsome young man knocking on the door was for me.

Each era gives way to the next, and for somebody someday, any era—even this one with all its shiny technology—will be looked back at longingly as more ideal than the one in which they find themselves. As the scientists discovered, and as I can personally attest to, writing this nostalgic view of a typical Sunday night from my childhood has enhanced my happiness quotient, raised my body temperature, and made all things seem possible. It has given me as much comfort as a small child gets from its favorite blanket.

About the Author: Bernie Brown

Bernie Brown lives in Raleigh, NC where she writes, reads, sews, and watches birds. Her stories have appeared in Modern Creative Living, Belle Reve, Still Crazy, the Raleigh News and Observer, and several more. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, is a Writer in Residence at the Weymouth Center, and a member of Women’s Fiction Writers Association. One of her stories will appear in an upcoming anthology of short story contest winners from Grateful Steps Publishing. She is currently trying to find a publisher for her first novel. Get to know her better at


When Nostalgia Becomes Disruptive by Megan Gunnell

We all feel nostalgic from time to time.  Wistfully reflecting back to happier times, positive memories and sentimental feelings about our past.  But when does nostalgia become disruptive? As a psychotherapist, I consider what time zone clients think and live in.  We have various psychological time zones that we live in and some can increase feelings of being stuck, anxious or depressed.

The healthiest place where our thoughts and feelings reside is in the mindful now, but of course we vacillate between thoughts of our past or thoughts of our future and those can have both positive and negative associations.

According to psychologist Professor Philip Zimbardo*, there are 6 psychological times zones that we can live in at any given moment.  2 in the past, 2 in the future and 2 in the present. All of these have a positive and negative slant. Take the past for example.  We can feel inhibited from living in the positive now because of a negative lens on our past. People think those tragic, sad, horrible things happened and therefore we cannot move on. We’re stuck living in the pain of the past.

On the flip side, we can romanticize and over-glorify the past. We can attach to “the good ol’ days” as a way of saying we can’t be happy now because it will never be as good as it was back then. Both of these cause us problems, but the latter is where the danger lies in being overly nostalgic.

The same is true about our future.  One version suggests ‘we can’t be happy in the now, because scary things are potentially in my future’ or ‘I know I’ll be happy when this, that or the other happens in my future.’

If we spend too much time reminiscing about the past or worrying about the future, we can become stuck and frozen in the now. The question that therapists use to assess whether or not a thinking pattern or a behavior is dysfunctional is always, “is this behavior impeding functioning?”  So if you approach the holidays with a longing to hold on to traditions, but you are still able to execute those traditions without an overwhelming sense of sadness or longing for days gone by, then nostalgia elicits sweet memories and is not impeding your functioning.

But if nostalgic thoughts shut you down or you find yourself being flooded with emotions, affect, tears or heartache and pain, you may need to consider reaching out for more support to help you stay connected to the positive now.

What helps when we become overly attached to the past?  Mindfulness practices, gratitude practices, support from friends, family and a good therapist.  First, mindfulness helps us stay present to the moment now in a nonjudgmental, unattached fashion. It helps bring our senses and our awareness to what we’re in front of or engaged in and in turn enhances the richness and quality of life.

Second, gratitude practices help us move from longing for something to be different to finding joy and abundance in what is. Gratitude also helps train our brain to scan for the positive. Nostalgic memories can sometimes link to a feeling of sadness. Perhaps we infuse nostalgia with gratitude and focus on what we’re grateful for when we reflect back on the sweetness of our memories rather than on a melancholy longing to recreate them or return to them.

And finally, support. If we notice that our nostalgia is inhibiting our ability to thrive, we need to reach out for support from family, friends and potentially to a good mental health provider who might be able to help us develop better coping strategies.

Overall, the holiday season has the potential to bring back a sense of nostalgia and the sweet, sentimental memories we recall can be comforting.

But if you notice yourself spending a lot of time thinking about or longing for the past or you feel stuck in the present or uncomfortable in the now, your nostalgic thoughts and feelings might be disruptive and you may need to consider some of these strategies for support.

About the Author: Megan Gunnell

Megan Gunnell is a Psychotherapist, Speaker, Writer, International Retreat Leader with over 20 years experience. She has presented and facilitated workshops and retreats globally and nationwide most notably in Finland at Jyvaskyla University, in Costa Rica at Anamaya and Ahki Resorts, at Miraval Resort and Spa, Arizona, the Bryant University Women’s Summit, Rhode Island and at Red Mountain Resort, Utah. A leading expert in women’s health, self-care and mindfulness, her work helps clients transform, restore and reach their highest potential.

Professor Philip Zimbardo’s presentation on the secret powers of time:

After the Game by Patricia Wellingham-Jones


My best friend Peri
was a little twerp,
I was a young giant.
We both played on the Woodbury

High School basketball team,
she through fervor
and sheer determination,
me solely because of my height.

In the girls bathroom
after our game of the season
with arch-rival Haddonfield
the over-heated, over-excited

losing team – ours –
leaned and towered over Peri.
Like chickens pecking
at a perceived weak one

they criticized, shouted,
blamed her for our loss. Defiant,
tears running down her cheeks,
Peri denied and pointed fingers.

A person of peace,
I couldn’t abide the row,
the unfair charges,
bruised nerve ends, raised hackles.

Astonishing all in the room,
including myself, I flung
my big frame on top
of a washbasin.

I out-yelled the yellers,
waved long arms in the air,
told them they should be ashamed,
pipe down, SHUT UP.

They did. They fumbled for shoes
and towels, left without looking at me.
Peri stood, stunned to silence.
I wondered how to get down.

About the Author: Patricia Wellingham-Jones

PatriciaWellingham-JonesPatricia Wellingham-Jones is a widely published former psychology researcher and writer/editor. She has a special interest in healing writing, with poems recently in The Widow’s Handbook (Kent State University Press). Chapbooks include Don’t Turn Away: poems about breast cancer, End-Cycle: poems about caregiving, Apple Blossoms at Eye Level, Voices on the Land and Hormone Stew.

Within by Trenton Ladler


As I gaze in the mirror I wish only to flee

from the somber melancholy that swells about me.

Dark, each thought that surrounds

of lost potential, lost hopes and dreams that now confound.

On each awakening , I want to scream

and conceal my heart in indolent Morpheus’s nocturnal streams.

I try my best to mend that tattered seam.

I hold tight the golden ticket I wish to redeem.

I reach out from the haze hoping for that elusive guarantee.

To have finally found that long forgotten refugee.

To finally cast off the shackles of the ground,

Spreading wings becoming unbound.

All this will finally be when I can answer,

“Are You Happy?”

About the author, Trenton Ladler

Trenton LadlerTrenton Lamar Ladler is a 29 year old Navy veteran. Currently he is attending school to get his Bachelor’s in Education with a minor in Sociology/Psychology. He is an avid gamer and dreams of one day getting his poems and roleplaying adventures published to share them with the world. Follow Trenton on Twitter.


The Cure by Patricia Wellingham-Jones

chris-lawton-378086-unsplashIn despair at her daughter’s
hunched over, crab-like stance
Mother hauled me out of my seventh
grade class straight to the doctor.

Doc Weems, who delivered me
and my sister and was a family friend,
glared at the gawky giant
before his eyes. His voice
a thunderclap of doom
threatened me with a back brace
if I didn’t stand straight,
keep those shoulders back.

“You don’t want to look like Marcia,
do you?” he roared.

I pictured the girl my height,
shoulders pinched together,
head thrust like a turtle,
her shuffling gait, drooping everything
and drab ugly clothes.

“Yes, you’re tall,” Doc toned down
his voice one notch below the roar.
“And you’re pretty and well-formed,
and you’ll always see at parades.
Now straighten up, young lady,
and be the beautiful woman
you will become.”

So I did. And am, men tell me,
and I really love parades.

About the Author: Patricia Wellingham-Jones

PatriciaWellingham-JonesPatricia Wellingham-Jones is a widely published former psychology researcher and writer/editor. She has a special interest in healing writing, with poems recently in The Widow’s Handbook (Kent State University Press). Chapbooks include Don’t Turn Away: poems about breast cancer, End-Cycle: poems about caregiving, Apple Blossoms at Eye Level, Voices on the Land and Hormone Stew.

The Geography of Longing by Pat West

I depart Seattle and spend three and a half hours
tracing cornfields and mountains from my window.
The plane tilts in to O’Hare, last leg of a last-minute

decision to attend my thirtieth-class reunion.
I park the rental car and head for the gymnasium.
It’s not my imagination or the Washington wine,

I know it’s you next to me when I climb to the top
of the bleachers, sit in the same spot
where you gave me your letterman’s jacket.

Moments jiggle loose, like senior year
you were voted most likely to be first to the moon
and you said this little bitty town wasn’t enough.

Later when Buzz and I dance to It’s My Party,
I keep thinking any minute you might show up
and cut in. Certain when you arrive we’ll act

like explorers searching for a lost city, and uncover
buried artifacts proving first love never dies.
There are two stoplights now.

One’s at the end of Main Street, the Y
where all you guys would hang U-turns
dragging Main Street over and over Saturday nights.

The scent of longing trails me.
I navigate the room asking classmate after classmate
if anyone kept in touch or found you on Facebook.

About the Author: Pat West

Pat Phillips West lives in Olympia, WA. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, her work has appeared in Haunted Waters Press, Persimmon Tree, VoiceCatcher, San Pedro River Review, Slipstream, Gold Man Review and elsewhere.