Autumn 2007 Edition
Sol Magazine, A Quarterly Poetry Journal.
Our critieria, guidelines, and format has changed.
We are no longer a competition journal.
Click to read our guidelines
 © 2008 Sol Magazine

We dedicate this edition to all our troops, particularly to those young people from Texas who have given their lives.

Contact info




Not Here in Mobile, AL in the USA
Fear is everywhere in Mobile, AL in the USA.
Who would ever have thought that this lovely old
city by the bay, with its live oak trees draped with moss,
azaleas lining the boulevards,
and downtown Jazz bars would become a hiding place
For thousands of despair-filled people like us.
Neighbors who have lost their homes are desperate. 
The best the displaced majority can do is to hide
in the swamps and wetlands.
But, dangers lurk there as well.
alligators and cottonmouths protect their space,
unwilling to give it up to predators.
My brothers are becoming predators.
Instead of catching throws at Mardi Gras,
they are trying to latch on to anything that can be eaten.
Hunger is everywhere. There is no food to eat.
Beauty queens have attained their goal of being thin.
But it is not of their own choosing.
Strong men, like Daddy, are choosing to be hidden away.
unable to build houses or cast their nets
into the bay to get their catch of the day.
Unable to do any of the myriad of jobs that healthy men
do to keep their bodies taut.
Now they stay locked up inside their homes. 
Fortunate are homes like ours with supplies squirreled away :
food, water, batteries in anticipation of hurricanes.
But we were unprepared for a storm of foreign soldiers.
Devastation as far as the eye can see; bombed homes, 
destroyed electrical poles, poisoned water supplies,
and fires everywhere.
All night father and mother cry and hold one another,
for, worst of all, is the destruction of the minds and souls
Of genteel southerners of Mobile, AL in the USA.               
June Patricia LaVernway, Mobile, AL, USA
BIOGRAPHY:  June and her husband, Bud LaVernway retired to Mobile, AL almost three years ago. June has four children and six grandchildren scattered around the country. Currently, she is an AmeriCorps/Vista volunteer.

At What Used to be the Stop&Shop in Hillsborough, NJ, USA

his rifle was at rest
but not really
he was so young
to be standing stock-still there
like that – like that,
but his presence did manage
to keep some sort of order.

she pushed her headscarf
farther up on her damp hair
she seemed too old
to have defiant tears and hidden agendas  
like that – like that,
but she stayed on queue
keeping some sort of order.

he said they’d run out
of comestibles when it was her turn
she was so hungry-angry
to have waited once again for the lies
like that – like that;
with defiant tears, she produced a small caliber hidden agenda
and there was no sort of order anymore.

RJ Clarken, Hillsborough, NJ, USA

BIOGRAPHY:  RJ Clarken is a New Jersey writer and photographer.  Her work has been published in Möbius, Asinine Poetry, USA Today Online and Trellis Magazine, among others.  She is the Editor of Goldfinch, the literary journal of Women Who Write, a not-for-profit women's writing collective based in New Jersey. 

As Conflict Rages Across San Antonio, Texas, USA

Fear grips, shackles tightly
chaining this mind; trapping
this soul in angry scars
of bullet-riddled walls.

In forced silence, mourning
another death ­ loved one
or stranger, it seems not
to matter anymore.

Mine is but one more face
mingling with starvation;
empty hands, hardened heart,
shrouded in pained darkness.

Nowhere else to run to
and hide. In woeful plight
stranded. In misery
perhaps, destined to be.

Still, am waiting, longing
for peace, to come about.

Maria Eugenia Stanphill, San Antonio, TX, USA
BIOGRAPHY:  Maria Eugenia Stanphill is just one of many Filipinos who, despite of growing up in poverty and conflict, overcame the odds.  Now happily married to a Texan, Maria finds joy in cooking, writing and caring for her husband and three young children.

Back to contents



The idea of writing "series" poems (poems in sections, each part titled, with a title for entire poem as well) is making a comeback.  Poets were asked to create a titled series of two to three short-lined quatrains, each part with its own title, each poem related to the topic.  


Piscatorial Promises

Fish Bait
Both arms swing out, body uncoils.
Cast net blooms, becomes a giant
white daisy, hits shallow water
enmeshing surprised silver mullet.
Fish Catch
Foraging rat red flashes black
tail spot, eyes easy prey, feels
painful prick too late to make
it to barnacled pilings - and safety.
Fish Dish
Scaled, gutted, baked in a bed of sea salt
until glazed, encased in a ceramic shell.
Fragrant flesh emerges. Lemon, virgin oil,
chilled chardonnay - nothing else required.
John E. Rice, Houston, TX, USA

Freezer Burn

One: Freeze

John Franklin's bones are laced
with lead and ice. In the frozen
jaws of the Northwest Passage
he lies waiting for the thaw.

Two: Burn

By the brown Indus a farmer
burns a pile of rice stalks.
Smoke dims the brilliance
of the Himalayan snowfields.

Three: Melt 

Jewels, makeup, black tuxedos,
laughter, glasses of champagne.
In a sparkling swirl of bubbles
carbon dioxide kisses melting ice.

Tiel Aisha Ansari, Portland, OR, USA

Sleepless Songs for Woodwinds


The Canada geese’s southern-bound aria
wakes me from my sleep.
I toss, then turn
but cannot get their melody from my mind.


The mourning dove and the woodpecker
play a duet just before sunrise.
I wait, then sigh
but cannot get their harmony from my mind.


Nocturnal airs of cuckoos and warblers
fill me with peculiar wonder.
I pray, then dream
but cannot get their cadence from my mind.

RJ Clarken, Hillsborough, NJ, USA

Wetland Worries
One: Drying Up

Man dams up the river
Trying to get more water
For himself. Never mind.
The swamp is drying up.
Two: Muddy Waters

In his quest
For bigger and better
He displaces red clay 
Into creeks and wetlands.
Three: Fresh Kill

Alligators crawl onto the road
Crossing from wetland to the bay.
Cars speed along
A collision is eminent.
June LaVernway, Mobile, AL, USA

New Mexico’s Personality

One:     Moon, Maiden, Rain

The canyon, coyotes howl at moon
serenades the wild
a maiden moves - danse macabre
dancing for rain.

Two:     Eventually Cuisine

The fields - plains of red or green
shines like Christmas trees
farmers’ acreage returns yields
gathering chili

Three:    Metamorphosis Mania

Wings - slender bodies
with minute scales.  Daily
spreading pollen,
invades the desert.

Carol Dee Meeks, Artesia, NM, USA
2007 Senior Poet Laureate of New Mexico   

Nature Weaves
One: Cotton, Silkworms, Shirt
A noble man wears silk worms’ spin
to fancy weave his shirt.
An outdoors man likes cotton’s cool
resistance to the dirt. 
Two: Jack Frost and Spring
A clean sheared ewe runs shiver bumps
in shepherds early spring.
A human sleeps in warmth of wool
when Jack Frost wind gusts sing.
Yvonne Nunn, Hermleigh, TX, USA

Winds of Change

One: Wildflowers Or Not

Spring calls back the blooms
Carried off by autumn's wind
A young bride passes by -
Tender blossoms in her hair

Two: In A Squall

Waves wait to be tossed
While a sailor reefs in,
His sail ­ weather worn
At the mercy of the seas

Maria Eugenia Stanphill, San Antonio, TX, USA

Sung to Sleep

One: The Mockingbird

The sun has long set
But his medley continues,
Outside of my window
By the light of the moon.

Two: The Wind

It strums through the leaves
And it lulls me to slumber,
The whisks of its breath
A faint lullaby croon.

Three: The Heart

My own beats along
As I sink into dozing—
I sing in my dreams
On with nature’s grand tune.

Katherine Swarts, Houston, TX, USA

Back to contents




On Trail – By the Delaware & Raritan Canal, Somerset County

Somewhere near the Sourland Mountains Preserve
a Cooper’s hawk makes keen circles in the sky
while a lone bobcat considers his options.
They both watch silently, as builders frame another McMansion.

RJ Clarken, Hillsborough, NJ, USA

Aplomado Falcons at Caballo, Truth or Consequences

gulp grasshoppers
abandon a quail meal
for dragonflies - cross lake for

Carol Dee Meeks, Artesia, NM, USA

Cahaba Lily in Cahaba River, AL
Each May
On the river
Cahaba Lilies bloom
The flower is stunning and rare
Pick it!
June LaVernway, Mobile, AL, USA

Seepage Lowlands at China Grove, Texas

At the foot of the rolling dryland hills
Salt Cedar trees destroy the fields
where cotton stalks once grew head high
with bales to the acre, two or three.

Yvonne Nunn, Hermleigh, TX, USA
Sandhill Cranes at Malheur Nat. Wildlfe Refuge

Tall cranes
sway, elegant.
Boy meets girl, Audubon
style, in flooded meadows far from

Tiel Aisha Ansari, Portland, OR, USA

Galveston Shores

Devour wetlands 
Sea grass dies, food chain ends 
Local and migrating wildlife   
Lois Lay Castiglioni, Galveston, TX, USA 

Tidewater Wetlands, Chesapeake Bay

Wade, freeze, and strike
Great Blue Heron forages
In shallow coves

Pugnacious bottom dweller
Names for its claws
Chesapeake's blue crab

Glossy brown rodent
Muskrat find new home
Drainage ditch replaces pond

Mary E. Gray, Newport News, VA, USA
trio of haiku

Blue Crabs in Galveston Bay Navigate 
beautiful swimmers
callinectes translated
stroke toward our net
blue tipped snapping claws
prove to be defensive flaws
we grab crabs from behind
cracked crabclaws sweet meat
bay bounty for us to eat
fewer every year
John E. Rice, Houston, TX, USA
trio of haiku 

Hook, Line And Caddo Lake State Park, Karnack

Fish paradise.  An angler's delight.
Bald cypress trees, in a ritual dance
With lily pads and lotus blooms, invite
White bass and crappie to take a chance.

Maria Eugenia Stanphill, San Antonio, TX, USA

Invisible at Brazos Bend State Park, Texas

The bittern hides in plain sight in the reeds
And cocks an unseen eye
To watch hikers admiring the egrets and coots,
Never knowing the bittern’s nearby.

Katherine Swarts, Houston, TX, USA

Back to contents




Dunes quiver, sand shifts and sifts 
in small avalanches. A rattlesnake lifts
its head, sensitive tongue testing
the air and ground where it's resting
after a recent meal of cottontail rabbit.
The flickering tongue is old inbred habit
which informs the reptile's limited brain
that all's not right just beyond the cane
which edges what's left of the beach.
More information is just out of reach.
The rattler uncoils, moves into the shade
just as the bulldozer lowers its blade.
John E. Rice, Houston, TX, USA
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

If it wasn't for dune grass, these houses
wouldn't be here. Wind and tide
would eat away the foundations—
that's why they planted it long ago.

Behind the Fred Meyer parking lot
a dune towers like a frozen wave
and every day they truck away sand.
I share the longing for stability

for solid and unmoving ground
but part of me yearns for free sand
yearns to run over rippling dunes
like a gull soaring over water.

Tiel Aisha Ansari, Portland, OR, USA 

Down the Jersey Shore at Point Pleasant

We walk along the weathered boardwalk, 
waving to the ‘three-for-five’ game-hawkers.
We find the section of beach where we like to hang out.
We crunch on broken seashells and sand-sticky wrappers.

We zigzag past driftwood butts on grey granular specks 
as gulls fly overhead, looking for handouts.
There are a lot of handouts to be found
even if they’re not handed out directly.

We watch from beach towels as a bunch of tattooed kids giggle and stroll,
checking pockets for loose change.  One is carrying a plush cartoon movie star.
They dune-dance to Jenkinson’s Aquarium, and on the way,
one of them stoops to pick up a lost soda can, working its way towards the sea.

RJ Clarken, Hillsborough, NJ, USA

A Trio of Haiku

salt grass waves 
summer shrimp 
to color waders 

spoonbills court 
feathers flame 
sunset stalkers 

roost nest 
built by two                  
cycle reborn 

Lois Lay Castiglioni, Galveston, TX, USA 

Where is the Sand for Sandbridge?

Sea oats still wave on the dunes,
Sandpipers still dance into waves,
But rental cottages and beach homes
Encroach on the shoreline.

The strip of sand narrows yearly.
"Write your representative for funds."
New sand is trucked in and dropped;
Its coarseness smothers coquina clams.

How long can Nature withstand
This weary cycle?  Build, destroy, restore.
The oceans rise, ready to obliterate
Human impertinence and greed.

Mary E. Gray, Newport News, VA, USA

Kudat Bak Bak Beach

We leave our footprints on the strand and stand
atop the rocky platforms near the sea
to look for shellfish in their crevices,
but end up splashing in the pools. What fun!

Far off, fair Banggi Island strikes a pose.
An island once rose from this sea, unplanned,
attracted visitors from everywhere.
But soon it sank, few months after its birth.

Tired of wind songs; the kids invade the swings,
the men, to row small boats and girls, to drink.
We leave just when the tides are ebbing. Till
next weekend, bye- bye, beautiful Bak Bak.

Agatha Lai, Sabah, MAL

Destruction at Galveston Beach
romping dogs disturb
sandpipers feeding
hunger unsatisfied
turtle eggs unprotected
lie smashed in sand
children seek more
parents do own thing
children and dogs run free
havoc runs rampant
broken bottles
wait to inflict pain
on bare feet
laws are broken
but who cares
we're having fun
June LaVernway, Mobile, AL, USA

Family Fun Near Turner’s Beach

The family plays baseball in the dunes
as Aplomados Falcons fly above.  They gulp the pulp
of insects, chase dragonflies and locust
while the brood of baseballers chases fly balls.

Carol Dee Meeks, Artesia, NM, USA

Ocean Beach Near Winter

Winter nears, and the waves come more swiftly.
Wind lifts scattered wrappers, topples cans. . .I
pass by a flyer that reads: "Make our Beaches
Plastic-Free", that lists meeting times, numbers,
people to call. I take off my sandles, step into
sand damp with morning fog, bend down to
pick up a plastic bottle, cigarette butts, an
empty Starbuck's cup, look up and into the
eyes of a surfer stretching, his eyes the hue
of dried seaweed, his wet suit like a selkie's
skin. He grabs his board, returns to the ocean
while I wobble like a gull with a broken wing.

Terrie Leigh Relf, San Diego, CA, USA

Treats At Davao Times Beach

Those oysters to be had fresh and sweet
just clinging to some rocks; fishermen
pulling in their load before sunrise ­
bygone treats. Who is footing the bill?

Maria Eugenia Stanphill, San Antonio, TX, USA
Battle for Balance at Bolivar Flats

Everyone wants to live on the shore,
and few people want to be
the unselfish ones who build elsewhere,
and leave some shore to the sea.

Katherine Swarts, Houston, TX, USA

Back to contents





Our bones are as hard as black lava rock.
Our hearts are as strong as the surf.
Look past the hibiscus hulas
plumaria leis and aloha sarongs.
See us, the people who sailed the Pacific
in outrigger boats the size of your minivan
three thousand miles of no-exit freeway
laid on the unwritten face of the ocean.
We are the people who live on these islands
breathers of steam and tamers of hurricanes
home in a landscape of fire and waterfalls
home where the earth's blood flows close to the surface 
rooted in salt water and mo'olelo
rooted in black rock and stronger than stone.

Tiel Aisha Ansari, Portland, OR, USA

Poet's Note: Mo'olelo is a Hawaiian word meaning a story, legend, or tradition.

The People of This Shore

South of the Sulu Sea, an island rich with potpourri;
here children wade the tides to look for clams and pearly shells
to sell to tourists. The tropical sun scorches their backs. 
Their brownish skin and dark hair shine; their teeth and eyes are fine.
At dawn, the adults wake to pray and later bake flour cakes. 
Dressed in the batik sarongs, they dance to rhythms of gongs.
When storms bombard , these sons of oceans stay in, darn their nets.
No fresh fish; the women fry salted fish to go with rice.
Though Kudat town is near; few hours by ferry or speed boat,
they rather stay in their atap huts and chew betel nuts 
and watch sunrise and sunset or the rise and fall of tides.
At times they plough through sea to outside world for city twirl.
Yes, they too get sick and die, sometimes before their time is nigh. 
for island folks, you see, are no different from you and me.

Agatha Lai, Sabah, MAL
Man of Incognito
He resides here,
Alone amongst the palm trees,
Alone amongst the sandy beaches,
He answers to no one,
He is on an island of his own,
For food, he hunts for fish,
Boils sea water for drink,
Does anyone know he exists?,
Will any other human life discover him?,
This is a mystery,
A mystery we may never uncover.
Keith Burkholder, West Seneca, NY, USA

Island Indians

After Karankawa skeletons were found 
On the sandbar called Galveston
A glass dome was built over
The adults and children lying 
In ceremonial fetal positions. 
An historic marker identified 
This cannibalistic tribe. 
The island's first dwellers
Fished in dugouts on lagoons and bays
Communicated in guttural tones
With whistles and sighs.
Visitors enjoyed studying 
Their tall predecessors
Until vandals broke in
And destroyed the burial ground.
Future generations will ponder the savagery.  

Lois Lay Castiglioni, Galveston, TX, USA

A Soldier’s Memoir

The rouged hibiscus you wove into your cocoa hair
could never be as bright a beacon as you were that one night.
Swaying like fronds in a breeze-streaked sunset, you gave me a hero’s welcome
but would not accept my gifts in return.  You only said, “He mea iki.”

RJ Clarken, Hillsborough, NJ, USA
Poet's Note:  (“He mea iki” is Hawaiian for "it is nothing", "it is a little thing", or "you are welcome".)

Package from Home
Tucking a conch shell in the box with beef jerky, wrapped
Candy pieces and personal items for their Marine son
In Kuwait to remind of home on St Simons Island,
Sue recalled days when three generations of family
Delighted in Dan's discoveries of the wonder of waves,
Fiddler crabs, pugnacious sandpipers probing beaches
For periwinkles and dolphins diving beyond shorelines
To welcome weathered fishermen guiding battered boats
Past seaweed-covered sandbars following family tradition.
In his teen years, Dan scarfed down shrimp poor-boys
As the setting sun painted marsh grass gold.
She wondered if Dan's military tents set on hot desert sand
Protect him like ancient sheltering arms of Georgia oaks
Festooned with Spanish moss that embraced him as a lad.
Kay Lay Earnest, Smyrna, GA, USA

Island Party
To party
Arrive in boats
Tying up at dock
Music, singing, great food
Sunshine gives way to darkness
Balmy breezes bring splashing waves
The moon slips behind clouds at midnight
A signal to leave for their island homes
June LaVernway, Mobile, AL, USA

matron roams
islands bay edge,
signs poem in sand,
Yvonne Nunn, Hermleigh, TX, USA

B. O. I.
islander who
departs for the mainland
never gives up rights of return -
John E. Rice, Houston, TX, USA
Form:  Cinquain

Island magic

Mystic night and gentle day,
exotic scent wafts o’er the bay,
parrots call, the palm trees sway,
a boat sets sail and drifts away.
A boy wades through the shallow wave,
a fishing net his catch to save,
another dawn his path will pave,
ere his return to heaven’s cave.
A girl appears, under the bower,
her light brown arms quite full of flower,
a smile of warmth, this early hour,
a touch of God in all his power.

Vera Spitz, Gars am Kamp, AUS

Akamai Smiles

swaying, dancing
in silence
music streaming
from her soul
graceful, hardy
she is more
like blue green waves,
rising tall -
falling, breaking
of hot white sands

Maria Eugenia Stanphill, San Antonio, TX, USA

Becoming an Island

You turned away from the crowded town
And you bought your own offshore lot;
You built a ten-room place for your house
And you ferried out all you’d got;
You abdicated the human world
And its problems and all its pains,
And you settled down just to live in peace,
Free from worries and daily strains.
The stars are brighter on each clear night,
And the gulls are grand company;
You could watch the dolphins for hours on end,
And you love the sound of the sea.
Let others worry about themselves,
No one else is a threat to you—
And you never think, in your safe smug lot,
There are good deeds for you to do.

Katherine Swarts, Houston, TX, USA

Back to contents

Ampersand Poetry Journal:
Please, save yourself the sting of a swift refusal.  Read both the journal and its guidelines before submitting any work.

Texas Poetry Event News Online:  Writing events from anywhere in Texas! Houston, Dallas, Austin, The Woodlands, the Bay Area, etc.  If you wish your poetry or writing event posted at our website, send a complete event blurb with contact information to:
Texas Poetry Events Online:

Mary Margaret Carlisle, Executive Director
Leo F. Waltz, Event & Web Manager

Sol Magazine, P.O. Box 580037, Houston, TX  77258-0037
Phone number:  281-316-2255
Call weekdays 9-5 (CT) (1500-2300 GMT or UTC)
Send comments, questions, advice to:

© 2008 Sol Magazine

Sol Magazine Projects Home