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editor's note

“Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake.” - Wallace Stevens

In Church by R.S. Thomas

Often I try 

To analyse the quality

Of its silences. Is this where God hides

From my searching? I have stopped to listen,

After the few people have gone,

To the air recomposing itself

For vigil. It has waited like this

Since the stones grouped themselves about it.

These are the hard ribs

Of a body that our prayers have failed

To animate. Shadows advance

From their corners to take possession

Of places the light held

For an hour. The bats resume

Their business. The uneasiness of the pews

Ceases. There is no other sound

In the darkness but the sound of a man

Breathing, testing his faith

On emptiness, nailing his questions

One by one to an untenanted cross.

Have you read R.S. Thomas?

A few weeks ago, my friend, the poet Ken Rosen, ended a long email to me by suggesting, no, ordering me to read The Collected Poems of R.S. Thomas. Who?

He’s the “other” Welsh poet named Thomas. Not nearly as well-known as Dylan, R.S. captured the dark, sparse, beautiful landscape and character of mid 20th century Wales. 

He was a vicar, a consistently dour vicar. God is present in his work but there is little grandeur - as in the poem above, “In Church."

A critic once called him, "the saddest man in the world." Others say that persona was cultivated for public consumption. He was quite capable of writing beautifully moving, lyrics, as in this poem, "A Marriage"

We met

           under a shower

of bird-notes.

            Fifty years passed,

love's moment

            in a world in

servitude to time.

            She was young;

I kissed with my eyes

            closed and opened

them on her wrinkles.

             'Come,' said death,

choosing her as his

             partner for

the last dance, And she,

            who in life

had done everything

            with a bird's grace,

opened her bill now

            for the shedding

of one sigh no

            heavier than a feather.

That's painter Paul Brahms self portrait on the cover - mask on and cautiously optimistic about the future, as are we. Paul provided us with the cover of our first issue - February 2020 - just before we entered this strange, strange time. You'll find more of his work on the inside.

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Pick up the Spring issue of Nine Mile Magazine here: www.ninemile.org. In it you'll find a remembrance of Marvin Bell, several new poems by Norman Dubie, wonderful works from several other poets, a cool cover collage by Elena Ciletti, and an important essay by editor Bob Herz entitled, "A modest proposal for editors of poetry magazines." Herz writes about the "scandal" of many poetry magazines taking months (and months and months) to respond to submissions. He suggests that editors show respect for poets by providing a quick turnaround on submissions "which means in a week if possible, and no more than a month if not." Well worth your time if your a poet, editor...anyone who has had work languish on Submittable for months.

We have had the pleasure of working with Emily Kurc, a senior in the Literary Publishing course at Fairleigh Dickinson University since January. Emily provided valuable insight as a reader. She was typically the first to review and react to submissions. Her fingerprints are all over this issue. 

Thank you, Emily! 

This issue kicks off with an ekphrastic chapbook from Tilly Woodward and Ralph Savarese. Be sure to watch the video that accompanies it. It's dedicated to their children who read some of the poems. Ralph's son uses a text-to-voice synthesizer to communicate, so you'll hear a digital voice in two places.

Take this issue like a walk around a lake. There's a lot here, a spring bouquet of poetry and art. Oh, and music! Much thanks to my collaborators, Nancy Jean Hill, Bill Burtis, Emily Kuric, Jere DeWaters, Michael Hettich, Tom Bruton. Special thanks to Greg Clary, who we may as well call our staff photographer.

I know some of you view this on your phone or tablet and that's good. But it's really designed to be viewed on a larger screen.

And thank you for following this Hole In The Head gang. If you get a minute, let us know what you think. editor@holeintheheadreview.com. If you'd like to include your book or journal in next month's Last Word feature, just send a copy to: Hole In The Head Review, 85 Forbes Lane, Windham, ME 04062.

If you like what we do, please consider providing financial support. Go to our "Support" page. It takes just a minute and it sure helps us to (almost) make ends meet!

We'll be back in August.

If you are in love with the infinite,
why grieve over earth washing away in the rain?

- Rumi