Issue Five – November 2019

Letter from the Founding Editor:

It doesn’t take more than a cursory glance at society these days to see we are a people who struggle to understand each other. We distrust each other’s motives and misinterpret what we tell each other in emails and text messages. We fill our days with noise, video games, smartphones and the internet, and spin in a whirlwind of technology. It seems the old-fashioned, simple skill of face to face “talking” is passé. Maybe we’re much too busy, or maybe we’re just too tired to care, but I think we pay the price for our fast-paced lives. We forget that true communication takes time.

When we decided to present Issue Five as a themed issue on Communication, it was partly to see what you, the poets, would come up with. Would you dig deep and explore the various meanings behind the word? Would you surprise us and present something we’d never even thought of? Yes and yes. In some ways, writing a poem that touches upon some aspect of communication should be easy. That’s what we poets try to do after all – communicate. But it’s not. Communication, the kind that connects two people or two communities isn’t simple. It’s a special kind of work, and that work shows in these poems.

It’s not been easy to choose poems for this issue. Our accepted poems number 25, a good deal less than our usual 30-35. But these 25 poems do what we set out to do. Create bridges. Carve paths. Explain differences. Understand past difficulties. Design ways for us to reach each other in a world that sometimes seems so closed-off and solitary.

In the end, the poems revealed an age-old truth. Communication depends upon two things: 1) someone/thing to speak/reveal (as in Rebecca Ellis’s remarkable poem, “Saturday, Past Tense” – “When I gave up needing to be right. / When I needed. / When I told you what I needed.”) and 2) someone/thing willing to listen (as in Rich Heller’s peace-infused poem “Machineless” – “in a place so quiet // you can hear the stars.”) Both take courage and a willingness to move beyond the self and into a realm that feels risky and vulnerable. Maybe that’s what communication is— daring to open those parts of ourselves to others, and accepting that same gift back with grace.

I’m thrilled by the efforts of our featured partners in this issue, Henry L. Jones and Jeff Byers. Their work takes the theme of Communication into new territory. Henry L. Jones, our featured artist, created new art for every poem. His work is fluid and vital, capturing the essence of the poem’s language in color and line, each work a new communication between image and word. I invite you to meditate on Henry’s interpretations. He sees deeply and surely into the souls of these poems.

Jeff Byers, our featured composer, created a new musical composition for 5 poems. The melodies and complicated rhythms in these pieces interact with the poems in remarkable ways, revealing surprising, intricate layers. He builds with tone and beat, the same way poets create with word and phrase. Jeff’s music dives deep into the poems, responding to each poem’s message with breathless beauty. Listen to these compositions, and you’ll see what I mean.

Abounding thanks to Nancy, Roseann, Christine, Jeni, and Shahe, the editors of Rockvale Review. Their workload is sometimes heavy but they tirelessly read poems and offer valuable feedback without complaint. RR would not be in this world without them. Sadly, we say goodbye to Jeni after this issue – a poet/editor with a keen eye and unfailing recognition of deep themes, powerful images, and important revelations. Thank you, Jeni, for being an invaluable part of Rockvale Review for 2 issues. We wish you unlimited success in your future poetry endeavors.

Lastly, don’t miss our Special Section in this issue. RR is publishing the winner and finalists of Rockvale Writers’ Colony’s Poetry Contest 2019 with the theme of Time. For more information on the writers’ colony, check out

Thank you for reading Issue Five, and for communicating with us through poetry. We’re grateful.

Blessings, Sandy


For the bio, photo, and letter describing the creative process of our Featured Artist, Henry L. Jones – Click HERE

For the bio, photo, and letter describing the creative process of our Featured Composer, Jeff Byers – Click HERE

The print version of Rockvale Review is available on Magcloud for $16.00. The digital version by itself is $3.40. This is an option for poets who might like to have a printed copy of their work in this issue. Rockvale Review makes no money off of the print issue. We offer this only as an alternative. Click on the red MagCloud button to purchase directly from the MagCloud site. 

Rockvale Review Issue Five

Rockvale Review: Rockvale Review Issue Five

Rockvale Review Issue Five is a collection of poetry with the theme of Communication. The issue includes the winner and finalists of the Rockvale Writers’ Colony’s poetry contest, 2019.

Find out more on MagCloud




Click on each poem title to read the poem and see a larger version of the art by Henry L. Jones. The poems chosen for a musical response are designated as such. An audio file of the original music by Jeff Byers is included with the poem and art on the poem’s page.

Special Section

Rockvale Review is happy to present the winning poems of Rockvale Writers’ Colony’s Poetry Contest, 2019.

Winner: Two Gardens – by Tania Pryputniewicz

Finalist: Learning to Swim – by Shahé Mankerian

Finalist: Self-Portrait at Thirty-Three – by Michelle Peñaloza