WestWard Quarterly, the Magazine of Family Reading

WestWard Quarterly seeks to present the best work of upbeat writers and poets, whether accomplished or beginners. We maintain a positive editorial philosophy presenting material that is reflective, inspiring, uplifting, encouraging, or humorous. Although difficult issues of our time must be addressed, we believe poetry has a role to play in raising the standard of our expectations. It can do this through offering hope instead of magnifying what is crude or deplorable in the human condition.

We accept all styles of poetry and look for good imagery and grammar and a fresh outlook. If rhyming, we look for consistency and natural word order in the rhyme scheme. If metrical, we look for consistent scansion or “beat.” If free verse, we look for some kind of rhythm, flow, and harmony that makes a poem differ from prose.

For other submission guidelines, with subscription and single issue prices, please click the link at left. To view our magazine’s layout style visit the Archive and select a recent issue; the Archive presents back issues a year old or more. We offer a “Writer’s Workbench” (also a regular department of the magazine) featuring helpful hints for better writing. In addition you can meet our editor, Shirley Anne Leonard, and read some of her more than 800 poems. All of these features are linked in the left navigation panel.

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Featured Poem Reading

Poem Trees

Shall I pick them like the apples
hanging red upon the boughs —
these little gems with blazing lens
for kindling fire out of prose?

Shall I pare them like Miss Dickinson,
impatient so with frills,
disclose the core and seed within
to scatter broadly on the hills?

And then, should one forget to dream,
he may discover on his way
a full-grown tree of rhapsody
to lighten up a dreary day.

— © Shirley Anne Leonard

A Noble Proverb

“Iron sharpens iron,”
so they say.
But what if I
am only made of clay?
Obliteration —
if I get in the way!

Iron sharpens iron.
So does stone
if rough, and with a
hardness all its own
to grind the weapon’s
cutting edge, and hone.

Iron sharpens iron.
Make me so
the wheel will grind
deliberate and slow,
and sparks will not inflame
emotion’s glow.

Iron sharpens iron.
Let us talk
and mind the words we say,
lest they should walk
toward battlefields
and kill us on the way.

— © Shirley Anne Leonard

Without Words

I cannot tell you,
words will not come,
but if soul should speak to soul
what need for tongue?

Let my eyes tell you
when they gaze into yours
and my soul gets lost
in their deep corridors.

Let my lips tell you,
barely touching yours,
of the tender love
in a heart that adores.

Let my hand tell you,
clasped into yours,
while love speaks
without words.

Let your music speak,
with the setting sun
in the soft hours of twilight,
that we are one.

— © Shirley Anne Leonard

Tell Him Slowly

by things he does not know,
like the man with the hoe
in Millet’s painting,
he lives in his world laboriously
and with much pain.
His back is bent
and the heat of the sun
numbs his brain.

He has no time to reason,
no time to dream.
He sees no heaven,
knows all he wants of hell.
He knows no God
nor does he ask to know,
has no awareness
that mankind fell.

Tell him slowly things are not
as they should be.
Give him time to think,
to dream.
His way is hard
and filled with strife and pain.
He dies before his time
always, always threatened by things
he does not know.

Tell him slowly things are not
as they should be.
Give him time to think —
to dream.

— © Shirley Anne Leonard

Path of Dreams

There is a landscape in my head
with every kind of winding road
that I may travel as I’m led,
set free of every tiresome load.

It runs through sky and star, through gale,
through forest path and tumbling rill.
But I've not gone the length at all
for want of courage, lack of skill.

So in my muse the quest goes on
and reaches almost — then the day
comes, dimming visions with the dawn.
Which road to take? Which path, which way?

— © Shirley Anne Leonard

Words We Use Every Day

The words we use
in conversation every day —
they are the stuff
of building up and tearing down.
Our thoughts: they are
the spirit’s tool, on which to weigh
the facts the world
drops at our door, or others say —
the pros and cons
that prod us to discuss the rules
of right or wrong
to either keep or throw away.
If Truth exists
it's absolute: no right for me
and wrong for you,
or true for me but not for you.
The Word of God
is clear and pure. It’s never “if,”
or hit-and-miss,
and what we say is what we get.
Our words return
to us in forms that either curse
or bless — the profit,
then, is saying what God says:
“In Him we’re blessed.”
It's nothing more, and nothing less.

— © Shirley Anne Leonard