POETiCA REViEW 1 Spring 2019

30 poets featured in this issue... Ibrahim Honjo, Angela M. Carter, Bruce McRae, Howie Good, Kevin Higgins, Peych Kanev, James Walton, Vivian Wagner, Laurie Byro, Neil Clarkson, Phillip O'Neil, Reuben Wolley, Mark Mayes, Rollo Nye, Andrew Shields, Catherine Zickgraf, Patrick Williamson, Margo Jodyne Dills, Lucy Newlyn, T. Castleberry, Dah, Kymberlee della Luce, Pam Thompson, Yuan Chanming, Phil Kirby, Edward Lee, Michael Minassian, Analit Arustamyan, Maki Starfield, Jonh Bolton

Ibrahim Honjo 1 poem

 

 

THE STONE

 

 

They never asked me

For my name

They wanted my identity card

Or its number

 

I did not have one

 

I said Stone

 

They laughed

Asked me where I was from

 

From the stone - I said

 

They asked for my age

 

Twenty pebbles – I answered

And showed them gray spotted pebbles

 

They are opening their hearts to me

I am closing the doorway on the invisible wall 

Which divides us

And I am going away

 

Ibrahim Honjo is a poet-writer, sculptor, painter, photographer, former journalist and property manager who write in his native language and in English. His work has appeared in many magazines, newspapers, and on radio stations in Yugoslavia, Canada and US. He is the author of 29 published books and 2 books with another authors. His work is represented in more than 30 anthologies. His poetry has been translated into: Italian, Korean, Spanish, Bahasa (Malaysia), Mongolian, Slovenian and German. He received several poetry awards.

 

Angela M. Carter 2 poems

 

 

To Tell the Secret

 

Why hadn’t this come first, to teach me?

 

It was the second time I’d been hurt, simply

from being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

When it feared my hand, the Honey Bee knew what it had to do;

I’ve always admired its decisiveness.

 

A hurting human stings themselves,

stays with what harms, beyond memory.

I daydream of a sting only allowed to touch those it should.

 

A hurting human is forced to carry tainted pollen.

This pollen--on my feet, in my hair, stamped into the future;

only dead flowers would dare take it.

 

I imagine the elation of that bee’s abdomen, as it presses into skin,

how in that moment, in all its pride--

oh, the fire, the fire!

 

Did it die pleased,

in the same way I am when I tell the secret

(gifted untouched pollen,

with the need to sting never known)?

 

 

THE HOUR, LAST SEEN
 

I am a replica of broken stars tonight.

Thoughts of you have burned out into their final evening:

I added skin onto you,

tripled your bones,

gave deeper rhythm to your heart, it

didn’t request or

deserve.

 

I arrived with intentions--

how wrong of me,

to whisper my longings into life’s ear,

to tell it when to wake

(when to wake another)

within its own

mastery.

 

I begged you were a friend of the stars

the same constellations I’d lifted my chin to as a child,

and that you knew secrets of me I’d

yet to tell myself,

but the secret is

that secrets are what they’ve done, not what they didn’t say.

 

The reverie is dimming, dimming,

shooting into a thinning dust along the nightfall--

 

departed.

 

 

Angela M. Carter is an author, poet, novelist, motivational speaker, spoken word performer, visual artist and an advocate/activist. Memory Chose a Woman’s Body (unbound CONTENT, 2014) is a poetry memoir, which spotlights the effects of the silences endured after abuse, neglect, and depression. Angela is a 2014 Pushcart Prize nominee, nominee for the 2015 Virginia Library Literary Award (poetry), and has been featured in a multitude of venues, including The KGB Club in Manhattan and Busboys and Poets in Washington DC.

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Bruce McRae 1 poem

 

 

To Rest Softly

 

 

Never wake a sleepwalker,

my parents warned me,

their eyes clenched like fists,

like blackout drapes drawn in the Blitz.

Their eyes closed like mouths

of condemned prisoners.

Their eyes shut like locked doors,

doors into rooms you’ve never been,

their unspeakable secrets guarded.

 

My poor parents, always tired.

Who claimed a dreamless sleep

was all they ever imagined.

Who woke footsore and weary,

the coming of night their flag and anthem.

 

 

Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician currently residing on Salt Spring Island BC, is a multiple Pushcart nominee with over 1,400 poems published internationally in magazines such as Poetry, Rattle and the North American Review. His books are ‘The So-Called Sonnets (Silenced Press), ‘An Unbecoming Fit Of Frenzy’ (Cawing Crow Press) and ‘Like As If” (Pski’s Porch), Hearsay (The Poet’s Haven).

 

 

Howie Good 2 poems

 

 

Safety Instructions for the Twenty-First Century

 

 

You probably won't look like the real you. Stay calm when you come upon it. Face it and stand upright. Speak firmly to it. Do what you can to appear larger – raise your arms or open your jacket if you’re wearing one. You want to convince it you aren’t prey and may, in fact, be a danger to it. Give it a way to escape, but if it attacks, don’t panic and run. People have fought it with rocks, sticks, caps or jackets, garden tools, and their bare hands. So remain standing or at least try to get back up.

 

 

Ashes Have No Memory

 

 

The man crossing the street carries a ruler in his pocket to measure the passing of time. He has nice clothes, gold chains. But even so, he may be in trouble, may be on the run, may have no future in Lithuania. All he can see is eyes. He tried to lock up time in the eyes of lovers. “It has to look easy,” he said. “That feeling like it just happened.” He and I lead parallel lives, one a collaborator, the other a resister, two ghosts discussing invisibility in front of a mirror, a pretty crappy way to die.

 

 

Howie Good is on the pavement, thinking about the government.

 

 

Kevin Higgins 2 poems

 

 

Prayer To The Absolute Dark

 

 

Forget, if you can,
most ungracious mind of burning hydrogen

never has it been known

that anyone who sought refuge in you,

implored your help down the telephone

you never answer,

or by pleading letter

sought your intervention

was ever aided.
Inspired by this matchless absenteeism,
I soar into your blackness.
Oh great impure one,

your mouth empty even of curses
before you I cower,
shamefaced and ragged

child of yours;
Mother, Father gas

made flesh,
despise my petitions,

as they should be

despised. In your

inclemency ignore

and answer me with

silent hymns

to the bacteria that must

victoriously consume

even the firmest, most perfect

belly.

 

 

The Great News

after Eugenio Montale & Karl Marx

 

So many mornings I woke hoping

to find you there

and when there was no sign

how many times

I clicked on that brown clock-radio

praying to hear tell of you.

The blood rising at every fuzzy mention

of your name. The thought of you

strutting into town to clean

things up with your Guillotine

wiped away crazy aunts

shouting my name over the fence,

the bastards in my Latin class,

and the girls who kept saying nyet.

So many moments you seemed about

to emerge from the crowd:

Father Burke Park, Chinatown, Trafalgar Square.

But you kept not quite making it.

 

In the finish I had to sit

at the desk I could by then

afford to buy myself

and sign the decree banning

utterance of your name.

 

Now, thirty years late

you and your shadow opposite

are both everywhere

abolishing the colour grey,

swaggering off trains,

climbing out of computers

and television sets

wearing masks I recognise.

Now to rummage in the closet

under the stairs and see where mine got to;

make it fit an altogether

fatter head than it was intended for.

 

 

Kevin Higgins was described in The Stinging Fly magazine has "likely the most read living poet in Ireland. His poems have been quoted in The Daily Telegraph, The Times (UK), The Independent, The Daily Mirror, Hot Press magazine, on Tonight With Vincent Browne and read aloud by film director Ken Loach at a political meeting in London. Kevin’s eighth poetry collection, Sex and Death at Merlin Park Hospital, will be published by Salmon Poetry in June.

 

 

Peycho Kanev 2 poems

 

 

Every Day

 

 

All night the branches outside

are lonely without crows

moonlit patches of idle grass

blanket the earth

someone drinking a cup of tea

delicately lifting his pinky

without even thinking about

death.

Every day is the same

the dreams come and go

just like the curtains breath in and out

in the nights of our hazy lovemaking.

 

 

Тhe Arrival of Spring

 

 

The river will come harsh on us, ready even to break eggs.

 

And the darkest white will melt again.

 

The dogs begin to bark to the shrinking moon.

 

Love me or hate me wherever you are; in the basement or in the sky.

 

All peasants prepare their torches and rusty pitchforks.

 

But you are still sleeping under the rising yolk of freedom.

 

 

Peycho Kanev is the author of 4 poetry collections and three chapbooks, published in the USA and Europe. His poems have appeared in many literary magazines, such as: Rattle, Poetry Quarterly, Evergreen Review, Front Porch Review, Hawaii Review, Barrow Street, Sheepshead Review, Off the Coast, The Adirondack Review, Sierra Nevada Review, The Cleveland Review and many others. His new chapbook titled Under Half-Empty Heaven was published in 2018 by Grey Book Press.

James Walton 2 poems

 

 

Twelve megawatts to evening                                                                        

 

 

a fox so cruel

 

in its beautiful unmercy

where black swans

 

trawl beyond mine shaft warnings

 

a mob of grey roos

languid as a marinade

 

scratch at rear thighs

 

old gardeners resting

on a cushioning rake

 

the wind turbines

 

obelisks in need of a Pharaoh

sift the sky for a language

 

only written in stone

 

at the end of the trail

all this thirsting water

 

the hospital air ambulance

 

skims a stitching reverberation

on the mid-winter tide

 

this is a place to lie down

 

between shaking centuries

let something run away with me

 

into a chiaroscuro frame

 

 

I will be your open city    

                                                                             

 

a hail ashore

not a mirage of inklings

a gate always open

 

beneath a white pennant

surrender yourself

here the fountain knows no age

 

sit down by the brickwork

later I will bring out a towel

wipe away these days

 

I’ll read your quiet palm

trace the drifting lines back

find your watermark at source

 

write your name by dipped finger

see how it shines then departs

from these momentary lapses

 

how soon the sun and moon merge

in an overlapping circumference

another day of lives waits

 

outside of forgotten sanctuary

above its wing beat compass

a kestrel squawks of wandering

 

remember the smell of bread

the tired tread to be ahead

of too many willing souls

 

soon a dark regretfulness

will slow to the fall of a leaf

each side in equal shadow

 

there are no answers

there are no secrets

we are all a passage here

 

 

James Walton was a librarian, a farm labourer, a cattle breeder, and mostly a public sector union official. He is published in many anthologies, journals, and newspapers. He has been shortlisted for the ACU National Literature Prize, the MPU International Prize, and the James Tate Prize. His poetry collections include The Leviathan’s Apprentice, Walking Through Fences, and Unstill Mosaics (forthcoming). He is now old enough to be almost invisible. He lives in Australia.

 

 

Vivian Wagner 3 poems

 

 

Seussian

 


I walked through the

woods this morning

and saw not the Lorax

but ground made of

diamondfrost, two

cardinals darting

through branches,

deer tracks, frozen.

And I realized all of

these were him,

speaking in slow motion,

pleading to be saved.

 

 

Gravity

 

 

The cemetery out my

window is steady,

not unchanging, exactly,

but not moving as quickly

as the coal trucks passing

on the road between us.

We all need a cemetery to

gaze upon, the gray

stones reminding us of

the joy to be found in fealty,

the stillness giving us pause.

 

 

Staying Put

 

 

I’d like to travel

through time right

at this point,

this place I sit,

back through seas

and dinosaur lairs,

around ancient villages

and smoking camp fires.

And I’d love to

spend a few

fallen moments

exploring the

apple orchard that

was my backyard.

 

 

Vivian Wagner lives in New Concord, Ohio, where she's an associate professor of English at Muskingum University. She's the author of a memoir, Fiddle: One Woman, Four Strings, and 8,000 Miles of Music (Citadel-Kensington); a full-length poetry collection, Raising (Clare Songbirds Publishing House); and three chapbooks, The Village (Aldrich Press-Kelsay Books), Making (Origami Poems Project), and Curiosities (Unsolicited Press). Visit her website at www.vivianwagner.net.

 

 

Laurie Byro 3 poems

 

 

Shadows

 

 

I sit in thy shadow but not alone.  Elizabeth Siddal

 

In my other life, I am the painter and not the model. I am not draped

in weeds with a crown of clover, there is no romance in frogs or fish,

 

no beauty in freezing on a bed of stones and snails. The men

who create know God.  In my other life, I know the love of a few good

 

women. I chortle sonnets as easy as I guzzle porridge. No lectures of

“Eat, you are too skinny, remember if i must I can paint your body thin.”

 

It is my face they wanted, they want. Sad that beauty weeps kingdoms

from my own eyes.  I will admit I pinched this life from the street  like Gabriel  

 

clasped a phrase to his bosom.   But you will have the truth,

my pleasure is no match for them.  Night after night, my lover cloaks

 

me in a gauzy-grey gown of mist, am I not beautiful when you know me

like this? I grow cold and ugly in this Hamlet bath water. I am more than

 

the dripping paint off a stiff bristle brush. Night after night, I dream

of my other life as a mother.  This child sleeps inside me and together we

 

float as on lilies towards the smooth stones of the river.  No, I see

they are white stars peering at us through the dark eyes of God.  

 

 

Rose La Touche

 

 

You can only possess beauty through understanding it. John Ruskin

 

Presently, the drawing room opened, and Rosie came in. Rosie or Rose,

Lily or Fawn.  She was not tall, nor short. She was perfect but alas a ten

year old girl.  I could smell her before I saw her, the tresses on her

 

neck.  She was Rose and I was ivy as I imagined us lying in a bed of petals.

She was a Rose with no thorns, a star gazer lily and me, her new Master.

 

I owned her. She owned me. Living is short, remembering these moments

is long.  When she died horribly in love with Jesus and not me, madness

turning her china blue eyes into an empty glass, I felt like a broken winged

 

dove, no longer afloat in her eyes.  I died  with her. When my pet left,

my innocent fawn, my heart failed to summon a correct beat, I was pebbles

 

of rain pouring over barren soil. My Rose did have a thorn after all, the brutal

piercing of my heart.  I was forbidden marriage, and always her teacher.

Rose, Rose, her curled petals closed forever to me, I swear I never touched her.

 

 

Day of the Dead

 

 

To honor him, to honor my general,

I draw a skull and crossbones

on each knee, wear my ribboned dress,

turquoise like my eyes, to the parade.

 

My name is Luz Corral de Villa.

My husband has been dead a long time.

He came into my mother’s store

when I was sixteen and a beauty.

He demanded blankets, bags of flour.

He told my mother he would have me too,

when his revolution was over.

 

He kept his promise and returned,

eyes flashing fire, pockets bulging silver.

He was shy when he took down my hair,

less so when he broke me like a bottle

of his clearest tequila.

How love stings.

 

You will think me a romantic.

There was no time for that. I cooked

for him, I fought those who called him

bandito.

 

Once, a bastard patriot tried

to slit my husband’s throat. It was after

a night of wild stars, too much drink.

The assassin held the same knife

held under my breast during love-play.

I took the closest pistol I could find

and shot off his left ear, half his cheek,

splattering bits of teeth.

 

He howled under a coyote-moon, rode

his horse clear to Texas, died (I prayed)

along the way. What good is a man

with half a face?

 

Children rush at me as I walk the parade,

Pick at my ribbons with their grubby fingers.

They shake gourds painted with red devils,

black cats to scare away evil.

 

They should not fear me,

an old woman, a heroine—

married to a hero. I am

Luz Corral de Villa.

 

I may no longer

smell like daffodils or wet earth.

But with my general walking beside me,

I am not quite living, not quite among

the shadows.

 

He lives inside me and soon when

I am no longer waking, I will join him—

to sleep inside a mercenary’s mansion.  

 

Laurie Byro has had 5 collections of poetry published, most recently La Dogaressa (Cowboy Buddha Press). Two collections had work that received a New Jersey Poetry Prize. Her poetry has received 55 Interboard Competition honors including 10 First Place awards as judged. In 2018, she was nominated for 4 Pushcart Prizes and she facilitates Circle of Voices in NJ Libraries for the last 20 years.  

Neil Clarkson 1 poem

 

 

In the Library

 

(for Bruno Ganz 1948 – 2019)

 

 

I love talking to myself in libraries

where the books wait to be chosen,

talk back to me.

 

On pods of PC’s people come to connect

to where they came from

to forget that it’s cold

to rack up the numbers

for the work coach.

 

As I glance over a shoulder

the scrolling pauses.

I think of you in ‘Wings of Desire’

your kind eyes, cool shin-length overcoat,

an angel, a cocooning Berlin ghost.

 

I stroll round the library talking to myself,

no lone looks up from book or screen.

I too am a ghost.

I realise that.  

 

 

Neil Clarkson had his first poetry collection published by Calder Valley Poetry in February 2017, called Build You Again from Wood,  see www.caldervalleypoetry.com His work has been published in magazines such as Pennine Platform, Honest Ulsterman and Obsessed by Pipework. He has won or been a prize-winner in competitions such as the Adoption Matters North West poetry competition and Didsbury Arts Festival competition.

 

 

Phillip O’Neil 2 poems

 

 

HOSTAGE

 

 

One night I watched from your penthouse garden

The silver hairs of railway tracks

Shining like hairpins under the moon

Weaving an almanac of travellers' tales:

Drifting to fabulous Meccas

Expressing passengers to oriental bazaars

And green tea flowing from samovars

Leaving their wistful passengers dreaming

Of the ends of the earth and beyond -

Names hung with incense and coral.

 

In the morning I stare at the tangle of iron

Wet in drizzle and mist,

Heard local routes barked in dialect

Reducing the traffic to regular rides

Packed with commuters bound for the city

Red-eyed, hungover remains of the night

Rattled irreverently, rudely to work.

Will I have the courage to escape on the night-train,

Quit this tower, your spirit, your dreams,

Or delay my trip again?

 

 

STONE

 

 

There's horror in dem dribblin' stones
but lovers lap up
drop by drop from gargoyles
what devils do best on cathedrals
golden showerin' sweeties
buttressed in their tight gothic clinch
lickin' the spit off the god-house
built by the man who speaks stone.

 

Philip O’Neil is an English writer living in Prague who worked as a journalist for over two decades in various parts of the globe. His poetry has been published in Ygdrasil, Wilderness House Literary Review, Suisun Valley Review, Mad Swirl among others. His first novel ‘Mental Shrapnel' is due to be published later this year.

 

 

Reuben Wolley 3 poems

 

 

my desert song she sang

 

see

 

comes it a storm

 

flying i said

 

shrieking

 

another breath.dusk

is a wily

thing this

misfortune my lease

of sorry / a last

disable

    & do you want

this shining / a strained

reflection say it’s

nothing not this simple

   listen

   my refuge


a wind this is a wind

if ever there is

   & catch
the old game can you catch
a cold laugh trembling

& let the wind bleed.i will not
cry again & not for lacking.we’re
still playing cowboys & injuns

in the hurtling sand

 

 

consequences & other undesirables

 

empty signs wherever
a dirge

 

a wake

 

a wedding song

 

& how do you step

& lively / a fit

 / & figure

 

me this you stringless

play a sweeping run / a

slide through dumb

 

i hear

 

bluesman

blue man

 

crying a lyric.oh

fill a loose

 

dance a fool’s

polka.you’ll

see me bent

 

& withering.it is my

autumn

 

     transfer a body

to this my own

cracked carapace

& let the gulls feed

 

 

let your numbered mass & flow

 

i don’t speak &

so many words

they’re only

           accidental

descriptions / a coded

sequence   /

    / all

unordered

 

123 see

 

   gates

 

this unfound land of

 

stupid

 

secrets & try a lie a

sickly gradient my black

diana just as likely

wised & wrinkled aren’t we all & dolls

 

dying on beds of paper this

world will tell & spend the wake

an older priest his dull recitals

 

 

Reuben Woolley has been published in quite a few magazines such as Tears in the Fence, Lighthouse, The Interpreter's House, the anthology, The Dizziness of Freedom, Ink Sweat & Tears, Proletarian Poetry, And Other Poems and The Poet's Shed. He has five books to his name, the latest being some time we are heroes, published by The Corrupt Press (2018). He has a book forthcoming, this hall of several tortures, to be published by Knives Forks and Spoons Press (September 2019). He edits the online magazines, I am not a silent poet and The Curly Mind.

 

 

 

Mark Mayes 2 poems

 

 

(Editor’s note: We don’t generally publish rhyme, but we have made an exception here…)

 

 

Wordless

 

 

I didn’t find it in the whisky glass,

that glowing countryside of peace that stays

beyond the studied kiss, the loveless pass.

I found it in her awkwardness, her ways

of being neat, of sitting on my lap

when I would least expect, and of her back,

soft freckled, as her hands turned on the tap

in me. And now it is her girlfulness I lack.

I didn’t find it in the Spanish wine

I poured into her mouth, then from my own,

stream red into her throat, the liquid line

that sought the heart of her she had not shown.

These books surround my drying skin and I

cannot find words to write upon her sky.

 

 

Nostalgia

 

Their names circle a hole in water,

descend to hiddenness.

 

A train moves against a city in the rain.

You take a photograph of a church

through a deep window,

as light fails,

as desire falls to distance.

 

A wedding in a forest;

the horses’ feet throw

white powder behind

the frill of bells;

you clasp a gift

to a borrowed coat.

 

A penny bag of stale cakes

swings from your young hand;

as you tramp from Tufnell Park

through Archway, by Highgate,

and further, to find woods waiting.

 

 

Mark Mayes has had poems and stories published in various magazines and anthologies. 2017 saw the publication of his novel, The Gift Maker. Mark also enjoys writing songs. 

 

 

Rollo Nye 2 poems

 

 

Alone

 

 

disconnected

the plug

from the socket.

 

then everything

bounced  into the walls inside,

and against trees

and rocks,

against mountains

and stars,

and eyes and lungs

and hearts.

 

we are all so alone.

 

this poem knows, but

the brain knows

not a thing

about the poem.

 

failure to thrive

 

 

consider her absence

one of omission.

fear does drive some out

and into their own thicket

hidden behind stone

swallowed by the field

alone and cold

afraid of unraveling.

and like a candy wrapper

abandoned on a table

in the harshest of light

your eyes burn holes in the air

around her until the membrane is

reduced to memory

of carnivorous truths,

held in check with the might of regret.

consider these failures to thrive

a withering of the flesh

wounds in progress

the withdrawing into an in-between

a becoming of emptiness

a hollow ring.

deafening really -

just listen.

 

 

Rollo Nye is a poet and yoga teacher who lives with his wife, Amy, in New York. His poetry has appeared in various journals and reviews, including: Subterranean Blue Poetry, Mud Season Review, and The Red River Review. 

 

Andrew Shields 1 poem

 

 

September Street

 

 

The days are walking down to the equinox.

This is no pilgrimage; this is no cross.

The crescent moon is just a trick of the light,

a reflection of the day to fill the night.

 

The trees aren't yet talking to the street.

For now, they're keeping their secrets from my feet.

They'll tell the pigeons first, who nobody believes;

we'll only listen to the muttering of the leaves.

 

They say,

"This is no pilgrimage.

This is no cross.

Count the days to the equinox."

 

 

Andrew Shields lives in Basel, Switzerland. His collection of poems "Thomas Hardy Listens to Louis Armstrong" was published by Eyewear in June 2015. His band Human Shields released the album "Somebody's Hometown" in 2015 and the EP "Défense de jouer" in 2016.

 

 

Catherine Zickgraf 1 poem

 

 

Tall Tale of a Meltdown

 

 

Crows step through the wreckage

in a land where dark clouds

forced the inhabitants away.

A regular day lies frozen in fear

from thirty-some years ago.

 

Rusted cribs stand against peeling paint.

Stirrups of birthing chairs sprawl on the street.

A doll missing legs lost its fleeing child,

and weeds are consuming the buildings.

 

So the town escaped this Soviet bastion,

where brush grows over a meltdown in time.  

The reactor even scared off their ghosts

when they fled from the acid rain.    

 

 

 

Catherine Zickgraf main jobs are to hang out with her family and write poetry. Her work has appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Pank, Victorian Violet PressandThe Grief Diaries. Her recent chapbook, Soul Full of Eye, is published through Aldrich Press.

 

Read and watch her at caththegreat.blogspot.com

 

 

Patrick Williamson 2 poems

 

 

The itinerary

 

They promised salvation after death to those

who completed all these steps and trials,

to be admitted, it was severely forbidden to speak

so the little we know, as outsiders, depends

on fragments, buried after closure, invisible images

certainly not meant for us who attempt

to decipher their meaning, the question remains then,

what did they mean, a reminder of the joy of life,

hope, maybe just a life that is very brief and troubled

that, busied in doing nothing, the poor wretches

perceived too late, because they sometimes invoked death

as proof that they were living a long time, being

an example of our own weakness while we risk

rendering the everyday merely the work of talented painters

 

why can we not manage to

handle these findings properly.

 

 

Migrants beaching

 

The first sea any of us had seen

winched from water to land

to shed, the grey clouds are danger

the bell tower is on fire,

 

the black beach is hot, the bridges

collapse oh god oh god oh god

don't leave me hanging on, my brain

is built of brick that erodes to sand

 

and you've no reason to think

this is any proof we are living long

all the intervening while is irksome

we await the appointed hour

 

the time which we enjoy is short

and swift, it is not made shorter

by our own fault; we flee from

one thought to none, from distant

 

past to a present we forget

confused and hateful, we lose

the day in expectation of night,

and night in fear of the dawn.

 

 

Patrick Williamson lives near Paris. Recent poems in And Other Poems, Blue Nib Press, Paris LitUp, and Mediterranean Poetry. Latest collection is Traversi (English-Italian, Samuele Editore), and, previously, note Gifted (Corrupt Press), and Locked in, or out? (The Red Ceilings Press). He is the editor and translator of The Parley Tree, An Anthology of Poets from French-speaking Africa and the Arab World (Arc Publications). Founding member of transnational literary agency Linguafranca.

 

Margo Jodyne Dills 1 poem

 

 

Détente

 

there was no bloodletting; only sorrow

the will to have a hollow heart …

yet all the tears that once filled an ocean

turned to salt and stood like a pillar in the land of Lot.

we stood akimbo from one another

chins of steel

elbows piercing

all the directions of earth

 

I write you stones

you send boulders

 

 

Margo Jodyne Dills is an active member of Seattle’s Hugo House, and other writing venues in the Seattle area. Her writing life includes guest blogging on sites in Mexico and Latin America, writing poetry, and publishing her novel, Sparrow. She is very excited about recently being accepted with a scholarship to Hedgebrook Vortext.

 

 

Lucy Newlyn 1 poem

 

 

Words

 

 

I have spent the morning among words.

They sprout, with dark blue florets;

they bend their yellow faces on tall stems;

they hide, pale and low, behind uncut grass;

they climb grey-grainy bark towards the sky.

 

There are too many words coming between me

and the pool of hyacinths, daffodils, primroses

under the wrinkled apple-tree.

I will spend the afternoon discarding

all the words I know for Spring.

 

 

 

Lucy Newlyn, a retired academic, is the author of two collections of poetry: Ginnel (Oxford Poets/Carcanet, 2005) and Earth’s Almanac (Enitharmon, 2015). A third collection, Vital Stream, is forthcoming with Carcanet in November 2019. She has recently published Diary of a Bipolar Explorer (Signal, 2018), a fifteen-year memoir describing her experience of the connection between Bipolar Disorder and creative process.

 

 

T. Castleberry 2 poems

 

 

THIS TRACE OF SERENITY

 

 

I’ve spent the hours

watching overflights of airliners,

choppers bank low, in line

with hospital spires.

Blue jay and robin dart

from oaks to feeding field.

A grey calico cat makes

his run across cracked tarmac,

tail flicking through a broken fence.

A spoiling cloud builds to the west.

The day seems a haiku

of mechanics and the wild.

 

 

AMERICAN MERCY

 

 

I sit on the edge of war, thirsty for release.

Wearing the white of mourning surrender,

I stack my rifle outside the harbor chapel,

march in queue for a meal.

The vagabond legions merit all respect

as they disappear into the city,

busk on streetlight corners,

take their turn as teacher’s aide, Kwik Copy clerk.

Co-conspirators at large, their ringtones sing:

“Give me Christ or give me Hiroshima.”

 

In visits overnight, I find friends

dead by protest beatings,

deaf with bleatings of family scorn.

Shattered, ill, they are ranking  

clinics, hospice care, the mercy in

morphine over prayer miracles.

I sit with their dying, wince

at my needs, my loss in their leaving.

I wish them recovered.

I wish them no more pain.

 

Some mornings I’m called to waking

by a wicked piper, black dog at his feet.

He disturbs, discerns nothing save

grievance blare, ways of discontent.

I haul myself through a failure

that is cursing weariness,

a beggar’s snarl at bitter news,

Red Wing boots broken through to mud.

Eyes down, I revise my wolf pack memoir,

strike off another day in this sordid country.

 

 

T. Castleberry’s work has appeared in Roanoke Review, Santa Fe Literary Review, Pedestal Magazine, Green Mountains Review, The Alembic and Comstock Review. Internationally, it has been published in Canada, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand and Antarctica. I’ve had poetry in the anthologies: Travois-An Anthology of Texas Poetry, TimeSlice, The Weight of Addition, Anthem: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen, Kind Of A Hurricane: Without Words and Blue Milk’s anthology, Dawn. My chapbook, Arriving At The Riverside, was published by Finishing Line Press in January, 2010. An e-book, Dialogue and Appetite, was published by Right Hand Pointing in May, 2011.

 

 

Dah 1 poem

 

 

Equinox


To say that this wind
is a hurricane’s embryo
or these blades of grass
are hung-over from dew …

I lean against this early light
/my winter veins
chilled / to the cold embers

of a dying season

 

 

Dah’s seventh poetry collection is Something Else’s Thoughts (Transcendent Zero Press) and his poems have been published by editors from the US, UK, Ireland, Canada, Spain, Singapore, Philippines, Poland, Australia, Africa, and India. He is a Pushcart Prize and Best Of The Net nominee and the lead editor of the poetry critique group, The Lounge. Dah lives in Berkeley, California, where he is working on his eighth book of poetry.

 

 

Kymberlee della Luce 1 poem

 

 

sweet

 

 

i know that you  

like me better 

when I'm sweet 

(sweet like candy 

from an uncle) 

acid burns 

like on the face of a womxn 

whose lover feels spurned 

or  

like when pink petals 

are torn 

from sex 

or childbirth 

or 

when it spills out 

of my pink mouth 

because acid is all 

i have left  

inside 

i want to be better  

i know you like me 

sweet that way 

 

 

Kymberlee della Luce is an interdisciplinary artist, educator, creative catalyst, and glitter pony currently living in Seattle in the US.  They tell stories and help others discover their voice and honor their own story.  Their life is dedicated to liberating the wild, untamable heart. Learn more about them at kymberleedellaluce.com

 

 

Pam Thompson 2 poems

 

 

The Memory Theatre

 

(after Self-Portrait by Carmen Calvo)

 

 

I am the doll in the stiff lace ballgown

holding props: a tiny axe, fishing flies.

The horseshoe, I nail upside down in the Green Room.

 

After you left, these are the things I gathered

from our old white bedspread

and took them to the memory theatre—

 

tossed the red paper roses onto the proscenium—

I heard the ones you gave her were white, and real—

kicked off each black high-heeled shoe,

 

set the Venetian mask spinning from the gantry.

It twists its sad glitter face, this way,

that, as if it is looking for someone in the audience.

 

The elephant tusk nestling in the wings.

reminds me of your penis.

How insignificant, out of the spotlight.

 

My lines are written on my hand

in case the lead is indisposed. You’ll wink

from the front row. That will be my cue.

 

 

Late August, Antrim Coast

 

 

I walk out of my hotel and across to the harbour

catching the smell of brambles, of autumn, and the North Sea

shifts and turns, showing its silver belly, like the salmon

shift and turn in cages offshore, and waves roll in from

the Western Isles, bringing the grey horizon closer.

An Irish flag on a small mound is unhindered by a slight breeze.

I’m just passing through but every summer as a boy

my father left the city to holiday in these seaside towns.

 

Near where my grandfather’s cobbler’s shop used to be

in Sandy Row, kerbstones painted red, white and blue.

 

These borders, their perpetual trip-wires and snares.

 

 

Pam Thompson is a poet and educator based in Leicester, UK. Her publications include The Japan Quiz ( Redbeck Press, 2009) and Show Date and Time, (Smith | Doorstop, 2006). Pam’s second collection, Strange Fashion, was published by Pindrop Press in 2017. She is a 2019 Hawthornden Fellow. Web-site pamthompsonpoetry@wordpress.com

 

 

Yuan Changming 1 poem

 

 

Sonneting in Infinitives

 

To be  (a matter when there’s no question)

Or not to be  (a question when nothing really matters)

 

To sing with a frog squatting straight

On a lotus leaf in the Honghu Lake  near Jingzhou

 

    To recollect all the pasts, and mix them

Together like a glass of cocktail

 

To build a nest of meaning

Between two broken branches on Ygdrasil

 

To strive for deity

      Longevity & even happiness

 

To come on and off line every other while

 

To compress consciousness into a file, and upload it

Onto a nomochip. To meditate among loud vowels

 

     To be daying, to die

 

 

Yuan Changming published monographs on translation before leaving China. Currently, Yuan lives in Vancouver, where he edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Qing Yuan. Credits include ten Pushcart nominations, Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17) and BestNewPoemsOnline, among others.      

 

 

Phil Kirby 1 poem

 

 

Stela

 

 

The night was no longer defined

by prospects of the Northern Lights

straying so far south. Instead,

it was a white-peach moon

slowly rising in the birdless dark;

the lovers’ car coming down off the hill

while someone’s distant party rhythms

lifted from the valley, faded, came again.

Heaven held nothing but stars, until

an aft light plotted its curve across them

and, in one small arc of the horizon,

some closing celebration sprayed

silent bursts of firework red and green

above the landscape’s silhouette,

all other reference points obscured

but these quotidian things, these

signs of earthly dreams fulfilled

which, just this once, fell into place.

 

 

Phil Kirby has spent most of his working life teaching English. His first collection was ‘Watermarks’, from Arrowhead Press (remaining copies available through philkirbypoetry@yahoo.com). His second collection, ‘The Third History’, from Lapwing Publications, appeared in February 2018. Writing as P.K. Kirby, his novella for young adults, ‘Hidden Depths’, is available on Kindle.

 

 

Edward Lee 1 Poem

 

 

REACH

 

 

He erected a scaffold

to build his house,

but after its completion

realised he did not want walls

or a roof to restrict him

from the touch of the world,

so he continued building

the scaffold

so he might touch the stars

and see the world

as a god might.

 

You can hear him,

night after night,

metal scraping hollow metal,

wood creaking, taking weight.

 

the stars above,

silent,

waiting,

 

waiting.

 

 

Edward Lee's poetry, short stories, non-fiction and photography have been published in magazines in Ireland, England and America, including The Stinging Fly, Skylight 47, Acumen and Smiths Knoll.  His debut poetry collection "Playing Poohsticks On Ha'Penny Bridge" was published in 2010. He is currently working towards a second collection. He also makes musical noise under the names Ayahuasca Collective, Lewis Milne, Orson Carroll, Blinded Architect, Lego Figures Fighting, and Pale Blond Boy. His blog/website can be found at https://edwardmlee.wordpress.com

 

 

Michael Minassian 1 poem

 

 

SLEEPING SERPENT

 

Digging in my garden

I pull up an old paving stone

uncovering a sleeping snake

 

careful not to disturb it

I push dirt and a few small stones

over its winter bed—

 

in spring I will watch

for its thin trail

for its shedded skin—

 

perhaps even look for

empty beer bottles

and lip stick stained butts—

 

not every snake is a metaphor—

but for every pleasure

there is equal parts pain.

 

 

MICHAEL MINASSIAN is a Contributing Editor for Verse-Virtual, an online magazine. His chapbooks include poetry: The Arboriculturist (2010) and photography: Around the Bend (2017). For more information: https://michaelminassian.com

 

 

Anahit Arustamyan 1 poem

 

 

I INHERITED

 

I had inherited the sins from others long before I was born.

I inherited  pains and sorrows heavier than ancient stones.

I was gifted with love when I felt the presence of my Lord.

I inherited my name from the Goddess whose myth is  still told.

A millennium or a minute is the same for rivers in winters' cold.

Despite my Goddess's name my being is both real and phantom.

The snow's embroidery melted and gave its whiteness to the smoke.

The grey smoke doesn't know if it once shone.

I keep love in my heart but pain remains in my bones.

I inherited the sin from Eve when I was unborn.

Love will save my soul but my myth will not be told.
 

Anahit Arustamyan is an Armenian poetess. Her poems have appeared in different poetry magazines and anthologies both online and in print. She is the author of 5 poetry books: The Queen Of Metaphors, My Intoxicated Ink, The Phantom's Dolphin, Words In Flight, and The Canvas Of My Soul which are available on Amazon.

 

 

Maki Starfield 6 Haikus

 

 

“Enjoy every encounter because it may not come again.” MS

 

 

1

 

A clump of nettles
Bloomed above the cement—

Glorious green!

 

 

2

 

My sweetheart is away,
But tonight
We watch the moon together.

 

 

3

The magic of a kiss!
Now you
Become the flame of my passion.

 

4

 

Winged words...
The peach trees are in full bloom

In my home town.

 

 

5

 

a moment of yours 

a moment of mine– 

distant fireworks

 

6

 

his photo 

concealed in my heart

calls forth a firefly

 

Maki Starfield was born in Japan, where she studied English and American literature, teaching and business, with further work in Canada.  She has published poems, haikus and translations in JUNPA publications (http://www.ama-hashi.com).

 

 

John Bolton 1 poem

 

 

Penny Rose

 

i.m Bev Knutton

 

 

Angels have arrived,

one touch of thier hands diminished your pain.

Love starts this way. Fitting life should end

 

the same. Now the edges you smoothed

get harder everyday. The summer sky

a towering inferno, the grass all made of blades.

 

Love is holding the bloom, even though the flower has withered.

 

Your face gave me an embrace

no words could explain. For our deeds there’s no song

they could sing us, but the street light still

 

searches for darkness. He wouldnt want to see

me weak. He wouldnt want to see me cry.

Now, like stars through the day, I know you are there -

 

its just when times are darkest, your presence

is more clear. You shared the cartoon of creation through

the colour of your imagination.

 

Your bluebird that found freedom

in our little room. Now you have stopped time

like a train. I’m a teenager whose feelings are graffiti

 

but all I can write is your name.

Without you music is mute,

a ballet of swans, heads bowed, moving down river.

 

Love is holding the bloom, even though the flower has withered.

 

 

John Bolton is a newcomer to the poetry scene. He is currently working towards his first collection, Handcuffed to the Night. He is a Hoist erector and would love to be a writer full time.

Image: Sunday by Charles Braddy

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