Exmouth – Edward Alport

 

I took my problems to my old friend, the sea.

He watched me with his flashing eyes

And spoke to me with seven foaming lips.

I poured out my problems

And he poured them right back again.

 

Now that I’m sitting, like a stone on a rock,

Now the beach-huts are deserted,

And all the lovers have gone home,

He’s still there;

He’s still there;

The still small voice

Of endless noise,

Wearing at my loneliness.

 

 

Edward Alport is a proud Essex Boy and occupies his time as a teacher, gardener and writer for children. He has had poetry published in a variety of webzines and magazines. When he has nothing better to do he posts snarky micropoems on Twitter as @cross_mouse.

King’s Cliff Wood – Anthony Watts

 

And if at times there seems to be

no more to it than this

return with muddied boots to the locked car

 

(groping for comfort under coats, cold nose to cold

nose, the same old words you won’t

or don’t believe)

 

then love is always the path we saved for another

day, the tunnel winding, whisper-filled,

under a sun-rug of November trees.

 

Also (and always) love is the lit sky, shorn

of its restless weathers,

falling

forever

into everlasting.

 

 

Anthony Watts - head & shoulder portrait (3)Anthony Watts has been writing ‘seriously’ for about 40 years. He has won 26 First Prizes in poetry competitions and was longlisted for the National Poetry Competition 2014. His poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies, including Poetry Salzburg Review, The Rialto and Riggwelter. His fifth collection, Stiles, is due to be published by Paekakariki Press. His home is in rural Somerset and his main interests are poetry, music, walking and binge thinking – activities which he finds can be happily combined.

How to See a Ghost – Edward Alport

 

A stain fading from the ceiling as I watch,

A shadow cast by a patch of sunlight,

Two pictures canted at the same angle,

Tell of a life, calm, but out of kilter.

 

The sound of a dripping tap, suddenly stilled,

Of hollow footsteps on a concrete floor,

Or paper rustling in a silent room,

Tell of a life, good at keeping secrets

 

The scent of lavender by the kitchen door

Or roses in an empty vase

And chocolate and raspberries by the fireplace

Do not tell me of pain and desperation.

 

 

Edward Alport is a proud Essex Boy and occupies his time as a teacher, gardener and writer for children. He has had poetry published in a variety of webzines and magazines. When he has nothing better to do he posts snarky micropoems on Twitter as @cross_mouse.

Secret life of seals – Rebecca Gethin

 

Secret life of seals Rebecca Gethin 1

 

unnamed 1Rebecca Gethin lives in Devon. She was a winner in the first Coast to Coast to Coast pamphlet competition with Messages. A pamphlet about endangered creatures called Vanishings is due to  be published by Palewell Press in 2020. Two pamphlets were published in 2017: A Sprig of Rowan by Three Drops Press and All the Time in the World by Cinnamon Press who previously published a collection and two novels. She has been a Hawthornden Fellow and undertook a residency at Brisons Veor in 2018. Find more at www.rebeccagethin.wordpress.com.

Concierto de Aranjuez – Anthony Watts

 

1

Note by quivering note, the guitar

uncoffins its soul.

Something ascending into deathlessness

pieces together a passion, while outside

the wind is strumming, drumming on the stone house.

 

Under dark beams, the firefly notes

assemble for a last assault. The orchestra

splits the gloom like a flare,

crashes crimson seas over black rocks.

 

The guitar scuttles after, among pools

of silence, picking up the pieces.

 

2

Sad lovely girl in my arms –

If we could be

at one with the wind and the music – no

clocks to watch, buses to catch. . .

 

The wind has gone

wherever a wind goes when it isn’t blowing;

the music sleeps,

curled like a mouse in the cassette

 

while our twin-spooled togetherness

awaits

its next occasion

 

(filed

secretly

between two lives).

 

 

Anthony Watts - head & shoulder portrait (3)Anthony Watts has been writing ‘seriously’ for about 40 years. He has won 26 First Prizes in poetry competitions and was longlisted for the National Poetry Competition 2014. His poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies, including Poetry Salzburg Review, The Rialto and Riggwelter. His fifth collection, Stiles, is due to be published by Paekakariki Press. His home is in rural Somerset and his main interests are poetry, music, walking and binge thinking – activities which he finds can be happily combined.

School run Lenzie Moss – Finola Scott

 

Step over guarding thorns,

the outstretched claws of brambles,

their plump dark jewels gone now.

Breathe the heavy scent of the viburnum

and tuck a sprig of pink into your mitten

to sweeten day’s cruel frost.

Stop. Listen

to mavis and sparrow all branch-tangled

heralding winter’s early dusk.

Ease past the dog rose, its bareness held

until all is green, all is spring. Head out

and round between the shining birches

calling to the moon.

Nearly there. Don’t stop

to watch as hinds tiptoe or heron stalk the Moss.

There’ll be time.

 

 

C2C2 (2)Makar of the Fed of Writers (Scotland) Finola Scott’s work is on posters, tapestries and postcards. Her poems are widely published in anthologies and magazines including New Writing Scotland, The Lighthouse and Fenland Reed. Her work was commissioned by Stanza Poetry Festival for a multi-media installation. Much Left Unsaid, her pamphlet, is published by Red Squirrel Press. Poems, pictures and events can be found at Finola Scott Poems.

Confessions – Ali Jones

 

Now is the time to admit what I saw at midwinter.

The young oaks were leaning in around their mother,

while a gnarled old door opened the way in her trunk.

From inside, light was streaming and all the other trees,

raised and shook their branches as if praising something.

 

Now is the time to admit what I saw at midsummer.

The holly was rising tall as any cathedral, form shifting,

into a huge crowned figure, who stretched his limbs,

then set off on a progress around the whole forest.

All other trees knelt down and bowed their heads in respect.

 

Now is the time to admit what I don’t know about.

The birch sisters who whisper heroic couplets at the boundaries

baffle me. I cannot speak ash, or hornbeam or blackthorn.

All I know is that the trees go about their business,

they do important work, while I wonder and wait.

 

 

AJ bio picAlison Jones is a teacher, and writer with work published in a variety of places, from Poetry Ireland Review, Proletarian Poetry and The Interpreter’s House, to The Green Parent Magazine and The Guardian. She has a particular interest in the role of nature in literature and is a champion of contemporary poetry in the secondary school classroom. Her pamphlet, ‘Heartwood’ was published by Indigo Dreams in 2018, with a second pamphlet. ‘Omega’ forthcoming.

Lichen – James P. Roberts

 

Covers gravestones

Erases names and dates

 

Pale green

& white growth overlapping

 

circular shapes expand

with every year

of neglect.

 

Rain

will not wash away

the stain

only spur

further growth.

 

I expect

someday to wear

a mantle of lichen

like a warm coat

sheltering me

from the cold, dark dirt.

 

 

James P. Roberts is the author of five previous collections of poetry. Recent work has been published in Weirdbook, Mirror Dance, Rosebud, Sand Canyon Review and Zingara Poetry Review. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin where he haunts Little Free Libraries and has a passion for women’s flat-track roller derby.

Copse – Yuan Changming

 

Standing tall against the frozen sky

Your skeletons are the exquisite calligraphy

Of an entire season

Your name is curly writ

 

Not in water

But with wind

 

 

IMG-0647Yuan Changming published monographs on translation before leaving his native country. 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.

Metamorphosis – Ali Jones

 

Once I stood, a tall pine,

basking in sunlight.

Mare’s tail fronded my roots,

creatures thrived in my forest.

 

Time has many names.

 

When I fell, I swam, bog born.

I have been pressed,

like a rare flower caught

in a treasured volume.

Life put weight into me,

I married billion year old sunlight

and held it in my trunk.

 

Transformed to strata,

then exhumed and scuttled

into a sparked hearth,

I reach for the skies again.

 

 

AJ bio picAlison Jones is a teacher, and writer with work published in a variety of places, from Poetry Ireland Review, Proletarian Poetry and The Interpreter’s House, to The Green Parent Magazine and The Guardian. She has a particular interest in the role of nature in literature and is a champion of contemporary poetry in the secondary school classroom. Her pamphlet, ‘Heartwood’ was published by Indigo Dreams in 2018, with a second pamphlet. ‘Omega’ forthcoming.

Appearance – Antoinette Carone

 

We used to pretend that we were wealthy. After all, as we were taught in theater class, it is the appearance that counts. Keep up the illusion long enough and it becomes a reality.

We shopped in the jewelry stores uptown. We never bought anything, but we made excellent excuses for not doing so: The amber did not quite go with my eyes; I did not really like the emerald; and so on. Then one day I saw an amethyst pin. I loved it! We said we would think about it and left.

I got a second job – just temporarily. I became a telemarketer. I hated every minute of it, but I was good at it. I guess all that pretending, all that making claim to an alternate reality paid off. At the end of six months I had saved twelve-hundred dollars.

I put on my one good dress – black silk crepe but very plain – and wearing sunglasses but no make-up, I walked into the jewelry store with the cash. The pin was still there! (I imagine it was too small for someone who could afford whatever she wanted to take notice of.) I never wore jewelry when I went into that store except for the gold studs in my ears, a graduation present from my aunts. I went home wearing the pin on my black dress. The austerity of the neckline really set it off.

There was a woman sitting in our living room with David, drinking white wine. David introduced her as Margot. I guess we effectively carried off the appearance of wealth, because Margot took quite a close look at my pin. She was a dancer, or so David said. That seemed to be true from the way she held herself and from the length and tone of her legs. She looked elegant and aloof. Perhaps Margot was pretending to be beautiful.

She certainly convinced David. He left me for her the following weekend. He said that he was obsessed with her exquisite looks, that he had more in common with her that with me and that he and I weren’t really meant for each other.

 

 

IMG_1734 (2)

Antoinette Carone was born in West Virginia. She has studied theater in New York city and holds a bachelor’s degree in Romance Languages. When she and her husband decided to spend a year in Naples, she kept a journal which was later published as Ciao, Napoli – A Scrapbook of Wandering in Naples. Her short stories “The Eternal Return” appeared in the May 2018 issue and “The Demon” in the January 2019 issue of the online journal Ovunque Siamo. She is an active member of the New York Writers’ Coalition.

Bonfire – Fizza Abbas

 

Charred trees stand still

The baggage is too strong

With the smoke drifting over the paddock,

carbon tunes in to a beautiful song

 

A barren foothold:

the mud-covered carcass of a leaf

The shrine of a stem

Staying close to the life underneath

 

 

Fizza Abbas (Portrait Photograph)Fizza Abbas is a Freelance Content Writer based in Karachi, Pakistan. She is fond of poetry and music. Her works have been published at many platforms including Indiana Voice Journal and Poetry Pacific.

Peach Pit – Kara Goughnour

 

The thunder was growling

like any defenseless thing

and the birds flew in circles

over our heads. Everything

was tired; the branches lied

vine-like over the rain-slick

street like lost shoelaces

inching back into pairs,

and we bent our boredom

to the back burner in origami

folds. The whole store sat unnoticed

which, to the lot of us, led

to a collective unrest.

I tucked the worn rags into water

and you, with your names

I’ll forget easily when it’s time,

cleared the mold off

of every peach. These days,

in my monotony,

I am a thing capable of rotting,

scared or stoned, a still-stemmed

stone fruit already molding,

before the bird wings catch

in the fence snares, before

the stars yelp back to life,

before anyone can taste it,

before anyone would care.

 

 

Photo Jun 12, 9 13 09 PMKara Goughnour is a writer and documentarian living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They are the author of “Mixed Tapes,” forthcoming in the Ghost City Press Summer 2019 Micro-Chap Series. They are the recipient of the 2018 Gerald Stern Poetry Award, and have work published or forthcoming in The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Third Point Press, and over forty others. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram @kara_goughnour or read their collected and exclusive works at karagoughnour.com.

Soft Landing – Jessica Michael

 

I spend an afternoon listening for the sound sun makes when it hits the ground,

a symphony as it slides off blades of grass, drowns itself in pools of shadow,

then stumble up a broken mountain to see how wind is cradled.

 

Not a single straight line is made anywhere.

 

Perhaps this accounts for our human obsession with maps,

our need to press curves into grids.

They say it is for memory, but I don’t believe them—

you can’t remember this.

 

How land spreads before sunset fire.

How ravens fly without moving a wing.

How a single leaf makes the decision to fall.

 

Does earth know to catch it when it does?

 

 

10036_2Jessica Michael lives and writes in Prescott, AZ when she’s not traveling this intriguing blue planet. Her work has appeared in Allegro, Comstock Review, Red Fez, Rebelle Society, Outdoor Australia, and others. Find her poetry and photography at www.authorjessicamichael.com or follow her on Instagram as @authorjessicamichael.

Yellow Ribbons – Pene Morley

 

The newspaper did nothing to stop the cold seeping from the wooden bench into Steve’s bones. He hugged his anorak tighter around his shoulders and tucked his hands under his armpits. Swapping that old blanket for a tin of baked beans had been a bad idea.

Shoppers, muffled up in coats and scarves and hats, trudged to and fro in front of him. Most ignored him, but some watched him out of the tail of an eye as they passed him. He wanted to grab them and tell them, ‘I was like you once, before I went to fight your bloody war’, but he knew they wouldn’t believe him; they never did.

A woman hurled a half-eaten burger into the bin at his elbow, and he eyed it for a moment before snatching it up. Then he noticed the girl staring at him, knock-kneed, gripping a plait in each hand as though she thought her hair was going to fly off.

‘It’s for my dog,’ he said, nodding to where the lurcher was curled up among the carrier bags at his feet.

The dog raised its shaggy head at the sound of his voice, and he tossed the burger between its paws. It snapped it up.

‘What’s his name?’ the girl said, edging closer.

‘I don’t know. I call him Bob but he’s not really my dog; he just follows me around.’

‘Can I stroke him?’

Steve nodded. The girl bounced down on to the ground at his feet with a grin, and the lurcher stretched out his neck to sniff her mouth, his tail thumping the pavement.

‘My dog’s called Scruffy,’ she said, giggling and squirming as Bob licked her face. ‘I got him when my daddy died but nobody can see him; he’s invisible.’

Steve crumpled up the burger bag and chucked it into the bin. Not having a dad must be tough on the kid, but you wouldn’t know it looking at her now. She was holding Bob’s ears up like butterfly wings and chatting to him about everything and nothing. Steve was about to ask her about her dad, when a slip of a woman rushed up and grabbed her by the shoulders.

‘How many times have I told you not to run off like that, Anna?’ she said, pulling the girl on to her feet.

Anna twisted in her grip. ‘I just wanted to see that man; I thought he was daddy.’

The woman’s body slumped, like a puppet no longer in play. She glanced over at Steve, exasperated, and for an instant he thought her tired eyes were pleading with him for help.

Then she tugged at Anna’s arm. ‘Come on, I don’t want you bothering him.’

‘But he’s got a dog,’ Anna said, digging in her heels, ‘and it’s real.’

‘I don’t care.’

‘And he’s got no laces.’

‘What..?’

Her mother stopped pulling her arm and turned to Steve. She studied his cracked, unlaced army boots and then looked back at Anna, frowning.

‘Remember when Daddy’s laces broke and he used my ribbons to tie his trainers,’ Anna said. She smiled at Steve. ‘Would you like my ribbons for your boots?’ She knelt at his feet. ‘I think they’ll look ever so pretty,’ she said, threading her ribbons through the lace holes.

Her mother gazed at Steve as if to say, ‘I’m sorry, about her’. He grinned at her, and she reached down to stroke Bob and hide the flush of colour that had appeared in her cheeks.

 

 

PM bio picPene Morley lives in the south of Germany with her husband, teenage son and two Labradors. She discovered very short stories on Twitter over a year ago and now tries daily to do one of the writing prompts. Since then she has also started writing flash fiction and is writing a novel which she hopes to have finished soon. You can follow her on Twitter @PeneMorley.