Pomfret Pillars (For Chennai) – Udit Mahalingam

 

It is a Holi day:

Powdered clouds of purple

Stain a sky, drier than

The melange of rivers we found

 

Flushed out in an Indian sun.

There is a lady we

Affectionately call ‘aunty’,

Selling her piles

 

Of Pomfret at every boiled street end,

Her son, aimlessly stacking them

Higher than a sacred peak.

Their brutal fall

 

Into vestigial puddles

Effaces them.

He is a child of the land:

Ascending green, white and orange.

 

Bending back,

He unreels uninterested seconds,

Seeping away with

Coloured clouds…

 

20170114_123337000_iOSUdit Mahalingam is a teenager from Aughton, a small town on the border between Merseyside and Lancashire. He studies at Merchant Taylors Senior Boys School in Crosby. In addition to writing poetry, he spends his free time mulling over poems from the likes of Sylvia Plath to Robert Barrett Browning. There is never a time when he doesn’t have his nose stuck in a book! He aspires to have a beneficial effect on the world in whatever way possible, whether through voluntary work or through poetry and hopes to study English at degree level.

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Lexicon – Steve Komarnyckyj

 

The river made no excuses for itself,

Having known so many dead

Having known so many living

The moon drew a veil over its face

Yearning, as always, to erase

Its beauty and proffer only the dark.

The world groped for an alphabet.

 

IMG_2158Steve Komarnyckyj’s literary translations and poems have appeared in Index on Censorship, Modern Poetry in Translation and many other journals. He is the holder of two PEN awards and a highly regarded English language poet whose work has been described as articulating “what it means to be human” (Sean Street). He runs Kalyna Language Press with his partner Susie and three domestic cats.

Bed Against the Partition – Roy Moller

 

In from Ontario to have me,

she rooms in a floral,

threadbare situation

in strange Scotland,

picking up chanting

from Infants and Juveniles,

and pigtailed little madams

shoo-ing away

clodhopping brogues

from elaborate elastics

and hopscotch plotted

in chalk mark.

 

She samples the songs of

pat-a-cake in action.

She is handsome, she is pretty,

She is the flower of the golden city.

 

She’s seven months seeded,

sitting out playtime

perched on the edge

of a tartan coverlet

wishing the quilt

and pillow would muffle

anxious appointments,

obligations pressing upon her

and pressing within her

till she can skip over

this rope again forever.

 

Roy MollerRoy Moller is a poet and songwriter who lives in Dunbar on the east coast of Scotland. He is the author of the short-run collection Imports and his work has been featured in the anthologies The Sea (Rebel Poetry) and Neu! Reekie! UntitledTwo. His musical works include My Week Beats Your Year, described by Louder Than War as “profoundly moving and inspirational”. His website is www.roymoller.com.

Verona – Andrew Nowell

 

I wasn’t expecting you to fall in love again

With me, that day I rang with tickets to Verona.

It’s just I knew you loved the opera:

So did I, and the festival

Was far too good an opportunity to pass.

 

We fenced a courtly distance through piazzas,

The streets with gliding intimacy, the stone

So warm and honey tan.

Your eyes averted from the balcony

Where Juliet lamented to a spice-filled night.

 

Looking back, it probably wasn’t my greatest-ever notion

To take you to see the obsessed lover

Double-cross the letters,

Fill with cruel bullets,

His straw man, the artist, a poor painter of scenes.

 

But I just wanted you to hear when background music

Set up to depict the world has to give way,

A silver thread of sound,

A clarinet sentinel,

Gently parts the veil to climb to dreams and rapture.

 

So, at midnight, the performance finally over,

We walked to old hotels through star-bathed lanes,

Our hands a set distance apart

Like the conductor daring not to twitch

Or breathe, in case the music runs from his control.

 

 

IMG_20170903_165005Andrew Nowell studied English literature at University College London where he completed an MA in Shakespeare and the Renaissance. Now a journalist working for a local newspaper, he is also looking to break into creative writing and poetry. He lives in Wigan.

Rose Tinted Glasses – Susan Richardson

 

The experts say my disease is genetic.

It spreads across families without discrimination

and taps randomly on the shoulders of children,

condemning them to a life of waiting for

the world to become shadows and pitch.

 

I stand alone with my dying retinas,

cocooned in the muslin of a fading canvas.

I have searched for a family connection,

a blood born comrade in a life of darkness,

but they tell me there is no one.

 

As the years pass and my vision

careens down a steep precipice, I

remember stories of a paternal grandfather

I never knew; a good dancer with sensitive eyes,

who always wore rose tinted glasses.

 

He was only 32 when he died, leaving

my grandmother to turn him into legend,

and my father to fend for himself

against the grief of a broken mother.

The secrets of his blood are caged in mystery.

 

Did my grandfather pass down the

genetic code that chains me to blindness?

Are my eyes a reflection of his own?

I hold desperately to the idea that he is the link,

but in my family, legends don’t go blind.

 

 

IMG_0069Susan Richardson is living, writing and going blind in Hollywood. Much of her work focuses on her experiences as a partially sighted woman in a sprawling urban environment. Her work has been published in Free Lunch, The Old Red Kimono, Stepping Stones Magazine, Wildflower Muse, The Furious Gazelle, The Hungry Chimera, Sheila–Na- Gig and Chantarelle’s Notebook. In addition to poetry and creative non-fiction, she writes a blog called “Stories from the Edge of Blindness”.

Sleep With Dead Grass – Ken Allan Dronsfield

 

Chill in my tired bones

steamy breath follows

crispy red apples drop

firewood cut & stacked,

 

walk the dying fields

sleep with dead grass.

 

Colored leaves release

spinning down to ground

unpacked winter clothes

full dresser and closets,

 

walk the dying fields

asleep in dead grass.

 

Autumn’s song plays

a freshness of spirit

feel a harvest solstice

life’s circle goes round,

 

I walk a dying field,

I sleep in dead grass.

 

Ken Allan Dronsfield, Bio PictureKen Allan Dronsfield is a poet who was nominated for The Best of the Net and 2 Pushcart Awards for Poetry in 2016. His poetry has been published world-wide in various publications throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa. His work has appeared in The Burningword Journal, Belle Reve Journal, Setu Magazine, The Literary Hatchet Magazine, The Stray Branch, Now Then Manchester, Bewildering Stories, Scarlet Leaf Review. EMBOSS Magazine and many more. Ken loves thunderstorms, walking in the woods at night, and spending time with his cat Willa. Ken’s new book, The Cellaring, a collection of haunting, paranormal, weird and wonderful poems, has been released and is available through Amazon. He is the co-editor of two poetry anthologies, Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze and Dandelion in a Vase of Roses available from Amazon.

the other side of nowhere – Paul Waring

 

It announces itself in muted shades of light –

returns from nowhere 

 

to stretch taut skin of summer into shadows 

to shed above baked earth 

 

that hears tangled webs of parched root

whisper need for change. 

 

Autumn stands solemnly

with hands to deliver last rites; 

 

pulls down mist to lay moist sheets

on musty carpet, wraps a blanket

 

of cold around the body 

of winter, locks life like a vice

 

until sharpened light of spring 

signals release. 

 

And the promise 

of new beginnings on March winds 

 

that arrive back 

from the other side of nowhere.

 

IMG_6036Paul Waring is a retired clinical psychologist who once designed menswear and was a singer/songwriter in several Liverpool bands. His poems have appeared in journals/sites including Reach Poetry, Eunoia Review, The Open Mouse and are forthcoming in Clear Poetry and Amaryllis. He recently returned from living in Spain and Portugal and continues to enjoy being re-acquainted with the wonderful variety of nature in Wirral and other parts of Britain. His blog is https://waringwords.wordpress.com.

Starstruck – Catherine LoFrumento

 

struck

by that star

the one looking

through my window

 

its eye of silver

urging me

to visit venus

 

and swim

on the moon.

 

bio photoCatherine lives in Connecticut with her husband and fur babies. Though not scientifically proven, she likes to think that earning degrees in both English and Accounting confirms that both sides of her brain work. Her poetry has been featured in various journals and anthologies including NeverlastingCattails, Modern Haiku, Frogpondbottle rockets, 50 HaikusThree Line Poetry, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and wild voices: an anthology of short poetry and art by women. To see more of her ramblings follow her on Twitter @Catherin03.

Salamander Dream – Tyler Robert Sheldon

 

After a lithograph by Kat Lowe

 

Kat coats metal with thick black ink,

then takes paper and plates to press;

she rolls them under blankets meant

to swaddle, not smother. On paper,

she smiles atop a giant god-lizard,

perches high on its tight back

of feathery gills. The beast drives

hard through etched dry leaves,

trees and road-dust bending,

bowing, blowing away.

 

Sheldon_Tyler_Author_PhotoTyler Robert Sheldon is a Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of First Breaths of Arrival (Oil Hill Press, 2016), and the forthcoming Traumas (Yellow Flag Press, 2017). His poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in Quiddity International Literary Journal, The Midwest Quarterly, The Los Angeles Review, Coal City Review, The Prairie Journal of Canadian Literature, The Dos Passos Review, Entropy Magazine, The Big Nasty Press, and other venues. He holds a BA and an MA in English from Emporia State University, and is an MFA candidate at McNeese State University. View his work at tyrsheldon.wixsite.com/trspoetry.

After Dark – Ali Jones

 

I wake at 3:15am, weight shifting towards her,

did she hear the rain? I listen to her snared cry,

try to understand the rhythm of dreams,

what happens behind her eyes, as we travel back

into our room, hazy in gathered night,

shadowed gloom making everything strange,

 

I rearrange us, fuss up pillows, billow bedding

to hold us tight until morning light comes.

Other people stir, the breathing agents of sound

too loud for easy rest. She settles, eyelids flutter,

 

I lie awake, stilled by rallying whispers of breathing,

marvel at the differences of our waking world,

how we stand at ease and claim our places,

and how deeply we commit to sleep,

 

though we fight it, nightly, reading story after story,

playing as late as we dare. The day is wrung from us

in fits and starts, sung through open lips,

teasing the snagging air, a stored syntax

 

of waking tongues, that have begun to find the sounds

they need to make, and try them in the wee small hours,

before daytime takes us away into another realm,

to refashion us into sometime else, and make us whole again.

 

 

Author photo 2Ali Jones is a teacher and mother of three. Her work has appeared in Fire, Poetry Rivals, Strange Poetry, Ink Sweat and Tears, Snakeskin Poetry, Atrium, Mother’s Milk Books, Breastfeeding Matters, Breastfeeding Today and Green Parent magazine. She has also written for The Guardian.

Pinjarra and Me – Graham Burchell

 

(Pinjarra, the saltwater crocodile at Melbourne Sea Life Aquarium)

 

we came into the world in the same year

you

chased out of a shell 

and into the muddle of mud and mangrove

 

me

snipped slapped weighed and wrapped

 

for you 

it was crocodile breath the press of a mother’s teeth 

and the first flush of river

 

for me 

it was the touch of fabrics voices the breath

of last adult meals and afternoon light 

 

perhaps we were born on the same day

same moment to be axis points on a globe

 

you

with your long leathered face 

silent hunger and cold blood in brackish water

 

me 

with my green bones and jellyfish flesh turning 

towards cathedral bells beyond the walls of the room

 

 

we are each sixty five years old separated by glass

along the way we’ve made mistakes

 

you 

for being in the wrong place after a flood

for becoming stranded on a Queensland farm 

 

me 

how long have you got

 

now look at us

 

DSCN2854Graham Burchell lives in South Devon. He has four published collections. He has an M.A. in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University. He is a Hawthornden Fellow, 2012 Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year, winner of the 2015 Stanza competition, and runner-up in the 2016 BBC Proms poetry competition.

Higashi-Koenji 東高円寺 – Anne Louise Avery

 

*Higashi-Koenji is situated in Tokyo’s Suginami ward and is famous as a center of alternative youth culture and for its temples and shrines.

 

The summer my father died

I moved to Higashi Koenji.

The house had new tatami floors

And a fat white cat called Setsuke.

It smelled of cedar wood and mayonnaise. 

It was also

By a video store,

The best in Tokyo

(with every X-Files episode

And sun-faded posters of Peter Sellers).

A lantern carver lived next door.

His mother left me peaches on our stoop

Coated with a thin dusting of mica.

One day, I walked to the station

At six fifteen am to catch a train to Mitaka-shi.

It was my father’s birthday,

The Seventh of July,

And overnight the station people had covered the entrance

With silver stars and 

Long streamers like tentacles 

(Watermelon pink! Slush blue! Frog green!)

For the Tanabata Matsuri, 

The Star Festival,

When the Weaver-girl and the Cow-herd

Meet on a bridge across the Milky Way

Made of magpie wings.

In the evening, I eat grilled eel and

Strawberry cheese cake and

Scratch a wish with marker pen on a thin strip of tanzaku paper. 

And I tie it next to all the other wishes

Bristling on a bamboo branch in Koenji temple.

 

Anne Louise Avery PassportAnne Louise Avery is a writer, art historian and the cartography editor at the travel journal, Panorama (http://panoramajournal.org). Her recent book, Albion’s Glorious Ile, published by Unicorn Press, was featured in the Guardian and on Radio 4. She is also the director of the acclaimed arts education charity, Flash of Splendour. Follow her on Twitter @annelouiseavery and @petitflash.

Blackberrying – J V Birch

 

We walk along the river in Arrowtown

from full sun to dappled shade to welcome shadow.

 

Trees hum with a green to remember

as the shallow water trips and twists over rock bed.

 

We find the fat little jewels of blackberries

race back to our childhoods as we share each bounty

kiss clean each other’s purple-stained fingers

recall the tenderness of us.

 

J V Birch website photoJ V Birch lives in Adelaide. Her poems have appeared in anthologies, journals and magazines across Australia, the UK, Canada and the US. She has two collections – Smashed glass at midnight and What the water & moon gave me  published by Ginninderra Press, and is currently working on her third. She blogs at www.jvbirch.com.

Dying River – Catherine LoFrumento

 

and here I am

 

no longer a sign

of youth but of

time passing

 

wondering when

my breasts will

lose their fullness

and hang from my chest

like withered teardrops

or worn out sleeves

 

…no longer tempting

your hands and mouth…

 

each egg

counts down

my days

 

I see them

frogs hopping

trying to get free

 

running away

from a dying river.

 

bio photoCatherine lives in Connecticut with her husband and fur babies. Though not scientifically proven, she likes to think that earning degrees in both English and Accounting confirms that both sides of her brain work. Her poetry has been featured in various journals and anthologies including NeverlastingCattails, Modern Haiku, Frogpondbottle rockets, 50 HaikusThree Line Poetry, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and wild voices: an anthology of short poetry and art by women. To see more of her ramblings follow her on Twitter @Catherin03.

Pinky Swear – Jayne Martin

 

The caustic odor of rubbing alcohol burns my nostrils, settles on my tongue. A nurse paints Vaseline on my parched lips. I can’t remember the last time I was kissed.

I am tethered to tubes, encased in a coffin of flesh and bone that ignores all commands.

The growing cries of gulls, boardwalk barkers, laughter and shrieks of excitement begin to flood the room.

I sit in the car of a rollercoaster as it chugs and bumps up the steep incline toward the point of no return. Braver kids raise their arms high over their heads. I squeeze my eyes shut until it’s over; say “I want to go again,” relieved when you do not.

The ocean breeze sends salt and sand up onto the walkway where we smoke cigarettes stolen from my mother’s purse and stroll looking for boys. We make up names, Bridgette and Marilyn. Names that sound older and sophisticated unlike our own. We fool no one.

A pipe organ bellows. With fingers still sticky from cotton candy, we board gaily-painted steeds, ride round and round, each time stretching as far as we dare for the brass ring, each time finding it just out of reach.

Our bodies distort in fun house mirrors and we wonder who we will become.

Pinky-swear friends forever.

We do not anticipate the power of decades to divide.

The nurse rolls my body onto its side to slip a fresh sheet beneath, and I see you next to my bedside. You wear our favorite sweater, the rose one we passed back and forth until it unraveled, your smile still a mouthful of braces, your hand outstretched to me. In it, a brass ring.

 

001Jayne Martin is the 2016 winner of Vestal Review’s VERA award for flash fiction. Her work has appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, Literary Orphans, Midwestern Gothic, f(r)iction, Blink-Ink, Spelk, Cleaver, Connotation Press and Hippocampus among others. She is the author of “Suitable for Giving: A Collection of Wit with a Side of Wry.” She lives in Santa Barbara, California. Find her on Twitter @Jayne_Martin.