Afterthought – Beth O’Brien

 

I’ve recycled the packaging before I thought

To check the calories.

 

Half way to the bin, I made myself stop and I’m

Standing in the middle of the kitchen,

Battling the need to know, with the words:

It doesn’t matter.

 

But just wanting to look feels like I’m

Walking backwards, and

The words: ‘Just looking won’t hurt’

Already do.

 

Turning around, I sit back down and

Tell myself to just be proud

That calories are now an afterthought.

 

 

unnamed (3)Beth O’Brien is currently studying a degree in English Literature at the University of Birmingham. She loves reading, writing, food and seeing the world – when any of these overlap, she loves them even more!

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Silver Fox, Sweden, 2010 – Gordon Meade

 

I think you have, as far

as is possible, given the present

circumstances, definitely succeeded.

 

I think you have, as far

as is possible, given the present

circumstances, definitely succeeded

in capturing my best side.

 

I think you have, as far

as is possible, given the present

circumstances, definitely succeeded

in capturing my best side,

my stoic pose, beyond the bars.

 

I think you have, as far

as is possible, given the present

circumstances, definitely succeeded

in capturing my best side,

my stoic pose. Beyond the bars

of my cage, the night air bristles.

 

I think you have, as far

as is possible, given the present

circumstances, definitely succeeded

in capturing my best side,

my stoic pose. Beyond the bars

of my cage, the night air bristles

but I am no longer party to that.

 

I think you have, as far

as is possible, given the present

circumstances, definitely succeeded

in capturing my best side,

my stoic pose. Beyond the bars

of my cage, the night air bristles

but I am no longer party to that.

My gaze remains turned inward.

 

I think you have, as far

as is possible, given the present

circumstances, definitely succeeded

in capturing my best side,

my stoic pose. Beyond the bars

of my cage, the night air bristles

but I am no longer party to that.

My gaze remains turned inward.

My eyes have seen too much.

 

 

IMG_20180410_165525Gordon Meade is a Scottish poet based in the East Neuk of Fife. He divides his time between his own writing and developing creative writing courses for vulnerable people in a variety of settings. He is also a Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow working, at the moment, on their Bridge Project in Scottish schools. His ninth collection of poems, The Year of the Crab, a poetic exploration of a diagnosis and early treatment of cancer, was published in 2017 by Cultured Llama Publishing.

Years later, we drive home – Michael H. Brownstein

 

Drive with me through this field of prayer,

through mudflats and iron foot,

the eulogy deep and dried passion fruit,

the salt of columbine, a terrain of frenzy,

lacewing and the yellow mollies of spring,

milk and milk thistle, a porcelain of words.

 

Drive with me past the girth of oak,

the prayer tree, the blue iris,

purple passion, the field of glories

behind the back forty no one touches.

Share with me wild onion, mint,

dandelion leaves and acorn meat,

the edible leaves of the Acacia.

 

Drive with me. Share my bounty.

The eulogy premature, prayer alive in flower

and grass, blossom and honey bee, a porcelain

of words, of muscle cars and beaters,

this car we are in now going home again

a strength in who we really are.

Brighten your day.

 

 

unnamed (3)Michael H. Brownstein’s work has appeared in American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Convergence, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, and others. In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks including A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004), Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Press, 2012), and The Possibility of Sky and Hell: From My Suicide Book (White Knuckle Press, 2013). He is the admin for project Agent Orange (projectagentorange.com).

Giving to Charity – Megan Whiting

 

Yesterday I gave my life away.

Ripped the past from the present

and left my house devoid of memories.

Bullied my childhood into boxes

and coerced my teenage years into carrier bags,

then lugged the entire sorry lot to the one place it might be useful.

Here, I handed every part of my former self to an elderly volunteer,

who groaned at the weight of my old life

and decided what it was worth.

Only then could I return to my empty house

and start again.

 

 

megan image 5Megan is a freelance writer and proofreader based in Suffolk. A poet at heart, she has been published in anthologies and online and offers personalised wedding poetry as one of her services. Megan loves to read and go for tandem rides with her fiancé. Find out more at www.meganwhiting.co.uk.

Picking up lost leaves – Gareth Culshaw

 

The sunlight I once knew.

That yellow light that crept over

the slates and dripped to the tarmac.

Garages with corrugated roofing

that kept the snow from sliding.

Houses with gable and hip roofs

that now have a buckle of solar panels.

The tree that reached for the sky,

even stroked the clouds when we 

were small. Graffiti on the walls

and swear words in the puddles 

of teenage spit from years ago.

New neighbours with quiet eyes.

Swifts that came for a generation

now lost to the winds. The banging

footballs that hammered away time,

just an echo in the ears of myself. 

Moving back to a place I once knew,

is like a tree picking up the leaves

it lost in autumn, and asking them

to belong again.

 

 

IMG_1727Gareth lives in Wales. He has his first collection out now by FutureCycle called The Miner. He hopes one day to achieve something special with the pen.

Cabin life – John Grey

 

Dawn unfastens the point of being here –

a shimmering globe rotating –

newly acquired light and heat and air.

 

Quiet breakfast

then a walk

sipping the vin rose of the morning,

a feeling hastily translated

from the woman on my arm –

a ledge of sandstone,

a forest nook,

and time, a small favor

that we forget to ask.

 

We could be mistaken for dew

except we hold on longer.

Or hummingbirds,

buzzing, fluttering,

distancing ourselves from small talk

but embracing the hunger

of small unimportant lives.

 

Person to person,

tree to tree –

and a running stream of course –

running on this spot.

 

 

unnamed-bioJohn Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Nebo, Euphony and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.

Village Ceilidh 1922 – Ceinwen E. Cariad Haydon

 

Flies buzz, zap the scullery window.

She wipes their last supper dishes,

mops her sticky forehead. Flings

the tea towel down on top the wash pile,

stacked teetering on quarry tiles.

Tomorrow’s duties tug her mind.

She loves them all, her sister’s two,

the three she’s born. All hers now,

along with David, once brother-in-law,

now husband, a man to be obeyed.

She’s been tied down, since Maggie died.

 

‘Esther-Ann, you there?’ Hannah,

calls out loud. ‘Aye lass, come in.’

‘A special day?’ asks Esther-Ann.

‘You’re done up pretty, so you are.’

‘It’s the dance,’ says Han. ‘Be fair,

you said you’d try to come, we’d pair?’

‘So it is, so it is, but David bid me,

Stay where you belong. At home.

I’ll maybe hear the music, later on tonight.’

‘More fool you girl,’ says Hannah,

and swishes out through summer’s

sunset, scattered pink-petalled light.

 

David downs his fifth, then thinks,

what if his girl takes flight? Weary,

he stumbles from the Castle Inn

and stops to stare. Sees Esther-Ann.

She’s on the grass bank, dreaming,

dancing, as the band plays on

across the way, pipes and fiddles

inside the hall where she dared not enter.

In fury, he grabs her arm, quicksteps

her to punishment. His errant wife,

a prisoner in her young, promised life.

 

 

IMGP1597_3_monochromeCeinwen previously worked as a Probation Officer, a Mental Health Social Worker and Practice Educator. She lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, and writes short stories and poetry. She has been published in web magazines and print anthologies. These include Fiction on the Web, Literally Stories, Alliterati, Stepaway, Poets Speak (whilst they still can), Three Drops from the Cauldron, Obsessed with Pipework, Picaroon, Amaryllis, Algebra of Owls, Write to be Counted, The Lake, Ink, Sweat and Tears,Riggwelter, Prole and The Curlew. She graduated from her MA in Creative Writing at Newcastle University in December 2017. She believes everyone’s voice counts.

Drinking You In – Stephen Mead

 

Pores open,

pores becoming all weather,

its every possible effect & degree

when we are plants pressing tips

to windows

or when we

are that grass itself

now eye-wide as mouths

singing

give,

touch,

give & return us back

to the spirit of skin

 

sated by breathing

 

 

me cropped to squareStephen Mead is an Outsider multi-media artist and writer. Since the 1990s he’s been grateful to many editors for publishing his work in print zines and eventually online. He is also grateful to have managed to keep various day jobs for the Health Insurance. Find out more at Poetry on the Line, Stephen Mead.

Beyond the clouds – paul Bluestein

 

If I could see beyond the clouds

what would there be?

As I stand here

(attached by the gravity of my life

to this two feet parcel of earth)

nothing there seems clear.

 

What would I see through the window beyond?

An endless green sea on which I might float (or walk)?

But neither my eyes nor mind have reach enough,

so I am like a shell

washed up on some endless celestial beach.

 

One day the sky may clear

and I  may see and hear

answers to the mystery that I am living.

I will be beyond the clouds,

inside a limitless blue box.

Sky end to end, side to side.

Until then?

The ink of my thoughts will drop from the clouds like rain

and bloom upon a page.

I’ll watch butterflies light on leaves like orange flames.

and know that it is enough.

 

 

Fur Peace Ranchpaul Bluestein has written poetry for many years, but has just recently begun to submit his work. He is hoping Foxglove Journal will be one of his first steps forward on this new journey. He is a physician (OB-GYN) by profession (retired … or just plain tired), a self-taught musician (guitar and piano) and a dedicated Bridge and Scrabble player (yes, ZAX is a word). He writes poetry because The Muse, from time to time, calls him unexpectedly and keep ringing insistently until he answers, even if he doesn’t want to talk with her just then.

Two Sisters, The Fourth Of July, 2008 – Eliza Spinna

 

Two weary goddesses on the hot concrete. We blast the crackly radio full volume.

I dance barefoot; my limbs are still unsure of themselves.

 

The summer asphalt sears my fleshy, uncallused feet. Rose bobs her head casually, coolly. The coolest.

I am seven and my sister reads comic books but as far as I am concerned my sister is the sole superhero

 

in this town. My hands are smudged blue with melting popsicle. A piece of pink

cotton candy is lodged between Rose’s two front teeth. I don’t think she knows herself better than anyone

 

else knows her. Thinking too hard, she says, is a recipe for disaster. She has a hole in her shorts.

One of the buttons on my yellow sundress has popped. At this age I am unsure of most things. Today,

 

I think, is like Sunday but instead America is God. I tell Rose this and she laughs like I said something

funny but I really do mean it. Patriotism and praying seem very similar to me. They both involve

 

reverence. Rose has begun to question God and America, but I am still young and Church is fun enough

and on Independence Day you get to see fireworks, and the simplicity of abiding by these rituals is

 

coherent in my seven year old mind. Other things I am already sure of: my sister is a fireball

that is hurtling towards the sun and I cannot wait to see how spectacular the explosion is.

 

 

Screen Shot 2018-08-04 at 11.05.38 PMEliza Spinna is a Manhattan-based emerging poet and writer. She is a rising senior at Stuyvesant High School.

Spectacular Toaster – Steven Translateur

 

“That’s the fifth slice of toast burnt,” lamented Brad to his mother.

He tried to toast whole wheat bread and got nothing but chards of carbon.

“Let’s go to the Appliance Emporium for a real toaster this time!” exclaimed Lodia. “Let’s splurge.”

So she and Brad rode down to the store to browse.

They found aisles and aisles of distinct devices from the budget cost to the extravagant.

“May I help you?” inquired Ginrey, a salesman.

“Yes,” said Lodia. “We want a toaster with a guarantee – the best.”

“Then you may be interested in our Jet 5000 – it is the greatest toaster machine ever built. It is so good that we guarantee a perfect slice of toast each utilization. If this does not happen, we refund your money and give you another free toaster. All you have to do is bring the crumbs of a failed toast in for the refund.”

“How much is it?”

“200 pounds.”

“It is worth it. We’ll take it.”

And so they did.

And they used it for a month before it began malfunctioning. It started burning toast just like their previous model.

So they returned to the Appliance Emporium with two slices of charcoal toast crumbs in a bag to show the salesman.

He was not impressed. He said that they were manufacturing the failure and that their toaster would work fine if used properly. He gave them the runaround and argued for all the virtues of the Jet 5000 and said that rarely does anybody actually return it – only if they cannot get it to function properly despite trying every approach.

Then they spoke to a supervisor and he agreed to give the refund plus a free toaster. The free toaster was a budget model called the Economy Toaster.

The Economy Toaster never worked right, but because it was free, they used it anyway, for a few months, until it began malfunctioning and they got sick of it. Instead of toast it began over cooking bread to the point of near disintegration. They tried repairing it but the contraption just got worse and worse. It destroyed several loaves of bread and burnt otherwise good pastries.

Then they returned to the Appliance shop for more help.

This time they purchased a brand new model called the Jet 8000. It had the same guarantee as the Jet 5000 but was more advanced. It had every feature one could imagine for such an invention – three timers, a heat sensor, a toast evaluator that rated the toast from mediocre to excellent, a mechanical voice that could give instructions in 15 languages, a jam dispenser doohickey, a battery power backup, two solar panels power grid, a television for watching the best shows, a video camera for recording cooking fun, a melted cheese releaser, a two way transmitter for contacting the store’s 24 hour help-line, a spare bread holder, and rows and rows of multi-colored blinking light indicators.

They loved it!

They now know it costs 800 pounds for a perfect toaster.

 

 

Steven Translateur’s work has appeared in a variety of publications including
MEMES, MIND IN MOTION, and NEXT PHASE.

The day the rain finally came – Michael H. Brownstein

 

Flood water drizzles away in the mid-Missouri heat of July,

mud hardens into adobe brick and the early morning dark olive

green sky is not full of dew, but resin and hard tack.

When the first breeze blows late morning, it is not

the dust of the earth that lifts itself into air,

but the dead of the earth – dead seeds, dead fall,

the dried out carcasses of crayfish and tulip lipped toads.

Suddenly the green grass is beard grizzled and graying,

the ants bring drying blood back to their queen,

large bees settle in the shade of a blossom and sleep.

Then, one afternoon, a cackle in the sky, the clouds

gather into bundles of storm and heat lightning.

When the rains come, everything moves out of the way.

Cracks in the clay eat what they can and the river

opens its huge mouth to take in everything else –

ants, bees, the dead wood congregating on the dying grass.

Then it is over and hotter and stiller and even a shift in weather

cannot rise all of the dead things decomposing into the air.

 

 

unnamed (3)Michael H. Brownstein’s work has appeared in American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Convergence, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, and others. In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks including A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004), Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Press, 2012), and The Possibility of Sky and Hell: From My Suicide Book (White Knuckle Press, 2013). He is the admin for project Agent Orange (projectagentorange.com).

Along the Gridley River – William Doreski

 

On the waterfall trail the moss

wigs with damp an intelligence

greater than ours. Painted

 

trillium spikes the roving eye

with rippled, blood-streaked petals.

We pause by the deepest pool

 

and watch the falls fall into it.

Trout? you speculate. No more

hooking fish by the lip. I broke

 

my fly rod years ago. Let the big

specimens die of old age,

as I plan to do when the light

 

thickens and the waterfalls freeze

and pharmaceuticals no longer

excite my favorite organs.

 

We enjoy the contrast of rock-

broken and still water, the swirl

of leaf decay icing the pool

 

like the world’s first birthday cake.

Nature’s always rebirthing itself

in a shrug of clichés. Brightly

 

ethered, it wings about us on fire

with floral imperatives. Leaning

on each other in the mist of flies,

 

we let the mood distinguish us

from the other forms of life.

Among them, only falling water

 

and maybe the painted trillium

seem mobile enough to track us

to our secret mutual lair.

 

 

william-doreski175William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has published three critical studies and several collections of poetry. His work has appeared in many journals. He has taught writing and literature at Emerson, Goddard, Boston University, and Keene State College. His new poetry collection is A Black River, A Dark Fall.

3:18am – Beth O’Brien

 

3:18am is awake like its own alarm.

 

We bump into each other on the landing

because we are restless at the same time,

for different reasons,

and we jostle for position in the darkness,

 

both of us waiting for the other

to find the light switch.

 

 

unnamed (3)Beth O’Brien is currently studying a degree in English Literature at the University of Birmingham. She loves reading, writing, food and seeing the world – when any of these overlap, she loves them even more!

The Piano – Robert James Berry

 

When you played,

the display china plates

would tinkle.

I’d imagine them falling

especially when you trilled,

which was integral,

a profound thrill. But

most of all I loved

the big-boned silence

between black chords,

now that was resounding.

 

 

RJBRobert James Berry lives and writes in Dunedin, New Zealand. He is the author of nine collections of poetry: ‘Smoke’ (2000), ‘Stone’ (2004), ‘Seamark’ (2005),’Sky Writing’ (2006),’Sun Music’ (2007),’Mudfishes’ (2008), ‘Moontide’ (2010), ‘Swamp Palace’ (2012) and ‘Toffee Apples’ (2014). His poetry has appeared in literary magazines such as ‘Stand’ (Leeds, UK), ‘Poetry Salzburg’ (Salzburg, Austria), ‘Westerly’ (Perth, AUS), ‘Rattapallax’ (NY, USA) and ‘Landfall’ (Dunedin, NZ). Robert was born in the UK and educated in England, Ireland and Scotland. He holds a PhD in English Literature from the University of Stirling, Scotland and MA and BA degrees from the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland. He has lectured in English Literature at universities in England, Malaysia and New Zealand. He is married with three sons.