She stops and says – Claire Sexton

 

She stops and says ‘Hang on, that’s

my Mum calling’,

and suddenly I am back there again;

colour unbecoming; milkshake;

antiseptic.

 

And in the rafters of the old

gymnasium, black birds fritter away

time with backwards and forwards

motions; skipping games; dodgeball

flits amongst falling glass.

 

And wild garlic lies pungent in the

forest; recognisable despite its heady

transformations.

 

 

image1 (2)Claire Sexton is a Welsh poet and writer now living in Berkshire where she works as a school librarian. She has previously been published in Allegro Poetry Magazine, Amaryllis, Amethyst Review, Foxglove Journal, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Light: a Journal of Photography and Poetry, and Peeking Cat Poetry. Claire often writes about mental health, in particular her own experiences with depression and anxiety.

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Arizona Spring – Linda Rhinehart

 

all around us are spots of red

like measles over a face that

is only now healing, cloaks

draped in wild abandon over the

sun-baked rocks, sentinels peeking

from behind pink stripes and

distant canyon borders

and not a fence post in sight;

what freedom is ours, driving

mile after mile over this

violent sunset land, and our

constant companion temptation,

whispering in our ears that

we are never to return to

a land where there are no

fields of red flowers

 

 

IMG_1172Linda Rhinehart, 30, is a student, writer and translator currently living and studying in Cardiff, Wales. In the past she has lived in Switzerland, the USA and Germany. She has been writing poetry for around three years and reading it for a lot longer. In her spare time she enjoys playing piano, going for walks in nature and cats.

A Wave in the Ocean – Peter Fullagar

 

Just a wave in the ocean,

a drop in the sea,

the tiniest speck

that is you and me.

The wave that may carry us

to lands far beyond,

the gentlest lull

of the sweet-scented song.

The whirlpools that capture

and stay in the round,

refuse to release

to treasures unfound.

The stormiest water

that must be obeyed

withstanding this

and serenity so craved.

The soft soothing current

brings out the best

leads me to shore

and lays me to rest.

 

 

Image-27Peter Fullagar is an editor and writer living in Berkshire. His first book, Virginia Woolf in Richmond, was published in November 2018 to coincide with a Virginia Woolf Statue campaign and his short story, The Walking Stick, is included in an anthology called Tempest. He also writes ELT materials and has some exam books published. He tweets at @peterjfullagarFind more at www.peterjfullagar.co.uk.

Bear – Rhianne Celia

 

She kneads herself into the grass,

brooches of hay collecting on her back.

I’m on my stomach, the grass glossed

and sun-pooled, and for once

I’m not waiting for something or someone

to slip from surface talk to the big stuff

as readily as a mother forgives –

I’m watching her beard fill with buttercups

and the wet beads on her tongue nudge back

and forth as she shimmies against me.

I reach for a stick, throw it, and off she trots,

her paws a skit as she loses track

of its flight. She returns with an open

tennis ball in her mouth, a clopping ring box

she presents with a flourish. I readily accept,

placing it on my stomach like an upturned

book, and then I’m looking at the sky – a hearty

magenta block, and the remainder of my evening

appears in hob flames and final Tupperware clicks.

She leads me home, my hessian stopwatch,

urging me to live, live, live.

I swallow as the script starts up.

 

 

FGBorn and raised in Manchester, UK, Rhianne has recently completed an MA in Creative Writing at The University of Manchester. She has loved words (and arranging them) since she could put fluffy pen to paper (that’s a lot of fluff, and a lot of paper!). She explores human relationships in all of their wonderful complexity in her work and writes a lot about mental health, a subject close to her heart. You can find more of her poetry and general musings over at rhianne-writes.tumblr.com.

Come stay with me and be my night – Michael H. Brownstein

 

Come stay with me and be my night,

We’re done with dinner’s clutter

As stars blister through the moonlit light.

 

Water anchors moon streams white

Across the wake, across the cutter.

Come stay with me and be my night.

 

The children at peace, everything’s right,

Goat milk, huckleberry bread, apple butter.

Stars blister into pimpled light.

 

The children dream, the wind grows slight,

The storm is but a mutter,

Come stay with me and be my night.

 

Now comes a fullness full and bright,

Leaves skip across the gutter

As stars blister into moons of light.

 

My love is strong. It knows to fight.

I no longer need to stutter.

Stars blister through the moonlit light.

Come stay with me and be my night.

 

 

unnamed (3)Michael H. Brownstein has had his work appear in The Café Review, American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, Poetrysuperhighway.com 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), The Possibility of Sky and Hell: From My Suicide Book (White Knuckle Press, 2013) and The Katy Trail, Mid-Missouri, 100 Degrees Outside and Other Poems (Kind of Hurricane Press, 2013). His book, A Slipknot Into Somewhere Else: A Poet’s Journey To The Borderlands Of Dementia, was recently published by Cholla Needles Press (2018).

Hearts – Rhianne Celia

 

I got to thinking about hearts.

How they seem to be everywhere – hearts.

a heart fritter;

a bitter heart;

a heart-shaped spoon;

 

an up-for-grabs heart;

a not-in-service heart;

a hammock-lolling-in-the-breeze heart;

 

a slap-on-the-wrist heart,

a deep-water-flunking heart;

 

a heart with pins

and needles;

a light-blockade migraine heart;

 

a heart of gold, an at-best-bronze heart;

a slit of heart;

a bottomless heart

 

The rail of bleeding-heart

fuchsias in my sister’s garden

heart.

 

An I-couldn’t-believe-they-were-called-that

heart.

 

The ____ of the storm

The wind-swept ____

 

Writing from the ____

 

A searching heart, angling itself to catch

the height of the sun.

 

 

FGBorn and raised in Manchester, UK, Rhianne has recently completed an MA in Creative Writing at The University of Manchester. She has loved words (and arranging them) since she could put fluffy pen to paper (that’s a lot of fluff, and a lot of paper!). She explores human relationships in all of their wonderful complexity in her work and writes a lot about mental health, a subject close to her heart. You can find more of her poetry and general musings over at rhianne-writes.tumblr.com.

The Conspiracy – Dan A. Cardoza

 

It’s the last night of my once a year visit nearly complete. Actually, it’s our last visit ever. Another uncomfortable Thanksgiving has come and gone. Tomorrow, it’s back to Chicago.

Earlier in the day, mother asks me to trawl through the attic boxes, and fish out our childhood memories before they place the house on the market.

Later in the day, after an early supper, father and I sit alone facing each other at the opposite ends of the kitchen table. Mother is at church, volunteering for just about anything.

I stand; push two dusty childhood photographs I discovered toward father.

Father look, these are so familiar, yet distant? I voice.

Yes, they are nearly identical son, except one is underexposed, sepia. Not sure why you retrieved the photo box from the attic. Most of those years are dead and buried.

I only asked you to look at these two father.

Son, why do you insist that we look at any photos?

Not sure father, maybe it’s time. I remember you thumbing the fat camera levers on your new Polaroid 900. Mother was hovering nearby. I recall your big smile. We were posing and …

Yes.

Its then father stands to exit the room. His massive hand smothers the handle of his lacquered Mallacan cane, veined & crooked, a tan leather glove. Then he limps away.

In the chilled lens of a dusty sunset, the parched air drifts through the half closed window, hissing faintly through the screen, like a thousand tiny tongues singing a chorus of truth. A chill slowly slithers up my spine. It’s moments like this I dread. I feel such gloom, like an orphaned child.

Goodnight father, see you in the morning.

Goodnight.

Much later, as I retire, I hear subtle moans coming from his room, as he toils in the muddy pastures of his sleep. As if on cue, at 3:00 A.M., he sits up and stares into the dark, at nothing in particular. I know this because mother spoke of his nightmares that have only increased after he quit drinking. She also confessed his depression is getting worse.

Over the years, our family has weathered torrents that have washed away bridges, only to be restored by the uncomplicated architecture of distance and malaise. I still want to understand, but after so many years, the melody of deception is a cappella. I close my eyes and begin to wade into the shallow waters of sleep.

Then I enter the dark of a dream,

You take us to the park. We play hide and seek for hours. Only this time I am never found. Mother, crazed with fear eventually finds me walking into the mist of her high beam headlights, a shivering apparition. Nothing is ever the same.

Swimming back from the deep waters of sleep, toward dawns pale shore, I hear an unseen small voice, one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi, four…

 

 

Dan A. CardozaDan has an MS Degree. He is the author of four poetry Chapbooks, and a new collection of fiction, Second Stories. Recent Credits: 101 Words, Amethyst, UK., Chaleur Magazine, Cleaver Magazine, Dissections, Door=Jar, Entropy, Esthetic Apostle, Foxglove, Frogmore, High Shelf Press, Poetry Northwest, Rue Scribe, Runcible Spoon, Skylight 47, Spelk, Spillwords, The Fiction Pool, The Stray Branch, Urban Arts, The Zen Space, Tulpa and zeroflash.

Love Of Mine – Daniel Tobias Behan

 

Love

of mine,

so are you

forged, in

muted

yearnings;

murmured

remembrances –

hushed yellowed

 

keys, of

sun-smile’s

faded verse

beaming;

measured, in

amber leaf’s

fractured shade

crumbled,

into moist

earthen-bed;

 

in words

cast gently,

through

shimmering

refractions

of deep sky’s

sonorous

canvas,

 

impressed

in cotton

cloud-floss,

singed, by

skirting

of emerald pine

sparkling;

 

in kiss of

frost-tendered

mountainside,

in sweetest

whispered

breath’s

exaltation.

 

My love,

such

are you

birthed,

in ballad

of thick root,

and fragrant

moss-lined soil;

in beetle

and bug’s

scurrying;

 

ant’s nest, bush,

and tree trunk:

the soft

underfoot

crackling

of scattered

parts: bark,

and branch,

seed,

and twig.

 

 

danielbwDaniel Tobias Behan is a London born-and-based poet. Since late 2017, Daniel has performed regularly at the London Irish Centre, Camden, and was interviewed by the Irish Post as part of their London Calling podcast series. Daniel sees creative writing, and especially poetry, as a great natural form of therapy and creative self-development, allowing thoughts and emotions to be communicated effectively in a non-linear fashion.

Pumpkin pie – Cath Barton

 

In the dark street the window of the sweetshop shone out. Maisie, aged nine and three-quarters, had taken a detour on her way home from school. She pressed her nose up against the shop window; there were meringues iced to look like ghosts, witches’ hats made of chocolate and little marzipan pumpkins. Maisie pushed her hands deep into the pockets of her coat as she continued to stare at the sweets. In the right-hand pocket her hand closed on something unexpected and she pulled it out. It looked like a small, hard, shiny nut. She held it in the palm of her right hand and touched it, very gently, with her left index finger. Would a fairy appear in a puff of smoke and offer her three wishes, or at least her pick from the sweets? Nothing happened. She touched it again, said one of her own magic spells under her breath and waited. Still nothing happened. She put the nut back in her pocket and turned, reluctantly, from the bright window.

When she arrived home her mother was in the kitchen, looking flustered as she always seemed to be these days.

“Tea’s nearly ready,” she said. “I wondered where on earth you’d got to, Maisie. Wash your hands quickly now.”

They had bread and butter and jam for tea, as usual. Maisie had a cup of milk and her mother drank tea, weak tea. The two of them sat in silence, each lost in her own thoughts, but after a while the warmth from the food and the one-bar gas fire made them easier with one another.

“I’ve got a surprise,” the woman said, and the girl looked up, uncertain whether to ask what it was. Her mother was unpredictable, and Maisie didn’t understand what made her upset.

“It’s a pumpkin. Your dad brought it round. I’m going to make a pie.” She smiled at her daughter in an entreating way.

Maisie found it difficult thinking about her dad, so she thought about the marzipan pumpkins in the sweetshop window instead. She had never eaten pumpkin pie, but she had had marzipan on Christmas cake and she knew she liked that. She managed a wobbly smile

“Tomorrow,” said her mother, “We’ll have it tomorrow. It’ll be a treat.”

That night, when she knelt by her bed to say her prayers, Maisie held the shiny nut between her hands.

“I’m giving you a third chance,” she said, and then, surprising herself with her boldness.

“And just so as you know, this isn’t for me. I want you to make things better for my mum and dad.”

Next day Maisie stopped at the sweetshop window again on her way home from school. The marzipan pumpkins seemed to be winking at her. When she put her hand on the nut in her pocket it felt different. She pulled it out and gasped: it had turned into a coin, as bright and shiny as the shop window. Maisie pushed open the shop door, a bell tinkled and a little old man appeared from a back room.

She ran home with her bag of sweets. At the door she hesitated, hearing voices in the kitchen, but there were no shouts, no tears. Just soft talking.

They had tea together, Maisie and her mother and father. Pumpkin pie. Which, actually, the girl did not like. But she didn’t say so, just smiled. As they all did. Later, Maisie looked in the bag for a marzipan pumpkin. But the bag was empty, apart from a small, hard, empty nutshell.

 

 

Author pic.CathBarton.smallCath Barton is an English writer who lives in Wales. She won the New Welsh Writing AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella 2017 for The Plankton Collector, now published by New Welsh Review under their Rarebyte imprint. Cath was awarded a place on the 2018 Literature Wales Enhanced Mentoring Scheme to complete a collection of short stories inspired by the work of the sixteenth century Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch. Active in the online flash fiction community, she is also a regular contributor to the online critical hub Wales Arts Review. She tweets @CathBarton1. Find out more at https://cathbarton.com.

Over – Spangle McQueen

 

He is explaining

supernumerary

rainbows to me –

 

how it’s all about

raindrop size

distribution.

 

‘Sunlight reflects

not only from inside

the falling droplets

 

but interferes with

wave phenomena.

It’s similar to ripples

 

when someone

throws a stone in

a pond,’ he says.

 

And I am impressed

with his knowledge

of atmospheric optics

 

but I’d only asked

how there could ever be

too many rainbows.

 

 

20171019_233122-1Spangle McQueen is a happy grandma and hopeful poet living in Sheffield.

What the wind said – Rebecca Gethin

 

I followed a drystone wall down the hill in a mist

wind pattering in my ears like a pony

 

on dry turf and snaking through gorse and reeds.

I caught a moaning, a voice lamenting

 

on just one note with breathy inhalations,

its instrument a welded gate

 

played on as though it were an organ pipe.

I pressed my fingers to the holes

 

and nothing stopped or changed the note,

air finding what it needed for an utterance

 

of sorrow, the little Os its mouthpiece

calling out from among the silent stones.

 

unnamed 1Rebecca Gethin lives on Dartmoor in Devon. In 2017 two pamphlets were published: A Sprig of Rowan by Three Drops Press and All the Time in the World by Cinnamon Press who published an earlier collection called A Handful of Water and two novels. She has been a Hawthornden Fellow. In 2018 she jointly won the Coast to Coast Pamphlet competition and has been awarded a writing residency at Brisons Veor. Find more at www.rebeccagethin.wordpress.com.

Fox – Paul Waring

 

Out on a night

like this

you swagger

aloof

star on stage

under diffused

orange spotlight.

I see you sashay

soft brush tail

lithe limbs

quiet as a whisper

across grass

as I close

my fourth floor window.

You look up

as if you know me

bat-ear surveillance

and dark adapted eyes

aimed like arrows

into mine.

 

 

IMG_6036Paul Waring is a retired clinical psychologist who once designed menswear and was a singer/songwriter in Liverpool bands. He is a 2018 Pushcart Prize nominee whose poems have been published in Foxglove Journal, Prole, Amaryllis, High Window, Atrium, Algebra of Owls, Clear Poetry, Ofi Press, Marble Poetry, The Lampeter Review and others. Find more at https://waringwords.wordpress.com.

Death in Spring – Ben Banyard

 

She took her last breath as we put the clocks on.

Lambs, daffodils, Easter eggs, cheerful optimism,

but a funeral to attend and relatives to console.

 

We’ll Google the church’s car park,

agree to work around that afternoon with bosses and clients.

Follow the coffin in, glance at riotous banks of grape hyacinth.

 

There will be hymns.

All Things Bright and Beautiful no doubt,

The Old Rugged Cross, perhaps.

Choke back a lump in the throat at the eulogies,

smile with damp eyes at anecdotes.

 

What will move us most are the details of her youth,

how she played nicely with her sister sometimes,

what her parents did for a living;

Spring details, when her life was beginning.

 

 

ImageBen Banyard lives in Portishead, near Bristol, UK. He’s the author of a pamphlet, Communing (Indigo Dreams, 2016) and a full collection, We Are All Lucky (Indigo Dreams, 2018). He blogs and posts mixtapes at https://benbanyard.wordpress.com.

Seven sleeper/thruddle-crump/hazel mouse – Rebecca Gethin

 

Under leaves a furry apple of a one-ounce-mouse

sleeps fast in a cup woven with honeysuckle bark.

gaps darned with moss and grass blades.

 

Before sleep it gorges on rosehips, hawthorn

and blackberries, or hazel nuts, leaving little round holes

in the shells. Before seven months of sleep it must be fat.

 

With cold growing thicker, its metabolism slows to a tick over

inside its core. The furred tail is a scarf wound across its face,

as it curls itself into the pips of its heartbeat.

 

 

unnamed 1Rebecca Gethin lives on Dartmoor in Devon. In 2017 two pamphlets were published: A Sprig of Rowan by Three Drops Press and All the Time in the World by Cinnamon Press who published an earlier collection called A Handful of Water and two novels. She has been a Hawthornden Fellow. In 2018 she jointly won the Coast to Coast Pamphlet competition and has been awarded a writing residency at Brisons Veor. Find more at www.rebeccagethin.wordpress.com.

I wish I’d studied palaeontology – Spangle McQueen

 

They used to teach that colour would never be detected in fossils.

But now it’s someone’s job to reveal the complexions

of dinosaurs, to unravel the hints about hues,

examining melanosomes and spherical organelles,

to conclude that, ‘You don’t have an orange and white tail

for nothing’. It’s someone’s job to pore over fossilised

forearms looking for the trace of quill knobs

or to separate spiral twists of fibres to analyse Jurassic

dandruff and to tell us with authority that these creatures

shed their skin in flakes. I wish I’d studied palaeontology

instead of forensic psychology. Primitive plumage

interests me more than psychopathy and the science

of empathy ever could.

 

 

20171019_233122-1Spangle McQueen is a happy grandma and hopeful poet living in Sheffield.