The Strawberry Gel – Raine Geoghegan

 

On warm summer nights they lay on thick blankets looking up at the stars. The door of the vardo left slightly open in case the chavies woke. They would whisper about the time they first met in the strawberry fields. He remembered the blue dress she used to wear, how her hair was braided on top of her head, her sovereign ear rings unlike any he’d ever seen. She would tell him how she was taken by his honest brown eyes and the way he took her hand and said, ‘Shall we go for a stroll Amy?’ He had picked a strawberry for her and it was the sweetest thing she had ever tasted. It was kushti bok that both he and their gel had strawberry marks on their backs. They laughed at how she could never get enough of the fruit. They called her the strawberry gel. Their Phylly, with the corn coloured hair. He yawns loudly. ‘Shush, go t’sleep Alf.’ They both settle down, his hand resting on her hip, her hand on his chest.

 

Romani words: Vardo – wagon; Chavies – children; Kushti Bok – Good Luck

 

 

2017-07-17 18.15.26Raine Geoghegan, MA lives in West Sussex, UK. She is half Romany with Welsh and Irish ancestry. Her poems and short prose have been widely published and her debut pamphlet, ‘Apple Water – Povel Panni’ is due to be published by Hedgehog Press in November 2018. It was previewed at the Ledbury Poetry Festival in July. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net 2018. Her poems were also featured in the film ‘Stories from the Hop Yards’ as part of the Herefordshire Life through a Lens Project and one of the poems was made into a film by the Wellington Primary School. Find out more at rainegeoghegan.co.uk.

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Stormy Weather – Deborah Guzzi

 

the day—storm charged glowers

a bruised sky shutters over a shedding

maple forests bleeding maroons and

citrus hues

 

I worry a nail. Rain begins to pelt

the windshield—wind-loosened

butterscotch bits hopscotch across the

tarmac

 

the scene an impressionist dream

a watercolor wash of leaving—too soon

the mountain will be monochrome

a scratch board

 

though pine and spruce will punctuate

with pricks of blue-blackish green

no longer will I walk barefoot

on the lawn

 

 

debbie 3aDeborah Guzzi writes full time. Her third book, The Hurricane, is available through Prolific Press. Her poetry appears in Allegro, Artificium, Shooter, Amethyst Review and Foxglove Journal in the UK, Existere, The Ekphrastic Review, Scarlet Leaf Review and Subterranean Blue Poetry, Canada – Tincture, Australia – mgv2>publishing, France – Cha: Asian Review, China – Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Australia – The Scarlet Leaf Review – Greece, Ribbons, pioneertown, Sounding Review, Bacopa Literary Review, The Aurorean, Liquid Imagination, The Tishman Review, Page & Spine and others in the USA.

Argonaut – Mark Totterdell

 

Small paper nautilus,

cockleshell octopus,

two of her tentacles

soft wands for conjuring

calcium carbonate

into her miracle

shell, light and delicate,

white ribbed and tuberculed

elegant watercraft,

henceforth and constantly

hers for the captaincy.

 

 

This one DSC00795-herefordMark Totterdell’s poems have appeared widely in magazines and have occasionally won competitions. His collections are ‘This Patter of Traces’ (Oversteps Books, 2014) and ‘Mapping’ (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2018).

Rumble Rumble – Joe Albanese

 

I thought I lost a thousand years,

turns out I was just blinking

What I thought a ruptured volcano

is just what I’ve missed in aching

 

Hanging out the window sill –

is even half of me worth saving?

I never made it to the church,

but held my faith in breaking

 

Why rebuild this house when it’s the land that’s cursed?

I hear it, I hear it, I hear it

 

I got nowhere by acting low –

even my shadow overheated

What’s a rhapsody within myself

when all I did was stay seated?

 

Forge anything and hope it grows

to shed a weight only Atlas knew

I calculate I’m nothing special

because entropy does what we already do

 

There’s a wave so big I can’t see its crest

But I feel it, I feel it, I feel it…

 

 

JoeAlbanese_photoJoe Albanese is a writer from New Jersey. His work can be found in publications across the U.S. and in ten other countries. Joe’s novel, Caina (Mockingbird Lane Press), and his novella, Smash and Grab (Books to Go Now), were both published in 2018.

remember – Lisa Reily

 

our dog came first in our relationship,

our first child, our only child,

our Henry.

remember his tongue-wagging runs on the beach,

our cabin amid the paperbarks,

ocean mist coming through our window?

remember the soft call of the butcherbirds,

the laugh of the kookaburras

the only sound to wake us?

remember cups of Earl Grey tea on our balcony

while Henry slept in his basket;

the simple pleasure of our walks on the sand,

Henry running ahead on the empty beach,

ears wagging, sand stuck to his nose;

holding hands over rocks, limpets, starfish

and crashing waves that we thought would sweep him away,

climbing to the tops of cliffs, losing our way back down?

remember the mist that went on forever, covered everything,

took with it the cliff, the long stretch of beach,

Split Solitary Island;

remember the ashes we scattered on the sand,

the beach that took them, that took

the love of our lives,

ashes forever to float to the island;

our first child, our only child,

our Henry.

 

 

Photo - Lisa ReilyLisa Reily is a former literacy consultant, dance director and teacher from Australia. Her poetry and stories have been published in several journals, such as Panoply, Amaryllis, Riggwelter, River Teeth Journal (Beautiful Things), and Magma. Lisa is currently a full-time budget traveller. You can find her at lisareily.wordpress.com.

Crepuscular – Rebecca Gethin

 

At the wooded creek, a sheen

on hexagons of damp basalt

water like charcoal silk

where a pied cormorant has settled on a branch

and a catbird yowls nearby

till kookaburra unswallows

the songs of day –

 

we hold a breath, nudge each other

when the surface puckers, ripples

but it isn’t the platypus.

 

The moon is in two places

stars speckle the water

we can still just see enough

with the surface shine

but it isn’t the platypus.

 

We shift, feeling it’s time to give up.

As the darkness tightens

a thread of droplets needles the water

and air clusters with presence –

cloak-winged flying foxes

queue to swoop-drink

first one way, then the other

but not the platypus.

 

 

unnamed 2Rebecca 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.

Eva – Spangle McQueen

 

“Hope” is the thing with feathers – Emily Dickinson

 

If I left you a feather

preserved

in Burmese amber

would you treasure

 

this coelurosaur’s gift

wrapped in semi-

translucent resin?

Would you release

 

the ferrous

traces of my blood –

hopeful of

cloning?

 

Or would you reject

this humble

hollow-tailed thing –

ignore me – in favour of

an angel’s token?

 

 

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

Water – Gareth Writer-Davies

 

catching water

always leads to a cacophony

 

never mute

water talks as it spouts or fountains

 

from mossy lips

to the drum of the barrel

 

murmuring like a cherub

or roaring like a freshwater Neptune

 

who opened his mouth to yawn

and was surprised

 

by a deluge of vowels

that kept on flowing

 

O, if only my hands

could catch what the water is saying

 

 

GWD Twmpa shotGareth Writer-Davies is from Brecon and was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize (2014 and 2017) and the Erbacce Prize (2014). He was commended in the Prole Laureate Competition (2015) and Prole Laureate for 2017. He was commended in the Welsh Poetry Competition (2015) and Highly Commended in 2017. His pamphlet “Bodies”, was published in 2015 by Indigo Dreams and the pamphlet “Cry Baby” came out in 2017. His first collection “The Lover’s Pinch” (Arenig Press) was published June, 2018.

 

The Fortune-Teller – Geraldine McCarthy

 

I hunkered on a three-legged stool outside the caravan, waiting. People liked to see what Rosie the Palm-Reader looked like. So I put myself on show, donned in my green velvet dress, with bangles jangling from wrist to elbow. It was important to look the part.

The fair was in full swing. The stall next to me sold cheap plastic toys, and young children pointed to guns and dolls and swords, and pouted if their parents said they’d spent enough already. Men led horses down towards the end of the street, where the beasts would be eyed by keen buyers. The smell of dung mingled with the smell of chips, fused with the smell of leather from the shoe stall across the way.

Business was quiet. Would I make the price of the supper?

Jim ambled up. His tweed jacket was open, revealing a beige pull-over, slightly ravelled at the neck. Hazel eyes, rosy cheeks and grey curls in need of a haircut – not many people would pay him heed. He was late. Normally he came in the morning. He toured all the fairs and was on first-name terms with the horsey crowd.

This six months past he’d begun paying me visits.

“Rosie, how’re you keepin’?”

“Good enough, Jim. Good enough.”

I waited for him to speak again. I didn’t like to presume.

“I was wonderin’ would we have one of our little chats?” He stood staring into the middle distance.

I rose from the stool, my knee joints protesting, and gestured towards the van. “Come in, Jim. Come in.”

I hauled myself up the steps, and sat at one side of the pull-out table. All of a sudden, the van seemed dingy. The curtains were faded, as were the cushion covers, and the carpet had seen better days. People expected dream-catchers and crystal balls, but I had neither. I ran a no-frills operation.

Jim came and positioned himself opposite, shuffling his bulk to get comfortable. He held out his palm without being asked. His hands were calloused and rough; he’d told me of the long years he’d spent labouring for big farmers. I ran my finger along his life line, his head line and his heart line, doing my best to ignore the tingle, the quickening of my own heart.

“Is there anything bothering you today, Jim?”

“No more than usual.”

The last time I’d seen him he’d been arguing with his wife. Said he couldn’t leave. The house was hers, and he’d have nowhere to go.

“Well, as I told you before, Jim, your heart line is strong.”

So it was. Just like my own.

He exhaled loudly. “You’ll have to give me more than that to go on, Rosie, love.”

I wanted to advise him to ditch the wife. That’s what my gut instinct told me. I’d normally be honest with a client, but I couldn’t say anything in this case.

He waited for me to continue.

“Your strong heart line allows you to over-ride practicalities. Sometimes we can be too practical, calculating everything in the credit and debit columns.”

I’d said far more than I intended.

Jim shifted in the seat, and the leather squeaked. “Aye,” he said, looking me straight in the eye.

My cheeks burned and I hoped the dim light would camouflage my unease. “This one’s on the house, Jim.”

If he was surprised he didn’t show it. “Aye, thanks. Well, I’ll be off so.”

He descended the steps, reluctantly it seemed, and I stayed in the caravan a while, delicately fingering the heart line on my own palm.

 

 

IMG_0407Geraldine McCarthy lives in West Cork. She writes short stories, flash fiction and poetry. Her work has been published in The Fable Online, The Incubator Journal, Seven Deadly Sins: a YA Anthology (Gluttony, Wrath, Avarice), Scarlet Leaf Review, Brilliant Flash Fiction,  Every Day Fiction, Fifty Word Stories, Foxglove, Poetry Pulse and Comhar.

Colorful Combinations – Deborah Guzzi

 

Being of earth, wind, fire, and water, I amble wide-eyed in a world of color.

Elements form metaphoric limbs, link the undefined—in a world of color.

 

Unified, stalwart, we stride, side by side, reveling in the differences

from the molten core to the tide-line—enshrined in a world of color.

 

There are no weeds, no right place or time; all life’s sublime, beauteous

in the blessed-eye, like unto like, all entwined in a world of color.

 

Rays, wings, seeds—exploding suns—jellyfish in the sea,

quarks to leptons to universes, all primed in a world of color.

 

Gather the multitudes—reform and combine—splatter watercolors

for all creations shines—life’s sublime in a world of color.

 

 

 

debbie 3aDeborah Guzzi writes full time. Her third book, The Hurricane, is available through Prolific Press. Her poetry appears in Allegro, Artificium, Shooter, Amethyst Review and Foxglove Journal in the UK, Existere, The Ekphrastic Review, Scarlet Leaf Review and Subterranean Blue Poetry, Canada – Tincture, Australia – mgv2>publishing, France – Cha: Asian Review, China – Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Australia – The Scarlet Leaf Review – Greece, Ribbons, pioneertown, Sounding Review, Bacopa Literary Review, The Aurorean, Liquid Imagination, The Tishman Review, Page & Spine and others in the USA.

Freshers – Ben Banyard

 

Dotted about, they cling to one another

like survivors from a shipwreck,

shiny and new as the morning.

 

Shaky from first attempts at ironing

their independence is eggshell frail.

 

Early evenings, watch them snake

the pavements on route-march pub crawls,

terrified of that one indiscretion

which earns them a nickname or

tattoos a campus anecdote.

 

Studies will prove peripheral

for three or four years of this cakewalk.

They choke back their homesickness,

fledge into themselves day by day.

 

 

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.

Swallow – Mark Totterdell

 

To me, it makes a summer; continent-

compassing

steely blue wings,

pure breast, gorget

deep red as though still cooling from some southern forge.

Passing then fast repassing, it connects the dots

of unseen gnats,

so near to me

it makes me see;

to it, I’m utterly irrelevant.

 

 

This one DSC00795-herefordMark Totterdell’s poems have appeared widely in magazines and have occasionally won competitions. His collections are ‘This Patter of Traces’ (Oversteps Books, 2014) and ‘Mapping’ (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2018).

How I love – Joe Albanese

 

From your hope is how I hear you

Through your unabashed scars is how I feel you

 

Between each thought I always see you

And it’s in your flowing that I know you

 

The sacred and magic are born from you

For simple being, the world should thank you

 

In crowded streets I may have lost you

But with heart-star lantern, I’ll search for you

 

Although ghosts may sometimes haunt you

It’s because who wouldn’t live beside you?

 

From your laughter I cannot save you

But in tears I’d never have you

 

If it’s in the sunlight that I want you

Then it’s in its shadows I am with you

 

If all our lives I never reach you

Then let these words be how I love you.

 

 

JoeAlbanese_photoJoe Albanese is a writer from New Jersey. His work can be found in publications across the U.S. and in ten other countries. Joe’s novel, Caina (Mockingbird Lane Press), and his novella, Smash and Grab (Books to Go Now), were both published in 2018.

The Rose Trees are in Bloom – Arlene Antoinette

 

Monday

Mother sits in her favorite armchair, peering through the picture windows onto her backyard garden. The rose trees are beginning to bloom, she calls to me. I’m in the kitchen, washing up last night’s dishes, scrubbing spills from the stove, sweeping and mopping the floor. I respond with a quick, that’s nice. She leaves her spot only for meals and bathroom breaks. Night falls; a veil of darkness obscures her precious flowers. I plant a light kiss on her cheek as I put her to bed.

 

Tuesday

The rose trees are beginning to bloom. Her words seem to dance across her lips. I’m busy loading the washing machine and unloading the dryer. I look up, but I don’t respond. Mother stands at the window like an expectant child on the night before her birthday.

 

Wednesday

Mother, are you finished dressing? Again, she’s standing by the back window, hands clasped together as if in prayer. Have you seen them? The roses are beginning to bloom! Her blouse hangs open; her hair’s undone. I walk over to her and place my hand on her forearm. Come with me mom, we’re running late for your appointment. I don’t bother to look out onto the garden; I’m busy calculating how long it will take me to finish getting her dressed.

 

Thursday

Okay mom. I’m off. Lunch is in the fridge. There’s a glass of coconut water on the table and if you need a snack there’s a granola bar in the cabinet. I should be back by dinner time.
Have you seen them?
Seen what?
The roses buds. The rose trees are beginning to bloom.
I know, I know. I’ll look at them when I get back. I have to go. Love you. I grab my purse and head out the door.

 

Thursday Evening

Mom, I’m home. Mom, I’m back. I open the fridge and retrieve a bottle of cold water. It’s 5:30, and her lunch is still there. Mom, where are you? Why haven’t you eaten? I walk through the house, glancing into her bedroom, the bathroom and the living room. Finally, I look out the back window. She’s there, sitting on the bench in her beloved garden. I retrieve her lunch from the fridge and head outside. Mom. She doesn’t respond. Mom, you must be starving. I lay my hand on her shoulder, there’s no response. Mom, mom! Are you alright? Mom say something! Mom! Mom!

 

Friday

The hospital’s ER is ice-cold. Pictures of children playing in fields adorn the walls.

 

Saturday

I call close friends and family. My hands shake as I dial each number. 

 

Sunday

I stand at the window gazing out into the back yard. Yellow, pink and red roses adorn my mother’s garden. The roses are in full bloom

 

 

stillmyeye

Arlene Antoinette is a poet of West Indian birth who grew up in Brooklyn, New York. She graduated from Brooklyn College and worked as an instructor with disabled individuals for many years. You may find additional work by Arlene at Foxglove Journal, Little Rose Magazine, I am not a silent Poet, Tuck Magazine, The Feminine Collective, The Open Mouse, Amaryllis Poetry, Boston Accent Lit, Sick Lit Magazine, Postcard Shorts, 50 Word Stories, The Ginger Collect, Neologism Poetry Journal and Your Daily Poem.

A Stone – Oak Ayling

 

Do you think

A stone taken up from the ground

Forgets where it is from?

Erased of place, of memory?

 

Do you think it remembers

The rough kiss

The tender current

The air, the ocean

The chatter of falcons nesting?

 

Does it still think fondly

Of the year you were born?

 

 

IMG_20181005_083822_391Oak Ayling is a young woman quietly stitching poetry into the blurry windswept border between Cornwall and Devon, England. Highly commended by Indigo Press in the Geoff Stevens Memorial Prize 2018, her work can be found in Anti Heroin Chic Magazine, the fast growing lit mag From Whispers to Roars and forthcoming charitable anthology ‘Shorthand’ by author Helen Cox in support of UK homeless charity Streetlink.