Before – Elisabeth Kelly

 

Dusty tins of condensed milk in the pantry.

Scholl slip on wooden sandals in the porch.

The blue labels worn down so only a soft oval remains in the wooden sole.

Tip toe hanging up the washing and the sandals falling down off dry heels.

Your life mapped by the cracks on your skin.

 

A drum of stagnant water in the corner of the steading.

Wellingtons with waterproofs wound around in the utility room.

Two sets of different ones, occasional and everyday wear.

Smelling of the black rubber cover over the silage pit and the cold stone ramp of the

midden.

Your life lived between the two.

 

A tree house made of old fence posts in Back Field.

Bare-feet drumming through the dust of the lane. Creosote sticking to the backs of knees.

Cow muck with a crust on top to poke with your toes, daring, pushing to see how far you

will go.

 

I never gave a thought then to how far we may go.

 

 

 

DSC_0520Elisabeth Kelly is an Early Years Teacher based on a hill farm in the Scottish Borders. She lives with her young family and too many animals. She has recently returned to writing. She has a poem currently in the Longlist for the Anthony Cronin Award at the Wexford Literary Festival 2020. She tweets at @eekelly22.

Imperfect Shelter – Martin Potter

 

Overcast and when it starts

To come down a heavy headed

Tree appears to offer

 

Round its trunk a dry space

Above countless leaf strata

Parrying the downpour

 

To begin with it’s like a roof

Secure you hear the percolation

Working through the rafters

 

Until collected the outsize drops

Single out whatever tender

Spots are homing unwary

 

 

FullSizeRenderMartin Potter is a poet and academic, and his poems have appeared in Acumen, The French Literary Review, Eborakon, Scintilla, and other journals. His pamphlet In the Particular was published by Eyewear in December 2017. Read more at https://martinpotterpoet.home.blog.

The Cyst – Fizza Abbas

 

If I could poke the yolk

of a fried egg,

 

or sprinkle a pinch of salt

around the albumen,

 

I would tell him, my skin tastes salty.

 

Instead, I handed myself to the body,

thick, sticky mucus marks my newfound respect

for two elastic bags

they fondly call lungs

 

I ask you finally,

will you help me leave my DNA in the world

before they call it a deed

 

 

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.

As she waits for news of her son – Louise Wilford

 

She feels the pale green sunlight through the hawthorn leaves –

but May’s evening blaze is darkened for her this year.

She pauses on the path – blots her eyes with her sleeves –

her courage faltering before her labour’s done,

replaced by the slithering worm of impending fear –

her hope extinguished with the setting of the sun.

 

She can’t remember quite what she was looking for.

The ivy winding up the fence twists through her mind.

Every moment the vice of terror grips her more,

her courage faltering before her labour’s done –

desperate to hear some news, yet not wanting to find

her hope extinguished with the setting of the sun.

 

He’s been missing a night and a day. There’s no joy left.

Food is ash in her mouth, the world an empty cage.

The bright bursts of pain leave her vacant and bereft,

her courage faltering before her labour’s done.

The snaking red anguish tangles her up in rage,

her hope extinguished with the setting of the sun.

 

 

unnamed (2)Yorkshirewoman Louise Wilford has had over 100 poems and short stories published and has won or been shortlisted for several competitions, most recently the £750 Arts Quarterly Prize and the MereFest Poetry Prize. She is currently nearing the end of a Masters degree in Creative Writing with the Open University, and is currently working on a novel inspired by The Tempest, while trying to process why the world appears to be falling apart.

How it was – Elizabeth Gibson

 

There was a storm out there, on the sea of ferns

and small spiders crept in and out of old burns.

Roaming the desert, a dog found the dusk

and in a flower somewhere, red-pink with musk,

a fairy curled up in the arms of a bee.

 

The midges were swirling like water back home

and in the sky, a jellyfish hung all alone.

Under layers of ice, a horse in a hole;

in a meadow of gold and blue starlets, a foal.

Far out beyond grounds of new comets, you saw me.

 

 

Elizabeth Gibson headshotElizabeth Gibson is a writer and performer based in Manchester, UK. She is also the Editor and Photographer for Foxglove Journal. Liz has won a Northern Writers’ Award and been shortlisted for the Poetry Business’ New Poets Prize, and her work has appeared Cake, Cardiff Review, The Compass, Confingo, Litro and Strix among other journals. Liz blogs at http://elizabethgibsonwriter.blogspot.com and you can find her on Twitter and Instagram as @Grizonne.

Octopus dusk – Elizabeth Gibson

 

in the hills above Vigo, Galicia

 

Perhaps I look lost up here, heavy and alone – but I have the pines and firs,

and I wander down the slopes of the mountain campus, catching Pokémon.

 

The air turns cool and soft. I catch an octopus. I take photos of the pink sky;

they will never come out right. I catch a bird, a fish, more strange critters

 

whose proper names I never remember. I stand under the chunky building

they call a bunker, but to me can only be a boat, slicing through the tree-sea.

 

Barely anyone lives up here, only us in the student digs shaped like a spider.

We sleep in its legs, in little rectangular rooms with long, tall windows

 

giving us ribbons of view: grassy mounds with orange cats, a pond of frogs,

a night full of crickets, heavy like me, and alone – but somehow also not.

 

 

Elizabeth Gibson headshot

Elizabeth Gibson is a writer and performer based in Manchester, UK. She is also the Editor and Photographer for Foxglove Journal. Liz has won a Northern Writers’ Award and been shortlisted for the Poetry Business’ New Poets Prize, and her work has appeared Cake, Cardiff Review, The Compass, Confingo, Litro and Strix among other journals. Liz blogs at http://elizabethgibsonwriter.blogspot.com and you can find her on Twitter and Instagram as @Grizonne.

The Wren on the Sidewalk – Don Krieger

 

She looked at me, turned,

hopped ahead, turned back,

jumped into the grass.

Then she lunged up,

snatched a dragonfly

right out of the air.

 

 

donOfficeJul2019Crop1Don is a biomedical researcher living in Pittsburgh, PA. His poetry has appeared online at TuckMagazine.com, Uppagus Magazine, Vox Populi Sphere, and others, in print in Hanging Loose (1972) and Neurology, and in several print anthologies including in both English and Farsi in Persian Sugar in English Tea, Volumes I and III.

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.

A Problem Shared – Laura Muetzelfeldt

 

Everything important Mum ever told me she told me while cracking eggs. The news was always followed by a business-like tap, freeing wobbly flying saucers from their shells. Mum could crack eggs and open them with one-handed, something I tried to get the hang of, but couldn’t; I always ended up having to rescue tiny triangles of shell from the goo. Making cupcakes to sell at school she told me once they found a lump inside her which turned out to be her twin, dead and swallowed before she was born. Her stories always lasted as long as the recipe took to make, then we would sit down with Dad, and the secrets would fizz inside me as he tucked into whatever we’d just baked, not knowing what I now knew.

Most of the secrets she told me were to do with love. Once, whilst making an almond cake for someone’s birthday, she said:

‘It was only when I met your father that I realised my whole life up to then I’d mistaken lust for love.’

I wasn’t sure what lust was, but it sounded dangerous, creeping – liable to spread when you turned your back.

Mum looked less like a mum when she was baking, like she was just playing at being a grown up. That day, she had flour smudged above her eyebrow and her sleeves rolled up so that they kept drooping, nearly getting in the mixing bowl. I pushed up my sleeves but they kept falling down and getting messy.

All the times we baked, I never told Mum my secrets. I never got that thing where telling other people made your problems seem smaller. For me, it always made them double not halve: like kisses or a punch, they were something you could never take back.

 

 

 

unnamed (4)Laura is a teacher, writer and silversmith who lives in Glasgow with her family. She writes short stories and has been published in journals such as The International Literary QuarterlyBandit Fiction, and Ink, Sweat and Tears; her story, ‘Anna on the Wing’, was highly commended in The Federation of Writers Scotland Competition 2018. She also writes young adult fiction and her novel, Perfect Memory, was longlisted for Fish Publishing’s Young Adult Novel Contest.

Too late? – Kieran Egan

 

Mrs. Reardon walks down the pavement

which is more broken now than when 

she pushed four different children in their prams,

two of whom will be at the funeral today,

of the man she married

because the man she loved married her friend.

Her friend died last year and the man she loved

will also be at the funeral of the man she married.

The man she loved realized too late, too late

that he cared less for the woman he married

than for Patsie Reardon, née Walsh, of days long gone.

 

Mrs. Reardon and the man she still loved 

passed on this street with their children in prams, 

then he with a son and football and she with ballet shoes and a daughter

then walking with further sons and daughters, some taller than either of them.

 

Would he, after the funeral and after due time . . . ?

Her heart and stomach were afraid and light and excited.

Or will the formal reserve they had cultivated like a shell

be now so hard they can no longer break through it?

Were they still the two who had once loved each other?

His once hair . . . her once taut skin . . .

 

 

unnamed (2)Kieran Egan lives in Vancouver, Canada. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Quills (Canada), Literary Review of Canada, Dalhousie Review (Canada), High Window (UK), Orbis (UK), Raintown Review (USA), Envoi (UK), Shot Glass Journal (USA), Qwerty (Canada), Snapdragon (USA), The Antigonish Review (Canada), Acumen (UK), Canadian Quarterly and The Interpreter’s House (U.K); also shortlisted for the John W. Bilsland Literary Award, 2017 and for the TLS Mick Imlah prize 2017.

Tickling Heaven – Fabrice B. Poussin

 

What will he do, the sequoia living in the city,

to belong in the geometric skyline above the sea?

 

Can he compete, layer by layer, for a life deserved

against the structure made brick by brick, of blood?

 

Does he often cry, dislodged as his old friends

have been for so long, homeless among millions?

 

Is survival an option, for the giant without years,

who faces clones of metal and molten rock?

 

Attempting to breathe, bleeding a sweet thick sap,

how can Earth guarantee his daily meals!

 

Far from mile-long roots, unable to move,

shackled in rebar, concrete, and ill will.

 

Far above his cheap imitation of a false brother,

a single tear begins a journey to shake new grounds.

 

Me-BWFabrice Poussin teaches French and English at Shorter University. Author of novels and poetry, his work has appeared in Kestrel, Symposium, The Chimes, and dozens of other magazines. His photography has been published in The Front Porch Review, the San Pedro River Review and more than 200 other publications.

Looking at your pictures… – Francesca Leone

 

Still feels like stepping on a grenade.

Will it ever stop,

I ask myself.

Piazza Trilussa in the morning is at its most beautiful:

the air crisp, cold like a knife,

the silence of a city who’s still in bed,

quietly stretching out in the dark.

But that night when we said goodbye,

it was truly something else.

A beauty from God’s grace.

What a blessing it was to

get my heart broken on a night

like that. I felt so alive with pain.

Will it ever stop,

I ask myself.

Let’s hope it never does.

 

fl-picFrancesca Leone is a 24-year-old living in Rome, Italy. She writes in English at https://frellification.wordpress.com. She is currently writing a fantasy novel, but poetry remains her first love.

Respite – Ken Allan Dronsfield

 

face, a wrinkled rustic tan

eyes, clouded faded blue

tattered, old yellow raincoat

stands, watching the sea

dog, spying hungry gulls

his boat, sits needing care

ocean, claims yet another

clouds, billow and race east

waves, crest and roll to land

memories, fade upon twilight

inhales, now more shallow

life, in respite rises higher.

 

Ken Allan Dronsfield, Bio PictureKen Allan Dronsfield is a published poet from New Hampshire, now residing in Oklahoma. He loves thunderstorms and hiking. His published work can be found in reviews, journals, magazines and anthologies throughout the web and in print venues. His poetry has been nominated for two Pushcart Prize Awards and the Best of the Net for 2016.

The Ebb and Flow – Ken Allan Dronsfield

 

From atop the great redwood trees

dragonflies fantasize of summertime;

of warmer mornings, balmy winds

dodging flycatchers and bullfrogs.

The grasses are green along a pond

baby goslings enjoy the new sunrise;

barn owls love a midnight stellar show

wolves howl and worship the full moon.

Beating hearts prevail in creeks or marshes

deep rivers and great bays ebb and flow

large animals enjoy the salty sweet grass

beautiful wild flowers grace rolling hills.

As the sun now rises in the eastern skies,

from within that great awakening forest

a lone cicada sings his mating sonnet

within the ebb and flow of life’s circle.

 

Ken Allan Dronsfield, Bio PictureKen Allan Dronsfield is a published poet from New Hampshire, now residing in Oklahoma. He loves thunderstorms and hiking. His published work can be found in reviews, journals, magazines and anthologies throughout the web and in print venues. His poetry has been nominated for two Pushcart Prize Awards and the Best of the Net for 2016.

Tomatoes – Natalie Crick

 

Plump tomatoes roll

Beautifully, with

Silken skin that puckers

And splits. In my hands,

They have a pulse.

Each one curious, childlike

As a heart thumping in wonder.

 

Natalie Crick PhotoNatalie Crick, from the UK, has poetry published or forthcoming in a range of journals and magazines including Interpreters House, Ink In Thirds, The Penwood Review, The Chiron Review and Rust and Moth. Her work also features or is forthcoming in a number of anthologies, including Lehigh Valley Vanguard Collections 13. This year her poem ‘Sunday School’ was nominated for the Pushcart Prize.