The Good Girl – Louise Wilford

 

Childhood stains it all,

blood that no amount of spit-wet tissue can rub out.

 

The playground grit against our knees,

the slap of rope on asphalt, skipping songs

coating the summer day. The walk-in cupboard where our toys

were kept, silverfish in its dusty corners.

 

That’s where I hid the card, the broken bits

of yellow-painted egg-box daffodils.

Crumbs like dried yolk stuffed in the Ludo box.

 

I’d missed school with the ‘flu’, so couldn’t finish it myself.

She’d stuck on the final leaves, filled in the last

few letters: OTHER’S DAY.

 

Glass animals on the windowsill

watched me as I tore the card to bits,

each wound a slice into her skin.

 

She’d ruined it, just as she soiled that Sunday

when she told them all I’d lied.

And all the while her alligator smile

tuned out their doubts.

 

As if a girl like her…

 

I felt her fingertips against the cardboard flowers,

her grinning brush-strokes on each painted edge.

 

Those old, sad days in which we played and wept.

For good or bad, they’re where we learned to be.

Until we die, they’re where our lives are kept.

 

 

unnamed (2)Yorkshirewoman Louise Wilford is an English teacher and examiner. She has had around 50 poems and short stories published in magazines including Popshot, Pushing Out The Boat and Agenda, and has won or been shortlisted for several competitions. She is currently writing a children’s fantasy novel.

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Brick – Samuel W. James

 

Feel the slugs sliming on your underneath

and wait for summer, when a colony of ants

may claim you as their spot. Feel the kick

as you hop off the road, and the landing.

Think about your situation on the pavement.

 

Feel the mosses and lichens take hold

as flakes and cracks drive into your outer layer.

Feel them checked for insects by birds,

and the many threads of spider web left.

Think about your situation on the pavement.

 

 

SWJ picSamuel W. James’ poems can also be found in AllegroThe Eyewear ReviewThe Fortnightly ReviewDissident VoiceThe Literary HatchetAmsterdam QuarterlyLondon GripClockwise CatPeeking CatSentinel QuarterlyScarlet Leaf ReviewDoor is a JarThe Beautiful SpaceElsewhere Journal and Ink, Sweat and Tears.

A wounded goose – Kieran Egan

 

A ragged V of calling geese approaches, 

one powering to take its turn at point 

as others find their places in the slipstream. 

Then as they rise towards the line of trees 

one flailing body tumbles to the ground; 

a cry and splatter twenty feet away.

It flaps a damaged wing and starts to run 

south in the direction of its fellows,

neck straining toward them, stopping at the wall.

The wounded goose and I both stand helpless 

at this sudden fathomless tragedy. 

Well to the south, the rest climb onward, 

powerful chests heaving tireless wings;

their distant honking to each other fades 

as the line dissolves in the evening sky.

 

 

 

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.

Día logues – Margaret King

 

She talks to every living thing

Maybe even more than humans

She talks to her plants as they grow

To butterflies & birds who visit daily

She has an ongoing rapport with the

Blue jays and chickadees

Who boisterously call for food

Whenever she walks under the trees

Of the yard

Underneath, the grass is littered with

Shells of sunflowers & peanuts

A beach, an ocean of giving &

Giving back

She talks to her cats

Marking loyal days together.

To her, these things are as alive as anyone

& worthy of communication.

But why doesn’t she speak to the

Hummingbirds? Messengers, she feels

She should at least send a prayer

Or a wish

Or a private longing

A cry for help

But she doesn’t

Want to scare them away.

 

 

 

unnamed

Margaret King is a Wisconsin writer who enjoys penning poetry, short stories, and young adult novels. In her spare time, she likes to haunt the shores of Lake Michigan, similar to many of her fictional characters. Her most recent work has appeared in Unlost Journal, Moonchild Magazine, Enclave, and The Ginger Collect.

Turn the Wheel – Ali Jones

 

He marks the year with stones,

feels the fire in trees rising,

 

when the sky calls up life.

He inhales beneath the horse chestnut,

 

stands in his father’s footprints,

eyeing the benign branch caught stars.

 

His mother leashes his hand,

they ride on wind dogs and go hunting

 

for the best kindling, where hills

are clouded with sheep.

 

In autumn, leaves throned gold,

he pockets treasures, and watches

 

the flames recede in the fall of red and yellow,

dry wood transformed in age.

 

He mounts an iron horse,

flesh consumed with the spirit of speed,

 

the season carries his skeleton to cage

a man’s soul, while roots travel

 

down, sinking with winter’s life,

to condense into vital coal.

 

 

 

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.

Ithaca – Rachel Lewis

 

My wife is behind me

And my life before.

The sky lit from inside itself

With golden dying day.

Turning itself,

Turning itself,

And turning again.

We are sailing east

Towards a dawn

That has not yet risen and will not

Til terrors past absolve us

Of having left at all.

Ithaca, sharpening blue

And deepening silver,

My house just one

In our city stretching out the coast.

My father buried there, his dust

Rising in flowers touching heads to dew.

My nurses there, their old hands threading

At baby clothes, sat in sun smiling wrinkled.

Ithaca I can feel you holding back.

Something in me will not come with me.

It will stay murmuring in the cypress,

It will croak with the cicadas at night,

It will live with the snakes in the sand and the gulls on the water.

Promises, winds,

They cannot move a weight of water.

Ithaca I promise

I have never and will never leave you

Even as winds blow me on

Into the rose red grasp

Of this first dawn alone.

 

 

Rachel headshot portraitRachel is a London-based poet. She was previously a poetry editor for the Mays Anthology and a Young Producer with Poet in the City. Her poetry can also be found on the Poetry Society website, in the Dawntreader and Kindling journals, and unpredictably at live events around London.

Morning Song – Susan Richardson

 

Mornings begin with the scratch

and rattle of claws against wood,

chaos seeping with fervor

into the void of night.

He plants his feet reluctantly

onto a floor bathed in the chill

of a disappearing moon,

tails sweeping in and out of

precarious spaces between his ankles.

It is a long walk to the kitchen,

where the hiss of an opening

can awakens a cacophony of hunger,

mingled with chords of impatience.

A spoon clanking against glass sets

the rhythm for notes of anticipation.

He fills the bowls and places

them on the branches of the tree.

Quiet settles into plump warm fullness.

 

 

IMG_0069Susan Richardson is living, writing and going blind in Hollywood. She was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa in 2002 and much of her work focuses on her relationship to the world as a partially sighted woman. In addition to poetry, she writes a blog called “Stories from the Edge of Blindness”. Her work has been published in: Stepping Stones Magazine, Wildflower Muse, The Furious Gazelle, The Hungry Chimera, Sheila-Na-Gig, Chantarelle’s Notebook, Foxglove Journal, Literary Juice and Sick Lit Magazine, with pieces forthcoming in Amaryllis. She was also awarded the Sheila-Na-Gig Winter Poetry Prize.

Rain – Louise Wilford

 

The rain, it raineth every day.

Slugs cower beneath the pavement slabs –

the sage leaves curl, their powder spent –

the quilted mint leaves pillow through their veins

and spears of tarragon drip glassy beads.

 

The painted terracotta cat

no longer casts out beams of candle light,

just snivels, shoulders huddled in the chill.

The real cat shelters underneath the bench.

The rain, it raineth every day.

 

The rain, it raineth every day.

Chlorophyll glisters green on every branch.

The guttering spews an endless waterfall.

The rags of rubbish blown out of some skip

are stuck with watery bullets to the fence.

 

The rain, it raineth every day.

The traffic is a dampened lullaby,

a pebbled stream that boils across a weir,

the ache of a wave collapsing on a beach,

nudging the rounded rocks and shells.

 

But still the loud rich smell of dampened earth,

the bursts of thyme and parsley as I pass,

the slick pink smell of early flowers, 

trumpets the spring through the cloud-drenched air.

But the rain, it raineth every day.

 

 

unnamed (2)Yorkshirewoman Louise Wilford is an English teacher and examiner. She has had around 60 poems and short stories published in magazines including Popshot, Pushing Out The Boat and Agenda, and has won or been shortlisted for several competitions. She is currently writing a children’s fantasy novel.

Last One – Rachel Lewis

 

The sun had almost given out that day

I went out late, after the sun had almost

Left us all behind.

 

The first thing I saw was the birch tree,

That had turned such a shade of yellow

As I’d never seen.

 

It was brighter and purer somehow than any green,

And the colour ran sharp through me, set me

Crying as I walked.

 

Blackberries were pouring down. The grass

Was dying in the last of the wintry light.

The streetlight glow began.

 

Willows by the river, and the plane trees,

All said “I know” whenever the wind filled

Their echo chambers.

 

Ducks and geese and magpies live here,

Resourcefully around our houses.

Swans, blackbirds as well.

 

I swung on the kissing gate and realised

I don’t know whether he’s for real, or if he’ll

Ever come back here.

 

 

Rachel headshot portraitRachel is a London-based poet. She was previously a poetry editor for the Mays Anthology and a Young Producer with Poet in the City. Her poetry can also be found on the Poetry Society website, in the Dawntreader and Kindling journals, and unpredictably at live events around London.

Coy – JD DeHart

 

Small faces peeking

over the fence, mask

of a raccoon, furtive

glance of a squirrel

 

The gaze of a deer,

pale eye of a fish, sky-

born gleam of a hawk,

even a possum’s glare

 

These are the faces

that adorn my childhood,

my eyes returning

all those countless looks.

 

 

Bio pic 10JD DeHart is a writer and teacher. His poems have recently appeared at Cacti Fur and Strange Poetry. DeHart blogs at jddehartfeaturepoems.blogspot.com.

Newt – Lynn White

 

I can understand

why

on a hot, hot day,

Lawrence’s snake appeared thirstily

at his water trough.

And why his lizard ran out

onto a rock

to flaunt himself in the sunshine.

But why

on a wet, wet day,

a newt should leave

her splendidly moist habitat

and venture hazardously

into the dry warmth of my kitchen,

that

I cannot understand.

And, of course she couldn’t explain.

 

 

Lynn...Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. Her poem ‘A Rose For Gaza’ was shortlisted for the Theatre Cloud ‘War Poetry for Today’ competition 2014. This and many other poems, have been widely published, in recent anthologies such as – ‘Alice In Wonderland’ by Silver Birch Press, ‘The Border Crossed Us’ and ‘Rise’ from Vagabond Press and journals such as Apogee, Firewords Quarterly, Indie Soleil, Light and Snapdragon as well as many other online and print publications.

The Hoopoes Are Back – Lynn White

 

The hoopoes are back,

even though

the walls and holes they liked to nest in

were destroyed by human nest builders

four years ago,

when there was a housing boom

and money to be made.

 

The hoopoes are back,

even though

the new holes and rubble they liked to nest in

were destroyed by human nest builders

three years ago,

even though,

there was no market for nests

and no money to be made.

 

The hoopoes are back,

even though

the new holes and rubble they liked to nest in

were washed away two years ago,

as the walls that stopped the storm flow

were destroyed by human nest builders,

to prepare the ground for money to be made.

 

The hoopoes are back,

even though

their nesting places are hidden, buried

under growing mountains of rubble brought

by the human nest builders a year ago

as there is no demand for human nests

and no money to be made, except from rubble.

 

Hey, the hoopoes are back! I’ve seen them!

The hoopoes are back!

 

 

 

Lynn...Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. Her poem ‘A Rose For Gaza’ was shortlisted for the Theatre Cloud ‘War Poetry for Today’ competition 2014. This and many other poems, have been widely published, in recent anthologies such as – ‘Alice In Wonderland’ by Silver Birch Press, ‘The Border Crossed Us’ and ‘Rise’ from Vagabond Press and journals such as Apogee, Firewords Quarterly, Indie Soleil, Light and Snapdragon as well as many other online and print publications.

The Crows – Candace Hartsuyker

 

The crows, inky black feathered dive and fly,

they are waiting for the dog to die.

The dog that used to hide 

in crevices and corners,

curled like a ball of yarn, 

afraid of feathers,

talons and shrieks.

 

The crows squawk and flap.

The dog sits, bones groaning

like the squeaking hinges on a rusty door,

Fur hanging off her body: carpet on a frame.

Gumless teeth refuse to eat,

head bows, a worn-out body thinks of sleep.

 

Magician crows never forget Bushtit,

Anna’s hummingbird, Yellow Warbler,

Mountain Chickadee, Cliff Swallow, Wrentit,

Western Bluebird, Mourning Dove, Sparrow,

California Quail, Mockingbird, Canary, Crow.

 

Conjuror crows never forget the dog

ears cocked forward, body still

slinking slowly, paws padding softly

crouching low, springing step, head shaking

back and forth, teeth breaking skin.

Bluish black feathers slick as oil. 

Wings spread out, claws curled. 

 

Trickster Crows never forget

Blood sunset skies, fractured wings,

eyes the color of a candle flame.

Death a god even crows can’t trick.

 

 

2017Candace_ProfilePicInspired by Margaret Atwood and Kelly Link, Candace Hartsuyker seeks to uncover hidden truths. She is a first-year fiction student in McNeese State University’s MFA Program.

Jacks – Lisa Reily

 

Scratched colours in the palm of your hand,

after many years, skilled in the art of hand flipping;

a jack rolls on the ground, another flung into the air

and caught once again; all five pieces collected

in one triumphant sweep of the hand; jacks

which long ago, were the bones of animals,

the knuckles of an unsuspecting beast.

 

 

Photo - Lisa ReilyLisa Reily is a former literacy consultant, dance director and teacher from Australia. She is now a budget traveller with two bags, one laptop and no particular home. You can find out more about Lisa at lisareily.wordpress.com.

fisherman – Ion Corcos

 

blue bay turns to white

scatters seagulls on the pier

 

splashes high on empty restaurants

onto rocks

 

a lone fisherman on an old cane chair

hot mountain tea on salted stone;

 

no man calls to long-haired goats

along the rugged path, no clinking bells

 

only a loose canvas flapping

a few dead fish in buckets

 

and a dying wind in the cove

 

 

Ion CorcosIon Corcos has been published in Grey Sparrow Journal, Clear Poetry, Communion, The High Window and other journals. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee. Ion is a nature lover and a supporter of animal rights. He is currently travelling indefinitely with his partner, Lisa. Ion’s website iswww.ioncorcos.wordpress.com.