Peach Pit – Kara Goughnour

 

The thunder was growling

like any defenseless thing

and the birds flew in circles

over our heads. Everything

was tired; the branches lied

vine-like over the rain-slick

street like lost shoelaces

inching back into pairs,

and we bent our boredom

to the back burner in origami

folds. The whole store sat unnoticed

which, to the lot of us, led

to a collective unrest.

I tucked the worn rags into water

and you, with your names

I’ll forget easily when it’s time,

cleared the mold off

of every peach. These days,

in my monotony,

I am a thing capable of rotting,

scared or stoned, a still-stemmed

stone fruit already molding,

before the bird wings catch

in the fence snares, before

the stars yelp back to life,

before anyone can taste it,

before anyone would care.

 

 

Photo Jun 12, 9 13 09 PMKara Goughnour is a writer and documentarian living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They are the author of “Mixed Tapes,” forthcoming in the Ghost City Press Summer 2019 Micro-Chap Series. They are the recipient of the 2018 Gerald Stern Poetry Award, and have work published or forthcoming in The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Third Point Press, and over forty others. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram @kara_goughnour or read their collected and exclusive works at karagoughnour.com.

Skomer – Rebecca Gethin

 

Above the cliffs a swarm

of sea birds circles

the cinched waist of the island

a nimbus of puffins and auks

flying higher, faster,

almost silent except for beating wings –

a dervish dance

a typhoon rooted in one place

a lighthouse beam of dark motes

a spell to herald darkness

praise for another day of incubation

this ritual of summer evenings

and my small white face

watching from the bobbing boat.

 

 

unnamed 1Rebecca Gethin lives in Devon. She was a winner in the first Coast to Coast to Coast pamphlet competition with Messages. A pamphlet about endangered creatures called Vanishings is due to  be published by Palewell Press in 2020. Two pamphlets were published in 2017: A Sprig of Rowan by Three Drops Press and All the Time in the World by Cinnamon Press who previously published a collection and two novels. She has been a Hawthornden Fellow and undertook a residency at Brisons Veor in 2018. Find more at www.rebeccagethin.wordpress.com.

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.

Old sludge beds – Mark Totterdell

 

The former sewage settlement lagoons,

a wasteland wedged between the river’s curves

and an elbow of equivalent canal,

have been recolonised by sedges,

by bulrushes releasing feathered seeds,

by tall blond reeds in broad stands, rustling

with unseen life, suspicious scurryings.

 

From leafless trees, the great tits and song thrushes

are cleanly piping out, respectively,

their simple and their complex repetitions.

Close your eyes and you can almost see

the sounds as clear distinctive prints

cutting into the greyish sludge that spreads

everywhere from the traffic on the bridge.

 

 

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).

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.

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).

Sequoias And Storms – Paul Waring

 

Sequoias reach out

ready to receive storms—

passive as priests at confession—

 

watch widow-black mass

clouds gather to grieve

drum-heavy tension

into open-mouthed leaves.

 

Array of outstretched arms—

a vein-artery-capillary

neural network that funnels

into unquenchable quarry

of skyscraper roots.

 

After rain, life resumes—

itchy bark beetle, fleet-footed

squirrels in stop-start relays.

 

An air-cleansed chorus—

warbler, tanager and nuthatch notes,

echoed rata-tat-tat woodpecker beat.

 

 

 

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.

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.

Plastic Wing Beats – Beth O’Brien

 

Bird wings beat in a tree nearby

and it sounds like someone is repeatedly shaking

a 10p bag.

Not a flimsy 5p one, or a sturdy bag-for-life,

but the one in between.

 

I realise I know more about plastic bags than bird life

and think it is sad I’m comparing something natural

to something that isn’t,

because I’m sure it should be the other way around;

 

but I have never thought a carrier bag

sounded like wing beats before –

and I still don’t.

 

 

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!

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.

Fear of flying and other forays into the unknown – Claire Sexton

 

Don’t start with doubt and dissension. Don’t walk that tortuous plank right now.

Raise your head skyward and contemplate the birds – flying without a hint of reservation or restraint.

Self-consciousness has no meaning for them.

No avian ever fell from the sky because of overthinking; plunged earthward with their head in their wings – shouting ‘where did it all go wrong?’

But here I am undercutting my resolve with insidious doubts and oscillations – a suitcase of distraction and a rucksack of denials. A poker iron to stoke the flames.

I light my candles and repeat my affirmations. Yes, today I would like to travel first class. Today I would like to watch a movie and lay my head back in my chair.

I’d like muffins and fresh rolls please. Carbohydrates, and polite conversation. A perfect aptitude for give and take. Delays that do not make me sweat and toil.

Most of all I would like to taste the tranquility of knowing I have made progress. I have left the house. I have washed my face. I have all my documents, and time to spare.

Firefighters and first aiders will no longer be required.

 

 

Foxglove picClaire Sexton is a forty-something librarian living and working in London. She also writes poetry and occasionally creative non-fiction. She has been published in Ink, Sweat and Tears, Foxglove Journal, Amaryllis, Stare’s Nest, Peeking Cat Poetry and other magazines. She has just adopted a magnificent tortie cat called Queenie.

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.

Coldharbour Lane – Rebecca Metcalfe

 

You drive to the end of the lane. Past the rice factory, the seafood processing plant, the paper factory, the chemical works, the pharmaceutical plant. Grey upon grey upon grey sails past your car window and then disappears into your rear-view mirror as you drive further down the lane. You reach the turning at the end of the lane, the road narrows and there are dense bushes either side. You reach the carpark at the end, and you see the river. The wide, grey river where the tide beats endlessly on, eastwards. Mud lines the banks on both sides, thick, stinking mud that will never clean off. The footprints snaking across this ooze show the steps took by recently-flown wading birds that are now no longer to be seen. A bit closer to the water, the hulking mass of the concrete barges, leftover from some war long past, sit and refuse to rot, only crumble slowly. Then there’s the metal statue of a diver, who looks like a cage and crawls out of the water whenever the tide is going out. He will never reach the bank. The water of the river is violent and boats jolt along it. Police boats or cargo boats carrying industrial containers in and out of the city. Going eastward, they are on the very edges of the city now. The factory smoke mixes with the clouds and they roll across the paleness along with the tide, heading out to sea and waiting to hit the vast East Anglian sky.

 

 

22752130_10210178275199633_1006394601_nRebecca Metcalfe is a 22-year-old student and writer from Essex. She did her undergraduate degree at the University of Chester and is now studying for an MA in Victorian Literature from the University of Liverpool. She has been published in Pandora’s Box, Flash: The International Short Story Magazine and in the Electric Reads Young Writers’ Anthology 2017.