Musings on my 49th birthday and my eccentric, slightly worn-out body – Claire Sexton

 

I’m 49 years old and I’ve just decided that I like my body.

I like my deep-set eyes; the ones that make people think I am something

I am not; an accident of genetics; an unexplained phenomenon.

 

I like my crooked nail and my birthmark that looks like a permanent

bruise; inflicted by a pugilist god.

Like my flesh is showcasing my emotional vulnerability. My perceived tenderness.

 

I like my freckles and my age spots too. I like my knobbly knees and

elbows, my tendency to put on weight

sideways, not front-ways. Like a wobbly Welsh dresser, or iced custard tart.

 

I like my Irish colouring. So pale that make-up never quite produces

a shade light enough. Never accounts

for the least brazen amongst us. Always, still, venerates the fake-golden calf.

 

I even like my teeth, with their precarious overhang, and odd, eclectic vibe.

Like an informal wake, or

an overture of broken, slightly unpredictable, but still cherished, individuals.

 

I like my backwards glance, my gallows humour, my department store

trauma, and my elevator musak – my

creative flow. Singing in the bath and talking to cats. Like a glamorous diva.

 

I like my body. I like its quirky knobs and buttons, its tatty china cups and

clattering-lid teapot.

And finally, I like the fact that it keeps on going. I like the fact I’m still alive.

 

 

 

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.

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Belly Button – Belinda Rimmer

 

On days so dark

I think only of eclipses

my fingers ache from probing

as I try to find a fragment

of my mother

inside my belly button.

 

One small discovery

and we could be reconciled.

Hours with only fluff

and other debris to show.

My belly feels sore, tight.

 

Nothing prepares me

for a seahorse,

a bloody seahorse,

stuck part way out,

tail hooked.

I ease it onto my chest.

 

In a bowl of salty water

it bobs about, happily.

 

What is it trying to tell me?

 

To forget the whole nurturing business,

focus on making your own way

or get what you need from books,

there are plenty of good mothers (and fathers)

lurking within the pages.

 

Note: Male seahorses give birth; neither parent care for their young.

 

 

Profile18Belinda has had a varied career: psychiatric nurse, counsellor, lecturer and creative arts practitioner. Her poems have appeared in magazines, for example, Brittle Star, Dream Catcher, ARTEMISpoetry and Obsessed with Pipework. She has poems on-line and in anthologies. She won the Poetry in Motion Competition to turn her poem into a film and read at the Cheltenham Literature Festival. You can find her at belindarimmer.com.

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.

Worlds Apart – Deborah Guzzi

 

beneath my skin

milk flows like fire:

today I have eaten

 

my daughter’s mouth pulls

her hands knead my breast, her world

deep brown eyes hidden

long black lashes flutter closed

no more but she suckles on

 

in the shade we sit

beside the hotel’s grand door:

no coins in my bowl

 

 

 

debbie 3aDeborah Guzzi writes full time and travels for inspiration. Her third book The Hurricane is available through Prolific Press and at aleezadelta@aol.com. Her poetry appears in: Allegro Poetry Magazine and Artificium in the UK, Existere – Journal of Arts and Literature and Scarlet Leaf Review, Canada – Tincture, Australia – Cha: Asian Literary Review, China – Eunoia in Singapore – Vine Leaves Literary Journal – Greece, mgv2>publishing – France, and Ribbons: Tanka Society of America, pioneertown, Sounding Review, Bacopa Literary Review, Shooter, The Aurorean, Crack the Spine Literary Magazine, Liquid Imagination, Concis, The Tishman Review, Page & Spine & others in the USA. the-hurricanedg.com.

Earthquake – Susan Richardson

 

The earth rolls beneath my feet, a wave

carrying me across the courtyard.

I sink into his mouth.

Afternoon erupts with fear as the

ground spits back its shaking aftermath.

Sunburned pavement cracks in his grasp.

Evening whispers its descent,

peppering the sky with darkened clouds.

Far below, the world stands still.

 

 

 

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.

We Will Not Wander More – Louise Wilford

 

We will not wander more. No lotus-blossom keeps

us in our seats, but just the glitter on the wall that seeps

 

into our souls. We love the soothing lullabies of lies

and loss that roll like waves of smoke across our eyes.

 

These padded gondolas will rest our limbs. Our long

hallucinations glow like pearls. Here sounds our final song. 

 

The dying skeletons of ships float by above,

but here we rest, below – bereft of love.

 

The sob of marriage split, of love betrayed,

of feuds and frauds and factions – all displayed

 

in widescreen, stretching thought just broad and high

enough for skimpy hearts and those who’re wide of eye.

 

 

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.

Honest Hands – Susan Richardson

 

If he is the rain, then I am gravel,

parched under the embers of shame,

longing for the relief of him.

He washes the soot of loneliness

from my skin and offers me comfort.

 

Irish blood and bones, he is

the son of verdant landscapes,

shared pints of stout and fierce loyalty.

He navigates life vigorously

and laughs with his whole body.

 

His voice carries the tones of Autumn,

rich with the luster of unravelling gold.

I sink into the warmth of his words as

he helps stitch my broken limbs

with threads offered from his heart.

 

I remember so clearly the night

he wrapped his arms willingly

around my imperfections.

It was the first time I was

touched by honest hands.

 

 

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.

The Sun and the Moon Dance – Deborah Guzzi

 

Father sits zashiki* across from mother

at a low table in a rice paper walled room—

the moon, Tsuki-Yomi, to her sun.

His eyes crinkle—rays on ice in moonlight.

Mother, Amaterasu, named for the Goddess

returns his smile. Her newlywed

countenance warms him.

 

snow slides from

the ryokan’s roof:

udon steams

 

His chopsticks dance

to and fro, from the sushi to her

lips in an ageless ritual,

pink roe from an ivory stalk,

she licks.

 

the inside door

to the bathhouse stands open:

the hall is too long

 

 

*zashiki – in the tatami room

 

 

debbie 3aDeborah Guzzi writes full time and travels for inspiration. Her third book The Hurricane is available through Prolific Press and at aleezadelta@aol.com. Her poetry appears in: Allegro Poetry Magazine and Artificium in the UK, Existere – Journal of Arts and Literature and Scarlet Leaf Review, Canada – Tincture, Australia – Cha: Asian Literary Review, China – Eunoia in Singapore – Vine Leaves Literary Journal – Greece, mgv2>publishing – France, and Ribbons: Tanka Society of America, pioneertown, Sounding Review, Bacopa Literary Review, Shooter, The Aurorean, Crack the Spine Literary Magazine, Liquid Imagination, Concis, The Tishman Review, Page & Spine & others in the USA. the-hurricanedg.com.

Postcard from Fiesole – Diana Devlin

 

Far away,

I see you best:

fresh as a blood orange

when I close my eyes.

Your breath on my neck,

as warm as toasted walnuts,

trickles through olive trees.

I sit in the shade

and sip the ruby elixir

of you.

 

 

IMG_4511Diana Devlin is a Scottish-Italian poet living near Loch Lomond. A former translator, lexicographer and teacher, Diana now writes full time and shares her life with a husband, two daughters, a Jack Russell and two eccentric cats. Her work has been published both online and in print and she is working towards her first collection. She is a member of several writing groups and enjoys sharing her poetry at public events.

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.

Missing You – Lisa Reily

 

Raspberry and mango bougainvilleas, the tang of guava,

an orange and silver carp on a Balinese path, breathing

its last breath of hope, for someone to save it.

 

Pomegranate seeds popped into your mouth

dribble down your cheek to stain your new white pants;

your snow-teeth bite into watermelon, crumbling

from its watery pink into water itself.

 

My love for you is a crisp yellow pineapple, pale seaweed

dabbled in sunlight, the musky pink of my fingernails;

blue-grey dolphins, white baby seal love, the emerald sun

and the cool green sky; a tortoise underwater, an ache of forever,

 

a smiling purple dog; a yearning unresolved.

 

 

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.

Jet – Claire Walker

 

So much mourning.

We brooch it over our hearts,

wear it tight around throats.

 

We fold into our rosaries,

each bead a black prayer

shovelled through aching fingers.

 

This type of coal smokes

around our wrists,

forges itself into chains.

 

We have mined so long

even gemstones grow brittle

against our grief. It splits,

cracks like bark in a blaze.

 

 

12718029_871924849596518_4897711566017020968_n (1)Claire Walker’s poetry has been published in magazines, anthologies and webzines including The Interpreter’s House, Prole, Ink Sweat and Tears, The Poetry Shed, and The Chronicles of Eve. She is a Reader for Three Drops Press, and Co-Editor of Atrium poetry webzine. Her first pamphlet – The Girl Who Grew Into a Crocodile – was published by V. Press in 2015, and a second – Somewhere Between Rose and Black – will follow in December 2017.

Hooked – Kristin Garth

 

I swim around your boat for days before

I catch your eye. On deck, the sun so bright

it blocks your face just long enough to lure

my head around these blinding rays and right

into your pirate heart. My tail begins

to flip against the waves, and I cannot

pretend I don’t belong to you. The end

for me is not a hook or net. You caught

me with a look. My trembling hands descend,

before my captain now. Your hook overcomes

exposes half a girl. My piscine end

on board transformed, subdued. The sun

so warm against us while we rock and float.

New legs you touch first, always on this boat.

 

 

unnamed (1)Kristin Garth is a poet from Pensacola. Her poetry has been featured in Anti-Heroin Chic, Fourth & Sycamore, Mookychick, Moonchild Magazine, Occulum, Faded Out and many other publications. Follow her on Twitter: @lolaandjolie and her website: kristingarth.wordpress.com.

Occurrences – Kitty Coles

 

I think you are returning, cell by cell.

At night, sometimes, I note the air arrange

itself the way it would when you entered

a room, the floor boards stirring at

your unseen tread, the house exhaling.

 

Dark thickens and I sense you winding,

winding, its fibres tight, making a rope

to reach me, stretching yourself across

its molecules, to gift me with a breath,

a dream, a shadow of your shape.

 

You’re learning tricks for bridging time

and distance. You heat me with your eyes

when mine are closed though, when the lids fly up,

there’s nothing of you except a footprint

hollowing the carpet, some disarray

 

among the bed covers. This morning,

I opened a book and found a hair

between the pages, dark like yours, and my

heart wrenched itself free and moved around my body,

the way that only you can make it move.

 

My limbs are marked with violet-coloured bruises

like little blossoms the size of fingertips.

You send me messages in newspapers

and in the way leaves fall, the calls of birds.

My spit is thickened with the taste of you.

 

 

Kitty Coles headshotKitty is one of the two winners of the Indigo Dreams Pamphlet Prize 2016 and her debut pamphlet, Seal Wife, was published in September 2017.