Pomfret Pillars (For Chennai) – Udit Mahalingam

 

It is a Holi day:

Powdered clouds of purple

Stain a sky, drier than

The melange of rivers we found

 

Flushed out in an Indian sun.

There is a lady we

Affectionately call ‘aunty’,

Selling her piles

 

Of Pomfret at every boiled street end,

Her son, aimlessly stacking them

Higher than a sacred peak.

Their brutal fall

 

Into vestigial puddles

Effaces them.

He is a child of the land:

Ascending green, white and orange.

 

Bending back,

He unreels uninterested seconds,

Seeping away with

Coloured clouds…

 

20170114_123337000_iOSUdit Mahalingam is a teenager from Aughton, a small town on the border between Merseyside and Lancashire. He studies at Merchant Taylors Senior Boys School in Crosby. In addition to writing poetry, he spends his free time mulling over poems from the likes of Sylvia Plath to Robert Barrett Browning. There is never a time when he doesn’t have his nose stuck in a book! He aspires to have a beneficial effect on the world in whatever way possible, whether through voluntary work or through poetry and hopes to study English at degree level.

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Cityscape – Ali Jones

 

In concrete jungles, he dreams concrete trees,

to knock at his window in perfect cadences,

 

as night lowers the sky and curtains run their tracks.

He sees seeds lifted in the air, blown high

 

to ride with clouds, on moth wings and

twilight whispers. The trees have seen him,

 

they know where he sleeps, watch them lean in

and put their heads together, to show him

 

imagination and free thinking, without and within,

in grey skies, under a metal moon, a triumph of green.

 

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.

Darjeeling – Sudha Balagopal

 

The voice on the scratchy microphone announces a weather-related train delay. Rubbing cold hands, Jon makes his way to the station’s cafeteria. A petite young woman with high cheekbones sits at a table by the window; her hodgepodge bags lie strewn.

“May I?” he points to the vacant chair.

When she nods, he settles down, orders Darjeeling tea —fitting for Northeastern India. Despite grimy windows, the snow-capped Himalayas are breathtaking, clouds bobbing around majestic peaks.

“I’m Jon.” He rests his elbows on the table. “You’re from here?”

She resettles the woolen shawl over her shoulders. “I’m… Saya.” She gestures toward the mountains, says, “I’m from there,” in accented English.

“Lucky.”

She shrugs.

Tea arrives; he removes the cozy, pours himself a cup.

“I suppose your train’s delayed too? On your way home?” he asks.

“No.”

The tea is delicate, fragrant. She’s prickly.

“I’m heading further north.” He smiles, attempts humor. “Perhaps I’ll find Shangri-La.”

“Good luck.” She frowns. “You won’t have cell phones there, or internet. No movies or restaurants.”

She doesn’t like her mountain home?

He watches as she gathers her belongings and leaves the cafeteria.

***

Later, he spots her huddled against cutting wind, peering at the tracks on the opposite side of the platform. No trains on either side. More raspy words emerge from the microphone.

He pulls the hoodie over his head, approaches her.

“Hello, again!” He intends to inquire about his train.

She doesn’t turn around to look at him.

The wind swirls her words, attempts to take them. He thinks she says, “Go away!”

“Where?” He tries humor again.

“What?”

“I want to find out about this train delay. Please understand I’ve come a long way to see the Himalayas.”

“What you imagine isn’t… I can tell you my mountain village is closed, small, suffocating. The sameness…” She’s bitter; her nostrils quiver.

“I shouldn’t look for lost paradise?” He hopes his smile is disarming.

“You and your Shangri-La!” She turns to look at him, her cheeks red.

“What’s wrong with wanting to find it?” He pulls on gloves, drops the smile.

She glares at him. “It’s not real!”

Another incoherent announcement comes through the system. He tilts his head and closes his eyes to make sense of it.

When he opens them, she’s slipped away in her noiseless manner.

***

He walks into the station manager’s office. They tell him all trains, up and down, are canceled until tomorrow. He must find lodgings for the night.

A commotion as an older, heavy-set man bursts in. “Saya!” he yells, the single word wrapped in menace. Jon doesn’t understand the rest.

While officials attempt to calm the man, Jon’s eyes scour the platforms.

The sun weakens and heavy clouds gather. Soon, the mountains are obscured. Along with Saya, Shangri-La is lost in the horizon.

 

Author2.1Sudha Balagopal’s recent short fiction has appeared in Foliate Oak, Peacock Journal, Right Hand Pointing and Jellyfish Review among other journals. She is the author of a novel, A New Dawn, and two short story collections, There are Seven Notes and Missing and Other Stories. Read more at www.sudhabalagopal.com.

The Trawl – Robert Pelgrift

 

We stand on this sandy point in the bay,

where the channel races into squally seas,

knee deep in riffles that mirror the gray

of iron clouds rushed by the gusting breeze.

 

Partly clothed by the sea, I scarcely heed

the raw, bitter rain.  Balanced here, I stand,

and see schooling, swerving silversides lead

quick unseen hunters past our ledge of sand.

 

In their path, we stretch, then draw, our small seine,

and the wet, the chill, the gray, the chop recall

the old village ships, struck by gusts and spray

as they ploughed these waves.  And now once again,

we net our catch, as those ships dragged their trawl

of silver to the beach across the bay.

 

RYP JR picRobert Youngs Pelgrift, Jr. practiced law in New York City for many years and is now an editor for a legal publisher, working in New York City.  His poems have been published in various anthologies and in The Lyric, The Rotary Dial and The Galway Review.

Void – Lynn White

 

There are dark misty spaces

topped by the blackest clouds,

so that I can’t see into them.

I have always been afraid

of the monstrous beings

which may lurk there

waiting in the dark.

But now the mist

is lifting,

moving

away.

The cloud is becoming thinner,

allowing the light to penetrate.

Now I am even more afraid,

afraid of the light,

afraid

that it may reveal

not monsters, but

the bare boards

of emptiness.

 

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 on line and in print publications. Find her at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lynn-White-Poetry/1603675983213077 and lynnwhitepoetry.blogspot.com.

Spanish lace – Ann Christine Tabaka

 

Bare tree branches

Intricately intertwined

Giving the illusion of black Spanish lace

Reaching out

Across an angry sky

The fiery glow of sunset

Darkened by purple clouds

Accentuating the effect

Seductively drawing me in

Capturing me

In a mysterious web of imagination

Filling me

With awe

 

13221756_10206392177779458_3188055745494222119_nAnn Christine Tabaka is better known by her middle name, Chris. She has been writing poems and rhymes since she was fourteen. She was an artist, a chemist, and a personal trainer. Her poems are in the Contemporary Group’s anthology “Dandelion in a Vase of Roses,” and the poetry journals “Whispers,” “The Society of Classical Poets,” “Indiana Voice Journal,” “Halcyon Days Magazine,” and “Scarlet Leaf Review.”

New Haven – Michael A. Griffith

 

I miss the flowers of our old garden,

roses, foxglove, bleeding hearts, lilacs and lilies.

 

We had a garden that,

when tended well,

looked like part of Eden.

 

I have a new “our.”

You have a new “we.”

 

Both will start new gardens

and grow new things

as well as plant familiar flowers:

roses, bleeding hearts, lilies.

But enough new will grow

to make our own new paths to Eden.

 

Same sun, different rays, different light.

Different rainbows from opposite arcs.

Stars set in different ways in the same sky,

yours night while I see day.

 

Our own clouds upon which

to build new castles,

each its own

new haven for two.

 

14203237_10154314920188046_3424560890240457416_n-1Michael Griffith turned to poetry during a long stay in a nursing-care facilty to keep his mind healthy as his body grew healthier. So far poetry is doing the trick. He resides in Somerset County, NJ.

Ode to Bishop – Carl Boon

 

Late September means

the chickens—

 

in summer imperturbable—

scatter at the shack’s wall.

 

They sense a flesh confined

trucks moving away,

 

the ends of all things

hot and strange.

 

This evening the wind

has shifted; the vines

 

have browned, fall against

the boy’s summer plan:

 

a pyramid, a monument

to which he did not pray.

 

Mother tries the door.

The cat has perched atop

 

the Hyundai top,

a kind of porch,

 

and symbols here have pushed

away to need—tin foil

 

makes a drape, branches

of fig to fence the strays.

 

When the rains come,

the girl, barely old enough

 

to lie, will gather armfuls

of rocks, wishing they were clouds.

 

cb-picCarl Boon lives in Izmir, Turkey, where he teaches courses in American culture and literature at 9 Eylül University. His poems appear in dozens of magazines, most recently Burnt Pine, Two Peach, Lunch Ticket, and Poetry Quarterly. He is also a 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee.

Clothespole – Catherine Zickgraf

 

Mother used to spin from the stem of our old clothespole,

except as the paint dried at the first stirring of springtime.

 

Great-Grandpop strung rope from garage roof to porch hook

to shake out the clouds of socks and towels.

 

He built our homestead which still stands after decades—

though he’s long-buried, he’s a hero in mirrors and frames.

 

Great-Grandmom used to pin me too to swing from her lines

and I’d fling legs out and back

in the cirrus shapes stretched where wind flew her flags.

 

Circling our old clothespole in grass dark as pine,

Mother and I, both in our times, scaled the air to touch

the sunshine between us and abundant depths of sky.

 

me-and-grandmoms-picCatherine Zickgraf has performed her poetry in Madrid, San Juan, and three dozen other cities, but now her main jobs are to hang out with her family and write poetry. Her work has appeared in Journal of the American Medical Association, Pank, Victorian Violet Press, and The Grief Diaries. Her new chapbook, Soul Full of Eye, is published through Aldrich Press and is available on Amazon.com. Watch and read more of her poetry at http://caththegreat.blogspot.com.

Unfinished breakfast – Roma Havers

 

Cold burnt toast waits in dawn light

for a kettle shriek,

porridge stains hob-tops,

stiff boils emerge into oaty alps,

a lung faints above clouds

as her tongue lolls onto stone tiles;

last kiss into dirt and breadcrumbs,

A rib cracks in a gust of air,

lets out a tire hiss;

 

the cat flap swings in spring air

and paws tread prints into her snow-flesh,

veins mark snakes and ladders under claws,

purring, its soft head dings at a dead arm

and licks a line from ear to throat,

the wet skin does not move

 

like a pond where freeze takes hold

and goldfish hang

mouths open, in the glass,

the cat scrapes at the surface,

starved for fish.

One last tear melts down her,

red with life,

and the kettle sings mourning blues.

 

roma-haversRoma Havers is a Manchester-based poet, currently in her third year of an Drama and English degree at The University of Manchester where she is the Books Editor for The Mancunion and Chair of the Creative Writing Society. She performs regularly at spoken word nights, and events such as Reclaim the Night and UniPresents.