Parkour – Daun Daemon

 

sailing through saplings

            claws clutching first one stem

                        swinging to another and another

            paws grasping winter’s bare branches

                        tail dancing and switching

the giddy squirrel flung itself

            into the berry bedecked holly nearby

                        deftly dodging the prickles

            finally kicking with its back legs

                        launching onto a tall pine tree

scrambling up rough bark

            stopping thirty feet off the ground

                        and barking at its competitor

            parked on the poplar nearby

 

I had never thought of trees

            as vertical obstacle courses

                        for athletic risk-taking squirrels

            showing off their kinetic prowess

                        their giddy sciurid confidence

or was it joyful desperation

            to navigate the world by vault

                        and leap from here to there

            as fast as we can with as few

                        scratches and falls as possible

even then to rise and climb,

            fall and roll, crawl, and run

                        around, across, over, under, and

            straight through to the moment

 

when we must stop

 


Daun Daemon’s fiction has appeared in Flock, Dead Mule School, Literally Stories, and Delmarva Review among others, and she has published poems in Third WednesdayTypehouse Literary Review, Remington Review, Deep South Magazine, Into the Void, Peeking Cat Literary, Amsterdam Quarterly, and other journals. Daemon is currently at work on a memoir in poetry as well as short stories inspired by memories of her mother’s home beauty shop. She teaches scientific communication at North Carolina State University and lives in Raleigh with her husband and two cats.

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The Plaque – Kate Whitehead

 

Aileen stands in the upstairs bedroom of the holiday home, sensing subtle traces of him: a faint sharp aroma of old spice, a musky hint of pipe tobacco. Dazzled by the surprise of another day’s sunshine, she peers down at the historical tableau: kids jumping from the high stone harbour walls, catapulting magically through space.

She reaches into the musty wardrobe for a pinstriped dress belted at the waist, pats her close coiled curls and applies the peachy orange lipstick. Strapped into beige high heeled sandals, she navigates the cobbles, steps lightly and confidently down the hill, greeting familiar faces with a casual nod.

If he were here today, she thinks, we would walk together, mad dogs in the noonday sun marvelling in unison at the fantastic summer that reminds us of 1976. In her solo state, this unexpected burst of blue brilliance only accentuates her sense of loss, twisted under the harsh glare.

Her foundation trickles down her right cheek, melting in the brightest sun of the day. She’s tempted to retreat into the cool cavern but doggedly continues her weekly constitutional, climbing the haphazard steps, breathlessly gulping at the still salt air.

Aileen rests for a moment at the top, scowls disapprovingly at the floating detritus, discarded takeaway boxes tangled in the early brambles. Her scowl falls into a small self-congratulatory smile as she admires the deceptively distant elegant grey contours of the holiday home, sandwiched proudly in the middle of the granite.

Huddled at one end of the splintered brown bench with the missing slat, a blonde woman sits clutching a small notebook.

“Sorry, should I move?” she asks, half grimacing, half smiling – Aileen can’t be sure.

“No, there’s more than enough room for the two of us,” Aileen drawls authoritatively.

The blonde woman scours her small trove of uncontroversial chit chat, talks about the weather for the tenth time that morning.

She’s called Alice and she lives in the village all year round, at the top of the hill.

Aileen half listens to Alice mulling over shards of a memory of him.

“Oh, just look at that time, I’m late for lunch!” Aileen exclaims, slicing into Alice’s monologue about autumn in the village.

Standing up dizzily, Aileen turns and notices it, larger, bolder, golder, recently screwed on: the second plaque, below her husband’s.

Aileen trembles, shocked and enraged at the blatant unbelievable audacity of this thing that’s appeared overnight.

She spits the words at Alice. “They can’t do this, not without my permission, this bench is ours, we paid 500 pounds to put the plaque there in his memory because he loved the village so much.

“I need to talk to someone about this, someone who knows I need an explanation.”

“So you own the bench, do you?” Alice mutters indignantly, resentful at being privy to such a morbidly intricate drama.

“Goodbye then, enjoy your day,” Aileen growls, slowly regaining her starchy composure.

Alice observes Aileen’s cautious descent back down the steps and over to the other side of the harbour, paralysed by an overpowering sense of gloom. She raises reluctantly from the bench, her daily dose of calm contaminated by the morbid nature of this revelation…

Aileen sits on a stool in her porch, unstraps her beige high heels, shuts her eyes and imbibes the familiar scent: dusty tomato plants mingled with the spicy cinnamon of her tiny purple orchids.

She can’t decide: will it be lunch first, then the stern phone call to the woman at the chapel, who knows everything, to get to the bottom of the troubling matter of the second plaque?

After a single glass of merlot, suffused with transient drowsy contentment, she wistfully recalls her husband’s easy-going good nature and lets it go, the matter of the second plaque. His words chime in her head, gently mocking.

“Well, what harm can it do, two plaques on the bench? I’m happy to be with the other fellow anyway.”

It’s the end of her solo summer sojourn in the holiday home, drifting through the huge rooms, relieved when the huge sun sinks leaving her shrouded in a comforting twilight blanket. She watches the evening news, tut-tutting at the relentless stupidity of it all, crochets for the grandchildren then slides gratefully under the lavender-scented sheets.

Alice seeks out a new bench for her morning calm the following day, on the other side of the harbour. It is slightly concealed by overhanging branches and next to an overflowing litter bin buzzing with flies. If she twists her head slightly to the right, she can see the golden yellow contours of her own home high up above the harbour. She reaches behind her, runs her hands along with the rough wood, relieved to find it unadorned, seized by an unexpected feeling of gratitude that time hasn’t outsmarted her yet.

 


Kate’s Whitehead’s short fiction often has a strong sense of place. She did gain a certificate in creative writing from Birkbeck but ultimately has gained more inspiration form reading widely and voraciously and listening to authors she admires talking about their approach to writing. Her writing has been published in online literary journals, fanzines and the print publications Confluence and Impspired.

Downtown after the offices let out – John Grey

 

Tall buildings cast overlapping shadows.

It’s night long before nighttime.

Last of the commuters catch their train, their bus.

Garages empty out.

The few inner city dwellers

lock and latch the doors

of their small fortresses.

At street level,

two men approach each other.

It’s dark. Identities are smudged.

Is it? No it can’t be?

Wasn’t he the one who… ?

And didn’t he…?

They nod as they pass –

recognition or just acknowledgment

that there’s no other in this world –

neither gives an indication.

Each hears footsteps

on the concrete sidewalk,

softer and softer,

farther and farther away.

Then all would be silent

if it weren’t for themselves.

But they don’t feel responsible,

just alone.

 


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Published in Nebo, Euphony, Columbia Review, Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.

Fluttering – Heather Walker

 

I notice the fluttering inside of me at the time the earth stands still. Equal day and night. I turn to the man sleeping with his back to me. The shape of him stirs me and the fluttering increases. I lie my head against him and he does not stir.

The fluttering reminds me of a butterfly whose wings knock against a closed window, yet I cannot open up and let you out. It is not yet time. The year dips into winter. Snow lines the windowsill. I breathe on the glass and draw a heart. How I long to be out in the fields once more.

I have not told him of the fluttering I feel inside. This is my secret and I have no wish to share it. I hug my arms around my stomach, shelter you, to reassure you.

As days move into months, I have not grown much, yet I feel your kick. I caress your movement, talk to you as I shower. Surely it will be soon. I have still not told him. How can I?

Spring comes with a burst of white and yellow. I walk the fields, my feet sodden with dew. Lifting my face to the sun, I ask it what I should do. When the pain begins, I rejoice seeking a hollow rather than return home where he will ask questions.

You are restless to escape and now cramps rage through me as you shift. I hunker down and push, bearing my weight and strength through the length of me. And then the slip-slide of body, membrane, mucus and blood onto the grass. You are all legs as you flounder. Your head turns and we make eye contact. I smile and stroke your body, still wet through. I lift you to the sun and name you Solar. Placing you at my feet, you dry off, all the while trying to find your feet. I hug you, nestle into your furriness, and place you to my breast.

He will never understand. I can never tell him of this. You are mine, and we shall run the fields together, just as I did before I met the human.

 


Heather Walker is a London based writer of poetry, flash and short fiction. Her work has appeared in various magazines, ezines and anthologies, including Paragraph Planet, Visual Verse, Ink Sweat & Tears, Seaborne and Popshop. Her novellas, Where It Ends and The Chair are available through Amazon.

Walking the Dales Way in Autumn – Ceinwen E. Cariad Haydon

 

Rain-glistened raised roots

emerald moss-coated stones

water spattered, spreading cow pats

slippery wooden footbridges

rocking, ancient stiles

with hard-sprung gates –

 

all conspire to tumble me as I walk

our old ways in these Dales

long swept by winds, storms,

artists’ eyes, mizzle and sunlight.

 

Somehow, I stay upright

and advance slowly, mindful

of the present moment

rich with overflows

of tricky beauty

as breezes waft smells of byre

and mulch of fallen, slithered leaves –

 

I find I am

unbalanced only by time

about to run out.

 


Ceinwen lives near Newcastle upon Tyne, UK and writes short stories and poetry. She is widely published in online magazines and in print anthologies. Her first chapbook is ‘Cerddi Bach’ [Little Poems], Hedgehog Press, July 2019. She is developing practice as participatory arts facilitator. She believes everyone’s voice counts.

seals’ dreamtime – Martin Potter

 

readier to roll about

than to drag seal-bulk

shingle-crunch climbing

the beach’s skirts

 

haul and lay their mass

press on the pebble bed

a bay’s broad outscouring

they bask the lull

 

when a pair of helpless eyes

pitch-bright in bristled snout

ratchets round in meeting

yours with sea-thoughts

 


Martin Potter (https://martinpotterpoet.home.blog) is a British-Colombian poet and academic, based in Manchester, and his poems have appeared in Acumen, The French Literary Review, Eborakon, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Poetry Village, and other journals. His pamphlet In the Particular was published in 2017.

Gaia’s Song – Claire Shaw

 

We start slow

Let the fire burn low

As the shadows grow

by Moon Mother’s glow

Wait

 

Lick the grease from our fingers

Breathe the smoke in that lingers

Wait

 

Test the ground with our feet

Wait for the beat

The thrum

Feel the life in the peat

The hum

We drum

 

We dance

fling the embers as we spin

a trance

there’s heat on our skin

a chance

to feel the fire burn within

 

and now we’re striped with sweat and dust

 

we’re dripping

with the scent of musk

heady incense

burning lust

 

and we are bound

to the sound

of the beat

that we found

at the hearth at the heart of the world

 


Claire Shaw is an emerging UK-born poet and author whose work has appeared in publications including Black Hare Press, The Dawntreader, Silkworm and Grimsy. She currently resides in The Netherlands with her husband and two cats and works in Digital Marketing. She loves to travel, practice her photography, and read like it’s going out of fashion.

diner – Tammy L. Breitweiser

 

A three day trip

A torn plastic booth

White stuffing protruding

From the wound.

Bandaged haphazardly with silver tape

 

The aroma of stirring coffee with a spoon

On day 16.

Fills my nose

But my mind is still on

Six driving hours and two time changes

 

Misty droplets roll in from the lake

The fog horn is not the sound

Which concerns me.

 

“I am four years old

The year I learn to lie,”

Says my little companion.

Elsa always told me

“Don’t get attached”

 

What else do you need?

“Pink marshmallow mountains”

You had a bowl of ice cream

I had a glass of tequila and lime.

 

We drive down Highway 90

The bridge from old life to new.

I grip the wheel and think about

All the times I have driven on this road

Where I was going and how

A boy started the whole thing.

 


Tammy L. Breitweiser writes, walks, inspires, and teaches. She is the conjurer of everyday magic with short concise poems and stories. Her fiction has been published in Gone Lawn, Cabinets of Heed, Spelk, Five on the Fifth, Clover and White, Fiction Berlin Kitchen, Shorts Magazine, and Elephants Never. She is the lead moderator for the Sarah Selecky Centered community and a teacher for the school.  You can connect with Tammy through IG @inspiretammyb.

Life with a View – John Short

 

Gascony

 

After we parted yesterday

the grass was dancing.

You’d wanted kind words

but I was happily silent.

 

Outside the old room

with flaking plaster walls

I sat on the porch

and watched young frogs

hop through vines.

 

Rough wine from oak barrels.

I drank it on the porch

as the world seemed to dance.

 

Beyond fields of maize

and bright yellow rapeseed

your village perches

with its pink roof jumble.

 

From the highest point

land shimmers like mirage.

We see for miles

to glacial mountains

ascending from the plain.

 


John Short studied Comparative Religion at Leeds University (UK) then spent many years in France, Spain and Greece doing a variety of jobs. In 2008 he returned to Liverpool and a couple of years later began submitting work to magazines. Now internationally published, he’s appeared in places like Pennine Platform, South Bank Poetry, London Grip, Ink Sweat & Tears, Envoi, French Literary Review and The High Window. In 2018 he was nominated for the Pushcart Prize by StepAway Magazine and has been featured twice as Poet of the Month on the Write Out Loud national poetry forum. He lives in Liverpool, is a member of Liver Bards and reads at local venues and beyond.

Palm Civet – Rahana K Ismail 

 

To Úrsula Iguarán

 

A mouth gnawing at the cemented floor.

The tail a sky of shadow. Between niches

mousing, a scratch of claws. Two eyes

planetting the room

 

of my conscience. Guilt can take on

many forms. As a hole

in the sprawl of air. A hole

that housed

 

a spear. A throat it makes around it.

A head it wedges in, the mesh

of bone and body it zeroes in on. The hand

that weaves into esparto grass.

 

Walking as a man does, sad

and searching

until you haunt courtyards

for the open faucet, or floorboards

for the ticking beetle,

or the telling heart in spite.

Ever since grandma told me, a civet cat

 

knocking over boxes of what I have

squirreled in my head.

 


Rahana K Ismail is a poet and doctor from Kozhikode, Kerala. Her work has been featured or is forthcoming in The Penn Review, Yearbook of Indian Poetry in English, nether Quarterly, Contemporary Haibun Online, Usawa Literary Review, POSIT, Io Literary Journal (Refractions), The Alchemy Spoon, Paradoxlit, Farmer-ish, Poetic Sun, Chakkar, Alipore Post, Aainanagar, Hakara, Verse of Silence, EKL Review, Pine Cone Review and elsewhere.

The Wave – Kristy Snedden

 

A wave curled over my bed

last night, fell into the center of my body,

surf ran through each cell.

The words I was saving for today

Washed away leaving empty space.

It was warm, like that glow around

The waning crescent moon.

 


Kristy Snedden has been a trauma psychotherapist for thirty-five plus years. She began writing poetry in June 2020. Her poem “Dementia,” was awarded an Honorable Mention in the 90th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition. Her work appears or is forthcoming in various journals and anthologies, most recently Snapdragon, Open Minds Quarterly, The Power Of The Pause Anthology, and The Examined Life. She is a student at Phillip Schultz’s Writers Studio. When she isn’t working, reading, or writing poetry, she can be found hiking in the Appalachian Mountains near her home or hanging out with her husband listening to their dogs tell tall tales.

Breakfast Club – Jeffrey Joseph

 

I take my daughter into Breakfast Club,

Tracksuit bottoms sparking as I force myself along,

And leg ends heavy with damp;

She skips beside me, taut with a promise of the new,

Her sentences long, long, her questions unanswerable,

Her laughter unanswerable.

 

In the busy, smelly, milk and plimsoll hall, she stands bemused –

Aware, perhaps, that something is changing,

Hearing across a span which I have lost

(Or, if not lost, forgotten),

The din of warring hopes.

 

Through the window I see her – a uniformed dot –

Move, unnoticed, to her place.

 


Jeffrey Joseph was born in London in 1952 and was educated at the University of York, University College Cardiff and at The Open University. He worked at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama before spending many years as Performance Manager at Trinity Laban Conservatoire. He is a heavily published musical journalist and poet. His music has been performed on the South Bank, at St John’s Smith Square, in Westminster Abbey, in the National Concert Hall in Dublin, throughout Europe and in Africa and the USA. He is published by Warwick Music/Hal Leonard Music and is distributed on-line by lulu.com.

Starlings – John Muro

 

Dispatched from dusk, an iridescent stubble

breaks over everything and lacquers the lawn,

and each inch of terrain becomes a mangle

of brunette sheen. Sodden acres are now

blanketed beneath a chattering with numbers

too vast for counting. In precipitous precision,

they rise, like a head-wind suddenly made

visible, quickly extinguishing any creases

of light as each bird binds itself to the whole,

keeping tightly to form as if something

foreign and intent on anarchy might displace

it and lead the murmuration astray, none

daring to pull opposite of their dark destiny

and fretful portage between earth and heaven.

 


A resident of Connecticut, John is a graduate of Trinity College, Wesleyan University and the University of Connecticut. In the Lilac Hour, his first volume of poems, was published in 2020 by Antrim House, and it is available on Amazon. His poems have been published, or are forthcoming, in journals including Euphony, Moria, Penumbra, River Heron, Sheepshead, Third WednesdayAmethyst Review, High WindowPoetica Review and the French Literary Review. John is also a two-time 2021 Pushcart Prize nominee.

Living with parents – Christiana Sasa

 

My mum and dad call me

many times a day.

we live in the

same house,

but on different floors

when I’m working,

I hate to get interrupted.

They understand me

and I, too, understand them.

still….

it often makes me

erupt in a yell,

“What’s wrong?”

“Don’t call me now please”;

but my heart sinks,

every time I react like that.

An emptiness

bites on my nerves.

I know

One day I’ll miss getting interrupted…

 


Christiana Sasa has been writing poetry for three years. Her work has been published in the literary magazines Poetry Life and Times, Literary Heist, Rye Whiskey Review etc. and in two E-zines called Dark Poetry Society and RavenCage. Besides poetry, she’s interested in painting, music, short films, and comedy.

The Tree – Daniel Tobias Behan

 

I spoke with

the tree-man,

and he told me

 

how deep his

roots buried

into the Earth;

 

connected

through moss,

rock, and soil,

to places far

and wide –

 

they held

knowledge

humanity had yet

to even consider.

 

His trunk, he

told me, contained

layers in concentric

rings, infused

 

with memories

of all people who

had passed

him by over

the years.

 

His branches,

he said,

kept secrets

of the birds,

 

who sang him

tales of their

dinosaur ancestors –

 

his leaves

communed, with

the sun,

wind, stars,

 

sky, and moon,

about the

state of affairs

across the galaxy.

 


Daniel Tobias Behan is a London born-and-based poet. From 2017 to 2019, Daniel performed regularly at the London Irish Centre, Camden; in 2018 Daniel was interviewed by the Irish Post as part of their London Calling podcast series, and in 2020 had a short film made of ‘The Visit’ featuring acclaimed actor Nora Connolly and directed by Patrick O’Mahony, was interviewed for Wombwell Rainbow, and commenced a poetry series ‘Findings’ on channillo.com.