Rose Tinted Glasses – Susan Richardson

 

The experts say my disease is genetic.

It spreads across families without discrimination

and taps randomly on the shoulders of children,

condemning them to a life of waiting for

the world to become shadows and pitch.

 

I stand alone with my dying retinas,

cocooned in the muslin of a fading canvas.

I have searched for a family connection,

a blood born comrade in a life of darkness,

but they tell me there is no one.

 

As the years pass and my vision

careens down a steep precipice, I

remember stories of a paternal grandfather

I never knew; a good dancer with sensitive eyes,

who always wore rose tinted glasses.

 

He was only 32 when he died, leaving

my grandmother to turn him into legend,

and my father to fend for himself

against the grief of a broken mother.

The secrets of his blood are caged in mystery.

 

Did my grandfather pass down the

genetic code that chains me to blindness?

Are my eyes a reflection of his own?

I hold desperately to the idea that he is the link,

but in my family, legends don’t go blind.

 

 

IMG_0069Susan Richardson is living, writing and going blind in Hollywood. Much of her work focuses on her experiences as a partially sighted woman in a sprawling urban environment. Her work has been published in Free Lunch, The Old Red Kimono, Stepping Stones Magazine, Wildflower Muse, The Furious Gazelle, The Hungry Chimera, Sheila–Na- Gig and Chantarelle’s Notebook. In addition to poetry and creative non-fiction, she writes a blog called “Stories from the Edge of Blindness”.

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Two Women at a Window – Maurice Devitt

 

after Bartolomé Esteban Murillo

 

Their eyes betray nothing

of what might have gone before.

Were they caught in a cat-fight

over a dress, borrowed

but never returned, or a letter,

steamed open and hastily re-sealed –

news that could not be unseen,

the final link in a chain

of stolen glances, whispered words

and footsteps quickening

on the wooden stairs?

 

Or had they lost the morning

to impatience and panic,

the constant cling of call-bells,

paths crossing like ghosts

in voiceless corridors?

 

Either way they will slip back

into their lives,

the feelings they had shelved

will return,

and we will never know

what words were spoken

in the half-eaten silence.

 

Personal PhotoRunner-up in The Interpreter’s House Poetry Competition in 2017, Maurice Devitt was winner of the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland Competition in 2015 and has been placed or shortlisted in many competitions including the Patrick Kavanagh Award, Listowel Collection Competition, Over the Edge New Writer Competition, Cuirt New Writing Award, Cork Literary Review  and the Doire Press International Chapbook Competition. He has had poems published in Ireland, England, Scotland, the US, Mexico, Romania, India and Australia, runs the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site and is a founder member of the Hibernian Writers’ Group.

Reel Life – Chrissi Sepe

 

Why did I choose “Dance of the Dwarfs” when my dad’s best friend, Elijah, had me perform piano for his new friend? This stranger was a glum man with a blonde bowl haircut and bangs: the spitting image of Paul Williams.

“You must listen to her play!” Elijah said. “She’s a child prodigy!”’

My piano teacher gave me the song only hours earlier. What made me think I could play it? My fingers fumbled, and I knew I was horrible.

“Always a pleasure,” Elijah said.

Elijah had heard me play dozens of times. I gazed up at Paul Williams from the piano bench. He simply nodded.

“Why don’t you sit in with us in your dad’s studio?” Elijah asked.

The studio was actually my parents’ bedroom where my dad kept his reel-to-reel machine. There were seven people already crammed around the double bed, all facing the reel-to-reel that stood to the side of the room on a small, wooden table. Everyone focused on the melodic music of trumpets, drums, guitars, and the sweetest voice that ever emanated from a woman: Marcy with the beautiful, long, blonde hair. She had a tiny brown, cut out leather purse strapped around her gold turtleneck sweater and those Indian moccasins that dominated the streets of the 1970’s. Elijah closed his eyes as we listened to the song written by my dad.

“Beautiful! Bravo!” Elijah said, eyes now open, his hands applauding loudly.

“You are an amazing singer!” my dad exclaimed, turning to Marcy.

My heart gently sank because my dad never complimented anyone on their singing. He was a singer himself, therefore a harsh critic.

Back in the living room, my mom sat on our couch, reading a magazine. I sensed that she didn’t like when musicians hung out in her bedroom on a weeknight. Why did she want to spoil the fun?

“Mom?” I asked. “Why do you think Elijah closed his eyes while the song played?”

“It helps people listen to the music better.”

I was surprised she had an answer.

Several years later when I was a teen, my dad died, and Marcy sent us a condolence card. I told Elijah how thoughtful that was.

“Oh yeah, Marcy! She blamed me for not contacting her to tell her how sick your dad was. She’d heard from someone else that he’d passed. I hadn’t heard from the woman in years, and she reams me out?!”

When my mom tossed out most of the sympathy cards, I grabbed Marcy’s from the pile and brought it into my bedroom. I cradled it in my hands.

Over the years, I’ve mostly remembered how my dad complimented Marcy’s voice and how Paul Williams only nodded after I’d played my song. What I should carry more closely in my heart is how Elijah invited me to hear my dad’s reel-to-reels. And how my mom knew exactly how to answer the question of why Elijah’s eyes were closed when he listened to the music.

 

unnamedChrissi Sepe is the author of novels, “Bliss, Bliss, Bliss,” and “Iggy Gorgess.” Her essay “Anais Nin – A Recipe for Immortality” appears in Volume 13 of the Anais Nin Literary Journal, and her short story, “Caramel Macchiatos and Conversation,” is in Volume 14, both published by Sky Blue Press.

A Day Unresolved – Ray Miller

 

So un-asleep, the sheet’s

a beach of footprints

waiting for the tide.

 

Question-marked, crucified,

an inquisition

scales her eyes.

 

Wincing at infinities,

she picks a spot

and stares at it.

 

Each star a prick,

a javelin

thrown across the centuries.

 

She holds her breath

and waits the pin

before light breaks

 

her open skin.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARay Miller has been writing poetry about 10 years on a regular basis and has appeared in lots of magazines – Antiphon, Snakeskin, Prole, Open Mouse. He is an ex-psychiatric nurse, now retired. He has a marvellous wife and 8 children, 4 of whom are adopted.

The Bedside Book of Renewal – Glen Armstrong

 

This is the story of joy and color.

_

The mystery girl’s heart

where shines a strange

history,

where tears stain latex.

The blurb on the back promises:

so real that you’ll feel

it on your skin.

It tells the truth more often

than you’d think.

She is completely eyes and hands.

While others speak in tongues

at the riverfront,

their divine proclamations

peppered with otherworldly

curses,

she looks at the moon

and we all forget

the seemingly endless moons

leading up to this moment.

Armstrong

Glen Armstrong holds an MFA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and teaches writing at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. He edits a poetry journal called Cruel Garters and has three recent chapbooks: Set List (Bitchin Kitsch,) In Stone and The Most Awkward Silence of All (both Cruel Garters Press.) His work has appeared in Poetry Northwest, Picaroon Poetry and Cream City Review.

Dragonfly – Lynn White

 

It was so beautiful,

gleaming huge and iridescent

gold and green and blue and black.

With wings that should have been clear,

filled with shining rainbows

not like this, twisted at strange angles

and dulled with sticky silk.

Not stuck there waiting

to be prepared for some spider’s supper.

 

I held it gently

and took it from the web.

I carefully removed the sticky silk

and saw the rainbows sparkle as they should,

saw its eyes brighten and gleam

with the prospect of freedom.

It took a while, this disentanglement,

a delicate task to free this fragile creature.

 

And when it was ready,

I opened my fingers and

let it fly away.

It bit me then.

No parting kiss,

but a bite that

left a bruise.

Such gratitude!

 

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.

The Owl – Sanja Dragojlov

 

Nyctophilia wreathes his senses

while reticent night takes him

in her loving embrace

b.l.i.n.k.i.n.g yellow eyes

burning stars

survey his

complacent kingdom

everything is his

and yet not.

 

Movement catches

his intelligent eyes

his heart shaped face twists, turns

and like a lightning strike

he flies

silent and deadly

he tears, shreds, claws, rips

until mouse dissolves in a

travesty of flesh and fur

for this is

his kingdom.

 

At least

until the silver king

Descends his throne

for a more worthy heiress.

 

sanjapicSanja Dragojlov is a final year Ph.D. student at Cardiff University in EU Politics. She is also the author of Amaranth (Demon City Chronicles), President of the Creative Writing Society at Cardiff University and the Creative Editor for Quench magazine. In her spare time, she also enjoys traveling, reading and learning a new language. She speaks five at the moment which include Serbian, Spanish, Italian, Croatian and French.

Kharon’s Glimmer – Danielle Dix

 

Silver in your eyes

spinning dimes

reflecting light

projecting your fall of night

flashing chrome against the hue

of electric blue

in you

and yours against mine catching

the shine of those specks

echoing death

and out from within

without their spin

the ferryman’s bill

the silver still

 

2016-11-13 07.13.17Danielle Dix is a poet with a tendency to focus on the challenges that people create within themselves. She is ruled by her impulsive nature, drools for travel, and is compiling a set of poems that she hopes will not fall prey to abandonment in a cardboard box. She tweets at @DanielleNoelDix.

Hillside – Ella Kennett

 

I stride up the green staircase,

Its steep struggling surface

is a workout for the lungs.

Never mind the breath of the sky,

holding me hostage in its grip.

 

Adventure calls like the howling of wolves,

and though our fingertips

have conceded to the cold

Having a hand to hold,

exposes skin to expedition

and makes us immune

to the climate,

as we climb higher.

 

Laughter echoes down the rabbit hole.

I’m an animal for your attention,

clawing at your love

Like a fox in the night,

searching for prey.

 

The views up here

are high and mighty

but you, the antidote

are much more beautiful,

than what my eyes can describe.

 

ek-picElla is an 18-year-old A Level student from Kent, England who loves music and film alongside literature. She hopes to study English Literature and Creative Writing at university after she finishes her last year at school. She writes at ellagkpoetry on Instagram.

Walking – Allison Grayhurst

 

A grain I throw

in the water, floating, ready to

sink. I see you – thin as anyone

must be living on such an edge – tense

and tired of holding your breath. So many years –

a raging prophet, flailing your limbs

to keep the barnacles off, to keep the ones you love

close and to keep your mission in perfect purity.

 

These days the summer is dried spit on the pavement.

It opens my eyes to the struggle everywhere – pigeons

waiting for water, children running up the dry incline,

facing a bridge, the great restructuring.

 

You, riding the gilded wing – love is like the Earth’s dirt,

necessary, elemental, and its smell, saturated with memories.

I love you: Sometimes it is easy.

Sometimes I am a woman in God’s funnel cloud,

bending back to look, but seeing only storm.

 

allison-grayhurst-profile-picture-2016Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Three times nominated for Sundress Publications “Best of the Net” 2015, she has over 950 poems published in over 400 international journals. She has twelve published books of poetry, seven collections, nine chapbooks, and a chapbook pending publication. She lives in Toronto with her family. She is a vegan. She also sculpts, working with clay. Learn more at www.allisongrayhurst.com.

Pumpkin Breath – John Michael Flynn

 

Across my palms, skin has swelled in lumps

crackled like these pumpkins around us.

I try to lift one and imagine the face I’ll carve.

A pebbled orange orb, it drops rotten from its hooked stem.

Its smell is foul, its seeded shards like wet pottery.

Not that one, but there are others to bring home.

 

We walk further down the row. Around us, blue hills rise.

I fall out of rank from the explosive legion

of voices that tends to invade quietude in such settings.

I squeeze my wife’s hand, hear again a word I cannot define.

It’s like an aunt dead and buried,

the one I’ve got a picture of but have never met.

 

What is it about such a word and its elusive associations?

I pause a moment. Neither of us speak.

We watch a small wind lift dust and fumes of fertilized soil.

I turn to her. She smiles shading her eyes from autumnal light.

Ambiguities remain. Doubts will come and go.

Ephemeral simplicities renew us.

 

headshotjohnmflynnIn 2015, John Michael Flynn was an English Language Fellow with the US State Department at the Far Eastern State University in Khabarovsk, Russia. He is now back home in Virginia, where he teaches English part-time at Piedmont Virginia Community College. His most recent poetry collection, Keepers Meet Questing Eyes, is available from Leaf Garden Press. You can learn more about John and his published work at www.basilrosa.com.

Taxonomy – Caitlin Johnson

 

Domain: Eukaryota

It’s not just the nucleus:

it’s the membrane-envelope

keeping us from oozing out;

it’s the matriarchal mitochondria

tracing us back before even Eve.

 

Kingdom: Animalia

Sometimes we forget

that we are animals, too-

we love to expunge

the evidence.

 

Phylum: Chordata

Musculature is not enough.

We need to grow a fucking backbone,

prove ourselves capable of contortions.

 

Class: Mammalia

We reject the reptilian brain.

We reject the scaled skin.

We reject the gills.

 

We demand the milk.

 

Order: Primates

Little fingers, little tails.

Eyes that seem to know.

& we hide in the trees.

 

Family: Hominidae

& what is so great

about the Great Apes?

The bonobos, the gorillas, the chimpanzees – sure.

But then comes the fourth.

 

Genus: Homo

Struggling to become upright/upstanding/upheavers.

Striding into the scrum.

Leaving antiquity, entering the man-made universe.

 

Species: H. sapiens

It’s not enough to conquer.

We must humiliate, as well:

subjugate, colonize, destroy.

The natural world?

No. The human one.

 

cj-bio-picCaitlin Johnson holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Lesley University. Her work has appeared in Carcinogenic Poetry, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Narrative Northeast, Pembroke Magazine, Vagina: The Zine, and Wild Quarterly, among other outlets. A chapbook, Boomerang Girl, was published in 2015 by Tiger’s Eye Press, and a full-length collection, Gods in the Wilderness, was published in 2016 by Pink.Girl.Ink. Press.

solstice song – Fritz Eifrig

 

after braiding quicksilver

across our steaming skins,

whispers stilled for sleeping,

eyes closed quiet, I turn to look at you,

like I always do.

your form fixed, silent waves of wood

polished gleaming by the moonlight,

one arm sloped to shield from stars,

modesty made foolish by the heat tonight.

and I dream through open eyes

of lives beginning without endings,

like I always do.

 

fe-picFritz Eifrig has been writing poems on and off for several decades. He has been published in Poetry Quarterly, and the Hiram Poetry Review. He lives and works in Chicago.