Perfect Surfaces – Geraldine McCarthy

On Saturday morning, Pam cleans the mixing-bowl at the kitchen sink while buns cook in the oven. She’s wearing rubber gloves to protect her nails. Only had them done the previous day, and they’re €30 a pop.

She’s volunteered to bake for a local coffee morning, in aid of some orphanage in South America.

The fairy cakes will take fifteen minutes. Two dozen should be enough; twelve plain and twelve with cherries. She wipes down the already spotless marble worktops, takes out the cakes, and has a quick coffee while they cool on a wire tray. The aroma of vanilla wafts through the kitchen.

Upstairs, she opts for skinny jeans, and a new baby-pink top. Her face is a little flushed from the heat of the oven, so she applies foundation, and then a little eye-shadow and lip gloss. The neighbours are all so glam, with their highlights and lowlights, their clothes always this season’s.

Fairy cakes in boxes on the back seat, Pam drives to the community centre. The Audi glides along like a dream. She’s glad she traded up this year.

Once inside, she makes sure to hand over the baking to Audrey, the head of the committee, who pecks Pam’s cheek and thanks her profusely from a cloud of Chanel No. 5. Audrey persuades Pam to stay for a cuppa, so they sit down in the far corner of the room, away from the hub-bub at other tables. Deep in conversation about the Tidy Towns contest, Pam feels a tap on her shoulder. She twirls on her chair.

Her mother. Grey roots and crumpled cardigan.

Pam’s stomach clenches. “Mam!” she says. “How did you get here?”

“Diane next door brought me,” her mother says, “thought I could do with a break.” She raises an eyebrow. “There’s only so many kitten videos you can watch on YouTube.”

Pam glances at Audrey, who averts her eyes, and nibbles her bun like a bird at a feeder.

Pam addresses her mother. “Oh, well, you know I’d have collected you, but I thought you were watching your weight, that you’d have no interest.”

Her mother twists her wedding band around her finger, as if she’s strangling a turkey. “Hmm.”

“Well, I can drop you back later.”

Her mother purses her lips. “Sure, if I came with Diane I can go home with her.”

Pam feels her face redden. “Well, I’ll call tomorrow morning then. Is there anything you need?”

“Not a bit,” her mother says. “Diane is beckoning me over. See you tomorrow.”

Audrey finishes her bun. “Well, I must mingle. Thanks so much for all your hard work, Pam.”

“Not a bother, Audrey. I’ll see you Monday night for picking up the litter. The group is meeting at the church, isn’t it?”

“Yes, see you then.”

As Pam drives home, she notices the varnish has chipped.  She’ll go to the nail bar next week for a repair job. They look so nice when they’re freshly done.


IMG_0407

Geraldine McCarthy lives in West Cork, Ireland.  She writes short stories, flash fiction and poetry.  Her work has been published in various journals, both on-line and in print.

Parental Guidance – Maurice Devitt

 

A hot summer’s day on the estate, tar-lines

softening in the blistering sun. Constructing

triangles with ice-pop sticks, we meld the corners

with our new liquorice glue and whip them

like frisbees from between our fingers,

to watch them ride the warm silent air,

twisting and dipping until they crash and split

like atoms, sticks splayed. I throw one

and it takes off, rising sharply as though from a sling,

then stalls like a cough and bounces off

the windscreen of a cornering car. Sliding

to a stop, the driver jumps out, engine left running.

I am already gone, scooting down the side-passage

of our house. He lopes up the steps, pounds on the door.

No answer at first, just the peripheral view

of a net-curtain settling. He looks up at the windows,

they hold their silence. He shuffles self-consciously

on the step. My mother opens the door, her small frame

standing tall in the doorway, her face suitably sullen.

The man is shouting about what I have done,

while my mother examines the chips in her fingernails.

He demands to see me as if it were his right

to exact some revenge. My mother seems to grow taller

in the darkened hallway, as I appear sheepishly

from beneath her housecoat. He stretches to grab me,

she pushes me back, takes one step forward and explains,

that while she is aware her son is young and reckless,

he does not need to feel this anger to know

that he is wrong. Fear will teach him nothing.

The man harrumphs and walks away. I catch

his last regretful glance from the driver’s seat,

knowing that, for me, this is not over yet.

 

 

Personal PhotoWinner of the Trócaire/Poetry Ireland and Poems for Patience competitions, Maurice Devitt has been nominated for Pushcart, Forward and Best of the Net Prizes and been runner-up in the Cúirt New Writing Prize, Interpreter’s House Poetry Competition and the Cork Literary Review Manuscript Competition. He published his debut collection Growing Up in Colour with Doire Press.

As she waits for news of her son – Louise Wilford

 

She feels the pale green sunlight through the hawthorn leaves –

but May’s evening blaze is darkened for her this year.

She pauses on the path – blots her eyes with her sleeves –

her courage faltering before her labour’s done,

replaced by the slithering worm of impending fear –

her hope extinguished with the setting of the sun.

 

She can’t remember quite what she was looking for.

The ivy winding up the fence twists through her mind.

Every moment the vice of terror grips her more,

her courage faltering before her labour’s done –

desperate to hear some news, yet not wanting to find

her hope extinguished with the setting of the sun.

 

He’s been missing a night and a day. There’s no joy left.

Food is ash in her mouth, the world an empty cage.

The bright bursts of pain leave her vacant and bereft,

her courage faltering before her labour’s done.

The snaking red anguish tangles her up in rage,

her hope extinguished with the setting of the sun.

 

 

unnamed (2)Yorkshirewoman Louise Wilford has had over 100 poems and short stories published and has won or been shortlisted for several competitions, most recently the £750 Arts Quarterly Prize and the MereFest Poetry Prize. She is currently nearing the end of a Masters degree in Creative Writing with the Open University, and is currently working on a novel inspired by The Tempest, while trying to process why the world appears to be falling apart.

Confessions – Ali Jones

 

Now is the time to admit what I saw at midwinter.

The young oaks were leaning in around their mother,

while a gnarled old door opened the way in her trunk.

From inside, light was streaming and all the other trees,

raised and shook their branches as if praising something.

 

Now is the time to admit what I saw at midsummer.

The holly was rising tall as any cathedral, form shifting,

into a huge crowned figure, who stretched his limbs,

then set off on a progress around the whole forest.

All other trees knelt down and bowed their heads in respect.

 

Now is the time to admit what I don’t know about.

The birch sisters who whisper heroic couplets at the boundaries

baffle me. I cannot speak ash, or hornbeam or blackthorn.

All I know is that the trees go about their business,

they do important work, while I wonder and wait.

 

 

AJ bio picAlison Jones is a teacher, and writer with work published in a variety of places, from Poetry Ireland Review, Proletarian Poetry and The Interpreter’s House, to The Green Parent Magazine and The Guardian. She has a particular interest in the role of nature in literature and is a champion of contemporary poetry in the secondary school classroom. Her pamphlet, ‘Heartwood’ was published by Indigo Dreams in 2018, with a second pamphlet. ‘Omega’ forthcoming.

Yellow Ribbons – Pene Morley

 

The newspaper did nothing to stop the cold seeping from the wooden bench into Steve’s bones. He hugged his anorak tighter around his shoulders and tucked his hands under his armpits. Swapping that old blanket for a tin of baked beans had been a bad idea.

Shoppers, muffled up in coats and scarves and hats, trudged to and fro in front of him. Most ignored him, but some watched him out of the tail of an eye as they passed him. He wanted to grab them and tell them, ‘I was like you once, before I went to fight your bloody war’, but he knew they wouldn’t believe him; they never did.

A woman hurled a half-eaten burger into the bin at his elbow, and he eyed it for a moment before snatching it up. Then he noticed the girl staring at him, knock-kneed, gripping a plait in each hand as though she thought her hair was going to fly off.

‘It’s for my dog,’ he said, nodding to where the lurcher was curled up among the carrier bags at his feet.

The dog raised its shaggy head at the sound of his voice, and he tossed the burger between its paws. It snapped it up.

‘What’s his name?’ the girl said, edging closer.

‘I don’t know. I call him Bob but he’s not really my dog; he just follows me around.’

‘Can I stroke him?’

Steve nodded. The girl bounced down on to the ground at his feet with a grin, and the lurcher stretched out his neck to sniff her mouth, his tail thumping the pavement.

‘My dog’s called Scruffy,’ she said, giggling and squirming as Bob licked her face. ‘I got him when my daddy died but nobody can see him; he’s invisible.’

Steve crumpled up the burger bag and chucked it into the bin. Not having a dad must be tough on the kid, but you wouldn’t know it looking at her now. She was holding Bob’s ears up like butterfly wings and chatting to him about everything and nothing. Steve was about to ask her about her dad, when a slip of a woman rushed up and grabbed her by the shoulders.

‘How many times have I told you not to run off like that, Anna?’ she said, pulling the girl on to her feet.

Anna twisted in her grip. ‘I just wanted to see that man; I thought he was daddy.’

The woman’s body slumped, like a puppet no longer in play. She glanced over at Steve, exasperated, and for an instant he thought her tired eyes were pleading with him for help.

Then she tugged at Anna’s arm. ‘Come on, I don’t want you bothering him.’

‘But he’s got a dog,’ Anna said, digging in her heels, ‘and it’s real.’

‘I don’t care.’

‘And he’s got no laces.’

‘What..?’

Her mother stopped pulling her arm and turned to Steve. She studied his cracked, unlaced army boots and then looked back at Anna, frowning.

‘Remember when Daddy’s laces broke and he used my ribbons to tie his trainers,’ Anna said. She smiled at Steve. ‘Would you like my ribbons for your boots?’ She knelt at his feet. ‘I think they’ll look ever so pretty,’ she said, threading her ribbons through the lace holes.

Her mother gazed at Steve as if to say, ‘I’m sorry, about her’. He grinned at her, and she reached down to stroke Bob and hide the flush of colour that had appeared in her cheeks.

 

 

PM bio picPene Morley lives in the south of Germany with her husband, teenage son and two Labradors. She discovered very short stories on Twitter over a year ago and now tries daily to do one of the writing prompts. Since then she has also started writing flash fiction and is writing a novel which she hopes to have finished soon. You can follow her on Twitter @PeneMorley.

Glass Man – William Doreski

 

Made of glass this morning,

I’m pleased that anyone can see

through me to the landscape beyond.

 

Being so fragile I take great care

walking up the post office steps,

and standing in line avoid

 

bumping old ladies clutching

parcels intended for grandkids.

The day sighs many great sighs.

 

It expects me to understand why

I’m made of glass this morning,

instead of rising in a fist

 

of stainless steel. The river

brims at the post office window.

It also is glass this morning.

 

If I stepped on it, tried to walk

its naked water, we’d collapse

into each other’s shy embrace,

 

subject and verb uniting.

I reach the window to buy a stamp

but the clerk looks right through me

 

to the next person in line.

I cough to get his attention

but something inside me cracks

 

and I have to step aside and clutch

myself to myself to avoid

shattering all over the floor.

 

I’ll mail my letter tomorrow

when I’ve reverted to simple flesh.

Today I’d better lie down somewhere

 

in the shade so I don’t start a fire.

Somewhere in the damp old forest

where no one will step on me,

 

my utter transparency

plain as an artist’s model,

too slick to exhibit shame.

 

 

william-doreski175William Doreski has published three critical studies and several collections of poetry. His poetry, essays, reviews, and fiction have appeared in many print and online journals. He has taught writing and literature at Emerson, Goddard, Boston University, and Keene
State College. His most recent books are A Black River, A Dark Fall, a poetry collection, and Train to Providence, a collaboration with photographer Rodger Kingston. His website is williamdoreski.blogspot.com.

Horses on the hill – John Grey

 

It’s near sunset and the horses are high up on the hill.

Clouds are moving in. No rain but much shadow.

The light’s an untrustworthy yellow.

He opens the barn door wide

then climbs the rise toward where

the mare and her colt, the stallion,

nibble away the hours on the lush grass.

 

It’s the third day of his new status

as a widower farmer.

He looks at the turkey vultures

with a more jaundiced eye.

Likewise, the red fox.

Or anything willing to peck over a carcass.

The death of a loved one

brings out every death.

Some creatures react with glee.

Others, like the horses,

indulge their mellow indifference.

 

Some things won’t change.

He’ll still cut up his apples,

pour salt on the slices.

He’ll drink tea with globs of honey.

And he’ll attend to the horses,

fetch them back to their stalls

while it’s not too dark out.

Their manes glow.

Their heads nod amiably.

And they follow where he leads.

The horses are the perfect companions

if life is to reestablish itself.

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

Hearts – Rhianne Celia

 

I got to thinking about hearts.

How they seem to be everywhere – hearts.

a heart fritter;

a bitter heart;

a heart-shaped spoon;

 

an up-for-grabs heart;

a not-in-service heart;

a hammock-lolling-in-the-breeze heart;

 

a slap-on-the-wrist heart,

a deep-water-flunking heart;

 

a heart with pins

and needles;

a light-blockade migraine heart;

 

a heart of gold, an at-best-bronze heart;

a slit of heart;

a bottomless heart

 

The rail of bleeding-heart

fuchsias in my sister’s garden

heart.

 

An I-couldn’t-believe-they-were-called-that

heart.

 

The ____ of the storm

The wind-swept ____

 

Writing from the ____

 

A searching heart, angling itself to catch

the height of the sun.

 

 

FGBorn and raised in Manchester, UK, Rhianne has recently completed an MA in Creative Writing at The University of Manchester. She has loved words (and arranging them) since she could put fluffy pen to paper (that’s a lot of fluff, and a lot of paper!). She explores human relationships in all of their wonderful complexity in her work and writes a lot about mental health, a subject close to her heart. You can find more of her poetry and general musings over at rhianne-writes.tumblr.com.

The Conspiracy – Dan A. Cardoza

 

It’s the last night of my once a year visit nearly complete. Actually, it’s our last visit ever. Another uncomfortable Thanksgiving has come and gone. Tomorrow, it’s back to Chicago.

Earlier in the day, mother asks me to trawl through the attic boxes, and fish out our childhood memories before they place the house on the market.

Later in the day, after an early supper, father and I sit alone facing each other at the opposite ends of the kitchen table. Mother is at church, volunteering for just about anything.

I stand; push two dusty childhood photographs I discovered toward father.

Father look, these are so familiar, yet distant? I voice.

Yes, they are nearly identical son, except one is underexposed, sepia. Not sure why you retrieved the photo box from the attic. Most of those years are dead and buried.

I only asked you to look at these two father.

Son, why do you insist that we look at any photos?

Not sure father, maybe it’s time. I remember you thumbing the fat camera levers on your new Polaroid 900. Mother was hovering nearby. I recall your big smile. We were posing and …

Yes.

Its then father stands to exit the room. His massive hand smothers the handle of his lacquered Mallacan cane, veined & crooked, a tan leather glove. Then he limps away.

In the chilled lens of a dusty sunset, the parched air drifts through the half closed window, hissing faintly through the screen, like a thousand tiny tongues singing a chorus of truth. A chill slowly slithers up my spine. It’s moments like this I dread. I feel such gloom, like an orphaned child.

Goodnight father, see you in the morning.

Goodnight.

Much later, as I retire, I hear subtle moans coming from his room, as he toils in the muddy pastures of his sleep. As if on cue, at 3:00 A.M., he sits up and stares into the dark, at nothing in particular. I know this because mother spoke of his nightmares that have only increased after he quit drinking. She also confessed his depression is getting worse.

Over the years, our family has weathered torrents that have washed away bridges, only to be restored by the uncomplicated architecture of distance and malaise. I still want to understand, but after so many years, the melody of deception is a cappella. I close my eyes and begin to wade into the shallow waters of sleep.

Then I enter the dark of a dream,

You take us to the park. We play hide and seek for hours. Only this time I am never found. Mother, crazed with fear eventually finds me walking into the mist of her high beam headlights, a shivering apparition. Nothing is ever the same.

Swimming back from the deep waters of sleep, toward dawns pale shore, I hear an unseen small voice, one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi, four…

 

 

Dan A. CardozaDan has an MS Degree. He is the author of four poetry Chapbooks, and a new collection of fiction, Second Stories. Recent Credits: 101 Words, Amethyst, UK., Chaleur Magazine, Cleaver Magazine, Dissections, Door=Jar, Entropy, Esthetic Apostle, Foxglove, Frogmore, High Shelf Press, Poetry Northwest, Rue Scribe, Runcible Spoon, Skylight 47, Spelk, Spillwords, The Fiction Pool, The Stray Branch, Urban Arts, The Zen Space, Tulpa and zeroflash.

Pumpkin pie – Cath Barton

 

In the dark street the window of the sweetshop shone out. Maisie, aged nine and three-quarters, had taken a detour on her way home from school. She pressed her nose up against the shop window; there were meringues iced to look like ghosts, witches’ hats made of chocolate and little marzipan pumpkins. Maisie pushed her hands deep into the pockets of her coat as she continued to stare at the sweets. In the right-hand pocket her hand closed on something unexpected and she pulled it out. It looked like a small, hard, shiny nut. She held it in the palm of her right hand and touched it, very gently, with her left index finger. Would a fairy appear in a puff of smoke and offer her three wishes, or at least her pick from the sweets? Nothing happened. She touched it again, said one of her own magic spells under her breath and waited. Still nothing happened. She put the nut back in her pocket and turned, reluctantly, from the bright window.

When she arrived home her mother was in the kitchen, looking flustered as she always seemed to be these days.

“Tea’s nearly ready,” she said. “I wondered where on earth you’d got to, Maisie. Wash your hands quickly now.”

They had bread and butter and jam for tea, as usual. Maisie had a cup of milk and her mother drank tea, weak tea. The two of them sat in silence, each lost in her own thoughts, but after a while the warmth from the food and the one-bar gas fire made them easier with one another.

“I’ve got a surprise,” the woman said, and the girl looked up, uncertain whether to ask what it was. Her mother was unpredictable, and Maisie didn’t understand what made her upset.

“It’s a pumpkin. Your dad brought it round. I’m going to make a pie.” She smiled at her daughter in an entreating way.

Maisie found it difficult thinking about her dad, so she thought about the marzipan pumpkins in the sweetshop window instead. She had never eaten pumpkin pie, but she had had marzipan on Christmas cake and she knew she liked that. She managed a wobbly smile

“Tomorrow,” said her mother, “We’ll have it tomorrow. It’ll be a treat.”

That night, when she knelt by her bed to say her prayers, Maisie held the shiny nut between her hands.

“I’m giving you a third chance,” she said, and then, surprising herself with her boldness.

“And just so as you know, this isn’t for me. I want you to make things better for my mum and dad.”

Next day Maisie stopped at the sweetshop window again on her way home from school. The marzipan pumpkins seemed to be winking at her. When she put her hand on the nut in her pocket it felt different. She pulled it out and gasped: it had turned into a coin, as bright and shiny as the shop window. Maisie pushed open the shop door, a bell tinkled and a little old man appeared from a back room.

She ran home with her bag of sweets. At the door she hesitated, hearing voices in the kitchen, but there were no shouts, no tears. Just soft talking.

They had tea together, Maisie and her mother and father. Pumpkin pie. Which, actually, the girl did not like. But she didn’t say so, just smiled. As they all did. Later, Maisie looked in the bag for a marzipan pumpkin. But the bag was empty, apart from a small, hard, empty nutshell.

 

 

Author pic.CathBarton.smallCath Barton is an English writer who lives in Wales. She won the New Welsh Writing AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella 2017 for The Plankton Collector, now published by New Welsh Review under their Rarebyte imprint. Cath was awarded a place on the 2018 Literature Wales Enhanced Mentoring Scheme to complete a collection of short stories inspired by the work of the sixteenth century Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch. Active in the online flash fiction community, she is also a regular contributor to the online critical hub Wales Arts Review. She tweets @CathBarton1. Find out more at https://cathbarton.com.

Death in Spring – Ben Banyard

 

She took her last breath as we put the clocks on.

Lambs, daffodils, Easter eggs, cheerful optimism,

but a funeral to attend and relatives to console.

 

We’ll Google the church’s car park,

agree to work around that afternoon with bosses and clients.

Follow the coffin in, glance at riotous banks of grape hyacinth.

 

There will be hymns.

All Things Bright and Beautiful no doubt,

The Old Rugged Cross, perhaps.

Choke back a lump in the throat at the eulogies,

smile with damp eyes at anecdotes.

 

What will move us most are the details of her youth,

how she played nicely with her sister sometimes,

what her parents did for a living;

Spring details, when her life was beginning.

 

 

ImageBen Banyard lives in Portishead, near Bristol, UK. He’s the author of a pamphlet, Communing (Indigo Dreams, 2016) and a full collection, We Are All Lucky (Indigo Dreams, 2018). He blogs and posts mixtapes at https://benbanyard.wordpress.com.

Fox Cubs – Oak Ayling

 

Fox cubs squabble and yip

Unseen beyond the barns

Beneath the quiet cloak of night

Siblings sifting through the scraps

And I lay soft upon an unmade bed

Unwinding curls in my hair

Alone, attempting to remember my features

Wondering if I look like my mother.

 

 

IMG_20181005_083822_391Oak Ayling is a young woman quietly stitching poetry into the blurry windswept border between Cornwall and Devon, England. Highly commended by Indigo Press in the Geoff Stevens Memorial Prize 2018, her work can be found in Anti Heroin Chic Magazine, the fast growing lit mag From Whispers to Roars and forthcoming charitable anthology ‘Shorthand’ by author Helen Cox in support of UK homeless charity Streetlink.

The Rose Trees are in Bloom – Arlene Antoinette

 

Monday

Mother sits in her favorite armchair, peering through the picture windows onto her backyard garden. The rose trees are beginning to bloom, she calls to me. I’m in the kitchen, washing up last night’s dishes, scrubbing spills from the stove, sweeping and mopping the floor. I respond with a quick, that’s nice. She leaves her spot only for meals and bathroom breaks. Night falls; a veil of darkness obscures her precious flowers. I plant a light kiss on her cheek as I put her to bed.

 

Tuesday

The rose trees are beginning to bloom. Her words seem to dance across her lips. I’m busy loading the washing machine and unloading the dryer. I look up, but I don’t respond. Mother stands at the window like an expectant child on the night before her birthday.

 

Wednesday

Mother, are you finished dressing? Again, she’s standing by the back window, hands clasped together as if in prayer. Have you seen them? The roses are beginning to bloom! Her blouse hangs open; her hair’s undone. I walk over to her and place my hand on her forearm. Come with me mom, we’re running late for your appointment. I don’t bother to look out onto the garden; I’m busy calculating how long it will take me to finish getting her dressed.

 

Thursday

Okay mom. I’m off. Lunch is in the fridge. There’s a glass of coconut water on the table and if you need a snack there’s a granola bar in the cabinet. I should be back by dinner time.
Have you seen them?
Seen what?
The roses buds. The rose trees are beginning to bloom.
I know, I know. I’ll look at them when I get back. I have to go. Love you. I grab my purse and head out the door.

 

Thursday Evening

Mom, I’m home. Mom, I’m back. I open the fridge and retrieve a bottle of cold water. It’s 5:30, and her lunch is still there. Mom, where are you? Why haven’t you eaten? I walk through the house, glancing into her bedroom, the bathroom and the living room. Finally, I look out the back window. She’s there, sitting on the bench in her beloved garden. I retrieve her lunch from the fridge and head outside. Mom. She doesn’t respond. Mom, you must be starving. I lay my hand on her shoulder, there’s no response. Mom, mom! Are you alright? Mom say something! Mom! Mom!

 

Friday

The hospital’s ER is ice-cold. Pictures of children playing in fields adorn the walls.

 

Saturday

I call close friends and family. My hands shake as I dial each number. 

 

Sunday

I stand at the window gazing out into the back yard. Yellow, pink and red roses adorn my mother’s garden. The roses are in full bloom

 

 

stillmyeye

Arlene Antoinette is a poet of West Indian birth who grew up in Brooklyn, New York. She graduated from Brooklyn College and worked as an instructor with disabled individuals for many years. You may find additional work by Arlene at Foxglove Journal, Little Rose Magazine, I am not a silent Poet, Tuck Magazine, The Feminine Collective, The Open Mouse, Amaryllis Poetry, Boston Accent Lit, Sick Lit Magazine, Postcard Shorts, 50 Word Stories, The Ginger Collect, Neologism Poetry Journal and Your Daily Poem.

Village Ceilidh 1922 – Ceinwen E. Cariad Haydon

 

Flies buzz, zap the scullery window.

She wipes their last supper dishes,

mops her sticky forehead. Flings

the tea towel down on top the wash pile,

stacked teetering on quarry tiles.

Tomorrow’s duties tug her mind.

She loves them all, her sister’s two,

the three she’s born. All hers now,

along with David, once brother-in-law,

now husband, a man to be obeyed.

She’s been tied down, since Maggie died.

 

‘Esther-Ann, you there?’ Hannah,

calls out loud. ‘Aye lass, come in.’

‘A special day?’ asks Esther-Ann.

‘You’re done up pretty, so you are.’

‘It’s the dance,’ says Han. ‘Be fair,

you said you’d try to come, we’d pair?’

‘So it is, so it is, but David bid me,

Stay where you belong. At home.

I’ll maybe hear the music, later on tonight.’

‘More fool you girl,’ says Hannah,

and swishes out through summer’s

sunset, scattered pink-petalled light.

 

David downs his fifth, then thinks,

what if his girl takes flight? Weary,

he stumbles from the Castle Inn

and stops to stare. Sees Esther-Ann.

She’s on the grass bank, dreaming,

dancing, as the band plays on

across the way, pipes and fiddles

inside the hall where she dared not enter.

In fury, he grabs her arm, quicksteps

her to punishment. His errant wife,

a prisoner in her young, promised life.

 

 

IMGP1597_3_monochromeCeinwen previously worked as a Probation Officer, a Mental Health Social Worker and Practice Educator. She lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, and writes short stories and poetry. She has been published in web magazines and print anthologies. These include Fiction on the Web, Literally Stories, Alliterati, Stepaway, Poets Speak (whilst they still can), Three Drops from the Cauldron, Obsessed with Pipework, Picaroon, Amaryllis, Algebra of Owls, Write to be Counted, The Lake, Ink, Sweat and Tears,Riggwelter, Prole and The Curlew. She graduated from her MA in Creative Writing at Newcastle University in December 2017. She believes everyone’s voice counts.