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.

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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.

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.

Francis Ecstatic – Julian Bishop

 

Brother Leo gives chapter and verse

on this ecstasy: as if heaven were exploding,

its glory splashing forth in millions

of stars like waterfalls. But it’s the reverse

 

for Francis on the mountain of Verna

at this moment of stigmata – no flaming

angels but a beefy stripling shoehorning

the stubbled saint onto his seraphic lap.

 

The landscape is blissful, Francis basks

in the afterglow of some divine happening.

No stigmata, no wound, no bleeding

except perhaps within the saint’s heart?

 

(The lad-turned-angel is identical to the youth

in the painter’s infamous Boy Peeling Fruit.)

 

This is one in a series of poems about the painter Caravaggio

 


Julian Bishop is a former television journalist living in North London who is a member of several London stanza groups. A former runner-up in the Ginkgo Prize for Eco Poetry, he’s also been shortlisted for the Bridport Poetry Prize and was longlisted in this year’s National Poetry Competition. He won the 2021 Poets And Players Competition judged by Sean Hewitt with his poem Sitting For Caravaggio.

He’s also had poems in The Morning Star, XR’s Rebel Talk, Riptide Journal, Finished Creatures Magazine and the first few issues of The Alchemy Spoon. He is one of four poets featured in a 2020 pamphlet called Poems For The Planet. Read more at https://www.julianbishoppoet.com.

A Chapel of Sunflowers – Marc Janssen

 

Driving out west of town

There is a field, maybe part of an abandoned farm,

Filled with sunflowers.

There should be a name for a group of sunflowers,

Rank on jumble they stand

Lion-faced their ragged yellow manes roar in a June rain shower.

Their faces a cloud confusion.

 

This field of flowers could be called a landscape of sunflowers

A beauty of sunflowers

A Saint Francis of sunflowers

A van Gogh of sunflowers

A peal

A heart

A tender

A good grove of sunflowers.

 

Then it was gone

Somewhere behind me,

And the next thing comes into view

Between rain drops

Green and colorful and new.

 


Marc Janssen lives in a house with a wife who likes him and a cat who loathes him. Regardless of that turmoil, his poetry can be found scattered around the world in places like Penumbra, Slant, Cirque Journal, Off the Coast and Poetry Salzburg. Janssen also coordinates the Salem Poetry Project, a weekly reading, the annual Salem Poetry Festival, and was a 2020 nominee for Oregon Poet Laureate.

Morning cat – Demi Lloyd

 

He basks in morning beam.

The sofa cradles, heart pulsates.

He watches me, charmed eyes.

Work at 6, haven’t slept.

I call in sick and stroke his head.

 


Demi Lloyd recently gained a Masters degree in Creative Writing at Nottingham Trent University. She is part of a poetry group based in Nottingham called GOBS and is working towards her contribution to their spoken word showcase in March. In her spare time you can find her reading, listening to podcasts or thinking about cats.

You – Daniel Tobias Behan

 

You are one, whose

lung breathes

new song, of

love beautiful;

 

dreaming

heart-drum

ever beating the

rhythm-shape of life;

 

the one whose

ear births

new ways

of hearing me,

here, being with me;

 

who grows

ever stronger

than ever will I

forever love you.

 


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.

Another Word for a Stopped Watch – Edward Alport

 

And then my watch stopped, but not

Like a crashing car or a rabbit caught by a fox.

No drama in this crisis.

The hands slid to a graceful halt,

Worn down by time and friction.

 

My elderly neighbour had an elderly Aston Martin

Parked in a garage and never driven again.

He would glance at the garage

And glance at his watch

And say ‘You need a light heart

‘To drive one of those.

‘Now it is weighed down by grease and gravity.’

Though whether it was his heart or the car I never asked,

Even though I bought the round.

 

But it sold, and sold well,

Unlike the house, which hung around for years.

We sat beneath the oak tree and watched his roses grow

While the shadows of discarded machinery

Marched across the lawn.

 

<>

 

Time has a language of its own, I’ve heard,

With hard words like ‘Never’ and ‘Enough’,

Soft words like ‘Maybe’ and ‘Again’.

Healing words, like ‘Bind up’ and ‘Embrace’,

Cutting words, like ‘Told you so,’ and ‘Stop’.

 

The language that everything learns as it grows old;

The earth tells it to the oak,

The oak tells it to its leaves.

My neighbour, I reckon, taught it to his car.

But my watch had to learn it for itself.

 

 

Edward Alport is a retired teacher and proud Essex Boy. He occupies his time as a gardener and writer for children. He has had poetry published in a variety of webzines and magazines. When he has nothing better to do he posts snarky micropoems on Twitter as @cross_mouse. He moderates the monthly @ThePoetryFloor poetry event on Twitter.

The Moon’s surface – Bojana Stojcic

 

My face is the side

the Earth always sees

 

It knows not this body

battered by collisions nor

 

this heart whose craters are

hundreds of meters deep

 

a testament to the

bombardments it has suffered

 

 

Pic...Bojana Stojcic is a teacher from Serbia, living in Germany. Her poems and flash pieces have been published in Rust + Moth, Anti-Heroin Chic, Barren Magazine, Spelk, XRAY, The Opiate, and elsewhere. She blogs at Coffee and Confessions to Go and is currently working on a collection of flash fiction/prose poetry.

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 Fortune-Teller – Geraldine McCarthy

 

I hunkered on a three-legged stool outside the caravan, waiting. People liked to see what Rosie the Palm-Reader looked like. So I put myself on show, donned in my green velvet dress, with bangles jangling from wrist to elbow. It was important to look the part.

The fair was in full swing. The stall next to me sold cheap plastic toys, and young children pointed to guns and dolls and swords, and pouted if their parents said they’d spent enough already. Men led horses down towards the end of the street, where the beasts would be eyed by keen buyers. The smell of dung mingled with the smell of chips, fused with the smell of leather from the shoe stall across the way.

Business was quiet. Would I make the price of the supper?

Jim ambled up. His tweed jacket was open, revealing a beige pull-over, slightly ravelled at the neck. Hazel eyes, rosy cheeks and grey curls in need of a haircut – not many people would pay him heed. He was late. Normally he came in the morning. He toured all the fairs and was on first-name terms with the horsey crowd.

This six months past he’d begun paying me visits.

“Rosie, how’re you keepin’?”

“Good enough, Jim. Good enough.”

I waited for him to speak again. I didn’t like to presume.

“I was wonderin’ would we have one of our little chats?” He stood staring into the middle distance.

I rose from the stool, my knee joints protesting, and gestured towards the van. “Come in, Jim. Come in.”

I hauled myself up the steps, and sat at one side of the pull-out table. All of a sudden, the van seemed dingy. The curtains were faded, as were the cushion covers, and the carpet had seen better days. People expected dream-catchers and crystal balls, but I had neither. I ran a no-frills operation.

Jim came and positioned himself opposite, shuffling his bulk to get comfortable. He held out his palm without being asked. His hands were calloused and rough; he’d told me of the long years he’d spent labouring for big farmers. I ran my finger along his life line, his head line and his heart line, doing my best to ignore the tingle, the quickening of my own heart.

“Is there anything bothering you today, Jim?”

“No more than usual.”

The last time I’d seen him he’d been arguing with his wife. Said he couldn’t leave. The house was hers, and he’d have nowhere to go.

“Well, as I told you before, Jim, your heart line is strong.”

So it was. Just like my own.

He exhaled loudly. “You’ll have to give me more than that to go on, Rosie, love.”

I wanted to advise him to ditch the wife. That’s what my gut instinct told me. I’d normally be honest with a client, but I couldn’t say anything in this case.

He waited for me to continue.

“Your strong heart line allows you to over-ride practicalities. Sometimes we can be too practical, calculating everything in the credit and debit columns.”

I’d said far more than I intended.

Jim shifted in the seat, and the leather squeaked. “Aye,” he said, looking me straight in the eye.

My cheeks burned and I hoped the dim light would camouflage my unease. “This one’s on the house, Jim.”

If he was surprised he didn’t show it. “Aye, thanks. Well, I’ll be off so.”

He descended the steps, reluctantly it seemed, and I stayed in the caravan a while, delicately fingering the heart line on my own palm.

 

 

IMG_0407Geraldine McCarthy lives in West Cork. She writes short stories, flash fiction and poetry. Her work has been published in The Fable Online, The Incubator Journal, Seven Deadly Sins: a YA Anthology (Gluttony, Wrath, Avarice), Scarlet Leaf Review, Brilliant Flash Fiction,  Every Day Fiction, Fifty Word Stories, Foxglove, Poetry Pulse and Comhar.

Unwavering – Susan Richardson

 

Each day, as I reluctantly get out of bed,

to face the sunlight and blindness,

I ask you to hold my hand so I

won’t feel afraid of standing still.

You wrap my fluttering pulse in threads

of warmth that traverse your palms,

dulling the edges of my anxiety.

You teach me to shake off rage

and laugh at the act of coming unglued.

How quickly I learned to seek your

voice in the clamor of being alive,

rely on the steady cadence of your heart

to quiet the noises that breathe in darkness.

You stand unwavering in the center of

our life together, a beacon that always finds me.

Feeling your fingers against mine,

I stand beside you, content to close my eyes

and let the sun shine on my face.

 

 

IMG_0069Susan Richardson is living, writing and going blind in Los Angeles. In addition to poetry, she writes a blog called, Stories from the Edge of Blindness. Her work has been published in Foxglove Journal, Amaryllis, The Writing Disorder and Eunoia Review, among others. She was awarded the Sheila-Na-Gig 2017 Winter Poetry Prize, featured in the Literary Juice Q&A Series, and chosen as the Ink Sweat & Tears March 2018 Poet of the Month. She also writes for the Arts and Lit Collective, Morality Park.

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.

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.

Yesterday Calling – Laura Potts

 

Somewhen,

a gull snaps its wings

and laughs

as I stretch out the past

 

to the city with its dark heart

and us,

splitting our skins for a kiss.

 

On the rim of a memory,

spinning,

we fizz

like silver pins

on that street

or this.

 

My lover’s words I remember

trembled

like globed pearls on tepid stars

the hot dark of torchlight

kicking

from the pavement

sparks

as he went.

 

Bone-bent,

with eighty-six years in my face,

I read books

and play cards

and years have dried up,

slow prunes

in a vase.

 

But last,

in my crabbed hands his skin,

doused with river lights,

no foul breath of wartime but

a whole lost world of long-kissed nights,

 

thin films of eyes candled bright

in the lobes of my palms,

the four-medal arms deliberate,

passionate,

strong.

 

 

Afterwards, the distant salute of a bomb.

 

 

527Laura Potts is twenty-one years old and lives in West Yorkshire. She has twice been named a Foyle Young Poet. Her poems have appeared in Seamus Heaney’sAgenda, The Interpreter’s House and Poetry Salzburg Review. She has recently been shortlisted for a Charter-Oak Award for Best Historical Fiction at The University of Colorado and also made The 2017 Oxford Brookes International Poetry Prize shortlist. This year Laura became one of The Poetry Business’ New Poets and a BBC New Voice for 2017. Her first BBC radio drama Sweet The Mourning Dew will air at Christmas 2017.