A Dream of Flying Over My Childhood Home – Isabel Greenslade

 

I open out my skull bones like leaves

my head a white hard dome

                     hot knife humming.

Current flows along my skin like oil

slicking rigid arms to body.

I rotate my neck as I do just before speech

gasp as I rise head-first to my element

                     a fish of the air.

 

Only then do I see them standing there

mother father brother neighbours all

gazing up by the fence, rooted as sunflowers

soundwaves lapping at their stems.

 

I flick my shoulders like fins

                    I am gone.

 


Isabel is from and of London where she works in a museum. In a former life she was a youth worker then a tour guide. Her poems has been published in Orbis and she can be found discussing poetry, art, gardening urban history, and the natural world on her Instagram account @ijgreenslade.

Souvenir – Isabel Greenslade

 

I left the car on the cliff top,

went looking for a toilet, found a bird.

There used to be a coal mine under here –

that’s what the guidebook said,

and the mark on the map.

 

It’s long dead, whatever it was,

probably dead when I was at home

looking it up in the bird book.

Fieldfare? Thrush? Which colour plate,

which description did it fit?

Anyway, there it was, trapped in a toilet block

in a car park empty of other visitors.

There were only two of us.

 

This assemblage of stone sand wind and air

progressed up and down the cubicles,

one two three four five five four three two one

its feet scrabbling on the overhead cisterns.

Too far above me to catch, it wouldn’t be wafted

towards the doorway with my map.

 

Already I was trying to name it as it struck

at the skylight that we could both see.

Death was always certain – inside a neglected egg,

by teeth or talon, by being shaken loose.

It didn’t need its name, only the sky which turned solid on it.

 

I flushed and walked out over the stone floor

into the wind, past the laminated pictures of the mine.

I got back into the car, drove to the heritage museum

where miners are trapped on a screen, to be bidden by a button

so someone knows they’re still there.

 

It’s history now, that bird. I thought about it

on the motorway all the way home.

 


Isabel is from and of London where she works in a museum. In a former life she was a youth worker then a tour guide. Her poems has been published in Orbis and she can be found discussing poetry, art, gardening urban history, and the natural world on her Instagram account @ijgreenslade.

Beyond the Tree Line – Hugh Cartwright

 

It’s our first Christmas adrift in the stars.

And Molly’s first egg.

“Can I break it now?”

“Be gentle.”

Molly’s just four, the youngest of our tiny community. She taps the egg with fierce concentration, as if it’s the most important job in the Universe.

Suddenly the egg shatters and a glittering shape unfolds from among the fragments – a silver Christmas tree. It would weigh a handful of feathers on earth; here in deep space it floats effortlessly.

The tree glides quietly through the cabin until I tie it down with red ribbon. Our little group of 19 gathers round in a circle, linking arms and singing carols.

On 12th night, Molly helps me shepherd her tree into the airlock and we set it free. It glides behind the ship, not wanting to leave. But, as the hours go by, it gradually falls away, dissolving into the star-strewn sky.

#

Our 27th Christmas; it will be the last before we reach our new home.

Molly is unwell, but she is our talisman; she must crack the final egg. A shimmering, golden tree emerges, capped with a crown of sparkling stars.

Our group now numbers 22. We gather around the tree for the final time, holding hands and singing carols.

On 12th night, Molly, whose memories were of nothing beyond our ship, is dead; she is the first to die.

27 trees drift behind in a soundless, invisible line, watching over us as we rush towards a world that Molly will never see.

 


Hugh’s not really a writer. His career has been spent in Universities, working at the interface of artificial intelligence and physical science. Now retired, he has begun to write occasional stories, some colored with elements of science fiction, others being just a little odd. It helps to take his mind off his impossible project: growing citrus trees in the Canadian climate.

A fabulous game called “love” – Sebastián Díaz Barriga

 

Translated from Spanish by Delphine Tomes

 

as a child

my parents used to play

this fabulous game:

although the aim

is still unknown

the game arrived

to their relationship

as a forgotten quarter does

on an empty street

in Mexico City

it seemed to say:

hey!    

are you going to grab me or what?

I have been here all day

and I just wanna go back home

I´m so fucking tired.

 

back then, dad

pretended to send money

– instead of love-

to mom’s debit card.

the nearest ATM machine

was about an hour away

so we used to cross

the whole town

in our 1970 VW beetle

just to find

that there was no money

or love

or anything else

inside

mom’s card

mom

dad’s lover

or the neighbor’s dog.

 

I felt so sad

I just wanted a new pair of socks,

a green pencil

and, perhaps

a tiny little fish

whose love

wouldn’t leave

my hands.

 

 


EGO_2

Sebastián Díaz Barriga was born in Mexico City in 1998. In 2018, he wrote his first book (Un rezo para mi padre) translated into English in 2020. He achieved first place at the XII National Desiderio Macías Silva Poetry Contest in 2019. He lives in the 21th century while dreaming about life. http://fabricandopajaros.blogspot.com is his blog.

BITS – Kate Lewington

the backs of discarded earrings found on heater sills, the odd socks down sofa cushions, pen lids in the corner of rooms, batteries rolled from view underneath cupboards, bookmarks stuck fast to coffee tables, the book holding even the table leg, the hairband wound around the blind cord, the Christmas cards that have fluttered down from end of season high to rest on surfaces, packed upon by bills and pliers and fuse plugs and instructions and spare envelopes, the blu-tack sculpture rolled between thumb and finger picked off from calendars, posters and photos

possessions now in boxes, supermarket bags and carrier bags, holdalls with busted zips

stains, stray hairs and the imprint of wooden legs

i lock in

next
finding new ways to adapt –
new way of getting places, shortcuts through rows of houses, new faces – neighbours, dog walkers and pub owner

same skyline, different angle to aspire from, building tops puncturing the blue –
spires as needles, moving in tandem on a machine –
threading a tapestry
as i fly by on my bicycle.


Kate Lewington is a writer/poet and blogger. She writes on the themes of belonging, loss, mental illness & hope. She is passionate about learning, social justice, food, music and comedy.

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.

How it was – Elizabeth Gibson

 

There was a storm out there, on the sea of ferns

and small spiders crept in and out of old burns.

Roaming the desert, a dog found the dusk

and in a flower somewhere, red-pink with musk,

a fairy curled up in the arms of a bee.

 

The midges were swirling like water back home

and in the sky, a jellyfish hung all alone.

Under layers of ice, a horse in a hole;

in a meadow of gold and blue starlets, a foal.

Far out beyond grounds of new comets, you saw me.

 

 

Elizabeth Gibson headshotElizabeth Gibson is a writer and performer based in Manchester, UK. She is also the Editor and Photographer for Foxglove Journal. Liz has won a Northern Writers’ Award and been shortlisted for the Poetry Business’ New Poets Prize, and her work has appeared Cake, Cardiff Review, The Compass, Confingo, Litro and Strix among other journals. Liz blogs at http://elizabethgibsonwriter.blogspot.com and you can find her on Twitter and Instagram as @Grizonne.

Exmouth – Edward Alport

 

I took my problems to my old friend, the sea.

He watched me with his flashing eyes

And spoke to me with seven foaming lips.

I poured out my problems

And he poured them right back again.

 

Now that I’m sitting, like a stone on a rock,

Now the beach-huts are deserted,

And all the lovers have gone home,

He’s still there;

He’s still there;

The still small voice

Of endless noise,

Wearing at my loneliness.

 

 

Edward Alport is a proud Essex Boy and occupies his time as a teacher, 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.

Bear – Rhianne Celia

 

She kneads herself into the grass,

brooches of hay collecting on her back.

I’m on my stomach, the grass glossed

and sun-pooled, and for once

I’m not waiting for something or someone

to slip from surface talk to the big stuff

as readily as a mother forgives –

I’m watching her beard fill with buttercups

and the wet beads on her tongue nudge back

and forth as she shimmies against me.

I reach for a stick, throw it, and off she trots,

her paws a skit as she loses track

of its flight. She returns with an open

tennis ball in her mouth, a clopping ring box

she presents with a flourish. I readily accept,

placing it on my stomach like an upturned

book, and then I’m looking at the sky – a hearty

magenta block, and the remainder of my evening

appears in hob flames and final Tupperware clicks.

She leads me home, my hessian stopwatch,

urging me to live, live, live.

I swallow as the script starts up.

 

 

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.

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.

Competition – Louise Wilford

 

I won a competition. Yes, I did. My fingers

drew a poetic Fall, all red and gold decay.

I know the debt I owe – Keats’ ode still lingers –

but my creation was, in its own way,

worth fifty quid.

 

Chaotic interlinkage. Velcro hooks of words,

confusing as a froth of wasps stuck in a honey pot.

Some end up barbed wire bundles, spikily absurd,

or limp on, split and wounded. I’d be the first to spot

my writing sucks.

 

Yet sometimes words escape, their goal the blooded page,

and go home, battle-weary, on figurative legs;

they mesh like lovers meeting, no griping war to wage,

and fit like Lego bricks or halves of Easter eggs,

a greater whole.

 

 

unnamed (2)Yorkshirewoman Louise Wilford is an English teacher and examiner. She has had around 50 poems and short stories published in magazines including Popshot, Pushing Out The Boat and Agenda, and has won or been shortlisted for several competitions. She is currently writing a children’s fantasy novel.

Years later, we drive home – Michael H. Brownstein

 

Drive with me through this field of prayer,

through mudflats and iron foot,

the eulogy deep and dried passion fruit,

the salt of columbine, a terrain of frenzy,

lacewing and the yellow mollies of spring,

milk and milk thistle, a porcelain of words.

 

Drive with me past the girth of oak,

the prayer tree, the blue iris,

purple passion, the field of glories

behind the back forty no one touches.

Share with me wild onion, mint,

dandelion leaves and acorn meat,

the edible leaves of the Acacia.

 

Drive with me. Share my bounty.

The eulogy premature, prayer alive in flower

and grass, blossom and honey bee, a porcelain

of words, of muscle cars and beaters,

this car we are in now going home again

a strength in who we really are.

Brighten your day.

 

 

unnamed (3)Michael H. Brownstein’s work has appeared in American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Convergence, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, and others. In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks including A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004), Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Press, 2012), and The Possibility of Sky and Hell: From My Suicide Book (White Knuckle Press, 2013). He is the admin for project Agent Orange (projectagentorange.com).

Ithaca – Rachel Lewis

 

My wife is behind me

And my life before.

The sky lit from inside itself

With golden dying day.

Turning itself,

Turning itself,

And turning again.

We are sailing east

Towards a dawn

That has not yet risen and will not

Til terrors past absolve us

Of having left at all.

Ithaca, sharpening blue

And deepening silver,

My house just one

In our city stretching out the coast.

My father buried there, his dust

Rising in flowers touching heads to dew.

My nurses there, their old hands threading

At baby clothes, sat in sun smiling wrinkled.

Ithaca I can feel you holding back.

Something in me will not come with me.

It will stay murmuring in the cypress,

It will croak with the cicadas at night,

It will live with the snakes in the sand and the gulls on the water.

Promises, winds,

They cannot move a weight of water.

Ithaca I promise

I have never and will never leave you

Even as winds blow me on

Into the rose red grasp

Of this first dawn alone.

 

 

Rachel headshot portraitRachel is a London-based poet. She was previously a poetry editor for the Mays Anthology and a Young Producer with Poet in the City. Her poetry can also be found on the Poetry Society website, in the Dawntreader and Kindling journals, and unpredictably at live events around London.

Traveller – Ali Jones

 

He arrived, a long washed sailor,

over the rolling sea, making home

because he likes what he sees;

the waist nipped flouncers in sky

high heels, he brings them sunshine,

 

in the grey northern streets, freestyles

beats, wears flip flops with no thought

for others. He wants to fit in though,

with winkle-pickers and pool cue crowds,

not with grim suited pen-pushers.

 

Under his feet, colours splatter the pavement,

smiles spread silently across his face,

he hears old ladies whisper, scandalised,

then turn silently away;

he wears the world well.

 

 

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.

olio d’oliva – Diana Devlin

 

she pours oil

into a fancy bottle

tiny golden globules rise

like fish coming to feed

and all at once she hears

nonna’s laughter

ancient church bells peal

invite the pebbled path

and its people

up to the duomo

plump tomatoes

figs

and frogs caught

in coffee tins

home

 

 

IMG_4511Diana Devlin is a Scottish-Italian poet living near Loch Lomond. A former translator, lexicographer and teacher, Diana now writes full time and shares her life with a husband, two daughters, a Jack Russell and two eccentric cats. Her work has been published both online and in print and she is working towards her first collection. She is a member of several writing groups and enjoys sharing her poetry at public events.