Of Wind and Rain – Arlene Antoinette

 

As he stood looking through the back window

at my english tea roses,

he said he couldn’t tell the difference

between the movement of the flowers

from the wind or from the rain.

How could you not, I replied,

confused by his lack of eyesight and insight.

 

When my roses are moved by the wind,

they move as one. Pink headed soldiers

lead by a strict drill sergeant,

each unwilling to be called out

for breaking formation

or for being the weak link in the chain.

Eager recruits desiring to satisfy their sergeant’s

every whim.

 

When my roses are moved by the rain,

each petal dances independently of the others

to the rhythm of the raindrops.

A single drop kissing the petal,

like a passionate lover

toying with his sweetheart’s emotions.

I can almost hear their squeals of delight

floating through the air.

 

He laughed, saying I was foolish 

to have given so much thought 

to such an insignificant thing. 

I cried, thinking him thoughtless

for ignoring one of the small beauties

of this world.

 

 

Arlenstillmyeyee Antoinette enjoys writing poetry and flash fiction. More of her work may be found at: Sick Lit Mag, GIRLSENSE AND NONSENSE, Boston Accent Lit and The Ginger Collect.

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Storm Warfare – Candace Armstrong

 

Charcoal smudges ashen sky

shot with silver missiles,

swept by gusty generals

commandeering the raid.

 

Smoke-like fog smothers russet

soil. Conifers stand at attention.

Snow settles on rocky

ridges in resignation.

 

“Storm Warfare” first appeared in Poaintry2: The Collision of Two Worlds.

 

_MG_0150-EditCandace Armstrong writes poetry in the beautiful woodlands of Southern Illinois. Her work has been published in The Lyric, Journal of Modern Poetry, Distilled Lives Vol 2 & 3, Midwest Journal, California Quarterly and others online. One of her sonnets was a winner in the Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest in the summer of 2017. Sometimes the poetry becomes prose and has been published in Muse, Diverse Voices, and WOW-Women On Writing online as a finalist in their spring 2017 contest. She is an avid gardener and enjoys hiking with her husband and their canine child, Murphy.

Creation Story – Ann Christine Tabaka

 

Tell me a tale

How the world began

How earth was born

Long before man

 

Each culture has

Its creation story

A myth or song

Filled with glory

 

A fiery battle

In the heavens above

Or an act of valor

Bestowed with love

 

A giant tortoise

On his back the earth

A star-woman

To life gives birth

 

The trickster raven

And sun gods

Juggling planets

Against all odds

 

The epic sagas

Of ancient ones

Passed on in fable

From fathers to sons

 

As images form

Before my eyes

Filled with wonder

Worlds crystallize

 

17498590_10208707888030767_5119352462877867180_nAnn Christine Tabaka was born and lives in Delaware. She is a published poet, an artist, a chemist, and a personal trainer. She loves gardening, cooking, and the ocean. Chris lives with her husband and two cats. Her poems have been published in numerous national and international poetry journals, reviews, and anthologies. Chris has been selected as the resident Haiku poet for Stanzaic Stylings.

Occurrences – Kitty Coles

 

I think you are returning, cell by cell.

At night, sometimes, I note the air arrange

itself the way it would when you entered

a room, the floor boards stirring at

your unseen tread, the house exhaling.

 

Dark thickens and I sense you winding,

winding, its fibres tight, making a rope

to reach me, stretching yourself across

its molecules, to gift me with a breath,

a dream, a shadow of your shape.

 

You’re learning tricks for bridging time

and distance. You heat me with your eyes

when mine are closed though, when the lids fly up,

there’s nothing of you except a footprint

hollowing the carpet, some disarray

 

among the bed covers. This morning,

I opened a book and found a hair

between the pages, dark like yours, and my

heart wrenched itself free and moved around my body,

the way that only you can make it move.

 

My limbs are marked with violet-coloured bruises

like little blossoms the size of fingertips.

You send me messages in newspapers

and in the way leaves fall, the calls of birds.

My spit is thickened with the taste of you.

 

 

Kitty Coles headshotKitty is one of the two winners of the Indigo Dreams Pamphlet Prize 2016 and her debut pamphlet, Seal Wife, was published in September 2017.

Witchcraft – Andrew Nowell

 

I

 

She was always the one who was different.

Her lazy eye cast a roving shadow,

Fell at oblique angles into the netherworld

Where sin and desire might mingle.

 

The line-up was a simple job.

She stood no chance against the other eight.

Familiar number. Familiar fate.

 

After the burning the death pall

Hangs heavy over hovels, chokes air.

Reek of wood and rope lingers for days.

Charred splinters circle-blown by wind.

 

 

II

 

Anyone could have picked her out.

Anyone at all would have noticed her.

Accusers only needed eyes to speak.

 

These words return to him.

He feels their physical touch in blackened watches.

He yearns for cigars. He yearns for scotches.

 

I have never seen stars so black and cold.

Music from the future time-loops in my head.

A goddess without answers blows out the moon.

Gates open. A train stops in a fierce wind.

 

 

IMG_20170903_165005Andrew Nowell studied English literature at University College London where he completed an MA in Shakespeare and the Renaissance. Now a journalist working for a local newspaper, he is also looking to break into creative writing and poetry. He lives in Wigan.

Bird watching – J V Birch

 

I watch a pair of lorikeets gorge on overripe peaches. They hook the ample flesh with their beaks chattering between mouthfuls, their green the green of the leaves so only the vivid blue of their heads is visible, with an occasional blaze of breast. I think of the women at the café in Brighton. Every Sunday they sit at a window table slurping tea and cream cakes, heads bent in gossip, oblivious to their surrounds and smeared lips. At that time, in their world, it’s just them. I note the silence, feel watched, look up to find the parrots staring at me, a couple of plump sunsets untouched at their feet.

 

J V Birch website photoJ V Birch lives in Adelaide. Her poems have appeared in anthologies, journals and magazines across Australia, the UK, Canada and the US. She has two collections – Smashed glass at midnight and What the water & moon gave me – published by Ginninderra Press, and is currently working on her third. She blogs at www.jvbirch.com.

Bed Against the Partition – Roy Moller

 

In from Ontario to have me,

she rooms in a floral,

threadbare situation

in strange Scotland,

picking up chanting

from Infants and Juveniles,

and pigtailed little madams

shoo-ing away

clodhopping brogues

from elaborate elastics

and hopscotch plotted

in chalk mark.

 

She samples the songs of

pat-a-cake in action.

She is handsome, she is pretty,

She is the flower of the golden city.

 

She’s seven months seeded,

sitting out playtime

perched on the edge

of a tartan coverlet

wishing the quilt

and pillow would muffle

anxious appointments,

obligations pressing upon her

and pressing within her

till she can skip over

this rope again forever.

 

Roy MollerRoy Moller is a poet and songwriter who lives in Dunbar on the east coast of Scotland. He is the author of the short-run collection Imports and his work has been featured in the anthologies The Sea (Rebel Poetry) and Neu! Reekie! UntitledTwo. His musical works include My Week Beats Your Year, described by Louder Than War as “profoundly moving and inspirational”. His website is www.roymoller.com.

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”.

After Dark – Ali Jones

 

I wake at 3:15am, weight shifting towards her,

did she hear the rain? I listen to her snared cry,

try to understand the rhythm of dreams,

what happens behind her eyes, as we travel back

into our room, hazy in gathered night,

shadowed gloom making everything strange,

 

I rearrange us, fuss up pillows, billow bedding

to hold us tight until morning light comes.

Other people stir, the breathing agents of sound

too loud for easy rest. She settles, eyelids flutter,

 

I lie awake, stilled by rallying whispers of breathing,

marvel at the differences of our waking world,

how we stand at ease and claim our places,

and how deeply we commit to sleep,

 

though we fight it, nightly, reading story after story,

playing as late as we dare. The day is wrung from us

in fits and starts, sung through open lips,

teasing the snagging air, a stored syntax

 

of waking tongues, that have begun to find the sounds

they need to make, and try them in the wee small hours,

before daytime takes us away into another realm,

to refashion us into sometime else, and make us whole again.

 

 

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.

Pinky Swear – Jayne Martin

 

The caustic odor of rubbing alcohol burns my nostrils, settles on my tongue. A nurse paints Vaseline on my parched lips. I can’t remember the last time I was kissed.

I am tethered to tubes, encased in a coffin of flesh and bone that ignores all commands.

The growing cries of gulls, boardwalk barkers, laughter and shrieks of excitement begin to flood the room.

I sit in the car of a rollercoaster as it chugs and bumps up the steep incline toward the point of no return. Braver kids raise their arms high over their heads. I squeeze my eyes shut until it’s over; say “I want to go again,” relieved when you do not.

The ocean breeze sends salt and sand up onto the walkway where we smoke cigarettes stolen from my mother’s purse and stroll looking for boys. We make up names, Bridgette and Marilyn. Names that sound older and sophisticated unlike our own. We fool no one.

A pipe organ bellows. With fingers still sticky from cotton candy, we board gaily-painted steeds, ride round and round, each time stretching as far as we dare for the brass ring, each time finding it just out of reach.

Our bodies distort in fun house mirrors and we wonder who we will become.

Pinky-swear friends forever.

We do not anticipate the power of decades to divide.

The nurse rolls my body onto its side to slip a fresh sheet beneath, and I see you next to my bedside. You wear our favorite sweater, the rose one we passed back and forth until it unraveled, your smile still a mouthful of braces, your hand outstretched to me. In it, a brass ring.

 

001Jayne Martin is the 2016 winner of Vestal Review’s VERA award for flash fiction. Her work has appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, Literary Orphans, Midwestern Gothic, f(r)iction, Blink-Ink, Spelk, Cleaver, Connotation Press and Hippocampus among others. She is the author of “Suitable for Giving: A Collection of Wit with a Side of Wry.” She lives in Santa Barbara, California. Find her on Twitter @Jayne_Martin.

Something else – Claire Sexton

 

It was like an affair, but not. There was

love in my heart, and hers, I believe.

We saw new places together, and

were inseparable, kind of.

 

She was always stronger, in ways that

men count. She knew all my

weaknesses.

 

She was diamond. And I was glass.

 

Men may count friendship as

something less, than rings on the

finger, and sonogram pictures.

 

But you were my love, and I stutter

and start, as I think of the way, and

the manner, it was lost.

 

View More: http://rupaphotography.pass.us/headshots-rcppor2015Claire Sexton is a forty something Welsh writer who has previously been published in Ink, Sweat and Tears, Peeking Cat Poetry, The Stare’s Nest, and Light – a journal of photography and poetry. She often writes about her struggles with her mental health and loneliness.

Favourite – Ali Jones

 

I always choose yellow, because it excites me,

but not when it ripens into a bruise,

the brightening of the sky so enticing,

the bleeding below the surface of a limb not so.

 

I have seen the ochre tinged stirrings

of a curried cauldron, a mother’s cooking.

a shock on white china, and amber stare,

telescoped from another continent,

 

and the strands, so valuable, pressed

in a golden red O, so beautiful behind plastic,

a stained glass window breathing like

a monument, waiting to be opened.

 

Flower centred, the blessing of yellow,

a promise circled to contain, yolked,

I have seen life visible, an artefact

of light, on a river’s mirrored edge.

 

 

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.

Nickeled-and-Dimed – Iris N. Schwartz

 

Brooklyn, New York; 1967

In the middle of the sitcom “Love on A Rooftop,” Lenore, eight, announced she had swallowed a nickel. Her voice was low, her words measured.

Imogene rushed over. “Are you sure?”

Her sister nodded.

Imogene paced the living room, muttered, “How could this happen?” Regarding her younger sister on the sofa still watching Judy Carne, the eleven-year-old again probed, “Are you sure?”

Lenore smiled, slightly.

“Why? On the one night Mother and Dad go out!” Suddenly Imogene was speaking with an emergency operator. “I don’t know how it happened!” and “She’s breathing fine.”

She hung up, shut the TV, glared at Lenore. “You better not be making this up!”

“I’m not.”

“Because if you are…”

The doorbell rang. Two lanky young men in police uniforms were at the door. They probably hadn’t spotted the mold on the mezuzah.

“Is this the household with the coin swallower?”

“Yes, yes, oh God,” the older sibling responded.

Blond Policeman sat down by the unsteady kitchen table. Brunet Policeman stood nearby in the living room, examining the family’s antique, glass-doored bookcase. He seemed rooted there. Would he be nesting soon?

“Can I get you coffee?” asked Imogene. “Gum?”

“No, we’re fine.”

Brunet finally walked into the kitchen. He and Blond questioned Lenore about how she’d swallowed a “Buffalo nickel,” which she “collected,” and was “examining in the dark.” She “didn’t want to bother her sister” by turning on a light. When the eight-year-old held the nickel high, it tumbled from her left thumb and forefinger into her open mouth.

Blond: “Any trouble breathing since the incident?”

“No.” Lenore spotted a humongous water bug by the table leg closest to Blond. Would he notice?

Brunet asked the older sister their parents’ whereabouts.

“Oh, God… they’re at a PTA meeting, and were planning to eat out. They haven’t been out in years, and…”

Brunet: “Well, we need a family member over eighteen to tell us whether she’ll stay here or go to the hospital…”

Lenore gulped. She hadn’t been to a hospital since her tonsillectomy. They hadn’t given her ice cream afterwards like they promised. Just watery Jello. She wouldn’t go! She tried to stomp on the water bug as it neared. It sped away.

Imogene decided their parents should be called and brought home.

Dad grumbled that this was the first time in three years they’d gone out, and now they were back. Early. Mother wore makeup. The sisters knew not to look her in the eyes, hers with mascara, theirs not.

Blond told Mother and Dad that Lenore could get her stomach pumped in a hospital, or the collectible coin would come out the next couple of days if she ate fibrous food and drank lots of water.

Brunet admired out loud the glass-doored bookcase. Was it for sale? Dad and Mother shook their heads, no.

The parents let nature take its course. They didn’t yell at or spank Imogene or Lenore. Mostly Dad grunted; Mother favored silence.

Two days later a dusky Buffalo nickel was affixed to orange contact paper, accompanied by Dad’s funny words. This was taped to the door leading to the basement. Anyone who visited could read it. It hung on that door for a year.

Lenore had dreams involving Blond and Brunet till early spring.

 

ins current cropped (1)Iris N. Schwartz is the author of more than forty works of fiction. Her literary fiction has been published in dozens of journals and anthologies, including 101 Words, The Flash Fiction Press, Gravel, and Jellyfish Review. Her poetry and creative nonfiction have been published widely, as well. Ms. Schwartz’s first short-short story collection, My Secret Life with Chris Noth: And Other Stories, is scheduled to be published by Poets Wear Prada in Autumn 2017.

Ballet Studio, June Evening – Meredith LeMaître

 

I look into

the everlasting

electric

of the sky

it pours a little ambrosia

Onto a single spot of the ginger floor

Each hair of my outstretched arm

Picked out in fine

Gold,

Muscles rippling like a vast and sinuous ocean

I breathe in the strength of a thousand other dancers

And the musk of early June.

 

wp_ss_20170723_0001Meredith LeMaître is a home educated writer and dancer from Brighton, UK. Her poems have previously been published in Hebe Poetry Magazine, Poetry Rivals: Immersed in Words Young Writers’ Anthology (Finalist) and a local paper. She loves writing, crafting , acroyoga and ballet and is interested in colour, fashion and mythology.

New Beginnings – Rachel Bower

 

We are starting again

this wrinkly belly and me

learning how to walk again

and even how to talk

to strangers without

the shield of peach cheeks

and little legs.

 

We are tottering through the retail park

off kilter

but determined to find a latte

and drink it hot this time,

just this time,

even if the milk floods our shirt

even though we’re waddling a bit,

still bruised from birth

and we think of him safe

and scan the tarmac again

without anchor.

 

Our balance is off.

You shrivel in my hollow

as I try to unfurl

and wonder how to tilt on my feet.

 

Only eighteen minutes left

’til we see his starfish hands.

 

We wobble together and smile.

 

Rachel Bower photoRachel Bower is a poet and research fellow at the University of Leeds. Her pamphlet, Moon Milk, will be published with Valley Press in May 2018. She is currently co-editing an anthology with Helen Mort entitled Verse Matters, which is out with Valley Press in November 2017. Her book, Epistolarity and World Literature, 1980-2010 will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in August 2017. Rachel’s poems have been published by Stand Magazine, BBC Radio, Now Then Magazine, Valley Press, Three Drops Press, The Stare’s Nest, Pankhearst and others, and she has had poems shortlisted for several prizes, including The London Magazine Poetry Prize and the Plough Prize 2016. She is also the founder of Verse Matters, a feminist arts collective in Sheffield.