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.

dogeared inspiration – AM Roselli

 

I dogeared a page in your book

of inspirational quotes, Volume Two.

The one you keep in the nightstand

on your side of the bed.

 

The bed we never should have bought

with that money. Rather than a bamboo

pillowtop, we should have invested

in help from voices other than our own.

 

When you wake and find I’m not here

fitting into the lump our sleep pattern created

on a mattress supposedly resistant to lumps–

 

If you shuffle to the dog-eared page

of inspirational quotes, Volume Two,

perhaps you’ll figure out why

 

I was inspired to leave.

 

AM Roselli author picture b_wAM Roselli is a writer and artist who lives in the Hudson Valley, New York. She has a collection of illustrated poetry, Love of the Monster, published by Door in the Floor Publishing, 2016, available on Amazon. She previously served as an art director at Prentice Hall Educational Publishing. Since 2014 she has been sharing her writing and artwork on her blog, anntogether.com.

The Return Trip – Mark Danowsky

 

My social contract

is a travelogue

 

What I can recall

must be sorted

 

Being social requires

a day to unpack

 

This is how I find

my way back home

 

Mark Danowsky bioMark Danowsky is a poet from Philadelphia. His poems have appeared in About Place, Cordite, Gargoyle, Gravel, Right Hand Pointing, Shot Glass Journal, Subprimal, and elsewhere. Mark is Managing Editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal and Founder of the poetry coaching and editing service VRS CRFT.

Cherries – Rachel Bower

 

Sometimes habits pull you through

and you wonder if it should be scuffed

and slack and holding hands

in the dark, bristle calved, taking

turns to spit in the sink and piss.

Or if it should gleam tight like a cherry.

 

You wonder if this is the taste of bruises

from the bag, whether the crash of juice

in your ears will stop when the rot sets in

whether it is better to shrivel as a pair

on the stalk or pluck now – softest pop

and lick sweet sap from the wound.

 

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.

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.

Waiting – Rachel Bower

 

I scrutinise my nipples for sap

but I’m not even sure where to look

and listen carefully for a splash

of colour but hear nothing I know.

 

It’s been months of course

but I think you might not come now

and even with your head between my walking legs

I do not know where you are.

 

In time my body will prove wiser

and when all that raspberry tea and swirling

does not bring you any quicker

I feel into age-old maps of women.

You will come when it is time.

 

 

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.

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.

Azarquiel Bridge, Toledo – Ray Ball

 

The plateau was hot and dusty.

It claimed me as clay for its baking.

 

I walked to the train station

With feet swollen,

With fingers parched by parchment and paper,

Parched by dry air,

Parched by the past I sought.

 

I seek.

 

I stopped on the bridge to rest,

To watch the water.

The river thirsts.

 

Glimmers of heat reflected off its surface.

For a moment, I saw a watery mirage of the palaces of Galiana.

 

The Tagus has never rushed.

It takes centuries,

Slowly submerging legends.

It wastes no energy as it wends to the sea.

Languid.

 

The river inscribed its banks into dry meseta,

Meandered past the temples of Romans and Visigoths,

Past the homes of Christians and Moors.

They inscribed their parchments with ink.

 

FullSizeRender (1)Ray Ball has a PhD in History and teaches at the University of Alaska Anchorage. When not in the classroom or the archives of Europe and Latin America, she enjoys hiking, biking, running marathons, and spending time with her spouse Mark and neurotic beagle Bailey. She has published history books and essays with several presses. Her poems have appeared in Alaska Women Speak and Eunoia Review.

How I arrived at who I am – John Grey

 

When I was seven,

my father bought me an airplane kit,

something to put together

with glue and guile

and instructions translated directly

from the Korean.

 

He did not help me in any way.

And I proved useless at the task,

would have set fire to the little

balsawood pieces

had I been allowed to play with matches.

 

There are other projects,

other details,

but they all amounted to the same thing.

My hand and my eye

were as Sanskrit is to the Ford Edsel.

 

So I grew up

surrounded by piles

of shapes and images,

and the encouraging cry of,

“Go for it, kid.”

 

That’s why I sat in the corner

building things that always fell apart,

falling apart the more

with each passing year

while I struggled to patch here,

hammer a nail there,

employ the tools

whose use I never understood.

 

Luckily, somewhere along the line,

I was able to set aside objects

and take up with words.

Sure, the sentences I constructed

were no more stable

than my cars, my castles,

my Lego giraffe.

But, as long as it was down on paper,

a Ford Edsel really was Sanskrit.

It got so not even I knew the difference.

 

unnamed-bioJohn Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. His work has recently been published in New Plains Review, Stillwater Review and Big Muddy Review, and is upcoming in Louisiana Review, Columbia College Literary Review and Spoon River Poetry Review.

A Slow News Day – Maurice Devitt

 

It is already mid-morning and the sky

is still undecided. A placeholder

of pesky grey, not definite enough

for rain and too shy for sun. Maybe

today has been cancelled and nothing

will happen, not even to the man

who is walking his dog by the side

of the lake, revelling in the deal

that he closed just before he came out,

looking forward to a dinner with family

and friends, and failing to hold his footing

as he throws a wet stick across the water.

 

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.