Compassion for the Undertaker – Charlotte Cosgrove

 

His feet press gently on the pedals

More pianist than driver.

The black hearse slows to the church

An inkblot spreading on white paper.

He opens the door for the grieving

Remains solemn as duty expects.

His eyes look down at pebbly gravel

Feels it within him as if made of concrete or hard minerals

Ready to decompose into the ground.

It has been just a week since he returned

After his compassionate leave came to an end.

 


Charlotte Cosgrove is a poet and English lecturer from Liverpool, England. Her work has appeared in Trouvaille Review, Dreich, The Literary Yard, The Broadkill Review, Wingless Dreamer, Confingo, Beyond Words and various anthologies online and in print. She is editor of Rough Diamond poetry journal. Her first poetry book Silent Violence with Petals will be published with Kelsay Books in June 2022.

Arran Postcard – Anna Percy

 

Dear T.

I know you have cycled on the coast road where I bumped along on the bus I haven’t asked if you stopped here at Kildonan where seals are promised or whether in fact the flop of their sea adapted bodies fills you with the same glee a fortification crumbles in a dark stone on the hill a look out a warning place the first line of defence the current light house sits on an islet must be lonely have to row back and forth to find another body the sun has started to blaze and yet the sea froze my toes a swimming costume was a dare to the water the water itself is all subtle movement and glitter past the sand everything is bands of blue and white you would swim.

 


Anna Percy has been writing for the page, stage and publication since 2004 mostly in the North of England. In 2010 she co founded the feminist collective Stirred Poetry. She has three full length collections with Flapjack Press. This poem is from an upcoming pamphlet The Everlasting Now from Some Roast Poets.

70 Seconds – Anna Ross

 

A small spark

A flicker, a flash

Blink and you miss it

A lone reaching flame

Small, steady, silent

Growing at both sides

A red hand waving

Calling for attention

Its journey begins

Rug, stool, chair, bookcase

Claiming them all

Flaring up, grasping

Ascending the curtains

Smoke pools above

Now unstoppable

All within is lost

Inferno rages

 


Anna Ross lives in North Yorkshire and works as a university administrator. She greatly enjoys reading and writing stories and poems of all shapes and sizes. Her short stories have been published across a range of anthologies. Though she is noted amongst her peers for writing literature with dark underlying themes and messages she is actually a very friendly person in the real world.

Bogquilt – Jacob Riyeff

 

blue goose road at night

cuts thru bog country

streams of leaves

flow the road

and moats dogs 

aflight, all 

of them. gray 

light purpling 

the air. vertigo 

round cedar-lined 

curves. watching 

for deer –

there – the moon

shines over acid

water, pitcher-plant

relics, my brow.

 


jacob riyeff is a translator, poet, and scholar of medieval literature. his work focuses on the western contemplative tradition and the natural world. jacob teaches in the english department at marquette university and lives in milwaukee’s east village.

Passing Colours – Martin Potter

 

Rail journey

Thickset windows fix

Fleeting landscape green-chill

Outside carriage warmth

 

A winter sun’s

Tentative intense

Strikes brushwood bark-bole

Bounces lemon curd

 

Off the trees’

December slumber skin

Insinuating dazzle

Lichen imbued light

 


Martin Potter (https://martinpotterpoet.home.blog) is a poet and academic, and his poems have appeared in Acumen, The French Literary Review, Eborakon, Scintilla, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Poetry Village, and other journals. His pamphlet In the Particular was published by Eyewear in December, 2017.

I Have Walked This Path Before – James G. Piatt

 

I am peering through raindrops, which are

washing away my memories watching the past

fade as I walk along an old path I have walked on

many times before.

 

I have walked this path before, in the springtime

when cheery trees were pink with blossoms,

giant maple trees were showing their pink buds,

and young animals in their new born freedom

loped along the river, carefree, and filled with the

excitement of new birth.

 

I have walked this path before when the summer

heat silently placed its warmth upon my

shoulders as I sat on a beach chair near a placed

pond thinking about the beauty of nature, and

listening to the sweet warbling of tiny songbirds.

 

I have walked this path before when autumn’s

slowly increasing winds started their polished

journey into winter with whispered hints of

fading time, and the sun was covered with dark

moisture filled clouds.

 

I have walked this path before when the chill of

winter blurred my footsteps, tiny birds took

refuge in bushes and I, bundled up in wools and

layered cotton, pondered on the coldness of the

season, and what I should etch onto the marble

face of my tombstone.

 


James is an internationally published poet, a Best of Web nominee and three time Pushcart nominee. He has had four poetry books; Solace Between the Lines, Light, Ancient Rhythms, and The Silent Pond, 1500 poems, five novels, and 35 short stories published worldwide. He earned his doctorate from BYU, and his BS and MA from California State Polytechnic University, SLO. He writes poetry to maintain his sanity, and sometimes succeeds.

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.

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.

My Final Walk in the Woods – James G. Piatt

 

Strolling along a bark filled path in the woods the breath of summer gusts into my mind and the warbling of tiny birds enters my ears. Tiny colorful wildflowers, pink, yellow, and blue paint the face of the meadow across the way, and waft their honeyed scents into the breeze. I hear the whispering sounds of the tiny brook alongside the path, and watch small rabbits with blades of grass in their mouths hopping quietly across the field. Maple trees with their white and gray skin, and oak trees with their gnarled limbs reaching for ground and sky shade my path. A red-shouldered hawk soars to the heavens with a screech as I disturb its tranquility sitting in a tall pine tree. I hear murmuring voices of tiny animals under fallen leaves and twigs in the distance, as the soft balmy breeze hurries over the ground with its euphonious voice. My memories awaken, and I remember my happy treks to the woods when I was a young lad. I exhale my breath with a nostalgic sigh as I realize my walks in the woods will be ending soon. My mind is still young, but my body has turned old.

 

 

Bio pic 2James is the author of four collections of poetry, Solace Between the Lines (2019), Light (2016), Ancient Rhythms (2014), and The Silent Pond (2012). He has had over 1,440 poems (four of which were nominated for Pushcart and Best of Web Awards), five novels, eight essays, and thirty-five short stories published. He earned his BS and MA from California State Polytechnic University, and his doctorate from BYU.

Drifting – Ahrend Torrey

 

Drifting Ahrend Torrey poem

 

AT biog photoAhrend Torrey enjoys exploring nature with his husband Jonathan and their two terriers Dichter and Dova. He works in New Orleans and is the author of Small Blue Harbor published by the Poetry Box Select imprint (Portland) in 2019. He holds an MFA in creative writing from Wilkes University.

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).

Jammed in Provence – Deborah Guzzi

 

The December countryside purrs sun-drenched.

Dazed by a barrage of rays, Lourmarin’s

buildings, cut-sandstone cream, curl entrenched

in quietude; local folk are sleeping in.

 

The roads of cobblestone, tail-twist, and weave;

centuries of frost and footfalls mark the place

where Medici royalty ruled and reaved.

Ghosts prowl unwilling to leave last night’s trace.

Shop doors open with a creak; vendors peek

outside and beam, the smell of coffee breezes.

Tea seeps near pitchers of cream on antiques;

the market opens early—just to tease.

 

On the trail of delights in Lourmarin,

baguette in hand, I search out a jam man.

 

Baguette in hand, I search out a jam man.

Up and up, I walk, eyes sharp, my head cocked,

to reach the clock for time here ticks unplanned,

past signs of local art, but the door’s locked.

 

I’m awake too early this Sunday morn.

Down I run: on a crooked trail, past a crèche,

in a chair of birch, on a seat well worn;

the manger awaits the birth of the blessed,

beneath a golden star; the story’s told.

 

But, I am off to a town called Bonnieux.

The road’s clear; we climb as the Alps unfold

bare vines, fruitless orchards fill the view.

 

There’s but a moment’s rest and so, I sigh;

Roussillon and its red cliffs are nearby.

 

 

 

debbie 3aDeborah Guzzi writes full time and travels for inspiration. Her third book The Hurricane is available through Prolific Press and at aleezadelta@aol.com. Her poetry appears in: Allegro Poetry Magazine and Artificium in the UK, Existere – Journal of Arts and Literature and Scarlet Leaf Review, Canada – Tincture, Australia – Cha: Asian Literary Review, China – Eunoia in Singapore – Vine Leaves Literary Journal – Greece, mgv2>publishing – France, and Ribbons: Tanka Society of America, pioneertown, Sounding Review, Bacopa Literary Review, Shooter, The Aurorean, Crack the Spine Literary Magazine, Liquid Imagination, Concis, The Tishman Review, Page & Spine & others in the USA. the-hurricanedg.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.

Balinese Cremation – Lisa Reily

 

In the searing heat and smoke we step back,

not expecting death to find us

on the way home from our fruit smoothie;

the exotic thrill of guava still on our tongues.

 

 

Photo - Lisa ReilyLisa Reily is a former literacy consultant, dance director and teacher from Australia. She is now a budget traveller with two bags, one laptop and no particular home. You can find out more about Lisa at lisareily.wordpress.com.

Servitude – Nigel F. Ford

 

They have walked in warm weather all the way from the beach, along the harbour wall, into the city, through the old quarter, up to the skirts of the castle, seeking the shade where possible, trying not to hurry, but not wanting to be late.

An attempt has been made before.

Two attempts in fact.

This time we are determined.

‘Do I look alright?’

‘You look fine. What about me. What do you think?’

‘O you always look alright.’

‘That’s alright then.’

‘What do you think? Can you see? Is there a long queue?’

‘It’s difficult to say. There is a queue of about half a dozen persons at the door. But then, there are several people leaning against the wall opposite the entrance. Some of them have come out for a smoke, I should think. But some of them might be part of the queue.’

‘We should probably start by waiting at the door.’

‘That’s the best plan.’

‘I think those people there are leaving. She’s fishing in her handbag.’

‘Could be. Still, we’re not the first in the queue.’

‘What’s the time?’

Eight thirty.’

‘We’ll wait until eight forty-five, but no longer.’

‘Alright.’

They stand patiently. A waiter talks to them briefly, smiles, laughs, jots down a note on a pad, nods and leaves.

Around them the evening crowd heaves and swirls, revealing empty hollows and then refilling them, like the sea they have watched for much of the afternoon.

‘What’s the time?’

‘Ten to nine.’

‘We’ll wait until nine o’clock. But not a moment longer.’

‘Alright.’

 

 

Photo on 18-12-15 at 13.02Born in 1944, Nigel F. Ford wrote his first radio play aged 14 (refused). Jobs include reporter for The Daily Times, Lagos, Nigeria, travel writer for Sun Publishing, London, English teacher for Berlitz, Hamburg, copy writer for Ted Bates, Stockholm. Had a hand in starting the Brighton Fringe in 1967. He started painting etc. in 1983 and has regularly exhibited in Sweden and on the Internet in various publication. In addition, several magazines in UK and US have been kind enough to publish his writing. Such as Nexus, Outposts, Encounter, New Spokes, Inkshed, The Crazy Oik, Weyfarers, Acumen, Critical Quarterly, Staple, T.O.P.S, The North, Foolscap, Iota, Poetry Nottingham, Tears in the Fence etc. He is now trying to produce & direct one of his stage plays.